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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Jasmine Jewelry Box

I finished something!

I was a bit worried about this one. It was one of those kinds of projects that seem to drag on forever. In fact, I started it 51 weeks ago. I suppose there always seems to be something more important to work on, like a new project.
Finished Jewelry Box
I first saw this box, which was designed by Gary Rogowski, as one of the projects the Wood Whisperer did a video on. I also found that Gary wrote an article on this project for Popular Woodworking back in 2011.

I thought it was a good looking box, and I wanted to see how much harder this box would be with a hand tool-only approach. Especially in my mini-shop that doesn't have all the workholding of my regular hand tool shop.

Part of the problem was talking The Frau into this design. She often responds with something I'm excited about building with a negative reaction about it's aesthetics. She didn't like the feet it sat on, and she really didn't like the handle that sat on top of the lid.

I tried to talk her into some alternatives, but finally decided to leave these elements out. (Today, she admitted that it might look nicer if it was elevated a little. I might have to put some feet on it after all.)

I think I avoided writing about this project here on Toolerable, because in the back of my mind my subconscious must have known that this is the kind of project I might not finish quickly. If at all.

The wood for this box was salvaged from a local dumpster. I wound up with more than 400 linear feet of paneling that someone ripped out of their old Spanish apartment. I was surprised to see that this smooth, white paneling was solid wood, and had a nice reddish color. I got some up the elevator to my 10th floor apartment, and discovered it is very fine ribbon sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum, I think).

I have no idea what I'm going to do with all this Golden Dumpster Wood. I think I probably have about 390 feet left.
Entandrophragma cylindricum, ribbon sapeli from the dumpster.
I found that the paint used for this paneling was no joke. I think there is some white filler, some primer, and some really, really difficult to remove paint on top of that. I found the best way to remove the paint was with paint stripper. I don't really like stripping paint if I don't have to, so I decided I'd try to leave the paint on the one side, wherever possible. I came up with the idea of using snakeskin as a lining for the bottom of the box, rather than paper or leather.

The lid was originally going to get a mirror, and I was going to leave the paint showing on the inside of the box. All that changed, by the way.

Now I'm ready for the joinery. I found out why you don't often see finger joints in hand built furniture. They are very difficult to get just right with hand tools. Dovetails are WAYYYY easier. Next time I make one of these, it will be with dovetail joints rather than finger joints.
Cutting the finger joints by hand. It's surprisingly fiddly. A table saw would make this joint much easier.
Once I got the carcass joints done, I decided I was going to fix the bottom with slips rather than inserting it in a rabbet. One reason is this paneling stock is a bit thinner than the recommended stock. It's only about 5/16" thick. I removed a little paint and glued the slips in. They work great.
Drawer slips to secure the bottom.
These aren't traditional slips, with a rabbet. I figured I could maximize the depth of the box if the bottom panel rested on the slips, and was secured with the inner dividing pieces. I rabbetted the underside of the panel to drop onto the slips.
It was weird, but I needed to finish the dividers before gluing up the carcass.
I had some real problems gluing this thin stock into panels without any proper clamps. I made some clamps out of scraps that finally worked for this, but between the bottom and the panel for the lid I must have re-laminated those panels at least ten times. Now we're good.
It's frustrating when a panel comes apart after the joints are cut.
The Frau LOVED the ribbon sapeli that I used for the bottom. I was going to line the bottom, but she asked that I finish it instead. I'm not so sure over the long run how happy she will be with that. I offered to observe how she uses the compartments and perhaps make some jewelry holding gizmos to go inside later.

In the meantime, I had all this cool snakeskin that I was going to use for that. Instead of lining the bottom, I lined the sides and used snakeskin to cover up the white sides of the box interior.
Applying snakeskin to the inside.
With the box itself sorted, I figured I'd wait 40 weeks or so until I figured out a good way to do the breadboard ends with a 5/16" thick panel.

