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Headquarters In Warren,MEIf your experience is anything like mine you are tired of the companies that intentionally avoid human contact and feedback. I curse those telephone ladders that never lead to a human voice. When a human does answer you are speaking to someone who’s English is their second language and you have no hope of understanding them.

If you are lucky enough (some call it unfortunate enough) to make it through all that, and explain your problem with the company’s product, you are likely to be sorry you ever contacted them. You are treated to onerous procedures put in place to avoid correcting the situation. Some companies are honest enough to simply say “we don’t support our product with replacements” or “the problem is of your making and we can’t support you”.

LN's family of planes and accessories on display in the showroom.Not Lie-Nielsen. You see, Lie-Nielsen was somehow created from an old company mold; a mold I thought was broken and lost a long time ago. They talk to their customers, never fearing to meet them and listen to their feedback. In fact their factory is open to customer visits on most days (see my visit to the factory). They even have an annual Summer Open House where you can meet and talk with the entire staff including Tom Lie-Nielsen and family. And for a small fee you can enjoy a lobster bake dinner.

Not only does Lie-Nielsen talk to their customers, but they also surprise their customers with above-and-beyond support. I dropped my #5 Jack recently and broke my tote. I went to the Lie-Nielsen website to purchase a replacement. Disappointed not to see a replacement part I emailed the company. I want to share with you two emails, unedited; one that I sent to Lie-Nielsen and the return email.

To: toolworks@lie-nielsen.com
Sent: Wed 5/23/2012 5:23 PM
From: Joe Zeh [jpz@srww.com]
Subject: Jack Plane Tote

Hi,

 

I dropped my #5 Jack Plane and broke the tote. Fortunately I have a wooden floor in the shop and nothing else broke. Do you sell replacement totes?

 

Joe…..

 

From: Lie-Nielsen Toolworks [mailto:toolworks@lie-nielsen.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 2:41 PM
To: jpz@srww.com
Subject: RE: Jack Plane Tote

Good afternoon, Joe.

I am sorry to hear about your No. 5!  Fortunately in situations like this, we can supply you with a replacement handle at no charge.  I’ll have one sent out to your address today.

Thank you,
Kirsten

Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
Lie-Nielsen Toolworks
1-800-327-2520
www.lie-nielsen.com

The Lie-Nielsen No. 4 Bronze Bedrock Smooth PlaneLie-Nielsen didn’t simply replace my broken tote, which I freely admitted was due to my mishandling, but look at who replied, and note the cheerful and helpful voice of that reply. OK, Lie-Nielsen is not a multi-billion dollar corporation, and so you might argue that a multi-billion dollar corporation can’t afford to do these things. To that I would ask you to compare this customer’s response to Lie-Nielson in this situation to the same customer’s response to a new Grizzly G0586 8" Jointer. It is in a company’s best interest to support its customers – its peril when they don’t.

I have bought many Lie-Nielsen hand tools- and even a bench – over the years. Their trademark exceptional quality has always been present in those tools. When I told my wife about this situation she replied “Unfortunately, people need to understand that they have to buy, and pay for, quality up front instead of expecting a free replacement part for a plane they get at Wal-Mart.”.  It’s true. If you buy an object based on lowest cost you will replace it numerous times over your lifetime. On the other hand, you can buy a Lie-Nielsen plane, have it for life, and pass it on to your children and them theirs. Quality is always the best, and cheapest, investment.

A group of No 4 ½ Irons and Scrub Planes ready to be packaged and shipped.As I said, I have been buying Lie-Nielsen tools for some time and will continue to look first at Lie-Nielsen when again in the market. Not just because of their exceptional quality and customer consciousness, but they are Made-In-America. This is not a political site and never will be. But I sure wish our leaders would figure out what Tom Lie-Nielsen knows; it is in this country’s best interest to make real, physical things.

Lie-Nielsen, you have my respect and my business.


New England School of Architectural Woodworking

Greg Larson reviews plans with student Matt Richardson.By now, if you have read my last two newsletters, you are pretty familiar with NESAW, at least their nine month professional program. But if you are an adult hobbyist or weekend woodworker, or a young woodworker wanna be, NESAW has an offering for you. Parents, nothing can be more rewarding for a child than to learn a craft like woodworking. Completing a woodworking project gives a child a sense of accomplishment and pride. Check out the Kid’s Classes.

Adult Classes

Beginning Woodworking Level 1 10 Thursdays, 5/17 – 7/19, 6:30-9:30 pm

Beginning Woodworking Level 2 10 Wednesdays, 4/25-7/18, 6:30- 9:30 pm

Intro to Wood Inlay 6 Thursdays, 4/5-5/10, 6:30-9:30 pm

Intro to Veneering 1 Saturday, 5/12, 8 am – 4:30 pm

Intro to Carving 2 Saturdays, 5/19 & 6/2, 8 am – 4:30 pm

Kid’s Classes (Elementary Grades 4-6)

After School Program 8 Thursdays, 4/24-6/12, 3:30 – 4:45 pm

Saturday Woodworking Class 1 Saturday, 6/2, 10 am – 4:30 pm

NESAW also offers a number of summer intensives that can be found on their calendar at http://www.nesaw.com/calendar/.

The Heartwood School – SketchUp for Timber Framing

Will Beemer, Heartwood School DirectorSketchUp is used in many fields of woodworking. The Heartwood School, which I wrote about in the 6-27-2011 newsletter issue, teaches timber framing for the professional and hobbyist. As part of their course offerings they have a SketchUp for Timber Framers 3-day course. It runs from April 26-28 of this year. You can find details on it and other courses at www.heartwoodschool.com.

