25 April 2011

The RI Box

Another one of my boxes has been finally done n'dusted. Not too many hideous mistakes along the way, just one or two interesting things as previously noted. The first pic shows the box completed in it's entirety.

The original plan was to go very much down the Inghamish route and fit some simple square brass feet that extended 3mm beyond the edge. However, it didn't look quite right and my fears were confirmed when friends from UKWorkshop told me that the feet had to go! So they have done, this morning and have been replaced with small squares of green baize to cover the screw holes.

The next pic shows the handle in place on the front of the box and as promised, that little chip is nowhere in sight.

The third photo in the series shows the box in the open position, with the hinges complete with their brass screws...note that the slots are all in line!

The final pic in the sequence shows the box open, with the lining in Birds Eye Maple, kindly donated to the cause by my good pal Tony Cox from Weymouth. There was just enough to make the four sides and enough in addition for the veneer on the base...

...as well as for an additional short length as I cut the first piece too bloody small.

So you thought my unerring reputation for making monumental cock-ups was had been finally defeated?..think again!

23 April 2011

Of knobs and knockers

This little project is almost coming to completion now and has gone reasonably well. There have been one or two interesting things that have occurred, the first one being that the elm is much softer than the ebony. This hasn't really caused a problem but it has produced the phenomenon whereby the it's very difficult to sand it to a dead flat surface...the elm has been 'sculpted' slightly below the surface of the ebony. This hasn't caused any real problems as the veneer is 2mm thick...had it been any thinner I reckon I might have had a problem.

I've been applying the final coats of hard-wax oil over the last couple of days and finishing it off with my favourite Alna Teak Wax...a lovely soft paste specially made for teak (and alas no longer available as it hasn't been made for the last thirty years) I slapped a couple of coats of wax on the top, started to buff it off and saw that there were some huge scratches in the top that had miraculously appeared...clearly either my finishing technique was beyond redemption or my sanding was way below par. I suspect the latter, so the top's been scraped and re-finished this morning with the first coat of oil drying at the moment.

Handles and knobs always cause me a lot of angst, but for this box I decided to keep to the original Inghamish theme of a simple turned cylinder with a small slither of oak set into a shallow groove. If you look carefully you'll see a tiny chip out of the right hand side of the knob, which is intensely annoying. The plus side is that once the handle's been glued in place, that little chip can never be seen.

With any luck and provided I haven't screwed up the top (again!) this project ought to be done n'dusted on the 'morrow...

We shall see.

16 April 2011

Knighthood for Crawford...

There's one thing that I detest in any job and I'll put it off for as long as I can. Procrastinate as much as I want (maybe the car needs a wash, or the grass needs a cut or I need to floss my teeth)...but sooner or later, loins have got to be girded and the deed has got to be done.

Fitting hinges, or more specifically, butt hinges.

Normally on a box like this, the hinges would have had to be on and off like a whore's drawers and it could take me the better part of a day to fit them properly, with a subsequent rocketing of stress and blood pressure levels, which I need like a hole in the proverbial. I opted instead a set of the very excellent and beautifully made smartHinge's from Andrew Crawford. What would have taken me an eon to fit, were now done in around an hour and are so easy to install that the mitres on the front corners were no more than .25mm off...easily sanded out in around twenty minutes.

It's critical that the hinges are set dead level. Mine aren't and so have been shimmed to bring them level with the inside surface of the box. Andrew does in fact say this in the blurb but my machining of the recesses wasn't quite accurate enough...as with all these sorts of things it's a learning curve the first time it's done. The only major criticism that I would offer is that no No3 steel screws are supplied to cut the initial thread although plenty of brass screws are included...not much good though, when you need to drive them through ebony! Fortunately, I had several boxes of steel screws that were exactly the right size, so that wasn't an issue.

I've only fitted them here with the steel screws, so that when it's finally assembled they'll be swapped for brass ones of the same size.

If you've got nothing better to do with your time than read this drivel, you'll know that I like parcels, particularly parcels with shiny tools in them.

The other day I received an oddly wrapped package in the post and I couldn't for the life of me work out what it was...I certainly wasn't expecting anything.

However, it slowly dawned on me as the bubble wrap and masking tape were stripped away, that the parcel contained a very acceptable Fibonacci gauge in Cocobolo, made for me by a member of UKWorkshop...I'd completely forgotten that it was in the post, so it was a very pleasant surprise to receive it.

Now that the hinges have been fitted successfully, the next step is to sort out the lining in Birds Eye Maple, after which it'll be the final sanding and polishing.

