As promised, here is the finished cabinet. This was a fun and quick project to do and it was so needed in my shop. It was quick because milk paint dries crazy fast and the top coat is only paste wax.
Sometimes a project just screams “You must complete me now!”. Well, that is what my latest project was saying to me. I was lucky and picked up a nice pine standing cabinet from Freecycle.org a while back and it looked like it only had one coat of polyurethane on it and the cabinet looked to be 15 or 20 years old. I knew it wold make a great addition to my shop as a paint and adhesives storage cabinet.
I removed all the hardware and sanded it with 280 grit sandpaper. My plan was to use Lexington Green milk paint from J.E. Moser’s as this is one of my favorite colors. But when I checked I only had enough for a small project. I did have quite a bit of the Salem Red.
Fortunately whoever originally finished this piece did not put many coats so the sanding went pretty smoothly. There were some dings and I had to set a few finish nails, but nothing major.
I have to say, I am really starting to love milk paint. It is non-toxic, has no fumes, dries quickly, water soluble and it looks great. Here is a good site with lots of information about milk paint if you have never used it before. The first and second coats do not usually look very good, but the third and fourth are really nice. This piece was an exception, It took the milk paint like it had been waiting for it. This piece has been an absolute pleasure to paint! New wood sometimes resists milk paint especially if it still has some moisture in it, but this cabinet is very dry and been really fun to paint.
After I finish the painting, I will take some brown grocery bag and crumple it up and really give it a good buffing. this will burnish the surface and get it ready for the paste wax top coat.
Check back tomorrow to see how it turned out 🙂
P.S. If you have not seen my YouTube channel click => Here to check it out or click on the YouTube link on the sidebar.
In an effort to help people just getting started in Hand Tool or Traditional Woodworking, I have written a list of what I consider the first 10 essential tools for woodworking. The link below is to my Free PDF document with the Top 10 list and I hope it helps you on your woodworking journey.
You know the the saying, “Everything old is new again?” As you may or may not know, I have been in the process of building my workbench for over a year now and I have been struggling with the benchtop glue-up as I have fewer clamps than I would like and my boards for the top were slightly bowed. Well, after getting my copy of “Roubo on Furniture” from Lost Art Press a few months ago, something I saw in the plates, specifically plate 18 had my subconscious mind working. Specifically the “straightener” that Roubo talks about for edge gluing boards in figure 19 of that plate.
Suddenly a few weeks ago, It came to me, I could use straighteners to face join my benchtop boards and solve several problems at once. First and foremost, it would solve my clamping issue as 2x4s are cheap and would be sufficient for the task. Second, it will help straighten the bow out of my boards as gravity will do most of the work. Also, as a side benefit the top will be mostly flattened up against the upright boards called “twins” (some flattening work is always needed after glue-up).
I need to slightly modify the design to accommodate the wider face of the boards, so I would need to make wider wedges to ensure pressure is applied to the full width of the boards being clamped. The benchtops I am gluing up are only 11 inches in width so the twins do not need to be very long, in my case I am using 24 inch long boards. I am also going to apply paste wax to the twins inner surface to keep the glue squeeze out from sticking to them.
Below is my test setup with some narrower wedges, but sighting down the boards, they look very straight and no bow at all. I have looked for examples of this procedure for face gluing boards and I could not find any.
Thanks to Andre Roubo and Lost Art Press, I am back in the workbench building business and hopefully in a couple of weeks I will have a fully functional and beautiful workbench (not like the pathetic one seen in the background).
There are currently 3 camps in the woodworking community on which types of tools to use in woodworking,
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.
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.
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.
At long last, I am back working on my workbench. There was a brief delay because life happens. For reasons I won’t bore you with (cat fostering), I was unable to work in my garage for the past 2 weeks and I was not able to make any workbench progress. Fortunately, I am back in business and I made a major step forward yesterday. I finished the cavity for the tail vise to be installed in. I have the pictures showing the “finished” cavity below. Suffice it to say, I am glad to get that part completed so I can get on with the rest of the workbench. As you can see in the photos, I have not glued the boards together for the front part of my bench. I will probably do this tomorrow. Then I can start gluing the remainder of the boards together to finish assembling the top. Right now the exact dimensions of the cavity is not important. I will need to finish the top surface of the workbench before making any precision cuts to mount the tail vise. In the following pictures you will see the boards clamped together and then expanded to show how each one is individually cut to form the whole. I did purchase some soft maple to attach to the front of the bench because it will get the most abuse from clamping and other activities, so I decided to make it out of maple. Also, it will be dovetailed into the side maple piece which the tail vise will be attached.
Yea!, My new Benchcrafted Classic Leg Vise is in. Unfortunately they must have run out of the unfinished vises, I am still very happy with this vise. The machining on their vise hardware is amazing. They are the best you can get…period!
Now to build a leg to put it in. Should be able to build a couple on Friday.
I have almost all the materials on hand for my workbench. I am still waiting for my new Benchcrafted Traditional Classic Vise to get here, but I finished surfacing my hard maple end cap that secures the tail vise to the end of the bench. As you can see my shop cat is inspecting my work with aloof approval. It started out as a rough log and now it is surfaced on 4 sides, square and flat 3″x5″x22″ board. As you can also see, the benchtop boards are now acclimating in my shop. I will start laminating them soon.
