Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oaky dokey

Well I dunno where the time goes; could have sworn I'd only Blogged a day or two ago. Anyway, progress is being made. Saturday saw me reach this stage. Joints cut and fitted and it's looking like something instead of a pile of scrubby-looking boards - which is marginally encouraging. A good deal of chisel work involved, plus a lot of sharpening. This oak is pretty well seasoned now, and chipping of edges was commonplace. I steepened the bevels, but even so it was a struggle. I've worked out where it came from now. Three sources in total; British Hardwoods, left over from the Millennium gate I made; a factory in Swindon via a mate of my brothers; and the Tregothnan Estate here in Cornwall. So some is air-dried (and pretty flippin' useless, if I'm honest), most is kiln-dried, and all of it has been skulling about in the workshop for "a while"...

Monday saw me going insane with planer/thicknesser and bandsaw, turning all remaining available oak into as much 1/2" stuff as I could. I had to tickle up the edges of the planer blades twice during the process - did I mention how tough some of that oak is? Things were not helped by the blade on the bandsaw being as blunt as a comment from Dame Edna Everage. I just squeezed out enough for the job. Putting most of it temporarily in the framework seemed the best way to keep it reasonably flat and straight - the rest is in stick under weights. I've yet to play about finding the best combination of boards for looks. Should be fun; I've only a couple of pieces as wide as 6", a lot of it being under 2" wide... Anyway, I've now got some alleged exterior glue to glue up the panels, bought this morning, but it ain't gonna happen soon 'cos I have a stinking cold.

Caution: Pathetic sorry-for-myself moaning follows.

On Sunday morning I had a sore throat - now I have an alternately running and blocked nose, sore throat, headache, cough, sneezes and occasional rises in temperature. If I was a bloke it'd be 'Flu ;~) So I'm feeling very sorry for myself (can you tell?) and crossing everything that it'll get it all over and done with now so I'll be hale and hearty for Sunday. Being sick on Christmas Day is No Fun. I'm properly fed up with waking up every couple of hours to allow the gunk in my head to subside so I can get a couple of hours more sleep, I tell you.

Okay, finished now.

To cheer me up, I've had not one, but two unexpected Christmas pressies from fellow woodworkers. How nice is that? I'm hopeless; I can't even make stuff for my own family nevermind be organised enough to do that. Must do better next year.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

(Not) got it taped

Gott in himmel, but I hate tailed routers. Noisy, messy and always seem to have a mind of their own. But there it is, needs must and time is at a premium at the moment, so grooves and mortises for this oak planter have been routed with a combination of my Roy Sutton mortise jig and the 'Rat. I come in from the workshop tired and coated in dust and get an earful from the would-be recipient on the subject of sawdust and piles of laundry. Grrr. I resisted the urge to point out it's for her benefit by dint of biting my tongue. I may mention it after the birthday though - if I remember... Meanwhile I'd appreciate everyone crossing all spare apendages in the hopes that'll make what-appears-to-be-not-enough-oak stretch far enough to make the side panels. I see alot of edge jointing and gluing up panels in my future... Anyone got a favoured exterior glue, btw?

Meanwhile I'm revisiting the "Good Old Days" of cassettes - my only non-classical Christmas muzak is on tape, so out comes the radio/cassette player. The only other time it gets used is during the cricket season. Anyway, isn't it awful how often you have to turn the damn things over? I've got nearly three solid days of tunes on the 'puter - changing sides/discs has become unknown territory to me. Good fun though, blasting out Slade, Wizzard, Shakie and so forth. I used to have a bit of a thing for Shakin' Stevens - when I was about seven... :~D As it happens I bought this tape way back when I passed my driving test. I had many hours to kill in Truro before catching the train back up to London (it's a long story) and bought the tape as my reward for being able to stop in an emergency and do a three-point turn. Ah, memories...

Humph, even as I typed that the tape deck has packed up. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Making 10ft of oak do the work of 20...

Well despite having to sprint over the border and back on Saturday (playing Father Christmas to get Crimbo pressies to some of the family) I had quite a productive weekend. Got the Bench-on-bench finished, even down to a coat of BLO. I'm quite pleased with it, even if it does make the proper workbench top look a bit unloved now in comparison. Time will tell if I've got it right, or whether I'll have to do a certain amount of alteration, not to say rebuilding. Fingers crossed...

