23
Jul 20

Sharpening station

So ages ago I made one of Paul Sellers’ kind of sharpening stations – effectively just a plank with carved recesses for diamond plates (in a small shed, the diamond plates work best for me because they’re less muss and fuss than everything else would be in that space). It wasn’t exactly a masterpiece or anything (though I still think waney edge plywood will come into fashion), but it worked quite well for years.

It has gotten slightly grubbier with use (that’s the steel dust and the lapping fluids and so forth) and I added a handle because I started keeping it under the bench and the handle made extraction easier. But you still have to pull it out from under the bench and have room free on the bench to put it on before you can sharpen and that’s… uncommon in the shed. I mean, if you have a 12′ bench, I’m sure there’s always some room but my bench is about 5′ long and I only recently got to see the top of it again after a major effort in tidying for the first time in six months so that space is just not a thing in my reality.

So, a few months ago when I moved the tumble drier out of the shed (no, not kidding, don’t ask) and reclaimed some space, I decided some of that space was going to be used for a dedicated sharpening station. Maybe not a full-blown Shannon Rogers affair with two grinders and a tormek and plates and drawers and so on, but something at least that I could use for most of my sharpening. So I had a good rummage around online and found these:

So, one cheap order and a bit of waiting and an offcut and some fiddly installation later and just as the lathe was making its first chips, I had a folding shelf.

…and then I did nothing for several months. I mean, okay, there was the whole pandemic thing but mostly I just got buried doing other things. But in the last day or two I got a bit into doing shed jobs. I rebuilt the lathe tooling shelf because it went from reasonably tidy:

To a complete and utter pile of disaster waiting to happen:

Yeah, I might have bought one or two things without planning where to store them. So I pulled that shelf off the wall and disassembled it (and if you ever wondered how strong titebond II was, well, this is what happened when I hit the shelf with a lump hammer to break the glue line holding the shelf from the piece that’s actually screwed to the wall):

Anyway, took a scrap of pine left over from something else, and did some mucking about with the pillar drill and the router:

Put a small routed channel in at the back for the centerfinders to be propped up in against the wall, and end caps from plywood scraps that might stop them falling off the ends, and a small routed rectangle on the left for other stuff like a diamond hone, a spindle centerfinder that’s a bit awkwardly shaped and a few worm screw spacers on a little tower-of-hanoi holder thing.

I know it doesn’t look like it, but that is an improvement. Even if things are now looking busier than I’d like…

But anyway, today’s project was to finish the sharpening station so I pulled two of the four stones from the existing sharpening plate holder (the coarsest and finest ones):

That glue wasn’t messing about, it held onto the writing ๐Ÿ˜€

I won’t be losing the strop btw, I’ve found stropping to be very much worthwhile but I usually use a dedicated one that I leave lying around the bench which is just a length of 2×4 with some leather nailed to it that I made back when I was making the bench years ago.

Next I trimmed the edges of the poplar offcut I’m using here, planed it, and marked it out for the plates.

And I routed out the bulk of the waste with the power router. Have I mentioned I hate that thing? It’s loud, it’s scary and holy crap the mess.

But it was a bit easier than chopping the plate recesses out with a chisel. I prefer to cut mortices with chisels, but for large wide areas of excavation, it’s hard to beat a power router. It’s awkward to be precise with them though, so I routed to within 2mm or so of the lines and then did the rest with a chisel or two and a mallet and some patient thwacking. A touch of epoxy to glue the plates in place and some remounting with predrilled screw holes and…

(The paracord is for hanging the window cleaner bottle I use for lapping fluid from)

And now I can touch up a chisel from not-sharp-but-not-yet-dull to yikes-thats-sharp and be back to work in 30 seconds. Literally, I tried it (and it’s easier when you’re not holding the cameraphone in one hand):

Next job, the dust extractor cyclone has torn out of the lid of the drum it’s on so that has to get reinforced with plywood temporarily until I can build a 4″ cyclone lid (the flat kind like this) to replace it, and I have to make some holders for sandpaper (for which I might have to rebuild the printer head on the 3D printer which is acting up at the moment) and for the kitchen rolls I use in there for finishing on the lathe, and the wire-burning bits and bobs need to be rethought a bit because they’re literally a box of wires and two handles with holes in them right now which is just a messy pain in the backside, and the saw vice needs a proper home to hang on as well (probably on the wall behind the lathe low down like the little record imp machinists vice), and then I can get on with actually making stuff


12
Jul 20

Colour and shape

Was mucking about with the lathe last month. I was wondering if buying a thick plank and cutting my own blanks was a possibility a while back and while I’ve managed to find a solid source for them since (Home of Wood in the UK in case you’re in Ireland and looking for a source, but what effect Brexit will have is something we’ll have to see next year – I already can’t get replacement bandsaw blades from TuffSaws because of that), I still wanted to try a square bowl so I took an offcut of poplar that I had and chucked it up with a dovetail faceplate, which are really nifty little things – I have two so I can have two blanks on the go and if I take one off the lathe, I won’t have concentricity errors when I put it back on, at least none that matter for woodturning levels of precision:

Loving that natural light from the window. I do need to finish that sharpening station there by the door, and I’ve since improved on the lathe tool holder as well.

