Monday, September 17, 2018

Danish Chairbuilding Extravaganza 2018, preparations

I'm signing off tomorrow afternoon, so I should be home early Wednesday morning.
That will give me a bit of time for preparing the oncoming DCBE.

There are a couple of things that needs to be done prior to getting the shop filled with people.

First I have to remove Gustav's mopeds from the shop, and also the motorcycle lift that is currently residing in one part of the shop. Then I need to do a thorough clearing up and cleaning, so it will look nice an inviting.

I'll have to arrange with Olav to pick up some extra workbenches, and have those put in the shop as well.

There is likely going to be some steam bending this time, so I have decided to make a proper steam box, instead of relying on my old gutter pipe balancing on top of a micro deep fat fryer.
There was one sheet of plywood left over from building the two Mini Max hydroplanes, and that should be sufficient for a steam box. I need to buy a wall paper steamer for supplying the actual steam, but I think that they have those at at the local home center.

I would like to make some sort of kiln as well, but I am not completely sure if I'll do it from scratch. An idea that has crossed my mind is to just get my hands on an old cabinet and install a heater inside that. But I think the steam box is more important, so the kiln might just have to wait.
In a pinch it should be possible to stack some insulation around an old table, and then put the heater below that. So given that there are a bit more options for that I am not so worried about the kiln.

I need to go and talk to the caterer, and discuss a menu for the week, and agree on when I should come and pick up the food. That is a very important thing, since we need to be well fed to yield maximum power!

Due to the planned return to chairs featuring some turnings, I thought that it might be a good idea to see if I could get my act together, and install an electric motor on an old wooden lathe that I bought at an auction in Sweden maybe 15 years ago. I don't want to make a foundation for it, so it will just be clamped to my workbench. That way there shouldn't be a traffic cork for a lathe when the need arises.

As usual I am probably way too optimistic regarding how much I am able to achieve in a few days, considering that I also plan on talking Bertha for long walks, ride in the forest with Mette, and I have signed up to chaperone the first school dance at Gustav's boarding school.
But on the other hand, once in a while I am actually able to impress myself with being efficient, and I hope I will be able to do just that this time too.

Frog pastries.
Picture courtesy of Toolerable.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Making a tenon saw 2, saw completed.

Fabricating the handle was just like what I did for the Simpson saw, but I had planed a little bit more of the blank before starting. something like 1 mm (5/128"), which makes the handle a bit more comfortable in my opinion.
The screws that Pedder had sent along were of a much stouter type than the ones on the old saw. In addition to that, they also happened to be metric which made it a whole lot easier finding a drill that corresponded to their size.

Drilling the holes in the saw plate was kind of hard, since the steel is just a bit on the hard side for a regular drill to go through. A really good drill press helps, but I still had to regrind the drill one time. I started with a small drill, and made it up to the correct size in the next step.

Due to my reopening of the spine, the saw plate slid in place without any hick ups. 

The handle was sanded and smoothed with some steel wool, and then I gave it two coats of varnish where I wiped off the excess after each time and followed up with some steel wool to give a matte surface.

I had a feeling that the spine and plate were not completely in line with the center line of the handle. So I checked it and it seems that I was correct.
Over the total length of the saw the plate/spine bends 0.8 mm farther to the right than to the left.
This is over a length of 43 cm, so using a cotangent function I was able to establish that the angle was 0.107 degrees off to the left.
With the risk of being called a crude worker with sloppy results and no regard whatsoever for precision, I have to admit that I can live with that. It wasn't enough to get my fired up for making a new handle.

My guess is that it is some sort of optical illusion due to the grain lines on top of the handle that causes the eye to think that it is all crooked.

I tested the saw for a couple of cuts, and it cuts beautifully. No tendencies to wander off or pull to one side. But I attribute all this more to the sharpening of the saw than to the handle and spine. 

Conclusion of those two saw builds/rehabs:

Making a saw handle is not that hard. 
Making a nice looking handle on the other hand takes a long time. 
Making a really nice almost perfect handle is a lot of work, and takes a lot of time.

