Are You a Chisler? {awesome|amazing|Great|Special}

Crafts persons and professionals use specialized tools to ply their trade everyday. In many cases the tool names have derived from some activity or the activity may have actually come from the name of the tool. No where is this trait more obvious, it seems, than among woodworkers. As a woodworker works through each day it must be difficult to not think about the way in which so many of his tools are represented in daily conversations or printed material.

One of the more common tools used is the wood chisel. This tool might be used by a rough carpenter who is building concrete forms for a roadway project. Perhaps some large piece of wood needs to be quickly and roughly removed. A few random strokes with a hammer and chisel and the job is done. At the same time the chisel in the hands of a cabinet maker who has properly sharpened the tool will remove paper thin slivers of wood in a very controlled manner. Would these workers be referred to as “chislers”? Not likely.

However every society has it’s fair share of persons who are often referred to as “chislers”. This is not a term of endearment. The common use of the term is to describe someone of unsavory personality. It is aimed at one who would scam you for cash. This person may not be known as a thief but as someone who uses underhanded techniques to scam you out of your cash.

Another tool that finds it way into the woodworkers toolbox from time to time is the hatchet. This is actually a small axe with a short handle similar to a hammer. The hatchet may be used by a person who builds chairs from green wood. It can easily work it’s way through smaller pieces of wood or may be used to sharpen an end of a surveying stake so it can be easily driven into the ground. Are these hatchet users actually “Hatchet Men? Not really.

However the term “Hatchet Man” is believed to have come from early New York Chinamen known as Tongs who fought each other with hatchet like weapons. Later it was used to identify organized crime members who were hired killers. In later years it described a member of an organization who would be charged with doing the dirty jobs such as notifying those who were being fired. “He was a “hatchet man” for the company”.

If you have worked wood for any length of time you have more than likely used an “old saw”. It does not take much imagination to picture this item. Usually a tool that has seen better days. It might be dull and rusty and have cracks in the handle. But others outside of the woodworking trade frequently also make use of “old saws”. An “old saw” is a long used phrase that in many cases has become a cliche. You have most likely used this tool yourself without realizing it. “You get what you pay for”, is in common phrase.

If you have occasion to sharpen that “old saw” you may find yourself thinking of the Sawtooth mountain range in Alaska or Idaho. In the case of this tool one who uses a saw such as those who laboriously sawed through logs with huge hand saws were known as sawyers. This was very difficult work and because of this there may not have ever been any “Old Sawyers”.

A tool worth mentioning even though it is not really a part of the woodworking trade and is not well known unless you are over 60 years of age is the “monkey wrench. This was an early form of adjustable wrench. Evidently those who used this tool were not very careful where they tossed it when finished with it because a very common phrase became known as “Throwing a monkey wrench into the operation”. It means to disrupt or destroy someones program.

The next time you reach for a wood file or other tool as described above, take a moment to reflect on all the ways that tool has been used in speech and print as well as a hand tool.



Source by Chet Hastings

Adding Variety While Keeping Unity – A Basic How-To Guide on Balanced Outdoor Room Design {awesome|amazing|Great|Special}

I truly believe that any garden is enhanced by an outdoor living space.  A simple seating group or even a dining area will allow you to enjoy your garden as much as you work in it.  After all, having a place to spend more time in the fruits of your labor will only lend to your overall enjoyment.  Sure, the sweet smell and exciting sights of your blooms and plants while walking along your garden path are certainly enchanting.  But, imagine sitting in it while reading a book, while sharing coffee with friends, while simply thinking about how much you love your garden!

Though, as many people embark to create an outdoor living area, they feel overwhelmed.  Flipping through gardening and home magazines, it would seem everyone would need to be an interior designer with years of experience and unlimited funds in order to craft comfortable seating or dining areas.  Is it possible to achieve relaxed balance?

In reality, it’s much simpler than you might think.  There a few simple planning tricks to keep your spaces even-looking, without seeming sterile.  I’m here to convince you that anyone can!

Start With The Basics: Before considering which historic architect your living space is aiming to exude, try dialing back and thinking about the bare essentials.  What do you want to get out of this space?  A relaxed retreat for just you and perhaps one other person?  An open-air dining area to share meals with big groups all summer long?  Or, are you looking for a more intimate setting to linger over tea and conversation?  Pinpointing these kinds of expectations will allow you to add the details in a much smoother way.  Remember to keep your purpose in mind throughout the entire process.  While picking each piece, ask yourself if it lends to your original intent.  That way, your entire outdoor area will keep a consistent feeling.

