RobPorcaro

Rob Porcaro, MA, US
contributor


I have been working wood for over 25 years, having been drawn to the sight and feel of wood for as long as I can remember. I strive for a keenly interesting feel to my work that is satisfying in a quiet way. In my blog, I invite you to make a virtual-world visit to my shop, look over my shoulder, hear what’s on my mind, and, of course, offer your comments.




my personal website:
http://www.rpwoodwork.com/blog

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Contributions

New Segmented Cutterhead Changes My Woodworking Game

I upgraded my DeWalt thickness planer with the Byrd Shelix cutter head almost a year ago. Now it's time to evaluate the results.

Laying out curves

Curves will always add interest to your work. Here are the steps and tools I use to layout and refine the curves I use in my work.

How much camber should be in plane irons?

Bench plane blades are sharpened with a slightly curved edge or "camber". Why? How much? Is it different for a bevel-up vs bevel-down plane?

Who Is A Hand Tool Woodworker?

Thoughts on woodworking methods and how they influence our work.

End mills vs. router bits for mortising

Consider end mills as an alternative to spiral router bits for mortising with a router.

Easy Table Saw Crosscut Sled

It's simple and it works.

Setting up shop: Machine number two.

Which should be the second machine acquisition for your new shop? Here is one woodworker's opinion.

Setting up shop: Which machine first? And why.

Setting up a new woodworking shop? Which machine should be your first purchase? Here is one woodworker's opinion.

Shooting Board

A shooting board is invaluable for precise work. Here's a simple, effective approach.



Recent comments


Re: Blade brake inventor aims to compete with SawStop

Any safety device should be considered in the context of relative risk. That is, how much money and inconvenience are you willing to put forth to gain what YOU view as an acceptable level of risk? None of these devices is perfect and there is no such thing as total absence of risk, short of not using a table saw at all. And in that case, you might spend your time doing more risky things, haha!

In this light, despite the limitations as it is currently designed, the Whirlwind has potential, especially for bench-top saws.

The many good points raised here demonstrate that any of these devices - new, old, or yet to be developed - has to be subject to the marketplace of ideas and experience to test its true worth. If Saw Stop's attempt to impose their device (which I happen to choose to own) on us by government fiat is successful, it will limit innovation.

Re: How to Build and Use a Plane Stop for Narrow Parts

Hi Mike,

I use a similar jig but I like the long border on my left side, i.e, on the outer side of the bench. Since I am right handed, I tend to skew the plane like you do - the front of the plane is to my left. The wood tends to move to the left and thus against the border.

This also keeps the work piece as close as possible to my right hip, which I find more comfortable. This minimizes leaning over to reach the wood. The border piece is very narrow for the same reason. It also thus allows me to design the jig wider and use it for a greater range of work pieces.

I guess two borders is another option.

I secure the jig on the right side of the bench, between bench dogs, which keeps the front vise out of my way.

These are just personal preferences, I guess it depends on personal ergonomics, but readers may want to experiment with these different options and see what works best. I find planing is less fatiguing with my right hip as close to the plane as possible.

Rob

Re: How much camber should be in plane irons?

I do most of my sharpening freehand, so to produce a mild camber such as for a smoothing plane blade, I just lean a bit more on each side of the blade on the stone and work the pressure smoothly toward the middle. It doesn't take much.

For a blade where I want more camber, I start it in the grinding stage at the Tormek. There is a little bit of give to the guide bar, enough to make the camber. I find no need for a special rig, though I suppose that could help for a blade with a pronounced curve such as a scrub plane.

As I said, I never measure these things. The important thing is to observe the plane's performance and let that guide your perception as to what is "enough" camber next time at the sharpening station. It's like adding spices to your food.

I find it's easy to overdo it. No problem: The center of the blade will take the most wear and you can hone away some of the hump to resharpen the blade and reduce the camber.

Yes, the math is correct in the post as written. I am comparing the camber you observe when you look at the edge 90° to the face of the blade ("c") with the camber that the wood "sees" - i.e. the depth of the camber projection when observed parallel to the length of the sole ("f", the functional camber). C is reduced by the sine of the bed angle to yield f. The overall depth of cut does not figure into that relationship.

The math is tangential to the main points which are to use differing cambers according to the task of each plane and, to realize that bevel up and bevel down blades, all else equal, require different approaches to producing camber in the sharpening process.

The performance of the plane is all that really matters!

Re: How much camber should be in plane irons?

The photo with the square showing the camber and the diagram are mine. The photo of someone, not me, using the Eclipse-style honing guide was added by the FW editors. I don't happen to use or like that guide although it can be used to produce a camber in the edge. Just a matter of personal preferences.

Rob

Re: More Details on the Carlos Osorio Tablesaw Lawsuit

The Saw Stop brake system, I believe, is an excellent safety device on a machine that is excellent even apart from that.

However, I do not think that government should require that all saws be equipped with such a device. Each consumer can choose to buy and use what he wishes, fully aware of the potential dangers.

It is not analagous to car air bags or gun locks because a table saw user may injure only himself and only by his own actions. Furthermore, there IS a reasonable expectation of fully safe use of the machine IF proper precautions are taken. Also, all safety devices did not come about due to lawsuits or government decree.

The government cannot and should not protect us from all dangers, particularly those that we might impose upon ourselves. Should we ban routers because the safer alternative of a hand molding plane exists? Should we ban ice cream (one might chronically overeat it and get heart disease) since the safer alternative of non-fat yogurt exists?

