02
Sep 18

More shaping

So I decided to go ahead and shape the front curve today, since it was going to be awkward to cut and might be noisy so it’d have to be a weekend job really.

Why is it awkward? Well, the plan is to make the first rough cut with the bandsaw and then to get down to the line with the compass plane and the board is long enough that swinging it around through the bandsaw inside the shed would be awkward and would probably need the door open and the plank sticking out at some point.

See what I mean? There’s not enough room for a cat to stand in here, let alone be swung around. But, with much swearing and cursing and with the door open and the plank sticking out for at least half the cut, it got done.

I even cut the top of the side to be parallel to the floor again while I was at it.

You will notice the artisan scalloped edge, and I’ll have you know that it takes a lot more effort to create such an artistic statement than it does to just cut a straight clean boring line.

Or something.

Anyway, it’s just a rough cut, so out with the #05 to knock off the absolute worst of the knobbly bits and then time for the fun tool.

The Record #020, variously known as a compass plane, a circular plane, a radius plane or a shipwright’s plane, it’s basically just a plane for curves. That big spinny dial yoke on top pulls the bit with the blade up or down relative to the ends of the sole, and the sole being flexible, takes on a curve that you can then plane into the wood. It’s a natty little tool, and while there are limits to how curved you can go, within those limits it’s great.

Mine is a little worse for wear in appearance. Everything works, I had it apart, cleaned, oiled and resharpened everything, but it’s had some light surface rust over the summer and the enamel’s long gone (and I still haven’t figured out a good way to restore that with the kit I have or can use). But anyway, it’s more than good enough to do the job and between that and the spokeshave I soon had a smooth curve instead of a decaying sine wave.

And I hate the look of it completely. The curve itself is more or less okay, I got rid of almost all that ugly damaged bit, but that little flare-out at the point where the desk will be just doesn’t work. It looks wrong in several different ways. So I ran the plane over the entire edge to get a nice single smooth curve instead of that little flare-out.

I’m more or less happy with this. I was thinking of making that curve into a bow rather than a sweep, so that the front edge would be almost vertical at the foot (that’s what those black lines there are for, they’re not spalting even though they’re following the grain line, I was just trying to see what it would look like). I’m not sure about this though. I’m worrying about the width of the sides and the strength of the piece if I start hacking off that much, but I might just be getting paranoid.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that for now and maybe think about it again later before I cut the sliding dovetails (which will be the point of no return for the shaping I think). Next job, start to transfer the shape from this side to the other one…

I’ve already gotten the foot done (and it matches its counterpart well) and a reference edge planed on the back edge, but I haven’t finished the top straight-line cuts yet and then there’s the second front edge to shape. That should be interesting. I haven’t changed the compass plane’s setting so in theory it’s going to be grand…


12
Jun 18

Bases and colours

So the camera battery complained about being empty on Sunday and it got a few hours in the charger, but then come Monday, it said it was flat again. Hmmm. A replacement knockoff has been ebay’d. However, the fabrication of the handles and the glueup got missed. It wasn’t that hard, cut a piece of beech to width so it fits in the end of the box, then make a 1cm deep cross cut in the middle of the piece and chisel out a curve in it, then give up because the piece is too small to work on with the vices I have (I really need a sculptor’s vice sort of thing for a job like that) and cut the curve with the bandsaw and clean up by hand with chisels, small wooden spokeshave and sandpaper, then glue it in place. The following day (ie. today)…

Oh, and I cut the pegs flush and planed down a bit as well. They came out nice. Now to check the handles.

In need of a swipe with the #04…

And some squinting. Yikes that looks grotty. It’s nowhere near that bad in real life, but the handle is proud of the ends and top so it’ll be planed back flush.

All nice and neat again. I also glued up a panel for the base when I added the handles, so I planed that clean as well…

I spent a few minutes planing the lid to width and picking out wood for the end caps and the locking parts. I’m leaning towards all beech for those parts, with maybe just the key being something distinctive. We’ll see. First, the base…

And back to waiting on glue again. There’s a lot of that in this build I’m noticing. These boxes aren’t so much difficult as they are slow because stuff has to be done step by step and you can’t really do stuff ahead of assembly or in parallel – or at least, I haven’t figured out how to. If you were making them in batches you could crank them out I imagine, but one-offs seem to just be a slow thing by their nature.

