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…

Done…

Next year, we’re rescheduling christmas. End of discussion.

This year, Christmas Eve started with a quick run to woodies for small brass hinges. Then to the shed and…

Awkward planing setup needed to plane the outside of the carcass (the inside was planed before glue-up). I know it doesn’t look too awkward, but that’s because we need to zoom out a little and let you see where you’re standing when working…

The spot is that one there behind that small green case on the floor, between the bench and the tumbledrier but not past the leg of the bench because there’s a lot of small boards there that didn’t go in the main wood store. The joy of a small shed…

The downside is that you can’t really move when planing, so it’s all armwork rather than legwork. Also, the battery on the camera died so those are from the cameraphone hence the odd colors. Once the outside was planed, the carcass went back onto the benchtop on top of that scrap of leather and the face got planed until it was all coplanar and then the faceframes were glued and nailed on. I just wanted one nail top and bottom (the proportions of the cupboard don’t really work unless you drag the eye to the top and bottom, otherwise it looks overly wide), so after nailing and gluing, the faceframes had to be clamped for awhile, so it was on to the door frame.

Had to thickness and square up the rails and stiles for the door, and then the #043 made short work of grooving them for the central panel with a 3/16ths cutter and then it was morticing time.

First time using a pigsticker for this; they’re a lot more controllable than the bevel-edged chisels and a bit more than the firmer chisels (and a lot more so than the 3/16ths firmer chisel because it’s got a round handle and isn’t quite so easy to keep a grip on). I still think the half-inch sized one is a railway spike passing itself off as a chisel, but the smaller sizes are a definite improvement on things. Definitely taking the smaller ones out of the box and putting them in the rack.

By this point the face frame is done with clamping. I cut the haunched tenons and test-fitted the rails to the stiles and when I was happy all was square, drilled through to pin the joints with a 6mm dowel (through a 5.5mm hole to keep things nice and tight). Glued and pinned the stiles to one rail ready to cut the panel, and I moved on to the backing boards, while the glue cured. The backing boards just got a quick skim-planing — they had been resawn down from one-inch to half-inch boards so one side of each was already flattened and planed and that face was facing into the cupboard, while the bandsawn side was going to face the wall so I just took the worst of the fuzz off. The #778 gave a quick shiplap to mate the boards up.

Then I installed the shelf (no glue required, nice tight fit) and resawed the top and bottom panels, rough-planed the inner surfaces and rounded over the exposed edges with a bullnose profile and at that point everything went to sit in the staging area and I moved onto bookshelves, cutting them to shape (hooray for french curves) and starting into cutting dados and dovetails (ah, Sapele, nature’s way of making you ask “why am I doing this to myself?”) and gluing up the bookshelf which got left to cure.

Then on to prepping and rounding over a presentation plate for a truncheon and cutting the mounts and gluing them in place, and then finally doing some finishing and adding hinges to bandsaw boxes.

At that point I knocked off the shed for the evening and went to bake a pecan mud pie for tomorrow’s christmas dinner and lay out mince pies and a glass of tequila for santa and so on, and finally got to bed around 0200.

The next morning (Xmas day) saw the traditional 0600 five-year-old wakeup and perimeter search for fat men in red suits or their spoor, then there was unwrapping and five hours of listening to and singing along to the Transformers:RescueBots theme tune (thank you so much Nicole Dubuc).

After that, back out to the shed, trimmed the backing boards for the cupboard to length and nailed them on, cut a 3mm perspex panel to size on the bandsaw (I don’t have glass-cutting facilities and really don’t want them because cleaning up broken glass in the shed would be a nightmare), fitted it and glued and pinned the other rail on the door, then fitted it to the cupboard opening (the pinned joints mean you don’t need to wait for the glue to cure). Then the top and bottom panels got fitted to the carcass and glued and nailed in place (after filing down the nail sizes because even the smallest cut nails I had would have punched through into the carcass interior and I just don’t like the look of clenched nails because the look like what I used to do to nails when I was five…). The presentation plate and the bookshelf feet got some CA glue and felt.

At that point, everything got a quick spray of matt or gloss lacquer depending on the project (gloss for sapele and walnut, matt for the cupboard) and left to dry for an hour or so.

