Sunday, November 19, 2017

Axe handles and children

I was looking at some old posts on my blog, and ended up looking a one where Olav had made a new handle for a hatchet. 

One of the comments was from Suzanne Deslauriers. She suggested to read the poem called "Axe handles" by Gary Snyder. 
(I haven't got the permission to print the poem, and I don't want to mess up with any copyrights to it, so I have simply linked to the poem instead. And that site states that it has got a permission.)

It is a delight to get such comments to the blog, because the poem is really well written and spot on for me. I guess that a lot of people into woodworking feels it the same way. If Suzanne hadn't commented on the post, I would never have known about its existence. So thanks a lot for bringing it to my attention.

I once made an axe handle too - together with Gustav when he was a lot younger, and I remember it being a good experience. But that was before I knew about the poem. And I also think it was before I wrote a blog, at least I haven't got any pictures of it. But the axe still hangs in its place in the shop - ready to be used. I will have to ask Gustav if he remembers making it, but I am pretty sure that he does.

I have let my children use an axe since they were very small. At first they used one together with me, so we helped each other to hold it correctly and stand in the correct position, legs lightly spread to give a good stability and to avoid hitting the shins if the axe should slip. Later when they turned a bit older they would split small scraps of wood on their own while in the shop with me, and proudly carry the tiny pieces into the house and present them as kindling to Mette.

Even today, if we go the the summerhouse, one of the first things they help find are a couple of axes, so they can trim some of the wild saplings and split firewood. I am totally confident in that they use the tool with the necessary respect, and I have never had the reason to remind them about how to use it safely. So I guess that all the education and practice has paid off.

I think that an axe has a strong appeal to a child, because it is a real tool, and a smaller model is not just designed to be a toy, but it is really a smaller version that is fully capable of doing the same type of work as a large axe can do.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Making a set of eccentric drawbore pins.

I like to drawbore. But I haven't got any drawbore pins. This hasn't stopped me in any way, but once in a while I have thought that it might not be a bad idea to have some, so that I could test fit the joint before gluing and inserting the pegs.

I read a bit up on the various ideas behind it on the Internet, and it seems as there are a two models normally employed, both tapered along the length of the protruding part of the steel:
One version has a cylindrical shape of the tapered part  all the way.
The other version has got a not completely rounded shape of the tapered part. (popular called eccentric)

I guess that the eccentric model can either be of an elliptic shape, or it could just be a circular shape with part of the perimeter moved inwards.

I am going to try to make a set of drawbore pins based on the last idea. I can't really see any advantages of a pure elliptical shape over the flattened circular shape, but there is a lot more work involved in making a tapered elliptic piece of steel compared to the flattened model.

After a bit of testing to try our some ideas I had regarding how to do it, I ended up with this way of getting the wanted result:

First a piece of steel is mounted as usual in the 3 jaw chuck, and the far end is supported by the live center.
I adjust the compound rest to a 1 degree taper, meaning that the including taper will be 2 degrees.
I then take some passes only using the compound rest, to make a tapered section. I stop when the thin end is approximately half the diameter of the steel rod.
I then have to move the main apron to continue the taper. That is because the travel distance of the compound rest is only 2.75".  Once I have completed the taper to its final length, I stop.

The next step is to remove the old hole for the live center, so I can make a new one.
The new hole is made eccentric by adding a distance piece under one of the jaws in the chuck. In this case the distance  piece is an old washer.
I leave the washer in place and make sure to orient the steel bar in the same way, and again use the chuck and the live center.
The eccentric mounting of the live center and the washer between the steel bar and the jaw now causes the entire piece to be wobbling in the lathe. Or more correctly it is eccentric mounted with a throw equal to the thickness of the washer.

I bring the turning tool into contact with the piece and repeat the process of making a small taper. I removed 0.6 mm (3/128") while making this second taper.

The result is a nice and shallow taper and if the piece is rotated there is a slight difference of the aforementioned 3/128".
As far as I have understood the idea of this is that you insert the flattened part into the drawbored holes, and then you twist the tool to tighten up the joint.

I am going to try to  harden the drawbore pins before making some octagonal handles for them.

So far I have made two sets, 4 - 8 mm (5/32" - 5/16") and 5 - 10 mm(25/128" - 25/64")

Eccentric drawbore pins

Turning the taper

Getting ready for making the pin eccentric.
Note the washer between the left jaw and the workpiece.