Chiefwoodworker’s Calendar of SketchUp Classes

I teach SketchUp in a number of the local colleges and woodworking schools. If you live in the area, plan to vacation in the area or would like to stay in the area for a class, check out my schedule below. Anyone who wishes to visit the area for a class, or for any reason, contact me and I can help you make arrangements at very reasonable rates.

Beginner’s SketchUp Courses

Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield, MA – Saturday May 12th & Saturday May 19th, 2012 from 9am to 5pm. Contact Linda Pierce at (413) 236-2122.

Google SketchUp for Furniture – Advanced Techniques

Offered by the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, this is an intermediate course in Google SketchUp. The beginner’s course, A Beginners Guide to Using SketchUp in Woodworking, is recommended prior to taking this course. The free version of SketchUp will be used primarily, but the students will be exposed to the Pro version also. The focus of this course is modeling non-linear components; i.e. components with circular and complex shapes. The format of the two day workshop is six sessions, each session a one hour lecture followed by a one hour lab. Students should bring a laptop (notebook) to class with SketchUp 8 already installed.

Session 1 will begin with an arched rail for a clock door, the arch being a simple circular curve. Each session will progress to more complex shapes. Session 5 will focus on modeling cabriole legs using Bezier Spline curves. Each session will include an introduction to new tools – including a few Ruby script extensions to SketchUp – necessary to create these ever increasing complex shapes.

Finally, Session 6 will introduce the Pro version of SketchUp. The instructor will detail the differences in the free and Pro versions and even demonstrate a few of the new tools in SketchUp Pro 8. In addition, the student will be introduced to LayOut 3, a 2D presentation application that comes with the Pro License. Students will be shown how LayOut 3 can be used to create professional looking shop drawings and marketing materials. If you have any questions please contact the school’s director, Bob Van Dyke at (860) 647-0303.

Section 041412B: Saturday & Sunday, April 14 & 15, 9:30am – 5:00pm


CVSW Logo

Do you live in the Eastern States? Are you a woodworker looking for something new and exciting to do for the weekend? Well visit the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking and their 11th Annual Open House.

This one is shaping up to be the best ever. All the info is below. As always – there will be student displays exhibiting some of their most excellent work. The student work gallery has gotten better and better each year – and this year promises to be their best.

If you are interested in Woodworking, Furniture making, Woodturning, Blacksmithing, old tools, Guitar making or just having a good time then you need to come.

Check out the superb work of CVSW students and talk to demonstrators and school instructors.

If old tools are your thing then you are in luck. There will be at least six antique tool dealers there for the day.

The whole idea of the event is to get a bunch of people who are interested in woodworking together and have a good time!

A partial list of demonstrators/ exhibitors is below:

  • Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking student work gallery
  • Lie-Nielsen Toolworks
  • Central Ct Woodturners
  • Mystic Woodcarvers
  • Fine Woodworking Magazine
  • US Guitars
  • Matt Bickford 18th Century Molding Planes
  • Walt Scadden Blacksmithing and Carbon Fiber work
  • Tico Vogt – Chute boards
  • Jeff Noden – Adjusta bench
  • Greg Massicotte – Behlen finishing products
  • Bill Rittner – custom handplane knobs & totes
  • Joe Zeh- Sketch Up instructor
  • Ct Historical society
  • CVSW Instructors
                Bob Van Dyke, Will Neptune, Mickey Callahan, Walt Scadden

 

The open house is Saturday, September 10, 9am – 3pm- Rain or Shine! For directions see http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/contact-and-directions.html.

If you haven’t noticed yours truly will be there demonstrating Google’s free SketchUp 3D drawing application, which has become a must tool for woodworkers who design their own furniture. Stop by and say hello. We can talk SketchUp, shop or anything woodworking related. Hope to see you there.

If you are interested in CVSW classes the entire fall schedule is posted and can be seen at www.schoolofwoodworking.com.
There are some great classes coming up.


Will Beemer demonstrating the locking dovetail prop.I discovered the Heartwood School while attending the recent NWA Saratoga Woodworkers Showcase and wrote about it in my April 3, 2011 Chiefwoodworker’s Newsletter. All I knew about the school at that time is what I had seen at the show and read on its website. I sent the owner, Will Beemer, a copy of my newsletter and he wrote back inviting me to an active class. I took Will up on his invitation and visited Heartwood School on June 23, a damp and rainy Thursday.

Background

Shaping a tenon's seat with a spokeshave.Located in Washington, MA in the Berkshire mountains, Heartwood is run by Will and Michele Beemer. For the past 34 years Heartwood has been teaching students to design and build their own homes, mostly in timber frame construction.

Will has an extensive background in home design and construction, as well as teaching design and construction. He has taught at Cornell, Palomar College in San Diego and Colorado State University. He has written for Fine Homebuilding, Joiner’s Quarterly, Wood Design & Building, and Timber Framing. Michele is office manager, provides lunches for the students, is an on-site instructor and an author.

The first timber frame built by students houses the cafeteria, classroom, shop & library.Heartwood has a full range of courses in design and construction that run from April through October. Courses include energy efficiency techniques, fundamentals of woodworking, traditional cabinetmaking, building a workbench for woodworking, converting trees to timber and much more. They even teach SketchUp for timber frame designs.

