Monday, August 29, 2016

Starting Over - Part 4: SIDETRACKED!

It had to happen sooner or later....getting sidetracked, that is.

Some time ago, I had the tools to do the work. Then came the realization the work could probably get done with other, smaller, less efficient tools. So, some of the bigger tools got sold.

Then came the realization that those smaller, less efficient tools needed work in order to work, and that's where the "sidetrack" came into being.

The reluctance to do so, however, was overwhelming. In other words, I had to at least try my circular saw, table saw, and even a two inch router bit with top guide for edging before accepting they weren't going to do the job adequately or to my satisfaction and doing what I knew ultimately needed to be done anyway. Well, as anticipated, none of them got the sides smooth or true enough to be able to joint these planks together. Simple as that.

So, sidetrack onto a tool gloat, or so I thought, of a Wright model jointer/planer vintage 1940's.

Problem is the tool was minus cutter knives that can't be replaced because the company is out of business. That one is going on the scrap metal heap and will be unceremoniously "retired" by the scrap metal guy when he comes for some other metal scraps. Hate to see this antique have to go this route, but truth is I couldn't even give it away. Oh, well....

Enter a little 4" Sears Craftsman jointer/planer daughter Jessi snagged from somewhere awhile ago.

Rust removal, clean-up underneath, and it was ready to go....except for the fact it had to be fastened to something solid and heavy to keep it steady.

Enter the stand from the Wright jointer/planer -- you know, the one that couldn't be used because it had no cutter knives? Yup...that jointer/planer had a stand that, with a little adaptation and ingenuity, could accommodate the smaller Sears Craftsman planer.

Here's how it got done:

Build a frame to support the tool....scraps sure do come in handy every once in awhile.

Align the frame in order to be able to attach it to the stand so the drive belt is open and accessible.

Fit the frame down over the stand and attach it.

Hinge a couple of pieces together to make a kind of free floating motor stand that will allow the electric motor's weight, when mounted, to take any and all slack out of the drive belt to run the jointer/planer.

Set the motor under the jointer/planer and make sure the drive belt aligns perpendicular.

Clamp the hinged motor stand to the stationary stand and try it out by plugging it in and keeping fingers crossed it won't burn up in the process.

Well, after a "pucker factor increase" wondering if this whole thing is going to work or not, I was very pleasantly did! And pretty durn burn well if I do say so myself!

The learning curve on using this thing with those size planks was a long one, though. It took quite a few passes to understand better how to run them through for best results.

Bottom line is even though the sidetrack took a few days to set up, the results were well worth the effort, something I should have known they would be right from the get go, but was just too damn stubborn to admit.

One other thing....give a huge shout out to friend and fellow woodworker, Mike Barrett for letting me use his thickness planer.

That tool made short work of planing the tops and bottoms of the planks mentioned in the previous blog post down to a uniform thickness for the tabletop.

The reason the thickness planer was needed was because I'd sold mine thinking the router planer would suffice. Problem is it cupped every..single..plank in the middle because of the weight of the router and the sled not being quite rigid enough to not allow that to happen (yeah, I know this photo is one I've used before, but it was the best one to help illustrate the problem).

Add to that the fact the table saw blade at its highest point (yeah, I was too stubborn at that point to call Mike and tried this last resort before finally swallowing my pride) still wasn't high enough to true up the tops or bottoms of those planks when they were turned on their sides, and it became a perfect storm of frustration and turning the air blue as a result!

Enter the MAN --- Mike Barrett! photos of this part of the project. Suffice to say the entire operation went "smoothly" and "uniformly".

Next up? Glue-up....

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Starting Over - Part 3: Router Planing

The log shown below was one I didn't want to take a chance on ruining with my lack of chainsaw slabbing skills, so a decision was made to router plane it down to thickness....2" was the goal. But first, it had to be leveled on one "side", flipped over and leveled on the other side, and flipped over repeatedly to get to the desired 2" slab thickness.

Given the fact I ruined two slabs with the chainsaw, using this log became necessary. Originally it was going to be an old-timer fireplace mantel, but what the heck, eh? 

