Ripsaw Revelations

There was no way around it–I was not able to continue with the milling without a ripsaw. I rigged the saw vise to the workbench, then threw the blade from the old dogmeat 26″ Disston D-7 that I’d “cleaned up” (a few months ago) into that vise:

My expectations were kind of low. Though waxed and now rust-free, this blade is badly pitted and slightly bent at one place. It had been a chore just to get the stupid handle off. And the 7 TPI-pattern teeth were a horror story–badly deformed, uneven sizes, previously filed to crosscut profile, fairly wide set… you name it. The pic above is after jointing. Here’s a fuzzy close-up that should give you an idea of how crappy the teeth were:

Using a zero-degree rake angle, I worked my way across the saw, taking just one stroke at a time. I had to make four passes to get all of teeth even, so that’s four strokes per tooth. I ended up with this:

I left the set as it was; the filing had eased it a little.

This sharpening session was much easier than my earlier experiences. There were considerable improvements: I have the workbench now, so the vise was much more secure. The location afforded a lot more light; it was much easier to see the tips of the teeth. And it was much more comfortable to work at that height instead of the previous ridiculous situation of sitting on the floor.

I still had my doubts because the saw wasn’t in great shape to begin with. Of course, this was on purpose, because I wasn’t going to mess up one of my good saws on my first try at rip filing. But whenever you get a new toy, you want to play with it, so I put the handle back on, clamped a douglas fir 2×4 to the bench, and tried it out.

Gee-hose-a-phat. That thing split apart the 2×4 like it was nothing at all. Disston ads used to say stuff like “Zing!” And that’s exactly how it felt.

Unbelievable. Hmm. I have two other ripsaws waiting over there… a monster Disston No. 7, and the Winchester that I described a long time ago. Did I mention that those two are straight and have no pitting? Oooooooh.

[edit: Actually, the Winchester is a crosscut saw.]

Milling, Part 3

At this beginning stage, I do not have much material (MDF, ply, etc) for making jigs and fixtures such as shooting boards. But I decided that I want to use a shooting board-like thing for squaring up one of the edges, so I improvised something out of a bunch of pieces of hardboard on my bench:

At the near end that you can’t see, my Veritas® “Wonder Dog®” is holding the edge in place. It worked fine, though I can see where a hold-down or holdfast would be better. I am not interested in forking over the cash for one of those right now.

Though I seriously need to get the rust off that #7 jointer frankenplane, it did the job fine. My square says that it’s a square edge. Oh, goodie gumdrops.

Next, I need to rip the board to width, and that means that I need to get one of my saws into ripsaw shape. Tomorrow, perhaps.

Anyone notice that Lee Valley recently announced their new Veritas plow plane? Only costs about a million dollars, as you probably guessed, but it does look kind of slick.

Milling, Part 2

Against my better judgement, I decided to mill the second face tonight. First, I used a marking gauge to scribe the target thickness into the edge of the board, then threw it rough-side-up on the bench:

Yeah. That’s about a quarter-inch that I had to knock off the board. That should sound like a pain. And it was. Sort of. It took a long time because I used only the #6, but I finally arrived at the goal:

This face turned out to be a little bit flatter than the first one. Practice, I guess. Or desperation. Whatever. It’s not as “smooth” as the first face, but that’s only because I decided that I didn’t want to get really anal with this, especially considering that a smoothing plane is going to hit it at some point.

If I have to do much more of this, I am seriously going to look into getting a scrub plane. The sheer number of shavings that I ended up with was ridiculous.

Next up, I’ll need to shoot one edge flat and square, rip to width, and plane the other edge. I probably need to improvise a shooting board for this.

Milling, Part 1

My goal for yesterday was to set up my sawhorses and saw off a piece of poplar for milling four-square. I was going to do the sawing outside, because it’s kind of messy. But by the time I got my act together, it was getting late, so I just did it in the kitchen.

At first, I tried using one my larger untuned handsaws, figuring that it “seemed sharp enough” for such an unimportant job. Ho, ho, wrong idea. After having it bind a few times and not really cut much, I decided to go back to my Jackson backsaw–not the ideal tool for the task, and not even ideally sharpened (remember, it was my first saw sharpening practice). But much, much better. So I am going to need to try to focus on sharpening a few more saws.

Then I cleaned up, watched “Cops,” and went to bed.

Today, I set about the task of flattening one face of the board. I selected my half-tuned Stanley #6 to do the rough work, did a somewhat slapdash job of sharpening the blade, then set out to work:

This image is after about 15 passes or so; there’s still a lot of fuzz in the front of the board and at the rear, and it’s still cupped. By this point, though, it was apparent that this fore plane was doing a much better job than I had anticipated. My original plan was to move to a jack plane as soon as the board was halfway flat. However, the surface left by the #6 is pretty nice and probably ready for a smoothing plane. I should have probably flattened and waxed the plane’s sole, I guess… this would have made it a lot less work.

After working up to full-length shavings, I used the plane and the ruler in the background as winding sticks to determine when the top was flat:

It’s actually reasonably flat. Not perfect, but close enough. There was now a huge pile of shavings on the bench.

I hadn’t expected the board to be this flat on the first try. I also hadn’t expected the board to be significantly thicker than one inch (it was). Because I have a goal of 3/4″ thickness, this is the part where I think that a scrub plane would be really handy right now. Alas, I do not have one. Perhaps I’ll use one of my jack planes set for thick shavings.

The question is if I’ll do this today or not. It’s still early, but I am dedicated to taking an agonizingly long time to learn how to do this stuff. Decisions, decisions.

A-Lumberin’ We’ll Go

I finally made it to the lumberyard today. My official excuse was that I was waiting until I fitted the roof rack to my car. I did that last weekend, and then today, I decided that since I don’t have any fancy needs right now, that I’d just have it chopped into 5-foot lengths, which do fit into my car. That’s a hell of a lot easier than strapping boards to the rack.

This was pretty much my first experience at a place that actually has a lot of hardwood. The English spoken there was kind of spotty, but they were nice enough, and after a lot of back-and-forth, I’d selected a few FAS roughsawn yellow-poplar boards, and one nice roughsawn piece of cherry.

Roughsawn wood is not exciting for most people to behold.

That’s the cherry on the left, and one of the pieces of poplar on the right. However dull this looks to most people, though, it’s thrilling to me. And somehow I feel like I’m on some sort of slippery slope now, because my downstairs storage now contains a bunch of boards, just waiting for me to take a whack at them.

So now I’m ready. The only excuses I have for not seriously practicing joinery are either that I’m being lazy or I’m doing something stupid, like playing a video game or doing laundry.

In other news, I finally got a low-angle block plane. I had a prepaid visa gift card to blow, so I blew it on the offering from Lee Valley/Veritas. It was not a trivial expense.

Some people complain that it “doesn’t look traditional.” Traditional compared to what? The cast iron planes that looked all non-traditional in the 19th century? Yeah… okay… right.

Anyway, that plane is freakin’ awesome. Those guys do not monkey around when making a tool.

Oh, yeah, and I have my 8000x waterstone now. Yippee.