25 August 2012

Cabinet Conundrum

I knew that fitting these offset knife hinges was going to be tricky, so I'm rather glad that the opportunity has presented itself to have a little practise...and even better, to get paid for it!

I cobbled together some oddments of oak, edged jointed them and made a small cabinet carcase, complete with a couple of shelves...the housings for them can be seen.  The routed slot for the door catch can also be seen in the bottom rhs.

It appears that the carcase needs to be pulled up exactly to the shoulder lines and dead square, so that the door can be 'shot' in precisely to the opening.  The clearance for the door is then planed which, (according to the instructions,) is equal all round to the thickness of the washer 'twixt the two halves of the hinge.

Once the door has been made and fitted, the cabinet can then be knocked apart and the shallow mortices marked and cut, ready to receive the hinges as it's impossible to do it when it's been glued.

What occurred to me though is that there may be a slight problem of short grain because the construction is conventional through dovetails...and right where the hinge is let into the bottom and top will be a dovetail socket!  It remains to be seen whether or not this will be the case, but I suspect that my small tins of filler will have to be consulted once it's been glued.

The door components have been 'shot' in, so the next job is to prepare the grooves for the fielded panel and then use the Domino to make the joints.  The back will be a simple veneered panel set into a rebate once the shelves are in place

Onwards and upwards...

16 August 2012

Japan XIV - Lost in Translation

Frequent perusers of the Blokeblog will have gathered by now that I spent a few weeks earlier in May touring central Japan, the details of which are well documented.  One of the first events of that epic trip was to visit one of the few remaining professional Japanese swordsmiths, Masahira Fujiyasu-san and his disciple, Nakanishi-san.

That occasion was unquestionably eventful...it's not every day that you can take part in the forging process of a Japanese sword, though over lunch it transpired that Fujiyasu-san also produced smaller 'Kozuka' katana, which are intended to be used as a paper knife, but were originally used as throwing weapons and fitted into the saya of the wakazashi.   I enquired about the cost of buying one of these knives and was told by Yasuhiko Ota-san, our guide and interpreter for the day, that they were roughly £5000, or the Japanese yen equivalent...clearly far too much.

A little dismayed, we went back to our delicious lunch and continued the discussion on some of the finer points of sword making...or as much as I could understand.  At the end of the day, we climbed into the taxi to catch the Shinkansen back to Toyko for the rest of our holiday, always regretting that we didn't have a little 'Kozuka' katana tucked carefully away in one of our bags.

But that's not the end of the story.

Returning to the UK, Ota-san sent us some of his pictures of the day and on thanking him for them, I enquired again how much any souvenirs might be, knowing that there were a selection of very small knives and of course, the little katana.

When the reply came, I realised that we had interpreted the original price incorrectly...we were out by a factor of 10!  Further emails followed over the course of the next few weeks so that yesterday a small package from Japan dropped onto the front door mat and inside...

...wrapped in it's yellow cloth, was the little 'Kozuka' katana.

The blade is true sword steel, the front face of which has been left with a textured finish onto which has been engraved part of an ancient Japanese poem.  I was also delighted to see that the highly polished back has a simple hamon, clearly visible when it's held up to the light. 

Even better, Masahiro Fujiyasu-san's stamp and signature...

...is clear to see on the reverse of the saya, or scabbard.

It's virtually impossible to own a full size, professionally made sword (indeed it's illegal now to import them into the UK without a special licence) so this is without doubt the closest that I'm ever going to get.

09 August 2012

Olympian Omnipresence...

The latest project is taking shape quite nicely in the 'shop.  Apart from the hideous goof with the 'double dutchmens' it's all gone reasonably well.  The top and bottom were fiendishly difficult to fit as there were eight corners that had to match at the intersections of the 45deg styles...

...not easy, in fact bloody difficult!  Some are indeed slightly 'out' but by the time the final sanding has been done, they should be 'fudged and smudged' to fit.

In the pics shown, you can also see the slot routed out for the Krenovian style door catch, which will be  made in some fairly dense Indian Ebony.

More to my utter surprise, it's gone together absolutely dead square, correct to the nearest .25mm, which in theory...only in theory mind, ought to make hanging the door a little easier.