12 April 2011

Yandles 2011

The other event that occurred at the weekend that I haven't mentioned was the annual outing to Yandles on Saturday. It proved to be a really pleasant day out, a lovely Spring day and definitely 'shirt sleeve' order. My impression was that it was slightly smaller than previous shows as I was looking round for the de Walt stand and realised that it wasn't there!

I did, however, have a good delve into the woodshed, which is always a pleasant way to pass an hour. Being Saturday (and thus the second day) I had the feeling that stocks of timber would be somewhat denuded (analogous to the after effects of a locust swarm) but I was pleasantly surprised to discover a couple of matched boards of Wych Elm, reasonably straight and with some pleasant grain figuring. I was going to get just one, but as a future project later on this year is a bow fronted, wall hung cabinet, I thought it wise to buy the second plank just in order to get the maximum advantage from the available grain.

Looking around the machinery hall, I had a play with the Startrite 352E and it's a very, very impressive bit of kit. I'm fairly convinced that this has moved into pole position ahead of the 16'' Jet, so that if I'm allowed out the the Yandles Autumn show in Sept, I'll be placing an order...even better, it's around £200 less spendy!

All told, a very good day out.

10 April 2011

A slip in time...

I've been messing about today with the next article for F&C...this time it's on drawer slips.
The approach I normally use is shown in the first pic is that of making a router groove which passes through the front tail (thus hiding it in the finished drawer.)

However, this leaves a narrow section (arrowed) that may present a weakness if the drawer is heavily loaded (one of SWIMBO's clothes drawers maybe...dunno) or one which may fail after many years. Drawer slips just add double the bearing area and do away with that thin, weak section.

The first thing is to prepare some oak 12mm thick and then make a 5x5mm groove down the length...it does help if one possesses a 'free and gratis' Veritas plough plane but any method will do as long as you end up with the groove.

Then you'll need to get hold of a very superior brass scratch stock (but an old wooden one will do at a pinch) and make a little bead down the length. Bandsaw off the slip, clean up the rough face and apply to the inside of the drawer...

And in the best traditions of Blue Peter...

...here's one I did earlier. You'll note, I hope, that no sticky backed plastic, loo rolls or other equally ghastly materials were used.

Just quarter sawn English Oak.

06 April 2011


At long last, we seemed to have turned the corner regarding the weather...it'a a glorious Spring day with temperatures nodding into the early 70's. With that in mind, I'm starting to have some ponderations about the coming weekend and being early April...it's got to be the Yandles spring show!

I've been making a list of things I need to do on the day. No doubt there'll be some delving into the woodshed (I'll be looking for elm in particular and anything else that looks half-decent) as well as knobbling the De Walt rep as I want to have a really good look at the 622 router, which is in pole position at the moment to replace my aging Bosch.

I'll also be looking at the current range of machinery available...usually Record, SIP and Charnwood amongst others, as later on this year all of the equipment in my 'shop is going to be replaced.

I also want to speak to a pal about his Thein dust extractor unit that he's currently using in his 'shop. For some time I've been looking to add something like this as an addition to the Camvac 386, thus enlarging the collection capacity. For a moderate outlay (mainly the cost of a steel dustbin) I should be able to have a very useful addition to the extraction system in the 'shop. All told, it promises to be a very good day out (as usual) provided of course, those sneakily fickle weather gods smile on us!

03 April 2011


No matter how many times I've done this, I always get a bit nervous...sawing the thing in half! I know that a properly set up bandsaw with a nice sharp blade will do the job in a second, but I'm always left with the nagging doubt of... 'what if the blade drifts?' which is why, I suppose, I've always sawn boxes in half with a hand saw.

Having read Andrew Crawford's illuminating article in the latest issue of British Woodworking, I decided to take a leaf out of his book and use a sheet of 18mm mdf with a couple of strips of 150g paper stuck down to level the joining surfaces. The surprising thing (to me anyway) is that the technique is surprisingly accurate. Subtle changes in hand pressure enable different areas to be sanded, so that it's quite easy to obtain a pair of matching surfaces that are dead true.

Once the two faces have been sanded, it's then just a case of applying the last pieces of ebony to build up the thickness of the centre section and once that's been done, it'll be back on the sanding board to bring the combined thickness back to 12mm.

Reading Andrew's piece in the magazine has started to get the grey matter moving again. The time is fast approaching to the point where I'll need to sort out a fairly large order to Axminster and I'm definitely of the opinion that this little item might be included.

We shall see...