Then just fire it up and very, very carefully start cutting the curve. Those corners are fun, you’re cutting air most of the time with those which takes a bit of adjusting to.

Seeing through the work like that is just a tad freaky ๐Ÿ˜€

Mostly you just start the profile in the center where there’s a full 360 degree cut, then pull the cut out to the corners, relying on muscle memory to not just shove the gouge off that profile line so that the rotating corner doesn’t come down on anything but the cutting edge (if it hit the shoulder or the shaft of the gouge, I think lots of bad things would happen in rapid succession at a very interesting pace indeed and I don’t want to investigate that at all).

The final resul is quite nice, though that rough semi-circular bit on the edges will have to be cut away or sanded away later.

Also, I love poplar, it’s a really underrated wood, but the point of using it here was that I also wanted to play a bit with colouring the piece using stains. Blame Stewart Furini and Martin Saban-Smith.

A few layers of different stains from black to red to yellow to orange gave a nice enough effect. I mean, it’s an experiment, it’s fine ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m actually not done playing with that one, but I did want to test a new paint on the other side. I’ve tried black stain before:

And I’ve tried burning before:

And I’ve not turned any oak yet but I have ebonised oak in the past with a mix of tannin tea from oak shavings and an iron mix made by soaking steel wool in vinegar for a while:

But I wanted to know if this new paint I came across was comparable. This paint called Vantablack got invented a few years ago but the inventor didn’t release it to the general public, it’s got some sort of exclusive licence and so – as always happens – someone else invented something that did the same job (perhaps better). Stuart Semple is the chap’s name and the paint is just called Black 2.0 or BLK3.0 depending on the one you get, I got the 3.0 to test.

I also got a few more of their pigments (each of which is the MOST blue/green/yellow/pink/etc according to their advertising, I was going to use it in resin). And I got LIT which is their glow-in-the-dark pigment. Haven’t trialled them a lot since but the little bit I have tried worked rather nicely.

And there we go. Two coats on the left half, three on the right (the third is still a bit damp here). On camera, it’s a black hole. In person, well, the human eye it turns out has more dynamic range than almost any camera ever invented, so we can go from broad daylight to moonlight and see shades in both. So when you look at this in person, it’s nowhere near as featureless a void as it seems on camera, but it is remarkably black. This piece has been off the lathe while other stuff was done for a month now; it still looks as black. How it holds up to the other approaches…. well, it doesn’t sadly. You lose the effect with a topcoat and the paint isn’t very sturdy itself (it does not weather well, as they say). But it’s a neat tool to have in the toolbox.

Speaking of, I really must get this back on the lathe and finished at some point. There’s just so much more stuff to do first…


11
Apr 20

Using up offcuts

So with the lockdown in Ireland now extended to May 5 – or The Lock-in as we ought to be calling it the way WW2 was The Emergency – garden centers are closed (apparently the Greens asking us to feed ourselves from our window boxes full of lettuce didn’t make Woodies an essential business ๐Ÿ˜€ ). I ran around one before the Lock-in commenced and got a lot of seeds and potting compost (and we already had a general-purpose liquid fertiliser and tomato feed and for high-nitrogen stuff like Basil, well everyone knows that trick of mixing eggshells and used coffee grounds with their compost, right?); but I thought we had more planters than we had. Seems I threw the ones we did have in the bin a few weeks ago because the UV had finally mangled them past maintenance’s hopes. Oh well.

I do have a shiny new brad nailer…

And I also have every woodworker’s inability to throw out wood combined with a large timber storage box ๐Ÿ˜€

Why yes, those are a lot of bowl blanks, and yes, my first bowl is all finished off and put to work as well, thanks for asking ๐Ÿ˜€

So I found some of the cedar T&G lengths I had which I have literally no other project in mind for but I still had a single three metre length in the house and three or four metre lengths in the box, so those are obviously the sides, and I can do the ends with some plywood bits and pieces and use some 1×3 scraps of deal to tie them together.

For rapidly knocking something like this out, that brad nailer is a bunch of fun. There’s glue providing the actual long-term strenght but a few 50mm brads act as temporary fixings and clamps all in one.

Then an offcut of poplar which was, to be honest, so scraggly that using it for anything proper would have meant a fair bit of work getting it straightened out, but for something that will live outside and be full of earth, this is grand. It acts as the base, and it was about 3″ too long so those 3″ get cut up into feet.

I didn’t have brads in any size bar 20mm and 50mm so I had nothing that really held the sides in place; the 20mm ones pinned them in position long enough to drive longer screws into the 1×3 battens though. Need to buy a few more lengths.

And that was it really. Very quick and dirty, handsaws and brad nailers and even the pillar drill with a fostner bit for the handles (along with a rasp, some sandpaper, a block plane, and some tidying up with a chisel). But it does the job and kept us at home, so that’s fine by me.

Filled with potting compost mixed with eggshells and coffee grounds, then transplanted our basil plants into it and watered with some liquid fertiliser.

Slightly less ghetto than previous solutions ๐Ÿ˜€