My Visit

Checking the cut of an Eastern style tenon saw.Using my GPS I managed to find a small sign on a wooded road in Washington, MA. It said simply – Heartwood. I turned onto a paved and winding drive, which turned to a dirt drive that broke out into a clearing. The view reminded me of a childhood campground. Nestled in the woods to my left was a timber frame building with a sign over the door, once again announcing I had arrived at Heartwood. To my right were two long tents, open on all sides, like the tents used for a country fair. Under the tents, and protected from the rain, were eighteen students, an instructor and owner Will Beemer; all busily working away on 7” x 7” timber frame beams.

Tents set up to provide shelter from the rain.Trucks and cars were scattered everywhere, randomly parked under trees and I saw no defined parking area. As I sat there looking for a place to park my truck Will approached, introduced himself and welcomed me to Heartwood. He gave me a quick orientation introducing me to students, staff and showed me the shop, classrooms, library and kitchen. The latter rooms all resided in the timber frame building, which was the first building the students constructed when the school was opened in 1978. Will and Michele were not the owners at the time, though Will was an instructor. In 1985 they purchased Heartwood and have owned and operated it since.

"Get out of here with that camera so I can work!"Heartwood’s business model is simple and elegant. It brings together property owners who desire a timber frame home, barn, shop or other structure with students who wish to learn timber framing. Sometimes the owner and student are one in the same.

Everyone is busy but there is no panic. The raising is tomorrow.The first half of the business model is an owner who contracts with Heartwood to design, mill and erect a timber frame for about $30 a square foot. This includes frame only; finish materials, pre and post construction are the responsibility of the owner. If the owner’s site is more than 1.5 hours from Heartwood, trucking and other costs may be extra. Timber frame materials are rough cut Eastern White Pine, un-planed. Since Heartwood is a school for woodworkers and all work is done by the students, the owner must accept occasional constructions flaws, though Heartwood does its best to hide such mistakes. From my observation I doubt this is ever a real problem. The work I saw was top notch.

Now, that's a chisel!The second half of the business model is students. They come from all sorts of backgrounds and experience levels. Some have never held a woodworking tool before or never made a wood joint. Some are experienced woodworkers but who have no experience in timber framing. Many are hobbyists who want to build their own timber frame and attend the school to learn how. Still other are professional woodworkers or construction professionals who want to expand theirs skills and trade. I counted two women wielding chisel and mallet in this class of eighteen students.

Finished work ready to load on the trailer.Sometimes a class is held without a contracted owner. In that case a modest sized timber frame is crafted on speculation, though finding a buyer never seems to be a problem. The class I visited was building a studio for a contracted owner. Raising day was Friday, June 24th, the day after my visit. But there didn’t seem to be any schedule pressures, nervousness or frenzied activity. All seemed to be in control. There was a large stack of completed beams and the work-in-progress seemed near completion.

I believe this is a hand cut brace.My brother-in-law designed and built his own timber frame home and barn from hand hewn timbers. So I am familiar with the excitement of raising that these students had to look forward to. As I am writing this article on the 24th I am looking out the window at the rain coming down. Par for the course in the trades and a good lesson for the students.

Lots of mortises are needed for a timber frame construction.My primary interest in woodworking is furniture crafting. The interest I share with these students, however, is hand tools and joinery. The dovetails, mortise and tenons I use in my joinery are not all that different from those used in timber framing with the exception of size (I will post a follow-on article on one unique and interesting joint used by these students). Most of the joinery these students use are cut by hand with a combination of handsaw, chisel, mallet, spokeshave and drawknife. To be sure, those joints are larger than one would use in a furniture shop, but they are used in very similar ways.

How's that for a mortise bit?In my shop I use a power mortiser and I was surprised to see the timber framer’s equivalent sometimes used by the students. It is driven by electric motor and plunges in to the timber much like a plunge router would. However, instead of a square chisel and drill bit, the cutting blade is three – stacked side by side – chain saws. The beams used are 7” x 7” and the tenons are 1 ½” thick. So I suspect the chains are designed to be 1 ½” in width when stacked, and long tenons are formed with Looks like instruction on how to use the power mortiser.repeated plunges, though I failed to ask about this. A fence can be adjusted to place the tenon the appropriate distance in from the edge of the timber. It appeared to me that the “blade” could be plunged a little more than eight inches for a through mortise, or adjusted less deep for a stopped mortise.

The dovetailed tenon half of the locked mortise and tenon joint.Most of the mortises I saw were hand cut with a mallet and chisel. A couple of students were being instructed in the use of the power mortiser. So this may have been the one signal that the scheduled raising was requiring the use of more rapid methods, though once again I failed to enquire about this.

Friendly conversation over Michele's lunchtime meal.I was struck by the accuracy and smoothness of finish of the hand cut joints. Obviously not the kind of finish you would find in hand crafted furniture, but still I found myself needing to wipe my hand across the joints and marvel at the smoothness. I picked up a few tools and checked out the sharpness and found myself approving what my hand felt. As I studied the joinery I could see the light pencil lines that provided guidance for hand cuts. All in all I could relate to the work of the students and I even had a feeling of wanting to join in. That’s when Will came out of the timber frame building and yelled “Lunch”.

Lunchtime at Heartwood

Michele at work in her kitchen talking to the students.When Will invited me to visit he said I should plan to arrive at noon and join he and the students for lunch. I had read about Michele’s fine cooking on the Heartwood website and I was eager to sample the food. My eagerness was aided by the fact that I was just plain hungry. Hunger is a feeling I get if I spend too much time watching others hard at work. So I joined the rush to the dining room.

A 1 personpower drill press. Notice the dual crank.Dining at Heartwood is cafeteria style and all the food is home cooked. I had a soup, sandwich and crab salad. If you are a New Englander there are three chowders of choice: clam, seafood and corn. I love all three and I thoroughly enjoyed Michele’s corn chowder and crab salad.

