Pottering about

Last project finished, next one not properly started yet (just have the rough cuts done) and another in mind but not off the notepad yet. So now’s the time to work on the shed itself…

That’s the dust collection for the shed (it’s collapsed because the vacuum hose got clogged with shavings and the shop vac managed to pull enough air out of the barrel for atmospheric pressure to crush it). It’s a bit… big. For the shed at least. So a while back, I got a smaller drum.

And it’s been sitting there since I bought it, getting in the way, because I was trying to get other stuff done. So…

Out with the old…

And mark out and measure for the minicyclone seperator in the lid of the new drum, cut out the large hole with, of all things, the lie-nielsen radius cutter I was using for stringing on the last project, and then drill the holes for the attachment screw and fit it. In the end I didn’t use the sealer though, I’m not sure if it’s needed just yet.

It’s a wee bit smaller 😀
May need to re-jig how it’s held upright because unlike the older drum, this one has no side handles to thread with bungees.

Much smaller and neater. I didn’t use the sealer yet – I was mucking about with a safety valve to stop it getting crushed like its predecessor, but discovered that even with the 10mm hole in the lid wide open I was still getting suction on the main hose, and if I blocked that main hose, the 10mm hole wasn’t enough to stop the vacuum trying to collapse the drum. May need to rethink that a bit – it could just be that the smaller size results in far more rigidity and I don’t need it. Or I may need it later due to wear and tear. We’ll see.

Either way, more room!

And more clamps! There were a few 3″ clamps going for a fiver per pair on ebay so I grabbed them. They’re getting some PTFE lubricant here. At some point I really ought to take off the old paint and repaint all of these but I like the old record blue and I’m not sure I want to go into learning how to stove enamel stuff in the same oven we cook dinner in…

(Oh and the calculator is because I can’t multiply by 1.618 in my head)

And this is the next project after the next one; it’s not off the notepad yet but I was looking at how beech and walnut look beside the rippled sycamore that I want to use in it, trying to figure out colour contrasts so things look matched rather than looking garish, but also letting me keep mucking about with stringing.

I do have one shed task left though, and that’s to grind a camber in the new scrub plane blade. It won’t be anywhere near as severe as Sid’s camber, that was something like a 4″ camber, this will be about 7″ or so. I’ll get to that next, and then I’ll get back to the locker.

Ah for feck’s sakes…

I only just finished digging that sodding thing out!


And I’ve not been getting much done in there thanks to subzero temperatures and public transport making the work commute into anything up to a six-hour-a-day nightmare (yes, a foot of snow won’t slow down Canada, but Canada spends more on their snow clearing hardware and people than we spend on Varadkar’s Strategic Communications Spin Unit…). Mostly I’ve been putting together new tools for some things I’d like to try, namely stringing and carved arcading. So for the stringing, I already have the dead fancy radius cutter from lie nielson (probably the most bling tool I own), and a small perspex scrap to give it a pivot point when working on some of the usual designs:

But I haven’t got a straight line cutter because I figured I should be able to make one, they’re basically a marking gauge, see the lie nielson one:

Fancy, but basically just a marking gauge. So I ordered a spare blade from the lie nielson cutter to skip the whole metalworking bit because hell, learn one thing at a time. Then I laminated two scraps of white oak, cut and squared a stem from another scrap and chopped a mortice (and a rabbit on the base). Some test fitting, adding the blade in a little recess and…

Mind you, it doesn’t work. The mortice isn’t good enough so the beam isn’t at right angles to the fence, so the blade gets dragged along while skewed so you don’t get a nice thin cut line, you get a wider scratched mess. I think I’ll take out the beam, add a brass strip inlaid on it for a bearing surface and use the brass thumbscrews I have here as a lock. And I’ll remake the fence from a single thickness scrap piece of something; it’s too thick to cut a mortice accurately through (at least for me). Some guide blocks when morticing will probably help too. It’s not hard, but it does take a mite more care than I used on the first try.

Also, I’ll need to cut strips off the veneer to make the stringing, and I was finding my marking knife wasn’t up to it and neither was my heavier stanley boxcutter, both would be fine for a few inches and then wander off the line following the grain. So I got this:

Think pizza cutter. But with a tungsten carbide blade. It’s normally used for cutting cloth for quilting. Doesn’t get dragged off to either side by the grain as much as a normal knife that’s embedded in the grain would because with the wheel, the cutting surface is constantly coming out of the wood so the material hasn’t as solid a grip on the blade (which is precisely why we use these for pizzas and the like). Tested it already and it works like a charm. My veneer on the other hand, is too thin; I need to source better material, which I’ve had some pointers on from the UK forum.

