Dec 17

A day in the shed

So because I spent 2300 to 0400 on Friday night and 0900 to 1830 on Saturday working, I get a TOIL (Time Off In Lieu) day. Which I took today for reasons like waiting on The Plumber Who Never Showed Up. The plan was to spend all day in the shed. But since it hit -3C overnight, first things first.

Earl Gray, hot. With milk just to tick off the purists. And aren’t cast iron Japanese teapots nice? It’s the little things…

So with the shed at a balmy 3.5C, time to get to work, First, put the last coat of osmo on the tabletop and now I have to make some room and get the tabletop off the bench so I can get to it.

It’s not ideal, but needs must. And yes, I do need to clear away that rubbish in the wood bin, but this isn’t the countryside and neighbours wouldn’t take well to a small bonfire. Or for that matter, any fire involving wet MDF. I can’t blame them for that, I’d be miffed at needing a respirator in my own back yard as well. But I digress.

So the legs have been sanded down, given a last coat of the oak tea, let dry for five minutes so that right now the surface is damp to the touch but not actually wet. Time to apply the vinegar&iron solution…

That never gets old. It’s so dark it’s messing a bit with the camera’s auto-white-balance thingy, but it does that to the Mk1 eyeball too.

It’s a little… grubby looking close up. No worries. This is just the first stage, and I’m a bit oddball in that I like that pin-stripe-trousers thing the grain’s doing there. Dunno why, it just looks nice to me. However; now we give it about ten minutes to keep reacting (those were taken about 4-5 minutes in).

And after that time, we paint it in more oak tea, let it dry for five minutes, then more vinegar and iron solution, dry for five minutes, and then a last coat of the oak tea. At this point, it’s about as dark as it’s going to get in the time I have available (it will continue to react for the next 10-12 hours anyway and get darker as it does).

Wake up, time to dry.

They’ll go a kind of dusty purple in the next hour or three; that’s expected.

And now I have some time and a shed with a free bench….

I have an idea here. Trust me.

…or maybe not. I gave up on this idea here; I’ll come back to it over the holidays, but I can’t get it done today and I’ll just mess up the other things I’m working on. I guess recognising this kind of thing and giving up early is a good skill, but it still irks me.

Anyway, I do have something else on my to-do list for today:

Ug. Machines. And they’re ganging up on me now. Yes, it’s bandsaw box time. First though, I have a plan for that bandsaw…

Remember these? Going to fit the smaller ones.

Remove the older, larger thrust bearing.

Gunky! Now replace with the new smaller bearing.

The washer makes it look off-center, but it’s fine. The whole lego-part thing is great with these. Now for the lower thrust bearing, which is more awkward because of course it is. It’s not like being underneath the table would make it awkward enough, you also have to remove the entire assembly to replace the bearing.

Why is the lower post adjustable when you can’t reach it but the upper one isn’t? Le sigh.

Well. That explains a few noises. So much for sealed bearings.

And done. Modified thrust bearings, replacement teflon blade guides. And why go to all this effort? Three-eighths inch blades. Stronger than the normal quarter-inch blade, so you get better straight cuts on long rips (the main reason for having this bandsaw in the first place). But you can’t install them on this bandsaw properly with the normal thrust bearing – the normal bearing shoves the blade forward if you put the teeth gullets in the middle of the bandsaw wheel like you’re supposed to:

Put the leading edge of the bandsaw on the crown of the wheel like that and it has the most tension and thus is the most resistant to buckling when you shove wood into it; but you don’t want the thrust bearing rubbing on the back of the blade when you’re set up like this or the blade will behave oddly. With the new bearings, there’s just enough clearance (maybe 0.2mm but that’s sufficient).

And yes indeed, it does now cut much better than before with this blade, tracking straight down the pencil line instead of doing a drunken walk from one side of the line to the other and leaving you jockeying around the piece to try to minimise the amount of planing you’ll need to get it set afterwards.

And so, on with installing my redneck fence and starting into the bandsaw box by cutting off the back.

