19
Feb 17

Drying day.

My original plan was to make the drawer today, but that plan didn’t take into account things like drying time on glues given the current low temperatures. Titebond PVA glue would be grand, but hide glue is something I’m still figuring out, so I’m giving it lots of margin for error. Especially as I found today that I almost had a major error during the glue-up; the use of a mallet to drive the top crossbar and back support into the mortice put torsion stress on the two end joints, as I knew it would (stupid mis-steam-bent upright) but I thought it’d be safe enough.

Nope. Small (1.5cm long) crack right there. Not critical; the wood is now stabilised by the glue and it’s holding well; but enough to give me a moment of thinking “wow, that nearly destroyed a week or so of work without the raw material available to do it over…”

I might just try to get a little glue in there and clamp it closed tomorrow, just to be safe.

Meanwhile, the rest of today went on getting the frame out of the shed onto the assembly table in the late afternoon, getting all the clamps off and holding my breath to see if the glue had cured (it had), and doing the last bits of trimming on drawbore pegs and the like. And then the last coat of shellac got touched on in a few places to cover some scratches and once that had dried (it dries fast outdoors), I moved it back into the shed as it was dark outside by now, and got the first coat of osmo going.

Just ragging on a thickish first coat here, in two parts (you can see the contrast here between the untreated side panel and the just-treated top panel). The plan was, on with the first ragging, leave for 30 minutes, rag off the excess and immediately on with another ragging, wait 30 more minutes, then rag off the excess again and leave to cure until tomorrow evening. Then tomorrow, I’ll take 400grit paper or wire wool to it, and rag on a thinner coat, leave for 30 minutes, then rag off the excess, then leave to dry until the next day, and we’ll do at least four coats of that.

In the meantime, I’ve a drawer to make up as well.

Also, this is WAY TOO BIG to be doing in this shed…

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Make a drawer
    • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
    • Cut the drawer front to size.
    • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish plane drawer front
    • Finish drawer front with shellac.
    • Paint drawer sides with milk paint.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Last minute fettling and foostering.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

19
Feb 17

Not done yet…

…but it’s getting closer.

I’m kindof cheating a little there – that’s a dry-fit before gluing in all the slats. But it all fits and the mattress top is at the right height so that’s a good start.

Got the day rolling by checking on the last coat of shellac for the rear support and especially the endgrain carving, which turned out well.

Then I put a tarp down on the assembly table, laid out the parts and rails, and dry-fit everything together. Then I stood the crib on the back panel, got out the hide glue and glued up the tenons going into the front panel, and then glued up the wedges and started driving them home to secure everything.

It went pretty well, even if one wedge did fail after I’d driven it home (it’s the one listing off to the left in the top photo). But enough went in to do the job, so it’s fine.

Then I took the flushcut saw and trimmed down the wedges, leaving a few mm proud only, flipped over the crib onto the front panel and inserted the end panel and dry-fit with the top panel and found – horror – a gap of nearly 2cm. The frame wouldn’t close. How I missed that I don’t know, but I spent the next hour fettling the top panel with jack and smoother and shoulder planes to get it to fit properly.

(Got to sign the work)

Then once I had it fitting properly…

I painted the tenons going into the back panel with hide glue, seated them, painted the wedges with glue and drove them home as well.

Then I got some (now in bloody awful shape, I need to fix these again) of the heavy-duty clamps I used for the bench and clamped front to back panel to get good pressure on the joints.

And then there was some tea. Then I dry-fitted the back support and top crossrail and the slats.

There had to be some more fettling of the back of the mattress support platform (and will have to be some more still, I’ll do that tomorrow), but it all seemed to fit fairly well, so I stuck on the mattress to make sure that it was 510mm from ground to mattress top.

Yup, all good. And the grain pattern on the rails matched better than I’d hoped it would. I did have to remake one slat from a spare I had, but by the time the light was fading, I had the curved uprights glued and drawbored into the top crossrail and that glued into the main body and all the slats glued in place and clamped.

The question now is whether the hide glue can hold the slats on the left into the frame, as that curved upright wants to spring up and away from them. If it doesn’t hold, I’ll swap out the hide glue for titebond; but it should be okay.

