So I get the ‘flu shot every year, but apparently the strain picked for the shot this year did not tally with the strain that showed up in Ireland (apparently from Australia of all places) and it’s been rather rampant of late…

Also, in an unrelated topic, meet the longest muscle in the human body, the sartorious muscle:

So, can you guess what happens if you catch the first and pull the second? Did you guess four days flat on your back in bed doing nothing shed-related past reading Alan Peters’ book on cabinetmaking (interesting read btw, as it’s less “here’s how to cut a dovetail” and more “this is how you run a successful woodworking business”, which is a nice look into a different world) and watching an endless train of Japanese cabinetmaking and Roy Moore videos? So the project I was working on has stalled until this evening bar an hour on Sunday. Yay.

There are however, some new toys. So here’s my current dust collection rig:

Yes, I collapsed it, but it still works. I need to build a safety valve. However, it’s also a 60L drum because when I ordered it I didn’t quite know what I’d need and I was overly cautious. And now it’s eating space so I wanted to downsize – so I ordered a 30L drum and it arrived right after christmas, just when I couldn’t do anything with it.

So I’ll try fitting that as soon as I get a chance (it’ll have to be a weekend I think). That should get me a chunk of space back.

Also, I was watching Peter Follansbee again and he was making pegs for drawbore joints and he has this lovely mini meat cleaver thing for the job:

All I have to use is an inch-and-a-half chisel which is not the most stable of arrangements because you’re trying to hit a point a foot in the air above a peg-sized piece of wood balanced on end and held in place only by the chisel edge which is neither easy nor terribly safe. However, in the video Peter mentioned that a glazier’s hacking knife was a good modern substitute, so I looked them up and they’re dirt cheap and I need pegs for the current build so…

One cheap hacking knife. Should be far more controllable and safe for the splitting, but we’ll see. I kinda want to take the grinder or a file to the point of that thing and get rid of it though, just have a flat blunt end at the front of the knife.

And the pin chuck I ordered last year arrived…

along with the 12″ speed square I’d ordered (mostly because this is the tool I keep wanting in the timber yard rather than the framing square I have at the moment):

More tidying may be needed at some point 😀

Oh, and a few places on ebay were doing sales on brass hardware so I picked up a box of the things because after the wall cupboard build I didn’t want to get caught without a handle at short notice again. And some hinges because I looked at the shiny brass against the oak for the current build and it’s not quite right. But we’ll see. Mostly this is just stuff bought because it was going for less than half price.

And these were a few design punches bought for very few peanuts as part of the whole “learn 17th century carving” idea. They work great on something like walnut:

(That’s my reference stick for my gouges in case you’re wondering)
But in oak, which the carving is done in:

Just too faint to be made out. Too much detail in the punch for the grain of the oak to take on. Oh well. Into the toolbox for later they go. I have a few more that were ordered off ebay that are on their way, I’ll give those a try when they get here. At least two or three of those are re-workable with a file but seem to be the stippling pattern Follansbee was using in his work. They won’t be needed for a little while though, thanks to the flu delaying everything.

So I got back to grooving the rails tonight – or at least tried to. I’ve been having some issues with the grooving using my Record 044. Ralph over at Accidental Woodworker has been having some issues with his as well, and I thought it might be a common problem but it turns out my fence is aligned okay. My skate’s bottom isn’t perfectly at 90 degrees to the skate sides – you might just be able to make that out in the photo – but it’s only out by a few degrees and it’s so narrow that can’t be the problem either. The grain on the oak is squirrelly and reversing half-way along the rail, but I’m getting horrible tear-out before I even get to that point:

That’s with a freshly sharpened and stropped iron (even worked the back of it just in case I’d missed that iron somehow when rehabbing the 044). I spelched out through the rail completely on the first try on this one and had to plane back to the reference edge and start over, so when it started tearing out here, I got out the cutting gauges instead of just the mortice gauge and sliced the nearest edge very deeply.

Then I got out another cutting gauge (which happens to be about seventy years older or so and actually cuts better) and sliced the far edge the same way.

