Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Perfunctory 2011 Resolution List

At the risk of sounding too self-indulgent, I thought I'd get a jump start on everybody else and write out my resolutions for 2011.  Looking at it, I think it reflects my hopes for the future, a recognition of my woodworking shortcomings, and an account of the things I hope to improve upon . . .

1.  Any blog posts will come with the implied "This is just the way I do it -- and you may have a better way."  There are so many great artisans that I would never want to think that I have the best methods or results.  In fact, I hope you are not shy in sharing your own best practices through this blog.

2.  Now that I have a pair of over-the-reading-glasses safety glasses that fit, I will have them on whenever I use any power tool -- that includes the drill press and the router table.  Plus, I secretly think they make me look like Sam Maloof (or Buddy Holly, or Brains from The Thunderbirds, or Rockin Mel Slirrurp.)

3.  I will get a hot hide glue set-up.  I used it once and I thought it was fiddley and that it smelled bad.  Now, I am fiddley and I smell bad, so we should get along.

4.  I will pay tribute to the spirit of Woodwork magazine.  I love all the unpretentious, mad-monk, woodworkers who just make it happen.  I love the way each issue seemed to be a labour of love for the (no doubt) overworked editor who made it all happen.  It is sorely missed.

5.  I will make sure that I can sharpen every tool in my shop.  This sounds pretty elemental, but it is not universal in my shop.  Obviously, I have the basic chisels and planes down, as well as my turning tools.  But my draw knife is simply functional -- hook knife, forget about it.  Scrapers, pretty good.  Moulding planes -- I don't know where to start.

6. I will learn to French polish.  When I lived in the UK, I trained to be a pastry chef while there was a French polishing school ten miles away.  Where was my head?

7.  I will bring in a couple of guest bloggers to keep things interesting or, at the very least, interview the woodworking stars who live right around me.  I see this blogosphere stuff as a virtual Guild.  I think we can create even more if we work together.

8.  The chop saw will be banished to the garage.  Sitting in my shop it is both a nuisance and a symbol of a different stage in my work.  It, will not be missed.

9.  I will take another chairmaking or turning class.  I have some world class people within a couple of hours of my shop.  If I want to take it to the next level, I must invest the time and money in our craft instead of always just stumbling around my own little burrow.

10.  I will thank my wife more often for understanding that abandoning my old career to focus on our daughters, my furniture-making, and our property was the way to go.  She has made it happen and my daughters make me want to be better every day.  You guys are the one thing that can't be improved.

As a side note, I've deemed 2011 "The Year of the Chair" -- Shaker chairs, Stickley chairs, Windsor chairs, contemporary chairs.  And that's where I'll start with my first project of 2011. 


Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday ToolFoolery - Monday Edition - Miterboxing Day

I was well pleased when my package of two saw plates arrived in the post last week, straight from the bench of Bob Rozaieski -- sharp, straight, and ready to be put back into service.  The first, a crosscut carcass saw, was ready to be a companion to my large-ish Wenzloff tenon saw.  All that was required was a quick reassemble and a new spot on the wall.

The second saw, is the dedicated miter saw for the Stanley 4460 miter box.  First, I want to say how quickly and professionally Bob handled these saws.  Just as important as how sharp they are, is that they have been given the correct fleam, rake and set for their purpose.  His price is very fair and the transaction is quite straightforward.

I decided to make a new handle for the miter saw in order to spruce it up a bit.  Those 1960's beech handles don't do to much for me and I have never made a saw handle from scratch.  After looking at a few saw designs in my shop, I just decided to freehand the changes -- it is easier than you think.  When I was done with the shape I cut out a template and transferred it to a piece of curly cherry.

A couple of holes (7/8" and 1") with a forstner bit marked the inside dimensions of grip and I cleared out the rest of the waste with a coping saw.  The external shape was cut on the bandsaw.  What followed was a great deal of rasping, spokeshaving, and sanding to get it to feel correct.  I didn't develop a system, I just kept removing material until I was happy.

It was here, to quote Fantastic Mr. Fox, that this threatened to become a "cluster cuss."

