Starting again…

I figure, with six projects sitting in component form in the staging area of the shed, best get to work making even more components for a seventh project. Because Reasons.

Anyway, the first video I ever saw by Richard Maguire was about building a small wall cupboard (in a sort-of, kind-of, if-you-squint shaker style probably best described as “`English colloquial” 😀 ):


I’ve wanted to build this for a while. But I don’t have the ten feet of pre-planed three-quarter inch thick pine his plans call for. What I do have is a pair of boards of inch-and-a-quarter rough-sawn poplar, mostly free from green stains…

That should work. And sod feeling bad about doing the rough-cuts with a power circular saw. Do you see room in there for me to swing a full-size handsaw? Or have a sawbench? Besides, do you know how they did this back in the 17th century? Apprentices!!! (And there isn’t room for one in there either, even if you can find smaller rooms being rented for the price of a car a month on daft.ie). So.

Woodwork al fresco. Yes, the deck’s a mess. I’ll tidy after the solstice when there’s time.

Right, that’s the rough-cut chunks for the cupboard on the left, a chunk intended for another project (yes, that’s eight, I know, hush), and offcuts that will probably become bandsaw boxes or the like.

Now, time to figure out layout a bit better.

Design, meet wood. Wood, meet design. This is the humming and hawing stage when I try to think through the size in the design and how to break down the parts best, and whether stuff is getting thicknessed by scrub plane or resawn or whatever.

Resawing is a pain to do, thicknessing is only slightly better, but a lot of parts in this can be under three inches wide and those I can resaw with the bandsaw reasonably easily. I do have a frame saw on the way for wider stuff to see if it helps (lots of people say it does), but the thing’s in Cologne with no sign of moving for the last week. Sodding DHL.

Round one with the bandsaw. I’ve planed a reference edge with the #05 and #08 and marked off the far edge with the panel gauge after sharpening the pin a little with the diamond paddles. I’ll rip those on the bandsaw and get widths (there’s some damage on the edges – the boards must have been near the edge of the pack in the timber yard I guess).

And I’m trimming up the bandsaw blanks while I’m at it.

Right, that’s the edges sorted. Plus I get a few pieces to test finish on.

Then I start marking off various parts. By the time I’m done, I’ve used almost all my gauges (you don’t unset the gauge until you’re sure you’re done with that measurement; that ensures you’ll only have to reset the gauge for the one cut you’ve forgotten instead of five or six times).

And time for round two with the bandsaw (after lunch):

Right. Now I plane a reference edge and face on each part and mark the relevant parts for resawing or thicknessing. And then change my mind about thicknesses – I’ll leave the front of the cupboard three-quarters of an inch thick (which is a standardish sort of thickness for these things) rather than a half-inch. The back panel will still be a half-inch, and I’ll make the sides three-quarters and the top and bottom of the carcass and the shelf will be half-inch and so will the top and bottom cap pieces (so top and bottom overall will be an inch thick and the sides a quarter-inch less).

This is about the point where I discover that my favorite small proops brothers engineers square is… not. Square that is, it’s out by almost a full mm across its arm, I must have whacked it off something without noticing. I know I didn’t drop it. I don’t know if you can true one of these back up with the kit I have available. I may just need to buy a new one (for all of a tenner or so). In the meantime, I have another engineer’s square and the new Moore&Wright sliding square so that’s fine. Except that I had to reshoot a bunch of edges to get them back to square. And then marking them out for resawing.

And back to the bandsaw for round three…

Right. That’s the rails and stiles for the front door, the boards for the back, and the sides and top and bottom will have to be resawn by hand.

Just clamping and stickering them for now to let them dry overnight without too much warp.

Yeesh. Really do need to start joinery on something soon, if only to clear space. I only just finished tidying this up on Saturday…

Also finished up the bandsaw box. Two coats of garnet shellac on top of two coats of danish oil, and then some hardware, and then some felt for the base and the drawer gap. More photos tomorrow.

And then there was this idea from Paul Sellers:

And it looked simple enough that I could do it with Calum, so I prepped a piece of pine and this evening we drew lines on it, sawed it with a small ryoba rather than using the chisel Sellers used which would be a little dangerous for a five-year-old (or for me in close quarters with a small child holding a surgically sharp pointy lump of metal for that matter), and cleaned it up using “his” number #03 plane (because it has two places to hold that keep small fingers away from sharp edges). And then split it with a hammer and enough glee to convince me it’s a good thing we don’t have a cat.

Then break out the green spraypaint and masking tape and do the next bit outdoors 😀

Came back a bit later with spray-on snow and drilled a hanging hole…

Not bad for a five-year-old.