Then with the 044 set for a very fine cut I got a okay-ish groove cut down to depth; but it wasn’t even. I used the new Japanese chisel to chop the far edge to properly vertical rather than the gentle curve it had become, but then I noticed that the 044’s fence wasn’t even in contact all the way along to the same degree. I must have been tired – it took another five minutes of staring at it before I realised that the rail was twisted.

I planed and prepped it to flat in early December; sitting in the shed through a few cold snaps and 60-70% humidity with the squirrelly grain in the wood must just have been too much for it and it pretzeled itself by a good few degrees. So did two of the other long rails. The last long rail was only slightly twisted, but it’s one of the uglier pieces because of a knot. The short rails were still fine and are still perfectly flat, as are the stiles, so they can still be used.

Luckily I have a rough-cut chunk of an oak board in the timber store that’s only a few mm shorter than the long rails (literally a few, three to four in total) so I’ll plane that flat and rip out new long rails from it. I’ll probably cheat and get most of the way to thickness by resawing with the bandsaw and take them the last mm or two of the way by handplane (I’m now quite short on time for this build and I’ve already been dropping elements from it to try to get this done by the end of the month). The grain’s less squirrelly in this piece as well so I might even be able to do some decorative elements on it if I’m lucky. Silver lining and all that. Oh well. I had to prep more pieces for the lid anyway (which I finally got a design for in my head that should be stable and relatively straightforward to do). Still a bit annoying mind you.

It’s not as annoying, however, as walking to and from work today (and standing on the Luas both ways) and then finding when I got home this evening that I’ve buggered up the leg muscle again, it’s all sore and swollen. Standing, no problem. A step forward or back if I don’t bend the knee too much, that’s more or less okay. Walking from the kitchen to the shed? Sortof like having someone stick in a hypodermic needle into the muscle and then breaking it off so it pokes you at random moments. I think I’m stuck working from home for a few days, this thing is not going to heal if I keep walking a few kilometres a day on it.

More small jobs and practice…

All small jobs today in the shed. Well. Was a bit chilly.

And it was colder before I turned on the heater. Not going to get much better before the end of next week either 🙁 Onwards…

Got my new japanese saw bench hook finished:

Spare offcuts of walnut and plywood, with 19mm dowels from woodies (if you’re in the US, woodies is what Lowe’s would be if they dropped their timber standards significantly and jacked up their prices by 50%). The dowels drop into the bench dog holes:

In theory this would work on any set of two holes, but it turns out there’s just enough variation in spacing that it only works for this pair 🙁 Next time I build a workbench, I’ll be a lot more precise with a few things and dog hole placement is one of them. Still, this is the best placed pair for sawing for me, so it could have been much worse. Tried it out in anger making some small parts and it works nicely. Not sure how much abuse it’ll stand but it doesn’t feel too precious. About those small parts:

Honestly, this one will be funny, bear with me…

Then some more practice with the v-tool:

The results weren’t terrible but lots more time needed I think. The practice pattern from Peter Follansbee’s video is a lot easier to carve if you make it simpler when you work on a piece of wood half the size he’s using – there’s a minimum resolution limit, so to speak, in oak and challenging it is not conducive to decent results. Still though, a ways to go to get from this:

To this:

But I think it’s a small improvement on this:

And then I got out the old oilstone and a 10mm dowel and some sandpaper and took twenty minutes to sharpen up the #7 hollow and the reeding plane I got before xmas and gave them a try. I still need to work on the hollow, but the reeding didn’t go too badly.

It’s a bit hard to see here, but the two beads were nicely formed for most of the length of the run. It’s a bit of a faff setting up the plane, but when it’s set, it’s sweet.

A bit of practice with the gouge later and I got to see what I bought it for:

A lot easier to make those two beads with the reeding plane than with a scratch stock. A little more practice and I might actually be ready to use this on a piece.

About that oilstone. I’ve had it for ages, it was one of the first things I ever bought for woodworking, but I’ve never really used it much – never liked oilstones, they’re mucky things really compared to diamond plates – but it does seem to be a higher grit than my 1200 diamond plate. I was planning on getting a D8EE plate later this month (DMT, 8000 grit) because I thought I was about ready to add another step up in grit to the sharpening process now that I’ve got the hang of the basics; I might just try using the oilstone in the interim. It probably needs to be flattened though, and I don’t really know what grit it actually is; must find a way to test that, even if it’s just “polish something on the 1200 grit plate and then on the stone and see which one left the larger scratches”.

