Sunday, May 3, 2020

Corona Virus Tray

Just over two years since my last post. I did sell all my large woodworking machines that were in the neighbour's garage. However, I was able to retain the garage to continue storing a lot of my slabs, in lieu of actually doing something about getting rid of them.

Meanwhile, I have not done any serious woodworking since the aborted cedar chest of four years ago.

With some recent coronavirus time on my hands I decided to use some scraps to make up a simple tray. Also a good chance to revive some atrophying hand tools skills!

The original idea was to make up something a touch rustic that could go outside and be used to display a bonsai in.

The base is Monterey Cypress, which I milled and dried myself from a local tree. Since this wood is notorious for sap, I actually baked it in our oven at 140 F for about 45 mins to try and set it. I did a bookmatch on a section that had a bit of staining. Finish is several layers of shellac. The shellac was old as dirt, but I did a test with it and it still worked great!

The sides were purported to be rosewood, from a tree that was grown in Florida and came down in a hurricane some years ago. I bought it from a seller on eBay, a local wood guy I showed it to was skeptical that it was rosewood and I tend to agree with him.

I had to put a couple patches on the sides, as I was running the sides through my shaper to form a groove for the base to fit into, I had not tightened things up and the bit rose up as I cut and went completely through! I guess I did not learn from the first time, as the same thing happened again. So with the patches it definitely meets my original objective of 'rustic' although not as I had originally intended.

In any case I put a couple coats of my fav Tried and True on the sides and they look fine.

Photographed among the cherry blossoms.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Shop Countdown!

I rent a neighbour's garage to keep my large planer and jointer in.

The neighbour told me a while ago that I need to be out of there by the end of June. I will be selling the planer and probably the jointer as well. So before that happens I thought I had better get some of the slabs in there cleaned up, once the planer is gone it'll be a problem to flatten large slabs.

I have milled a lot of elm over the years, but there was one log in particular that really struck me. I gave several pieces of it away over the years, but still had three in my inventory. I cleaned this one up because it was the narrowest, the other two are too wide for the planer. I'm hoping to use this as a wall decoration in the house.

I also have a beautiful piece of figured Douglas Fir that was given to me a few years ago by my dad's cousin. He rescued it from a bonfire many years ago, I'm guessing in the 50's or 60's it still had burn marks on it when I got it! I was initially thinking I would resaw it up into panels and make a screen out of it. But once I cleaned it up I saw it had a lot of cracks in it, so still deciding what to do with it.

Probably my greatest treasure is four thick slabs of arbutus I milled up on Thetis Island several years ago. I had milled arbutus there previously, but the slabs I cut that first time were too thin. So these I milled at close to 4". Also, I had a ferry to catch that day so cutting thicker meant taking more wood home!

No immediate plans for this wood. It seems very stable compared to the previous arbutus I milled. Will continue to store it until the right inspiration strikes me!

This one I planed up several years ago, but I need to run it through again to take care of the lower left corner

This is a narrower piece that I mostly cleaned up today. Still needs another couple of passes to finish up. In comparison to the above piece, this one is quite a bit lighter. Shows how the arbutus will darken up with time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The End of Milling

Hey it has been over a year since my last post, and very little woodworking was done during that time.

I did get out for a handful of milling sessions, but the supply of wood from the City is drying up. Also, at my Slow Woodworker pace I have enough wood for multiple lifetimes! So I have decided to stop milling and am in the process of selling my chainsaws and mills.

Here are some photos of the last few milling sessions.

 Milling Horsechestnut rounds with the 60" mill

 Hemlock for a friend. 

Oak in front of a guy's house. He arranged with the city to save this street tree for him. Very nice!

The only ash I've ever milled

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cedar Chest

My wife discovered some moths in her sweaters and an emergency was instantly declared. A cedar chest was decreed.

All hands on deck for a cedar chest! All other projects are thrust to the backburner for the time being!

Fortunately I had several slabs of fairly wide Monterey cypress that would let me build the chest of wide planks.  The first step was to run them through the planer on a sled to flatten one side.

