Friday, May 28, 2010

Alien in the Shop!

I finally picked up one of these unbelievably cute 6" Craftsman planers. It was a machine I had wanted for a long time. I'd had a line on one in Massachusetts, but it fell through recently. This one I picked up locally, Tsawwassen. I guess I was destined to buy one from a place that is unpronounceable and unspellable!

For obvious reasons they are nicknamed 'aliens'. They are all cast iron and despite their diminutive size they pack some heft. I am hoping with minimal work it will be a nice precision planer for small stuff. 

Special thanks to Ryan for coming by and taking the Elm of Death slabs off my hands. My wife was happy to see them gone, not happy that he didn't take more! Get a bigger trailer Ryan!

Picked up a few rounds of locust from a nearby tree that got cut down. Locust is very hard, similar hardness to padouk, about the hardest wood that I am likely to find locally. Locust makes great jigs, bench dogs, etc. One of my first cabinets I made with locust I harvested, it has a strong yellow cast that has been darkening gently, and delicate ray flakes when quarter sawn.

Also made a touch of progress on the 12" Beaver bandsaw, in that I got the motor clamped to the stand and actually had it all running for a brief time. Long enough to discover that everything seems to work OK, but that the upper guide is missing the thrust bearing. Sigh.

Also made what for me is great progress on the bookcase. The Youtube drill and saw technique for making 7 mm diameter dowels was just not reproduceable enough, so I instead made a jig that allows me to feed a square stick into it with a drill, the jig holds it in position on my shaper which cuts it round as it spins past the shaper bit. It was quite tedious to set up those last couple 0.001" but it worked well once I got it dialed in.

After I made up several feet of 7mm dowel from various stock I turned my attention to the consoles themselves. A quick jig with a solid hold down on it, and working on two consoles per piece of wood solved the problem of consistent sawing of small pieces.

Each console has three vertical 'facets' on it, two of these are at the same angle, but the third is on a different angle. So, more work. The consoles are inspired by the consoles Craig put on his beautiful kwila sideboard at IP last year.

Once the consoles were trimmed, I drilled the backs for the dowels, modified the jig and cut the third face, planed each face and took off the sharp edges, cut each piece in half to separate the two consoles, and glued in and trimmed the dowels. Here is the first one.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Slabs are Resting for the Season Now

Got waylaid by a plumbing crisis this week, but still got a few odds 'n ends done.

Managed to get all my slabs stacked up into piles. A couple leftover pieces still leaning against the garage have found new homes, just need to be picked up. The cutting season is over at the log dump, so no more milling until September. No excuses now on that bookcase!

A couple graduates from the IP school came by on Saturday before the show at Kozai gallery and rooted through my woodpile for a few pieces. Daisuke and Jacques, what a couple of great guys, wonderful craftsmen, I am sure they will put the wood to good use. I will have to remember to keep my eye on their blogs! Great show at Kozai, super packed, it was nice to see all the pieces and all the students. It was amazing how much work some of them got done in the week since I was up at the school!

Notice that this pile has 4 pieces of magnolia on top of 3 pieces of catalpa. Under the catalpa used to be four pieces of Port Orford Cedar until Jacques and Daisuke visited!

Speaking of the bookcase, I have really struggled with what to do for the consoles. Make or buy, make or buy. I have really wanted to make them but using off the shelf ones from Lee Valley would be so much easier. I drilled the holes in the bookcase at 7 mm, so that the Lee Valley consoles would fit if I chose to go that route.

There are 25 of them plus some spares, so I want some kind of psuedo-jig to do most of the work if I make them. Also, I don't really want to carve the dowel on the back of each console, I'd rather buy dowel and use it. Apparently 7 mm dowel is rather impossible to find. However, I did find this awesome video on Youtube of all places that shows how to make dowels super quick. I tried it, and it works well to produce a consistent sized dowel, although it's pretty tough on the saw. Just make sure you don't start any fires - you know, rubbing two sticks together at high speed!

And the panel from my last post? Thanks to Nick for his excellent guessing. From the top left: Port Orford cedar, yellow cedar, maple, Monterey cypress, birch, oak, locust, box elder, yew, London plane, alder, cherry, red cedar, catalpa.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More . . . Elm!!

Once again a whole week of extreme busy-ness has passed. Yet when I look back on it, to paraphrase Prince "something close to nothing" has actually been accomplished. Not only that but I managed to totally forget a lunch appointment and a conference call along the way!

I had my eye on this log for a while. It has an unusual bark. I don't really know how to describe it. To me, it seems kind of interwoven, greasy, hairy. You may see it differently. The outer layers of the bark flaked off readily, they practically fell off, but the cambium was adhered very well. It took me a long time to debark this one. And because of the structure of the bark (and the huge windstorm the day before), the bark was full of sand. There was more sand in this log's bark than in any other I have cut before. Plenty of careful brushing was required before I got to the sawing part.

I took five slabs out of it.  Pretty straight grain for the most part, a bit of splitting on one end, but very usable. It was my lucky day in one sense, as I had noticed a nail in it while I was taking off the bark, then I totally forgot about it and started milling. As it turns out, the nail (which was about 3" long) was completely contained in one slab! Lucky me, I did not hit it with the chain. Quite remarkable really.

This picture shows pretty clearly the "guide board" I use on top to make sure that my first cut is straight.

After the first cut is made it is easy to peel the next one (and the next one . . .) using the previous cut as the guide. I wasn't really sure what this one was until I had cut out a couple slabs, and my friend Olaf came by.  Looks like elm he stated. I realized he was right. Another elm that didn't have the telltale stench of elm! With the unusual bark it has to be a different variety of elm from what I normally see.

Now, my storage area is completely full and I have no more room! Well, almost none, I actually have room for nine more slabs. At present, I have 12 slabs leaning against the garage waiting to be stacked in the nine available spaces. Hmmmm.

I have also finished a small piece that shows many of the woods that I have slabbed up at the log dump area. I actually started it as a Christmas (2009) present for a friend, but I am sure I can think of a more topical occasion to give it to him. Can you guess what the woods are in it? The only hint I'll give is that the one which is missing in the picture is cherry!

I also finished up a frame for my 12" Beaver bandsaw, I need to get the motor mounted on it still so no pictures to show. Also went up to the IP open house on Saturday, great show as always, very inspiring. Not a bad week I guess, maybe better than "something close to nothing"!