There is that moment, when a piece that you are creating has left your hand, but has not yet reached the floor, when you honestly believe that it won't break.  But very quickly you are proven wrong, it does break, and you are experiencing the first stage (Denial) of the five woodworking stages of grief. It is quickly followed by (Anger) "Ah, for #%$%& sake, how could I be so stupid.  To (Bargaining) "OK, just a hairline crack, fixed with glue, that would be good -- give it some character." Then (Depression) "Well, that just looks awful, four hours, down the drain."  Finally (Acceptance) "Well, it is a tool handle, if it works, then it is serving its purpose."  Happy Christmas.

Once repaired, I realized that it wasn't all that bad.  I slapped on a coat of boiled linseed oil.  this will be followed by some wax next week.

Cutting the slot for the saw plate and back was the trickiest part.  I started by duplicating the mortice from the old handle.  Using a marking gauge I marked this mortice on the new handle on both the top and front.  In this case I decided to drill 1/4" holes to remove the waste -- you could also use a mortice chisel.  A little bench chiseling turned the holes into a square mortice.  I cut the slot for the saw plate with a tenon saw.  After a bit of fiddling, the handle slid right on.

I marked the holes from the old handle for drilling, but drilled only one, to see how the would line up.  I then attached the saw plate (on the outside) by this one screw and remarked the rest of the holes.  After drilling the remaining holes, I slid things in place to see how they lined up.  The fit was OK. but I did need to use a file to "re-adjust" the holes in the saw plate.  After countersinking for the various saw nuts, I put everything together and tightened things down.

The last step was to readjust the guides on the miter box so that the saw teeth just brushed the surface of the new oak top.  A couple of test cuts confirmed the sharpness of the saw and its correct setup.  All-in-all a victory.  I think this will serve me well moving forward, and the total cost, including the box itself, the saw, the postage, and the sharpening was less than $100.

If you note a lack of enthusiasm in my tone it is because this "little" project took me a great deal longer to complete than I had budgeted.  In the future I'll be leaving saw handle making to the pros -- but I will be sending any of my vintage saws (handle intact) to Bob for sharpening.

On a positive note, I did receive a couple of neat woodworking-related gifts for Christmas, including a high-angle frog for my 4 1/2, a Ron Hock blade for my #12 scraper plane, and this most excellent book.

If you are not a Wallace and Gromit fan, I encourage you to become one at your earliest possible convenience.  They are, in a word, superb.  Cheers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shaker Side Tables: Butterfly Keys on Imperfection #1

I've been looking forward to inserting the butterfly keys on Imperfection # 1 since I first saw the checks on this highly figured board.  These inlays bring to mind George Nakashima and all of the great furniture and noble ideas that he brought to the craft.  And I must say that when Tyler mentioned them on teal and gold, his hip, artsy blog , I remembered how satisfying it feels to tap them home with just a bit of glue -- each tap snugging the carefully-cut key into its recess.

Sometimes these keys are completely cosmetic, inserted to add interest or to justify the inclusion of a tiny crack that poses no structural threat to the piece.  In this case they are very necessary as they need to span a fissure of nearly 1/4".

My method for making the keys, cutting the mortices, and truing the butterflies is fairly old school, with a couple of my own quirks.

I cut the butterflies by hand.  In my opinion, a great deal of the charm in these details lies in the slight asymmetry that comes from hand sawing each piece.  Those templates with their sterile forms and perfect geometry always put me off.  In many ways this is just like cutting a double-sided tail in a half-blind joint.  And like executing this joint, success for me comes when I keep in mind which faces will show in the finished product.

I cut these butterflies on a 1:8 ratio, using my dovetail marker on 1" maple stock.  As much as I wanted to create slim hourglass shapes, I needed to keep some meat in the middle for strength.  I like the subtle contrast between cherry and maple; I suppose that if I really wanted to make it pop I would have gone with holly or box keys. The grain should run the length of the key.  I like to lay them out, angle the tops, make the cuts on the side, and free them all with one crosscut along their bottoms.

After laying out the shapes my aim is to make sure that the bottom of the key is ever so slightly narrower than the top.  To prepare the top of the keys I take a few passes with a low-angle plane, across the grain, creating an angle toward the back of the key.  For the zig-zag sides of the key I start my saw cut at the outside of the line at the top and on the inside of the line at the bottom.  This biases the cut to something like a 1 degree angle.  To quote James Krenov, "just enough so that only you know that it's there."  Once the keys are cut, a little cleanup with a wide chisel makes the edges true -- straight lines and consistent angles are important.

