vegans with typewriters

Stress Relief

It’s been a slow week on the bench this week. My wife is down with a concussion due to be kicked in the head by our daughter while they were sleeping together, and I went over on my ankle and am only just getting back on my feet now. All of my building has been taking place in my head for the past week.

The time off my feet hasn’t been completely wasted though. I discovered Paul Sellers on YouTube recently and have really gotten into his videos. I particularly liked the Christmas Stars video, where you learn to do inlay without being told you’re being taught to do inlay.

In other news, the seasons have definitely turned. I drove through two back to back nights of heavy snow and yuck and I’m feeling a bit tired. Fortunately, tonight is the last night before the weekend and the weather looks clear. I think this will be a good drive to settle in with Rachel Morgan and not stress too much.

Oh, speaking of stress, I did manage a bit of de-stressing in the shop this afternoon. I was setting up some spaghetti sauce for dinner and particularly liked the feeling of the wooden spatula I was using. I’ve been sitting on some cherry and maple looking for a small project for them and I thought this would be perfect. Once the sauce was set up and the dishes were done, I hobbled out and made some sawdust. Here is the result:

Wooden mixing utensils in cherry and maple resting on a tea towel

Magnetic Marker Holder

An ugly telephone cover plate

Take one ugly landline cover plate… The same ugly cover plate with rare earth magnets in the corners

Stick some rare earth magnets on it… Sticking a cocoa tin to the magnets makes for a pretty place to store whiteboard markers

Stick a pretty cocoa tin to the magnets and have a place for whiteboard markers. If you don’t happen to have a metal cover plate just where you need it, you could also just hot glue the magnets to the wall.

This Week in the Shop

hand cut mortise and tenons on a workbench

This week I seem to have been bitten by the hand tool bug. The current project, a prep table for the kitchen, took a left turn when I decided to have a go at cutting the tenons by hand rather than messing around with a machine setup. To my joy, I discovered that not only could I cut them, but also that the resulting tenons were at least as accurate as what I had produced when using machine. Maybe there is something to neander woodworking after all.

a SketchUp drawing of an organizer caddy featuring hand-cut dovetails and traditional joinery

In other news, I did a wipe and reinstall of the latest version of Sketchup which solved the random crashes I was experienceing since upgrading to Yosemite. The interface looks a lot less clunky and there have been some new tools added to SketchUp 2015 The other thing I discovered this week is that Jay Bates has a real talent for teaching Sketchup.

As a test-run of my new SketchUp install, and inspired by some fanciful hand tool notions, I decided to draw a version of the dovetail caddy that Paul Sellers built in this video series. I would like to have it love on the back of the workbench for holding screws and other small bits and bobs. Here is the SketchUp file if you want to check it out and maybe build it for yourself.

Happy Sawdust!

Shop Update

A picture of a home workshop with a workbench in the foreground and a bandsaw in the background

Just in time for winter, I’m starting to finally get the shop into a production ready state. That means I have about two weeks of good weather before I have to tear it all down so we can put the car back in the garage.

I did a little bit of unintentional neander work tonight. I’m starting to build a new prep table for our kitchen. After I milled the stock for one end up, I laid out my tenons but couldn’t decide how to cut them. I didn’t feel like changing out the scroll blade on the band saw, nor did I feel like listening to the table saw scream at me. In the end I decided to hand cut the tenons and clean them up with my router plane. It turned out to be a pleasant, quiet operation and I got to listen to most of a podcast. Don’t worry though, I’m not abandoning my Normite ways completely. Maybe just every once in a while.

Doug Abbot’s Planer Knife Sharpening Jig

This. This is the most obvious way I’ve seen to sharpen planer kives. This jig.

The only hitch is that mine don’t have screw holes. I wonder if a half dozen rare earth magnets would work? Think think thinkey think…

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A Picture of a garage workshop that was once organized but is now chaotic

After the last fit of organization I had the shop looking pretty spiffy. Things were tidy and mostly up off the floor and I could navigate from one end to the other without risk of killing myself.

The next morning I woke up and thought “What should we do today?” Lets tear the shop apart and paint. We’re still recovering.

