Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What d'you mean "plot"?

Yes, I've been guilty of getting distracted from the raison d'etre of watching a DVD by something in the background again. This time it's a rather effective waney-edged board as a bed head. The trouble is I find myself plagued by wanting to identify the wood, 'cos I feel like I should know. Never a skill I possess at the best of times, it must be said, but from a shot from a 64th-hand copy of an old telly drama? Nevertheless, in the hopes that one of your geniuses will know the answer, see what you make of it:

And the first person to say they'll make a coffee table of it gets a well-deserved groan...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And when did you last see your father?

Okay, so I haven't rediscovered the knack of regular blog updating...

But for the terminally bored, the skirting in place.

You may notice that the knot problem has been avoided by the simple practice by the old man of only replacing about a foot length. Sigh. I thought he'd at least take it back to the first join - it's only about another foot further on. Which is precisely why I washed my hands of the thing as soon as I'd handed it over.

Our differences in working practice came to the fore over the weekend as well. A small matter of putting a wee sheet of acrylic over the inside of a door to try and up the insulation a bit. I like to prepare the tools needed ahead of time, and try and get the right tool for the job. If necessary I'l stop and go and get the right tool for the job.

He doesn't.

He likes to "crack on" and add an extra level of frustration and likelihood of botch by using whatever's handiest. Thus he insisted on trying to cut the mitres in some plastic trim with a Junior hacksaw. Not in itself a crime, but the bluntness of the blade was murderous. Which naturally resulted in the roughest mitres you can imagine, which he then wanted to trim with his penknife. By the time I'd gone to go and get some files as more suitable for the task, he'd already made a dog's breakfast of most of the joints.

Did he have the correct drill bit ready for the brass screws? He did not. Another trip to the workshop for yours truly. Came back - you did line up some steel screws of the same size to pre-cut the threads, didn't you? No. Back I go to the workshop. And so on. And his concept of a screwdriver that fits the slot is laughable. And it's not as though I haven't personally bought him more than one set of new, smart screwdrivers in every conceivable size. It's enough to make you scream.

Eventually I shooed him away and finished the job myself, 'cos it was less stressful. I love my dad, really I do, but please, please, don't make me have to work with him...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Knack

I can't help but fear this'll be something of an anti-climax. However...

As you can see, it wasn't exactly a complex moulding, which is probably just as well. But on the debit side, it wasn't exactly a lovely example to work from either... Anyway, being somewhat out of practice in thinking about photographs and such, you're lucky you even got one at this early stage.

As you can see, I used a combination of plough and rebate planes to rough away the bulk - and then got carried away starting to do a bit more shaping before I remembered to take a pic. The extra V-shaped groovelets were courtesy of a rebate plane that wasn't quite as shipshape as I'd hoped, so I switched to the 19mm Purpleheart shoulder plane that Phil Edwards gave me back in 2006 and that was much better. Yes, yes, I dare say for the benefit of posterity I should be keeping the thing in a sealed environment as an early "Philly Plane" but it's too nice not to use. And quite honestly its lower profile suits my size of hand better than a traditional wooden rebate.

As you may observe, the opportunity to justify a wide range of planes was enthusiastically embraced. I may be out of practice in many respects, but some things just come naturally.  I did briefly toy with breaking out the Veritas Skew Rebates, but dealing with unfamiliar tools as well as an unfamiliar task was one ask too many, so they still await their debut. And a review, I know. Mea culpa...

It turned out the smaller round was superfluous, but the non-pair pair of No.6s were ideal. I say non-pair 'cos while one is clearly stamped with a Greenslade mark, the other is silent. I have a feeling they both might have come from the same place, but then again...

Well I'd love to report drama, but the careful selection of the board to provide almost perfect straight grain had the desired effect, and it was painless in the extreme. Some minimal cleaning up with abrasives, and I was able to hand it over to the Old Man with some relief. He's now in the throes of butchering it to his requirements, so I'm just not going to look.

