Sep 18

More shaping

So I decided to go ahead and shape the front curve today, since it was going to be awkward to cut and might be noisy so it’d have to be a weekend job really.

Why is it awkward? Well, the plan is to make the first rough cut with the bandsaw and then to get down to the line with the compass plane and the board is long enough that swinging it around through the bandsaw inside the shed would be awkward and would probably need the door open and the plank sticking out at some point.

See what I mean? There’s not enough room for a cat to stand in here, let alone be swung around. But, with much swearing and cursing and with the door open and the plank sticking out for at least half the cut, it got done.

I even cut the top of the side to be parallel to the floor again while I was at it.

You will notice the artisan scalloped edge, and I’ll have you know that it takes a lot more effort to create such an artistic statement than it does to just cut a straight clean boring line.

Or something.

Anyway, it’s just a rough cut, so out with the #05 to knock off the absolute worst of the knobbly bits and then time for the fun tool.

The Record #020, variously known as a compass plane, a circular plane, a radius plane or a shipwright’s plane, it’s basically just a plane for curves. That big spinny dial yoke on top pulls the bit with the blade up or down relative to the ends of the sole, and the sole being flexible, takes on a curve that you can then plane into the wood. It’s a natty little tool, and while there are limits to how curved you can go, within those limits it’s great.

Mine is a little worse for wear in appearance. Everything works, I had it apart, cleaned, oiled and resharpened everything, but it’s had some light surface rust over the summer and the enamel’s long gone (and I still haven’t figured out a good way to restore that with the kit I have or can use). But anyway, it’s more than good enough to do the job and between that and the spokeshave I soon had a smooth curve instead of a decaying sine wave.

And I hate the look of it completely. The curve itself is more or less okay, I got rid of almost all that ugly damaged bit, but that little flare-out at the point where the desk will be just doesn’t work. It looks wrong in several different ways. So I ran the plane over the entire edge to get a nice single smooth curve instead of that little flare-out.

I’m more or less happy with this. I was thinking of making that curve into a bow rather than a sweep, so that the front edge would be almost vertical at the foot (that’s what those black lines there are for, they’re not spalting even though they’re following the grain line, I was just trying to see what it would look like). I’m not sure about this though. I’m worrying about the width of the sides and the strength of the piece if I start hacking off that much, but I might just be getting paranoid.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that for now and maybe think about it again later before I cut the sliding dovetails (which will be the point of no return for the shaping I think). Next job, start to transfer the shape from this side to the other one…

I’ve already gotten the foot done (and it matches its counterpart well) and a reference edge planed on the back edge, but I haven’t finished the top straight-line cuts yet and then there’s the second front edge to shape. That should be interesting. I haven’t changed the compass plane’s setting so in theory it’s going to be grand…

Sep 18

Short day’s shaping

Not much time in the shed today, but enough to make a start. First, new toys!

So some catches to help with the mod to the Dewalt extraction hood (I think I have everything I need for that now, I’ll get to it soon), an incredibly cheap handplane ($4.30 from Aliexpress delivered) which is more to play with and laugh at than to seriously try to use as a tool, and two interesting tape measures. Both of those are small (1m and 2m) which is handy for using in the shed, and I’ve just wanted to play with them for a while now ever since seeing them in action.

They’re a bit gimmicky and I’m not throwing away my stanley tape measures, but they’re fun to play with and that’s the point.

Anyway, that done, on to the sides. I wanted to get a start on these today. One’s developed some twist since I milled them. Not a huge amount, but noticeable – 3-4mm at the worst point. A lot of that twisted portion might be cut away so I don’t know if it’s something I need to get out of the board yet (or even if the shelf joinery will pull it back to straight). But I’m starting on the untwisted one and I’ll see how we go.

Marked up the cuts for the foot and the wall rest sections using the bevel, and the front curve by bending a long piece of dowel stock (didn’t have anything else that was long enough and thin enough to act as a batten). And then started making a reference edge from the back edge. The sides are long enough to make this awkward…

There’s barely enough room to do this. Really, there isn’t enough, but by being fiddly enough about it you can just about get away with it. Then, with the reference edge established, out with the bevel and the marking knife and time to mark off the final line to cut to for the feet and wall rest. First though, need to take off the last half-inch or so of board, give me another reference edge square to the back edge.

And cut off and then plane to flat.

This is where having an apprentice can help (incidentally, for anyone who was wondering, this is why I have a Record #03).

Once we’ve passed QA, it’s time to mark out the wall rest with the knife and bevel and then cut it (using a short batten to help guide the saw because the cut’s awkward due to the lack of space).

