Ah for feck’s sakes…

I only just finished digging that sodding thing out!


And I’ve not been getting much done in there thanks to subzero temperatures and public transport making the work commute into anything up to a six-hour-a-day nightmare (yes, a foot of snow won’t slow down Canada, but Canada spends more on their snow clearing hardware and people than we spend on Varadkar’s Strategic Communications Spin Unit…). Mostly I’ve been putting together new tools for some things I’d like to try, namely stringing and carved arcading. So for the stringing, I already have the dead fancy radius cutter from lie nielson (probably the most bling tool I own), and a small perspex scrap to give it a pivot point when working on some of the usual designs:

But I haven’t got a straight line cutter because I figured I should be able to make one, they’re basically a marking gauge, see the lie nielson one:

Fancy, but basically just a marking gauge. So I ordered a spare blade from the lie nielson cutter to skip the whole metalworking bit because hell, learn one thing at a time. Then I laminated two scraps of white oak, cut and squared a stem from another scrap and chopped a mortice (and a rabbit on the base). Some test fitting, adding the blade in a little recess and…

Mind you, it doesn’t work. The mortice isn’t good enough so the beam isn’t at right angles to the fence, so the blade gets dragged along while skewed so you don’t get a nice thin cut line, you get a wider scratched mess. I think I’ll take out the beam, add a brass strip inlaid on it for a bearing surface and use the brass thumbscrews I have here as a lock. And I’ll remake the fence from a single thickness scrap piece of something; it’s too thick to cut a mortice accurately through (at least for me). Some guide blocks when morticing will probably help too. It’s not hard, but it does take a mite more care than I used on the first try.

Also, I’ll need to cut strips off the veneer to make the stringing, and I was finding my marking knife wasn’t up to it and neither was my heavier stanley boxcutter, both would be fine for a few inches and then wander off the line following the grain. So I got this:

Think pizza cutter. But with a tungsten carbide blade. It’s normally used for cutting cloth for quilting. Doesn’t get dragged off to either side by the grain as much as a normal knife that’s embedded in the grain would because with the wheel, the cutting surface is constantly coming out of the wood so the material hasn’t as solid a grip on the blade (which is precisely why we use these for pizzas and the like). Tested it already and it works like a charm. My veneer on the other hand, is too thin; I need to source better material, which I’ve had some pointers on from the UK forum.

And for cleaning out the stringing lines before gluing in the stringing, a dental pick is a pretty decent tool and dirt cheap on ebay. You get the oddest looks in the office when it’s delivered, mind you…

….but the looks you get when you order the syringes for putting glue in the stringing grooves surpass anything I’ve seen so far 😀

I also had to restock on glue and got a bunch of liquid hide glue in a sale on ebay so that should be all the glue I need for the next year or three (it’ll go off before I get through all of it I’m guessing). So I think I’m set right now for everything but the veneer for stringing; I’ll sort that out while I fix the straight line cutter and then start experimenting.

Meanwhile, Peter Follansbee did a nice blog writing up how he does carved arcading; I’d like to give this a go myself, it looks like fun:

It’s just damn pretty in walnut. And it looks terribly complex when finished, but like a lot of this period’s carving, it’s all geometric and done by leveraging the characteristics of tools rather than being some kind of sculpture that relies on twenty years of experience (which would be harder to try).

I do need to get one or two gouges that are larger than what I currently have so I got a nice three-quarter-inch one for a few euro off ebay again:

And between that and one that was a present from an old friend, had a go at the basic core elements to see if it was even possible (here in an oak scrap rather than walnut):

It’s somewhat easier than the v-tool work that I’ve been practicing (and not getting hugely better at, though having better sharpening kit is making a difference):

Something else to get back to, when I dig the shed out again…. this whole thing of letting the north pole melt and turning off the north atlantic current and ruining the climate is playing absolute hell with my shed time…

It’s not even for the birds!

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.

Resawing sucks.

Honestly, if there is a better argument out there for buying a large bandsaw I haven’t heard it yet.

Yes, I’ve heard of roubo frame saws. My shed hasn’t enough room between the face vice and the wall to use one.

Yes, I have western hand saws. I either need to resharpen them or recut their teeth because the best one I have didn’t want to cut.

Yes I have a bandsaw already – it can’t resaw anything over 75mm. That there is 115mm.

So, wax blade, yank handle, shove handle, repeat till ticked off enough to pull board halves apart by brute force, plane off worst of the gack in the middle with scrub plane, give outside a few passes to mitigate uneven drying, repeat.

What, you thought there was an art to this? No, it’s just donkey work. And if you get too ticked off and pull the board apart too early…

It rewards you with a great big divot out of one end. Well, at least I don’t need the full length of any of these boards.

Left them standing upright to dry and warp overnight.

At least I got both boards resawn. That was more than I had expected to do.

So I had a play with my Lee Valley scratch stock and a gouge. I was watching some old Peter Follansbee videos and saw what I thought would make a nice decorative element on the rails of the chest. This kind of stuff shows up on the 17th century oak furniture he specialises in and was very common in the period, and since this is basically a 17th century design tarted up a bit, it seems appropriate.

Plus it’s pretty fast and simple to do, though I do need to experiment a bit more – I really need a round or beading plane or a custom scratch stock to form the surface in the middle before cutting the segments out. This took all of five minutes or so to do by the way – it really is fast when you know how (scratch stock bead line with a fence, chop at right angles with a gouge at regular intervals on that bead line, scratch stock bead line on the other side of the chops, then carve one scoop from gouge chop to gouge chop with the same gouge). How to actually end it when the rails hit the stiles is the main problem. I’m not sure how to continue it around the stiles/posts you see. I mean, I could try freehanding it but that seems wrong somehow unless I can get the rails and stiles utterly flush.

And the threaded inserts didn’t arrive today. Bother.

Tomorrow I’ll square up the stock and try to get the panels cleaned up a bit more and do something about that lid. I’d like it to have a small curve to it if I could, but the only way I can think to do that involves taking an inch-thick board and carving it with planes. And I don’t know about that – it’d be heavy and I’d have no way to prevent it warping with movement, which a frame-and-panel lid would address. I mean, according to the bible, it’ll move by 2.8% tangentially over the 30% humidity change between a summer and winter indoors around here (gotta love central heating), that’s almost a full centimeter of movement across the width of the lid. Make that from a solid block of wood and you won’t have a lid for half the year.

What’s the bible? Fresh from abebooks.co.uk:

Basically, a few hundred species of tree, with notes on things like general working properties and data like how much it moves when seasoning and when doing a 30% humidity swing and what its density and tensile strength is and so on, all done by a UK government office back in the days when this was what governments did. Yeah, it’s 1956/7, but tree species don’t change that much that fast (other than going extinct).

Bloody useful books.

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