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)


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.


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.


Y’see this happy chap? It’s from 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.

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.

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.


Finished the last of the crossbars today, checked the fit and fettled a bit, and then thought I’d try test-assembling the base…

That’s the bending jig; it was MDF so I considered it disposable (I must recover the screws from it now that I think about it). And the light was just going, hence the odd lighting. This really is too large to assemble on the bench; I’ll have to assemble it on this. It’s worse for wear thanks to moisture, but pffft. It’s MDF. It’s for the bin anyways.

Mental note, next time do this in daylight; can you see the deliberate error? 😀 I put the top bar at the end closest to the camera in upside down by mistake and got almost an inch of misalignment at the top, which gave me a moment’s pause until I figured out what I’d done.

When I put the end crossbar in the right way up, it’s nice and flush. Next job will be to cut the grooves for the top panel (and then cut the top panel to size, it’s quite a bit wider than the base because I didn’t rip the boards down; why bother until I had the final width determined?).

That nearest steambent upright is actually perfect, annoyingly. The end (the one floating in mid-air there) is at a perfect 90 degrees to the vertical. It’s making the other one look bad.

So, what’s left?

  • Rip the top panel to width.
  • Add the rebate and bevel to the top panel.
  • Cut grooves for top panel in long stretchers.
  • Cut mortice for back support.
  • Cut back support to length and cut tenon on bottom end.
  • Figure out joint at the top of the back support for the top crossrail.
  • Figure out joints at the tops of the two steambent uprights.
  • Fit top crossrail to back support and steambent uprights.
  • Cut back slats to length and cut tenons.
  • Measure off side slats (because they’re going into a curve, this is going to be fiddly) and cut tenons.
  • Cut mortices for slats.
  • Joint drawer runners into the bottom end crosspieces.
  • 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.



Back’s finally better enough to tackle the now ridiculous buildup of wood shavings in the shed…

Three bags full of the stuff in total, stuffed behind the bench, under the bench, all over the floor, in between the boards, everywhere. Of course, just because you get rid of the rubbish doesn’t mean that things stop being awkward…

Job one was to cut that plywood down to size so I could at least get into the shed again 😀 It’s to be the base for the drawer – I realised that the cedar of lebanon I had for that was not cedar of lebanon but western red cedar. Whoops. Oh well, better to find out now…

Then on to the front panel, which went quite quickly (so much faster doing this stuff with a template).

Then spent a while checking the mattress support platform for fit (it needs a millimetre shaved off one side, which is fine), getting the side rails cut to length and marked out for tenons; I had to stop to go collect turkeys and do last minute xmas dinner related shopping, so no mortices got cut today; might get one or two tomorrow but I doubt it, xmas eve is going to be busy with cooking, travelling to get food to where the clan is gathering (we think; my sister decided not to wait for the cot and niece #1 was born yesterday morning, everyone’s doing well, but this project now needs finishing fast 😀 and xmas plans just got made fluid), and then there are presents to wrap…

Meanwhile, I was looking at the idea of drawboring the frame mortice&tenon joints again, and knocked up a test peg.

And of course when I went to drill the drawbore holes, the battery on my drill let me down so it was back to the cordless drill.

I’m surprised at how well that drill works actually. Then pointed the peg and drove it home.

Cut it flush, and trimmed by chisel.

It’s a lot stronger than I thought it’d be; I was afraid of joint failure. And I love the contrasting appearance of the wood. I haven’t tested it to destruction (the tenon and mortice walls are much smaller than in the frame so I’m not sure what I’d learn). I did test the shellac finish on it to see if the contrast in the wood held up under successive coats…

I quite like that. And I think the frame could use the extra strength, I expect some tension on the slats. And I think I need to use a wedged through tenon on the top of the rear centre support as well. That could be interesting.

Meanwhile, the shed’s relatively tidy, all the components are in there, nothing more is needed but the time to get it done…


Getting technical

So this:

is a shooting board (this one’s from Popular Woodworking, mine’s not as neat). Idea’s simple – for thinish boards (once you get up to an inch thick, you start just holding it in the vice and running a block or bench plane across it), you feed the board into the plane which is on its side and it will true up the end so it’s exactly 90 degrees to both faces and edges. Which is handy for making things that don’t look like they were drawn by Escher while drunk. Problem is, most of my planes don’t have big sides – they’re the traditional bailey pattern and have rounded cheeks:

Which works, but it is a bit tippy. And the sides aren’t quite 90 degrees to the sole either, they’re a degree or so off. No problem most of the time, but for shooting board use, it’s a pain. Plus you have to use the lateral adjuster to get the blade exactly vertical and then use it again when you finish using the shooting board and so on. There are specialist planes made for this sort of thing, like the Veritas one:

But that’s about three hundred euro, so no 😀

However, Record did make a plane that was intended for use in schools, called the T5 (for Technical apparently):

(that photo from btw, which is an excellent reference for these things)

So I’d been keeping an eye out for a T5 in decent nick on ebay and recently saw one and won the auction for it (by about 51 pence, cheekily) for a sixth the price of the veritas, and today it arrived:

It’s in marvellous condition, perfect paint job, perfect varnish on the handles, shiny brass, damn near ready to use out of the box (the blade needs sharpening, but that’s normal). It’s probably in better shape than any of my other planes, except a #4 that’s also immaculate (I don’t think anyone ever used that #4, it just got displayed and then sold 60 years later). If you’re looking for this sort of stuff, I’d recommend the ebay seller I bought this from, lovely chap to deal with and excellent quality stuff.

