Sep 17

French cleats and bench grinders

So I’ve said once or twelve times that I needed to do something about this stuff in the shed:

The little air compressor proved useless for shellac and stuff so it’s moved indoors to the lab for future mucking about with airfix models with junior and the like. The dremel, well, that’s handy for stuff so it still lives there, but the grinder was just a pain in the fundament. It’s on an MDF base with a small cleat on the bottom for the Black&Decker Workmate to grab onto (or the vice on the bench these days). So I finally got round to fixing that up and getting it out from underfoot.

Smaller base, cleat at the front end to act like a bench hook and a holdfast at the back keeps it nice and stable (the base tends to cup a bit, I don’t think it’ll last forever). Pulled the stone on one side (the finer grit stone because if I need that grit, I just use sandpaper for the scary sharp method or I use the diamond stones – I’ve never used that fine grinder stone since I got it) and put a wire wheel on there to help clean up rust off some older tools. The wire wheel wouldn’t fit in the guard, so I lost it.

If that cleat looks familiar, it’s because you’ve watched woodworking videos on youtube in the last decade. It’s a french cleat with a matching cleat on the wall.

So now it’s out from underfoot and positioned perfectly to remove an eyeball as you enter the shed. Who really needs to look to the left though?

May 17

Cleared the bench…

Finally got the last of the tools off the bench and onto the wall by building a small holder for the drills from a hardwood offcut and some recycled plywood. And managed to get a rebate and some stopped dados in as practice 😀

The shed is now finally looking like a proper workshop. I mean, it’s not done yet – the western saws need to go up on the wall too (another magnetic tool rack for them I think, and mount them below the japanese saws – lidl didn’t have any left so ebay it’ll be), and I do need to do something with the grinder and the airbrush, which will probably mean french cleats of some kind and probably redoing the mounting board for the grinder. But for now, it’s not too bad.

Yeah, okay, there’s a huge mess to the right hand side. That’s a bunch of boards rough-cut down to components for some small tables I’m going to build, and they’ve accumulated crap on top of them as any flat space does. I’ll have to tidy up the shed during the week.

But at least now I can work on something that’ll actually leave the shed instead of living there until I recycle it 😀

Oh, and a new moisture meter and thermometer as well. No huge reason for one, I just came across it while buying something else on aliexpress and it cost just under two euro shipped so what the hell.

May 17


It’s been one of those weeks where you don’t get a huge amount of time in the shed, but the chisel rack is finally done. And I have new toys…

The breast drill was in spectacularly good condition for something made somewhere in the 1950s. And used too, there are small marks here and there on it that say this thing wasn’t living in its original packaging until now. And with it, that’s almost all the hand drills I want (I wouldn’t mind a small push-drill for very small holes, 2mm and below, but I don’t need that for anything in the immediate short-term future; but for some tasks, like alignment pins for glueups, a 2mm drill and toothpicks are useful). But for now, I have two eggbeaters, a full set of braces and the breast drill in between the two (there’s a progression through the drills depending on how big the hole diameter is and how hard it will be to drill – you start with the eggbeaters up to about 5mm, then the breast drill from 5mm up to about 10mm, then the braces from then on, using larger braces as you need more torque. There’s some overlap rather than hard dividing lines, but it’s a decent rule of thumb).
And I can have drills dedicated to countersink bits as well, which speeds things up.

And I bought some slightly more specialist gauges as well.

Up top, a grasshopper gauge, which gets used to mark things when the reference face is a bit awkward to get to, and on the bottom is a panel gauge for glued-up panels (made from mahogany so it’s fairly old as well).

But about that chisel rack. The idea was to try to get all the chisels I use up on the wall, along with the gouges, and the usual design, the one I used until now, has disadvantages.

So this is grand if you have space, but if you are limited to 18″ or so of width for the chisels, you can’t get quite so many in and while you can stack them as shown here, you have to stagger them out away from the wall, and there’s not much room for that in my shed. And they have a weakness in that there’s short grain between the holes, so unless you make them from plywood or a more durable hardwood, you can snap out the between-holes chunks pretty readily (either while making them or while using them). And most of my shed stuff is made from fairly cheap pine bought from wherever was handiest (so usually Woodies, and their pine is terrible). So I wanted a design that let me stagger racks without having to come out more than three or four inches from the wall and which avoided the short grain problem.