I think I ended up in category number two. It is nice but it isn't perfect.
The spine ended up looking fine, but again not perfect, It is not completely symmetrical but that was due to how I bent it. 

While it is possible to make a saw completely from scratch, I think that getting a kit for a first time is well worth it. I noticed that Two Guys In a Garage sells kits. And I think that there might be other ones out the who does it too. (I am not affiliated with TGIAG, but I have looked a lot at their saw handle scans page, and I would like to give them credit for making those public available)

For me the most fun is in shaping the handle. Bending the spine and filing the teeth are just things that need to be done in order to complete the saw. So I am happy that Pedder did the filing job for me.

But just because a project is difficult doesn't mean that you shouldn't attempt to do it if you feel like it. There is also a special feeling in using a saw that you have made yourself, and that has to be taken into account too.

If you count out the metal bending brake and the 25 ton hydraulic press, the rest of the project can be made with very few tools and in very little space. So the way I see it is that getting a kit is a cheap way to avoid a divorce and an eviction due to mounting a large hydraulic press. Just in order to make a bent saw spine.

Elm handle tenon saw.

Elm handle, with character giving knot at the end.

20" tenon saw 9 TPI rip fied

Large tenon saw with brass back.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Do you remember to help other bloggers?

Fueled by a casual remark from Brian Eve the other day, I revisited one of my old posts about blogging.

I read all the comments again, and I remembered that it was a long time since I had done anything in the respect of updating my blog link list.

The first new (to me at least) blog I found was by reading some comments on another blog. I held the mouse pointer over the name of the person commenting, and to my surprise there really was a blog to be found there.
A bit of looking at this blog too, and I found another one that I hadn't come across before.

The first blog is called "An Unplugged Woodworker".

The second one is "The Apartment Woodworker"

So I'll ad those to my list of blogs that are out there for you to read.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Making a tenon saw 1, the spine (a bloody mess)

With the rehab of the Simpson saw out of the way, I felt confident enough to start on the tenon saw that I would make from scratch.
Technically I had already started it while at home, with borrowed tools that we haven't got out here.

The saw plate was supplied by Pedder, and he had not only stamped out the teeth, but also sharpened them for me :-)

I bought a piece of brass plate at a local metal working shop, and it was enough to yield two spines if everything went OK. It could have been thicker, but I had to settle for what they had which was 2 mm (~5/64")
At home I sawed it in half with the table saw. A positive thing was wearing safety glasses and ear protectors. A negative thing was wearing short sleeves.
The blade threw some fairly large and very sharp brass chips at my right arm, so when I was done it looked as though I had been fighting in a thorn bush.
Even my wife was impressed! I am still not sure if she was impressed by my stupidity or my manly looks with a perforated right forearm.

I haven't got a metal bending brake, so I decided to ask our local fork lift dealer if I could use their equipment. Those guys are always incredibly helpful, so I bought a case of beer as a way of saying thanks for the many times they have helped me by letting me borrow a special tool.
I can highly recommend to give them a call if you are even in need of a forklift or some service. It might help if you are in Denmark, as I am a bit uncertain if they do international service as well. But they just might.

So N&V truck had a metal brake that I used for bending the two spines the initial piece of way. That way I had something like a V shape.

I headed into the other part of their shop and aimed for the 25 tons hydraulic press.
My idea was to gradually close the V to a nice spine for the saw. So I tried that with the first one. It was definitely not a success. By doing it gradually (lengthwise) the entire back ended up having a swoop upwards and a not very straight line.
I was glad that I had a second chance. The next piece I managed to find some large steel bars that were so long that I could press the entire piece lengthwise in one operation. The most difficult thing however was to balance a V shape on the side with an 80 Lb steel bar on top, and not getting my fingers squashed in the process.
There was remarkably little cursing and swearing in the process, but somehow it ended up looking really nice.
I decided to take full advantage of the 25 tons of pressure available, so the spine was completely closed.

