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A Tenuous Grasp



"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers."
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

As you may know, I have mortised. Can mortise be used as a verb? Obviously it can, though I am sure my 7th grade English teacher is rolling over in her grave. Actually, I don't know if she is dead, probably just wishful thinking on my part. I digress.

What is a mortise without a tenon? It is sad. It is lonely. It is unfulfilled. It is ying without yang, peanut butter without jelly, Simon without Garfield. Ok that last one wasn't a good example, as Paul Simon has done pretty well solo. Apparently I am still digressing.

After my 3 practice mortises and 4 real mortises, I realized it was time to create a verb out of tenon. I have read all sorts of interesting articles giving techniques and jigs one can use to cut tenons on the router table or table saw. I have neither yet. In a fit of impulse buying I had purchased a lovely coping saw a few weeks earlier. A Robert Larson saw made in Germany. I reasoned that with all the Germans have had to cope with in the last 100 years; they probably know a thing or two about this type of saw.

I find my coping saw to be quite wonderful. It cuts nicely, but alas it is not the tool for tenoning. I know this now. I am still very pleased to have it in my tool collection. I decided to try my Marples Japanese hand saw. I had not really used it in earnest before. It has two distinct types of teeth on it. This seemed to me to be significant and I reasoned that I should find out what each set of teeth was designed to do.

I wondered over to finewoodworking.com, where I gladly pay $4.95 per month to be a member. I figured I could find something about Japanese hand saws, and while I was looking I saw an article, "Guide for Cambering a Jack Plane Blade". I don't know what 'Cambering' is. I am equally uniformed as to what a 'Jack Plane' does. I assume it flattens large blocks of cheese. Not wanting to get distracted I passed on this article.

I found a wonderful article which had a diagram, which was vastly superior to the one I have here. Now I just needed to find a definition of 'rip' and 'crosscut', and I would be set.



I meticulously marked the board, took my saw to the basement, and clamped my bit 'o' hard maple into the vice. I decided I would cut off the short blocks on the end of the tenon first. This didn't take long at all. I then sawed the long bits off. I now had a tenon with four shoulders that were grotesquely uneven. Not to worry. I grabbed my trusty Black and Decker mouse sander and went to work. This was an abysmal failure. I now had shoulders that were smooth but not flat. Wisdom gained.

Never being one to get too stressed about failure, I decided I would take my mallet and see about gently inserting the tenon into the mortise. By gently I mean hammering it like Thor. This worked nicely, and though there was only one side of the combination that looked reasonable, it was so solid I couldn't pull it apart.

I have since learned that that first mortise tenon combo was too tight. It seems that when glue is applied the tenon will swell a bit. Though I didn't know that the joint was too tight at the time, I did know that it looked dreadful. So I brutally unjoined my joint and set the two pieces on the table. It was apparent that my grasp of tenon cutting was tenuous at best. I decided to sleep on it.

The next day I thought about it some more. It would be best to approach the cut differently. I would draw a box around the piece of wood, where the shoulders are supposed to be, and cut that first. It worked slightly better than my first method. Then as I was comparing the two, I had an 'ah ha' moment. I bet that the Master Woodworkers, clean up their tenons with their chisels!

With the speed of an Indy car driver, I grabbed my chisel and sheared off a bit of the shoulder. This was fun, and appeared to be helping. I spent a good deal of time chiseling off tiny bits here and there, occasionally setting my chisel on the shoulder and using it to see how close I was to flat, and then I learned a valuable lesson. If you are chiseling across a shoulder and coming up on the end of the board, it is best to stop and chisel back into the board. I learned this when I shaved the slightest bit off the shoulder and took a huge chunk out of the side.



Before I tackled the last two I looked up the best way to start a cut with a Japanese handsaw. I also drew a secondary box 1/32 below the 1st one. This made thing easier. I cut to the 1st box and chiseled to the 2nd one. It was also brought to my attention that one should hold the saw near the end of the handle, not apply too much downward pressure, and to just let the saw cut. Apparently these types of saws like to cut in straight lines. I am not sure that my saw is aware of this, but it does a pretty good job. A good enough job that I am planning on upgrading to a better saw. Any ideas or suggestions from the peanut gallery would be greatly appreciated. In fact, here are three questions I would love to have answered.

1. What is the best Japanese handsaw for cutting tenons or dovetails?
2. How do you get clean and flat shoulders on your tenons? (if you cut them by hand)
3. What is your favorite land mammal?

With my newly acquired knowledge I was able to improve the tenons marginally. I would give my tenons a c+, but only because the class is graded on the curve, and I intentionally signed up for woodworking for toddlers. Those 3 year olds with their barely developed motor skills, they make me laugh. In all seriousness though, I would imagine that just like in all other aspects of woodworking, practice goes a long ways towards perfection. So I am going to keep at it.

"The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions."
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
I was entertained by your article and bemused by your serious concern over the mortise and tenon.
However, I have rarely (read never) hand cut either mortise or tenon. I do the mortise with a router and the tenon with a table saw. A sharp chisel is used to refine the joint. I find the skill set more easily attained, leaving me to other, more tantalising matters, such as design of cabinets and learning SketchUp.
My answer to the 3rd question must be: The elephant.
Or is it the human?
I can't decide.
Oh well.
d
 

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Dovetail Delusions



"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

-Albert Einstein

Because of yesterdays joyous trip to the post office, I had high expectations that today I would find a plethora of woodworking DVDs and a smattering of books, waiting for me. My anticipation remains. Driving across the endless miles, actually yards, which make up Martelle, I thought of Albert Einstein and his bike quote. I haven't been on a bike in some time, but I was sure that all I needed to keep my balance was a bit of time practicing dovetails.

After the cutting, sometimes on the correct side of the lines, one needs to remove the waste. I am sure there are a bunch of useful tips on how one does this, but alas I haven't read any of them yet. For some unexplainable reason I seem determined to learn to cut dovetails by hand through experimentation. Even as I write this, it is clear that, this is at best, a dumb idea. Perhaps I will do some research before my next practice session.

A reasonable man would cut a set of pins after a set of tails. I am not a reasonable man. I am a logical man who has delusions of grandeur. Though there are clearly some issues with my first set of tails, I was generally pleased with how they look. I can do better. So I will cut some more practice tails, possibly quite a few of them, before I move onto the pins. There are two good reasons to approach my education this way. One, I am able to focus on one aspect and learn through repetition. Two, the errors one makes don't really become painfully apparent until the pins and tails are joined. I choose to maintain my warm fuzzy feeling for a few days more.

The source of my warm fuzzy feeling isn't the results. It started when I began to clean up the area around the tails with my chisel. As I pared away bits of wood I felt comfortable. I felt like my hands were beginning to get use to manipulating the chisel in a controlled fashion. Though I am delusional about the actual quality of my tails, I am not the least bit delusional about the amount of practice and work it takes to master the use of the chisel. I know that it will be some time until I am there, but seeing progress is all that I need to keep the motivation to continue.



Ok that isn't exactly true. A sign of progress is actually just a one ingredient in the inspiration salad. The recipe for inspiration salad, as it was told to me by Louise, a Cajun chef, motivational speaker, and part time bantamweight boxer, is as follows. One part motivation, two parts natural essence of obsessive compulsive, three tablespoons of competitive juices, mixed in a small wooden bowl (carved by a sharpening monk) and served on a bed of noodles covered in a white wine sauce. This combined with a healthy portion of pot stickers can feed the soul and body.

With each day I feel myself progressing nicely towards my dream of being to woodworking, what Albert Einstein was to the… 'Tour De France'.

Editors Note: It has been pointed out to me that the population of Martelle, according to the most recent census is 280. I stand corrected. I have fired the entire fact checking department, three secretaries, and two people in legal, just for good measure.
Brian,
I wish you as much success with making dovetail joints as you already have with the written word!

d
 

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Dovetail Delusions



"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

-Albert Einstein

Because of yesterdays joyous trip to the post office, I had high expectations that today I would find a plethora of woodworking DVDs and a smattering of books, waiting for me. My anticipation remains. Driving across the endless miles, actually yards, which make up Martelle, I thought of Albert Einstein and his bike quote. I haven't been on a bike in some time, but I was sure that all I needed to keep my balance was a bit of time practicing dovetails.

After the cutting, sometimes on the correct side of the lines, one needs to remove the waste. I am sure there are a bunch of useful tips on how one does this, but alas I haven't read any of them yet. For some unexplainable reason I seem determined to learn to cut dovetails by hand through experimentation. Even as I write this, it is clear that, this is at best, a dumb idea. Perhaps I will do some research before my next practice session.

A reasonable man would cut a set of pins after a set of tails. I am not a reasonable man. I am a logical man who has delusions of grandeur. Though there are clearly some issues with my first set of tails, I was generally pleased with how they look. I can do better. So I will cut some more practice tails, possibly quite a few of them, before I move onto the pins. There are two good reasons to approach my education this way. One, I am able to focus on one aspect and learn through repetition. Two, the errors one makes don't really become painfully apparent until the pins and tails are joined. I choose to maintain my warm fuzzy feeling for a few days more.