I was waiting for my “Southern Yellow Pine” SYP lumber to dry some more. I checked them with a moisture meter and it read 10%, that is dry enough to start processing them so I have ripped them to width from 6 2″x12″x6′ boards, down to 12 2″x5.25″x6′ boards that will be used for the legs and stretchers. I still have a LOT of surface planing yet to do on these boards. If I had a power surface planer I would use it. I do have 2 nice joiner hand planes that can do the job, albeit a bit slower and a with a bit more muscle power.
The only parts for the bench I have left to buy are the bolt hardware (used to secure the end cap to the bench) and the chop board for my leg vise. The chop board is going to be a 8/4 x 8″ x 36″ piece of hard maple. I will need to get that at the local lumbar yard. Depending on price, I may also get a 6/4 x 5″ x 6′ hard maple board for the front on the workbench. That will make a stronger front edge that I will be clamping to all the time and also will look nice dovetailed into the end cap.
I know this project is progressing a bit slowly, but I have never built a workbench before and I like to think about projects as I build them so I do not make as many mistakes. This workbench has some complications that have me really putting my engineering hat on. I am loving every minute of it. This bench will serve me well for many, many years and I can’t wait to build my first project on it.
This is a project that is way overdue. I’ve been working with my lightweight commercial workbench for way too many years. Last Friday I purchased 10 beautiful 5/4 x 5″ x 12′ boards of southern yellow Pine. I had already purchased my Benchcrafted tail vice about a year and a half ago. This tail vise is quite an expensive piece of machinery to have just laying around not earning it’s keep. So I have decided to go ahead and build my very own Roubo Workbench. In these pictures you’ll see the boards have already been cut in half and resting nicely on my two saw benches. I will be following Chris Schwarz’s plans for a 18th century Roubo workbench, modified as to fit incorporate my Benchcrafted tail vise. The finished Bench top should be 5″ thick, 20″ wide and 72″ long. This is going to be one heavy workbench. The overall workbench dimensions will be H 34″ x W 20″ X L 72″. I am using Chris Schwarz’s book “Workbenches – From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” as my primary source for plans and instructions. I also have Chris’s other workbench book “The Workbench Design Book – The Art and Philosophy of Building Better Benches”. He has republished his “Workbenches” book and it is available on his website at Lost Art Press.
My biggest conundrum at this point this how to mount the Benchcrafted tail vise. The issue at hand is, I have not glued up all my boards yet because I want to cut them out before laminating them so that I don’t have to hog out a lot of material later. It’s kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together in 3-D before you’ve even seeing the pieces. Not only that, the pieces don’t exist yet, and I will have to fabricate them correctly, so when it does go together, everything will fit perfectly.
I’ve been toying with the idea of making a 1/2 scale model, just so I know how everything will fit together. This is one of those projects I have to sleep on and think about for a few days before the solution comes to me. In the meanwhile I’m studying the plans, and I’m looking at my boards in the garage longing to have this bench finished.
This will not be a very long journey, I want this workbench finished before the ghouls and goblins come out on Halloween.
One of the things I love to do in the shop is make tools. I have made saws, tool boxes, knives, mallets, hammers and other assorted useful items. One thing I always wanted to make but was hesitant to, was a plane. Any plane would do, a jack, molding or scrub plane would be great. One of the reasons I have hesitated is because planes are different. They do take some skill and experience to set the blade and the wedge at the right angles where they actuality cut wood and eject the shavings. The history of planes goes back for centuries and they have been made by hand for that long but these things take skill to make and get right.
With that in mind, I had been keeping an eye on Bill Anderson’s plane classes at the Woodwright’s School for some time. Recently (a year ago), I got my chance, I was on the wait list for a joiner plane class and got the call at the last minute. Let me tell you, I was excited. In this class you built a 28″ long 19th century joiner plane complete with a vintage iron. This was a three-day class and I loved every minute of it. I finished all the major parts in the class. All that was needed was to widen the mouth for the iron a bit, as it was a little too snug, make the front and back buttons and make a knob.
The buttons and the knob were afterthoughts, but the more I looked at it, the more I thought it needed a little color. I added the cocobolo buttons, cocobolo being a very hard wood will protect the plane ends when I adjust the iron with blows from my wooden mallet. The knob was also a last minute item where I had a hardwood button to put in the top, but I wanted more. I put a 4″ long dowel in the hole already drilled for the top button and I liked the way it felt when I used the plane. Excitedly, I went to the lathe and turned a nice cocobolo knob.
I was going around and around in my head on how to fasten this knob to the plane body and then an old technique came to mind. I would use a foxtail wedge. Basically an exposed wedge is one you do after sawing a slot and inserting a dowel or spindle in a hole and driving the wedge home. A foxtail wedge is the same, but you do not have access to the wedge to drive the wedge with the mallet, so the bottom of the hole acts as a stop. You have to widen the bottom of the hole into the end grain and put the wedge in the sawn slot and insert the knob in the hole, and with a mallet, you drive the knob to the bottom forcing the wedge to widen the bottom of the knob locking it in place. At that point, you have a glue-free solidly fixed knob. Click here to see a picture and description of how a foxtail wedge works.
A little sanding and a few adjustments here and there and the plane was ready for the finish. Planes are usually just finished with some type of oil and wax. I put 3 coats of Danish Oil on and then some wax and she is ready to go to work.
This was a great project and it still was a bit difficult, but Bill is such a great teacher, I was able to do all the complicated work in the class, under his guidance. If you get a chance, go take a class at the Woodwright’s School, you’ll be glad you did 🙂