My Two Favorite Hand Planes

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I have a real passion for hand planes and have quite a good collection, but when It comes down to it the two planes pictures here are the ones I reach for 90% of the time.

The larger of the two is an antique smoothing plane made by Stewart Spiers, from Ayr Scotland.
The smaller of the two is a Lie Nielsen skew angle block plane.

Cheers,
//

Bryan

The Festool Surfix Oiler System, (Part 2)

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A wet oil finish with an Ets 150/5

The Festool surfix oiler system, part 2

In the previous article on the new Festool oil system I produced a set of samples in both hardwood and softwood to see how easy it was to use the new oil system when following the instructions provided with the kit. Whilst the application method worked I wasn’t happy with having to leave the project for 8 hours between coats, so I thought I’d try the Festool oils using the wet burnishing method which I’ve used extensively with other oil finishes to see how good a finish would result.

For this test I’ll again be turning to my Ets 150/5 sander and the timber I’m using will be Sydney Blue gum for the hardwood sample and Baltic pine for the softwood.

The blue gum is recycled flooring and had already been sanded to about 120 g but the Baltic I have is in rough sawn boards; so once I’d dressed the Baltic,( by hand !) I was ready to begin.
In the Festool method that I wrote about in the previous blog, the samples were only sanded to 320g.
In the wet burnishing method we’ll be using both Festool Brilliant 2 and Titan papers and sanding up to 1500g. To achieve the best finish, It’s very important to remember the basic sanding rules relating to sander speed and grit size when using this method.
Use the table below as a guide to help select the appropriate speed for the grit your using.


Brilliant 2 Abrasives

Grit: Speed:
40. 6

60. 6

80. 6

120. 5

150. 5

180. 5

240. 4

320. 4

400. 3


Titan Abrasives
Grit: Speed:
500. 3

800. 2

1000. 2

1200. 1

1500 & finer 1


This chart is a suggested range only and results can vary depending on the type of timber that you’re using for your project.
If your using a Rotex sander remember to use the Rotex, random orbital technique as described in the “How do I get the best from my Rotex” article which is listed on the main page of this blog. If your using an ETS sander just work carefully though the progressive grades of paper paying close attention to the speed settings on the sander.

Once you’ve reached 1200 grit stop, as now we’re going to apply our first coat of oil. It you haven’t read my previous article on using the Festool oiler system, I’d suggest that you pause here and go back and have a look at it, particularly the section on loading and using the applicator pad.
Once you’ve chosen your oil and have the applicator pad set up apply an even coat of oil to the work piece. Try not to get too heavy a coat as repeated thin applications will give you a far better result than thick coats.
Once applied leave it for no more that 15 minutes then grab your sander with the sheet of 1500 grit Titan paper on it and , with the speed set to 1, begin to sand the surface of the work piece, gently and evenly working the oil into the timber. The small amount of heat generated by this process will open the pore of the timber allowing the oil to penetrate.
Work the oil into the timber for about 5 minutes ensuring that you cover all areas on the workpiece.
Once you’ve done this place a paper napkin on the workpiece, place your sander on top of the napkin, (don’t remove the abrasive) check that the sander is still on speed 1,then gently polish the entire surface of the workpiece. The napkin serves a twofold purpose in this technique. The abrasive properties of the napkin are around 6000 grit which serves to gently burnish the surface whilst the paper absorbs any excess oil from the work.
Put the piece aside for about an hour to give the oil more of a chance to dry then repeat the process from the oil application step, until you’ve achieved the level of finish you’re after.
I’d recommend a minimum of four coats of oil to achieve a good degree of protection , though the more coats you do, the better the final result.
Be sure to leave at least 24 hrs after application of the final coat of oil and give it a final buff using your sander and a paper napkin before you use your piece.

Safety note: Handle all materials with due care and be sure to clean up your work area and wash your hands properly when you have finished using these products. There is always a risk of spontaneous combustion of rags used in oil finishes if not stored correctly. Soak and rags used in water then dispose of in a bin outside your workshop when you’ve finished for the day.
Use all relevant personal protection equipment, ( safety glasses, hearing protection, etc) when using any of the techniques listed on this website.
Work safe, Have fun.

