Author Archives: OldeToolWorkshop

Hand Tools, Power Tools or a Combination

My Way of Working Wood

There are currently 3 camps in the woodworking community on which types of tools to use in woodworking,

  • Traditional Non-Power Tools only
  • Modern Power Tools (with some limited non-power hand tool usage)
  • A mixture Traditional and Power Tools

Traditional Non-Power Tools Only

Let’s address the “Traditional Non-Power Tools only” category first as it was the first method used by woodworkers for millennia before power tools were introduced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through innovation and experience, hand tools were developed to the point of near perfection by the time power tools came on to the scene. In all categories for tools to work wood, there were specific tools and processes to shape and manipulate wood. Some of these processes and techniques were preserved in written works by Moxen and Roubo and others. Some have been lost to the ages.

Thanks to the efforts of numerous historical societies, Roy Underhill, and Chris Schwarz at “Lost Art Press”, some of these lost techniques have been resurrected or rediscovered allowing woodworkers everywhere to learn these techniques in order to make more historically accurate and more importantly, better built projects based on this knowledge. Roy and Chris are my modern woodworking heroes and have helped make me a better woodworker.  I have had the good fortune to take classes with them in person and glean from them some of this knowledge. This category is gaining more converts every day thanks to the efforts of these men and others in this community who are teaching and sharing their knowledge through the internet and in person in classes and workshops across the world.

As late as 10 years ago in 2000’s there was only a few tool manufacturers who made high quality (as compared to tools make in the apex of hand tool use in the late 19th century). Now we are seeing a new market for these tools and more companies are arising to fill this need. The motivation for companies to produce these tools is linked to this growing community of woodworkers that demand a) High quality durable new tools and b) For them to be made domestically e.g. Made in the USA. One such company is Lie-Nielsen in Warren Maine. Their commitment to quality is second to none. In today’s economy these tools are very expensive, but they will last you a lifetime of dependable usage.

Modern Power Tools

Next, we have the power tool usage category. This is the category that has emerged and evolved over the 20th and 21st century and is used in most all manufacturing and the majority of the amateur and hobbyist woodworking community today. As a young man growing up here in North Carolina, this was the woodworking world I have known from childhood and the one that most frustrated me. First as a child, I remember my dad and also my grandfather using these tools and smelling freshly cut wood and loving that smell.

As a child, I could not operate these dangerous machines, but later as a young man, using hand power tools, I built items that were less than optimal because I had no formal training other than high school shop class where I learned how to use a lathe and how to draw which would come in handy later. The internet had not yet been invented, so YouTube was years away.

There was one thing working in my, and other workers favor, it was the “New Yankee Workshop” with Norm Abram. This show taught me some important techniques and that amazing things could be built if you had all the right tools and a large shop to use them in, but these tools were expensive and generally out of my price range to buy at the time.

Frustrated, in 1997, I decided to sign up for a woodworking class at the North Carolina State University Crafts Center. This was a shop intro class where I would learn the basics of all the major woodworking shop equipment such as the table saw, band saw, power joiner, lathe, disk sander and planer. I also learned how to grind a bevel on a chisel, I built several projects and gained a lot of experience and appreciation using these tools. There was always something about power tools I didn’t like, they scared me, even today I have a healthy respect for how quickly they can hurt you. After that class, I collected various power tools for use in my shop. Currently I have a very nice contractor’s table saw, a vintage Rockwell band saw, a bench drill press and a vintage Craftsman scroll saw and various hand power tools.

Admittedly power tools take less skill to do basic operations and they speed up some jobs quite considerably. One of my sayings is “modern materials need modern tools to work them.” For example, try using a hand saw on a piece of plywood, it will work, but it won’t be pretty.

A mixture Traditional and Power Tools

This brings me to the mix of Traditional and Power Tools. For me, this is the best of both worlds. You can breakdown stock quickly with the power tools and then craft the wood with the pleasure that is hand tools and keep the tool marks and techniques that any woodworker from the early 19th century would recognize. I keep my power tools and hand tools separated (with the exception of the lathe, which I keep my hand tool shop) as the power tools create too much dust and noise, they can not be used in my shop which is inside my house.

