Balls

We had to run off to a graduation on Friday, but when we got back I spent a rather rushed half-hour in the shed. Thing about that sort of thing is that it gets… messy…

So first things first on Saturday, clean up a bit…

Right. Next, trim up the other end cap, and set the locking wedge position and glue it in place…

And yes, that is the finish starting to go on the box and the key; and I have jumped the gun there a bit and I pay for it later. The finish by the way, is half danish oil and half turps, mixed in the cup (the office has a snacks thing they do where you can get free peanuts and we use those little paper cups to serve them in; I just hang on to mine and they come in useful in the shed later).

I don’t use Rustins for any particular reason; it just happens to be the brand I could find in the shop. I don’t use danish oil all that much really, but the consensus was that it works well for beech when I asked around. And I have to admit, it works quite well, though it’s a strong-smelling finish for the first day or two.

All glued up and finished with the first coat of oil&turps…

And then after it had had a few hours to dry, a test fitting…

BTW, that’s the third walnut key I made. The first one I cut looked fine but by the time I’d pushed it in far enough to lock the lid, it was half-way out already. I re-cut it and somehow mixed dimensions up and had to redo the redo…

It was at this point that I realised I’d forgotten a step…

No pegs in the top. I mean, the glue would probably hold but the forces on the top pieces are all shearing forces acting across the lid so the only thing holding the pieces in place if you really shoved on the wedge would be the glue, and along what is probably its weakest axis. And I get paranoid about such things so…

Yeah, I know, drilled right through the finish too. Oh well. Now the end caps are fine, the five-sixteenths size pegs there don’t come close to blowing out the five-eighths material, but the stops on the lid themselves are far thinner, so I needed a smaller peg, somewhere around an eighth of an inch or just over. And my dowel plate only goes down as far as 1/4 inch and worse yet, with small pegs like that, matching the peg to the hole gets more critical and all my drill bits are metric (the auger bits are all imperial but don’t drop down that far). I was going to use the Bosch drill for the lid because for small thin stock and small holes, you really do want some speed with the lidl-standard drillbits I have; which means the eggbeaters can’t really cut clean holes in small stock. Which means the pegs have to be metric for two reasons.

So… steal another Paul Sellers idea. Knock a few pegs down to 1/4 inch size, then whittle an end to a point and use washers as little metric dowel plates…

Tappy-tap-tap…

Also, the Record Imp earns its pay again! I had no other way to hold those washers well. Trying to use the dowel plate would have been awkward at best. Now just work down through the sizes, running through the washers a few times to get a reasonable surface finish before dropping down a size.

End result; not too bad. Mind you I broke three getting those two made – belting something that size through a too-small opening with a lump hammer is kindof a delicate task. If your alignment is off, the peg shatters.

Worked though.

Now, wipe off the excess glue with a damp rag and wait for an hour for it to set up enough and then…

Flush-cut saw, chisel, and then a pass with the #04 to get a smooth surface on both sides of the lid and on the end caps. The lid is a tad more delicate, but…

Not too bad. And repainted that first coat of finish over the reworked parts.

I rather think that the danish oil works well on that rippled sycamore. It dulls the whiteness, but the figure really does pop.

And some CA glue and felt to line the base and that’s it all complete. Just left it overnight for the finish to dry a bit more, then on Sunday morning while herself is off at a fun-run (don’t ask, I don’t know why those two words are beside one another, it makes no sense to me either), brought it into the house, buffed it up and gave it a light coat of beeswax paste (that’s beeswax mixed with turps) and buffed that as well.

 

And because you can’t give a box without some contents…

 

Happy Fathers Day Dad!

Almost there…

So I was a bit sneaky this morning and went to the shed for ten minutes before heading off to work. I’d prepped the part for the end cap on the toolbox last night but because I’d clamped up the base I couldn’t glue it on without risking either it or the base shifting when clamping. So this morning I went out, took off the clamps from the base, made sure I had clean gluing surfaces and glued up the end cap and clamped it. And of course, as you’re in a hurry, everything gets irksome and fiddly.

Why on earth did it choose this morning to lose it’s head? 😀

But I got it clamped in the end.

Then off I went to work and later this evening…

Sawed the end cap flush with the flushcut saw, planed the base flush (with lots of chamfering to prevent spelching – not sure how you’d fix that at this stage) and then started cleaning up squeezeout.

Y’know, I thought those plastic razor blade things would be a total gimmick, but for stuff like this they’re actually quite useful. I did still have to do some careful chisel work but the bulk of the removal was very straightforward using this and the best part of the plastic blades is that you really have to abuse them to nick the piece so you don’t have to be quite so careful as you do with a chisel.

