Ever since the age of sixteen I drove a pickup truck. However, when I traded my Ford Ranger in this February, I lost the convenience of running to the lumber yard and throwing a piece of plywood in the back. I currently drive a Mercury Milan while my wife drives the Ford Edge. Neither vehicle can handle a sheet of plywood, so when my wife Anita had to rent a trailer for a design show she was doing this weekend, I jumped at the chance to pick up some wood.
I plan on building some built-in bookcases for the dining room, but I’ve never been able to get started on them since I had no way of getting a sheet of plywood home. I guess I could have rented an open trailer for a few hours, but I’m too cheap for that. Two sheets of 3/4″ birch and 23 board feet of poplar should be enough.
Anita told me to trade in the Milan and get another pick up truck, but I hate having a car payment. The Milan currently has 135,000 miles on it, while I drove my Ranger until it had 275,000 miles, so I’m going to have to deal with this problem for a few more years.
A few weeks have gone by since my last post and I’ve loaded up on some more tools that I’ve gotten at area auctions. I have so many tools that I need to clean and restore that I should just rename my blog MVFlaim Toolrestorer. As you can see, I have a fetish for hand planes.
I’ve been spending so much of my free time cleaning all these tools that I haven’t really had anything to blog about woodworking wise. However, my wife wants me to build some cabinets in our dining room, so I should have something new in the coming weeks. That, and my friend and I have been talking about building a CNC machine during the winter. Stay tuned.
Last weekend I went to the Martin J Donnelly tool auction again in Indianapolis. I try to go when it happens twice a year and I always end up spending a whole bunch of money. It starts at 9:00am on Friday, but I always get there around 10:00am and 200 lots late because I don’t feel like spending the night. I really can’t get there any earlier because I need to drop off Bentley at PetSmart and the earliest they can take him is 7:00am. There were 1001 lots of tools which takes about four hours to sell through. They do another auction on Saturday, but I never go to that one because those tools are more collectible and not the usuable ones which I like to buy.
Below are a few pictures of the tools on the tables that filled a huge conference room in the hotel.
The auction is a lot of fun and if you’re in the market for a certain tool, you can place an absentee bid online. Below is what I came home with. A whole bunch of planes and few odds and ends. With all these tools I need to restore, it’s no wonder why I hardly build anything anymore.
This weekend my wife and I traveled down to Franklin, Tennessee to check out a pop up show called The City Farmhouse Market. If you’re not familiar with a pop up show, it’s basically an antique show where nearly all the vendors specialize in shabby chic decor. While a show like this may be a very boring show for most men, women tend to love it.
We were checking out the show to see if it would be something Anita would be interested doing next year. She was offered to set up a booth this year, but we wanted to scope the show out first to see if it would be worth the effort.
There were plenty of vendors, about 150 in total, but nearly all the booths were the same. Plus the prices for the items were very high. Nothing to buy if you were a picker trying to resell something.
Here is a close up of a particular booth. As you can see, the style is shabby chic to farm-house style. If you subscribe to Country Living magazine, you’ll know all about this style. If you subscribe to Wood magazine, then you probably have no idea what this crap is all about.
During the day, I was able to spot a few old workbenches for sale. I have no idea what people do with these things. The only thing I can think of, is that they could be used as a display table in a small business that’s going after an industrial look. Whether or not people actually sell these things I have no clue. I have seen plenty of them for sale, but I’ve never seen anyone load one up in their truck if you know what I mean.
These workbenches don’t come cheap either. They were $795 and $1,295 and neither one of them came with a BenchCrafted tail vise.
The next day after the show, we decided to head into Nashville on our way home and check out American Picker’s Antique Archeology store. If you watch the History Channel then you’ve probably seen their show. Mike and Frank pick through random people’s property buying items so that they could resell them. I’ve followed the show since the first season and firmly believe that the current seasons are more scripted than actual reality, but that’s another topic for another day.
