24 November 2012

To Squish or not to Squish?

You might be forgive for wondering what this:

...little block of oak is for?  It has a square hole going through the length and a 6mm groove on the underside.  The answer is that the hole fits my Chalco stamp...

...so that when it's fitted into said orifice it:

...pokes out thus.  If you've ever tried to use on of these stamps, they're notoriously difficult to use properly by 'tapping' with a maul...it's either too hard, or too soft and very difficult to find the right 'Goldilocks' sweet-spot (which also depends on the hardness of different timbers) and of course, once struck it can't be re-tapped 'cos it won't line up!

So what happens to the slot?...said slot then fits over a:

...sash cramp bar, so that when the test piece (rosewood here) is  squarely supported:

...I found a half-turn on the tommy-bar was enough to make a very satisfactory:

...makers mark.  Something softer like a piece of mahogany took a quarter turn...and turning a cantankerous, awkward little job like this into something with a little control is quite satisfying.

I thank you....

19 November 2012

Ditherations...the Deux

Some say that I'm a procrastinating sort of bloke, which is ever so  slightly a little bit unfair. If I weren't such a delicate, caring sort of soul, that accusation could be mortally upsetting and liable to see me lying down in a dark room somewhere.

So I don't procrastinate...but I do dither, a little.  Are they the same thing?...perhaps only the Tooth Fairy has the answer to that one.

However, I digress, or dither...see?...told you!...and as can be seen from the accompanying pic, I've started a new cabinet today, this time one with double doors and an ash stand.  The carcase work is still in English Walnut with the two panels part of the same 1970's job that the back panel of the Mask Cabinet was made from and all parts of the door frames are book matched...or as near as damn it.

The particular ditheration on this occasion was this.

Do I make the doors first and then the cabinet, or the cabinet first and make the doors to fit?

To be fair, I've been pondering on this for weeks but this morning the penny finally, finally dropped (and yes, it's taken a long time).  It's the finite size of the existing panels that will ultimately determine the overall length and height of the finished cabinet.

Now that load is off my pea sized brain, I can get back to the job.

...until the next ditheration rears it's ugly head.

12 November 2012

The Shot Edge

Quite a bit of the stuff I make involves veneering of one sort or another, usually for a back panel or more often for a carcase side(s) and I'll often use commercial grade veneer (0.6mm thick) but these days I much prefer to saw my own on the big bandsaw.

No matter what sort of veneer is used though, it's still got to be jointed...somehow.

And therein lies the difficulty...or could be if you don't go about it the right way.

When I first started to veneer stuff several years ago, I tried all sorts of ways to get that elusive pair of mating edges.  The obvious way is to use a steel straight edge and knife, but a Stanley blade has a double bevel, so even if you manage to cut a pair accurately, they meet with a 'V' which simply isn't acceptable.

The next alternative is to use a single bevel knife and I found the best ones were made from an oddment of machine hacksaw blade...grind it correctly, wrap a piece of masking tape round one end and you've made yourself a wicked little knife.  Use this against a thick piece of 18mm mdf and provided the veneer doesn't splinter when it's sliced, you may be onto a winner...

...except that 99 times out of a 100, the damn stuff will splinter no matter how carefully and methodically you make the cuts.

The only way to give yourself a fighting chance to produce pair of mating edges is to make a veneer shooting board, where a couple of consecutive leaves are cramped and then shot in using the longest plane you can get lay your hands on..in this case it's 'Big Woody' on the runway.

The veneer shoot is fine for commercial veneer, but it's also essential if you use bandsawn veneer, which can be 2mm and upwards in thickness... your'e on a hiding to nothing if you try and cut the stuff with a knife!  It could be cut on the tablesaur or with a router, but the veneer shoot is by far the easiest method.

Once all the leaves have been jointed, apply the veneer tape, glue and then slide swiftly...