Bandsaw Update

It’s been almost two weeks now that I’ve been running with the new fence and table on the bandsaw, and while I won’t say that it has changed my life, it certainly has changed my work flow in the shop. Since I’ve made the modifications I haven’t done any work with sheet goods. As a result, my table saw is now serving as a stand for my thickness planer because I’ve been doing all my ripping and resawing on the bandsaw and then cleaning up the saw marks with my planer.

The main reason I decided to make this change in workflow was because I wanted to do some work with smaller stock and honestly, I find for stock under 1 ½” wide that the table saw is just too spooky, even with jigs and push sticks. The other thing is, my table saw is REALLY REALLY LOUD. Even with ear defenders on, the combined noise of the saw and the dust collector can get to be like nails on a chalk board. This may be a leftover effect of when I was making parts for Muskoka chairs and had the saw1 going for 8 hours a day.

The results of the experiment have been largely positive. As I said before, I took the advice of Alex Snodgrass on how to dial in the blade guides and tracking. I’m using a ¼” 6 tpi blade and so far, I’ve had good results. I haven’t noticed any drift. Basically I square up the fence, set my width, and away we go.

I am, however considering a new design. Having two clamp down points on the fence means that adjusting for width is a little bit more fussy than it needs to be. I end up having to find a speed square and a ruler before I set up my cut. I think the next iteration of the table and fence system will involve a t-square setup of some kind. That will likely have to wait for next spring, however because we’re heading into cold weather and I really want to have the car live inside over the winter. When I do that project though, I’ll document it for sure because I haven’t seen anyone take this particular approach to making a fence.


  1. I wasn’t using this table saw in that endeavour. I was using a Rockwell-Beaver 9” contractors saw with a custom t-square style fence that I welded up. I still have that saw but havent moved it back home yet. Also, because of that gig, I can’t stand the smell of cedar anymore.

On the Bench

I have a Delta Shopmaster 10” bandsaw. For most of my work, it does an ok job. For some operations though, I found the factory table to be too small and not having a fence limiting. I did a bit of poking around on YouTube and found this video from American Woodworker magazine, which shows how to repurpose a table saw mitre gauge as a bandsaw fence. I thought it was a neat idea so I went shopping. Unfortunately, my local Busy Bee was out of mitre gauge track, so I changed my design and picked up some T Track instead.

A Delta 10 Inch Bandsaw with a shop built table and fence

I used white melamine edge banded with pine for the table top, not because I’m a huge fan of it, it’s just what I happened to have sitting in the corner. If I were to do this build again I would probably use something a little more durable and less dirty to cut like actual counter top laminate over plywood substrate. At any rate, I used basically the same technique as described in the video, rip a runner and use the existing mitre gauge slot to position the table. I made two fences for the table, one high one for resawing, and one low one for ripping small stock with the blade guide as close to the work as possible. I’m using a Viking ¼”x 6 blade from Lee Valley and so far haven’t had an issue with drift. I found the video Bandsaw Clinic with Alex Snodgrass from Carter Tools to be helpful in explaining the process of setting up a bandsaw without drifting off into yak shaving.

When I finished the bandsaw table, I still had some material left over and really felt like doing more edge banding (ok, not really, but I was set up for it), so I decided to replace my old drill press table with a new one that uses the same design ideas as the bandsaw table.

A Delta bench top drill press with a new shop built table and fence

The next day, I started back into a refinishing project that has been hanging around for at least 10 years. I started to strip this rocker sometime before I met my wife and it’s just been hanging around, half finished ever since. Today was the day to take it out of time-out and move forward in the process. I’m not going to try to strip it back to bare. I just want to smooth everything out and I’ll probably just shoot it black again. Maybe.

A wooden rocking chair being refinished

Off to the side is a pair of experimental earrings I’ve been playing with. The colour is from an aniline dye applied using the technique is shown in Woodturning with Tim Yoder, Ep. 4.

A pair of wooden earrings being dyed red with aniline dye

The New New Bench

A picture of a workbench with a lathe and a coffee cup on it.

Those of you following along may have noticed that as part of my garage reorganization project I’ve added a nifty built in workbench as part of the design. The only problem was that before I could even finish the edge banding I had managed to fill the bench with junk, leaving me again with no place to work. My solution was to hang a two foot by four foot handy panel off the end of the new bench and call it an extension wing.

This proved to be not such a good adea after attempting to actually use it. So, inspired by this video, I decided to build another workbench. So I would have room to finish the first bench. You know how it is…