And then a few swipes with the #04 to clean up the cut surface when done. Do the same on the other end for the foot and now it’s time to check. I don’t have a five-foot-tall try square, so I’m just using the door frame of the shed.

So-so. There’s a gap at the wall rest.

Thing is, I’m pretty sure my door frame is as square as a rhombus, so I’ll check this with the bevel and might tune it slightly, but I don’t believe the door frame is a reference surface you’d trust too much 😀

Yup, bevel says the wall rest is slightly out. A few swipes with the #05 will sort that, but I’ll check against the actual wall it’s going up against before I do that.

Had to stop there, but tomorrow there’s a few more hours and the next step may be to cut the curved section at the top. Maybe. I’m not 100% certain if I want to do that yet, the parallel sides might make workholding easier. Have to think about that one…



Aug 18

Milling time

So, been sick. Children, they’re basically walking petri dishes that deposit germs on you. Anyway, back to it today. And nothing fancy, nothing terribly skillful, just milling timber to rough thickness.

Retrieved the mitre saw stand I bought from lidl a few weeks ago out of the attic, set it up, and mounted the Dewalt to it, spent a while faffing about with the mounting screws discovering that I’d fastened it down using the screws that are for adjusting the infeed and outfeed tables that are built into the thicknesser and had to re-mount it (turns out the thing won’t mount to the lidl stand quite perfectly because it’s too wide, but it’s stable enough to work).

I was going to mill up the two sides as well as the two remaining shelves, and the sides are just too long to do this in the shed, so I waited for a Saturday afternoon and did it all on the little decking area outside the shed. Which, noise-wise is a bit obnoxious, but this is a one-off (normally milling only happens for a short period at the start of the project, and on top of that, normally I’d mill up in a soundproofed shed so it’s as noisy to the neighbours as someone mowing a lawn, but with an annoyingly higher pitch). Anyway, the plan is to not do this in an evening and to try to time it all for Saturday afternoons if needed, and mainly not to need it by not picking projects which are physically too big to fit in the shed readily.

That needs to be a bit more of a cast-iron rule really.

On top of which, while I love what that machine can do and having that capability now, I don’t much like actually using it…

Anyway. Rigged the machine, faffed about with setup, then took the boards (which I’d checked were flat on one side and had flattened by hand if they weren’t) and ran them through the thicknesser taking off a mm or so at a time until I was down to an inch for the sides and just under for the shelves (it’s kid’s furniture, I’m aiming less towards elegance and more towards brick shithouse). It took under 30 minutes to do all four boards from inch-and-a-quarter down to planed, flat inch thick boards. Previously, that would have been most of a week’s evenings doing donkey work that was boring and sweaty and which tore up my hands.

Like I said, I don’t like using the machine, but I love what it does. Now I get to do fun stuff for the rest of the time, like shaping and joinery and finishing work and inlay and so on.

Now they’re not perfect. This is rough thicknessing only, I’m not good enough with the machine to do anything else yet and don’t plan to be for some time. But those shelves are grand and so is one side – the other has a little twist in it that I need to correct still, annoyingly. And the other has what must have been a bark incursion or something that I’ll have to arrange to be in the part that gets cut away when shaping the curves:

But I can do all that by hand readily enough. At most, a cut or two with the bandsaw. And of course some router work for the sliding dovetails. But nothing as obscenely loud as the thicknesser.

The amount of cleanup that machine generates is something else by the way. Wow. I mean, setup took a good half-hour, and tear-down took fifteen minutes, but cleaning took all that again, and even after that…

Still messy and needing a proper clean. Might do that tomorrow so I can start into the fun stuff without wading through shavings.

In other news, Boss Lady got her locker and loved it, especially the colour.

And promptly gave me another commission, this time for building a pair of bunk beds for the same dolls that will be using the locker. I do have to get Calum’s desk finished first, but there’s the next project lined up I guess 😀

Actually, little projects like that can be a bit fun and a nice way to practice things like inlays or kumiko or making shoji (no idea how that’d get worked into bunk beds, but you know what I mean).

And lidl had a nice sale of F-clamps, so I filled out the third rail:

And then to top it all off, I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a proper combination square. A Starrett, no less.
I mean, I know they say “buy once, cry once”, but I think they omit the bit where, yeah, you’re only crying once, but you’re crying for so much longer. Seriously, I think this will be the most expensive tool I’ve bought yet (not counting the machines). But that’s precision marking-out kit for you I guess. Anyway, everyone who has one say they last a lifetime, so I can amortise the cost and then have another cry at how little difference that makes 😀