Groovin’ right along…

The rails were all prepped and squared last night so today at lunch I hobbled out to the shed and started grooving them with the #044.

First off, checking the position of the groove and the shadow lines (if we have any) with the long rails.

Line up the reference face of the rail with the stile and nick the corner with the marking knife at the edges of the groove on the stile. Then use the marking gauge to run those lines around three of the four edges and reinforcing the lines on the edge with the groove using the cutting gauge. Then into the vice and plough the groove out with the #044.

But the inside edge is a bit rounded and ragged which could cause issues, so out with the japanese chisel (which I’m starting to enjoy using – it’s great for anything involving chopping but for paring it leaves a lot to be desired) and the narex to clean up.

And when the straggly bits on the bottom are cleared out and the inside edge is straightened up, a single pass with the #04 along the top to tidy up and we’re done.

Not every rail needed quite so much work (and I went back and fixed two grooves on the stiles the same way later). And with the long rails done…

…time for the short rails.

Same procedure as before, right down to the cleanup. By this point we’re through lunch, and a coffee break around four, and into afterdinner time, but:

Done. That’s the main carcass of the chest ready for the mortice&tenon joinery. But by now it’s too late to start chopping mortices (because of the noise and the neighbours) so something else needed doing. I still hadn’t picked material for the lid so I started picking through the timber store and found two short oak boards that are already prepped from an earlier build I didn’t pursue, they’ll do for the frame of the lid. For the lid panel I wanted a single solid piece of nice looking oak between three-quarters and an inch thick. Couldn’t find any offcuts, so…

Measured off slightly more than I’ll need and crosscut with the 300mm ryoba in the face vice, then skim-planed off both faces to see which side should be up. Sometimes that’s a hard choice. This time… not so much 😀

Three guesses which way’s up? 😀

Also, it lets me use up the end of that board that had a damaged edge – I won’t need the full width of the board for this. The idea is to have a frame-and-panel lid, but where the lid has a groove around the edge instead of a tongue so that the bottom edge of the groove acts as the tongue for the frame and the top edge of the groove is proud of the frame:

Of course, you don’t really need the groove on the frame, you could use a simple rabbet. I’ll have to think about that a bit. The panel does have to be grooved though, because I want to shape the half-inch or so that would be proud of the frame and I’d like to be sure the line between lid frame and lid panel is hidden away.

With the parts skim planed and set out (I’ll rip out the frame rails and stiles tomorrow), and the floorboards already picked out (I have some cedar for that), there was something I wanted to check, namely whether parts in the vice are definitely at right angles to the workbench top; that would explain the slight angle on the base of the 044’s grooves.

Nope, not even very close. That’s a tad disconcerting. I wanted to see if it was the vice jaw or the apron…

Seems like it’s both. Well, I guess I can’t think of the corner of the workbench as a square anymore. I suppose it’s not bad for cheap 2×4 material, but I do see the attraction of hardwood benches now.

That done, I laid out tomorrow’s job, wrapped up for the night and hobbled back indoors.

Tomorrow, we mortice!

Sneachta!

Still hobbling round the place today with the sartorious, so working from home (the joys of IT – you can work anywhere, meaning you can work when sick). Over lunch, I tottered to the shed and flattened the board I was going to pull the rails from, and shot a reference edge with the #08.

The stain’s from accidental contact with the ebonising potion from the table build, but it’s surface only so it’ll plane out. Out with the panel gauge and mark off 2-and-a-quarter inch laths (we want two-inch-ish wide rails when it’s all done and squared so I’m leaving room for cack-handedness).

Back to work at this point until around about fourish, at which point I get stuck waiting on system tests, or in XKCD terms,

So to the bandsaw (rather than the ryoba because time). Ripped all four parts, then out with a medium-set #05 and a fine-set #08 and a straight edge and a square and a marking gauge and we get reference faces and edges on all four of these and mark off the reference faces for thickness.