This should show that there is a flattened ace on the pin.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Getting off the couch (chimney cupboard)

One of my long time couch builds has been a chimney cupboard as built by Bob Roziaeski for Popular Woodworking Magazine some years ago.
I think that it is fair to say that the greatest obstacle for me when it comes to such a build, is to glue up some boards to the correct width for me to use. I don't know why I have such a hard time pulling myself together to glue up some wide panels, but it is just the way it is.

Anyway, this Saturday evening, I started the project, determined to finish the cupboard before going back to sea. The idea was to put the cupboard into the saddle room, to help organize some of the smaller stuff used for the horses, so it wouldn't be a deal breaker if the surfaces weren't super smooth which can be hard to obtain with larch sometimes.

Saturday and Sunday was spent gluing up stock and dressing it to the correct thickness by means of the jointer/planer.
I wanted to prove to myself that I was able to make a speedy build without too much fussing over details. I decided that I could use my router instead of a dado plane, since I haven't got one of those, and I think that a router is a bit faster.
The rabbet along the back edge of the sides were made with a moving filister plane.

I pretty much followed the descriptions from the magazine, but instead of making a groove for the floating panels for the doors, I made a rabbet with the router and squared up the corners using a chisel. Then I sawed some thin strips to hold the panels in place.
An advantage with this approach compared to a groove is that it is very easy to assemble the door frame at first, and then fitting the panel to the hole. The downside is that it doesn't look quite as nice. But the ease and speed of this construction method trumped.
The raised panels were also made on the table saw instead of using the moving filister plane. That worked really well and was very fast.

For the hinges I used some that I had purchased from Lidl. they are very coarse compared to the hinges that I regularly use, but they fitted the project quite nicely.

Two small porcelain knobs and a couple of toggles to keep the doors closed made up the rest of the build.

While visiting Brian Eve in Garmisch a couple of years ago, I bought some "old fashioned milk paint" from a local dealer in the town.
I have never seen it for sale in Denmark, and I have been hoarding the paint ever since - waiting for just the right project.
I decided that this cupboard would look just fine in Lexington green, so I mixed the small bag of powder and started painting.
The paint was very interesting to use, it dries quickly and covers really well. I like the chalky texture and colour of the finished surface too, so I am tempted to try to make some experiments with milk paint at some point.

Once the paint had dried, the toggles and knobs were mounted back in place again, and Asger helped installing the cupboard in the saddle room, and he also helped organize the various small pieces of equipment so the shelves were soon filled.

Mette really likes the cupboard and she thinks that it is almost too nice to keep in the saddle room. So with a bit of luck I might be "allowed" to make another one at some point.

Chimney cupboard, Lexington green

Mounting the panels with strips, "horns" not trimmed yet.

Completed cupboard.

After first coat of paint.


Chimney cupboard with open doors.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 16, staircase installed.

After preparing all the individual steps of the staircase, I hand planed them front and back plus the upside before mounting them in the stringers.
I had to keep reminding myself that it is for a barn, so I shouldn't go all wild in trying to achieve some show surface on the underside.
Mounting the steps was straight forward. But as I discovered, doing this on top of the workbench wasn't a smart idea.
I had to apply a couple of clamps to keep everything together so I could lift it down to the ground where I would be able to hammer in some nails.
A little bit of forward thinking would have been nice here.. (but that is not my strongest card).

I hammered in one nail per step, and then turned the assembly over so I could square it up before pounding in the nails from the other side.
When I had bashed in all the nails on that side I again flipped it over and hammered in the last set of nails on the first side. My idea was that if I had put in both nails in the first side straight away, it might have been more difficult to square it up.

The individual steps were sawed flush to the side that will be facing the wall, and sawed at an angle to the side facing the room. This is something I have seen on most old stairs, and I like the subtle elegance of this ornamentation.

The completed staircase was loaded into my trailer and I drove it to the summerhouse.
While maneuvering the assembly out of the shop I became aware that it wasn't very easy to move around single handed. But I managed in the end.

At the small barn, I mounted the assembly by means of a bit of ingenuity, a cargo securing strap and a couple of clamps.

As per Mettes suggestion, I have wrapped up the barn project for this time, since I'll be heading back to work in a weeks time.


The installed staircase.

Mounting the steps in a stringer.

This would have been smarter to do at the floor.

Flipping over the assembly.

The only decorative elements of the staircase.


Progress on the attic.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 15, work on the staircase and a small setback.

