Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Daughter in the workshop

I realized after reading a comment on my last post, that I forgot to blog about when Laura was with me in the shop in December 2017. We helped each other make leather belts for two of her friends as Christmas presents.

One belt was made out of the super bright candy apple red artificial looking leather, because Laura knew that the one friend had a matching something (bag, shoes, coat etc). I can't remember what it was. I never took any pictures of the belt because I really don't think that the leather is pretty. But the friend was happy with the gift, so it was a success.

The other belt was a bit more interesting in my point of view.

The girl who was going to receive it is very active in horse riding. I think she has been accepted to the "Team Denmark" which means that she is downright good.
I have often thought that it could be interesting to make a belt that would look like a saddle girth. It would be a way of showing that you like horses, but in a subtle way, so only other people who know horse stuff would be able to recognize the design.

A saddle girth usually has got two or three buckles rather than one very wide buckle.
Kind of like a support belt for weight lifting.

Laura and I settled on a 2" wide belt, because that could still work as a regular belt in the loops of a set of pants. both ends were slit and buckles were mounted and holes were cut.

Laura helped in beveling the edges of the leather and in polishing the final belt with some leather grease.
She was afraid that she would miss the spot when peening the rivets, so I did that part.
Finally she burned MMXVII on the back of the belt.

One day Laura told me, that her friend had been asked by a relative, if she was wearing a saddle girth? So apparently the design worked as intended.

Using a compass to mark the ends of the belt.

Saddle girth belt.

Last hole is in use and I am holding my breath...




Monday, July 2, 2018

Are woodworkers generally a conservative bunch?

What prompted me to this blog post are the changes that has been done to the Popular Woodworking homepage.

If you like me has visited the page over that last couple of years (I think I have frequently visited it for something like 10 years) You will almost be able to describe for someone how it looked and how the page was built up without even opening the homepage.

The current staff this month of the magazine has decided to launch a new website.
As you can see from the comments most people don't seem very impressed with the change.

I don't mean to move that particular discussion over on this blog, because it is better that people actually raise their voices at popular woodworking, so the crew over there can get a much broader view on what the readership base thinks about it.


Back to the conservative issue:
If I look at ads in woodworking magazines or homepages, they generally tend to be created much the same way, brownish tinted dream scenarios with a bit of dust and plane shavings.
Flannel shirts and jeans and maybe a baseball cap.
I have yet to see a "woodwork of the future ad" with a silver clad astronaut lasercutting a piece of MDF in front of some rainbow coloured garage door in outer space.

I guess that the people who are designing the ads know their demographics well enough to now that it just won't sell anything.

I personally feel that woodworking for me is like a "safe haven" away from where I have to think about that the world is moving forward, and that I have to reluctantly follow along. And I guess that a lot of others feel similarly one way or another.
When Megan Fitzpatrick campaigned to get more women into woodworking, the general response seemed to be that:" We are here for the woodworking, leave out the politics."
Very few commented directly on if it was a good or a bad idea.

Still the website remained like it had always been. It was kind of like your old fashioned hardware shop (the one that doesn't exist anymore except in your dreams and in the movies). With a knowledgeable and friendly clerk, only quality products on the shelves. Suddenly this store carried a weird new product (female woodworkers).
Megan left and the female woodworkers were sort of not refilled into the shelves.

But now this fantasy hardware store has suddenly moved and at the same time turned into an orange coloured newly designed shop, probably with a "latte machine" somewhere on the show floor.
Gone is the familiar smell of the old dusty shelves and the ringing of the bell whenever the door is swung open. The floors are no longer the same and there is a new face behind the counter.

I am still considering whether or not to find "another hardware store", or try to give the newly rebuilt one a chance.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Staircase for the porch.

As some of you might remember, I built  porch a couple of years ago.
Mette wanted it to have a wide set of stairs gently sloping into the garden. The kind of stairs that you could sit on and have a cup of tea.
I milled some wood and told her that the wood needed to dry a bit before I would make such a complicated project as a staircase out of it.

The following year she asked me what the progress was on the staircase, and I could truthfully tell her that the wood was still drying inside the barn. And that the thickest pieces were 3", so as a rule of thumb, they should dry for at least two more years.

Last year she didn't ask about the staircase, but casually mentioned that she was looking forward to getting one someday.

This home period she told me after a day or two that: the weather had been so nice, that now was the time for getting the staircase project started, and besides according to her calculations the wood had been drying the prescribed 3 years! So I couldn't use that as an excuse anymore!

I was pretty much speechless (which happens very seldom to me). I guess that is the "problem" with having a wife that is smarter than you  :-)

In a situation like that there is just one thing to do: Start building the project.

