We’re Back

This blog has been very quiet for quite awhile.  We have continued to spend time in the shop, attend WIA 2012, and much more…but things have managed to prevent me from posting here.  I am going to try to begin posting again.  Posts will be shorter and less polished, so maybe I will do them more often.

For instance, below is a photo of a simple-stupid jig that I made to help us to reload skeet shells.  When putting lead or powder into a MEC 9000 bottle, you need three hands to hold the bottle upright while the funnel is on the top and you pour it in.  Below is a simple jig to hold the bottle upright.


Dovetailed base for Lie-Nielsen doweling plate

I made a 8:1 dovetailed base for my Lie-Nielsen doweling plate….no reason for dovetails other than to practice cutting them on the JMP2.  Worked well.

Checklist for using the Bridge City JMP2 to cut “through” dovetails

I have compiled the checklist below to make it easier for me to remember how to set up and cut through dovetails on the Bridge City JMP2.   The Bridge City YouTube video on this process helps (embedded below),

….but it is quicker for me to just look at the list below to refresh my memory without watching the video…I guess I am more of a checklist person than a video person….old school.

The checklist is written by me for me, so some of my shorthand and notes may not be so self-explanatory.  Use at your own risk.

Checklist for using the Bridge City JMP2 to cut “through” dovetails

Process checklist (version 11/25/2011)

  1. Cut tails first
  2. Set blade to 8:1 tilt and to wood thickness (tilt blade sloping up and to the right)
  3. Strike lines with marking gauge (Tite-mark) on all both faces of both pieces.  Mark the pieces as “inside and outside and pins and tails” with pencil
  4. Cut just slightly “deep” (more than wood thickness by a couple thousandths)
  5. Clamp stop block onto fence to allow for repeatable cuts
  6. Cut tails (one cut then flip block then move stop block toward center and repeat with flip)
  7. Move blade to 90 degrees
  8. Cut off shoulders
  9. Chop out tails (chop ½ way through and then flip and complete)
  10. Mark pins from tails onto 2nd piece (lay newly cut piece on top of 2nd piece).  You are marking onto the OUTSIDE of the 2nd piece
  11. Leave blade at 90 degrees and wood thickness exactly
  12. Set fence at 8:1 angle (sloping down to the right side of the JMP)
  13. Cut 2 cuts on pins pieces using marks (leave fat – cut on tail side of lines). THESE TWO CUTS SHOULD BE CUT #4 AND #2 COUNTING FROM THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE JMP
  14. Switch fence to 8:1 angle in other direction
  16. Chop out tails using fretsaw and then jig and chisels (chop ½ way through and then flip and complete)
  17. fit

Note pencil lines on saw table that make setting the fence angel for 8:1 dovetails faster and more repeatable.

Call For Help: A Fellow Woodworker in Need

Below is from Highland Woodworking regarding David Charlesworth…its legit…not a scam… I donated…

David was to be at Woodworking in America (WIA) in Cincinnati last week and could not come.  I will post more about WIA later.  Another great show this year.



We received word today, Oct. 5, that renowned English woodworking author and teacher, David Charlesworth, was stricken with a serious illness while teaching in Germany and is in dire need of our assistance.

David is in need of an ambulance flight back to England but is not in position to cover the expense of one. We would like to encourage those in the woodworking community who are able to do so to make a donation of $1 to $10 to a fund for that purpose. Donations can be made via Paypal to David’s assistant John at jklweb@lineone.net (through Paypal). Highland Woodworking will also be contributing to the cause.

Chris Bagby, owner

Highland Woodworking

More details:

(courtesy of Frank Byers at Woodcraft)

via Call For Help: A Fellow Woodworker in Need.

Embroidery Machine “Mystic Molly” Name Plate on Kayak

My wife has an embroidery sewing machine, and we used it to make an embroidered name and date plate for the Mystic Molly.  You can see it below behind the cockpit.

We did the embroidery on a piece of standard white fabric using standard embroidery thread.   We then used the same marine spar varnish that we used for the hull to “glue” the round piece of fabric onto the hull and then seal it and make it waterproof.

