Monday, January 22, 2024

Another Shelf

In 2023 I had started an ambitious Arbutus display cabinet with legs, with the intention of giving it as a gift. However with the deadline only a few months away, I realized that it would not be completed in time so instead I decided to build a small wall-hanging shelf similar in design one I had previously made. 

It is made of beech with some unusual staining in it, and two rear panels, one of Port Orford Cedar and the other of an unknown burl.

The beech log was milled by myself in 2010. I air dried it for a year, ran it through my home made kiln, and stored it. I had several pieces initially, but gave most of them away. I did retain a couple pieces for myself fortunately! 

The alignment of the stains is not perfect, but nonetheless is quite interesting and unusual. One notable screw up I made along the way was a misalignment of the dowel pins. In order to recover I had to go with biscuits on the top. Worked out OK but I was sweating it for a while.

It all came together well, with handmade consoles and hangers. This photo is still before assembly but gives an idea. 

At the same time I dimensioned the pieces for a similar cabinet made out of spalted maple. Hopefully more to follow on this one later!

Monday, July 24, 2023

New Tool Toys

I love my vintage Davis and Wells horizontal mortiser. I picked it up in eastern Washington state in 2006. I have fond memories of getting a huge hassle from the American customs agents when I crossed the border into the USA on my way to pick it up. It was because I had dreadlocks at the time, not because I was traveling to pick up a Davis and Wells!


The D&W has served me well, if somewhat infrequently, but as time goes by I enjoy the freehand aspect of it less. So I decided to upgrade it with an X-Y table. Thanks to some excellent advice from my friend Craig who has the exact same setup, I was able to source and install a very nice Felder table. I felt somewhat bad destroying the originality of the D&W, but it is a much better tool now and the made-in-Austria Felder is a worthy upgrade.


On a bit of a whim several (10?) years ago I purchased a vintage metal lathe. A 9" Standard Modern, made in Canada back in the day. However I never really got into it, so it sat in my garage until a I got tired of it taking up space and I sold it on. 


Recently the bug bit again, and I bought a Vintage Myford ML7 lathe, made in 1951 in England. It has been fun to learn about this entirely new domain of metalworking along with my son, and to turn a few parts.


The other BIG NEWS / disaster was that I damaged a chip breaker on my 8" General jointer early in 2023. The cost of getting a new chipbreaker made at a local machine shop was about comparable to getting a Shelix helical cutterhead. So, six months of dilly dallying and waiting later, I have a Shelix in my jointer. Works very well. Better than the original cutterhead? Probably not.


Box Box Box!

OK so maybe I have been watching a bit too much of Drive to Survive on Netflix and that is where the inspiration for this post's title came from!

Picking things up from my hinge saga in the embarrassingly long time ago last post, I did eventually locate my old Bosch router and was able to use it with a couple hinge templates to route out for the hinges.

I am not a fan at all of routers, and my skepticism was amply rewarded in this case as the templates shifted minutely as I clamped them and I wound up with a pretty sh*t job that required a lot of fiddling to make fit. I had a hunch it was going to be a fiasco, so it sat on my workbench for a couple months until I gathered the courage to do it. I should have used chisels.

This is the first project in a very long while that I have done with veneers. I enjoyed it quite a bit and hope to use them more in the future.

The box was completed and in fact I gave it as a Christmas 2022 gift to my daughter. 



Monday, January 24, 2022

More Box

 Well I got all my plys glued up. Then I cut them apart and embedded some arbutus pieces in each, before I glued the veneers on. You will see why below. Got the inner and outer veneers applied.


I applied several layers of shellac to the inside faces. The outside will be done later. 

Glued the box up.


 I cut away the edges to apply ebony trim.

And sawed it in half to create the base and the lid! That was scary to do!

Where I sawed the box apart is where I had previously glued in the arbutus pieces. This is so that the edges of the ply do not show. 

I have a hinge saga and I have not even installed the hinges yet! I ordered the Brusso Quadrant hinges from Lee Valley a while ago. They arrived and I started thinking about them some more, I was checking on line and realized Brusso has a router jig to help with the install of these. So I ordered the jig. When it arrived I read the instructions and realized I needed a collar and a couple router bits in sizes I don't have. Sigh. So I was about to order these when I also realized that my router is actually a laminate trimmer and that it cannot fit anything other than a 1/4" router bit. Double sigh. I am going to try and borrow a router when the bits finally arrive.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Wow . . . .just Wow . . ..

The end of 2021 turned into quite a frenzy here at the World Headquarters of the Slow Woodworker. Definitely had a very productive couple of months, and it has spilled over into 2022.

The table? Finished! 

 Put three coats of shellac on the base pieces, then glued it up. Put four coats of James Krenov's polish on the table top, the attached it to the base. Voila! Just in time to go under the tree at Christmas - Merry Christmas to me!


