Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012?? Yoo hoo, Where are you???

Well. So much for THAT year!

After finishing the Japanese tool box my plan was to do some machine restoration. I started on a Continental made in Montreal jointer, but for whatever reason I could not get my machine restoration mojo back, so I wound up back in the shop working on a couple of long neglected projects.

First, it was the desk for my daughter. I guess it is only 2 years late now. I had previously built the body of the desk out of poplar and decided it was too ugly for words, and abandoned it. At some point I picked up some milk paint thinking I could hide the poplar, and so I finally did the deed. Two coats of black milk paint sure hid the poplar! The next step will be a couple coats of a clear coat, then some wax.

The top will be an east Indian rosewood slab. Probably put in a butterfly key to control the crack at the top. Various parts of the table as well as the slab I will use for the top are here:

And a small panel to cover up an attic access panel in our house. The panel is made out of catalpa with a poplar frame. Since I was in milk paint mode and the frame needed to be black to match the rest of the bathroom, it seemed the obvious thing to do was to milk paint it. It was nice to be able to use up a spare piece of catalpa that Ryan had cut for me on his very excellent bandsaw a couple years ago.

And the same piece after a coat of Tried and True:

And I have a load of arbutus in the kiln, should be ready shortly. Speaking of that, I had some guy email me last week looking for a piece of arbutus for his father in law who lives in France. Nice guy, he told me "you are all over the internet". I laughed and gave him a small piece, hopefully I'll get a similar chunk of olive or something in return.

Also cut up a bunch of Manitoba maple AKA box elder. I chainsawed it into chunks, then used my bandsaw to cut it into something resembling 1" thick pieces. Some I put in the kiln with the arbutus, some I put in my furnace room as shown here. If anyone is interested in some let me know.

And in the good news department I have extended my lease on the neighbour's garage for another year, and the new owner has agreed to have a roofer replace the leaky roof on it! So I will be snug as a bug in a rug until the end of Jan 2014!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Moving Along Nicely

Didn't seem much businer than usual recently, but I sure seemed to have got a lot done.

I finally got the Japanese toolbox completed! Well, at least as far as I am going to take it, I could build a tray to go inside it, but for now I will leave it, which means it will probably never get done.

The last step after applying the finish was to pin the battens to the lid, just to be sure they don't loosen over time, even though they are dovetailed in place as well. I used ebony for these last two pins, it was a pleasure to work with.

Wedges ready to go!

The box looks great from 10 feet, but close inspection reveals a number of workmanship issues on the through mortices which are disappointing for me. I got better at these mortices as I went along, but I should have done some practice ones first to get the technique right.

It turned out to be a more complex project than I had anticipated, I did learn a bunch of new things while doing it, and it was great to make something out of the wood that I had milled and dried myself. So I am definitely glad that I did it. I can see myself using the wedged through mortice technique in other projects. Special thanks to Chris at the for all his great help, this was a project that he designed and set up and a number of us built it under his tutelage at our own pace via his online study group.

Looking ahead, I think I will turn my attention to a couple of machine restorations, and to making some improvements to my shop and dust collection. I have a really old 6" made in Canada jointer that I took apart and repainted a while ago, so it is time for it to go back together. And a 15" made in Canada bandsaw that needs not too much work to get it running again. And the big 30" made in Scotland bandsaw that I really want to rebuild!!

 Continental 6" Jointer Painted and Ready for Reassembly

Continental 15" Bandsaw

White 30" Bandsaw

The neighbour's garage lease is coming up at the end of January, so I need to start thinking about that again. Hopefully the owners will go for another year or two. I will find out shortly I guess.

I took some of my wood down to a local senior's workshop to give to them. I was disappointed that they did not really want much. Their shop was stuffed full of little scraps of wood, long skinny cutoffs and other junk that should be thrown out.  Then they would have room for all the great slabs I was going to give them!

Emptied the kiln out of the previous load of cherry, horse chestnut, elm, maple and lesser amounts of other stuff. It was all pretty awesome except the horse chestnut which did not dry fast enough during the initial air drying and wound up full of moldy streaks. Most of it I will throw out, it's a pretty pale and bland wood anyways, but still a waste. The cherry are beautiful but short pieces that are from the top of a truck that had flowering cherry stalks grafted onto it. I gave several to a friend who is a turner, I think he can get 18" platters out of a couple of them!