I hope you enjoyed this article and as usual, your comments and questions are always appreciated.

The next series of articles I’ll be posting will cover a the things you need to know about routers

Cheers

Bryan

The New Festool Oiling System



Festool Oiling System

Hi Guys,

I’ve finally had a chance to have a play with the new Festool Surfix  Oiling System  and I must admit that I was very happy with the result.  It’s perfect for the serious DIY user to get a taste of  traditional oil finishes and I’m certain the quality of the finish will appeal to more seasoned woodies.

If you follow the link above it will take you to the PDF handout I wrote which breaks down Festool’s “unique” instructions into a more user friendly format.

I tested the oils on Baltic Pine and Redgum using both the Festool method which recommends leaving the oils to sit on the workpiece for 6 to 8 hours, and my own method in which I sand up to 1500 grit with an ETS 150/5 , then wet burnish in the oil.

If you want more info on wet burnishing oil finishes either place a comment or send me an email and I’ll write a post detailing the method.

As always your comments are appreciated.

Cheers for now

Bryan

 

A Tung Oil Finish

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Gid’day all,

Having completed the construction of the shelves and doors for wall unit that I’m building I was faced with the question of how I was going to finish them. From previous articles you’ll know that I’m not a fan of varnishes and lacquers and that I love natural wax or oil finishes. My first thought was to go for a hard burnished wax finish as I detailed in the Rotex article, but the thought of having to apply 4 coats of wax on 12 shelves and 6 doors was a bit daunting and would add another couple of weeks to a project which was already behind schedule.

For quality of finish and speed of application I decided to go for a tung oil finish. Now from experience I’ve found that there is quite a lot of variations of usability between the different brands of tung oil out there. I’ve tried a number of them an found that Haymes tung oil gives me the best, most consistent and repeatable result for the way that I work. When dry the tung oil gives a low sheen finish which is easy to care for and really brings out the character of recycled timbers.

In this article we’re going to use what I call a “dry” oil finish, as we’ll let the oil surfaces dry completely before sanding them. A “wet” oil finish is where the oil is worked into the surface with a sander at low speed whilst still wet.
I would recommend the dry method with the Haymes tung oil due to the high polymer content in the oil. If you’re wet sanding with this oil it can become very sticky, very quickly which will completely bugger up the finish your trying to achieve.
The “wet” oil technique is best left for natural or wax rich oils such as the oils in the new Festool surfix oiling system which will be covered in an upcoming article

The first stage in finishing was to sand the doors and shelves to 1200 grit. I find that when applying oil finishes such as the Haynes tung oil, which are particularly rich in polymers, the finer the surface you have to begin with, the easier the finish will be to apply, and the better the end result will be.

I sanded all the timber surfaces and edges with my Ets 150 sander. I used a Festool sander for this project because I have one, but you can achieve the same result with almost any variable speed random orbit sander.
Begin at 80 grit then move to 120, 180, 240, 320, 400, 800, finishing at 1200 again. Remember to adjust the speed of the sander as your moving through the grades of paper to achieve the best results.
Once all the surfaces were sanded to 1200, I applied the first coat of oil to the first side of all the pieces. My preferred method of application is to wipe the oil on using a pad made from a soft cotton cloth. I find that get virtually no drips and a more even coverage.
The pieces were left for 24 hours to dry, then flipped over and the reverse sides were given there first coats.
After another 24 hours drying time I put a piece of 1500 grit paper on my ETS sander and with the speed on 1, sanded all surfaces in preparation for the 2nd coat. I always have a paintbrush handy to dash away the excess dust created by the fine sanding.
The next step is to apply the second coat of oil following the same process that was used when applying the first coat.