And for cleaning out the stringing lines before gluing in the stringing, a dental pick is a pretty decent tool and dirt cheap on ebay. You get the oddest looks in the office when it’s delivered, mind you…

….but the looks you get when you order the syringes for putting glue in the stringing grooves surpass anything I’ve seen so far 😀

I also had to restock on glue and got a bunch of liquid hide glue in a sale on ebay so that should be all the glue I need for the next year or three (it’ll go off before I get through all of it I’m guessing). So I think I’m set right now for everything but the veneer for stringing; I’ll sort that out while I fix the straight line cutter and then start experimenting.

Meanwhile, Peter Follansbee did a nice blog writing up how he does carved arcading; I’d like to give this a go myself, it looks like fun:

It’s just damn pretty in walnut. And it looks terribly complex when finished, but like a lot of this period’s carving, it’s all geometric and done by leveraging the characteristics of tools rather than being some kind of sculpture that relies on twenty years of experience (which would be harder to try).

I do need to get one or two gouges that are larger than what I currently have so I got a nice three-quarter-inch one for a few euro off ebay again:

And between that and one that was a present from an old friend, had a go at the basic core elements to see if it was even possible (here in an oak scrap rather than walnut):

It’s somewhat easier than the v-tool work that I’ve been practicing (and not getting hugely better at, though having better sharpening kit is making a difference):

Something else to get back to, when I dig the shed out again…. this whole thing of letting the north pole melt and turning off the north atlantic current and ruining the climate is playing absolute hell with my shed time…

It’s not even for the birds!


Very calm and quiet last night thanks to the snow (and funky lighting too from streetlights reflecting off the snowclouds)

Terribly pretty but that’s all due to thaw and melt in the next day or four and the stuff that’s right up against the shed door will melt and then run down the door, find nowhere to go because of the snow and may wind up flowing over the lip and into the shed (and they didn’t leave a corner uncut when making the shed – they never treated the floorboards for water, so that’d lead to trouble even if it didn’t destroy stuff sitting on the floor in there).
So this morning….

Right. Shouldn’t be too bad…

Jaysus. Okay, that sucked. I remember this from when I used to grow vegetables thirty years ago – every spring, you dig up the garden and it’s the only time you use the shovel a lot in the year so your muscles never get used to it. Ow. But!

All clear. About 18″ of snow at the deepest point up against the wall (maybe three feet over in the corner on the far right out of frame). And no water damage inside, happily.

Even the robin’s looking happier now.

2.2C in the shed today. Might give it another day or so before going back out there again. Cold fingers and edged tools are a bad mix… plus I need to leave the kitchen door open for the power to the shed, and that’s divorce territory you’re talking in this weather.

Mucking about

So no major new projects taken on yet, I’ve been tidying away some new toys and getting the shed back to a working state instead. For example…

I now have two pairs of hollows and rounds (4’s and 6’s) as well as a 7 hollow, the reeding plane and a spare 6 hollow. According to Mouldings in Practice that’s all I need to start off with for the scale of stuff I build. A pair of 2s and 8s would be the next on the list if this works out. I don’t like this storage solution though; you don’t really want to have a moulding plane tip over and fall on your head from two feet up. I’ll build a rack for them seperately later .

I also wanted to increase the final grit of my sharpening setup (before the strop), and while waterstones seemed the obvious choice, they’re messy as all get-out. Also, the way I work I don’t have a huge amount of time in the shed so waterstones that you don’t have to soak for 15 minutes before sharpening would be mandatory (whether that be solved by storing them in water or having the shapton type that you can just squirt water onto and get going), and those are not that cheap. But if you want 20,000 grit, they’re you’re only real choice.

Thing is, okay, I do have a japanese chisel or two but most of my work isn’t done with A2 or PM-V11 steel or anything that esoteric, so waterstones aren’t really mandatory; and diamond plates will go up to 8000 grit if you buy from DMT. Okay, the 8000 grit one isn’t cheap, it’s nearly ninety quid, but the things last for a decade and they’re very low fuss, so I cried once and bought one.

Swapped out the 1200 grit Ultex and in went the 8000 grit DMT. The Ultex went into just-in-case storage. I’ve only sharpened the new japanese chisel on the DMT so far (it’s been a quiet week) but for such a fine grit, it visibly cuts quite surprisingly well.

Speaking of sharpening, I needed something for the inside of the gouges, so some black arkansas slipstones got bought along with the DMT. Seem nice enough, and not too expensive. Not used yet though….