The wood for the stringers was jointed and planed, and the wood for the steps themselves was merely planed on one side.
The old temporary set of stairs had actually worked pretty well in terms of rise/run of the individual steps, so I stayed pretty close to that. I ended up using something like a 6"11/16 rise over a run of 11"5/8 (16.9 cm rise and 29.5 cm run)

Originally I had envisioned making a complicated project with Japanese joints etc. But I forgot how I had actually planned to execute that - so instead I tried to make it a simple but well functioning project instead.
To do that I cut some triangular blocks out and screwed them onto the stringers. That way I kept the full strength and could hope that there would be very little sagging once complete.
The triangles were aligned by help of a piece of string of which the outermost layers were "mysteriously" chewed into short sections. I can't say for sure who did it, but there were some impressive bite marks that "might"? correspond to the set of teeth in Bertha's mouth. That could also explain why the roll of string was suddenly found beneath the apple tree and no longer on the porch itself.

With the triangles in place it was all downhill from there, mounting the steps and later wrapping it all up in some thinner boards. I made a hatch on the corner, so that it will be possible to get below the porch at some point, if someone drops their keys etc. and they will fall through the spaces in the decking.

The final part of the project was to treat it all with some wood preservative and give it a coat of wood protection. (It is what the rest of the porch has been treated with). It will all go grey after a year or so in the sun anyway.

The best thing about the project is that it is now complete, and I have gotten rid of the stack of lumber sitting next to the mulesaw for three years.
The staircase is rock solid, and I asked Mette if she would be OK with me testing the strength by driving a Volvo Valp up the stairs and onto the porch? She said no.. Because now it looked nice and she didn't want the surface to be covered in tire tracks. I am still convinced that it would stand up to it and it would make a cool little video.

The stringers rest on a small tile (approx 5.5" x 5.5") 

Project completed (and no tire tracks)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Smith & Wesson 629 presentation case 9, glamour shot

While I was home this time, I received a picture of the Smith & Wesson revolver in its new presentation case.

I am happy to see that it did indeed fit because I only had some rough measurements to work out from.

I had imagined that the small compartment could have been used for a "quick loader" (or what the name is), but I don't know if my friend has got one of those, so for now he has stored some more ammunition in there.

I am kind of tempted to make another presentation case, because it was an interesting project. But I might try to order some baize next time to use for the lining instead of hobby felt.

Smith & Wesson 629 in presentation case.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A new door for the quick closing valves cabinet 2, door and varnishing.

My less than ideal resawing meant that there was a lot of material that needed to be removed by a plane before the four pieces of wood were flat and reasonably identical.

First a rabbet was planed for receiving the glass (which is not real glass by the way), and next a small beading was planed on the front side.

The door frame was assembled with short tenons (1.25" long), and the beading was made continuous by mitering the corners of the beading /rabbet portion of the parts.

I removed the glass form the old door and adjusted its size so it would fit the new door.
The glass was mounted by means of some Sikaflex and 12 small screws that were driven in at an angle, so the head would press the glass down into the rabbet. Not exactly high end furniture style, but OK for this application.
A bit of the Siaflex oozed out, but given that the glass is plastic, I don't want to risk destroying it by being too eager with a chisel when scraping it off.

The two door latches were then mounted by chiseling out a recess, so I could attach the nut from the backside. They are not designed to be used on stuff much thicker than 1/4", so I had to remove some material from the front and the back.

Finally the door was mounted using the reclaimed hinges, and the door latches were adjusted so they could keep the door closed.

I have applied one coat of varnish to the door and the face frame, and as soon as it has dried, I plan to give it another coat, I think that will be sufficient, though the common rule of thumb according to boat varnishing in Denmark states that you should apply 7 layers of varnish with a light sanding in between. This is probably a rule of thumb that has been invented by the manufacturers of varnish!



New door, with first coat of varnish.

New door prior to varnishing.

Short tenons 

Beading detail (and ugly mark from the clamp)

Face frame mounted.

Latch for the door.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

A new door for the quick closing valves cabinet 1, hinges and face frame.

Fire protection has generally always been a big issue on board ships. There are various systems in place for keeping the ship and crew safe. Among those systems are fixed fire fighting installations such as either Carbon Dioxide total flooding plants, Flexi fog water mist extinguishing systems, regular sprinkling systems etc.
A system which is not in use int he merchant marine anymore is the use of halon. It was a fine system, but it was ruled out a couple of years ago due to the fact that halon gasses were very effective in depleting the ozone layer.