It’s important that you sand between coats to give the new coat the best chance possible to stick to the previous coat. Be sure to remove the excess dust before application of the new coat.
As I said earlier, the Hayes tung oil has a lot of polymers in it which can give the surface quite a high gloss. This was a bit shiny for me so once all the surfaces had at least 72 hrs drying time I cut the finish back with 1500 grit paper, then burnished the surfaces with a brown paper bag places between the sander and the workpiece. This may sound a bit odd, but trust me, it gives the finish a really nice luster.
If your going to use this technique, just remember not to exceed speed 1 on your sander.
When completed this wall unit will get fairly regular use so for maximum protection I gave all of the woodwork four coats of the tung oil.

Anyway, that’s all for today so keep on woodworking. If you end up using this technique, drop me an email or better still, send me a photo and I’ll put it up on the site so we can all see how you got on.

As usual, your comments and emails are appreciated.

Cheers

Bryan

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Dovetail Keys as a Timber joint, (Part 2)

 

Dovetail keys as a timber joint. (Part 2)

In part 1 of this article, we covered the joining of the boards and the creation of the trenches for the dovetail keys. In this part well expand on cover how to cut the dovetail keys and glue them into the trenches.

One of the key points to remember is to cut the keys along the grain of the board to give maximum strength to the shelf.

As we’ll be using a trimmer to cut the keys, it’s critical that you pay careful attention to clamping the boards into place. In my case, the Sydney blue gum that I’m using is recycled tongue and groove floorboards, so I was able to screw a sacrificial board about 50mm in from the edge of my bench with the groove facing toward me, then screw an offcut of pine onto that for additional lateral support.

20111009-095237.jpgIt was then a matter of sliding the tongue of the board the key was being cut into, into the groove of the board screwed to the bench and the material was secured and ready to cut.

As i did in the previous article on sliding dovetails, I’ll be using the Bosch GMR trimmer to cut the dovetail keys. Once the keys are shaped, I’ll be using the band saw to cut the keys from the main board, then planing the cut edge of the board flat before clamping it back in the jig and beginning the whole process again.

The first step is to attach the fence to the trimmer. I’ve attached a piece of melamine to the fence to give the trimmer more support when used in the horizontal position. There is a notch cut out of the board to let me see the location of the cutter and to allow the wood chips to be ejected, so they don’t clog the cut.

Please use safety glasses or face shield plus a dust mask and earmuffs when using any router

We know that the height of the dovetail key is the same as the depth of the trench we’ve just cut, so now we need to reduce the dovetail keys to the correct width so they can be inserted into the trenches we’ve completed.

Set the fence, so it covers about 3mm of the cutter and, after checking that everything’s clamped and tight place the trimmer on the workpiece, turn it on and cut the first side of the tail.

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If you’ve never routed horizontally before make sure you have a go at doing a couple of test cuts first. The key points to remember are to keep the base of the rout pressed firmly against the edge of the workpiece and the fence pushed firmly down on the top of the piece.

Once you’ve cut the first side unclamp, then flip the piece over, re-clamp and cut the second side.

20111009-095951.jpgGrab one of the pieces with the trenches in it and see how it fits. If you’ve managed a perfect fit on the first cut, I take my hat off to you. If it’s too big just move the fence in by a small amount, then try again. This part of the process can be a bit tedious, but it’s necessary to get as tight a fit as possible.

Once you’ve achieved a nice firm fit, and by this I mean that the tail slides into the trench with a little effort but not so much that you need to whack it in with a mallet, firmly lock the fence on the trimmer into place, so you don’t lose the fence position.

The next stage is to free the tail from the workpiece and for this, I used my band saw. My workshop is small and I don’t have a table saw, so all of my rip cuts are done on the band saw then cleaned up with either hand planes or by doing a series of .5mm planing cuts on the router table.20111009-100313.jpg

Since my tail needed to be a minimum of 6mm long, I set the fence on the band saw to 8mm and using a push stick removed the tails from the workpieces.

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After removing the tailpiece from the main work board, I planed the edge flat to remove the tooth marks from the band saw and started the whole process again.

If you don’t have access to either a table or band saw you could also use a jigsaw or plain old handsaw to remove the tails from the main board.

Once I had everything set up it took me just over an hour to cut the 24 dovetail keys for the 12 shelves that I’d made.

Once all the tails were cut it was then just a simple matter of gluing them and sliding them into there corresponding trenches. I had a mallet handy to help “persuade” a few troublesome keys to get into the correct position.