So the workshop floor is once more bedecked with curly shavings (various) and for a brief moment the bench top is once again visible. Has it re-infected me? Not sure. Maybe, but I'd sooner not jinx it... It has revealed a few useful things though; not all of them new, it has to be said: 

a) Having a wide range of tools from which to choose does pay off. So there.
b) Having a wide range of tools from which to choose would be even better if they were all ready to use - as if I didn't know that.
c) I'd be lost without a tail vice and every penny spent on the workbench was worth it. This job would have been hell if the board wasn't held firm and rock steady.
d) Things go more quickly and smoothly when you really know your tools, which arguably partially negates point "a". Shhhh, if you don't tell I won't...
e) Things go more slowly when you have to stop and remember where you keep such commonly used tools as rules and squares because 
i) It's been so long since you did any woodworking you've forgotten where you keep them, and 
ii) You still haven't sorted out a systematic and unified tool storage system yet.

And last but certainly not least, and I thank the gods for it:

f) I haven't totally lost the knack.

If anyone wants me, I'll be the one doing the dance of relieved jubilation about that last one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Skirting the issue

Now there's a punning title that mightn't work for those who read in 'Murricanese... Erm, 'Back to Baseboardics'? Yes, er, let's move on then...

For some reason the Old Man has come out in a terrible rash of home improvement. Small irritations we've been happily living with for years have suddenly vaulted to the top of the To Do List and he's been ripping things out, filling holes, painting walls, and oiling wooden window sills like it's going out of fashion. Indeed, the closest I'm come to woodworking is when I offered to do some of the aforementioned window sill oiling. It's also the closest I get to house maintenance; it's really Not My Thing. 

Anyway, one of the things he's ripped out is a small section of skirting board near the front door. Only to discover - as feared - that it was as rotten as a corrupt politician and replacement was required. Imagine my joy as that highlight of the week, grocery shopping, had added to it the further delight of bearding the denizens of 'Jewsons', builder's merchants, in their emporium in the search for matching skirting. Jovial senior Jewsonian, with whom we're long acquainted, was convinced they had the very thing and despatched us to the Outcast in the timber shed. The Outcast looked cold and fed-up, but applied himself and offered up the 'matching' boards. Which didn't. Match, that is. We sucked our teeth. The penalty of the old house, and thus the more subtle mouldings sometimes employed therein, is that the limited off-the-shelf range offered now seldom fits the bill. 

For some reason, the old war horse (me) scented battle. I heard myself saying "In that case we'll need a not-too-knotty board of the right size and we'll have to make our own. We have the technology."

Sometimes I really wish I'd just keep my big mouth shut...

Yes, Houston, we have woodworking. Or rather, I have to do woodworking. I mean I might have said "we" but it was always going to be me doing it, wasn't it?

So we selected the marginally least knotty six feet of 7" stuff and paid a sum for it that must put the price per cubic foot somewhere close to oak. I tried very hard not to wince as the Outcast used the rustiest, bluntest hardpoint saw to "cut" the required length. I say "cut" 'cos I'm convinced he used sheer determination to convince the board to part at that point. No way that saw did anything.

Anyway, before even getting onto the technical part of sticking the moulding, I had to run the board through the P/T to reduce the thickness, then follow up with the Stanley #5 1⁄2 to clean up the resultant mess. That's the proper 2 1⁄4" wide iron, old model and I do love it so. I'd forgotten. Oh, if only T L-N had elected to make his the original size. Sigh. But where was I...? Oh yeah, and I had to clean up and sharpen a few likely hollow and rounds as well. As long-term readers are aware - I have one or two from which to choose...

Once again I was witness to that intriguing phenomenon where any seldom-used plane apparently gets blunt between being put away and taken out for use again. It's not that the piskies come out at night and work up a few feet of mouldings for the architrave in their new semi-detached toadstool; it's simply one's idea of "sharp' alters in the intervening time. I was pleased that my ability to achieve my current idea of "sharp" hadn't entirely deserted me during the last year so I was able to get them at least usable. They need some more work to really sing though, but hands up anyone who actually relishes sharpening shaped cutters? Anyone? In that case I'll send them all to you and you can do them. ;)

So there I was; planes sharp (had a couple of Record ploughs lined up too - #043 and #044), board ready, bench top re-discovered, all set to put theoretical knowledge to practical purpose. Yes, kids, I know how it goes, but I've never actually had to do this before for real. Shocking, innit? Must admit, for preference, I'd have sooner broken my duck on the matter when I was in practice, rather than coming out of a year-long hiatus. But nothing ventured...

And you can find out how it went later in the week.

What? You didn't think I was going to use up all my woodworking on one blog entry, did you? ;)