11
Dec 17

Time to finish

Small delay getting to the shed on Sunday.

Well. It’s a kind of woodwork.

Anyway, that evening, at around -3C in the evening. off to the shed. There were feet to shape.

I know, I know, Richard Maguire does it with a chisel. He also has enough room in his workshop to stand at either end of this bench. Anyway, the fretsaw was in need of exercise. So once the curve was cut, I used the spokeshave and a paring chisel to clean it up and cut a chamfer around the feet.

Dainty.

And they don’t rock, happily. And I’d put in a bullnose profile on the front sides using then #5 and #4 and a cabinet scraper.

Unfortunately, that meant it was time for the job I was putting off. Out with sid…

Before:

After:

Also after:

If anyone ever asks if it hurts to cut yourself with a chisel, the honest answer is no, they’re so sharp you don’t notice you’ve done it till later. Slipping with the scrub plane and slamming your hand full force into the dull edge of a planed-square board with a metal plane behind it, now that hurts.

Still though. Pretty.

Okay, time to set it on fire.

No, seriously.

There. Nice and discreet.

Then back upright for the last time.

And one good stare later (and a few minutes cleaning up the stuff I spotted with the cabinet scraper), it was time for disassembly for the finish.

For the top, it’s pretty simple. I chose the grain for the top and planed it to look nice, so that just has to get shown off. It’s getting a few coats (probably three) of osmo:

Just ragging on and sanding back when dry with 600 grit paper (it’s resting on the four bolts in the inserts there, I haven’t figured out how to levitate wood yet).

Nice rich colour when it’s wet, we’ll see how it holds up when dry. Then flip over and apply the first coat to the top nice and carefully.

The legs are getting a slightly different treatment – they got sanded down with 240 grit to open the pores from the plane finish they had, and then painted with oak shaving tea (collect two handfuls of oak shavings off the floor, boil with some water in a saucepan and then simmer for ten-twenty minutes, put water and shavings in a jar when cool):

The idea is that the liquid is now very high in tannic acid without having to go on ebay and buy tannic acid crystals. Paint that on the oak and you raise the tannic acid levels and raise the grain at the same time. So on monday night, I sanded down the legs with 240 again as they had dried (not bad going given that the shed hit -5C overnight) until they felt dry and smooth again and then repeated the oak shaving tree routine. I’ll sand them down again tomorrow and reapply the oak tea for the third time but this time I’ll just let them dry for a half-hour or so until the wood is damp but not wet; and then I’ll apply the other half of the magic, a solution of vinegar that has dissolved steel wool over the last week. The iron and the tannic acid will react and ebonise the oak. The end result should look like this if it all works:

In the meantime, something arrived in the post…

New bearings to use as thrust bearings in the bandsaw with a larger blade size. Gotta love the lego-parts aspect of mechanical engineering…

 


10
Dec 17

Standing upright

Last few days have been the first really cold ones of the year. -2C to -3C in the shed. And work was… somewhat excessive in the last few days so tonight was the first time in the shed in a few days and a to-do list was waiting. So…

Ran a slightly larger drillbit through the aprons to give some flex room for the bolts, and flattened the top of the aprons (I also spent a half-hour before this with the scrub plane and #5 flattening the underneath of the tabletop and hand-cutting the panel to width to trim out the worst of the bandsaw wobble).

The stainless steel inserts arrived on Thursday in the post, thankfully. Seems everyone makes these in zinc-plated steel, but actual stainless is a bit hard to find.

Bit of faffing about getting the legs centered on the tabletop, then putting in the drill bit and thwacking it to mark the drilling point with the drill bit (it’s a brad boint bit).

And now it’s time to drill the holes for the inserts. Look closely enough and you can see the marked point.

El cheapo drill bit depth stop so I don’t drill through the table. I have a fancy one for auger bits, but for drill bits, it’s blue tape time. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh. Right. Well, at least I noticed the shavings were shoving the tape backwards before I chased it right through the table.