New toys…

Not been spending much time in the shed since the cot was delivered (and it fits, and Niece fits into it as well so yay!), but I have spent a few minutes on ebay. Or a few more than a few 🙂 There are still a few more things I want based on the fun of making the cot, but I have most of them now and I’m content to wait for decent prices&conditions on ebay. Especially since Brexit is about to take the price of tools on ebay.co.uk and throw them off a cliff…

Butt first…

Narex butt chisels. Or “American Pattern Chisels” if you’re (very) British. Basically, shorter blades and handles than the normal bench chisel:

When I was doing the dovetailing of the drawer in the cot, the chisels I had weren’t bad — but they definitely had some room for improvement and I’ve been looking at some Ashley Iles chisels for a while but they’re a wee bit expensive (over a hundred sterling or so for a set of six and there’s a bit of a back order wait because they’re handmade). So before buying those I wanted to try using a few different styles of chisel to get a better idea of what worked best for me; and Richard McGuire’s been an advocate of the smaller butt chisels for this kind of work so I thought I’d try them and there were two Narex chisels on ebay one day for about ten euro each. Narex aren’t the best in the world by a long shot, but they’re kindof the modern equivalent to Footprint I guess; decent working tools. So we’ll see if the style of chisel lives up to expectations over the next few months and then I can decide about whether or not to drop ten times that much on a set of “luxury” dovetail chisels. And I might buy a japanese chisel and an elliptical profile chisel as well if they show up cheaply, just to see if they suit me or if they just annoy me.

(Oh, and those things to the left on the top photo there are combination bottle openers/paint can openers. One will remain a paint can opener to save screwdrivers, and the other will get sharpened at the blade to use to clean the bottom of mortices, as a suggestion from Paul Sellars).

And from chisels for fine paring work to chisels for nailing pigs to walls…

Okay, so here I think I bought a bit more than I could chew. There were fifty-seven hand-cut mortices in the cot and while the ones for the slats were well suited to the firmer chisels I had, I got to thinking a proper morticing chisel would come in handy for anything much larger than a quarter inch or so. And then a few came up in a set on ebay for about twenty euro in total, split between two lots, so I grabbed them. And they’re terrifying. The scale doesn’t come across in the photos, these things are basically sharpened chunks of rebar. I can’t wrap my hand around the three larger ones fully. And the three-eights one has an overly loose (falling off really) handle with some woodworm attack and a split so I need to replace it. But these I think will be living in a box rather than on the wall. Especially the half-inch one. The thing weighs more than my hammer…

And finally got something to help sharpen my #071 router’s iron…

And something to help sharpen my western pattern saws…

And you can never have enough clamps of course…

Every schoolkid in Ireland probably remembers these, I know that’s where I first saw them. But the idea here isn’t to use this as a ruler, but as a sector. I’ll sand the markings off it and clean it up a bit, then remark it as a sector, following Christopher Schwarz’s suggestion. When I was marking out the dovetails for the cot, it took an age to get the sizes laid out and it was mainly done through trial and error with dividers; but a sector (which is in effect an analog computer, a bit like an old precursor to slide rules) would let me divide out the board correctly in a few seconds. Allegedly. We’ll see…

(And if it works, I might spend more than two euro including postage for a crappy old ruler and make one that’s less floppy)

You’ve seen this already, but since we’re mentioning dovetails, and since some new blades arrived today as well…

And this one’s a bit out of left field, and more to do with making the cheese press than the cot, specifically repairing it after Calum managed to break it. The Record 53A is a spectacularly good wood vice, but you can’t use it for metalwork really, it’s not designed for it. The Record Imp is a kindof  light duty tabletop vice, designed for use for small jobs. Think “Auxilary vice”, something you’d need before you start getting to the larger Record 4 and T5 mechanics and engineers vices, which are enormous behemoths of things. Maybe in a larger shed, but in my one, this is a better fit, especially as it costed €35 instead of €150 😀

Speaking of fit, it doesn’t – the bench top is too thick. So I need to make a board with a batten that it’ll fit and which I can clamp in the 53A or secure with holdfasts, and I can clamp the Imp to that (and bolt it to it as well probably).

And lastly, two new slitting gauges because I’m sick of having no option but to keep a piece of scrap about to note the settings for my wheel gauge; as a solution it works but you’re always going to get some small errors creeping in. The real solution is to have more gauges, and they’re not hugely expensive (usually you’ll get this kind for somewhere in the €25-35 range and you’ll find them for less if you’re willing to wait – both of these cost me €20). The top one is a new Marples model and it feels just lovely in the hand. I’m wondering if the rosewood will shrink away from the brass in the face; we’ll see. The lower one is an I.Sorby model from somewhere before the 1960s which looks better in the hand than it does in the photos, it’s really in lovely condition. Both are slitting gauges (or cutting gauges? Unless you only think of the lovely japanese versions of these as slitting gauges) with knife blades rather than pins because I’ve used pin style marking gauges and I just don’t like them that much, I much prefer the edges on the wheel gauges. Maybe if I refiled the pin’s heads to a more knife-like profile… but then, I’d have made a slitting gauge then, wouldn’t I? This way I just get what I want from the start 😀

Next up, I have to start getting these things stored. There are a few things to do in the shed over the next while, getting tools up on the wall and doing general shed maintenance stuff and the like, and then I have an idea for the next building project, but I’m waiting on some bits that I’ve ordered (without a lathe, there are some things I can’t make myself).

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