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Moxon build – BenchCrafted hardware

Posted by is9582 on July 22, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve had this hardware for a number of months now, but as many of the regular readers probably know, I’ve just had too much on my plate to make it happen. I was stoked to have some time yesterday, so I got after it.

I like to reuse wood that might have some visual imperfections, as long as it is structurally sound, which fits this Moxon. The rear jaw is one that I’ve used in similar configurations for the last 10 years (at least), and was at one time attached to the wing of my SawStop, so has some wood missing where the bolts and washers sat. The front jaw was also pre-used, in my most-recent setup, and is plenty solid.

The threaded posts that come in the kit, require a 3/4″ hole, for the initial installation. Since both jaws already had holes through them for the Press Screws that I used previously, using my drill-press, I aligned my 3/4″ forstner bit with the center of the existing holes, and quickly removed the excess wood. Oh, I forgot to mention that the forstner I am using is one of the Colt MaxiCut bits that is the best that I have ever, ever, used, or even seen used. I first saw this brand of forstner bit used in a video by Christopher Schwarz, and it blew me away. Even though I know Chris and trusted his data, I couldn’t wrap my head around it until I actually bought and used one of the bits. It has to be the fastest cutting bit I’ve ever experienced, and it leaves what is close to a perfect surface. They are a bit pricy, compared to some of the other forstners out there, but this again is in the realm of “you get what you pay for”. The only caveat I want to include, is the fact that once you do begin using the Colt MaxiCut forstner bits, it is oh so painful to ever go back to using any of the other forstners out there. (Be warned!)

On the front jaw, the drilled holes are elongated somewhat, to allow the vise to hold pieces that are angled. Forstner bits are known to excel in this type of situation, where the bit is only contacting the wood in a portion of it’s diameter or arc. Caution: You should not attempt to drill with a normal twist- type bit, when the center point of the bit isn’t engaged, as they have a tendency to flex away from the side that is engaged, and can possibly snap. Also, this operation, even when using a forstner, is safest when using a drill-press and the work is properly secured to the table.

The instructions that come with the kit, diagram removing wood around the drilled holes, in the shape of a rectangle, to a depth of 13/16″ on the inside face. While I’m certain this works fine, I decided to instead create a fitted hexagonal hole (for the nut that faces towards the front jaw), which was just more of a personal preference. To start, I fed one of the threaded posts through each of the drilled holes, and tightened a nuts on each side of the rear jaw. I used one of my marking knives, to trace around each nut a couple of times, to make sure it was sufficiently deep to hold the edge of a chisel. One note, I worked around the nut in a clockwise direction, so any unintentional force I might inadvertently apply couldn’t accidentally loosen the nut and shift my scribed lines. After I was satisfied with the depth of the scribing, I followed around the nut with my .3mm mechanical pencil, in the scribed lines. Even though the lines were deep enough to grab the edge of the chisel, I still like to see the chisel is in place, before striking the chisel. The quick application of pencil lead, down into the scribe lines, helps.

 

The inside surface of the rear jaw, with the nut snug against the wood. Scribe lines are just viewable.

The inside surface of the rear jaw, with the nut snug against the wood. Scribe lines are just viewable.

 

The nut backed off substantially, before totally removing, to remove the excess wood.

The nut backed off substantially, before totally removing, to remove the excess wood.

 