Who says calipers aren’t good for woodworking? Check length of insert with calipers, get automatic depth gauge setting on the other, stabby end of the calipers. So I drilled the rest of the insert holes, stopping to poke the stabby bit in the hole until I had my depth.

Then it was time to realise that Richard Maguire had gotten inserts that you put a hex key directly into in order to drive home, but these sodding things need a bolt put into them and you drive them home with that. And since they’re going into a blind hole, the bolt has to be shorter than the insert. I managed to find some short M6 bolts (they came with the Triton sander as the bolts to bolt it down to the table with but I had my own), but they were too long. So. Time to break out my metalworking setup 😀

This is my metalworking setup. It’s a Record Imp, which I got back in February. It’s a nice lightweight metalworking vice designed to be clamped to a bench by people who didn’t need a full-size machinist’s vice. And it has nice features – you can bend pipe with it, you have a small anvil at the back and a striking surface (that small round thing just behind the jaws) and so on. Plus, it’s old – it’s a later model so this wasn’t made in the 1930s but it would have been somewhere between the 1960s and early 1980s, before Record went downhill. This is a small vice, but it is not a toy vice. I’ve screwed and clamped it down to a scrap piece of inch-thick oak, which then gets holdfasted to the bench.

So I clamp the bolt in the vice, mark off the length I want, remove the insert from the bolt, then fire up the dremel with a cutting disk (it’s a 6mm bolt lads, if I fired up the angle grinder it’d be like firing a sandblaster at sponge cake) and nip it off.

And now, just because we can, out comes the file and the tap-and-die set…

File off the sharp bits left by the dremel, recut the start of the thread after the file’s mangled it. Then thread the bolt into the insert and get out the socket driver.

Now, pick up that 14mm long insert, in a shed where it’s around 6-7C, slip with your fingers and drop it down behind the bench into the sawdust and shavings.

Swear profusely.

Get out the magnetic-head telescopic torch thing…

Right. Enough faffing. Paste wax to the threads and drive it on home.

Nice. Now we just do that with the other three…

Why is it spinning so easily on insert #2?

Ah, shite.

Apparently my bolts are made of particularly firm cheddar.

Mole grips to unscrew the insert, pointy thing to screw the bit of the bolt still stuck in there out the back of the insert (glad I didn’t get the blind inserts now).

Okay. Prep another bolt. Repeat all the steps above. Keep going, but be more careful this time.

Shite! At least I felt it go this time and stopped fast enough to be able to unscrew it in one part. Prep another bolt…

Felt this one going before it snapped. Definitely cheddar.

At least all four are in now. I might come back if I can find a non-cheese bolt and drive them below the surface later. For tonight, that’ll do.

Bolts in, and they fit (they’re a bit less than drop-in, but wood moves, blah, blah, blah, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

That’s a pleasant sight 🙂

Out with the MDF board at this point for a flat surface and check the rock – the front left leg there is about a millimetre out. Plus the feet are all at 12 degrees to the ground because geometry, so I mark off a flat on each leg, disassemble the table and even the legs up. And I leave it there for the evening. I’ve been up since… well, I was in work till around 0400 this morning after getting called around 2330 on friday, and I was back at work just before 0900 until 1730. On-call sucks sometimes. Oh well. There are worse complaints.

I have to shape the feet and thin the table edge and do the final smoothing of the tabletop and legs (cabinet scraper time!), all of which are finesse tasks so I’ll leave them for tomorrow, and I can be starting the finishing by tomorrow evening which is a good timetable for this.

Oh, and I also have a custom scratch stock profile to file. I’d rather do this with a hollow plane, but I don’t have hollows and rounds and I know (a) how much a set costs and (b) how much space one takes up 😀 So that’s not happening for a while. Hell, that was why I got the #050C combo plane, but alas I didn’t get the special doo-dads to let it act as a hollow or round 🙁  I’ve got an eye open, but the problem with the combiplanes is that they came with a lot of bits and doodads, and that was in 1930. You can’t keep both socks together for more than six months before you’re suddenly looking at lefty pining for righty who is has returned to the fjords; what odds that someone will have all 53 pieces from the original combiplane box that they bought in 1933?