Pausing only to draw breath I've launched into something for Mum's birthday at the end of January. My long term reader may remember my idea - way back - to make oak planters for Crimbo pressies? Well that, obviously, came to nought, but I got to thinking that that's something my Mum would appreciate. So I resuscitated
the idea and spent a mind-numbingly boring morning (machine) planing and sawing all sort of lousy lengths of oak to size. No way would I have had enough for two, never mind two pairs. It's the rails that add up. I think I'll just be able to squeeze out one long one - and I haven't honestly checked to see if I'll have enough stuff for the sides. Oh well, living on the edge a bit, but it might be fun. But you can see why I'm trying to get on with it; at least this way I might have time to get some more oak if it turns out I am short!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

All screwed up

The bench-on-bench rumbles slowly on; got the vice jaws planed up yesterday. Cunningly I made a shallow rebate in the back of the rear jaw/apron so it'll register against the top easily come glue-up time. #45 to plough a shallow groove at the correct distance, followed up with the #140 to complete the rebate. I'm still in the learning curve stage with that darn plane; every time I adjust the depth I feel I should cry out "thar she skews" in some sort of misplaced Moby Dick fantasy. That is, she skews when I don't want her to, which is a small irritation. Now I've become more aware of it in the LNs I'm finding it everywhere I look. Mildly annoying, once your attention is drawn to it.

Then today it was a hike between w'shop and garage to turn up a couple of vice screws. Before I've had excellent success with old wooden curtain rods for taking a clean thread, so that's what I turned up, all nice and neat and matching. Took me ages, I'm so out of practice. The trouble is, as well as the lathe no longer being handily "there", it also involves unlocking another padlock, removing the sheets shrouding the lathe and grinder, plugging in, turning, cleaning up the mess, re-shrouding the lathe and grinder etc etc. It's such a pain, I tend to get lazy and avoid doing anything at all... Anyway. Gave the new sizing tool for the bedan a trial, and once I'd filed off the swarf it was, well, okay. I'm not sure it's that much more helpful than just having a handy spanner of the required size ready to test as you go, to be honest. Could be my technique though. Probably is. My turning has gone from mediocre to "hack" I'm ashamed to say. Anyway, back to the ranch, soak in BLO and go to tap the threads.

Merde. Threads crumbling left, right and centre. This is in no way the same timber I had success with previously. In short, it's No Good. Bum. Okay, so beech would work, and I just happen to have some skulling about. Square it up on the bandsaur, traipse back up the garage, remove all the protective sheeting from the lathe again, plug in, set up etc etc. Grumble, grumble, moan, moan. Turn the first one and, gott in himmel, the last inch and a half has suddenly acquired a split and is breaking up. For the love of Norm, who's black cat did I strangle while standing under a ladder? Damn it, I'm not mucking about again, so I reduce the length of the "boss" to increase the available thread length; not as much as it was, but this vice in potentia is for dovetailing, not holding a 2x4 widthways. Much to my relief the threading went a-okay, so at least I ended up with something to show for my efforts.

Anyway, you'll be pleased to hear I failed to take any pics at all yesterday, and only one (of the subsequently failed curtain rod) today. Sometimes words are enough to convey it was just One Of Those Days.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bench mark

Slow, but tangible, progress on the bench-on-bench. It's not a thing of beauty, but by gum, it's solid. Maybe it's just me, but it somehow has a sort of Japanese feeling to it. Maybe it's the low height... The "legs" are not yet glued together and I haven't even begun on the twin screw vice yet, which is bound to be fun. Sigh. As ever I was deluding myself that something could be a quick project... While hunting round t'net for some further ideas, I stumbled across this article which has one or two tips. I wondered about adding a base of ply to act as a metal working/tool cleaning alternative top, but I'm not sure I can take the extra height that'd entail. As it is, it's turned out I prefer something lower than perhaps I'd expected. Too high and aspects of the female anatomy can hamper free movement in sawing and so forth... For the same reasons, you might often find female galoots preferring a ratcheting brace even when the full swing of the brace isn't blocked by outside influences :~) Not something that ever occurred to the usual run of galoot, I'm betting. And I beg you, don't dwell on it!

As far as the vice screws go, I'm starting to have doubts as to whether the 3/4" tap and die I have will be big enough for the task. I suppose I can always replace them with something sturdier if they break.

In case you're marvelling at the presence of the LN in the pic, it did a marvellous job of cleaning up the end grain of the top. I find I'm thinking of it more and more as a larger size of block plane, which has come as a bit of a surprise. The LV bevel-up family were out in force to level up the top, and work together as a team very well. The final pass with the BUS brought out some super depth in the figure of the ex-door frame I'm using for the legs - quite made me stop and go "wow". Kind of wish I hadn't used it for this job now! Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lights! Camera! Action!

If a tidy workbench is the sign of a sick mind, what does christmas lights in your workshop indicate? Discuss.

Alternatively discuss what kind of flying thing that reminds you of...

In other news, inspired by Jarviser's example, I've made myself a little glue pot. I've got the pot. I've got the iron. I've got the pearl glue. All I need now is the nerve. Don't hold your breath now, will you?

Also, surprising myself, I've made a small start on the FWW/Chris/Adam inspired "Bench-on-Bench". The top's glued up, just debating on the best way to make the legs with a minimum amount of timber - my usual problem. At some point I have to get back to the lathe to make the vice screws, which could be fun given the long lay-off I've had from round-spinny things....