Sunday, June 26, 2016

What have I learned by making a timber frame.

I have now had some time to reflect on the builidng of my timber frame for the small barn by our summer house.

Technically the timber frame isn't completed yet, as I haven't installed any rafters yet, but the majority of the framing work is done.

The first lesson I have learned is that timber framing is fun. I really like making large joints and getting them to fit together. It is a lot like making a piece of furniture, except for the dimensions. And the wood that I used is not surfaced on four sides, but used straight from the mill. There is some heavy lifting involved, but given that I never go to a gym, it is probably beneficial for me to do some sort of exercise - and timber framing appeals more to me than lifting weights.

It might come as a surprise to some of you, but this project is the first one where I have used a marking knife. I am sure that is one of the things that has helped the assembly go smooth. I am so impressed with the results, that I am considering making a marking knife that I can use on some of my normal projects like dovetailing etc.

The drawings for the barn were really interesting to make, and I like that I have no one to blame if there had been any issues with wrong calculations. But everything went together as it should, and all the various parts were either level or plumb as they should be. Even when I reached the top of the frame.

Raising the frame was easier than I had feared. I had spent a lot of time wondering how I could raise the bents and if they would fall over etc. The biggest challenge was actually to assemble the lower frame or the sills.
I had made those joints a bit on the tight side, but with the help of some securing straps I managed to pull them together.

To make sure that the sills would be level, I assembled them to a frame, and then I leveled out that frame by placing it on top of some pieces of scrap wood in the corners. Then once the assembly was level and in position, I mounted the brackets and poured the concrete.

The first bent was the most difficult one to raise, since I didn't have any high spot where I could attach the chain block. So to overcome that problem I started by lifting the top using a hi-lift car jack. I lifted the top as far as I could and then placed a set of saw horses underneath it. Then I lifted to the maximum capacity again and used the chain block on the lower frame and it went smoothly.
The subsequent bents were raised using the neighboring bent to hang the chain block in.
To keep the lower part of the posts from sliding around I attached a piece of a 6x6 timber approx. 12" long with a clamp on the sill. Once a bent was raised I screwed on some boards to help stabilise it and keep it plumb.

All the dowels I used were made out of larch. Traditionally dowels are made out of oak and other hard wood, but my dowels are just added to keep the tenons in the mortises, so the strength of the frame is not that dependent on what species they are made of.
I sawed out the stock for the dowels trying to follow the grain lines as well as I could, and then they were hammered through a 3/4" hole in a steel plate to make them round. This was something the children liked to help with. Instant results seem to appeal a lot to children.

The single thing that I had given the most thought was how I should lift up the beams for the upper plates and for the ridge beam. Once I finally got to that point in the process, it dawned upon me that I could raise them on an end, and then lift them up a bit. I then lifted and pushed the timbers until they reached their pivot point. Then it was just a matter of a few more inches and then I let go of them. That put them on the first floor in very short time. With a little more than half their length supported by the joists. My choice of dimensions for the timbers allowed me to do all the lifting myself. So if you plan on making a frame using 12x12 x 18' It might not work.

It is a strange feeling to see a frame grow that has only existed on paper and in your head and in the form of some loose pieces of timber with joints here and there. It shouldn't feel much more different than seeing a table or a chair coming together, but for me it did.
Maybe it was the size, or maybe it was the pioneer feeling, that this could have been a home for me and my family. I actually think the pioneer feeling is the most true description.





Monday, June 20, 2016

A small barn for the summer house 4, Making joints and raising the frame.

I guess that if I had been on one of those other Internet things such as Instagram, and if I ha had a slightly more modern phone, I could have shared the progress a bit more fluently than this.

My problem is that when I get immersed in a project, I work on it as much as I can, and that means that I rarely turn on a computer, and even more rarely take my time to blog about what I have accomplished.

Yesterday I took the children with me to the summerhouse, to have them help with part of the raising.
Mette had instructed Gustav to take some pictures, so if you find the pictures better composed than normal on this blog, that is probably why.

As a warning to wives of readers from Pennsylvania, I haven't even taken the time to visit the hairdresser this home period, so I look like the "before" shot from some makeover article.

I had constructed the sub frame and poured some concrete to form a foundation. While the concrete hardened, I started on making the joints for the next part of the frame: the 4 bents.

Olav visited me in the beginning of the process, and he gave me some advice, that I gladly took. That resulted in that I made the joints a bit narrower, 1.5" instead of 2" and all the mortises were not made as through mortises, but as 4" deep ones instead.
Olav was so kind as to lend me a portable chain mortising machine. That thing is amazing. And it sure speeds up the process.

Asger helped chopping Roman numerals for identifying the joints.