So obviously, I just need to get a set of hollows and rounds.

looks up prices

passes out

Holy crap. I could buy two cars (second-hand) for the price of a set. Sod that. I wouldn’t have the room to put them anywhere anyway and the larger ones are all for things I don’t have the physical space in the shed to build.

But on ebay, unmatched planes (“harlequins” apparently, in a rare example of nice naming) are way less expensive – you can pick them up for a pound apiece in some cases. So I’ll probably wind up buying one or six hollows/rounds/beading wooden planes over the next year. You don’t need all that many for the kind of stuff I do. I might start with one that matches the profile above, which is drawn to match one of my gouges to do some decorative carving work.

I guess I’ll just have to try my “build something and sell it to pay for the wood” plan this year to let me do that 😀

 


05
Dec 17

Toothy prep

Well, that decided where to start for the evening I guess. I ripped the panels first, and then changed the blade because it was just wandering too much, and then cut the rails to approximate thickness and the stiles to rough thickness and straightened.

Before:

After:

Bunch of small thin stock gathered as well. I’ll leave that dry on its own, see if it stays unwarped.

Then on to cleaning up edges on the panels.

And then checking to see if I have enough width on the panels…

Yup, all good. Just resaw those and it’ll be grand.

Then on to cleaning up the faces of the rails and stiles. Started on the stiles and on the first pass it became obvious there was a problem.

Even a close-set #5 left huge tearout, really nasty stuff. So, time for the secret weapon.

Meet my new #6 toothing iron 🙂

Thing about these is, they leave a shitty-looking ridged surface, you’re never getting a clean finish with these things – but you also never get tearout.

So you can get the board flat with this, then come back with a tight-set smoothing plane and scrapers later and clean the surface up.

So got all the rails and stiles processed that way.

All set. Just resawing to do, but now it’s 2130h so I just marked up the resawing with a cutting gauge and called it a night.

Not sure if I’ll use the ryoba or the rip handsaw. Might try the handsaw first.

I still have to sort out what I want to do for a lid, I need to check my stock and have a think. The floor will be cedar for the nice smell, I have some set aside for just that purpose for the last year or so.

Oh, almost forgot, dove into Lenehan’s pick-n-mix…

Score. I’ll have to trim off 25mm or so with the dremel and tidy it up with a file, but that beats a bolt that doesn’t reach the tabletop fully. Now if the inserts would just arrive I could get on with the table build. At this rate, if I can resaw one panel board per evening, I might be ready for joinery on the chest by the weekend and if the inserts get here, I might be ready to start finishing the tabletop by then as well. That’d mean both would be ready by the time I want them ready.

And I’ve a bandsaw box I want cut over the weekend as well, but that should be much faster than before now that I have the bench sander.


04
Dec 17

Not progress…

Hm. Well, I guess not every day is going to be a great shed day. Stupid “job” and stupid “mortgage payments”…

At least the walnut blank for the bandsaw box came out allright.(That white glue streak is from where the bad saw cut was. The design will have to cut around that).

But I couldn’t drill the tabletop for the threaded inserts because they’re not here yet, so I just cleaned up the glue squeezeout from the table legs.

The new plastic razor blades were actually really useful here.

I guess you could just have a thin plastic knife for this (or a scraper if you didn’t mind then scraping out any scratches from the surface finish). But they were on sale and try anything once.

I got out the feeler gauge as well. There were places here and there where I could get a 0.2mm gauge in, but only on one shoulder was that consistent. And the ends didn’t look too bad.

Mind you, the bolts that are to hold the tabletop on… they were 70mm. They really should have been 75mm (but I couldn’t find those. Time to go hunt round the pick-n-mix hardware section in Lenehans and Woodies I suppose).

I mean… they’re nice and all but… I don’t think 5mm of thread is going to have much strength, y’know?

So, suitably annoyed I turned to the new project. Now it was 2100h by this point, so anything noisy was right out, but there was still some marking up to do. And I had to hunt up some timber for panels.

