Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back to work

This project was delayed for a couple of months.  My older brother, Matt, asked for my help at New Year's in making a spice rack and mirror for his wife's birthday at the end of February.  I asked him if he wanted the end result or the experience of making it, because one takes longer.  He chose the experience.  If he picked the end result we would have gone to Nathan's power tool shop and gotten them done in a single weekend.  He said he wanted to learn about making things with hand tools and agreed to bring one growler per week from the Craft Beer Exchange, so.

The mirror was a duplicate of the one I just made (which I still haven't applied a finish to), except without the shelf.  The spice rack was made out of maple with housed dadoes and wedged through-tenons.  I'll write a post on those projects later.  Lumber was purchased from Dunham Hardwoods and I am still satisfied with the quality and care Zach puts into every order, no matter how small.

Back to the task at hand.

With the mirror construction complete, it's time to get started building the bench.  Here's a reminder of what that's going to look like:

I decided to start with the frame assemblies that surround the panels.  

First up, get groovy.

Really groovy.

Next: Tongue Depressing

Awhile back I purchased the Wide Blade Conversion Kit add-on for the Veritas Small Plow Plane that converts it into a tongue cutting plane.  I only bought the 1/4" tongue cutter because I usually only work in 3/4" stock.  The 1/4" tongues that it creates are supposed to fit perfectly in to the 1/4" grooves I just finished making a ton of, and they even have a video showing just how easy it is.

Problem #1

Veritas provides you with something called a "shaving deflector" that is supposed to divert the shavings as they come off the blade and guide them up through the middle and out of the plane.  Perhaps this works with wider tongue cutters, but not with the 1/4" tongue cutter.  The shavings just jam between the deflector, blade and skate.  This happens regardless of how light of a cut I take, or how long my board is, and it happens after only a few passes.

My finger is too big to reach in and dig the shavings out, and they jam up in there so tightly that I have to jam the point of a pencil into the packed shavings to clear them out.  The frequency at which I have to stop what I'm doing to clear shavings out of the plane in this way is really annoying to the point that I consider it a design flaw.

I've tried not using the shaving deflector, but the result is the same.  Searches on the interwebs for people with similar problems got me nowhere.  I now understand what Christopher Schwarz is talking about when he says he prefers when the escapements on moving fillister planes eject shavings onto the bench, not into your hand.  I vote for a redesign.  I'm going to ask Lee Valley if I'm doing something wrong, which is entirely possible as this is the first time I've used this tongue cutting blade.


Problem #2

I cut all of the tongues only to find out that none of the tongues will fit into any of the grooves.  The tongues are too wide and/or the grooves are too narrow.  
Not like the video at all.

So I decided to use the new fractional dial caliper I just bought from Lee Valley (accurate to 1/100th of an inch) to make sure all of the groove blades and the tongue cutter are the correct dimensions.  Turns out, they're not.
5 groove blades and 1 tongue cutter. Caliper set precisely on 0" when closed completely.

The 3/8" Groove Blade is .005" wider than 3/8"  This isn't really a problem because I'd rather have a wider groove than a groove that isn't wide enough.

The 5/16" Groove Blade is .005" narrower than 5/16" (Problem)

The 1/4" Groove Blade (which I just used to cut all of those grooves) is .005" narrower than 1/4" (Problem) 

The 3/16" Groove Blade is exactly 3/16" (awesome)

The 1/8" Groove Blade is .01" wider than 1/8" (not really a problem)

The 1/4" Tongue Cutting Blade is .003" narrower than 1/4" (Problem)

Here you can see the end result width of the narrower-than-1/4" groove 

And the end result width of the wider-than-1/4" tongue

Overall differences from the advertised dimensions

I'm going to be contacting Lee Valley to ask them to replace the groove cutters.  The whole point in buying the Wide Blade Conversion Kit was to save myself some time.  I don't anticipate there being a problem.  They have a long history of excellent customer service.

Solution (for now)

I took my Large Shoulder Plane and trimmed all of the tongues and made them narrow enough to fit into the grooves.   Here's the progress shot so far:

30 Grooves, 16 Tongues (trimmed), and 4 Rabbets

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