But I hate and detest with an absolute passion, fitting brassware and hanging doors.  It is, without question, the most difficult part of any job!

The 45deg corner styles mean that conventional brass butts weren't going to work...I needed some offset knife hinges from Classic Hand Tools at around £30 or so.

And then the 'fone rang.  It was the editor, Derek Jones at F&C and '...did I want to review a few sets of hinges from Lee Valley?' for the magazine.

Fortuitous indeed, because within a couple of days, the lovely postie had dropped a packet of no less than four pairs of hinges on the front door mat, so now I had a pair for the walnut job and a pair to fit into a small  cabinet for the magazine.  As I've never fitted them before, it's going to be good practice...

...so yesterday afternoon was spent preparing some oddments of oak...

...for a little cabinet with a couple of shelves.

Sometimes those Olympian gods do smile on a Bloke...but it doesn't happen very often, more's the pity!

04 August 2012

Tourniquet Triumph...

To say this little cabinet is proving difficult is like saying that Hannibal had a fun time crossing the Alps, but he eventually accomplished what he set out to do, as will I...sort of, eventually.  Although the side frames glued onto the back panel without too much angst, they didn't go on squarely and each one was slightly out by a few degrees.

The upshot of this 'out of squareness' is that it massively compounds the difficulty in fitting the top and bottoms, as they have to intersect with eight separate corners, so the problem I had was how to pull each side frame square?

Sash cramp?...too heavy, so it wouldn't stay in place.  Each frame only needed to be pulled around 5 or 10 degrees, so very little force was needed.

The answer was the simplest of all cramping methods and I like simple.  Simple is good. 

A couple of very light tourniquets were applied...no more than a dozen turns on the cord and each of the frames was gradually pulled dead square.

Sometimes I really do have these 'eureka moments' but more often than not they're accompanied by periods of utterly dismal goofs!..

...one of which nearly happened when I was fitting the the bottom.  The mitres on the corners were initially marked out with my Richard Kell sliding bevel, shown in the pic below. 

As you can see, it tightens with a knurled knob, which is fine for transferring a pencil line, but when I applied pressure to the blade with a marking knife, the bloody thing slipped and I then proceeded to cut the wrong angle.  Fortunately I picked up the 'goof' when I offered it up to the job so it was easily corrected by gluing on another slither of walnut to the edge.

Not so much 'tourniquet triumph' as a (sliding) 'bevel balls-up!

I think Hannibal had it easy.

02 August 2012

Timber Teaze?

A little more progress has been made on the current job, but because of the convoluted method of construction, it's proving a lot more tricky to get the damn thing together, but it's coming...slowly.  The main issue is the corner styles, set in at 45deg which have compounded the build no end, added to which is the little sticky-up bit which is making life considerably more complicated that it need be, but I hope (fingers and every thing else crossed) that it'll all work out in the end.

In the pic below, the flat on the corner style to accommodate the top and bottom is:

... being chiseled flat with a nice sharp Japanese paring chisel and is shown:

...above finished.

These wretched corner styles have to be planed with a small radius, easily done with the Veritas LA jack, but not so easy to hold the frame, until I realised that many moons ago, when I built the bench, I also:

...had the unimaginable and utterly brilliant foresight (which you'll have to agree is about as rare as bloody hens teeth!) to have a section of the bench well that was removable.  This means of course, that you can use a cramp from both sides of the top.

Sometimes, my undoubted genius is enough to make my head spin...had I been recruited to work at Cern, the Higgs-Boson would have had to be renamed as the Bloke-Boson!

With a lot of care, the basic carcase went together quite well:

...though it's not quite square, so I'm hoping (fingers and all other appendages crossed...again) that the top and bottom will eventually pull it into alignment.

On a completely different note, Fujiyasu-san (the Swordsmith) gave me a couple of bits of timber.  The first, shown below is quite heavy and is called 'haze' (pronounced 'haazeh') but the...

...second, shown below, is a complete mystery.  It's hard, heavy and wonderfully figured, but I haven't a clue what it is.

If anyone can throw some illumination on the problem I'd be quite happy to cancel your subscription the the Blokeblog!