Sunday, April 1, 2018

Long weekend fun

Happy Easter, to all who celebrate it - and to those who don't, I hope you're having a lovely weekend too. The extra public holidays, ensure ample time for whatever takes your fancy! For me, it's traditionally DIY time.

Pine wood grain

I've embarked on a little work-working project. It's very simple by design. I like simple when it comes to wood-work, because maths is not my forte. Numbers are what determine the cuts. I muddle along regardless, measuring and measuring again.

I'm finishing the last coat of paint today, so decided to squeeze in a blog post. Not about the project itself (I'll reveal that another day) rather, the tools it takes to put something together. Do you go the manual or electric route? There are so many decisions to make!

A saw point

Normally, I go the manual tools route. It's always cheaper to buy, and cheaper to maintain. Because electric tools have more power, so the bits that cut or sand, need replacing more often. My former, cheap hand-saws (above) had done their dash. It's not the rust so much, as the metal's ability to keep a sharp edge. Cheap metal, means you lose the blade edge, quickly.

So I went looking for an electric, table saw, and found one, for about $180. Pretty reasonable for what it could do! I'd use it for this project, and another, bigger one - turning, Middle Ridge chicken coop, into a tool shed.

 January 2009
~ soon to be, tool shed ~

That table saw was looking more, and more attractive, for the bigger projects. When I went to look at it however, I noticed how large it was. That's a lot of space, I didn't have. Short-term, it would have to live on the verandah. But even longer term, it would take up a lot of space, in my small (future) tool shed.

So I considered how I was able to build that chicken coop, with nothing but a hand-saw, in the first place. I also considered how easy it was to store, said tool on a hook, on a wall. Yes, that table-saw was a mighty fine tool, but it wasn't the tool for me, it seems.

 Super saw

A handsaw, is person powered - making any accidents, minor. Being light weight, it's easy to get out of storage too. So I inspected the handsaw section, and decided to buy, a top of the range one, made in Sweden.

It's advertised as the ProCut, and it's spot on! I couldn't tell the difference between my cut edge, and the machine edge from the store. Actually, I think mine, looked even better.

 Fine edge

Not only did I look for a quality saw, but I also looked for a "fine" graded cut. Meaning, I won't lose a lot of wood as I cut through. It's light-weight and half the size of the bigger handsaws, so minimal muscle fatigue. Which becomes an issue when you're cutting through harder woods. Wow, I really think about tools a lot, don't I?

I guess I do...but in the scheme of things, quality tools aren't cheap, so you want to ensure you're buying something you can actually use. This BAHCO handsaw, set me back $50. If it's anything like my Stanley handsaw, however, it will last many, many years.

Tried and true

I already had a Stanley mitre saw, which I still use. It's about the same age, as my other (cheap) handsaws. I tried using it for this project, and it still cuts beautifully!! See how quality steel, makes all the difference? Unfortunately, the wood I was cutting, was too wide for it. Mitre saws, can only cut, to the top of the metal bar (on top).

So that's why I invested in another handsaw. The quality steel, has proven it's worth over the years. Still dependable, when I need it. By investing in a quality handsaw, that WILL cut straight through, regardless how wide the wood is - should serve many more projects. Even building a tool shed, for my tools.

I was FAR happier with this purchase, than I would have been, with the bulky, table saw, cluttering up the verandah. Plus, I saved about $130!

Brand: CraftRight

With the extra money I was saving, I decided, to purchase a few more, manual, hand tools. Not for the sake of spending money, but because I've contemplated these particular tools, for a while now. I've worked on projects in the past, and wished I had these tools, to help with the final finish.

I purchased a hand planer (above) which came in handy, with this particular project. One of the pine boards were bowed, which showed, when attached to another board. My hand planer, shaved off the overlap, to give a crisp, straight edge.

 Right tools for the right job

My existing, electric sander, made short work, of sanding the entire project, after it was completed. But that bowed board, was proving to be more of an obstacle. I went through two pieces of sand paper, and barley made a dent in that bow. The hand-planer, however, had it done much quicker. Plus, I enjoyed the tactile connection and sound, way more than the electric sander!I

So I do use electric tools. It just makes sense to use the right tool, for the right job. And not ALL jobs, have an electric solution, as the best one.

 Discrete joinery

There's another tool I invested in, which I LOVE! I've wanted this, for such a long time. It's a drill jig, which drills into a board, on an angle. I can join boards, which may not allow normal screw access, from the top. It also makes it easier to hide screw heads.

I didn't actually have the right screws (above) but if I did, I could have filled the hole with wood filler, afterwards, and it becomes invisible.

Simple, but effective

The drill jig, is the simple orange piece, which holds the drill at a consistent angle. The kit, includes the uniquely shaped, drill bit. I've seen much fancier kits for sale, online, but I REALLY like the simplicity of this one. Especially, when I'd never used one before.

I already had the electric drill, but I did have to purchase a suitable clamp. It's important the jig (and wood) doesn't move, as you're drilling. So a sturdy clamp, keeping it together, is imperative.

Not all clamps, are made equal

I eventually settled on this quick-release, clamp, above. Notice how the part which touches the jig, is straight. It doesn't move, when you're pushing with the drill, in other words. The first clamp, I purchased however, was not so good at this job!

 This one, failed

I actually purchased this clamp, based on the picture on the back of the jig package. It said, any clamps like this one, was suitable. What I found however, was the tips, that were designed to move, would shift, as I put pressure on the drill.

I could have returned the above clamp, but decided, I'm always running out of clamps, when building with wood. It's suitable for working with a set of clamps, together, for holding projects together.