All nice and clean. I do still have to pass over the sides with a last smoothing plane pass and probably some sandpaper, but that’s for later.

Next up, glueing the first stop on the lid after trimming it carefully to length. I’ve shaped the inner edge of that stop so it’s a little less abrupt.

This is all going to make more sense when it’s done.

Also, I gave the inside of the box a quick swipe with some danish oil – it’ll be easier to do it now when I have access. The other end cap will go on tomorrow and after that it’ll be harder to not have any missed bits inside, so I’ve done the one inner coat I was planning on now. Should make it easier.

And done for the day. Material for the other endcap prepped in the background, but I still need to find material for the key – it and the lid will be distinctive and everything else will be beech or the walnut pegs. It doesn’t look too bad so far.

Speaking of finish, time to check how those purple stains dried…

Interesting. The neat stain is definitely too dark, as is the light purple over dark blue; and the lightest purple just looks like the wood’s grubby, but the higher concentration of the stain doesn’t look too bad. Needs to be even more concentrated but I think we have a good possible there. I won’t get back to the locker till next week though, but it gives the joinery and the wood for the door time to rest and move if they’re going to. And gives me time to think about decoration. What happens if you cut very white stringing into a stained wood I wonder…?

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…

Plugging away…

So first things first, take the clamps off and see if the hide glue cured…

Not too bad, lots of squeezeout in places but I can deal with that.

Well, bugger. I thought I had that better aligned than that and there’s no real way to fix it now. Feck.

Clean up the squeezeout and smooth the surfaces. Mostly the #04 with a few pieces done by card scraper. Not too bad. Broke the sharp edges as well.

Couldn’t get all the edges with the #04 though, so various other tools made an appearance. And then leveled the legs so it didn’t rock. I don’t like MDF for, well, anything, but it is nice to have a flat surface for this sort of thing and I don’t have room for a granite slab so I do keep a piece or two of MDF handy for this task.

Not bad, but now I have to plug those gaps at the top rear corner where the dovetails used to be. Should be simple, cut a block of wood to fit oversize, glue it in, let the glue set, cut it flush with the flush-cut saw and then some chisel work and some sanding…

…looks okay to me!

Okay, that now goes to rest for a little while so I can figure out the door, decoration, finishing and so on. I’ll have to give it another smoothing or sanding pass before finishing, but when you see it in the flesh it looks far more even than it does in the photos, and it’s smooth to the fingertips.

But first…

Glued up the carcass of the toolbox, and cut the mangled rebates off the old sides – they’ll make good material for handles or the top parts.

While the glue dries, it’s time to make pegs from some small offcuts of walnut that have reasonably straight grain. These are left over from making the sidecar cot from a while ago…

Smashy smashy!

It’s always the last one….

Still, I can use those. The short one I’ll use for a test hole, I haven’t used the brace on beech before now.

Drills reasonably well, but lots more dust than shavings off the bit than I’d see in something like oak. Takes a lot more effort to get through. I’m pretty sure that bit’s sharp as well, it definitely wanted a bite out of my fingertips. Now to flushcut and then plane down to see how well it looks…

That’s quite nice actually. Good fit too.

And with the glue dried, plane down the edges until we’re all level and not rocking (again, the MDF sheet’s handy as a reference surface here. I really want to flatten my benchtop but there just isn’t room to do so in the shed).

Some marking out and drilling of holes…

And in go the pegs and the glue. I’ll let it set up then trim off the pegs and they’ll go on to make more pegs later on.

And I glued up a panel for the base. Gotta love sprung joints. I’ll plane up and cut to size tomorrow. And lastly, a quick test of finishes – on the left, danish oil; on the right, crimson guitar’s royal blue stain (just because). I must find out if boss lady wants her locker any particular colour…

That blue is seriously intense while wet, it’s mucking up the camera’s colour balance even against a white background.

 

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?
To the forums!

 

Fettling

So the repair job from yesterday went reasonably well. There’s a lot of excess CA to clean up, that took a few minutes for the face side, and a bit longer for inside the rebate itself. Lots of chisel work, some scraping, and dug out the Record 311 with the nose off and the 077 to fettle things and clean up the rabbet to get a square inside corner. Then cut the rabbet on the other side wall, which took far less time and had no drama to it, then cut the rebate in the top piece and then test fitted it and realised my mistake – by cutting the rebate in the top, I’d introduced a gap where I thought there wouldn’t be one. How I didn’t see that coming I don’t know. So I fudged, and sawed off the rebated part, right through the dovetail joint, and the back panel will do the filling.

