Dec 16

That whooshing noise…

…is a rapidly approaching deadline 😀 So there’s been a lot of work and not a lot of photos and typing.

I’ve been testing some finishes…

So there’s shellac on the walnut, I’m testing both shellac and osmo wax on the ash, and milk paint on the poplar. The latter is very vibrant going on…

…but after it’s dried the next day, it’s faded a bit…

…which is disappointing, because I’m not a fan of this modern shabby chic chalk paint nonsense. But if you put a layer or two of osmo over the top of it, it picks back up somewhat. Well, it’ll have to do.

Meanwhile, all the panels are now planed (holy carp but kiln-dried ash is god-awful stuff to work with even if it does look nice, especially long heavy pieces), all the frame pieces are cut to length and we’re into the joinery and fitting stage.

And sharpening. Soooooo much sharpening. Stupid kiln-dried ash.

I really need more storage space. And yes, the floor’s a right mess. It normally wouldn’t be, but I managed to pull something in the small of my back two days ago doing the shopping for the xmas dinner (lifting heavy things into and out of deep shopping trolleys in a rush at the checkout must do in more backs than any gym). When I can lift my left knee more than two inches without the stabbing pain in my back again, I’ll clean the floor up.

Meanwhile, I can work while standing.

Trying out a slightly less fancy morticing method (a lot faster too, I’m becoming quite a fan of holdfasts) and it works quite well. The mortices for the slats will have to be quite a bit smaller than the ones for the frame though, there’s so many of them to do. Mind you, those slats don’t have to hold the thing together, so smaller mortices will be fine.

Sawed out the tenons on the waste side of the line and then snuck up on the fit with chisel work. This was a bit slow – need to saw to the line next time. The fit might be less tight, but there’s enough meat there to drawbore if needed…

And then there’s the grooves for the panel. This was easy enough once I had the piece secured in the vice, it’s only got a grip on the bottom few millimetres of the rail so that the fence on the #44 doesn’t snag on the bench. I’d like to have the fence on the outside of the piece (but the vice chops would catch it then), but the configuration of the piece means that can’t be done. Oh well.

Fettling the panel was a bit of a foostering. Actually shaping it was not too shabby (though it’s not completely finished there), but getting the width perfect and the joints all closed up… yeesh. And that’s still not perfect yet, I have to trim a millimetre or so yet, that could be another half-hour tomorrow. But for now, the back panel is done…

Tomorrow I’ll finish fettling this, give the ash panel another skim with the smoothing plane to deal with the little bits of tear-out and add the bevel on the ends of the panel as well, and once it’s all perfect, I’ll take it apart again and use the pieces to mark off the various mortices and so on on the other frame and panel pieces and try to get the front panel done; then it’ll be the end frames and the end panel and the drawer front, then take it all apart again and cut the mortices for the slats; then make up the drawer and then it’s finishing and assembly.

By Christmas day? Er… hmmm… suuuuuure, no worries…

Dec 16

Tool night

Holidays started, and a couple of new tools showed up in the post (well, rutlands was having a black friday sale and some nice things popped up on ebay for decent prices).

A few fairly cheap rasps. Machine-made, no hand-stitched french rasps in my budget for a while (these cost about twenty euro for the set, a single hand-stitched one would cost a little over a hundred euro more than that). Might be useful for the curved parts of the crib when I’m finishing them.

One of these dividers is new; one of these is older than the modern state of Ireland. And they both work pretty damn well. (They’re for laying out the dovetails in the drawer of the crib).

I kept having to set and reset my existing veritas gauge using scraps of wood with the gauge lines in them (which works great until you drop the scrap down behind the workbench where it’s bloody awkward to get to), then I noticed that other people got round this by having a small army of the things and using different ones for different measurements during a project (no you can’t set them off a ruler, you’ll inevitably get parallax error setting it and make a mistake that shows up glaringly later on). I might be getting a few more of these over the next while. The built-in ruler is kindof nice, as is the microadjustment feature.

Already had both of these (and a #50 that I need to add a fence to as well at some point), but had to add the wooden fences to them, finally got round to doing that this evening. And then there was the blades, which were horribly manky. They went into white vinegar for a few days, then they were rinsed off and soaked in water and baking soda for a half-hour to neutralise the acid, and then wrapped in kitchen paper and a cloth to dry off (that’s them on the workbench in front of the planes above).

