Dec 16

Properly bent

Right, Saturday morning so on with steambending the second upright.


Mise en place all done. Now, on with the polythene tube…


And now put the compression strap in place, clamp it at one end and get the “start bend here” line matched up with the initial straight part of the jig.


I’ve just clamped the end block here temporarily, I’ll remove those before steaming and reclamp them before bending (I want the excess water to be able to drain out of the tube readily, and it can’t do that when the end is pinched by the clamps).


The idea here is to prevent that end block from twisting out and away from the piece because if it does, the compression strap won’t be in compression and the outside of the piece will splinter.


And steam on!

img_0047aUnder covers, though, because it’s bloody cold out and that’ll suck the heat right out of the piece which is not going to help things.

Now, while that steams for two hours, on to the next job, the large top panel in the bottom box part of the crib.

img_0049a img_0050a

Four feet by one foot of rough-sawn ash with a bit of twist in the second board. That’s rather a good lesson in “why we invented powered planer/thicknessers”

Two hours (and some tea) later, it’s time to bend…


The handy thing (well, amongst several things) about this method is that the bend doesn’t have to be done in under 20 seconds. This took nearly 20 minutes in total. First off, ensure the two end blocks are all clamped firmly in place.


And then it’s just musclepower to grab the piece and pull it to the form, adding the clamps as they fit (and towards the end, you pull the piece in using the clamps, just slowly turning the handle to crank the piece in).ย img_0055a

And make sure the interim points are pulled in as well.img_0059a

And note that the steam’s still going during all of this. And you leave it going for a while longer (and you put the covers back over it when it’s bent fully too). In this case, it got another half hour or so before the water ran out and then everything stayed on the jig cooling off (under covers so that it didn’t cool too fast) for another two hours, and then all the clamps come off and the piece comes out of the poly tube.


This is annoyingly good. Annoying because there were no splinters or cracking, which means I now have one upright that was perfectly bent and another that was imperfectly bent. Do I match the two or do I bend a third and use #2 and #3? It’d cost another week…

No splintering but some deformation of the surface because I forgot to put the leather between the compression strap and the piece. There’s always something. Well, we’ll let it dry for a week and do some spokeshave work and decide then I guess. Meanwhile, time to take it from the overbent 105 degrees to the final 90 degrees on the drying form.


One clamp to start, crank it in a bit and let the two ends slide as needed, then add more clamps to tighten everything up.


It’s a pretty good fit to the curve so far. Only minor gaps.


And the form isn’t 100% perfect itself, so this is good enough. And the measurements of the piece match within a few mm to the earlier piece.


Now I guess we just wait for the new piece to finish drying and then do proper comparisons and see if we can get these two to match and use them. They’re both tall enough at least. Now, back to finishing off the top panel…


Okay, that’s way too large and too much work to do for planing. Time to rough-cut it down to closer to the final size.



And that’s a bit more manageable. I’ll finish this off tomorrow. And then there’ll just be another three ash panels and one drawer front to do. Yeesh.
And then there’s the frames to put them into as well, but Iย can’t really tackle those until I have the uprights as they form two of the four vertical frame pieces (there’s a fifth but it’s not involved in the panel layout).

I was reading through Schwartz’s The Anarchist’s Toolchest over the last few weeks, there’s a neat trick he does for frames and panels in the toolchest that I might steal for here, which is to cut two grooves in the frame and the panel pieces instead of one groove and one tongue – then you offset the panel towards the outside of the box and the side wall of the panel’s groove acts as the tongue to the frame’s groove; and the other side wall of the panel stands proud of the frame. And in this case, I’d plane a bevel around the edges of the panels to give a 3-D effect. Have to get the #40 plane up and running for that though, and it’s currently got some corrosion issues…


Dec 16

Platform and salvage

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d get this done by today, but I seem to be getting faster at chopping mortices, if not actually at marking them up. And it fits. There’s a small amount of twist here and there, I think I can straighten it out for the final assembly and then pin the tenons to help keep them flat (and it’ll look cool as well, little white ash pin dots along the walnut frame). The two long front and back rails are tilted with respect to each other, that will have to be planed away on the bottom but I’ll keep it on top as it gives a kind of lip to help keep the mattress centered which is nice.



