Think like a machine

Production work isn’t my modus operandi. I’m not averse to jigs and stops and repeatability but it’s not usually what I do.

Fifteen bench dogs made it worthwhile. I’m not channelling Jarrod Dahl’s Mastery through Production Work. Rather than improving skills I think I’m probably avoiding the need for them. But it’s all worth it.

Bench dogs - 1

I usually mark every cut and then cut it. Today I made many cuts using a stop on the edge of the bench and the saw in line with the bench hook and no marks. Setup time: a couple of minutes. Time saved: not as much as writing a blog post about it.

Bench dogs - 2

 

With the dogs cut to length I set a shim in the bottom of the vice, a joiner’s saddle to hold the dog and another shim to mark a consistent height for the flat at the top of the dog.

To quickly put a chamfer on the top I set a low angle plane with a very fine mouth upside down in the vice and ran the dogs over the blade. Very effective. I’ll use this again for other work.

Bench dogs - 6I had a bright idea about gluing the suede to the faces by ganging them in the vice but it was a false start. The tiny inconsistencies in my cutting and the vice jaws meant that some were tight and others loose. But it makes for a better photograph than all of them clamped individually!

Working out a consistent, quick system for counterboring and drilling the holes for the bullet catches took a bit of time and was worthwhile for the repeatebility rather than the time saving. I wanted to get the bullet catches at a slightly different angle on each dog so that once they’ve worn away a groove in the dog hole I can swap them over and they won’t run in the same track. Gang marking the holes achieved this.

Having a selection of braces meant that I didn’t need to change bits and got all of the holes bored very swiftly.

Notes to self about ‘production’ work:

  • Break the work down into small, discrete operations.
  • Do one operation to all work pieces before moving on.
  • Keep only the tools needed for that operation on the bench.
  • Test all jigs, stops and techniques on scrap before applying them to the workpieces
  • Having a cup of tea between each operation negates all of the time saved.

 

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