Thursday, January 26, 2012

RATS Antique Tool Show Review

This past weekend I attended my first RATS (Richmond Antique Tool Society) Antique Show on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. I found out about this show through a post on the SAPFM (Society of American Period Furniture Makers) forum. I went to the RATS website and got a little info about the show and the e-mail address of club president Rick Long. Rick was very helpful in answering my questions via e-mail. The show was about two hours away, but since there was a few things I was looking for, I decided to go check it out on Saturday morning.

The show is actually a large general antique show with about 15 or so tool dealers set up in the middle. I went with the intention of looking for some wooden tongue and groove planes, a nice handled wooden plow, and anything else that looked like it would be at home in my shop. Most dealers had a good selection of tools with them, mostly users, which is what I'm looking for. The prices were pretty decent overall and most of the dealers were willing to dicker. I found a pair of 1/2" tongue and groove planes that were in pretty good shape. They were marked $35 for the pair, I was able to get them for $25. I didn't really find the sweet, primo, handled wooden plow plane but I did find a nice Millers Falls #107 hand drill that someone had restored to like new condition. I didn't really need it but it sure was calling my name. $44.95. Must have picked it up and put it down ten times in the 3 hours I was there. Finally couldn't stand it anymore. Offered $40. SOLD! So, that was my haul for the day. Although I've bought quite a few antique tools off eBay over the years, I prefer tool shows where I can actually pick up the tools and inspect them. A picture on the computer can be quite deceptive. I was pleased with my purchases and am counting the days until the next sale, the annual PATINA auction and sale in March. Time to start saving my pennies.

Oh, I did check out the non-tool antiques while I was there and although I didn't buy anything else, there was some pretty interesting stuff, as the pictures show.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A New and Improved Closet-With a Little Hand Tool Practice Thrown In

So the un-ending home improvement projects continue. This time, a custom closet for my oldest daughter to replace the old wire rack system that was in there. I'm making this primarily out of a sheet of 3/4" oak ply and since I just can't bring myself to cut sheet goods with my hand saws, this would be mainly a job for the table saw. BOOOOO!!! BUT, the face frame is out of solid 3/4" oak, so I thought I'd get some hand tool practice in and do all the joints with hand cut half-laps. YAY for hand tools!!! The half-lap joint is a pretty basic joint in which half the thickness of each piece of wood to be joined, generally at right angles to one another, is removed from the top of one piece and the bottom of another to make a joint that looks like a butt joint, but has more strength.

I built my boxes first out of the plywood and then made the face frame fit the assembled boxes. Nothing exciting here. Rip the plywood on the table saw. Cut the plywood to length on the table saw. Glue, screw, and nail everything together. YAWN! Now for some hand tool action. On to the face frame. First I ripped the rails (the horizontal pieces) and stiles (the vertical pieces) to their proper width and then cut all the pieces to length. When using a half lap joint, all the pieces are cut to the full length of the case piece, as opposed to if you were just using butt joints, in which case you would subtract the width of your stiles from the length of your rails.

I laid the stiles on the plywood boxes and then marked where the top of each rail would be, as dictated by where the shelves were. I put an X on the side of the mark where the waste would be removed and then took the rails and stiles to the bench. A bench hook is a great accessory to have for cutting these joints by the way. Generally on face frames, you want your stiles to look like one unbroken run and your rails to join into these, so the half thickness to be taken away from the stiles will be on the back side. I scribe across the back of the stile 90 degrees to the edge at each of my marks I made earlier using a striking knife. A knife is much better than a pencil in this case as it is more accurate and gives you an edge for your saw to ride on later. I then use the rails themselves to mark the width of the material I'll be removing from the stiles, making a small mark and then squaring up with a square and marking knife again. To mark the depth of the material to be removed, I set a marking gauge to exactly half the thickness of the material and mark this between the width of rail marks I made, always marking from the waste side. Next up is cutting the shoulders on these marks I just made but before I do, to make a cleaner cut, I chisel a shallow groove on the waste side of each line for my saw to register in. I saw down to my depth line on both sides and then chisel out the waste in between. I don't worry so much if I take a little too much material out of the middle as strength isn't really an issue here. To cut the half-lap on the rail all you do is mark the width of the style on the end of the rail, square across same as was done on the stile, mark the depth with the marking gauge on the end and sides of the rail, cut the little groove on the waste side for a cleaner shoulder cut, and then cut the shoulder to your depth mark. Put the rail in a vise and saw down the marking gauge lines to complete the half lap on this end of the rail. I saw on a diagonal part way down, then flip the board and finish sawing from the other side. I also find that it helps to cut a small notch in the corner of the rail to aid your tenon saw in starting the cut. Ok, repeat this process for all your intersecting rails and stiles, glue and nail from the backside and you have a nice half lapped face frame.

I feel like this description has been even more rambling than normal and for this I apologize. Hopefully the pictures will help clear things up a little. Two things I'd like to reiterate though are using a knife to mark a line is usually far superior than using a pencil, and a bench hook is one of your most valuable sawing accessories. Well, time to go. I'm sure there's something around here that needs painting or updating.

Oh, by the way, my daughter is very happy with her new closet arrangement. Much better than the old wire shelving. GO PATS!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Alright, here's the deal. I've been busy with home improvements for the last few months which have kept me out of the shop. Therefore, not many new blog post on Plane Shavings. My mom reads my blog, and for the last month or so I've been hearing "When are you going to post something new on your blog? I'm tired of checking on it and seeing ""Another One for the Till""!" (This was prior to "My Shop in Shambles" post.) So, although not a lot of woodworking here, this one's for you Mom!

We bought a set of four bar stools about three years ago. Nice Windsor-ish style with swivel bases. We've enjoyed these, but over time, the swivel feature had gotten so loose on a few of them that they would swivel and bang against the wall or counter with little more than a breeze, marking the walls and dinging up the bow-back of the stool. So the other day I took one apart to see if the ball-bearing swivel plate was serviceable. I jokingly sat on the base of the disassembled stool and said to my wife, Jen, "All fixed!" Well, she said she'd be fine with that. So after some discussion, we decided I'd make some padded cushions for them and give them a fresh new look. The following pictures are the before, during, and after of the stool transformation.

So, right or wrong, here was my process. I marked off 13" circles on 3/4" ply with dividers and cut out with a jig saw and sanded the edges smooth and slightly rounded. I cut matching circles from a sheet of 2" high density foam and stapled these to the plywood circles around the edges. Then I wrapped this combination in cotton batting, pulling tightly and stapling from one side and then to the opposite side all the way around and trimmed the excess. Next, I wrapped this in a canvass material that Jen and I chose and stapled this while pulling everything tight, pretty much the same way I did the batting. After trimming all the excess canvass material, I placed the cushion face down, centered the upside down stool on it, and drilled and lag screwed through the holes that had previously held the swivel assemblies to the stools and into the plywood base of the cushion assembly. Preformed this entire routine three more times and voila! Four "new" stools and a fresh look for not a lot of money. And no more dinged up walls from swiveling seats.

Not exactly a lot of woodworking there, and definitely not the type of thing that I like to do in the shop and blog about; but when you own a home, these are the things we sometimes must do. Jen's happy with them and if Jen's happy, I'm happy. Right Baby? :)