Over lunch I talked to several students I The classroom is on the second floor across from the library.sat near. One was from a town not far from where I was born and raised and we shared news of that area. I learned that students stayed in B & Bs, hotels, friends homes or even commuted to Heartwood. Those I talked to came from all over New England and New York, though I suspect Heartwood draws from a much wider area as well.

The comfortable portion of the library. There are additional bookshelves out of view.After lunch I took more pictures, including the shop, library and classroom. The library has a wonderful collection of books on timber framing, general construction techniques, drawing, energy efficiency and many other home building related topics. If I go back to Heartwood I would like to spend some time in this library and get some titles for my own collection.

I said my goodbyes and thanked Will and Michele for the visit and lunch. I left feeling I had visited a woodworking school I could really enjoy and learn from. And I left with more questions than I had answers. So one day I hope to go back and talk with Will in more depth – and of course have another lunch.

Heartwood Update

I'm guessing this is a vertical support post with both mortise and tenon joinery.I spoke to Michele on Friday late. She and the class had just returned from the raising. All went well and the class finished the raising early afternoon. Though it rained in my area the rain held off at the building site. The raising marked the end of the class. Eighteen students were going home newly proficient in timber framing. It doesn’t get much better than that.


Vase & Flower - Sells For $27,000. Worth Every Penny!As a kind of annual spring trek my brother Clark and I visit the Woodworkers Showcase woodworking show presented by The Northeastern Woodworkers Association. It is held each year, usually the last weekend in March, at the City Center, Saratoga Springs, New York. Next year it will be March 31st and April 1st. Mark it on your calendar, because this show is the best woodworking show you will find.

Water Powered Woodshop Model, My Favorite.The show is not just for woodworkers, but anyone who appreciates art and fine craftsmanship. This year my daughter Summer, her husband James and James’ parents, Don and Ellen attended. None of them are woodworkers but they loved the furniture pieces, guitars, bowls and generally the artwork and craftsmanship.

Handcrafted Guitars - James Liked These.This year there were 40 free lectures and demonstrations ranging from hand carving to turning. I attended two 17th Century Carving lecture/demonstrations by Peter Follansbee (www.peterfollansbee.com) and a turning demonstration by Lulia Chin Lee. There were numerous other lectures and demonstrations by Ernie Conover (planes and dovetails), Tom Wetzel (Windsor Chairs), Bob Van Dyke (mortise & tenons with a router), Bill Sterling (crafting acoustic guitars), Dave Mobley (inlays with a router), Chris Schwarz (tool chests), Lyle Jamieson (goblet turning), John Grossbohlin (the scrub plane), Chris Walker (marquetry the French technique), Sheila Bergner Landry (scrollsaw), Barbara Nottke (beginner’s scrolling), David Nittmann (airbrush color expression), Alan Craft (bandsaw setup and techniques) and yours truly (SketchUp).

I Can't Bring Myself To Eat Off These!Where Do You Get Figured Maple Like This?The majority of the displays are by hobbyist woodworkers. In fact the large display room is restricted to hobbyists. None of the woodworking displays are for sale, keeping that portion of the show a display only for art exhibition and appreciation. Professionals are relegated to a rather narrow and short display area called Featured Exhibit. This year’s featured exhibit was Grand Workbenches, although there were a couple of other pieces in that area. The makers of the benches each gave a one hour talk on their design and construction. Notable among them were Chris Schwarz and Lie-Nielsen.

The Sign Says It All.Patricia's Restored Desk With A Jeweler's Lathe On Top.Most pieces displayed at the Saratoga Showcase are of new or contemporary work. But at this year’s show there was a restoration project the caught my eye. It clearly has a story much deeper than the display can tell; a story of a love between a husband and wife.

Patricia Betterly, wife of Jack Betterly a jeweler, restored the roll top desk pictured in the poster shown left. The restored desk was on display shown right. It is one of the finest restorations I have ever seen. I was unable to look inside, but judging from the outside the amount of care and love put into this project was truly impressive.

_MG_1518This desk is apparently used daily in Jack’s shop for the repair and restoration of timepieces and jewelry. A close-up picture is shown at right. A small motor sits behind it and drives an adjustable pulley to control speed. The bed, headstock, rest and tailstock are like any you might see on a larger lathe. I would love to have seen what the turning tools look like. I was so curious that I went on-line and found a You Tube video on the basics of using a clockmaker/watchmaker/jeweler’s lathe. Apparently the motor is about 1/12 horsepower and the tools are a stubby version of those we woodworks use. Except for the size, this lathe would look right at home in my shop.

Good Night - Sleep Tight - Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite!In addition to woodworking displays there is also a large room for tools, machine and materials exhibits and sales. Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley are always present as are many others. Hardwood suppliers are in attendance with some of the finest figured woods you can imagine.

A Tiger Maple Rock-A-Bye Baby.I never miss this show. Of all the shows I attend this is by far the best, especially the hobbyist’s pieces. Everything from chairs to lathe turned hats, period highboys to toys and musical instruments to benches are all on display; all crafted by some of this country’s best woodworkers.

Pure Artwork! Elegant And Beautiful.The setting is Saratoga Springs, a beautiful and small early colonial settlement. Saratoga played a major role in the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Saratoga sealed the fate of British General John Burgoyne’s army in the American Revolutionary War, and is generally regarded as a turning point in the war. Saratoga boasts the most beautiful and oldest race track in America and The Travers Stakes is the oldest thoroughbred horse race in America. Saratoga Springs is where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his final days while writing his memoirs and bathing in the springs to nurse his failing health. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is a cultural seasonal outdoor theatre that hosts summer theatre groups to pop artists. There are numerous and excellent restaurants and hotels in the city.