You can tell I’m right-handed – right hand has three or four small cuts, while my left hand has 23. That’s because you hold the chisel in your right hand and stab it into the left one 😀

An hour and some tea later, the cupboard door got hinges and a latch and I then realised I didn’t have a handle for it even though I’d been standing beside shelves of the things yesterday in woodies… so we left some gift ribbon wrapped around the door to let it get pulled open. Oh well, screwing on a handle isn’t that hard…

And that was it. Time up and we’re off to xmas dinner at my parent’s place and delivery.

For my sister and her husband, a wall cupboard in some nice clean poplar:

The dovetails weren’t terrible

And the cut nails and the top plate worked well, I thought, especially with the bronze finish finials of the hinges and the perspex panel isn’t that terribly kitsch. There is a branded makers mark, but it’s on the bottom and I forgot to take a photo of it.

For mom, a sapele and ash bookshelf (the ash was part of the original batch of slats for her granddaughter’s cot, so she liked that feature):

For my brother who’s now training for the Gardai…

Irish Yew for the truncheon, which was the super-top-secret-squirrel commission that Tom Murphy did for me (he’s got a bit of form with turning); American black walnut for the presentation plate).

For dad, a large bottle of good single malt 😀

And for Claire, some chocolates:

And some nice earrings…

Getting slightly better at grain matching, not so much at coping with bandsaw kerf in internal plugs. There is also a nice walnut desk shelf with bookmatched back rails but it’s not finished yet (some projects got extended deadlines in favour of family time). But the next few days have no shed time planned and the next shed project will be cleaning down from the last few days while we eat all the selection boxes and stay in pyjamas drinking tea and I watch Peter Follansbee build a 17th century chest and all of the woodworking videos on youtube 😀

Happy Solstice everyone…

Nyaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh….

Seriously, who timed this christmas lark? It’s supposed to be January 6 for feck’s sakes…

Getting better at these. Only three of the four joints look like a blind boy scout attacked them with a dull beaver…

But they go together…

And the carcass is square. Grand. Only sixty more steps to go. Hide glue, btw. Set aside to cure for most of the day. then planed the face side so it was all in plane and with no twist. Then went to nail on the face frames and discovered I’d resawn them down to use as back boards. For feck’s sakes…

And no, it won’t work when the face frames are thinner than the door because then the hinges won’t work (and there’s not enough thickness to even attach them anyways)
I did find another poplar stick I can use, so it’s recoverable but I’m not loving when this happens.

Some of the bandsaw boxes are coming along nicely. But I definitely need more room…

And got a coat of oil on the walnut boxes – the poplar ones get different coats and I got a test stick done to see which I want to use.

This box is definitely going for the most-awkward-glue-up award…

And still a bunch of things to do. Oh, and I just realised at the end there that I didn’t have the small hinges I thought I did so I have to do a run to Woodies tomorrow. Nyaaaarrrggghhhh…..

Under pressure…

What idiot scheduled this christmas lark? Gah.

Started with some bandsaw time. Ripped the bottom part of the cupboard to width and set that to one side, then took all the bandsaw box blanks and cut those. By the time I was done, it was time to pick up junior from his last day of school for the year. Then it was time to sand…

Only 80 grit so the dust wasn’t so bad and that’s the bulk of both the bandsaw mark removal and the initial shaping done. There will be more sanding to come though. However by now it was time for (a) lunch and (b) a trip to the post office and then into the Big Schmoke (Dublin for the non-Irish readers) to meet up with a friend who’s a wood turner (along with a few other things, hi Tom!) to pick up a commission which will be an xmas gift. Photos to follow, it’s a lovely piece of work but super top secret squirrel for now.

Then back to sanding. 120 grit this time to get the initial finish and refine some shaping.

This is not my favourite part of this process. It’s dusty. That’s a green jumper, not an artisanal bleached thing. And that’s with the dust extraction running but I suspect an adapter isn’t correctly sized. Some ebaying to do to fix that one properly (I can’t just duct tape it because the hose is constantly swapped between bandsaw and sander). But the boxes came through okay and one or two might be nice.

BTW, that trip to the post office…

Set of six complete (and wound up in immediate use so yay).

