Looking sharp…

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I always jump into projects without being properly prepared.  So this week when I had some time, instead of starting yet another project only to get frustrated when things didn’t work out perfectly (usually due to my lack of prep), I instead decided to do some tuning up.  I started with making a zero clearance insert for my table saw, but I didn’t have the right material, so instead I decided to sharpen.

 

Over the past 6 months I’ve acquired several planes and a set of chisels shortly after Christmas.  Some have been sharpened, some not, some half way, so I spent a couple of nights sharpening and tuning everything up.  Sharpening really isn’t so bad, I somewhat enjoyed it as I could see the tools performing better as I put more work into them.  Next week I’ll do a little project, still waiting for work to wind down before I start anything big.

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Tool of the Week – Router Plane

What could you possibly need a router plane for?  That’s what I thought before this week.  You use this tool by setting the cutter height at the depth of the groove you are trying to flatten out, then you run it back and forth till it smoothes everything out.  Sounds simple? That’s cause this tool is incredibly simple.  I used it a ton this week on the mortise and tenon joints in my side table.  Fitting the tenons into the mortises needs precision down to the 1000th of an inch, and this little plane made my life much easier.  As far as planes go it’s pretty cheap at under $60 each.  Apparently the blade is tricky to sharpen, luckily that wasn’t for me to do…

Tool of the Week

This week’s tool is another simple one.  It’s a small pocket-sized square from Veritas (Lee Valley Tools).  My teacher has one of these in his apron pocket at all times as they are incredibly useful for checking the thickness of boards as you are preparing them, and for adjusting many of the machines.  After an entire day of me constantly asking to borrow his, I bought my own.  I keep it on me at all times as I am constantly using it, a must have tool in my books!

52 Create – Toy Wooden Stroller

Oh boy, I’ve had the idea for this one for months now.  When I first dreamt it up, I had no workshop/tools, but little did I know how much trouble this little beauty was going to cause me!!!  For those of you just joining in, this is week 3 in my 52 Create where I create 52 projects over 52 weeks.

 

First, let me tell you, wheels are not easy to come by.  When I was a kid, my dad and I built a soap box car.  We went to our local Canadian Tire and picked up some cheap wheels and by the end of the day I was ripping down the hill behind the Parliament buildings.  Fast forward 20 years and things are no longer so simple.  After visiting several stores, the best I could do were some snow blower wheels which were too heavy, and $10/wheel!!!!  You can buy a toy stroller in Paris for $7.  I should have bought one before we left and just ripped the wheels off…  Anyways, after some ebay searching I ended up ordering 4 scooter wheels from the states.  Total cost was $25 including shipping which still seems like a lot for what they are being used for, but in the end I’m happy how they turned out. My daughter loves strollers and at playgroup always finds one to tear around the room with.

 

The stroller is made out of Baltic Birch plywood, the dowels are from an old laundry hamper that a roomate broke/left behind.  I had my wife sew up the seat from some corduroy fabric (she also made the doll in the picture below).  In search of a safe kid friendly finish, I ended up using shellac.  It was a bit of a pain as the Lee Valley sells the flakes, but not the alcohol.  They also failed to tell me that although it recommends using Ethanol, that isn’t available in Alberta and so you need to use Methyl Hydrate instead.  If I had known this at the beginning, I might have saved myself a lot of driving around.  Shellac is of course food safe (used to coat M&M’s) and so is a great finish for kids objects. It’s also nice that it has no real smell to it, so I could apply the finish indoors.