Monday, November 12, 2018

Math, and model houses

Our middle son Gustav is attending 10th grade at a boarding school. He has chosen this school specifically because it has got a very good the equestrian line. It is possible to bring your own horse/pony which is what Gustav has done.

A couple of weeks ago he called me on the phone and told me that their math teacher had enrolled the school in a nationwide contest about building model houses.
There were some regulations concerning the design, such as maximum area, only one level of living space allowed etc. And the idea was that all the houses had to be drawn and built to a scale of 1:50.

I wished that there had been math projects like that when I was in school, because I believe that it is a lot easier to get kids interested and involved in learning something - if they can actually see a purpose of what they are being taught.

So with this project they are not only taught about scale - they get to experience it as well.

Gustav told me that he immediately remembered building those model houses when he was younger, and considered doing that again. But since I am at sea, I couldn't provide him with strips of wood, and I wasn't sure how much stock was left over from last time Asger built a model church.
Besides, the stock that I had made would likely not be fitting for a 1:50 scale build.

About a week ago I asked Gustav how the project was coming along, and he told me that he and his team mate had managed to saw out some strips on their own using an electric fretsaw/jigsaw. And they had made the exterior cladding out of Masonite board.

This Friday he called me and told me that their house had won the school contest, so now they had entered the national contest.
He told me that all the other houses at the school had been built out of model cardboard, this stuff that has got a bit of foam sandwiched between some paper. So their house had stood out really proud compared to all the rest.

Due to time constraints they hadn't had the time to make the roof, so their model was displayed with the rafters visible.
But he assured me that they had some more time to complete the house before sending it off to the final contest. So they plan on making a roof and also mounting some windows and doors.

I am proud that Gustav and Malthe won the school contest, but I am even more proud that those "house building seeds" that were sown five years ago have flourished and stayed within the brain of Gustav, in a way that he immediately connected model houses with building something out of wood in that way.

Model house scale 1:50 
Picture courtesy of Gustav.

Model house wall construction.
Picture courtesy of Gustav.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Stanley # 20 compass plane locking screw.

We have a lathe on board, and just to make sure that I don't forget all about how to use one, I once in a while try to do a bit of turning on it.

I had one year of shop class prior to the engineering college, and I was actually quite skilled at using a lathe at that time. However that was 24 years ago.
The two most difficult things as far as I remember was turning correct fits for bearings, and to cut threads on the lathe. Not the type where you use a tap or a die, but grinding the tool bit and adjusting it all and then lead the lead screw take care of the pitch.

Searching for an appropriate challenge, I ended up reading about the Stanley # 20 compass planes. 
According to Patrick Leach's excellent pages on Stanley planes , the # 20 often has the original knurled locking screw replaced. So making a new one of those might be helpful to someone out there sitting with a recently acquired #20 missing that screw.

However excellent Leach's page is he doesn't reveal the thread of this screw, but I managed to find that information on a British tool forum.

The screw was apparently of the much under appreciated UNS standard, namely a UNS #10-28.
This just kept getting better and better!
A rare screw with a sort of obsolete and no longer used standard.

I googled the Standard and found the necessary information about the thread, so I could proceed to the workshop.
We have a very limited supply of tools for the lathe out here, and off course the most important thing for thread cutting was missing: A thread cutting tool.
After scouring the shop I found some old parts from a diesel injection valve, and those parts are made out of hardened steel. So I ground one of them into a 60 degree tip so I had something to use.

A piece of brass was turned to the desired dimensions, and then it was literally time to change gears.
Most simpler types of lathes that have a thread cutting capability will need to have the gears changed in order to switch from metric to module to imperial threads etc.
There are some small tables on the face of the lathe that will tell you how the correct configuration is, and once you have got that right, you just need to correctly position two handles and two knobs - and you are ready to go.

On the first attempt I managed to mess up the thread. But on the second attempt it came out all right. I think it could have been a bit more crisp, but without a proper thread cutting tool and an thread cutting tool position gauge, I just had to sort of eyeball it.  

After the threading, I inverted the cutting tool, and used one of the gears as a dividing head, so I could make some knurling lookalike.