Loaded the kiln up with my last old growth yellow cedar. Five gorgeous 2 1/2" thick slabs 8' long and about 12" - 16" or so wide, plus some smaller chunks. After this batch, I have one more to do and I will have kilned all my wood which has been air dried two years.

Here is the cedar as I was milling it up a couple years ago.

And, I went milling at the beach the other day. Cherry and maple. The maple was FULL of nails, no kidding there must have been a dozen in this log. I have some major chain work ahead of me to repair all that.

The cherry was wonderful though, I got 5 planks 3 inches thick, 2 feet wide and about 5 feet long. Had some crazy burl inside it, not too much mineral staining.

And to boot it was a gorgeous day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Autumn Progress

Good progress (for me) over the past couple weeks.

I made the dovetails on the battens for the toolbox lid. Then I fit them in place in  dovetailed grooves in the lid that I had previously plowed. First time I had made a sliding dovetail, it worked quite well, the joint is snug.

After a bit of trimming the battens were doing their jobs: They act to hold the lid from falling into the box, and they also act as stop when the lid is slid across the top of the box.

Drilled with a 1/4" bit then squared up a hole right through the middle of each batten and lid. Will add a double wedged pin to hold the batten to the lid in case the sliding dovetail gets loose over time.

Then I will ease some of the sharp edges on the box, plane out a few spots of tearout, and apply some oil to the outside of the box and some shellac to the underside of the lid.

Meanwhile, I also managed to get down to the beach and do some milling with a group of friends earlier in the week. Gorgeous weather!

We cut up three cherry logs that were from flowering cherry trees. This local cherry tends to have mineral streaks in it, although these ones looked pretty good, I find they are more evident once the wood is dry. Also, this local cherry does not have any of the pink in it that lumberyard cherry does.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


So recently I unloaded the kiln and then reloaded it with a fresh load. That took pretty much a very long day! And I am drowning in wood again. The new load seems to be shedding a lot more water than is typical. I am pretty sure that all the slabs are air dried 2 yrs, so I am not really sure why this is. I probably have two if not three more loads to do still this fall. The next one will be more big yellow cedar slabs, the one after that will be arbutus! I am looking forward to that one.

I spent a ton of time recently getting my chainsaws all tuned up and the chains sharpened and the rakers set. I also purchased a proper Granberg Alaska mill to replace one of my homebrew mills. Went to the beach last week to check everything out for the new milling season. Cut up a small Deodar cedar log quite successfully.

It was a gorgeous day to be milling at the beach!

Also have made some progress on the Japanese toolbox. Made a couple mortices for sliding dovetails on the lid. Very close to having this one finished!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dreams do Come True

Felt like I got a lot done recently for a change!

I secured new (additional) one car garage space about a mile away. It has power and a high ceiling. I'll use it for more longer term storage of machinery restoration projects. I might be forced to put the big bandsaw there since it is the only place I have presently with a high enough ceiling. I am quite excited by this space, and how it solves some of my storage problems!

I spent the better part of an entire day unloading the most recent batch of gently dried locally harvested lovingly chainsawed magnificent slabs (!) from the kiln, then reloading the kiln up with the next batch. This time it is 5 slabs of Deodar cedar, 5 slabs of elm, and 2 short but wide and thick slabs of maple, shwon below. I had forgotten how much physical work it is move these slabs around.

Also made some progress on the Japanese toolbox. Finished the fox wedged tenons which secure the handle assembly. Trimming them led to some gouging, so I am presently working with my plane to remove these marks. I have also started on the lid, shown below in place with the battens held on by double sided sticky tape!

Am looking forward to getting this box completed and spending some time this fall on shop projects.

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Been Slower Than Usual Recently

So I decided to post up a few pictures of things that I like. Mostly pictures with some kind of interesting design, all taken by me unless otherwise noted.

This one is a cabinet handle by Mira Nakashima made from a little piece of burl.
(Not taken by me, found on line.)

Karate-do Goju-ryu Shoreikan Nidan Certificate

Fabulous dinner wines for a charity dinner one evening.

Fiat Multipla Van in the Fiat museum

Chair made from a block of wood, Pininfarina Studio.