A #4 round. I was looking at the whole hollow and round set thing and most of the experts on this agree that you should start off with four – one hollow and round each in two sizes. Those sizes depend on the size of the furniture you build, and for me, 4s and 6s should be the most useful, with occasional excursions to 2s and 8s. These things aren’t that expensive if you buy second hand and not in matched pairs, which obviously isn’t the best but frankly I don’t have room for any of this anyway so I’m not quite willing to throw a thousand quid at a half-set when forty will get me the ones that’ll do 80% of the work. And complex mouldings can wait for a while. Beading planes would be nice, I can think of a few places I’d use those, but I do have a few ways to make beads at the moment between the #055C and the scratch stock. But if I see something nice on ebay I might jump for it. And snipe bills might be handy too, but again, when they come up on ebay. That’s the plan anyway. I did have one exception from that plan which arrived today, the new record-setter for “oldest tool in the shed”:

It’s a reeding plane (ie. two beads side by side which lets you cut an infinite array of beads for decorative effects). Triple boxed no less (those light-coloured insets are boxwood, which is much harder wearing than the beech of the main body). Which might explain why it’s still in usable condition even though it dates from somewhere in or around 1850.

The thing’s 167 years old. Give or take a year.

And it was twenty pounds sterling.

I guess antiques just aren’t valued all that highly…

Anyway, on with the work.

Awkward finicky glue-ups for the bandsaw boxes (one of many glue-up stages because a few of these have awkward build processes due to my bandsaw having a silly small depth-of cut limit of 75mm).

And then time for dovetails.

Just stood up the carcass and did a bit of humming and hawing and making sure I was happy with which board went where and which way up it faced. Then out with the sticky dots.

Nice little trick from David Barron that one, makes it easy to keep track of what end mates to what end and what side is on the outside.

Picked a joint at random, got out the tools and marked up.

And after cutting the saw cuts, out with the new tool, a dovetail alignment jig (this one’s a bit sheddy with all the screws and plywood and glue, but if it works…)

You get the idea, though the rebate is getting in the way here a bit – normally both boards would butt up against the fence to align, but here the critical alignment is on the inside shoulder of the rebate (or I’d just flip both boards over). So it gets a bit more finicky. In fact I might not use it for the rest of the joints because of that, but the idea itself is grand.

So it works reasonably well. I’m worried about it racking the carcass a bit though. We’ll see. I did have to wrap it there because I could saw out the pins and cut out most of the waste with the fretsaw but chopping the remaining waste after 2300h is a bit of an anti-social thing to do in a housing estate on a Friday night. Sleep, and hopefully an early start in the shed to try to get stuff done tomorrow. Time’s getting on and I might have to resort to power tools for one or two jobs I’ve been wondering about. Oh well.

Earned.

Happy Solstice!

Shortest day of the year so least work done. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Started off with presents – some arrived yesterday but I couldn’t get to them and some arrived this morning, so yay!

Not Moore&Wright, but cheap and cheerful. I’m trying to cure myself of my combi-phobia. Is Moore&Wright. Offset calipers for scribing lines parallel to an edge. Nice idea. 3″ Record clamp. I have 2″ and 4″ ones, figured it’d be useful to see if something in between was useful.And a 2″ clamp because it was going in the lot. Another 2″ one that was in the lot. At a fiver, cheap. Have a few of these already and they have a habit of being useful.And a pair of 4″ clamps (I have three, I’m always needing a fourth. There’s another still in the post because I know the minute I have five I’ll need a sixth). I don’t like painting wood with latex paint much, it’s a bit meh. But I saw a nice guitar or two being done by the Crimson Guitars mob with these water-based stains and there was a cool demo panel they did with them that I had an idea for:

Might be able to replicate that. We’ll see. On with the presents…

A six and seven hollow to try a decorative element I’ve been playing with…

Shows promise; needs more work though. Don’t need this till later so that’s fine.Nice V-tool. I bought a tiny little one from proops last week for two or three pounds and made a rudimentary handle for it, sharpened it up and it was useless. It must have been meant for a power carver tool or something. This one however, without any sharpening, was miles beyond that:

Proops on the inside, Mattheison (the new one) on the outside. Soooo much better. Still needs work, but that’s for another day.

