Though I’ve been up to my neck in “Woodworking in Estonia” and building a Danish Modern Campaign chest, I’ve been sneaking in a little work on our Willard Street storefront.
Most of that work is happening in my savings account. We need a new roof. And because we want one that will last longer than we will, it’s going to cost us about $19,000. Good thing Katy works at a grocery store and gets a discount on generic ramen.
I’ve been working on our facade a bit; I removed the furry (yes, furry) exhaust fan and rebuilt the top of our entrance to have three windows. This improvement lets in even more light. Then I hired designer Nicholas Moegly to paint our street numbers on the new center window.
The numbers are hand-painted and then gold leaf is applied in what is called a Boston gild. I’m still sweeping up little scraps of gold (I have a little PTSD from the glitter).
Nicholas’s work is outstanding. You can see the street numbers from a block away and they look a lot classier than the plastic Blaze bar sign we inherited. We should receive our new custom entry door in the next week or so. And after I install that and the fire exit signs, I’ll hire Nicholas to paint our logo on the new door – once I get city approval.
The other progress is in the stables. Today I finished building a braced and ledged door for the stable’s entrance to the courtyard. This doorway was formerly secured with a tarp. The door was a blast to build because I did it all by hand.
I also built and installed a new door frame and I’ll hang the door on massive strap hinges tomorrow.
With the stables secure, I can start to lay a new wooden floor and (after replenishing the savings account) reconnect the electric service to the stables.
This last entry in this series will focus on the remainder of tools I have in my chest today. Most of them have to do with making holes and filling them.
Boring Tools While I had great affection for my Spofford brace, I found that a ratcheting brace is really helpful for reaming mortises, particularly when correcting a reaming gone wrong (boy, that sounds salacious). So I gave my Spofford brace to a student and now have one of the Stanley versions of the North Bros. famous brace.
The other big change in the world of hole-making is I use WoodOwl augers instead of Irwins. The WoodOwls cut faster than any vintage auger I’ve tried. And they work in my electric drills, too. I store my augers in a tool roll from Texas Heritage Woodworks. Normally I wouldn’t single out a tool roll for praise, but this is the best one I’ve ever owned. It’s bulletproof, rolls up tight and holds a lot of bits.
I’m a big fan of hand drills, and when I wrote “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I had a Millers Falls No. 2A or 5 (I forget). Five years later I have a Millers Falls No. 2A or 5 (I forget). In the intervening years I had a Goodell-Pratt, but a friend fell in love with it, so I gave it to him.
As far as bits for the hand drill go, I have the little plastic boxed set from Rockler (best $20 I’ve spent in boring) and a set of Snappy countersink bits. The Snappys are made in the U.S. and are much cheaper than the Fullers (also made in the U.S.). Get the Snappys, they are 11.4 times better.
The Wonderful World of Screwdriving I had to become a better person who drives screws to write “Campaign Furniture,” which involved installing hundreds of pieces of inlaid brass hardware. I have the Grace USA set of screwdrivers, which is what I have in my chest’s tool rack. They have held up really well.
I also have the two Elemen’tary screwdrivers that take replaceable bits. And I use gunsmith bits from Brownell’s (I have the standard set No. 2). One caution: If you order from Brownell’s, be ready to receive lots of gun literature, which may be welcome or unwelcome in your house. The NRA sent my wife a tote bag as a result. Weird.
Also new to my chest is a Starrett centerpunch, which makes installing hinges easy. I still use (and love) my Czeck Edge birdcage awl.
I also have some junky hardware store screwdrivers and an eyeglass screwdriver for odd jobs (or to loan to people).
Sharpening I don’t keep my sharpening gear in my chest – I keep it in a boot tray under my bench. I use Shapton Pro stones (#1,000, #5,000 and #8,000) and a Lie-Nielsen Honing Guide. I have been switching back and forth between oilstones and waterstones and landed on Shaptons because they will sharpen everything, even D2.
Odds & Sods The second till of my chest has become a repository for spares – spare TiteMark blades, a lifetime of Pegas blades, a toothing iron for my block plane, a whole box of pencil leads.
My Cabinet Scraper Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my Sandvik cabinet scraper, which I’ve had since day 1. They don’t make it anymore (the story is that the machine that ground them broke and Sandvik decided not to replace it). It’s protected in its original plastic holder and is sharpened with an Arno carbide burnisher. — Christopher Schwarz