It was an experiment and it left a few bubbles that I am not thrilled with, but overall it worked well for a first try.

Mystic Molly launched!

Mystic Molly completed and christened with Fat Tire Ale in the Outer Banks of NC! More to follow soon. She paddles great!



My modifications to CLC sawhorse design for light watercraft

This past weekend I “modified” the CLC sawhorses that I discussed in my recent post.  CLC’s design suggested making the rigid top 2×4 cross-bar replaceable with a flexible strap between two dowels to allow the sawhorses to be converted to soft slings for finished boat maintenance, etc.

I took this idea and instead of making a removable sling, I permanently attached two old ratcheting cargo straps to the sides of the sawhorses.   Photos below show how I permanently screwed one strap end to one side of the sawhorse and screwed the ratcheting mechanism to the other side of the horse (then cut the strap to length).   This allows the user to tighten or loosen the strap length to allow for different boat types and uses.  Also, the rigid top bar can be placed on top of the strap without removing it.

Above is the complete unit without the rigid top bar.  Note the ratchet mechanism on the left side of the horse.

Above photo show the one end of the strap screwed to the horse with washers under the screws.

The above photo shows the ratchet mechanism screwed to the other side of the horse.

The photo above shows the completed sawhorse with the rigid top bar back in place.

The above photo shows the horses in “sling-mode” holding the Mystic Molly for a coat of poly…its almost ready for the water!

Sawhorses for small boat building

Before heading to the boat-build in Mystic, CT  last month, my son and I made two sawhorses that we sized and designed to be useful in building small boats.   We used the Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) design from their website here: http://www.clcboats.com/shoptips/stitch_glue/sawhorses_slings.html

Below is an overview sketch from CLC:

Below is a photo of one of the completed “horses” in use during our build at Mystic:

They are made from basic lumber-yard 2×4 material and they are mortise-and-tenoned together for strength.  The tops are removable so that you can just screw the strongback right onto the hoses as above and not worry about them being “sacraficial”….just replace the tops after they get too chewed up.   I am going to make the sling accessory as described on the CLC website for them so that I can now use them to gently hold the finished boat for servicing, etc.

Success with Aqua MedZyme

First off, I know almost nothing on treating Koi diseases, etc and my only other attempt at treating a sick fish (last year) resulted in a dead fish.

That said, this year I had another Koi that developed a couple of fuzzy whitish patches and lost some scales.  I found recommendations for  Aqua MedZyme natural bacteria treatment on the internet and used it to treat the entire pond (I have no association with Aqua Med products).   All fish recovered to full health. Great!  Much easier to treat the entire pond rather than try and catch the bugger and put him in a quarantine tank.  That process last year seemed to result in more trauma to the fish than the disease did.  He did not want to be caught.

The package recommends preventative treatment in the spring and fall and when a new Koi is added to the pond, and based on the ease of use and my recent success, I think that I am going to add it to my regular preventative maintenance routine.

If anyone else sees a reason that this should NOT be used as a preventative treatment, please comment below.


Family Boat Build & WoodenBoat Show 2011

Well, we did it!   My family and I attended the 20th Annual Wooden Boat show in Mystic, CT and built our own boat over a 2.5 day period….My wife, 11 year old son and 7 year old daughter combined efforts with Dave Gentry, our excellent instructor, to build the Mystic Molly.   Named after one of our dogs and built using one of Dave’s designs (the Chuckanut 15) we progressed from pile of wood to framed and skinned boat in a long weekend.   All she needs now is paint and her rub-rails and cockpit-coamings to be ready to hit the water.

The trip was a great family bonding experience and we had a great time.  Weather cooperated and it was warm but not uncomfortable in the large outdoor tent where we built our boat along with 26 other families and about 5 other boat designers.   Five families joined us in building version’s of Dave Gentry’s Chuckanut.   The Chuckanut was the only skin-on-frame boat (the others were mostly lap-stitch construction) that was offered for family boat-build, and that was why we selected it.  I was very interested in learning this method of construction.

