29
Jul 20

Ten Years

So ten years ago today…

Claire and me just after getting married!

The traditional gift guide says ten years is… tin. Hm. Really? Was tin some seriously sought-after material at some point in the last few centuries? Weird. But okay, tradition is tradition…

We can at least make a nice box though. I have some walnut and I still have some of that lovely rippled sycamore Custard gave me when I was searching for thick veneers…

Simple design from a joinery point of view, so just mill the components and cut to size to match the tin…

Grooves in the base of the front and back panels and in the sides will hold the base, which is 3mm boxwood (lovely material, it’s a shame it’s so hard to find).

It’s almost a single-use plane but it’s the best tool for this task really. The depth of the groove and the distance from the bottom of the panels is set using the boxwood base directly.

Then just groove away.

For the sides, because you don’t want to run off the ends with the groove, a different approach is needed; and at this point I discovered the narrowest of my usual chisels was 5mm wide and the groove is 3mm. A 1mm gap on either side would be a bit unsightly, so I was about to get out the grinder wheel and convert one of the older chisels to life as a narrower chisel when I checked the less-used ones and bingo…

3mm almost on the nose (actually a tad under). Hilariously, this wasn’t some engraving tool or fine work chisel, this is a morticing pigsticker designed to go through several inches of oak…

This gave me a giggle or two, but then on with chopping out the mortices for the base in the sides.

Tappy-tap-tap, as they say. Very shallow mortice, only one pass with light taps required, then a bit of scraping with the tip of the chisel to clean up and then check for fit.

The cross-grain mortices are less straightforward because they’re cross-grain and very narrow. You can’t really chop along the mortice for these. I tried cutting them like a housing dado but that wasn’t really getting it done, so I resorted in the end to knifing in the edges of the mortice rather deeply, chopping a little with the morticing chisel to a mm or so down to define the mortice, then drilling out the rest and cleaning up with the bevel-edged chisel.

Worked pretty well.

Then just repeat on the other side.

There’s a fair bit of fettling with all this as well but it got there in the end. I also drilled holes in the back panel and lid for the barrel hinges (butt hinges on this scale are something I still can’t get right). Then it’s time to knock it all back apart and sand the panels and the inside of the sides and the base and prefinish the insides because it’d be much harder later on, and then I gave everything a coat or two of poppyseed oil (it’s very light so it doesn’t darken the sycamore much).

And then glue-up. Just titebond here, no need for the hide glue and it was cold so it wouldn’t flow well without faffing about with hot water.

Along the way to here, the lid changed from rippled sycamore to more walnut because of a realisation about the size of the box and the lid (ie. that the lid was too narrow to cover from front to back unless it was sitting inside the box and I didn’t have the hinges for that). But the walnut had a knot so it was resin time again (I mean, it’s me, of course it’s resin time).

And that came out nicely after scraping and sanding down the lid. It’s a little beauty spot. But the box is a bit… chunky at this point. Not to worry, that’s part of the plan. And now I get to try to be delicate with industrial tools…

Angle grinder and a flap disk in 40 grit and one in 120 grit. It’s like using a power router only without the convenient handholds or the reference surfaces or the safety features. Exciting times

Worked though. And now a lot of handsanding with every grit from 80 to 240. The cloth-backed sandpaper from the lathe was very useful here especially with the parts in the carved grooves.

Okay, now for finishing. First off, wipe off all the sanding dust with a dry rag, then with kitchen paper soaked in isopropanol. Then two coats of poppy seed oil.

Makes a difference!

Next up, a new lathe toy, the burnishing wheel. It’s not a fancy one, it’s just the chestnut products basic one. Works well. I will say that I didn’t expect it to be quite so grabby though, and it did bounce my hand off the chuck which wasn’t fun. Be careful out there folks…

And yes, I mixed carnuba and beeswax at the final stage. Also, I was unprepared for the sheer amount of cotton fibres this thing throws everywhere. It looks like the spiders were working overtime in the shed.

Worth it though.

And after that, two coats of blonde shellac with another buff on the final wheel after each coat, and finishing was done. Final job was to epoxy in the barrel hinges (finishing was easier with the lid separate) which was a tad fiddly because of course it was, hinges are my nemesis. But it worked…

The resin dot glows in the dark!

Also, yes, that’s a tin of spam.

And also, no, I’m not that bad.

Tin is the traditional gift, but tradition can go jump in a lake.


