November 2009


President's corner

Next meeting

Last meeting


Last Meeting

Our President Frank Ramsay having run out of money traveling came to open our October meeting.

He first asked new members or guests to identify themselves. We had quite a group with Dan Abrahamson from San Carlos who does furniture and other odds and ends. He heard of us through a friend. Tom Gaston, John Hickman, Bill H, Fred Nichols, Tom Keefe from Mill Valley who does small furniture items and found us on the web. Raphael Bartholomeusz from Redwood City joined us as a member.

There were several Silent Auction items. Since BAWA is no longer making coffee for its meeting, but buying the Starbuck box instead, it was decided by the BAWA Board to donate the coffee making supplies and coffee pot to the silent auction.

Fred Reicher has donated old wood turning tools and four turned wooden legs to the auction.


Frank Ramsey asked for suggestions on what to do with the BAWA library since our librarian has resigned. Alternatives include: a new volunteer to assume the duties as librarian, a BAWA web site check out service, find a permanent location for the library, donate all the materials to the San Mateo Library System, or donate it to a woodworking business such as the SawDust Shop where the materials could be accessed by the public. There were a number of suggestions such as placing all the library items on our web site and members emailing a librarian for a certain item which would be brought to the next meeting. The Board is seeking more input from members and will make a decision.

Per Madsen summarized the upcoming BAWA meetings:

    Nov 19: Jigs & Fixtures and the Box Contest

    Dec 10: Annual Hors d'Oeuvres & Pot Luck, Christmas Ornament

    Jan 21: Vacuum Veneering

    Feb 18: Claude Godcharles talks about his 7 weeks at College of the Redwoods

    Mar 18: Router Demo -- Mike Cooper

    Apr 15: John McCormack -- Making Windsor Chairs

There will be a dovetail class at Woodcraft, San Carlos on Oct 31-Nov 1. The class is full.

Nominations for BAWA club officers are due next month. The election will be held at the December meeting.

A Toy Workshop will be held on Oct 31 at Jamie Buxton's shop in Belmont.

There will be a Woodworking Show in Sacramento on Nov 13-15.

Because Stan Booker was called away to a family emergency in Louisiana there will be no raffle or door prizes tonight.

Show & Tell:

John Blackmore gave a short presentation on the dining room table he is making. He presented two prototype table base models and the completed base of the table. After making the first prototype in Alaskan Yellow Cedar and presenting it to the club at the June meeting, John decided to show it to Arnie Champagne and ask for his suggestions. John knew he just wasn't there yet. Arnie was kind enough to oblige, and when have we known Arnie not to oblige with his constructive criticism? Arnie came through true to form. John listened and made another prototype, again in Yellow Cedar. The base rails were taller, the top rail wider and the legs curved on the outside edge. Now John was ready to make the final table base. He chose to use Bubinga throughout. Two parallel legs, 1 ½" apart met at the base on either side of the leg set. The top rail was placed between the parallel legs. A Y-shaped yoke met the two inner legs. A spanning rail joined the leg sets at each end of the table base. Each leg was attached to the base with sliding dovetails. Mortise and free tenon construction was used throughout. Mortises were made on a horizontal mortiser. The finish was made with four coats of Wipe On Polyurethane.

John McCormack showed a ¼ scale model of a kitchen stool he has been commissioned to make. It is in the Windsor style. Yes, it will include stretcher rails between the legs. John will be teaching a class on Windsor chairs this summer at the North Bennett School in Boston. He will also make a presentation at our April 15, 2010 meeting.

Frank Taylor brought in a wood steamer he designed and made from sheet metal. It was about five feet long and he says it works well. His welds, he pointed out, were not pretty, but worked. He uses a tea pot to boil the water to make steam. He has drawings if anyone wants to make their own. He has a demonstration of its use on U-Tube.

The Hand Plane Seminar

Harold Patterson began the seminar with a presentation on how hand planes work. When deciding how many planes you buy, consider your "wants and needs." You only need five, but you will undoubtedly want more. You need the following: a #7 or #8 Jointer, a # 4 Smoother, a shoulder plane, a block plane and a spokeshave. You may want a #4 ½ smoother that is wider and heavier than a #4, a #78 rabbet plane or a Record #778 that has two guides for the fence instead of one, a #3 smoother, a chisel plane and a block plane with a movable front throat. You will not need a #1 or a #2 smoother unless you plan to give them to a child. You simply cannot get your hand around the plane because it is too small. Recently, bevel up bench planes have become popular. A good example is the Low Angle Jack Plane. Neal will talk more about this plane later.

