25 June 2009

Holy Illustrations

Any reader(s) of this slightly irreverent missive will have to forgo their undoubted disappointment for a few days as I'm off on my travels again tomorrow...specifically we're off to Edinburgh for about a week to see Gareth's graduation from the university. He was hoping for a 2/1 but achieved a very creditable 2/2 in Mathematics. As I pointed out to him, the classification of the degree isn't really important, it's what it's in and where it came from that counts. Future employers won't be interested in whether it's a 2/1 or a 2/2...the mere fact that it's a BSc. Hons in Mathematics from one of the top universities in the country will be enough to open any future employment doors.

We hope to set off at around lunch time on Friday to stay with my brother overnight near Newalk-on-Trent, so no doubt we'll have a few scoops in the evening and then next morning it's up early as we need to get to Holy Island at Lindersfarne by about midday in order to catch the safe crossing times across the causeway. After that, it's only about 90min drive round the coast on the A1 to Edinburgh, so I'm hoping to arrive there sometime round about 1800hrs.

In the meantime, I've been beavering away in the 'shop...the pic shows the progress of Tony's new 'shute. For me, a decent shooting board is indispensable in the 'shop and this one is pretty standard, apart from a few uber-cunning improvements that make it almost impossible to use inaccurately,but also that make it easy to fix...always useful!

First and foremost, the 90deg fence pivots slightly...the hole at the runway end is a tight fit on the screw and the other end is a loose fit, the fence being tightened using a big screw and washer once 90deg has been set. The fence also has a piece of long grain timber biscuited into it so that if the 'shute plane be inadvertently tipped, it can be easily replaced by simply gluing on another small piece and planing it in.
Second and foremost, the runway has a wear strip of acrylic plastic which makes moving the LN No.9 along it almost child's play, but the really clever bit is the small additional wear strip down the side of the plastic which bears on the sole of the plane just underneath the cutter...so it's bloody hard to damage the side of the 'shute, even if you do manage to tip the plane. Cunning or what?

Should you happen to dip into future issues of Furniture and Cabinetmaking, you might notice the inclusion of one or two hand-tinted, colour washed illustrations. When Michael Hunltley was the editor I offered to do a couple, very much in the style of the drawings in FWW (which we both like a great deal, particulary the layout and graphics) so I did some and sent them off the mag. The response was positive and they seemed to like my 'colouring-in' renditions with the result that I've been asked to do a lot more...winner!

There are a couple of additional features that will be built into the 'shute when I return, so you're just going to have to curb your impatience and wait 'til I finished my wanderings...

23 June 2009

Wheeling and Dealing

Pete's recent Bash last weekend was a huge success, enjoyed by all (I don't think I had anything to eat for the next couple of days though) but one of the things that came out of it was a deal that I struck with Tony (Waka) regarding one or two small items that he wanted made. I'd long coveted one of his tools which was now surplus and as bartering is the oldest form of trading...why not?
Tony's shute is a very desirable jig made in a combination of Cherry and Rosewood. A couple of things he wanted were some additions to it, namely a mitre attachment and a 'Donkey's Ear' for box making. The other things that rather caught his eye at the Bash were my projection boards for the Eclipse honing guide and my rather natty little jig to hold the LV spokeshave blades, all of which he's asked me to make for him.
Having looked at the shute, I think it'll be far easier for me to make him a new one based on my design where I'll be able to incorporate the two additional attachments...it won't be in Cherry and Rosewood but it will work just as well. I think I'm also going to modify his Eclipse honing guide as well as it makes it far easier to hold chisels...in fact this is what all the chisels were held in for honing in the recent chisel test for F&C.

But what was the deal, what's going to be traded, I hear you a pondering?

To find out the answer to that one, you'll just have to keep dipping into the Blog.....

21 June 2009

The Bigger Bash

The great and the good from UKWorkshop converged at Pete's place yesterday for the annual Salisbury Bash...and a great day it was too. The food, as ever, was just fabulous so a huge thanks to Pam who must have slaved long and hard over a hot stove to provide it all. Around the table in a clockwise direction are Paul, Tony (Waka) Rod (Harbo) theTiddles (Aiden) Bob (9Fingers) Paulm (Paul) and Pete...yours truly with the camera.
The theme for this years event was sharpening small blades and 'shave blades, so I set up my stall in Pete's shop and sorted out all the blades provided. Paulm brought along a particularly interesting collection of pen knives and I was impressed with the Spyderco triangular stones that are used to hone them.
I was also interested to compare the Auriou rasp that Paul bought at West Dean a couple of weeks ago with my Chinwanese offerings from Workshop Heaven. The test was a little unfair as we didn't have a 'like for like' rasp so the jury's still out on that one...