After removing all of the hardware from the rear jaw, I placed it onto my bench, and found a chisel who’s width was slightly less than the length of one of the hexagonal legs, on the large nuts. It turned out this was one of the Japanese chisels I bought in Japan, on our trip in 2001. At the beginning of this process, I used a large wooden mallet to strike the chisel gently,  establishing a deeper outline of the nut. I liked using the wooden mallet, since it had a fairly large hitting area, and I could place almost all of my focus on the chisels edge placement, while still knowing I’d get a solid strike on the chisel. After the outline was fairly deep, I shifted over to my Glen-Drake hammer, as it does a great job of applying a forceful and focused strike. After working my way around the outline a few times, I set the chisel bevel-up just inside the outline, and with the chisel about 15-degrees up from flat, gave it a solid strike. This removed an angled section of wood, from the outline, angling down towards the center hole, relieving some pressure against the outer wall. I worked my way around the outline again, and then with the chisel flipped so the bevel was now facing down, I drove the chisel into the waste, taking about 1/8″ bite. To clarify, I did this by moving the chisel’s tip across the layout area, over the drilled hole, and into the waste. This allowed me to remove a decent amount of waste, fairly quickly, but I tried to only remove a thickness equal to what I had severed, working vertical around the layout. I repeated this process, testing the nut every so often, to see how much to remove. As I got close, I used my Lie-Nielsen Large Router Plane with the bit set to the same depth, as the nut is thick. With this setting, and the cutting edge against the inside surface of the drilled hole, I  moved the plane to slice until it cut all the way around. I shifted back to my chisel, to remove most of the scored wood. I found moving back and forth between the Router Plane and my chisel, provided a nice flat surface, inside the excised hole.

 

The rear jaw, with the nut almost half way recessed.

The rear jaw, with the nut almost half way recessed.

 

The rear jaw with the nut recessed, but no pressure applied to rear nut yet.

The rear jaw with the nut recessed, but no pressure applied to rear nut yet.

 

Inside surface of rear jaw, after both nuts were recessed.

Inside surface of rear jaw, with remnants of leather glued down on earlier version, after both nuts were recessed and rear nuts were tightened.

 

After re-installing all of the hardware onto the rear jaw, I tested to make sure the holes on the front jaw fit easily over the threaded posts. As it turned out, there was a very small variance, that impeded the outside jaw’s movement.  I took out one of my Auriou rasps, that has a curved tip, like you’d use if making handles. This rasp has teeth that are 13 grain, which means it is two away from the least aggressive, as they run from 1 (most coarse and for use on rock) to 15 (finest). The size of the rasp’s blank was just a bit under 3/4″ in width, and the outside surface is curved to fit inside a circle, which was perfect for removing the excess material. The 13 grain was just perfect for this type of work, as it was extremely quick, yet left a wonderful surface. I tested using an old large Nicholson rattail file in between fittings, but this file was very slow, and hard to keep from making lots of ruts, rather than one flowing surface.

 

Moxon vise after installing all hardware.

Moxon vise after installing all hardware.

 

The last thing I planned to do, was create a stopped chamfer, and while I was at it, maybe try out some lambs-tongues. As this chamfer is to be 45-degrees, back from the front face, I just held a pencil a given length, and used my fingers to ride against the edge. I made the first mark on the upper section of the front jaw, and the second on the face section of the same. For the end point of the chamfer, I decided to cut into the board with my Lie-Nielsen Tapered Carcass handsaw tilted 30-45 degrees, so that each end cut was headed towards the center of the vise. For all of the remaining chamfer area, I cut down until I just reached the two marked lines, again using my handsaw. I made saw cuts between 1/2″ – 3/4″ intervals, between the two end cuts. To help prevent any splitting, I set my Glen-Drake Tite-Mark to match the drawn lines, and scored along the full length of both. Instead of just wailing on all of the little “mountains” left from the saw cuts, I again took the same Japanese chisel, and gave it a firm rap along the scored lines. When both lines were outlined, I changed the angle I was using the chisel, to approximately 45-degrees. A couple of firm raps from the upper line, and then the same from the lower, removed the majority of the material. I followed that up with a draw knife, and as I got close, shifted back to my amazing Japanese chisel. It was still paring wood with the best of them, and it’s size was easy to wield without any mallet or hammer. I pared back until I was getting a fairly consistent surface, and then shifted to my flat-soled Boggs spokeshave. Another great tool, that does its job so perfectly. When all of this was to the point I could live with, I used the same chisel (no sharpening between or during any of this hard work) to rough out a lamb’s-tongue at each end of the chamfer. This is purely decorative, but seems to add something extra to the overall look. I used a gouge turned upside down on a bit of the lamb’s-tongue, and then finished it up with a couple of Auriou rasps. I again used the 13-grain curved rasp, and followed up with the 15-grain modeler’s rasp. They aren’t perfect, but as this vise is for function, I didn’t mind testing the look, which I like!