This doesn’t take long and I leave the four parts marked up for resawing on the bandsaw and head inside for dinner. The light was fading and it was gray overcast when I went into the shed, then I open the door and…

Sneachta! And someone’s not seen this before…

Later, after dinner, back out to the shed and onto the bandsaw, resaw the pieces down to thickness (we want about three-quarters of an inch so the gauge was set to seven eighths (the pieces are about nine eighths thick)) and then it was back to the #05 and #08 to get the bandsaw marks off and the faces clean, and then taking them to S4S which didn’t take very long.

Ready for joinery. That was all I wanted done in the shed today (pick small goals, you’ll feel better), so I opened the door to go back inside and again, more sneachta!

Doubt it’ll last though. Oh well. We have driving wind and freezing rain on the way to replace it apparently…

Setbacks…

So I get the ‘flu shot every year, but apparently the strain picked for the shot this year did not tally with the strain that showed up in Ireland (apparently from Australia of all places) and it’s been rather rampant of late…

Also, in an unrelated topic, meet the longest muscle in the human body, the sartorious muscle:

So, can you guess what happens if you catch the first and pull the second? Did you guess four days flat on your back in bed doing nothing shed-related past reading Alan Peters’ book on cabinetmaking (interesting read btw, as it’s less “here’s how to cut a dovetail” and more “this is how you run a successful woodworking business”, which is a nice look into a different world) and watching an endless train of Japanese cabinetmaking and Roy Moore videos? So the project I was working on has stalled until this evening bar an hour on Sunday. Yay.

There are however, some new toys. So here’s my current dust collection rig:

Yes, I collapsed it, but it still works. I need to build a safety valve. However, it’s also a 60L drum because when I ordered it I didn’t quite know what I’d need and I was overly cautious. And now it’s eating space so I wanted to downsize – so I ordered a 30L drum and it arrived right after christmas, just when I couldn’t do anything with it.

So I’ll try fitting that as soon as I get a chance (it’ll have to be a weekend I think). That should get me a chunk of space back.

Also, I was watching Peter Follansbee again and he was making pegs for drawbore joints and he has this lovely mini meat cleaver thing for the job:

All I have to use is an inch-and-a-half chisel which is not the most stable of arrangements because you’re trying to hit a point a foot in the air above a peg-sized piece of wood balanced on end and held in place only by the chisel edge which is neither easy nor terribly safe. However, in the video Peter mentioned that a glazier’s hacking knife was a good modern substitute, so I looked them up and they’re dirt cheap and I need pegs for the current build so…

One cheap hacking knife. Should be far more controllable and safe for the splitting, but we’ll see. I kinda want to take the grinder or a file to the point of that thing and get rid of it though, just have a flat blunt end at the front of the knife.

And the pin chuck I ordered last year arrived…

along with the 12″ speed square I’d ordered (mostly because this is the tool I keep wanting in the timber yard rather than the framing square I have at the moment):

More tidying may be needed at some point 😀

Oh, and a few places on ebay were doing sales on brass hardware so I picked up a box of the things because after the wall cupboard build I didn’t want to get caught without a handle at short notice again. And some hinges because I looked at the shiny brass against the oak for the current build and it’s not quite right. But we’ll see. Mostly this is just stuff bought because it was going for less than half price.

And these were a few design punches bought for very few peanuts as part of the whole “learn 17th century carving” idea. They work great on something like walnut:

(That’s my reference stick for my gouges in case you’re wondering)
But in oak, which the carving is done in:

Just too faint to be made out. Too much detail in the punch for the grain of the oak to take on. Oh well. Into the toolbox for later they go. I have a few more that were ordered off ebay that are on their way, I’ll give those a try when they get here. At least two or three of those are re-workable with a file but seem to be the stippling pattern Follansbee was using in his work. They won’t be needed for a little while though, thanks to the flu delaying everything.