I transfer the shapes of the keys to the table top with a sharp pencil, tracing around the slightly narrower bottoms, just as they will be placed in the top.  I find that if I cut the mortice to the outside of these pencil lines it give you clearance to insert the key without fiddling.  And because the key gets slightly wider from bottom to top, it snugs itself as it is inserted.  I do use a router to hog out most of the waste, but not in the traditional manner.

I have never liked working a router freehand, regardless of the situation, and in particular I don't like moving it within a scribed line -- too many things can go wrong.  Instead, I use a 1/4" spiral bit and plunge it into the waste area.  The result is no broken bits and no irretrievable disasters here at step 432 of the project.  I then incise the line with a chisel and remove the remaining waste.

Just a quick word about the thickness of the keys. The recess is about 1/2" deep and the keys begin life at about 1" thick.  I'm unconcerned (within reason) about how deep these get inserted as long as they don't bottom out before they are snug.  I use just a bit of glue around the bottom edge of the key as it goes on. and a bit of glue in the mortice -- but not much.  As much as I'd like to trim these with a flush cut saw, I don't.  The maple is hard, a bit chunky, and I've found that a delicate saw balks at this challenge.  Instead I use my dovetail saw and remove the 1/4" that remains with a block plane.

When using the block plane I put a sheet of paper or masking tape down before I start.  The result will be a key that protrudes by that thickness (which sometimes I leave) and can be easily sanded with 220 grit during final surfacing.  In this case, I sand to 400, to get a bit of sheen on the top (contrasting with the imperfection of the mended crack.)  A quick bit of work with the spokeshave readies the edge for finish.

I couldn't help myself.  The top picture shows how the table is coming along with a quick coat of boiled linseed oil.  I'm pretty pleased with the look, but there are a couple of little cosmetic tricks I need to do before it is complete.  The last step is to secure the top to the pedestal.  As I want to display the figure and the butterflies, I'll do this via a tilting mechanism. 

The final post in this series will have a (mercifully short) description of aforementioned tilting mechanism and final pictures of the Shaker Round Stand, The Single Drawer Sewing Stand and this, Imperfection #1.

Cheers, Merry Christmas, and let me know what you think.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday ToolFoolery - A Stanley Miter Box As Bench Accessory

You may remember, (from your county fair-going days) the old midway game where you roll a coin down a slot onto a platform.  A long bulldozer-like blade moves forward and, if you are lucky, your coin will force other coins (or valuable prizes like switchblades and naked lady bottle openers) off the other side and into a tray.

Keep this image in mind and you have a fairly accurate picture of my benchtop.  I start the day with the best of intentions, but as work proceeds, tools begin taking that short drop into the tray.  I knew my new Stanley Miter Box wouldn't stand a chance in this environment.  I would need it, there would be nowhere to put it, and I'd stop using it.

That tool tray, however, may be the answer to all my troubles.  In my hands it is simply a catch-all for tools, an amalgam of shavings, and tiny pieces of wood I "must keep."  But in an organized person's shop, it could serve as a kind of bedway for two sliding platforms to hold a miter box and a support/stop for longer work.

But before I begin, I need to thank a couple of very helpful folks who set me straight on my misguided thoughts about the "holdfasts."  Both David from the Yukon and Greg from Kentucky correctly noted that they are actually "stops" to help you create a compound angle for cutting crown moulding.  This makes much more sense and changes my approach to how they are secured.  Instead of the cam clamp, I will use thumbscrews on two stops.  Thanks for your insights.

Now back to the platforms. . .

I started by glueing up more oak to a width of around 11 inches.  After a quick scraping, I cut this into two pieces -- the first to hold the box, the second to hold the support.  A block on the back and a strip of oak along the underside created a channel to allow the platform to slide along the back rail of the bench.  An eyescrew through that back block secures it in place.

The platform for the box is very straightforward -- just place the box on top and secure with screws.  The support is a little more interesting.

I wanted something simple and robust.  The main objective was to have something that could serve as just a support, or as a support and a stop.  Here was my solution.  As a support. . .

And as a stop. . .

