Reworking the website after WIA 2014

As y'all have probably seen through blogs and photos recently, WIA 2014 just came to a close after a jam packed weekend. This was our first show to attend, and we are already looking forward to many more! 

We nearly exhausted our inventory of aprons, tool rolls, and vise kits at the show. That's a good thing! On the flip side, we now need to spend some time building it back up. Our website also needs some tweaks to handle new products and a more streamlined user interface that we have planned. Because of this, the General Store will be down this week as we work feverishly to bring it up to date. Because of the great response from WIA, we hope to have it up and running at full capacity by this coming weekend. Any and all updates will be first mentioned on this blog, so stay tuned for updates. 

We are looking forward to the exciting times ahead. We will be at Handworks 2015 and at other shows through the state of Texas. I look forward to meeting lots of new friends and saying hello again to friends we've just made.  

Woodworking In America 2014 Recap

Well that was an exhausting time in North Carolina! In a whirlwind of a weekend, new friends were made, new ideas tossed around, lots of beer consumed, and exciting things were planned for the future. After all of the dust settled, we feel even better about being a new part of this tight knit woodworking community. 

We were fortunate to share a large booth with Sterling Tool Works and Walke Moore Tools, both quality makers with the highest of standards.  

 Before the madness started

Before the madness started

I was privleged to assist Mark Hicks of Plate 11 Bench Company assemble his latest Split Top Roubo with the brand new Benchcrafted Glide leg vise hardware. Mark's attention to detail was readily apparent as I inspected each component, inside and out. Before we attached the top, he pulled out his Lie Nielsen bronze smoother and went over every surface, not satisfied until every face was show room quality. The Benchcrafted hardware was something to behold. Anyone in need of a quality vise should look no further. Anyone in need of a quality bench need not look any further than Plate 11. I can personally attest to the quality and potential of their benches. 

 Mark Hicks of Plate 11 Bench Company

Mark Hicks of Plate 11 Bench Company

The crowds were great, a lot of excited people who were interested in every aspect of woodworking. They were attentive and enthusiastic, asking lots of questions and showing a lot of interest. My saw vise prototype was a big hit, drawing a crowd almost everytime I set it up. 

 Drawing a crowd as I demonstrate our Saw Vise prototype. 

Drawing a crowd as I demonstrate our Saw Vise prototype. 

Matt Cianci of the Saw Blog was in attendance and stopped by Friday to see the vise. He had some good advice and was a really positive person to talk to. The support for the small maker was evident day in and day out. Everyone from the attendees to the tool making veterans did all they could to make us all feel welcome. This community is something else!

 

 Discussing the finer points of Saw Vise construction with Matt Cianci. 

Discussing the finer points of Saw Vise construction with Matt Cianci. 

At the end of the show, I restored the tooth line on a Disston rip saw that belonged to the grandfather of a good friend. The tooth line was concave, resulting in a blade that bound up with every stroke. After milling a slight crown, I reshaped and sharpened all of the teeth. The saw that came to me in sad condition left in wonderful shape, ready for another century of service. 

 Re shaping the teeth on this Disston Rip Saw

Re shaping the teeth on this Disston Rip Saw

 Setting the teeth with a Stanley 42x saw set. 

Setting the teeth with a Stanley 42x saw set. 

The highlight of the entire show was the hand tool corner, dominated by the Instagram community. We came in force, and we made a solid impression! It was great getting to meet so many talented and wonderful people. I feel like I've known them all for so long, it was great to further the friendships over such an amazing weekend. 

 Left to Right; Peter Galbert, Claire Minihan, Chris Keuhn,  myself, Todd Nebel, David Bradley, Marco Terenzi, Scott Meeks, Anne Briggs, Alan Walke, Aaron Moore, Caleb James, Megan Fitzpatrick

Left to Right; Peter Galbert, Claire Minihan, Chris Keuhn,  myself, Todd Nebel, David Bradley, Marco Terenzi, Scott Meeks, Anne Briggs, Alan Walke, Aaron Moore, Caleb James, Megan Fitzpatrick

With such renowned makers such as Peter Galbert, Marco Terenzi, Scott Meeks and Caleb James on hand, there was no shortage of talent. The best part is the every single person was more than willing to share every bit of knowledge they had, answering every question and demonstrating every technique. I learned more this last weekend about woodworking and toolmaking than I have in the last year. 