The source of my warm fuzzy feeling isn't the results. It started when I began to clean up the area around the tails with my chisel. As I pared away bits of wood I felt comfortable. I felt like my hands were beginning to get use to manipulating the chisel in a controlled fashion. Though I am delusional about the actual quality of my tails, I am not the least bit delusional about the amount of practice and work it takes to master the use of the chisel. I know that it will be some time until I am there, but seeing progress is all that I need to keep the motivation to continue.



Ok that isn't exactly true. A sign of progress is actually just a one ingredient in the inspiration salad. The recipe for inspiration salad, as it was told to me by Louise, a Cajun chef, motivational speaker, and part time bantamweight boxer, is as follows. One part motivation, two parts natural essence of obsessive compulsive, three tablespoons of competitive juices, mixed in a small wooden bowl (carved by a sharpening monk) and served on a bed of noodles covered in a white wine sauce. This combined with a healthy portion of pot stickers can feed the soul and body.

With each day I feel myself progressing nicely towards my dream of being to woodworking, what Albert Einstein was to the… 'Tour De France'.

Editors Note: It has been pointed out to me that the population of Martelle, according to the most recent census is 280. I stand corrected. I have fired the entire fact checking department, three secretaries, and two people in legal, just for good measure.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Now that's the first thing you've said that fails to reach my core of sanity.
Yes, yes, I know it's so small its hard to find.

d
 

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Dumb Mistake



It just makes me so darn angry. The life I have led has been one of logic. I am the son of a mathematician and much of my adult working years have been spent as an analyst. When I make a dumb mistake it grates on my nerves worse than finger nails on a chalk board. Now I don't have delusions that I am going to progress in woodworking mistake free. Quite the contrary, I see my mistakes as an opportunity to learn. I have learned a lot.

The angst I am feeling come from not only making a mistake, but spending a inordinate amount of time baffled by what was going on. I stood in my little workshop, no doubt, with a quizzical look on my face and just kept looking at the 4 pieces of wood. I had the two bottom feet and the two legs in hand. I had been careful to label each piece along the way. I am making 2 saw horses. So I labeled the feet, right foot 1, left foot 1, right foot 2, left foot 2, and so on and so forth. Because I am not able to cut perfect mortises and tenons, I felt it was important to make sure that all the pieces fit together as they are labeled. The slight differences mean that the parts won't work as well, if they are interchanged.

Seems reasonable doesn't it. My task today was to cut the tenons on the stretchers. I had cut the through mortises in the legs yesterday. I cut the tenons and though they are not perfect, they are better than any that I have cut before. Additionally, the cutting was much easier using my two new Japanese hand saws. I have read that it takes a bit of practice to get good with them, and that does seem to be the case, but with each cut, I get a little bit more accurate. The stretcher needs a tenon cut on each end, so I labeled the sides, after I marked them, rl rs and rl ls. The moment that the second side was marked, an alarm should have gone off. It did not.



So I took my stretcher downstairs and cut it. After the cutting, I wanted to assemble the feet, legs and stretcher, so that I might photograph it and write my nightly musings. It was the point at which I began assembling, that my brain began to become befuddled. Try saying "Brian's Brain Began to Become Befuddled" four times quickly. I digress.



I grabbed the feet and pounded the legs into them, using my old black rubber mallet, which chooses to leave marks on anything it touches, and I am quite sure, on some things it doesn't. Obviously I need to make a mallet purchase in the near future, but that isn't my point. I grabbed rl rs and pounded it into the right Leg. Then I grabbed rl ls and pounded it into the left leg. I don't know if you see the problem yet. I certainly didn't. The more I tried to make things fit right, the angrier I got. I was fairly disgusted by the time I caught the problem.

My labeling was Right Leg Right Side and Right Leg Left Side. I had used the right leg from both saw horses to mark my stretcher. This was the silliest mistake. A trained Angolan Wrestling Monkey wouldn't have struggled as much as I did with this one stretcher. For the next few minutes I was a little bit fussy. I then swapped out the left foot for the right foot from the second horse, and everything went together.
By the time I had finished photographing, my fuming ceased. I looked over my progress and though I could detect a myriad of mistakes and numerous black marks, I still felt a little bit of happiness welling up from deep in my innards. I have aspirations to create masterworks one day and my first saw horses are not masterworks, but what they are, they are among my first creations. That makes them special. I hope that when I am putting together cabinets or building dining room sets, that I don't forget these first little projects. That the tiny joys from doing something I love are never taken for granted. I pray that I always remember that, an hour in the workshop is to be treasured, even if it makes me a bit fussy.

The next step is to cut kerfs in the tenons, so that I can wedge a hunk of wood in there to make the fit tight. Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.
I have adopted the practice of modeling in SketchUp everything I do, even the simplest things. To me its like building things twice, but the first time it didn't waste any wood.

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Dumb Mistake



It just makes me so darn angry. The life I have led has been one of logic. I am the son of a mathematician and much of my adult working years have been spent as an analyst. When I make a dumb mistake it grates on my nerves worse than finger nails on a chalk board. Now I don't have delusions that I am going to progress in woodworking mistake free. Quite the contrary, I see my mistakes as an opportunity to learn. I have learned a lot.

The angst I am feeling come from not only making a mistake, but spending a inordinate amount of time baffled by what was going on. I stood in my little workshop, no doubt, with a quizzical look on my face and just kept looking at the 4 pieces of wood. I had the two bottom feet and the two legs in hand. I had been careful to label each piece along the way. I am making 2 saw horses. So I labeled the feet, right foot 1, left foot 1, right foot 2, left foot 2, and so on and so forth. Because I am not able to cut perfect mortises and tenons, I felt it was important to make sure that all the pieces fit together as they are labeled. The slight differences mean that the parts won't work as well, if they are interchanged.

Seems reasonable doesn't it. My task today was to cut the tenons on the stretchers. I had cut the through mortises in the legs yesterday. I cut the tenons and though they are not perfect, they are better than any that I have cut before. Additionally, the cutting was much easier using my two new Japanese hand saws. I have read that it takes a bit of practice to get good with them, and that does seem to be the case, but with each cut, I get a little bit more accurate. The stretcher needs a tenon cut on each end, so I labeled the sides, after I marked them, rl rs and rl ls. The moment that the second side was marked, an alarm should have gone off. It did not.



So I took my stretcher downstairs and cut it. After the cutting, I wanted to assemble the feet, legs and stretcher, so that I might photograph it and write my nightly musings. It was the point at which I began assembling, that my brain began to become befuddled. Try saying "Brian's Brain Began to Become Befuddled" four times quickly. I digress.



I grabbed the feet and pounded the legs into them, using my old black rubber mallet, which chooses to leave marks on anything it touches, and I am quite sure, on some things it doesn't. Obviously I need to make a mallet purchase in the near future, but that isn't my point. I grabbed rl rs and pounded it into the right Leg. Then I grabbed rl ls and pounded it into the left leg. I don't know if you see the problem yet. I certainly didn't. The more I tried to make things fit right, the angrier I got. I was fairly disgusted by the time I caught the problem.

My labeling was Right Leg Right Side and Right Leg Left Side. I had used the right leg from both saw horses to mark my stretcher. This was the silliest mistake. A trained Angolan Wrestling Monkey wouldn't have struggled as much as I did with this one stretcher. For the next few minutes I was a little bit fussy. I then swapped out the left foot for the right foot from the second horse, and everything went together.
By the time I had finished photographing, my fuming ceased. I looked over my progress and though I could detect a myriad of mistakes and numerous black marks, I still felt a little bit of happiness welling up from deep in my innards. I have aspirations to create masterworks one day and my first saw horses are not masterworks, but what they are, they are among my first creations. That makes them special. I hope that when I am putting together cabinets or building dining room sets, that I don't forget these first little projects. That the tiny joys from doing something I love are never taken for granted. I pray that I always remember that, an hour in the workshop is to be treasured, even if it makes me a bit fussy.

The next step is to cut kerfs in the tenons, so that I can wedge a hunk of wood in there to make the fit tight. Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.
I have adopted the practice of modeling in SketchUp everything I do, even the simplest things. To me its like building things twice, but the first time it didn't waste any wood.

d
 

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Henry Wood Detective Agency



Henry's head was still throbbing from ringing in the New Year. He looked at his calendar, a present from his brother in Manhattan, a New York Giants fan of all things. The calendar had a team picture of The World Series Champion Giants, who swept the Cleveland Indians in 4 games. It was galling for him to look at and he mumbled to himself, "At least the damn Yankees didn't win their 6th in a row." For though Henry didn't care for the Giants, the previous two years had seen his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers beaten by the Yankees, and he could barely stand it. But looking at Jan 1, 1955 filled him with hope and optimism. This would be the year for Robinson, Hodges, Reese, Koufax, Newcomb, Campanella and the boys. His day dreams were interrupted when there was a mouse like knock at the door. He started to yell, "Come in", but then lowered his voice and mumbled, "Yes?" His head ache made him wince in pains.