Once that was done I selected the best ones, and marked them for cutting to rough dimensions. I'm planning 12" x 16" x 36". Since my table saw is too small to cut boards of these dimensions, I used a skilsaw.

Following that, the 12" wide boards were resawn on my bandsaw.

I wound up with 5 boards, plus a couple other pieces I can press into service if things really go sideways!

However since my bandsaw's throat capacity is only 13", I could not resaw the top and bottom pieces which are to be 16" wide. So I had to bust out my Alaska mill and resaw them that way.

The Alaska mill is a bit coarse, so I left the boards oversized so they can be trimmed to thickness on my planer.

It actually went pretty well. The top will be the Monterey cypress and the bottom will be Deodar cedar, very aromatic.

I'll let the boards acclimatize for a few days, then run them through the planer and then trim close to final dimensions. I am thinking finger joints.

One issue is going to be taming the sap in these boards. Previously I have set the sap in Monterey cypress by baking the boards in the oven, but these are too big for that. Maybe one end at a time?! Need to come up with something creative here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Little Non-Wood Diversion

Last year I was fortunate enough to acquire a car that I had long aspired to, an early 90's Lancia Delta. I have quickly learned that spare parts are going to be an ongoing problem.

A small plastic cap that was supposed to cover the rear window's wiper shaft / wiper arm connection cracked and fell off recently and thus I began my Quixotic quest to locate a new one of these. It is actually a purely decorative part, as the car works fine without it, and it is worth in my estimate about 17 cents. Not available from the usual (European) Lancia suppliers, I took to eBay and some less well known folks, and discovered it was in fact available. Prices ranged from about 17 euros to 40 euros, plus shipping of course.

Well these egregious prices really annoyed me, so I decided to instead 3D print a replacement.  I have never done 3D printing so this was to be a learning exercise as well as a process to get a usable part.

My son is attending university and has access to and is familiar with CAD software as part of one of his engineering courses, so he was to be my partner in crime on this. Without him helping me it is doubtful I would be able to get this done. I have no desire to learn CAD software myself, and paying someone to do it, or having a 3D scan of it made seemed totally uneconomical.

So after measuring up the original somewhat carefully with my calipers, I sent him the dimensions, he CAD'ed it up and subsequently sent me back a drawing.

After a couple back and forths it was good to go. I located a nearby 3D printer and $9 later I had my first prototype.

Original on left and first prototype on right

No surprise the fit was not quite right, so a bit more measuring and back and forthing we had a second drawing ready to print. The printer was also very helpful and provided some suggestions for improvement. However, for the second prototype they also increased their price to $13 for some unknown reason.
From Left: Original (now falling apart again), first prototype, second prototype

The second prototype is not quite right, but we are getting closer. Hopefully the next version will be on the money. Otherwise the exercise will turn out to have cost more than what I could have paid for one of the egregiously priced parts from Europe! In that case I may have to print off a few spares and attempt to undercut the European suppliers by offering them up on eBay etc.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Plane Bottoms

I have a variety of planes, and which one I use for a particular task depends mostly on the material to be worked. The type/hardness/grain of material, how wide it is, how long it is, what quality of finish is needed, and so on. I have several planes in different sizes that I have made myself, following the designs of James Krenov. I also have a couple styles of asian planes, antique Stanley planes in multiple sizes, a modern low angle plane, curved bottom planes, block planes, etc.

Probably my top 3 go-to planes are a Veritas low angle smoother, a Stanley/Bailey #3, and a Krenov-sytle smoother.

The Veritas and the Stanley are easy to set for a consistent thickness shaving, but both are a pain to sharpen. The Veritas because the blade is wide and made of a particularly hard steel, the Stanley because the blade is thin (although it is a thicker replacement blade) and tends to rock on the stone if I am not careful. Frankly both of these sharpen better with a jig. The Krenov-style plane is very fussy to setup, but when done so correctly offers the thinest shavings, And it is much easier to sharpen.