BTW, sanding with the triton sander is waaaaay less scary than sanding with a belt sander under a holdfast on the bench, so +1 for that, but they are out and out liars of the most bare-arsed kind when it comes to noise level ratings. If I turn this thing on and shove my fingers into the spinning belt, sanding off all my fingernails, nobody outside the shed would know because they’d never hear me over the noise of the sander. Hrmph.

Still, works. Going for a vertical format box here.

Glue-up tonight, more sanding tomorrow, some oil and a coat of shellac and done.

One box, all the clamps. How many clamps should I bring to the glueup?

And I’ll leave it there. I’ll try to get another coat of osmo on the legs tomorrow morning before work and another in the evening and if I can, that should be the table complete. I’ll assemble it, take a few photos, and then pass it on to its intended recipient.

Honestly, I’m not screwing around with the photo here, it actually is black enough that it’s confusing the camera’s not-so-clever white-balancing.

Dec 17

Standing upright

Last few days have been the first really cold ones of the year. -2C to -3C in the shed. And work was… somewhat excessive in the last few days so tonight was the first time in the shed in a few days and a to-do list was waiting. So…

Ran a slightly larger drillbit through the aprons to give some flex room for the bolts, and flattened the top of the aprons (I also spent a half-hour before this with the scrub plane and #5 flattening the underneath of the tabletop and hand-cutting the panel to width to trim out the worst of the bandsaw wobble).

The stainless steel inserts arrived on Thursday in the post, thankfully. Seems everyone makes these in zinc-plated steel, but actual stainless is a bit hard to find.

Bit of faffing about getting the legs centered on the tabletop, then putting in the drill bit and thwacking it to mark the drilling point with the drill bit (it’s a brad boint bit).

And now it’s time to drill the holes for the inserts. Look closely enough and you can see the marked point.

El cheapo drill bit depth stop so I don’t drill through the table. I have a fancy one for auger bits, but for drill bits, it’s blue tape time. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh. Right. Well, at least I noticed the shavings were shoving the tape backwards before I chased it right through the table.

Who says calipers aren’t good for woodworking? Check length of insert with calipers, get automatic depth gauge setting on the other, stabby end of the calipers. So I drilled the rest of the insert holes, stopping to poke the stabby bit in the hole until I had my depth.

Then it was time to realise that Richard Maguire had gotten inserts that you put a hex key directly into in order to drive home, but these sodding things need a bolt put into them and you drive them home with that. And since they’re going into a blind hole, the bolt has to be shorter than the insert. I managed to find some short M6 bolts (they came with the Triton sander as the bolts to bolt it down to the table with but I had my own), but they were too long. So. Time to break out my metalworking setup 😀

This is my metalworking setup. It’s a Record Imp, which I got back in February. It’s a nice lightweight metalworking vice designed to be clamped to a bench by people who didn’t need a full-size machinist’s vice. And it has nice features – you can bend pipe with it, you have a small anvil at the back and a striking surface (that small round thing just behind the jaws) and so on. Plus, it’s old – it’s a later model so this wasn’t made in the 1930s but it would have been somewhere between the 1960s and early 1980s, before Record went downhill. This is a small vice, but it is not a toy vice. I’ve screwed and clamped it down to a scrap piece of inch-thick oak, which then gets holdfasted to the bench.

So I clamp the bolt in the vice, mark off the length I want, remove the insert from the bolt, then fire up the dremel with a cutting disk (it’s a 6mm bolt lads, if I fired up the angle grinder it’d be like firing a sandblaster at sponge cake) and nip it off.

And now, just because we can, out comes the file and the tap-and-die set…

File off the sharp bits left by the dremel, recut the start of the thread after the file’s mangled it. Then thread the bolt into the insert and get out the socket driver.

Now, pick up that 14mm long insert, in a shed where it’s around 6-7C, slip with your fingers and drop it down behind the bench into the sawdust and shavings.

Swear profusely.

Get out the magnetic-head telescopic torch thing…

Right. Enough faffing. Paste wax to the threads and drive it on home.

Nice. Now we just do that with the other three…

Why is it spinning so easily on insert #2?

