26
Nov 17

Legs

Okay, winter’s here.

And of course that leaves us with the eternal question, why is it always the show face that chips out?

But at least the CA glue did the trick. And on with cutting more leg joints and then apron joints and then test fittings…

Chop, chop, chop…

Swear, swear, swear…
And then recut the mortice so the leg comes up above the apron to be trimmed.

At least the joints are tight enough. I can just about get a 0.10mm feeler gauge into parts of the joints when they’re set; I can’t get the 0.20mm one in.

So that’s all the leg joints cut, now, time for the halving joint for the aprons.

Looks okay, it’s the right way round at least (don’t have legs going up on one side and down on the other…)

But it’s a bit gappier than I’d like. Still, it won’t be structural, there are bolts going through each apron to anchor the tabletop, and there won’t be stress on the joint as a result.

Ha! It doesn’t collapse!

Then a half-hour or so flattening the tabletop with a scrub plane across the grain. That’s such a fun job, it really is…

And then I discovered I don’t have the stainless steel inserts I thought I had and I’ve had to order more because apparently nobody has them in Dublin. Gah. I’ll try the local shops tomorrow but I don’t think walking in will lead to better results. But you have to try. Worst case scenario, I have to wait a week or so and work on another project in the meantime, which is doable. Best case, I find them and the ones on order will do the next one of these (I have the rough-cut bits for more than one of these tables).


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? 😀


23
Nov 17

Finishing experiment

All the major work is done now, everything’s glued up (though the last of the oak boxes is still curing really) and the prep finishing is either done or in train…

The poplar boxes have all had a coat of sanding sealer here (again, just blonde shellac cut down from a 2# cut to a half-pound cut), and the outer box of one has been test-finished with red milk paint (more on that in a moment). The oak boxes have all been given a coat of the oak tea (with surfactant) and they got another early this morning. The poplar drawer front on the oak-and-poplar box got a coat of sanding sealer.
The oak-and-poplar pencil box, the sapele boxes and the ash boxes all got another coat of danish oil and after the excess was wiped off and it had had a while to set up, they all got a coat of shellac (blond 2# shellac for the ash boxes; garnet #2 shellac for the sapele and the oak&poplar boxes). Tonight they’ll get a quick light sanding from worn 240grit paper and we’ll see if they need another coat or if I’ll go straight to poly (I wouldn’t for furniture, but these are quickly-made trinkets…).

Milk paint is neat stuff, at least in how it’s made up – you buy the powder (this is Causeway Sunset by The Crafty Bird in case anyone’s interested, I’ve had it a while and wanted to use it on something but never had the chance till now), and then you make it up on the fly as you need it, just mixing it with an equal amount of water (or in this case, a little less water to powder for a thicker mix). Make it up in a paper cup, apply from that cup, discard that cup. No half-full small tins of latex with the painted-on lids and the dribbles clogging up the shed for years before you finally give in and throw them out.

The downside is that the colours aren’t as bright as you get with latex-based paints, but some people prefer pastels and earthy shades. And even if you don’t, they can still be kindof striking:

Haven’t messed with colour enhance filters here, I promise. There’s white balancing and that’s all (and the white wall and the parchment paper give a decent white sample for the filter to latch onto) so the colour’s pretty true – it really is that jarring when wet. It dries to a chalky light pink, but when you put a topcoat on it, it darkens up again. We’ll see how well it copes, it got a spray of poly this morning and I think it’ll need another tonight.

And the branding is done as well 😀
There’s still felt to glue on, but that’s the very last step, done over the finish. Not sure if this’ll make it for Friday morning, but it might for Friday afternoon…


22
Nov 17

Smells like respiratory irritants…

I seriously need a better sanding arrangement. Roll on black friday.

Not to mention, the goggles could be more comfortable.

But at least the boxes have seen progress…

About a third were done with shaping-level sanding, about another third just had to have drawer pulls fitted, and the remaining third were still being assembled or needed serious shaping (meaning another belt sander session).