The door opened slowly and a tall svelte woman eased herself into his office. Her dark hair was pulled back in a bun. She was really quite striking, but obviously shy. He guessed librarian. "May I help you?" He asked, trying not to sound miserable.

"Are you Henry Wood, the detective?"

"Yes, and you are?"

"I am Luna Alexander, and I am afraid my father has gotten into a sticky situation. I need your help. I am sorry to bother you, and I didn't think you would be here, but…"

Henry was a detective by day and a woodworker by night. To be truthful, he was a moderately good sleuth, but a subpar craftsman. Just two days earlier he had been gluing up a jig for his router, to cut perfect dados, and the squeeze out had gotten everywhere. It had been a sticky situation, in its own right. He turned his attention back to Luna, who he was sure wouldn't be interested in his gluing issues.



After she had told him about her father, his background and when she had last seen him, she asked if she might sit down. When she took a seat, it seemed as if the weight of the world was threatening to crush her. She looked defeated and sad. "Will you help me?"

Henry was about to say that it sounded like a missing persons matter for the police, but instead said, "I would be happy to take your case Luna." She gave the slightest smile, stood and shook his hand. Henry wasn't sure, but he thought he caught the briefest glint of hope in her eyes. She handed him an envelope and said, "My address and number are in there, along with the retainer. Please let me know as soon as you find out anything."

As the door closed, he took out his little notebook and jotted down the details. Her father, a senior level accountant with Smith, Havershome and Blickstein Law firm and had been working for them for 20 years. Lately he had seemed distracted. He and Luna lived in a modest flat in Brooklyn and he took the train into the city. Luna worked at a bakery and was always up and gone before her father, but also arrived home several hours before him. She described him as a meticulous man. He liked routine and always came home at 6:22 each evening. Lately however, he had been getting home at all sort of odd hours, would skip dinner, not even bothering to listen to the radio. He loved his job, he loved radio mysteries, and he loved routine. She mentioned that she first started to notice something strange, when her father didn't even react to 'The Shadow' going off the air.

Henry wondered if 'The Shadow' knew what lurked in the heart of Mr. Alexander. He headed back to his tiny little house and into the basement. He checked his magic closet which had a time portal to the future, and occasionally a new and wonderful tool would show up. The Bosch router had arrived just a month or so earlier with a magazine describing all sorts of things it could do. The story of the portal was a mystery that Henry had not been able to solve, but since it hadn't sucked him into an abyss, and often gave him presents, he didn't care. Today it was empty. The glue up, from the day before, was ready for him to start the next step. He found that woodworking helped him mull over his cases.



The instructions, in the magazine by Woodsmith, indicated that the dimensions are rough, but Henry figured he needed the practice, so he devoted a bunch of time to precision. After cutting two pieces he realized he hadn't accounted for the kerf of his circular saw and had also made a measuring error of 2 full inches. He found it amusing that his attempts at precision had been such an abysmal failure. Henry had anticipated just such a result and had purchased plenty of extra lumber. On the upside, he had gotten much more comfortable with his circular saw. Henry was a glass half full sort of guy.

He took a few photos of the glue up and then went upstairs to call Mr. Alexander's firm. Then his foggy brain remembered that it was Saturday and also January 1, so he would have to wait until Monday. He returned to his jig and thought about Luna.
"What Evil lurks in the hearts of men-----"
 

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Henry Wood Detective Agency: A Good Review



A rotund man sits at a typewriter, his sausage fingers dance over the old Underwood, and he puts down his thoughts, his gospel if you will. He is revered or feared by all, there isn't any middle ground. He is the restaurant critic for the Brooklyn Daily News. If he likes a new restaurant then it will rocket up the charts quicker than a Wall Street broker chasing his secretary. If he unsheathes his poison pen then the restaurant owners will be spending their days in the serving line of the local soup kitchen. The clicking of key strikes is like a symphony to Francis Le Mangez. Today he is happy and full. "The soup was a delight and made me want to weep with joy. The Singe Café's, famous, monkey flambé, in a white wine sauce, tasted as if it had been prepared by angels and I savored each bite. If you go out for monkey only once this year, make it the 'Singe Café'."

Francis had an office across from Henry. Henry liked Francis and they would occasionally discuss food, politics and baseball, while throwing back highballs at the bar on the corner. Francis was a food snob, but he could also appreciate a greasy burger and a beer. As Henry put the key in his office door, Francis popped his head out, and said, "Your cop friend was here looking for you. I took a message."
He was, "What was the message?"

"Tell Henry to call me as soon as he gets back." said Francis, as he handed the tiny piece of paper to Henry, with a pretentious scowl. Francis and Mike McDermott didn't get along.

"Thanks", said Henry, "Eat anything good lately?"

"I had a wonderful dinner at The Singe Café on 17th street last night. I am writing it up now." He said, and whirled around and disappeared into his office.

Henry walked into the Wood Detective agency and put his hat on the hook by the door. He took off his overcoat and hung it next to the hat. He sat behind his desk, put his feet up and looked at the pencil. The numbers, so neatly written, were a message. He felt it was a message specifically to him, but he didn't know what it was, or what he was supposed to do.

He picked up the phone and called Mike. Mike McDermott had been in law enforcement for as long as Henry could remember. He solved more cases than anyone in the 5 boroughs, by using his razor sharp analytical mind, and sometimes a massive right hook. Mike loved chess and music. He had every recording of Enrico Caurso. He also enjoyed gardening and had an encyclopedic knowledge of root vegetables. When he was young, his nickname was 'Yam'. He was called 'yam' until a couple of fights and a growth spurt between his 9th and 10th grade years. After that he was called 'Big Mike'. Henry just called him Mike. Mike McDermott didn't have any use for private dicks, but he liked Henry.

The phone rang once and the voice on the other end bellowed, "Mike here…go."

"Mike, Henry here, I heard you were looking for me."

"So Frenchy gave you my message. I am surprised."

"He isn't so bad you know."

An audible grunt came over the line and Mike continued, "Word on the street is that you are poking around Smith, Havershome and Blickstein Law firm."

"So what if I am?" Henry played it cool. He didn't want to tip his hand. He actually didn't even know what cards he was holding, but he figured if Big Mike had gotten wind, then something must be up.

"Listen Wood, This is serious business you are sticking your nose into. If you know anything, you best come clean, before you get hurt." Mike said with an intimidating tone.

"You threatening me Mike?"

"Not me, but there are some dangerous people involved. I am trying to look after you." He replied with a friendlier tone.

"Dangerous people eh?" Henry said, trying to sound confident and hoping Mike would give him a clue as to what was going on. Henry needed a clue.

"I'm talking about the mob. The word is that some accountant has gone missing and they are anxious to find him. He knows things, things that could make a lot of people really unhappy."

"Thanks for the heads up. I will try to keep my head down." Henry said, and hung up the phone.

Henry was unsure of his next move and decided to head home. When he checked his magic closet he found that there was another gift from the future. A plastic case with a silver disk in it and a thing called a DVD player with a tiny screen that looked sort of like a television. The DVD was entitled simply, "Tage Frid", and it appeared it had come from 1997, as that was the copyright date on the back. Henry was delighted with his gift from the mysterious closet and when the screen came to life he marveled at the picture. It was in color.
Tage Frid came from Denmark in 1948, "after a couple of thousand students, I learned a few things" came from the tiny speakers, and after 75 minutes he had witnessed the charming old man teach him how he cuts dovetails, fixes a mistake, builds a drawer for a perfect fit, glues up pieces and his thought process in design. Tage Frid puts to use a jig he built 30 years ago. Henry quite liked the Danish woodworker's style. He thought about the DVD and that it was made 40 years in the future, about a man who was old, but today, in 1955, Tage Frid is a young man, who just arrived in the US a few years ago. Henry watched the DVD twice and marveled at the beauty of his furniture. He hoped that the closet would send him more of these DVDs, as they were very entertaining. He wished he could show someone his new toy, but he never told anyone about the time portal in his closet, for he feared that if he did, it just might disappear.

Henry wondered what Francis would say, what sort of review he would give this Tage Frid show. Henry knew that his recommendation would be 5 stars. He carefully put the DVD back in its case and put it and the player in a drawer under a blanket. He went to bed, thinking about Tage Frid furniture, and thinking about the numbers, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 23.
I have just one word.
Fibonacci

d
 

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Henry Wood Detective Agency: A Good Review



A rotund man sits at a typewriter, his sausage fingers dance over the old Underwood, and he puts down his thoughts, his gospel if you will. He is revered or feared by all, there isn't any middle ground. He is the restaurant critic for the Brooklyn Daily News. If he likes a new restaurant then it will rocket up the charts quicker than a Wall Street broker chasing his secretary. If he unsheathes his poison pen then the restaurant owners will be spending their days in the serving line of the local soup kitchen. The clicking of key strikes is like a symphony to Francis Le Mangez. Today he is happy and full. "The soup was a delight and made me want to weep with joy. The Singe Café's, famous, monkey flambé, in a white wine sauce, tasted as if it had been prepared by angels and I savored each bite. If you go out for monkey only once this year, make it the 'Singe Café'."