This should do it, but there’s a catch… that has to get resawn.
I’ll rip it down the centerline (well, not the centerline but the center line of the grain pattern, for symmetry) and trim off the edge waste with the bandsaw, but the resawing has to be done by hand because the panels are too wide (they’ll be 4 and five-eighths wide and who invented this stupid system of measurement and I’ll be converting this to mm as soon as I finish converting the rules-of-thumb on panel sizes and groove depths).

I remember the resawing from the cot. I’m not looking forward to this. I’m just hoping that it’s easier to resaw a 4 and 5/8″ board than an 8″ one. And maybe I’ve gotten better at this in the last year. Maybe.

So the posts are cut long to leave horns (yes, that’s the term) above and below the mortices (and leave space for legs as well). Once the mortices are chopped and the tenons fitted those horns can get trimmed off but during the mortice chopping they give some extra strength to the piece. I forgot this when making the front legs in the sidecar cot and chopping those out was a bit of a faff as a result to avoid accidentally splitting them out.

Then looking at the rails and stiles. The rails are straight enough, so I have face and edges nominated, and I marked them off for a 3/4″ thickness.

The stiles on the other hand, all have a kink that I’ll have to cut out.

Lovely rays though.

I’ll just mark off the straight portion and roughcut that on the bandsaw and then plane the faces (I’ll do something similar on the rails – roughcut outside the line and plane the faces – I’d like to save a chunk of the waste though, quarter-inch stock is handy for boxes).

Prepped for tomorrow. I’ll run a scrap through it to see if those guides are behaving themselves first, but I may need to swap them out and maybe the blade as well.


31
Oct 17

Scraping by…

Part of the tidy-up in the shed meant getting the scrapers off the little holder they were in and up on the wall…

And then the second thing was going through every single plane and chisel on the wall, going over all the unpainted parts with 600 grit wet&dry paper and WD40 to take off the surface rust, then rubbing briwax into the steel as a barrier against rust (renaissance wax would be better and some’s on the way). I’ll have to do this every weekend for a while to get the barrier layer set up properly.

I hate condensation. Gah.

There may be a dehumidifier in the shed’s future.


22
Oct 17

One slot left…

Honestly, the plan was not to collect planes.

But through random chance the first few I bought (I bought a retiree’s toolkit off ebay as a starting point) were all Record planes. And over the course of a few months I learned, as everyone does, that hand tool woodworking was effectively killed off during the second world war, though it had been in decline for a while before then. Machines and power tools took over for wood fabrication; and after that point, tool companies could no longer compete by producing the best tools because workers were no longer competing on how fast they could do the job to a set standard. Nobody needs to spend a weeks wages to buy a saw that can be sharpened more so you can cut 5% faster, when they can spend that much and get a saw that cuts 500% faster. The demographics of buyers changed markedly and suddenly a tool that would stand up to occasional weekend use and not cost a week’s wages was the thing that was in demand (and thus was born things like Black and Decker). Older tool companies either changed (like Stanley) or went bust or were bought up in mergers (like Woden) and so there’s this quality curve that takes a slow or a fast decline at some point after the end of WW2 for every hand tool manufacturer. Older tools are substantially better than modern ones from companies like this; you have to go to the modern artisan makers like Veritas or Lie Nielson to beat the vintage stuff. And that’s seriously expensive by comparison so most people go vintage, at least in the beginning where I am.

Now Stanley were the main brand for almost a century (and are still around) so if you go to ebay and try to buy an old hand plane, they tend to pop up first. But there were so many, identifying them is an expert’s task – is this one a bargain that’ll work like a charm for decades or is it only fit to be melted down for scrap, not even worth the postage? So instead, I just kept looking for Record because they didn’t dive down the curve for a few years later than Stanley and they’re relatively easy to date even from ebay photos.

So my #4, my #4½ and my #5½ got joined by a #7 and a spokeshave and a shoulder plane and a rabbetting plane and so on, all from Record’s catalogues as I thought I’d need them. And then one day I turned around and aw, crap, I have a collection of the sodding things.

Well, now look where I’m stuck.