And then it was time to take the frame out of the drying form and see how bad the springback would be and how bad the splintering was and if it was salvageable…img_0010a

Continue reading “Platform and salvage” »

Nov 16

More stock prep

So while waiting for the steambent walnut to dry, I got on with the mattress platform. First up, ripping out laths for the remaining crossmembers and prepping them.

Is it me or is stock prep the most common hand tool job of all?


I had an end piece of ash about two feet long that wasn’t going to be doing much else, so I chose that for the crosspieces. I wanted to get four out of it, a bit thinner than the walnut crossmembers for the visual look, but not too much thinner.

Then, once I had them ripped out, I had to thickness them down by a quarter inch or so. Four of them. In other words, I turned a 2″x1″x2′ length of ash completely into shavings. Even with Sid, it sucked.


Still, got it done. And Herself even brought me some coffee as it was kinda cold.


That’s marriage for you, right there.


The railway piece is a little repair job for Junior. Hooray for wooden railway sets, they’re easy enough to repair compared to the plastic ones. When those break, that’s it, the whole thing’s toast.

And they fit. Grand so, time to cut the joinery tomorrow…

Nov 16

Steaming cracks

Well, that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

The steaming jig was ready, the drying form was ready. all the shopping and other stuff was done yesterday, so this morning I finished planing up the two candidates for uprights so they matched perfectly in size, rigged up a wide compression strap from three narrower ones (thanks addresspal for losing my order for a wider one) and then into the plastic tubing one went, and in went the tube from the wallpaper stripper and away we went.


It got steaming pretty quickly, but it was a rather chilly breezy day today (down around 10 degrees or so air temperature at this point) which was depressing the temperature a bit every time the wind breathed wrong.


Some insulation was needed, so the airing cupboard got raided for towels.


And then it was just a case of waiting while the wood steamed, and refilling the tank of the wallpaper stripper about 45 minutes in before it ran out.

While waiting, I worked on the platform for the mattress. First up, double-check that the components matched in size.


Yup, all good. Then took the crossmembers, left the middle one aside for now, cut the other two shorter by about an inch, marked up for a half-inch wide mortice and tenon joint at each corner, and got chopping and sawing. I tried that method where you clamp a board in the face vice and put the board you’re morticing on the benchtop and clamp that to the board in the vice, and it works better than the method where you clamp the moticee board in the vice (morticee board? the thing you’re chopping holes in).

It didn’t turn out too badly. I’m tempted to drawbore these, or at least pin them, but I think the glue will hold them when I glue up. I checked the fit against the mattress again at this point and yup, it’s a solid match. Grand.

Now the downer. Continue reading “Steaming cracks” »

Nov 16


On with the crib, after a few days of sourcing wood and shed hardware…


You wouldn’t think Kendo and carpentry had much in common, but then you try rip cuts with a ryoba…

That’s the last walnut board to be planed and ripped for the frame for a little while might be one or two more to do yet, but I want to get some components made up and get moving on it. So I’m starting with the most independent part of the design, the platform for the mattress.

Measured off three walnut cross pieces, the two walnut long pieces, I need to think about whether there should be more ash cross pieces (I’m leaning heavily towards yes), and there’s another pair of cross pieces to go under the platform to secure it to the frame, but they can wait for now.

Lots of planing to thickness (using a scrub plane on walnut is vaguelyย wrong somehow) and getting the components square where they need to be and within a mm of each other’s dimensions.


Then laying it out and I think I either need a bigger bench or to tidy the last of the tools off the one I have ๐Ÿ˜€


They’ll be mortice&tenon joints, not half-laps, I just wanted to get a feel for the size of the thing first. I’ll check again before cutting the joints by laying it out on the mattress itself (just to be sure). Once the pieces for this start coming together, it’ll be relatively fast compared to the stock preparation.

