Starting to finish

So time to take the shelf out of the clamps and see if it’s okay…

holds breath…

That’s not too bad from the front 🙂
Different story from the back mind…

Urgh those dovetails. There will have to be some remediation work there. At least the white inlay bits worked reasonably well (you just can’t do dovetails from end to edge like that if there’s more than one tail, the short grain on the pin means it always breaks off, so I deliberately broke off the pins and replaced them with some sycamore chunks).

Okay. Time to start finishing. I could keep trying to touch this up for ages and never finish 🙁

Going for a simple finish this time, just some thin coats of osmo and buffing it out.

Magic time 🙂

Little better at the back after some touching up.

That might be nice once the rest of the coats go on…

 

And then the surprise for the day – Custard over at the UK workshop forums offered to send me some thick sycamore veneer while I was trying to sort out a commercial vendor here for the stuff (the laminated 0.6mm stuff is workable but fiddly as feck and occasionally bits delaminate and you don’t know it till you expose the delamination while trimming off the excess and you now have a double thin white line instead of one slightly thicker line; and it’s hard to thickness properly as well). And the box arrived today. “I’ve thrown in one or two other bits” he said…

2.6kg. In veneer. What the hell is in that box?

Holy shit.

So that small sheaf at the front left over the vice? That’s all I was hoping for. Look at the rest!

Thick ebony and boxwood veneers – boxwood is bloody lovely stuff and with an interesting history and source. And rippled sycamore. Wow. That stuff is stunningly pretty. (If you’ve not seen it before, that plank is perfectly smooth – the lines are figuring, cellular anomalies in that particular part of that particular tree, we don’t quite know what causes it and it’s become very fashionable these days (in the 17th to 18th century it wasn’t so much because it’s not as strong as straight-grained wood, but when veneering was invented you could use stronger wood for the substrate and let the veneer of a figured wood be the final decorative layer).

And the walnut is even prettier when it’s figured like that. And the cherry is figured as well – I’ve not even seen cherry in the flesh before now, I can understand now why it’s so popular for furniture making. It doesn’t come across well in photos (well, in mine anyway) but it’s very very pretty up close.

Custard, the stuff is incredible, you’re a maniac. Thank you!

 

 

 

Oh, and the resawn beech still hasn’t pretzel’d on me…

Glue-up part two

The resawn beech from yesterday is holding up well…

But never mind that, time to focus on the glueup from yesterday. It went reasonably well despite the fiddliness of the clamping.

They don’t look even from that angle, but they are:

There’s some squeeze-out and the join needed some fettling to get it properly smooth, and I suspect I’ll be running round the piece with a chisel checking arises before finishing, but it’s not too bad.

It’ll be interesting to see it with finish on. But today’s task is the final glue-up so I did a dry-fit and some inevitable tweaking and then did a dry rehearsal and then prepped to glue up:

The final glue-up was almost calm right up until the end when I realised I needed to clamp the dovetails as well and I had nothing on the front to clamp against and had to rig something using a third sash clamp and some heath robinson nonsense…

We’ll see how that went tomorrow…

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.

Drawering to a close…

The idea was to get the last bits done today. Didn’t quite make it, but came close.

Got the cot out of the shed first so I could do some work. Looks nice in the sunshine…

Then made up the glue blocks I was thinking about yesterday to support the top panel.

And then gathered all the tools up…

The #778 is there to cut a small alignment rebate on the inside of the tails for the dovetails, in what Rob Cosman refers to as the “140 trick”. I don’t have a Stanley #140 (it’s a rather expensive skew-blade block plane) and the #778 is a little finicky for this, but it works if you’re careful. The idea is that you cut a tiny little ledge in the tailboard and after the tails are cut you sit the pinboard up against the tails and on that ledge to align it and let you mark the pins more easily (and it works quite well).

That’s the four boards laid out to check for any obvious weird whoopsies. The coloured dots are a David Barron trick to keep track of the pin and tail boards for each corners so I don’t accidentally cut the tails for one corner and mark off for the pins of a different corner and bugger everything up.

Laid out using dividers (I use one dividers for the shoulder pins and then the other dividers to lay out the tails) and the David Barron dovetail guide.

Cut out the groove for the plywood base with a #043 plough, which is pretty much what happens when you take the unix philosophy of making tools that do just one thing but do it very well and then apply it to woodworking tools. It’s not much use for anything other than cutting this one groove, for drawer bottoms, but it’s probably the best tool out there to do the job.

Haven’t cut the tails yet here (but did lay them out) in order to put the groove in the middle of the bottom tail.

See what I mean? For any other groove, it’s not a great tool (which is why you have plough planes like the #044), but for this one, it’s just fantastic.

Sawed out the tails with the ryoba and the David Barron guide, then chopped out the waste with a ¼” chisel.

Not horrific. Cutting out the pins though, did convince me that I really need to get one of those Knew Concepts fretsaws. Chopping out the waste between the tails is one thing; chopping out the waste between pins is a whole other ball game and the fretsaw would be a lot faster (plus, cutting curves with a saw, what’s not to love? My coping saw, that’s what not to love. That thing is terrible…)

On to the half-blind dovetails for the drawer front. Marked it off against the tailboard, reinforced the knife marks, highlighted with pencil, marked the waste and sawed down the diagonal with the Barron guide and the ryoba.

Then took another trick I heard from Cosman’s youtube channel and smashed down the fibres on the remainder of the diagonal using a piece of metal with the same width as the saw kerf (in this case, a spare card scraper). This means I now have both sides of the cavity cut out fully and that makes it easier to chop out the waste.

For the last few mm I put the board upright in the vice and pare, rather than chopping.

By the way, Walnut. Wow, is this so much easier in this wood than in pine. If you want to learn to do this, don’t try it in pine. I mean, don’t learn in walnut either, it’s way too expensive for that, but try it in a hardwood like poplar. It’s so much easier than in softwoods.

I’ve left out the amusing bit where I fit the plywood base, trim it to size by carefully measuring it and double checking the measurements and then somehow managing to cut it a full inch too short anyway and having to bodge up a fix. And the fun part where during the glue-up I found that the plywood base was still too wide by a few mm and I had to disassemble it, plane down the base to width, and complete the glue-up. Thank goodness for hide glue’s long open time, that’s all I’m saying…

Also, I NEED A BIGGER SHED. Holy carp…

To-Do List:

  • Make a drawer
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish drawer with shellac.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Glue the drawer supports into the frame.
  • Even more last minute fettling and foostering (panel support blocks, drawer stop blocks)
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

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…

 

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