So I got back to grooving the rails tonight – or at least tried to. I’ve been having some issues with the grooving using my Record 044. Ralph over at Accidental Woodworker has been having some issues with his as well, and I thought it might be a common problem but it turns out my fence is aligned okay. My skate’s bottom isn’t perfectly at 90 degrees to the skate sides – you might just be able to make that out in the photo – but it’s only out by a few degrees and it’s so narrow that can’t be the problem either. The grain on the oak is squirrelly and reversing half-way along the rail, but I’m getting horrible tear-out before I even get to that point:

That’s with a freshly sharpened and stropped iron (even worked the back of it just in case I’d missed that iron somehow when rehabbing the 044). I spelched out through the rail completely on the first try on this one and had to plane back to the reference edge and start over, so when it started tearing out here, I got out the cutting gauges instead of just the mortice gauge and sliced the nearest edge very deeply.

Then I got out another cutting gauge (which happens to be about seventy years older or so and actually cuts better) and sliced the far edge the same way.

Then with the 044 set for a very fine cut I got a okay-ish groove cut down to depth; but it wasn’t even. I used the new Japanese chisel to chop the far edge to properly vertical rather than the gentle curve it had become, but then I noticed that the 044’s fence wasn’t even in contact all the way along to the same degree. I must have been tired – it took another five minutes of staring at it before I realised that the rail was twisted.

I planed and prepped it to flat in early December; sitting in the shed through a few cold snaps and 60-70% humidity with the squirrelly grain in the wood must just have been too much for it and it pretzeled itself by a good few degrees. So did two of the other long rails. The last long rail was only slightly twisted, but it’s one of the uglier pieces because of a knot. The short rails were still fine and are still perfectly flat, as are the stiles, so they can still be used.

Luckily I have a rough-cut chunk of an oak board in the timber store that’s only a few mm shorter than the long rails (literally a few, three to four in total) so I’ll plane that flat and rip out new long rails from it. I’ll probably cheat and get most of the way to thickness by resawing with the bandsaw and take them the last mm or two of the way by handplane (I’m now quite short on time for this build and I’ve already been dropping elements from it to try to get this done by the end of the month). The grain’s less squirrelly in this piece as well so I might even be able to do some decorative elements on it if I’m lucky. Silver lining and all that. Oh well. I had to prep more pieces for the lid anyway (which I finally got a design for in my head that should be stable and relatively straightforward to do). Still a bit annoying mind you.

It’s not as annoying, however, as walking to and from work today (and standing on the Luas both ways) and then finding when I got home this evening that I’ve buggered up the leg muscle again, it’s all sore and swollen. Standing, no problem. A step forward or back if I don’t bend the knee too much, that’s more or less okay. Walking from the kitchen to the shed? Sortof like having someone stick in a hypodermic needle into the muscle and then breaking it off so it pokes you at random moments. I think I’m stuck working from home for a few days, this thing is not going to heal if I keep walking a few kilometres a day on it.

Hello Unplugged!

Got an email this morning saying this blog is now getting picked up on the Unplugged Shop blog aggregator (who specialise in blogs about hand tool woodworking). Since that might mean new people reading here, hello. You won’t find much professional woodwork stuff here, I’m a software engineer who just does this as a hobby. It may, however, make you feel better about your own workshop because yours is absolutely going to be bigger than mine (I know of woodworkers who have table saws with more space than my entire shed if you include their outfeed tables, and pretty much everyone who has a timber store has more room in there than I do in total). Here’s the wee shed:


That’s an eight foot by six foot potting shed at the bottom of the garden (seen here getting a new coat of paint last year hence all the plastic sheeting over the plants and the masking tape). It’s come a bit of a ways, it used to look like this:

And that’s after I lined the inside with OSB sheeting and painted that white; before it was unlined so you could see that its main structural elements were the 3×1 laths – I’m pretty sure these things had structural paint…


And it was also where all the gardening stuff was stashed (I’ve since moved that to a storage box outside). There’s a small decking area just outside the shed which has proven useful for some tasks like assembly and in-a-bag steambending:

But between the unused tumbledryer (don’t ask), and the workbench, there’s not a lot of room so I’ve had to do some organisation for tool storage inside or I wouldn’t be able to do anything:

