Monday, March 29, 2010

Old Machine Obsessions

When I was a kid my dad had a small workshop in the basement of our house. He had a jointer/table saw combo, a drill press, bandsaw, lathe, tablesaw, and briefly, a metal lathe. So I was exposed to these tools and used most of them when I was growing up. Dad sold off most of his tools a few years before I got into woodworking, which is a shame. The only one I have of his is the drill press. It's a Canadian Buffalo 15, great machine from the 60's I believe.

 And a grinder. It was attached to the drill press. A General, but not the famous Canadian one, a lesser known General company from Milwaukee.

Some time after I started woodworking I developed an interest in older machines. Learning about them was made so much easier by the and websites. Collecting, restoring, and using these old machines has become a third activity for me, along with woodworking and chainsaw milling. My goal is to eventually replace most of my newer shop machines with these older ones, which are almost all better built than the newer machines. As it turns out, many of the tools I found were made in Canada. This is a nice bonus.

Here is a list presented in no particular order of some of these tools that I have acquired.

A nice little Atlas shaper I picked up on a trip to Seattle a couple years ago. As I also picked up Delta shaper on the same trip, the Atlas was eventually sold to a local woodworker.

I replaced the spindle on the Delta with a router collet, raised the table, replaced the bearings, sold my router table, decided to live with the hideous colour, and I use this often in my shop. It is so quiet and comfortable to use.

 Then I found this General 2800 shaper locally. Unfortunately it had been converted to run as a sander, so it'll take a bit of work to convert back, including a new motor. Otherwise it's in great condition and I plan to make this my eventual main shop shaper even though it is a bit big.

This is a nice compact shaper that I have been unable to identify the manufacturer of. I have no idea what I will do with it. I like its compactness for my small shop. Maybe I will get it going one day.

A 4" Beaver jointer that I bought very recently. Not sure why, or what I will do with it, but it seemed like the right thing to do! And it is darn cute.

This is a 6" Beaver jointer, with the extensions. It needs a complete rebuild, and a new table. When I bought it I planned to replace my made in Taiwan 6" General International jointer with this one.

But then I found this Continental 6" jointer which is a lot rarer than the Beaver, so I figured I'd fix this one up first.

But then I found this 8" General, which is a short bed unit, ideal for my small shop and the kind of work I do. So I put new blades in it, and this will be going into my shop shortly to replace the 6" General International.

I also have this 12" Poitras jointer which I bought out of Ontario and had shipped here. I keep this in the garage and use it mostly for cleaning up slabs. It came from a cabinet shop and was in tip-top shape when I got it.

This is a 16" NP Hansen jointer that I let slip through my fingers. It was in a cabinet shop in North Van and being sold for cheapcheapcheap. Yes, cheap. I really regret letting it get away. I had the 12" Poitras already and figured it was enough, and I didn't have the space for this. Idiot.

I picked up this 4" Craftsman jointer in Seattle, I cleaned it up, got some dust collection on it, new blades, and installed it on the wall right above/behind my 6" jointer. Works well for small stuff.

Picked up this 4" Henry Power Tools CraftMaster jointer locally, it's in pretty good shape. Made in Canada. Was planning on restoring it but wound up giving it to my brother in law.

Another 4 incher, this one a Walker Turner. I like the base, it looks like a miniature of a huge jointer from the turn of the century.

I saw this 14" Beaver for sale locally and picked it up. It's a mess and will need a lot of work to make right. The 14" Beaver is the classic Canadian branch plant postwar bandsaw. It has a lot of aluminum in it, as after the war there was lot of expertise in aluminum casting that needed to be re-deployed.

Then I saw this very rare Continental 14" bandsaw and moved quickly to pick it up. The cast iron in this baby is impressive. It jumped to the top of the queue to restore and is still near there.

Then I spotted this very cute 12" Beaver and picked it up. It is in good shape despite some light rust caused by improper storage by the previous owner.  It has a small footprint and will make a great second bandsaw in the shop to be dedicated to cutting small stuff.

This is a Foremost 14" bandsaw made in Chaiwan. I normally would not touch an asian machine like this with a ten foot pole, but my son spotted it in a lane, someone had wheeled it out on garbage day to get rid of it. It was actually a mess, we spent quite a bit of time and a few $$ to get it fixed up and repainted. Unfortunately I had no real need/desire for it so it went to the brother in law's.

This is a Beaver tablesaw. I made some effort to fix it up, but eventually gave it to my brother in law who did the real work on it and made it into a nice keeper.

