Sunday, January 29, 2012

Small Containers for Fast Fun

Sometimes when I get board I go out in the garage and work on projects that yield fast results. Some of the common items I make are small containers. Now days it seems silly to make such things because you can buy them cheaply or repurpose them out of trash. A few hundred years ago this wasn’t the case. If you needed something for storage on the frontier you probably made it yourself.

Here is some items I made in the past using what a settler would have available which include; earth, wood, and animal parts. No fancy tools were used in the construction and you don’t need to attend an $800 dollar class (not that there’s anything wrong with that if that’s what you’re into).

1.      Top large bowl made out of mesquite hollowed out by a combination of burning, and chisels.
2.      Small elm bowl.
3.      Salt container made from horn and wood.
4.      Two candle boxes. Candles made out of tallow were stored in protective boxes because they tasted good to pests like mice.
5.      The two stone bowls are carved out of soapstone.
6.      Two containers hollowed out of limbs. Larger one is wild plum that I used an auger bit on. The other is sumac branch which has a center consisting of spongy pith that is easily dug out.
7.      The last is my favorite container which is made out of Birch Bark. I love Birch trees.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Plow Plane

I made this plow plane a few years ago it’s proven to be a very useful tool. Besides using it for cutting groves like in a door panels it can be used in conjunction with hollow and rounds for making moldings. Check out the Blog “Musings from Big Pink” located on my blog links. The site has wonderful tutorials on the subject. 

The plane itself is made of yellow birch. I wanted to keep the character of an eighteenth century plane so I used rivets instead of screws to attach the skate to the plane body. I also made rivets for the arm of the fence. The rivets work real well. I have an eighteenth century plow plane that was made using rivets and after all these years they still hold the skate tight to the body.

I recommend making one! I feel this plane was easier than some of the molding planes I’ve made. Obviously buy a set of blades before you start then build the plane around the blades. I also suggest using wooden screws for the adjustment on the fence. I bought my threading kit from Woodcraft and have gotten a lot of use out of it on other projects. The alternative for holding the fence is using wedges but I find them a bit harder to adjust.    

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dominy Inspired Workbench

    I took advantage of the unusual weather we’ve been having in Nebraska (it got above 70 degrees on Thursday) to do some repairs and modification to my Dominy inspired workbench. You could say the bench is somewhat green because I salvaged much of the oak out of a trash pile behind a tractor supply business. The top started out 6 inches thick but due to continuing warping has been planed down to about 5 inches. What I like most about this bench is its weight as it doesn’t move around at all when I’m working on it.

    The vise has been a bit of a problem because as the top warped the holes the vice screws go in have started to bind. I fixed that problem this week by taking a long in cannel gouge and enlarged the diameter of the hole. Now it works fine at least till summer comes. It gets extremely hot and humid in the northeast part of Nebraska where I live and it plays hell on wooden tools. The vice does not have garters I don’t need them and this allows me to clamp odd shaped stock. The length of the vice is also nice because I can clamp long boards and plane them without any support.

    A few other features are the new chisel rack in the back. The bench is narrow and this does not leave space for tools I didn’t want a tool well but after dropping a few chisel on the cement decided the rack was the best alternative. I really like it! I also have an adjustable bench hook. You will note in the photo that it has a recess in the top so it can be retracted out of the way. This is important to protect your hands and stock. Also I forged a couple crude bench hooks. I really like them and don’t know what I would do without them now that I have gotten so use to them. The bottom shelf is where I store my planes when not in use.

The last few photos are of my pug security system she also doubles as a bench dog. The house buried in the snow is a picture from two years ago at this time. Winds in Nebraska are strong especially in the winter. We also don’t have many trees around here so that makes it worse.