Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

I often find myself drawn to the shop on quiet Sunday afternoons. I feel the need to build something or make progress on the latest project, but oftentimes I end up cleaning or rearranging things instead. I rather enjoy making my workspace more efficient. It makes the real work happen quicker and easier.

This summer I added a couple tools to my kit. I don't collect woodworking tools, although I've felt the lure on many occasions. I just don't see the point in having tools I don't use. Subsequently, I often hesitate to buy new tools, convincing myself that if I didn't need it until now, why should I ever need it? Once I convince myself to make the purchase, if I don't use the tool, I'll get rid of it. I've haven't had to do that much, so my system must work okay. It also forces me to get as much as possible out of the tools I do have. Consequently, I've developed ways of accomplishing some tasks that would likely be easier or faster with the "perfect" tool.

The new tools however have begun to pile up, since my previous tool rack was created to store a relatively fixed number of tools.

The top picture shows my shelf and tool wall just after the previous renovation. See how neat the plane shelf was? That didn't last long.

My plane shelf has been doing double duty as general storage after picking up some Glen-Drake chisel hammers and some new old stock rulers, among other things. I like to keep my plane shelf for planes only. They are my favorite tools, and I like them to have plenty of elbow room.

Here's the detritus that is fouling my plane shelf. What a mess. I don't own a ton of planes. Just a few in fact. I know woodworkers who own dozens of planes, in all varieties and brands. I own maybe a dozen total, and no repeats. Again, I'm not a collector.

In the interest of getting organized I decided to make a new tool rack to get some of these tools off the shelf.

I always like the slot idea for storing tools. It's quick to make, simple, and versatile.

I have in the shop at the moment the latest tool from Brese Plane. It's a stainless steel panel-size plane with a 2 -1/4" iron bedded at 50 degrees. This is a unique plane. It's not stuffed with wood, unlike Brese's typical fare. But it has all the mass and solid feel of a traditional infill plane, with the ergonomics of the more common man's Bedrock-style plane. This is the first project I've had the chance to use this plane on, and so far I like it very much. I like to be able to pinch the toe with my left hand when planing edges. I also like this size of plane for small projects like this. The heft of the plane (just under 8 pounds), combined with the longer sole (it's about the size of a 5 1/2 bench plane) means I can clean up my power planer and jointer surfaces without having to switch from a longer jointer plane to a smoothing plane. Yes, I have to take a couple more strokes since I have the plane set for a fine cut (finer than I have my jointer set), but then I'm done. To read more about this plane, see my friend Al Navas' blog.

I also picked up a few files and rasps this summer from Slav Jelisejevich, famous file monger. Thanks to a couple Benchcrafted Mag-Bloks, I have all my files and rasps effectively stored and displayed for quick access. They are top center right under the big wood jointer. I also moved my carving tools (also stored on Mag-Bloks) up to make room for more frequently used tools.

I also added a couple 12" Mag-Bloks to face of the new tool rack for holding miscellaneous smaller tools. A quick slotted board, fastened vertically and kerfed on the bandsaw holds my most frequently used rulers. Some mini Shaker pegs get my Glen-Drake Tite Hammers off the shelf.

I'm not sure where the next improvement will lead. My tool wall is between two windows and is already pushing its limits. Hopefully my tool kit will expand very slowly.