And then, fettling. Assemble everything, stare at it, notice one wall is not parallel to the other, figure out which of the three cross-pieces is at fault, knock it all apart, shorten the offending piece (of course it’s the one with the dovetails, so cut them 2mm deeper), reassemble everything and repeat seven or eight times, sneaking up on square gradually.

Once I was finally happy with that, I took the panel for the back, squared an edge and an end (didn’t matter if it spelched out on the far side from the squared edge because that’s coming off anyway), and fitted it in place and mark off the far side against the other side wall, and then saw outside that line and plane down to it, and test fit.

And then do the fettling cycle two or three more times, taking a shaving here and a shaving there. And eventually…

Not terrible. Some gaps here and there, so it’s not perfect, but could be a lot worse. Still have to cut the panel to length, that’s marked out for, but first check it over.

Dovetails close up (mostly). Might need to plane that top piece a bit more yet at the back to let the panel sit better on the left there. And then check for square…

That’s all grand to within 0.2mm or so, which I’m okayish with for now (hey, I’ve never worked in beech before, I’m getting used to it, okay? Plus, that’s rather thin stock, it’s just under a half-inch there).

One last joint that I’m not happy with…

Need to knock that apart and give that marked spot a swipe with the block plane, let the front of the side panel close up there. Hm. But that wouldn’t explain those gaps in the middle and rear dovetails on that side and the front dovetail is tight up – maybe I need to pare that dovetail just a hair deeper instead. Or it could be both. The joy of fettling…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…oh, and I need to fit the door as well at some point. And I got two bandsaw belts in the post today that I need to check – they were 120XL037s instead of 124XL037s but they might be close enough to do for a few days until the proper size ones arrive…

Splitting rabbets

So, another housing joint to chop…

Giving the new chisel mallet a workout. So far, it’s working very well. Chopped the housing joints as per yesterday (had to take a pause to take the #08 to the edges in the vice, I’d missed a small bow in the edge so I wanted to correct that before marking out for the new joint).

All grand. Did a test assembly and everything fitted and was square. Excellent. Then thought about the back and decided to rebate it in, but with a stopped rebate (the client 😀 doesn’t want the back to extend all the way to the ground), so marked out for that and got out the #778 and suddenly realised that on one side (and of course, the side I’m starting on), the #778 is the wrong handedness. Bugger. So off with the fence and the rods and we attack it from the other side, treating the #778 like an old wooden rebate plane. Which is a pretty hairy routine – tilt it over on the inboard side, run the point of the blade along the knife line to dig its own reference edge, then drop the outboard side gradually to work down to a shallow but level rebate and then plane to depth… except that the stopped rebate bit means the plane isn’t of use for the last two or three inches. Bugger. Well, you can chop a rebate with a chisel…

Bloody complicated rabbit this. Starting to question the wisdom of the idea. And then on almost the last chisel chop getting the wall of the rebate vertical, the inevitable happened…

Well, feck.

Short crack, too thin for PVA or hide glue, don’t want to split it off and glue it back on, so… low viscosity superglue, your time has come! Held it gently open, and dropped in thin superglue until I could see it running all down through the crack and then clamp the crack shut and set aside overnight.

James Wright did a long series of tests on wood glue recently and CA glue (superglue) very surprisingly blew most of the competition away in several categories from strength to filling ability to shearing force and so on, so maybe this will work.

If not, I’ll break it off completely and reglue it with PVA and accept the surface defect, but hopefully it won’t come to that…

Locker progress

So with the bandsaw down, my plans for the box are on hold and I moved back to the locker. I started off by planing the roughcut pieces I was going to use to get them flat and smooth, then I cut the dovetails for the main carcass, and of course, that means sharpening time 😀

And marking up time…

And sawing time…

No, I didn’t do all the sawing with the fretsaw, I just used that to get the bulk of the waste out. Then it was chopping and paring time.

Incidentally, that chisel mallet is a nice find from lidl. I’d say I spotted it, but credit for that goes to Calum…

Different faces of different colour-coded hardness from white (hardest) to black to red to yellow to blue (softest), so you can have one hammer with one face for thwacking the chisel and the other face for beating the joint together or apart without either losing energy on the former or marring the work on the latter. Not bad for €14. I mean, it’s not better than the sculptors mallets for carving, but it holds its own against the deadblow hammer, at least in beech. Maybe in a harder wood it wouldn’t manage it, but we’ll see. I don’t have to give up one for the other 😀 That case has to go though, it’s daft.

It won’t make the dovetails less gappy for you though… alas.
Then this evening I chopped the housing joints for the shelf in the locker.

