Sunday, December 28, 2014

Well the walnut and yellow cedar boxes grew up and left as Christmas gifts for their new life. I changed one of the walnut box's handles to a piece of dark wood from the holly. I like that better.

Here is a family shot before the kids grew up and went their own way. 

I put shellac and a couple coats of oil on the last three, the catalpa, cherry, and elm. The elm and the catalpa had flat lids while the cherry had a thicker lid that I was able to put a small curve into. Annoyingly the cherry lid's grain was much more spectacular before I planed it into a curved shape, I guess just a few degrees off QS and 'poof' went the figure. Ah well, I still like it and all three of these will be gifts in the new year. 

And, the good news is . . .  I have actually got back to working on the shoji style lamp and am making some decent progress on it. 
In particular I managed to fit the posts and the lower tie ring into the base, which took most of two days. I also started on making the bridle joints on the horizontal slats. Every step that I do I find I need to go back and tweak and refit stuff from previous steps. It is such precise work, I am giving my calipers and feeler gauges a real workout! Once the horizontal and vertical slats are done and in place (please, allow me to dream!) it should look very close to its final look.

And in the setback department, I was outside doing some work on the oak slab table that I am also working on (notwithstanding my sacred vow to only work on one project at a time) when it started to rain. Made a mess of the grain, now I will have to re flatten it probably. Following on in the same vein, there was a wee flood in the basement today that left water puddling on my Hammond Glider table saw. Not impressed, definitely not impressed. Thankfully I caught it early and no real damaage seems to have been done. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Boxes on the Home Stretch

Managed to get a first coat of oil on the outside of the two walnut boxes, that was on top of a washcoat of shellac. I need  to get these two done by Thursday, in order to give them as gifts that day.

Should be able to get two or three more coats of oil on by then. I use the Tried and True varnish, which takes a good day to cure for the next coat. The handles are holly, I am thinking of making them a bit lower profile, or perhaps switching to a dark wood instead. They seem a little too dominant in white.

The other boxes are all glued and other than the yellow cedar box, also shaped. I still need to profile the lid of the cherry box, the other three boxes will have flat lids.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Box Progress, End in Sight

I have really enjoyed being able to devote a lot of time to these boxes recently. Perhaps the need to get them done in time for the holidays has been a motivator . . .

This picture nicely shows the progression from the yet to be assembled  yellow cedar box with a London plane base on the top left, through to a walnut box on the lower right with the sides and the top shaped, and the top with a holly handle in place.

These woods have all been such a pleasure to work with a sharp plane. All milled and air dried by myself, other than the walnut which was a gift from a neighbour, whose in-laws had milled it in Oregon 30+ years ago. It's nice when the wood has a story to it!

Need to get the yellow cedar box glued up and shaped, then I can focus on the last few lids. After that it'll be the finishing. Probably oil for the walnut, elm and maybe the cherry, shellac for everything else. The original design called for brass pins to help hold the joints together, since there are limited gluing surfaces that are not end grain. I will probably add the pins just to be sure.

Need to get the first two finished by Thursday in order to be able to give them to friends that I will be seeing that day for the last time before the holidays.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Firing up the Planer! Boxes!

Well I cranked up my old Jonsereds 24" planer this afternoon. I had a couple slabs of newly dried cherry that I wanted to clean up, so I wanted to take a bit of a break from the Christmas boxes project, and run one of the slabs through the planer.

However, it had been a while since I had put new knives into the planer. I am good about keeping track of when I install sharp knives, but not so good at actually installing them it seems.

March of 2009? That was the last time I put sharp knives in the planer? Ouch, that's embarassing!

Obviously well past time to do something about it. However, the cutterhead has four knives, each 24" long, that is a lot of knife setting. So rather than spend the rest of the day putting in new knives I thought I would screw up my courage and try out the planer's blade honing system. These big planers often came with built in grinders and honing stones, and this Jonsereds did. Unfortunately the built-in grinder was damaged in transit to my house when I acquired the planer, and it runs on 575V 3 phase anyways, but the honing stone is intact.

To hone the blades you remove the dust hood, then turn the silver coloured wheel until the stone is just kissing the blades, then turn a handle at the other end of the acme rod, thus moving the stone across the length of the blades. This puts a back bevel on the knives and takes out any minor nicks, good as new! Simple! Oh, did I mention the planer needs to be running to do this?

It was a bit intimidating and I had to do about 5 passes until I got a nice bevel on all four blades, but once I was able to exhale and breath again, it went pretty smoothly!

Next step was to mount the slab on on a tornsion box. This allows me to effectively 'joint' the first side of a slab up to 24" wide on the planer, as my jointer can only handle up to 12". I apply hot melt glue liberally to hold the slab to the torsion box, and to hold  wedges in place under the slab to support it. Here is the slab after a couple passes.

 And after a couple more passes it is almost done.  

Oops! I let the cyclone's garbage can overflow.

I took out about 5 garbage cans of chips and put them into my garden waste recycling bin. Luckily tomorrow is collection day so the city will dump my bin and I can make more chips. All this was from a single slab that was just under 3' long and max 2' wide. Once you are cutting close to a full length and full width the chips fill up quickly. I got less than two passes before the garbage can overflowed.

I had to end the planing early as the neighbour complained that when I ran the planer it made the lights in his house dim so much they went out. Since the planer is in the garage at his house, and him and I both rent from the same landlord, it seemed wise to maintain the neighbourly peace. So I agreed to only run the planer when him and his wife are away so it won't bother them. That will crimp things a bit, but since I don't really use the planer much it should still be OK.

So back to the boxes tomorrow.No more chainsawing until the new year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Still Underway . . .

Well the Christmas gift boxes project is roaring along. I need to get these done before they become new year's gifts!

All the sides have been cut out, fitted and are ready for shellac on the inside. I have even optimistically mixed up a fresh batch of shellac, ready to go. Outsides will have their finish applied later.

Bottoms are all sized and just need a final touch up before having shellac applied. I even made up a spare bottom piece! Of course since I made it up I didn't need it, not yet anyways. Kind of like bringing along an umbrella on a cloudy day.

The three bottoms on the left are Monterey cypress, I decided on that for the bottoms on several of the boxes since it is so nicely aromatic. I have noticed in the past that the sap on it tends to be a problem though, so I plan to bake these pieces in the oven for an hour or so to 'set' the sap. Two other pieces are London Plane (similar to sycamore) and the two on the right are maple.

The tops are not as far along yet, cut out and the upper surfaces planed, but that is about all. Need bevels on the botom, shaping on the top, and handles.

The boxes look a bit clunky to me right now, but I made them to the same dimensions as in the article I saw in Fine Woodworking. All four sides will be shaped, I am hopeful that will help give them a more delicate look. It better!

Meanwhile, the Japanese lamp project languishes on the corner of the bench. Don't worry Lamp-san, I will get back to you eventually!