Cutting Hand tools rule no. 1 – They must be sharp. This was the first and most important lesson when I took a dovetail class at Roy’s Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro, NC. I didn’t know what a sharp tool was until I took this class. Sharpening your hand tools is a gateway skill that will dramatically and irrevocably improve your ability to work with hand tools.

Unless you are working at a historical preservation site like Williamsburg, or some other similar historical site (or if you are commissioned with a hand tool only order), using only hand tools is not necessary. The way I look at it, power tools do the work of an apprentice and as I do not have an apprentice, the power tools will suffice. I do make exceptions to this in a couple of cases. 1) I use only hand tools when I make a “special” project that I want to be completely done by hand and 2) For modern type projects using modern materials (Like plywood), I will use modern methods and tools.

I do not see the two camps as being mutually exclusive, I happily live in both worlds and I believe my projects have benefited by using both hand and power tools. But given my preference, I will always gravitate to traditional hand tools. I feel a bond to all those woodworkers from the past that used these same techniques and know that we all share the same experience of the unique feel, smells and sounds while we shape wood to our will.

Peace,
-Aaron

Brass Hammer

You might not know it, but I have been looking for a brass hammer for some time now. I need a brass hammer to tap my wooden plane’s irons to set them at just the right cutting depth.

You see, brass hammers are preferable to steel hammers as the brass is softer than the plane iron and will not damage it where the steel hammer will “mushroom” the steel and that is bad.

brass_hammer1I went to the MWTCA tool meet yesterday and I happened across this nice little beauty in the rough for $5.00.  A real bargain, as these babys can cost a lot of dough new. It had a brass head and brass handle with a duct tape grip.

I could have just left well enough alone and used it happily, but I just had to make it better.

I had to get that duct tape off of there because it was pretty nasty and really old so it was breaking down.  This came off with a knife and the brass rod handle was in good shape.  I was really struggling on how to properly put a wooden handle of the brass rod.  This decision was made for me, as I was cleaning the head the brass rod came right out of the head.

The high end tool manufacturer Lie-Nielson used to make a really nice cross-peen hammer and I liked the handle shape, so  I decided to mimic that shape.

I had to re-drill and enlarge the hole in the hammer head so it would accommodate a wooden handle. I drilled half way through on the top of the head with the next larger size bit so when I wedged the handle it would not would not come off.

I had a nice piece of cherry that was perfect for the job. So 30 minutes on the lathe and I had me a new handle.  The Lie-Nielson cross-peen hammers have a more slender handle than what I made for my handle.  I made my handle a little thicker to accommodate the heavier head on my hammer.  The hardest part of this whole project was fitting the cylindrical head to the cylindrical handle and getting it to fit.

Brass Hammer

This is what I ended up with. Quite a change from the hammer I brought home yesterday!  I am really happy with this and I hope it gives me many years of good service.

-Aaron

 

 

 

 

Brass Hammer Head

Brass Hammer Top

Tale of Two End Tables – Chapter 1 – Stock Prep

In an effort to expand my experience with building larger woodworking projects, I am starting this new year making some furniture pieces.  I do not want to go totally crazy, so I am starting on two Shaker end tables featured in the September 2004 Issue of Woodworking Magazine.  This article goes into great detail on building this popular and timeless design.  The Shaker style has an appeal to woodworkers, as it is functional, very stylish and pretty strait forward to build. I decided to build two end tables so that I could maximize my wood use and match the pair using the same wood for the whole project.

My first step was to procure a beautiful piece of cherry from the local lumber yard, Capital City Lumber, here in Raleigh.  I did score a choice board  8/4″x12″x8′.  This was a thing of beauty and I have to give credit to my friend, Bob, who saw this board and called it to my attention.