And that was all there was for the main frame. I still have to fettle the mattress platform a little, that’s a five to ten minute job, but we’re just about done and onto finishing with the frame.

And all that leaves….

…is the drawer.

 

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Make a drawer
    • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
    • Cut the drawer front to size.
    • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish plane drawer front
    • Finish drawer front with shellac.
    • Paint drawer sides with milk paint.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Last minute fettling and foostering.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

16
Feb 17

Complaning

Y’see this happy chap? It’s from startwoodworking.com btw, it’s surprisingly hard to find a good side-on photo of how you use a hand plane. You’ll notice that he’s pushing the hand plane along the wood using his leg muscles more than his arm muscles, by leaning into the plane as he pushes it. This is normal, natural movement that you do any time you push an object that isn’t sliding round like a greased pig in a swimming pool.

Do you see what else he’s go there?

FECKING ROOM TO MOVE.

This is the shed at the moment.

Lean into the plane? I’m doing well if I can reach the shagging thing at the moment.

*sigh*. And I have to thickness drawer sides, which means taking off wood, half a millimetre at a time in a 2cm-wide strip. Over a whole board. Evenly. By about eight millimetres. Gah. See this thing?

This is a dewalt 735 planer thicknesser. It costs nearly €700 if you’re silly enough to buy it in a shop in Dublin where the prices are usually 50% too high. And if I had the room to store it, I would have bought two of them by now. I mean, finish planing, that’s one thing. It’s awkward, but even on the largest panel in the crib it was doable.

Granted, you need the card scraper in places and it’s a pain having nowhere to stand at times.

But thicknessing, that’s a whole other story. There’s no finesse in that, it’s just lots of pushing through wood and hoping it ends soon. Christopher Schwartz was right, the first power tool you should get is a planer thicknesser. It’s just that they’re also bloody loud. This is not a machine that endears you to the neighbours if you use it at 2200h on a worknight. It’s about as loud as your wife finding you feeding the neighbourhood cat. To the blender.

I mean, ideally, I’d resaw the boards to thickness, but honestly, I’ve had enough of that. The ryoba is just not up to the job if the plank is more than two or three inches wide, and I’m still waiting for saw files to sharpen the western saws I have but so far they’ve just not made the task any easier. A bandsaw might, but (a) where the hell would I put it, and (b) bandsaws that can resaw an eight-inch-wide board are not like bandsaws that are just used for cutting curves; they are not small things. You have to use wider blades for reasons that involve clearing a kerf, physics and metallurgy, and those wider blades need larger wheels in the bandsaw to cope with bending radii, and that leads to a big freestanding monster of a machine.

So basically, I’m stuck inside the limits of the 8’x6′ shed. At least for now. But every so often, it’s helpful to complane (see what I did there?) about it.

At least the top panel is finish planed and one of the drawer sides is now thicknessed.

And the final coat of shellac is on the mattress platform and on the rear upright.

 

So not a totally wasted hour or two in the shed.

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Finish plane top panel
  • Make a drawer
    • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
    • Cut the drawer front to size.
    • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish plane drawer front
    • Finish drawer front with shellac.
    • Paint drawer sides with milk paint.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

15
Feb 17

Getting wedged

So after the ten-hour out-of-hours callout over the weekend, I had a day’s time in lieu on tuesday, and I had great plans to get almost everything done.

These plans did not allow for the day being composed of 70% being inside a cloud and 20% horizontal freezing rain.

However, I did manage to get an all-up dry fit assembly, so I was able to get the holes and slots cut for the mattress platform’s rear support, so that’s done at least. I did discover that the mattress support platform didn’t want to fit; I knew there was some interference with the rear upright, but I thought it was 1-2mm and a few swipes of a plane would fix it.

Nope.

Well, that’s disappointing. But at least it’ll be at the back and under a mattress and there’s still enough strength there to hold (there’s a wide support right under that when this is in use). Still not getting much love for round-bottomed spokeshaves btw, that tight radius was what I thought would be perfect for them, but nope, still no joy. Used a rasp and chisels and sandpaper instead, then reapplied shellac (that’s coat #2).