And while most of what I do is hand-tool only (including prepwork and milling), I do have a few powertools that are useful for some tasks. Mostly, a circular saw used for rough-cutting the 12-16′ boards I buy from the timber yard down to 5′ boards I can fit in the car and in the shed; I’ll occasionally do smaller rough cuts with that as well, but the fine cuts are all hand saws. I do have a mitre saw that I’d like to use for the 5′-to-smaller rough cutting but I’ve no room to set it up so it’s been idle the last year or two. There’s a small 10″ bandsaw interloper that gets used for some rough ripcuts and resawing anything under 75mm:

And there’s also an oscillating bobbin/belt sander which gets used along with the bandsaw to make small bandsaw boxes to use up scraps of wood rather than throwing them in the bin (and that’s pretty much all it gets used for because I prefer planed finishes for other projects). We don’t have a wood fire or a firepit or any other way to get rid of shavings and sawdust and scraps other than the bin and since you pay for that by weight (welcome to Ireland), I prefer to use all the offcuts for bandsaw boxes if I can.

I do have a bit of an aversion to power tools but it’s more that I don’t like the noise and dust (and since I’m in a housing estate, the neighbours wouldn’t be great fans either) rather than not liking the results. And if I ever get a larger shed (or if I just give up on worrying about the neighbours), there will be a lunchbox thicknesser in the shed’s future for thicknessing (I don’t need a jointer, handplanes are better for jointing for my sort of thing, but thicknessing is a pain in the fundament even with a scrub plane that has so much camber it’s almost circular).

There are a few projects in the archives if you want a read – I built my workbench from scratch:

There was a sidecar cot for my niece:

A desk shelf for father’s day:

One of Richard Maguire’s side tables:

And most recently, a simple wall cupboard (again coming off a Richard Maguire build) with a perspex door:

 

Hope you enjoy the read!

Back to work…

So back to work today. Checked the thermometer in the shed before leaving the house around 0715 or so…

And given the ice on the decking outside the shed, I doubt that was the low point either. Must remember to put another layer of paste wax on the planes this week to prevent surface blooms of rust.

I figured it’d be warmer by the time I got home but by 2000h…

Hmmm. Uninsulated shed in the middle of winter. Such fun. Oh well, new toys!

Some trammel points and a new 3″ square from Proops (turns out, if you have a 4″ square, you shouldn’t drop it or you’ll have a 4″ not-square…).

And I wanted to see what all the fuss over Japanese chisels was about so I bought a fairly cheap second-hand one (came to about €15 delivered). 8mm, just over the quarter-inch size, nice balance to it, lots of surface rust though. Some sandpaper and some time on the diamond stones later…

It’s a nice little chisel, takes a nice edge (eventually, it does seem to be much harder steel). I don’t see much of a hollow on the back but I guess that’s fixable somehow. Really does feel well balanced in the hand, they always looked a bit awkward to me but when you’re using them it’s a whole other deal. Won’t know how good it is for a while, obviously, but so far so good.

Then some mucking about with the #080 scraper plane on the chest rails (it works!) and I started in on the grooving of the rails…

That oak has pretty grain, but it’s a pain to work with. Scrapers, scraper plane, tight-set #04 skewed with the cap iron clamped down a gnat’s whisker from the cutting edge, all the tricks needed here. Should have the rails done in a day or three, depending on work schedules, get some more practice in on the carving for the panels, and start cutting the mortices and tenons this weekend. Need to prep some more material as well for the lid. Going to do that in a frame-and-raised-panel style, but I’m not sure if the center panel should be oak or something else for contrast.

More small jobs and practice…

All small jobs today in the shed. Well. Was a bit chilly.