The store is rather small and filled with more American Picker t-shirts and coffee mugs than antiques they’ve picked for sale. Plus, if it was an item they’ve picked, you’ll pay a pretty penny for it. The place actually reminded me of a gift shop at a Hard Rock Cafe. It’s a very popular stop as the line to get into the store was fifty people long. Luckily we got there 20 minutes before the store opened and were the first customers at the door.
After viewing the items in the store, I bought my $27 t-shirt because I knew I’d never be back. After that, Anita and I headed out of town stopping at antique stores on our way back home.
I love examining at old furniture. I enjoy looking at the joinery used by the craftsman who built it and see how well it has lasted over the years. After all, since it lasted this long, the piece of furniture must have been made well. However, sometimes I see failures in furniture that I can learn from and not make the same mistakes.
I came across this secretary in an antique store in Milford, OH this weekend. It’s a beautiful secretary that I believe is made out of cherry. When I examined the top, I noticed it had a bread board edge that I had never seen before.
The craftsman who built the top inserted the edge of bread board into the slant top board by forty-fiving the end board into it. The whole point of making a bread board edge is to prevent the top from warping. However, it’s critical that you make sure that the top can expand and contract with changes in humidity during the summer and winter months.
While it took incredible craftsmanship to accurately cut the joint into the top, three of the four corners where the joints meet, cracked because there was no room for the wood to move.
The only reason I can guess why the craftsman built the top the way he did is he either he didn’t want end grain to show on the top’s edge, or he didn’t want to make mortise and tenon joinery for the bread board edge. I think it would have been rather ironic if he chose the latter because creating a 45 degree joint that fits perfectly into the top’s cavity seems a lot harder than making a mortise and tenon joint and then pinning it tight with pegs.
Over the past few months I’ve been making these French style bookcases for my wife. They’re pretty popular as they usually sell within a couple of weeks in her booth. The nicest part of the bookcase is the design of the cross bars that mimic the design of the Eiffel Tower. The design also makes the bookcase lighter and feel more open as opposed as having closed sides making the bookcase feel heavy.
Adding the cross bars isn’t so difficult when you take your time and measure everything correctly. When I start to build the cross bars, I rip 3/4″ square stock out on the table saw and sand them smooth on my drum-sander. I take one of the bars and clamp it to both back styles of the bookcase. I then strike a line to show me the correct angle that needs to be cut.
I take the bar over to my old school Stanley No 140 miter box and cut it close to the line, but not on it. I could do this on a power miter saw, but I feel that’s way too much power for doing delicate work like this.
After the cutting the bar on my miter box, I size it to the line by carefully trimming it with my AMT miter trimmer. I love this tool, but a miter trimmer is the Rodney Dangerfield of woodworking. For whatever reason, it simply gets absolutely no respect in the hand tool world. I guess hand tool purest would rather use a shooting board and plane, but this thing has never let me down in the twenty-five years I’ve owned it.
When the bars are properly fitted, they are super tight against the styles. So much so that it is very tough to even fit them in place. Having the bars fit this tight is actually very important because they will be glued in place without any mechanical fasteners other than a 23 gauge micro pin toe nailed to the styles.
Once I’m happy with the fit, I then scribe a line on each bar where the bars meet to create a half lap joint.
With a dovetail saw, paring chisel, and router, I carefully remove the material between the lines. The depth of the router blade is exactly half the thickness of the bar ensuring the bars are flush to each other when they are fitted together.
After the joint is cut, I test fit the pieces to make sure everything looks good. An important thing I do when installing the bars is to place witness marks on the bars and styles so that I know which direction the bars goes when it’s time for installation.
Here’s a close up of the half lap joint. You can see how everything fits nicely together.
The cross bars on the sides of the bookcase are done exactly the same way. When it comes to installing all the cross bars, I glue and nail them to the styles. Because I plan on painting the bookcase, I don’t care about the nail holes. I just fill them in with wood putty. I use 18 gauge pneumatic nails and nail the side cross bars from the front and back of the styles. The back cross bars, I glue and toe nail them with 23 gauge pin nails to the back styles.