The raising of the bents was done over a couple of days, because I had to do other things as well, such as sawing more timber and making more joints for the next frame parts.

That status of the build is that the frame is erected all the way to the ridge pole/beam. I still need to make some rafters and mount those. But since I'm going back to sea on Wednesday, that'll have to wait for the next time I am home.

All the raising was done by hand with the help of a chain block to raise the individual bents. The timbers for the first floor were lifted up by hand. I raised the timber on end, and lifted/pushed it up till it reached the pivot point. Then I let it drop on the joists for the first floor.


Asger, Gustav, Fnug and Jonas

Roman numerals

Asger helping with a tenon.

The tenon after breaking off the small pieces.

The slick (Stossaxt) has been used a lot in this project.

Wrestling a piece of 6x8 timber.





Close up of a joint.

Negotiating the joint in place.



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Guitar shaped cutting board

Asger likes to play the guitar, and we talked about making a gift for his guitar teacher, since he is a really nice guy and incredibly gifted when it comes to teaching children.

Given that the teacher is a professional musician, we agreed that making a guitar shaped cutting board would be a fitting gift.

I found an old piece of an elm slab, that wasn't quite big enough for a chair, and we sketched a guitar body on it. We talked about making a small neck for it as well, but we agreed that it would just get in the way when he had to use the cutting board.

After sketching,which was done by tracing the outline of an acoustic guitar, I sawed out the shape with the band saw.  

The guitar shaped slab was then placed between the dogs on his bench. We used a scrub plane for traversing to reduce the thickness. I helped a bit since the elm is fairly tough. When the back side was reasonably flat, we moved on to a No 4 smoothing plane. We flattened the piece further by going diagonally and finished off going with the grain.

After that the upper side was treated in the same way.
We didn't use the thickness planer because the board was too wide, and I wanted Asger to really feel that he did the job himself.

The curved sides were sanded using the hand held belt sander, and then followed up by hand.
The edges were also broken by means of sandpaper.

Asger used a brander to write: TO SIMON FROM ASGER (In Danish) at the end of the cutting board.

As a finish we used the wood was from Dictum and applied it using a small piece of rag and followed by a pollisoir from Don Williams  The elm looked spectacular after that treatment.

The finished thickness was around 1 5/8".


The proud craftsman with the guitar shaped cutting board.

Sanding the sides/edges.

Breaking the edge

Using an electric brander.

Using a pollisoir is hard work.




Sunday, May 8, 2016

Stanley No 12 blade holding screw

Brian Eve has bought himself a Stanley No 12, and the screw for holding the blade is bent.

He says that it still works, but it doesn't look too pretty. We have discussed the possibility of straightening out the thread, but in my experience those projects never work out really well.

So I offered that I could try to make a new screw for him on the lathe.
It greatly helps that the original is made out of brass, because turning stuff in brass is kind of like whittling away in balsa wood.

What doesn't help the project is that there seems to be comparatively little information on this particular screw regarding what type of thread it really is.
I compared Brians measurements with what information I could find, and I landed on a 5/16" 20 TPI (this time it is threads per inch, not teeth per inch as in a saw).

My next problem was that I have no idea if Stanley used the Whitworth system of 55 degrees threads, or if they used 60 degrees like metric standard thread.

A bit more searching on the Internet, and I decided that the American industries from a very early point liked the idea of having 60 degrees threads.

So armored with this information, I cranked up the lathe and made a screw.

Since I am in the middle of the North Sea, and the plane needing the screw is in Munich, I can't tell  if it was a success or not. We'll have to wait until I get home and can send the screw for actual testing.

But personally I think the screw looks nice, and I got to practice cutting threads on a lathe so that makes it a nice little project.

Stanley No 12 blade holding screw.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Carved name sign for Milo

Gustav or middle son was offered to ride a pony by a breeder. This is an excellent pony that is capable of jumping far higher than our old pony.
Our old pony was sold due to the fact that Gustav wanted to move on to new challenges and I was very proud that someone thought that highly of his skills as to offer him a pony to ride.

The deal is that he can ride the pony, and we'll feed him and pay the farrier etc.
A pony of this caliber would be out of the question if we would have had to pay for it ourselves. And I know that one day the breeder might choose to sell the pony which is perfectly OK, because she will probably have another pony ready at that time that he will then hopefully be offered instead.

With Milo now in our stable I felt obliged to carve a name sign for him like I have done for our other horses and ponies so far.

I didn't have any nice boards left from the pilot ladder that I used for the last name sign, so I had to settle for a spruce board from a pallet.
The carving turned out OK, but the difference in color of the grain makes it hard to see the outline of the horse. I think this will improve if the sign is painted or maybe just varnished. I will discuss it with Gustav and then let him decide.

