Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shop News

After having a couple cabinet ideas not work out, I was pretty bummed out so I turned my attention to the mindless task of flattening some of the short oak stock that had come out of the kiln with the last load. I cut most of the oak slabs in half lengthways to deal with the splits and bending in the middle, then planed them. This generated a ton of oak shavings. They went into the garden recycling bin, it's too bad they can't be used for something. Now I have a nice stash of oak for someday and I feel like at least I accomplished something finally.

I also did a bit of 'wood trading' with a guy I met who lives up in the Okanagan and so wound up with a half dozen nice slabs of fruitwood, including apricot which I have never seen locally. Happy about that!

I also have a lady who seems genuinely interested in buying a couple alder slabs from me. No idea how to figure out how much they are worth. Funny, I'll give them away to people I know, but want to make sure I get fair value when they are sold!

My "shop" energy level is a bit low right now due to the dead end projects. I have gone back to a birch slab table project I abandoned several years ago. The slab is virtually done, I am going to make the base out of catalpa. Hopefully it'll get my enthusiasm back up!

No more milling now until the new year. I am still licking my wounds (in the form of a badly beaten up chain) after hitting the rocks in the last elm I milled.

Happy holidays to all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Slab Table Travails

After I had the two slabs flattened I had to figure out how to trim off the ends. I wound up using the Hammond Glider with its sliding table. I simply raised the blade way up, held the slabs in place and slid the table past the blade. Of course I could only take about 1/8" on each pass, but it worked better than I imagined!

After that there was a crushing disappointment when I realized that the width of the boards where they come together was about 3" different. And that the combined shape looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

I considered various other arrangements, including configurations that I call O,U, and S.

Although I am kind of fond of U, I'm pretty sure that my wife would allow any of these into the basement rec room, never mind out of it! Yet another deadend project it seems for now.

Meanwhile, I loaded up a bunch more slabs into the kiln. Quite a mixed batch, with a preponderance of nicely coloured maple.

Got one more day of milling in. Finished off an elm slab that I had started 6 weeks ago with the 60" bar. I trimmed the width down so it would fit with my 36" bar. Unfortunately I hit an embedded rock on the second cut and damaged a chain. I had a spare chain and couple helpers including a first timer, we peeled five slabs off it.

I took two slabs home, I was mostly interested in the spalted non-crotch end of the slabs, and in fact if I was on my own would have cut the log in half and not bothered with the crotchy end. But the two other liked that end, so we did the whole thing. I can always cut out the parts I like later, whereas it is hard to add length back in later!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Milled Slabs - Beginning to End

One of the (many) reasons I enjoy chainsaw milling is the unique sizes and grain patterns that you can get in the wood. It's always a bit of a surprise/thrill when I first cut the slab, and then again at the end of the process when it comes out of the kiln and gets cleaned up in the planer.  Freshly cut slabs often have spectacular colours that fade over time and cannot be brought back. But once the wood is dried and cleaned up, a more subtle look often emerges, although the loses can be discouragingly high in some species.

I mentioned in my last post that the oak I took from my kiln was 'splitty". In fact the main problem was that most of the pieces kind of "folded" down the middle a bit, like a really wide V shape. Most of the splitting was confined to the fold area, so it was a simple matter of cutting the pieces in half, which yielded two decent pieces.

Oak Slabs Freshly Cut

Oak Slabs Faded Quickly After Sitting Out a Few Days

Oak Pieces Cut From Dried and Kilned Slabs

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shop Goings-Ons

I was looking at the maple I selected for my planned cabinet, and it looks like it has a couple flaws in it. Sigh. I just don't know if this cabinet is ever going to happen. It seems the time is not right for it now in any case.

For the time being I have gone over to the dark side and decided to work on a slab table. Not the catalpa I was thinking of earlier, I have some crotch elm pieces, each roughly 29 x 37". I think two of them, bookmatched end to end might be an interesting piece. I guess the test will be if my wife agrees to let it out of the basement rec room or not when it's done!

These pieces are too large to run through my 24" planer, so I set up a simple flattening jig on top of my tablesaw using a couple of 2x4's and a router with a 1" bit. It worked well enough, but was rather tedious, extremely messy, and caused some kind of temporary damage to the nerves in my hand. Thick gloves are in order next time I do this!

Also managed to get down to the beach and take six slabs from an alder log. Normally alder is not that exciting a wood, quite soft and an unremarkable light brown colour. This one had some amazing colour streaks, spalting, and even some ray flecks.

I finally got the load in the kiln dried, conditioned, and unloaded. Hooray! As I had feared, the wide oak slabs were splitty. Oh well, 15" wide 2"+ thick oak still has lots of possibilities! Another load of odds and ends will be in there soon, possibly the last one for a while.

I went to a show put on by Coast Eco Timber. Wow, they have some very impressive slabs and do nice work with them. They have a similar ethos to mine about salvaging downed logs, they just do it on a much bigger (and hopefully more profitable!) scale.