Krka Park Croatia

Curved Platter in a shop in Costa Rica
Was in California for a week and on the drive home stopped in Ft Bragg to visit the College of the Redwoods Woodworking school. Went in and chatted with the instructor and some of the students, they were just starting their second week of the nine month program. Looks like a great place!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Box Finished, but Not Done!

Well I did some prefinishing on the box. Several coats of shellac on the inside/bottom, and Tried and True varnish for the outside. I prefinished everything except the outside faces where the through tenons will show. I will do those with Tried and True after assembly and trimming the mortices.

Then I dry assembled the box, next step will be to do the "glue up" which will consist of gluing all the wedges into the tenons. I think there are 30 tenons, so 60 wedges. It will be a process!

Some people don't care for Tried and True as it takes a while to dry, but I find it works well when applied in very (extremely!) thin coats with a couple days between coats. I love its total non-toxicity, no metal driers or other bad stuff in it as other BLO products have. (I'm still looking for 99+% pure ethanol or propanol to dissolve my shellac flakes in so I can get away from the additives in shellac reducer!)

Meanwhile, I decided to start kilning the slabs which I had milled in the winter of 2010/2011. They now have nearly two full summers of air drying. I would normally wait until early October before putting wood in the kiln as August and September are the best (driest) months here for air drying. But I have so much wood that has to go through the kiln that I figured I better get started now or I'll still be doing it in January!

I put in some alder, spalted maple, yellow cedar and Deodar cedar, all of which I have found to be pretty well behaved in the kiln. I also put in a few pieces of cherry and one slab of beech, which I have not had such good kilning success with in the past.Fingers crossed this time.

The yellow cedar I had originally milled to 8' 6" long, I don't know why I do that as the kiln can only accommodate 8' lengths! Rather than cut them down to fit in the kiln I decided for the better ones to just clean up the edges and store them in the garage. 13" wide, 3" thick and 8' 6" long quartersawn old growth yellow cedar. They are some pretty fine planks I must say!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Box Prrrrroggrrresssssss

Things have definitely slowed down here for the summer. Must be the stifling heat - it was 24 degrees here today, I don't know if I can stand much more of that extreme weather!

The Japanese box suffered a setback several weeks ago when it lost a battle with the router. Fortunately the damage was contained to one corner of one of the side pieces, but it still required that I cut out the damaged piece and glue on a new one.

I was reasonably happy with the grain match, but the colour match was not what I had hoped for. I think the patch piece being freshly cut will need some time to oxidize in the air so it will darken and hopefully match the rest of the side piece.

Now I have all the router work done, all the edges have been eased, and the box is ready for finish and glue up. I think I will prefinish the inside with shellac and the outside with Tried and True oil.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wood, wood everywhere, and not a . . .

I dropped by the woodlot at the beach today. Not sure why I even bothered, just to torture myself I guess. Since the wood pickings were a bit slim this past winter, of course now that it is summer and the beach is closed to chainsawing, there is a fantastic selection of wood to be had.

It appears that some eager beaver(s) who got there before me marked all the biggest and clearest pieces of Port Orford (D2, D8) cedar and Monterey (D1, D3, D4) cypress. There was also some deodar cedar (X). The Port Orford pieces were at least 2 feet in diameter.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Japanese Chisels - Tapping Out

I took a break today from the Japanese box to shower some TLC on my Japanese chisels. Three of the larger ones had never had their backs flattened properly. Mainly because it was way too tedious, but also because I rarely use the larger sizes.

After some token flattening on my new coarse diamond stone, I realized that the leading edge of the bottom on these chisels was curved up to such an extent that what was needed was to tap the front of the chisels with a hammer. I gather this is a fairly common set up activity among Japanese chisel owners.

I won't get into the details of the operation, a google search will yield plenty of information. My own observations are that is should be called 'bashing out' rather than tapping out as it takes way more force to get the steel to move than tapping would provide. I wound up using a carpenter's hammer on a piece of railway track to get one to move! Further, a caution that the leading edge will chip if you are careless and hit it directly.

Anyways, now my Japanese chisels are all flat and sharp and ready to go! That only took all day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Bottom Achieved

Well getting the bottom flat and dimensioned turned out to be way more work than I had expected. I guess my less than stellar work at school on the "perfect board" exercise to hand plane a board perfectly flat came back to haunt me on this one!

