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…

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.

Finishing experiment

All the major work is done now, everything’s glued up (though the last of the oak boxes is still curing really) and the prep finishing is either done or in train…

The poplar boxes have all had a coat of sanding sealer here (again, just blonde shellac cut down from a 2# cut to a half-pound cut), and the outer box of one has been test-finished with red milk paint (more on that in a moment). The oak boxes have all been given a coat of the oak tea (with surfactant) and they got another early this morning. The poplar drawer front on the oak-and-poplar box got a coat of sanding sealer.
The oak-and-poplar pencil box, the sapele boxes and the ash boxes all got another coat of danish oil and after the excess was wiped off and it had had a while to set up, they all got a coat of shellac (blond 2# shellac for the ash boxes; garnet #2 shellac for the sapele and the oak&poplar boxes). Tonight they’ll get a quick light sanding from worn 240grit paper and we’ll see if they need another coat or if I’ll go straight to poly (I wouldn’t for furniture, but these are quickly-made trinkets…).

Milk paint is neat stuff, at least in how it’s made up – you buy the powder (this is Causeway Sunset by The Crafty Bird in case anyone’s interested, I’ve had it a while and wanted to use it on something but never had the chance till now), and then you make it up on the fly as you need it, just mixing it with an equal amount of water (or in this case, a little less water to powder for a thicker mix). Make it up in a paper cup, apply from that cup, discard that cup. No half-full small tins of latex with the painted-on lids and the dribbles clogging up the shed for years before you finally give in and throw them out.

The downside is that the colours aren’t as bright as you get with latex-based paints, but some people prefer pastels and earthy shades. And even if you don’t, they can still be kindof striking:

Haven’t messed with colour enhance filters here, I promise. There’s white balancing and that’s all (and the white wall and the parchment paper give a decent white sample for the filter to latch onto) so the colour’s pretty true – it really is that jarring when wet. It dries to a chalky light pink, but when you put a topcoat on it, it darkens up again. We’ll see how well it copes, it got a spray of poly this morning and I think it’ll need another tonight.

And the branding is done as well 😀
There’s still felt to glue on, but that’s the very last step, done over the finish. Not sure if this’ll make it for Friday morning, but it might for Friday afternoon…

Smells like respiratory irritants…

I seriously need a better sanding arrangement. Roll on black friday.

Not to mention, the goggles could be more comfortable.

But at least the boxes have seen progress…

About a third were done with shaping-level sanding, about another third just had to have drawer pulls fitted, and the remaining third were still being assembled or needed serious shaping (meaning another belt sander session).

Some sorting, some test fitting, and some glueing up later and then I left everything overnight to cure. The following day I found that one of the oak boxes had had a side slip during glue-up, so it needs more shaping on the belt sander, and two of the other boxes are in the same boat; the dremel came out to do some tweaking whereupon I discovered that my sanding mandrel was missing, presumed lost 🙁 Need to go pay five times the fair price for one now on the way home from work today. Gah.

But the rest of the glueups went well, several of the boxes were hand-sanded up to 240 grit and then I started on the finishing for some of them with danish oil for the ash and sapele boxes:

Gotta love the way that colour comes out…

The oak and poplar pencilbox got the danish oil as well; this one would be too hard to ebonise the oak part for so we’ll just go with the oil I think.

The small sapele box got finished while waiting on its drawer. Too little time to wait and do it all at once.

The ash is nice, but it really can’t hold up to the sapele. After the danish oil, I’ll be giving this a few coats of shellac and then some poly over the top for toughness and some paste wax and buffing for shine. The sapele and the oak&poplar will get something similar (but the ash and sapele get blond shellac while the oak&polar gets garnet or button shellac).

The other poplar boxes will just get a sanding sealer coat (aka blond shellac mixed down from a 2-pound cut to a 1/2-pound cut), then a light sanding with fine paper and then milk paint over that and then poly varnish and a wax buffing.

The oak boxes (including this oak and poplar one) will see the oak ebonised as before, with one small change – that foam in the oak shavings tea is washing-up liquid acting as a surfactant to spread the tea deeper into the wood grain (and I’ll do the same for the iron solution). Nice tip from custard on the UK woodworking forum, that.

That oak and poplar box might turn out interesting – the “drawer pull” is a flush extension of the box, and it’ll get the sanding sealer + milk paint treatment of the other poplar boxes; the contrast between the black of the ebonised oak and the colour of the milk paint might be interesting.

And that’s where I left it. After work today, there’s some shaping sanding to do on the belt sander, some finer hand sanding and then we’re into nothing but finishing because these have to be ready by Friday morning…

And then on Friday, it’s off to the timber yard to get some more oak and walnut (and maybe something else if they have anything interesting to hand). And after that, black friday sales and after talking to the guys using them, I think I won’t be getting one of the Record BDS150 sanders:

Which looked okay but which apparently have a disk that’s unusably small (and a faff to change the paper on), and a table that’s just a bit dodgy to use and set up. Instead, it looks more like getting one of the Triton oscillating belt/bobbin sanders:

It’s a clone of the original Rigid:

But the clones are smaller in footprint (several other makers from Grizzly to Rutlands to Clarke all make the same thing in different colours). You lose the mitre slot, but on the plus side, the clones would actually fit through the door of the shed, which is a positive. I’ll have to build a quick 2×4 storage stand to put the bandsaw on and the sander under though, there’s no room otherwise.

