Monthly Archives: May 2015

Forgive Me Roy, for I Have Sinned…

Ok, so for the last few years I have been moving toward total hand tool work.  But, despite my efforts, for one reason or another I’ve managed to hang on to a few vestiges of my machine days.

My ancient Craftsman bench saw and Walker Turner drill press still give good service from time to time when I need to rip a piece, or drill holes more accurately than I can do by hand.  And, I still get good use of my Ridgid thickness planer, when I’m too lazy to do it by hand (such as this morning, when I took an eighth inch off of some white oak).  But now, there has been a new transgression.


I’ve been wanting to get into turning for a while now, but haven’t had any pressing need that mandated a purchase.  I always figured I’d just build a treadle lathe, which I prefer over the pole lathe (I like the idea of constant motion as opposed to the back and forth of the pole type).  There was always the problem with space, which is still at a premium, and the complexity of the flywheel.  I could overcome the flywheel problem eventually, with enough time put into it.  But, sometimes things come up that put a quick end to procrastination.  I suddenly have a project that will require some turned legs.  Not long ones, thank goodness, but 16 inchers for a bench.  So, an expedient was needed.

Above is my new Nova Comet II lathe.  Not a monster by any means.  But, for turning pens, chair legs, chess pieces, and small bowls, it will work just fine.  And, it happens to fit perfectly in the last square foot of space available in the power section of my shop.  Small as it is, it will tide me over until I clear out some space to fit my Barnes Velocipede (which I have yet to find).  Until then, I think a few Hail Mary’s and an Act of Contrition will absolve my sin.

barnes3-2lThe Barnes Velocipede Lathe, a marvel of beauty and engineering.  Someday, I shall have one.

P.S. – I have done a bit to make some space.  I sold my two powered sanders and my router.  The router bits I donated to a local Middle School shop class.

Time to Build Some Calluses

Started working this week on a new table for our dining room.  We have decided to get rid of our RtG glass top modern unit with a drop leaf harvest table.  After surfing for one in vain across the web (at least one that met our specs), it was decided I would build one.

After playing around with the designs, figuring out wood types, and getting the first batch of materials in, it was time to get to work.   I started off working the cherry 3x3s that will be the legs with my #7, aiming to get two faces flat and square.  I plan to finish them off with my thickness planer, insuring a uniform thickness, before cutting the tapers on the table saw.   After a while working on the first leg, I noticed that my hands began to blister in places they hadn’t in a long time. It was then I figured out that it’s been a long time since I’ve done any work like this.  The blisters weren’t the only issue.  It took me a few extra passes to get things as flat as I wanted.  Clearly I need to clean the rust off my technique.

I’ll post some photos in the coming days/weeks, to show the progress.  I also plan to do more of the work by hand, just to keep things sharp.

P_20150622_104805 P_20150622_104756


Here are the leg blanks.  I got them on Ebay as I couldn’t find what I wanted at a reasonable price anywhere else.  3×3 cherry, 31″ long.  Here they have been planed square, truing two faces by hand, then finishing up on the thickness planer.  The final length will be 28″ (my wife is only 5′ tall, and a “standard” height is too much).