And then the biggie…

Frame saw! 700mm blade filed rip, compared to the ryoba’s 300mm. so you can see why it would have an advantage. This is the English pattern frame saw, not the French one with the blade in the middle, but for resawing this shouldn’t make any real difference. The blade length obviously will (the French pattern ones can be four feet long or more); but shed has a problem with French pattern frame saws…

Specifically, there’s not enough room for a full throw on a 700mm blade (the handle is in contact with the wood store there); a 1200mm blade would require a small window be cut in the wall of the shed… but even I’m not ready to do that. As it is I’ve had to move a few pieces of wood around in the store.

So obviously, this needs testing in something other than pine (which was the first test cut).

Poplar, 9″ by 4″ thick. Took 12m 30 seconds including a bit of faffing about moving plywood out of the way and all that, but I figure that’s built in fudge factor. So how does that scale up? I have a few 5″x15″ pieces and 6″x17″ pieces along with the 7″x16″ top/bottom plates.

So I thought volume removed might be a good guide; that’s the saw kerf times the square area cut through, and the kerf won’t change so just look at the area. Should be 0.347 minutes per square inch, right? That means the 5″x15″ pieces should take about 26 minutes each. Yikes. Okay, let’s give that a go.

Holy crap. An hour. It took a sodding hour. I mean, it’s a lot less effort than the ryoba was and maybe I just need to get the swing of it, but a stinking hour…

Cut quality is okay. Ryoba’s better but then it’s a finer plate. Maybe I need to sharpen the saw? The teeth are sticky-sharp but maybe they just need a touch-up.

So how long does it take to thickness off that quarter-inch by scrub plane? 15 minutes. And that’s to thickness and flattened and with the twist taken out. I ditched the saw idea for the sides and thicknessed them by scrub plane as well. And I had to mill another piece because the side I had sawn went from three-quarters of an inch sawn to half-inch when smoothed out enough to use. Gah. So that’s the shelf 😀

That’s the downside of the thicknessing approach really. You convert material into waste at a fair clip. That floor was clean this morning, that’s all from today.

But we have all the parts milled and squared and I could get started in on joinery at last.

Enter the rebate plane again, and I took a quarter-inch by one inch rebate off the backs of the sides.

Then out with saw, chisel and router plane and I cut the housing joint for the shelf.

Even got to use my side rabbit plane to trim the joint a bit. Slightly fiddly but…

Sorted. Fairly late at this stage and I started on the top and bottom which will be dovetailed into the sides. They needed a bit of treatment on the shooting board and then I realised I hadn’t cut the bottom to width yet (doh) so I marked out for that and I’ll hit the bandsaw in the morning and do that and the box blanks I have lying around.

And then I’ll make up that Japanese saw hook and get to dovetailing.

That was it in the shed for the evening; had to hit the kitchen to make gravlax for the family xmas dinner. Pretty simple recipe.

Take your fresh salmon trimmed and de-pin-boned to your liking. Measure its weight. Now mix a quarter of that weight in salt in a bowl with an equal weight of castor sugar and an equal weight of grated beetroot. cut a lime into wedges and fillet out the pulp and discard it; cut up the rind to small pieces and throw that into the mix. Now throw a good sized bunch of dill (chopped) into the mix. Put the salmon into a sous vide bag or lay it on some clingfilm or use tupperware, just keep this contained because beetroot is a great dye. Douse the salmon in the mix, then wrap it in your chosen containment method and put it in a secondary containment tray, put another tray on top and weight that down and then put the whole assembly in the fridge for a few days. Turn the fish upside down daily. Three or four days should do it. Then you remove, rinse off the salt/sugar/beetroot/dill mix and pat dry; slice thinly and serve on blinis or however you like to eat smoked salmon because this is like that only tasty.

Also, whatever you do, don’t put it in the fridge and relax for an hour and then remember when writing up the recipe for the blog that you left the dill sitting on top of the counter and the mix was missing a key ingredient because then you have to reopen the bag and chuck everything into the bag and squish it around a bit and get covered in beet juice a second time and you’ll have an opening in the glove that lets the salt in to find the four or five small nicks you got from the chisel and cleaning the throat of the fillister plane earlier.

 

 

By the way. Meet our new breadbin, courtesy of TK Maxx. Made from bamboo.

Is it me? Am I the crazy one? Or does that crooked joint at the top of the tambour drive your fingernails into itchy mode as well? The whole top hasn’t even tried for a square joint with the sides. It’s a good ten degrees out.