As an aside, it's Fathers Day today... I'll have on of these please!

18 June 2009

Unbridled or what?

Why is it when you have a 'shop full of half decent machinery, you always want to look for a way to use it? Fair enough, you might say...if you've got the kit, you might as well take advantage of it! But the problem is that with teak...you can't.
Case in point, I need to make four more or less identical rectangular frames, with bridle joints at each corner. I like bridle joints, they're relatively easy to cut and are quite decorative, which in my book is worth including on piece, so I marked out the wood, cut each to length on the tablesaur (note...with a tct tipped blade) and then shot them in accurately with the LN No9 on the shooter. I then used a mortise gauge to mark out the lines but pondered how to cut to them...bandsaw or by hand?
Bridle joints are the easiest thing in the world to cut with a decent, sharp blade on the bandsaw...set it up and away you go, about two minutes at the very outside for a joint.
But this is teak...and I've got a new 'meat & fish' blade on the saw that would be reduced to a gibbering wreck inside five minutes of constant use.
There was nothing else for it but to use my LN carcase saw to cut them out completely by hand, which as events turned out, was quite enjoyable as I hadn't done anything like this for a couple of years as the last time I did anything in teak was when I made this. The joints needed a little bit of careful fettling to go together but by the end of the evening I was reasonably happy with the finished frame.

One down, three to go...but at the end of this project I'll need to refresh myself on how to sharpen a tenon saw.

15 June 2009

Teak Temptation

Saturday saw me and Pete off in the Landrover over to see another UKWorkshop forum member in Winchester, principally to have a look at his Deft table saw. I have to say that it's a really great piece of kit and built like the proverbial 'outhouse' but I did leave with one or two niggles at the back of my mind. Firstly, would I use the capacity?..probably not, as I've never needed to saw anything larger than the current depth of cut of my Kity, so why replace it? Secondly, the crown guard is ingenious but has the huge disadvantage that you can't actually see the saw blade in motion as it's completely covered, so it's impossible to line it up at the start of an accurate cut. If I were in the market for a table saw for the first time, then the Deft would be a definite contender, but I came away on Saturday deciding that my money could be better spent elsewhere. Current thinking suggests that if a bigger doc bandsaw were purchased a little later, that would then take care of my requirement to handle larger pieces of timber...in theory.

On the subject of kit, the Camvac arrived on Friday night and I wasted no time in getting it plumbed in. It's very noisy in it's initial state, but if a couple of long hoses are inserted into the motor exit ports on the top lid, 75% of the racket is channelled away and it then becomes only slightly louder than my old chip extractor...the plus side is that it's far more efficient (it sucked up everything when I tested it out on the p/t) and will form the basis of an efficient extractor system in a couple of years. It's also got a far smaller footprint than the old machine which means that I'll be able to tuck it away under a bench.

Sunday was spent in relative peace and quite planing up the first sixteen sections of the revised coffee table. At first, the teak was a real and unadulterated pain in the aris as the LA Jack had to be rehoned after each alternate piece, but after a while, a rhythm sort of sets in and I got into the swing of the process and really quite enjoyed myself. What helped enourmously was that most of the material was chewed off with a wooden jack leaving just a mm or so to clean up to the gauge line.

I have to put my hands up again though and admit to having a whistfull sideways glance at the planer a couple of times...

12 June 2009

Tectona grandis

Hands in the air...I cheated and lifted this of t'internet.