My lucky charm

So I'm on the last leg of my present project - being the painting part. I couldn't wrap this post up, without mentioning this wonderful tool, above.

What? A stick!

Yeah, I know. Ordinary. But there's a bit of history behind that stick. The first project I built as an adult, after flying the coop, was a bird aviary. Sorry for the pun. But that stick, was an off-cut, from my first project.

Don't ask me how, but that stick has survived five moves, since. If you're ever going to adopt DIY, my advice is to adopt a painting stick. Use the same one, all the time. Why? Because it's a lot easier to move through the paint, when there's already a layer of paint on it. Raw wood, tends to absorb the paint and act like brakes. I've just realised, I've been stirring paint for nearly two decades!

Circa 1999

I found my original photo (you know, back when film was developed) of my first carpentry project. The paint stick, originated from here. I was 20-something, then, and I'm 40-something, now.

Golly. Gee! I don't feel old, I just feel lucky to have lived this long, to develop something I feel so passionate about. I didn't realise I would. I guess that's what time teaches you, though. So if you're in it for the long haul, make all those tool choices, count. Let them last you a good while, and be easy to store.

Is there a tool you've been wanting for a while - either for the shed, office, garden or kitchen?


  1. Happy Easter to you too, Chris. Looking forward to seeing your finished woodwork project. I'm not handy with building things, I tend to stick to gardening so my spade and secateurs are tools I use often. Meg:)

    1. Oh yes, I'd personally include a wheelbarrow, along with your excellent garden choices, too. Just because we have such long distances to span! I'm going to have to invest in a quality pair of secateurs however, as the cheaper ones I buy, lose their edge quickly. Do you have a favourite, long lasting brand?

    2. I love our trusty wheelbarrow! It belonged to my husband's grandad and is still going strong! I think, with secateurs, and probably a lot of other tools as well, that the more expensive ones offer better quality. I have a pair of Felco secateurs that I really like. Meg:)

    3. Thanks for the recommendation, Meg. I'd heard Felco were good, and was contemplating them. So great to hear, they're still popular. I recently discovered BAHCO, the same brand that made my handsaw, also makes a pair of secateurs. So I'm off to see if I can track any down. :)

  2. Great read and education! I particularly enjoy DIY posts today from the comforts on our finished renovation (with all saws, tools and paint stirrers back in storage). Enjoy the weekend!

    1. Well done for cleaning up, after renovating. It's a nice feeling when you get to put all that mess away, and just enjoy what you've accomplished. Thanks for visiting, and spreading the DIY love. :)

  3. Happy Easter, Chris. I have never built anything so I am very impressed. I have a friend who uses electric power tools and she always amazes me. I will stick to the easy stuff I think :-)

    1. Oh my, but sewing is challenging too. Only, you get to build things with fabric. I've seen many of your sewing projects and think, that's pretty awesome! Easy, in a different way to woodwork, perhaps, but equally challenging. :)

  4. Thanks for an interesting and useful post, Chris. Useful, because I love making things with wood too and seeing what tools you use and your recommendations.

    I inherited my late husband's workshop and all his tools and also some of my Dad's tools. Dad was actually an engineer but used to make wooden models of the things he was going to have cast in metal. I used to love to work in the garage with him as a kid and he would give me a lump of wood and some sandpaper and I would sand it till it was like glass. I have my Dad's old mitre saw (he called it a tenon saw and I've always called it that) and it still cuts well. I like the look of that Bahco saw....I might check that out. It looks to be not much longer than your mitre saw. The only other handsaws I have are large and long and have seen better days. My husband had a mitre box which clamps the wood and the saw can be fixed at any angle. I find it useful for cutting right angles but have never used it for angles. I also bought some of those Irwin quick-release clamps for when I was making the chicken coop...they are really good.

    Could you tell me the brand of the little orange drill jig...I might look into one of those as well.

    I was given a huge pile of offcuts from a friend who had a timber floor put in recently. She thought I would use them for firewood, but.....beautiful Tasmanian Oak! Too good for firewood. I'm still trying to think what I can use them for.

    Looking forward to seeing what your project is.

    1. You're right about the size of the Bahco saw, in comparison to the Stanley. It's a tad longer, but not by a huge amount. It's part of the appeal, because I find precision is lost, the longer the saw is. It takes me further away, from what I'm seeing. I like to be straight above the cut.

      The drill jig was made by CraftRight. Found at Bunnings, with the rest of the drill bits. Set me back, $29. I also had to purchase (which I forgot to mention) an extension drill-bit. This is used when attaching the screw. There's not enough clearance between the drill and wood, with the average sized, screw bit - because it goes in, on an angle. So I purchased a screw bit, about 3.5" (89mm) long. Cost under $5.

      If you're lucky though, your husband or dad, may have had the insight to add it to their collection, already. It's wonderful to have received those well-loved tools, from them, but also to continue using them! What a great way, to still have a meaningful connection to them. Thanks for sharing. :)

    2. Thanks for that info, I'll have a look when I'm next in Bunnings. My husband used to love browsing in the tool shop at Bunnings. We would enter together...he would head for the tool shop and I would head for the garden section. Whoever finished first would come and find the other. He loved making things of wood, but wasn't a trained carpenter. I have a house full of coffee tables, book cases, picture frames and jewellery boxes to remember him by! Oh, and a bed head and matching bedside tables. Lucky me!

    3. Wow, he was productive! There's something special to what someone leaves behind, when it's made with their hands. :)


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