First, some background on the family boat-build concept from the WoodenBoat Show website:

WoodenBoat magazine started Family BoatBuilding in 1998 as a way to bring new people to boatbuilding, and to boating.  The concept is simple:  To provide a kit that can be built in two-and-a-half days and provide expert building instruction.  The goal is to launch all the boats into the water midway through the third day of the show.  And then they put their boats on their cartops or trailers and take them home.

Cool concept, and growing every year, I’m told.  We will likely do it again next year, we had so much fun…do it with your family! Its fun and the WoodenBoat Show itself as well as the Mystic Seaport Museum are both very much worth the trip.

Now, about our boat.  Below is a summary from Dave’s website:

The Chuckanut 15

Designed by Gentry Custom Boats
LOA 15′; Beam 2′7-1/2″; Weight 35-40 pounds
The Chuckanut 15 is an ideal family boat optimized for comfortable and relaxed use by paddlers of all abilities. The Chuckanut can be carried with one hand, cartopped easily, and launched and paddled on a whim—with no special skills or equipment necessary!

She’s a tandem, recreational style skin-on-frame kayak that can be paddled solo, or as a double, and has a fast, stable hull design which tracks well, but still turns easily. She has a large open cockpit, with stowage and floatation in the ends.

The Chuckanut is designed for messing about on ponds, lakes and bays, and is great as a day paddler, or protected water expedition boat.


For more information and to order your kit, please email Dave, traveller1719@yahoo.com

She is built with cedar stringers and marine plywood frames and covered with 8 oz polyester fabric that it stapled to the frames and then shrunk tight with an iron and heat gun.  The polyester is the painted with a oil-based paint to make it water tight. Below are some photos from our build:

Here is Dave Gentry’s blog entry on the family boat build:


I will post photos again as soon as the Mystic Molly is painted and in the water.

Some thoughts on Chris Schwarz’s new book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest”

I pre-ordered The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” quite a while ago because I love almost everything that Chris writes.  This book was no exception.  Chris writes in a style that is entertaining and readable in addition to being informative.  It seems that he could write about home dental surgery and I would find it interesting.

I read the book cover-to-cover in two sittings, spurred on by the breaking news that Chris was leaving the editor’s chair at Popular Woodworking Magazine to write and to operate “Lost Art Press” full time.    This news was distressing to me, as his leadership has made PW what it is today…my favorite woodworking magazine by far…but I think that Chris’ new role could open up a world of fascinating possibilities.

The new book is very thought provoking and mingles Chris’ philosophy on craft, economics and society into the usual mix of sawdust and projects.   I find myself in agreement with much or most of his philosophy, but in this book I also find that he is moving more quickly away from the “blended woodworking” style that I have always felt that he represented and that he virtually created over the past decade.  In this book, it seems to me that Chris has moved significantly toward the more pure hand-tool only (or nearly so) world of Roy Underhill.   I love Roy’s work also, but always appreciated Chris’ more balanced approach as the path that I have wanted to take in wood.

In my simplistic world, Roy Underhill (all power tools are evil) and Norm Abram (if it doesn’t have a cord its useless) represented the two radical limits of the craft, and Chris carefully navigated the middle ground.  Power had its place and hand tools would refine and elevate the work.  With this book, I think that Chris is now cleaving far more aggressively into the Underhill camp.  I certainly respect his path, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to follow him there yet.

Now, I’m a confirmed history nut….I love it, but I’ve always felt that the trick is to use the best tool for the job, regardless of whether it is powered or not.  Someone once said that if our 18th century ancestors had seen some of our power tools, they would have used them if for no other reason than to save time.  Time was money even back then.  I agree.  So, unless I become more of a woodworking reenactor, I am likely to continue to use a very blended approach given my very limited time in the shop.  While I am not woodworking for money, I still have very tight time constraints on my workshop time and a little bit of power now and then can make me much more productive….and then the surfaces can be hand-planed, etc to elevate the result.