Now That's 3D!If you have never attended this show and live in the greater area make sure to see it next year. Even if you live a distance from Saratoga, NY, plan a vacation. Take in The Woodworkers Showcase along with a car tour of central to northern New England during sugaring season. I promise you won’t regret it. Let me know if you attend next year and would like to connect to talk all things woodworking.

A Bench To Die For.For more information on The Northeastern Woodworkers Association or the Woodworkers Showcase visit www.nwawoodworkingshow.org. You might especially want to view the 2010 Showcase Winners at http://www.nwawoodworkingshow.org/2010awards/winners10.htm.


For a complete set of show pictures click here.

Note: All pictures in this post were taken by me and are of pieces on display at Woodworkers Showcase 2011. None are my pieces. However, I did examine them critically and can vouch for their excellent craftsmanship.


Finished Panels With 3 Coats Of Wipe-On-Poly Picking up from where I left off in Trundle Bed Crafting – Part 1, I finished all five panels. Three panels will be framed in the headboard and two in the footboard. Just like panels in frame-and-panel construction you must add a few coats of finish to the panels before encasing them in their frame. If this step is skipped unsightly unfinished edges are visible as the panel expands/contracts through seasonal changes.

Trundle Bed Shown With The Trundle Out The next step in Trundle Bed Crafting is to tackle the swan necks that top the headboard. I began by printing out a full scale SketchUp drawing of one swan neck. They are mirror images of each other so all I need is one paper template. However, the swan necks are constructed with two layers glued together and the result is a 3 1/4” piece of stock. Since I need to shape four pieces, all with the same top curve, two of them share the same bottom curve, and two have a bottom curve that is 3/4” away from and smaller than the other two, I decided to make one hardwood template. Using the paper template I traced it onto 3/4” thick cherry stock being careful to arrange the grain for best strength. I rough cut the template on the band saw and completed the shaping on the edge sander.

Completed Swan Neck Cherry Template The completed cherry template, shown left, will be used in a series of steps with template router bits. The Swan Neck presents a number of interesting challenges for the woodworker. The first one is its thickness. The Swan Neck is 3 1/4” total thickness made of a sandwich of a 2 1/4” back and 1” front. I designed it as a sandwich to make shaping easier and doable with my current collection of shaper and router bits. But even the back is wider than my longest 2” template bit.

The Cherry Template Is Traced On 2 1/4" Thick Stock Fortunately I have two 2” template bits; one with a bottom bearing and one with a top bearing. So I used a three step procedure to shape the Swan Neck backs. I traced the cherry template on 2 1/4” stock. I needed two of them and they need to be mirror images which was simply a matter of flipping the cherry template.

Rough Cutting The Thick Back On The Band Saw The first step in this three step procedure is to rough cut the thick Swan Neck back on the band saw. My band saw had a 1 1/4” re-saw blade mounted in it and I should have replaced it with one much narrower allowing me to follow the curves smoothly. But being lazy I simply hacked away at the stock with the re-saw blade. You can see the resulting burn marks created by a 1 1/4” blade struggling to follow comparatively sharp curves. But with no damage to the blade I was able to cut to within 1/8” of the outline making the job for the template router bit minimal. When I was done I had Side A and Side B of the Swan Neck back and the template.

Shaping All But Top 3/4" Of Swan Neck With Bottom Bearing Template Bit The second step in this three step process it to attach the template to the appropriate side of the one of the Swan Neck backs. Appropriate side means keeping the side labels matched, for example Side A facing up on both, but with the template on the bottom. I attached the cherry template to the Swan Neck back using double sided sticky tape (carpet tape). In this step I use the bottom bearing template bit and with the template as a guide and shape all but about 3/4” of the Swan Neck as shown at right.

Complete Shaping With Top Bearing Bit In the third step of this process I replace the bottom bearing template bit with a top bearing template bit, remove the cherry template, turn the Swan Neck over and use its partially shaped surface as a template. See the picture at left. I have to use this three step process on both Swan Neck backs. But I am not done; I still need to shape the Swan Neck fronts. However, they are only 1” thick and only require rough cutting and one template bit. But there are still some tricks that need to be employed to complete the Swan Necks as you will see in Trundle Bed Crafting – Part 3.


Note: Chiefwoodworker Newsletter recipients received an early version of this review. Since then I have had a chance to do some real work with this machine and have added some new comments and adjusted old comments to reflect that experience. You may wish to reread it.

Fully Assembled G0512 Edge Sander With Shop Fox Base Some of you may recall I have a Grizzly 8” Jointer and wrote a not so glowing review of it on my website. My brother recently bought a Grizzly lathe and it is a honey. So, when I decided to purchase an edge sander I decided to give Grizzly another chance and purchased the model G0512. It arrived on September 8 and this is a chronicle of my experience.

Events did not start well. The unit was delivered by UPS. The driver parked at the bottom of my driveway and phoned to ask I come and receive the unit. This was not a surprise. Grizzly warns you during delivery scheduling (via phone) that the truck is a tractor/trailer and may not have a lift. Further, my driveway is very long with low power lines crossing it. What was a surprise was the condition of the box. There were two large holes clearly made by a fork lift. The UPS driver told me they existed when he picked the box up at the Grizzly facility. I believe him because the only fork lift he had was a manual one. To create these holes you would have had to use a powered fork lift (or intentionally rammed the box multiple times with the manual fork lift). I insisted he accompany me to my shop, help me unload the sander and open the box to inspect every piece for damage or scratches. After careful inspection there appeared to be no damage and I signed the delivery form.