Rustic or Refined: Once you’ve decided whether you’re creating a big family living room or a quiet and secluded oasis, you can consider how lavish of a direction you’d like to take.  Many people thrive on the rustic, untreated wood settings.  If using cedar outdoor furniture, you can enjoy the sweet aroma of western red cedar while viewing the beauties of nature.  The natural luster of the wood can reflect the perfect simplicity of a day spent in the garden.  Of course, there’s also something to be said for luxurious outdoor spaces equipped with big patio umbrellas, outdoor furniture cushions, pillows and throws; as well as outdoor ceiling fans and even electric outdoor lighting.  Again, a lot of these decisions will relate back to the first one.  There’s no wow-factor quite like a plush outdoor room, but that also means that you’re likely to spend a bit more money and up the continued work required to maintain it.  If you want to add some amenities, but aren’t looking for over-the-top luxury, just add one or two things that you would find most helpful.  Hate the still air? An outdoor ceiling fan will keep the breeze going.  Worried about the sun? A patio umbrella in a bright color surrounded by more rustic furnishings will create a wonderful space.  Also try simple, unadorned outdoor furniture cushions to keep your back side comfortable without adding needless luxury (unless, of course, you want it!)

Vary the Pieces: While this probably applies more to outdoor living areas than open-air dining spaces, it’s important not to get too stuck on just one type of furniture.  Create a dynamic area by grouping porch gliders with Adirondack Chairs, garden benches with outdoor rocking chairs and unexpected accent tables.  Having a lot of different pieces will not only create interest and start conversation; it will also make it more comfortable for more people.  Some people love to relax in a chaise lounge, while for others a porch swing is the height of relaxation.  Cater to yourself, cater to your guests, and add as much variety in seating options as you can! Often, you can get all different kinds of outdoor furniture with a common thread–like a heart shape cut into the back or a similar line in the legs.

Add Color: Besides adding variety, the best way to make your living or dining area reflect you and look fantastic is to add color.  The ways to do this are nearly endless.  Some people choose to use their fabrics to create comfortable pairings of natural wood and coordinating colors. I would suggest having two or three colors in mind, before you embark on the fabrics.  Also remember not to overdo the patterns.  Stripes on your outdoor furniture cushions, plaid pillows, a flowered throw blanket, and a block-print patio umbrella is likely to be a bit overwhelming.  A no-fail strategy is to pick one area to highlight a pattern, and keep everything else solid colors.  Another great way to add color is to use paint.  This will allow you to make a wonderfully bright and unexpected space, or you can simply use a well placed lime green accent table, to draw the eyes around the entire space.  Imagine a porch with white wicker outdoor furniture, with muted blue outdoor furniture cushions paired with a matching blue porch swing off to the side.  The coordination of color will allow the entire porch to hold together as one living space.  Deciding on your colors and pattern placements before going into the project will ease some of those overwhelming choices, though.  So think about which garden hues make you most excited about being out in nature.

Make it Functional: Even the most lavish outdoor living area can still be extremely functional.  As I’m sure you’ve considered, designing a room completely exposed to the elements can create some decorating pitfalls.  Two big tips I would give come right down to the tables.  First, consider your tables!  Whether you use several accent and side tables, or one big coffee table, think about how you’re going to use it.  Personally, I love the outdoor tables that have a little bottom shelf.  It gives me a place to stash magazines or even dirty dishes until I’m ready to come inside.  Having a place to keep your “stuff” while keeping table tops clear makes me feel a bit more at ease.  But, if you’re someone who likes everything right out where you can see it, you should look for nice big table tops with room for all your outdoor helpers.  You might also want to consider storage or deck boxes.  A lot of really nice looking storage and deck boxes are available that can be used as a coffee or side table, or even just set out of the way to remain available for emergency extra seating.  These can hold your pillows, throws, even your furniture cushions.  Of course, it can also hold board games, outdoor dishes, or anything else you’d like to keep outside, but worry about its reaction to harsh elements.   Also, if you’re aiming for a dining area, remember that many outdoor dining sets are foldable.  This will let you simply fold them up and stash them behind your back porch when they’re not in use.

