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Affordable line lasers and a easy setup make for excellent angled drilling.
I’m a 21st-century Windsor chairmaker. I construct chairs utilizing principally hand instruments: froes, drawknives, spokeshaves, travishers, scorps, an adze and different instruments that, even within the fast-paced laptop age, nonetheless comprise essentially the most environment friendly strategy to comply with the inherent energy of fibers in a tree.
I additionally drill tons and many holes. An common Windsor can have as much as 40 holes, and most of those holes are drilled at compound angles, which partially give a Windsor energy, stability and beauty. Compound angles may be achieved some ways, similar to tilting the desk on a drill press, and using varied jigs or bevel gauges and mirrors utilizing sightlines. It’s this final methodology – sightlines – that I’ve been utilizing for years to drill my chairs, which in flip sparked a technique of drilling compound angles with lasers. Yes “lasers.” Not the sort that get you in hassle on airplanes, however very cheap line lasers.
Several years in the past, I used to be educating a scholar to construct a Windsor stool. And as we have been establishing the bevel gauges and mirrors to drill the stool’s prime, he talked about how laborious it was to take a look at each mirrors and focus on the bevels in two instructions. We talked about how good it could be to take a look at one spot whereas drilling these holes, and that’s when line lasers popped into my head. Off to the ironmongery shop we went and, positive sufficient, that they had what we wanted.
Teaching has been the largest reward to my profession – it retains me targeted on working towards and fine-tuning my strategies whereas bouncing concepts off college students who’re normally smarter than I’m. They at all times have nice enter. So in early February 2011, my method for drilling compound angled holes with lasers was born.
For somebody not used to sightlines and bevel gauges, constantly drilling or reaming on the correct geometry is a large problem. We used to get shut – and for chairs more often than not shut is appropriate – however now with the assistance of lasers my college students merely have a look at two intersecting laser strains on the drill or reamer with a confidence that I’ve by no means earlier than seen. And a laser information setup is cheap and easy to arrange – consider me, if it weren’t easy I wouldn’t idiot with it.
Chairmakers use sightlines to find out compound-angled holes. A sightline is a line that passes via a leg when it seems 90° (vertical) to our eyes. Yes, a proper angle in chairmaking! The resultant angle is how a lot the leg leans ahead or again alongside the sightline. These are primarily based on rake (entrance to again) and splay (facet to facet) angles – ideas defined intimately in Peter Galbert’s “Chairmaker’s Notebook” (Lost Art Press) and Christopher Schwarz’s “Compound Angles, No Math” (June 2015 Popular Woodworking Magazine, difficulty #218).
Build Some Laser Bases
First, head to your native ironmongery shop and buy two low cost line lasers. Your new lasers can have a small magnet on the underside that may maintain them to the bases, and out of the bundle I needed to lap the plastic casing on the underside of every laser on sandpaper to maintain them from rocking. (Did I point out they have been low cost?)
I constructed the rotating bases from scrap hardwood salvaged from the kindling bin. The laser works finest sitting 9″ off the workbench. Build the bottom thick for stability. I exploit a 5⁄8” dowel that slips via a slotted gap within the neck with a pinch bolt, and the laser sits magnetized on a metallic nut embedded and glued into the pivoting head. I additionally glued some rubber to the underside of the bottom to maintain the unit from sliding on the workbench. Once you’ve constructed your bases, you’re prepared for some sightlines.
Make an Angle Gauge
Using a easy 10″ x 12″ little bit of plywood reduce good and sq., draw a vertical 90° centerline. Now map out your resultant angles in each instructions, on both facet from middle, with a bevel gauge and label every angle you wish to drill above every corresponding line. This is what we shall be utilizing to set the lasers earlier than drilling. I prefer to make a devoted angle gauge for every kind of chair I make.
Now it’s time to put out your seat sample (or no matter you’re drilling) with the leg gap places and sightlines. At the placement of every gap to be drilled, draw a brief perpendicular line. Set the primary laser down the sightline towards the outlet at 90° to the seat. Place the second laser down the perpendicular line set to the resultant angle. (Just make sure you’re leaning within the right route.) That’s it – easy! This creates the crosshatch – two laser strains – to comply with down the outlet.
Grinding Drill Bits
This is the method for remodeling normal machinist’s twist bits into wood-cutting brad-points. I begin with high-quality high-speed metal twist bits I buy from a machinist provider, Victor Machinery, in New York.
Then I exploit my wheel dresser to make a form on the sting of my grinding wheel that may correspond to the wing of the brad-point. Using a rough wheel for the preliminary grinding will velocity the elimination of the fabric, however any wheel can be utilized so long as it’s well-dressed and used with mild strain. I at all times guarantee that the nook is decrease than the flat of the wheel that I exploit for common grinding. The sharper the nook, the deeper the wings on the ensuing bit.