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I left the keys about 20mm oversize from each side of the shelf, planning to trim them flush when everything was dry.

After 24 hours drying time I used my Japanese saw to trim the excess keys flush with the edges of the shelves and then used a Stanley smoothing plane to trim the excess height from the keys, so they were flush with the shelves.

The next process was to place a 5mm radius cutter in the Bosch GMR trimmer and round over all the edges on the shelves to remove all the hard edges.

The next article in this series will show you my method of applying Tung oil to achieve a beautiful finish.

As usual, your comments and questions are appreciated

Thanks for reading this article,

Bryan

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Dovetail Keys as a Timber Joint, ( Part 1)

 

More things to do with do with dovetails.

The project that I’m working on at the moment has twelve timber shelves as part of the design.

I was able to source a selection of recycled messmate and mountain ash in small dressed boards, which I decided to use for this part of the project
The shelves needed to be a 245mm wide and the board’s ranged in width from 40mm to 80mm, so a selection of boards had to be joined together to give me a panel as near to my 245mm width as required for the project.

In an ideal world I’d be able to reach for my domino and hey presto, I’d have the shelves joined; but sadly I don’t have a domino yet, so it’s back to the drawing board.

I have a full router table set up, so another possibility is to use was biscuits, but frankly, I don’t like them You may as well butt-join the pieces for all the additional strength that you’ll gain from them.

After a bit more thought, I settled on butt joining the pieces and then adding dovetail keys, both as a means to prevent the shelves from cupping, as well as a decorative feature.

Another advantage of this method was that I’d used sliding dovetails on the shelves and dividers in the carcasses of the wall unit, so I was very familiar with the required technique.

Once I’d cut all the timber to size and jointed all the edges, the shelves were glued, and butt joined together in lots of three with a couple of sheets of newspaper placed between each of the shelves to prevent them from sticking together. The glued units were then left for 24 hrs to cure.

Once cured the shelves were planed flat to remove any irregularities and sanded to 80 grit.

As there were 12 shelves to add dovetail keys to, I made a simple jig to speed up the process of routing the channels and to ensure continuity of dovetail placement on all the shelves. The jig is just a 3-sided frame, screwed to a sacrificial board with a straight edge attached to guide the router.

The position of the trench is determined by the placement of the straight edge, relative to the edge of the board. Remember to take into account the width of your router base when working out the correct position and double check that everything’s square before you screw the straight edge to the frame.

The next step is to run a straight trench through the shelves to remove the bulk of the excess timber and to minimise strain on the dovetail cutter. I used my Festool of 1010, fitted with a 6 mm spiral uncut but to perform this task.

It’s important not to avoid this step as the removal of the excess material from the trench allows the dovetail bit to perform much better and the bit is under much less strain.

The material I chose for the dovetail keys was 19mm Sydney blue gum that gave an excellent contrast against the messmate in the shelves. So that the keys were balanced in the shelves, I decided to set them in 6mm deep.

The next stage was to set the depth of the spiral cutter in the OF 1010 to 6mm and then cut the square trenches in the shelves.

Remember to check the position of your fence before you start cutting.

If your using two different routers, as I did, the fence will need to be moved into the correct position for the dovetail trenches after you’ve cut the straight trenches.

As in my previous article on sliding dovetails, I again turned to my trusty Bosch Gmr trimmer to cut the dovetail trenches.

With the tool unplugged insert the dovetail cutter into the Gmr and set the depth, so there is 6mm of cutter protruding.

The dovetail cutter depth must be the same as the depth of the straight trench that you cut previously.

Once the trimmer is all set then double check that your fence is in the correct position and cut all of the trenches. Clean up any feathered edges on them and put the shelves aside.

 

 

 

 

Make sure you don’t remove the dovetail cutter from the trimmer or adjust the depth.

The depth of the trench is the same as the height of the dovetail key we’re going to cut in part 2

 

Part 2 of this article will cover how to make the dovetail keys.