Anyways since we all know you can never have too many planes, I thought it would be fun to try an English smoothing plane. So I picked up an old Norris from Patrick Leach, author of the famous plane treatise "Patrick's Blood and Gore".

Although it is a bit shorter than the other planes, it is also has a 2 1/4" wide blade. Versus the 1 3/4" blade on the Stanley. It is also heavier by far than any of the other planes

Patrick claimed the Norris was a 'decent user' when he sold it to me, and it was as he described. The opening was tight, the blade had lots of life in it still, there were no cracks in the plane anywhere. It was well patinated, in fact it look like it had rolled around in a tool kit for a long time and was covered in tiny dents! But they were just superficial. A quick sharpening had it spitting out shavings, but the adjustment mechanism was pretty stiff, and it was apparent that the bottom of the plane was not flat.

So I decided to work on the flatness by scraping it with a carbide scraping tool, an old-school technique I learned 10+ years ago at a seminar down in Seattle. Most people (myself included) will use a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface, like a jointer's outfeed table, to flatten the bottom of a plane. This technique is fine, but scraping will provide a far more uniformly flat surface, to within a fraction of a thousanth of an inch.

In fact, the Stanley/Bailey was my first experiment in scraping, It was in really bad shape initially, so I took it with me to that scraping class just for a lark, and had good success in making in extremely flat.
Bottom of the Stanley plane's scrape marks

So I hoped to replicate that success on the Norris. In a nutshell, the process involves rolling out ink to a very thin layer on a granite surface plate, then setting down the plane on the surface plate. When the plane is lifted up, all the high spots will have ink on them and the low spots will not. Then, using a carbide tipped tool, all the inked spots are scraped off. The process is repeated as many times as required to get the surface flat. Since scraping only removes a tiny bit of material, it could take 50 or more passes to get the surface properly flat.

Here is the Norris part way through the process. I think the ink on the surface plate was too thick, it should have been more like a series of spots than a continuous area.

I worked on scraping it over two days and lost count of the number of passes I took. Because it is quite messy I was doing it outside. It finally started to rain on the second day so I had to call it done. It definitely cuts better than it did before being scraped, but is still not what I hoped. I think I need to give the blade a proper sharpening, and loosen up the adjustment mechanism before I pass judgment on it.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Boxes Round 2 - The One Day Box Challenge

After the middling success of my finger jointed boxes, I still had a bunch of dimensioned material lying around suitable for a couple of larger boxes. So I decided to abandon the finger jointed technique, and instead challenged myself to use whatever technique I wanted, but to take no more than one day to do each box.

Aaaaand we're off on the One Day Box Challenge!

First up was some beech, I had three pieces about 10" long each. I decided to use the Golden Ratio to set the dimensions of the box, so I cut one piece in half for 5", and then trimmed the other two pieces to about 8". I decided to use an overlapping butt joint, similar to some boxes I had built last Christmas.

After gluing them up (OK that was overnight) I decided the butt joint was not durable enough, so I wound up pinning the corners. For that I used bamboo skewers. It turns out though that bamboo skewers' diameters are wildly inconsistent, so I drove them through a series of smaller and smaller holes in a drill gage, until I got them to where I wanted.

I tried the same trick on some ebony, thinking that contrasting pins would be cool, but it was impossible to keep the ebony 'dowel' straight especially as the diameter got smaller.

I routed a groove on the insides of the pieces for the bottom to fit into. Amazingly, I had a piece of catalpa kicking around that was almost the perfect size for the bottom.

So once the pins were glued in place, I sanded the sides of the box down to make the pins' surface match the box surface perfectly.

The next box was similar, but was of plum with a spalted elm bottom. I decided to have the joints stick out a bit in a kind of salute to the Craftsman style of yore.

Anyways I think they turned out alright. My wife was impressed enough with this recent flurry of boxes that she asked me to make her a jewelry box.

I have also done some work on the cherry table, will show more on it next time.