Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

More of My Favorite Boat Building Tools

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

In this second installment of my favorite boat building tools, I have brought out some power tools.

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The first is the Dewalt Corded TrackSaw (PN:DWS520K, $475.19,  In the August 2016 issue of Fine Woodworking, (, Mark Edmudson reviewed several track saws.  The track saws from Festool and Mafell were rated the best and the one from Makita as best value.  I have not used any track saw but the Dewalt and I have very happy with it.  I always brush dust off the track and the work piece before a cut and never had the track slip while cutting.  To avoid cutting the table or concrete I have two 4′ x 8′ sheets of 1-1/2 inch rigid foam insulation from Home Depot that I put the work piece on.  I use the track saw for any straight cut on sheet goods and long boards.  The saw was an unbeliever time saver when I was cutting out the molds, bulkhead and transom for my Candlefish 13.  I marked all the cut lines in red (so as not to cut a centerline or water line by mistake) on sheets of plywood and then cut all the parts out.  The pull the trigger then push down and forward to start the cut was not natural at first but now I don’t even think about it.

The second is the Rockwell Versacut (PN RK3440K, $99,  The Versacut is a 3-3/8 inch circular saw and don’t let the name fool you; this is not a tool make by Rockwell of years ago.  This Rockwell Tools is Positec Tool Corporation in China, a supplier of OEM and second tier tools.  I originally bought this saw to remove particle board as part of installing hardwood floors.  I would use the bi-metal blade and cut the particle board into 1′ x 4′ pieces and then pry them out.  The small blade allowed me to steer around (most of) the nails holding the particle board down.  Now I use the Versacut with a carbide blade for cutting curves in plywood.  I used it to cut all the panels for my Candlefish 13.  The V notch in the saw base is not exactly where the blade cuts but a few practice cuts solves that problem.

Lastly there is my baby router, a Dewalt Compact Router (PN:DWP611, $122.99,  I mostly use the round over or a 45° chamfer bit.  The routers small size allows me to easily route a round over on canoe gunnels.  I used the 45° chamfer bit on the plywood panels before stitching the panels.  The router has 1-1/4 hp and comes with a 1/4 inch collet.  This router is more than a panel router but not a full size router; I would stick with small bits and leave the canoe bit to a full size router.

My Three Favorite Boat Building Tools

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

When I am building boats or other projects, there are always some tools that I always reach for first and use them more than others.MyFavoriteTools (Medium)
The number one tool I reach for and cannot live without is my folding rule from Lee Valley (PN: 24N06.50, $6.95,  At 1 meter long with metric on one side and inches on the other; I find more useful than any of my tape measures or steel rules.   It folds down to about 5 inches and extends out to a meter (just over 39 inches).  I also use it to double check the fence on my table saw so I get just the right thickness from a cut.

Number two is my Dozuki, Japanese pull saw from Woodcraft (PN:12F27, $50.50,  Dozuki’s are also available at Rockler and other woodworking stores.  A Dozuki is called a dovetail saw but I find that the 9-1/2 inch blade is just too big for dovetailing but excels at cutting trim and tenons.  For dovetail work, the 6-1/2 inch blade and shorter handle is just right.  The metal back keeps the blade stiff and I will often guide the blade by holding my thumb near the back for right angle cuts.  No one who has ever used a Japanese pull say can say they have never cut themselves; watch out the teeth are sharp.

Number three is a new tool that I just purchased this year and is not really a tool but safety equipment.  It is an Elipse P100 half mask respirator.  (PN: SPR451, $28.00,  The respirator comes in two sizes, Small/Medium and Medium/Large.  The Small/Medium fits 80% of the users and is the one that I have.  I was using the 3M particulate filters with a valve but I found they continually fogged up my glasses especially when working in my cold garage.  The P110 fits perfectly without any problems with my beard and the only time it fogs up my glasses is when I don’t have it on right.

Nearly Prefect Breadboard

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The holidays are a time when I bake bread, pies and rolls to share with my family.  To aid in preparing the dough a breadboard is needed and breadboards have gone the way of the buggy whip.  breadboardI was on my way to buy some hard Maple for a bread board when I stopped at the local Ikea for some Pastej Lax or as we call it, fish paste; when I stumbled upon the Lamplig Chopping Board.  For $10 this cutting board was turned over to make a nearly perfect breadboard.  The lip catches the edge of the counter and does not slip around when I am kneading the dough.  The backside is a little rough so you might have to clean it up with sandpaper.  For a real breadboard I would like it a little wider than the 18 inches and a little longer that the 20 3/4.  For only $10 I can live with it being a little on the small side.