Ah, shite.

Apparently my bolts are made of particularly firm cheddar.

Mole grips to unscrew the insert, pointy thing to screw the bit of the bolt still stuck in there out the back of the insert (glad I didn’t get the blind inserts now).

Okay. Prep another bolt. Repeat all the steps above. Keep going, but be more careful this time.

Shite! At least I felt it go this time and stopped fast enough to be able to unscrew it in one part. Prep another bolt…

Felt this one going before it snapped. Definitely cheddar.

At least all four are in now. I might come back if I can find a non-cheese bolt and drive them below the surface later. For tonight, that’ll do.

Bolts in, and they fit (they’re a bit less than drop-in, but wood moves, blah, blah, blah, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

That’s a pleasant sight 🙂

Out with the MDF board at this point for a flat surface and check the rock – the front left leg there is about a millimetre out. Plus the feet are all at 12 degrees to the ground because geometry, so I mark off a flat on each leg, disassemble the table and even the legs up. And I leave it there for the evening. I’ve been up since… well, I was in work till around 0400 this morning after getting called around 2330 on friday, and I was back at work just before 0900 until 1730. On-call sucks sometimes. Oh well. There are worse complaints.

I have to shape the feet and thin the table edge and do the final smoothing of the tabletop and legs (cabinet scraper time!), all of which are finesse tasks so I’ll leave them for tomorrow, and I can be starting the finishing by tomorrow evening which is a good timetable for this.

Oh, and I also have a custom scratch stock profile to file. I’d rather do this with a hollow plane, but I don’t have hollows and rounds and I know (a) how much a set costs and (b) how much space one takes up 😀 So that’s not happening for a while. Hell, that was why I got the #050C combo plane, but alas I didn’t get the special doo-dads to let it act as a hollow or round 🙁  I’ve got an eye open, but the problem with the combiplanes is that they came with a lot of bits and doodads, and that was in 1930. You can’t keep both socks together for more than six months before you’re suddenly looking at lefty pining for righty who is has returned to the fjords; what odds that someone will have all 53 pieces from the original combiplane box that they bought in 1933?

So obviously, I just need to get a set of hollows and rounds.

looks up prices

passes out

Holy crap. I could buy two cars (second-hand) for the price of a set. Sod that. I wouldn’t have the room to put them anywhere anyway and the larger ones are all for things I don’t have the physical space in the shed to build.

But on ebay, unmatched planes (“harlequins” apparently, in a rare example of nice naming) are way less expensive – you can pick them up for a pound apiece in some cases. So I’ll probably wind up buying one or six hollows/rounds/beading wooden planes over the next year. You don’t need all that many for the kind of stuff I do. I might start with one that matches the profile above, which is drawn to match one of my gouges to do some decorative carving work.

I guess I’ll just have to try my “build something and sell it to pay for the wood” plan this year to let me do that 😀


Dec 17


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 17

Another interloper

No work in the shed last night, on account of aches, pains, freezing despite sitting beside the fire, and the usual pre-cold fun stuff. I crashed, went to bed, worked from home today (yes, you can type while under a duvet), and by afternoon was feeling somewhat more human.

So this evening when junior and mommy got back home, junior and I opened the large boxes from FFX and Rutlands that arrived over the last day or two and dragged the latest interloper to the shed…

It’s… slightly larger than anticipated. But not by too much. What it was was loud. The specs said under 85dbA, the meter says 96dbA. And when you start sanding, it peaks somewhere around 106dbA – 3dBA louder than the dang bandsaw. Hmmm. Maybe when it’s on the base and everything’s nailed down… yeah, who am I kidding. Not sure what to do about this. At least it doesn’t have a lot to do in the shed, it’s mainly for bandsaw boxes and the like.