Walking around an antique store called Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Cincinnati this weekend, I ran upon this massive beast in one of the aisles. An eight foot long authentic Roubo style workbench. I’ve seen dozens of old workbenches before, but for some reason this guy stuck out to me. The previous owner screwed nickel-plated hooks on the front of it for someone reason. Probably to hold coffee cups or some other nonsense.
What made this bench stick out was the splay of the front leg along with the leg vise. I imagine this was done to prevent the workbench from racking when sawing. The cast iron vise hardware turned smooth and could still tighten with something with a good grip.
It had an old planning stop hole used for planning boards. Oddly the area around the hole was all worn down. When I see wear marks on old pieces like this, it makes me wonder what type of work the craftsman did to make those types of marks. Though it does appear he was sawing on the right side of the planning stop.
Another interesting clue is that it is quite possible that at one point there was another vise installed on top. The three holes around the lighter circular area is possibly where he bolted down a machinist vise onto the bench.
The legs were jointed together with a simple bridle joint however, the legs were not jointed into the bench’s top. More likely the top was just bolted down to the legs somehow. I didn’t feel like moving everything around in the booth to get a better look.
The bench top was a good 12″ wide x 4″ thick piece of pine. It had a tool tray in the back that appeared to be in real good shape given it’s age. Notice how there are no bench dog nor holdfast holes in the top.
Who knows where this bench will end up. Probably in someone’s home as a kitchen island, but for a cool $700 it can be all yours.
When my wife Anita does shows, I’m always looking for something that I can make fairly quickly that she can sell in her booth to help pay for some of her fees. After helping her do shows over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that small benches are quite popular. They’re nice to stick out on front porches or foyers or even mud rooms. In fact, some people even use a bench as the seating for one side of their kitchen table.
I designed this bench to be made from a 2″ x 12″ and a 2″ x 8″ that are eight feet long. However, if you change the dimension of the stretcher a little bit, it could be made form a 2″ x 12″ x 10′. The only issue doing that is you need to make sure your 2″ x 12″ x 10′ is choice wood with no splits at the end of the board because you’ll need nearly every inch of it. It doesn’t matter to me because I can’t fit a ten foot board in my car anyway, so I bought a 2″ x 12″ x 8′ and 2″ x 8″ x 8′ for under $20.00.
When I scrimmage through the wood pile at Lowe’s, I always take the time to pick out a nice 2 x 12 with nice grain and very little knots. However, most of the time the board is a little cupped, so I whip out my Stanley No 40 scrub plane and plane the top flat. I plane the wood near a 45 degree angle and scoop out nice little shavings from the board until the board is fairly flat. When I was satisfied with the result, I brought the board over to my planer and planed the underside of the board taking away the cupping from that side. I didn’t take anything from the side I hand planed, I left the plane marks to give the top of the bench a bit of detail.
The construction of the bench is super simple. I make the legs 9″ wide x 16″ long. I measure down 2 1/2″ from top and bottom on each side and use the lid from my garbage can to draw an arch connecting the two marks. Then I cut it off the arches on my band saw. Simple!
The feet are 5″ wide x 10 3/4″ long. I draw a 1″ radius on both sides and remove the material with chisels, planes and files.
I want the bench to have four feet so I take two of the pads and cut grooves in them on my table saw. Once all the grooves are cut, I remove the waste with my bench router and plane everything smooth.
When designing the stretcher, I did nearly the same thing as the legs. I measured 2 1/2″ from each side and make a mark. Then I find the stretcher center and mark 2 1/2″ off each side of the center. I swing a compass set at a 12″ radius connecting the marks creating the arches for the stretcher.
In order for the legs to attach tot the stretcher, I bored a 1″ x 4″ mortise through the legs with a 1″ forstner bit and cleaned it up with chisels. The tenons I cut on the table saw and band saw and cleaned them up with my rabbet plane.
After all the parts are sanded, I dry fitted everything together to make sure the bench looked right. I wanted the tenons to have a mechanical fastener along with the glue, so I drilled two 1/4″ holes through the side of the legs going through the tenons.
I grabbed some scrap oak and split a few splitters of wood with a chisel. The pins run down the grain making them exceptionally stronger since the grain follows the strength of the wood.