I finally settled on laminating two strips of sapeli together (why not? It's not like I'll run out during my lifetime!), having routed out the mortises from each half.
One is deeper than the other on purpose.
Once the breadboard ends were done, It was easy enough to make the tenons. That is, with the exception that the panel kept delaminating!
Grrr! At least I made it a bit oversize.
Once the lid was assembled and pegged, I was able to cut the breadboard ends to finished length and apply my homemade BLO, shellac, and then my secret wax formula.
Cutting to length. It would have really sucked if I screwed this up.
I put some fancy Brusso hinges on it, and it's done.
An easy 51 week project.
I'm really pleased with how all of the pegged joinery turned out. The secret to getting them to look good is using a dowel that is just a smidgen larger than the hole it is driven into. I used all bamboo skewers (thanks Greg!) and some bamboo dowels that came with a pair of The Frau's new shoes. It was some kind of contraption to keep the shoes looking nice during transport, and it happened to be just a tad thicker than 5 millimetres.
Tight! Huh?
Overall I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.
Snakes and alligators, oh my!
More importantly, The Frau doesn't seem to hate it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Union Manufacturing Company - an Interview With Robert Porter: Part II

Yesterday I had the pleasure of conducting the first part of Toolerable's first interview ever with Robert Porter of the newly re-launched Union Manufacturing Company. We had a nice chat about the history of Union, the company's current projects and the future of the company. It turns out he is a woodworker just like us, and has a passion for good tools that we can use. He seems to know his stuff about materials, Rockwell hardness, history, and much more.
All rights reserved by the Union Manufacturing Company, Glenolden, PA USA” “Used with written permission”
His first bench plane is an X Plane in the #1 size. Not the most useful of bench planes, but highly coveted by collectors. We discuss this plane, but if you would like to get on the pre-order list, only 100 will be made in this first batch, and at the time of writing there are still four that are available. I suggest sending him an email from his website, and tell him you read this interview. I think it is an outstanding value at $425.

Click here for Part I of this interview.

All photos on this post are Robert Porter's, and used with his permission.

I conducted the interview with a chat program. I've edited it minimally. My comments are blue, and Robert Porter's are black.

Solet's talk about the X0A.
The new baby from Union!
8months of development to date!

Isit going to be similar to the older versions?

Almostidentical with one MAJOR change.

The“A” stands for adjustable mouth.

Neat!

No1 sized planes have never offered that feature.

Thiswill be a market first.

Thenew X Series will also be addressing a few of the flaws the older XSeries had.

Whatabout the rest of the plane. Are you using cast iron, or more modernmaterials?

TraditionalGray Cast Iron.

I’mnot a fan of Ductile Iron. While it is more durable during a drop tothe floor, it rusts with the simple touch of a finger print.

Afine woodworker is not likely to put their plane in a position tofall. Union is focused on these folks.

Thefine woodworker. Specifically the fine makers that are self-taught.

Thatbeing said Union was always a middle market plane maker. That willnot be forgotten going forward.

Isgray iron more difficult to cast? I wonder why you don't see manynew tools using it?

Marketing.In my opinion.

GrayIron is less available in general from foundries. Most don’t likeworking with it because it’s messy.

Grayiron dust is hard on machines. But the traditional nature of it tome personally outweighs the extra work to keep the dust off themachines.

Weare dedicated as a historically correct maker.

Andit looks awesome when it's old!

Thatit does.

Cool.

Millionsof planes have survived 100+ years being made from gray iron.

What'scoming up down the line? Will you make other bench planes?

Wewill be making the X0A, X0, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7.

Wehave a new tool in development now that a patent will be applied foras well.

Awesome.

We’vemade the bevel which sold out in weeks.


Inoticed it wasn't available. The photos on your website make it lookbeautiful.

Thereplacement parts supporting the older X Series planes are available.

Wealso have two precision Squares being made now and have plans for acouple scrapers.

Scraperplanes?

Can’tgo too deep into the details...... sorry.

?

Haha!You can't blame me for asking!

Ofcourse not.

Tellme about your plane blades.
Weirdpowdered metal, or what?

Theyare made from USA sourced certified O1 tool steel and hardened inPhiladelphia, PA to a Rockwell rating of 61.

Perfect!

Againas close to traditional as possible.

Newerisn't always better.

Theexpression “they don’t make it like they used to” is dead withUnion. We do.

Haha!

Wealso use manual machines as they would have used back in 1910.

The differenceis electricity vs steam.

Thereisn’t one CNC in our shop. We make each part manually.

Sotell me about your company now. Are you speaking the Royal We, orare there others there with you?

Ihave a very small crew. (As a way to keep prices down).

Ourhead machinist is a 60+ year veteran DOD/ Precision machinist. Or asI call him “The Machine Whisperer”.

Mostparts are made by either myself or Bill. (Mr. Whisperer!)

