It’s funny how things work out sometimes. When I was a boy, my family often spent a few weeks each summer in Rhode Island visiting my mother’s relatives. It is my contention that Rhode Island is one of the best states to eat in. Easily top five. The bakeries alone are worth the visit. Scialo Brothers Bakery on Federal Hill, Zaccagnini’s Pastries in Cranston, La Salle Bakery on Admiral St. I gain ten pounds just thinking about it. But the greatest delight of my boyhood sojourns in Rhode Island was Del’s Frozen Lemonade. An absolutely dreamy concoction of icy deliciousness. Not too sweet, not too tart, and you truly relish nibbling on the tiny pieces of lemon. When life handed Del a lemon, magic happened. Ever since then, I told myself if I had to go into the lemonade business I hoped it would be a Del’s lemonade stand.
The other day, I found myself in the lemonade business, and what a business it is. It all started with a plan; specifically the saw vise plan published in Popular Woodworking Magazine by Bob Lang in their June 2010 edition. I have acquired a few vintage saws over the past few months and really need to learn how to sharpen them. As luck would have it, this article came out at just the right time. Or so I thought.
Everything was going swimmingly. I had some very handy scrap red oak and poplar laying around begging to be made into a saw vise. The parts came quickly to shape and, though I don’t typically worry about appearance for a shop appliance, the saw cuts and planing looked more neat and workman like than usual. Optimism was high, as a result.
Then disaster. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, at one time or another will tell you to “measure twice, cut once”. Well, nobody ever tells you to “read twice, assemble once”, even though they should. As you’ve guessed, I misread the instructions. When Mr. Lang told me to “start the assembly by attaching one of the upright boards to the base with glue and screws” (I’m paraphrasing), I failed to notice that the upright was attached by placing it in front of the base piece in a long grain to long grain butt joint connection. What I did was place the upright on top of the base piece and put my screws through the bottom into the upright’s end grain. Not an ideal piece of joinery.
I figured out I had goofed when I placed the two brace pieces on the base and they stuck out over the back edge by 3/4″. Well, I tried to fix it, but one of the screw heads torqued out. So in frustration I left it on the bench and sought solace in watching baseball, which was no solace because that night the Cincinnati Reds lost to the Houston Astros.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was trying to figure out a way to disassemble the two pieces while doing the least amount of damage that an idea hit me. If I left the two saw vise pieces attached it looked a lot like the beginnings of a bench hook. For those of you who don’t know, a bench hook is an appliance that allows you to brace a smaller piece of wood on the bench to make crosscut saw cuts. Often bench hooks have an accompanying piece made the same way, but without a board on top to brace against, so you can lay longer pieces on the bench and still cut one end on a level. I had a bench hook, but no outrigger. When I set the messed up saw vise components on the bench hook, it was a perfect match! A few saw cuts and a couple of passes with a block plane and I had my outrigger. Because all the outrigger has to do is support and not have to resist the strain of sawing, the less than ideal joinery used on this piece won’t matter so much. Now I have one less appliance to build, (the saw vise will be next, I promise!), nothing went to waste, I learned that my local home center sells crappy screws, and I’ll read twice and assemble once in the future.
So that’s how I got in the lemonade business. Oh, and if you don’t live in a place that has a Del’s Frozen Lemonade store you can order the kits from their website. Just be sure to chop up a lemon, rind and all, and add it to the mix. It makes all the difference in the world.
The Bumbling Apprentice