29 May 2008

Where no man has gone before...

What a complete and utter disaster the last few days have been!...(weather wise that is) Here we are at the beginning of Summer and we've had nothing but bloody rain for days on end, so that meant that I couldn't get out and do the garden.
What it did mean though was that I could spend all the Bank Holiday (plus a couple of extra days) in the 'shop. The first thing I did was to get the door on the Elm Cabinet II to hang properly with the right shadow gap all round (approx .7mm) and after that it was a good bit of detail sanding followed by a couple of coats of Osmo - PolyX .
I then started on the stand and I think by COP last night I'd just about cracked it, with all the mortise and tenons done and the legs shaped. I decided to do something particularly cunning with the lower stretcher rail (the one right at the bottom of the stand near the floor) by shaping it in two planes so that there's a double curvature to it...the thinking was to try and make it appear much 'lighter'. If I'd left it as a solid rectangular block I think it would have looked too heavy. The main stretcher rail joints were Bird's Mouth m/t, something I hadn't done for a very long time (30 years), so it was good to refresh those skills and as it happens, they've turned out really well. The side joints were wedged and exposed m/t's exactly the same as I did on Elm Chest I...some care needed to do them, but fairly straight forward. The next thing to do will be to sort out the shaping for the cross - rail front and back together with the bearer rails that the main chest will sit on, so a lot more to do yet.
I've decided that from now on I'm going to 'stretch the envelope' and 'explore the boundaries', 'tread boldly and go where no man has gone before....' of what I can do...so often I just seem to do square, slabby sort of stuff, which is tricky enough but ultimately quite boring, so from now on, my stuff will have a lot more curvaceous elements to it, that's the plan anyway.

23 May 2008

There's always a (Krenovian) catch...or three!

I've been making the door catch for the Elm Cabinet II out of some oddments of ebony... and what a fiendishly tricky little thing it is to make. The pic shows the three attempts that I've had with the one closest to the camera being the best, though still needing some final fettling to make it snug. What's interesting is that the small vertical section acts a door stop meaning that the door will go no further so it has to made pretty exact to get the right shadow gap all round. In addition, the whole shooting match is sprung loaded from underneath with a biro spring (just like JK's real thing) and the amount of tension on the catch is adjusted by use of the countersunk screw, fiddly to do, but quite enjoyable in a way. Having tested it against the door, I just need to take a little more off the bit that meets the underside and hopefully, that'll be enough to give just the right amount of pressure when the door is closed...a satisfying but firm closure, marvelous!

20 May 2008

Map and Corkscrew

Repairs to the outside of the 'shop are progressing quite well, I've got round almost half way now and just need to finish off the window side this weekend. I tested the end that Pete and I did a couple of weeks ago by pouring a couple of cans of water over the place where it used to leak and so far, it's totally dry inside...fingers crossed.
The door has been hinged on the Elm Cabinet II and went reasonably well. I've set the hinges in a little too proud at the moment so a bit of light tinkering around at the weekend may well be order just to correct things, will have to go carefully though as it's only too easy to upset the shadow gap round the outside (which is equal all the way round at about .6mm) by a bit of over zealous fettling.
The marking knives turned out quite well and I posted The Dudester his one yesterday 1st class so he should get it tomorrow...hope he likes it. I'll let Pete Newton have his this coming weekend and Paul (Chisel) said that as we'll all be at West Dean, Chichester at the end of the month, he'll have his one then. Another UKW member would like one so I think I'll get in contact fairly soon to sort that out, though I may well wait a bit to see if anyone else would like one as it's as easy to make three or four as it is to do one.
SWIMBO was busy at the keyboard on Sunday planning the rough itinery for our holiday this year, which is going to be touring Provence and the Cote d'Azur in the Landy. I think it's probably going to be a map in one hand and a corkscrew in the other (except when I'm behind the wheel) when we get there. We have a full three weeks this time and will be making an overnight stop at Metz and then travelling on to Annecy, (just south of Geneva) for a couple of days to break the journey and after that it's on further South into Provence. The last two touring holdidays that we did to Switzerland were fantastic...this one may well top them both!

13 May 2008

Holes that suck...

The start of the repair to the 'shop went very well last week, in fact it was so good that I've decided to go round the whole of the outside this summer and re-do the crappy job of the sealing that I did a few years ago, so now the window section of is under the big tarp and all the old goo has been stripped away ready for another session at the weekend...provided the weather gods smile on me!
The marking knives that I started a few days ago are coming on quite well and I have another to do for a UKW member living in Reading, so I may well have to drag myself down to Yandles in the not too distant future to see if they've got any more lumps of African Blackwood, or something similar, which is going to be a real chore...or possibly not.
SWIMBO went into town today and has just dropped off at my desk a Mirka hand sanding attachment, which looks very interesting indeed, this was a little 'freebie' from British Woodworking magazine. After reading the blurb that came with it, I think that this may well be one of the best H&S products to come out for a very long time as it almost completely eliminates the dust generated by sanding, as everything gets sucked up into the 'shop vac. If it's as good as it looks then I'll be investing in a few more sanding sheets as the ones supplied are only 80g and 120g, which is great for initial sanding but I'll need to go up to 240g and 320g as well. The construction of the sheets also means that they ought to last a lot longer than my traditional hand sanding papers...only time will tell, but it looks a very impressive system.

06 May 2008

Black Art

The Bank Holiday weekend has come and gone and it's been nice to get back to work for a bit of a rest...I don't think I stopped much all through it! The main thing was that Pete came round on Saturday afternoon to help me start the renovations to the rear of the workshop. We had thought long and hard about a suitably cunning way to fix the leaky rear South facing end and once we got going the whole process went really very well...except that the utterly crappy weather here in Salisbury meant that I couldn't finish it off, so I guess that's a job for next weekend, assuming that the weather gods will look favourably on us.
On a brighter note, I've made and glued up the front door frame for the Elm Cabinet II which went together absolutely spot on...no twist or out of squareness so I'm quite chuffed considering the total cock up that happened with the back panel. It's been rebated with the router so the next job will be to shoot to size and fit the hinges, which is always tricky 'cos I hate fitting brassware.
I've also spent some time in starting a trio of new marking knives. I'm doing one for Pete, another for Paul (Chisel) who supplied me with the steel bandsaw blades and the last is for the Dudester north of the border, who commissioned me to make one after seeing a reference to one in a UKW thread, so that should be a nice littler earner for the Chichester event at the end of the month. What is really good is that I managed to get hold of a small lump of African Blackwood at Yandles a while back which is what a couple of them are made from, the third one is being made from a small piece of Ebony which feels like Balsa in comparison as the Blackwood turns like metal, with spiral shavings coming off the tool! Fabulous stuff, so will definitely need to get some more if this knife making lark continues.