 

 

There’s nothing for it, I’m going to have to make a better one, aren’t I?

Kneedeep in shavings and carrying on

So, I’ll start with the end of something. Made as a gift for a friend of Claire’s:

Walnut offcut from the cot, some brass and pewter hardware and felt and viola, a small necklace box. Or key box I suppose. Didn’t come out too badly.

Then it was time to start pushing.

The problem with making a lot of rough-cut component parts is that then you have to turn them into planed non-rough component parts. At least it’s just poplar. And I did stop for forty minutes or so at the start to take the irons from my #04, #04½, #05 and #05½ planes to the diamond plates. It would have been less time, but I discovered the #05’s iron was skewed quite badly (one side was almost 2mm longer than the other). No wonder my lateral adjuster was always canted right over. Cue a lot of time on the 300grit plate because for some reason I thought that’d be faster than turning through 180 degrees and taking the bench grinder down off the wall. I don’t know, ask your mom.

I’m finding that this is pretty nice poplar by the way, I’d be tempted to oil this stuff. I know it gets a bad rap with woodworkers who think timber is NFG if it wasn’t all riven by hand from a single tree that grew in a tropical rainforest on the southern slope of a hill in Fiji before being cut down by hand using dental floss, but this has some nice grain and surface appearance. I might do this project over again in beech later, but I’m not regretting using the poplar here.

That chunk of plywood and the dowel on the left will become a new Japanese saw benchhook:

I was going to use that small piece of sapele the dowel is resting on as the stop but it’s a bit short and a short stop is a bit of a pain so I planed, halved and glued up a scrap piece of walnut there on the right. Yes, scrap walnut exists. Hush.

I don’t know why I’m keeping those little pine arrow shapes and the walnut scrap they’re on. Every time I go to chuck them I just find myself stopping for some reason. Presumably my subconscious has an idea it’s not ready to tell me about yet. We’ll see.

Four boards to thickness down by a quarter inch and an eight-inch wide board to resaw. Well, that’ll get you procrastinating in a hurry. I’m annoyed as well, I bought a frame saw just for this job and it’s still in Germany. What’s the holdup…

Huzzah! It might be here by tomorrow so. Right, ditch the resawing/thicknessing work and let’s park that project until the saw gets here on the bet that a frame saw makes resawing as easy as everyone says it does.

On to other things. I have a few bandsaw blanks; time to stare at them for a while and think of what to do with them…

We’ll see if they turn out the way I hope. I don’t like using machinery at the best of times but that late in the evening it felt like it’d be unsocial so nix that and I’ll do it tomorrow.

Sapele. Lovely to look at but a complete PITA to work with by hand. The toothing plane was needed to flatten that board (hence the grooved dull appearance of the board on the right) and to then smooth the surface I resorted to my #04½ because I ground that thing with a higher angle a while back and put a back bevel on the iron. And even with it set to a whisper thin cut and skewing the iron and having the chipbreaker set within a glint of the cutting edge, it’s not quite perfect. Scrapers will be needed… but I’ll leave that till after joinery is done.

Meanwhile, I need to do some cleaning up. If only I knew someone who had a wood stove in the middle of the kilkenny countryside I could get to burn this lot…

And it’ll probably get done sometime next week, but I have another commission. That’s the word for when your wife orders you to make something for junior, right? 😀 He needs a shelf for his bedtime story book, but it should go on the floor because that’s the easiest place to keep them if you’re sitting by the bed reading to him. So…

Starting again…

I figure, with six projects sitting in component form in the staging area of the shed, best get to work making even more components for a seventh project. Because Reasons.

Anyway, the first video I ever saw by Richard Maguire was about building a small wall cupboard (in a sort-of, kind-of, if-you-squint shaker style probably best described as “`English colloquial” 😀 ):


I’ve wanted to build this for a while. But I don’t have the ten feet of pre-planed three-quarter inch thick pine his plans call for. What I do have is a pair of boards of inch-and-a-quarter rough-sawn poplar, mostly free from green stains…

That should work. And sod feeling bad about doing the rough-cuts with a power circular saw. Do you see room in there for me to swing a full-size handsaw? Or have a sawbench? Besides, do you know how they did this back in the 17th century? Apprentices!!! (And there isn’t room for one in there either, even if you can find smaller rooms being rented for the price of a car a month on daft.ie). So.