Due to my goodhearted nature, I have decided to offer this screw for free - to the first Alicante based American woodworking blogger that comments on this blog.
UNS #10-28 


Gear setup for metric (42:120:42)

Gear setup for imperial 28 TPI, (32:120/127:48)

Stanley #20 locking screw.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Making a project in the shop with Laura

A couple of months ago Laura and I got into talking about woodworking. She surprised me by saying that she would have liked to learn how to make something while in school.

I had to tell her that she was actually quite good, because I remembered that her sundial was very well made and nicely finished. 
I could also tell her that she had made a bird on the lathe at home, and that she had helped making leather belts for her friends and herself.

Nevertheless, she expressed the interest of making a project in the shop if it was possible.

She acknowledged the fact that no one had ever been prevented from going to the shop at home, but she just felt that now she actually would like to do it, so if I had any suggestions to what she could make, she would like to do just that.

Now this isn't something that happens everyday!
An 18 year old high school senior girl expressing a genuine interest for building something.

It didn't fit into the schedule last time I was home, so I hope that we can do it next time I am home.

My criteria for the build was that it had to be something that we could do in a weekends time. I will take care of the stock preparation ahead of time - to ensure a steady workflow.
I made a list of possible projects that she could make, and I mailed the list to her.

These are the same links that I sent her, just so she could get an idea of what I was suggesting.
Brian Eve suggested the six board chest.
It dawned on me that even though I have built a Roorkhee, I only have a semi hidden picture of it on my blog, but Brian has several Roorkhees, so I just linked to one on his blog instead.

After looking at the list for a couple of days, she has decided that she would like to make a Roorkhee chair.
I think it will be a great project to do together, no intricate and complicated joinery, and it is a project that is highly usable.

The only problem is that there's still some time before I go home again, but I am already looking forward to that project.

Since she has turned 18 I was in doubt whether or not it would be OK for me to label this post as "Childrens projects", but I take the chance.


Laura displaying a belt that she made.

Laura and our first dog "Børste"

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Ash log for the mulesaw (now with videos!!)

One of my neighbours had downed a large ash tree a couple of months ago. He never knew that I had a sawmill, but after he found out, he told me about this log that he still had lying on his property, and asked if I was interested in buying it. 
We agreed on a price of around 70$ including transportation!
And he assured me that he was happy with the price, he just wanted the log out of the way, and preferred that it would go somewhere where it would be put to good use.

As far as I remember, Claus delivered the log on Saturday afternoon, and Brian took a bunch of pictures of it all, so all pictures in this post are the courtesy of Toolerable 

I haven't got a dedicated plan for the log, but I will probably make some more seat blanks and perhaps a slab for a workbench.
It also depends on how well the mulesaw will behave. But making thin boards will just take way too much time.
The top speed in material like this is 3" per minute, and that is provided that everything goes smooth. If the blade starts to heat up I have to back down a bit and then it will be much slower. Or the surface will be as wavy as the North Sea in wintertime.

After a bit of nudging from Brian Eve, I reluctantly added two videos to this post. 
This does not mean that i am slowly becoming modern!!


Claus shifting the log from the wagon parked in front of the house.

18' long it will just pass between the barn and the machinery shed.
I have removed one of the doors to the barn to pull out the wagon of the mulesaw.

Placing the log on the wagon.

Trimming a bit to make sure the log can pass the pillars of the mulesaw.

Down to 16.5' but still an nice piece of wood.

Discussing the possibilities of the log.


Forklift in action.



Video showing me jumping over the log

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Danish Chairbuilding Extravaganza 2018, day 5, Ty's chair and repairing a window.

I just found a bunch of pictures from the 5th day of the DCBE, and to contribute to the impression of a chaotic event, I figured that it would be appropriate to go from blogging about day 22 to day 5.

Day 5 was Friday, and as you might have read on Brian's blog, things didn't exactly go as smooth as they could have on that day.