As usual, your comments and questions are appreciated

Thanks for reading this article,

Bryan

How to get the most from your Rotex, (Part 2)

A Hard Burnished Wax Finish.

To protect and preserve the work, I usually apply a wax finish to the piece. I’m not a fan of varnish or lacquer style finishes as I feel they can give the finished piece a “plastic” sort of look when they’re completed.

The wax I use and recommend is Gilly Stephenson’s cabinetmakers wax. It is a combination of beeswax and carnauba wax in a gum turpentine base. From my own experience I’ve found that beeswax, on its own, never thoroughly dries and can become sticky and attract dust, and carnauba wax, on its own is tough to work with. The cabinet makers wax from Gilly Stephenson ticks all the boxes for me as it is easy to use, polishes up beautifully, and is very realistically priced.

The method I use to apply it is detailed below.

Sand your workpiece up to 1200 or 1500 grit using the method described in “How to get the most from your Rotex, (Part 1)
Put your sander aside but don’t remove the sanding disc
Use a soft cotton cloth and apply a thin coat of the wax to the surface. Rub it evenly over the surface making sure there are no lumps of wax. Remember to only use a thin layer. You can apply more coats as you go Once the wax has been spread over the surface leave it aside for about ten minutes.

Now, the next stage is the enjoyable part.

Grab your Rotex and double check that it’s on speed 1 as well as in Rotex mode. Place the sander on the workpiece, turn it on, and slowly and steadily work over the entire surface of your project. The small amount of heat that your creating is sufficient to open the pore of the timber and let the wax in, while the 1500 grit abrasive smooths and distributes the wax evenly over the surface.

Don’t overwork the surface: just a few minutes should do it.

When you’ve finished this stage you need to grab a paper napkin; yes, you read it right, a paper napkin. When I was teaching for Festool, and I knew I had a sanding workshop coming up the first thing I’d do would be to head down to the local McDonald’s and grab a handful of their paper napkins.
So, now you’ve got your napkin, place it on the workpiece, then put your Rotex, (with the 1500 grit abrasive still on it), on top of it. Double check that you’re in Rotex mode and on speed 1.
You should begin to see the shine develop very quickly. The paper towel equates to about a 6000grit, (approx) abrasive and cuts back the surface beautifully.
You can repeat the process and add as many layers of wax as you like. The more layers you have, the more vibrant and lustrous the finish but I recommend that you leave at least 24 hours between applications.
Try this finishing method on some offcuts of a few different species of timber. By doing this, you’ll create a “library” of finished samples which can really add the ‘wow’ factor to any presentations you give to potential commission clients if the future. What it also does is give you more practice with the sander so you can become more familiar with, and refine your technique on the sander.

I hope this article helps you in working with your Rotex and achieving better finishes that you’d previously thought possible. As always, please post a comment or send me an email if you’ve got any questions.

Cheers,
Bryan.

How to get the most from your Rotex, (Part 1)

How to get the most from your Rotex, (The Basics)

Okay, so you’ve done. You’ve bitten the bullet, spent the bucks, and now, sitting on the bench in front of you is possibly the best sander thus far to emerge from the melting pot that is European power tool engineering.

So; now what?

The first thing you probably want to do is whack a sheet of paper on it and sand a piece of wood until it’s paper thin. If you need to, go ahead, but make sure to clamp down your work first; there’s not much worse than being hit in that tender part of the anatomy by a piece of Rotex propelled timber.

Once you’ve got that out of your system, let’s start by having a good look at your new machine. Hopefully the salesman you purchased the sander from fully explained all the functions to you, but in case he didn’t, let’s start from scratch.

The Rotex 150 is a dual mode sander with an aggressive, gear driven mode, (Rotex mode) and a random orbital mode with a 5mm orbit.
You switch between these modes by pressing the green button on the top of the machine, down & to the left When the button.

is in the upright position the sander is in the Rotex mode.

To test this, make sure the power is turned off, then turn the base plate with your hand. You should feel some resistance and hear a “growl” coming from the sander. Now, push the top button down and to the left. This puts the sander into the random orbital mode. Turn the base plate again so you can feel and hear the difference between the two settings.