The next step after getting it home was board layout. In order to get the most use out of a board and avoid waste, it is important to plan the usage of each section of a board and how to cut it out .  I worked this around in my head for a couple of days to avoid making a mistake on this expensive and precious lumber.  This is part of any woodworking project takes time to learn and gain experience.  Fortunately I have been doing board layout for some time now, so I felt confident in my layout decisions.  I have done numerous projects with less expensive lumber that have really added to my knowledge and skill level.

One of the big challenges for this project is the stock thickness. It is 8/4 or roughly 2″ thick.  Most of the boards called for in this project (except the legs) are 3/4″.  In a conventional shop you would “re-saw” these pieces in half on a band saw and have two pieces about 7/8″ thick. My band saw is currently down for repairs so I have to do it the old fashion way, with a rip saw.  That’s right the following will have to be cut in this manner:  2 tops 9×18, 2 drawer fronts 4×12 and 6 aprons or stretchers 5 1/2×13.  I have about 2 full days of sawing ahead of me, but it will be worth it. Below is a picture of my rough sawn stock cut to the length and width.

-Aaron

Rough Stock

Dutch Tool Chest

Dutch_Chest5A couple of weeks ago, I was looking at the class schedule of Roy’s Woodwright’s School and noticed Chris Schwarz from Lost Art Press was going to be teaching his Dutch Tool Chest. It was then I decided I would build my own Dutch Tool Chest.  Yes it would have been great to take the class and experience Chris’s cheeky teaching style and benefit from his vast experience, but I have a business to run so I can’t really get away for the three day class right now.  Besides, I knew I had the skills to make this simple project and decided the time was right.  My old chest is great and I still use it but,  It is not big enough for the tools I use everyday.

The plan was to follow the Popular Woodworking article by Chris and make the smaller, one shelf version.  This small Dutch chest still holds a huge volume of tools and I will be able to work directly from it.  I had most of the materials on hand and like the originals  were probably built, I used what I had on hand.  The sides, bottom and shelf were glued up panels of white pine and the top was a poplar panel left over from when I built a 6-Board Chest. The front and back pieces were white pine 1×12’s that I was going to use on another project.

This project is very straight forward and the joinery is dead simple.  Only two sets of dovetails on the bottom and the rest is screwed and/or glued. Speaking of screws, I purchased my screws and bolts from Blacksmith Bolt & Rivet .  These folks are excellent and I recommend them for any hard-to-find slotted screws and old square bolts.  They are quick, friendly and reasonably priced.

All said, I have about 40 hours in this chest including finishing.  The most difficult part was the breadboard ends on the top as I have never done this type of top before. I must say, I love using this chest and it will be an asset in my shop and well worth the 40-hour investment in time.

-Aaron

Below are a few pictures of the chest.

Saw Box Finish

Some of you may remember the Saw Box I started in this post -> Have Saw Will Travel .  In preparation for finishing my chair I made in the “Continuous Arm Windsor Chair Class” at Elia Bizzarri’s, I wanted to get some more practice with the finishing techniques that I will use in the chair so I decided to finish my Saw Box.
saw_box_front_sm
The process goes like this:

1) Prepare the surface.  Remember that any surface issues will show up in your face if you do not get all the blemishes out prior to applying paint

Plane,  scrape fill any voids with putty to get the surface as smooth as possible.  Lightly sand if necessary.

2) Clean the surface with a cotton rag or wipe down with a cotton rag and denatured alcohol to get all the dust.

3) Apply 3 coats of “Salem Red” milk paint.  The first coat uses Extra-Bond as an adherent to pine surfaces to help even application over knots and pitch pockets.  Wait a minimum of 4 hours between coats.  Also, the first couple of coats may need some light sanding from 220 sandpaper.

This is a very light application for each coat and the first one looks really crappy, but subsequent ones look a lot better.

4) After the the red paint, comes the “Pitch Black” milk paint.  There are 2 coats of this color and it is mixed even thinner than the red.