Every slot filled, with planes for getting things straight, getting things curved, carving slots or rebates into things, and so on. But two empty slots got build in there, for the last two obvious things I’d “use” – a large Record #8 jointer plane and a small Record #2 smoothing plane.

Well….

Came up on ebay and I couldn’t resist. Old too, this is from somewhere in the 1945-1950 range based on its design, frog, blade and handles.

Just that bit larger than the #7, so handier for some things. A tad rusty though and the paint had worn through in places. Well, sod collecting, I want a usable tool so…

Then out with the newly mounted wire wheel on the bench grinder and off with all the accumulated rust (and I tidied up the #6 while I was at it, as someone had painted that thing almost purple in the last while and it annoys me).

A bit hard to read but “Best Crucible Cast” there indicates that this is one of the better blades Record ever made. And the sharp corners suggest this is laminated but I’d have to grind the bevel off to find out and I’m not that curious.
Then out with the heresy Hammerite paint and sprayed both the #8 and the #6 (I may redo this if I ever find a decent source of the original Record colour, but I seem to recall it was oven enamel and that’s a bit of a faff).

Then we had a hurricane and work had a Thing and so it was left drying for several weeks all told. Yikes. So this weekend, back out to the shed, tidied up a lot, reassembled both planes, spent a while taking rust off damn near every tool (the shed’s damper than I thought and the felt in the tool racks now counts as a Bad Idea) and oiling them (WD40 at least) and finally…

Almost done.

Yeah, “almost”.

See that little spot? There? That one?

Yeah, that’s kindof my little joke. It’s for a Record #2 plane.

They never made a #1, Stanley did that and these days those go for five-figure sums to collectors. But Record’s #2 still goes for stupid money, when you can find them at all. They didn’t make as many as they did of the workhorse #4s and #5s or even of the fancy #7s and #8s and when the second world war happened they went out of production in a hurry – and when there’s a war on, lots of metal gets melted down to make gun barrels and the #2 was a small smoothing plane for fine work; nobody really had a use for them that a #3 couldn’t fulfill so off to the crucible a lot of them went (same happened to the Stanley #1s). Oh well. They’re not as crazy as the Stanley #1s, but the last time I saw one on ebay, it sold at the asking price of almost €400 within 12 hours of being posted.

Yeah, that slot’s staying empty for a while longer I think 😀

But at least the shed’s been tidied up a tad so I can start doing things again…


29
Apr 17

Tooltris continued…

As I mentioned last time, it’s a nice problem to have, but it’s still nicer when you solve it 😀

So it’s mostly a conventional plane rack, with a few quirky bits for the non-bench planes. Here’s the map:

Bench planes make up most of the area, with the T5 over on the far left because of its handle, the blocks below that because that was all the room there was, the compass plane sitting on a shelf, and the various plough planes and rebate planes and router planes in various holders, and the spokeshaves on hooks.

Nicked the general idea for this from here. Though mine’s less fancy 😀

The #044, #043 and #055C plane housings are just pegs and small boards or cutouts in the frame to keep everything aligned. Gravity does the rest, along with the extra friction from the felt. The #043 mount might need some more work but it seems okay for now. 

The #722 mount looks like this but there’s a small cap across the top to bridge the gap now. Works very well if I do say so myself.

And the block planes get small cubbies, but with a bar in front of each one to ensure the plane is at a steep angle; that way I can stack four in that space without coming away from the wall too much.

The spokeshaves and the #080 were a bit easier to build 😀

I still have to build the chisel racks (I have a nice idea for those) and there’s a small area for screwdrivers and such as well, and I want to have a space for the spare irons and the blade sets from the combination planes up in that top right corner; that has to be built yet as well but it won’t be anything fancy.