Well! I hope that helped.  Please don’t let another season go by without creating an outdoor living area within or near your garden, simply because the task of decorating another space seems overwhelming.  It’s true, outdoor room design is a bit more complicated than indoor rooms because the options and space constraints are so, well, unrestricted.  But, relax! Have fun, try different things, and develop a space you can’t wait to use and enjoy by keeping unity while adding variety.



Source by Hazel Hermeling

Woodworking Hammers {awesome|amazing|Great|Special}

Regardless of the type, virtually all hammers are similar in construction. This simple tool consists of a handle and head, and depending on the type of handle, one or more wedges to keep the head secured. Wood handles typically have three wedges: one wood and two metals. The wood wedge spreads the sides of the tenon to grip the head, and the metal wedges help distribute the pressure evenly.

Metal handles are often forged along with the head and therefore will never loosen. Composite handles (fiberglass or other plastic composition) are usually secured to the head with high-grade epoxy. Although these have much less chance of loosening compared to a wood handle, they can break free from the head under heavy use.

Claw Hammers

When most folks envision a hammer, they think of a claw hammer. And many believe a claw hammer is a claw hammer, right? Not true. There many different kinds of claws hammers available. For the most part, they can be divided into two types: those with curved claws, and those with straight claws. Curved-claw hammers are by far the most common, and they are particularly adept at removing nails. Straight-claw hammers are more common in construction work, where the straighter claws are commonly used to pry parts apart. What a straight-claw hammer gains in demolition work, it loses in nail-pulling efficiency.

But there’s more to claw hammers than the curve of the claw. The weight and handle will also have a huge impact on how well the hammer performs. Weights range from a delicate 7 ounces up to a beefy 28 ounces; the most common is 16 ounces. Heavier hammers are mostly used in construction by experienced framers, who can drive a 16d nail into a 2-by in two or three strokes. A heavy hammer will drive nails faster, but it will also wear you out faster; these industrial-strength tools are best left to professionals.

Even experienced woodworkers tend to hold a hammer with a weak grip. The most common mistake is to choke up on the handle as if it were a baseball bat. And just as with a baseball bat, this will rob the hammer of any power, greatly reducing its ability to drive a nail. Some might say that this affords better control; but without power, the hammer is useless. It’s better to learn to control the hammer with the proper grip.

Handshake grip

To get the maximum mechanical advantage from a hammer, you need to grip the handle near the end. Place the end of the handle in the meaty part of your palm, and wrap your fingers around the handle. Stay away from a white-knuckle grip, as this will only tire your hand. For less power and a bit more control, position the handle just below the palm, and grip. This takes the hammer out of alignment with your arm and shoulder, but you may find it more comfortable.

Warrington Hammers

I have a couple of different sizes of Warrington hammers in my tool chest. These lighter-weight hammers are ideal for driving in finish nails and small brads. Instead of a claw, a Warrington hammer has a small, wedge-shaped cross peen that makes it especially useful for driving in brads. The cross peen is a real finger-saver when working with short, small brads. Why? Because the cross peen will actually fit between my fingers to start the brad. Once it’s started, I flip the hammer to use the flat face to drive in the brad. Another unique feature of this tool is the faces called “side strikes” on the sides of the hammer that let you drive nails in tight spaces.

Warrington hammers are available in four different weights: 31/2, 6, 10, and 12 ounces. I have a 6- and a 10-ounce hammer, and with these I can comfortably handle most tasks. There’s something odd about these hammers: The end of the cross peen is either ground or cast to come to a point instead of being flat. This actually makes it difficult to start a brad, as the point will glance off the head of the brad. Try filing the point flat to make the tool a lot more usable.

Ball-Peen Hammers

Even though most of the work I do is in wood, I often find use for a ball-peen hammer. A ball-peen hammer is handy when I do need to work with metal – a material I often incorporates into jigs and fixtures. I also use a ball-peen hammer – when I work with the metal hardware I install in many projects. A ball-peen hammer (sometimes called an engineer’s hammer) has a standard flat face on one end and some type of peen on the other.

Japanese Hammers

The first time I picked up a Japanese hammer, I knew I had to have one. Its compact head and sturdy handle gave it balance I’d never found in a Western hammer. The types of Japanese hammers you’ll most likely find useful in your shop are the chisel hammers and the plane-adjusting hammers.

Chisel hammers

Chisel hammers may have one of two head styles: barrel or flat. The flat type are more common and are usually made of high-quality tool steel and then tempered to produce a tough, durable head. Since both faces are identical, the balance is near perfect. Some woodworkers prefer the barrel head-style chisel hammer; they feel that this more-compact design centers the weight closer to the handle, so they have greater control.