And it was colder before I turned on the heater. Not going to get much better before the end of next week either 🙁 Onwards…

Got my new japanese saw bench hook finished:

Spare offcuts of walnut and plywood, with 19mm dowels from woodies (if you’re in the US, woodies is what Lowe’s would be if they dropped their timber standards significantly and jacked up their prices by 50%). The dowels drop into the bench dog holes:

In theory this would work on any set of two holes, but it turns out there’s just enough variation in spacing that it only works for this pair 🙁 Next time I build a workbench, I’ll be a lot more precise with a few things and dog hole placement is one of them. Still, this is the best placed pair for sawing for me, so it could have been much worse. Tried it out in anger making some small parts and it works nicely. Not sure how much abuse it’ll stand but it doesn’t feel too precious. About those small parts:

Honestly, this one will be funny, bear with me…

Then some more practice with the v-tool:

The results weren’t terrible but lots more time needed I think. The practice pattern from Peter Follansbee’s video is a lot easier to carve if you make it simpler when you work on a piece of wood half the size he’s using – there’s a minimum resolution limit, so to speak, in oak and challenging it is not conducive to decent results. Still though, a ways to go to get from this:

To this:

But I think it’s a small improvement on this:

And then I got out the old oilstone and a 10mm dowel and some sandpaper and took twenty minutes to sharpen up the #7 hollow and the reeding plane I got before xmas and gave them a try. I still need to work on the hollow, but the reeding didn’t go too badly.

It’s a bit hard to see here, but the two beads were nicely formed for most of the length of the run. It’s a bit of a faff setting up the plane, but when it’s set, it’s sweet.

A bit of practice with the gouge later and I got to see what I bought it for:

A lot easier to make those two beads with the reeding plane than with a scratch stock. A little more practice and I might actually be ready to use this on a piece.

About that oilstone. I’ve had it for ages, it was one of the first things I ever bought for woodworking, but I’ve never really used it much – never liked oilstones, they’re mucky things really compared to diamond plates – but it does seem to be a higher grit than my 1200 diamond plate. I was planning on getting a D8EE plate later this month (DMT, 8000 grit) because I thought I was about ready to add another step up in grit to the sharpening process now that I’ve got the hang of the basics; I might just try using the oilstone in the interim. It probably needs to be flattened though, and I don’t really know what grit it actually is; must find a way to test that, even if it’s just “polish something on the 1200 grit plate and then on the stone and see which one left the larger scratches”.

And there was a bit of fiddling about with parts for various other builds that are in progress right now, like this one:

And this didn’t work too badly either, but I can’t pein over the end of the nail so I’ll order some brass rod stock to use as the hinge instead.

New toy…

So my old power drill died. Or more accurately, its batteries. Six hours charging, twenty minutes of charge held with no load, or one 3.5mm hole in inch-thick poplar. That’s NiCad for you, just not great for occasional use. And last time this happened, it worked out cheaper to buy a new drill and use its batteries, which was exceptionally irritating. So I figured enough; I’ll get a new drill and move up to the new lithium ion batteries and maybe down in size to the newer smaller drills. I don’t use my drill that often, and when I do it’s for quick small holes or driving screws faster than the cordless screwdriver does – which basically means jigs and mounting stuff on the shed walls. So for stuff like that, the new 10.8v and 12v sized drills seem way more suited:

That’s the Bosch PS32, their brushless 10.8/12v drill. Except they’re pricey, and just before I bit the bullet, I came across a sale in Woodies where the larger 18v Bosch was on sale for €100, which was half what most places charge and frankly so low that I delayed for ages trying to figure out what was wrong with it. But in the end, even though it’s not exactly what I wanted, the price was too good, so I gave up looking for a better PS32 price and bought the GSB today.

And it’s not bad. Solidly built, well balanced, and while it has a larger collet size than the old PSR, it’s physically smaller (and lighter, if only by 40g when the batteries are in):

Plus, moving up a grade (from green to blue 😀 ). Which is nice.

 

Now, to actually use the sodding thing…

New Year’s goals

No, not resolutions, those are stupid.

But goals would be nice. So, here’s my goal for 2018:

Build and sell one piece from the shed. Maybe a small chest, maybe a small table, whatever.

The idea is to get to the point where I could buy some nice timber, make a few things for friends and sell one or two other pieces to defray the cost of the timber. It is not supposed to be an income stream (not least because I already have a day job and taxes are so much fun). It’s just that thanks to brexit and the US-Canada timber trade war, the price of timber is spiking; and if the hobby got to where it could see the break-even point, well that’d be helpful. Oh, and before someone asks, no, I don’t want to change my day job, I like it too much, and no, this wouldn’t make much money at all especially on a per-hour basis (hand tool woodwork as a career kindof died a death with the second world war), and that’s not the point anyway.