Shop Fox Base Is Too Large And Difficult To Modify In addition to the G0512 Edge Sander I ordered the companion base. The base turned out to be an adjustable base made by Shop Fox. Its minimum dimension in the short side is 18 ½”. The G0512 base is 15” wide in the minimum dimension leaving a 3 ½” gap. To fix this I contemplated cutting 3 ½” off the metal rails or putting a platform in the base and living with it. Cutting 3 1/2” off the rail was not an option because the gap between the feet was about 1 1/2”, making the feet still 2” too wide. I chose the platform option for now. You can see the gap in the picture above. I spaced it evenly on both sides of the base. In actual use I noticed that this “too wide” base cuts down on the toe clearance; it is possible to accidentally stub your toe if you are not careful.

The real problem with the Shop Fox base is that if you follow the directions for assembly the base does not work; you can’t rotate the swivel wheels. Using the bolts they specify prevents swivel. Worse, some of the assembly instructions were physically impossible to perform. But being a clever guy I came up with a method of assembly that worked. I suspect my method is what Shop Fox designers intended, but the instructions are grossly wrong.

Back View Showing Belt Tensioning MechanismAt this point, I was getting frustrated and decided to make a thorough inspection of all remaining pieces before going any further. I noticed an additional assembly issue. The table is attached with a raising/lowering threaded lead screw, threaded hand wheel and three L-shaped brackets. The instructions showed a picture of three simple brackets, each a different size; large, medium and small. What I received where three brackets of two sizes, large and two small ones. The large one was not a simple bracket, it had a metal plate, two bolts and four Allen screws, though I have no idea what their function is. Obviously a change had been made to the design and that change had not been reflected in the documentation. Again, being a clever guy, I completed the assembly with no further problems.

Motor Direct Drives Roller Installing a sanding belt and adjusting tracking is simple and quick. The entire operation can be accomplished in less than three minutes without exaggeration. The tracking adjustment is sensitive but holds steady when achieved. The picture above right shows a close-up of the belt tensioning and tracking adjustment. The first thing to notice is how simple, yet solid, the design is. The long lever loads and unloads the tension of the belt. The middle knob adjusts tracking; you course adjust it first by hand spinning the belt and centering it on the drive wheel and then turn on power and carefully and gently fine adjust it. The knob on the right locks the tracking adjustment. Simple as that.

The Back Side Has No Platen - So Why The Table? The motor is 1.5 HP and comes pre-wired for 220 VAC. The dive is direct to the pulley wheel. The graphite coated platen is 6-1/4" x 31-1/2" and exists only on one side of the belt. The table top however, is equally spaced on both sides. Without a platen on the back side a table on the back side seems pointless. I may take this into account when I redesign the table top and add some self-designed accessories on the back in place of the table.

I read numerous reviews prior to acquiring this unit. There were two consistent complaints. One was that the table came warped and was flimsy. The second was that the belt(s) that came with the unit was unusable because the splice joint is too thick. I found the table to be OK. Its surface has a noticeable, but very shallow bumpiness. It doesn’t seem to adversely affect the sander’s use. The table is made of 7/8 inch plywood finished with a thin Formica-like surface. I suspect the very thin Formica-lake material gives way to trapped glue unevenness and that is what gives the surface a somewhat bumpy look. I may build my own from 1” sheet Melamine and fit it with a metal guide to accept a sliding T-fence. Perhaps even a circle attachment. However, as the table comes it is workable.

Full Scale SketchUp Paper Template Of Swan NeckThe belt, on the other hand, is rather cheap and indeed does have the problem indicated in the reviews. Unfortunately I ordered four additional belts of various grits and they are the same. In actual use the seam is so poor it creates a high velocity (1800 fpm) speed bump, making it difficult to control the work piece and get a smooth finish. I found this constant fight to control the work piece tiring. In one Amazon.com review I read the belts were referred to as “a piece of crap”. I would have to agree; they are inexcusably poor.  However, 80” belts are available from a number of reputable third parties. I highly recommend that if you buy this unit do not get additional belts from Grizzly.

Shaping Cherry Template On The Grizzly Edge Sander

My first project to make use of this machine is a Trundle Bed. To shape the template for swan neck I traced a full scale SketchUp drawing onto a 3/4” cherry board. I then rough cut the template on my band saw and finished it by hand shaping on the Grizzly Edge Sander. The high velocity seed bumps notwithstanding I was able to create a very useful cherry template. One last comment I should make; I found I used the small roller end of the sander most of the time and this end is furthest from the dust collection hence a lot of dust is left on the table uncollected. A repositionable  dust collector, or perhaps an array of holes in the table with dust collection underneath, may make it into my new table design. Let’s wait and see.

The bottom line is that I think I will like this machine and the cost is hard to beat – approximately $850 including base. So Grizzly is back on my list of manufacturers I will look at. But given my mixed experience I have two words of caution – caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).

 


High School Push StickFor those of you who took woodworking shop in high school you are likely to remember this useful safety device. It was typically made from scrap 1/4” or 1/2” plywood and shaped to fit your hand. The High School Push Stick is most useful for pushing narrow pieces through a table saw while keeping your fingers far away from the saw blade. For this reason I prefer the narrower 1/4” version.

Anyone who has used this handy little device will agree it is invaluable in the wood shop. So I have taken to providing readers my most complex SketchUp model yet; High School Push Stick.skp. Download it by clicking this link.