All that’s not complete either, there’s the toe cap for the bench planes and a header to add, but I wanted to mount it on the wall first:

24 5mm screws, because only five of those are in studs. And it is a lot of cast iron. But it seems okay so far…

Anyway, with it on the wall, I could add the toe cap:

More glue and screw construction here, this isn’t going to win awards, it’s shed furniture. A bit of felt along the top as well, because I’ll attach a header in front of that to make a shelf:

And done. Had to fettle the ends of the shelf a bit with the spokeshave, but it fits, and more glue and screws later, here we are. Everything fits. I still have space for a #08, which I’ll get as soon as one in decent condition shows up on ebay for less than the price of its weight in platinum, and for a #02, which won’t ever show up for as low a price as its weight in platinum, but that’s collectors items for you. I’m holding its space for when I find one going for €5 in a car boot sale 😀

Things are starting to get a bit tidier at last. I still have to sort out the drills and the saws though. I’ll probably move the fret and coping saw from where they are now over to the left side, put the drills where they are now and put the saws beneath them and the hammers. Or I’ll put the drills on the front wall of the shed, behind me as I face the bench. Not sure yet. And of course, now that everything has a place, I’ll buy something else that’ll need more room than I have, like two more braces.

Not to mention the breast drill that’s still in the post…

But next job is definitely going to have to be that chisel rack. The chisels have gone back into a tool roll, and using those things is a pain in the fundament…


03
Apr 17

Tooltris

So, don’t get me wrong, I know this is a nice problem to have, but still…

Dovetailed and rebated border all glued up and fitted to the plywood panel, grand but now I have to figure out how to get all those planes on there and the chisels as well (the hammers will move to the side wall I think).
Also, leaving space for a Record #08 on the left, a Record #02 on the right and a Record #05 which I was absolutely certain I had bought but apparently I’d decided I didn’t need one because I had a #05½ and a #04½ already. Stupid sensible idea, that one.
Mounting might be interesting. I don’t think french cleats will help here, so I guess we’re down to a few dozen countersunk screws through the plywood and into the studs in the shed wall. But that’s an awful lot of cast iron…
BTW, I don’t expect much from knotty pine whitewood bought from woodies, but dammit, was I asking too much to expect that a 1.8m length of 43x12mm whitewood would be 1.8m of whitewood and not several 30cm lengths scarfed together? Good grief.

25
Mar 17

Hey Presto-n…

Another new toy today. While building the crib, my favorite tool very quickly became my Record 151 spokeshave.

It’s a really simple little tool and works brilliantly one you follow Richard Maguire’s tip and take off the adjustment knobs because you can’t ever get them both to agree well enough to keep the blade properly adjusted, so instead you just clamp the blade with the cap and set it with a hammer (which is a much finer adjustment than it sounds). It’s brilliant for anything with curves, or for rounding over sharp corners quickly for that matter.

But.

While it’s a lovely tool to work with, and far beyond cheapo Drapers and the like (I don’t care what Paul Sellars says on that one, I’ve seen the Draper spokeshave and it’s just manky), it does have faults. The casting of the body does not match the cap perfectly, for example – there are lugs on the sides of the lever cap that should fit into the body, but there’s a good 3-4mm of a gap because the tolerances weren’t finer. And you can set the blade further forward very readily and surprisingly delicately with a hammer, but you can’t retract it with the hammer, you have to undo the cap and reseat the blade back at the start and advance it again with the hammer, which can be annoying at times. It does the job, but I keep thinking there are things that can do the job better.

Well, probably the best out there right now according to everyone with a few hundred euro to drop on a spokeshave, is this:
That’s a Lee Nielson Boggs Spokeshave (Boggs being the rather accomplished chairmaker who designed it). And if you have approximately twenty times the price I paid for my 151, you can test it to find out 😀

Me, I went a different way and chased after a Preston. Edward Preston & Sons were the Lee Nielson of their day, arguably at the very top of the toolmaking world from around 1825 to somewhere between 1911 (when Edward Preston died) and 1932 (when the company was bought by Rabone). Unlike most of the other manufacturers who seem to have mostly copied stanley designs, the preston tools were markedly different. And their spokeshaves were neat, elegant, and clever. They had a well-known design (the 1391) that had very decorative casting:

But as good as it’s supposed to have been, I just didn’t like the look of it, so I went after their plainer version and finally managed to get a good example of one for, okay, just shy of forty euro including postage, but that’s still a third the price of the Lee Nielson. And just look at how pretty it is!