I also noticed that all my working clamps are about a centimeter too short to use for the crossrail glue-up, so I decided to go with wedged tenons there. So today was prepping for that.

First off, a quick jig – take one piece of walnut with a square end that’s 50mm long, and plane down to a line going from the square corner to a point 2.5mm in from the adjacent corner. That gives you a 87 degree angle. Now slide the chisel down that angled face, and that’s how far to pare the mortice walls to flare them out on the face side.

(For those who don’t know, a wedged tenon has to have room to expand as you drive in the wedges, otherwise you’d just pop the top of the mortice clean out of the wood by shearing along the grain lines).

Next, make wedges. Rive out more of that lovely white sycamore stock, cut about 2-3mm thick and the width of the tenon wide, then put the end of the rived piece into the bench hook’s block and pare it to a point with a wide chisel.

Do that about twenty times or so and you’ve enough wedges even allowing for breakage. Grand.

Next, take a 3mm drill bit, and drill two strain relieve holes in each tenon, about 6mm in from the edge and up from the shoulder. Now cut down a line from the end of the tenon to meet the inside tangent of each circle and you have a tenon with two end pieces that can flex outwards slightly.

And now when you go to glue up for final assembly, put the joint together, (glued up and everything) then take two wedges, paint with a light coating of glue, and tap them just home into each cut.

And now take your hammer and drive them home. They may not go down all the way, they might bottom out before that; but either way you now have a wedged tenon M&T joint that doesn’t need clamps to hold for glue-up and which has a mechanical aspect to lock the joint as well as the glue. And with the contrasting woods, they’ll be decorative as well, hopefully.

With that all done, I sanded down the back support and the mattress platform and its rear support and gave them coat #3 of shellac…

Tomorrow it’s time to sharpen the scrub plane and get that drawer side thicknessing finished so I can get on with making the drawer. I’ll get the last coat of shellac on things as well, and that’ll let me do the final assembly of the frame as soon as I complete finish planing the top panel.

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Finish plane top panel
  • Make a drawer
    • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
    • Cut the drawer front to size.
    • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish plane drawer front
    • Finish drawer front with shellac.
    • Paint drawer sides with milk paint.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

12
Feb 17

Sous vide woodworking

I *had* hoped to get everything done this weekend. However, I’m on-call this week and something went sideways on saturday evening and took ten hours to fix, so no dice there. But I’ll get some time in lieu and that’ll let me get the assembly finished this week (I hope) and the crib should be completed by next weekend (or over next weekend). It depends on what goes wrong and how many coats of wax I put on it.

That was the beautiful carved mattress platform support. Then I did a dry-fit test to see where to carve slots in it for the bolts and discovered that that lovely curved bit would be inside the top panel. Well. Drat. I had to rip the board down the middle, cutting off that lovely profile. Oh well.

Once I had it ripped down and planed and rounded over, I had to cut the slots for the bolts. And I tried to think of a way to do this without using power tools, but nothing came to mind that would do the job very well (drilling lots of holes in a straight line being harder than you think with an eggbeater or a brace and bit). So out with the router, some faffing about with adding a wooden fence to the metal fence attachment because it was guiding along three inches of endgrain and the metal fence bit for some reason has an inch-sized hole in the middle, and then even more faffing about with workholding.

I get that a lot of people like these things but they mostly just annoy me. Maybe they’re more fun when mounted in a table. Or the smaller laminate hand-held ones, this one is a bit bulky to haul around lightly. And it’s so fecking loud, especially in an enclosed small space. And the dust, it’s basically fines it’s so small. You wind up wearing a metric buttload of protective gear.

It’s a total pain is what I’m saying. And all that faffing about for two of these:

Gah. But at least it’s done. Then I dry-fitted the slot to the hole through the front upright…

Yeah, M8x50s just ain’t cutting it. Had to get some M8x60s at woodie’s later on.

Then I set up to start shellac’ing the uprights and the platform support now that I had the last of the cutting done on those; and this is where the phone rang and I had to abandon things for the rest of the night. I did manage to rag on the first coat of shellac before legging it so at least that got done. Then at the end of the night (somewhere around 2am) I took a break while debugging stuff to clear my head and I got the second coat of shellac on.