Other types of protection might not be so obvious, but one of those is something called quick closing valves.
These are spring loaded valves that are fitted to oil tanks (fuel and lubricants), and in regular service they are kept open. In the case of a fire in that area of the ship, or on that particular system, a cabinet for activating those valves are positioned outside the accommodation. That way you can stop the flow of oil in case of a fire and do it from a safe distance.

For some strange reason, many of these cabinets rust like crazy. It is probably because the cabinet itself was never really intended to be mounted outside on a ship, and a stainless steel cabinet is more expensive than a cheap non stainless cabinet is.
Even a coat of paint is normally not enough to keep them good looking.
Fitting a new cabinet instead of the old is a huge and complicated task, mainly due to the fact that you would have to disassemble the actual system in order to move it into a new cabinet, and by doing this you are deactivating a safety system, which is not something that is taken lightly.

On our cabinet, the cabinet itself is in decent condition, but the door has rusted through, and it looks bad.

We discussed the possibility of making a new door out of wood, and mounting that on the cabinet, so it would look a bit better. And I was happy to give it a try. The actual function of the cabinet won't be changed.

The first task was to find a set of hinges. The original hinges on the cabinet are some that are an integral part of the rusted door, so I couldn't really use those. On at least two of my former ships, I knew exactly where there were some spare hinges,but that really doesn't help me on this ship. Out here we haven't got any. So I tried searching the vessel to see if I could come up with something. One of the deckhands told me that he had seen part of an old metal box that had been scrapped lying in the garbage collecting room. I had a look and fortunately it was the top side of the box, complete with a set of hinges that had been welded on during construction of the box.
I brought the parts with me to the workshop and removed the hinges using an angle grinder.

The wood was less of a problem. We have a decent stash of wood on board, including some 2x4 exotic looking reddish wood. (I have no clue what it is, but it seems hard and durable).
I had a bit of help digging the plank out from underneath a bunch of other planks, and cut two pieces of to use for the door.

We happen to have a nice Festool circular saw on board, so I decided to use that one for resawing and ripping instead of doing it by hand. It was a lot faster, but the results were not nearly as accurate. Part of that problem is probably that someone has thrown away the fence for the saw. I have no idea why anyone would do that, the saw itself comes in one of those large plastic boxes (Systainer I think) so there was plenty of room for a fence in there.
So I had to do my sawing freehand following a line.
I did it on the open deck do avoid getting dust all over the shop.

At first I made a face frame. This will be screwed to the front of the cabinet, and then the door will be mounted on it once I get that far in the project.

Salvaging a hinge using an angle grinder.

The top part of an old metal box.

Crappy re-sawing results

Face frame glued up.

Rusted door of quick closing valves cabinet.
(I had to use flash, hence the worse than normal quality)


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Smith & Wesson 629 presentation case 8, project completed.

The remaining part of the felt lining was installed and after letting the glue dry for a day, I used a sharp and pointed knife to cut away the felt covering the 50 holes for the individual pieces of ammunition.

The hinges were mounted and so were the latches for keeping the box closed.

Finally I chiseled MMXVIII in the underside of the box marking the completion of the project.

After taking some pictures, I handed the box over to my friend, and he said that he would send me some pictures with the revolver and the ammunition loaded in the box. But off course this will only be after we sign off.


Thoughts about the build:

I like making small box like projects, and this one had a nice manageable size. It ended up being 8" x 16" x 3".
There isn't much wood in a project like this, and the size of the parts make it fairly easy to process out here.

At first I was a bit skeptical to the dovetail lay out, I was afraid that it might look weird. But I am glad that I went along with it, because I actually think that it looks fine. And I especially like the way I managed to split the lid and the base so that after trimming, the divided pin that is very close to the other pins in size.

My experimental finishing is probably the biggest success in this build. The surface feels very smooth, but it is not super shiny. And I really like the look of it.

Mounting the felt lining was a bit harder compared to other projects I have done, due to the partitions in the base of the box. Cutting the holes for the ammunition block felt luckily went as planned, though it took quite some time to carefully nibble away with a really sharp knife.

The latches worked and looked better than I had expected. They are not cast, but made out of some thin stamped brass that has been given a surface treatment to look old. Originally thought that they looked kind of flimsy, but I am glad that I chose those since I think they look very fitting.

I haven't timed the build, but an estimate is that I have roughly 25 hours in it. It isn't a very fast build, but the stock preparation takes a lot of time when you have to do the resawing by hand.

All in all I think this is one of my better builds, and I am even a bit envious that I can't bring the box home with me. I guess that is a fine indication that the project hasn't been a complete disaster.

Smith & Wesson 629 presentation case opened.

Two latches for closing.

Close up of front corner.

Ammunition block lower left corner.

Close up of felt termination in angled groove.

Box before cutting 50 holes and mounting hinges and latches.