You’ve probably noticed the small green button on the right side of the Rotex just above the base plate. This is the spindle lock, and it’s used when we need to change the base plate because it’s either worn out or you need to switch to a pad of a different density for a specific application.
It’s a bit of a bugger to change, particularly the first time, but it will get easier to practice.
To use this function, first make sure the Rotex is unplugged, then put the sander into the Rotex mode.

Hold the sander upside down in your left hand so that your left thumb can depress the spindle lock button. Depress the spindle lock button with your left thumb and turn the pad anti-clockwise with your right hand until you feel the spindle lock engage, ( the spindle lock button will depress an extra couple of millimetres).

Continue holding the spindle lock and turning the pad anti-clockwise until the pad comes off.
To put on a new pad, depress the spindle lock, put the pad on the machine and turn it clockwise until you feel it drop into position and the locking mechanism begins to engage. Once this happens, grip it firmly and turn it clockwise until it locks. Now put the machine down and give your hands a shake. Told you it was a bit of s bugger to do; but trust me, it will get simpler with practice.

At the rear of the machine just above the plug it lead is the variable speed control for the sander and the green button on the inside rear of the “d” handle section releases the dust extractor port so you can polish the car without running the risk of it accidentally banging into the paint surface.

Using the Rotex.
Now, whatever your project, having a good understanding of how to use the functions of the sander will always help you to achieve the best finish possible on your work.

Rotex and Random Orbit Modes
One of the most common questions I field when showing people the Rotex is, “how do I know which mode, I should be using?”
Well, the simple answer to this is that you should always use both modes. Let me explain.

The Rotex mode will, with coarser papers, raise the grain while the random orbital mode cuts the grain back. From experience, I’ve found that if, for instance, you’re starting with 60 grit, whack it into Rotex mode and sand your work then stop, put the machine into the random orbit mode and sand it again. It’s important not to try to change from Rotex to random orbital mode while the tool is running; it’s like trying to change gears on your car without depressing the clutch.

Then change up a grit to 80 and repeat the process. As you progress through the grades, getting finer and finer, you’ll see the surface start to develop. It’s really important that you feel the wood with your hands as you’re sanding. Getting a good feel for the timber will help you gain a greater understanding of how a surface develops.
Continue sanding with 120, 180, 240, and 400 grit abrasives, being sure to repeat the Rotex, then random orbit modes

Sanding speeds

To achieve the best result results in your work, speed is another crucial factor to consider. The main things you have to remember are, the coarser the paper, the higher the speed.


Coarse paper on slow speed tends to dig in and ‘bite’ the work, which can lead to scratches and swirls that can be bloody hard to get out. Coarse paper on high speed tends to ‘skim’ over the work, and while it may take a little longer, you’ll achieve a more controlled result.
When you start sanding and are using, a 60 grit paper begin with the sander on speed 6 and use the Rotex, random orbit method as described above. As you start moving into progressively finer grades, gradually begin to lower the sander speed. Use the chart below as a rough guide for sander speed related to sanding grit.

Sanding grit. Speed
40. 6
60. 6
80. 6
120. 5
150. 5
180. 5
240. 4
320. 4
400. 3
500. 3
800. 2
1000. 2
1200. 1
1500 & finer 1

This chart is a suggested range only and results can vary depending on the type of timber that you choose.
The transition point when sanding is 400 grit. This is the stage where you stop sanding the timber and start burnishing it. From 400 up you’ll begin to see the surface of the wood develop and become smoother with every sanding stage that you complete. Don’t forget to feel the timber as you sand it so that you become more familiar with how each sanding grade contributes to the overall finish. Keep using the Rotex / random orbital sanding technique until you pass 1000 grit. From experience, I’ve found that when you reach 1200 grit switch to using the Rotex mode only. You should begin to see the timber surface begin to develop a lovely lustre and the surface will start to shine. This happens because the super fine grits that we have been using are burnishing the timber surface and closing the pore of the wood which gives us this glass-like finish.

That’s it for part 1 of this post, in part 2, I’ll go thru how to apply a burnished wax finish to your piece.

Cheers for now

Bryan

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