It started OK with a bit of time spent at the lathe making legs, until "Brian got worried that I might get ahead of him in the imaginary race for completing a chair". So he deliberately broke a window with a broom..
He claims that there was a bee or a wasp, but seriously, who would even think of trying to kill a wasp using a shop broom?? :-)

Luckily the weather was nice, so we could live without the window for a little while though there was a bit of draft in the shop and especially near the lathe, so as soon as we had gotten the new piece of glass I set out to change it.
Meanwhile my dad had arrived, and he "helped" me trying to change the piece of glass by staying really really close all the time, and shouting OUUUHH into my ear whenever he thought there was a potential of something going south.
After the 8th OUUUHHH I got sort of fed up, and decided that I needed to trim the groove for the glass since the new glass was ever so slightly thicker than the old.
I tried to turn around and put the glass down at some place where it wouldn't get kicked around, and after getting my dad to move something like almost 10" away from me, I tried to gently put the piece of glass away. before even letting go of it my dad burst into the final OOOOUUUHHH, and I slammed the freakin piece of glass hard into the floor. Given that all this took place in the part of the shop that has a concrete floor there was an immediate result of more broken glass. And my temperature and blood pressure rose instantly.

I managed to stay sort of level headed and not shouting at anyone, I went into another part of the barn and removed a 44"x44" piece of glass from an old frame. This is actually spare glass for our greenhouse, but at that particular moment I really didn't care. I cut the glass to the required much smaller size and somehow I managed to put in the glass without damaging anything or anyone else.
But my mood could have been better.

After eating something my blood sugar went back to normal and it was once again a great event :-)

Ty completed his chair with canvas and all, and it looked like something out of a magazine.

In the evening Mikkel from Haandkraft stopped by, and we talked a lot about this and that (mostly stuff that had something to do with wood).
Mikkel told about his problems with the notoriously customer-unfriendly Royal Danish Mail that made sure to hold back his copy of Mortise & Tenon magazine, and then they would send him an invoice of 25$ covering the trouble they have had by holding back the magazine and deciding that he didn't have to pay any import duties on it, but off course he still had to pay them for telling him that..

My dad had brought a bunch of tools with him again, so we made the usual small flea market in the stable and got ourselves some more stuff :-)

The newly broken glass in the cardboard box.

Small tool flea market.

Mikkel visiting, notice the cool T-shirt.

Seat canvas mounting of Ty's chair.

Rear legs hold together the seat frame and support the back.

A small steel rod ensures the canvas loop stay inside the slot.

No superfluous material on this chair!

Brian test fitting rockers.

Elegant lounge chair.

Hornbeam and canvas.

Starting to saddle the seat of the nanny rocker.

Danish Chairbuilding Extravaganza 2018, day 22. Sack back nanny rocker completed.

I elegantly skipped blogging after the official DCBE part was over. There was just too much stuff to do - to be bothered with sitting in front of a computer.

As a side note, I didn't work full time in the nanny rocker every day after the DCBE, but I did try to put in a couple of hours whenever possible. I didn't keep track of the time used in the build, but I think I am well past 100 hours.

On the Friday (day 5), we had a visit from my dad, and Mikkel from the blog Haandkraft also paid us a visit.
It was nice to meet Mikkel and talk with him about woodworking in general and also about the challenges of blogging about woodworking in Danish.

Using the whitebeam (Sorbus Intermediare) for seat material seemed like a great idea since it is dense, incredibly split resistant and sms to be not porous at all. The problem with the material was that it was incredibly hard to work. traversing the grain only helped during scrub planing. Traversing during the hollowing of the seat didn't do anything to help.
I ended up doing all the saddling with a gouge and a mallet and two and a half full days of work.

The armcrest was assembled after I had test mounted all the short spindles, so I could assess how long the piece should be.
When the time came to dry mount it, it was something like 1.5" too short, and besides the glued part broke. I had expected some sort of challenges along those lines, so I had milled more wood than I needed of the same dimensions, so I just took a piece of the spare wood and made a new insert for the straight back part, which was also where the piece had failed.

Large complicated glue ups are definitely not my favourite thing, and I am certain gluing on the armcrest is the biggest and most complicated glue up I have tried so far. 28 short spindles, 7 long spindles and two end spindles (with tapered holes) all had to go together at the same time. In addition there was a bit of spring back int he arm crest, so it was definitely a task for liquid hide glue.