5) Rub Down – after all the coats of milk paint have been applied, all the painted surfaces are rubbed down with 000 steel wool.  This wears through the black top coats and reveals some the red base coats.

6) Oil Finish – Clean off all the paint dust and begin oiling the project.  This can take 3 – 4 coats of oil (I used Danish Oil on the Saw Box) letting it dry 24 hours between coats.

As you can imagine this is lengthy process and patience is definitely a vulture here.  This is one aspect of this job I am really getting better at.

7) After all the oil coats (3 for this project) then the easiest part,  adding paste wax,  then buffing with a cotton cloth after 25 minutes.

I used to have a dowel to keep the hasp secure.  Once I got my lathe, I thought a nice turned hasp-keeper would be more decorative.

saw_box_keeper_sm

 

When I assembled the Saw Box and got all the brass hardware installed,  I thought it still needed something.  I decided to add the small dovetail saw to the front.  This identifies the purpose of the box and adds a bit of artistic expression.

saw_box_handle_sm

saw_box_saw_sm

saw_box_open_empty_sm saw_box_open_full_sm

I really like this finish, and it will only look better over time as more of the red wears through.  Let me know what you think.

-Aaron

If you would like purchase any of the items I currently make, please visit my store.

 

A Turn for the Better

The competed machine - What a beauty!

The completed machine – what a beauty!

You may recall from my previous post, that my half-finished spring pole lathe had become a temporary “bookshelf” due to an injury.  Now, oh happy day, it has been repurposed into a functioning  lathe!  This project, by far, was one of the most difficult I have undertaken.  I don’t mean technically difficult, but physically difficult.  But let me say up front that it did not have to be this way.  Sometimes, we work against ourselves and are our own worst enemy.

I believe improper bench height was to blame for my injury which snowballed into the delay of my lathe project, my absence from a week-long, much-anticipated class at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School, and the ill temperament of my wife.  When I purchased my bench, I was not aware of the proper bench height.  I have since read and learned more about benches and I determined that by cutting off 4″ it would be the perfect height for most of the work I do.

For me, it was a hard lesson learned.  I say to you:  Make sure the surface you’re working on is at the approbate height for the activity you are engaging in.  You do not have to have two or three benches to do all your work, just build appliances to add to your bench or to use on the floor to keep the work at the correct height.  Use a knee-height saw bench to do ripping and crosscut sawing.  Use a “Moxon Vise” (this is my next appliance) attached to your bench to do dovetail work higher up.  Do chopping and planing work at normal bench height.

Even with the injury, I have loved making this lathe!  It is a joy to use and is a wonder of engineering.  This design was created by Roy Underhill, adapting a centuries-old spring pole tradition and modifying it to his need to have a portable lathe to take to shows and demonstrations to create interest.

I made several modifications to the design for my own use.  For one, I used copper wire to connect the pole to the short side of the rocker arm; I used what I had on hand – just 12-gauge electrical wire.  I also used it to fasten the 3/8″ leather strap to the long end of the rocker and the foot board.  I used a leather belt to connect the two spring poles.  The original design used a flattened piece of copper pipe, I was hoping the leather would give me some “lively” action and it does.  Plus, if it breaks while I’m away from home, I have an awl and can punch a new hole in the belt I am wearing at the time and be back in business in two minutes!

I was going to use weaving loom shuttle points for my centers, but I did not have an easy way to fasten them in a way that gives me room to work between the piece being turned and the tail or head stock.  So I opted for a 1/2″ 13 x 1′ steel rod which I ground into two pieces (one 7″, the other 4 1/2″), then ground and polished the ends to a point.  I also ordered some weld nuts, 1/2″-13.  These allowed me to fasten the threaded rod to the head and tail stock.

lathe_headstock

lathe_tailstock

Notice the “Plain Finish Malleable Iron Handles, 1/2″-13 Threaded with Through Hole.” These were installed to operate the screw in and out on the tail stock and also to tighten the poppet on the tool rest.  I also bought a bar of brass (3/16″ thick, 3/4″ width, 1′) to use on top of the tool rest.  I was thinking the brass would not mar my tools but would protect the wood from tool damage and is replaceable if it wears out.  After using this for a little while, it has become evident that brass is not going to work the way I had intended.  Brass is so soft that my tools are catching and digging into it and keeps the tools from “skating” along the tool rest.  I will be replacing the brass with steel soon.