And I got some 1-2-3 blocks. I’ve been meaning to get some for a year or so now. For woodworking they’re not as useful as they would be to a machinist, but not having to measure off 1, 2 or 3 inches, being able to set up the bandsaw or fences with right angles, clamping odd things, they’ll be bloody handy for that I suspect. Need to put a mount on the wall for them (I suspect a pair of dowels in the nonthreaded holes will suffice). Pain in the fundament cleaning all the storage grease off them though, but when you do, they’re nice and shiny…

This radius cutter isn’t new, I’ve had it for 18 months or so but I haven’t used it (look, life gets complicated sometimes, okay? 😀 ). I finally got to watch the line-and-berry video this week and dug this out, I have an idea for a project I want to use it on. More to come but I need to make a tool or two first…

One tool down, another to go yet. I also need to find a source for 1/32nd holly veneer, which in Ireland seems more difficult than expected.

Wanted to finish this up as it was sitting around (it’s planned to be a salt box). It’s a bit… drab as is though. If only I had something to jazz it up a bit…


Well, that was… intense. Left it overnight, sanded lightly to knock back grain and re-stained it today and gave it a coat of spray laquer.

It’s not terrible, but it’s a bit more blotchy than I was hoping for. Hmmm….

Also, I had another bandsaw box waiting to get a hinge and get finished so I wrapped that up as well but with just a coat of BLO…

I have no idea what it’s for by the way, I just wanted to use up a scrap and play with making a brass hinge (learned I can’t really do it in my shed unfortunately, I’d need a proper anvil I think. Oh well).

I’m almost done with the last of the tidying up at this point. Just need to sort out this guy and that’s the last big task I think. There are other things, magnetic rails and move some tools about and other small stuff, but this one’s the awkward one I think…

Cleaning down

So it’s the usual post-project loss of traction time; I do still have a few half-finished projects to be getting on with, but I thought I’d take a little time first to clean down after the chest, given that it’s left things a tad messy (especially given the pace of work on stuff leading up to xmas). The shed’s a mess, to be honest:


Buying a small bunch of things over the weekend didn’t help, but I was out of Osmo 1101 after the baby blanket chest and having corner mending braces is always useful for shop jigs and the like.

It’ll take a while to get this done; partly the problem is down to putting a litre of stuff in a pint pot sized shed. There just isn’t room for everything *and* all the wood 😀 I also want to replace that blue drum on the dust collector to get some space back, and some more tools need to go up on the walls and all my paintbrushes need to be cleaned (and some may need to be thrown away as too far gone). But at least I made a small start today.



Still hobbling round the place today with the sartorious, so working from home (the joys of IT – you can work anywhere, meaning you can work when sick). Over lunch, I tottered to the shed and flattened the board I was going to pull the rails from, and shot a reference edge with the #08.

The stain’s from accidental contact with the ebonising potion from the table build, but it’s surface only so it’ll plane out. Out with the panel gauge and mark off 2-and-a-quarter inch laths (we want two-inch-ish wide rails when it’s all done and squared so I’m leaving room for cack-handedness).

Back to work at this point until around about fourish, at which point I get stuck waiting on system tests, or in XKCD terms,

So to the bandsaw (rather than the ryoba because time). Ripped all four parts, then out with a medium-set #05 and a fine-set #08 and a straight edge and a square and a marking gauge and we get reference faces and edges on all four of these and mark off the reference faces for thickness.

This doesn’t take long and I leave the four parts marked up for resawing on the bandsaw and head inside for dinner. The light was fading and it was gray overcast when I went into the shed, then I open the door and…

Sneachta! And someone’s not seen this before…

Later, after dinner, back out to the shed and onto the bandsaw, resaw the pieces down to thickness (we want about three-quarters of an inch so the gauge was set to seven eighths (the pieces are about nine eighths thick)) and then it was back to the #05 and #08 to get the bandsaw marks off and the faces clean, and then taking them to S4S which didn’t take very long.

Ready for joinery. That was all I wanted done in the shed today (pick small goals, you’ll feel better), so I opened the door to go back inside and again, more sneachta!

Doubt it’ll last though. Oh well. We have driving wind and freezing rain on the way to replace it apparently…

Mucking out and mucking about

Couple of days out of the shed, mostly spent lying down and paying attention to all the little muscle cells as they turned to me and said “what the feck was all that then?”. Today though was bin day so back out to the shed and spent a half-hour cleaning up all the shavings and using the shop vac to tackle the sawdust.


After:And then, having made a clean spot, went and tidied the small section behind the tumbledrier there where I usually wind up standing wishing I’d cleaned that part of the shed.

And then, having cleaned everything up, time to play…

First off, I did want to see what the stains look like and to try to replicate this:

Granted, I don’t have resawn squares of flamed sycamore, I’m mucking about with bits of poplar, but still…

That was a bit of fun. I’ll take a peek tomorrow to see how it reacts to drying, and spray some poly on it to get a look at it under finish (it’s not actually for a project, I’m just experimenting).