The injured man, with the assistance and support of his employer, had every opportunity to perform his job safely, and yet engaged in grossly reckless procedure. They, or at least the worker, are responsible for the injury.

To me, this lawsuit, as it has been thus far described, largely comes down to issues of personal freedom and the attendant responsibility, versus blaming the deep pockets for profit by predatory lawyers. Aren't those marble floors in court houses kind of slippery and isn't there a safer alternative?

Re: End mills vs. router bits for mortising

These end mills are solid carbide.

Re: The Importance of Hand Skills in Education

I agree!

By intuition, admittedly without expertise, I think the brain works with tools such as the imagination, paper and pencil, visual constructs, and input from the hands. Since hands are uniquely human, it would come as no surprise that some cognitive functions of our uniquely human brains depend on its integration with the "knowledge" supplied by the hands. How interesting that very young children rarely are satisfied with seeing a new thing, they want to touch it and handle it.

It seems like some of the richness of life is lost without working with one's hands. Practically, we all can eventually use handiwork skills, even if it is just installing some moulding or fixing a lamp. Hands are not just for tapping a keyboard and mouse!

Re: Easy Table Saw Crosscut Sled

Having used this sled for many different size crosscuts without a hold-down, I have not found any problems with the work pieces shifting. However, I understand how this could be a concern, and the addition of toggle clamps sounds helpful. Sandpaper adhered to the working face of the fence is another option.

I feel the right side platform is necessary and safer for crosscutting off all but the tiniest trimmings, and I do indeed use this sled for sizable cutoffs. For splitting very large sheets, I agree with Slowlearner’s suggestion.

I generally control the front of the sled with my left hand with my right hand on the work piece, well away from the blade, as I make the cut. Each woodworker has to decide what is a safe and practical limit for stock width using this type of sled, and whether the fence needs added stabilizing features. Some may feel more comfortable with rear fence sleds.

As with just about everything else in woodworking, there is more than one good method. Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

Re: Setting up shop: Machine number two.

To clarify, the question I raised was which major machine to buy first (and second). Judging from the interest generated, this clearly seems worthy of discussion. I feel it’s great to hear opinions from passionate fellow woodworkers. In agreement with many of the comments, the answer surely depends on the types of projects a woodworker intends to make. This, along with personal preferences in working style and other factors, precludes a definitive answer. The main point is that new woodworkers can hopefully benefit from the many opinions offered.

Regarding the roles of the jointer and planer and the "which machine first" question, I suggested in my post that the necessary flattening of one side of a board can be done by hand reasonably quickly and more easily than thicknessing a board by hand. The latter task still remains for hand work to achieve the desired thickness if you have a jointer but lack a planer (unless certain rigs are attached to the jointer which I feel are awkward).

My suggestion for machine number two, the bandsaw, is also a subjective choice, based largely on the versatility and creativity capable with this machine, even by novice woodworkers.

For the record, I happily use my Saw Stop cabinet table saw, jointer, and routers. I like them almost as much as I like my hand tools!

Re: Setting up shop: Which machine first? And why.

To clarify, the question I raised was which major machine to buy first. Judging from the interest generated, this clearly seems worthy of discussion. I feel it’s great to hear opinions from passionate fellow woodworkers. In agreement with many of the comments, the answer surely depends on the types of projects a woodworker intends to make. This, along with personal preferences in working style and other factors, precludes a definitive answer. The main point is that new woodworkers can hopefully benefit from the many opinions offered.

Regarding the roles of the jointer and planer, I suggested in my post that the necessary flattening of one side of a board can be done by hand reasonably quickly and more easily than thicknessing a board by hand. The latter task still remains for hand work to achieve the desired thickness if you have a jointer but lack a planer (unless certain rigs are attached to the jointer which I feel are awkward).

My suggestion for machine number two, the bandsaw, is also a subjective choice, based largely on the versatility and creativity capable with this machine, even by novice woodworkers.

For the record, I happily use my Saw Stop cabinet table saw, jointer, and routers. I like them almost as much as I like my hand tools!

Re: Setting up shop: Which machine first? And why.

There is not likely to be one good answer to these questions because woodworking is a creative, personal pursuit. Woodworkers, new and experienced, have the opportunity to make more thoughtful, informed decisions, resulting in better woodworking, when presented with a variety of viewpoints.

The following may clarify my rationale for suggesting the planer as the first machine purchase. As an example, I would rather hand rip and crosscut an 8" x 36" board than reduce its thickness from a rough 4/4 to 3/4" or from a presurfaced 3/4" to say, 5/8". The same goes for making 1 5/8" table leg blanks from 8/4 stock. I feel that a new woodworker can quickly improve his range of design by not being restricted to the thicknesses of predressed stock.

I am not suggesting that anyone send a board into a planer without one flat surface to register against the planer’s bed. I believe it is easier to achieve that flat surface by hand, starting with either rough or presurfaced stock (both are almost never flat when purchased), especially since it does not need to be smooth to properly register on the planer bed, than it would be to thickness the board by hand. After one surface is machined flat and smooth, the board is flipped to cut the hand-prepared surface. Thus, I suggest buying an economical, high quality planer as a first purchase to go along with hand tools.

It’s great to accumulate a full set of woodworking machinery, but I hope the various opinions in FW's TWL blog will help new woodworkers decide where to start.



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