Well, at least I’m all stocked up on glue for a while. I’m looking forward to trying the plastic razor blades as well to see how they cope with glue cleanup. The angle box may be useful for the bandsaw and the sanding table, all the dremel sanding paper should be useful for small parts, and the black-and-white tube there on the right up against the triton are some teflon rods that I’m going to use to replace the steel rods that are the bandsaw guides on the bandsaw. This way I figure I can tighten the guides up against the blade itself, turn it on for a minute or so and it’ll wear away the teflon to get the perfect spacing without damaging the blade. We’ll see. There are some smaller ball bearings in the post as well to try to replace the thrust bearings with so the larger blades don’t contact them when running without load, which is how every guide out there says to set them up (the bandsaw guide holder I have just won’t let me adjust that, because Cheap Tool 😀 ).

Also got a few grades of sandpaper for the sander. Now I have to figure out where to put all this stuff. I had a plan to put together a very, very rough platform from some 2x4s that were left over from making the bench…

The key here is to do this fast. Other projects are a-waiting, but until this is done I literally can’t get my bench back, there’s nowhere to put the Triton. So it’s all butt joints and glue and screws and forget face planing or anything we don’t have to do…

That’s the twp sides done. Next up, five crossbars (two up top, two undeneath which get castors later, and one at the back for cross-bracing), all of which will be lap-jointed to the sides along with glue and screws. And if I can find metal bracing brackets tomorrow I’ll use those too. This thing is going to be ugly and I don’t care, I’ll do a nicer one later on. Like, after this one breaks.

BTW, on the right, a Bosch power drill. On the left (well, in the middle really), a brace with a hex key screwdriver bit that doesn’t really fit the jaws. Three guesses which one crapped out on me after the second screw?

Hint: it wasn’t the seventy-year-old tool that has so much torque it could twist the screw into a pretzel if you wanted to.

Stupid batteries. If I wanted to replace them, I’d just buy a new drill – it’s almost cheaper that way (do you want one battery for 50 euro or two batteries and a new drill for 80?). Gah.

Nov 17

Sounds okay

Couple of bits and bobs arrived in the post today:

Some brass-plated hinges for the next project, a silicone hose adapter to try to improve dust extraction from the bandsaw:

Beats a spring clamp and a bungee cord.
And this little doodad as well:

I’ve been wondering how bad the noise from the shed actually is for the neighbours you see. Enter the Uni-T UT353, a cheap little noise meter from Shenzen. And after a wee bit of experimentation, some pleasant results – the loudest thing with the bandsaw running is the vacuum cleaner that does dust extraction. It’s 87dbA in the shed itself with the door shut; 65dbA just outside on the decking; and it’s 55dbA back on the patio by the back door (for reference, it’s 65dbA inside the kitchen with junior watching Rescue Bots and the other usual sounds of life).

Now, start cutting wood and that does change a bit – 102dbA inside the shed, 83dbA on the decking and 74dbA back by the house. But that’s still only up there with a car driving past, not the you-definitely-need-hearing-protection levels that were my only experience of it so far (because I’m in the shed you see).

So that’s nice to know. I don’t think I’ll be getting anything noisier (the sander is rated at 76dBA) and frankly I don’t want to; and I limit the hours I use the bandsaw to anyway because people have to work (and anyway, apart from the boxes, I don’t use it for much beyond rough cuts).

Tonight for example, I took some of that 8/4 oak which I’d rough-sawn (by hand because it wouldn’t fit in the bandsaw) to about 1′ lengths, and I trimmed off the damaged edges (pack straps tend to mangle those) using the bandsaw.

I should get the four pieces I need from that for the next project without much trouble. I just planed the sides flat and marked a centerline; I’ll cut that in half tomorrow and then in halves again, and then trim the depth on the bandsaw (because thicknessing from 8/4 to 6/4 is a bit much even for a scrub plane like Sid). I’m taking this slow in the (probably vain) hope that’ll minimise the wood suddenly jumping into twist or warp or cup or bow…

Then some mucking about with the legs and checking faces&edges and planning the profiling of the legs and whipping up a quick check-piece from a poplar scrap to see if the thing in my head looked the way I thought it would when I see it in real life:

I like the tapering off towards the back of the leg, not quite like an aerofoil shape but the same kind of idea. I think it’ll give it an interesting look (it won’t be quite so asymmetrical, but the size of that piece made it hard to hold which made it more awkward than it will be for a full-size leg).