Also in attendance were a nice collection of aprons I've made. Nice to see them all after a bit of use! 

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We even had an impromptu jam session with Caleb James, plane maker and Anne Briggs of Anneofalltrades! The two Ambrosia Maple guitars made by David Bradley were quite a sight to see!

 Let it go, let it go!

Let it go, let it go!

All in all, it was a great experience. Much more than I could have ever imagined. I was sad to leave, but excited I was able to attend. It seems most of our group will be at Handworks 2015 in Iowa this May. That just can't come soon enough. 

Belated #HandToolThursday!

We've been so busy prepping for WIA, I completely forgot to cover the #handtoolthursday posts from the last three weeks! I'm a slacker, but I promise the products at WIA will be worth it! Here is a look back at my last few weeks of #handtoolthursday posts. I'm proud to say that with each successive week, the contributions almost double over the previous week. We are up to over 700 total posts on Instagram alone!! It's starting to cross over into Facebook and Twitter as well. Let's keep the momentum going strong!

 

Here is a set of 19th century blacksmith made dividers. I picked these up in a large craigslist score a year ago. I use them on almost every job I perform. 

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Next up is my prized Stanley 66 beading plane. Almost all of the nickel plating is intact. The moveable fence is still there as well, along with the original Sweetheart blade.  

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This 24" Starrrett level was part of the same craigslist score in which I picked up those dividers mentioned earlier. About 85% of the japanning remains. It has some patina, but is still straight and true as the day it was made. 

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Since the last few weeks have been crammed with WIA prep work, it was only fitting that one of my posts involved my Moxon Hardware kits. Here are 32 kits boxed and ready to be shipped off to North Carolina. Damn things are heavy!

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And last, but not least, a comparison shot of a Stanley #5 and my newly acquired Clifton #5. Only time will tell how well this Cliton plane will work. If it's fit and finish are any type of indication, this plane should be a worthwhile addition to my tool collection. I will be bringing it to WIA, so stop by and make some shavings with us! Next #handtoolthursday falls on the setup day for WIA. I'm sure there will be some interesting pictures getting posted that day! I look forward to seeing them all!!

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New and Improved Nail Aprons!

After a little wearing around the shop, I decided to make a slight change to the Nail Apron. The hammer loop just wasn't as versatile as it could be. I knew I could make it better, so I set out and did just that. The hammer loop has been relocated and redesigned.

Made to accommodate larger hammers, it expands the versatility of these aprons. Now they can be equally appreciated by cabinetmakers, upholsterers, weekend handymen, or gardener. Moving the hammer loop to the side also opens up another pocket on the right, perfect for a utility knife or folding wooden rule. 

The Nail Apron is now better than ever, and still at the same price of $85. As soon as we get back from WIA, we will start making the next batch of Nail Aprons in Olive Drab, Field Tan, and Charcoal Grey. Sign up below to get on the preorder list. A sign up form will also be available on our home page. Those on the list will get first crack at the Nail Aprons. Once we are ready to start production, invoices will be emailed to those on the list. Come get one at Woodworking In America or sign up to reserve yours now!

All photographs by Todd Nebel

Saw Vise prototype to debut at WIA!

I've been working feverishly behind the scenes these last few weeks. So many ideas and concepts running through my head, and only so much time to make them all. I finally completed a fully working prototype of my Saw Vise, using the same basc hardware as my Moxon Vise. The acme thread really allows a grip that conventional wooden threads can't offer repeatedly. 

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The beauty of the Saw Vise kit is the ability to adapt the vise to your own particular situation. I like to sharpen standing up, but I dislike bending over. The vise I made clamps up in my face vise, resting on the bench top so that sharpening takes place just below eye level for me, resulting in better results and reduced sharpening time due to less strain on the eyes and back. 

 

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My largest backsaw is 16". I made the vise jaws 18" wide, allowing me to sharpen any saw I own with a max of one repositioning. It's a time saver to say the least. The grip strength is unbelievable. The jaws are lined with leather, not only increasing grip, but also eliminating any blade chatter while sharpening. 