It had seemed like a great idea at first, but once out here I realized that I wouldn't have a chance of getting the saw plate into the spine unless there was some sort of opening.
Prying the spine open was quickly ruled out. I was simply afraid that I would ruin it. The logical step was to saw an opening all along the 20" of spine.
This can be reasonably fast if you have a thin circular blade and a milling machine. It might even be a pleasurable job that way. grinding down a hacksaw blade to remove any set of the teeth, wrapping it in tape and using 2" of the length as a mini saw sure wasn't fast or pleasurable at all. But I got an opening for the saw plate without messing anything up.

Filing and sanding the spine was uneventful and quite pleasant because it looked better and better for every change in grits.

Getting ready to split the brass plate.

Initial trickle of blood.

Metal bending brake.

Final setup.

Two spines, OK on the left, swooped and crooked on the right.

Re-opening the spine with a hacksaw blade.

First side getting filed.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Casting a set of drafting whales

I have earlier expressed my interest in building a boat on this blog, and I have slowly gathered information from books, blogs, etc. on the process of doing so.
I even purchased a set of drawings for a small lapstrake tender (the "irreducible" by Weston Farmer) and believe it or not - I milled some larch for the project a couple of years ago, so it would be ready whenever I was.

Before building a boat, you are supposed to loft the plans, which is a fancy expression for enlarging the drawings to full size on e.g. a piece of paper.
Boat drawings come with something called a "table of offsets". These represent positions in a coordinate system, and then once all are plotted you connect those dots and that should give the finished plans of the boat.
There is a small but important thing to notice about this dot connecting business though. The lines are not straight lines. So you need a flexible batten to help you draw that curve. Furthermore, the curve is not the same all along its length, so you will need something to hold the batten in place at various points while you adjust it, and then finally you can draw the line.
Those things are known as drafting whales. (drafting ducks, lofting ducks or lofting whales are other names for them).

For a couple of years I have regularly fantasized about casting a set of those. But I wasn't sure how to make a mold that would give a really nice result without trying to learn sand casting, and I didn't want to spend an enormous time on achieving anew skill for this.
A thing that kept holding me back was that I had the idea that those whales had to look really nice. In a way this suddenly became vital for the positive outcome of the planned boat building adventure.

I mean how could I ever present a boat that I had built unless the drafting whales used were perfect? Probably the majority of people who would ever see the boat would immediately demand to see the drafting whales I had used for lofting the plans!
It wouldn't matter if the boat was pretty and tight etc. because clearly those whales were the most important part of it all. Actually the reason why people build boats was probably so they could use their drafting whales.

Finally this time while at home I managed to get a grip on reality, and consider that maybe people wouldn't care if I had used a heavy stone, an old flywheel, a lead ingot or a horse shoe instead of a perfect whale when I laid out the lines. So maybe it would be OK to cast some even if they ended up less than perfect.
It was a daunting thought!

So somehow at a quarter past nine in the evening, I headed into the shop determined to try to make a wooden mold.

A piece of larch was split in the middle on the table saw,  and I quickly sketched the profile of a fat little whale on one side of it. On the adjacent side I sketched the outline as seen from below.
That didn't take long.

Finding a sharp gouge and removing some material was also very fast. In very little time, I suddenly had half a mold.
I held the two sides of the mold together, and traced the whale profile from the first mold to the second piece of wood.
Removing the wood was just as quick, and in just a bit more than an hour I ended up with a decent mold. I couldn't believe that it had taken me several years to gather the courage to do it.

The next day I melted some lead from old tire weights and some sheet lead that I had lying around.
A 3" nail was bent and inserted in the mold. The two parts were clamped together in the vise, and I poured the lead in.

The first whale casting caused a bit of bubbles, because of all the gas that would escape from the charring of the sides of the mold.
The next casting was perfect until I opened the mold too soon.. It broke in two.

After getting an idea of the solidifying time, I ended up making 10 whales. In the end the mold became more and more charred, so the whales started getting a larger and larger back fin.
But it will be no problem to remove this with an ordinary knife.
I plan on painting the whales after removing the surplus lead from them. But that will happen at some point while I am at home.

First half of the mold.

Mold clamped in the vise.

Filled with molted lead (now solidified)

The first whale is the one with a bit of color.
Notice how the back fin gets bigger.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Small display cabinets for Asger

Asger collects matchbox cars, and he has gotten himself a nice little collection. In order for him to organize all the small cars, we decided to build a couple of small display cabinets.