Another issue that determines the operate of the bit is the angle that the instrument relaxation is about and the ensuing reduction behind the innovative. I measured the angle of a bit that I used for many duties and located it to be about 35°. The steeper the angle, the extra aggressive the bit; sooner or later, the sting is simply too skinny to be efficient. I at all times use high-speed metal as a result of it doesn’t lose its mood till it’s crimson scorching, so just a little bluing is okay.
At proper is the jig setup that I exploit whereas grinding. The easy wooden fence positions the bit about 4° off the axis of the wheel. As you may see, it’s the facet of the wheel that really types the middle level. By adjusting the placement that I clamp the block to the remainder, I can regulate the size of the bit’s middle level. The farther that the fence is to the appropriate, the longer the middle level shall be.
Below is the primary reduce. I guarantee that the prevailing innovative is horizontal and proceed to grind. After a second, I decide whether or not the place of the fence is about accurately (left to proper) to kind the right level. Of course it’s higher to have the purpose be too fats and lengthy as a result of it’s easy to maneuver the fence left to take away extra materials.
Once the wings are fashioned, you’ll discover a skinny sheet of metallic on the components of the bit that have been vertical throughout the grinding course of. I name these webbing. These are eliminated utilizing the identical setup because the wings, however have a few different considerations to concentrate on. To begin grinding, place the webbing in order that it’s now within the horizontal place that the reducing edges have been in step one.
The tough half about grinding away the wings left by grinding the middle level is that the wing that’s pointing down is dangerously near the grinding wheel and the slightest encounter will ship you again to the start. It’s not a giant deal, however it’s higher averted. I keep away from hitting it by preserving the wing that’s pointing up just a little previous vertical (towards the grinding wheel). By preserving the wing that I can simply see near the grinding wheel, I can usually preserve the opposite one within the clear. The different key to grinding the online is that as I proceed to push the bit into the wheel, I let it come off of the block a bit. This occurs fairly naturally as a result of as I push into the wheel, the quantity of metallic that’s reduce will get larger and the bit needs to slip to the facet. You can see the results of this within the drawing numbered Three under.
—Excerpted from “Chairmaker’s Notebook,”
by Peter Galbert (Lost Art Press)
I exploit a grind on the tip of my high-speed metal twist bits to provide me a protracted lead level. This creates clear holes and permits numerous freedom to lean the drill for angles with out the bit strolling throughout the wooden. See “Grinding Drill Bits” to learn to obtain this grind your self.
I exploit the drill’s casing to assist discover the middle axis of the bit whereas drilling. You also can draw or create a bull’s-eye on the again of the drill to seek out middle.
Now line up on your crosshatch and pull the set off. If you don’t hear me point out anything, keep in mind this phrase: “High speed, slow feed.” The drill bit should enter clear at full cordless-drill velocity whereas holding again its full weight and energy throughout the outlet. Trust me, this can make a lot happier holes. Think of it as full throttle on your automotive whereas standing on the brake: nice management. Practice in scrap wooden to get the texture. Finish the outlet whereas watching the crosshatch the entire time. It will get simpler every time you carry out this operation.
The accuracy you obtain drilling with lasers is superb and easy. It’s a confidence builder. But the true magic in Windsor-chair development is the tapered, reamed leg and arm joint. Laser-guided reaming can fine-tune any misdrilled gap to excellent rake and splay. The setup is precisely the identical as drilling straight holes, however a good thing about hand-powered reaming is larger management in every flip, whereas nonetheless with the ability to simply see the crosshatch on the reamer’s prime. Every twist can excellent your alignment. And whereas perfection isn’t important on an everyday chair, for rockers it’s helpful to maintain issues the identical on all sides. Same goes for stools with a field stretcher design – stability retains the field good and sq..
Now that you just’ve drilled and reamed holes with lasers, what else are you able to do? How about discovering true middle of a chair earlier than drilling the again? Just set the laser down the middle of the seat positioned 90° to the floor, dividing the chair in two – true middle. It floats a line properly throughout the whole lot that crosses its path.
Lasers are additionally helpful for locating the middle axis of legs and stretchers when drilling. Just shoot the laser from one drive middle to the opposite on the turning, and it signifies at which level to put the tip of the drill, and helps preserve the drill perpendicular.
There are many extra areas of use ready to be explored, and I significantly hope you give lasers a strive. They might not be for everyone, however a few lasers should not a giant funding – in the event you don’t like them, simply cross them on to a good friend. Happy drilling!
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