Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 - It's a Wrap

Well a few more days left but pretty much done. Feels like I got more accomplished in December than I did in the whole rest of the year!

Dad's yellow cedar box is done, just need to glue it up. I foolishly cut the original lid too short and so had to make a new one. The new lid is crabapple from a tree that was growing in our backyard when I was growing up.

I've had some Krenov style planes on the backburner for ages. Left to right in the photo.

I fixed up a jatoba smoothing plane which was the first one I made, ten years ago. The wedge never really fit quite right and it made the plane quite difficult to adjust. Once I figured out that was the problem and tweaked the fit properly it was quite a revelation! Of course I am rather embarrassed to admit it took me that long to get it right . . .

I have a slightly narrower cocoblo smoother with wedge issues as well, still working on fixing that one. I also put an insert in the bed a few years ago. This one cuts really well but is also fussy to adjust.

Also added some thickness to an ekki jointer plane that was a few years old, it was never stiff enough previously as I had cut the sides a touch too thin.

Also decided to make a new jointer plane at the same time as I was repairing the other one, but this one has the mouth set a bit further back. Had a piece of wood labeled Jarrah lying around, but I am pretty sure it is some kind of mesquite or similar wood. There were three holes in the piece so I put some ebony inlay to cover them up. Also added some beech strips just for fun. And also because I cut the centre piece too thin! This one was just glued up last night and is yet to be dialed in.

The last one is a small plane made of I think ipe. This one worked great right from the get go!

My hope for the last few days of the year is to get all these planes dialed in and working perfectly.

Looking ahead to 2016 I have decided to make a cherry slab table. I am drowning in cherry slabs so I am eyeing these four slabs which were all cut from the same flowering cherry tree. My son and I salvaged it from a lot in town in March 2008, so it is good and dry by now! I should be able to get two tabletops out of this, and I have an idea for the base that will hopefully showcase a bit of craftsmanship.
You can see very clearly the graft line at the top of the trunk, that is the right, on each piece, where the flowering stalks were grafted onto the regular trunk. I will definitely be using that in the table.

Finally, in 2016 I also hope to do a west coast native style bentwood box out of red or yellow cedar, or possibly even Monterey cypress.

Hoping for a productive 2016 in the shop!

Friday, December 18, 2015


A friend of mine owns a very nice lathe and is an excellent turner. Him and I do a lot of chainsawing together, he uses the wood we salvage and turns magnificent bowls and platters and sushi trays and the like.

Sometimes though the wood is not so accommodating and during the turning various flaws are revealed. Previously he would reluctantly throw these bowls into the fireplace, rather than put his name of a piece of work he considered defective.

On a recent shop tour at his place, he gave me a bunch of these flawed bowls and said 'see if you can do anything with these'.  So I have been playing around with various patches to try and repair these flaws.

I quickly decided that there was no way to hide any repairs, so the best thing would be to try and turn them into a highlight, without conflicting with any interesting grain features the original bowl may have. 

This was the first one, a yellow cedar bowl with some sapwood on one edge. Unfortunately the sapwood contained some unsightly wormholes and dark staining. So I cut off the sapwood using my Hammond Glider tablesaw, keeping the cut parallel to the grain lines, and glued on a piece of red cedar with its grain aligned to that of the yellow cedar. Sorry no picture of the glued on red cedar.

Next up were a couple of maple crotch pieces with some interesting figure. The one on the right had a small crack right at the rim, which I was able to cut out with couple passes on the tablesaw. I then fitted a small piece of some kind of tropical red coloured wood into the cut. The other had an unattractive bark inclusion, which I removed by drilling out with a Forstner bit. I made a patch out of koa, which my friend then turned separately and fitted into the opening.

I did the Forstner bit trick on several other bowls. Holding the bowl securely is the key to preventing a misshapen hole, and drill in from the top so any tearout occurs on the back where it can be turned off more easily.

The one on the right I made up a maple burl and a koa patch.  My buddy can use either one, or make his own of course! The one on the left uses a triangular piece of that same red wood mentioned above. The triangular shaped cut out was substantially more challenging to get a tight fit with, as the faces of the two edges were not aligned well.

I cut off a big piece of this maple crotch bowl with wild grain. The patch is a light coloured cherry with  straight grain.
 This was a nice straight grain maple bowl. The grain was not perpendicular though, it was running through the bowl at 48 degrees. I cut the bowl and the cherry patch on the saw first, then trimmed them both on my jointer to 48 degrees.

This one is 'in process' still. My plan is to rip a one inch wide section out of the middle of the bowl. I have a nice piece of rift sawn brown oak that I will fit in. Unfortunately my saw is too small for the task, I will be borrowing a friend's saw in the new year to do this.

Kind of a fun change from my usual activities, and it is nice to have finished half a dozen in just a few days. I think that more than triples my 'projects finished this year' list!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Table Finished!

It all came together fairly quickly at the end. The top had cupped a tiny bit, so some judicious trimming of the support structure was required.

Also, the buttons I made to allow for expansion/contraction in the top piece had the grain aligned incorrectly. So I had to make some new ones. Not a big deal, but kind of embarrassing and I am glad I caught it in time. First buttons were of apricot shown on top, second buttons were of cherry below. You can see the grain lines run at 90 degrees between the two.

Have also made some good progress on the box for my father's ashes. Bad planning on my part was that I made the dovetails a bit too small to be able to work them readily with my chisels. So it required a lot of fussing, and they turned out OK but not great. The old growth yellow cedar was surprisingly susceptible to chipping. Still have to put in some grooves for the top and bottom, then glue it all up. Close to done. Hope to have a little family ceremony in the late spring, so still lots of time.

Got out for the first milling of the autumn season. Initially thought it was walnut, but subsequent investigation shows it is most likely butternut. Not quite as colourful nor as dense as walnut, but still a nice wood on its own. Mostly shorter chunks in the 3-4 foot long range. Over two days we milled probably 30 slabs, including several quite nice crotch pieces with some nice figure. On a private lot in New Westminster, another local bungalow going down for a McMansion.

Also got out to the beach with a friend to do some 'clean up' on some slabs I had milled in years past. My storage area is now so full that I can't really afford to store any slabs that are less than perfect. So we hauled a bunch back to the beach and cut them up and saved just the good sections. It was a really really nice day, but a bit frosty!