So here’s the idea:

You have a short length at an angle, you put small cut-blocks behind it to keep the chisels sliding to the left or right, and you have something on the wall that the edge rests on.

And now we just need the shelf-like things on the wall for the edges to rest against.

The edges are angled and covered with felt so that the edges hit them at around 90° and don’t destroy the edge too much. I also put some perspex in front of the chisel racks so I couldn’t accidentally shove my hand into five or six chisel edges if I wasn’t thinking and reached for a measuring tape while facing the vice or some similar whoopsie.

Now, time to load the chisels up.

(And yes, take the time to sharpen and strop each as they go in, because why not?). Bevel-edged chisels first.

Then the firmer chisels, including my new 2″ wide cast steel monster, which is very nearly a slick.

And then the four gouges (there’s room on that rack for a few more chisels yet).

And that’s that done. The racks are held in with screws and the frame they screw into is screwed and glued in place, so if I need to tweak the racks or add new chisels, that should be reasonably easy.
(Note the fretsaw and coping saw got moved on the wall and lidl were selling magnetic tool racks so I cheated and got the japanese saws all up on the wall beside the hammers – the western saws will go below them with the blades pointed down so there’s a “safe reaching zone” in the middle to stick your hand into to grab any of the saws).

And that’s almost all that now. Need to get the scrapers a new holder on the wall somewhere, the old one has gotten loose (well, it was five saw cuts in an offcut from a 2×4). And the drills all need to go up on the wall as well. I have an idea in mind for that, but where exactly on the walls it’ll go I don’t know yet.

But I also have a project I’ve been wanting to do (and gotten a little done on already) and part of me just wants to get the shed furniture bit out of the way as fast as possible and get on with that, but with all the tools in the way, that’s going to be a tad difficult 😀
Plus, having the saws and hammers literally at my fingertips has sped things up at the bench far more than I thought it would. So having the drills to hand would be worth the effort.

I just need to figure out where the hell they’re going to go, I’m running out of wall…

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…

Apr 17

Blinded by the light…

So the SI unit for “brightness” (this isn’t exact, roll with it) is the lux and you can measure it with lightmeters (or a lightmeter app on your smartphone if you live in 2017). A really dark and stormy overcast day is around 100 to 200 lux as is your typical home lighting (my kitchen table, for example, sees 140 lux as I’m sitting here). Sunrise or sunset is around 400 lux. A well lit office can be anything up to around 500 lux. Noon on a typical cloudy Irish day is around 1000 to 2000 lux.

Earlier today, I hooked up the third LED T8 in the shed (the one I fitted yesterday):

At my workbench, the lightmeter now reads 2400 lux.

It’s now brighter inside my shed than it is outside my shed at noon on most Irish days. I might possibly have gone a little far.

(BTW, the T8s cost about €30 each off ebay and claim to draw 44W each and should last for a few years. So yeah, I’d recommend them)

Apr 17


So I came across this goop watching Crimson Guitars recently (I don’t want to build guitars, I just find the woodworking part fascinating while finding the music part kinda meh).

Basically, take this plastic (which comes in little balls like styrofoam packaging), put a few tablespoons into hot water (60C/140F is where the magic happens) and it goes from hard white solid to transparent goop. Fish it out of the water with a spoon, give it a second or two to cool down so you can hold it without third-degree burns to your fingertips, and now you have something similar to mala (or plasticine or playdough or silly putty or whatever you grew up with); only when it cools down, whatever shape it’s in it sets up hard in.

When it’s back to being hard again, it’s a hard white plastic that you can saw, drill, file, tap (no idea how much load it’ll take though) or otherwise work. And when you’re done with it, put it back into hot water and it goes back to transparent goop again and you can reuse it. No idea how many cycles you’ll get from it, but I’m up to three or four so far with no sign of degradation.

So how’s it useful in the shed? Well, I use LED T8s to light the shed. Or more accurately, until last weekend I used one. Then the second one arrived last weekend and now I use two.