And yes, I do think that’s enough goals. It’s a hobby, not a job. On that point, a new shed rule for the new year:

  • Do Not do anything in the shed that has a deadline. Or, if there’s no way round that (like with solstice presents), have them done a month or more in advance, because seriously, fuck deadlines right in the ear. They turn a fun hobby into a second job.

And that’s that. Yeah, yeah, I have a list of things as long as my finger (small handwriting ftw) that I’d like to build and a bunch of tools I’d like to get and learn to use, and a few techniques I want to practice, and some things I’d like to do, but they’re all just part of the standard routine, they’re not really new years goals and the idea is to do them as time permits and the interest takes me. It’s that whole “this is a hobby” thing…

New Server…

A few years back (January 2010), I got the colocated dedicated server that this website’s been running on since from Hetzner. They weren’t quite as polished back then, but they’ve always been a lot more solid than most of the other companies I had any personal knowledge of (from the bad old days when I paid the bills with LAMP stack work). But the server has been getting a bit slower and the software hasn’t been getting any more polished so for the new year, I upgraded.

We’ve moved from a DS3000 server, which was a dual core AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600 with 2Gb of DDR2 RAM and a pair of 400Gb SATA II hard drives; to an EX41S which is a quad-core Intel i7-6700 with 64 Gb of DDR4 RAM and a pair of 2Tb SATA III drives. And it’s costing slightly less per month to run (still around €50/month all told thanks to VAT and such). It’s a wee bit of a step up 😀

And granted, this blog’s not enormously faster, but some of the others (like guns.ie) now load in under three seconds. Compared to 15-20. Which is nice. But it’s meant an OS upgrade and we’ve jumped mysql, apache and varnish versions, and moved up to PHP7 from PHP5 so some changes had to get made (like to the templates and removing some old plugins), so if you see any weird stuff, bear with me…

Mucking out and mucking about

Couple of days out of the shed, mostly spent lying down and paying attention to all the little muscle cells as they turned to me and said “what the feck was all that then?”. Today though was bin day so back out to the shed and spent a half-hour cleaning up all the shavings and using the shop vac to tackle the sawdust.

Before:

After:And then, having made a clean spot, went and tidied the small section behind the tumbledrier there where I usually wind up standing wishing I’d cleaned that part of the shed.

And then, having cleaned everything up, time to play…

First off, I did want to see what the stains look like and to try to replicate this:

Granted, I don’t have resawn squares of flamed sycamore, I’m mucking about with bits of poplar, but still…

That was a bit of fun. I’ll take a peek tomorrow to see how it reacts to drying, and spray some poly on it to get a look at it under finish (it’s not actually for a project, I’m just experimenting).

Then on to the next thing; I got myself a solstice present of Peter Follansbee’s video on 17th century New England carving (I’m mad, me) and I wanted to try one of the basic v-tool exercise patterns:

Granted, I don’t have riven green oak or even quarter-sawn oak, I’m mucking about on an offcut from the table build – inch-thick kiln-dried flat-sawn oak. Grand for furniture, not so much for carving. Plus I need to sharpen my v-tool a bit more and I need some new slipstones because apparently you can shave the diamonds off diamond slipstones if you’re not careful when honing a gouge. Doh. And I don’t have all of Follansbee’s kit (which is worse than it sounds since he only uses six gouges and a v-tool…). But I have enough for one or two of the exercises (including this one) so on we go…

Natty little camping light spotted in a Big Clive video – handy since it has a magnet in one end and for throwing light across a surface with knifed marks it’s pretty useful.

The divider work is straightforward enough…

…but there’s a reason Follansbee makes it look easy and it’s twenty-five years of practise…

Still have all my fingers and no new leaks, so I’m calling that a win.

And a bit of BLO to show it better.

Well. First try. It’ll get better. Or it gets the shovel again.

And in the meantime I figured out what I wanted to do with those scraps I couldn’t throw away…

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