...into the AirPress bag for a couple of hours.  I usually cover the job with paper to prevent any glue 'squeeze out' sticking to the inside of the bag and I also only veneer one side at a time with a job this big.

10 November 2012

Furry 'Friends'...Ha!

The roller and gloss paint brush have been wielded yet again in the hallway, have been cleaned, dried and put away.  The ceramic tiles in the entrance have been laid, grouted and polished...and mighty smart they look too. The stairs are awaiting the imminent arrival of the new carpet and carpet fitter next week, so things are moving on apace.

However, over coffee this morning, SWIMBO declared that a 'consultation' was required (and being of moderately sound mind, a debatable issue I know) as to the placement of pictures various which is a fair enough point.

Having agreed where they should be hung, I scurried around to find some suitable masonry nails and my trusty DIY claw hammer, after which I merrily proceeded to hang the first few...no problem there.

I then realized that I was a nail short, so I again scurried out to the 'shop, found another one, came back into the bedroom and looked round for my hammer.

Except it was gorn...vanished!  Now being a fairly sanguine, level headed sort of bloke I don't usually believe in gremlins, but I'm convinced that there's a pack of the bloody things hanging off my right shoulder (and probably the left on as well) because no matter where I looked, the hammer had vanished...disappeared!

Was it in the room...did I put it down somewhere? Nope.

Did I take it out to the 'shop whilst I was looking for that last nail?..negative!

Had I left it by my DIY indoors tool box, or maybe put it back?..dry hole!

A bit despondently I went upstairs to the bedroom for a final look round...and there was my hammer, lying on the bed.  Now I know it wasn't there ten minutes ago, because I looked, so what happened?
Personally, I'm convinced that my 'furry friends'...

....had secreted it somewhere when I put it down and then whilst I was out in the 'shop they miraculously made it re-appear.

Now no doubt, you're sniggering to yourself (and I don't blame you...has the Bloke finally lost it?) but the odd thing is...

...this isn't the first time it's happened.

05 November 2012

Marking Gauges

Sometimes you get jobs in the 'shop that niggle...this was one of them.  For several years I've been using a fairly simple Japanese marking gauge  from Classic Hand Tools, alas no longer available.  The long stock and wide stem, coupled with true cutting knife blade almost guarantees to make them foolproof, but in addition, the blade has around a 10deg 'toe-in' which in use draws the stock tight against the workpiece, so none of those dreaded 'tram lines'

As I had a number of oddly assorted gauges apart from this one, I reckoned a couple of new ones, using the original as a pattern might be a 'good thing'.

I started by making the bolts and silver soldered an oddment of steel into a slot in the ends...

...and then came the preparation of the material (English Oak in this case and not the original Japanese White Oak) followed by some careful routing of the slots...a 12mm one for the stem and a 4mm slot across the grain to contain the 6mm captive square nut.

A little shaping was the next little job, using the original stock as a template and then a 7mm hole was drilled down the grain for the bolt.  The next bit proved the hardest...how the hell to you make a narrow slot across the grain for the blade?

Needle file?...nope, too wide.  Warding file?...same again, too wide. You can see my abortive attempts on the trial piece of oak on the left.  Eventually, after a bit of head scratching...

...I ground down a hacksaw blade and used it to make the tapered (through the thickness) slot, the 'toe-in' can clearly be seen in the pic.  I used a couple of bits of the same blade to make the tapered blades and ground them to profile using the Tormek and a high speed grinder, so that they just tapped in with around 2mm of the cutter proud on the underside.

The backs of the stems were also rounded over to fit the routed slot in the stem.

The final bit of metalwork were two 'U' shaped pressure brackets made from...

...a couple of oddments of mild steel.  With a few passes of a smoother and the sharp corners knocked off with a block plane, the completed gauges sit...

...very well along side the original Japanese one.

So, if you're in the market for a simple gauge that really does work a treat, spend a few hours knocking up a couple of these, you won't regret it!