These stubby heads are usually tempered so they’re soft on the inside and hard on the inside. The theory is that this type of tempering reduces head “bounce.”

Plane-adjusting hammers

Plane-adjusting hammers can be identified by their thin, slender heads and brightly polished finish. Because of the degree of finish, these hammers are intended for use only on planes to adjust the cutters. Granted, you could use a different hammer for this task, but the face will probably be dinged or dented; these marks will transfer to the wood body of the plane – not a good way to treat a valuable tool.



Source by Ted Willson

How to Build a Cheap Guardrail for Your Driveway {awesome|amazing|Great|Special}

Many driveways have an area that require some type of safety guard rail to prevent vehicles from sliding off the driveway in inclement weather or maybe just a driver error. Metal guard rails can be quite expensive and require a pounder (Sterling) truck to set the guardrail posts. With some sweat and a lot of effort you can construct a guardrail for almost no money. Power and telephone companies continually replace their poles on a regular basis. This may be simply an upgrade to a pole to carry new transformers or to raise a section of wires for vehicle traffic and so on.

These companies need to pay to have these old poles disposed of and that’s where you step in. Contact your local power or telephone company and ask where they store the damaged or old poles and tell them you would like to have a few. They will in almost all cases be glad to get rid of them. It saves them money. You of course cannot carry full sized poles so you will need a chain saw with some old worn chains to cut the poles into manageable six foot long sections. Please notice I said old worn chains for your saw. Sharpen them before you cut but be prepared to discard them when your done cutting the poles. Power poles are usually full of hidden nails from your neighbors posting their garage sale signs but are also littered with screws, pins and all kinds of metallic items. Each and every metal piece is death to a chain saw chain. You can or course visually scan for these items before you cut but the concealed ones are the problem. Make sure you wear heavy work gloves when handling these poles as there will be splinters galore and any sharp objects will tend not to cut or stab you as easily. Be careful while you work and always wear eye and ear protection well.

A guardrail will need a post every six or eight feet and of course at any point where the guardrail turns a corner. A straight twenty four foot guardrail with post at six foot centers would need five posts. Also a reminder that power poles are coated with creosote so wear old clothes when handling them. You will also need the longest pieces you can handle for a top rail. A top rail will provide much better protection but just plain posts close enough together can also provide very good protection. With all the pole and rail pieces now at home, lay out the centers of each post. Remember to measure from the starting edge of the first post and not the center line. Intermediate posts are measured to center line and the last post is the far edge away from the first post.

Here’s where you need to decide if you want to dig the holes for the poles yourself or hire someone with a auger truck to do it for you. Your labor is free but very time consuming, the auger truck is quick and easy but costs some cash. If your short on time or help, the auger truck may be a good investment. With the holes dug, set your starting post. Once in the correct position check to assure the post sticks a minimum of two feet above finished grade. Back fill the post tamping the material in place as you go. Now move on to the rest of the posts making sure each one is on the proper center line and height.

A good trick here is if your guardrail is in a straight line, set the first and last posts first. Place a nail in the center of these two posts and string a line between them. You now have a quick guide to both center lines and heights of all the intermediate posts without having to measure each one. Once all the posts are in place let them sit for a few days and hopefully some rainfall will come to further settle the soil around the posts. If you have a water source close by, a good soaking of the back fill soils will hasten the settlement process along nicely. Cleanup around your posts removing all rocks and excess spoils and perhaps toss down some grass seed to restore the area. It is much easier to do this before the top rail is placed. Raking under the rail and climbing back and forth over it wears out really quickly.

Once ready for your top rail, place the top rail alongside the posts on the ground with one end over hanging the first post a few inches. Mark the top tail for both sides of the all the post locations. Once marked, you must carefully notch out a two inch deep slot to receive the post top once the rail is set on top of the posts. Try to be as neat as you can but you are cutting with chainsaw. A half inch wider notch is no big deal. Place the cut top rail onto the posts. I use sixty penny galvanized landscaping spikes to fasten the to rail to the posts. You may want to pre-drill the holes in the top rail and you will need at least a five pound lump hammer. Two spikes in each post should be sufficient. Once all the rail is in place you can either simply let it weather naturally or add a new coat of stain or sealant.



Source by Peter Ackerson