30 August 2013

TIT Co Ltd.

Bags are packed and in the words of the 60's tune, "I'm ready to go".  Ten nights in Barbados staying at the SoCo Hotel.

Luvly Jubbly!

26 August 2013

Sneaky Stuff...I & II

This cabinet, for some reason best known to itself, appears to be coming  together reasonably well.

To date, apart from one blindingly obvious 'cock up' there haven't been too many serious blunders and if all goes to plan, it should be finished reasonably soon.

That said, Plan 'A' was for the 'Titanic' to get to NYC in one piece.

However, it seems likely that nothing quite so calamitous is going to happen, so the pic above shows the back being fitted into the rebate. The very wide rail at the bottom will in fact, be behind the drawer unit, but if you look at the width of the remaining carcase side, there isn't enough space to fit the keyhole slot to hang the cabinet....something that's irritated me for a while.

Enter the first little sneaky 'fix'.  By gluing on another separate 50mm block slightly narrower than the rebate, it now...

...provides enough material to make the hanging slot and all I needed to do was to cut out a corresponding housing in the edge of the back panel stile.

I also thought it would  be a good idea to join the fixed shelf to the back panel...but how to mark out the  exact position of the biscuits slots?  The answer was surprisingly simple.

Enter the second sneaky fix.  Bang veneer pins, (arrowed) into the dead centre of the biscuit slots in the shelf, nip of the heads so they're just proud (gnats maybe?) and offer up the back panel.

A light tap with a soft maul as the panel locates is enough to leave a couple of tiny holes to mark the position of the corresponding slots.

Not so much 'righty tighty'...definitely 'sneaky beaky'.

21 August 2013

Righty tighty...more gnats.

Here begineth the lesson...fitting dovetails, part deux.  In compiling this entry, I make the not unnatural assumption that anyone taking the time and effort to read this will be able to cut to a line.  What follows are my own deductions on how this particular joint goes together, but you've probably worked it all out already.

Shown below is a gash off-cut of elm, split into two, with the shoulder lines marked and one dovetail cut, approx 25mm wide.  The shoulder line has been chiseled...I never leave them straight from the saw as the fuzzy edge is simply not accurate enough.

Once the tail(s) has been cut, use whatever method you like to transfer the tail(s) onto the other half to mark the socket(s).  I'm using a Robert Ingham jig here which I made a few years ago.

This, though is where the process gets cunning.  Many people assume that the end of the tail and the surface of the socket board should be flush.

Big, biggy mistake!

Dovetails go together by the shoulder line (arrowed above) pulling tightly against the inside face of the socket board and the only way to make this happen is have the dovetail....

...proud by half-a-gnats.  Once the socket has been cut, the tail should have some easement chiseled onto the inside leading edges...

...so that the joint can then be tested.  You'll find that as the tail is tapped into the socket, the shoulder line on the tail section tends to go backwards by the merest fraction, making the joint very, very tight...almost impossible to go together as the dovetail is now the same fraction larger than the socket.

Difficult to get your head round, but logical eventually!

The way to make the joint fit is to ease the sides of the socket with a wide paring chisel, just enough to remove...

...the saw marks and check to visually see that the sides are dead square.  Never, ever, try to ease the joint by paring the tails themselves...disaster awaits if you do that!
If everything has gone according to plan, you should find that the tail will tap down into the bottom...

....of the socket.  If it's really too tight, then take off just the merest whisper again with the paring chisel.  The joint shown above is unglued and you can see the slight projections which are planed off.

Dovetails seem to be the modern 'Holy Grail' of woodworkers today which is odd to me as there are a lot more difficult, cantankerous bits of joinery out there.

Ask any Japanese carpenter...

14 August 2013

Distraction...strike one!

Before the innermost secrets and wonders of making super tight dovetails are revealed (and it's not difficult) a slight distraction for your mirth and general entertainment.

I do suggest that you hold on 'righty tighty' to your seat as if your not, you'll probably fall off it!

The first pic (above) shows two bits of oak, the lower being the bottom piece of my bow fronted cabinet.  The dovetails have been cut and the housing for the drawer divider machined as well...so far so good.

The top piece is the fixed shelf.  Click on the pic and you'll see that the shoulders line up perfectly, the housing joint has been magnificently machined to a smoooooooth sliding fit in the cabinet sides and the stopped housing joint for the divider lines up 'spot on'....

....except that if you look really carefully and have been paying full attention, you'll also realise that the stopped housing on the underside has been machined from the wrong bloody edge!

Hands up if you've been there, got the T shirt, worn it till it's a frayed rag and then torn it up for dusters?

I told you sit tight...

