Sunday, 27 November 2011

I'm changing...

I'm changing... 
Yesterday we took an old heavy solid front door that we have been 'saving' in our hallway around to my girlfriends mum's house. I removed the rotten remains of another old door from her alley way and using only  hand tools.

Measured, marked and cut the 'new' door to accurately fit by hand using my panel saws. Adjusted the door frame door stops to allow the new thicker door to sit flush in the frame. Cut the frame to accept the hinges with chisels. Drilled all the pilot holes for the hinge screws and door knob with my gimlets. Finally trimmed the door edge and frame with a no#4 hand plane.

Job done ... !!!

Even though most people would view this as a 'simple job' ... A few months ago this would have been a 'Lets get a Carpenter in to do this properly' scenario.

Friday, 25 November 2011

At Last!!!...

Well after waiting for what seems like months, sending several emails regarding UK availability and keeping a close eye on the Lost Art Press website & blog and finally monitoring stock levels of it on Axminster Tools, its finally mine - At Last!!!

The Anarchist Toolchest by Chris Schwarz - The 'Modern Day Godfather' of hand tool woodworking.
I cant wait to get stuck into this book and I will do my best NOT to review it, as it seems the whole woodworking world and his wife has already done so...

So what else have I been spending money on ...

Just a few 'stocking fillers' from Axminster Tools - not that I wear stockings...
I also purchased a set of 6" and 4" dividers on Ebay. These dividers have a more reliable screw adjustment. I was given my current pair which are from an old trigonometry set that move while in use, unless you are extremely careful with them.

Aside from a few luxury items, I should be able to control my hand tool fetish for a while - at least until I have read about the 50 'essential tools' in the Anarchist Toolchest...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Small Pine Chest

This posting was started on the 10th November and has been written as the project progressed... Instead of getting stuck into the project until  completion, I had a week where I was busy with other things.

A few days ago I finally decided I need to pluck up some courage and have a go at Dovetails...
I also need to make a tool chest at some point, therefore, the decision was made to build a smaller 'practise' chest first. 

I had a few lengths of budget B-grade Pine 18mm thick and 144mm wide which is really knotty but will (hopefully) do the job. Being my first attempt at dovetails, there is a good chance I'm gonna screw up, so no point in wasting good wood - right?

I also have the remains of what looks like a Mahogany desk top with which to make a lid - if I even get that far!

First job was to roughly cut the pine boards to length and glue them together to make wider boards. After glueing I cut them to exact length and made sure they were all square with my shooting board and no#6 plane.

2 sides, a front and back and a bottom piece that hasn't been cut to any specific size yet.

Before laying out the joinery, I thought it best to practice laying out dovetails on a scrap piece of wood using instructions from a book. I wanted to layout the pin & tail spacings using dividers but each time i ended up with incorrect spacings. I even got my girlfriend involved to check my sanity following the instructions line by line and still the method didnt work. Finally I resorted to looking up Dovetail layout on good ol' Google. 

Ah ha!!!!... The book instructions were wrong! Printing or proof reading error perhaps - who knows, at least I was back on track and could now confidently layout dovetails on the chest. I could have just used common sense but wanted to learn properly - 'by the book' so to speak.

Marking out my tail boards first, both boards together to save some time.

I set my bevel gauge to a 1:6 as recommended for softwoods. I think they look nicer than 1:8 dovetails as well so this will probably be my default setting if I decide to make a dovetail jig.

Front & Back board's tails all marked out and ready for cutting - 'X' marks the waste.

Tails cut. Chopping out the waste from the tails boards was nice and easy and pretty straight forward, taking care to preserve the baseline. I took a lot of time ensuring my cutting was accurate but realised afterwards its the accuracy of the pins that makes a tight joint as these come from the tails. 

My bench isn't the most solid thing in the world so I used a huge butchers block on my saw bench so I could sit astride it and chop out the pins. These took a lot longer as my tails were pretty big and I was using a much bigger chisel.

There we go... My first ever Dovetails!!! One corner done another three to go...

It's starting to look like a box ...

After a lot of chopping, a big pile of wood chips and worrying about the neighbours complaining about the 'banging'...

I have a dovetailed box carcass. While the joints certainly are not perfect by any means they look OK and will be even better with some glue. They do look 'real purdy'...I think so anyway.

A close up of the Dovetails after gluing. The expanding glue makes them positively 'tight' and decent looking. I wish I had used better quality wood now as this was supposed to be a 'practice project'. They will look even better when I do a final finish.

Time to make a bottom for it...

I planed the bottom board for a nice 'snug' fit. I do not own a plough plane yet and decided to simply glue this bottom panel inside the carcass. 'In modern glue we trust!'. I may also add some screw or nails.

Before gluing in the bottom panel, I rubbed glue in to the end grain to seal it and better protect against a 'dry joint'.

The Titebond Polyurethane glue is strong stuff and fills out any joinery imperfections nicely, but it's messy and sticky stuff to use. It's also hard to clean up the 'squeeze out' once dry. The nail varnish remover makes cleaning and unsticking hands a lot easier.

Good 'squeeze out' all around the bottom panel. 

At this stage aside from cleaning up and finishing, the carcass is almost complete. 
Time to focus on the lid...