 

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I will have this prototype available for all to use at my booth at Woodworking In America. Please stop by and check it out! Once I see how it performs under strenuous use, I'll  work on having kits available for sale soon. This ones gonna be a game changer!!

Moxon Vise Hardware Kits are ready for WIA!

Its official, my Moxon Vise Hardware kits are ready for their debut at Woodworking In America 2014.  For $85, each kit will include two Acme screws with handcrafted Wing Nuts and a piece of leather for adhering to the jaw.

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  Instructions will be provided, and the entire build has been documented on this blog. I will have over two dozen kits available for purchase at WIA. I will also have my vise on hand, everyone is welcome to try it out! For those not attending WIA, I will have a preorder list available on my homepage. As soon as we get back from the show, production will begin on the next run of Moxon kits. I will send out updates to everyone on the preorder list. Once they are ready to ship, I'll email an invoice and ship as soon as payment comes through. Getting on the preorder list guarantees a kit will be available for you in this next run. See you at WIA!

Half Aprons/Nail Aprons ready for WIA!

Texas Heritage Woodworks is excited to announce our latest addition to our apron lineup, the Half/Nail Apron. Designed with the Joiner and Cabinetmaker in mind, this versatile apron can be used in countless applications. Construction of durable 14.7oz waxed canvas and leather, all components are held together securely with copper rivets and double stitched seams. Originally intended as a companion with the use of cut nails, I've quickly discovered just how well this apron crosses over to other disciplines. The waxed canvas construction is ideal for outdoor use. The two main pockets are deep and roomy, while the loop on the right provides a convenient location for a hammer. 

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The real versatility of this apron is found in its left pocket. There is plenty of room for a notepad, steel rule, pencil, and a nail set. Or, fill those slots with your upholstery tools, layout tools, or whatever else you need at the ready. 

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There will be around a half dozen of these  aprons available at Woodworking in America in this beautiful Olive Drab canvas with brass hardware. The price is $85. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates and pricing info. As products and pricing are finalized, they will be posted here. 

 Laying out pocket divisions with dividers. 

Laying out pocket divisions with dividers. 

We made mile and miles of Moxons...

Getting geared up for Woodworking In America 2014! I spent a bit of time this weekend with my good friend and skilled fabricator, Chris Scarborough. I've been prepping components for my Moxon and Saw Vise kits over these past few weeks. The time had come to assemble everything in a marathon metal fab session. Chris brought his TIG welder over and we went to town. I prepped the handle components on the drill press. A progression of sandpaper from 80 grit up to 320 grit leaves the right combination of a smooth finish and a surface temp that my hands can handle! I think it does a swell job. 

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Chris starts by tacking numerous handles together. Once he has quite a few built up, he welds them all solid. 

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Overall it was a very productive weekend. We have another twenty or so handles to make, but we still have plenty of time. 

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Soon we will start assembling the packaging and cutting the leather for the vise jaws. Stay tuned for more product updates! Lot of things happening behind the scenes right now. 

Texas Heritage Woodworks on the cover of Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine!

It seems the blessings continue to bestow themselves upon us here at Texas Heritage. After having our aprons featured in issue 218 of Furniture & Cabinetmaking, I was contacted by the editor, Derek Jones, about writing an article covering the construction of a Moxon Vise interpretation that I devised. I gladly accepted the challenge and went straight to work. Having never written anything article worthy before, the challenge was a bit daunting at first. With some coaching from Derek and a few inspired late night writing sessions, the article began to take shape. My wife Sarah and I spent a bit of time in the shop documenting the construction process. Apparently we had a pretty good eye for photography, when it was all said and done my Moxon Vise article had made it onto the cover of the July 2014 issue! Check the article out below.

I can't express my gratitude enough to the staff at Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine. They have been wonderful in their support of the small toomakers. Do yourself a favor and go subscribe to their magazine. They consistently have great content that you just won't find anywhere else. 