Francis had an office across from Henry. Henry liked Francis and they would occasionally discuss food, politics and baseball, while throwing back highballs at the bar on the corner. Francis was a food snob, but he could also appreciate a greasy burger and a beer. As Henry put the key in his office door, Francis popped his head out, and said, "Your cop friend was here looking for you. I took a message."
He was, "What was the message?"

"Tell Henry to call me as soon as he gets back." said Francis, as he handed the tiny piece of paper to Henry, with a pretentious scowl. Francis and Mike McDermott didn't get along.

"Thanks", said Henry, "Eat anything good lately?"

"I had a wonderful dinner at The Singe Café on 17th street last night. I am writing it up now." He said, and whirled around and disappeared into his office.

Henry walked into the Wood Detective agency and put his hat on the hook by the door. He took off his overcoat and hung it next to the hat. He sat behind his desk, put his feet up and looked at the pencil. The numbers, so neatly written, were a message. He felt it was a message specifically to him, but he didn't know what it was, or what he was supposed to do.

He picked up the phone and called Mike. Mike McDermott had been in law enforcement for as long as Henry could remember. He solved more cases than anyone in the 5 boroughs, by using his razor sharp analytical mind, and sometimes a massive right hook. Mike loved chess and music. He had every recording of Enrico Caurso. He also enjoyed gardening and had an encyclopedic knowledge of root vegetables. When he was young, his nickname was 'Yam'. He was called 'yam' until a couple of fights and a growth spurt between his 9th and 10th grade years. After that he was called 'Big Mike'. Henry just called him Mike. Mike McDermott didn't have any use for private dicks, but he liked Henry.

The phone rang once and the voice on the other end bellowed, "Mike here…go."

"Mike, Henry here, I heard you were looking for me."

"So Frenchy gave you my message. I am surprised."

"He isn't so bad you know."

An audible grunt came over the line and Mike continued, "Word on the street is that you are poking around Smith, Havershome and Blickstein Law firm."

"So what if I am?" Henry played it cool. He didn't want to tip his hand. He actually didn't even know what cards he was holding, but he figured if Big Mike had gotten wind, then something must be up.

"Listen Wood, This is serious business you are sticking your nose into. If you know anything, you best come clean, before you get hurt." Mike said with an intimidating tone.

"You threatening me Mike?"

"Not me, but there are some dangerous people involved. I am trying to look after you." He replied with a friendlier tone.

"Dangerous people eh?" Henry said, trying to sound confident and hoping Mike would give him a clue as to what was going on. Henry needed a clue.

"I'm talking about the mob. The word is that some accountant has gone missing and they are anxious to find him. He knows things, things that could make a lot of people really unhappy."

"Thanks for the heads up. I will try to keep my head down." Henry said, and hung up the phone.

Henry was unsure of his next move and decided to head home. When he checked his magic closet he found that there was another gift from the future. A plastic case with a silver disk in it and a thing called a DVD player with a tiny screen that looked sort of like a television. The DVD was entitled simply, "Tage Frid", and it appeared it had come from 1997, as that was the copyright date on the back. Henry was delighted with his gift from the mysterious closet and when the screen came to life he marveled at the picture. It was in color.
Tage Frid came from Denmark in 1948, "after a couple of thousand students, I learned a few things" came from the tiny speakers, and after 75 minutes he had witnessed the charming old man teach him how he cuts dovetails, fixes a mistake, builds a drawer for a perfect fit, glues up pieces and his thought process in design. Tage Frid puts to use a jig he built 30 years ago. Henry quite liked the Danish woodworker's style. He thought about the DVD and that it was made 40 years in the future, about a man who was old, but today, in 1955, Tage Frid is a young man, who just arrived in the US a few years ago. Henry watched the DVD twice and marveled at the beauty of his furniture. He hoped that the closet would send him more of these DVDs, as they were very entertaining. He wished he could show someone his new toy, but he never told anyone about the time portal in his closet, for he feared that if he did, it just might disappear.

Henry wondered what Francis would say, what sort of review he would give this Tage Frid show. Henry knew that his recommendation would be 5 stars. He carefully put the DVD back in its case and put it and the player in a drawer under a blanket. He went to bed, thinking about Tage Frid furniture, and thinking about the numbers, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 23.
OK, but they're all prime numbers!

d
 

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Henry Wood Detective Agency: A Good Review



A rotund man sits at a typewriter, his sausage fingers dance over the old Underwood, and he puts down his thoughts, his gospel if you will. He is revered or feared by all, there isn't any middle ground. He is the restaurant critic for the Brooklyn Daily News. If he likes a new restaurant then it will rocket up the charts quicker than a Wall Street broker chasing his secretary. If he unsheathes his poison pen then the restaurant owners will be spending their days in the serving line of the local soup kitchen. The clicking of key strikes is like a symphony to Francis Le Mangez. Today he is happy and full. "The soup was a delight and made me want to weep with joy. The Singe Café's, famous, monkey flambé, in a white wine sauce, tasted as if it had been prepared by angels and I savored each bite. If you go out for monkey only once this year, make it the 'Singe Café'."

Francis had an office across from Henry. Henry liked Francis and they would occasionally discuss food, politics and baseball, while throwing back highballs at the bar on the corner. Francis was a food snob, but he could also appreciate a greasy burger and a beer. As Henry put the key in his office door, Francis popped his head out, and said, "Your cop friend was here looking for you. I took a message."
He was, "What was the message?"

"Tell Henry to call me as soon as he gets back." said Francis, as he handed the tiny piece of paper to Henry, with a pretentious scowl. Francis and Mike McDermott didn't get along.

"Thanks", said Henry, "Eat anything good lately?"

"I had a wonderful dinner at The Singe Café on 17th street last night. I am writing it up now." He said, and whirled around and disappeared into his office.

Henry walked into the Wood Detective agency and put his hat on the hook by the door. He took off his overcoat and hung it next to the hat. He sat behind his desk, put his feet up and looked at the pencil. The numbers, so neatly written, were a message. He felt it was a message specifically to him, but he didn't know what it was, or what he was supposed to do.

He picked up the phone and called Mike. Mike McDermott had been in law enforcement for as long as Henry could remember. He solved more cases than anyone in the 5 boroughs, by using his razor sharp analytical mind, and sometimes a massive right hook. Mike loved chess and music. He had every recording of Enrico Caurso. He also enjoyed gardening and had an encyclopedic knowledge of root vegetables. When he was young, his nickname was 'Yam'. He was called 'yam' until a couple of fights and a growth spurt between his 9th and 10th grade years. After that he was called 'Big Mike'. Henry just called him Mike. Mike McDermott didn't have any use for private dicks, but he liked Henry.

The phone rang once and the voice on the other end bellowed, "Mike here…go."

"Mike, Henry here, I heard you were looking for me."

"So Frenchy gave you my message. I am surprised."

"He isn't so bad you know."

An audible grunt came over the line and Mike continued, "Word on the street is that you are poking around Smith, Havershome and Blickstein Law firm."

"So what if I am?" Henry played it cool. He didn't want to tip his hand. He actually didn't even know what cards he was holding, but he figured if Big Mike had gotten wind, then something must be up.

"Listen Wood, This is serious business you are sticking your nose into. If you know anything, you best come clean, before you get hurt." Mike said with an intimidating tone.

"You threatening me Mike?"

"Not me, but there are some dangerous people involved. I am trying to look after you." He replied with a friendlier tone.

"Dangerous people eh?" Henry said, trying to sound confident and hoping Mike would give him a clue as to what was going on. Henry needed a clue.

"I'm talking about the mob. The word is that some accountant has gone missing and they are anxious to find him. He knows things, things that could make a lot of people really unhappy."

"Thanks for the heads up. I will try to keep my head down." Henry said, and hung up the phone.

Henry was unsure of his next move and decided to head home. When he checked his magic closet he found that there was another gift from the future. A plastic case with a silver disk in it and a thing called a DVD player with a tiny screen that looked sort of like a television. The DVD was entitled simply, "Tage Frid", and it appeared it had come from 1997, as that was the copyright date on the back. Henry was delighted with his gift from the mysterious closet and when the screen came to life he marveled at the picture. It was in color.
Tage Frid came from Denmark in 1948, "after a couple of thousand students, I learned a few things" came from the tiny speakers, and after 75 minutes he had witnessed the charming old man teach him how he cuts dovetails, fixes a mistake, builds a drawer for a perfect fit, glues up pieces and his thought process in design. Tage Frid puts to use a jig he built 30 years ago. Henry quite liked the Danish woodworker's style. He thought about the DVD and that it was made 40 years in the future, about a man who was old, but today, in 1955, Tage Frid is a young man, who just arrived in the US a few years ago. Henry watched the DVD twice and marveled at the beauty of his furniture. He hoped that the closet would send him more of these DVDs, as they were very entertaining. He wished he could show someone his new toy, but he never told anyone about the time portal in his closet, for he feared that if he did, it just might disappear.

