Monday, March 10, 2008

Black and White and Red All Over

I have been very busy lately. My father called me Sunday, and wanted to make sure I was alive. When I asked why, he said, “Well, you haven’t called in at least a week, and you haven’t updated your blog either.”

It was good to learn that I have a dedicated reader, even if it’s “just family.”

So tonight I thought I would try to get something done on my workbench. I am almost ready to assemble the four legs and four stretchers of the base, and I need 16 pieces of 3/8” diameter pegs to use for drawboring the Mortise and Tenon stretcher/leg joints.

I’m going to come clean on this to the whole world (in advance). I don’t really know if I know what I am doing… I may be a victim of the right side of my brain. You see, I’m a little bit artsy. It’s okay. In the modern world a guy can be the proud owner of a bag full of smelly stuff bearing the names Bauer, Easton, CCM, and Sherwood and still recognize the beauty of good design…

I have decided to accent my massive hard maple Holtzapffel bench with Ebony. I am using Gabon Ebony pegs for the drawboring, and I am looking forward to the contrast of the black circles on the white maple. However, I don’t know if ebony pegs will work. I think it will be okay because as I drive the pegs through my Lie-Nielsen Doweling Plate…(another shameless plug, Tom…come on…let me be a hand model in next year’s Lie-Nielsen Calendar) Sorry, I was saying, as I drive the pegs through the steel doweling plate they seem to have adequate toughness. They tear/shred as opposed to split. So I think they will be great for drawboring, but I won’t know for sure until I start driving them in.

Let me tell you the other ebony ledge I am venturing out onto…(this one might get bad): I am making Ebony Handles to go in the massive maple screws that Stephen Fee made me for the front vise. Wow, turning Gabon ebony into round cylinders for vise handles…what’s so crazy about that? Well, nothing. However, I am planning to tap the ends of the handles with male threads and then thread them into Ebony knobs. For those knobs, I am going to turn them, then I plan to tap blind holes that I have drilled almost all the way through. I honestly don’t know if you can tap ebony, but here I am letting the world know ahead of time what my plan is. At this moment I feel like Oral Roberts telling the world that God wants to take me home on a specific date. I wasn’t supposed to tell the plan until after it was successful…


Tonight I spent some time making more pegs for drawboring, and look what happened. How did I cut that finger, you ask? I picked up my drawknife. That’s it. I just picked it up. I didn’t juggle it. I didn’t swing it like a cleaver and try to catch it with my left hand. I just reached down with both hands and picked it up off the bench and apparently my left hand was a little too high on the handle and managed to get hold of some of the blade. That is almost as dumb as the fact that I cut my pegs into ½ x ½ x 3 inch rectangular blocks BEFORE I started any rounding. I now realize it would have been better to keep them as long as possible and spindle turn them down closer to 3/8” before driving them through the doweling plate. But no; I created way oversized rectangles that are too short to grab hold of, and I have to shave them down to a cross-sectional area just under 50% of their 0.25 square inches. Look at all of those shavings. I have little Ebony curls EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Right now in Holland, Michigan there is a moron standing in a mountain of Ebony curls who cannot lift a tiny little drawknife off of his bench without cutting his finger, thinks he can flawlessly tap Gabon Ebony, and believes he is the next great Lie-Nielsen Hand Model. Stay tuned to see how this turns out.

9 comments:

Brian Gilstrap said...

It brings me great comfort to know there is someone else out there in the world that is foolish enough to tackle projects that may very well be beyond their skill level (and who manages to cut themselves on their hand tools in mysterious ways).

I'm nearly done with a project that was definitely more than I should have tackled. If I finish it without doing one of my patented incredibly stupid things and ruining it, I might share (so if you don't hear from me you know there's a moron in Webster Groves, Missouri standing bewildered and befuddled in the remnants of a failed project)

Mark Salomon said...

I had the brilliant idea of creating 1/8 in. ebony pegs for a small box I was making. I should have known better and run away because when I told the lumber guy I wanted Gabon ebony he escorted me to a locked room away from the common junk like cocobolo. I got my pegs but wasted about $30 bucks worth of ebony and ended up with a whole bunch of toothpick sized pieces of ebony scattered around the shop (is ebony safe for toothpicks??). When I came in from the shop my hands were black; my wife asked me if I had been working on the car! Nice wood to work with though, much like hard maple.

Ethan said...

A drawknife that cuts your finger when you look at it wrong... tons of ebony curls all over the place...

Look at it this way, Jeff - we all know you can sharpen well!

Chris in MD said...

I am with your Dad, tuned in twice a day "dang no update". Move along, nothing to see here... please disperse...

I still think that you turn the handle with one of the balls solid then only worry about the tapping of the other end!

Glad there is some progress at your shop, I managed to sharpen my number 9 and my set of chisels in a week. Any progress is still progress right?

Jeff Skiver said...

Ethan,

Thanks for putting a positive spin on this to make me feel better about myself. I may be a moron, but if the hand modeling doesn't work out, at least I have sharpening to fall back on.

Jeff Skiver said...

Chris,

I understand the idea of turning one knob on the end as I turned the handle, but I have 3 reasons why this is not a good idea for me:

1) If I turn the knobs separately I can turn about 483 of them and find the best two that match to use as a pair of knobs. Whereas if I make it part of the handle I am stuck with whatever it turns out to be...

2) If I make a knob part of the handle then I have to start with a blank as long as the handle and knob and about 2" x 2", but by making the handle a single part with added knobs, the handle can be 1" x 1". (That's a lot of waste with ebony to turn down the handle size cross-section to 1" diameter.

3) My plan gave me an excuse to buy the Beall wood threader, and it will allow me to use my Festool Domino. Because when the threading idea literally crumbles in front of me, I will just attach the knobs with Dominos.

Anonymous said...

Eureka! I see I'm not the only one that wears my "good clothes" in the shop... and then bleeds on them. My father yelled at me for 16 years for doing that (somtimes it was grease, not blood). What the hell does my wife think she's going to accomplish by asking me nicely not to do it?

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I wretled with trying to round short pegs when i made my bench too. What I found to work was to chisel a "V" shaped groove in a block of wood, as long as the pegs I wanted and half their depth, then Then i dropped each peg into the groove and shaped it into an octagon with a block plane. Saves the fingers and goes quickly.

I found that soft wood in an octagon shape assumes a circular shape if driven into a round hole in a hard wood.

Sometimes I taper the depth of the groove along it's length in order to leave the end of the peg square.

And the last comment was right - the only reason you cut yourself is cause you were working in the shop in your good clothes. (or are you trying to emulate the guys in the 1920's era woodworking books that are always wearing ties at the bench?

Al R.

IFD695 said...

I didn't pay attention to the clohes uou were wearing, until other bloggers mentioned the good clothes.

I was more concerned that my little boy had cut his finger.

You need to be careful son when playing with your toys. You could put an eye out.

Love, Pops