29 November 2010

Don't have nightmares!

As I mentioned in the last entry, I've got a couple of projects lined up for the New Year (provided the weather improves slightly) so I got a thick jacket(plus woolly hat) on over the weekend and nipped out to the 'shop just to see what material I had.

First and foremost, RI's box shown isn't walnut but elm...and I've got loads of that, plus enough African Ebony for the darker bits. I can even laminate two layers of 6mm marine ply to make a core which ought to be more than thick enough with 2mm veneers each side, so that project looks like it's a runner.

Second and foremost, the brown ash is really good with some nice figuring to the boards, but on reading JK's book ('The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking' ...or is it the other one, dunno) the curved doors on his cabinets are coopered, not planed from one thicker lump. This of course makes it easier as I now need to source a decent bit of timber around 25mm or so thick and around 300mm wide. However, the thing that's started to give me nightmares is trying to work out the angle to make each piece as my ability with sums (as you probably know well by now if you dip into this missive regularly) is truely lamentable...

On a slightly different note, one of the items I've got on my Christmas desirable list is a Japanese marking guage, with a cutting blade rather than a western style pin. I fancy that the longer stock length may make them easier to use so together with the blade they ought to be more accurate.

Possible toolmaking project as well?...maybe, the cogs 'up top' have started to turn though!

26 November 2010

Decisions, decisions...

The recent cold snap that we're encountering at the moment has put things on hold for a short while but I'm already starting to have thoughts on the next project or two and trying to work out the sort of thing(s) that I want to make.

To start with I've a hankering to make another box of some sort. A couple of years ago I got hold of Robert Ingham's little book "Cutting Edge Cabinet Making" wherein there's an illustration at the back of one of his 'boxes' made from bog oak and burr walnut. The piece is absolutely stunning (even though his work takes some getting used to) and I've always wanted to use those techniques to make something similar...not nearly so grand but it should be acceptable. I spoke with him at some length earlier in the year at Rycotewood and he was quite happy for me to make something based on his constructional principals.

Another option is a wall hung cabinet of some sort. I got hold of a small parcel of timber recently from local makers where there were a few bits of brown ash thrown in which might form the basis of a small cabinet. I'd like to make it with a bow front planed from the solid (very JKish)...trouble is I haven't got anything suitable so I'm thinking of trying to find a slab of thickish stuff for the door.

Steamed pear or maple perhaps? Decisions, descisions...I can feel a visit to the wood shed at Yandle's coming on...

...but not in this freezing weather!

21 November 2010

Ikea flat pack?

Having had a few days off recently, it was too good an opportunity to miss to get this wall unit finished. It all went together without a hitch really, which is surprising considering some of the mistakes that I'm capable of.

This shot shows the underside of the lower shelf and just visible is one of the steel 6mm steel pins holding the shelf in place.

There's an overall shot here of the one end of the shelves. The wedges for the tusk tenons are in ebony (as are the end caps on the shelves) and each on was shot in seperately and then numbered so that it fitted each mortise. The reason that was done was so that there was the same amount of material showing above and below on each mortise on all six tenons...that's after a couple of little taps on each one with a small mallet. Nothing would have annoyed me more than to have unequal amounts above and below on the tenons.

This final shot shows one of the joints in detail with the ebony end cap on the end of the shelf.

Overall I'm fairly happy with this project as it turned out quite well without too many undue mistakes. It's been deliberately made to pack flat using the tusk tenons in the back rails...just don't expect to see it anytime soon at Ikea!

18 November 2010


Progress has been fairly swift with this little project and I'm almost at the point where I can start to apply some finish to the frames. This first pic shows one of the shelves that's already been veneered and is having the lipping glued both sides.
In the meantime, another shelf is being cleaned up with the LV jack prior to the lipping being applied. The great thing about using bandsawn veneers (which in this case were around 2 to 3mm thick) is that once they're down, the material can be treated as 'solid' so you can (within reason) plane merrily away making sawdust unitil the right thickness is achieved...2mm here.

Once the lipping had been flushed down again with the LV jack (...what a really great plane that is) I set up the router to cut the small slots for the 6mm steel pins which will eventually hold the shelves in position.

This pic shows the three shelves that have been part completed. The ebony end caps have been glued on (no biscuits...just straight onto the ply) and you can see how I've filled the halving cut-outs with some oddments of softwood. This makes it much easier to shape the lipping to the profile and also means that the sanding block doesn't catch on the opening. The ebony has been roughly shaped to the profile but there's still some work to do to get the final shape.

The final pic shows the component parts of the two frames cleaned up and sanded (just a wipe over with some worn 240g) after planing with my LV BU smoother (another great plane) with a super sharp blade and tiny mouth. The ends of the tusk tenons have been given a small chamfer with the LN block just for little piece of detailing (I was a bit puzzled how to finish them but decided for the simple option...always best!)

The next thing then, is to start to apply a finish to the frames...

14 November 2010


That time of year in late December is fast approaching once again and it's time for me to start to compile a moderate list of those desirables that I'd like to see dropped into my stocking by the big man on Christmas Eve. As there's nothing quite so good as a little bribery and corruption, I'm going to leave (as always) a small glugful of something warming by the chimney and a tasty little nibble or two for the reindeer's parked on the roof above...but here's the question.