Woodwork al fresco. Yes, the deck’s a mess. I’ll tidy after the solstice when there’s time.

Right, that’s the rough-cut chunks for the cupboard on the left, a chunk intended for another project (yes, that’s eight, I know, hush), and offcuts that will probably become bandsaw boxes or the like.

Now, time to figure out layout a bit better.

Design, meet wood. Wood, meet design. This is the humming and hawing stage when I try to think through the size in the design and how to break down the parts best, and whether stuff is getting thicknessed by scrub plane or resawn or whatever.

Resawing is a pain to do, thicknessing is only slightly better, but a lot of parts in this can be under three inches wide and those I can resaw with the bandsaw reasonably easily. I do have a frame saw on the way for wider stuff to see if it helps (lots of people say it does), but the thing’s in Cologne with no sign of moving for the last week. Sodding DHL.

Round one with the bandsaw. I’ve planed a reference edge with the #05 and #08 and marked off the far edge with the panel gauge after sharpening the pin a little with the diamond paddles. I’ll rip those on the bandsaw and get widths (there’s some damage on the edges – the boards must have been near the edge of the pack in the timber yard I guess).

And I’m trimming up the bandsaw blanks while I’m at it.

Right, that’s the edges sorted. Plus I get a few pieces to test finish on.

Then I start marking off various parts. By the time I’m done, I’ve used almost all my gauges (you don’t unset the gauge until you’re sure you’re done with that measurement; that ensures you’ll only have to reset the gauge for the one cut you’ve forgotten instead of five or six times).

And time for round two with the bandsaw (after lunch):

Right. Now I plane a reference edge and face on each part and mark the relevant parts for resawing or thicknessing. And then change my mind about thicknesses – I’ll leave the front of the cupboard three-quarters of an inch thick (which is a standardish sort of thickness for these things) rather than a half-inch. The back panel will still be a half-inch, and I’ll make the sides three-quarters and the top and bottom of the carcass and the shelf will be half-inch and so will the top and bottom cap pieces (so top and bottom overall will be an inch thick and the sides a quarter-inch less).

This is about the point where I discover that my favorite small proops brothers engineers square is… not. Square that is, it’s out by almost a full mm across its arm, I must have whacked it off something without noticing. I know I didn’t drop it. I don’t know if you can true one of these back up with the kit I have available. I may just need to buy a new one (for all of a tenner or so). In the meantime, I have another engineer’s square and the new Moore&Wright sliding square so that’s fine. Except that I had to reshoot a bunch of edges to get them back to square. And then marking them out for resawing.

And back to the bandsaw for round three…

Right. That’s the rails and stiles for the front door, the boards for the back, and the sides and top and bottom will have to be resawn by hand.

Just clamping and stickering them for now to let them dry overnight without too much warp.

Yeesh. Really do need to start joinery on something soon, if only to clear space. I only just finished tidying this up on Saturday…

Also finished up the bandsaw box. Two coats of garnet shellac on top of two coats of danish oil, and then some hardware, and then some felt for the base and the drawer gap. More photos tomorrow.

And then there was this idea from Paul Sellers:

And it looked simple enough that I could do it with Calum, so I prepped a piece of pine and this evening we drew lines on it, sawed it with a small ryoba rather than using the chisel Sellers used which would be a little dangerous for a five-year-old (or for me in close quarters with a small child holding a surgically sharp pointy lump of metal for that matter), and cleaned it up using “his” number #03 plane (because it has two places to hold that keep small fingers away from sharp edges). And then split it with a hammer and enough glee to convince me it’s a good thing we don’t have a cat.

Then break out the green spraypaint and masking tape and do the next bit outdoors 😀

Came back a bit later with spray-on snow and drilled a hanging hole…

Not bad for a five-year-old.

Madelines

Well, this post has sat around as a draft for two years now, so maybe I should finish it…

Anyway. Madelines. Small crunchy-on-the-outside citrusy sponge cakes that are brilliant with a cup of tea in the morning. Yes, crunchy. If you’ve had them and they were soft, they weren’t fresh. They go soft as they go off.