And there was a bit of fiddling about with parts for various other builds that are in progress right now, like this one:

And this didn’t work too badly either, but I can’t pein over the end of the nail so I’ll order some brass rod stock to use as the hinge instead.


Next year, we’re rescheduling christmas. End of discussion.

This year, Christmas Eve started with a quick run to woodies for small brass hinges. Then to the shed and…

Awkward planing setup needed to plane the outside of the carcass (the inside was planed before glue-up). I know it doesn’t look too awkward, but that’s because we need to zoom out a little and let you see where you’re standing when working…

The spot is that one there behind that small green case on the floor, between the bench and the tumbledrier but not past the leg of the bench because there’s a lot of small boards there that didn’t go in the main wood store. The joy of a small shed…

The downside is that you can’t really move when planing, so it’s all armwork rather than legwork. Also, the battery on the camera died so those are from the cameraphone hence the odd colors. Once the outside was planed, the carcass went back onto the benchtop on top of that scrap of leather and the face got planed until it was all coplanar and then the faceframes were glued and nailed on. I just wanted one nail top and bottom (the proportions of the cupboard don’t really work unless you drag the eye to the top and bottom, otherwise it looks overly wide), so after nailing and gluing, the faceframes had to be clamped for awhile, so it was on to the door frame.

Had to thickness and square up the rails and stiles for the door, and then the #043 made short work of grooving them for the central panel with a 3/16ths cutter and then it was morticing time.

First time using a pigsticker for this; they’re a lot more controllable than the bevel-edged chisels and a bit more than the firmer chisels (and a lot more so than the 3/16ths firmer chisel because it’s got a round handle and isn’t quite so easy to keep a grip on). I still think the half-inch sized one is a railway spike passing itself off as a chisel, but the smaller sizes are a definite improvement on things. Definitely taking the smaller ones out of the box and putting them in the rack.

By this point the face frame is done with clamping. I cut the haunched tenons and test-fitted the rails to the stiles and when I was happy all was square, drilled through to pin the joints with a 6mm dowel (through a 5.5mm hole to keep things nice and tight). Glued and pinned the stiles to one rail ready to cut the panel, and I moved on to the backing boards, while the glue cured. The backing boards just got a quick skim-planing — they had been resawn down from one-inch to half-inch boards so one side of each was already flattened and planed and that face was facing into the cupboard, while the bandsawn side was going to face the wall so I just took the worst of the fuzz off. The #778 gave a quick shiplap to mate the boards up.

Then I installed the shelf (no glue required, nice tight fit) and resawed the top and bottom panels, rough-planed the inner surfaces and rounded over the exposed edges with a bullnose profile and at that point everything went to sit in the staging area and I moved onto bookshelves, cutting them to shape (hooray for french curves) and starting into cutting dados and dovetails (ah, Sapele, nature’s way of making you ask “why am I doing this to myself?”) and gluing up the bookshelf which got left to cure.

Then on to prepping and rounding over a presentation plate for a truncheon and cutting the mounts and gluing them in place, and then finally doing some finishing and adding hinges to bandsaw boxes.

At that point I knocked off the shed for the evening and went to bake a pecan mud pie for tomorrow’s christmas dinner and lay out mince pies and a glass of tequila for santa and so on, and finally got to bed around 0200.

The next morning (Xmas day) saw the traditional 0600 five-year-old wakeup and perimeter search for fat men in red suits or their spoor, then there was unwrapping and five hours of listening to and singing along to the Transformers:RescueBots theme tune (thank you so much Nicole Dubuc).

After that, back out to the shed, trimmed the backing boards for the cupboard to length and nailed them on, cut a 3mm perspex panel to size on the bandsaw (I don’t have glass-cutting facilities and really don’t want them because cleaning up broken glass in the shed would be a nightmare), fitted it and glued and pinned the other rail on the door, then fitted it to the cupboard opening (the pinned joints mean you don’t need to wait for the glue to cure). Then the top and bottom panels got fitted to the carcass and glued and nailed in place (after filing down the nail sizes because even the smallest cut nails I had would have punched through into the carcass interior and I just don’t like the look of clenched nails because the look like what I used to do to nails when I was five…). The presentation plate and the bookshelf feet got some CA glue and felt.