And then I just laid out the tools for tomorrow and closed up the shed.

Quiet night tonight, I guess I’m just tired from the sudden arrival of winter…

Nov 17

Ending, restocking, brexit and black friday

Looooong day. I had a callout over the weekend at midnight on Saturday so I had a few hours off in lieu that I took this morning to go to the timber yard. One of the next projects coming up could use some 8/4 oak so my shopping list was a 6-8″ board of 8/4 oak between 8′ and 12′, an 8-9″ board of 4/4 oak around the 12′ mark, and possibly the same two boards again in walnut. And I thought I’d take a look at the beech and get a small board of that to try working in it.

You know how plans rarely survive contact with reality?

So, Brexit. And now any timberyard here in Ireland has a choice – either get hardwoods direct from the continent via ship which is more expensive than road haulage; or buy it from the continent and drive it back home through the UK with all the customs hassle on both coasts which is expensive; or do what they’ve done till now and buy smaller quantities from UK timberyards and ship it back on the ferry to here, but now paying higher prices because the pound has collapsed, and next year, paying higher prices again because the UK is having to pay customs duties of 20% or more on their imports from the EU (because the UK does not grow enough timber for itself and hasn’t since the 18th century), and then paying higher prices again because of customs duties re-importing that timber back here.

The shorter version of that is, Because Brexit, hardwood now costs 150% or so of what it cost this time last year. Except maybe for that german beech, which I think was roughly the same.

(Oh, and forget about looking to the US, they’ve finished one round of 20% tarrifs on canadian softwood and the entire softwood and hardwood market rising to match that, and they’re now looking at another 20% round Real Soon Now).

So, 8/4 oak board? No worries, Paul had an 8′ board from the end of a pack. Grand for me, no knots, no damage, slight cup but the parts I’ll be making are 1′ or shorter so that’s no worry. But it’s €60/cb.ft. The 4/4 oak is around €45/cb.ft, up from €30. The 4/4 walnut is closing on €90/cb.ft and the 8/4 walnut… well, the one board I’d picked out (8/4 6″x10′) was €140. Alas, it remains in the warehouse 😀

The beech on the other hand, was beautiful stuff, I had the first pick from a freshly opened pack and it had lovely clear grain, so I wound up buying two cubic feet in four boards, way more than I intended to but it was just so damn nice looking and so cheap compared to the rest (at around €24/cb.ft) that I thought it would have been a mistake to leave it behind.

A few minutes with the circular saw to break it down enough to fit in both my car and the shed, and then it was time to test the new car’s timber carrying capacity (the old car gave up the ghost earlier this year and we had to change).

Huzzah! It took all of three minutes to pull those seats last night (they’re built to lift right out, it’s quite neat and tidy) and once loaded I could close the boot and drive home without any fuss. Score one for the Yeti.

Once I got it home, I had to clean up the shed slightly – the floor had about 3″ of shavings and crud built up on it because of the rush on the boxes, so that had to go and the timber store had to be quickly shuffled to make some room, and then it was the haul-it-through-the-house routine:

Nice piece of 8/4 oak there.

And there’s that lovely beech’s grain and the other half of the 8/4 oak board. But all of that has to go in here somehow:

There was considerable shuffling 😀 But…

Done! 😀 Just don’t ask me to get anything out of there in less than half an hour…

And cleaned down and ready for the next project (or more accurately to go back to the one I was in the middle of when I stopped to do the boxes).

Speaking of the boxes…

The oak was a disaster:

Just tore themselves apart along the glue lines after the ebonising (and the ebonising didn’t go well, I think some of the tannic acid got into the iron solution and nullified it, I’ll have to make some more). So those got ditched. But the rest were okay.

Dropped those off at the school in the afternoon for the bazaar and they hadn’t a clue what to do with them so they’re lumped in with the bric-a-brac. Oh well, might get them a bit more notice next year. This year though, someone’s getting handmade boxes rather cheaply 😀

It’ll be interesting to see if they actually do sell, if they do I might make a piece explicitly to sell next year, just to see if it would.