Henry wondered what Francis would say, what sort of review he would give this Tage Frid show. Henry knew that his recommendation would be 5 stars. He carefully put the DVD back in its case and put it and the player in a drawer under a blanket. He went to bed, thinking about Tage Frid furniture, and thinking about the numbers, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 23.
The only thing I'm now wondering is why the numbers 11,13,17 and 19 were skipped!

d
 

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To Build or Not To Build



A while back I talked about my desire to buy or build a router table. Today I have decided. I will build. It will be glorious. The factors that influenced my decision were many; quality, precision, flatness of the table, and to some extent cost. When I weighed all the factors the scales were greatly tilted in favor of buying either the Incra super system or the Veritas system. I choose to build, because I wanted to.

In a day or two, the router plate I ordered will arrive. This will cause much stress and fear, as I will likely need to drill some holes into it. It is possible that I will devote twenty to thirty hours measuring and remeasuring the placement of the holes, before I break down and call in someone from NASA. Since I don't have a drill press or know what type of bit to use, I calculate my chances for a cataclysmic failure to be at about 84%.
I began work on the stretchers. They are made from 2×4s. I have designed the table to have the same table top dimensions as the Kreg table, 24×32. When I say designed, I am using that term loosely, as I am actually just modifying the plans I used to build my work bench. Those plans were designed by the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine, Asa Christiana. My plans simply call for different dimensions, a set of freaking laser beams, and a Gatlin gun. It is actually going to be a router/urban assault table.

I am setting each leg in from the edge by 3 inches. The legs will be made from 4×4s. This means that the side stretchers will be 11 inches and the front and back will be at 19 inches. So I bought (2) 8 foot 2×4s and (2) 4×4. I also purchased 10 feet of 1×6 oak. It was pretty and I wanted it. I may use it as part of a fence or as a mount for the gun.

I was all set to cut my 8 stretchers when it occurred to me, that I should sand first. The voice in my head, with a thick German accent, said I was being 'Stupid'. I didn't listen to my inner German voice and I went ahead and started to sand. While I was sanding, I noticed several things. The first was that sanding one long piece was easier than sanding 4 little pieces. The second was that I didn't need to clamp and unclamp everything so often. Now admittedly, I would have used bench cookies were I sanding 11 inch pieces, to do the four inch faces, but still, it seemed more efficient. The third aspect that I really liked was that I didn't have to change the sand paper as often. I started with 50 grit on the belt sander. I then changed to 80, 150, and 220 on the mouse sander. I went through this cycle with each of the 4 sides. Obviously there would have been 4 times more grit changes, had I sanded each piece individually.



So that was all I did today, with regards to my woodworking. I sanded a 2×4. Not very dramatic or sexy, I will admit, but that is today's report. I feel I have let my reading public down. I have brought great shame to myself, my family, my ancestors, my sister's cat, and several neighbors here in Martelle. I can live with that.



On an entirely different note, today has been a banner day for the readership of the old blog. It is interesting that the eastern sea board, completely shut down by snowmageden, has had a fair number of people turning to my article on creating the cauls. The normal readership, which does not count the several hundred wonderful people which read the blog on Lumberjocks, is around 100, with the largest contingent being the 12 people from St. Louis who started reading a week or two ago. As of the writing of tonight's rambling, the number of people who stopped by to check out the blog was 261, with 77.78% being new visits. I don't know how many of those will return to see this post, but to those that do, I say, Thanks a bunch. I hope the snow melts for you quickly. And to the 12 from St. Louis I ask, do you know Eric Liu?

Brian,
I have an older Veritas router table system and I have never pierced its beautiful skin with a drill.
By the time a good sized router is attached, its heavy enough to stay right where it belongs, in the .125" depress.
You're going to love your router table.
I built mine into the far right extension of my tablesaw, so I can use the Beisemyer fence for both functions.
Carry on, Sir!
Cheerio!
d
ps, I just asked the Google to show me Martelle.
Quaint.
Next to the mighty Route 1 at the intersection of Martelle Road.
Handy to Cedar Rapids and not too far from the Metropolis of Chicago.
I have a sister in Keokuk.
Sorry, that wasn't a hairball, just me trying to say that name.
d
 

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Her Name is Angie



The response to yesterday's blog, "I Suck", was tremendous. The number of views went way up. I can only assume that there were a great number of people who agree whole heartedly, and likely have had this opinion for some time. When they saw the title, they were eager to revel in my realization, of that which they had always known. The comments were wonderful. I responded to a number of them and I looked up a lot of the products that people suggested. I am much smarter today. Thanks everyone.

I love math. I love the precision. I know that if I measure an identical distance on two pieces of wood, that given a slope of zero, when I drill, the holes will line up. It is simple math. I feel that it is important to show what happens when you drill one hole with a positive slope and one with a negative slope. As you can see it is not even close. This concludes my complaining about yesterday's misadventures, and now on to your regularly scheduled blog.



Social media is a wonderful thing. It allows us to meet new people, find wonderful blogs, join groups that are made up of people who share similar interests. Social media also allows one to be found. Yesterday I was found by a ghost from my past.

In the year nineteen hundred and eighty-five there was a girl; a young woman really, with curly blonde hair, an encyclopedic knowledge of sports, and gift for trash talking. I thought she was the cat's meow, and you know how I feel about cats. Admittedly, the saying, 'The Cat's Meow', had gone out of fashion in the late 20's, but I enjoy going 'old school', now and again. I digress.

She didn't think I was the cat's anything, but I was determined. I imagined that I would win her heart in a week or two, much like I imagined that when the holes were drilled in the router table legs, I would only have to tweak one or two of the sixteen. Angie was not so cooperative and fancied another boy. Of the sixteen holes, fourteen of them were hideously wrong.

After a couple of months of me not getting the hint; she just gave up and decided to go out with me. I still remember the first time I took her home to meet the parents. My father and Angie got into a serious sports conversation. I love sports, but Angie, was the 'Son' my father never had. I digress again. The point is that I wore her down, and I used this same determination today, to whip the legs into shape. The holes now line up. I am thrilled.

Another lesson was learned today. After an evening of sleep, the disasters of the day before, in the light of a new day, are merely opportunities to practice using my rasp. I enjoyed my woodworking today, and the time spent waxing nostalgic about freshman year.
Brian,
I envy your memories, so recent, that you seem to recall in such wonderful detail.
The memories of my youth have grown dim and, really, irrelevant, The best memories, for me, are the nearly 49 years with the love of my wife, Marge.
She has encouraged me to buy many tools.
That alone would be enough to build fond memories upon, would it not?
I have the advantage, having lived about 35 more years than you. Its good.
I read your blogs daily and enjoy them.
Thanks for that!
d
 

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Inspired by Ziggy



I believe it was Virgil who said, "They are able because they think they are able." When I say I believe, what I really mean is that I googled famous sayings and found it waiting there for me. Saying 'I believe', is simply me having delusions of well read.

I seem to remember Stevie Wonder saying, "We all have ability. The difference is how we use it." It was a warm day in June I believe. Ok, I made that last part up.

Back in the day, I used to hang out with David Bowie and Boutros Boutros Ghali, at a club in London. It was a moist evening and Bowie was passed out near the juke box, which was playing 'Spiders from Mars'. While doing shots with a small band of traveling circus folks, Boutros said, "If at first you don't succeed, form a committee, discuss things at length, and…". He became distracted by the bar maid, then continued, "..and…what was I saying?...oh yes…Can I get another freaking round of jello shots!" Jimmy the 'Monkey Boy', looked confused, until I explained that this was the closest he had ever come to having a coherent thought. The evening ended badly, when Bowie awoke and decided he wanted to ride an elephant.

Obviously I have run amok on the ole keyboard and can't be trusted to tell a story without embellishment. And by embellishment I mean complete fabrication. I digress. Sometimes that happens when one is filled with Olympic spirit and lean pockets.



I had a wonderful couple of hours of woodworking this evening. There were several tasks I wanted to complete. First of all I needed to cut the 3/8th inch threaded rods with an ancient hacksaw. After the rods are cut, the next step is to put them into the stretchers. Once all the stretchers are ready to go, I needed to drill a 3/8th inch hole for the dowel pegs. The dowel pegs are used on the top half of each stretcher to keep the stretchers vertical and aligned when the legs are assembled. The last task on my list was to assemble the legs.
Because I have already done all of these steps during the construction of my workbench, I am able to see how I have progressed as a woodworker. Getting to this stage the first time, took 3 weeks, compared to less than a week this time. The holes I have drilled, despite their issues, were much easier with my new Bosch drill bits. Each step was easier because I had a workbench. Just having that vice makes life so much easier. The routing portion was less scary because of the jig I created. Every aspect has been faster, more accurate, and more enjoyable.



I have completed the legs for my router table. Victory is mine. The next steps will be to lay out the top of the table. I must decide if I want to use 1 or 2 sheets of ¾ inch ODF. Buy a piano hinge. Mark and cut out the opening for the router plate. Route out a channel for the T track. Install the plate and drill out the holes for router. Then I will figure out what I am going to build for a fence. It is clear that I still have a bunch of work to do, but I am excited, because these next steps are going to be new territory for me. The installation of the router plate and the drilling the holes scares me a little, but I will figure it out.

