Category Archives: woodworking

The Garage is Broken

Well, the stuff in it anyway.

I did manage to fix 2 things today, but 2 others broke.

First, a vice I’ve had since college – I think I stole it from Dad, broke. Well it had a good life. It’s odd. There was a hole drilled in the shaft. I guess that was to keep you from stripping out the threads??


Next up, the Catan box I’ve been working on for a while, but had set aside, broke its lid. It’s really odd. I’m pretty sure that what happened is that the thin lid piece, made of 1/8th inch oak glued to 1/8th inch plywood, warped, and broke the oak frame. Well, better now, than after glue-up I guess.


Rope Burner

I got tired of trying to burn the ends of ropes, utility cord, etc. So, a couple of bucks for a piece of right angle metal, and a little time with the drill, and voila. Works pretty good. Upper edge cuts the rope, and the inside corner works pretty good for shaping the melted ends. I only need to turn on the butane for about 15 seconds (in a cold garage) for it to be ready to melt nylon.



Dovetail Practice Box

Finished off the dovetail practice box last weekend.

Lessons Learned:

  • Dovetails are hard because there is so much chiseling of end grain.
  • Patience grasshopper. Grrr.
  • Trimming up the protruding ends to match the adjacent surface is harder than it looks, especially when one end of the box is really short and it is hard to move the hand plane over only 1/2 of the surface, resulting in a ton of chipped out tails/pins. Yuck.
  • Rounding off the edges is a great way to cover up the chip-out (see above)
  • Yes, dovetails can be patched if you catch it early enough.

Thanks to David Barron for the nice dovetail guide, however, I’m glad I bought one while they were still made of wood.


It felt good to “make something” in the neighborhood parlance. Just a quick pot lid holder for the new kitchen drawers.

Knife Sharpening Experiment

When Becky and I took a cooking class, the chef lamented how he had damaged (I believe “ruined” was his exact word) a knife by trying to sharpen it himself. Between that, and all the difficulty I’ve had sharpening hand plane blades freehand (ie without a guide/jig/fixture), it was with quite a bit of trepidation that I attempted sharpening 2 of our good knives tonight.

Both had become incredibly dull, now that the cheap knife sharpener had become deformed with use. It has since been relegated to the circular file (AKA trash).

However, I am happy to report that the experiment was a success! I only needed to start with the 1000 grit stone, and worked my way through 4000, then up to 8000. Both knives sliced a fresh tomatillo (small green tomato-ish Mexican vegitable/fruit) without really even being able to notice that it was there.

Buoyed by that success, I tried sharpening the cleaver. I think I did a pretty good job, but because the cleaver has such a quick transition from edge to 1/8″+ thickness, I definitely felt the tomatillo.

Catan Box 2


This is possibly my favorite part of a project – where it actually starts to look like something,  instead of just sticks and planks.

Oh yea, and be careful what the 5yr old “washes”. Metal rusts if you don’t dry it off quickly.  I had to take some 400 grit sandpaper to a couple of chisels that I hadn’t noticed got “washed”. I was surprised how quickly they cleaned up. But I guess that was the point.


Epoxy melts


I forgot that a) epoxy melts and b) belt sanding really heats thins up. I melted the hell out of the rubber on a clamp, and melted the brass off a small project. I will stick with the hand file for brass in the future.