"Latin name "Tectona Grandis Linn". Teak wood or Golden Teak is the king of hardwoods and it's one of the world's most valuable timbers, recognized for its durability and stability. Teak is more durable than any other hardwood and has unparalleled rich beauty. Teak can withstand all types of weather. Ancient Burmese and Thai royalty considered teak to be a royal tree. It has been the pillar of the shipbuilding industry for centuries. The decks of the Titanic were covered in Teak, and the wood is as good today as the day she sank on 1912. Teak is also used in the Middle East oil industry as one of the very few timbers that can withstand the punishing heat of the desert and will not readily catch fire. Teak can withstand harsh chemicals, and is resistant to fungi, rot and termites. Unlike other woods, teak does not turn black when in contact with metals. It looks best when applied transparent and light colors. Teak is the common name for "Tectona grandis", a large deciduous tree of the family Verbenaceae, or its wood, one of the most valuable timbers. Teak has been widely used in India for more than 2,000 years. The name teak is from the Malayan word tekka. The tree has a straight, but often buttressed, stem (i.e., thickened at the base), a spreading crown, and four-sided branch lets with large quadrangular pith. The leaves are opposite or sometimes whorled in young specimens, about 0.5 meter (1.5 feet) long and 23 centimeters (9 inches) wide. In shape they resemble those of the tobacco plant, but their substance is hard and the surface rough. The branches terminate in many small white flowers in large, erect, cross-branched panicles. The fruit is a drupe (fleshy, with a stony seed), two-thirds of an inch in diameter. The bark of the stem is about 1.3 cm thick, gray or brownish gray, the sapwood white; the unseasoned heartwood has a pleasant and strong aromatic fragrance and a beautiful golden-yellow colour, which on seasoning darkens into brown, mottled with darker streaks. The timber retains its aromatic fragrance to a great age. Native to India, Burma, and Thailand, the tree grows as far north as about the 25th parallel in these areas and to the 32nd parallel in the Punjab. The tree is not found near the coast; the most valuable forests are on low hills up to about 3,000 feet. Stands are also found in the Philippines and in Java and elsewhere in the Malay Archipelago. Teak is also planted in Africa and Central America. During the dry season the tree is leafless; in hot localities the leaves fall in January, but in moist places the tree remains green until March. At the end of the dry season, when the first monsoon rains fall, the new foliage emerges. Although the tree flowers freely, few seeds are produced because many of the flowers are sterile. The forest fires of the dry season after the seeds have ripened and have partly fallen, impede the spread of the tree by self-sown seed. Teak trees on good soil have attained an average height of 18 m in 15 years, with a girth, breast high, of 0.5 m. In the natural forests teak timber with a girth of about 2 m (diameter of 0.6 m) is never less than 100 and often more than 200 years old. Mature trees are usually not more than 150 ft high. Due to the oil and rubber found naturally in the wood, teak has a greater ability to withstand the elements than any other wood. For this reason it has been the preferred choice for boats, and in fact, it has been used on aircraft carrier decks! This is because of its ability to resist splintering, warping and rotting. (If left un-oiled, our furniture will turn a soft dove gray when allowed to remain outdoors. This process will take approximately one year.) Teak timber is valued in warm countries principally for its extraordinary durability. The timber is practically imperishable under cover. Teak wood is well known since early/ancient times as a valuable resource due to its long life reliability and weather resistance as well as its workable qualities. Pieces of teak have been found (in India) over 200 years old and still intact. Teak wood is used for shipbuilding, fine furniture, door and window frames, wharves, bridges, cooling-tower louvers, flooring, paneling, railway cars, and Venetian blinds. An important property of teak is its extremely good dimensional stability. It is strong, of medium weight, and of average hardness. Termites eat the sapwood but rarely attack the heartwood; it is not, however, completely resistant to marine borers. Teak also refers specifically to the wood and its characteristic color, which ranges from olive to yellowish gray or moderate brown. Teak furniture dates back prior to the 19th century used mainly by the Chinese for export to Europe. The Victorian era also incorporated the use of teak wood during the mechanical era of the 1840's with the invention of presses, veneer cutters etc which enabled them to create decorative elegant high class furniture. Another factor here is transportation (shipping) was also becoming more advanced. Burma produces most of the world's supply, India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) ranking next in production."

Couple of things that the article fails to mention, first and foremost it's also been used for the decks of this ship...and I have a laser engraved lump of it! Second and foremost, it has to be the best neanderthal material ever, 'cos unless your planer blades are tct tipped (and all other edged blades for that matter) be prepared to spend a long time at the sharpening bench if you start a project in this stuff, as I did last night, when I cut the legs and rails for the new table.

It's a really fabulous timber, it just needs an inordinate amount of effort to use it, that's all...

09 June 2009

Demise of the 'Tool Wall'

You may remember that some time ago I collected a whole load of board material from a UKWorkshop friend who had no further use for it and in exchange for all this rather nice stuff I let Simon have a screwdriver that I'd just finished making. Part of that consignment though, was a lot of strip material only 90mm wide (by 18mm thick) which I've been looking wistfully at from time to time...well you can't throw it out, can you?

The penny, though, suddenly dropped the other night (as it often does)... with a bit of lipping on each side it might make the framework for a 'Tool Cabinet' with a couple of opening doors which could then be hung on French cleats over the bench.