The height of the support box matches the height of the miter box top and the stop meets the box top at the fence line -- so that you can use it as a stop for the narrowest of material.  As you can see, the stop just pops in and out.

I even had some time to make a start on a new handle.  The original was beech, ugly, and machine made.  I also had to cut it two in order to remove the sawplate for sharpening.  My plan was to make a smaller handle, from walnut, to match my other hand saws.  Upon reflection, I realized that the size of the handle on the the sawplate needed to be the same as the old profile.  If not, the aging of the metal would form a shadow of the original.  Also, a smaller grip looked out of proportion with the full-sized front of the handle.

The new handle will be made of curly cherry (an offcut from Imperfection #1) and be a stylized version of the original.  Here it sits after the initial bandsawing and some rough rasp work.

I'll complete this handle, attach it to the newly-sharpened saw plate, and take the miter box for a test drive in the next edition.

Meanwhile. . . I have to share these photos.  We never get snow geese in our pond, so imagine my surprise when I looked out of the shop window this morning.

They spent the day parading through the yard and squabbling with the resident Canada geese. . .

And when dusk came, off they went . . .

Good luck, and happy holidays.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to make corrections!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shaker Side Tables: Designing and Creating Imperfection #1

The third in this series of three shaker tables is a bit of a departure. During my last long cycle ride of the season I stumbled upon, quite by accident, the relocated Amish school in Nickel Mines, PA.  I was taken by the beauty of the day, the autumn weather, and the sheer joy of the children outside playing baseball.  I was amazed at how such beauty could exist so close to such tragedy; our own imperfection lying so close to our innocence.

On the long ride home I wrote some words in my head and sort of put those feelings aside -- until I saw this bit of wood leaning up against the wall at one of my hardwood suppliers.  There, next to a stunning bit of figure, ran two long cracks that rendered the wood virtually worthless -- except if you were willing to accept the beauty and the imperfection side by side.

So instead of building a double drawer sewing stand, I'll be using this board to create Imperfection #1, a tilt-top round table -- inspired by Shaker design.  And because of the size of this board, most of the cutting, smoothing, and shaping will need to be done by hand tools -- with some exceptions. I'll be using the pedestal base that I built a couple of weeks ago and fashioning a simple "bird cage" tilting mechanism.  So here goes.

Using a hand saws I crosscut and ripped this to about 120% of its finished size.  While crosscutting, the kerf snapped closed and I had to wedge it to finish the cut.  Duly noted.

The next order of business was to address the severe cupping inherent in a board like this.  I started on what will be the underside of the table to get a sense of how difficult this will be to work.  The crotch figure is fine -- almost like working a hard burl, no tearout, especially with the low angle jack.  There is one area (near the knot that I have eliminated) that wants to tear out regardless.  I pulled out my Stanley #80 cabinet scraper and worked that area.  I'm looking to get this fairly level but not perfect as I don't know how this will move given some of the stress.

I needed to take down something in tha area of 3/16" on the sides of the top, and a similar amount from the middle of the bottom.  Starting with my much-loved Stanley 5 1/2 used as a scrubber, I went after the top.  The low angle was great on the middle figure on the bottom -- and curiously -- a spokeshave put a nice sheen on this underside (I mean, why? One is low angle; the other is high angle!)

When I had this to somewhere in the vicinity of 1/32" flat I called it quits.  There were more cuts to come (that might unleash the tension I'd already seen) and I was going to be banging it around a bit (so it was sure to pick up some scratches.)  In order to figure out the layout of the circular top, I used two spring clamps and a length of old bandsaw blade set to a diameter of 21 inches. I drilled a 3/8" hole in center and used my circle-cutting jig on the bandsaw to cut this to size. 

So, if you think handling a naked bandsaw blade as a template looks dangerous, then we're just getting started.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and my own conscience require me to toss up all kinds of red flags at this point.  If what what follows next doesn't seem like the scariest thing I've ever done on a table saw, it will do until a scary thing gets here.  So even with all the caveats about guards, eye protection, and staying very aware of the moving blade, I'm not recommending this method to anyone.