I sized the pins by punching them through my Lie-Nielsen dowel plate. I shaved the pins a little bit with my spoke shave so they would start to fit through the 1/4″ hole of the dowel plate. Once the pin starts to fit in the hole, I pound the hell out of it.
After I was satisfied with the way the bench stretcher fitted to the legs, I started gluing and screwing everything together, I placed glue of the pins and inserted them into the tenons of the bench. I didn’t bother draw boring the holes of the tenon. I was already satisfied with the tightness of the joint.
The bench was painted a duck egg blue and waxed over top. The next bench I make will probably be a different color. Maybe a black or grey as neutrals are always popular.
You can see the detail of the top where the scrub plane left little ridges in the wood giving the bench a bit of detail. It definitely looks better than having a plain board for the seat of the bench. Now I need to make ten more of these babies.
My wife and I got back from The World’s Longest Yard Sale today which runs down US 127 from Michigan to Alabama. We left Wednesday morning before it officially began and drove down US 127 looking for bargains stopping at dealers who sat up early. We ended up in Chattanooga, TN for a couple of nights.
When we woke up in Chattanooga, we headed south toward Alabama because last year we had heard that that’s where all the good deals are. Going below Tennessee on the yard sale can be tricky because US 127 ends in Chattanooga. The yard sale continues on the Lookout Mountain Parkway which takes all different routes as it changes onto different state roads.
Once we got into Alabama we didn’t necessarily see a lot of good deals, just a bunch of dealers selling antiques. I did spot tons of anvils for sale. I could have bought 20 anvils if I was in the market for one, but I still have an anvil I bought two years ago sitting in the garage waiting for me to make a stand for it.
After we got back to the hotel we stayed for another night then headed up Tennessee in the morning. Tennessee had a bunch of professional dealers as well. My wife and I were buying a few things here and there, but the prices people wanted weren’t “yard sale” prices.
Everything was going fine until somewhere in the boon docks of Tennessee I got stung by a damn bee. What made the situation worse is that I just got stung in my lip by a bee a couple of weeks ago when I was doing mulch in my yard which made my lip swell up three times its normal size. Now another son of a bitch comes right toward my face and stings my eyelid. I’ve never been an anti-bee person, but I think I’m going to start pissing on my wife’s flowers so the little bastards can inject my urine into their bodies.
We drove to the nearest pharmacy 20 miles away and picked up some Benadryl and ice to prevent the sting from swelling up. I put ice on it all day, but sure enough when I woke up in Lexington, KY the next morning, my eye was swelled shut. We considered calling the trip and just head home, but I told Anita that I was fine and it’s best for us to just keep moving along.
Kentucky had the most tools. However, a lot of dealers were around selling their tools at retail. There’s nothing wrong with selling retail, I’m just a picker so it needs to be a good deal for me to buy it. I found the best places to buy tools were the little road side sales with only a couple of yard sales. Not these big tent cities where there are 150-200 vendors in one spot.
We got back home last night and headed out this morning to check out Ohio. Ohio had the best deals on items. They were true yard sales with “yard sale” prices with very few dealers. When we were all done this afternoon I got a few tools. Nothing major considering we did it for nearly five straight days.
Out of all the tools I bought, the neatest was a panel raising plane I bought in Tennessee. It appears to be of German descent so it’s quite possible that a German immigrant made the plane when he came to America. There is no makers name on it so it’s definitely an owner made plane.
The guy who sold it to me told me that it was from the 1700’s, but I highly doubt that. I would guess anywhere in 1800’s. One of the clues that could determine its age is the bore hole made by whatever drilled it. If I can figure out what kind of drill bit that bore that hole, I could estimate the plane’s overall age.
Another nice find was this Disston stair case saw. I believe these little guys are somewhat rare so I was happy to pick him up at an extreme bargain.
The yard sale is a lot of fun and you should definitely do it if it’s ever been on your bucket list. I’m not sure if we’ll go all the way down to Alabama next year, but we are already planning our next trip.