Tomorrow, one end cap gets glued on and the lid gets its non-locking support bit. I don’t know the name for the part, but you’ll know what I mean when you see it.

Oh, and boss lady chimed in and she wants her locker purple. Good thing I have some stuff from crimson guitars…

The idea is you use the eyedropper to add the stain drop by drop to water to build up the colour, right?

Looks okay…

Hm. That looks thin as skim milk. Ugh. Added a drop more, still quite thin. Mixed with the blue stain underneath it’s too dark.

Rubbed on directly, the stain’s too dark as well, it definitely needs some dilution.

There might be a stain level in there somewhere that works, but it’s as messy as all get-out. But the purple *does* work if you add it to the cloth and then add water by spray can to the cloth before you rub it in, you get results like this:

I think that hue on the far left is what we want here, and to avoid going too dark. Might need to practice more, the planed beech surface doesn’t absorb water too readily.

Of course I may need to do some brazing first, my water can fell prey to the cold spell and an accidental knock. But I have brazing rod and a propane torch…


09
Jun 18

Belting up

A few hours in the shed today that felt productive (it’s a false positive; it was just that a few end stages happened at the same time). Started off with the final fettling of the carcass for the locker and then smoothed all the interior surfaces and rounded the corners I won’t be able to readily reach after glueup.

20 minutes with #04 and card scraper and we’re ready to glue up.

Prepped an mdf surface to assemble on…

Final dry run…

Okay, looks good, knock it apart and start the glue-up.

Mise en place is as important in woodworking as it is in the kitchen…

And that’s the carcass glued up and left to cure (the back’s not glued on yet).

Then it was time to fix the bandsaw. I got some 120XL037 belts from RS (they didn’t have 124XL037, but the motor’s on an adjustable mount so I should be able to get away with it…)

Found there’s a tool I could use…

Circlips are a bit of a pain without the appropriate pliers. Bit fiddly. But managed not to break it which was good.

Then found these on the floor with all the sawdust and the teeth from the last belt. Took me a minute to recognise the lower thrust bearing from the bandsaw…

Must have come off during the resawing. That’s not exactly reassuring. Remounted them, and added it to the list of things to check.

Fitted the belt, put the wheel back on and tensioned the belt and locked the motor in place, put the blade back on and tensioned that and got everything all set up, then ripped down about five feet of beech from 150mm wide to half that (I’m planning on making a few small boxes and things with that), planed edges on all of the ripped sections (1×1′, 2×2′) so I could resaw them (hence the 73mm width, it’s the max for the saw), set up the fence for one board to resaw it to 1/4″ and 3/4″ pieces and resawed that down to size. The japanese toolbox idea I was playing with needed to have new edge pieces cut. I had tried to cut housing joints by saw and, well…

Yeah, don’t do that. Left a massive gap I couldn’t have hidden. I’ll probably slice off the bits with the joints and use the center section for the lid components or the handles.

First, cut new housing joints on the new pieces (after planing, of course). Usual procedure – knifewall, chop down, pare to wall, chop, pare, chop, pare until we’re to depth, then mark off the other side off the piece to fit, and repeat.

Went faster than before; I’m getting used to working in beech (and enjoying it). And I might have figured out how to do a reasonable housing joint.

And it wasn’t too late, so I cut the joints on the far side as well.

Right. I’ll fettle it tomorrow (just to get the reference faces all coplanar) and glue it up, then maybe drill for the dowel pins (won’t use nails on this one), and make some pegs for them from some walnut scraps I have handy that are too short for any other use.

Definitely enough material there for the lid and handle pieces.

Last job for the evening, glue on the back panel for the locker.

Fiddly but not too bad, it was so fettled that I really could have let the glue hold it in place. But if you have the clamps, might as well cinch it up (the C-clamps aren’t actually tightened down very much at all here, just snugged up to hold the back panel in while the f-clamps get tightened to get the edges in contact).

It’s not looking terrible, even if I’m saying so myself. Still need to level the legs, but that’ll do for later on. And I still haven’t the door sorted out yet, I’m thinking about how to decorate the piece of beech I have planed and set aside for the job.

 

I mean, what’s the point of practicing stringing if you don’t do any? 😀

 

Also, how the hell do you finish beech so it looks good?
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