Here are but a few of the many things I want to make with the lathe:  Spinning top, a three legged camp stool, handles for my long suffering chisels and files, blanks for wooden screws, a new pump drill, and new handles for my turning saw.

The finish on the lathe will be just 3 coats of boiled linseed oil (boiled means it has additives so that the oil dries and hardens).  I believe this lathe will be around for a long time.  One great advantage of building a machines like this is that if it ever breaks you know how to fix it.  Using a tool you make yourself gives you great satisfaction and really energizes you for the next project.

This type of lathe lends itself to green woodworking.  A lot of chair legs and spindles are made with green wood.  Some turners turn the parts most of the way and then either kiln-dry the parts or wait for nature to do it for them and the turn them one last time to the finished size to remove the oval shape that comes when wood dries.

Roy said in his book, “The Woodwright’s Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge,”  – “I want you to make this lathe.”  Well, I did and I glad I did.  This tool is a real pleasure to use and does good work.  It is not loud and and allows me to enjoy yet another dimension of my favorite hobby/obsession/therapy.

– Aaron

P.S. All steel and brass hardware was purchased from McMaster-Carr and the 3/8″ leather belting can be obtained from Universal Sewing Supply.

The wooden tightening nut

The wooden tightening nut

Toolrest sans the wooden nut

Toolrest sans the wooden nut

Toolrest adjustment lever

Toolrest adjustment lever

Spring Pole Bookshelf?

2013-05-26 20.53.36 A few weeks ago, I posted some pictures of my spring pole lathe and the great progress I was making.  Well, as always, life happens, and manages to alter the best laid plans of men.  The lathe was to a point where it was looking really good.  After chopping out the mortises, I noticed a bit of stiffness in my arm.  I stopped working for the day and rested for the night.  My arm was very swollen and I could not fully flex it.  Where does the “Spring Pole Bookshelf” come in you may ask?  Please bear with me and I will explain.

I rested my arm for a week, and took anti-inflammatories, and it was feeling better, although still a little swollen.  Then, I made the mistake of using it again to install a storm door that was a Mother’s Day gift for my very patient wife.  It re-injured my elbow so badly that I had to do the unthinkable; I had to cancel my Moravian Workbench class at Roy’s Woodwright’s School.  I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when I realized I would not be able to physically stand up to a solid week of punishing mortise chopping, but I contacted Roy and let him know I was not going to be able to make the class.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to this past weekend, and after going to the Doctor and getting some stronger medication and a new arm brace, my injury was doing better.  I decided to take it slow and do some limited work.  I did some plane refurbishing, which amounted to some sanding of the sole of the plane and blade sharpening.  I took frequent rests and iced my elbow after each session.  I was not feeling any pain afterwards, and I could tell it was healing.

After doing some deep thinking about my predicament, I surmised that the root cause of the problem was the height of my workbench.  I have not discussed my workbench a lot as it is a commercial bench I bought from Grizzly before I knew any better.  It’s funny, for what I paid for this bench, I could have purchased the material for a really nice bench.  I have made do with this light-weight, thin-topped, crappy-vised bench-shaped object for almost 3 years now, and I have never adjusted the height.  That all changed.  I reduced the height of my bench by 4 inches.  I must tell you, this really made a huge difference.  Planing is easier and so is sawing.

Now we get to the “Spring Pole Bookshelf” part:  As I was piddling around the shop this weekend, I was cleaning, and I placed s few books on my lathe.  They fit nicely on the bed and it got me thinkin’….If I cut a board the same shape as the tail stock, I could use it for a sliding bookend.  This was just the small project I felt I could tackle with my limited elbow capacity.

