12
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.


04
Dec 17

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.


03
Dec 17

Progress…

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.


24
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? 😀


03
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…


02
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).


18
Jun 17

Off the shelf…

So fathers day was coming up and dad’s just finished the first year of a law course so lots of desk time and books involved. And then I noticed this on accidental woodworker:

Well, a desktop shelf that’d fit in the corner and leave room to hide pens and such underneath should be about right, and I had a nice piece of sapele…

…yeah, no. Turns out sapele is a total pain to plane with a normal handplane because of interlocking grain. By the time I’d resawn it from 6/4 down to just under 3/4inch thick and then flattened the resulting planks I’m down to just a shade over a half-inch thick and that just doesn’t look right for a shelf. So I abandoned the sapele to future box-making duties, and ordered a toothed plane iron to deal with the remaining sapele in my store.

And a new lighter mallet for finer work (the lignum vitae mallet is great but was a bit heavy for working on things like half-blind dovetails).

And then I hauled out one of the last planks of walnut I had to hand, skimmed it and rough-cut it from 9×48 to 9×23 and 8×24, losing an inch of length to kerf and clipping off a rough end on the board and losing an inch of width to a bit of live edge on one half of the board. I also grabbed some oak I had and crosscut it in half, then laminated the two halves together to one 3×3 block; and then cut a diagonal line across the width of the board to give me the two feet – the thing you stand on, not the archaic unit of measurement – roughly 3×2 at the front and 3×1 at the back for a nice gentle slope so that the spines of the books are visible when sitting or standing at the desk.

Then on to the sides. I took the 8×24, cut that in half after I had it flattened and thicknessed down to about ¾”, marked off which corners I’d cut off for that sloped look and then marked out both for a stopped dado for the shelf (which would act as a sort-of-half-lap joint as the shelf would have two shallow rebates on either end to fit). I was planning on using the cut nails I got from Dictum a while back as a design feature so I didn’t make it a sliding dovetail, the nails would hold well enough.

I cut down the walls of the dado as much as I could with the saw and then cut out the waste and the rest of the dado with a chisel, and used a router plane to tidy it all up.

Didn’t turn out too shabbily.


Even got some nice grain alignment between the sapwood and the front of the uprights.

Next though, have to attach the feet to the uprights. Ralph used biscuits for his, but I don’t have a biscuit joiner (or room to use one or store one) so I just cut mortice and tenon joints, complicated slightly by the joint being sloped – the mortice is deeper at one end than the other and the tenon is trimmed as well to avoid chopping through the feet when making the mortice. This gives even more rake to the uprights – it’s not a huge amount, but it does give that slightly steeper angle without needing either the joint or the angle of the feet to take the full angle. It’s a little nicer and it means the spines of the books are at an angle that makes reading the titles easier if you’re sitting or standing at the desk (Dad’s desk is one of those electric standing/sitting desk things).

Not as hard to cut as the curved tenons in the cot a while back. And I did think of using my new morticing chisels but the one in the size I wanted to use has a handle that is literally falling off, and it weighs two pounds and looks like a railway spike. It’s more for deep morticing through a few inches of oak. For a blind mortice like this that’s barely an inch at the most, the firmer chisels are the better choice. Also, holdfasts. Best morticing workholding ever.

And with those fitted, time to sort the back rails, also from some oak I had.
They’re a bit thin, but that’s okay, this is for a desktop so “brick shithouse” isn’t really the design aesthetic I’m looking for here. I was thinking of doing mortice and wedged tenons here, but the walnut was a bit narrower than the sapele board I started with (so pushing the rails back means being able to hold wider books), and walnut’s far easier to carve, so I switched to the idea of using half-blind dovetails so the sides were kept fairly clean-looking. Those went very smoothly (it’s walnut, you’re basically cheating using it for dovetails), the only difficult part being the layout (because you basically need the whole thing assembled to get the final shoulder lines for the last two joints). But you’re only cutting four dovetails in total so it’s fast work.

With that done, that was the last of the joinery, and all that was left was shaping, small touches and fettling and finishing. I took the front corners off with the small ryoba and planed them ganged together to keep the sides matching, then took a small gouge and did some end-grain detail stolen again from Brian Halcombe:

Getting a little better, but still nowhere good as his are. I think I need to practice sharpening my gouges more 😀

I also took the fretsaw and my new preston spokeshave to the shelf to do some shaping work on the two ends (and got out the gouges here as well for the little bit of remaining endgrain). The shelf is a bit thick to avoid (a) sagging in the middle from the 60kg design weight (books weigh more than most people think, the standard loading is about 30kg/ft or so); and (b) thicknessing the board down too much because it turned out one side had the corner of a horrible knot in it and it was a complete pita to plane. But by planing a slope into the underside of the shelf in the last inch or two before you see it, it looks a lot thinner at first glance than it actually is – neat trick learnt from Richard Maguire’s end table videos.