I found this very cute Walker Turner saw at a local estate sale. I have subsequently restored it quite nicely and even had a new shaft machined for it. It is virtually finished, but I really don't need it so it languishes in the garage for now. It only takes a skilsaw size blade, it is quite small.I had thought it would be a perfect second saw in my shop for fine work, until I found this next saw . . .

This is now the pride and joy of my shop, even though it is completely unrestored, unusable as it is, in the garage, and a total mess. You probably can't even tell what it is by looking. It's a Hammond Glider G4 sliding tablesaw. Originally used in the printing industry it is a super precision piece of machinery with a small footprint. Ideal for my shop and work, it's a bit of a cult saw, if you can imagine something as silly as that. It is at the top of the queue to restore and I am keen to get started on it.

 This is a Tecomaster radial arm saw. The Tecomaster brand was distributed in Canada by the famous Eaton's department store. (TECO = T Eaton Co) I actually spent quite a bit of time fixing it up, but in the end concluded it was just taking up too much room. I moved it along to the son of a friend of my dad's.

The 12" Parks planer was the standard planer in the US for many many years. This one came to me from Seattle via Squamish and I put a ton of money and time into restoring it. A ton.  It is the devil I am sure. As you can see it looks fabulous. Unfortunately it still does not work well and I am looking for a way out of this project.

Davis and Wells horizontal mortiser that I picked up near Spokane. That was a fun trip. I don't recommend trying to cross the border into the US with a cockamamie story about buying some obscure woodworking tool while your hair is in dreadlocks! Anyways it was mission accomplished eventually. I cleaned this one up, replaced the bearings, threw a chuck on it and it is a super tool I use often in my shop.

This is one impressive machine. A Jonsereds 24" planer. I bought it at a local auction, put a 10 HP single phase motor on it and use it to clean up slabs. It is a beast, I love it!

 I also picked up a couple scrollsaws on a trip to Seattle. As it turns out I have no need for a scrollsaw, so other than a good cleaning nothing has been done on them. As you can see one is missing its table, so a very kind fellow in Seattle sold me a table for it. Unfortunately (?) it came with a complete working scrollsaw attached to it!! No pictures of that one, but now I have two complete and one incomplete scrollsaw.

In addition to these tools I have acquired several decent sized old electric motors to go with them. They are fun and (mostly) easy to restore.

Progress! Progress! And more wood . . .

Well here I am at 3:15 AM, the wind has been howling and the rain pouring down. I can hear the wind blowing the coverings off of my wood piles. I am sure they will be scattered around the yard when I check it out in the morning. Luckily no serious harm will be done, I'll just get things all set up again, ready for the next storm to mess it all up!

Speaking of piles of wood I picked up another maple log last week. It was so long I cut it in two. All of the maple I have slabbed recently have been split-y and this was no exception. I think I will pass on another maple that is down in the cutting area.

I slabbed this one a bit thicker for reasons of practicality and laziness. With thicker slabs there is more freedom to straighten the grain out for things like table legs (= practical). With thicker slabs there are fewer cuts taken out of a given diameter log (= laziness).

Anyways I have no more room left on the side of the house for wood and it is simply piling up in the backyard, unstickered and really not well protected from the sun. I guess I will have to start piling it up against the north side of the garage now, which is in the backyard and kind of visible, and also kind of damp and mossy. Should be OK for the summer I hope.

Good news-wise, I finally glued up the last shelf with its nosing!! I also cleaned up two of them, still need to level the nosings on the other three. After a long period of just slogging along on this, I really feel a renewed enthusiasm for it, as I see the end of the project approaching.

I calculated that each shelf has 25 separate pieces of wood in it! No wonder they took so long to make! The main bookshelf carcass has only 22 pieces in it!

I REALLY hope to get some finish on this and move it into the living room for my wife very soon.

However, there is a new time sink that has arrived, a 1976 Austin Mini that will require a total rebuild. Its pieces are scattered between my garage and a warehouse in town. I have three engines for it, six carburetors, two front clips, etc. Looks like it'll be a lot of fun!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why I hate the Tablesaw. Reason #7

Well I was ripping the shelf nosings at 45 degrees today. Had a sacrificial piece clamped to the fence that I cranked the blade up into.

Thought I was being clever since I had arranged it so that if the piece moved away from the fence the blade would not dive into the piece, rather it would dive into the offcut. Always easier to remove more material later than add it back on!

So away I went with the first cut. Things were going swimmingly until the end of the cut when I had the "uhoh" moment as I saw the offcut trapped between the blade and the fence. Before I was able to reach over and turn off the saw, the blade pinched the offcut and drove it back, impaling it 4" into the wall. The rest of the offcut shattered and knocked a bunch of stuff off the shelf above. Very impressive. Lucky I was standing off to the side.

