Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Moments of weakness...

Ah....... I love the smell of old, rusty planes in the morning.

Scored two ebay planes this week :) A Miller's Falls #56B low angle block plane on Sunday night. $34.50 with shipping. Today, I picked up an old Union #4 sized smoother. $31.52 with shipping. With these kind of deals to be found on such excellent quality tools like these, I don't understand why anyone would buy a newly made plane these days.....

On a funnier note, I have been on the lookout for a good deal on a Union plane mainly to score the "grand slam". Out of all of the antique iron bench plane makers, arguably the 4 largest companies were Stanley, Sargent, Miller's Falls, and Union. Planes from Fulton, Mohawk/Shelborne, Ward, Keen Kutter, and Craftsman were all made by these companies.

So, despite the overwhelming prominence of Miller's Falls planes in my collection, I now own the grand slam. I should probably look for a Record, maybe an Ohio, perhaps a Stanley Bedrock......you know, to really cover all the bases.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Basement Shop Edition part 1

Let the fun begin!!!! So, my wife and I are at a crossroads of sorts when it comes to home projects. We have a number of outdoor and main floor projects coming up. We have every intention on finishing the basement as well. We need a fence. A shed. More landscaping. Tiling the kitchen backsplash. And it's all adding up, of course. So, since it will take us some time to get the house the way we want it, we've had to prioritize our projects.

The basement is the full size of our first floor and it's layout has shifted more than any other room in the house. We focused on storage, exercise, and entertainment areas, but after a year or two I also planned on moving the shop down stairs too. It just made sense with our parking arrangement and seasonal issues. And, other than the difficulty of moving supplies and large tools up and down the stairs, it's perfect for my needs.

It's our hope that there will be a nice exercise area adjacent to an entertainment area that includes an air hockey table, ping pong table, dart board, and our gaming systems (Wii and such). there will be a little storage/utility area, a half bath, a small wine cellar, and, of course.....the shop.

I mention all of this, because you will see me doing a lot to help brighten the basement that doesn't just include the shop. In order for us to properly finish the basement, we will have a ton of work to do - everything from framing walls to lowering a window for better egress. Because it will take so long to do, it has been decided to do a couple of quick fixes to the basement to make it more efficient and user friendly. These projects are in lieu of better future design - and to hold us over until the other household projects are finished. What I hope to accomplish is to make a bright, well lit space to exercise and play air hockey in, and an enclosed, bright shop with helpful workstations to allow me to maximize my time in the shop.

So, away we go. First up will be improving the lighting and cleaning up the ceiling. We are discussing how to make the ceiling brighter, more pleasant, and inviting to work in the shop or workout in the gym area. Next, I'll be building a partition and installing a door next to the stairs so that the shop can be locked up to keep pets and visiting children away from the sawdust, sharp tools, and power cords. After those refinements, the real shop overhaul begins. So, stay tuned!


Monday, November 9, 2009

the deal of the century...

So, I met up with Charger Sunday to go pick up some hard maple for the workbench project this winter. Lance found this sawyer on Craigslist recently, and the guy does this as a side job. because the lumber green, he sells it at $1 a board foot. That's right. Hard maple for $1 a board foot. When we got there, he had a bunch of maple pulled out on the warehouse floor. It was obvious that it was more than the 100 board foot that I requested. He said "I know that's probably more than the 100 board foot that we agreed upon, but if you want to then feel free to take it all." Once I got it home, I did a rough board foot estimate. 178 board feet. Yup. I got 178 board feet of hard maple for $100. It worked out to 56 cents a board foot. Unbelievable.

Lance wanted me to take some pictures of the car - I was really sweating the ride home, considering how much wood it was. It's funny, but the weight wasn't very noticable both looking at the wheel wells and in how the car drove. In fact, the old caliber barely flinched with all that weight. Attaboy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


*tap* *tap* *tap* ....is this thing on?

just thought I would warm up the blog a little and post an update. Got lots to do this fall/winter woodworking season. First, the shop is gonna get a big overhaul. I will be walling the shop off and have about 10 projects planned. I will take it from a collection of tools in the corner of the basement to a real shop space, finally. There are still a couple of family projects outstanding that I hope to crank out. Then I have a couple of real woodworking projects in store once they are done. Yes, I said REAL woodworking projects. I know, it's about time.

There were a few additions to the shop family this summer. Picked up more woodline parallels to help complete the "wall-of-clamp". Also, picked up a Miller's Falls #18 and #11 recently. Got many of the planes to still get tuned up properly. And, with the growing interest in alternative bevel angles for different wood species and tough grain, I'm considering doing a live demo about back bevels. So, there's lots to do. The new shop lights showed up last week. Heading up to Charger's for a great deal on some maple for the bench. Let the fun begin!!