Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dunno how I forgot this one...

So, a few weeks ago, we got a new-to-us big bandsaw... a Yates American Y-36. The wheels on this thing are 36" in diamter. It's huge... something like 9.5' tall. We had to take the upper wheel and guard off of the thing to get it into the building, and still had to take the door off of the freight elevator to get it through.

It's an enormous thing of beauty, and it runs almost silently, which is a real testament to the way they used to make things back in the old days. My 2 year old powermatic screeches on startup, and rattles in use. It works, but not as well as the Y-36 does.

According to Mike, the guy who sold it to us, the saw used to belong to the Pratt and Whitney pattern shop, but since then, it's had a few owners. Mike is a professional rigger, and moves large and heavy objects like this saw, so he's been the one who went to get it every time a shop closed, and sold it to the next guy. Hopefully this isn't a bad omen for our shop... but in any event, I'm glad to have it around.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bird's eye view.

So, life in the shop is moving into a hapily productive phase. Things are all in place for the most part, and while there are still final details to attend to, like doors between machine and bench room, we have what we need, and we're moving forward.

Locals are on notice that there will be a shop-warming/ "wetting-in" of the place in the near future. Of course, a shop warmining implies a warmer shop, which is an issue, but we'll figure it out soon enough.

First on the list of things for me to work on is a new bench. I have had a laminated slab of butcher block sitting around waiting for, oh, almost 2 years now, and it's high time I got around to putting it to work. I also have a kit for a fancy twin-screw vise that I bought on sale when I worked at a local woodworker specialty store, I'd say about 3 or 4 years ago now. I've been sitting on it, not needing it, or not having time to put it together... and now I've pulled it out, too. Part of the reason I'm building the bench is because I've had all these parts sitting around. But another reason is that I've really been wanting a new bench for a while. At the old shop, I was using a huge Sjoberg bench that I bought when I first moved into my old shop building. It's huge, heavy... and warped. I'm pretty sure that the manufacturer used really green wood when they built it.

Anyway, the result is that when I want a flat surface to clamp something to, I can't use that bench. If I'm gluing things up, and I want them to be flat, I have to clamp to a flat surface. So, that bench is out.

In the shop now, I've been using an old bench that I built before I went to North Bennet. It's good enough for most things, and it's very flat, but I've learned a lot since I built it, and there are some new details I want added in to the mix.

It's basically a refined version of the old bench. Construction details are the same, but the details will be different, and I'm taking it to a higher level of finish than I did with the old one.

I'll take more pictures of the new bench when I go back to work after the holidays. Since this I've varnished it, and I'm in the process of trying to understand how the vise goes together. It has an 8 page instruction booklet, so there's a little more to it than just bolting it in place. But I have faith that it will be very cool when all is said and done.

Merry Christmas and Happy Buckets to all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A quick look back...

I found the memory card from my previous phone, and I found this picture on it. I took this the day we first looked at the place.

We've come a long way.

Just about there...

Thursday afternoon we sanded the other half of the floor. As before, it was very necessary. The machine room floor was a nasty brown color, from who knows what, and any time we had to get down to work on something, we came up nasty. We didn't sand every square inch... Some of the machines were simply too heavy for that to be practical. So, we moved what we could, and sanded the rest.

I was told Thursday night that Chris and Don would finish sanding and put another coat on the floor, and that I didn't really need to waste an hour each way on the train just to come in and lay a coat of finish down.

Tomorrow, I'll go in, and I anticipate that we'll spend our time putting everything back that we moved out of the way. After that, whatever small details remain will get wrapped up, the new band saw will get a blade put on, and I imagine that Chris will get his big jointer sand blasted and re-assembled soon.. There are a few small racks for things that need to be installed, and we're wanting to put up a partition betweent he two lathes. That aside, it's essentially a functional shop now, or it will be once it's all back together again.

Time for me to start working...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Now What?

SO, someone pointed out to me that the blog was easier to read when I was dealing more with why I was doing things, and less about the detailed descriptions of what was happening.

Truth be told, it's an ongoing issue for me. It's very easy to get wrapped up in the details and forget what I was working towards in the first place. And now that the shop setup is winding down, I'm having to take a step back... or many steps back... and evaluate where I am, and what comes next.

That's not to say that things haven't been happening in the shop, or that I'm hopelessly lost in what I thought I was doing. Things are still being put together, and I do have an idea or two of what happens next, but this is the real challenge of woodworking for me; I have to run a business. I'm not working for someone else anymore.

When Chris, Don, and I first got this thing going, I said my best estimate was that we'd be up and running around new year's. They said no way would it take that long. We're about a month early, and there's still a little bit let to do, but I think it's a good time of year for the setup to wind down. I've learned a lot, and managed to get a good handle on how to organize myself, and my work. And the new shop was conceived as a solution to many of the other problems I was having before. But knowing what didn't work before doesn't necessarily mean that I now know how to make something that will work in the future. I'm still trying to figure out where some of the other failures were in the last shop, and how to address them in the coming months and years.

There are three weeks and three days left in the year for me to sit down, contemplate where I am, where I'm headed, and how to get there from here.

If only I could dig up the map with my iPhone, this would all be so much easier.