Monday, April 16, 2018

A Barnsley hayrake table 1, stock preparation and the frame.

I have started making a Barnsley hayrake table for a friend of mine.
He needed a large table, and I am more than happy to build another table like this. For some reason large tables are pretty popular over here, and my friend said that he would like the top to be 198" x 48". So I am once again ending up with a hefty tabletop that will be difficult to move around. But I am also given the opportunity to make a nice sturdy base to go along with it.

A thing that bothered me a bit about the last hayrake table that I made, was that it didn't have breadboard ends. So this time I am going to make some of those.
Another thing was the fact that suddenly the size requirements for that table changed, so the legs are way too close to the edges of the table - but now I get a second chance for making it look right.

I milled some larch about half a year ago, and while it isn't furniture grade dry, it will be dry enough for me to make a table out of. I can't get the moisture content down to furniture grade anyway, so I'll just be prepared for a bit of wood movement.
It might even ad some character to the finished table.

The stock for the frame was jointed and planed to thickness on the thickness planer. The legs started out as 6x6" timber, and the hayrake part was a 3x5". I removed approximately 5/8" from the legs, and a bit less from the stretcher stock.

I started making the mortises in the center stretcher by drilling and chiseling out the waste. The result was really good. I then decided that it might be fun to test the chain mortiser on the leg mortises. To avoid tear out on the front side of the legs, I didn't plunge the machine all the way through, but stopped maybe 1/8" from going through.
I had marked out the location of the mortise on both sides, but I was curious to see if the machine was going straight in - or if it worked at an angle once loaded. So the first few taps with the mallet on a chisel were really interesting. Much to my surprise, the hole was dead accurate. I know for sure that I could never make such a good looking almost 6" deep mortise by hand.
So already now the machine has earned its keep.

Apart from making a lot of mortises, the stretcher also needs a lot of tenons. I am gradually becoming better and better at making those, though I still find the angled tenons to be a bit difficult to execute.

There is still quite a bit of way to go, but I am enjoying every minute of the building time.
Some parts of the stretcher.

Planing a 6x6

This chain mortiser is amazing!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 10, completion

Two days ago I glued in the back panel, and yesterday I managed to smooth the outside surfaces of the carcase. I had to place the cabinet on the floor, and push it against the workbench with a small piece of wood in between, to be able to do a decent job.
I have also glued in some drawer guides and drawer runners. These are merely flat sticks that the drawer will run on and register to.
I tried to sand the outside a bit, but I think that I'll wait with the final sanding until I get home. This wood is so hard that I think a quick run with an electric sander would be better than me spending forever with a sanding block.
My plan has been to give it a coat of clear varnish as a finish, so I might as well do a proper job of preparing the wood for that.

Today I installed the hinges and mounted the door. As per the instructions of Robert Wearing's "The essential woodworker" a hinge on a cabinet should be let into the door, too keep a continuous line of the stile.
The text and drawings are easily understood, and mounting the entire door was a smooth operation without any unfortunate hick-ups.

Before the final mounting of the hinges, I glued in the knob for the door.
The door knob and the drawer pull were both turned yesterday, and while not identical, they still look a bit the same, and that is fine with me.

Our daughter Laura has expressed a genuine interest in this project, and I asked her the other day if she would like the cabinet at some point, and she did. She is left handed, so I decided to mount the hinges on the left hand side of the door, to make the cabinet more user friendly for a lefty.
Actually I am not sure if that is the normal way, but I find it most natural to have the hinges on the right, so I guess that mounting them on the other side would make sense for someone left handed.
I figured that she might as well participate in deciding where the small metal plate should go, and I also have some nice small round headed brass screws at home that would make the mounting look fine.

With the door in place, I made a small toggle to keep it closed, and the final work was to chisel MMXVIII inside the door frame on the hinge side.

Now it will be a matter of finding a cardboard box and make the cabinet ready for the flight home.