10 August 2013

Righty Tighty...

In the previous post I was wittering on about marking out dovetails...not a particularly difficult thing to do.

Once you know how it's done!

However, here's a slightly different approach which I think, in my misguided wisdom, looks more interesting.

On the face of it it just looks like a row of dovetails being fitted into their respective sockets but if you click on the pic, you'll see that first and foremost, there's an odd number...7.

Second and foremost, each tail increases in width by 2mm from each side, with one central tail being the widest, but...all the pins are the same thickness.  This isn't difficult to achieve, but means that the proportions need to be worked out exactly on paper before the tails are marked.

Third and foremost, those joints are really tight, with the sides of the sockets being releived slightly with a Japanese paring chisel.  Even so, they still need a fairly large rubber maul to knock them together.

If anyone's remotely interested, I can show how it's done next time.

Probably not though.....

03 August 2013

Measuring in Gnats.

This is strictly against my religion...a Blokeblog 'how to' guide, which has been specifically produced for a Facebook friend, struggling with the task of setting out dovetails.

Hell's teeth, if I have to do any more of these, I may have to take up drink...

So, here we go.  How to mark out dovetails, quick and easy without making any bloody mistakes...

They come later!

Firstly, sort out the wood (maple used here) so the end has been planed dead square and true, then mark off the shoulder line (12mm in this case) and knife it in all way round.

Secondly, measure in from each side along the shoulder line, half the thickness of the wood plus a gnats todger.  The maple here is 10mm thick, so I've measured in 6mm, a gnat's todger being a mm.

Mark these two points arrowed as small dots with an awl...

...and then mark the first two slopes, here 1:8 as it's a hardwood.  Black biro used so the lines can be seen.

This particular piece of maple measured...

...85mm, so if the general 'rule of thumb' is used, the tail ought to be around 25mm, so three required here.  Place the wood in the vice and with a little experimentation, divide the distance between the lines exactly in three by just stepping out across the end from the line at one end until it finishes on the other line.

Then...and here's the cunning bit, make the distance between the divider points a fraction bigger...maybe half a gnats todger and step out from the right hand side to make...

...two dots, arrowed.  Keeping the distance between the dividers the same, step out now from the 

...left hand side to make another pair of dots, each dot being rigtht alongside the other and being separated by the proverbial gnats thingie!

Use a square (or dovetail gauge in this case) to turn the pair of dots into parallel lines...

...and then draw down to the shoulder line...

...to make three identical dovetails.  The distance across the bottom of each narrow pin ought, if the marking out has been done correctly, to be equal to, or a fraction bigger than the width of the dovetail chisel used to remove the waste.  If it's too narrow, simply set the dividers a little bigger.

A gnats todger should do it!

01 August 2013

Scary September

As the weather Gods have smiled on us this summer, there's been little stuff of any real consequence happening in the 'shop, as gardening projects, namely the second section of a raised terrace have taken priority.

However, that's more or less finished now...

...and provided SWIMBO doesn't find me any more outside projects to do, I'm back in the woodworking saddle.  Andy Ryall's from Phoenix Oak Framing though, did ask if...

"I'd buried anyone under them?"  and I replied that the previous day, 'er indoors had commented that...

"progress simply hadn't been fast enough....Robert!!"

My reaction to Andy's question, naturally enough, was that the ''thought did occur''.....

The moisture meter has finally been delivered and nice little thing it is too, pretty accurate as well, though I was surprised to see that none of my timber in the 'shop was registering on it, which leads to the conclusion that a) it was broke or b) my wood was really, really dry.  In fact it's so dry it's actually below 6% MC which is the reason that there was no reading.

Work has started on the Bow Fronted Cabinet...

...as well.  The piece of crown cut, air dried oak that I picked up at Yandles in the Spring is really proving to be a mother of piece of wood.  It's very old and as we all know, the older oak gets, the harder it is to work (something to do with the tannin in it) but the few shavings produced in the pic had the sweat dripping!  The good news is that it was also too tough for the worm that had infested one side (shown) as after a few shavings, the holes had all but disappeared and I'm confident that once it's to size there won't be any.

Last Christmas, I joined the Southern Fellowship of Woodworkers and yesterday I received an email asking if I would be prepared to give a talk in September on 'Secret Drawers', so, feeling fairly chuffed with myself and inwardly preening, I nonchalantly agreed.

It now transpires that there will be 30+ woodies hanging eagerly onto my every syllable...

...and I'll have to use PowerPoint, a microphone with speakers and a digital camera set up!

Bloody hell!...as an ex-teacher I'm used to standing up and shouting, with recourse to lobbing a bit of chalk if anyone falls asleep.