Resurrecting a Stanley Bailey #3 Hand Plane

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

I picked up a Stanley Baily #3 hand plane at the local building supply junk store while I was getting some lumber for an oar rack that I will be building.  This sorry plane had been drowned and has a serious case of rust but is not terminal.  The rust looks fresh and the screws and the adjustment knob turns so it is not rusted solid.  The front knob is cracked and will be repaired or replaced.  The rear tote is in good shape except for a bad paint job.   The first task is to disassemble the plane and clean up the parts.

I use electrolysis to remove the rust on the steel parts.   Electrolysis is a method of using a direct current to drive the iron oxides (rust) back to iron and oxygen.  The iron becomes a black slug on the steel that is easily washed off.  Many proponents of electrolysis cleaning use a automotive battery charger to send between 4 and 10 amps through the part.   I built a constant current source that drives 100 milliamperes through my parts.  Although slower, I am more comfortable with the lower current and some suggest that it does a better job.  The part in the tank is the plane iron (blade) and will be left there for about 24 hours.  The electrolysis works in line of sight, so to ensure even cleaning, I have four pieces of steel re-bar as my electrodes.

When all clean and tuned up, this little #3 hand plane will be put to good use.  It will join ranks with other Stanley planes that I have and the wooden planes that I have built.

Philly Style Chamfering Plane

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

I built a Philly Style Chamfering Plane to cut 45 degree chamfers and to 8 side spars, oars and paddles.   The plane is based on a 10 inch wooden block plane and has a fixed guide and an adjustable guide.    The adjustable guide is not shown because I did not like the first two that I made.  I have designed a new jig to cut the slots in the adjustable guide and will make it soon.

For this design I used a lever cap with a brass threaded insert and a brass knurled thumb screw.  The lever cap makes it easier to adjust the plane iron than with a wedge.  To adjust the iron, the thumb screw is loosened so the plane iron is held in place but can move when hit with an adjusting mallet.  Once the blade is set the thumb screw is tightened until snug.   The cross pin is 3/8 brass rod that is cut slightly longer than needed and then sanded to be flush.  I still have to heat threat the iron and then sharpen it.

Spar and Backing Out Plane

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

I finished the backing out plane also called a hollowing plane.   I used a lever cap instead of a wedge to hold the iron in place.   The lever cap makes adjusting the plane iron easier because I tighten the brass thumb screw so that it just holds the iron in place so that I can adjust the depth of cut.  When I have it where I want I tighten the screw until it is snug.  Previously I had tried to harden the plane irons for the spare plane and it did not work. Go herer for the post on Plane Irons. I modified the heat treating forge to use two propane torches instead of one.  I heated the irons up to a cherry red and tested them with a magnet.  When I did the spar plane the two tips on the sides of the iron were not hot enough and the magnet jumped to them.  I put the iron back in the forge and heated it up again.   This time the magnet did not stick to the iron so I knew that I got it hot enough this time.   The iron when into the vegetable oil to be quenched.  I then heated up the backing out plane iron to a cherry red and when it was non-magnetic it when into the vegetable oil also.  I tempered the two irons in a toaster oven at 400 F for an hour.  This should give me a Rockwell hardness of 61/63.   I shapened the spar plane using the scary sharp method and when I tried it out it cut very well.  When I tried to sharpen the backing out plane I had old glue on the sharpening jig so I was not able to get it sharp.  I am going to clean up the jig and try again.

Plane Irons

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In the continuing saga to build a spar plane from scratch, I cut out the planes irons from 3/16 x 1 1/2 x 18″ blank of 01 tool steel. Using permanent marker instead of Prussian blue and an scratch awl I marked the outline of the shape of the iron I wanted.  

I cut the rough shape with a hacksaw and then used a bench grinder to refine the shape.  I also knocked off the edges so the iron is easier to handle.   The iron on the right is for the spar plane and the one on the left is for a backing out plane.

The tools steel is in the annealed state until it is hardened.  To harden the steel it has to be raised to a temperature of 1450-1500°F.  At that temperature the steel is converted to austenite.  The steel become non-magnetic and can be tested with a magnet.  The color of the steel is cherry-red.  I built a propane furnace to heat treat the irons.  Unfortunately I was not able to get them hot enough to go non-magnetic.  I am going to add a second torch to the furnace and if that does  work I will borrow an oxy-acetylene torch.  If I could get the irons hot enough I would then quench them in vegetable oil.  Then I would need to temper the irons because they would be too hard and brittle to use.  To temper the irons I will put them in a oven at 350 to 400°F for an hour.