Thing is, when I ordered that second one, I accidentally ordered two of them. So I wanted to fit the third T8 and in between the other two is the only viable place left. But the roof has no handy single flat surface there (if I picked either of the two flats I’d get uneven light distribution and I’d go spare). So I need some blocks cut to the angle of the roof and attached so that I have a horizontal surface to mount the light to.

But I don’t know that angle, it definitely isn’t something nice like 30, 45, 60 or 90. It’ll be 57.423 degrees or whatever hastily-nailed-together-8-by-6 sheds use. So out with a few tablespoons of thermomorph, let it go transparent, cool back to translucent, and then shove a wodge of it into the roof angle (you can see it above in that picture).

And then when it cools, take it down and let it cool fully to harden fully.

And there’s your angle. Now take your saw and cut it in half so you have a flat face to present to the wood, and mark off the angles.

And now you just saw down the lines, then crosscut into two blocks, and start drilling pilot holes for screws and countersinks.

Then screw the blocks to the roof…

…and the mounting clips to the blocks…

…and then clip the T8 into the clips.

And done. No faffing about with cut-and-test-and-cut-and-test-and-plane-and-test-and-plane-too-much-and-test-and-curse-and-start-over-again.

Yeah, you could probably do this with a bevel as well, if you had a small 2-3 inch size one, but the thermomorph can get into small awkward spots a bit better than most bevels. Plus, as Ben Crowe was showing in that video above, you can replicate curves and other odd profiles just as readily as straight line angles.

And you can get different brand names as well (Multimorph, Polymorph and so on) as well as dyes in case you don’t like white, or even food grade versions of the stuff. And near-infinite shelf life too. So definitely some stuff to have handy in the shed from now on.

Apr 17


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.

Feb 17


Y’see this happy chap? It’s from startwoodworking.com btw, it’s surprisingly hard to find a good side-on photo of how you use a hand plane. You’ll notice that he’s pushing the hand plane along the wood using his leg muscles more than his arm muscles, by leaning into the plane as he pushes it. This is normal, natural movement that you do any time you push an object that isn’t sliding round like a greased pig in a swimming pool.

Do you see what else he’s go there?


This is the shed at the moment.

Lean into the plane? I’m doing well if I can reach the shagging thing at the moment.

*sigh*. And I have to thickness drawer sides, which means taking off wood, half a millimetre at a time in a 2cm-wide strip. Over a whole board. Evenly. By about eight millimetres. Gah. See this thing?

This is a dewalt 735 planer thicknesser. It costs nearly €700 if you’re silly enough to buy it in a shop in Dublin where the prices are usually 50% too high. And if I had the room to store it, I would have bought two of them by now. I mean, finish planing, that’s one thing. It’s awkward, but even on the largest panel in the crib it was doable.

Granted, you need the card scraper in places and it’s a pain having nowhere to stand at times.

But thicknessing, that’s a whole other story. There’s no finesse in that, it’s just lots of pushing through wood and hoping it ends soon. Christopher Schwartz was right, the first power tool you should get is a planer thicknesser. It’s just that they’re also bloody loud. This is not a machine that endears you to the neighbours if you use it at 2200h on a worknight. It’s about as loud as your wife finding you feeding the neighbourhood cat. To the blender.

I mean, ideally, I’d resaw the boards to thickness, but honestly, I’ve had enough of that. The ryoba is just not up to the job if the plank is more than two or three inches wide, and I’m still waiting for saw files to sharpen the western saws I have but so far they’ve just not made the task any easier. A bandsaw might, but (a) where the hell would I put it, and (b) bandsaws that can resaw an eight-inch-wide board are not like bandsaws that are just used for cutting curves; they are not small things. You have to use wider blades for reasons that involve clearing a kerf, physics and metallurgy, and those wider blades need larger wheels in the bandsaw to cope with bending radii, and that leads to a big freestanding monster of a machine.

So basically, I’m stuck inside the limits of the 8’x6′ shed. At least for now. But every so often, it’s helpful to complane (see what I did there?) about it.

At least the top panel is finish planed and one of the drawer sides is now thicknessed.

And the final coat of shellac is on the mattress platform and on the rear upright.


So not a totally wasted hour or two in the shed.

