Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thinking About the Basics

So what are some basic skills for a woodworker? This is a question that I was thinking about yesterday working in my shop.  I think the most basic of skills is to be able to take a rough piece of lumber and dimension it down to the finished size needed to be able to be used, this includes cutting it to length, width, planing it to straight and to thickness, and making both all four sides parallel. That process is repeated many times in a project because that is the bases of each piece of wood you use in the project, unless you work with plywood or already dimensioned lumber in which case some of them steps have already been done for you. 

The question for most woodworkers is " what tools and techiqnec do I use to get from rough lumber to dimensioned, ready to use lumber"?  Some use only handtools, some power tools and some use a mixed shop picking the tool they feel that is the best for the job.  Me, I like to keep it simple, I use the simplest tool and method I can to get the job done, sometimes thats is a handsaw to cut an 8' board down to a 5' board, but if I have more than three or four cuts I get out my circular saw and let it do the manual labor, if I have some wonky cuts I might get out my jig saw, if I am cutting really thick boards I'll use a sawz all with a tree trimming blade in it, or if I am cutting timbers I use my electric chain saw.  There are many times in my work flow or I am working with dimensioned lumber and need repetitive cuts so I set up my miter saw with a stop on the fence and use it. Which ever tool I use it falls back on me knowing my basic woodworking skills and going for the tool that is the safest, simplest and quickest to get the job done.

Since one of reasons I write this blog is to create a record for my grandsons to read one day, I think I will start a series on basic woodworker skills for them. Most will find this repetitive and thats alright with me, some might even disagree with how I do things and again thats alright with me, but to those that this series may help remember there are many ways do this thing we call woodworking, learn the basics then go out and develop your own ways of doing it, be safe, have fun, don't over complicate things REMEMBER it's only wood, and BUILD BUILD BUILD.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Miter Saw Stand, From a Water Bed?

I don't know how many of these I have seen in the trash, its drawer bases from the old water beds. Well last week a neighbor ask me if I could help her carry one out to the dumpster because she didn't want it any more, it was left over from a long ago wash up water bed that she was now using under a bunk bed. It was missing a drawer but other than that looked to be OK so I ask if she mind if I recycled it, which she thought was great idea. I thought at lease I could salvage the wood for a clamp rack I need to build, so off to the shop it went. I sat it up on my bench and while moving another table around that I had my miter saw on I happen to sit my saw up on top of the drawers and bingo I got the idea. It appeared that the center section was just wide enough for the saw with some modifications, I could set the saw into it and have a drawer on each side to hold odd and ends that you always need at the saw like a tape measure. Next I needed legs, then I remembered I had some folding legs, which are prefect, that means I can take it on job site with me. The frame wasn't the most ridged so I made a strong back from 2 x 4 for it to rest on this also raised to a height that I like for sawing, I really hate beaning over a saw trying to see my mark. I knew the 2 x 4 wasn't  going to stay true so I am giving them a couple of days to adjust to my shop then I will use a straight edge and adjust the table top so it and the saw is in one plane then I will screw everything down using wedges that way if it needs adjusted in the future it will be easy, put some new rubber feet I got on the legs and add a power strip so if I do take it on a job site its ready to go to work. I used it to cut 2 x 4s for my clamp rack, and while it still needs a fence it worked great. A friend of mine who is a carpenter already tried to steal it from me so now it's on the look out for an waterbed frame so he can build his own, but I bet he just builds one from scratch.