Create A Template

Open the model and choose Camera/Parallel Projection. Choose Camera/Standard Views/Front. Zoom Extents and minimize the amount of white space around the model by adjusting the window size (this is necessary to print this model on a single 8 1/2” x 11” page). In the Print Setup Dialog box choose the Properties Button. Choose the Basic Tab and select Landscape. In the print Preview Dialog box uncheck both “Fit to page” and “Use model extents”. Enter 1 and Inches for both “In the printout” and “In SketchUp” (this produces a 1:1 print scale). Now choose Print at the top of the menu bar. If you have trouble printing to scale read Printing To Scale In SketchUp.

Sandwich the printout between two sheets of Self Adhesive Clear Plastic which you can buy at any office supply store or Amazon.com. Carefully cut out the template of the Push Stick and trace it onto a scrap of 1/4” plywood.

Cutout The Push Stick

There are three straight-line cuts that should be made on a table saw. They are: the 8 1/2” long line, the 1/4” short line and the 1” line. The three lines are perpendicular to each other. Cut these first. Next, use a jig saw, scroll saw or band saw to rough out the curves. Finally, with an edge sander and oscillating spindle sander (or just your hands) sand the curved edges to final shape. That’s it -  you now have a very handy and safe High School Push Stick.

Using The Push Stick To Shape Mullions & Muntins

Mullions Have A Through Mortise You can make a career out of searching for the correct definition of mullions and muntins but don’t waste your time. Suffice it to say they are both parts of a window or door, and they frame its lights. I think of mullions as the more complex of the two which has one or more through mortises and two tenons.

Muntins Have No Through Mortise Muntins on the other hand are less complex with no through mortise and two tenons. Definitions you will find on the internet vary all over the place; some even give the mullion a structural meaning similar to a stile. The tenons on a mullion usually fit into a stile or rail while those of a muntin fit into the through mortise of a mullion. Ok, with that as the definition for mullion and muntin let me demonstrate how the push stick can be used with both the router and table saw to shape them.

Feeding Narrow Stock Through A Table Saw The most often used application for the push stick is to feed thin or narrow pieces of stock through a table saw. In the picture at left I am cutting two rabbets in a muntin by holding 3/4” stock against the fence with a feather board and feeding the stock with the push stick. Notice my hands and fingers are well clear of the red area and at least six inches from the blade. (There are numerous feather board designs that can be used allowing for taller and still narrow stock.) In this case the push stick is merely feeding the stock, but not assisting in holding the stock against the fence.

The Push Stick Feeds & The Feather Board HoldsAnother application for the push stick is to feed narrow stock through a router. In the picture at right I begin the feed with the push stick held vertically and pushing the stock while my fingers hold the stock against the fence. The feather board does not engage until the stock leaves the cutting area. Because I don’t want my fingers to encroach the area above the metal plate I am limited in the length of stock I can shape with the router. These pieces are about minimum size.

The Push Stick Feeds And Assists The Feather Board As the feather board engages I tilt the push stick to about 35 degrees and assist the feather board in holding the stock against the fence. Here my fingers also help out. They have encroached on the area above the metal plate, but only after the stock completely surrounds the router bit, in essence shielding my fingers.

Shaping mullions and muntins are one of the more dangerous operations in a wood shop and for that reason many woodworkers build windows and doors that have lights using imatation mullions and muntins. I applaud that choice and understand it completely. But the push stick and feather board can go a long way in reducing the risk and making this operation much safer.


A reader wrote me in the comment section of one of my blogs and asked how I like the Performax Pro 22-44 drum sander. He was considering purchasing one and wanted my opinion. I replied “I can’t say enough good things about the Performax Pro 22-44 drum sander”, and I can’t. So much so I thought I would write a post just about this invaluable tool.

This is not a power tool that gets used only on occasion – no sir. Nearly every board in my shop goes through it during at least one process step. Mostly immediately following the planner. I use it for final thicknessing of all parts using 80 grit paper. I may also use it for finish sanding of panels and other parts with 220 grit paper. This is especially true for stock that has grain direction changes that would cause tear out with a hand plane.

Bringing Door Stiles & Rails To Final Thickness My thicknessing process starts with the planner where the stock is brought to within 1/16” or 1/32” of final thickness. If the stock is figured wood such as tiger maple or blistered maple I may even leave the stock 1/8” over sized because tear out on figured woods can be excessive. I will then bring the stock to within 1/32” or 1/64” with the 80 grit paper on the Performax Pro. Depending on other factors, I may even bring it to final thickness with 220 grit drum paper.

The drum sander has five significant advantages over the planner for final thicknessing. First there is negligible to no snipe at the ends. Hence you can save two to four inches on rough stock lengths.

Second, small nicks in a planner or jointer blade leave noticeable ridges in the wood. This only happens on a drum sander if you have a burn in the paper from clogging (generally caused by pitch pockets). But the latter is extremely rare while the former is quite common.

Third, with fine paper you can attain the final thickness while also leaving the stock with a finished surface.

Fourth, you can finish figured woods with no tear out, which is nearly impossible on the planner.

Thicknessing A Wider Than 22" Panel After Glue Up Fifth, and this brings me to another feature of the Performax Pro in particular, is that you can thickness wide panels. The 22-44 in its name means you can sand panels as wide as 22” in single passes, or up to 44” in two passes. Note in the picture on the right that the panel hangs out the edge of the drum sander. Simply turn the panel around to sand the remaining portion.