I used up the last of the shellac I had on hand for that coat, so that large jar on the right there is the last of the shellac buttons I had (need to order more flakes soon) and some isopropyl alcohol (it’s a 2lb cut, or in metric, a 24g per 100ml cut, or in a more useful form, a 24g per 80g cut 😀 ).

The problem is, when I made up the last batch, it took the guts of a week to dissolve and that was during the summer; at -1C, this was going to take a fortnight to fully dissolve and I really wanted shellac tomorrow. And I didn’t want to go buy a different shade of ready-made shellac in woodies or something equally desperate. A few of the finishing forums online talked about putting the jar somewhere warm in the house to speed it along but not to heat it (ever boiled isopropyl alcohol on a gas hob? Think crêpe suzette only you’re probably the one on fire and there’s burning resin everwhere). And then I had a thought…

Sous vide shellac. Eat your heart out chefsteps 😀

And the next morning it had worked! 🙂

First though, time to finish the slats. They all needed to be finish planed, and the side slats needed to be rounded over, and all the edges got a light sanding as well (because kiln-dried ash is a bit like planing a cream cracker and the only way to get it really smooth was sandpaper). And three of the slats had somehow not had their tenons cut so that got done as well. And then I stacked them all on a bit of scrap MDF to protect them, wrapped them in a bungee cord and set them to one side until I need them later, along with the finished cross-rails.

Next up, gluing in the alignment pins on the mattress support.

These get glued into the support, but not into the platform itself; that can be removed if required.

It was much prettier with the curve. Oh well. Time to get on with assembling the front part of the cot now.

This proved… awkward. Hide glue and drawbores, so no clamps needed, but the roof and the walls were getting in the way. That’s a sign your shed’s not big enough 😀

Drawboring went reasonably well; no unpleasant snapping noises, though more gaps on one side than I’d like.

It was awkward enough with one rail in place, with two it was downright difficult. But managed it, then lowered the whole thing to the floor, slid in the panel, glued on the other upright, wrestled it back onto the table and drawbored those joints and viola!

It’s not bad really. Not perfect though – there are gaps at the joints 🙁

Not so bad on the left; not so hot on the right. Oh well. Next up, I figured I’d put the mattress platform on the support.

You’ll notice there’s a gap in the middle there between the two. That’s deliberate (well, to be more honest, when I saw it I went with it instead of getting rid of it). The idea is to have a little spring in the build for when you put a load (or a baby) on the crib’s mattress.

I mean, that much is probably overkill, but still.

Trimmed off the pegs flush with the platform (again, they’re not glued in, so the platform can freely flex). And that was about all I could do for now. The glue on the front half has to cure before I can do the next step, which is to assemble everything and get the level for the rear support for the mattress platform. Then I can drill the holes for the rear bolts and cut their corresponding slots, and then shellac the last two pieces of the frame and do the final assembly.
And then build the drawer of course. The back and sides of that are currently roughly cut to size and halfway through thicknessing, and the front is also roughly cut to size but won’t need thicknessing. I do need to have the whole thing assembled before cutting it to size though, which is why I’ve not done it ahead of time.

Still. Nearly there now…

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Cut grooves in platform supports and matching holes for bolts in the curved uprights and the rear support upright
  • Finish plane the curved uprights
  • Shellac the supports and the curved uprights
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

06
Feb 17

More assembly…

Started off the day with the second coat of shellac on the mattress platform pieces.

Left that to dry and started working on the rear support for the mattress platform. It’s basically an inverted ‘L’ shape made with a simple rabbeted butt joint, and while it’s probably overkill, I decided to put some wooden nails into it just for a little extra strength. So out with the bit and brace…

And that funky looking thing on the bit is a nifty eclipse depth stop that I’ve not had much excuse to use up till now…

Much nicer than just marking off with a sharpie or messing about with tape. With those holes predrilled, I planed off the glue lines and smoothed the outside faces and then set that aside while I drilled the holes for drawboring the front panel and the joints between the curved uprights and the top crossbar. By the time I got through that, the second coat on the platform pieces was done, so I sanded that down and gave them another coat of shellac.

