Monday, February 2, 2015

Old Friends At Work

The Third Hand, Made in Paris
One of the results of not having to move my workshop over the past 45 years is that things tend to stay around.  I suppose that, if I had to move at some time, I would need to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.  Instead I sometimes look around the shop and see things which have been there for years and are so necessary to my work that I take them for granted.

These things are my "friends."  They are always around, waiting to help me with my work.

I thought that I should mention them in a post, so that others who do this kind of work will start thinking about adopting similar shop aids.  These are not exactly the things you will read about in woodworking books.  They are just shop fixtures or tools which are handy and normal but serve to really make life easier.

Better than the Kitchen Sink
For example, here is a disc sander that is one of my first and only "power" tools.  When I started in 1969 there was a junk shop down town where you could find everything.  I had an old kitchen sink which I did not need, so I went down there and asked the owner if I could trade the kitchen sink for a motor.  He said fine, pick one out, and I found this motor with an arbor on each end.  I took it home and made a simple plywood stand, using an old wood box as a base.  I added the 12" disc from my 1952 Shop Smith (the only other power tool I have) and put a buffing wheel on the other side.  This simple tool has been in the corner of my shop ever since, just next to the outside door, so all the dust can escape.

Always Ready to Sit On
Another "friend" is my stool.  This I found in the trash.  It has a round seat which used to be adjustable up and down.  Now it is just down since it is broken.  However, from time to time I change the wheels which wear out and it keeps working.  Every day I use it so I can rest comfortably while working on projects at a low level.  Very handy for upholstering.

Rolling Work Table
In the center or the shop is this small table.  I made it when I started my business and it has turned out to be one of the most useful fixtures in the shop.  It is a low table, with the top covered in a rubber mat.  The table is bolted together and will carry quite a load.  There are metal wheels on the legs.  I do nearly every project on top of this table, and it also helps me to move large objects around the shop without any other help.

Multi Purpose Work Stands
Another way to hold projects is with these small stands.  They are easy to move around, with the hand grip in the top.  They hold tools and materials in the tray underneath.  They are useful for standing on when I need to get to the top of things, and they are practical when I go on site to use as a work bench or tool tray.

Got Glue Blocks?
What looks like a box of wood scraps is something necessary for repairs.  I have several boxes of pieces of pine and poplar which are cut into shapes.  These are glue blocks for curved repairs.  Search this blog for "vector clamping" and you will see what I do with these.  I am sure that they have no real value but, without them, I cannot do the complicated repairs which make my payday each week.

Sorted by Species and Size
Along the wall of the shop I put this wood rack.  It is a simple set of shelves which I use to hold different wood species in small sizes and lengths.  You would be amazed at how much time I save by being able to just walk up and pick out a piece of wood for a repair using this system.

Maxwell's Paper Hammer
Perhaps the strangest tool I have found in all the years of searching is this hammer.  You would not believe it but the head of the hammer is made of paper.  I cannot find a name or maker's mark on it, but the paper is somehow impregnated with a glue which holds it together.  I have used it for 4 decades and it still is in fine shape.  From time to time I run the face of the mallet over the disc sander to clean it up, but it survives.  You cannot believe how much force I can use with this hammer and still not mark the surface of the work.

Follow The Money
This is a system I use for keeping track of the work.  I got these wire racks from somewhere and screwed them to the wall.  By using folders I can easily see what jobs are in progress and where the work priorities are.  It turns out to be a very efficient method for tracking jobs.

These are my "friends" who help me every day.  I posted this topic today as I was listening to the Beatles.  I get by with a little help from my friends.


David Cockey said...

New paper hammers are available from The Accidental Hammer

The website says the hammers were commonly used by metal workers and jewelers. Manufacturing of the hammers appears to have stopped in 1956.

W. Patrick Edwards said...

Wow! Thanks for the tip. I always wondered about this hammer. Now I can get another.