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.


13
Jan 17

Testing

Last few days have mainly been testing; both in the “new toys and new ideas” sense and in the “three days off from food poisoning and losing ten pounds in the process” sense. Happily, I only have photos from the former.

I did get some work done on the cot before the enforced break set in, the biggest and trickiest of the mortise and tenon joints is now all fettled and the slats have been picked out and I’m working on the spacing for them. But apart from that, it’s been small stuff only.

I was wondering about the exposed end grain bits there will be in the cot and then I saw this approach by Brian Halcombe :

It’s downright pretty. I wondered if I could do that so I sharpened my smallest gouge and dug into a scrap bit of walnut:

Well, the idea works at least. I need a bit more practice, and maybe a slightly narrower gouge (and it needs to be a lot sharper than mine was, I just stropped it, but it needs to go back to the stones properly), but that might be a runner.

Then the new toy arrived…

For anyone who’s not seen one before, it’s a dovetail guide. There’s a magnet inside to hold the saw against the guide so your angles are correct, some low-friction pads over that so the saw can slide freely, and a bit of sandpaper to help keep the guide in place against the wood:

It’s pretty simple to use:

I had a bit of a play when it first arrived, just cutting saw kerfs to see how it handled, and then tried giving it a go for an actual joint. It works as advertised, but there is a point the instructions don’t warn you about, namely, be careful where you put it down on the bench…

…or else you get a ball of magnetised sharp edges and points to deal with 😀

Apart from that, it makes the process much easier.

I made life a bit difficult for myself here though, because the pieces of wood I was using weren’t wide enough for three tails given the size of chisels I have; I wound up cleaning out the waste with the tip of the marking knife in the end because my smallest chisel was over twice the width of the gap between pins. And between that and general fumbling, there were gaps all over the final joint:

But for a first attempt at dovetails, it’s not too bad. Besides, I was having trouble feeling my fingers, it was a bit chilly in the shed:

Eeek. No glue-ups possible at that temperature…

 


07
Jan 17

Lists

So, new years are all about lists and I figured I’d go through the last one…

  • Rip the top panel to width.

Yeah, that’s done. What I missed was that when I cut that top panel down to length, I cut it to the shoulder-to-shoulder length, not the overall length, so it was now too short. The single biggest part in the entire piece and it didn’t fit. It turns out that in the shed, they can hear you scream.

So, new item:

  • Add spare piece of walnut to top stretcher on drawer end, matching grain, to fill the gap left by the top panel being too short.

And that’s now done as well.

  • Add the rebate and bevel to the top panel.

Done, and I’ve had to make small cut-outs at the corners to allow for the vertical posts as well.

  • Cut grooves for top panel in long stretchers.

Not doing that yet; I’ll do it after the mortices for the slats are cut because the groove will weaken the back top stretcher somewhat so I’d rather cut the groove after the bit that involves me belting the thing with a hammer is done.

  • Cut mortice for back support.
  • Cut back support to length and cut tenon on bottom end.

Not done yet…

  • Figure out joint at the top of the back support for the top crossrail.
  • Figure out joints at the tops of the two steambent uprights.

Both of these are done; the steambent uprights will end in tenons with the mortices in the crossrail, which will help with that small deviation in one of them. The joint at the top of the back support will be a dovetail (I have a David Barron dovetail guide in the post to help with that because freehand I suck at these).

And now another new item, after I gave up on using the existing crossrail (it would have been too short):

  • Rip new crossrail from last long walnut board in my stash, and plane to S4S and twist-free.

That was relatively painless but my ripping with the ryoba was not very good. Still, was able to clean it up with the plane with the aid of a benchtop four-year-old.

That’s all that’s been done so far. I lost two days to making a new shooting board and fixing the T5’s blade; the end results from the test pieces have been much, much better than the last one. And I’ve been too tired to hit the shed a few nights in a row; I’m about ready for a holiday after that xmas break…

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.
  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly) and cut tenons.
  • Cut mortices for 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.

29
Dec 16

Testing…

Finished the last of the crossbars today, checked the fit and fettled a bit, and then thought I’d try test-assembling the base…

That’s the bending jig; it was MDF so I considered it disposable (I must recover the screws from it now that I think about it). And the light was just going, hence the odd lighting. This really is too large to assemble on the bench; I’ll have to assemble it on this. It’s worse for wear thanks to moisture, but pffft. It’s MDF. It’s for the bin anyways.

Mental note, next time do this in daylight; can you see the deliberate error? 😀 I put the top bar at the end closest to the camera in upside down by mistake and got almost an inch of misalignment at the top, which gave me a moment’s pause until I figured out what I’d done.

When I put the end crossbar in the right way up, it’s nice and flush. Next job will be to cut the grooves for the top panel (and then cut the top panel to size, it’s quite a bit wider than the base because I didn’t rip the boards down; why bother until I had the final width determined?).

That nearest steambent upright is actually perfect, annoyingly. The end (the one floating in mid-air there) is at a perfect 90 degrees to the vertical. It’s making the other one look bad.

So, what’s left?

  • Rip the top panel to width.
  • Add the rebate and bevel to the top panel.
  • Cut grooves for top panel in long stretchers.
  • Cut mortice for back support.
  • Cut back support to length and cut tenon on bottom end.
  • Figure out joint at the top of the back support for the top crossrail.
  • Figure out joints at the tops of the two steambent uprights.
  • Fit top crossrail to back support and steambent uprights.
  • Cut back slats to length and cut tenons.
  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly) and cut tenons.
  • Cut mortices for slats.
  • 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.

 


28
Dec 16

In the shed, nobody can hear you scream

So, job one, get the end crossbars in place. Time to chop some mortices with damn near no margin for error at all…

The new mortices for the end panel are within a millimeter of the other mortices for the side panels. In one case, there’s an actual small breakthrough.

But it held and that’s one down. Then on to chopping mortices in the steambent upright, which is equally stressful because if you stuff it up, it’s a lot of repair work.

Awkward to chop too. There was a bit of spokeshave work before this, I figured do that before cutting holes in the thing…

The holdfasts really do make this a lot easier.

Then assembly and fettling…

Ah, feck. Can you see the problem?

Yeah, I’m going to have to rethink how the crossbar at the top attaches here. Poop. The earlier idea of the tenons being on the crossbar and going in from the side probably won’t work. Tenons on the uprights and mortices in the crossbar I suppose.

Then get on with the panel as I can do that now. Squared up the end grain, then marked off the right width, ripped off about 2cm of material to get to final planed width. Took out a rebate with the #778:

And then flip the board over and push it in from the edge a bit and use the jack to plane a small bevel on the panel. Then it’s fitting and fettling and…

Not bad so far. That’s the three side panels done now, leaving only the top panel to be set in place, I’ll wait to get the crossbar idea sorted first, then I’ll rip that panel to width, do the rebates and bevel, and use either the #44 or the #43 to cut a groove for it, bearing in mind that the bars getting that groove already have one groove on the bottom for the side panels and will have mortices for the slats as well. It’ll all be grand when it’s all glued up, but during construction it’s going to be a bit fragile…


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