Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lessons from the bench.

I'm learning.  Slowly, but I'm learning.  A few lessons from the workbench...

1) If it feels wrong, it probably is.  I started making a cut today, and it felt pretty awkward.  I decided to keep on with it, because I couldn't see a better way to do it:  the wood I was trimming splintered, and now I've got a slice on the back of one finger where the wood caught me.  The good news is, I was using a handsaw, not a table saw, so it's pretty minor and will heal quickly.

2) Keep your bench clean.  This one is hard for me.  I'm normally... well, I don't want to say "a slob", because to me that implies dirt.  In my space, things are usually clean, but scattered.  Nothing gets put away.  The fact that I have a very limited space to work means that if I don't put things away as soon as I'm done using them, I run into them later.  I just had to stop midway through a cut, because it turned out I didn't have space behind the vise for the sawblade;  the plane I was using a few minutes before was in my way.

3) Trust your eye, not your measurements.  I spent about 20 minutes this morning jury-rigging a way to keep my plane at a 45 degree angle to smooth a bevel I needed to make.  It was still remarkably difficult to get the bevel cut right.  For the second, third, and fourth -- I'm beveling the top edges of a box to take a similarly beveled top -- I said "forget it, I'm doing it free-hand."  So I marked the edge, took off most of the waste by making short cuts with a dovetail saw and knocking them out with a chisel, then used a #3 plane to smooth and finish it.  Elapsed time, less than 10 minutes for the longest one.  (I judge time by songs;  the longest one to do took me all of "Drinking Duncan" and part of "Slip Slidin' Away", both by Paul Simon.  So maybe 7-8 minutes.)  Each of those three came out cleaner and faster than the one with the jig.

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