Apr 21

Turns out, you *can* make a rabbit from an egg…

I like a lot of Rebecca DeGroot‘s stuff, it’s very nicely weird and creepy.

So when she did a how-to video for making an easter rabbit, I thought I’d have a go.

So, first up, turn the body and head from some sycamore spindles I had after the snowman production line at solstice. The head and body are basically just eggs…

The ears are made as a long pointy egg as well, but from a blank which is a glue-up with a piece of paper between the two halves.

Similar to how you’d do an inside-out turning blank, but just two pieces here instead of four or more. Once the shape is turned, you just split the shape along the paper line and sand off the remaining paper (newspaper will do, but any heavy paper works well). These were just some oak offcuts I had to hand.

So with the head, body, ears and tail turned (the tail is just a chunk of old xmas tree trunk turned to a sphere with a tenon), you sand flats on the bottom of the body, on the bottom of the head and the top of the body, and you dremel the base of the ears to fit to the head (and I dremelled a small hollow into the ears as well because why not). Then drill between head and body for two dowels, and between head and ears for bamboo skewers (because I don’t have dowels that narrow). Glue everything up and…

That sanding wheel and platform are proving very useful for this sort of composite piece.

For a finish I just went with a coat of acrylic rattlecan lacquer.

Didn’t turn out bad at all.

Dec 20

Gnome army

Saw Rebecca Degroot’s video on making a gnome:

Looked like fun, so I made one or two while messing about with decorations.

Then I thought they’d be nice presents for the other kids in Calum’s class, so batch work time. I didn’t have many blanks readymade for this though (I’ll have to remember to stock up in October for next year) so I took a standard CLS lumber 4×2 and cut it down the middle on the bandsaw into two 2×2 rectangles and used the roughing gouge to round them up.

Softwood in general isn’t generally recommended for turning but with sharp tools it’s fine for basic stuff like this. I had a very minimalist story stick with just two ticks on it to mark out the body and a length for the tenon, and marked off the blank with it.

Then stick the point of the skew into the lines to deepen them.

Then with the skew, turn the top and bottom corners of the body and smooth out the bit in between to a gentle barrel curve. Make sure to overexpose the camera if possible.

Then use the parting tool to turn what will be the tenon down past the shoulder at the top of the body, but not all the way as you need some strength left in it to sand the body.

Then swing in the dust collector and sand up to 240 grit. This is the secret to a beginner’s woodturning – buy 80grit sandpaper in bulk.

Dousing with sanding sealer before the last grit to stiffen the grain a bit.

Then hampshire sheen wax (because it’s now certified food-and-toy-safe) and buffing.

And now part the tenon down to 6mm (using the wrench-as-a-gauge trick which is complicated by me not having very many wrenches that small)

And part off and into the box it goes and we move on to the next section of the blank and repeat 19 more times…

Next, hats.

I didn’t have many blanks at all for this, so half were a glued-up blank made from walnut offcuts and half were stained CLS lumber. Again, very simple marking out, then use a spindle gouge to turn the rough shape, and put a tenon at the top using a skew.

This is why we prefer to use larger tenons by the way, a 3mm tenon with a skew is…. great practice for the skew ūüėÄ

Then sand, seal, sand again and wax…

Then part off, being careful to undercut as you part so the hat is concave underneath to match the convex top of the body. Then completely give up on turning and just cheat by buying several bags of wooden balls two years ago and forgetting what they were for and just using them here for noses and baubles and a 6mm dowel sanded down to 3mm to fit the noses. And drill holes in the body for the nose and under the hat for the body’s tenon and in the balls for the nose tenon and hat tenon, which is awkward till you realise you can hold the ball using mole grips rather than trying to clamp one in a vice or making a jig.

So 20 sets of these, and then a bag of faux fur…

And now under supervision from the 8 year old, who will manage the matching of bodies to hats to beards and specify beard length, assemble everything using a full bottle of CA glue…

And then packed up and sent off for delivery by Calum.

They were well received ūüôā We even got some photos of the gnomes in their new homes…

Overall, good skew practice and fun to make. Must do them again next year, but this time, get some blanks in around October and start making them in November ūüėÄ

May 20

More rough work

One of the steps up to the garden broke underfoot the other day. Just age and normal wear and tear, combined with the original carpenters cutting all the corners they could. So a trip to woodies had to be done to get some decking boards to repair it and, well, these days that’s not a quick evening’s browse in the car, it’s an outright expedition complete with mask and gloves. So you don’t buy the one decking board you would have bought, you grab two and other targets of opportunity as well becuase you already queued for ten minutes to get in, but since you don’t want to browse you kinda have to know where stuff is (I’m almost embarressed to know the layout of two or three Woodies like this, I’m much happier ordering timber from places like Quinns or Brooks). I grabbed some overpriced knotty 12x145mm 2.4m PAO pine as well because the blackberry plants I bought are still in their garden nursery pots and if we don’t move them soon they’ll get into trouble from lack of mass in the compost and root compaction.

After repairing the step (and all I’ll say about that is who uses indoor chipboard screws on an outdoor set of steps for pete’s sakes?) I spent all of about a minute sketching out what I wanted the bramble planter to look like (and two more minutes after I realised that steambending a trellis was overkill and just did a box instead) and then broke down the pine into rough cuts. I wanted to save two feet of it to make a new shelf for the lathe bits and pieces, and I wanted the planter to be at least a foot deep and everything else just emerged from that.

Brad nails, titebond, a few stainless steel screws here and there where a bit more strength was needed, and two shaped handles on the ends. Apart from handsaws, it was power tools all the way. But hell, it’s just a planter, it’s not meant to last more than one or two years. It only has a single coat of BLO to protect it from the elements.

That crossbar across the top is not a handle btw, it’s a tie-in point for canes because brambles like to climb:

And since all my basil died, I emptied the planter and refilled it with fresh compost and moved the strawberries to there.

So now we wait and either everything will die or we’ll have jam in a few weeks…