When combined, each of these little triumphs, give me confidence. I do feel I am able, and as I have completed all the tasks, have proven that it is so. Virgil was correct. So I am done for the night, time to kick back, watch Olympics and possibly listen to 'Changes'.
What in the name of woodworking is ODF?

d
 

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Inspired by Ziggy



I believe it was Virgil who said, "They are able because they think they are able." When I say I believe, what I really mean is that I googled famous sayings and found it waiting there for me. Saying 'I believe', is simply me having delusions of well read.

I seem to remember Stevie Wonder saying, "We all have ability. The difference is how we use it." It was a warm day in June I believe. Ok, I made that last part up.

Back in the day, I used to hang out with David Bowie and Boutros Boutros Ghali, at a club in London. It was a moist evening and Bowie was passed out near the juke box, which was playing 'Spiders from Mars'. While doing shots with a small band of traveling circus folks, Boutros said, "If at first you don't succeed, form a committee, discuss things at length, and…". He became distracted by the bar maid, then continued, "..and…what was I saying?...oh yes…Can I get another freaking round of jello shots!" Jimmy the 'Monkey Boy', looked confused, until I explained that this was the closest he had ever come to having a coherent thought. The evening ended badly, when Bowie awoke and decided he wanted to ride an elephant.

Obviously I have run amok on the ole keyboard and can't be trusted to tell a story without embellishment. And by embellishment I mean complete fabrication. I digress. Sometimes that happens when one is filled with Olympic spirit and lean pockets.



I had a wonderful couple of hours of woodworking this evening. There were several tasks I wanted to complete. First of all I needed to cut the 3/8th inch threaded rods with an ancient hacksaw. After the rods are cut, the next step is to put them into the stretchers. Once all the stretchers are ready to go, I needed to drill a 3/8th inch hole for the dowel pegs. The dowel pegs are used on the top half of each stretcher to keep the stretchers vertical and aligned when the legs are assembled. The last task on my list was to assemble the legs.
Because I have already done all of these steps during the construction of my workbench, I am able to see how I have progressed as a woodworker. Getting to this stage the first time, took 3 weeks, compared to less than a week this time. The holes I have drilled, despite their issues, were much easier with my new Bosch drill bits. Each step was easier because I had a workbench. Just having that vice makes life so much easier. The routing portion was less scary because of the jig I created. Every aspect has been faster, more accurate, and more enjoyable.



I have completed the legs for my router table. Victory is mine. The next steps will be to lay out the top of the table. I must decide if I want to use 1 or 2 sheets of ¾ inch ODF. Buy a piano hinge. Mark and cut out the opening for the router plate. Route out a channel for the T track. Install the plate and drill out the holes for router. Then I will figure out what I am going to build for a fence. It is clear that I still have a bunch of work to do, but I am excited, because these next steps are going to be new territory for me. The installation of the router plate and the drilling the holes scares me a little, but I will figure it out.

When combined, each of these little triumphs, give me confidence. I do feel I am able, and as I have completed all the tasks, have proven that it is so. Virgil was correct. So I am done for the night, time to kick back, watch Olympics and possibly listen to 'Changes'.
Employing a specific web search, I found no information on any material called or specifies to be ODF or optional density fiberboard.
Perhaps I missed something.
Is this possibly a house brand marking?
If this is really a new material or a better sort of MDF or HDF I'd like to know about it because improved materials are of great interest to me.
Can someone provide a link to a manufacturer or retailer that specifies ODF?
Thanks,
Don
 

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Practicing Hand Cut Dovetails



I have been spending so much time working on my router table that I haven't done any pure practicing. So I set a goal to cut two sets of dovetails. Previously I had cut a set of tails, but have been way too much of a Wimpy McWimperson to try the pins. I wanted to live with the joy of the tails for a while, before I had to face the cold hard reality that the pins and tails don't really fit together that well.

Tonight reality slapped me around and called me a sissy. But that is ok, I needed it. The mental thrashing I took, from my poorly fitting joints, was somewhat motivating. When I cut the mortise and tenons, they weren't pretty, but I practiced and they got better. I am confident that my dovetails will improve too. Were I to assess both sets, I would say I made a marginal improvement from the first to the second. The first pair was pretty loose, while the second was much tighter.



The wood is oak. I used my Japanese hand saws for the cuts. I think that the main issue was with the quality of my saw cuts, especially the angled ones. I have made a fair amount of straight cuts with my saws, and the angled cuts are of a higher difficulty level. Not as high a difficulty level as the triple salchow, but I digress. Of course, cutting dovetails by hand, isn't a requirement for quality woodworking, but like the chisel work, I believe the skill will help me with my understanding of joints.



Before today I hadn't thought about the pins and their relationship to the tails. It seems the tails need to be on the side of the drawer. If it were the pins on the side, I imagine the drawer would come apart. I enjoyed my dovetail practice and it might be nice to do a small drawer and somehow graft it onto my router table. Will it look out of place? Yes, probably, but I can live with that, if it actually works and can hold my router bits.
So tonight I practiced, I chose a skill, which I don't have, and began to develop it. I believe that progress is to be celebrated. The imperfections that one creates along the way can be looked at lovingly, down the road, as sign posts on the journey taken.



On an unrelated note, my friend Steve is a financial backer of a band called, 'Hello Dave'. They are really quite good and have recently released a video on the CMT website. Apparently, if enough people go to the site and listen to the video, it is possible, that it will get elevated to the status of being played on TV. Steve has been a good friend for a long time and he has put a great deal of time and energy into 'Hello Dave', and I wanted to take the opportunity to plug them. If you would like to help Steve and 'Hello Dave', to maybe have their dream come true, all you have to do is click on the link and give it a listen. I think you will enjoy it, and I would appreciate the help. http://bit.ly/94CrCi
Brian,
I have no wisdom to pass on in regard to hand cuttting dovetails, since that is one skill I haven't tried yet.

But I wanted to pass on my comments on Hello Dave, the band.
I enjoyed their music and it pleased me that it wasn't hard rock, which I detest.
I noticed the skilfull video cuts which not only increased visual interest but also exhibited considerable resources at their disposal.
I will refrain from further comment on the pretty 'fiddler'. ;-)

Best regards,
db
 

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Frantic Speed Shopping



The sun was out today and it was the first time this year that I noticed the days seem to be hanging out a bit longer. They are sneaky that way, sort of creeping up on spring. After all the snow this winter, I will welcome spring with a giddiness that I haven't experienced in years. Of course, it was still cold out, when I got into my car, but the sunlight on my face warmed my spirits considerably.

I had errands to run. I needed to get some petrol and oil for my car. I was craving a Jimmy John's sub, so that was also on my list. The top task on my list however, was to try to make it over to ACME tool before they closed, so I could see the Festool rep. I had marked on my calendar that he would be in town on the 24th and 25th and today is the 24th! Since I purchased Mary the Jigsaw, I have been interested in seeing either the 5" RQ 125 FEQ or the 6" RQ 150 FEQ sander in action.

The Festool representative, Matt, had a piece of tiger wood, which had recently admitted to cheating on his wife with several types of exotics, from all over the world. Not only did I get to see it in action, I got to do the sanding! It was fantastic. He explained how to hold it correctly and also told my why it was important. Because of the design, it sort of looks like one might hold the sander too far back. He explained that this would lead to horrible chatter. So I did as he had instructed and there wasn't any chatter, it was smoother than a famous golfer picking up a porn star.

We started with some 120 grit and worked our way up until we were using some weird space age polishing pads. I have read that new woodworkers often over sand. The 6" RQ 150 FEQ sander, which has a random orbital setting and a gear setting, also has an attachment which collects dust. The dust collection was incredible. There simply wasn't any, the tiny little vacuum seemed to get it all. When I had made it through all the grits and polishing pads, the wood was polished like a new driver.

Before I knew it, the store was closing. I wasn't prepared to make my purchase today, as I like to mull tool buying decisions over, but I also was not at all prepared to leave ACME tool empty handed. That would be crazy talk. So in a near panic I scooted over to the section with measuring and marking devices. I swooped down the aisle, deftly grabbing a Crown Tools 10 ½ inch bevel in rosewood, a wheel marking guage by Shop Basics, and then frantically hailed one of the remaining workers, to unlock the Freud router bit cabinet. The ACME guys are always friendly, and they never rush me, but I have developed a terrible habit of making them wait on me to close up, so I am trying to do better. I looked at my iphone and I had my new ¼" double flute straight bit, with one minute to spare. I plopped the stuff on the counter and bought them. Whew that was close.

Worry not, if you thought that the closing of ACME, cut my woodworking shopping short, for I still intended to wonder over to Home Depot. Between ACME tools and Home Depot is a Jimmy John's sub shop, so that played right into my plans. I had the #5. Yummy!

As many of you know, I am working on building a router table. I have some ¾" ODF, which I thought I might take two sheets of and glue them together for the top. I have decided against that option, in favor of a more expensive one. I want each project to teach me a bit more about woodworking. So I have decided to glue up a bunch of 1×2 pieces of hard maple and oak, to create the table. Of course, I will be standing the pieces on their edge, so that the final thickness will be similar to the 2 pieces of ODF, but it will let me do some gluing. Also, I have been dying to try out my cauls, so this should be fun.

