Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's alive!

We left our intrepid heroine hanging fom a precipice, croccodiles snapping hungrily in the foaming waters below, available superheroes thin on the ground and a mutilated spokeshave to redeem. Can she stop screaming long enough to save herself, the day and, possibly, the whales? Read on...

It ill behoves a self-confessed neanderthal to say it, but sometimes belt sanders are worth their weight in gold. Many, many years ago I bought one of those benchtop disc/belt sander combos with the view to actually using it on wood. That never caught on, and for some time the evil device collected dust, undisturbed and unloved. Then I found out how useful the belt is for dealing with ghastly metal; who cares what evil devices you use on metal? Once again it came up trumps, proving to be just the ticket for the desicration of an otherwise working spokeshave - the bench grinder was just making too many facets. 40 grit removed material with frightening speed, then up through 60, 120 and finally a very worn 120 grit belt for a polish. That area of the belt that falls between the roller and the platen, the soggy bit you'd usually want to avoid, was just the job for giving a smooth transition on the newly created curve. All being well, job done.

The blade took longer the do, to be honest, but I got there in the end. Then the final humilation, the bit that really makes me feel nauseous; where the handles start to curve down again they have to be truncated or they'll foul. Angle grinder to amputate and belt sander to clean up again, and it's all finished. Doctor Frankenstein removes the mask and gloves, wipes the perspiration from her brow and looks at the hideous monster she's created.

No doubt I'll pay the price in the afterlife, possibly spending Eternity painting Stanley #1s pink or something...

All I could face after that was the relatively simple task of cutting out the templates, which I duly did. A quick check and, by some miracle, the seat blank will actually be deep enough. Just. Phew... The arm curve is more of a problem; the 6" wide beech isn't really wide enough to accommodate the curve. I may have to take a leaf from JB's book when he made a chair from
similarly narrow boards of local oak; a five piece arm. Gulp. Bit of a stern test for a novice, but in for a penny... It's some comfort that that particular chair of JB's came out really well and went on to influence his later chair making, so finger's crossed.

This evening I'll re-steep myself in all the info on seat making and stop putting it off.


Finally, if the tension's getting too much for you, how about considering de-tensioning. I confess, being a hopeless reader of instructions, I've always de-tensioned my bandsaw 'cos that's what I've always heard you should do. But now, having read all the nay-sayers, I'm wondering why. Quick straw poll of the readership; do you de-tension? Yea or Nay? The comments box awaits your vote.


  1. Hi Alf, Ever since I forgot to tension before switching on and kinked the blade because it got caught on the drive wheel, a definite "leave it tensioned" vote.
    John (Woodshavings)

  2. I also leave the blade tensioned, this is more due to laziness and lack of attention, but so far, i've not noticed any ill-effects.

  3. Blades 1/4" and below, yes. Not above, our dear heroine.

    The small blades--I'm using 1/8" blades for scrolling--tend to noticably stretch after a few days on the 12" BS.

    But I have never experienced problems with 3/8" and above whether on the 12" or 18" BS.


  4. Sounds to me, having just blown in to see where you'd got to, you're doing fine. It's nice to know that all areas of expertise seem to have their own problems ;) Well you've got plenty of time at least....19th May!



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