Whilst the original 'Tool Wall' does have it's merits, the very great disadvantage is that you soon start to run out of space, particularly when other and more specialised hand tools start to be added. I don't intend to make this a hugely complicated piece or even a very large cabinet (there'll still be some room on the wall) more a 'work in progress' job that tools can be fitted into as an when they're acquired.

That's the plan anyway.

I ordered the Camvac the other night so I'm looking forward to receiving that sometime this week. I've even sold my original chip extractor for the planer/thicknesser to another member on UKWorkshop and that will be collected later on in July.

The only slight 'Spaniard in the works' is that the pics show the unit with a hose supplied, but a detailed examination of the small print tells you that it's not...bugger!

07 June 2009

West Dean '09

Classic Hand Tools held the second hand tool event at West Dean near Chichester yesterday and all the usual suspects from UKWorkshop were in attendance. The group shot taken while we were all recuperating over a brew shows Pete (Newt) Tony (Escudo) Steve Allford (Promhandcam) Paul Chapman as himself and some bloke in a stripy top. If you look very carefully you can also see the top of David Charlesworth head behind Paul!
There were even more tempting stalls laid out this year with some truly eye watering goodies, not least of which were the planes made by Karl Holtey. Most woodworking nutters have heard about Karl, but to meet him and handle some of his planes (which are things of true beauty and absolute precision) has to be a privilege, as of course was meeting Bill Carter. Bill makes fabulous planes entirely by hand in a garden shed and uses no more than the occasional use of a pillar drill. I spoke at some length with his charming wife, and was invited to use some of his 'scraper' chisels that I was amazed to find work incredibly well on really hard timbers like box, rosewood and ebony...some will definitely find their way onto the 'Tool Wall'
I also had a very, very interesting discussion with Michael Huntley regarding all the devious schenanigans that have been occurring at F&C and I was intrigued to find out the real reason behind his imminent departure from the magazine.
All in all, a great day out.

04 June 2009

Lying lens?

This table top has been causing me a few problems lately, not the least of which was that the last frame that I made for it ended up ignominiously being consigned to the bandsaw and ultimately the land-fill. The main difficulty (and this is something I should have taken into account before) is that it's just not been made accurately...all the flats are different sizes as well as being 'out' by up to a cm across the diagonals, so it's very difficult, if in fact almost impossible to make a standard 'square' frame of any sort and expect it to fit.

So how to get round it?

I decided in the end to make a much more simple affair (it's what SWIMBO wants anyway) that would fit the top accurately, so if you look at the pic you'll see that all the underframe cross members (dotted in red and black) are actually fitted at odd skewed angles...it's no fotographic distortion! Whilst this is going to be simpler in many respects, there will still be some tricky parts because of the odd angles in the underframe.

The next awkward bit would, I hoped, go without mishap and that was the consultation with SWIMBO over the proposed design. I'm happy to say that the design has been passed by the d' management as doable and so work needs to start forthwith.

The third and final obstacle to overcome was the choice of material...oak or teak and SWIMBO opted for teak, one of my favourite timbers. The only really annoying thing about it is that it can't be stuffed through a planer/thicknesser.
Strictly speaking of course, it can...but I'd need to hone the blades every ten minutes, which quite frankly, doesn't get me overly excited. It looks like the LA Jack is going to get some serious use over the next couple of months.

....could be a long, hot summer in the 'shop.

02 June 2009

HPLV or LPHV and the 'Bay

I've been toying with the notion for some time now of changing equipment and have been browsing through various sites with a view to gradually upgrading kit so that by the time I finish work in a few years time I won't start to hyperventilate when I have to dip into the wallet.
So with that notion in mind I've decided to start with the extraction system and have been pondering over what to do...HPLV or LPHV? This alone is enough to severely overload the grey matter, but in essence, the first is vacuum sucker and the second is a 'air-pushing' system, which as far as I can make out, is best suited to single machines like planer/thicknessers.
However the vacuum system, whilst it doesn't produce as much air flow is better suited to an extraction system with smaller bore pipe work, even though it can still be used with the p/t and a 100mm hose. It's all very confusing but the machine I want to get hold of is a twin motor 2.2Kw Camvac GV386 which will produce a lot of 'suck', certainly more than sufficient to power a moderate 60mm bore system that I hope to link up to the rest of the machinery in due course.

Not being a collector of tools (ahem!!) I've decided to get rid of a few on the infamous Fleabay of dreaded ill repute, so last night saw the disappearance of three of my planes...admittedly they were tools that I never now use, so there wasn't much point in keeping them, and the money raised from the sale will go quite a long way towards the cost of the Camvac.