At 21 inches, this top was too big to put on my lathe to taper the edge (which is about 1 inch thick and too clunky for my taste.)  I suppose that if I had an outboard rig I could strap it on there, but most of the work would have you pushing the top away from the headstock, without a tailstock to back it up.  So this is a non-starter.  Recently, I read an article about using your table saw to taper the curved end of a table top.  You hoiked it up on edge, angled the blade, and ran it through in a series passes, sanding the rough spots after you were done.  I thought, "Why not turn this up to 11" and do an entire circle in this manner.

So I created a set-up, with the help of my tenoning jig, that allowed me to angle the work back about 15 degrees from the blade.

I then used the same 3/8" hole on the bottom that affixed it to my bandsaw circle-cutting jig, and built a support to hold the top against this board so that it would stay in place, yet turn freely.  I started by taking a pass, rotating it 10 or so degrees, then taking another pass.  Here it is, part way through.

As you can see, there is a bit of burning that took place -- a direct result of the slight wobble in this somewhat flimsy jig.  And in spite of the terror it invoked when I crawled atop the saw and gave it a final 360 degree turn, whilst centered against the blade, I will use this method again.  I'll just build a much larger, purpose-built, jig that will be more solid than this arrangement.

In contrast to this two-hours-of-jig-building-and-45-seconds-of-terror experience, I was happy to get to some hand work.  I started by scribing a reference line about 1/2" from the table top along the edge. . .

. . . And then worked it to an even reveal along the edge and on the back. "Ahhh, what a piece of work is a spokeshave, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving."

 Next, I will layout, cut and install the butterfly keys, build the tilt-top mechanism, and install it on its base.

Thanks for looking, and please let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday ToolFoolery - Hot-Rodding A Stanley Miter Box (Part One)

The best car I ever owned was a brick red 1970 Karmann Ghia convertible.  It wasn't fast, but it did most of what a pricey roadster did at a fraction of the cost.  And because it wasn't a museum piece, I was free to make any modifications that I saw fit -- such as adding a chrome gas pedal in the shape of a bare foot.  I have similar emotions about my favorite used tools.  And while I won't be painting any flames on the side of a Stanley #1, I will do what it takes to modify things to make them fit my style.

Enter the Stanley 2246 mitre box.

Christopher Schwarz, (a man who is apparently not above decorating the sides of planes!) has been making it rain around the value of these fairly workaday tools.  Every time I looked for one on ebay, the winning bid was outrageous (My ebay account is still watching a box that went for $387.00.) So his latest musings, imploring us to get off our butts and look for them in person, was a stroke of the bleedin' obvious

Right on cue, I stumbled upon a well-used Stanley 2246 in my super-secret antique tool shop.  All the mechanisms worked great and the price, including a non-descript 27" saw (Disston, a division of Porter Co.) was less than the shipping price of many I've seen online.  And because it was missing a few bits and bobs, I had no qualms about customizing this little beauty.

My goal is simple -- I want to get that blasted chop saw out of my machine tool room.  Even by my pretty loose standards it is too loud, takes up too much space, and belches forth way too much dust to rationalize its existence.  It has a home waiting for it in the garage.  But in order to make this happen, I need to make the new saw accessible, versatile, and able to do everything that the electric version does today.  So here goes . . .

The first step is to get rid of the bright red, balsa-wood top that comes standard.  I want to be able to support slightly longer stock on a wider base.  I decided to use white oak as that's what I have lying around.  The 2246 has two holdfasts that slide across the top in order to secure pieces during the cut.  While I'm not sure of the real utility of that, I didn't want to abandon the idea completely.  Instead of two, I opted to go with one (on the left side) and I decided to fashion it from oak and cherry to replace the pitted steel original.  (I can easily add the other if it seems useful.)  I also switched from a thumbscrew to a purpose built cam clamp to add a bit of  grip to the holdfast.

The plans for the shop made cam clamps came from a helpful article written by Sam Howe.  I modified this just a bit, using a wooden clamping bar and doing a glue-up of 3/8" cherry for the body.  It will be interesting to see how these hold up.  I won't go into too much detail on the construction, as I plan to do a full post on the clamp construction in January.  Once completed, the clamping mechanism looks something this.

Next, I wanted to deal with the grubby grey paint that adorned the top half of the cast iron body.  Traditionalists look away, as I'm about to make you sick.  After a quick scrub down I gave it two coats of Rustoleum's "Hammered" grey finish.  I think it looks pretty spiffy, and I must say that I would consider this (in black) if I wanted to dress-up a low grade plane with some faux "japanning".  I'm leaving the black portions "as is" (even I have my limits.) 