It’s been restored and it looks absolutely magnificent. And note that there’s only one adjustment knob so you don’t have to worry about misaligning the blade by not being in sync with both knobs, so you don’t need to adjust it with a hammer.

And the blade looks almost unused:

I’ll have to make a new sharpening holder for it, but it’s got enough steel there for a while longer yet, and Ray Iles makes replacement blades today for about 15 euro-ish.

Now, I just need to think of a new project to use it on 😀


09
Mar 17

Wristrest

So I’m still cleaning down the shed from the cot (finally got all the shavings under control…) but yesterday an officemate (hi Gary!) was looking at MassDrop (think “what to get for the rich geek who has everything” with a pricetag to match) and specifically at a wrist rest. For those who don’t type all day, it’s something to rest the wrist on while typing:

If you type all day every day like a lot of software engineers do, this is a pretty necessary thing or you wind up with carpal tunnel syndrome. I’ve had that, it’s not fun (it’s why I’ve used kinesis ergonomic keyboards for twenty years).

So the specific one Gary was looking at was wooden, and nice enough if a bit simple:

I mean, it’s not some gel-filled cushion, it’s not articulated, it’s just a shaped plank of wood. Walnut maybe? Fourteen inches wide (the width of a MacBook Pro) and about three inches deep.

They’re charging $95 for it (or they were, it’s not for sale any longer). I nearly choked on my coffee. I told him that was insane, that it was a lump of wood and not worth it and that I could knock that up in my shed in twenty minutes from an offcut. So he said “prove it”.

That’s how I keep getting myself into these things. You’d think I’d have learned by now.

So I go home, I find a piece of walnut offcut (in this case it was a length intended to be part of the cot frame but a bad rip cut and a waney edge made it unusable for that), I cut out a 14″x3″ piece from it (I don’t even take the time to lay it out) and skim plane it to clean off the rough-cut furriness. Then I plane one face and edge to square, and shoot the ends square from that. I don’t bother with the other edge or face because they’re going to get shaped anyway. And I cut the corners curved on the front using my new toy that just arrived from Dictum today:

Well, I have a project or ten in mind that will involve dovetails and I want to try sawing out the waste on the pinboard instead of chopping it out because that took a bit longer than I thought it would on the cot drawer. I need a better place for it to live though…

I also need to finish tidying up, and one of the next shed projects is tool storage. But for now…

And from there, I get out the spokeshave and round over edges and I use the jack plane to cut a quick chamfer on the front edge and then go over everything with the spokeshave again to get it all nice and smooth, and I hit the ends with some sandpaper for a few seconds to get the last little bits around that knot on the left front side.

Total time from start to here was about 25 minutes or so (I was faffing about a bit with the new fretsaw). With machines, that’s two tablesaw cuts, two mitre saw cuts and a run-around on a router table, so maybe three minutes?

It needed a little finish and I had the dregs at the bottom of the shellac jar to hand so…

One coat on by brush, then in for a cup of tea and a bit of Richard Maguire’s latest sharpening video while it dried. Then out to the shed again, some steel wool to knock back the first coat of shellac and rag on a second. Back to the house for more tea and Maguire, and half an hour later I take the offcut piece of felt I had from lining the cot drawer and cut a small piece out of that and spread it and the underside of the rest with contact cement from the end of a tube left over from putting leather on the bench vice jaws.

Let that get tacky for ten minutes, then press the two together and trim the excess. And then a final coat of briwax on top for the shiny.

By this point I realise I’m foostering so I draw a line under it and wander back in from the shed. Total work time is about 30-35 minutes (with something like 90 minutes of waiting on finishes while watching videos and drinking tea in there too). And the test fit worked:

And it doesn’t just work on my laptop, it works in production*:

So $95 versus €2. Hell of an exchange rate, even when you count the three minutes it’d take to make with machines, labour, marketing and so on.

 

*That’s a joke for the other IT people btw. 


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