 

The Moxon Vise was originally intended to be built for myself, for personal use. Based on the tremendous feedback and support for this project, we have decided to start producing Moxon Hardware kits in limited runs. Our first run will be available at Woodworking In America this September in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Each kit will include two screws with wing nuts and a piece of leather for lining the jaw. The introductory price of the hardware kit will be $80. The hardware will come as bare steel, I will leave the finishing decision up to each individual person. After Woodworking In America, the kits will be available on the website for purchase. Stay tuned for more announcements about new products debuting at WIA2014! 

Applying the Flax Oil finish to some Moxon Vise hardware.

While coming up with the general concept of my Moxon Vise, I knew that the hardware was going to be the biggest challenge. It had to be strong, simple, and inexpensive. It also had to be easy to maintain. Metal corrodes. Any woodworker knows all too well the daily struggle to keep our metal tools rust free. This left me with a few options for my vise screws. I could paint them, but paint chips easily, and can look out of place on some wooden projects. I could leave it bare, but in my hot Texas garage, sweat is common and rust would pop up with tenacity after the first turn of the screw. I could oil or wax the metal, but this was liable to leave residue on my hands through use, which could then transfer to the material I was working with. Then I remembered a blog post by Jameel Abraham detailing the process of baking flax oil onto metal for a corrosion resistant polymer finish. It's all natural qualities appealed to my inner hippie and the chocolate bronze-ish color worked really well with the walnut i had set aside for this project. I tried it, and I loved it. Here are the steps I took. You can read the original blog post from Jameel here, http://benchcrafted.blogspot.com/2011/09/omega-3-fatty-acid-for-your-cast-iron.html?m=1

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 Like any finishing job, whether it's on wood, steel, or some exotic material, the prep work is the most important step. The finished product won't live up to its fullest potential if the surface to be covered is dirty or has a coarse finish. The ends of my Moxon Vise screws are finished rather crudely at first. Using some files and a sanding block, I prefer using a Mill Bastard and Smooth followed by 320 grit, I clean up the ends of the rods. The Mill Bastard file does quick work removing a bulk of the material. I've found that anything above 400 grit paper really doesn't make a noticeable difference. 

 Before being prepped

Before being prepped

 After a few minutes of light work. Now it's ready to be cleaned. 

After a few minutes of light work. Now it's ready to be cleaned. 

After the metal has been prepped, it needs to be thoroughly cleaned. From this point on, I wear disposable gloves while handling the hardware. I don't want to run the risk of baking a fingerprint or smudge into my hardware!  I use Denatured Alcohol to clean the metal. Mineral spirits work as well, DNA is just what I had on hand. I pay close attention to the hard to get places. Make sure there isn't any fuzz or fibers stuck on the metal, once they get oil on them they are near impossible to remove. 

 

 Wiping everything down with denatured alcohol

Wiping everything down with denatured alcohol

Once everything is clean, it's time to apply the oil. I use a cotton cloth, liberally soaked in Flax oil. I make a good point to saturate every single surface. It's ok at this point if you have runs and drips. The goal right now is coverage. Once you are convinced everything is coated, use a clean cloth to wipe everything down with the same attention to detail. It's important that the thinnest layer of flax oil is on the metal while baking. If it collects or pools, it will cure and look unpleasant. 

 Rubbing the screws down with the first coat of flax oil. 

Rubbing the screws down with the first coat of flax oil. 

 Wiping off all of the excess oil. You want the thinnest layer possible at this point. 

Wiping off all of the excess oil. You want the thinnest layer possible at this point. 

Now it's time to bake. I use our old toaster oven, it works just fine. The great thing about using flax oil is that is it a food grade oil. Completely safe to use. If you need to use your kitchen oven, it won't hurt a thing! My toaster oven only goes up to 450 degrees, so I crank it all the way up and set the timer for an hour. 

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After the hour is up, the hardware needs to cool. You can speed it up by taking it out of the oven and setting it in front of a fan. The color of the flax oil finish will darken with each successive coat. It's up to you when to stop. Once you get past 7 or 8 coats, it does start to get a little thick. You don't want the coating so thick that thread clearance is compromised. 

 After one coat of flax oil

After one coat of flax oil

 After four coats of flax oil

After four coats of flax oil

Once you get to your desired color, you're done. Just let it cool then put it to work! I've been using my hardware for a few months now. The threads on the rods are starting to show some signs of use, but nothing smtertible at this point. With the amount if force applied to these threads, I'm actually impressed with how well the baked oil finish has held up. 