The original idea was to not make the joinery complicated, so that he could help himself in nailing the cabinet together. The front frame is made with half lap joints which is then later glued and nailed to the carcase. The carcase itself is assembled using rabbets in the corners.

For once I did something unusual. I actually bought the wood for the project.
I purchased the best pine they had in the lumber yard, and I now realize how expensive it is to buy wood. But it is nice to work with something else than larch for a change, and pine smells so good when being worked.

The back boards received tongues and grooves by means of a hand plane. That was just the right project for a child.
The moulding on the back boards were also handplaned, Asger tried to plane one, but using the combination plane wasn't easy, so I finished the rest of them.

The cabinets were finished with some spar varnish, and in a very short time they were both filled to the brim.

Actually this project was completed a year ago, and it ended up in the "draft" section because I couldn't pull myself together to take a couple of pictures. Mind you, it was prior top me getting a smart phone!
So before heading to sea this time, I took a couple of pictures, but off course there are none that will show the progress in the shop.

Display cabinets made of pine.

Moulded backboards.

Door open showing bridle joint construction.

Moulding detail on the door.

The shelves are adjustable.

Old Britains vehicles and detail of backboards.

Glass retaining strips.

Rabbeted construction and half laps on face frame.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Simpson tenon saw 3, rehab completed.

After letting the handle dry for a day, I mounted it on the plate.
The mounting screws were a bit peculiar. I am not sure what thread is on them, but it seems incredibly coarse for the small diameter. It also only covers just enough to seat the nut for one turn. 

First I filed the holes square, so that the square shank of the screws could be inserted. After testing I ended up having to deepen the recesses for two of the screws with a bit, in order for the thread to be able to catch the nut.

The blade went on without any problems, which was nice. The spine protrudes a bit on the front of the blade, but so it did before I took the saw apart, and I am OK with that.

Pedder had filed the saw before sending it to me which was fantastic since he is so much better at doing that than I am.
So It tested the saw a couple of times and it is a joy to use. It saws straight down without any tendency to wander off. 
The saw is really heavy, so there is no need to ad any pressure to get it to cut. It seems a bit heavy on the front, but given the length of 22" that is hardly a surprise.

All in all I am happy with the result, and I like that saw. The size will make it great for bigger stuff like making tenons or dovetails on window frames and other large scale joinery.

After testing the saw, I applied another coat of varnish to the handle. That way I figured that if had made any scratches in the mounting of the saw plate it would be fixed.

Simpson tenon saw, elm handle.

Tenon saw rehab.

My fancy photo studio setup.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Simpson tenon saw 2, a new handle.

There are excellent tutorials to be found on how to make a handle, I am not sure if my order of progress is the most correct one, but it works for me.

Please also bear in mind that there are tools that will be much more suited to the task than those I have chosen to employ in the making of this handle. I don't use the "wrong" tools as some sort of self punishment, but because those are what I have got out here. It can as usual also be seen as an example of a way to work around a problem with regular tools.

First I decided which piece of elm that I wanted to use for the handle.
I had flattened one side of the piece at home on the jointer, so I set the marking gauge and brought the other face down to the line.
Somehow I made the handle 1 (5/128")mm thicker than the old handle which is actually quite noticeable when holding it. So for the next handle I'll have to take a few more swipes with the plane.

With the now flat piece of wood, I placed the old handle on top of it and traced the outline with a pencil.
It is important that the grain will run through the upper part of the handle as straight as possible, in order to keep the handle as strong as possible.

I used a drill press and a 1/4" drill to drill near the tight curves at the back, and also inside the handle.
After the drilling, my trusty hacksaw helped to achieve a somewhat handle shaped object.
This is where a scroll saw or a coping saw would have made things a bit easier.

The handle was then mounted in the vise, and I used a couple of files to remove the surplus wood, so that I was getting the outline of the handle correct before doing any rounding over. Rasps would have been the natural choice, but regular coarse files for metal works fine though maybe a bit slower.

