May 20

ex-Xmas Tree Xmas Tree Decorations

So a few years ago, some woodworkers on a podcast made an April Fool’s joke about how they always picked the same species of xmas tree so that they could mill it up for lumber after the holidays and make a chest of drawers out of them. Which was funny, until another woodworker went and actually did it (with small boxes not a chest of drawers, because there’s a lot of timber in a chest of drawers):

And this was important because until this point, the several xmas tree trunks in the back yard were just there because I had been too lazy to make a second trip to the recycling yard with them. See, after the holidays I take our now-long-dead-and-drying tree into the back garden and hack off all the branches with a hatchet and bag up the branches and the two kilograms of needles that have fallen off them on the ten-yard trip from living room to back garden. Those bags go to the recycling center because if you tried to just shove the tree into the car to bring the whole thing there, you’d be cleaning pine needles out of the car ten years later.

But now, there was a reason I was keeping those trunks 😀

And what better time than during a pandemic lockdown to do something with them? So, first up, take a glazier’s hacking knife and debark them and lop off the top foot or three until we get past the really bad shakes and checks on the surface (these things have just been drying outdoors untended for up to five years now).

Then I took the more manageable-in-my-shed lengths into the shed and cut out all the pieces that looked salvagable, trying to get at least one chunk from every trunk so we’d have every year represented. The bandsaw rendered the rest into firewood.

The oldest two trees just resulted in a handful of chunks but the most recent trees yielded a lot more material (that binbag is shavings btw, I had to empty the extractor that day)

Some of the smaller pieces turned out to be spalted when rough-turned, which is kindof pretty in a monochrome sort of way.

The shakes in this piece were just too large to ignore though, so out with the hot glue gun to make a dam and it’s resin time!

Daler-Romney pearlescent acrylic ink in sun-up blue, in case you’re interested.

It’s pretty nice stuff, and handles very well. I may need to get a few more of these. The resin pour proved messier than expected though…

And yes, the whole damn thing did in fact leak all over the live center, lathe bed and drive center and why yes, that was so much fun to clean up, how did you guess?

You couldn’t even really see the resin and its colour in the end. But it held the piece together while I chucked it up then put a jacobs chuck and 7mm drill bit into the tailstock and drilled out the center for an insert from a kit (bought mine from The Carpentry Store). I turned a small test shape to see how the wood handled, sanded it, sealed it, thought “no, that needs colour” and stained it then thought “wait, sanding sealer and stain should have gone on in the opposite order, oh bother”, and then promptly bent the ferrule learning how to get the head and ferrule into the tube running through the center.

Still. It’s only a test piece, I have three-and-a-bit trunks to play with still. And the stains don’t react too badly to pine (and it’s interesting to see how they react when you seal the surface first), and the buff-it gold compound I used as embelleshing wax works nicely (gold because, you know, xmas colours). So I learned a few things (like don’t try to pour resin into a crack in a piece while it’s still on the sodding lathe). Worth doing.

So there you go, an ex-xmas tree xmas tree decoration 😀

May 20

Every day’s a schoolday

So I thought I’d move up to a 6″ blank from the 3″ ones I’ve been practicing on so far. I had in mind as well to do some colouring work – been watching too much of woodturning Youtube I suppose. It went to plan right up until gouge touched wood for the first time, which is pretty good as these things go.

The plan was to have an ogee curve on the outside of the bowl, rising to a narrow lip and then on to a slightly wide rim with a downward sweep into a bead that the main bowl interior would cut down through. Then the outside and the rim would be stained black with bronze gilt cream in the pores to liven up the grain, and the inside would remain the natural wood colour.

It didn’t work, but you can sortof see it from here, if you squint hard enough while staring somewhere other than the screen…

I mean, the ogee is starting there. It’s just not aggressive enough on the concave portion of the cut. And the lip is twice as thick as I wanted and there’s tearout on the bead at the start of the main bowl. Problem was, after I flipped the bowl over and chucked up the recess, about twenty seconds into squaring up the face, I had a nice catch and it ripped the bowl out of the chunk jaws and flung it at the wall and it bounced back at my face. You can see the damage it did to the foot.

So after that I stuck with less aggressive cuts 🙂 But the outcome suffers for that.