29
Apr 20

More small practice

So after the last small bowl, I was wondering just how thin I could make those walls before they gave. Another 3″ sycamore blank in and away we go…

That’s not too bad. But it’s a crummy photo. So… new toy 🙂

It’s a cheap 40x40cm photo box from aliexpress. So now, new photo, same bowl…

And suddenly it looks like I’ve actually gotten better at this 😀
This is kindof a shallow bowl by the way, and bottom-heavy, there’s a centimeter of wood left in the bottom. It’s a jelly-bean dish for Calum 😀

Lovely pretty wood on it too. Simple poppyseed oil and blonde shellac finish.
And then, in case that was a fluke…

Not as much figure as the last blank, so added a burn line to make it interesting. It’s amazing how important seeing what I’m doing is to this so I had to address the shed lighting again…

Cheap (about six euro) LED floodlight from Farnell and a sewing machine LED light on a magnetic base for task lighting and it’s a massive improvement. And I also put a quick MDF shelf across the feet of the lathe stand and sat the compressor and pillar drill on that instead of on the floor, and now I can horse the entire lathe around about 45 degrees clockwise so I can get better access at the inside of the bowl. Makes things a bit easier.

I think the walls might even be thinner on this one. Fraction of a millimeter, but it just feels a little lighter.

Think I might be ready to move to a 6″ blank now…


16
Apr 20

Another small bowl

Just practicing at this stage. There are a few things I want to sort out in the shed like dust collection but I’m waiting on parts, and in the meantime I have some miniature blanks and a bit of practice is starting to make things a bit easier with turning (mainly because I’m not doing anything complicated).

Finally took the bait from all of Crimson guitar’s ads for isotunes and bought a set of the Pros (they’re half price at the moment because they’re now the Old Product 😀 ). Tried them in the shed tonight, have to admit, they do exactly what I wanted them to do; the air compressor can fire up at my feet and the noise doesn’t hurt my ears, and I can wear them with the faceshield easily and listen to music. Spendy by my standards – forty quid for a set of earplugs is twice what I paid for the J-29s which are the only bluetooth earbuds I own, I normally prefer wired headsets and earbuds. But these aren’t half bad.

And I also got a HSS blank that I want to make a beading&parting tool from…

A metal detector says that the tang from my diamond-point parting tool goes in about as far there as the end of that blank, and that tool length is a bit shorter than I’d like but it’s surprising how hard it is to find 300mm HSS blanks online – 200mm seems to be a standard length for making lathe tooling for metal lathes. Oh well. I also have some carbide inserts and bright mild steel bars in longer lengths coming to make some scrapers. I’ll have to laminate up some beech to make the handles, but I might use that to my advantage and cut a rectangular groove in the mating surfaces of the lamination so I don’t have to use an angle grinder to round over that square section to round for the tang.

3″x2″ blank for this evening’s practice. I tried using shorter screws in the faceplate because of how I’ve been having trouble getting rid of the screw holes in rims – this was as bad an idea as it sounds 😀 First catch and the thing ripped off the faceplate and jumped at the wall. So I swapped the jaws on the chuck for the larger size jaws and grabbed it with that.

Worked quite well. Oh, and I did something about the lighting as well…

It’s not fantastic, but I’ll get a sewing machine light or something soon and that’ll work better. It’ll do for now.

Turned a recess, cleaned up the base of that recess and added a decorative line or two on the base, and roughed out the outside shape. Then flipped it over, changed out the jaws on the chuck to the standard dovetail ones and grabbed the recess and started hollowing out the inside. Love that S-shaped rest by the way, it’s excellent for this.

Just great support when hollowing out the bowl, and when working on the outside shape as well.

That’s the LED strip clamped to the shelf for lighting the inside of the bowl there btw.

Without that, I can’t see inside the bowl when turning at night (by day it’s grand, the sunlight through the window is enough). I *know* I bought a small LED floodlight for the shed a few years ago for just such a thing, and I *know* it’s in the house with us right now, but do you think I could find it?

Need a better way to photograph these really. Did find something cheap on aliexpress for that, it should get here in a month or two 😀

Not horrible. Walls are getting thinner and more consistent, those are about 4-6mm thick throughout. Still getting toolmarks left over though. Need to work on that. And the finishing is very basic – tung oil, two coats of button shellac and then some briwax used as a friction polish. Some nice endgrain patterns there. Sycamore really is a lovely wood to turn.