At that point, everything got a quick spray of matt or gloss lacquer depending on the project (gloss for sapele and walnut, matt for the cupboard) and left to dry for an hour or so.

You can tell I’m right-handed – right hand has three or four small cuts, while my left hand has 23. That’s because you hold the chisel in your right hand and stab it into the left one 😀

An hour and some tea later, the cupboard door got hinges and a latch and I then realised I didn’t have a handle for it even though I’d been standing beside shelves of the things yesterday in woodies… so we left some gift ribbon wrapped around the door to let it get pulled open. Oh well, screwing on a handle isn’t that hard…

And that was it. Time up and we’re off to xmas dinner at my parent’s place and delivery.

For my sister and her husband, a wall cupboard in some nice clean poplar:

The dovetails weren’t terrible

And the cut nails and the top plate worked well, I thought, especially with the bronze finish finials of the hinges and the perspex panel isn’t that terribly kitsch. There is a branded makers mark, but it’s on the bottom and I forgot to take a photo of it.

For mom, a sapele and ash bookshelf (the ash was part of the original batch of slats for her granddaughter’s cot, so she liked that feature):

For my brother who’s now training for the Gardai…

Irish Yew for the truncheon, which was the super-top-secret-squirrel commission that Tom Murphy did for me (he’s got a bit of form with turning); American black walnut for the presentation plate).

For dad, a large bottle of good single malt 😀

And for Claire, some chocolates:

And some nice earrings…

Getting slightly better at grain matching, not so much at coping with bandsaw kerf in internal plugs. There is also a nice walnut desk shelf with bookmatched back rails but it’s not finished yet (some projects got extended deadlines in favour of family time). But the next few days have no shed time planned and the next shed project will be cleaning down from the last few days while we eat all the selection boxes and stay in pyjamas drinking tea and I watch Peter Follansbee build a 17th century chest and all of the woodworking videos on youtube 😀

Happy Solstice everyone…


Seriously, who timed this christmas lark? It’s supposed to be January 6 for feck’s sakes…

Getting better at these. Only three of the four joints look like a blind boy scout attacked them with a dull beaver…

But they go together…

And the carcass is square. Grand. Only sixty more steps to go. Hide glue, btw. Set aside to cure for most of the day. then planed the face side so it was all in plane and with no twist. Then went to nail on the face frames and discovered I’d resawn them down to use as back boards. For feck’s sakes…

And no, it won’t work when the face frames are thinner than the door because then the hinges won’t work (and there’s not enough thickness to even attach them anyways)
I did find another poplar stick I can use, so it’s recoverable but I’m not loving when this happens.

Some of the bandsaw boxes are coming along nicely. But I definitely need more room…

And got a coat of oil on the walnut boxes – the poplar ones get different coats and I got a test stick done to see which I want to use.

This box is definitely going for the most-awkward-glue-up award…

And still a bunch of things to do. Oh, and I just realised at the end there that I didn’t have the small hinges I thought I did so I have to do a run to Woodies tomorrow. Nyaaaarrrggghhhh…..

Under pressure…

What idiot scheduled this christmas lark? Gah.

Started with some bandsaw time. Ripped the bottom part of the cupboard to width and set that to one side, then took all the bandsaw box blanks and cut those. By the time I was done, it was time to pick up junior from his last day of school for the year. Then it was time to sand…

Only 80 grit so the dust wasn’t so bad and that’s the bulk of both the bandsaw mark removal and the initial shaping done. There will be more sanding to come though. However by now it was time for (a) lunch and (b) a trip to the post office and then into the Big Schmoke (Dublin for the non-Irish readers) to meet up with a friend who’s a wood turner (along with a few other things, hi Tom!) to pick up a commission which will be an xmas gift. Photos to follow, it’s a lovely piece of work but super top secret squirrel for now.

Then back to sanding. 120 grit this time to get the initial finish and refine some shaping.