One thing that’s changed in the last few days is that I got a measurement of the mattress height that this will match (sidecar cots’ mattresses are at the same height as the mattress of the bed mommy is in) and it’s much lower than I’d thought (I was using my bed as a rough guideline) which means that the steambent piece can be a single length of walnut from the ground to the rear crossrail, instead of there being a leg, a complicated scarf joint and then the steambent part. That makes things easier, but I might want to use a longer length of walnut for those parts just to be sure I have enough margin. I’ll bend one of the shorter lengths I have now, see how that goes and if it’s not long enough, I’ll prep and use the longer lengths.

Also, I took a plane to that giant sapele board’s smaller bit (the original 8′ board was cut down to 5′ and 3′) and once you plane off the bandsaw marks, it’s magnificent…


I have got to think of a really good use for that ๐Ÿ˜€

Nov 16



Yeah, it was that time again.
What happened was that I put one of the ash boards I’d bought last time and had intended for use in panels on the cot… into the wrong pile of boards for crosscutting when I got home (you have to do the first rough crosscut on the day you bring them home if you only have a tiny 8’x6′ shed to store them in. 16′ boards just won’t fit in there ๐Ÿ˜€ )
End result, I now get more of one project than I thought I would, but I needed more ash for the panel. Oh well. Off to Quinns again ๐Ÿ˜€

And if you’re buying one board, you might as well get a few so I picked up some more poplar and some beautiful sapele when I was there (16″ wide boards! No knots! Half the cost of walnut! Of course I bought some ๐Ÿ˜€ )

While I was at it, I also swung past Power City and picked up their smallest oil-filled radiator (you want a sealed unit like that, an open oil-free one would choke on the dust and shavings, and you don’t need a big unit as it’s a tiny space that you’re just trying to keep literally above 0ยฐC so the condensation doesn’t freeze on the tools and cause rust).

img_9935aYeah, you don’t want fan heaters or gas heaters or anything that could be an ignition source in here ๐Ÿ˜€ย 

Works well though – it was 6ยฐC outside at the time. That was 30 quid well spent. Now I can feel my fingers when working in the shed again.

Also, I’m back to my storage problems again…

That monster of a sapele board is just awesome (hell, I don’t even have a plan for how to use it yet) but it’s being painful to store. Rearranging and tidying up required…

Nov 16


Last time I was at the timber yard, they gave me a small offcut of sapele to play with.
I now know this was that “first free one” famed in drug dealer PSAs…
img_9908a img_9911a

Just look at that grain!

Also got to use the lidl chisels a bit after sharpening them. They came with flat backs along the first few inches in all bar the widest one and that only needed a minute or so of work; they take a nice edge and hold it reasonably well and they fit my hands fine. For less than a tenner, that’s a damn good bargain.

Nov 16

Bucket list

Well, *I* think it’s listing a bit to the side. Might need another screw.


Still, it gets the pencils and marking knife and some smaller things up off the bench.

Finished prepping another 48″ length of walnut for the frame, but the waney edge on it meant it wasn’t useful as a 48″ length. So I guess it’s going to be one of the front legs and two feet of spare walnut. Oh well.

Then I figured it was high time to get some practice in for the joinery on account of having only cut joints in pine before now and having new tools to try.


Okay, all marked up for a half-inch tenon. This is the kind of joint we’ll have in the box section at the base of the frame, so large tenons would be a good thing and the shoulders don’t have to take very much strain at all, they’re mostly for alignment. An ash pin (as opposed to a drawbore) might be a pretty addition to it, just for contrast. Might test that later on. For now, sawing with the new japanese saw…


My sawing needs some work. Hmmm. But that saw’s lovely to use.

img_9893a img_9894a

Fair bit of cleanup needed here with a chisel or a shoulder plane (a lot of which is down to markup errors, some of which were linked to the offcut being an odd off-square shape). But it’s better than it was in pine when building the bench. Now, time for the mortice. I’ll use the blue tape trick…

img_9895a img_9896a

All marked up. This is the point where I realised that somehow, despite setting the gauge off the width of the chisel, the tenon is not a half-inch wide, but just over. I think pencilling in the lines might have distorted things slightly. That or the offcuts weren’t quite square ๐Ÿ˜€

Cut the mortice out with the firmer chisel using the Paul Sellers method.

img_9899a img_9900a

Holy crap, but walnut is fun to work in compared to pine. I was dreading doing twenty or so of these, but this was genuinely satisfying fun. And, one slip while cleaning out the bottom of the mortice aside, it was a pretty clean job.