Then on to the next thing; I got myself a solstice present of Peter Follansbee’s video on 17th century New England carving (I’m mad, me) and I wanted to try one of the basic v-tool exercise patterns:

Granted, I don’t have riven green oak or even quarter-sawn oak, I’m mucking about on an offcut from the table build – inch-thick kiln-dried flat-sawn oak. Grand for furniture, not so much for carving. Plus I need to sharpen my v-tool a bit more and I need some new slipstones because apparently you can shave the diamonds off diamond slipstones if you’re not careful when honing a gouge. Doh. And I don’t have all of Follansbee’s kit (which is worse than it sounds since he only uses six gouges and a v-tool…). But I have enough for one or two of the exercises (including this one) so on we go…

Natty little camping light spotted in a Big Clive video – handy since it has a magnet in one end and for throwing light across a surface with knifed marks it’s pretty useful.

The divider work is straightforward enough…

…but there’s a reason Follansbee makes it look easy and it’s twenty-five years of practise…

Still have all my fingers and no new leaks, so I’m calling that a win.

And a bit of BLO to show it better.

Well. First try. It’ll get better. Or it gets the shovel again.

And in the meantime I figured out what I wanted to do with those scraps I couldn’t throw away…


I actually managed to tick off almost every line on the to-do list for the week by Sunday night for a change. Before doing any “real” work though, I had to get the new interlopers off the bench. It’s been a while since I did framing-level work with 2x4s, but it’s like riding a bicycle…

…downhill on a wet slope towards a brick wall while blindfolded.

But since I didn’t care what the end product looked like, it was fast enough work…

Rough as 10-grit sandpaper, but it got them off the bench and me back to it. I might make something less… industrial at some point, but for now…

That’s the table legs profiled and rounded on the back (the front has to wait until the frames are glued up). Next to drill the holes for the tabletop attachment screws and that needed my big cordless drill…

I quite like that drill, it’s in magnificent condition for something that’s getting on for 70.

It is, by the way, a nice luxury to have a brace that’s dedicated to countersinking holes. You wouldn’t think it, but you tend to use it a lot…

And glueup. Hide glue again, hence the hot water bucket (hide glue and Irish winters don’t mix well). And that’s where I left it on Saturday evening.

On Sunday morning, I took off the clamps and things looked okay, so I got the tabletop up onto the bench and marked off the final sizes. Not much trimming needed in width, really just straightening up the edge there, but a good three inches came off the length because otherwise the table would be tippy.

I did try using the bandsaw to do the rough-cut there but it *really* didn’t like my new experimental bandsaw guides…

Teflon rod instead of the steel rod that had been there. Oh well. I might just have been overloading it with torque in the piece because it was so large it was almost unmanageable, so I’ll test it on some smaller pieces later and either leave or replace the teflon guides with the originals.

With it trimmed to size (at least roughly, the end grain is going to need a final session on the shooting board), it was on to smoothing the tabletop. Oddly the #4½ wasn’t getting it done even after touching up the blade on the diamond stones; I had it set to a really high cutting angle last time I was working with it, on some sapele; I guess it’s just not biting on the oak as a result, though I’m not sure why not. Oh well, out with the #4 instead and that got it done quite nicely. It’s not fully done; I want to use the #5 to smooth the underneath a bit, and attach the top and then I’ll come back and finish up the smoothing work on the top.

Then on to the next project and picking out the wood from the board to match the plans. This will be a blanket chest – if you know what that is, the scale might seem strange, but there’s a reason for it (just run with it being a very small chest for now). I had a 9×30″ oak board that I could get all the rails and stiles from, even if it has a nasty bow a few inches from one end; but I want a final thickness of three-quarters of an inch and it’s just over an inch now so I can get that bow out. The posts I already had gotten from some 8/4 oak at the end of last week.

The bandsaw might be fussy but it does let you get rips done fast… even if you then have to spend a while with the #5 to get the edges back to being clean again.

Just trying to get a feel for the overall size there (it will be smaller than this – the joints aren’t cut and the oak’s not thicknessed yet). There will also have to be panels, this is just the frame, but one thing at a time. And I have an idea for the floorboards as well.

Finally going to get to use the pigsticker on this one 🙂

All the grooves cut in the posts. I’m wondering whether to thickness the rails and stiles before or after grooving. I’m leaning towards after. I didn’t dive into the morticing either, it’s too late in the day at this point for that, I’d wind up morticing the wrong groove somehow.

So, last job of the day, glueing up a blank for another bandsaw box.

An offcut of walnut from a long rip that went badly (you can just see where the saw wandered there). It’s a bit small for anything else really, but for a bandsaw box it’s grand. Also, walnut. It’s basically cheating using this stuff (and at nearly €90 per cubic foot, it’s definitely pay-to-win cheating).

And I’ll leave things there for the evening. The last piece of hardware I need for the table should arrive on Monday, and I might be into the finishing before the end of the week if I’m lucky, as well as making progress on the chest and the bandsaw box.

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