The colour is also disappointing. I put on the gilt cream first, which was a mistake; should have stained it first, then sealed it (though I don’t have cellulose sealer which I might need to rectify), then done the gilt cream. But the colour of the gilt itself isn’t half bad. Like I said, I can see what I wanted to get from here, I just didn’t manage it this time.
Oh well. Next time!

Jun 18


Time to complete the locker. The door got resawn down from 1″ to about 3/8″ thick using the bowsaw and the large ryoba when I got too annoyed at banging the bowsaw off the wall on every stroke, and resawing remains the most boring annoying thing ever, but you while you can thickness plane 3/4″ off a 1″ board with a scrub plane, it’s a pain in the fundament to do so. Roll on bigger bandsaw.

Once the door was then planed down and fitted, which was mainly just faffing about planing until the edges of the doors matched the doorframe, it was time for the worst part of every project.

I hate hinges. They’re a pain in the backside to get aligned and fitted. Maybe I’m just fitting them at the wrong time, maybe I’m doing something wrong, maybe there’s a trick to it, I don’t know. I’ve read and watched everything on them that I can find and still they’re a pain. And the ones where you have to hammer in tacks instead of using screws are the worst because everything’s tiny and fiddly and you never have the access you need.

So, we cut the mortices. Very shallow ones at least, so much so that the cuts can get done using the marking knife this time. And the #722 router helps to actually cut out the waste.

Really thin material…

It barely looks like anything’s been taken off, but no, that’s cut…

It’s even flush properly.

Making sure the barrels of the hinges are aligned with a straight-edge is fiddly unless you have six hands.

And then cut out the mortices for the door hinge mounts.

Okay, that’s fine. And that’s the last of the work, I don’t want to do the finishing when the door’s attached.

So next…

The lady wants purple, so out with the crimson guitar’s stains, a cloth and some water in a spritz bottle…

Not bad. Trick seems to be to ignore being economical with the stuff, put a drop or two on the cloth directly from the dropper, spritz that a few times with the water, then spritz the wood once, rub it in, then spritz the cloth again and rub again and repeat until the colour is reasonably even.

And maybe I should have sanded the surface back instead of the usual planed finish I have.

It dries much, much lighter than you’d think, but even a spriz with water darkens it back up again. So a top coat is needed (is it really a top coat?) and it’s a toy so it’ll take a few knocks. But I’m out of wipe-on poly, so out with the high gloss lacquer and I happen to have a half-can of this stuff left…

Mind you, the shed is little. Which means not much air. Ever inhaled spray-on lacquer in a confined space? Don’t.

So outdoors we go, and on goes the first coat while I’m wearing a respirator. I wonder what the neighbours think sometimes, but if the choice is looking funny in my back yard or looking funny while being treated for lung cancer or respiratory distress in A&E…

First coat is a bit subtle but I put on three coats (ten minutes drying between each) and brought it back into the shed to dry so leaves wouldn’t fall on it or something…

It’s not too bad with the lacquer on, it darkens the purple nicely.

Next morning, time for hinges to get attached. Been dreading this. That photo took a half hour of fiddling about with hammers, needlenose pliers, nailsets and best yet, cutting nails down in size – the nails that came with the hinges were a good mm or so longer than the wood was thick, and since the spikey look isn’t on for toys, I cut 3mm off the overall length with a snips and then filed a new point on the nail with a diamond file (because the normal files were waaay too big to bite in properly)

And then, after getting them all fitted, the door wouldn’t close. Couldn’t close. The hinges were too deep-set and the door didn’t have clearance on the shelf. So either I carved off a few mm from the shelf edge, exposing the end of the housing joint they were in and then trying to restain the edge to match the rest and re-lacquering it but I’m out of lacquer now so it’d be matt instead of gloss… or I redo the hinges.

I hate hinges.

Take two. Now uncomfortably close to the front edge of the carcass. Note the alignment scratch on the hinge – something I forgot to do during take one. And the vice marred the door’s finish slightly. But…

It opens and closes.

I hate hinges.

Anyway, it’s done, so fire up the branding iron…

And out with some wax for a final polish…

And that’s it, all done. Time for the glamour shots…

Time for some close-ups…

And some outdoors because it’s sunny…


Right. And for the first time in a long time now, I don’t have a project actually underway.

I do have about six in the notebook mind, so that may not last…