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.


12
Nov 19

More small stuff

More tidying up. It’s starting to get a bit neater…

Next job, tidy up the panel and grasshopper gauges and put up one of the five(!) magnetic bars I got for the shed walls (if you buy two and bury them in shavings, you’ll forget you bought them and buy them again when they show up in Lidl again).

Little better. Want to tape up the f-clamp handles as well.

It’s just hockey stick grip tape, but it makes it a lot easier to crank on those handles when tightening up the clamp.

Now, onto tonights little experiment.

Take one offcut of walnut, mark it up for some carved arcading and hack away at it as fast and as carelessly as you like.

Told you so, but that isn’t the point of the experiment. Now I resaw this board in half (I cheated here because this is just an experiment and used the bandsaw but you could do it by hand if you want. Me, the shed was at 4C so I was suffering enough).

And now out with the #05 and plane off the saw marks and get the backs all nice and clean.

So now I have thin stock with “carving” on one side. The idea being to see if you could do this and make a lightweight thin-walled box with this kind of carving in it. I mean, it didn’t shatter or snap on this try, so maybe this might work.

The acid test though, is whether or not these warp or twist or cup in the next few days as they air-dry. Have to check back in a few days…

Stay straight and parallel, ye little gits…


27
Oct 19

Done

So during the week I had to work from home for a day, so while doing that I took my lunch break to pull the shelves out of the shed and put a second coat of Polyx on them. They didn’t look too bad.

 

And after they’d cured for a few days in the shed, I went out again and glued on some leather pads on the contact points between the shelves and the wall so that they wouldn’t rub against the wall and destroy the paint. Awkward to clamp though.

And then today while Calum was out at a birthday party, I snuck out to the shed, took off the tape and trimmed the leather pads, drilled the first inch or so of the wiring channel out so the barrel socket would fit and then brought the shelves indoors.

It looks very very empty now 😀

Some manhandling of the shelves later and I got them into the lab and soldered the socket to the LEDs and then finished fitting the LED lights; then more manhandling of the shelves to get them into Calum’s room and a quick coat of beeswax which looked about a shiny as sand. Guess I need to rub harder.

And that’s it. Done.

Yikes, that only took a year and four months. To the day.

Okay, granted some other stuff happened in the middle of all that, like making a carved oak box, getting a promotion at work and embedding a mug in resin, but still. Yikes. And I can’t help but think it’d have gone faster with a larger shed…

Still though, end result is nice.

At least he hasn’t grown enough to not fit it anymore. According to the growth charts and the various furniture design books, it’ll last him about two more years before his knees won’t fit under the desk; at that point, I’ll make a pair of feet to go under the uprights and raise the whole thing up by a few inches and we’ll get another few years out of it. 

Stocking the shelves.

And of course, there’s the LED lighting. Need to tidy that cable away a bit yet. 

Didn’t even need glue, the slot was just the right size and the aluminium extrusion had small ridges to act as barbs to hold it in place.

And finally all the books have a place to live.

(Nobody tell him, but this is going to be covered in homework in a few years 😀 )

Yes, that’s the model of the titanic that Calum made. Why do you think he had me build a sea in the middle of the racetrack on the desk? 😀

I even remembered to sign it. Though my blowtorch ran out of propane at the worst possible moment so it could be darker. Oh well. 

So, what’s next?

Tidying up, that’s what’s next! The shed is a serious mess and there are a dozen five-minute jobs that have piled up. So, that should only take six months to sort out…