But enough on the new toy (which will be getting a workout with the slats for the crib I suspect), on to the day’s work, and today was to finish fettling the back panel. This proved fiddly, eventually turning out to be off-square because of an unevenness in the groove for the panel in the bottom rail because the fence of the #44 plane was riding on the benchtop. But I got it square and most of the gaps were gone or down to less than half a millimetre. The idea of drawboring these grows more and more attractive (that block of white wood behind the T5 above in those photos is an offcut I got a while back which is a lovely contrasting colour and is perfectly straight-grained, perfect for making small dowel pins with. I’ll test it on some walnut off-cuts and see how it goes.

With that done, I cut the front panel using the back panel as a template, cut the rebate in the back and the bevel on the front, making the rebate a bit deeper on this one because I’d like the center of the panel to be lower than the rails or at least level with them as it’ll be butted up against the side of the bed.

Then on to the frames, again cutting the long rails using the back rails as a template and then marking the mortices onto the curved front rails from the back legs. More mortice chopping and tenon cutting and cleanup and fettling followed.

By the way, when cleaning up tenons with a chisel, don’t blink…

Those things are just plain unpleasant…

Anyway, some fitting and checking and fettling later, with a lot more stress this time because a mistake with the curved rails would be difficult to repair, and the front frame was done… okay, minus the grooves for the panel so it’s not fully assembled but here we are….

Heh. Elephant-y. Lets stand it up…

Er. Hm. This was a problem I had not considered. That is literally touching the ceiling on both sides and sitting flat on the bench. The foam isn’t holding it up – it’s actually in compression like a spring between bench and table. Assembly… may be challenging. I may need to do it outside the shed, and the weather is not forecast to be great (as in, driving rain and gale force winds and freezing temperatures, none of which react well with hide glue, walnut, ash or humans).

Gonna need a bigger shed.

Tool night

Holidays started, and a couple of new tools showed up in the post (well, rutlands was having a black friday sale and some nice things popped up on ebay for decent prices).

A few fairly cheap rasps. Machine-made, no hand-stitched french rasps in my budget for a while (these cost about twenty euro for the set, a single hand-stitched one would cost a little over a hundred euro more than that). Might be useful for the curved parts of the crib when I’m finishing them.

One of these dividers is new; one of these is older than the modern state of Ireland. And they both work pretty damn well. (They’re for laying out the dovetails in the drawer of the crib).

I kept having to set and reset my existing veritas gauge using scraps of wood with the gauge lines in them (which works great until you drop the scrap down behind the workbench where it’s bloody awkward to get to), then I noticed that other people got round this by having a small army of the things and using different ones for different measurements during a project (no you can’t set them off a ruler, you’ll inevitably get parallax error setting it and make a mistake that shows up glaringly later on). I might be getting a few more of these over the next while. The built-in ruler is kindof nice, as is the microadjustment feature.

Already had both of these (and a #50 that I need to add a fence to as well at some point), but had to add the wooden fences to them, finally got round to doing that this evening. And then there was the blades, which were horribly manky. They went into white vinegar for a few days, then they were rinsed off and soaked in water and baking soda for a half-hour to neutralise the acid, and then wrapped in kitchen paper and a cloth to dry off (that’s them on the workbench in front of the planes above).

Then it was time for the luthier’s trick. Out with my MDF board that I use for this (it has a small cleat underneath that goes into the vice, and it just keeps the worst of the muck off my bench.

Down with the masking tape.

Tear off a bit of 120 grit sandpaper from the roll and dribble some superglue on the masking tape.

Then flatten the sandpaper down on the masking tape, give a little wiggle to spread the superglue, and hold down for 10-15 seconds while it sets.

And now I can apply as much shear force to that sandpaper as I like, it’s not going anywhere. And I take the set of blades for the #50 and the #40 and get going. Drag both edges along the sandpaper twice, then both faces, then pull back on the bevel once or twice, then rub the bevel back and forth a few times to get the first stage of the sharpening process done (I’ll do the stones later) and flatten the back of the blade for a few seconds as well. Then on to the next blade.

Once done, just lift the masking tape (that’s why I left an inch or so over on the ends, to be able to grab it. Lift vertically and only the masking tape’s adhesive is acting against you and that’s very weak and the whole thing lifts off easily and without damaging the surface.

And the #50 blades are clean again and ready to be properly sharpened (but I won’t be using them for this project I think, unless the groove size I need isn’t in the set of the #40).

I can see that T&G blade being damn useful in the future though. And the #40 blades come up nicely as well.

I also found and dropped the semi-scrub blade into the #5½ plane; the next job on the list is planing the last ash panel from rough to smooth. And I am learning that Richard Maguire was right about kiln-dried ash. It looks nice, but it’s a pain in the arse to work, it’s like trying to plane a Jacobs cream cracker. I’ll be glad when that last bit is done. I still have more boards to plane, but they’re walnut and poplar and those are so much easier, I can probably get them all done in a day, and then I’ll have all the component’s stock prepped and it’s on to cutting joints.

I am having to contemplate the mortices for the slats though. Given the timetable, I may need to use the router for them instead of cutting them by hand with the chisel. I’ll give it a try, but the clock is going to be the final decider on that one.

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