Oh, and today’s Black Friday, so I bought a sander 😀

(along with a few belts and spindles for medium and fine grades to go with the coarse set it comes with). I know it *looks* like a fancy version of a belt sander turned on its side, but it’s a bit better than that. For a start, better dust collection and about 26dBA quieter 😀 Plus, you can swap out the belt for a spindle to do curved surfaces:

And of course, it has built-in storage all over the place which is nice (but doubtless not enough if you have more than one grade of sandpaper). So I’ll build a plywood platform for it and a 2×4 framework to let me store it below the bandsaw. Getting cramped in the shed now though…

And Rutlands were also doing a sale so I got some more titebond (I’m down to my last bottle), a spare silicone glue brush set (because I’m always waiting for the two brushes I have to finish drying before I can use them again), and some other small doodads and gimmicks like plastic razor blades. But hey, if amateurs don’t buy this stuff, who will? 😀

Nov 17

Smells like respiratory irritants…

I seriously need a better sanding arrangement. Roll on black friday.

Not to mention, the goggles could be more comfortable.

But at least the boxes have seen progress…

About a third were done with shaping-level sanding, about another third just had to have drawer pulls fitted, and the remaining third were still being assembled or needed serious shaping (meaning another belt sander session).

Some sorting, some test fitting, and some glueing up later and then I left everything overnight to cure. The following day I found that one of the oak boxes had had a side slip during glue-up, so it needs more shaping on the belt sander, and two of the other boxes are in the same boat; the dremel came out to do some tweaking whereupon I discovered that my sanding mandrel was missing, presumed lost 🙁 Need to go pay five times the fair price for one now on the way home from work today. Gah.

But the rest of the glueups went well, several of the boxes were hand-sanded up to 240 grit and then I started on the finishing for some of them with danish oil for the ash and sapele boxes:

Gotta love the way that colour comes out…

The oak and poplar pencilbox got the danish oil as well; this one would be too hard to ebonise the oak part for so we’ll just go with the oil I think.

The small sapele box got finished while waiting on its drawer. Too little time to wait and do it all at once.

The ash is nice, but it really can’t hold up to the sapele. After the danish oil, I’ll be giving this a few coats of shellac and then some poly over the top for toughness and some paste wax and buffing for shine. The sapele and the oak&poplar will get something similar (but the ash and sapele get blond shellac while the oak&polar gets garnet or button shellac).

The other poplar boxes will just get a sanding sealer coat (aka blond shellac mixed down from a 2-pound cut to a 1/2-pound cut), then a light sanding with fine paper and then milk paint over that and then poly varnish and a wax buffing.

The oak boxes (including this oak and poplar one) will see the oak ebonised as before, with one small change – that foam in the oak shavings tea is washing-up liquid acting as a surfactant to spread the tea deeper into the wood grain (and I’ll do the same for the iron solution). Nice tip from custard on the UK woodworking forum, that.

That oak and poplar box might turn out interesting – the “drawer pull” is a flush extension of the box, and it’ll get the sanding sealer + milk paint treatment of the other poplar boxes; the contrast between the black of the ebonised oak and the colour of the milk paint might be interesting.

And that’s where I left it. After work today, there’s some shaping sanding to do on the belt sander, some finer hand sanding and then we’re into nothing but finishing because these have to be ready by Friday morning…

And then on Friday, it’s off to the timber yard to get some more oak and walnut (and maybe something else if they have anything interesting to hand). And after that, black friday sales and after talking to the guys using them, I think I won’t be getting one of the Record BDS150 sanders:

Which looked okay but which apparently have a disk that’s unusably small (and a faff to change the paper on), and a table that’s just a bit dodgy to use and set up. Instead, it looks more like getting one of the Triton oscillating belt/bobbin sanders:

It’s a clone of the original Rigid:

But the clones are smaller in footprint (several other makers from Grizzly to Rutlands to Clarke all make the same thing in different colours). You lose the mitre slot, but on the plus side, the clones would actually fit through the door of the shed, which is a positive. I’ll have to build a quick 2×4 storage stand to put the bandsaw on and the sander under though, there’s no room otherwise.