 

Final Moxon, with two lambs-tongues attempted.

Final Moxon, with lambs-tongues flanking the chamfer.

 

With the front jaw fitting over the threaded posts, with no effort required, it was ready for the cast iron handles. Just slip an included washer over each post, before threading on the handle, and your Moxon vise is just about ready for action. Actually, you can certainly use it in this form, but the included leather for the inside face of the front board, will give the vise that “easy, yet firm” grab on your work. Without the leather, it seems to require a bit more pressure with the handles, which can mark your work, or if you use less pressure, the work might slip slightly. Overall, I’d suggest installing the included leather, and let the vise work at it’s peak ability. The suggested method, for applying the leather, is to use rubber cement. I already had some leather on the inside surface of the front jaw, so I have yet to install the included piece. When I do, I plan to apply a light coating to the area where the leather will sit, as well as to one side of the leather. After applying the leather to the jaw, place a piece of waxed paper over the leather, and using the vise’s holding capabilities, apply a light pressure. I’d leave the vise sit like this, until the glue had set, based on the manufacturer’s suggested information. Obviously, you can leave it a bit longer, if you so desire, to allow all of the bonding to occur. When ready, open the vise jaws and remove the waxed paper. Your Moxon vise is ready to take on the world!

 

Thanks to everyone that stopped by to read my article. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

 

Lee Laird

 

Square peg in round hole – what to do?

Posted by is9582 on July 14, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , ,

I know the title may not represent the subject of this article exactly, but it’s sure awfully close. During my stay in Germany, I helped move some furniture into an old Bahnhof (train station in german), and we were successful with some, but not all.

Many of the old Bahnhofs were built with external stairs, as the only real means for gaining access to the upper floors. In the Bahnhof we were dealing with, these external stairs were in the form of an old castle’s spiral staircase, with the conical roof and all. For anyone who hasn’t ever dealt with a spiral staircase, and moving furniture, there are certain limiting factors. But unlike some of the more current spiral staircases, there wasn’t any open area on the sides, that we could use to let the oversized furniture hang out.

The stairwell is highlighted with a green rectangle, and a red arrow added to help find it better.

The stairwell is highlighted with a green rectangle, and a red arrow added to help find it better.

My daughter and I found a way to coax a full-size box spring for a bed, up through the circular maze, even though it initially acted as if it wouldn’t fit. When it came time for the Queen sized box spring, we knew there just wasn’t enough room, with the contortions we went through on the smaller full-size unit. We still had a go at it, just in case, but it was obviously too large. No matter what we tried, even leaning on the frame in a manner that sounded like we almost broke it in half, were we able to make it go. After the remainder of the furniture was upstairs, and got our wind back, I made a suggestion. Why don’t we just take the box spring apart, and then I can rebuild it again upstairs. My daughter did a quick search and found there was a Queen-sized unit that evidently folded in some manner, to assist fitting through smaller dimensions, but it certainly wasn’t free! The decision was made, so I grabbed all of the tools and headed back down. I’d never taken a box spring apart before, and really not even peaked under the coverings, but I figured it couldn’t be that bad. (Hmmmm)

Even with the longer days in this part of Germany (~4:15am – 10:30pm), after the decision process, we were already getting fairly late in the day. I used my heavy duty Bosch staple remover that I bought at the same time as the Gransfors Bruks axe in my earlier article, and it was sturdy enough to help pull the lighter staples used to attach the material, but the longer staples used to connect wood members were too much. Even so, we shifted away from the slow and exacting tac (read that as methodically pulling each staple around the perimeter, to release the material, and instead cutting just inside the staples), and shifted to the “let’s get this done, before any sound ordinances kick in” approach.

Bosch heavy duty staple remover, with the black handle and extra strong metal bit. Awesome!

Bosch heavy duty staple remover, with the black handle and extra strong metal bit. Awesome!

