Work Sharp Freehand Sharpening

I printed a freehand sharpening guide for my Ken Onion Work Sharp, and found it works a lot better than the guides that come with it for odd knife and handle shapes.  Honestly at this point, it is the only way I sharpen with this tool.

Don’t own a 3D printer, no problem.  Just cut a block of wood with the desired angles and sight down the edge of the wood.

Folding Tablesaw Extension

I like my table saw.  It has a much larger top than a contractor saw, but was more affordable than a full cabinet saw.  I will likely upgrade some day, but am fulfilled for now.  That doesn’t mean I can’t make it better.  A folding extension would really help with large and long pieces that want to fall off the back side of the cut.

I started without a few ideas of how best to build an extension, but not a fully fleshed out plan.  That can lead to trouble, but it worked out pretty well in my case.  I bolted on a wide board to the back to act as a good starting point.  I used some of the laminate covered plywood from my table saw fence to build two fins facing outward.  The idea is to use these as a hinge surfacesd.  I made sure the slick plastic was facing out on all sides.

Ideally the extension meets seamlessly with the end of your table.  In my case the the fence has bits that hang down below the surface and would interfere with an extension.  I dropped the extension surface slightly and had to live with a gap.  Small parts could fall through, but big and long cuts will droop enough to engage the new surface.

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From there I used more of the plywood to straddle the fins I had made earlier and drilled through everything with a 1/4″ bolt to act as a hinge.  Initially the outside corner of the fixed fins wouldn’t let the extension down all the way, but a small bit of rounding freed them.

The extension rotates freely with the interfaces being plastic on plastic.  I added a cleat underneath and another to the table saw.  No fancy mechanism, just a simple bit of cut 2×4.  Magnets in the brace keep it held against the tablesaw when not in use.  Everything feels pretty sturdy when in place.

Other than the compromises with respect to meeting the table saw surface it turned out well.  It doesn’t add too much size to the saw when folded up, and provides a decent extension.  I might want it bigger in the future, but I should be able to unscrew the top surface while leaving the hinge pieces in place.  I could install one much wider and longer not have it take up any more space.  I will have to try this out for a few weeks and decide.  There is enough plywood left over to make the extension either a lot wider, or longer.

Waterstone Saddle

I have a norton 4000/8000 grit waterstone that I use for most of my finer sharpening.  It is a good stone, but requires soaking before using, needs frequent flattening, and you have to squirt water on it often when sharpening.  I have made many messes on my bench while using the stone to sharpen and decided to try something else.  Operating it at the sink makes the most sense.  I had a long piece of UHMW plastic that would make a good starting point for a waterstone saddle.

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The plastic is rigid, impervious to water, and left over from my table saw conversion (aka free).  The tricky part was how to hold it down.  I want it to be removable so screwing it down wasn’t an option.  I went around and around thinking about it until I just printed something.

Two of these funny hook shapes sit really snugly on the top rim of my garage sink.  A dab of hot glue on top held the plastic plank in place temporarily.  I flipped it over and screwed the hooks on from the under side.  You can screw into UHMW plastic, but you want to pre-drill and not over tighten.

With a really solid platform established I printed some cleats to keep the stone in place.  I used the same hot glue trick to tack the cleats so I could drill and screw them without any sliding around.

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I have used this a few times since making the saddle and it works well.  I might add some kind of lip to keep sprayed water and swarf from dripping outside of the sink.  Otherwise this keeps the waterstone in its natural aquatic environment.

While I was working on all of that I printed a rag hook that clips on under the lip of the sink to keep an old shirt nearby but out of the way for drying hands.  Printing fixes everything.

WE GOT OWLS!

I went out to the back yard around dusk to see why a pile of birds decided to have a shouting match all of the sudden.  I looked over at our owl box and had someone looking back at me.  A gorgeous screech owl!

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I will have to go back when there is more light out to see if I can get any better pictures.  Too bad I don’t have my zoom lenses any more.  I guess my home made owl box must have been pretty enticing!

Bed Project Phase 2

I started my storage bed project a short while ago.  Ok, it was nearly 2 years ago.  Still, I got another bit done.  The mattress sits on a plywood platform.  Wood strips form a lip around the edges and keep the box springs in place.  Those had been a set of short pine parts, but would now be full maple pieces.  The bottom face of the bed frame was plywood and an open hole.  That got covered with an easily removable maple cover.

I started this phase right after I finished the frame, but got side tracked.  I lost a lot of the photos.  The earliest thing I have is of the bottom cover getting ripped down to rough width.  I did that by hand.  No small amount of work!  Table saws are real time savers these days.

After that I went about flattening the massive board with a scrub plane which, according to my heart rate monitor, easily qualifies as cardio.  Scrubbed on the left half, untouched on the right in the picture below.

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After a bit of time with my jack plane it was becoming flatter.  The maple always gives me tear out grain issues though.  A smoothing plane and card scraper fix most of up.

The bottom cover was the largest board I had ever worked by hand.  It was daunting, but starting to look good.

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With the dimensions and finish all about right I could move on to adding a hand cutout feature.  I roughed with my chisel, then used a rasp and spoke shave to smooth it all out.

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Glued washers to the back of the board held it firmly against magnets in the bed frame.  The issue is that this kind of board doesn’t like to be flat.  That gap is a little unsightly.