Then while I was basking in the glow of completing that project I was casting about for something quick to do. I had a bookmatched piece of spalted maple that has been kicking around the shop literally for years looking for a home. I decided, since I got my training in a cabinetmaking school, that a cabinet would be a good way to deal with it! So I resawed some arbutus for the body, made a small panel of some oak, finished everything with a few coats of shellac and glued it together. Then I made some brass hangers for it, a shelf and called it done. Very satisfying to get this done in about a week instead of my usual three+ years!!


Also nice that all the woods were harvested and dried by me. The air dried oak was like working with butter, it planed so beautifully. I will definitely come back to that wood again in the future.

Well not being satisfied with two projects done I embarked on a third! I had always wanted to make a veneered jewellery box and even had some koa wood set aside many years ago (cough cough) for it. However I thought I should do a 'test' box first before using up my precious koa. 

After much consideration and examining various options for wood using what I had in my shop, I decided to go with arbutus for the outside and maple for the inside.


I had some beautiful English oak which I bought years ago that I really wanted to use but it was an absolute bear to plane without tearout so I gave up on it. For now! It is obviously kiln dried, very brittle and has lots of reversing grain which I struggled to tame.

Rather than using plywood I decided to make my own ply, it will be three layers, poplar in the centre with a layer of alder on either side with the grains running at 90 degrees. The maple and arbutus veneers will glue to this, so five layers in total, about 9/16 thick.

So I resawed all the poplar and alder for my ply, then resawed all the maple and arbutus for the veneers. I glued up all the poplar and alder to make the 6 ply sections that a box requires, then trimmed each one to slightly oversized. 


I put a piece of arbutus on the bottom edge of each of the four side pieces, this way the bands of the ply will not be visible if someone looks at the underside of the box.

Once the box is all glued up I will cut it on the bandsaw to separate the lid from the base. Since I don't want the edge of the ply visible on the cut, I actually first cut the ply and inserted a 3/8" thick piece of arbutus. So when I do the cut to separate the lid and base it will be cut along the arbutus strip!

Last night I glued up the arbutus and maple veneers to the front piece of ply. The back piece is in the clamps and the remaining four pieces will be done over the next couple of days.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Keyed in!

Well my new smaller router hand plane arrived. It does the job, although due to its high quality construction the blade tends to slip. Anyways it works to make the bottom 'flat enough'.

I was quite nervous about gluing in the first key, I got it dry fitted about halfway in, I was afraid if I worked it in any further it would get stuck! At that point I put on a small back bevel for the remaining depth, glued the opening, and drove it home. I was amazed that it went all the way home with a single blow, no glue spilled out, and the fit was more than satisfactory! 

So at this point I have 3 (almost 4) of the 6 butterfly keys installed. It has turned out to be extremely tedious cutting by hand the patterns in the tabletop. I think it would have been faster to have made up a couple of templates for a router to do the cutting, Live and learn. I hate using the router though. 


Meanwhile, I also came to the conclusion that I was not happy with the proportions of the 'arms' on the base, the two pieces that hold up the top. They were too chunky for my taste, I wanted to trim them down. Unfortunately I had made a tenon near full width on their tops, and this tenon went into a mortise on  the underside of the 'hands' on which the slab sits. So I could trim the arms to the size I wanted but would have to redo the hands with smaller mortises. 

To help me with redoing the mortises, and with the elongated holes I plan to use for the bolts which will secure the slab to these arms, I have ordered a sliding table to fit on my horizontal mortiser. I should have ordered it twenty years ago! Anyways, it'll be here any day.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Cherry Detour

My Forstner drill and hand chisel technique was working pretty well for the butterfly key openings, but not so well for making the bottom of the openings flat and a consistent depth. My router plane was too big for this job, so I asked a couple local woodworkers about borrowing theirs, but no one had one small enough so I wound up buying one and am awaiting its delivery at present. 

Meanwhile I reconsidered the end cuts I had carefully made on the slab using a circular saw a few weeks ago. There was more tear out than I wanted - I wanted zero. I thought I could get rid of it by rounding the edges a bit, but some of the tear out was just too much. So I decided to recut the ends, this time using my bandsaw. 

 Since I had already rough cut the butterfly key opening on one end I did not have a lot of material to work with, I decided to take 1/4" off each end.

Although the bandsaw table is small and the slab is large, with a support roller it actually worked very well - no tear out at all!

After the cutting I cleaned up the edges with a range of sandpapers. I know that using a spokeshave or other cutting tool would yield a much better finish, but I use my slab of 1" plate steel as a sanding block and it makes short work of the task, and keeps the edge super even. I'll run the papers up to 400 grit to make it gleam!

This piece of steel is one of my favourite 'tools', its substantial weight and perfect flatness make it super handy for many tasks. I attended a steel scraping class some years ago and this was a little project we did there. I personally scraped this thing flat to within less than 0.001". 

 I also took the opportunity to trim some of the pieces on the base to their final length. I was concerned that the base looked a bit small under this large slab. I still need to put tapers on several of the pieces as well as make an arrangement for mounting the slab to the base. 
Plenty of work left still!