After almost all of the covering was removed, we started the de-construction process, which was basically pulling apart what we could and using a hammer to “bash” the rest apart. During this process, we tested at multiple stages to see if removing certain parts  might allow it to go through the stairwell. After the second attempt ended again in failure, I knew we had to take it down to individual boards. After we finally finished, we got everything upstairs and we all wiped out.

As some of you might be thinking, I was aware that the same issues would present themselves in the future, when it was time to move from this location. With this in mind, we found a hardware store, and I bought 125 Torx screws that were approximately 1 1/2″ long. I wanted it long enough to solidly connect two of the thickest boards (just over 3/4″ thick) used in the box springs. When initially planning for the screws, I thought 60 or so would do, but opted to double that number when at the store. I just didn’t want to come up short. To my surprise (and relief), even with this doubling of the screw count, I only had 8 unused at the end of the re-build.

While getting the screws, I bought a wireless drill/driver and a few drill bits. I made sure there was a bit that would allow me to drill a pilot hole through each board that would be the “outer” of two joined, to keep these self-biting screws from potentially biting into both pieces, and ultimately holding them apart. During the initial testing at the Bahnhof, I saw just how poorly some drill bits are made, and while I knew this on some level from using drills all of my life, I was somewhat surprised at what happened in the first hole I drilled in the real project.

Two of the boards that run across the end of the box spring, still had a strip of the thicker fabric attached, that the maker used to make the top side durable and I suppose pretty. When the drill bit exited the back of one of these boards, the bit caught in this fabric, and snapped into three pieces! I really couldn’t believe what just happened! (Reminder to always wear your safety glasses, which my polycarbonate sunglasses served the purpose!) There were times in my previous wood/metal drilling, that I’ve made a dumb mistake, and caused a bit to fail, but never anything like this. I wasn’t applying any side forces, or trying to change the entry angle, to make it a right angle or anything like that. So, with that in mind, you can imagine how cautious I was with the remaining 116 or so holes I needed to drill. Fortunately, the next larger size was still small enough so the head wouldn’t pull through the wood, when tightened.

Now let me go back to where I was going with this article. Since our deconstruction process took on a “go, go, go” attitude to meet the sound ordinance, almost all of the staples (long and short) were still in some of the boards. Some of the long staples were driven so their head was almost 1/8″ below the surface. I used a small hammer on each of the legs, to drive it out far enough, so I could grab the head with vise-grips. Even with the staple’s head now protruding, it still took a fair amount of time and effort to get each staple all the way out. The short staples used to hold down the fabric were much easier, and felt like they just jumped out, compared to the heavy-duty long-legged staples.

The staple pulling went on for a couple of days, using the spare time between all other activities, and I could see I was likely to run out of time, if I tried to get every single staple out. Plan B: I looked at all of the boards, and where they would interact with the others, and on most of them there was enough room for two screws, around the existing staples. So, for these that had enough extra room, the staples stayed, but I broke the long legs off flush with the underside of each board. If there was anything still protruding, I just gave it a quick tap with the hammer. If it happened to lift above the surface, I pulled it out, and all was good.

When I started the actual build, I placed each board in it’s position, and marked for the pilot holes I’d drill on the outside board. While marking the placement of these holes, I also visually aligned the boards so they were either square, or parallel, depending on which I referenced. I didn’t have a square, and I know I could have made one using mathematics, but the eye be pretty darned precise once trained. I also had the side benefit of the original staples’ holes, and it looked like they might have sprayed the unit with a wood sealer, after it was built. There was a very light color difference showing how things overlapped each other, but I had to remember that each board may have been in a different location, since they seemed interchangeable enough to not spend the extra time during the de-construction. When I was working with the longer boards, I lightly drove one screw at each end, to keep the intended shape, and once happy, sank them tight. Only after that, did I install any of the screws along the length. It is too easy to pull parts out of alignment, even if by just a little bit, so that the whole doesn’t look right or just won’t go together.

Box Spring partially re-built, but already very rigid and strong.

Box Spring partially re-built, but already very rigid and strong.