There is one additional benefit. I plan to assemble the tops, such that there is an opening, which is about a half inch smaller than my router table plate. This eliminates the need to cut a hole. I will give a more detailed explanation about how I approached my table top, after I have completed it. I bought 70 linear feet of wood, a piano hinge, and some Titebond II Premium wood glue. All in all, a good day, and now I get to go downstairs and cut some wood.
Brian,
I'm astonished! No, really.
Your reference to your $11,000 desktop computer bowls me over.
I spent many years in the computer world, building and tending networks, installing equipment of all kinds and responding to problem calls of every sort imaginable.
Even so, I never came into contact with an eleven thousand dollar computer.
Nor have I seen a five thousand dollar one.
And I would love to have ten thousand to start my office over again. The head swirls with the thoughts of what I could buy, the computer, the peripherals, - !!!!
I thought I had a pretty good computer, with its Core2 quad processor, a boat-load of RAM and a huge hard drive.
I'm very satisfied with the nice router sitting on top of my tower and the nice fast Internet access it gives me. My two high res printers sit there on the right end of my table waiting, quivering to do my bidding,
BUT - the whole lot didn't cost even five thousand.
The thought of spending that much on a computer while driving a car that cost less gives me a feeling like a burr under my saddle.
Of course, I've admired fine cars for many years, I've been accused of being an automotive snob, and if I could have one I'd be driving a one hundred thousand dollar car and still living in a two hundred year old house.

Priorities. We all have them and there's no accounting for them.
What I think is important and worthy of occupying the top spot on my list would make other people crazy.

But I can't get over the thought of an eleven thousand dollar computer!
Mmmm! Does it make your breakfast, too?
I'm just kidding, Brian, because I'm so stunned.

All that ramble is preface to my next comment.

I concur with Jim, who owns more tools than I would have space for or the skill to use them.
For the price of a Festool tool (that does sound like stuttering, doesn't it?) I could have several well made, well regarded tools.
I would never, as far as I can imagine, opt for a Festool rather than a solid Grizzly, for example.

And please, please, let's not start a big argument over the idea of spending too much or too little for one's toys and tools.
Brian, I respect your right to spend your money on whatever you want. Its none of my business.
But I am overwhelmed to think of it.

d
 

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Frantic Speed Shopping



The sun was out today and it was the first time this year that I noticed the days seem to be hanging out a bit longer. They are sneaky that way, sort of creeping up on spring. After all the snow this winter, I will welcome spring with a giddiness that I haven't experienced in years. Of course, it was still cold out, when I got into my car, but the sunlight on my face warmed my spirits considerably.

I had errands to run. I needed to get some petrol and oil for my car. I was craving a Jimmy John's sub, so that was also on my list. The top task on my list however, was to try to make it over to ACME tool before they closed, so I could see the Festool rep. I had marked on my calendar that he would be in town on the 24th and 25th and today is the 24th! Since I purchased Mary the Jigsaw, I have been interested in seeing either the 5" RQ 125 FEQ or the 6" RQ 150 FEQ sander in action.

The Festool representative, Matt, had a piece of tiger wood, which had recently admitted to cheating on his wife with several types of exotics, from all over the world. Not only did I get to see it in action, I got to do the sanding! It was fantastic. He explained how to hold it correctly and also told my why it was important. Because of the design, it sort of looks like one might hold the sander too far back. He explained that this would lead to horrible chatter. So I did as he had instructed and there wasn't any chatter, it was smoother than a famous golfer picking up a porn star.

We started with some 120 grit and worked our way up until we were using some weird space age polishing pads. I have read that new woodworkers often over sand. The 6" RQ 150 FEQ sander, which has a random orbital setting and a gear setting, also has an attachment which collects dust. The dust collection was incredible. There simply wasn't any, the tiny little vacuum seemed to get it all. When I had made it through all the grits and polishing pads, the wood was polished like a new driver.

Before I knew it, the store was closing. I wasn't prepared to make my purchase today, as I like to mull tool buying decisions over, but I also was not at all prepared to leave ACME tool empty handed. That would be crazy talk. So in a near panic I scooted over to the section with measuring and marking devices. I swooped down the aisle, deftly grabbing a Crown Tools 10 ½ inch bevel in rosewood, a wheel marking guage by Shop Basics, and then frantically hailed one of the remaining workers, to unlock the Freud router bit cabinet. The ACME guys are always friendly, and they never rush me, but I have developed a terrible habit of making them wait on me to close up, so I am trying to do better. I looked at my iphone and I had my new ¼" double flute straight bit, with one minute to spare. I plopped the stuff on the counter and bought them. Whew that was close.

Worry not, if you thought that the closing of ACME, cut my woodworking shopping short, for I still intended to wonder over to Home Depot. Between ACME tools and Home Depot is a Jimmy John's sub shop, so that played right into my plans. I had the #5. Yummy!

As many of you know, I am working on building a router table. I have some ¾" ODF, which I thought I might take two sheets of and glue them together for the top. I have decided against that option, in favor of a more expensive one. I want each project to teach me a bit more about woodworking. So I have decided to glue up a bunch of 1×2 pieces of hard maple and oak, to create the table. Of course, I will be standing the pieces on their edge, so that the final thickness will be similar to the 2 pieces of ODF, but it will let me do some gluing. Also, I have been dying to try out my cauls, so this should be fun.

There is one additional benefit. I plan to assemble the tops, such that there is an opening, which is about a half inch smaller than my router table plate. This eliminates the need to cut a hole. I will give a more detailed explanation about how I approached my table top, after I have completed it. I bought 70 linear feet of wood, a piano hinge, and some Titebond II Premium wood glue. All in all, a good day, and now I get to go downstairs and cut some wood.
Brian,

No, no, a thousand times, NO!
I am NOT offended.

Please forgive me if I made it sound that way.

Mea culpa.

d
 

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Eyeballing Challenge



In a hidden monastery, far from the prying eyes of a suspicious public, a great and strange sharpening monk spent his days. He sharpened chisels, he crafted brilliant pieces of furniture, and he doled out nuggets of wisdom whenever someone was unfortunate enough to be within ear shot. There are a few, myself among them, who believe that he was not crazy, but wise beyond most people's grasp.

He used to say, "Hone your senses as you would hone your chisel." He would often follow this up with, "Hone your tools as you would Honus Wagner." It is these sort of statements, that left all but the most ardent woodworkers or Pirates fans, checking their watches and stammering something about the time, being late, and needing to be off.

But if you watch him work, if you paid close attention to how he used touch to gauge the flatness of a board, or sight to start his dovetails or even his hearing, to tell him when his saw wasn't exactly cutting the way he wanted, you knew that he might be onto something. This monk, this wise and charming man, would mark his boards, check his measurements, and then look at them one more time. On occasion, he would cock his head to one side, then measure again, and find that he had made an error. Sometimes just the slightest error, but he would always catch it, before he cut.

I asked him once, how he did this, how he always seemed to sense that something was awry. He said, "I have trained my eyes to smell a bad fish." To which I replied, "Wow, look at the time, I think I am supposed to be…" and backed out of the room. I liked him, but on occasion, he was too cryptic for me.
I was thinking about this wise old sharpening monk today, when I discovered a wonderful online game. A game that I believe will sharpen my sense of space and proportion. I believe it will improve my eyes ability to 'smell a bad fish'. I think he might have meant 'to see something fishy', but I didn't think of that at the time. Of course, he may have just wanted to be left alone, and drove me away. He was very wise and crafty, but I digress.

It is called the eyeballing game. http://bit.ly/dhPhwI I think that it will appeal to woodworkers. I feel that if I am better able to see a 90 degree angle, or visualize where 3 points would meet in space, then I will also be able to 'smell a bad fish'. This will make me a better woodworker, or at least that is my theory.

So my question of the day is this. What is your score on the eyeballing game?

I would love to know what people think about my theory. Does it have merit? Do you think that if one improved this skill, they would make fewer errors?

Wait a minute that is three questions. Oh well, that happens sometimes. Enjoy and please leave your score. My best is 2.91, though I just tried again, and I got 3.2. It is very fun, and very addictive.
4.8

dhb
 

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Abby Someone



"Whose brain did you bring me?" asked young Frankenstein.

"Abby someone…Abby Normal I believe" responded Igor.

If you are a movie buff, or Royce Alger, then it will be obvious that this is from the classic Mel Brooks film, "Young Frankenstein" It sprang to mind when I was asked if I was normal.

I had been carrying on a conversation with a woman on Linkedin. I sent her an invitation to connect, and she responded, "Going to hope you're not oddball-seems normal. Usually add people I know well to connect - but been more open, these days. Want to be in a 'good crowd' - perceptions = reality"

Naturally I assumed she meant Donald Sutherland's character in the 1970's classic 'Kelly's Heroes', Sgt. Oddball. Or perhaps she actually meant Donald Sutherland, either way; it was probably a good idea to make sure I wasn't Mr. Sutherland.