Then I rived more stock to make up the drawboring pins and the wooden nails and the locating pins for the front support for the mattress platform.

It’s a fast process, but good grief is it loud, especially in an 8’x6′ shed, even with the echo-damping soundproofing foam on the ceiling. I have to wear ear defenders when doing this. And of course, you have to hit your thumb at least twice during the process (happily with the deadblow hammer rather than the lump hammer; that one would delay typing up a blog post for a few weeks while the finger bones healed).

The weekend’s shopping and dinner intervened in the process here, and afterwards, I finished off the nails and then used two of them on the rear platform support.

Hide glue again to bind it all together. Smelly stuff, and almost instantly tacky in the 10C temperature in the shed, so after wiping off the excess with a damp rag, I had to step back out to the kitchen to wash my hands before the next step, cutting the tops of the nails off with a flush-cut saw and a spacer.

Why do you need the spacer on a flush-cut saw? You shouldn’t is the answer, but whomever made this flush-cut saw decided to set the teeth on both sides, so if you use it like you’re meant to, with the blade pressed up against the surface, you’ll scratch the surface like a severely-pissed-off hedgehog. So first the saw with a spacer, then the rest gets taken off by chisel, and then the entire surface gets planed down.

And now that gets set aside. The ends still need to be planed flush and I need to use the router to cut grooves for the bolts in this, so no shellac for it today (same for the front support and for the curved uprights because they’re going to take a bit of work for finish planing due to the curve).

By now the fourth coat of shellac on the platform pieces was dry, so I brought those into the shed, and a minor disaster:

All three pieces have bloom on the underside. I’m not sure where the moisture that causes that came from, this side was facing down on the table so it wasn’t rain; they were elevated off the table at either end so it wasn’t contact with surface water; maybe it was just that the table was damp and that made the air just above it more moist? I’m not sure. Regardless, the fix is straightforward – brush either another coat of shellac on the top or just a swipe of isopropyl alcohol. Either one dissolves the top coat and lets the moisture evaporate, leaving a bloom-free surface behind.

I’ll still assemble the platform today though. But first, some finish planing on the ash panels. The front panel was very straightforward, just a few swipes with the #4½; but the side panel was a bit of a bugger, with the grain swirling around the place. In the end, the #80 saved the day. Damn glad I got it now, the card scraper would have been a fair amount of work for what the #80 did in a minute or three.

Now, on to the top crossbar. I’d left this over-long on both ends for strength while morticing, but now I’ve cut it back, leaving an inch on either end from the mortice outwards. So there are still some “wings” at the ends, and I would cut those into graceful curves if I had a bandsaw or a decent fretsaw (the Stanley FatMax coping saw… well, it can’t cope, is about the kindest you can say about it. I’m going to have to get myself a Knew Concepts fretsaw. And a bandsaw 😀 ). But I don’t have one yet, so I have a plan for something decorative. Meanwhile, I managed to stab myself in the finger without noticing it while chamfering the edges, and now the finish has some blood in it too. Well, why not…

This piece will need holes drilled in it yet for the rear platform mount to attach to, so no shellac for this piece today either.

So, as I mentioned a little while back, the plan for something decorative is to steal this idea from Brian Halcombe:

But my testing showed I needed a narrower, sharper gouge. So I got two off ebay in smaller sizes than the ones I had, and sharpened them up today and started digging away into the crossbar’s endgrain.

The ⅜” gouge I got was still too wide to be easily controlled in the endgrain (I used another test piece) but the ¼” one was usable with slightly more care than I normally have 😀

Brian Halcombe’s is way better, but that’s a few decades of experience and practice for you. This will look nice enough when shellac’d and waxed though, so that’ll do.

At this point, I was closing in on the end of the day, so I got the hide glue into some hot water to heat up (it’s about 8C and falling in the shed at this point even with the heater – we’re due a cold snap tonight to below freezing), and prep some clamps and cauls and I get the platform pieces ready for glue-up. The clamps are only just big enough by about a half-inch, but they suffice, and the gaps all close up nicely with only mild pressure.