Then it was time for the luthier’s trick. Out with my MDF board that I use for this (it has a small cleat underneath that goes into the vice, and it just keeps the worst of the muck off my bench.

Down with the masking tape.

Tear off a bit of 120 grit sandpaper from the roll and dribble some superglue on the masking tape.

Then flatten the sandpaper down on the masking tape, give a little wiggle to spread the superglue, and hold down for 10-15 seconds while it sets.

And now I can apply as much shear force to that sandpaper as I like, it’s not going anywhere. And I take the set of blades for the #50 and the #40 and get going. Drag both edges along the sandpaper twice, then both faces, then pull back on the bevel once or twice, then rub the bevel back and forth a few times to get the first stage of the sharpening process done (I’ll do the stones later) and flatten the back of the blade for a few seconds as well. Then on to the next blade.

Once done, just lift the masking tape (that’s why I left an inch or so over on the ends, to be able to grab it. Lift vertically and only the masking tape’s adhesive is acting against you and that’s very weak and the whole thing lifts off easily and without damaging the surface.

And the #50 blades are clean again and ready to be properly sharpened (but I won’t be using them for this project I think, unless the groove size I need isn’t in the set of the #40).

I can see that T&G blade being damn useful in the future though. And the #40 blades come up nicely as well.

I also found and dropped the semi-scrub blade into the #5½ plane; the next job on the list is planing the last ash panel from rough to smooth. And I am learning that Richard Maguire was right about kiln-dried ash. It looks nice, but it’s a pain in the arse to work, it’s like trying to plane a Jacobs cream cracker. I’ll be glad when that last bit is done. I still have more boards to plane, but they’re walnut and poplar and those are so much easier, I can probably get them all done in a day, and then I’ll have all the component’s stock prepped and it’s on to cutting joints.

I am having to contemplate the mortices for the slats though. Given the timetable, I may need to use the router for them instead of cutting them by hand with the chisel. I’ll give it a try, but the clock is going to be the final decider on that one.

Dec 16

Depressing weekend results…

So the weekend started off well. Popped the steambent upright from last weekend out of the drying form:

And the results were very good, the only crack I could find is barely there at all:

And there’s some marks from the compression strap:

And a small defect in one spot on one edge: But those are a swipe from the spokeshave to remove and apart from them it was nearly a perfect bend.
The problem is that the first upright isn’t a perfect match…

The twist I could take care of with planing, I don’t need the full thickness on those sections, but the difference in curvature could introduce stresses I don’t need in the piece, so the idea was to steambend another upright this weekend using the last of the plastic tubing I had and pick the best two of the three.

But the compression strap slipped mid-bend and it ended badly 🙁

Utterly unusable scrap, and I didn’t even bother putting it on the drying frame.
My solstice holidays start at 1700h on Wednesday evening so I might have time to try one more time, if I could get the polythene tubing fast enough, but for now I have to assume I have to make what I have work. It’s not the worst job in the world, it’s just that if you have a 100% and a 90%, the 90% is always going to look bad by comparison 😀

But it was a pretty crummy result for a weekend, so I just marked out the last of the boards to cut and plane and left it at that, and spent the rest of the time sharpening tools in prep for stock prep come Monday evening…

One short rip, one long rip, a few crosscuts and some planing on walnut – that’ll be pretty easy, walnut is lovely to work with.

The panels need their final crosscutting to length and then I need to figure out how to do the grooving for the frame-and-panel construction (my #40 got the cleanup-from-ebay purchase treatment finally this weekend with the wire wheel for the worst of the corrosion and the blades are still in the vinegar awaiting their cleaning and sharpening).

And then there’s the poplar for the drawer and runners, and another short walnut board for the back support. Not expecting much trouble here either, though there might be a long rip cut on the poplar depending on how things work out. There is also another side panel and an end panel of ash however, and that kiln-dried ash is proving a bit of a bugger to plane. Sid got a workout getting the larger panel to just be free from twist, I’m just glad there’s no major cupping or bowing going on there.

And then there’s the drawer front. I was thinking ash initially, but a while working with the kiln-dried stuff is giving me second thoughts about doing it in that because carving blind dovetails in that strikes me as being challenging. I could do it in walnut, but I’m not sure which board I’d use; and then there’s a sapele board of the perfect width sitting right there. But it’d be the only piece of sapele in the whole thing and I’m not sure how it’d look. Decisions, decisions. Meanwhile, tick-tock, the delivery date looms…



edit: At least I’m not the only one having bending issues