I remember a woodworking mentor once told me that "woodworking is all about the details" and the longer I spend in woodworking the more and more I understand what he was saying. Like something as simple as sharpening a plane blade, if it's not done correctly, the plane will work poorly at best so know the small techniques become important ...
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/XRYOWZryLck
And in the larger picture, keeping our tools in good working order, keeping them sharp are all tiny aspects of keeping looking after the details ...
I don't get a huge pleasure, like some people do, out of sharpening my planes and chisels. I do maintain them and keep them razor sharp, but it's not a chore I particularly like, which is why I keep such good care of them ... I have sharpened them less often and one tiny detail that seems to help me is keeping my honing paper (sandpaper) as clear of iron filings as I can. I don't think it makes the paper last longer, but I do seem to like that fact that the paper doesn't block up and become clogged, which means it sharpens a bit quicker and the earth magnet seems to help me with that, at least the evidence of iron filing building up on the magnetized blade keeps them out of my abrasive papers.
One of the things I do enjoy working on is trying to figure out solutions for puzzles, like how to drill some holes in a new rake handle for a neighbor. He needed 2 holes drilled a certain distance apart, and through the middle of the new rake handle and wondered if I could do it for him on my drill press. That's an easy job, but I wanted to show him that it was also a job he could do with his cordless drill, in the even that I was not around to do it for him. I showed him a quick and easy way of making a small, "V" shaped jig, and drilling from the bottom of the "V" is an easy way of making a pattern jig, then drilling through the rake handle from the top, You now have the 2 holes the perfect distance apart, and you have a much better chance of getting the holes drilled through the center of the rake, which of course makes it stronger and should last longer.
Drilling the rake handle is easy with a drill press, but to do this, you need to make sure the bit is aligned with the center of the handle, and one of the best aids in this is to have some decent lighting, something I am not the best with and some shops are downright terrible with. Lighting in workshops is often very poor and probably has some role in creating errors or at least some cuts that could have been a bit more accurate.
I recently upgraded the light on my drill press with a new LED light that has a simple. easy to access, on/off switch and a magnet strong enough to hold it to any steel sided tool, like a drill press or bandsaw. This is another one of the woodworking details. When you can see exactly where the bit is going to cut it's easy to make accurate holes or any accurate cut. This little LED light from Wood Turners Wonders is quite an amazing little light that packs a lot of brilliant light in a small, inexpensive package. The "Galaxy" as it is called is a perfect companion for many power tools ... but be careful, this light is so good others may one for themselves.
And while I am on the topic of lights and being able to see things better and be more accurate, I also decided it was high time to replace the bench light I had some time ago that had since quit working, and upgrade to a newer LED for this as well. In this case, I opted for the "Aurora", a powerful light, also with a magnetic base (you know how I love magnets). This light has a very long neck which makes it best suited for attaching to horizontal surfaces. The lamp is shipped with a heavy steel base plate that could be attached directly to a workbench, but in my case, I attached it to a small piece of square plywood that now makes lamp much more portable.
I really like the portability of this light because I can now move it to other tools I might be setting up or adjusting, like my wood router table, my jointer, and even my planer. All of these need blades installed and or adjustments from time to time and having some decent lighting to see what I am doing will only add to the accuracy and even the speed at which I can get these things done.
And the wildest use of this lamp is to be able to even use as a stopper for my table saw ... yup, crazy as it sounds, this lamp works great as a stop for those time I might need to replicate some lengths of wood. WIth the powerful magnet, the setup is quick and easy and very accurate and with my angled board held on my mag switches, the whole setup only takes a few moments and now I have a safe, quick way of cutting shorter, identical length pieces.
The "Aurora" Lamp mounted on the metal mounted, wooden base.
Copyright Colin Knecht