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Finish plane top panel
  • Make a drawer
    • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
    • Cut the drawer front to size.
    • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish plane drawer front
    • Finish drawer front with shellac.
    • Paint drawer sides with milk paint.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

Feb 17

More assembly…

Started off the day with the second coat of shellac on the mattress platform pieces.

Left that to dry and started working on the rear support for the mattress platform. It’s basically an inverted ‘L’ shape made with a simple rabbeted butt joint, and while it’s probably overkill, I decided to put some wooden nails into it just for a little extra strength. So out with the bit and brace…

And that funky looking thing on the bit is a nifty eclipse depth stop that I’ve not had much excuse to use up till now…

Much nicer than just marking off with a sharpie or messing about with tape. With those holes predrilled, I planed off the glue lines and smoothed the outside faces and then set that aside while I drilled the holes for drawboring the front panel and the joints between the curved uprights and the top crossbar. By the time I got through that, the second coat on the platform pieces was done, so I sanded that down and gave them another coat of shellac.

Then I rived more stock to make up the drawboring pins and the wooden nails and the locating pins for the front support for the mattress platform.

It’s a fast process, but good grief is it loud, especially in an 8’x6′ shed, even with the echo-damping soundproofing foam on the ceiling. I have to wear ear defenders when doing this. And of course, you have to hit your thumb at least twice during the process (happily with the deadblow hammer rather than the lump hammer; that one would delay typing up a blog post for a few weeks while the finger bones healed).

The weekend’s shopping and dinner intervened in the process here, and afterwards, I finished off the nails and then used two of them on the rear platform support.

Hide glue again to bind it all together. Smelly stuff, and almost instantly tacky in the 10C temperature in the shed, so after wiping off the excess with a damp rag, I had to step back out to the kitchen to wash my hands before the next step, cutting the tops of the nails off with a flush-cut saw and a spacer.

Why do you need the spacer on a flush-cut saw? You shouldn’t is the answer, but whomever made this flush-cut saw decided to set the teeth on both sides, so if you use it like you’re meant to, with the blade pressed up against the surface, you’ll scratch the surface like a severely-pissed-off hedgehog. So first the saw with a spacer, then the rest gets taken off by chisel, and then the entire surface gets planed down.

And now that gets set aside. The ends still need to be planed flush and I need to use the router to cut grooves for the bolts in this, so no shellac for it today (same for the front support and for the curved uprights because they’re going to take a bit of work for finish planing due to the curve).

By now the fourth coat of shellac on the platform pieces was dry, so I brought those into the shed, and a minor disaster:

All three pieces have bloom on the underside. I’m not sure where the moisture that causes that came from, this side was facing down on the table so it wasn’t rain; they were elevated off the table at either end so it wasn’t contact with surface water; maybe it was just that the table was damp and that made the air just above it more moist? I’m not sure. Regardless, the fix is straightforward – brush either another coat of shellac on the top or just a swipe of isopropyl alcohol. Either one dissolves the top coat and lets the moisture evaporate, leaving a bloom-free surface behind.

I’ll still assemble the platform today though. But first, some finish planing on the ash panels. The front panel was very straightforward, just a few swipes with the #4½; but the side panel was a bit of a bugger, with the grain swirling around the place. In the end, the #80 saved the day. Damn glad I got it now, the card scraper would have been a fair amount of work for what the #80 did in a minute or three.

Now, on to the top crossbar. I’d left this over-long on both ends for strength while morticing, but now I’ve cut it back, leaving an inch on either end from the mortice outwards. So there are still some “wings” at the ends, and I would cut those into graceful curves if I had a bandsaw or a decent fretsaw (the Stanley FatMax coping saw… well, it can’t cope, is about the kindest you can say about it. I’m going to have to get myself a Knew Concepts fretsaw. And a bandsaw 😀 ). But I don’t have one yet, so I have a plan for something decorative. Meanwhile, I managed to stab myself in the finger without noticing it while chamfering the edges, and now the finish has some blood in it too. Well, why not…

This piece will need holes drilled in it yet for the rear platform mount to attach to, so no shellac for this piece today either.

So, as I mentioned a little while back, the plan for something decorative is to steal this idea from Brian Halcombe:

But my testing showed I needed a narrower, sharper gouge. So I got two off ebay in smaller sizes than the ones I had, and sharpened them up today and started digging away into the crossbar’s endgrain.

