Handy tools

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Blog series by Dave Polaschek updated 03-31-2021 03:43 AM 14 parts 20311 reads 181 comments total

Part 1: Miter Jack

02-19-2018 01:38 PM by Dave Polaschek | 22 comments »

A few months ago, I bought a miter jack, thinking that I would need to be making some 45 degree miters for the upcoming box swap. Since then, I’ve changed my plans for what I’m going to build (I got better at dovetails, mostly) and might not be doing miters, but figured that I would play with my miter jack a little before I get started on the box construction for the swap. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a little procrastination? For those who aren’t familiar, a miter ...

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Part 2: Little froe and doweling plate

02-23-2018 01:32 AM by Dave Polaschek | 6 comments »

I put a handle on a big froe last year, but I’ve been wanting to make my own dowels lately, and that’s too big for splitting off small chunks of wood for dowels. So I asked my friend Jeff for a smaller tool. The result was this little froe. When combined with a doweling plate from Lie-Nielsen, I can split a piece of oak or ash off a scrap, run it down the sizes to 3/16” and trim it to length in under ten minutes. I did a half-dozen this evening to peg the French cleat into my rasp and ...

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Part 3: Mirror for cutting dovetails

03-04-2018 10:44 AM by Dave Polaschek | 13 comments »

As I attempt to get better at dovetails, one of the things that frustrated me was that I was continually cutting the back side either too low or too high. If I stop cutting to look around the back, I’ve changed my position, and it takes me a stroke or two to get everything lined up again and that can cause troubles. So I got a great little tool for $6 at the drug store. A folding stand mirror I can set up behind the dovetail I’m cutting so I can see the back side of the cut without changin...

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Part 4: Scratch stock

05-02-2018 01:06 AM by Dave Polaschek | 7 comments »

Not quite a project, but definitely a handy tool. While making the box for the 2018 box swap, I decided I needed to add a little ornamentation, so I built a scratch stock to put a bead along the edge of some of the pieces. Because there were concave curves to follow, I needed to make the end rounded (I used a 1/2” radius to match the curved pieces I’d made). Then I cut the wood in half, stuck in a piece of steel filed to a profile I liked, and screwed the wood back together. Here’s a t...

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Part 5: 45 degree jig

05-02-2018 11:00 PM by Dave Polaschek | 11 comments »

I used this shop-made jig while cutting dovetails for 135 degree corners (for making an octagonal box). It’s just a piece of 2×4 cut on the diagonal, then glued back together. The piece on the left above slides onto the piece on the right, and then the whole thing goes into a vise to hold the piece you’re working on at a 45 degree angle so you can saw on the level while cutting 45 degree angles in things. I started using it “head-on” but quickly realized it was use...

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Part 6: Octagonal Guillotine

05-03-2018 09:09 AM by Dave Polaschek | 16 comments »

While building my box for the swap, I wanted to put some banding around the top of the box. This would mean cutting the ends of the banding at 67.5 degrees (90 – 22.5), and I figured I was unlikely to get that uniform with a saw, so I built a guillotine for cutting that angle. I used a couple scraps from around the shop, a hinge from the hardware store, and the blade from a utility knife. The results were good enough that I used them on the top of my box straight off the guil...

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Part 7: Post drill

08-26-2018 03:51 PM by Dave Polaschek | 14 comments »

I got a post drill a while back. Traded Mos a spare laser engraver and some pictures of dead presidents for it. If you don’t know, a post drill is basically a hand-powered drill press, and I’ve had a few projects where such a thing would be handy, especially since I haven’t managed to find a completely straight 3/16 or 4/16 auger bit yet. Anyway, yesterday morning I headed up to Siwek Lumber bright and early and came home with four “stud grade” 2×6x104” studs. Screwed one ...

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Part 8: Knife making tools

06-09-2019 05:26 PM by Dave Polaschek | 12 comments »

I’ve been making stacked birch bark knife handles lately, and found a couple tools that made the process much easier. Note that the basic tools needed are something to cut the birch bark to size (unless you’re buying stacks from Russia, which are a pretty good deal, but a little short to do a complete job), and something to scrape the papery bits and any fungus off the outside of the bark. A card scraper will do just fine for the latter. You’ll also need something to put holes in the bark....

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Part 9: The truck kit

08-25-2019 01:43 PM by Dave Polaschek | 12 comments »

After a few times going to the resort, or driving down the road and seeing a piece of tree that might be useful, I decided to set up a small kit of hand tools that I would keep in my pickup so I would always have them with me. This week, I ended up putting that kit to the test, and added a few things to make it a nearly complete (if minimal) woodworking shop on wheels. Here’s part of it: From top to bottom: a hand screw, because work-holding is the most important thing with hand ...

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Part 10: Bowl horse

11-15-2019 06:18 PM by Dave Polaschek | 23 comments »

I moved earlier this year, and it’s going to be next year before I have a shop, so I decided to build a shave-horse / bowl horse as a way to keep busy and be able to do some woodworking. The first step was building the horse itself. A couple 4×4s, a 2×8, and a couple 2×4s. I bought the fake redwood pressure-treated stuff at Homer Depot because it was the straightest of the various tubas they had. Course it was basically saturated with water, so it’s interesting watching it m...

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Part 11: Scrub plane made from a maroon #3 Stanley

07-12-2020 04:02 AM by Dave Polaschek | 4 comments »

Found a guy on eBay who’s got a bunch of maroon #3 Stanley planes he’s selling for $37.50 each. They were $31 a year and a half ago when I bought one to try it out. At the time, I flattened the sole, decided it was a cheap plane and if I wanted to improve it, I’d probably need to buy a Hock plane blade at minimum. Today I decided I was going to repurpose it as a scrub plane. I pulled the blade and walked over to the grinder. I freehand ground something between a 4” and 6” radius on the end...

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Part 12: Fixed 3/8" marking gauge

11-14-2020 05:15 PM by Dave Polaschek | 11 comments »

Simple, but for every bookcase I build, I need to cut a dozen 3/8” wide & deep rabbets. Which means marking two dozen lines 3/8” from the edge of a board. I was initially using my fixed fence kerfing plane, but then I broke that by knocking it off my bench, which gave me an opportunity to rethink things. Since I’ve been practicing turning things with my lathe, I’ve got a bunch of round things. I took one of them, put a fence on it (another scrap) and then put a brass bra...

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Part 13: Quick mortar & pestle

12-27-2020 09:24 PM by Dave Polaschek | 6 comments »

I wanted to do some kolrosing (or kohlrosing) on my baby bow saw but the coffee grounds I got from my sweetie were far too coarse. So I whipped up this quick mortar and pestle from a piece of ash and a pine board. The pine board is awfully soft for a mortar, but it did the trick today. The pestle works pretty well, and I expect the end grain to get awfully brown since I’ll only be using it to grind coffee grounds to powder. It’s pretty handy having a lathe around to knock out other...

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Part 14: Ixion eggbeater drill

03-31-2021 03:43 AM by Dave Polaschek | 24 comments »

Got an Ixion eggbeater drill. It was in slightly rough shape, with everything working, but some surface rust, and the original finish mostly chipped off. Also, the wooden handle on the crank was gone, and the metal shaft was nasty with rust. So I gave it a good bath in citrus degreaser, then cleaned it up. Turned a new handle on the lathe, and used an 8d wire nail as a new shaft for the handle. Primed the metal that originally had enamel on it, then gave it four coats of shiny new ...

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