Some sorting, some test fitting, and some glueing up later and then I left everything overnight to cure. The following day I found that one of the oak boxes had had a side slip during glue-up, so it needs more shaping on the belt sander, and two of the other boxes are in the same boat; the dremel came out to do some tweaking whereupon I discovered that my sanding mandrel was missing, presumed lost 🙁 Need to go pay five times the fair price for one now on the way home from work today. Gah.

But the rest of the glueups went well, several of the boxes were hand-sanded up to 240 grit and then I started on the finishing for some of them with danish oil for the ash and sapele boxes:

Gotta love the way that colour comes out…

The oak and poplar pencilbox got the danish oil as well; this one would be too hard to ebonise the oak part for so we’ll just go with the oil I think.

The small sapele box got finished while waiting on its drawer. Too little time to wait and do it all at once.

The ash is nice, but it really can’t hold up to the sapele. After the danish oil, I’ll be giving this a few coats of shellac and then some poly over the top for toughness and some paste wax and buffing for shine. The sapele and the oak&poplar will get something similar (but the ash and sapele get blond shellac while the oak&polar gets garnet or button shellac).

The other poplar boxes will just get a sanding sealer coat (aka blond shellac mixed down from a 2-pound cut to a 1/2-pound cut), then a light sanding with fine paper and then milk paint over that and then poly varnish and a wax buffing.

The oak boxes (including this oak and poplar one) will see the oak ebonised as before, with one small change – that foam in the oak shavings tea is washing-up liquid acting as a surfactant to spread the tea deeper into the wood grain (and I’ll do the same for the iron solution). Nice tip from custard on the UK woodworking forum, that.

That oak and poplar box might turn out interesting – the “drawer pull” is a flush extension of the box, and it’ll get the sanding sealer + milk paint treatment of the other poplar boxes; the contrast between the black of the ebonised oak and the colour of the milk paint might be interesting.

And that’s where I left it. After work today, there’s some shaping sanding to do on the belt sander, some finer hand sanding and then we’re into nothing but finishing because these have to be ready by Friday morning…

And then on Friday, it’s off to the timber yard to get some more oak and walnut (and maybe something else if they have anything interesting to hand). And after that, black friday sales and after talking to the guys using them, I think I won’t be getting one of the Record BDS150 sanders:

Which looked okay but which apparently have a disk that’s unusably small (and a faff to change the paper on), and a table that’s just a bit dodgy to use and set up. Instead, it looks more like getting one of the Triton oscillating belt/bobbin sanders:

It’s a clone of the original Rigid:

But the clones are smaller in footprint (several other makers from Grizzly to Rutlands to Clarke all make the same thing in different colours). You lose the mitre slot, but on the plus side, the clones would actually fit through the door of the shed, which is a positive. I’ll have to build a quick 2×4 storage stand to put the bandsaw on and the sander under though, there’s no room otherwise.

But on the other hand, it’s about 26dBA quieter than the belt-sander-and-holdfasts approach I’m stuck with now, and it actually *has* dust extraction. Which is kindof a good thing if you like, you know, breathing…


19
Nov 17

Masochism…

…is deciding to make a batch of bandsaw boxes for your son’s school’s xmas bazaar thingy, while in a shed that’s too small, with a bandsaw that’s not really up to the task, and a sanding arrangement that… well, more on that in a moment.

I mean, I don’t even keep anything other than 4/4 material on hand, thicknessing anything else down to the normal 3/4 width you see in furniture is just too much work by hand (though I do need to get some 8/4 stuff soon for a piece’s legs). So it’s lamination city…

Something is missing….

Ah, there they are. Literally every clamp I have (bar the 5′ cast iron ones that are slowly rusting away outside, accusingly. I’ll get to them this xmas and sort them out, honest).

I even ran out of space to put clamped pieces. Yikes. And then overnight curing, and in the meantime it was off to the sister’s for a not-a-toddler-any-more’s birthday party, and I took along the oak test piece to give away as well, after having given it another coat of poly, a light sanding, a coat of renaissance wax and a buff, and a felt base:

It didn’t turn out too bad in the end, so I’ll make three more for the batch of boxes.