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Get creative with this process. I ready have a box of parts that need treating. Everything from more vise hardware, to dovetail markers,  to the body of an old Miller Falls hand drill. Just be mindful as you prep, and the results will speak for themselves. 

Having fun working on prototypes.

I love coming up with ideas for prototypes. Absolutely love love love coming up with new ideas! It's so satisfying to see something that's been tumbling around in my head for a while, usually starting as a fleeting thought, come to fruition through hard work, ingenuity, creativity, and pure damn luck. Some turn out great, ready to go right to production. Others require some more testing and tweaking. I've lately been experimenting with waxed canvas. Coming up with a proper wax mixture took a bit of playing around to perfect, but I think we have a solid process figured out. We are using a blend of beeswax, paraffin wax, and mineral oil. 

 Mixing up a fresh batch of wax for our canvas using local beeswax

Mixing up a fresh batch of wax for our canvas using local beeswax

I've had a waxed canvas auger bit roll in development for a month or so now. It's now in the testing phase. I have sent a few of these prototypes out to accomplished woodworkers for testing. Once feedback has been established, any changes that need to be made will be and these should be ready for unveiling at WIA in September!

 Auger Bit Roll prototype in use

Auger Bit Roll prototype in use

Also in the works is a nail apron, again made of waxed 18oz canvas. These feature two pockets for cut nails, a slot for a notepad, a leather pocket for a ruler, nail set, and pencil and a hammer loop that I've yet to integrate. These will have a fully adjustable waist strap that will be secured by copper rivets. These should really turn out nice. 

 Nail apron prototypes in progress

Nail apron prototypes in progress

Prototypes are important to a small business, or any business really. The ability to introduce new products and new ideas to the market is indispensable. Of course, the final test of a prototype's viability is the response from the consumer. In the end, only time will tell...

Shop Apron review by The Renaissance Woodworker

"I couldn’t be happier with my new apron and want to say thank you to Jason and Texas Heritage Woodworks for their great work."

-Shannon Rogers, the Renaissance Woodworker and Hand Tool School founder

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Recently I was approached by The Renaissance Woodworker, Shannon Rogers to build a custom shop apron for him. I've followed Shannon's blog for a few years now, I know what he expects in terms of fit and finish. The man has high standards. Those standards are reflected in the quality of his work. I was thrilled to work with him to design an apron that fit his specific needs. He's had the apron for a while now and recently posted a thorough  review on his blog. You can check it out here:

http://www.renaissancewoodworker.com/txheritageww-shop-apron/

It's one thing to look at pictures of my aprons. While you can see the attention to detail and the overall potential of the shop apron in a photo, it's quite another to see it in use. Follow Shannon's blog, he regularly posts wonderful videos on a wide variety of handtool subjects. See the shop apron as it's used by an experienced woodworker. You'll be exposed to a wealth of traditional woodworking knowledge in the process. And that's a good thing!

 

Shop Aprons and the joy of customization

I love doing custom work. While there is satisfaction in completing large orders of aprons, tool rolls, and coffee mugs, it pales in comparison to the feeling of creating a custom piece. Handcrafting something to fit the exact needs of the person who will be using it is a concept we built our business on. While it's not ideal in terms of efficiency and production, it more than makes up for it with every satisfied customer. I've made a lot of custom aprons these last few months. It's a lot of fun to hash out the details with the customer before construction begins. It's challenging trying to implement ideas the customer comes up with. Some end up as a one-off build, not really practical enough to offer as a permanent option. Others are so ingenious and useful, they've made their way into the rotation for good. Here are a few examples of custom work for you to peruse. 

This apron was my first, but hopefully not last, two tone apron. It was also the first double graduated chest pocket. I think it was a wonderful concept that the customer came up with. I liked it so much, I made a pattern of the pocket in anticipation of making more in the future.  

Two tone custom shop apron with double graduated chest pocket :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

Contrasting stitch color can be intimidating. Any misstep or poor stitches will be obvious. But when executed correctly, wow! The custom embroidery should tell you all you need to know!

