Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Seed Bench

Another quick and dirty 'project'...and still distracted by the gardening bug.

We needed a small bench on which to germinate our seeds indoors and then later put outdoors as the weather warms up. I certainly wasn't going to pay the ridiculous garden center prices, especially on something that might exposed to the weather! 

So ...
An afternoon's work, a handful of basic tools, an old broken pallet and some pieces of recycled wood from the dump for the legs and a £1.35 bag of screws later...
Our 'new' seed propagation bench was born.
These are the tools used, a square, pencil, gimlet (i love gimlets), screwdriver, chisels and a small saw.

It's not built to last a lifetime and it's not pretty ... but, It's functional, almost free and it was a great way to spend an afternoon!
Broken and discarded pallets can be a readily available and free useful source of wood, so keep your eye out for them!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Work Bench Repair

As mentioned previously, my poor little bench recently decided to give up the ghost and collapse on me.

Until, I get round to building a proper bench, I have decided to make some 'improvements / repairs' so I can at least carry on working wood. It's been ages since I have actually built anything useful!....

Anyway, the first thing to do was to lower the bench height by a good few inches. I have always found it hard to get some weight squarely over the plane and pushing sideways rather than downwards increases the lateral forces being exerted on the poor little bench frame therefore increasing the racking.
The bench felt quite a bit more stable immediately the legs were shortened.  Next, add some bracing...
I had some pieces of wood that were perfect for the job!

With the four braces added and reduced height, I could really feel the bench frame start to stiffen up.

One of the biggest annoyances with this beginners bench has been work holding. All the dog holes are some stupid small size (~ 15mm) and not the normal 3/4" (19mm). Even if they were the correct size, the bench top is not thick enough to use holdfasts or hold downs. Also, even without the drawer on the front face of the bench, the bench top skirt made clamping almost impossible. I decided to put in some 'blocking' underneath the bench to thicken it up and bring it closer the the thickness of the bench top skirt.

The first job was to rip and glue up some timber to form a panel of the correct width. It only had to be flat(ish) on the side that was to be glued and vaguely square as it was not going to be seen - Its a workbench not a piece of furniture.
This panel, was then both glued and screwed to the underside of the bench top making the bench top now a good 2" (50mm) thick.
I used counter sunk screws from the bench top down into the blocking panel and also reused the screw holes that used to hold the draw rails on the front edge to secure the panel.

Lastly, with the timber I had left, I added a large brace across the front of the bench, this is in line with the bench top edge, so could be useful for planning the edges of large boards such as table tops.
With the thicker bench top and no drawer in the way, I can now easily use F-Clamps to clamp work on the front face of the bench and the whole bench feels a lot more secure.

I am not expecting miracles from these quick and dirty additions, but the bench is definitely better than it was. I will get round to re-drilling the dog holes and maybe get some Veritas Wonder Dogs and Hold Fasts for it, as although quite pricey, they could be reused on a new bench in the future. Maybe build a Moxon style bench vice?

At least I have a working bench again...for now anyway!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

New Axe Fun

Just a quick post...

I have been playing with my new Axe and 'carved' a basic cooking spatula and kitchen spoon. Neither of which are finished yet, so this is more of a progress report really. 

The wood is from a small Ornamental Cherry tree that I cut down from the garden a few weeks back and is soaking wet green. I don't really know much about Green Wood Working (yet), so I imagine I have to leave things to dry out before they can be finished? Any advice from readers would be appreciated!

The cooking spatula is functional from a 'Bushcraft' perspective but that's about it!

I should have paid more attention to the small knots, the main one causing problems is on the side and there is another tiny one in the center of the 'blade' - A lesson learnt. Once the wood has dried out I will try and sand a finish on it and oil it properly.

As for the spoon, well these pics are straight off the axe I haven't touched it with a knife yet.

I have tried to keep the handle of the spoon the same design as the spatula as if by some miracle this little project was a success then they would make a nice matching pair. I don't have a Crook knife yet so I cant even begin on the bowl of the spoon. 

One thing I am very wary of and that is not getting too attached to these little creations. The 'baton mallet' I made last week has self destructed in the warmth of the central heating. Not so surprising I guess, Green Wood + Warm House = Cracked Wood. This is quite extreme cracking though!

Oh well - it still works (for now)...

 It's certainly fun to just be able to sit down and hack into a piece of wood with an axe and make something 'vaguely' recognisable. It's surprising how quickly you learn different techniques according to the accuracy of the cuts required. I am looking forward to getting some better wood as these pieces are just what I had in the garden. I'd love to try a bowl out of birch or something similar. 

If the spoon and spatula don't 'self destruct' while drying out or before I acquire a crook knife, I'll get these finished and post the results despite how bad they look - It's all part of the adventure!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Lack of Motivation

Another post last!... Sadly again without in any real useful or interesting content.
Lately (as regular readers can probably tell), I have been lacking motivation in the wood working department - for a number of reasons. 

Firstly,  I don't have any wood around that's suitable for any of the things I'd actually like to make - such as a tool chest. My 'Timber Investment' is still drying out in the shed and wont really be ready for anything other than really rustic work and gardening projects for a little while and I am too tight to purchase more premium cost wood from the timber yard.

Secondly, in my quest to escape the timber merchant, I have been trying to process the raw billets of Oak and Walnut with a lot of frustration! While my little bench was fine for pre planed wood, it's simply not man enough to handle the rough 'scrubbing' of the billets down to usable dimensions. The poor thing racked so violently, it almost fell to pieces!

The base twisted so badly that the bottom shelf fell out and I swear the bench tried to escape from me by smashing through its supporting wall! Anyway, ... I will try and brace the bench up and bite the bullet and make it as low as possible to see if that helps with planing, while I try and ignore the obvious - Make a PROPER BENCH!

And I thought everybody was building Roubo benches just because they were just fashionable!

Lastly, being as OCD as I am, I find it really hard to obsess about more than a single topic of interest at any one time and lately that topic of interest has been gardening.  The gardening obsession was born through my overall interest in 'Self Sufficiency', which in turn has led me back to wood working, albeit of a slightly different nature this time. As I have cut down a few small trees in the garden lately, I find myself  staring at their small trunks and wondering if there's any usable wood inside...

I found a guy selling really cheap (less than £30 inc P&P) Froes on Ebay. It's not hand forged or anything fancy but it's certainly good at it's job. I really wish I'd had this tool while in France playing with the Oak and Walnut logs. I 'carved' a mallet for it from one of the small trees, to save my Beech chisel mallet from being ruined. I have also 'invested' in a really nice Wetterlings hatchet, which is hand forged and lovely. 

A Hook Knife is still on the shopping list.... Spoons, Bowls and Kuksas here I come!... And, you don't need a bench!

More to come...