As luck would have it, just as I started thinking about the saw, I read a post from Bob Rozaieski at Logan Cabinet Shoppe that he was getting into the saw sharpening business.  I like his blog, and interactions with him are always pleasant.  So, after some back and forth about fleam and rake, this blade (and another carcass saw) was on its way across the Delaware River for sharpening.  The cheap handle on the saw was stained, so off it came. Unfortunately a chisel and saw came into play, which means that I'll making a handle in next week's post.

I'm convinced that the success of this tool, for a lazy man like me, will depend on whether it stays close at hand.  If I have to lug it out from under the bench every time, I'll pine for the old chop saw.  Likewise, if I can't set it up for repetitive cuts (such as making rails and stiles), it will become a bore.  So my task between now and next Sunday is to get a good start on a new handle, and come up with a good way to mount this on my bench.  And that's where I'll pick up.

As always, improvements, comments and questions are always welcome.  Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shaker Side Tables: Two Down, One To Go!

The second in this series of three Shaker side tables is a Single Drawer Sewing Stand.  Historical accounts from people like John Kassay, Christian Becksvoort, and Robert Treanor would place this piece somewhere in the middle of the 19th century.  If you are keeping score (and I am), a table like this may have been made in the Hancock community in western Massachusetts.

Having turned the simple post, and shaping the cabriole snake-foot leg, the main work at hand was to complete the drawer and affix the top.  As this is a two-fronted "push-me-pull-you drawer" it requires two drawer fronts fitted with half blind dovetails.  I had stumbled across some stock marked "common curly cherry"  (the only thing that made it common were its dimensions, as it is completely clear) and I was happy to pay the $2.50/bf for this fairly tasty bit of figure.

Fitting the drawer into the yoke exposed a bad habit.  Like adding one more jalapeno to the pot, or having one more glass of wine before I go, I tend to add about 1/16" extra to a cut "just in case."  It doesn't sound like a lot, but it caused me more time than I care to mention when it came to fitting the drawer.  That being completed (with the requisite self-loathing), the next step was to turn the pulls for the drawers.

I suspect that if you came into my shop while I was turning, it would be like some anthropologist stumbling upon a lost tribe along the Amazon, completely untouched by civilization.  I'm self taught, and there is no doubt a better way to do this, but here goes:

I use 3/8" holes in the drawer fronts because I know that my 25mm jaws can grip this dimension.  I also know that, in cherry, I can turn  a couple of inches of this dimension without the work flexing and causing chatter.

Once I'm down to this dimension, I pop it out of the lathe and cut it in two.

Now I chuck it back into the 25mm jaws, and turn it to the final profile.

There are endless number of mushroom profiles that are accurate, and as I'm not trying to reproduce an exact piece, I just turned them to what suited my fancy.  I made them a little chunkier than usual, this being a fairly squat little table.  It was a nice tight fit, and wedges and glue followed.

The drawer rides on two runners that slide in a dado cut into the yoke.  I affix these runners with glue (as it is long-grain to long-grain), reinforced with small 1/8" dowels.  The secret to my dowels is that they are actually bamboo skewers -- tough as nails and pre-cut.

Affixing the top is straight-forward with the compulsory accommodation for wood movement across the top.  The drawer hangers are morticed onto the yoke arms, and each has four elongated holes to accept screws.  When using mechanical fixtures I often use brass insert nuts and brass screws, but as this top is only 5/8" thick, that method would risk ghosting through to the final surface.  I've also used rounded wooden pegs, glued into the top but allowed to slide freely in the elongated holes, but I'm suspicious that this might fail.  In this case I used drywall screws (I vowed I'd never do this!) Function before form in this case, and they are hidden from view.

Nothing left to do but slide the legs into their dovetails and make sure that the drawer moves freely.  Now it can take its place next to its sister the round stand, and its brother, the final stand in this series.  My original plan was to make a double drawer sewing stand, but I think I have another idea . . .

As always, just jump in with a comment if you think I'm all wet, or want to share a better method.  Oh, and questions are welcome too. 

Next up, I finally found my Stanley Miter box.  Spoiler alert --it needs work!