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.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Saw handle blanks from mirabelle prune wood.

Tomorrow Asger and I will take the train to Munich to visit Brian Eve of Toolerable. I wold have liked to bring a suitable slab for a table, but I doubt that the trains stewards will find it amusing if I show up with one. Plus it might make it difficult to navigate the various platforms when we need to change trains.

So instead I decided to make some saw handle blanks for him.
Last time I was home I trimmed a mirabelle prune tree, and the lowest part was large enough to yield a couple of blanks.

This morning I sliced it with the saw mill in 5/4" thickness.
There was a bit of rot in part of the trunk, which was partly the reason for the trimming, but there is enough for some saw handles.

I have read that apple tree was once common for saw handles, and it should be steamed while the wood is still green.
I have some apple wood, but it has been downed years ago, so it is close to bone dry. And the pieces are not sufficiently large to make a saw handle from the heart wood alone.
So the prune was still my choice.

The slicing was pretty fast, so in order to stretch the experience a bit, Asger and I rigged my small deep fat fryer up to make a steam chest that could be used for steaming the blanks.
It was a low tech solution consisting of two plastic buckets mounted on top of the deep fat fryer that was filled with water.

The wood steamed for about one and a half hour, and then we stopped to go in for some lunch.
I'll let Brian Eve take a picture of them once they are dry to see if the colour has changed at all.

Mirabelle prune, fresh from the saw mill.

The steam set up.

The outer bucket helps to keep the temperature high and the steam inside.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Making saw nuts

Several readers (OK two) asked if I could write a post about how I make my own saw nuts.

My blog has been accepted to such prestigious places as and, both places dedicated to hand tool blogs.
I hope I won't get expelled by having a single post where the majority of the work is done at a machine. And it isn't even woodworking.

As Jeremy cleverly remarked, having access to a metal lathe is step 1. But if you have got that, there is no reason why you shouldn't make your own saw nuts. I won't go into details about how to use a lathe, but merely show step by step how I have done it.

Corresponding text is written below each picture.

A finished set of screws and nuts for a children's saw.

Making a saw screw:

Step 1) 
I turn the overall dimensions with a roughing tool. This leaves some angled transitions where the diameter changes

Step 2)
I removed the angled transitions with a parting tool.

Step 3)
A square is made using a file.

Step 3) 
View from a different angle.

Step 4)
Cutting a thread with a die.

Step 5)
Turning the compound rest to an angle of approximately 5 degrees.

This is the "normal" position of the compound rest.

Step 6)
Parting the screw using the feed of the compound rest to form a slightly cone shaped head.

Making a saw nut follows the same principles. But the thread is internal.

Using a parting tool to remove the transition.

Screws and nuts as they look after parting. 
The small piece on top is cut off with pliers and filed smooth.

A screw is mounted in the chuck using two regular nuts to protect the thread. The head is sanded using grit 280 emery cloth. 

The nuts first receive a slot made by a hack saw. I mount them on a regular screw with the same thread before clamping the regular screw in the vice. After the slot is made, the regular screw is installed in the chuck of the lathe, and the head of the nut is sanded the same way as the screw.