But on the other hand, it’s about 26dBA quieter than the belt-sander-and-holdfasts approach I’m stuck with now, and it actually *has* dust extraction. Which is kindof a good thing if you like, you know, breathing…

Nov 17

Flattening and boxes

So, started off flattening the apron. This went pretty well after I switched over to the #5 and sharpened it up a bit. The narrower blade means less pushing effort and that seemed to help a lot. And then it was time to thickness down from an inch to 3/4 of an inch.

This is not my favourite activity. And honestly, if they made an induction motor benchtop thicknesser I’d have bought one already, but unfortunately they’re all universal motor things — and lunchbox thicknessers, even if you fit them with helical blades and all the fancy doo-dads, are just too damn noisy to run in a housing estate. You’ll wind up triggering a torch-and-pitchfork party of your very own if you do that round here once too often. So until I have a larger shed and room for a larger, possibly older, floorstanding planer/thicknesser, I have to do this part by hand. At least Sid makes the task easier with his ridiculous level of camber…

Anyway, the board was a manageable size, so push hard and on we go. And switching over to the #5 for the last mm or so to arrive in a controlled manner and…

Flat and at thickness. I gauged out for the two aprons and set it aside and ripped down the middle a little later on with the bandsaw (using the new tuffsaws blade – makes a rather surprising difference, those things, much cleaner cut and less drift).

Then on to mucking about…

So the glue-up was messy and there are steps all over, but apparently that’s to be expected. Next step, sand the badgers off everything with my handy dandy disk sander. Which I don’t have one of. Bugger. Well…

Sod it, I started this thing on a bandsaw, might as well keep up the machine operator vibe…

Didn’t want to keep all of your fingers, did you?

Hm. Not terrible for a first try. Slap some shellac on it…

And some felt for the inside lining and call it done:

Well, not absolutely awful. Okay, so it is if you look close – there’s no room in there, the edges aren’t parallel, the drawer’s a bit gappy, and so on. But it was fun to try it and I have some ideas for a nicer one. Need more practice though, I keep getting lost in the sequence of cuts on these things. Well, in that vein…

This one might be interesting, I used the new tuffsaws fine-tooth blade. Much smoother cut, but I don’t think the bandsaw will ever be a precision tool. Hell of a lot friendlier to the nose when you plug it into the dust collection though…

Nov 17

Progress and mucking about

So I figured I’d start by playing with the new toy and taking some test cuts.

The blade runs sort-of true. Well, I wasn’t expecting laser levels of perfection here, but the guides really are letting things down. The lower thrust bearing can’t be backed off readily to adjust it so it’s not poking the blade out of true, which is disappointing. And I really can’t run this thing without dust extraction or the whole lower case clogs up and the bearing itself locks up. Well, I knew machinery would counter its speed by increasing the amount of faffing about needed to support it. This is why you usually mount this stuff permanently where you have room to manoeuvre around it. But again, 8’x6′ shed, no room to think, let alone manoeuvre, so we need to make do.

It can’t cut very tight corners, a 2cm radius seems about the most it’s comfortable with. But that could still work. I was playing about making a bandsaw box. They’re not too terrible to do.

Gluing up for these boxes is a bit of a faff mind you.

Well, quite a lot of a faff depending on how badly you design the sodding things. Oh well.

And the three blades I ordered from tuffsaws arrived.

One for very rough work or even small resawing work (but really, you’re talking about resawing stuff that’s at most 70-80mm wide so I’m guessing that’s going to be underused). One slightly more sturdy blade than the one that came with the bandsaw to use for general-purpose stuff, and a very fine-toothed narrow blade to do curving work.

Tuffsaws do have a one-eighth inch blade as well, might try that if the quarter-inch one doesn’t do the job.

Then I carried on with the new project, laying out the rough rips for legs and aprons:

Finally getting to use my new panel gauge in anger. Works quite well for rough layout, but I need to sharpen that pin, it’s not the finest gauge line in the world.