How does the sleigh balance on the ridge, along it or across?...and what happens if the roof is too short for all the beasties and the sleigh?

This has always been a puzzle to me ever since I was a little lad, because when I go and examine it in the morning, there's never any damage. No loose or dislodged tiles, broken guttering, in fact I've even gone so far as to look on the patio on Christmas morning for some reindeer poo...nothing, nowt, not a sausage.

The other alternative, which is equally plausible, is that the rig is tethered to the chimney and hangs there horizontally in space, just hovering stationary forty feet over the garden and fish pond. Quite frankly, I think it's tosh and I don't buy into that one at all! He'd have to have invented some sort of anti-gravity device, but it would go some way to explaining though, just why there's no damage to the roof and how he'd manage to park about sixty feet's worth of animals and a heavy sleigh full of presents with seemingly, no ill effects. A puzzle to be sure.

But I digress. This year though, I've embraced the full power of t'interweb and have decided to go for an Amazon Wish List. A swift perusal will show that as well as one or two trinkets for the 'shop, I've included a few CD's and a some other items.

Back to the big guy in the red suit though. If the sleigh is tethered forty feet out over the garden, how does he get to the chimney?

Chopper?..that one doesn't cut the mustard either, 'cos that would blow all the roof tiles off and make a hell of racket and besides, I never hear a thing...

11 November 2010

Tempting fate

At the end of last week I penned the immortal words... 'A bit like going the dentist when you have that slightly irritating niggle in one of your teeth and you just know there's needles, drills and pain waiting for you'... which in hindsight (a wondrous thing) was tempting the old gods just a tad more than is safe.

I now have rampant tooth ache, on a course of antibiotics and am looking forward with the deepest, most joyous anticipation to the first part of a root canal filling on 01 Dec.


09 November 2010

Key of Power

Back in the dim and distant past (April last year) I was having a good old delve into a skip at work and managed to rescue a large whiteboard that had been ditched. It's been in constant use in the 'shop as it's proved ideal for making full size drawings of projects, but as the surface is a glossy white, it's proved quite difficult to find something to write on it...

...until now.

I've tried thin felt tip pens (but they smudge very easily) and ordinary 2H pencil, which will write on the surface, but tends to leave quite a light line, which whilst legible, isn't ideal.

At work though, we have a similar situation, where from time to time names need to be written on a shiny board. My boss got fed up with using these new fangled felt tips pens for much the same reason that I found, and being a bit 'old school' reverted to using a black chinagraph pencil.

Now being remarkably quick off the mark, I realised that this would be ideal in the 'shop as well. Needless to say, the 'Key of Power' was obtained and one or two were liberated from the stationary cupboard...

05 November 2010


Most of the jobs that we do in the 'shop are enjoyable, that's why we do them...it's not as though we have to do anything unpleasant (and it's worth reading this page) each time we go in there. There's one thing though, which I (and I know I'm not alone here) tend to put off... and then put off a bit longer 'til it's unvoidable. A bit like going the dentist when you have that slightly irritating niggle in one of your teeth and you just know there's needles, drills and pain waiting for you.

So what is this thing that I procrastinate over? Simple.

Sharpening the blades in the planer/thicknesser.

It's not as though it's a difficult job either...I just detest doing it as it usually takes me over an hour to sharpen and then re-set the blades into the machine...

...untill the other night when I did it in around 30 minutes.

I use a Tormek jig, and having read the 'book of words' again, both blades were perfectly ground, then it was just a case of inserting them into the machine and setting up the 'carry forward' which is the bit that usually took me so much time. I generally have around 3mm pick up on the blades as they rotate and for some reason best known to itself, I managed to do that bit first time.

The blades normally get pushed too far down against the springs in the block, so then the bolts have to be slackened off which makes the bloody things ping out again with a vengence, so then I need to re-tighten the bolts a fraction and push each end down gently with my finger tips to get the 3mm carry forward at one end...but then the other end pings out at 6mm so I have to push that down which then alters the 3mm on the other end...ad nauseum. And just that's one blade!

You see why I procrastinate?

But not the other night 'cos I cracked it...winner!

02 November 2010

'Rule of Thirds'...not!

I'm taking things fairly slowly with this one...no real rush as it's fairly simple sort of project. As I usually do, I made some full size plans in front and top elevation, so that it's easy to pick off the dimensions as and when needed.

Knowing that I was going to use 12mm tusk tenons in the rear stiles, and knowing that the rough 'rule of thirds' is eminently desirable I decided to make the rear ones 28mm thick and have the front ones at 20mm thick...which seems sensible.

Now if you're really observant, the pic reveals that in actual fact I made both the front and rear stiles 20mm, with the result that there's very little material each side of the mortise.

Hell's teeth and buggeration!

Why do I do these things?..I have absolutely no idea, not a scoobies!

Fortunately in this case, the situation was easily resolved as I managed to find a couple of bits of oak to replace them, so last night I machined two new pieces at 28mm thick.

What's the betting that I'll machine the mortises in the wrong place? About the same odds as you'd give the Titanic not hitting that lump of ice...