Great!I was wondering how you bring back an old tool without the wealth ofexperience Union must have had at the time.

Mybackground is in design (specifically furniture) so I approach thedesign and development from a perspective of a user.

Youcan’t always be the smartest guy in the room! I count on theknowledge of others.

Noone person at Union is “the boss”.

It’sa Union of tool guys now.

?

That'salways good. If you look at Stanleys, for example, many of thechanges over the years were obviously intended to make manufacturingeasier or cheaper. Same old story.

Theacquisition of Union was never intended to make me rich. It’s theeffort of preservation.

I’llnever get rich from Union. I’m more than ok with that. My rewardis bringing back history and providing the best I can to others thatlive to woodworking life I have enjoyed since I was a child.

Andhow is it that you wound up with this company?

Legalmaneuvering.... that’s as far as I can go on that matter.

Haha!Well, it's great to see it in the hands of someone who cares.

It’sa dream for a collector of a brand to eventually own the brand theylove. I’m living that dream.

Congratulations!

Iowe the idea to my wife though.

Thesmartest person I know by a mile.
That'sgreat!

I'mglad that you're able to bring it back. The more the merrier, Ithink.

Gettingthe company was hard. Keeping the legacy intact will be the hardestpart. Making decisions that honor the original nature while stayingprofitable is tough. But I’m in that fight for the long haul.

Super.
Anythingyou'd like to add before we wrap this up?

Notthat I can think of.

Ifyou have more questions later feel free to ask.

Youbet!
Thanksfor your time!

Off to make an X0A pattern now!


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Union Manufacturing Company - an Interview With Robert Porter: Part I

Today I had the pleasure of conducting Toolerable's first interview ever with Robert Porter of the newly re-launched Union Manufacturing Company. We had a nice chat about the history of Union, the company's current projects and the future of the company. It turns out he is a woodworker just like us, and has a passion for good tools that we can use. He seems to know his stuff about materials, Rockwell hardness, history, and much more.
All rights reserved by the Union Manufacturing Company, Glenolden, PA USA” “Used with written permission”
His first bench plane is an X Plane in the #1 size. Not the most useful of bench planes, but highly coveted by collectors. We discuss this plane, but if you would like to get on the pre-order list, only 100 will be made in this first batch, and at the time of writing there are still four that are available. I suggest sending him an email from his website, and tell him you read this interview. I think it is an outstanding value at $425.

All photos on this post are Robert Porter's, and used with his permission.

I conducted the interview with a chat program. I've edited it minimally. My comments are blue, and Robert Porter's are black.
Hello Robert, thanks for being patient with me!

Noworries.

I teach English online, so I'm lucky enough that my work day hasn'treally changed much due to the virus.
ButI had to keep my appointments.


Anyway....

Aboutplanes!

Straightto the point. A point we both enjoy as it seems!

Yes!

Thanksfor agreeing to be interviewed. This is actuallythe first interview I have ever conducted.

Soif it seems I am an amateur, it is because I am.

Ha.No worries.
First,why not a little history about Union Manufacturing?

Thecompany was founded in 1866. It was founded with $100,000 USD incapital. Which for the time was a lot of money. The company wasfounded to become an overnight premiere casting company. Which itdid. The investors came from all walks and all social classes. Fromplant workers all the way to corporate executives at other manufacturingfirms. From the likes of Stanley, Landers and Frary as well asCorbin.

Thename “Union” comes from the gathering or “Union” of thosefolks pitching in to make the company happen.

Arethese all American companies?

Yes.
Mostly from New Britain, CT USA

Typicalfor the time, I'm sure.

Wellthe original structure of multiple firms investing was a bit odd inthat time.

Thetool Mecca.

WellUnion was a bit of a quiet giant during its entire existence. I havealways held a special place for firms like that. Very similar toJoseph Marples LTD in Sheffield.

Theyhad a way of influencing the tool world without being overlyobnoxious.

Itend to look past a company’s marketing hype and look at theproducts when I choose where I’ll spend my money.

Indeed. Until I started researching for this interview, I always thoughttheywere a small plane maker chasing after Stanley, like so manyothers.

Nothey in fact bid on and cast Stanley planes. As did Stanley bid onand cast Union planes.

Areyou familiar with the tool-maker relationships in Sheffield England?

Onlygenerally.

An "all for one, one for all" mentality.

Thatwas New Britain via Union.

