Strongbox Replica

Like a joke with out a punch line what good is a woodworking bench with out a vice? Nothing. The ghetto workshop took a hit this week. My bench vice striped out. It was a discontinued, and-now-I-know-why, cheapest thing I could get model. It couldn’t hold up to the clamping power  needed for chiseling out the waist to form the half blind dovetails needed to proceed with my newest project, a replica of a 1880’s Japanese strong box.

Jim, a fellow woodworker friend of mine got the chance to utter the phase “I told ya so.” after waiting for the past 4 years since installing the vise and listening to me bragged of its low cost.   I do believe the in the adage of always buying the best tools you can afford but when budgeting on a teachers salary and with the bottom falling out of the hand made spoon market I can’t afford much.

These are tough times but it doesn’t stop us from dreaming and most woodworkers have a notion of a dream shop. The place which houses every tool one can desire and all the space you could ever need and  in the perfect location of course. But if  desire is the root of all suffering then tool lust is a cardinal sin and to take another truth from the Buddha (which we can do since we are looking to the east for this next project) in buying tools I take the middle road.

Long story short I did managed to scrape up the scratch by borrowing from tomorrows bills to buy a new Eclipse 9″ quick release vise today. Right now my dream shop, with the best tools, most space, and perfect location is on hold or to put it another way , lower your expectations to eliminate disapointment, my dream for my current shop is to have all the tools I currently own to keep working the way that they are supposed to with out fail. The the promise that I make with my tools is to keep up the good work and you will not be replaced, the old bench vice must not have gotten the memo.

Mountains of Shaveings

Google SketchUp drawn blue prints

After carving spoons for a couple of months its nice to get a chance to work with my hand planes again but it’s a switch going from freeform curves to achieving square joinery. One piece of shop furniture that I was lacking was a shooting board. When working with precision joints its hard to sneak up on a tight fight with a table saw alone. For this project I needed two doors (not pictured in the blue prints) closing in a set of four drawers. Precision fits are a must and my new shooting board did the trick.

Its a big one. The Width is 26″ x 20″ and gives me a large working surface for squaring up  the  door panels. It’s made from two stacked sheets of 3/4″ plywood. The upper edge that the pane runs against is trimmed with a piece of hard maple to keep the plane from having to work against the end grain of a sheet of plywood. The adjustable fence is made from a piece of oak, all the parts were made from scraps.

My shooting board plane is a no.5 which I also use as a scrub plane. To use the no.5 for both tasks I switch out the iron from my no.4. The blades for the no.5 and the no.4 are both the same size but the blade I use as a scrub plane has a strong camber where as the blade for my smoothing pane is perfectly flat. It’s the flat blade that I want for squaring up panels on a shooting board. Both irons have been upgraded to pinnacle IBC replacement plane blades.


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