I used my usual technique for the letters, but instead of carving the logo of the New Forest ponies I opted for a silhouette of a horse that is jumping. The logo of the NF ponies looks kind of like an atomic cloud to me, so that's why I didn't choose it.
For some reason there is a larger distance between the L and the O than with the rest of the letters. I think the problem is that the L has sort of an open side and the O can't "intrude" that space. But It is how the name came out of the printer.


The layout.

The third board from the left looked fine to me.

Tools used for the carving.


The completed sign.

Close up of the horse silhouette.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Portable tool chest, review after 1 year of travelling

It is a little more that a year ago since I finished the green tool chest that I bring with me on the ship.

I have brought it back and forth in my bag/suitcase every time I signed on and signed off.
So I feel that I am able to give an honest review of this type of tool chest if anyone feel the need to make a small chest to accompany them on their travels.

My tool chest measures 16" x 9.5" x 8.25" (length x width x height), so it will not fit very large tool inside.
The corner reinforcements were made out of some old sheet metal that we had lying around. They have succeeded in keeping the chest free from damage despite it being thrown around by baggage handlers in various airports. In addition to that, I also think they look good.

The bottom is the weakest link in the tool chest. I wanted a clean look of the outside of the chest, so the bottom was simply nailed on inside a rebate. I never added any nails from the outside, but so far I have only noticed one or two nails starting to creep out, but a light tap of a hammer brought them back in. So unless i load it with lead ingots, I suppose it will be fine.

I really like the two tills that sit in the top of the chest. The smaller one was originally intended for a pencil, but it has been filled with hinges, screws, nails and locks instead.
The larger till is sufficiently large to accommodate my three chisels plus stuff like my oil stone and the marking gauge.

The shooting board doesn't see much use, but that is because I have taken a fancy in making stuff with sloping corners and other shapes. But when I need a shooting board it is nice to have. 

The lower part of the chest which is the main room has got just enough space for my plane and the two irons for it. A mallet, a small dozuki, a grooving plane and a moving filister plane. Until a week ago there was also a small jar of glue that had survived almost two years of travelling before finally giving up.

I have discussed the tools inside previously, and the only addition since then is a moving filister.

As it can be seen, there are no lifts on the chest. I really don't think they are necessary given the small size of the chest itself. It is so easy to just wrap an arm around the chest and carry it around. I think that while lifts can look fine they would distract from the clean look on this chest. they would also add some weight which is not a good thing for airline travel. 
Totally I think the chest including contents weighs something like 26 Lbs.

For a travelling tool chest that needs to handle all the tools you really need, you would probably have to make it a wee bit larger. That would be to accommodate a larger saw and a hammer. Those tools I normally borrow from the ships workshop, so I don't really need to bring them myself.

A solution to the saw could be a frame saw that can be taken apart, and having one crosscut blade and one ripping blade.

I haven't been stopped by custom officers yet and had to explain the tool chest to them, but I suppose it should be OK.
If you travel between countries that have strict regulations concerning bringing items made out of wood across the border, it might be best to tick off that box on the declaration board and avoid getting into trouble for forgetting it. 

The little I know about wood products crossing borders, is that they tend to be mostly concerned if the bark is still on the wood. Or if the wood is attacked by insects.

Green travelling tool chest.

Lid open.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bagage irregularity report.

I signed on the ship yesterday, and as usual I brought my homemade green tool chest with me.

Since I have traveled with the chest for a bit more than a year now, I had intended writing a kind of review based on my experiences with the chest.

But thanks to SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System), the review is a bit different than what I had intended.

Upon arriving in Bergen I discovered that I was unable to pull out the handle for using the wheels on my bag. That made my alarm bells start ringing.

Today I tried to grab a clean T-shirt from my bag, and it was stuck to the tool chest. At first I thought that it had just caught on one of the corner guards. But when I looked  closer it was also stuck to another T-shirt. I examined the corner thoroughly and it dawned upon me that they were not simply attached to the chest - they were glued to it!

I unlocked the chest and tried to raise the lid - impossible.
So the sad fact is that the bagage handlers of the SAS have mistreated the bag in such a way that the small glass of white glue I had inside have been broken, and due to the bag being thrown around, the glued hadn't just stayed at the bottom of the chest, but had managed to seep along the side to the top, gluing everything on its way.

I brought the chest to the engine control room, and I have succeeded in opening the lid and removing the large till. But the rest is still stuck.

I have filed a report to the SAS, but I doubt that I will get anything out of that. So I will try to see if I can pry the parts from each other.

The chest now with the lid able to open.

The glued up corner of the chest.

This is the corner where the glue has seeped out.