Also, you need a special pan. Yes, you do. You can pour the batter into anything but it won’t be a madeline, the same way it’s a stew instead of a tagine unless it’s made in a tagine or a casserole has to be made in a cassarole or a … you get the idea. It’s one of those named-for-the-dish cooking vessels. For madelines they look like this:

Sorry, no, google I said “madeline pan“…

And you’ll want to have a piping bag. You’ll think you won’t but you try doing this with spoons and you’ll wind up swearing a lot about how next time you’ll use a piping bag.

Also, preheat the oven. Temperature is a massive thing for this recipe, as is piping in the right amount of batter.

The easiest way to start is in the stand mixer bowl (you don’t need a stand mixer. You also don’t need a car to get to work, the bike or bus or train would do fine, but you’re a fancy sod, aren’t you?) and try to get 100g of eggs in (just keep cracking eggs till you’re at or past 100g, then scale all the rest of the recipe to match – the rest of the amounts here will assume you got to 110g, beat the eggs to a homogenous mix, then ditched 10g of the egg mixture because you’re phobic about maths).

Now, 90g of butter and 2 teaspoons of honey into a small pot, melt gently on the hob and let it come back to room temperature. Once they’ve melted and are cooling, you can add citrus zest or vanilla essence or whatever you feel like. Personally I like lemon zest and vanilla here and adding a handful of poppy seeds to the flour later but if you want to make mint salted caramel madelines, well, not in my f*&$ing kitchen you’re not.

Now, back in the stand mixer bowl add 75g of castor sugar, 10g of soft brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix with the whisk attachment by hand just to get the sugar off the bottom and into solution, then put the attachment back into the machine and whisk on high until the mixture triples in volume. Don’t cut this step short, this is all the air that’s going into this and you don’t want to eat window putty, you want a light sponge which means lots of air at this step.

Next, sieve 90g of plain or self-raising flour into a bowl. There’s not enough difference in the two flours to really worry about at this stage. Michelle Roux Jr. might worry, but unless you’re a professional pastry chef who’s famous for his desserts and underpaying his staff, the difference isn’t going to be very important to you. You’ll screw something else up sufficiently to hide the difference anyway.

Now, sieve the mixed flour into the stand mixer bowl, folding it in carefully with a spatula (yes, turn off the mixer and take the bowl out first, or it’s going to be very funny for everyone else). Lose as little of the air in the batter as you can. Once you’ve finished all the flour, do the same with the butter that’s by now cooled to room temperature (if it hasn’t cooled and you try this, you’ll scramble the eggs, which will suck and won’t make madelines). Pour the butter down the side of the bowl rather than dumping it directly into the batter, or the whole thing collapses and sinks like a souffle in a cement mixer.

Fill the piping bag, then put it in the fridge and forget about it till tomorrow.

Next day.

Yes, the next day. Feck’s sakes, you didn’t start reading this ten minutes before you needed them did you? Anyway. Next day. Preheat the oven to 210C.

Take a tablespoon or two of butter and put it in a plastic bowl and microwave it till it’s almost melted (or, if you don’t have kids you can use a small pot on the hob or microwave it in tupperware or whatever). Now brush it on the depressions in the pans. You don’t want a thin translucent smear here; you want a thickish coat because that butter is going to fry the batter for that crust. I mean, not a tablespoon per madeline, but a good schmear.

Now, pipe in batter to each depression. You want to fill each depression by about 75% – I usually find that piping at a good rate from one end to the other and back again is about right, but give it a go yourself and you’ll figure it out. Or, you know, just give up, curse the whole thing and buy them from a bakery in future.

Then put the pan into the 210C oven (no, put it back on the counter and feckin’ wait for the oven to heat up, for feck’s sakes…) and immediately drop the temperature to 200C and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. The batter will rise in the oven in a small peak in the middle of each madeline, called the nipple because it’s a french dessert and of fecking course it is…

Knock them out of the pan immediately (and then use a butter knife to prise out the last two that always stick) and then cool them on a rack for a few minutes until you can hold them without burning your hand, and serve while still warm.

Oh, and if you can’t serve them warm, leave them cool completely and then dip them in chocolate. I mean, they won’t be as good as fresh, but they’ll be dipped in chocolate and well, what isn’t better for being covered in chocolate?

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