I sawed out the block of wood and drilled a hole for a 1/2″ dowel rod and inserted the rod after placing the bookend on the lathe bed.  I put my woodworking books on the lathe bed and adjusted the new bookend.  I cut a wedge to set the bookend in place and it worked great; who needs a lathe when you have such a nice bookshelf!  I took a few pics and then went to rest my arm and elbow on some ice.

2013-05-26 20.54.41

I like this design concept and I will probably make a bookshelf similar to this after I complete the spring pole lathe.  Yes, I plan to finish the lathe.  This bookshelf was only a side-diversion to entertain me until I am physically able to continue the lathe project.

I will publish a list of my books in a later post.  This is a combination of deliberate purchases, books I’ve had for years and lucky finds in the annual library book sale.  All of the LAP or Lost Art Press books I own are definitely deliberate purchases.

One side note, I was planning on doing a “The Onion“-esque post with a title like “Traditional Woodworker Injures Self in Freak Strain-Related Accident” but decided I’m not the professional humorist like those that populate “The Onion.”

-Aaron

It’s about time – let’s get this lathe started

Well, it has been too long since my last blog post.  I have had a lot of things going on and have not had a lot of shop time, but that dry spell has ended, and I finally got some time to work on my Spring Pole Lathe (SPL).  Earlier, I completed the short vertical side, but I did not blog that, so this will cover all my SPL efforts to date.

I am making my SPL out of Southern Yellow Pine (SYP).  First, I would like to discuss the condition in which you find SYP.  This stuff comes very heavy with moisture from the the home center, Home Depot, in this case.  The only good board that I found was really dirty.  After I cut it up to rough size, I had to plane it to get the top dirty layer off.  I did not want to use my good vintage jack plane for this, as I did not want to dull it, so I used my crappy late-model Stanley #5  jack plane (I made it somewhat better by replacing the plastic front knob and the tote – thanks, Ed!).  I used my scrub plane on surfaces that had a lot of material to remove, or were really dirty…I love my scrub plane, it saves me so much work.

After planning the stock, I squared and trued it.  Then, it was time to start laying out the short vertical.  As you can see on the plan here,   (http://www.woodturnersofthevirginias.org/wova_documents/treadle_lathe/spring_pole_lathe.gif) the mortise and tenon are split, and this was a challenge.  I just plunged ahead and drilled 1/2″ holes and chopped out the rest with my new Lie-Nielson 1/2″ mortising chisel.  This chisel is definitely a much nicer chisel than my old one I bought from Lee-Valley on sale for a set of 6 Narex.  The LN chisel cost more than the whole set of the Narex but it’s worth it.  Another example of “don’t cheap out on tools, you’ll just waste your money.”

One note about the feet of the SPL.  I find it very difficult to cut out long straight runs where the saw cannot start the cut, like under the foot in the hollow section.  So I drilled out the curve with a 1″ drill bit and used a keyhole saw to bring the cut around to the straight section.  I went far enough to fit my panel ripsaw in the slot, and proceeded to cut the rest of the way to the far end.  This worked great, and this is how I will do this operation from now on.

The ogee curves on the the feet presented me with a challenge.  Should I saw them out, chisel them, or what?  I decided to do both.  First, I saw cut a tangent that intersected both high points.  Then, I cut out a “V” in the valley of the ogee curve.  This got me close enough to use the chisel to chop away even more; being careful not to go too deep, and always chiseling downhill to the grain.  Then, I followed the chiseling with my rasps; first the course rasp to remove the most material, and then, the fine rasp to clean up after the coarse.  This left a really nice finish, and will require only minor sanding.

I repeated the same process for the tall side, and then it was time to put the ogees on the shoulders and cut out the upper portion on the tall side.  I used a compass to draw 1/2″ arcs of the small ogees on the shoulders, and for the top of the short side, I used 3/4″ arcs.  I then marked out the taper on the upper portion, and cut both sides with my rip saw.