With the shape correct, I placed the saw plate on top of the handle, in order to mark out where the holes for the mounting screws should be. I chose the same hang and position as the original handle.
I had to grind a drill specifically for making the recesses for the screws and nuts. I couldn't find a drill of the exact same size as the heads, so I had to use one that was a bit larger.

With the holes drilled, I marked the vertical center of the handle and sawed the slot for the saw plate to fit in.
Luckily the kerf of a hack saw was the perfect size for the plate, so a fresh hacksaw blade and a bit of sawing did the trick.

I started rounding the handle over, but after a bit of time I remembered that it might be a good idea to chop out the recess for the spine of the saw before going any further, so that was done and the rounding over continued.
After a lot of time spent filing, and sanding I was happy with the look and feel of the handle. The final sanding was done with steel wool, and that left the handle very smooth.

I applied some varnish to the handle and lightly gave it a brush with some steel wool before wiping of the little that was left on the surface.
Once the varnish has dried I plan to give it a coat more using the same technique.

Handle after sanding.

Outline of handle, note grain lines in upper part.

Sawing the handle.

Fresh from the drill press and saw.

Marking the position of the mounting holes.

Drill especially ground for making recesses.

Varnished handle.

Elm is such a nice wood.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Pressing apple cider

I made my own cider press in 2006, based on an old model that I had borrowed from a museum.
The shredder is an old one that I was given because the bearings were completely shot, and the flywheel and gears were missing.
I cast some new bearings of white metal, mounted some grease cups, mounted an electric motor and made a new undercarriage plus enlarged the hopper a bit.

Ever since we have tried to make a batch of fresh cider every year.
We make around 60 L (16 gallons) which is just about what we manage to drink in a year. We freeze the cider, and take out a bottle every week or so.

Since we have a lot of apple trees, we could easily make more, but there is not much point in that if we don't manage to drink it, besides we also need some bottles for all the cider, and space in the freezer for it.

Usually we try to make it as an arrangement where friends can drop by to have their apples processed as well, but this year due to the warm summer, our primary cider tree had ripe apples earlier than normal.
So Saturday before going out to sea, we made the yearly processing of cider.

Gustav helped in the beginning, and he was later relieved by Asger who poured the cider into the clean bottles.
"Rather strangely" I was left with the task of cleaning the equipment and putting everything back in its place when we were done for the day..

I am still working on a handle for the Simpson backsaw, but there is not much effect in showing pictures of my progress with a file and a bit of sand paper :-)

Washing the apples prior to shredding.

Gustav shredding some apples.

Packing the apple pulp prior to pressing.

Pressing 4 packages of pulp.

Dry apple pulp after pressing.

Ecologically apple cider.

Bucket of apple cider.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Simpson tenon saw 1, the saw plate and spine.

Last time out here at sea, I ended up swaying back and forth between making an infill moulding plane, or a tenon saw. I finally decided that a saw was the way to go, and i started looking into finding some steel for the saw plate.
This time I wanted to make a tenon saw, so I couldn't just buy a plaster scraper as I did last time I made a saw - I needed something bigger.

Luckily I know Pedder from Two Lawyers tools, and I wrote and asked him about his ideas for using steel shims for saw plates.
He looked at the specifications and found that it was rather soft, and immediately offered to make me a saw plate and stamp some teeth in it at the same time.

When the package arrived, there wasn't just the saw plate, but also a very nice old large tenon saw in there as well.

I figured that rehabbing an old saw would be a fine way of getting some experience before making a tenon saw from scratch. So I brought both this tenon saw and the saw plate with me on board.

The first thing I did was to remove the handle. The brass screws and nuts loosened easily, and the handle came off in no time.
Removing the spine was a lot more difficult. It pinched the saw plate pretty hard, and at the same time there was a bit of rust to help bind those two together.

With the steel parts separated, I got a bit of metal brightener from the guys on deck and washed the parts in that. I think it is some sort of phosphoric acid mixed with soap. It seemed to work pretty well.
After the metal brightening, I sprayed the parts with some thin oil and sanded them with emery cloth. I didn't go all wild since there are some pitting that I can't remove. I also don't mind that the saw will still show signs of being old - as long as it will work.