Gotit.

Ahinge per se.

Unionwas literally created as a support foundry that became a formidableforce.

It'sinteresting that you say that. I got a chance to meet |Tom LieNielsen once, and he said about Lee Valley and Veritas that they arethe perfect kind of competitor to have: one that raises the bar inquality and performance, making woodworking better for everyone.

Tom has always had a positive attitude towards competition and what it does in general to the quality of modern tools. An exceptional attribute.

Unioncast butt hinges, lathe chucks, dies, a punch press machine,levels...... the list is exhausting.

Itsounds like they were huge.
Howdid you wind up with this company?

Well,I’ve been researching the company for about a decade now and fellin love with the first X Plane I came across. It answered mycomplaints about other styles of planes. Love at first use.
Some vintage Union X Planes.



Soas I became obsessed with the history and the offerings, I wantedmore.
:o)
What'sso great about the X plane?

Wheredo I start! ???

Haha!.

Thetwo biggest things about the X Series that set it apart from everyother commercially available plane are its strongest points.

Rigidityis HUGE for the X Series. Integral frogs are specifically designed to solve the age-old problem of chatter: a woodworkersbiggest enemy.
Integral frog.

Therigidity is backed up by a thicker casting.

Thenmoving on the second monster in the room. The patented adjuster fordepth.
Unique depth adjuster.


Theyoke and double lock nut on vertical post design is designed forabsolute control over micro adjusting the depth.

Ihave to admit, I've never seen an X plane. Have they always hadthicker castings?

Yes.They were always thicker.
Aswere the Union made irons.

OK, I think that was unusual at the time for metal bench planes, right?
An example of bench plane blades. Stanleyright Union left.

Wow.

Almosttwice the thickness.

Afew makers seemed to believe in thicker bodies.

Sono, I wouldn’t say it was unusual.

Oneadvantage to a thin blade, it's been said, is that it is faster tosharpen.

Microbevel......

?

It’sonly a trouble if you’re attempting to sharpen the entire bevelevery time.

True.

Additionally,you never want to wait until that much material must be removedbefore sharpening again.

Agood common practice is to touch up your iron multiple times in awork day.

Mostreplacement irons available nowadays seem to be a bit thicker, and Ifind I still like to use them.
Imight only grind once a year, and touch up the rest of the time.

Thethickness of the iron was odd during the early 1900’s in the US.Ohio Tool Co and Union were the pioneers there. Now all modernmakers are doing it.

Yetanother area Union was ahead.

I'mfamiliar with Ohio. I love that those planes have a thick, taperediron. Except they tend to be a little brittle, in my experience.

Correct.

Unionwas the only non tapered iron in the US market that was as thick.

Theircap irons were a little different, too.
Whichbrings me to Unions cap irons. What is special about them?

A new Union blade, chipbreaker, and lever cap.
Therewas a smaller amount of space between the area behind the ironscutting edge and the chipbreaker.

Lessarea to gather harmonics.

TheX Plane was all about harmonics reduction. The entire plane wasdesigned to almost eliminate harmonics.

Harmonicslead to chatter.

Ican see that.

That’swhy when you pick up a poorly tuned plane that cuts poorly it has adeeper harmonic note. A well tuned and designed plane makes more ofa “wisp” sound.

Tighterharmonic wave length. Less inherent chatter as a result.

A common misconception is that a plane is “cutting” with astandardangle frog. It is not. It’s cutting via a scrapingaction.

Ifwhat you say about harmonics is true, a higher pitch would result inless movement during chatter, and a better result.

Beingthat the sound waves are closer together.

Correct

Thinkof the wave length like cutting edge movement. The larger the travelthe more chatter.

Thisis why a low angle plane (which is actually shearing the fibers)makes a completely different sound.

Yes.Or, you could think of it as the string on a bass moves a lot fartherwhen vibrating than a string on a guitar.
Thatmakes a lot of sense. It's also why a standard plane can get such asmooth surface.

Correct.

Duringmy years of studying planes I’ve had thousands pass through myhands. This is where my data comes from.
Some of Robert's plane collection.

Cool.
Solet's talk about the X0A.

The new baby from Union!

Yes!


I'm sorry, you'll have to check back tomorrow for the rest of this interview. We talk about Union's newest plane and some of what they have planned in the future. You won't want to miss it!

Leave a comment if you have your own questions for Robert.

See you tomorrow!