Each connection got two screws, and for the most part, I used my left hand as my vise. It wasn’t until fairly deep in the build that my Son-in-law asked if I wanted to use a specific tool to clamp some pieces while I drilled. This tool is somewhat like a vise-grip, but it has a jaw that can move into four positions, allowing for holding parts from thin to very thick. Doh! There were a couple of connections where the board wasn’t quite as flat as would be ideal, so I did use this “clamp” to keep things from moving. Great idea Scott!

These grips have a lower jaw that can fit into any of the four grooves, and has a wide range of holding.

These grips have a lower jaw that can fit into any of the four grooves, and has a wide range of holding.

During the de-construction, there were a couple of boards that either lost a little integrity, or bit the big one. Really the nature of the beast when trying to get something apart, that was never truly intended to come apart. One specific board, was one of the four long main frame boards, and a 1/4″ section of wood stayed under the staple after the board was removed. This board had a curve cut on each end, so the box spring didn’t have a sharp corner. After looking at it for a bit, I flipped it over, and end for end. This gave me enough solid wood at the place where it needed to connect, and we didn’t need to go looking for a piece of wood. One other is of note, and somewhat important. One of the boards that crosses from side to side, to help prevent any of the mattress from sinking down into the box spring, broke with a very light touch, at a knot in the board. Probably never should have made it into the original build, but it also may have felt sturdy enough to not matter. Well, the nature of this break was complete and all the way across the board, so there was no repairing this baby. I looked over all of the other similar pieces, to make sure they were all solid, and luckily they were. So, rather than trying to sprint about 30Km, to get one little piece of wood, I instead shifted each cross piece slightly, to keep an even spacing between each one. The spacing between each cross member grew very slightly, and it will still work solidly.

After all of the screws were installed, we again had a super stiff box spring, that will work wonderfully until it is time to move. At that point, the screws are removed, the boards are transported down the stairs to an awaiting abode, and then screw it back together. As a decision was made to leave the box spring uncovered, it will be simple to deconstruct and I believe they may just use the open space as a little bit of additional storage. Houses in Germany are notorious for lack of built-in storage, so it is space well used.

Box Spring complete and ready for action.

Box Spring complete and ready for action.

Box springs aren’t the most expensive piece around, but if you weren’t already planning to drop some extra $$, you can always do this yourselves. It certainly isn’t rocket science, but does require some focus and some work. I hope this might just help you, if you need to find a way to make your’s fit where it wasn’t meant.

Thanks as always for checking out the article and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Lee Laird

Germany – visit to Wetzler, Leica and a tool

Posted by is9582 on July 4, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

A few days ago I very briefly mentioned about happening across a tool store in Speicher, and I was intentionally vague regarding the location and the tools, solely since the store only had one of a specific tool I wanted to get. I know, you’re probably wondering why mentioning either the store or tool would make any real difference, so I’ll explain in a moment.

So as we were driving around, and got close to the market in Speicher, we saw a store that had really nice looking house goods, from plates and stemware to ceramic knives and scales. As we approached the store, a sign directed customers to the entrance on the market side, so around we went. I really couldn’t believe it when we rounded the corner, and when we finally reached the entrance, we were looking into a well stocked tool store.

Ok, so back to an explanation about this special tool. The tool is the Gransfors Bruks Swedish Axe, which is hand made, and each has the initials of the highly skilled artisan that made that tool. Gransfors Bruks has very few employees, and as their quality has become more widely known, the demand has kicked the waiting list into orbit! It now takes a full year to order any of the Gransfors Bruks products!

Luckily, when I went back to the store, the tool was still there, so all is good. The tool I chose is the Gransfors Bruks Swedish Carving Axe, with the standard double-bevel design, which is recommended for those who aren’t already skilled with a single-bevel axe. If you know anything about Gransfors Bruks axes, you might understand just how surprised I was to basically stumble into this unknown tool store, only to find such amazing tools. They had at least three different Gransfors Bruks models, before I bought the carving axe, but I just barely glanced at the others, as I’d already seen my prize! Please stop by and say hello to Martin for me, and make sure to look around, as they have a lot of good tools.