The lid is made from a piece mahogany which was given to me by a friend. I believe it was part of an old school desk or side bench. As you can see its covered in glue and paint and 'God Knows What!' . Also shown is the small 'lip' on one side which is about 3/4" wide by 1/4" high, which I have decided to keep and use in the final 'design' - I'm making this up as I go! 

It's such a nice feeling making accurate cuts using sharp panel saws on a proper saw bench. The saw shown is my favourite 26" monster at 5ppi rip.

Ok ... we have a (very) basic square(ish) lid, it needs a lot more refining...

Removing the saw marks and squaring the lid - End grain first.

Removing the old 'finish', paint and grime... I then chamfered all the top edges to make what I believe is called a 'raised panel'. The Mahogany handles so much nicer than Pine, I wish I had more of this stuff!

Lots of shavings later.... Nice red stuff instead of the usual white.

Unfinished Pine is so 'anaemic'...

We have an almost completed chest. I have had a nightmare with tearout while trying to finish the pine carcass. Using sandpaper helps but seems a 'cop out'. I think I am going to buy a cabinet scraper which should be able to better handle difficult wood such as this knotty Pine. I also need to buy a hinge for the lid.

Impatience! I couldn't wait and wanted to see the final finish of the lid. Here it is with a single coat of boiled Linseed oil. I will add more once the carcass is finished properly.

Ok... Final sanding done and a couple of coats of Linseed oil applied... Aside from fitting a hinge for the lid - Im gonna call it ... Done!

I have to say for a first attempt at dovetail joinery I am very happy with the result. I only really messed up one half pin on the back side at the bottom where I undercut the baseline slightly - it wont really show. The rest of the joints are quite tight. I really wish I had started with clearer, less knotty wood - oh well, I guess they add character.

Due to other commitments, my week away from the project meant I mentally 'turned off' and lost interest and motivation.. Once again I found myself racing to finish it due to impatience and my weak point is finishing. If I continue to use Pine then I think a cabinet scraper (already ordered) will be the way forward, especially as I hate sanding and the dust it creates in the house. I resharpened the plane blade, made the mouth smaller, played with the chip breaker, skewed the blade and still got lots of tear out. Practice practice practice....

I make sure that when I butt joint the two boards together, the 'cup' of the grain runs in opposite directions to minimise wood movement. So ... what is the best way to plane jointed boards when the grain of the two boards runs in opposite directions? 

All in all another great learning exercise and a good confidence builder, and ... I can add another joint to my repertoire! 

I'm really keen to have a go at a full size tool chest soon.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Groovy Baby

After much deliberation I have decided to dip my toe into purchasing (previously 'loved') hand tools on Ebay - with some initial success!

For ages I have wanted (actually needed) a Plough plane. My initial thought was to splash out on a brand spanking new Veritas Plough Plane, knowing it would be good quality and work straight out of the box without having to fettle it or remove rust or regrind blades etc. But ...  at nearly £250 quid with a selection of 5 blades, it's EXPENSIVE!!!

After some research online I found that the one of the most favoured Plough Planes are the old Record 043 & larger 044 models. The average Ebay price for the 044 in the UK seems to be around the £20-£30 mark. 

With such a cheap solution to my problem ... I found this little beauty and chanced my hand...

No rust anywhere to be seen. Complete with both long & short guide rods, the (often missing ) depth stop and a full complement of 8 (9/16" - 1/8") blades.

The blades are in really good condition and look mostly unused! Just some honing required before use.

All in the original box.

While it's probably not as good as the Veritas, I bet  it sure isn't over £200 worse!!!
Unfortunately, this purchase comes just too late for my current project I am working on, it will definitely see a lot of use in the near future and I wish I would have got one sooner! 

No more dodgy glued in box bottoms for me...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hook Board

Another super quick & dirty project...
A fast approaching birthday and the question of where to hang dog leads and keys in the pantry.

Both problems solved ...

A scrap of Pine, some dowel and some spare brass hooks I had kicking around....

I squared, chamfered edges and smoothed  with my No#4 Plane.Used a bradawl for the threaded brass hooks. Drilled the holes and glued in the dowel. A lick of boiled Linseed oil. Done!

Its Rustic....

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Quick Fix

Literally the day after finishing my Saw Bench (almost a month ago), I found myself craving a 'quick woodworking fix'. My girlfriend had just left the house to tend her horses which gave me an excuse and a couple of hours to make her a quick surprise while she was gone. 

A small offcut of Pine seemed to be shouting at me from the pile saying 'make me a box' ...

So, with no box joints or anything complicated I simply cut and squared the Pine into a few pieces and made a 'quick & dirty' butt jointed box. After squaring the sides and waiting for the glue to dry I intended to make a really simple lid the next morning. 

Unfortunately, a week away working on the boat and then being called off to France for family matters meant the box remained unfinished... Until now.

Lunchtime today, I used a second small offcut of Pine, slightly thicker and cut and planed it to size to make a simple lid. The edges were chamfered by eye to make a wedge to fit snuggly into the box top. Secondly, a small piece of Mahogany was roughly squared and then sanded to make a 'knob'. 

Job done - Another little box on her dressing table for her 'bits n bobs' - A quick fix to end my period of 'Cold Turkey'.