Roubo Workbench – Legs p 1

While I wait for the dimensional 1X12 pine to adjust to my shop (I have been unable to find a source for rough 4/4 pine or fir near San Francisco) I am finally working on the legs for my workbench. I have previously dimensioned these legs at the TechShop but they moved a bit in the new shop.

I marked out the tenons on one of the legs, clamped it to my workbench top, and started cutting with my hybrid cut tenon saw.

Sawing the sides.
Sawing the sides.
My saw plate it a bit shorter than the tenon so I finished with a Japanese pull saw
My saw plate it a bit shorter than the tenon so I finished with a Japanese pull saw

Next I placed the leg on my saw bench and bashed out the central waste with my ½ mortise chisel (and woke my wife up from a nap in the process).


Then I sliced of the dovetail cheeks; it’s not great but after some cleanup with my chisels and a router plane it should work. Three more to go; hopefully the last one will be in decent shape.

Still needs some cleanup
Still needs some cleanup

The Next Project – Arts & Carfts style saw till

Now that the Dino’s are done I can start my next project, a saw till. It incorporates some elements of the tool box design I built (designed by Michael Pekovich) but I could not work out a door design I liked. Then I was reading my copy of Classic Arts and Craft Furniture by Robert W. Lang and noticed the Harvey Ellis bookcase has a door which was around the correct size and low and behold it worked out pretty great.

Saw Till

The plan is to use some dimensional pine lumber from the hardware store for the main sides and some quartersawn Douglas Fir (apparently quartersawn softwood is called SVG) for the door and back.

Chisel Sharpening and “New” Tool Setup – 03/23/2015

Other than finishing the rocking dinosaurs, most of last weekend and last night’s shop time was spent sharpening tools, including a couple of rehab/initial setup projects. Thanks to the purchase of a boot tray and hardboard base, my sharpening setup is portable and much easier to work with. As with most amateurs, my sharpening routine is still evolving but here is what is currently consists of.

  • two Atoma diamond stones
    • one 140x for tough restoration/initial setups
    • one 400x for restoration/initial setups and flattening my water stones
  • a dual grit 1000x & 4000x water stone for primary sharpening
  • two Japanese water stones for final polishing
    • one 10,000 grit yellow stone
    • one 15,000 girt white stone
  • One “horse butt” leather strop which is a recent addition, I use it without compound


I use a Veritas honing guide with both the straight and rounded rollers and I do not currently have a grinder, though I have been contemplating buying a hand crank one from eBay.

I finally got my Record 65 (courtesy of Patrick Leach over at set up by flattening the back of the blade to a minor polish and sharpening a 32 degree bevel edge (there were some nicks and I don’t have a grinder at the moment). When I started setting up the NOS English made Stanley 151 spokeshave I purchased during Tools for Woodworking’s Cyber Monday event I had a bit more difficulty. Thanks to a large depression at the tools edge it took quite a while to flatten the back and since the edge is not straight thanks to that same depression I have a feeling making the initial bevel will also take a while.

Darn manufacturing defect
Darn manufacturing defect
woodworker selfie
woodworker selfie
The cap iron needs some TLC as well
The cap iron needs some TLC as well

Almost all (except of the two below) of my chisels are now razor sharp and ready for their next project but when I was going through them I realized that my Buck Brothers ½ inch chisel has been put away covered in glue and since I primarily use my Narex ½ inch chisel it sat that way for a long time; rust everywhere. Upon contemplating how to deal with this rusty mess I remembered an older Chris Schwarz post regarding making your own dovetail chisel by grinding down the sides of a cheaper chisel; since the chisel was a mess anyway I decided while I had my belt sander out for the 3 inch chisel I would give it a go. After some time on the belt sander the results are pretty dramatic when you compare it to the ¾ inch chisel from the same set; my next project involves dovetails so we will soon discover how well it works.