But on the other hand, it’s about 26dBA quieter than the belt-sander-and-holdfasts approach I’m stuck with now, and it actually *has* dust extraction. Which is kindof a good thing if you like, you know, breathing…

Masochism…

…is deciding to make a batch of bandsaw boxes for your son’s school’s xmas bazaar thingy, while in a shed that’s too small, with a bandsaw that’s not really up to the task, and a sanding arrangement that… well, more on that in a moment.

I mean, I don’t even keep anything other than 4/4 material on hand, thicknessing anything else down to the normal 3/4 width you see in furniture is just too much work by hand (though I do need to get some 8/4 stuff soon for a piece’s legs). So it’s lamination city…

Something is missing….

Ah, there they are. Literally every clamp I have (bar the 5′ cast iron ones that are slowly rusting away outside, accusingly. I’ll get to them this xmas and sort them out, honest).

I even ran out of space to put clamped pieces. Yikes. And then overnight curing, and in the meantime it was off to the sister’s for a not-a-toddler-any-more’s birthday party, and I took along the oak test piece to give away as well, after having given it another coat of poly, a light sanding, a coat of renaissance wax and a buff, and a felt base:

It didn’t turn out too bad in the end, so I’ll make three more for the batch of boxes.

Sunday morning started with planning the boxes, starting with trimming cuts (on the 3/8ths blade) and then on to the curved cuts on the 1/8ths blade:

Errands interrupted for a while (but let me restock on 240grit sandpaper and danish oil) and then it was two straight hours on the bandsaw. My spine felt like I’d cut it into funny shapes by the end. But…

15 on the bench with all the cuts done (though some need some heavy shaping sanding and one needs shaping by hand). Excuse the blue tape, it’s just keeping all the pieces for each box together because it’s a pain to mix them up…

The oak ones are a pain to tape together 😀

Mind you, they were a lot more of a faff to glue together…

And I ran out of clamps before I ran out of work 🙁

Tomorrow will see more sanding, some shaping, more gluing, hand sanding and then on to finishing. The oak gets ebonised, the ash gets blonde shellac, the poplar will get milk paint, and I have no idea what the sapele will get. Danish oil maybe. And then probably a spray coat of poly over everything just for hard-wearing-ness.

About that sanding…

This will do its absolute damnedest to remove your fingers and/or burn your bench. It’s a pain to use. But it’s the only thing I have that will do the job… for now. The Black Friday Sales approach and soon, there will be an addition to the stable…

Because I’m sick of a piece embedding itself into the wall of the shed and having to go search for it after a quick count of my fingers.

On the hand tool front, I finally got to test my new scratch stock…

It’s very comfortable to use and I’ll definitely be using it to put a few details into an upcoming project.

But for the immediate future… it’s all power tools and sand and dust and unpleasantness.

/sigh

More resawing prep…

Even the end grain is pretty

Spent this evening’s hour in the shed getting the next four laths ready for the resawing by ripping them out of the prepped plank from yesterday.

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It’s a tad finicky making a long rip in a board with a ryoba saw, at least on the initial setup. I mean, once the saw is established in the groove and the board is upright, it can tend to track like a laser down the board (unless it hits a knot at a glancing angle); but if that initial inch or so is off-line, then the saw wants to keep going in that initial incorrect direction and it can be a pain to correct because the teeth at the other side of the ryoba will dig in if you turn the blade even a little and the lack of any set means the kerf is nice and thin but it also means you have no room to turn the blade. So that initial setup gets very finicky…

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Richard Maguire’s got a slightly different way of doing this, but if your shed is all of eight feet tall at the absolute highest point (and five feet at the lowest), his approach is not really all that possible…

Maybe if I ever get round to building a sawbench I could manage this, but that won’t be for a short while yet (I have the material and an idea for a design but I need to rework that if I’m going to allow for standing on the thing while ripping)

Mind you, when it tracks right, it leaves a lovely clean cut that needs at most three or four strokes with a plane to clean up. And now I have four clean laths ready to be resawn down to slats, which will give me a total of 27 to use in the crib (I’ll probably drop one for symmetry, which will leave me with six unused slats to test finishes on and practice joinery with, or to reuse in other small projects around the place).

Even the end grain is pretty

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Yeah, I know, an edge or two needs squaring up. I’ll do that before the marking up for the resawing. But you have to admit, that ash has some lovely grain to it.

Cleaning up

Tonight was mostly cleaning down from the weekend. I broke down the jig, saving the screws and while the sharp hammer blow took care of the glued on blocks, it did it by removing the block and the top millimeter of the MDF. Oh well. Have to rebuild it anyway. Need taller blocks and I’ll probably cut a bit of the MDF base off to make a drying form as well (the idea is you bend it on the bending form, let it on that, then take it off, remove the bag and the strap and all that, and then clamp it to the drying form and leave it there for a week to dry and set fully).

Then it was time to start in on the next eight slats for the cot. I got the remaining half of the 72″ ash board I got the last eight from and cut 31″ off that (the ends were a bit ragged so I left room to trim it back to 30″), and brushed off the muck.

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Kindof mucky still really, but that’s what you get if you sit about in a timber yard for ages and then a shed. But fifteen minutes with a jack plane on the faces, edges and on the ends with a shooting board later…

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It’s just lovely. It feels like slightly textured glass, there’s lovely grain in it, it’s just downright pretty. It cleans up well 🙂 It was almost painful to mark it up, but it needs to be broken down so I set the gauge to 46mm (it’s 189mm wide) and marked off the first lath. I’ll rip that out tomorrow, then plane a fresh clean edge and mark the next and so on.  Ash is pretty. I need to buy more of it 🙂

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