You’ll notice I’ve also drilled pilot holes for the cut nails here. I bought a few boxes of those from Dictum a while back and haven’t had a chance to use them yet. They look quite nice:

For those who don’t see what the fuss is about and haven’t spent sixty hours listening to Christopher Schwarz, Roy Underhill and every youtuber with a table saw ranting about these things, they’re what nails used to look like for thousands of years until someone invented the cut wire nail a hundred years or so ago and found he could make nails that were objectively worse than the existing product in every single way and yet still be successful, so long as they were cheap. The race to the bottom is a very, very old game…

Anyway, these things look decorative and hold things together much more securely than the round nails we use today, but more than that, when the wood swells or shrinks and moves with the seasons, the nails flex with the wood which screws can’t do. This stuff lasts so long they’re still finding shipwrecks from the roman empire where the nails are holding them together.

Anyway, that’s my story about why it was okay to pay six quid for a hundred nails and I’m sticking to it 😛

And then I knocked the arises off the other edges with the preston spokeshave (that thing is rapidly taking over as my favorite tool), and with that done and everything suitably handleable (and the front of the feet turned from blocks to a less aggressive shape), it was time to do the final fitting and fettling of joints. 

It was fairly painless this time. That shelf doesn’t rock or tilt 🙂 I’m a bit pleased by that, the layout was a bit hard because the wood’s not perfectly flattened (that stupid knot on the underside looks pretty but was a pain to work). And then final finish planing before the shellac. At which point I made the happy discovery that not only do we get some lovely colour to the walnut and some lovely medullary rays in the oak, but the walnut is also lightly figured. Which was a nice unexpected surprise, but is unfortunately most prevalent on the underside. Doh.

Well, only one last thing to do before applying finish…

Fire! 😀

Turns out, a real blowtorch versus a chef’s blowtorch isn’t even a contest. A chef’s blowtorch will do creme brulee, whereas one of these weapons of mass destruction will just burn through the sugar, the creme, the dish and most of the table. They’re excellent 😀

I did nearly burn the wood though. Mental note; branding irons only need to be that hot for flesh, for wood you want them less hot. Had to take the block plane to the endgrain to clean it up a little in the end. But that was that, and now on to the shellac. First a quick test…

And we’ll go with garnet for the walnut and lemon for the oak, with maybe a last coat of blonde? Brush on the first coat, then wipe on the next three, knocking back with 0000 steel wool in between each coat.

See what I mean about that walnut? Shame that’s the underside really.
And after a few days (I just did a coat every evening after I got home):

And then it was time for assembly and glue-up. That was a lot more straightforward than I expected too because the nails effectively acted as clamps. So out with the hide glue and I didn’t even need the hot water this time to warm it because today was around 26C in the shed, the warmest day of the year so far. Glue into the stopped dados, then seat the shelf in the dado and knock it firmly home with the deadblow hammer, then drive the three nails to within 2-3mm of being fully seated; turn it over and do the other upright. Then glue in the back rails because the uprights slope inward slightly and the tension holds everything in place. Drive home the nails fully, glue the mortice and tenon joint for the feet together, stand it up and clamp the lower back rails (the upper rails couldn’t be clamped because of the slope on the far side of the upright at their level, doh. Maybe I should have drilled the dovetails for smaller decorative nails, it’s certainly a historical thing to do that).

Left everything to cure for a few hours, then painted the bottom of the feet with titebond over the shellac, and sat them down onto some nice green felt (don’t want to scratch the desk) and let that set up for a few hours before trimming off the excess with a sharp knife. And that was it, all done.

The brand looks nice actually. I was afraid it’d be a bit out of place, but it seems to blend in discretely.

Kicking myself that that figure is on the underneath of the shelf…

But those nails do just look the part, don’t they?

Obviously I need to buy more Lost Art Press books 😀

And yup, there’s the original sketches and notes as well. Not an Ikea design 😀

Thanks again to Ralph at the Accidental Woodworker blog for the idea, it worked out pretty well.

 


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