The ⅜” gouge I got was still too wide to be easily controlled in the endgrain (I used another test piece) but the ¼” one was usable with slightly more care than I normally have 😀

Brian Halcombe’s is way better, but that’s a few decades of experience and practice for you. This will look nice enough when shellac’d and waxed though, so that’ll do.

At this point, I was closing in on the end of the day, so I got the hide glue into some hot water to heat up (it’s about 8C and falling in the shed at this point even with the heater – we’re due a cold snap tonight to below freezing), and prep some clamps and cauls and I get the platform pieces ready for glue-up. The clamps are only just big enough by about a half-inch, but they suffice, and the gaps all close up nicely with only mild pressure.

I’m rather happy with that. Then last job of the night, I take some of the frame pieces that need no further cuts or major work, which is everything bar the curved uprights, and I finish plane them and then use the block plane to round over the arises.

For pieces like this, I think this method’s faster than the spokeshave. But not by a huge amount. Still, if you have a #60½ that you’ve worked to sharpen, why not use it? I really must fix the paint on that when this project’s done, along with the twelve million other jobs to do in the shed bringing tools back up to spec…

Anyway, with everything finish planed (and various notes to match mortices and tenons back up made in sharpie on the tenons and in the mortices themselves), it was time for more shellac.

I’m really starting to like the look of the walnut when shellac’d. Second coat tomorrow, and hopefully it’ll dry fast enough to be able to sand it tomorrow as well and put on the third coat. The end is in sight now. One finicky bit with the router to cut three or four grooves (I’ve not decided yet on having one or two bolts in the rear platform); and a bit of work to build a drawer; and then final assembly and finishing with osmo.

And then I’ll find it won’t fit in the car for delivery…

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Cut grooves in platform supports and matching holes for bolts in the curved uprights and the rear support upright
  • Finish plane the curved uprights
  • Shellac the supports and the curved uprights
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Drill for drawboring on the M&T joints that I’ll be drawboring (the long rail to upright ones and probably the back support and top crossbar joints).
  • Make drawbore pegs.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

Feb 17

Assembly, part one of many…

First coat of shellac on the back panel dried nicely overnight. And it was dry today, so I figured I’d put on the other coats today outdoors and then assemble.

Rather than brushing on the shellac today, everything got ragged on (hooray for being able to buy lint-free cotton rags off ebay by the kilogram). Much more even application, no brush marks, and much, much faster for the long pieces of the frame. While this second coat was drying, on to making drawbore pegs. I got a nice offcut of what I think might be sycamore a while ago, I’ve been riving off pieces for drawbore pegs from it and then using the dowel plate and sufficient violence to make the pegs.

I rive them down to around the half-inch size, then run them through the forming holes a few times at each size, gradually walking them down to the final size (which for here is a quarter-inch)

It works quite well, though it’s pretty obnoxiously loud.

By the time that was done, and a cup of tea was had, the shellac had dried and cured and it was time to sand over the second coat lightly with 600 grit paper.

And then rag on the third coat (it’s about a 1.5lb cut for those wondering, and made up from liberon shellac buttons and isopropyl alcohol).

Not too bad. While that was drying, I took the mattress support platform and disassembled it, and drilled two holes in the front of the platform for dowels that will go into the support at the front (the back will have enough of a ledge that it can’t fall down unless you smashed it to pieces). The front support had to be planed as well, it had developed some twist in the last few weeks, and the corresponding dowel holes got drilled there too. I’ll make up dowels the same way I’ve been making the drawbore pins, but these will be a little larger than the quarter-inch pins.

In the middle of this the last coat of shellac went on the back panel and lunch was had, and shortly after, the back panel pieces were ready to be assembled…

It was a bit cold in the shed, so the hide glue wouldn’t flow, so out came the thermos of hot water to heat it up a bit.

Then the left side tenons of the long rails got a coat of hide glue, and a little into the mortices as well, fitted the rails into the legs, coated the drawbore pins with glue and drove them home (no clamps required for this glue-up).