Slow work flipping it over and over and over, but this is the only way I have available to do this work. Hmmmmm....might a thickness planer work for this kind of job? Yup, but when I sold my brand new, perfectly good Ridgid 13" thickness planer, that option pretty much flew out the window (or drove off in the pickup of the person who bought it from me). Sometimes I gotta wonder about my own thought process....or lack thereof! Live and learn.

DAMN, but routing something this big in diameter down to thickness creates a LOT of sawdust, and this pile is just the beginning of what ultimately became kind of a "mini-mountain" of sawdust outside my shop door as I had to rake it out in order to be able to close the sliding barn door!

The log is 51" long and the router bit is a 3/4" straight bit that has to be moved crosswise back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until the end of the log is reached. Then it's back it up and start all over again to a depth of cut right around 1/2" each time (deeper than that is waaaaaay too hard on the router even though it a 2 3/4 hp beast....repetition like this will burn it out faster than using it for its intended purpose would for sure). Doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out how long each pass takes when confronted with the numbers.

Boy, but this is taking a looooooong time! That horizontal mark is a little bit OVER the thickness I need (gotta leave some wiggle room).

Four down and one to go to get the desired 5 log width of juniper.

Still not sure about the final design, though. My first inclination was to leave all the live natural edges and "fit" the slabs together for a more rough cut look. That option didn't appear to be viable timewise for this project, though. So, each slab got a flat side using a circular saw. After that, the slab got run through the table saw with the flat edge up against the fence (a radial arm saw would have worked much, much better for this step, but I sold that, too....starting to detect a pattern here?).

After they'd all been run through the table saw, another decision had to be made....should douglas fir spacers be put in between each of the slabs as shown below and cut to the same thickness? Or should the juniper slabs be glued together and have two douglas fir edge slabs? Not to worry....plenty of time to decide. This isn't a command decision that has to be made immediately. Lots of other work to be done in the interim.

With the fifth juniper slab router planed to thickness, even though I didn't want to make a decision on the douglas fir immediately that's what I did....two edge slabs, and, yes, I did cut this log in half with the chainsaw, and, yes, you saw the photo in my last blog post, and, yes, the photo makes the cut look a whole lot better than it actually was. That being said, looks didn't matter....functionality did, and these were both very functional after they were planed to thickness.

Finally! All the slabs are router planed down and ready to be glued up!

Well, not really....first they need to be edge planed so the joints are nice and flush and smooth. That's what's up next.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Starting Over - Part 2: Slabbing With a Chainsaw (I still suck at it)

It was inevitable, I guess. Being sans a sawmill and not having it in the budget to take the logs for the replacement tabletop to Scott so he could mill them, I had to face the task of slabbing those logs with my chainsaw....something I ain't all that good at....never have been and probably never will be!

By now it should be a snap given all the experience I've had, but nooooo! I'm not even going to show the slabbing work in progress! No sirree! Suffice to say, my sorry attempt resulted in two usable logs becoming totally unusable logs! Oh, well.

The three slabs you see in the two photos below, while not exactly what I'd hoped for in cutting the center out of the log, were at least not going on the scrap pile.

The little Homelite chainsaw I started the job with might not be so lucky, though. I thought this littler saw might be easier on my back and easier to handle. It was. I also thought this job might be an overreach of its capability. It was.

Reality is the Homelite may not be cut out for this kind of work....ripping instead of crosscutting logs. It got so hot, it died out and wouldn't restart, and I haven't tried to coax it back to life since then.

When it came to slabbing the two outer edges for the table, the perfect log just happened to be an old Douglas Fir that would provide both side slabs if it was cut right down the center of the log....that is, if the chainsaw worked the way it was supposed to! That's a joke...ha, ha...get it? If, and that's a very big if, the chainsaw worked the way it was supposed to? That's right! Put the responsibility right square where it belongs.....on the CHAINSAW!

That log toward the back of the photo? That's the one referenced above. It's about 12-13" in diameter, so should yield two nice slabs if I do this right.

Well, it kinda sorta worked the way it was supposed to. The photo makes the job look a whole lot better than it actually is. 

Now it remains to put it all together and hope there's gonna be enough material to do the job.

Next up....router planing in earnest!