Last year I purchased several tools from a collector that needed to clear out some space (we met in a grocery store parking lot for the exchange where I purchased the goods out of his trunk) and I am finally getting around to turning some of those purchases into functional users. Amongst those tools was an old 2 inch wide socket chisel which looked like someone had used as a pry bar and there wise abused. This meant the chisel back was quite out of flat and since I want to use to for cleaning up the leg mortises on my Rubo style bench I decided to flatten the back using my belt sander. After a few minutes of work I started to mark the back with a pencil and then remembered the Marking Fluid I bought for saw sharpening; the blue fluid quickly showed where my high and low spots were and once the blue areas moved away from the edge I swapped to the 140 grid diamond plate. After a couple of hours I ended up with a fairly good surface near the edge however one corner must have caught the belt and left and low spot.

IMG_0422 IMG_0424 IMG_0434

Rocking Dino – Completed

Well the monkey (or dinosaur) is finally off my back just in time for my son’s birthday. Over the weekend I touched up the paint in Ralph’s mouth and added the eye paint, finally finishing up the second dinosaur. Overall I am happy with the results, especially the green rockers (thanks for the suggestion Brook).


The construction on Ralph is a bit better than Dino since I figured out the best way to do things such has fitting the tail cross piece or painting the eyes (using an eye dropper for the white made it a lot easier). That said, Dino’s paint job is a bit smother than Ralph’s due to project fatigue a  nd the rapidly approaching deadline; that said, I don’t think the customer minds.


Musings on the current state of consumer furniture

I have been traveling for work this week so I have been unable to make any progress on my projects. Last weekend I assembled a piece of cheap furniture from Target; you know the kind, plastic wood grain over particle board (the irony being this shelf now holds my woodworking books and magazines).

As I was taking the parts out of the box I though the surface had been damaged, there were off colored parallel lines running along many of the parts. A close look showed no surface damage, that’s when I realized they were simulated milling marks. They had purposely made the surface of this furniture look like it has machine marks left on the surface.

This is what American consumer furniture has come to: Cheap fake furniture purposely made to look like badly finished wood furniture.

Rocking Dino – One Down

It was a VERY productive weekend; I managed to complete Dino and I got Ralph very close to done as well. Dino got a spray-paint coat of red to the inside of his mouth and I painted the eyes using Tesoro Enamel sampler pack from Amazon (it was cheaper than getting a jar of black and a jar of white); the act of painting the eyes brought me back to my plastic model building days of my childhood. The red in the sampler kit was also a perfect match for the red spray paint so I used it to touch up a few dry spots in Dino’s mouth. The one mistake was painting the pupils before the whites so I did get some black bleeding into the white.

Ralph's Green rockers
Ralph’s Green rockers


Progress on Ralph was also good. The rockers got their green paint so they will have plenty of time to cure. I also allied a coat of primer to the body and let is cure overnight before painting the handles, cross piece, and the inside of the mouth (this is a change in order for Ralph as I realized pre-paining the mouth would make things easier). I also used a flux brush to apply a heavy coat of red deep inside the teeth where the spray-paint could not reach. At this point some thin filler was applied to some small defects which the paint showed and the body was sanded to remove any raised grain or paint globs.

Since dinosaurs may have had brightly colored feathers this may be an accurate paint-job.

I taped off the handles, cross piece, and the inside of the mouth and four coats of blue later things are looking pretty good. Next weekend I just need to paint the eyes (whites first this time) and touch up the mouth and I will be all done with this project.

Note the cross piece is green for Ralph
Note the cross piece is green for Ralph

In between coats of paint of Ralph I added one more tool rack to the wall near my bench to tame my drills and mallets. It was a scrap piece of red alder left over from the entertainment center build and some ½ inch dowel pieces. The dowel holes are drilled at an angle which will hopefully keep the tools in place next time the ground decides to do some salsa dancing.


Weekday Progress – 03/12/2015

Last night I spent the evening sanding up Ralph and adding in the eyes in preparations for priming and paint.  Since I am planning on painting the rockers for this version I only sanded to p120 grit  and we will see how that works out.

The plan is to get the rockers painted and the body primed before the weekend so that I have time to address any defects before painting this weekend.