Harold has done a lot of hand plane restoration and he shared his knowledge with us. If the plane is rusty, try to get it off with a Scotch scrubbing pad and mineral spirits. If the plane is pitted with rust, you probably will want to try electrolysis. No, it's not for hair removal. A salt such as baking soda is used as the electrolyte. Zinc or steel is used as the donor metal. He places the metal on the bottom of a plastic container with one side of the metal extending out of the electrolyte. The red clip from a battery charger is attached to this pole. The plane is placed in the electrolyte solution resting on two wooden blocks to prevent it from coming into contact with the metal plate. Then the black clip is attached to a part of the plane body that is out of the electrolyte solution. He sets the charger to a trickle setting and watches the bubbles. When the bubbles stop, the process is complete and the rust has been replaced with new metal.

Now you need to dry the plane. First, send your wife to shop or do an errand. Then take the plane, rinse it off then place it in the oven set at 150 degrees F for one hour. Remove the plane and coat it with WD-40 or a wax to protect the surface from rusting.

The next step is to assemble and flatten the base of the plane. Make sure the frog bearing area is flat. Use a file if necessary. Flatten the base of the plane by placing a strip of aluminum oxide sandpaper on a dead flat surface such as glass or MDF. Slide the plane along the strip until you have achieved flatness at the tip, throat and back of the plane base. He uses 80 grit paper. He cleans the sandpaper by putting a magnet in a plastic bag and running it over the paper.

Japaning is the process of restoring the black surface to the inside surfaces of the plane. It is, he says, an awful process using linseed oil and asphaltum. He recommends using two coats of flat black paint.

Now that the plane had been restored, Neal White took over to explain how to use hand planes to your full advantage. Neal teaches classes in hand plane techniques at the Woodcraft, Dublin and SawDust shops. How does Neal decide which plane he needs and wants? He asks himself if he is a metal worker or a woodworker. As a woodworker, he does not spend much time restoring planes. He is, however, working on an article on how to buy planes on eBay. He has, he says, learned from his mistakes. Maybe we can, too.

Most bench planes are set at a cutting angle of 45 degrees and that is fine for the common straight grained American hardwoods. However, if you a cutting highly figured woods or some exotics, like bubinga, you need a blade set to at least 55 degrees to avoid tear out. When sharpening a blade, Neal uses the LapSharp System invented by Don Naples. He flattens the back of the blade and puts a single bevel on the front, usually 25 degrees. He uses a flashlight that incorporates a 30X magnifier so he can inspect the blade carefully. He also uses a magic marker or Sharpie to color the blade area he is sharpening just to make sure the scratch pattern is even.

Neal demonstrated the use of the Low Angle Jack Plane on a shooting board to achieve a perfectly square end on a board. He also demonstrated how he marks two boards for jointing, then he shoots along their lengths with a jointer plane to achieve a perfect joint.

But all this use of the plane depends on a good sharp blade and it was time for Don Naples to step in. Some people like to put a little camber on the sides of the blade for a jack or #5 bench plane. This rounding of the ends can be as much as 1/16", but probably less for the fore plane or #6. Rounding the edges will prevent gouging when removing lots of material. There is no camber on smoothers and jointer planes.

The question to ask, however, is why even use a hand plane? In figured woods, you need a well-tuned hand plane to prevent tear out. A Mathison panel plane or infill plane is steady, heavy and stable. It has a thick iron and vibration is nil. A good sharp plane will give the wood a clean, polished surface that cannot be achieved with sand paper.

If you want to upgrade your existing Stanley hand plane, consider buying a thicker Ron Hock blade and chipbreaker. You might have to open the throat of the plane with a file.

A sharp blade is essential. First, flatten the back of the blade. The scratch pattern on the back after a pass on sandpaper mounted to glass will tell you how much to flatten. Don't try to flatten a blade on a round wheel. It cannot be done. A round wheel creates a rounded surface, not a flat one. You can flatten on water stones. Japanese planes use laminated steel and are excellent. Don has many sharpening tips on his web site

Spend the time to flatten the back of the blade. You only have to do it once. Then, you can sharpen the bevel more easily. Don uses his Lap Sharp System. It consists of 3M abrasives mounted to a dead flat disc rotating in a horizontal plane. Grit textures begin at 40 grit and progress down to 1 micron to produce a mirror finish on the blade.

And now time had run out. We began to clean up and our Plane Panel members were inundated with questions. Guess we will have to do it again next year.

The coffee pot and fixings were scarfed up by Eric McCrystal. BAWA also made out on the flashlight/microscope that Neal White was selling. He donated $5 for each sale.

Members dragged home dreaming of Lap Sharps or converting their old phonographs to Phono Sharps!

John Blackmore. Comedy provided by Mark Rand