Trouble Maker custom apron with contrasting thread :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

One of the best choices for customization is embroidery. In the eyes of the customer, it adds an immediate perception of professionalism and pride in your work. For the craftsman, well, it just looks awesome!

Custom Embroidery on shop apron :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

Another example of custom embroidery. We can stitch almost anything. Contact us for more info on personalization. 

Custom embroidery on a shop apron :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

Sometimes two lower pockets just aren't enough!

Custom apron with three lower pockets with flaps :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

This simple utility ring has countless uses. Whether it's used as simple storage for a marking gauge or a place to clip your dust collector remote, you will find it is a valuable addition. 

Utility ring on a custom shop apron :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

For all of the Southpaws out there, left handed versions are available!!! The chest pocket and waist strap have been flipped, allowing for greater ease of use for the lefties! 

Custom left handed apron by Texas Heritage Woodworks

This magnetic patch is a recent addition that was conceived by a talented instrument maker. He needed a convenient place to stick small screws and hardware during restorations and builds. There is a small pocket on the back side of the apron that houses a rare earth magnet. The pocket allows for easy removal if necessary. 

Hidden magnet pocket provides a great place to keep up with small screws and other things that would be lost. :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

And these rare earth magnets are strong!!!! While it may not be practical to carry around a hammer in this fashion, the coolness factor cannot be denied!

Rare earth magnets are very strong! :: Texas Heritage Woodworks

This is a custom tape measure holder that was added to my first ever apron order. The leather and rivet construction produce a slim, convenient means for storing a tape measure or pocket square. 

Custom tape measure holder on a shop apron made by Texas Heritage Woodworks.

Once any apron order is complete, I personally wear it around the shop for a half hour or so. Once I'm satisfied that the fit, finish, and overall construction are worthy, I'll add one of our labels and send it out the door to its new owner. 

Custom shop aprons by Texas Heritage Woodworks

We greatly encourage custom orders. If you have an idea or suggestion, let us know! We will work pesky with you to see the concept through to fruition. The shop apron is one of the few tools that gets used every single day. You might as well have one that works the way you want it to! If it's not working for you, it may very well be working against you. 

Making the hardware for the Moxon vise

 

A few weekends ago, my good friend, Chris Scarborough came over to brew some beer and TIG weld some new Moxon hardware.  In between brewing steps, we worked together to hand craft the components. 

We started by cutting down some 1/2" steel rod to make the "wings" for the wing nuts. I used a bevel gauge to mark an approximate ten degree angle and used a cut off wheel in my grinder to make the initial cuts. All of the cut ends were then trued up on my bench sander. Then, the pieces were chucked up in my drill press and were cleaned and polished using various grits of sandpaper and finished off with a fine abrasive pad. 

 Handle components during various stages of finishing

Handle components during various stages of finishing

I used a scrap of Maple to create a jig of sorts for assembly. This ensures all of the handles are angled consistently. The nut is clamped in place and the "wings" held in place while they are tacked in a few places. 

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Once tacked, all of the wing nuts are compared side by side to verify all are consistent. Once this is determined, they are welded solid. 

 Wing nuts tacked in place, ready for final welding

Wing nuts tacked in place, ready for final welding

My buddy Chris restores vintage Jaguars and street rods for a living. His welding skills are second to none. The welds are all beautiful, strong, and meant to last. 

 Two sets of Moxon vise wing nuts and three Saw vise wing nuts, ready for final finishing. 

Two sets of Moxon vise wing nuts and three Saw vise wing nuts, ready for final finishing. 

Some of these wing nuts will be left bare, leaving the final finish up to the customer. One of these is destined for my upcoming Saw  Vise build. It will be finished using the flax oil technique used on my original Moxon build. I will document this thoroughly in the very near future. Stay tuned....

Texas Heritage Woodworks featured in Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine!

I am both honored and humbled to have our shop aprons featured in the May 2014 issue of Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine, a UK woodworking publication. 

Derek Jones, editor of Furniture & Cabinetmaking found my work through Instagram. He has been a huge supporter of our work and I can't express my gratitude enough for his help! 

 

 

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I stopped into the local Woodcraft store this past week to purchase every issue they had available. It was a CRAZY experience! People were shaking my hand, patting me on the back, congratulating me over and over. I felt like a mini celebrity! They even took my photo and emailed it out to their entire email list!

