Working on a large project, like my current wardrobe project, takes a lot of time. And large projects go faster when I can get large blocks of time to work on them (so, that's weekends). When I have only an hour or so here & there, I find it hard to "get into" a large project, knowing that I'll soon have to stop.

Instead, I often use that time for little detours like cleaning the shop, organizing stuff, sharpening, tool maintenance, or even little side projects. And even though I'm not making progress on anything big, I'm still having fun in my shop. Here's a few detours that I went on recently.

Saw Support

I cleverly (not) built myself only ONE saw bench a while ago. I works great, but when working on a long board, I have nothing to support the other end with - there's nothing around that is the right height. But I don't actually need a whole second saw bench, so instead, I but one of these saw support/work support/work stand things. It has two "levels"; one the height of my saw bench, and the other the height of my work bench. I used some scrap red & white oak for material, and mortise & through tenons to join it, with wedges for the bottom through tenons. I finished it with boiled linseed oil. It's already proven handy.

Moving Fillister Plane

I tossed a bid into an eBay auction a few weeks ago, and happened to win it. It's a cool old wooden moving fillister plane. It's nothing fancy, but it's in good shape, except for the missing nicker iron. I took a little time to knock off the rust, clean it up, and sharpen the iron. It works great. A future detour will be to find some tool steel for the iron, cut & shape it, and then harden & temper it (something I haven't tried yet, but am inspired to do so by blacksmith Peter Ross).

Band Saw Maintenance

When my band saw blade started drifting, on even the simplest cut, I knew something was screwy. Especially since I'd recently put on a new Woodslicer blade about three weeks ago. A little investigation later, and damn it if the bottom thrust bearing hadn't seized up. Amazing how that makes such a difference -- you'd think the blade could still just slide along it. Oh well, a phone call to service, and in a few minutes I had the part on order. But that means no band sawing for a while. 

Sharp Saws

I recently acquired two old back saws on eBay, to fill out my western saw collection. One was a steel backed carcass saw with no visible makers marks, and the other was a 1920s era Disston tenon saw.

the saws after a little brass, blade, and handle clean up.

But the condition of the carcass saw's teeth were lousy, and needed jointing. The tenon saw wasn't so bad, but needed some TLC. So I decided to send them off to a saw filing pro, Bob Rozaieski of Logan Cabinet Shoppe and the excellent Hand Tools & Techniques podcast. I've enjoyed learning from his podcast and blog, and seeing as he offers a reasonable sharpening service, I thought I would get these started out on the right foot. My saw filing skills are pretty new (everything I've learned to date is from this site, and trial and error), and I feel better touching up saws that I know are configured correctly, rather than trying to bang my head against saws that started out way out of whack.

Bob turned them around right away, took time to answer at length several questions I had. A really great experience over all. I'm anxiously awaiting their return.


Update: The saws came back in, and were in awesome shape. Thanks Bob!