Plus, while I admire and agree with Chris’ statement that “you can build almost anything with a kit of less than 50 high-quality tools”….I’m also a confirmed tool-a-holic.  Without some kind of rehab program, every new tool, whether it burns electrons or not, is likely to make me drool. Do I need them all?  no.  Will I buy them all? no.   But I like to admire them and am more than willing to try them out and give my antique tools a run for their money.  The old tool may very well be better, but given my day-job, finding new innovations is in my blood too.

My comments above not withstanding, I enjoyed this new book immensely and its really caused me to think more deeply about the relationship of craft and physical objects to 21st Century Americans.   Buy the book.  Maybe I’ll move more toward Chris’ philosophy as my traditional skills improve…we’ll see.

TieYak – Kayak Security Cables

One of the weaknesses of car roof-racks as well as my Yakima  roof-rack-like kayak trailer for transporting kayaks is that there is no way to lock them to the rack for security when parked at hotels and restaurants, etc.

The trailer can be locked to the vehicle or it can be locked with a chain to a tree, etc. but the shape of the kayaks makes them very hard to effectively cable or lock to the trailer racks.  So, no one is going to steal the trailer (without bolt cutters), but they might steal the boats.

I found the below recently online and just installed them on the trailer.  I like how they work, hopefully they will keep the kayaks secure during this summer’s trips:

TieYak Your Kayak

TieYak Kayak Security Cables prevent

theft of kayaks, rowing shells, canoes

and other watercraft from the roofs

of cars and other vehicles.

via TieYak™ Your Kayak – Kayak Security Cables.

Sea Kayaking

In addition to our other interests, my family and I also enjoy sea kayaking on the lakes and rivers near our home. We also enjoy taking our kayaks on the road with us when we travel.   We invested a couple years ago in a Yakima RackandRoll 78 trailer for the boats.  Old photo below was taken during its initial construction.  I will add a more recent photo with all of the kayak cradles, etc on it soon.  I had mail-ordered the trailer, and it took a couple of hours to assemble it to this point.

The Yakima trailer has proven to be a great investment.  It was not cheap, but it is very road worthy and light.  The frame is made from aluminum and it uses larger tires than standard utility trailers.  I think that the tires are a type of scooter tire, or maybe small motorcycle.  It also has suspension with significant travel in the shocks, to ease its handling and limit bouncing/skittering.  The trailer itself is basically a Yakima roof-rack on wheels, so all Yakima and Thule and other standard roof rack attachments fit right on.  The trailer folds up for winter storage in the garage, and I am preparing to re-assemble it for spring kayak season this weekend.

We currently run three boats.  My wife and son each have their own, and my daughter and I share a tandem until she is old enough to have her own also.

We are big fans of Hurricane brand Kayaks, like the one in the photo above.  Two of our boats are currently Hurricane boats (a Tampico and a Tracer).

The tandem is a Necky Manitou II….works great but is heavy and only really easily maneuverable with a rudder.  Photo above is taken by me from the rear cockpit of the Necky tandem.

This summer, we are going to build our own skin-on-frame kayak as a family project.   A post on that soon.

Non-Roubo Power-Strip

I’m not sure if Chris Schwarz would approve of this modification to my Roubo bench, but so far I like it.

I added a very non-Roubo power-strip onto the base shelf of my bench. Note the bright red color courtesy of Costco. I attached small pieces of plywood with Gorilla-brand black duct tape hinges over each outlet. These hinged covers keep saw dust out of each plug and easily drop into place when the outlet is unused. In this location on the bench, the power-strip does not seem to interfere with any clamping capabilities, etc. and allows me to rapidly plug and unplug powered hand tools when working on the bench.

Spontaneous Combustion Prevention

I added a garbage can to the shop that is designed to prevent the “spontaneous combustion” of rags that have wet finish on them, etc.

Now that my son, daughter and I are all doing projects in the shop, I’ve noticed that not everyone remembers  to lay out their drying rags in a safe manner to prevent a surprise fire after we all leave the shop….I’m hoping the the big red can in a prominent location helps matters.  $46 on Amazon.