One of the two boards I used was reasonably well behaved, it flattened readily and stayed flat. The other, not so much. Anyways, I got them as close as I could/dared on the machines, then glued them up and handplaned them down to thickness.

I was annoyed at myself for a long time because of my mistake on the length of the two original boards I had for the bottom and the fact that I liked their grain pattern better than the pattern on these two boards I had to go with. In the end I am happy with these though, the grain pattern turned out to be acceptable. I wish it were a bit straighter, but I didn't have much choice.

Tearout while planing was a challenge with the contrast between the hardness of the earlywood and latewood on the Monterrey cypress, as well as the grain direction changes, but my Krenov style plane really saved me.

Now the next step will be to get some grooves routed in the bottom and part way up the sides for a couple of dividers. Since it is supposed to be a tool box, I'll set the two dividers something like this so a plane will go in each compartment. Eventually(!) I will make a tray to fit on top of the dividers. Really, I will, I already have some wood selected for it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Box and New Lathe

Progress on the Japanese box has been, by my standards anyway, stellar.

The two new pieces of Monterey cypress for the bottom are trimmed and dimensioned close to final size. I am letting them sit a few days again just to work out any last tension before I take them to final thickness and glue them up. So far I have not cut these pieces too short!

The caps which go over the end pieces and handles are ready. These will be fastened by floating tenons that are fox wedged into the ends and handles, and wedged into the cap itself. The mortices will be 1/4" thick, but they need to be cut into the tops of the ends and handle which are only 1/2" thick and not visible with the cap in place. Seems like a ton of room, but there is a lot to lose here if not done right. So I have measured about 17 times, even cut a spare cap and drilled some holes in it to verify my alignment. If this project never gets mentioned again you will know why!

 Cap top, test cap centre, end bottom

Meanwhile, I somehow decided it would be a good idea to buy a metal lathe. So I picked up this rare (or more correctly, obscure) Standard Modern 9" Utilathe which was made in Canada maybe in the 50's, I am not sure on the date. Similar to a South Bend but a bit nicer machine. Obviously the first order of business will be some cleanup. Then I need to learn how to use it so I can make up missing round pieces on the tools I restore!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Japanese Box, Jointer, The Big Bandsaw Brothers

Well we are still plagued with back problems here at the Slow Woodworker offices. I have however made a bit of progress on a Japanese style toolbox that I am working on with a study group at The Carpentry Way. It's made of quilted catalpa (who knew that such a thing even existed!) with a Monterey cypress bottom. Both of which I milled up myself.

The handles are of black limba and the top will be elm. I know it sounds chaotic, but the black limba and the catalpa are a similar colour, and the bottom can't be seen with the lid on, so I am confident it will be fine.

After I rough cut everything I let it all settle, then trimmed it closer to finished dimensions and started making mortices. I even baked the cypress in the oven for a couple hours at 180 degrees or so as I have had trouble with sap bleeding in the past with this wood.

 Things were moving along nicely until I ran into an unanticipated violation of the "measure twice cut once" rule. As you can see, I cut the bottom piece too short! Needless to say it was not a happy discovery.

Anyways, I resawed another couple boards up and will let them settle for a while before working any further with them.

Meanwhile I found an old 6" jointer, made by Continental of Montreal. With my Continental bandsaw and my other 6" Continental jointer I may well have the largest collection of Continental equipment in the world! Don't think I have the largest collection of jointers in the world though, but I am up to six-ish! Unfortunately the previous owner had painted this one orange, but at least it came with the guard which my other one was missing.

Speaking of the other Continental jointer, I decided to tear that one down and rebuild it after I discovered that the outfeed table was out of parallel by about 20 thou. The teardown is complete, near bearings have arrived, I am having the main pieces media blasted as we speak. Not sure how I am going to resolve the parallelism problem, I am hoping a shim will do it, otherwise I may have to get the ways machined. Clearly a more expensive proposition than the jointer is worth!

Progress on the big Wadkin and White bandsaws has been slow. I am unable to do any work on them while my back is still "out". I did order and receive a set of Wright guides for the Wadkin, a blade for the White (that I hope will fit the Wadkin too!), a return spring for the Wadkin, and a VFD for each so they can be run off single phase. A friend suggested I cut a hole in the ceiling of my garage to fit one of these saws in. I am seriously considering doing that!