Next, came the two bed rails and the the bottom stretcher.  I trued them up and cut all three pieces to the the same length.  I then aligned all ends, and marked them all at the same time for the tenon locations, with a framing square.  This ensured consistent spacing on all three tenons, and the uprights are parallel.  I cut out the tenons on the bed rails, and the stretcher rail, and then started on the mortises.

Side view getting an idea of the bed rail fit

Side view getting an idea of the bed rail fit

For the bed rails, it is important to have them planed to the same height.  The bed rails have to be level to allow the tail stock to slide freely and not bind.  Likewise, the inside faces need to be planed flat to each other.

Before putting the mortises in, I trued the uprights.  After cleaning and ensuring both upright-end’s mortise and tenons were tuned, and a good fit to the feet, I used a block plane to shave off the high-side foot, until the upright showed level and square to the floor.

To mark the mortise locations, I used a 3″ spacer between the bed rails, and clamped a support stick on the upright to support the rails while they were being marked on the uprights.  I was very careful in setting this up as to ensure the bed would be level, and consistent, in width along its length.  I really took my time to ensure this step was done precisely.

Round or square wedges?  Well, Roy used round so that is what I chose.

Side view

Side view

Beauty Shot of end of lathe

Beauty shot – end view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Entry: I will cut the slot and holes for the poles and finish the tail stock and rocker-arm assembly, and maybe the tool rest.

-Aaron

Up and Down and Round and Round

Pump_Drill

There are times in-between the major projects that I do small side projects just to see if I can get something cool to work.  One of my interests is primitive fire starting techniques.  There is some good overlap with this interest and my traditional woodworking.  Well, a Pump Drill is definitely a project that has both aspects.  It can be used as a drill or a fire starting tool.

First the fire starting.  It is not certain if the Iroquois invented this for fire starting or were culturally contaminated by seeing the pump drill used by the settlers from the Old World.  Either way, it is a very effective fire starter if built right.  I have not used mine for lighting fires yet, as I have not built a proper chuck to house either a drill bit or a piece of fire drill stick.  If you are interested in the fire starting aspects of this tool I am providing below a few links that will give you more information.

Primitive Pump Drill fire starter

Field and Stream Pump Fire Drill

As this is a woodworking blog, I will concentrate on the boring aspects of this tool.  There is really very little information on when this tools was invented, but it is known to have been used as far back as middle ages and evolved from the bow drill.

I have seen this drill used in a few videos and decided to make one of my own.  I had the basic components on hand a 7/8″ dowel, a nice heavy piece of hickory, a scrap of walnut and some leather thong strapping from my recent leather work.

pump_drill2

Construction

1) Make the flywheel from the hickory.  This took the most time.  As my lathe is not built yet, I had to resort to, shall we say, more crude techniques for making a round disk out of a really, really hard piece of wood.  I made the disk about 1 1/2″ thick and 3″ in diameter.  I could have made it a bit wider, but a too large flywheel will block your view of what you are drilling.  I then drilled a 7/8″ hole in the center as true to 90 deg. as I could.

2) Make the shaft.  Well I already had the dowel and so I just cut it to length at about 18″ and put it through the hole in the flywheel about 4″ from the bottom tip.  I drilled a 1/4″ hole thru the flywheel into the shaft and drove a 1/4 dowel in to secure the flywheel (no glue needed). Then drill a 1/4″ hole in the top end of the shaft for the strapping.  I also, very carefully, drilled a 1/4″ hole in center of the tip of shaft.

3) Make the pump stick.  Drill a 7/8″ hole in the center of my walnut scrap that was about 18″X2″X7/8″.  Then drill a 1/4″ hole for the strapping in each end about 3/4″ from the ends.  To finish I tapered the ends on the shaving horse with my draw knife and spokeshave and beveled the sharp edges with my new LN block plane.