Sunday morning started with planning the boxes, starting with trimming cuts (on the 3/8ths blade) and then on to the curved cuts on the 1/8ths blade:

Errands interrupted for a while (but let me restock on 240grit sandpaper and danish oil) and then it was two straight hours on the bandsaw. My spine felt like I’d cut it into funny shapes by the end. But…

15 on the bench with all the cuts done (though some need some heavy shaping sanding and one needs shaping by hand). Excuse the blue tape, it’s just keeping all the pieces for each box together because it’s a pain to mix them up…

The oak ones are a pain to tape together 😀

Mind you, they were a lot more of a faff to glue together…

And I ran out of clamps before I ran out of work 🙁

Tomorrow will see more sanding, some shaping, more gluing, hand sanding and then on to finishing. The oak gets ebonised, the ash gets blonde shellac, the poplar will get milk paint, and I have no idea what the sapele will get. Danish oil maybe. And then probably a spray coat of poly over everything just for hard-wearing-ness.

About that sanding…

This will do its absolute damnedest to remove your fingers and/or burn your bench. It’s a pain to use. But it’s the only thing I have that will do the job… for now. The Black Friday Sales approach and soon, there will be an addition to the stable…

Because I’m sick of a piece embedding itself into the wall of the shed and having to go search for it after a quick count of my fingers.

On the hand tool front, I finally got to test my new scratch stock…

It’s very comfortable to use and I’ll definitely be using it to put a few details into an upcoming project.

But for the immediate future… it’s all power tools and sand and dust and unpleasantness.

/sigh


15
Nov 17

Ebonising…

Before:

During:
After:
No paint, no stains, no inks or dyes.

I used Richard Maguire’s ebonising method – take handful or two of oak shavings off the floor, boil for ten minutes in a saucepan, paint the resulting tea on the piece, sand down the raised grain, repeat 2-3 times. Then take steel wool, soak in vinegar for a week in a jar with a hole in the lid. Now paint the piece with that solution. The tannic acid in the oak, boosted by the tannic acid in the tea, reacts with the iron in the steel wool solution, and turns jet black.

It’s not a bad result, even on a quickly-done test piece that only got two doses of the tea and not much prep work.

 


12
Nov 17

Open box

The ash bandsaw box is still being finished and this one hasn’t even started the finishing process (I’m going to try ebonising the outside using Richard Maguire’s method and painting the inside with milk paint), but I thought it looked reasonable for a second try:

Finish, fill with jelly beans, give as gift. Sorted.


11
Nov 17

Guides and tests

Well, made a dog’s breakfast of the bandsaw boxes I was playing at. Couldn’t make the turn needed and the blade came out the side of the blank. Oh well. Now I have two paperweights (and one successful box, out of four blanks). I’ve ordered a one-eighth inch blade off Tuffsaws, that should get here next week and I can try again. I’ll prep new blanks tomorrow for that.

Bit of a waste, those 🙁

Meanwhile the older replacement y-lever for the #5½ arrived and I replaced the existing y-lever with it and it’s been a lot nicer to work with since. And no surprise. This is what the more modern y-lever looks like, two pressed steel parts riveted together:

Unfortunately, the rivet on mine isn’t as tight as it should be and even glue didn’t stop the inevitable end result (and if you’re thinking this would interfere with setting the plane you’d be right):

Meanwhile, back on the main project…

The bridle joints involved are a bit of an oddity; nobody really cuts them often enough to get good at them, at least not off the saw, so these are Richard McGuire’s basic jigs for helping to cut them (and the test sticks in the backgrounds, just a spare bit of poplar that I’m using up).

Four cuts, four jigs and the japanese saw reappears.

Okay, doesn’t look too awful…

Ah. Right. Hm. Odd. No gaps but also torqued right the way over. So check the guides again and yup, the shoulder of the cut was just not tidy enough so out with the chisel and a bit of tweaking and another test joint gets cut…

Ah. Bother. Okay, one guide still needs a wee bit of tweaking and we cut another test joint…

and…

Right. That’ll do I think.

Next step, a 12 degree guide and then on to cut the actual leg&apron joints.

 


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).


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