This is not my favourite part of this process. It’s dusty. That’s a green jumper, not an artisanal bleached thing. And that’s with the dust extraction running but I suspect an adapter isn’t correctly sized. Some ebaying to do to fix that one properly (I can’t just duct tape it because the hose is constantly swapped between bandsaw and sander). But the boxes came through okay and one or two might be nice.

BTW, that trip to the post office…

Set of six complete (and wound up in immediate use so yay).

A #4 round. I was looking at the whole hollow and round set thing and most of the experts on this agree that you should start off with four – one hollow and round each in two sizes. Those sizes depend on the size of the furniture you build, and for me, 4s and 6s should be the most useful, with occasional excursions to 2s and 8s. These things aren’t that expensive if you buy second hand and not in matched pairs, which obviously isn’t the best but frankly I don’t have room for any of this anyway so I’m not quite willing to throw a thousand quid at a half-set when forty will get me the ones that’ll do 80% of the work. And complex mouldings can wait for a while. Beading planes would be nice, I can think of a few places I’d use those, but I do have a few ways to make beads at the moment between the #055C and the scratch stock. But if I see something nice on ebay I might jump for it. And snipe bills might be handy too, but again, when they come up on ebay. That’s the plan anyway. I did have one exception from that plan which arrived today, the new record-setter for “oldest tool in the shed”:

It’s a reeding plane (ie. two beads side by side which lets you cut an infinite array of beads for decorative effects). Triple boxed no less (those light-coloured insets are boxwood, which is much harder wearing than the beech of the main body). Which might explain why it’s still in usable condition even though it dates from somewhere in or around 1850.

The thing’s 167 years old. Give or take a year.

And it was twenty pounds sterling.

I guess antiques just aren’t valued all that highly…

Anyway, on with the work.

Awkward finicky glue-ups for the bandsaw boxes (one of many glue-up stages because a few of these have awkward build processes due to my bandsaw having a silly small depth-of cut limit of 75mm).

And then time for dovetails.

Just stood up the carcass and did a bit of humming and hawing and making sure I was happy with which board went where and which way up it faced. Then out with the sticky dots.

Nice little trick from David Barron that one, makes it easy to keep track of what end mates to what end and what side is on the outside.

Picked a joint at random, got out the tools and marked up.

And after cutting the saw cuts, out with the new tool, a dovetail alignment jig (this one’s a bit sheddy with all the screws and plywood and glue, but if it works…)

You get the idea, though the rebate is getting in the way here a bit – normally both boards would butt up against the fence to align, but here the critical alignment is on the inside shoulder of the rebate (or I’d just flip both boards over). So it gets a bit more finicky. In fact I might not use it for the rest of the joints because of that, but the idea itself is grand.

So it works reasonably well. I’m worried about it racking the carcass a bit though. We’ll see. I did have to wrap it there because I could saw out the pins and cut out most of the waste with the fretsaw but chopping the remaining waste after 2300h is a bit of an anti-social thing to do in a housing estate on a Friday night. Sleep, and hopefully an early start in the shed to try to get stuff done tomorrow. Time’s getting on and I might have to resort to power tools for one or two jobs I’ve been wondering about. Oh well.


Kneedeep in shavings and carrying on

So, I’ll start with the end of something. Made as a gift for a friend of Claire’s:

Walnut offcut from the cot, some brass and pewter hardware and felt and viola, a small necklace box. Or key box I suppose. Didn’t come out too badly.

Then it was time to start pushing.

The problem with making a lot of rough-cut component parts is that then you have to turn them into planed non-rough component parts. At least it’s just poplar. And I did stop for forty minutes or so at the start to take the irons from my #04, #04½, #05 and #05½ planes to the diamond plates. It would have been less time, but I discovered the #05’s iron was skewed quite badly (one side was almost 2mm longer than the other). No wonder my lateral adjuster was always canted right over. Cue a lot of time on the 300grit plate because for some reason I thought that’d be faster than turning through 180 degrees and taking the bench grinder down off the wall. I don’t know, ask your mom.

