Monday, January 29, 2007

A table saw

I started out trying to mount my circular saw upside down to a piece of plywood. That has a few problems.
  • No mitre slot
  • No parallel guide - you can clamp a piece of wood in place, but that's fiddly
  • No blade guard - That's a biggy. I'm fond of each and every one of my fingers..
Either you mount the blade through the plywood, so the guard is always open, or you mount the base plate of the saw through the ply wood, but then the spring loaded guide tries to lift your work piece. No fun.

Given that you can buy a cheap circular saw for about €150 it makes little sense to try to save money this way. Sure it will have limitations, it's not a precision high end machine, but neither is your circular saw mounted through plywood.

I eventually settled on the SIP 01321 for €150 form McQullians in Dublin (no web site). The one I bought comes without a stand.

So far I have simply assembled it, but there is one or two things to be aware of.

Adjusting the blade to make it parallel to the mitre slot
The saw is held in place by 4 bolts. You loosen these, with a socket wrench, it's inaccessible for spanners, and then you move the blade, and then you tighten them. It's very hit and miss. I was expecting some manner of screws or micro adjuster. But then this is a €150 saw.

The mitre guide is a little sloppy
You can move it about 1/2 a degree either way. I see a few grub screws in it's future. Tap holes into the side of the mitre bar, place grub screws in, and adjust them to get a perfect fit for the mitre bar.

The Fence is not rigid.
The fence locks parallel to the mitre slots. This is GOOD. But a small amount of force can move the end of it up to 3/4 cm (1/3 of an inch). I imagine the simplest solution to this is to place a piece of wood perpendicular to the fence, and clamp it at the edge of the table.

The table is not flat.
If you place a straight edge across the table, there is light visible in the middle. Not a lot, but light none the less. I'm not sure how much trouble this will cause. I'll update this as I start using the saw.

The angle guide is a gross approximation
But I kind of expected that. It just means that I always need to check the actual angle of the blade, even for vertical. The stops for vertical and 45 degrees are too coarse to be useful.

Once I start cutting things, I'll post a little more about how many of these short comings are problems in real life and how many are just niggles.


Monday, January 22, 2007

It scrubs up well...

Ok, it's not shiny and polished, but then I don't really need to start a tool restoration hobby. I wanted a usable tool.

I took it apart, brused of the dirt with an old toothbrush, and soaked it in vinegar overnight.

A little more work with a toothbrush, some 320 grit carbide paper, and some machine oil, and voila:

I bought a new blade, as even after spending a half hour with 120 grit paper, I was making little impression on the back of the old blade. I could sharpen it enough to plane pine, but it was looking like a career to flatten the back properly so that I could get it scary sharp.

I priced a new one at about €85 + postage, so I guess this is a bargain.

The base is flat. Or at least, sufficiently flat that I cannot tell the difference.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Some Old Planes.

I have been given a few old, once loved planes, that have spent a few uncared for years. They once belonged to my grandfather, a Carpenter of significant skill. Now they are badly rusted.

Believe it or not, the blades are still sharp enough to cut your hand on. Of the three planes, there is a stanley bailey ~5, #4 1/2 and a Record #4.
Since I have a Stanley Bailey #4, I am planning on restoring the #5.

It appears to have been welded together, I have no idea of it's history, but one have cleaned it up a little I will have some idea of how salvagable it is.

Fitting Joints.

Some people, through years of practice can cut a perfectly fitting joint with a back saw. I can't.

In order to fit a joint, a simple method is to mark out the joint on a flat sheet of plywood, and to set up the joint against the lines. This makes it easy to see if the joint fits, and if the joint angles are correct.

So as you can see here, the cut is neither square not a straight line.

This can of course be fixed quite easily with a small block plane. One thing to point out is that the more time that you spend sharpening a tool, the less time you spend cursing it later.

You should check the angle of the joint and check that it's square every few strokes of the plane. The light visible here shows that I still have a little work to go.

As you can see the joint fits a lot better after a little cleaning up.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Maybe I'm learning..

Yesterday I cut Frame #2.

The bottom members are relatively easy as they are pretty much just 3" boards. Of course I managed to mess up the end of one of them. It's just not square. However this time I made the cut about 1/8" away from line so that I could tidy it up with a block plane afterwards. So now instead of moaning about ruining another board, I'm off to sharpen my planes.

Maybe, just maybe I'm learning.