 

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Things are really looking up here at Texas Heritage Woodworks. Exciting times, that's for sure!! And it's all due to the fierce and loyal support of the International woodworking community. What a wonderful world we live in!

Come see Texas Heritage Woodworks in person at Woodworking In America 2014!!

With a little luck, some arm twisting from certain tool makers (you know who you are), and a leap of faith, Texas Heritage Woodworks will be an official vendor at Woodworking In America 2014 this September 12-14 2014 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Here is the vendor list. We will be sharing a booth with Sterling Tool Works and Walke-Moore Tools, two other creative and innovative toolmakers that I've come to know quite well these past few months. We will have a lot of our products available for purchase and for trying out. Everything from our flagship shop aprons to our tool rolls and vise hardware kits. We look forward to meeting woodworkers from all over! This is an exciting time for our startup company. Things are moving in a positive direction very quickly! It's hard to believe that less than a year ago, none of this was even a blip on our radar. So thank you to all of those who support small businesses! You help keep the American dream alive!!

Budget Moxon Vise

With all of the recent interest in the Moxon vise, how could I not want one?? The benefits are readily apparent. I can easily see how this simple tool can assist me in the shop in multiple ways. What I didn't like were the higher prices listed for some of the readily available kits. While I understand the costs involved in research and the manufacturing process, I just couldn't bring myself to drop that kind of cash. And wood screws were not an option for me. I don't have a lathe. I don't have a wood thread kit. And I just prefer metal when it comes to screws. So, I decided to kick my brain cells into high gear and figure out a way to build a Moxon on the cheap, without sacrificing any of the abilities of the kits available at this time. 

Enco supply had a sale recently on Acme rod and nuts. I purchased a three foot section of 5/8-8tpi rod for $9.99. The nuts were just over $1 each and the washers were equally affordable. I went with 5/8" instead of the 3/4" offered by other companies for one reason, the total clamping capacity of my vise will be 13.5", not 24". I have the Lee Valley twin screw vise on my bench that has a capacity of around 25". Any large case work can be clamped in there. I needed something for the more common work that I do.  

I started out by using a cut off wheel in my grinder to cut two 8" lengths of the rod. I also purchased a length of 1/2" barstock from Home Depot to use for the "wing nuts". I cut it down using the same cut off wheel. I chucked it up in my drill press and cleaned it up with some sandpaper. 

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I made a trip to my buddy's house to try out his new TIG welder. It really simplified the process! I forgot how much I enjoy TIG welding!

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These handles should be able to handle anything I can throw at them. Instead of leaving the steel bare, or covering it in a thick layer of paint, I opted for the flax oil technique outlined over at benchcrafted.com. Jameel has an excellent write up on the corrosion resistant finish. I love the chocolate bronze color that this process brings forth! 

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I had a chunk of 6/4 walnut left over from a previous commission project. It was just the right size for what I had intended. I broke out my trusty Atkins panel crosscut saw and went to work. 

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After drilling the holes through both jaws for the threaded rod, it was time to cut the mortises in the back jaw for the nuts to sit into. I aligned both nuts with a straight edge and marked the outlines with my knife. Using a combination of my mortise chisel, bench chisel, and router plane, I made quick work of the recesses. 

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The rest of the build wasn't documented as heavily as the first part. Just basic run of the mill stuff that has been covered one hundred times over. It involves the shaping of the moveable jaw and the decorative cut outs on the back jaw. I also glued the leather face to the moveable jaw using hide glue. Instead of clamping my vise to the bench, I opted for creating flat tabs on each end of the rear jaw for my holdfasts to clamp down on. A few coats of boiled linseed oil and some paste wax finished it off. 

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This vise was a great project. Only took a few hours of time and a minimum investment. Total cost involved was right at $10. I still have enough threaded rod for another vise! Clamping power is insane. And the work is brought up to the perfect height for sawing.  

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 If you have been looking at building a Moxon vise, I encourage you to seek out more affordable ways to make one. If you have the money for the pre fab kits, go for it. No doubt they will serve you for a very long time. As for me, I'd rather put the over $100 I saved towards more tools. But, that's just me...