So rather than fix the source of the problem by relieving the bottom of the sacrificial piece, I simply moved the piece of MDF over so that the remaining four offcuts hit it rather than the drywall! Just call me Mr. Safety Guy.

The good news is that now the nosings just need a few swipes with the plane and they will be ready to glue to the shelves.

This kind of thing is why I was happy to sell my router table to my friend and fellow woodworker Jamie. I replaced it with a very solid, quiet, and non grabby shaper that I love. And I don't even need earplugs for!

I have to confess that I plan to replace my tablesaw with a Hammond Glider that I have waiting to be restored. It's a super precision sliding tablesaw originally used in the printing industry back in the day. It's sort of the next project after I get the bookcase done.

My dream is to use the bandsaw for everything, and the Glider for precision crosscutting.

Also hit the beach for some more log slabbing on Friday. I thought I had bad luck last time with the maple splitting. This time as I was cutting off one end, the entire log split! Yikes! Never seen that before. Kind of demoralizing. Anyways I still wound up with four pretty good and two OK slabs.

Also picked up another 4" jointer. I only have six other jointers, so clearly I needed another. An old Beaver, it is sooo cute and has potential.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Veneering Done!

Well after I got the tirade of the last post off my chest, things started to proceed rather smoothly.

The veneer press / compressor actually worked well in the end, other than tending to leak oil. And, ready for this now, I got all five shelves veneered! The first two I did not use enough glue so I had to touch those up afterwards (= more work), but once I got the hang of it it worked very well. It really feels like a big accomplishment and I can sense the end of the project is at hand. I really need to focus and drive to get this thing completed.

I need to trim the sapele nosings for the shelves, fit and glue them, then do a final clean up of the shelves and apply the finish. I think I'll just do a couple light coats of shellac and then wax.Oh yeah, still have to do the consoles. Sigh.

I also managed in all the excitement to get a day of milling in, picked up a couple small logs of spalted maple. I still have not stored away the alder and horse chestnut I got last time, my storage space crisis is acute. Maybe they'll just have to lean against the garage all summer!

The longer log cracked as I sawed it, quite a lot of internal stress no doubt. Perhaps I should give this wood away to Nick, he is the master of taming unstable wood!

 Against my better judgement I am considering taking some cedar slabs that have been drying for a year and a  half and putting them in the kiln. This is for the simple reason that it would create some space in my lumber pile. I'd really prefer to wait until they have dried over one more summer (dry season here) before doing that though. In my experience cedar is the most forgiving of putting it in the kiln a bit wet. I checked it with my moisture meter the other day, it is at 15%, I'd probably see 12% by the end of the summer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Whatever Can Go Wrong . . . "

Well this veneering thing just is not working out. It's not the veneering itself, it's the compressor used to create the vacuum for the veneer press.  I should have expected problems when I bought the thing off a local teenager who had fixed it up himself.

Get ready for a small rant:

First I discovered that the compressor's pressure switch was the wrong size. I ordered a replacement on eBay that took forever to arrive. When it did it wouldn't fit exactly on the compressor, and it also had three extra air connections that needed to be sealed off. Well the plugs I got to seal them were the wrong type, they wouldn't seal. So I had to buy new plugs. Then the motor wouldn't turn on properly when the compressor pressure dropped down below about 95 psi. After a ton of head scratching I decided to replace the 1/3 HP motor with a 1/2 HP motor I had lying around. Well of course it was a tad bigger and I couldn't use the same belt. And the pulley on it was bigger. So off to my local hardware store, no belts the right size. A couple phone calls later I am over at a local garage. Their belts are all metric, the one I have is imperial. I eyeballed it, took two that looked right, got home and of course they are both the wrong size. Back again for another one, finally got it right.

Latest problem is that the pulleys on the motor and the compressor don't exactly line up. No way to adjust the motor laterally, will need to move the pulley on the motor shaft. It seems like the problems just never end!

Plus I pulled my back this morning and it is getting worse not better so my plan to do some more chainsaw slabbing tomorrow is toast.  I did slab up some spalted horse chestnut, alder, and cypress last week. No pictures though, you'll just have to believe me!

Got the drive sprockets in all three big chainsaws replaced, dressed the bars, got new chains, so I am rarin' to go. Only problem is that there is not too much exciting wood to be had right now at the cutting area!

Hopefully hopefully once I get the pulleys lined up that'll be the end of the compressor woes (ha! not likely!) and I can actually get these shelves finished.