I tried to do a bit of searching about the saw maker, but searching for anything containing the name "Simpson" will generate a bunch of hits with a yellow faced cartoon figure that likes to drink beer. So I gave up on that quest after a few tries.
Mostly I would like to know the approximate age of the saw, and one of the few non cartoon hits I had suggested something like the early 20th century.
If anyone else knows something about the Simpson saw making business, I would be happy if you left a comment.

My plan is to make a new handle for the saw, since the old one has got some worm holes and also some damage to the horns.
I brought some stock with me for that purpose, two pieces of elm and one piece of whitebeam (Sorbus Intermedia). I thik that I'll go for elm as material but in case that doesn't work, I'll still have a possibility of making one out of the whitebeam.
The handle will be a direct copy of the old one.

Handle of old tenon saw. 

Removing saw nuts.

A bit of rust damage, but still usable.

Cleaned and oiled saw plate and spine.


Friday, August 24, 2018

Mini Max hydroplane 2, completing the boat.

After assembling the hull, I had to work with epoxy and fiber glass for the first time in my life in connection with wood.
Technically I got to think of that I have used some before back when I was an apprentice on a reefer ship. It was used to make a temporary repair of a leaking pipe.

First I rounded the edge a bit, and then mixed the epoxy, applied some and put on the glass fiber. It looked really fine for half a minute or so, then the glass fiber mat started to creep up and loosen from the rounded corner.
I added more epoxy and brushed it down again, but to no success.
After a while I concluded that I should have rounded the corner a lot more. So I stopped for the day.
The next day after the epoxy had hardened, I used one of my large rasps (a farriers rasp/file) and made a much larger rounding on all the corners of the hull. I ended up making a rounding with a radius of approximately 3/8". For information, I am using a slow setting epoxy to give me a bit more working time when applying the stuff.

This time the fiber glass stayed in place and it looked good.

After another day, the epoxy had hardened, and I sanded the edges of the mats and also sanded the surface of the hull.

Asger and I helped each other priming the boat. The primer dried quickly, and the next step was to paint the bottom.
We used a real marine primer, but for the top coat I opted for the classic boat color: New Holland agricultural machinery rim white. Conveniently available at our local tractor dealer just up the road.

When the bottom had dried some, we helped each other flipping the boat around, and I painted the top with the white paint. I painted inside the cockpit, and the corners of the hull plus the center stripe.
More waiting time, (I am not that patient when it comes to painting). And it was time to apply the green color.
The first boat was going to be Gustav's boat, and since he had gone to Mette's uncles place to help in the harvest, I had decided the paint scheme. The green was again an agricultural paint (Krone hay and forage equipment) because that is also a product they carry at the local tractor dealer.

Suddenly the boat was completed, and more so, it looked just as I had imagined.

Part of the reason it was to become Gustav's boat was because he had once been given a small 4 hp outboard motor from his uncle, so we had made the motor mounting board a bit longer than described in the plans - to accommodate the long leg of that motor.
Asger also thought that it was a smart move to get the second boat, because that would hopefully mean that all the messing up had been sorted out on the first of the series.

Late that evening, we tested if the paint had dried, - and it had.
It was completely calm without a wind, so Asger and I immediately decided to take the boat for a test.
He found a wet suit, and I mounted the handles at the transom and on the fwd part of the hull, to facilitate moving the boat.

After a slow initial run, I discovered that the throttle could be pressed further to the side, and suddenly the boat was planing, just as it was supposed to do.

All in all a very successful project.
Now we are on the look out for a reasonably priced outboard with 10-15 hp. But given the much nicer weather than normal, all outboard engines have risen considerably in price. But maybe we will get lucky during the winter time.

Ready for the first test of the boat (motor not yet mounted)

Asger mounting the upper part of the hull.

Farriers rasp for rounding corners prior to epoxy and fiber glass.

My younger brother Jens visiting from Japan (being put to work)

Sanding and dusting off at the same time.

Asger priming, cousin Kai and Jens admiring the work.

Boat primed.

Ready to fly.

60'ies inspired paint scheme.