There isn't much to be said about the work progress at the small barn, installing all those boards takes a longer time than I anticipated while sitting on the ship. I had the unrealistic idea that I could install them all in a matter of a couple of days. That has not been the case. I'll admit that I haven't worked exceptionally long hours out there.
Instead I have taken my time in the morning, driven out there slowly. Taken Bertha for a long walk along the shore before making a pot of tea. And then I have started on the actual work. I have generally tried to stop around 2-3 P.M. to be home in the afternoon with the children.
Today I hope to be able to install some of the last boards, and then I'll see if I can complete the staircase.

The small setback occurred Sunday afternoon. I was supposed to drive to Viborg to pick up Asger from a goalkeeper camp, and I decided to take the green Volvo Valp. I had to bring some large boxes for my older brother, and Mette wanted to use the regular Volvo to pull the horse trailer so she could ride in the forest with a friend.
I have changed the ignition coil, the points and the capacitor on the green Valp, and it ran like a sewing machine. All the way till I reached the middle of Sallingsundbroen (the main bridge leading to our island). At that point the engine suddenly died completely.
After testing the starter button, I found that the engine could turn, but it turned much faster than normally. I then tried to look into the rocker arm cover by removing the oil filler cap - and nothing moved at all in there.
These old Volvo engines haven't got a timing chain or a timing belt. Instead they operate with timing gears. The middle gear is made out of some sort of fiber and does not last forever...
After checking with an old mechanic who's a friend of mine, he said that nothing is damaged inside the engine when this occurs. So I just have to order a new set of timing gears and replace them. I think that might be a job for the next time I am home.

Following the advice of Nathan Simon, I used a framing square for the lay out.

View from the bridge (to the North).

View to the East.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 14, starting on the staircase.

In the evenings I have tried to start out on the staircase for the  small barn. The work is not very efficient, since both Gustav and Asger have started some projects in the shop too. I try to help them out, and once they are tucked into bed, I'll have something like an hour where I can use the shop by myself.
I have milled the steps, and they are pretty close to the thickness of the floor boards (1.75"). The two longitudinal parts of the staircase (I have no idea what the correct English word is?) Are a bit thinner. I would have liked them to be the same size, but the two boards that I had of the correct width were fairly twisted, so it took some thickness to get them flat and level. I suppose that I could have milled some new boards, but they would not have been as dry as those, and they finally ended up something like 1 3/8" which I think will be strong enough.

I have been looking as Das Zimmermannsbuch  for some inspiration, and they suggest that for the more modern approach you should attache the steps by means of sliding dovetails.
An older and simpler method is to just use a groove and either make a tenon on half of the steps or secure the steps by means of nails. I think that I'll go with the groove and nails model. Because the barn is supposed to be kept a bit simple.

Right now I have had to devise some special workholding, in order to be able to joint the edges of the longitudinal parts.
10' is a bit too long for my workbench, but perhaps that could justify building another and larger one?

There will be very 8" in height difference between each step, and the angle of the stairs will be 58 degrees. So it will be a fairly steep staircase, but this is to avoid that it will take up too much space in the relatively small room of the barn.

Asger sanding a cutting board. Gustav's apple crates are in the background-

My co-driver Bertha sniffing the fresh autumn air.


Workholding of the long parts of the staircase.


Monday, October 30, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 13, internal boards.

I have been making some progress on the internal boards for the small barn.
Those were the boards that I had to shift inside as I was called to work a week earlier than anticipated.
So the first task was to shift all of them out again. I decided that I could work around the table that was inside, but I still needed to move the chairs and a bit of other stuff outside before starting the actual work.

The boards are the same type as those that were put on the sub roof. It is not a typical type of boards to use for internal paneling/boards, but it is of a much better quality than the regular type used. In Denmark the usual boards to be used would be something called "rustic boards". They are made out of the surplus Christmas trees that grew to fast so they were too large to sell. The distance between the growth rings is typical 3/8" or thereabouts, so the wood is of an exceptionally poor quality. The shape is like a tongue and groove board with the tongue something like 1/2" too long. So once the boards are mounted, there is a trench between each board. They are available in various widths and either nature, or artificially whitened, smooth or rough sawn.
But that aside - I chose the other type because I think they look better in a classic barn, and they were actually cheaper per square meter (or square foot if you like).

I mount the boards using regular nails. I know that a pneumatic nail gun is faster, but I actually like to hammer in nails, so I go for the slow and old fashioned way.

Once all the boards are mounted, I plan on putting some strips of wood in the corners and around the window sills, to cover the gaps.


Internal boards mounted.

The "famous" stack..