Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jointer Push Block

Since I got my jointer, oh, I don't know how many years ago, I've been using those orange push blocks to guide my stock across those spinning blades.  But lately, those push blocks have been slipping on the stock, creating an inconvenient if not dangerous situation.  I could have glued on some rubber padding left over from our carpets or even a piece of sandpaper.  But at just the right time I saw a blog entry by Steve Shanesy of Popular Woodworking Magazine describing a wooden pusher he made for his own use.  I liked the looks of it and decided to make one for myself.  The blog has full dimensions and also includes patterns for cutting the parts.

My pusher was made of poplar.  I cut a dado in the base to receive the tenon on the handle, which is oriented cross-grain to the base.  I had intended to cut a tenon on the handle that would fit the dado, but in my zeal to cut dados, I cut one in the handle where the tenon was supposed to go.  Whoops!

I recovered by cutting a piece of white oak to fit into the resulting dado grooves and glued it in place.  I rounded over all the exposed edges with a 1/8 inch roundover bit.  I added a 1/4 inch deep cleat at the rear of the base.  I finished the whole piece with several coats of shellac just to give it a better appearance.  I did not finish the base as I did not want it to be slick.

I've had a number of chances to use it since I made it and I can happily report that it performs very well.  The length of the base holds the wood firmly to the infeed table and gives me positive control over the stock as it moves across the table.

Shanesy also wrote a blog on making a table saw pusher and I plan to build that as well, when I can find time in between other projects.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Home for My Handplanes

Over the years, I've built up a fair-sized collection of handplanes.  I've got a block plane, nos. 3, 4, 4-1/2, 5-1/4, 6, 7-1/2, a chisel plane, a shoulder plane, a bevel-up smoother, a low-angle jack plane, a scrub plane, a router plane, an edge plane, and a skew rabbet plane, not to mention a couple of fix-up candidates.  Of course, since I teach using handplanes at Woodcraft, I can justify having them since I need to demonstrate them and let my students try them out.  And, I really enjoy using them in my various woodworking projects.
My handplane cabinet

But storing them has always been a bit of a problem.  For the last several years, I've kept them in plane socks and stored them in a cardboard box.  But the downsides of this are the inconvenience of pulling them out to use them and the weight of the box when carrying it to class.  Frankly, I began to fear the bottom of the box would tear out, putting my valuable collection at significant risk of damage.

That's when I decided I needed a better home for my planes, one where I could grab them easily when needed in my work.  And, frankly, where I could see and enjoy them.  So I decided to build myself a cabinet to house my collection.

The shelf you see in the photo is the result.  I built it out of poplar that I jointed and planed by machine.  I cut through dovetails for the corner joints and joined the shelves to the sides with sliding dovetail joints.  I added small slips of wood to the shelves to lift the plane blades off the shelves.  I finished the shelf with Watco dark walnut Danish oil and coated that with two coats of shellac.  I rabbeted the back (by hand, of course) to house a 1/4 inch plywood back.  The cabinet is hung with a French cleat screwed into the concrete blocks of my basement woodshop wall.

I'm happy with the result.  And, I'm glad to have the project finished.  It stayed on my workbench for far too long.  Now that my bench is clear, I have room to move on to other projects.  And, I've gotten my planes out of that box and out where I can see and use them.