Assembly

This could not be easier, I added some bees wax to the shaft where the pump stick would be sliding up and down.  Then slide the pump stick on the shaft and then attach the leather strapping thru the hole in the tip and secure with a small wedge.  Next pass the strap through the top hole in the shaft and then back to the other end of the pump stick and secure in the same manner as the other side.  You should adjust the pump stick to hang about 1″ – 1 1/2″ from touching the flywheel.

IMG_0724

In the video below, you will see that for demonstration purposes, I added one of my spring pole lathe centers to the tip on the shaft so that it would spin when I pumped it.  I did make a trip to ED Lebetkin’s awesome tool store and purchased two drill “spoon” type bits that work really well in these types of drills.  Ordinary twist bits will only cut on half of the strokes and are not very efficient.  These spoon bits cut on every stroke as they have a cutting edge on each side.

Next Steps: Make a chuck for the square tapered bits and one for the fire starting too.

One final note; once my lathe is finished, I want to make a really nice version of this drill with a polished stone flywheel and turned components in a couple of different sizes.

-Aaron

 

Got me some SYP

As I mentioned in my first entry for the Spring Pole Lathe, I will be making regular updates on my progress for this project.  We had company this weekend and I had the pleasure to share some shop time with my new friend who’s name is also Aaron.  We had a blast and I hope he had as much fun as I did.  After our guests continued on their vacation, I decided to go to my favorite lumber store, Capital City Lumber, and purchase the southern yellow pine, or “SYP,” for this project.  Much to my dismay, they do not carry dimensional SYP.  I could not believe it, then I remembered I bought some SYP at my local Home Depot for our raised bed garden last year.  Armed with this information I headed straight for the nearest Home Depot.

If you have never purchased or worked with SYP, then let me tell you, it is heavy stuff!  I remember the 2x10x12s I bought last year were really heavy.  This time I was buying 2x12x12s and they are almost too heavy for me.  I had a lot of difficulty choosing boards because they were so heavy and the selection was less than desirable.  I settled on two boards and used the cut list I had prepared to have them cut the boards to a more manageable size.  I loaded up the boards and headed home.

Once home, I had some additional cutting to do on the table saw.  I know, I know what you are saying:  “You used a power tool?”  But 24+ feet of ripping 2x stock is not what I consider fun.  Please remember even the olde timers had access to sawmills and were able to buy pre-dressed stock.  This is just a modern sawmill.

After I had rough cut all my stock to length and width, I created a lettered parts list and a cut diagram from the drawings.  Next it was time to surface plane.  When I said that this lumber was less than desirable I mean, among other things this lumber was dirty.  I do not have a thickness planer so I hand-surfaced the stock with a non-valuable junk plane so as to protect the sharp blades of my good planes.  As you can imagine, we are taking about 10s of linear feet here so this will take me a while to finish.  This is just as well as this stock is a little wet.  Once planed, the stock looks really nice, see the before and after pics below.

Clean on the left and needs work on the right

One other thing, I purchased two “Gramercy Hold Fasts” from “Tools For Working Wood” on Friday and they were delivered on Monday.  A hold fast is a clamping device used on a bench in predrilled holes and is very convenient for holding stock while chieseling, sawing, and chopping mortises to name a few.  I added small pieces of leather to the flat ends to help keep from marring my work pieces.  Here is a picture of the hold fast in and out of the bench hole.

One interesting factoid about these is they work better in thicker benches (The manufacturer suggests a minimum of 2″) and not so much in thinner benches.  My bench is very thin, it is 3/4″ and only have one hole bored that is about 5″ deep.  I had figured that the 5″ inch hole would work best and the thinner ones would be useless.  As it turned out the thinner ones work best.  I think the 5″ hole may actually be too deep.  I do not want to use them too much on the thinner holes as the hold fasts will probably damage them.  I will add a piece of leftover oak flooring to the back of my bench to give the holes more thickness, making them stronger and less likely to be damaged.

When I complete the workbench class this spring, I will finally have a bench made for traditional woodworking and the hold fasts will have a nice place to play.

Stay tuned for more, later, on the SYP and spring pole lathe.

-Aaron