I’m rather happy with that. Then last job of the night, I take some of the frame pieces that need no further cuts or major work, which is everything bar the curved uprights, and I finish plane them and then use the block plane to round over the arises.

For pieces like this, I think this method’s faster than the spokeshave. But not by a huge amount. Still, if you have a #60½ that you’ve worked to sharpen, why not use it? I really must fix the paint on that when this project’s done, along with the twelve million other jobs to do in the shed bringing tools back up to spec…

Anyway, with everything finish planed (and various notes to match mortices and tenons back up made in sharpie on the tenons and in the mortices themselves), it was time for more shellac.

I’m really starting to like the look of the walnut when shellac’d. Second coat tomorrow, and hopefully it’ll dry fast enough to be able to sand it tomorrow as well and put on the third coat. The end is in sight now. One finicky bit with the router to cut three or four grooves (I’ve not decided yet on having one or two bolts in the rear platform); and a bit of work to build a drawer; and then final assembly and finishing with osmo.

And then I’ll find it won’t fit in the car for delivery…

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Cut grooves in platform supports and matching holes for bolts in the curved uprights and the rear support upright
  • Finish plane the curved uprights
  • Shellac the supports and the curved uprights
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Drill for drawboring on the M&T joints that I’ll be drawboring (the long rail to upright ones and probably the back support and top crossbar joints).
  • Make drawbore pegs.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

05
Feb 17

Assembly, part one of many…

First coat of shellac on the back panel dried nicely overnight. And it was dry today, so I figured I’d put on the other coats today outdoors and then assemble.

Rather than brushing on the shellac today, everything got ragged on (hooray for being able to buy lint-free cotton rags off ebay by the kilogram). Much more even application, no brush marks, and much, much faster for the long pieces of the frame. While this second coat was drying, on to making drawbore pegs. I got a nice offcut of what I think might be sycamore a while ago, I’ve been riving off pieces for drawbore pegs from it and then using the dowel plate and sufficient violence to make the pegs.

I rive them down to around the half-inch size, then run them through the forming holes a few times at each size, gradually walking them down to the final size (which for here is a quarter-inch)

It works quite well, though it’s pretty obnoxiously loud.

By the time that was done, and a cup of tea was had, the shellac had dried and cured and it was time to sand over the second coat lightly with 600 grit paper.

And then rag on the third coat (it’s about a 1.5lb cut for those wondering, and made up from liberon shellac buttons and isopropyl alcohol).

Not too bad. While that was drying, I took the mattress support platform and disassembled it, and drilled two holes in the front of the platform for dowels that will go into the support at the front (the back will have enough of a ledge that it can’t fall down unless you smashed it to pieces). The front support had to be planed as well, it had developed some twist in the last few weeks, and the corresponding dowel holes got drilled there too. I’ll make up dowels the same way I’ve been making the drawbore pins, but these will be a little larger than the quarter-inch pins.

In the middle of this the last coat of shellac went on the back panel and lunch was had, and shortly after, the back panel pieces were ready to be assembled…

It was a bit cold in the shed, so the hide glue wouldn’t flow, so out came the thermos of hot water to heat it up a bit.

Then the left side tenons of the long rails got a coat of hide glue, and a little into the mortices as well, fitted the rails into the legs, coated the drawbore pins with glue and drove them home (no clamps required for this glue-up).

Then I put the panel in between the rails, and found it needed a few swipes on the shooting board to square up the end just a tad (don’t you love finding this mid-glue-up?); did that, put the panel back into the frame, and repeated the assembly and drawbore process on the other end of the rails. Flush-cut the drawbore pins to within a few mm of the surface with a flush-cut saw and a spacer (a piece of scrap wood) and then flushed them level with a chisel. This had a minor mishap on one corner, a touch-up on the shellac will be needed to fix that.

But that was the assembly done. And it looks quite nice, the walnut does pop out compared to the ash when you shellac it.

Then dinner, and then back to the mattress platform, and finish planing everything in it, and rounding over every corner, this time using a spokeshave instead of the block plane I’ve used before on the slats and the back support. It’s just as easy and as fast, there’s not much between the two methods to be honest. I can see the spokeshave being a better choice for curved pieces and the block plane for longer rails and the like.