This can be a little tricky on long and wide panels, for example, 30” wide and 72” long table tops. You must be careful to keep the piece moving and prevent it from drooping over the edge due to its weight. It helps to have a helper in such situations.

A Simple Leg Taper Jig One of the things about a drum sander is that it is relatively safe. You might get pinched if you are not careful but it is very unlikely that you would lose a digit or suffer a significant cut. In fact, if you use your imagination you can use the drum sander to de-risk otherwise risky shop operations. For example, tapering table legs can be a risky operation, particularly on a table saw. But you can taper legs on a drum sander very safely.

In the picture above left I have rough cut tapers on four legs using the band saw in free hand style (this is not a necessary step but one that makes things go quicker). No need to be accurate, just be sure to leave the taper line. Stay an 1/8” away from it if you are not confident about your free hand cutting ability with a band saw; or skip this step all together and do it all on the drum sander.

Tapering Table Legs With A Simple Jig & Drum Sander The jig is simple; use either 3/4” plywood, or as I have here, a Formica covered piece of particle board. Using double sided sticky tape place two pieces of 3/4” wood in the direction perpendicular to travel through the drum sander. Space them for the correct taper by sliding one board closer to or further away from the other until the taper lines are parallel to the jig surface. Place the rough taper legs as I have in the photo with one piece keeping the legs from moving beyond the end of the jig and the other providing the correct taper. You may wish to tape the top ends of the legs together to keep them from slipping sideways. Start with 80 grit paper and finish with 220 grit paper and feed the legs through while monitoring the taper lines. See photo at right above.

Finished Tapered Legs - No Sanding Necessary The finished legs are shown at left; they are completed and require no final sanding. I have found this method to be not only safe, but the final product is more accurate than when cut on the table saw. In addition there are no burn marks from the saw blade which is particularly troublesome with cherry. Lastly, any significant grain direction change is no problem for the drum sander, but might be for even a hand plane. These legs were made for an Office Table which you can read more about by gong to http://www.srww.com/office_table.htm.

Flattening A Panel After Glue Up Glue ups can create wide panels and no matter how careful you are the individual boards do not align perfectly. I generally leave panel stock 1/16” to 1/8” thicker than finished width. After the glue is dried I scrape any excess squeeze out from the panel and then draw numerous parallel lines on each side with carpenter’s crayon. I sand one side keeping an eye on the disappearance of the crayon marks. As soon as they are completely gone I turn the panel over and bring the opposite side to parallel. With 220 grit I then bring the panel to final thickness. See the picture at right.

Two things you need to know about this tool: One, you must have dust collection connected and running at all the times when you are using the Performax; Two, feed the material at half speed, using 1/8 turn on depth adjustment for each pass and don’t let the material stop. I have ruined several pieces of cherry when I first used the Performax Pro until I understood these issues.

One last piece of advice. If you do buy a Performax, it comes with a drive belt that moves the material which is similar to a sandpaper belt. Optionally they sell a rubber surfaced belt. Buy it. It’s worth the extra cost. The grip is better and it doesn’t mar your surface.

As you can see, the Performax Pro 22-44 drum sander is an invaluable and frequently useable tool. Not only does it do a better job in many situations, but it is often more accurate and safer. Its snipe free operation can result in less material used. And it can handle wide boards and panels that the planner cannot. It is the only tool that can handle figured or difficult wood without any chance of tear out. Even my trusty hand planes cannot guarantee that. This machine has been a workhorse in my shop and it is rugged and reliable. I wouldn’t hesitate a second to buy another if I found it necessary to do so. But I have a feeling this one will last so long that buying another will never be an option.


Wood Expansion Calculator 1.0 Sample Input Page Wood Expansion Calculator 1.0 is now available. The picture at left shows some of the major changes.

When using the Relative Humidity input option the temperature can be specified in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. The other temperature scale will be calculated and also displayed.

When choosing a Calculation Mode input boxes appear for receiving user specified dimension inputs. These can be supplied in either Imperial (US) or Metric units.

Metric dimensions require one, and only one, unit; either m, cm or mm. The following are the only valid inputs:

     i m
     i cm
     i mm
     d m
     d cm
     d mm

Where i is an integer whose first digit cannot be a zero. Where n is a decimal number and the first digit cannot be a zero unless the decimal point is immediately to its right. In fact, a decimal number less than 1 must begin with a zero such as 0.967 cm. Note the space between the dimension and its unit. This is required.

Imperial dimensions may require more than one unit, for example 3′ 7 1/64" is a valid input. The following are the only valid inputs:

     i"
     n/d"
     i n/d"
     f’
     f’ i"
     f’ n/d"
     f’ i n/d"

Where i, n, d, and f must be non-zero integers who’s leading digit also is not a zero, e.g. 0123 is invalid. Note, unlike the Metric units, there is no space between the dimension and its unit; in fact a space will create an illegal entry.

Wood Expansion Calculator 1.0 Sample Output Page Consistent with supplying the alternate units results as was the case with temperature, the output will show results in both systems of measurement. The type supplied by the user will appear first and the alternate second. A sample results page can be seen at right.

A number of bugs were fixed in this release but do not materially change the functionality.

There are future changes planned for Revision 2.0 that include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Provide the capability for users to supply their own Regions and corresponding EMC values.
  2. Provide the capability for users to supply their own Species and corresponding shrinkage factors.
  3. Provide memory so that user settings and inputs are restored when next the tool is opened.
  4. Strengthen the help messages, especially for the dimension inputs, and add more help features.

If you have any suggestions please pass them along in a comment to this post (preferable because others can see them) or forward them in email.

Download Wood Expansion Calculator here.

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