I’m finding that this is pretty nice poplar by the way, I’d be tempted to oil this stuff. I know it gets a bad rap with woodworkers who think timber is NFG if it wasn’t all riven by hand from a single tree that grew in a tropical rainforest on the southern slope of a hill in Fiji before being cut down by hand using dental floss, but this has some nice grain and surface appearance. I might do this project over again in beech later, but I’m not regretting using the poplar here.

That chunk of plywood and the dowel on the left will become a new Japanese saw benchhook:

I was going to use that small piece of sapele the dowel is resting on as the stop but it’s a bit short and a short stop is a bit of a pain so I planed, halved and glued up a scrap piece of walnut there on the right. Yes, scrap walnut exists. Hush.

I don’t know why I’m keeping those little pine arrow shapes and the walnut scrap they’re on. Every time I go to chuck them I just find myself stopping for some reason. Presumably my subconscious has an idea it’s not ready to tell me about yet. We’ll see.

Four boards to thickness down by a quarter inch and an eight-inch wide board to resaw. Well, that’ll get you procrastinating in a hurry. I’m annoyed as well, I bought a frame saw just for this job and it’s still in Germany. What’s the holdup…

Huzzah! It might be here by tomorrow so. Right, ditch the resawing/thicknessing work and let’s park that project until the saw gets here on the bet that a frame saw makes resawing as easy as everyone says it does.

On to other things. I have a few bandsaw blanks; time to stare at them for a while and think of what to do with them…

We’ll see if they turn out the way I hope. I don’t like using machinery at the best of times but that late in the evening it felt like it’d be unsocial so nix that and I’ll do it tomorrow.

Sapele. Lovely to look at but a complete PITA to work with by hand. The toothing plane was needed to flatten that board (hence the grooved dull appearance of the board on the right) and to then smooth the surface I resorted to my #04½ because I ground that thing with a higher angle a while back and put a back bevel on the iron. And even with it set to a whisper thin cut and skewing the iron and having the chipbreaker set within a glint of the cutting edge, it’s not quite perfect. Scrapers will be needed… but I’ll leave that till after joinery is done.

Meanwhile, I need to do some cleaning up. If only I knew someone who had a wood stove in the middle of the kilkenny countryside I could get to burn this lot…

And it’ll probably get done sometime next week, but I have another commission. That’s the word for when your wife orders you to make something for junior, right? 😀 He needs a shelf for his bedtime story book, but it should go on the floor because that’s the easiest place to keep them if you’re sitting by the bed reading to him. So…

Post partum prepping

So, table delivered (yes, the recipient liked it). BTW, if you were wondering, it was a build-along to Richard Maguire’s video series:
In case you were thinking of buying that series, it’s well worth the money.

Today though (and yesterday) was all about cleaning down from the build (and carting away two rubbish bags full of shavings – not being able to burn wood here is a pain) and doing the dozen little jobs that needed doing like sharpening the wooden skew rebate plane I have here; going to use that in a build soon. And every plane had to get a light sanding with fine paper on the tops of the cheeks of their sides for surface rust (the -3C nights came with water vapour condensing on the cast iron) and then a fresh coat of wax. And other small jobs like that which had been backing up. I still have one more of those – building a japanese saw bench hook. I’m using a normal bench hook at the moment but for pull work, it can be a tad awkward because you have to hold the work to the fence. You can use a normal european bench hook if you hook it to the far side of the bench; but I think it’s a bit nicer if you attach the fence to the baseboard and drill through both and glue a dowel through both and down a few inches below the baseboard. The dowels then go in the bench dog holes and that’s your bench hook. Parts are set for that (I’m not sure I have enough dowel stock though) and I’ll get to it probably tomorrow.

The rest of my time has been spent on stock prep. Bit of resawing and flattening and ripping yesterday and prepping some blanks for bandsaw boxes. So walking into the shed today it all looks fine…

…and then you turn to the right to look at the staging area…

Ah. Right. So that’s four more side tables (or at least the raw material rough-cut for them) and then on top of that all the finishing jars and glues and screws and my plastic box of off-cuts. Those are only the bits I could use for things by the way (I’m resisting the packrat urge to keep every scrap of wood I cut off a larger piece on the grounds that There. Is. No. Room. In. Here), so resawn pieces that could be used to make small boxes or chunks that could become bandsaw blanks (not many of those left, I picked through the box on Friday to make up some blanks), or the cores from bandsaw boxes (which can get used for things like feet or drawer pulls or whatever).