Sure, a router table with a roundover bit could do the job, but for this few pieces, it’s faster to do it by hand because there’s so little setup time. Plus, it’s quieter and there’s less chance of losing a finger, which is always a plus.

Next up was the front platform support. I wanted to give it a bit of an arch on the underneath so it didn’t look quite so much like a sodding great plank, so I found the midpoint and sawed straight down by a few centimetres, then took my 1.5″ chisel and whacked out large chunks down to that kerf from either side, and extended out that v-shaped cutout on either side until it reached a foot away from the centerline on each side. Then out with the spokeshave and a heavy set on the blade and lots of pushing to even out the curve, and make it look a little more fluid than the “blind boy scout with a hatchet” level of chisel work it was at. Then finally rounded over the corners with the spokeshave (and a sharp chisel for the edges on the end grain) and that was done. I need to cut two grooves on either side for the carriage bolts that will attach this to the frame (so that there’s some adjustability). I can’t think of a cleaner way to do this other than a router with a straight bit at the moment. Drilling a series of holes and then trimming them together with a chisel might work if I’d a drill press but with my eggbeater or power drill, the holes wouldn’t be perfectly vertical and it’d be a mess. I might have to admit defeat here and use a power tool for this particular task. Still, it doesn’t look too bad so far.

Next up, I wanted to check the fit of the side tenons into the curved uprights because of the mixup between sides yesterday, so I took the already cut slats and cut the mortices to fit the tenons (which is an ass-backwards way to do it). Seemed to work though.

There are some small gaps (less than a half-mm or so), but those might close up when it’s fully assembled. We’ll see. I’ll have to do this again tomorrow for the other side.

And with that done it was on to the last job of the night, the first shellac coat for the walnut parts of the mattress support platform. After finding somewhere to put the side frame that was (again, the problem of a small shed – nowhere to put components as you work on them…)

Sheesh.

But on to the shellac.

Ragged on first coat and it really does pop.

That’ll dry overnight and I’ll do the second coat in the morning, then sand and then two more coats (as for the back panel). Then glue-up and assembly.

After that, there’s the back support piece (that got done today as well but it’s glued up and curing at the moment), that’ll need to come out of the clamps and get cleaned up. It’ll have to have slots routered in as well. Then I want to make the locating dowels for the front support, and more drawbore pins for the front panel of the cot and the curved uprights, and those joints have to be drilled for the drawbore pins, and the back top crossbar has to be cut to length, it’s currently a few inches over to give strength while mortices were being chopped; I need to cut that to length and possibly on a curve to make it a bit more interesting. Then it can get shellac’d in prep for final assembly.

After that, it’s rounding over the side slats, finish planing all the slats and the curved uprights and the rails, and shellac’ing the last of the walnut pieces and then assembly of the front panel, then putting the front and back panels together along with the slats in the overall final assembly.

And then there’s a drawer to do, but that should be fairly fast. The big question is where the hell do I put the cot while I build the drawer on the bench?

 

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly)
  • and cut tenons.
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Drill for drawboring on the M&T joints that I’ll be drawboring (the long rail to upright ones and probably the back support and top crossbar joints).
  • Make drawbore pegs.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

04
Feb 17

Starting to finish…

Late night in the shed tonight. Over the last few days, I’ve cut the groove for the top panel, gotten the side slats all roughed out and half of them have had the tenons cut and the curved upright has had the mortices cut in it. Then I discovered I’d matched the wrong side’s slats to the curved upright. I don’t think it’s fatal, but I’ll have to reassemble things for the tweaking needed. This was annoying, so I decided to switch tasks a bit for the rest of this evening, and I finish planed the frame and panel for the back panel and drilled the joints for drawbore pins (I have the drawbore pins riven but not yet shaped; seemed rude to be driving pins through a plate after 2300h). And then I put some shellac on the walnut frame bits (the panel only gets osmo, so that happens when the entire thing gets osmo). I also rounded over the corners with the spokeshave.

So by the end of this weekend, I’ll have at least one part of this thing assembled and partially finished.

Before first shellac coat:

After:

And the magic happening:

It doesn’t look terrible. It’ll look better after a few more coats of shellac though.