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No need to panic, I can fix this and make it even better.  A piece of molding attached with pocket holes will stabilize the board a bit, cover up that gap, add a feature to keep the covered centered on the frame, and add some nice flair.  Below is that molding cut to size and fit checked on the bottom cover.  It would ultimately get some rounding on the router, but I forgot to capture that process.

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Similarly, I didn’t get anything of my work on the side rails.  They got a groove to help alignment with the bed platform and some rounding on the router to ease contact with shins and knees.  I used the same waterlox varnish finish technique as on the rest of the bed.  I am really liking how that finish works!

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I assembled the bottom cover once all the finish work was done.  It takes and ugly hole and makes it look like a great maple masterpiece.

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The old pine temporary rails were removed and new maple ones installed.  I clipped the bottom two corners of the bed platform before installing the rails.  No real load is held there at the very edge, and my shins catch that.  Now the railing and platform are all more leg friendly.

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Phase 3 is going to be making all the drawers that go underneath the bed.  I want them to be largely hand worked as well.  For this project I used a miter saw to cut things to length and a router to perform round overs.  Otherwise everything was done with hand tools.  Not necessary, but something I want to spend more time on.

Table Saw Fence

I have had the same fence on my table saw for most of the life of the saw.  It is a bit of plywood and some UHMW plastic.  The plastic has great wear and friction properties, but was never that flat.

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I was looking for phenolic resin faced plywood as a replacement, but was coming up short locally.  It is available at the wood stores in Orlando, but they are far and charge a boat load of money.  I read about using cabinet grade plywood and applying formica to the front.  That is a lot of work, and bubbles could prevent flatness.

Instead I found out my local cabinet shop sells something called “White Liner” plywood.  It is nice birch plywood with a side covered in some kind of hard slick plastic.  It seems pretty durable and is very smooth.  I got a whole sheet for 58 bucks.  Cheaper than the 1/4 sheets the wood stores were selling the phenolic stuff for.

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I cut up 4 inch wide slices and doubled them up with glue to make a thick flat fence.  If the face gets damaged I could probably flip it over and redo the countersinks to keep using it.  I had so much material I made a pile of spares.  These could be used for sacrificial fences or whatever!

The new fence is very square to the table and parallel to the blade.  I have made some cuts with it, and life is good!


With nearly 2/3rd of the sheet left over I needed to get creative.  I use a piece of melamine in my planer to act as a flat surface to bridge the gaps between the fold out tables.  It makes for easier smoother cutting, but the inner particle board is starting to fall apart.

I cut up two pieces and glued them together using my table saw top as a good flat surface to clamp to.  This is thicker than my old one, but the planer can handle up to 6 inch thick boards.  No clue how I would ever get anything that thick into the planer, so I can sacrifice the depth.  A curved bit of plywood on the front acts as a stoping cleat so the sliding surface stays put.

It fits well and ought to stay really flat with the added thickness and quality material.  With a small touch of paste wax my planer has a new lease on life.

Sharpening: Flat Back Jigs

I don’t always build sharpening equipment, but when I do I go overboard.  With a more stable work station I can get deeper down the sharpening rabbit hole and focus on doing better work.  I am trying to take sharpening from an afterthought to an everyday part of my woodworking.  This post’s focus is going to be on flat backs.

It is important to have flat chisel backs and for the last inch or two of your plane irons to be flat.  Pushing down on a small area gives me hand cramps after a while.  I always want to cut corners in this area, but need to get better.  Ideally when human frailty becomes a process issue I would advocate for robotics.  I am not that rich, so a helper jig will have to do.

I started with the idea of embedding some magnets in a block of wood sized right to fit in your hand.  Instead I found this magjig switchable magnet.  It has a lot of force when you rotate the knob and align the magnets.  I thought about woodworking a handle of some sort, but printing turned out to be a lot easier.

The magnet is be better than hands even without the printed parts, but they help spread the force over a larger area of the chisel, and makes for a better handle.

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I made a gif of it in action.  It holds really well and lets me put downward pressure across the chisel while controlling the back and forth motion.  This works well on wider chisels, narrow ones don’t take long to flatten.

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Plane blades are a lot wider and thinner.  That makes the magnet option harder.  This jig I found in a popular woodworking article won’t have that issue.  I started with a quite lovely short piece of maple.

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I used to never make a jig out of anything but the cheapest material I could find.  Now I am starting to get the idea of the jigs being tough and good looking themselves.  That having been said, I made a complete hack job of this slot.  It was an odd size so none of my chisels quite worked.  I drilled out a little pocket so my handle bolt wouldn’t spin.

A big mushroom handle on top lets me grip with the whole hand and have a lot of control and force.  The slot allows for a wide range of plane blades to be clamped.

It probably isn’t the best mirror polish the back of a plane blade has ever seen, but it is hands down the best I have ever done.  Plus, it is a jack plane, so perfection isn’t exactly required.

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I played around with the jig for a while before applying a finish.  I made a second hole on the other side to move the handle closer to the edge.  That seemed to control a little better.  Adjustment there might be nice in the next version.  The bolt that clamps down the blade was an issue too.  I could only tighten so far before the head would spin.  Sometimes the blade would want to rotate.  I thinned a scrap of maple and cut another pocket.  Now there is wood on metal instead of metal on metal (no chance of damaging the blade), and I can tighten to my hearts content.

Lastly a touch of tung oil made everything look gorgeous.  This thing will probably be black with grinding good in a month, but for now it is gorgeous.

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