Starting up a workshop the second time around. #3: Sometimes you win.....

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Blog entry by David Kirtley posted 06-19-2010 05:52 AM 1220 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Workbench plan Part 3 of Starting up a workshop the second time around. series Part 4: Small changes in the workbench plan »

Well, I was almost finished with my bow saw project.

I had finished the frame and finally got around to making the handles tonight. Well, I was trying to make the handles tonight. I finally got my 4 jaw chuck for my lathe. Apparently, there is going to be more of a learning curve than I was expecting. First of all, I am paranoid of getting a tool hung up in the chuck so I stay away from it. Somehow when I am doing stuff that has a risk of biting me, I go extra slowly and carefully. I ended up turning the handle shorter than I was planning because I had not calculated the extra stock needed to avoid the the chuck. That’s OK. It was close and livable. Once I had the handle turned, I wanted to try out the other new Jacob’s chuck in the tailstock to drill the handle for the blade fittings. For some reason, I expected the headstock chuck to hold the stock more firmly than it did and I knocked it off center. Well, scratch that idea. I take the handle to the bench and drill it by hand. Yep, I wander off and have an off center hole.

On to try number two. Off comes the chuck and back in goes the spur center. I turn the handle again. This time, it comes out nice and I get ready to drill it again. This one makes the first one look perfectly centered in comparison. The grain of the wood I am using is hard and squirrelly. Sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t. This time was one of the times I didn’t. It will make a nice file handle though.

By this time I am running low on stock from this piece of ebony big enough to turn but I do have some smaller rectangular stock and say “Fine. I am going to have a beveled rectangular handle instead.” A perfectly acceptable solution for the handles. The bow saw police won’t come knocking at my door if I don’t have turned handles on my saw. I drill it and shape it and put it on and it looks fine. Great. Lets test it out.

Well, I lace it up and the blade is a bit loose so I go for one more turn on the windlass. I hear a little crack and sproing! Off goes a part of one arm. Apparently, there was a kink in the grain that I had not seen and the grain was running at about 45 degrees to the arm on that segment. Wonderful. I have a little pile of sticks instead of a bow saw.

Now, I don’t feel too bad about it. I would rather find out now before I glue in the hardware. I will just start over and build it again. It was a lot of fun to turn again. I had not used my lathe for about 8 or 9 years and I forgot how quickly you go from raw stock to finished product. So many other things with woodworking take so much time for stock preparation and measuring and marking. On the lathe you just stick the wood in and go.

Lessons learned:

Don’t use wood that is so highly figured. I love the Texas ebony I was using. It is really gorgeous. What makes it so pretty is what makes it wrong for this application. A thought I could get away with it by beefing up the arms. Obviously, I was wrong. Next time I will use nice boring straight grained wood. Maybe some Pecan.

Practice new equipment on test pieces and not a real project. Yes, I really knew that already, but I thought I could get away with it “just this time” because I wanted to play with the new saw. Nope, didn’t get away with that this time either.

Extra stupidity credit:

The one thing I failed to mention in all this talk about the hardware drilling part of this sad saga. It was totally avoidable. I used to turn more often and have some of the more unusual equipment on my lathe. The live center I have in the tailstock is not a normal live center, it is a hollow center. All I had to do was take out the center pin and I could have just stuck a drill bit through the tailstock and drilled a perfectly centered hole. No muss, no fuss. I just wanted to try out the Jacob’s chuck. Sigh.

Well, that is it for tonight’s shop time. I might go out one more time and vacuum up the chips so I can start fresh in the morning. I finally got my vise and want to unbox it to get the mounting instructions to see what I need to get started on the new workbench then off to bed for me.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

3 comments so far

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3066 days

#1 posted 06-19-2010 11:03 AM

You had quite an adventure. I haven’t gotten to turning in my woodworking life yet, but even with the problems you experienced, it still sounds like fun.

Good luck on the next attempt.

-- Brian Meeks,

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2986 days

#2 posted 06-19-2010 04:36 PM

We all have those days :) At least the only major injury was your ego, eh?

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2998 days

#3 posted 06-19-2010 05:27 PM


Yes, turning is a blast. It is kind of magical watching the wood disappear and your project take its place.


The only loss was a couple sticks and some time. I figured out that the original design could be improved once I had it put together. The blades and hardware fittings use a cross pin like a coping saw for quick blade changes and for pierced work. With the little stub tenons, the saw comes apart when you take the tension off the blade. It would be much nicer to work with if the saw stayed together when you take the blade out. I am going to make the next one with a longer tenon that I can loosely pin to keep the cross brace from coming out. I plan on using it for cutting out waste on through mortises.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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