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly) and cut tenons.
  • Cut grooves for top panel in long stretchers.
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Drill for drawboring on the M&T joints that I’ll be drawboring (the long rail to upright ones and probably the back support and top crossbar joints).
  • Make drawbore pegs.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

29
Jan 17

End in sight…

Full day in the shed today, trying to get the cot finished. Needed to get one final assembly in order to mark off the curved tenons on the side slats.

Mental note – never build something larger than this in the shed. The amount of time lost because of having to assemble it outside (meaning needing to wait for a dry weekend because it’s dark by the time I get home during the week) has been a complete pain in the timetable for this. But most of the work on the frame is now done; the drawer runners are jointed at one end and the layout is marked up on the other end, the side slats are marked up on the curved end and have the tenons and mortices cut on the other end. The groove for the top panel needs to be cut in the long stretchers, that’s a half-hour job at most. After that, everything is finishing and fiddling.

Well, and the drawer. But that’s not exactly going to be tough, the longest part will be thicknessing the material from an inch down to three-quarters of an inch; it’s poplar and with Sid, that should take less than a half-hour. A sweaty half-hour, yes, but you can’t have everything…

Surprise inspections keeping me on my toes…

 

The curved bits were probably the most demanding of this whole build – steambending is nifty, but get details wrong and you spend an absolute age fiddling to correct the flaws. And trying to get a smooth surface on the curved pieces has been a pain.

It’s spokeshave and scraper all the way with these things, I can’t get a bench plane onto them at all really. It’s interesting to learn new tools, but it’s not exactly a fast method. But there’s not much work left to do there at least.

It doesn’t photograph well, but it’s smooth to the touch. And with rounded corners – that’s something else I need to do to every exposed corner, ensure it’s rounded over. It’s done for all the slats at the back and for about a third of the frame, but it has to be done for everything. Happily, it’s a fairly fast process, it takes the longest on the slats because the rounding is quite pronounced, but on the frame it’s a lot faster because on most of the frame, you just want to break the sharp edge rather than round it all over.

To-Do List :

  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly) and cut tenons.
  • Cut mortices for side slats.
  • Cut grooves for top panel in long stretchers.
  • Joint drawer runners into the bottom end crosspieces.
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Drill for drawboring on the M&T joints that I’ll be drawboring (the long rail to upright ones and probably the back support and top crossbar joints).
  • Make drawbore pegs.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

24
Jan 17

One thing after another

Just before xmas, I snapped a piece off a rear molar (the tooth was long dead – long story – so there wasn’t any immediate pain), and because of work and stuff, haven’t had time to get it looked at, but then it started on the stabbing pain thing on friday so it was dentist time. Turns out the tooth’s dead but now has an abscess. Yay. So it’s codine and antibiotics for a while, which usually wipes me out. Spent most of the weekend zonked, and not much progress has been made. But there’s been some; the rear side’s slats are now done:

Handy workout for the new shooting board too…

Left a bit of excess at the end of the top crossrail both to have some extra strength in the end pieces and to let me thing of a more decorative way to handle the end grain there.

So, crib progress…

To-Do List (now in new order):

  • Fit top crossrail to back support and steambent uprights.
  • Cut mortice for back support.
  • Cut back support to length and cut tenon on bottom end.
  • Cut back slats to length and cut tenons.
  • Cut mortices for back slats.
  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly) and cut tenons.
  • Cut mortices for side slats.
  • Cut grooves for top panel in long stretchers.
  • Joint drawer runners into the bottom end crosspieces.
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Drill for drawboring on the M&T joints that I’ll be drawboring (the long rail to upright ones and probably the back support and top crossbar joints).
  • Make drawbore pegs.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

I’m hoping to get a few more of those crossed off before the weekend, like the grooves, and the drawer runner joinery and start finish planing the panels; I want daylight for the side slats, so that might need to wait for the weekend, and I might wind up starting on the drawer before then. But it’s really getting closer now…

Also, got a late xmas gift – a friend is into woodturning in a big way (Hi Tom!), and Claire got him to make me a pen from purpleheart…

Lovely looking piece, the photo doesn’t do the purpleheart justice.


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