I responded, "Define normal.", after I determined that she was using the adjective oddball, and applying it to me. Actually, she was saying I seemed normal. This concerned me, because it was apparent, in our brief conversation, that I may have misrepresented myself.

She responded, "Not sure I can. but funny come-back. Guess I'll just have to follow you to see."
I liked her wait and see attitude. She was leaving the door open to bailing, but doing it in such a way that was not at all offensive to me. I thought she was being quite prudent. But I did feel a bit guilty, knowing as I did, the ultimate conclusion she would reach. So I felt obligated to respond.

It was a great question, one that I think everyone should ask of themselves.

The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that I am not normal at all. I am the son of a mathematician, and when I think of normal, I think of a normal distribution curve.

"I have worked very hard to avoid being part of the normal distribution in all that I do. I found a fun game yesterday, and have been playing it, trying to move further away from 'normal'. [Editors note: The Eyeballing Game]

I love to read. Surely that isn't normal in this day and age. I am fascinated by words and language and like to play scrabble. Most of my friends find the game boring, so they would say that isn't normal.

I worked as a volunteer docent at the Corcoran gallery in DC, for a year, before I moved back to Iowa. Most people wouldn't want to spend hours in a museum, most normal people that is.

I have a PC and an iphone, and like both Apple and Microsoft, surely that is odd. Many people get as worked up about Apple vs. Microsoft, as they do about politics. I don't. That isn't normal at all.

In my blog, I wrote an introduction in iambic pentameter, just to see if I could. Most normal people have never heard of this style, and I am sure, don't feel that they are missing anything.
People who are passionate about politics consider their positions normal, though half the country disagrees with them.

A normal person would prefer to go to a movie, in a group, watch endless car chases and gun play. I would rather go to a foreign film, alone, and then meet up with my 'car chase, no dialogue' loving friends afterwards.

I bought an electric piano, with weighted keys, when I was 38, just because I have always wanted to learn the piano. I still stink, but I love to play around with it. Who does that? Certainly not a normal person.

I just can't think of a single thing in my life that is 'normal'. I am happy though. I really enjoy life. Which, I would assume, is also, not normal."

She liked my response, and thought it should be part of a blog post. I just checked and we are still connected. I will send to her the link to tonight's blog post, and she can read some of the other silliness.
Perhaps then she will be able to finally conclude, that on a scale of normal to oddball, I am tilting towards odd.



I thought about this a lot tonight, as I ran my router over the laminate top. Each pass is so close to perfect, so much better than the other side, that I am almost amazed. The sanding is going to take far less time. I will then use the same methodology on the middle section. Once that is done, I will be able to move onto cutting the middle section in half, routing the edges to take the router plate, and then glue the 3 table pieces together.



I am confident that I can get through all of those steps this weekend. It feels like I am well over half way done with my router table, though I could be wrong. It is possible I will decide to add some upgrades to it, thus moving the finishing line further and further away. It is ok though, as it all makes me better at this wonderful hobby.

Well now I am going to go back into my basement, on a Friday night, and spend hours and hours playing with chunks of wood. That seems a little odd to me, but perhaps I am not the person to ask. [Editor's note: Normally we don't include cow shots.]
I just recieved a photo taken when I was about six.
There I was, at the end of the Great Depression, wearing oversized pants held up with little suspenders, funny plastic glasses on my nose, squinting one eye.
Holy Cats!!!!
I was a geek from the very beginning!
Normal? I don't think anyone has ever considered me normal.
Define normal?
In the nearby small city of Erie, PA, it is normal for violence to occur on a daily basis.
Shootings in the street so often people are getting used to it.
Prostitution, drug dealings and even - gasp - people driving while texting!

No, I'm not normal and have never claimed to be. Don't want to be. Not in the present conditions.

d
 

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Angry Pants and Pop-Tarts



The DVD 'Chip Carving', with Wayne Barton, starts out with some Bavarian folk music as Wayne narrates about chip carving. Ok, I am not exactly sure about the music, but it is not terribly modern. It is pretty cheesy. I can't say for sure, but I would guess it was cheesy in 1986 too. Despite the rather simple production quality, I think this is going to be a good video.

The tools required are a carving knife and a stabbing knife. I have only a carving, so stabbing will have to wait. The dimensions for the first instructional carving lines are 2 mm, 4 mm, 4 mm and 2 mm. Thus far, drawing lines is within my skill set.

Ok, this is going to be a short blog tonight. Apparently I was a bit cocky when I said, "drawing lines is within my skill set". Drawing the lines on the wood, so I can start the video has pissed me off terribly. I am no longer having fun. I like the idea of chip carving and I am going to stay with it, but I am not going to write anymore for now. That being said let me write a bit more. I have become an 'Angry Pants'. I love precision and the problem seems to be that my eyes are not as good as they used to be. I have reading glasses and they seem to be helping a little bit, but I am still not at all getting perfect lines.

I think the problem, nay the source of my anger, is not the silly 2 and 4 millimeter lines, it is the whole getting old thing. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. Who do I talk to about this? It is the freaking twenty first century and we haven't solved this whole aging thing yet? Come on people! Surely there are some mad scientists, or at the very least, some mildly disgruntled scientists, who are trying to fix this annoying problem?

With each passing year I come to grips with what can't be done. I am 5' 6" tall. In my late 30's I gave up on the thought that one day, I would become a rabid gym rat, work on my calves, and eventually be able to dunk. I am older than all the pro athletes, in all the sports, so the dream of suddenly developing into a world class tennis player has vanished. The list goes on, dating a super model, winning a noble peace price, finding the secret to alchemy, and dating another super model, have all been scratched off as being unreasonable.

Of course, all of these dreams were unreasonable from the beginning, and I know this. However, when one is day dreaming, before entering their 40's, it is still possible to be delusional enough to imagine qualifying for the U.S. Open. Naturally this then leads to beating Tiger Woods on the 18th hole, by making eagle, with an 8 iron, from 154 yards. To say that I am a dreamer, well that is an understatement.

So, now that I have come to grips with all that is not possible, I ask you, is it unreasonable to dream of being able to draw parallel freaking lines? That is all I want. A few lines, equidistant apart. No supermodels, no U.S. Open, no saving the world, I just want to draw some lines. I am not sure if I can set the bar any lower.

Chip carving is now my sworn enemy. I will obsess with it, I will hunt it down, and I will make it do my bidding! I am so angry I could spit, ok, not spit per se, but I am angry enough to eat two pop-tarts. Yes, I know, that doesn't sound very angry. Eating a pop-tart is hardly an act of a disgruntled woodworker, but truth be known, I am also too old to get very worked up, even when I am angry.

They are blueberry. They are delicious. I am going to try to draw some more lines.
Having passed all the usual key dates in growing old, and, officially, some years ago, becoming a card carrying geezer, and never having dated a super model, won the Nobel or discovered the secrets of Alchemy, I have great sympathy with your frustration.

I also used to be disgruntled, but attended a re-gruntling seminar and feel a lot better now. I believe I'm going to stay clean.

To get serious for a moment, however brief, I have some tips to pass on that deal with the frustrations of poor vision. I refer to the physical sense, not the artistic kind of vision.

At the top of the hit list, use plenty of good light. The eye, exactly like a camera, uses a higher ƒ number, increasing the depth of field. That is to say, for those not into photographic minutia, the iris of the lens gets smaller and you can see something that might have been out of your range of focus in dimmer conditions.

Don't be afraid of magnifiers. If you're at the stage where you can't see what you're doing, chances are things won't be getting better. One of my favorites is the little gizmo jewelers use that clips onto the glasses. It has two lenses that can be flipped up or down, used in combination or not. An inexpensive one is carried by Harbor freight. Buying the cheap ones makes it less stressful when you drop it on the concrete floor.

I also have a good sized magnifier on an articulated arn which is lighted by a circle shaped fluorescent lamp. I have it clamped to my scroll saw, but it's easily moved to wherever I need it.

And then there's the woodworkers fall-back:
"Honey, can you help me find my widget? I dropped it and can't see it."

Here's hoping you find good ways to deal with presbyopea.

d
 

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I have done a terrible job...

Hello All,

I have been writing a lot, but have done a terrible job of updating LJ. I haven't done much on woodworking though, so I haven't been around. The Henry Wood is coming along, in fact, I just posted chapter 64. So that means there are about 19 more chapters, if you haven't been checking my site daily. I believe the last one was 45.

I think most people from LJ who have been reading Henry Wood, do stop in daily, so I haven't felt like clogging up the blog posts with my daily links.

I do appreciate everyone's support and encouragement, as it has made writing fun. The novel is nearly done and when it is, I will do a rewrite and polish it up a bit. I have also decided to rewrite the 1st Henry Wood, add another 18K words, fill it out some, and get move it from novella to novel.

Thanks again for reading my drivel,

Brian

http://ExtremelyAverage.com
I must have come in late.
Attempting to find your works on Extremely average I found nothing.
I did find your name and profile, but none of the links worked.
All reported 404.
 
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