Spar Plane From Scratch

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Inspired by Bob Smalser’s  article  Making a Spar Plane Inexpensively and “Wooden Planes and How to Make Them” by David G. Perch and Robert S. Lee, I decide to build a spar plane from scratch.  I selected a piece of maple fire wood and cut it down with the band saw to get a rectangular piece about 3 inches on a side and 12 inches long.  I then squared two adjacent sides so that I can cut it down on the table saw to 2 1/2 square and 12 inches long.  Each side is 90 degrees to the adjacent side.

There are three ways to make wooden hand planes, the traditional method with chisels and floats, the two piece method where the two halves of the plane are glued together or the laminated method which three pieces of the plane are glued together.   I chose to do it with the laminated method.  One side is cut off at 1/4 of an inch.  The the center is cut at the width of the blade plus 1/16 and then the second side is cut at 1/4 of an inch.

I used the plans from Popular Mechanics’ article How To Build 3 Basic Hand Planes as a staring point and made some modifications for the spar plane.  I drilled alignments holes in each corner for 3/16 inch dowels.  This make test fitting and gluing easier and the ends are cut off when the shaping the plane.  The mouth is 1/4 wide and made from two cuts so that the mouth won’t be too big when the sole of the plane is shaped.  A 3/8 inch hole is drilled for the cross pin.

The cross pin is made from a 3/4 x 1 x 3  inch piece of Khaya.  I actually made three;  the first one was OK, the second was poor and the third was the best.   Once the cross pin is fashioned the plane can be glued up.    A lot of clamps are needed to ensure even pressure on all surfaces.

A 2 inch ABS pipe has an outside diameter of 2.35 inches which is just right for spars or oars, 2 1/4 inches in diameter or less.   I marked the target shape of the sole on the front of the plane and nibbled away the material with a straight cutting bit on the router.  I could have also used the table saw to nibble away or set up to cut a cove.  The router is slower but allowed me to check after each pass so that I did not any mistakes.

I started with 60 grit sand paper glued to the 2 inch ABS pipe and when I was close to having the correct shape of the sole, I changed to 120 and finished up with 220.  In retrospect, I could have cut closer to the line with the router and that would have save time sanding.  To prepare the sand paper for gluing I would cut a sheet in thirds lengthwise.  I used spray on glue and when I was done with the sand paper I would peel it off.

I used a french curve to draw the profile of the plane.  I like an rounded heel so I use a piece of 4 in ABS pipe as a guide.  Once I have the basic shape of the heel, I continue to adjust the shape until it feels good in my hand.  The left side of the heel is rounded an little more than the right which  allows me to hold and use the plane one handed.

On the next entry Iwill show how I made the blade.

Making A Wooden Plane

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I took the wooden plane making class offered by the Guild of Oregon Wood- workers. The class was taught by Alexander Anderson. Each person taking the class made a plane. I made a jack plane out of Black Mesquite and I find that it works very well. I am making a scrub plane which is made out of Maple with a sole of Black Mesquite. The third plane that I am going to make is a spar plane. This plane, I think, will be the most difficult as I will be making both the body and the iron.

A New Saw Blade

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

I picked up new saw blade for my table saw at the recent woodworkers show. I have been having problems with burning when I am cutting long pieces of wood with my table saw. The burn marks are unsightly and have to be sanded out which takes extra time. The blade I picked up is a Forrest Woodworker II thin kerf blade along with an anti-vibration plate.

The instructions to install the new blade had me check the trueness of the blade and fence to the table. I found that both the blade and the fence turned in at about 0.005 inches, about the thickness of a piece of paper, at the back of the saw. This may have caused binding when I was pushing the wood through and the source of the resulting burning. I adjusted the blade so that it is as true as I could make it and then adjusted the fence so that it was 0.005 inches wider at the end of the saw. Adjusting the fence this way is supposed to reduce binding. I ran several 8 foot pieces of Alder though and there as a little bit of burning but nothing like before and the cut was smooth like it had been sanded.

I am using the Alder for the faces for the drawer on my work bench in the boat shop. Just one of the many projects that have to be finished as I prepare to start building the next boat.