Sunday, January 27, 2008

In the shop.

We are about halfway through the winter. I've moved several timbers inside to the woodworking shop and am fashioning them into posts, which I then number and return to the elements outside. Hopefully I'll be good to go when the warmer weather returns. I'm not about to kill myself now on snow and ice covered scaffolding and ladders. I have enough inside work to do.

I made a jig out of scrap to help lay out the cuts evenly and quickly. I also made a try square as a guide for the circular saw cuts and it too has served me well.

My primary tools for cutting the posts are the 6" Porter Cable SawBoss circular saw. I use this to score the lines before chiseling them out. It has a port for a dustbag and inside that is a necessity. My two Jet 3 Speed Air Filtration dust collectors, suspended from the ceiling, help too.
Next would be the Robert Sorby 1 1/2" heavy duty firmer chisel. I use this with the "Wood is Good" 3 1/2" diameter head, 30 oz mallet to rough out the waste for lap joints or mortises. After that, the Robert Sorby 2 3/8" Slick is one hefty tool to finish the cut. Slicks were used by shipwrights and timber framers in the days of olde. They are not cheap but I have never used a tool that is this solid and as fun to use. It's a real monster and you can work up a sweat using one. Finally, one of the most important tools I have is the Silky Master 330 Large Teeth saw, a Japanese saw that I use for finish cuts and ripsawing.
It is fast and accurate and utterly amazing.

The posts I'm working on are either 10 or 12 feet long hemlock, 6X8", cut this summer and therefore still pretty green in the center and heavy. I like the bitter smell of the hemlock as I work it, but it splinters easily so I have to wear gloves when I manhandle them. I'm chamfering the edges with a Porter-Cable 691 13/4 HP D-Handle Base Router that I can use with one hand while I hold a 4" dust collection hose with the other as I glide down the edges. I now have 5 or 6 routers and I don't know how I did without this one! As soon as I finish one post, I move it back outside. The longer they stay in the dry indoors, the more likely they are to twist before they are installed.

Observation: My new Powermatic table saw is also a $2500 workbench that can support these heavy timbers!