Monday, 15 February 2010

Things are getting serious now

I am just getting over a bit of a head cold right now - likely picked up on my flight home from San Francisco.

In anticipation of a speedy recovery though - I have been preparing the living room for some major work. As I mentioned in a previous post - the first piece of the baseboard trim is up. That experience (or “inexperience”) taught me many things.... you need the right tools at your disposal in order to work efficiently. I know this is painfully obvious, but knowing it and doing it are sometimes very different.

Jill and I have been home renovators from the day we purchased our first home.

our first home

Before Riley and Lucas arrived, it was not uncommon for us to be up until midnight tearing out walls, wiring, dry-walling or painting. The kitchen island doubled as a workbench and it was customary to have spaghetti sauce splatters on the drill.

Not much has changed since then... the kitchen island was perfect for shooting the miters for the border of the floor. Jill worked away on preparing dinner - and I worked away at shooting miters. I am sure we all consumed a few white oak shavings those nights.

It has been a constant battle to find a balance between how much of the “work” should be done in the shop vs on site in the house. I still struggle with it. The upstairs sun room just about killed me - I must have walked at least 10k back and forth fitting parts and carrying in pieces. It was horrible. And that is what prompted the Festool madness - super high quality tools that are compact, portable and dust free. I swore I would not repeat the experience in the sun room in the living room. The framing went very well, but most of that is chopsaw work. The flooring went very well - other than the miters on the kitchen island. But the trim... that first course of the baseboards felt like the sun room again. I had the chopsaw in, the Festool MFT (which is awesome BTW) and most of the other Festool stuff. What was missing was a bench. I was still having to run back and forth to make critical cuts for the coped inside corners. At one point I was clamping some of the shorter pieces onto the hearth framing muttering “this sucks!” under my breath as I was trying to make accurate cuts.

So the bench is in for the long haul and hopefully this will make all the difference.

PS - there are still 2 benches in the shop - so I am able to work in there too.


Blogger Brad said...

Beautiful workbench! I'd like to try my hand at a project like that. Did you just make it up in your head, or base it on existing drawings?

18 February 2010 at 22:01  
Blogger Jim said...

I loved that first home you both owned, I drove by it in late December just to see it again...

18 February 2010 at 23:25  
Anonymous Torch02 said...

What do you think of the tail vise on the bench? I'm investigating various vises for the one I'd like to build and I'd love to hear your opinion.

21 February 2010 at 19:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again Konrad.Could you please show a picture of the section of foor, with the Morse code in it, so we can translate it.Thanks for your help.Lou

22 February 2010 at 12:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's one serious bench!!


25 February 2010 at 14:56  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Brad,

The top is from my first bench - the base is a re-do from a few years ago. the top is maple, and the bottom is red elm with spalted mullberry endpanels. The shoulder vice is from Atlas Machinery on Queen street in Toronto - designed by Michael Fortune. The face vice is a wee Record 52 - much too small for my liking - but it was the first vice I could find when I set out to build my first bench. I used the workbench book by Scott Landis - there are a lot of great benches in there. Chris Schwarz's book is also an excellent bench book - either will get you well on your way.


25 February 2010 at 20:49  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jim,

Yeah - we have driven by a few times as well. The people that live there now are quite wonderful, and we have stopped in for visits a few times. Riley took Lucas on a tour of his old room - Lucas was 2 when we left and could not remember much. It was a great first house!


25 February 2010 at 20:51  
Blogger Konrad said...

Torch - the tail vice is pretty good. It was the one Michael Fortune designed many years ago and as far as I know - is still being made by Atlas. That being said - there are a pile of new vices available... the offerings from Benchcraft come to mind. I broke down and bought the hardware for a left handed wagon vice in the fall... I intend on putting it on the big shaker bench in conjunction with the Emmert.

The thing with benches is you can always improve on them. I have just accepted the fact that I will not be able to have one single perfect bench, but will have several for different tasks. I have 3 now - and I suspect a fourth will happen at some point.

What type of work are you doing? That is likely the best place to start (I am assuming you are already well beyond this stage though).

Hope that helps,

25 February 2010 at 20:56  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Lou,

Yup - pics will follow shortly. I really, really (really) hope there is not a spelling mistake in the code! If there is - don't tell me:)


25 February 2010 at 20:57  
Blogger tomausmichigan said...


Those mulberry panels are fantastic! I don't know any wood that changes so much in aging. Hard to find any mulberry down here, let alone such wide boards.


25 February 2010 at 22:06  

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