 

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe in it's included sheath.

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe in it’s included sheath.

 

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe resting on it's sheath.

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe resting on it’s sheath.

 

Oh yeah, I guess I should provide the store’s name, which is Zingen Fachmarkt. They are located at am Markt 32, 54662 Speicher. Martin Mertes kindly helped us, was extremely helpful, and did a wonderful job of communicating in english.

This morning, we decided to drive to Wetzler, which is the home of Leica cameras. For those who are not already in the know, these are amazing instruments, and are professional grade. We made it to Wetzler in good time, and followed our Google map information to find it with little issue. Leica offers guided tours of their main office, which is also their factory, but also has adequate information for those that wish to self-tour. We did the latter, and it was both awesome and amazing. In the main lobby, they currently have a display of photos taken by Lenny Kravitz, using Leica equipment. They are nothing but stunning. In a section close to this display, there were a range of special issue Leica cameras and gear. All were beautiful and it was interesting seeing some of the special versions, including one that was almost solid gold (colored; not sure of the actual material) and one that carried the crown on an upper surface.

 

Leica HQ in Wetzler.

Leica HQ in Wetzler.

 

Nearby they also had a wall with many models of their binoculars, of which I’d love any of them. They just know how to do all things optical, right.

Around the corner, we were greeted by some more of the self-tour material, including a huge display showing detailed slides and video of production processes. There was also a large window immediately to the display’s right, where you can watch an employee applying black lacquer to the edge of the lens to prevent any light from entering except from the true lens surface. It was so cool to watch her using some interesting tools, and using a skilled touch to complete an important operation. While we watched, another employee brought a tray full of different lenses to this same lady, and she pulled a random sample and ok’ed the batch. It seems this lady likely also has Q.C. or Q.A. duties.

A bit further down this hall, there was another display section, but there wasn’t anyone working this part at the time we were there. They did have two lens units attached to the counter, with a sign asking the visitors to please touch them. What a different concept than many companies have. Slightly further along there was a display unit with Leica cameras (or duplicates) starting with their first in 1914, as well as binoculars and rifle scopes.

After exiting the “tour” area, it was a short walk to their internal store. They had most, if not all, of their current product line available to see, and their employees were glad to remove product from the case for us to test.

 

Panaramic shot inside the Leica HQ sales room.

Panaramic shot inside the Leica HQ sales room.

 

Camera lenses displayed on their own pillars.

Camera lenses displayed on their own pillars.

 

After checking out all of the new Leica products, we made our way to an authorized Leica seller, that handles consignment gear. On the walk to this store, there were all sorts of interesting architecture, as well as a specialized manhole cover that documents where the first photo was taken using a Leica camera, in 1914.

 

Cool castle on path to both the Leica consignment store, as well as the Leica manhole cover.

Cool castle on path to both the Leica consignment store, as well as the Leica manhole cover.

 

Interesting building structure in Wetzler.

Interesting building structure in Wetzler.

 

Cool building in Wetzler.

Cool building in Wetzler.

 

Manhole cover commemorating location where the first Leica camera was used.

Manhole cover commemorating location where the first Leica camera was used.

 

On our trek back home, there were tons of castles and churches, but some were only seen from the car for a moment as there are lots of trees along the roadways. I saw the church in the photo below, when driving towards Koblenz a couple of times, and finally had enough time to snap a shot. Actually, I took about four different shots while we drove by, but none of them were super sharp. It is cool, even though it is a bit fuzzy.

 

Church in Hohr-Grenzhausen, shot while driving on the A48.

Church in Hohr-Grenzhausen, shot while driving on the A48.

 

Well, that’s it for this portion of our exploration. Thanks as always for checking out my article and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

 

Lee Laird

Germany – return to Trier; dig a bit deeper

Posted by is9582 on July 2, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

Today we decided to head back to Trier on the train, again purchasing a full-day pass, which allows 1-5 family members to travel on the train, as many times during that period as needed/liked. On our first trip to explore Trier, there was a lot going on at their festival even though it wasn’t yet […]