I know I’m using more chisels than I need, but I don’t care, I love the japanese one for the vertical chopping and hate it for the angled chopping, so I swap back and forth. It’s still remarkably fast, especially on a shallow housing like this. Knife the first line, chop down, chop in, brush off the chips, repeat till you’re at depth, bring in the piece of wood to be fitted and tap it up to the new wall of the joint and nick the other side with the knife, then scribe that line with the straight edge and repeat the entire process until both knife walls are at depth and there’s a ridge of waste between them, then pare most of that out with the chisel and refine it with the router plane until it’s all nice and smooth on the inside of the joint. Then pound the shelf home with the mallet to check for fit, and then do the other side…

It’s gappy on the dovetails, but the housing joints are fine (that small gap on the left there is something I’ll fettle out, there’s too much width on the shelf yet by about a half-mm or so).

One more housing joint to do and that’ll be the carcass roughed out. Then I have to decide how to attach the back panel and figure out the door (that shelf and the bottom of the locker will have to be recessed for it on the front slightly, but should I rabbet the back to fit the back panel and avoid nails? And I have to figure out the legs as well…

Tweaking…

Just minor tweaking to the dimensions of the small box tonight, and the housing joints (but I think I’ll be fettling those).

And I cut the length of rippled sycamore for the lid, with a few mm spare on all sides so it’ll get planed to fit the box when it’s assembled. There’s enough here to do the lid and have about an inch of waste at most (I hope).

I’ll say this, beech is no walnut when it comes to cutting joints, but it’s not bad. I do need to fettle those a little, but it’s not horrible for a first pass. And I like the way the two species work together. This might actually be pretty…

A busy weekend…

…and almost none of it spent in the shed, but for once that wasn’t a bad thing 🙂

(I know this might be confusing if you’re reading this outside Ireland, but check the international news, we wound up in it almost everywhere). Herself was canvassing and leafletting and doing her part for this for the last few weeks, and we were all a bit on edge throughout because the No campaign were being violent and abusive and just plain nasty in an attempt to drive down turnout for the vote, but in the end people remembered thirty-five years of suffering and overwhelmingly voted yes. After which, to be frank, we were all a bit weepy and wiped out. Herself went in to Dublin Castle for the official announcement, and I went off with Junior to the grandparents to decompress and grill some hamburgers, and we all went home and crashed that evening with a plan to not even move the next day if we didn’t have to.

But I figured the shed might help me unwind a little so…

First things first, grind a camber onto the new scrub plane…

I’m always convinced this stage is going to ignite six litres of shellac and finishes so I’m not hugely fond of it but needs must…

Then on to the stones to fine tune the bevel and hone it.

Well, that worked…

And a slightly less aggressive camber than Sid’s. So, Sid gets relegated to the toolbox for the foreseeable; he may be dug out again if I ever need to thickness a lot of pine or something like that, but he tended to bite me as much as he’d bite the wood, so I’d rather stick with the new plane, it lets me bleed less on the work which will hopefully improve the final finish of pieces. Happily, I didn’t have to do anything to the mouth, so the guilt of mangling an old but perfectly fine Record #04 wasn’t triggered.

In its new home.

And now my wall is almost 100% record (bar the two stanley block planes and the preston spokeshaves). Which is odd because I didn’t start out looking to make a collection, but I seem to have wound up with one anyway.

Oh well. Time to actually use the sodding things now. I have some rough cut pieces still ready to start in on…

But I’m not actually touching those today, I wanted to get a feel for what beech is like to work so I’m prepping some pieces for a simple box first from the offcut left over from doing those rough cuts.

Ripped the offcut in half and planed to matching width.

Then flattened one side and thicknessed with the new scrub plane. Honestly, this is not my favourite part of this hobby.

And it generates a lot of mess…

But I got the pieces thicknessed and flattened on both sides, and shot the ends square and then cut out 8″ and 5″ lengths for the sides of the box.

…and I don’t like the proportions. Hm. I wanted to use the rippled sycamore for the lid here, so I think I’ll let it dictate the proportions; that should shrink the width by a solid inch here which I think might work. It’ll be a japanese style tool box thing when its done, if a little bit fancier than those normally get made because I want to use pegs instead of nails and try to make it pretty. We’ll see if it works 😀

I’ll probably just futz with the proportions stuff and maybe cut the housing joints here tomorrow, and then I want to get on with the resawing and prep work on the pile of rough cuts for the box, it’s for a present and I’d like to get a start on it. And I’m seriously thinking about taking this Friday off as it’s the June bank holiday weekend and a four day weekend right now sounds almost scandalously luxurious…

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