Mounting the back piece was not much easier despite only needing to receive 7 spindles, and perforating the armcrest two places. There was a bit more spring action in that piece, and the risk of breaking it all was nerve wrecking.
Originally one side was supposed to come approximately 5/4" further down, but it started binding and I didn't want to risk anything, so I stopped and decided that I could fill the small gap with some sort of putty instead.

I reasoned that the seat had to be level at stand still, to be as comfortable as possible for the child in the crib part of the nanny rocker. This will make the chair part slightly less comfortable and relaxing compared to a reclining rocker. But the nanny rocker is not intended to be a slouching chair for the nanny, but a place for the nanny to sit up straight and knit while soothing a baby at the same time!

So I leveled out the top part of the seat and marked the correct seat height on the legs.
The legs were sawed to length, and I marked out for the positions of the rockers. Mortises were made in legs, and the ends of the legs were terminated by sawing at an angle.
Finally each joint was secured with a peg.

The plan is to paint the nanny rocker in a shiny dark green. But given that I completed the piece the day before going back to sea, I thought that it was a wise decision to wait until I got home next time before attempting to paint it. Instead of experimenting with homemade milk paint or linseed oil based paint, I have purchased a standard paint from Jotun.
Those people who have seen the chair so far seem to be appalled to learn that I wish to paint it, but I think that the many different grain patterns and the visual difference between the elm, whitebeam and ash is kind of disturbing to the eye.

Thoughts about the build:
To someone like me with a very limited experience in building Windsor/stick chairs, the sack back nanny rocker is a huge challenge.
I am so glad that Ray Schwanenberger provided me with a set of plans, so I had the knowledge of building something that would actually work. That was a great comfort compared to building something of my own design that might not work or look good.
I haven't got much experience in steam bending, but so far I have learned that not rushing it - is a good thing.
There are a lot of individual parts that are not very difficult to make, but given that there are so many it still becomes a daunting task. I opted for uniformity rather than exact copies for all the spindles. My guess is that since there are so many of them, few people will never notice it they are not exactly the same, and even fewer people will care.
Assembling the individual pieces is just as intimidating as I remembered from the loop back settee I made four years ago. very step becomes more and more frightening because of the risk of messing up the accumulated hours of work.

Now I just have to wait for some grand children to emerge in the horizon... (Or lend out the nanny rocker to a friend who is a bit closer to becoming a grand parent).

Sack back nanny rocker.

Seat, turnings and rockers in whitebeam.
Backrest and spindles in ash.
Armcrest in elm.

Bertha inspecting the nanny rocker.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Danish Chairbuilding Extravaganza 2018, day 4

Yesterday we all worked like crazy. Somehow Thursday manages to slip itself in every time we have those events - and it is a stern reminder that we ought to get closer to completion of a chair or two.

Ty needed to get some really precise holes drilled in his frame assembly. My pillar drill is incredibly inaccurate, and those holes were sort of make it or break it for the project- As luck would have it, Olav had acquired a professional pillar drill /milling machine some time ago, and we drove to the workshop where it still is. (He hasn't moved it home yet).

We got all the holes drilled, two that were square to the surface, two that were at a 15.6 degrees and two that were 14.7 degrees to the surface (like all chair making angles it is measured from 90 degrees.)
This machine was up to the task and I am a quite a bit jealous at Olav for having such a nice machine.
Good thing that I can borrow it though :-)

Brian started adzing out his seat, and he has made good progress.

I worked on the seat and got all the holes laid out and drilled. Next I made the legs and that was done with the copy attachment on my lathe. This attachment works really well, and the whitebeam gave a nice surface.  I am not a fast turner, but using this attachment made it both fast and I ended up having four identical looking legs.

Olav continued on the shaving horse, and was mostly occupied in making huge mortises in the base and the upper rest part.

Drilling on the Arboga drilling machine.

Ty in action.

14.7 degrees really is possible with this machine!

Drilling holes in the seat.

My drilling guide for ensuring 7 degrees holes.

Brian adzing away.

Turning a leg with the copy attachment.