Then I used the new toy to make the rough cuts.

Definitely not up to finished work levels of cleanness, but it cut through inch-thick oak like it was foam, so it saves a bit of work (though the faffing about setting up and cleaning down after using the bandsaw is just a pain in the fundament so handsaws definitely aren’t out of a job yet). I’ll flatten these tomorrow and thickness them, then rip out the individual legs and aprons (there’s two in each board).

Nov 17


So it’s pretty obvious that all my woodworking stuff is done with hand tools, right?

It’s not because of an ideology, it’s because 8’x6′ sheds don’t give you a lot of room for power tools or machinery. I do find the power tools really obnoxiously loud, but that’s a secondary point and it’s mainly because the cheap modern power tools tend to use lightweight construction and universal motors in order to hit a price point and so make a lot of high-pitched noise — older stuff with induction motors and a lot of cast iron are a lot less screechy (you definitely do need hearing protection anyway, but for the neighbours it’s a significant qualitative difference).

And for some things – joinery, shaping, finishing and so on – it’s more of a challenge to use hand tools and so more satisfying to do. But there are some tasks that just don’t have that challenge. I should say for the non-woodworkers here that the whole “what really counts as hand tool woodworking?” question is a long-running one. My answer is that if it’s a task that in the 18th century was handed off to apprentices to go do unsupervised, well, handing it off to a machine isn’t really showing a lack of ability, just a lack of time.

All of which prevarication is a run-up to saying I’ve bought a new power tool for the first time in a long while.

Well, what else is a husband supposed to do on a day off while the wife is off visiting her sister? Exactly, bandsaws.

This is one of those rebadged clones of the Record Power BS9, there are a few dozen manufacturers selling them – Craftsman have the BAS230, Ryobi have the BS903, Scheppach the HBS20, Einhell the TC-SB200, Charnwood the W711, Titan does the TTB705BDS and Aldi sell a WorkZone variant as well. The Aldi one was the one that caught my eye initially as it seemed it would fit in the shed based on Peter Millard’s video about using it in the shop; and he also pointed out that for the money and the size (and within its design parameter), it was a nice little design that was worth having around:

So I was waiting for the Aldi version to show up again, but that didn’t look like it was happening this year so I trotted off to Screwfix to order the Titan (ordering or buying off the shelf in any Dublin shop would have doubled the pricetag).

The nice delivery man showed up this morning with the box so off I trotted to the shed with and unpacked it.

Then, a quick check of the alignment of the blade — see the quick setup guide by Alex Snodgrass here:

I was pleasantly surprised by the guides in the Titan; rather than the thrust bearing’s face being the point of contact with the blade, it’s the bearing’s edge that makes contact. That’s a better solution but slightly more expensive to make. One of the myriad small differences between the variants of this design I suppose, along with nice touches like the little window to check blade tracking without opening the case:

There are less fun bits – the screw latches of the case aren’t captive nuts opened by a single half-twist, but full-on ten-turns-to-latch bolts. And the bottom door isn’t fully closed at the top when the bolt is fully seated. But the blade seems to run quite true and the supplied blade is quite clean-cutting. I do have three others coming from Tuffsaws – a fine quarter-inch blade for curves, a three-eights inch blade for general work and a half-inch blade for heavier work, though “heavier work” here is quite relative – this is never going to resaw anything wider than 70mm.

I didn’t abandon the hand tools when building the base at least 😀 The base gets holdfast-ed down to the bench for work.

Of course, it can’t live on the bench, the only place for it is down on the floor (with the blade guide dropped right down to protect the blade of course). Just … right… down… there.

Ah. Right. I have been putting off the tidy up and clamp storage job for a while, haven’t I? Oh well.

One afternoon later…

Clear floor space and as to the clamps…

Much tidier. So from now on, the bandsaw lives here:

So this should help with some rough work, and I wouldn’t mind trying to make a bandsaw box or two. I have a bunch of tiny scraps of walnut left over from the cot that I have been trying to find a use for.

The glue should be dry by tomorrow, and then I can give it a go…

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