And it fits nice and tightly, exactly as it’s supposed to. Granted, the pieces weren’t square so the shoulder line is a bit off on the other face, but nonetheless I’m happy with that.

Nov 16

The marking on the wall

Finished the assembly of the marking tools holder and got it up on the wall.


Well. Almost finished it. I need to attach a pencilholder type of tube for pencils and a shorter one for marking knives and awls and so on, and I’d like a seperate shelf with a large hole in it to hold the morticing gauge. But I want there to be space in there for any future gauges as well, so that’s okay. It gets the bench a bit cleaner and makes life a bit easier. Progress. Small steps.

img_9869a img_9870a img_9871a

It’s a bit of a step forward from only a few weeks back.


And after that, ripped down another 48″x2″ length of walnut and marked up for the next 48″ length, which I’ll finish ripping tomorrow, and try to get some crosscuts done to get more components ready, and maybe practice cutting an M&T joint in walnut.

Nov 16

Cleaning up and first pieces

So first thing this weekend was to clean up the shed. So obviously that meant building the cyclone dust collector ๐Ÿ˜€ I had tried this earlier:


And obviously it didn’t work well because it leaked vacuum all over the place. Maybe with some sealant around the lip of the bin it would have worked, but meh, it was a trial run anyway, the plan was always to get a barrel instead. That proved a little awkward, nowhere around here sells them, so ebay it was and the thing got shipped from Germany of all places. Cut the hole in the top, fitted the cyclone to that, cut down the hose a bit because it proved to be too long to maintain vacuum, and then fired it up and it worked! So I started hoovering up the shavings….

….and the hose clogged. And then the vacuum kept building and, well…



Popped it back out, resorted to dustpan and brush for the bulk of the shavings, then got the last few and all the dust with the new dust collection system.


Going to have to build a frame to hold those two in one cart type thing. But that can be later.

Then, moved some offcuts around and cleared a little under-bench space and finally got the toolboxes out from under the stairs and in under the bench.


Need to get those glues and finishes into another crate as well. Progress though, one step at a time…

And it left me with a 20″x20″ piece of MDF with nothing to do, so I figured I might as well start on the next shed fix, which is to get the marking and measuring tools up on the wall.


Need to let the glue dry and do some cutting later on. Before that…


Assembling the bending jig (this is the reverse side, there are 2×3 laminated blocks on the far side glued and screwed into place. That’s a 10.3″ bending radius, and after the bend is done and it’s had a little while to cool on the bending jig, it gets transferred to a 12″ radius drying form for a week. And that took the next hour or two…


Who’s Diana?

I need to drill a hole or three still, but this is mostly done. Now I just need that 2″ wide bending strap that’s in the post to get here and I can do some steambending next weekend.

In the meantime though, it’s past time to be cutting out components for the frame. So a bit of thought on what should go where, some staring at the mattress for the cot and holding sticks and measuring tape and so on and then finally got the marking knife out and started crosscutting stuff to within a few mm of final dimensions and working with the shooting board.


That’s the four crossbars for the ends, two of the long stretchers, two more to come, and the two back legs (one *might* get replaced later, it wound up thinner than I wanted by the time it was free of twist). The rest of the week is going to see more of this until I have all the components. Then I’m practicing the joinery on some walnut offcuts to get used to the wood, and then after the steambending I’ll get on with cutting the actual joinery.

After that, we have panels to do, a drawer to assemble, and then it’s final assembly and finishing. Inside of five weeks. Time to get a move on, and get the next board marked up for prep on monday…


Stochastic Geometry is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache