Friday, May 23, 2014

May Meeting

The meeting started with our traditional, round robin self introductions.  There were about 30 people in attendance with lots of new faces.  I think there was a record set on the number of new folks signing up for this blog --- seven!!  Welcome to all of you, it's great to see the woodworking community here in Las Vegas growing.  I just checked and I have 87 contact cards in my address book that get this blog every month.  We usually average around 28-35 members at each meeting.

Business Stuff

Jamie Calls Us to Order
Once we completed our introductions which this time included a rousing round of applause for the new members! Jamie called the meeting to order.  There wasn't a lot of business to attend to but here are the items that were brought up:
  1. There is some interest in organizing field trips, either in town or out of town, to visit things of interest.  One of the things that came up was the Gambel House in Pasadena.  If you're a fan of Craftsman and/or Greene and Greene style it's a must see.  Here's an interesting LINK to it.  If you hear of something related to woodwork and want to turn it into a group, social affair let others know about it.  You could contact me and I'll send it out to the group as a blog post.  Another one I thought of is Sam Maloof's home in Southern California.
  2. Jamie has arranged to have Jimmy Clewes be our featured presenter for the July meeting.  He is a world renowned wood turner who lives in Las Vegas.  This is HUGE!! check out this LINK to his website and learn a bit more about him.  (alas, I'll be on vacation so this is the second meeting I've missed since the club started over 5 years ago)
  3. Last Christmas we had our 2" x 4" x 8' challenge which was a great end of the year contest.  It's been decided to do another for this year but think of a different one.  In the past we also had a challenge to show your favorite style of push stick -- what can you come up with that will appeal to everyone of any skill level?  Bring your ideas to the next meeting.

Show & Tell:

There were a few items brought in for show and tellThis month.  This is the time to share something you've accomplished, built, learned about, etc. with the rest of the group.  Try to limit this to about a 5 minute presentation so we don't take away time from the featured presenter.

The first was this very intricately designed cutting board by Pete.  You really have to see it up close to comprehend the complexity of this design. It features a 3 part center and everything is cut at a 45 degree angle, glued up, then re-assembled into the design you see here.  I'm sure you can imagine the amount of hours and precision it takes to produce a piece such as this --- stunning!  Pete mentioned that the design is one from a guy who goes by the name of Sinister, here's a LINK to his blog.  If you search through that you should be able to find out how to make this and other designs of his.

Ed is continuing to keep busy on his lathe and showed these latest examples of his work.  There were two bowls of Claro Walnut.  Ed mentioned that he bought from someone here in Las Vegas by the name of Cecil Fridi.  Now, this probably won't mean much to you but Ed gave me his card and I checked out the website, here's a LINK to it so you too can check it out.  This man has a 5000 square foot shop where he stores and dries wood primarily for gun stocks but as Ed showed with his bowl, the wood has many other uses too.  Might be the place to go for those smaller pieces of "show wood" for your special project.

Sapele and Big Leaf Maple TV Cabinet
I was honored to have this piece juried into the Design in Wood competition in San Diego.  Here is a small shot of it.  It's made of Sapele and features sliding doors of Big Leaf Maple.  If you're interested in learning more about it here's a LINK to my blog post about the design process and construction of it.  I've included links to the San Diego County Fair which is where the competition is held.

Feature Presentation

Richard and the Worksharp
Sharpening --- one of the main requirements to successful woodworking and, as Rich pointed out; another one of those things were if you ask 10 people how they do it you'll get 12 different answers!  His bottom line is very true: "find a method that you like and works for you and then stick with it".  He has found that for him, the Worksharp System works the best.  Here's an Amazon LINK to the system so you can price it, see the various accessories for it, plus read other users reviews.  Richard promised that there may be a freebie associated with his demonstration and there was!  Very interesting how he took that fine set of Kobalt Chisels from Lowe's, sharpened one of them on this system, and then gave the set to the winner.  That raffle was won by Danny who was a first time attender at one of our meetings!

The Worksharp system uses a spinning piece of glass (5/8" thick) which has pieces of abrasive paper attached to it.  This allows you to work your way "through the grits" when sharpening an edge.  The system is ideal for chisels and plane blades with added accessories which he demonstrated too. 

Richard began his talk with a brief explanation of sharpening.  Essentially, a sharp edge is the intersection of two planes.  This angle is usually 20 to 35 degrees when we're talking about chisel and plane blades.  On a new tool the process begins with first flattening the back and then setting the desired angle.  The quality of the tool steel will determine how hard it is to sharpen the edge but also how long that edge will hold.  The Kobalt chisels were very easy to grind because of the soft, poor quality steel in them.  On the other end of the spectrum, tools made by Lie-Nielsen, Lee Valley, BlueSpruce, etc. use steel designated as A2 or 01 and will take much more time to sharpen properly.

As you can see in this picture, the Worksharp system has a port on the side with an adjustable guide.  The guide is set for the desired angle and then adjusted to the width of the chisel.  This guide allows you to feed the chisel up to the bottom of the rotating disc that has your abrasive paper on it.  The first step of preparing a tool is being demonstrated here as well.  In this instance the abrasive is on top of the wheel and Richard is flattening the back of the tool prior to shaping the angle.  The chisel is supported by an auxiliary table.  Since this process does generate some heat it's important to have some water handy to keep the tool cool.  If you overheat the metal while sharpening it changes the molecular makeup of the steel --- in other words you can ruin it!

Let's talk about sharpening, when you look at an edge, you may or may not notice machining marks.  The quality of the tool to begin with will determine how prominent these marks are.  The higher quality and priced tools will exhibit less of these marks than lower priced ones.  These marks and the subsequent marks you'll put into the tool as you sharpen it are also referred to as the scratch pattern.

Original Chisel
Notice the scratches made during the grinding process on the bevel?  Your goal is to eliminate them and create a highly polished, almost mirror like finish on your edge.  Similar to sanding a piece of wood, you're basically "scratching" the surface with your sandpaper and work up to such a fine scratch pattern that it appears smooth to the eye.  The chisel shown has the scratch pattern put on at the factory with a grinding wheel of some type.  Cheaper tools leave it at that and it's up to you to refine and polish that edge.  Here's the same chisel after a little bit of work with the Worksharp:

Refined Edge
Although the entire bevel should be done, you can see the difference in the front portion of it.  There is a swirl pattern created by the circular action of the spinning disc.  Notice though that it appears shinier.  Grinding and then polishing the edge on finer abrasives give you a more durable, longer lasting edge on the chisel or plane blade.  Whenever you sharpen the bevel you'll notice a burr on the back side of the blade.  This indicates you've exposed new metal and therefor have a new edge.  This burr needs to be removed in the same manner you flattened the back.  Once the chisel was sharpened it was used to cut some end grain, that's a good test of your tools sharpness.

Test Cut
If it makes a smooth cut in end grain you know you've achieved a sharp edge.  Plane blades require an accessory table and holding device which Rich is demonstrating here:

Here is a LINK to it from the Amazon website.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there are numerous ways to achieve a sharp edge on your tools.  As you delve into it more you'll probably be overwhelmed!  Rich's advice at the beginning is good to keep in mind: "find the system that works for you and you're happy with and then stick with it".  Last of all, he recommended this Website from Stumpy Nubs as informative and amusing.  

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