Then I put the panel in between the rails, and found it needed a few swipes on the shooting board to square up the end just a tad (don’t you love finding this mid-glue-up?); did that, put the panel back into the frame, and repeated the assembly and drawbore process on the other end of the rails. Flush-cut the drawbore pins to within a few mm of the surface with a flush-cut saw and a spacer (a piece of scrap wood) and then flushed them level with a chisel. This had a minor mishap on one corner, a touch-up on the shellac will be needed to fix that.

But that was the assembly done. And it looks quite nice, the walnut does pop out compared to the ash when you shellac it.

Then dinner, and then back to the mattress platform, and finish planing everything in it, and rounding over every corner, this time using a spokeshave instead of the block plane I’ve used before on the slats and the back support. It’s just as easy and as fast, there’s not much between the two methods to be honest. I can see the spokeshave being a better choice for curved pieces and the block plane for longer rails and the like.

Sure, a router table with a roundover bit could do the job, but for this few pieces, it’s faster to do it by hand because there’s so little setup time. Plus, it’s quieter and there’s less chance of losing a finger, which is always a plus.

Next up was the front platform support. I wanted to give it a bit of an arch on the underneath so it didn’t look quite so much like a sodding great plank, so I found the midpoint and sawed straight down by a few centimetres, then took my 1.5″ chisel and whacked out large chunks down to that kerf from either side, and extended out that v-shaped cutout on either side until it reached a foot away from the centerline on each side. Then out with the spokeshave and a heavy set on the blade and lots of pushing to even out the curve, and make it look a little more fluid than the “blind boy scout with a hatchet” level of chisel work it was at. Then finally rounded over the corners with the spokeshave (and a sharp chisel for the edges on the end grain) and that was done. I need to cut two grooves on either side for the carriage bolts that will attach this to the frame (so that there’s some adjustability). I can’t think of a cleaner way to do this other than a router with a straight bit at the moment. Drilling a series of holes and then trimming them together with a chisel might work if I’d a drill press but with my eggbeater or power drill, the holes wouldn’t be perfectly vertical and it’d be a mess. I might have to admit defeat here and use a power tool for this particular task. Still, it doesn’t look too bad so far.

Next up, I wanted to check the fit of the side tenons into the curved uprights because of the mixup between sides yesterday, so I took the already cut slats and cut the mortices to fit the tenons (which is an ass-backwards way to do it). Seemed to work though.

There are some small gaps (less than a half-mm or so), but those might close up when it’s fully assembled. We’ll see. I’ll have to do this again tomorrow for the other side.

And with that done it was on to the last job of the night, the first shellac coat for the walnut parts of the mattress support platform. After finding somewhere to put the side frame that was (again, the problem of a small shed – nowhere to put components as you work on them…)


But on to the shellac.

Ragged on first coat and it really does pop.

That’ll dry overnight and I’ll do the second coat in the morning, then sand and then two more coats (as for the back panel). Then glue-up and assembly.

After that, there’s the back support piece (that got done today as well but it’s glued up and curing at the moment), that’ll need to come out of the clamps and get cleaned up. It’ll have to have slots routered in as well. Then I want to make the locating dowels for the front support, and more drawbore pins for the front panel of the cot and the curved uprights, and those joints have to be drilled for the drawbore pins, and the back top crossbar has to be cut to length, it’s currently a few inches over to give strength while mortices were being chopped; I need to cut that to length and possibly on a curve to make it a bit more interesting. Then it can get shellac’d in prep for final assembly.

After that, it’s rounding over the side slats, finish planing all the slats and the curved uprights and the rails, and shellac’ing the last of the walnut pieces and then assembly of the front panel, then putting the front and back panels together along with the slats in the overall final assembly.

And then there’s a drawer to do, but that should be fairly fast. The big question is where the hell do I put the cot while I build the drawer on the bench?


To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly)
  • and cut tenons.
  • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
  • Cut the drawer front to size.
  • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
  • Cut dovetails for drawer.
  • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
  • Assemble drawer.
  • Drill for drawboring on the M&T joints that I’ll be drawboring (the long rail to upright ones and probably the back support and top crossbar joints).
  • Make drawbore pegs.
  • Finish plane all parts.
  • Finish walnut pieces with a few coats of shellac.
  • Paint drawer with milk paint.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

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