Tucked behind the plastic box are the panel gauge and the dovetail alignment board, and on top of the box is where I stash all the component parts of builds in progress (and a lot of sandpaper at the moment because I haven’t found a place for it). So there’s five glued-up blanks, and the component parts for six other projects in the pre-joinery stage.

Blanks drying outside along with a bandsaw box that’s almost ready.

Two coats of danish oil in; going to do a coat or two of shellac yet and attach the hardware (it stands vertically and you use it to hang necklaces) and some felt in various spots. First box made using the new sander. It’s not that it makes it better so much as it makes it easier to do some things because you’re not worried that trying them will immediately remove a finger. More photos later.

And this is a quick test of a Paul Sellers idea for a project to do with the kids:

He made his using a razor-sharp chisel; I won’t be doing that with Calum 😀 The project works just fine with saw and bench plane 😀 With a bit of luck, that’ll keep him occupied for the guts of an hour and he can make one for his teacher.

And then I have two more projects to prep for, one in beech and one in poplar. This phase always seems to make me long for a powered planer thicknesser, can’t think why…

Can you tell what it is yet?

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.

Not progress…

Hm. Well, I guess not every day is going to be a great shed day. Stupid “job” and stupid “mortgage payments”…

At least the walnut blank for the bandsaw box came out allright.(That white glue streak is from where the bad saw cut was. The design will have to cut around that).

But I couldn’t drill the tabletop for the threaded inserts because they’re not here yet, so I just cleaned up the glue squeezeout from the table legs.

The new plastic razor blades were actually really useful here.

I guess you could just have a thin plastic knife for this (or a scraper if you didn’t mind then scraping out any scratches from the surface finish). But they were on sale and try anything once.

I got out the feeler gauge as well. There were places here and there where I could get a 0.2mm gauge in, but only on one shoulder was that consistent. And the ends didn’t look too bad.

Mind you, the bolts that are to hold the tabletop on… they were 70mm. They really should have been 75mm (but I couldn’t find those. Time to go hunt round the pick-n-mix hardware section in Lenehans and Woodies I suppose).

I mean… they’re nice and all but… I don’t think 5mm of thread is going to have much strength, y’know?

So, suitably annoyed I turned to the new project. Now it was 2100h by this point, so anything noisy was right out, but there was still some marking up to do. And I had to hunt up some timber for panels.

This should do it, but there’s a catch… that has to get resawn.
I’ll rip it down the centerline (well, not the centerline but the center line of the grain pattern, for symmetry) and trim off the edge waste with the bandsaw, but the resawing has to be done by hand because the panels are too wide (they’ll be 4 and five-eighths wide and who invented this stupid system of measurement and I’ll be converting this to mm as soon as I finish converting the rules-of-thumb on panel sizes and groove depths).

I remember the resawing from the cot. I’m not looking forward to this. I’m just hoping that it’s easier to resaw a 4 and 5/8″ board than an 8″ one. And maybe I’ve gotten better at this in the last year. Maybe.

So the posts are cut long to leave horns (yes, that’s the term) above and below the mortices (and leave space for legs as well). Once the mortices are chopped and the tenons fitted those horns can get trimmed off but during the mortice chopping they give some extra strength to the piece. I forgot this when making the front legs in the sidecar cot and chopping those out was a bit of a faff as a result to avoid accidentally splitting them out.

Then looking at the rails and stiles. The rails are straight enough, so I have face and edges nominated, and I marked them off for a 3/4″ thickness.

The stiles on the other hand, all have a kink that I’ll have to cut out.

Lovely rays though.

I’ll just mark off the straight portion and roughcut that on the bandsaw and then plane the faces (I’ll do something similar on the rails – roughcut outside the line and plane the faces – I’d like to save a chunk of the waste though, quarter-inch stock is handy for boxes).

Prepped for tomorrow. I’ll run a scrap through it to see if those guides are behaving themselves first, but I may need to swap them out and maybe the blade as well.


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.

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