Thoughts about the build:

-The pilot ladder wood is definitely harder to work than my regular spruce/pine pallet sides. But I was lucky this time that it didn't twist and cup too badly.

-I would have preferred a regular back made of T&G boards, but since it wasn't really an option, this 3 panel solution was also OK. It took a long time to make and the joinery is not of a very impressive accuracy.

-The door came out pretty well, and making the small beading on the frame went surprisingly smooth. In addition I think that this small detail gives a lot of visual interest and helps to make the door look more "done".

-I was afraid that the cabinet might be a bit too deep, but I think it looks OK. The final test will be once it is mounted on a wall somewhere.
One of my colleagues remarked that it looked a lot like a small bedside cabinet, so that could also be a possible future for it.

-I haven't registered the amount of time that I have used on the build, but I guess it is somewhere around 60 hours. So it isn't a fast build in any way, but with stock preparation entirely by hand, it isn't a surprise.

Pilot ladder cabinet completed.

Left hinged door.

Door and drawer opened.

Not too deep after all.

Chiseling out for the hinges.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 9, door and metal plate position.

We have had a couple of days in harbour, and due to the Easter, we have had a chance to relax. For me relaxation means going in the workshop and continuing with the build.

I completed the door for the cabinet, and there was quite a lot of work involved. I have brought a copy of "The essential woodworker" with me, and Charles Hayward suggests that to ease the look of a panel type door, the inside edges should be broken by either planing a chamfer or by some sort of decoration.
After a bit of consideration, I opted for making a small beading on the inside of the frame. Before starting, I honed the blade for the Record No 50, and adjusted it for a fine cut. Despite one of the sides not being 100% with the grain, the beading came out a lot better than I had anticipated. Having a beading made the rest of the joinery a bit more complicated, but after some fiddling, the frame was ready.

Of all the panels that I had glued up in the start of this project, I had chosen the flattest and most uniform looking for the door panel. I could see that it was a bit too narrow, so I glued on a small piece left over from the drawer bottom. It was close in colour, and wide enough to give me the size I needed plus a bit extra.

I like raised panels on doors, and I have made one on board a ship some years ago. I wanted to replicate the method and it worked out just as well this time, despite the wood being a lot less cooperative compared to soft spruce.
The method I used was to initially plow grooves and dadoes along the edges of the panel, to define the raised center. These grooves/dadoes are probably a bit less than 1/8"- I never measured them. 
I make the grooves so wide that my smoothing plane will be able to overlap the flat bottom of the grooves. So for my wooden plane that means a width of 3/8".
The next step is to clamp a batten along the grooves/dadoes for the smoother to register to. Then it is just a matter of holding the plane at an angle and remove some material.

Once all the planing is done I lightly sanded the raised panel to remove a few marks. Mainly on the ends where I had traversed with the plane.
In an uneventful glue up, the panel was mounted inside the frame, and later the horns were removed from the stiles.

Metal plate position:
I have been giving quite some thought to the idea about the metal plate from the pilot ladder.
-My first idea was to put it somewhere hidden on the inside. Other people (including my daughter) suggested that it should be mounted boldly on the front. 

Now if I put the plate on the inside, it will hopefully end up looking like a nice cabinet, that maybe my dad, Olav and whomever I have of woodworking friends will notice and perhaps look at and comment on.
Most other people I know will likely see a small cabinet and never give it any further thought.

If I on the other hand put the shiny metal plate on the front, it will almost certainly attract attention from a lot more people. Who I imagine will go and look at the cabinet and read the label that seems to be out of place. That could likely lead to a series of questions about the cabinet, and that could be interesting.

It isn't complying with Shaker tradition, to boast of something that you made yourself, but it might be an eye opener to some people, that it is still possible to make things with your own hands that looks OK, and that all upcycling doesn't have to involve white paint and some rough boards.

As a experiment, I placed the door and the drawer in place in the carcase, and mounted the small metal plate with some tape, to get an idea of how it could be mounted.
If you have an opinion on the matter regarding if the plate should be mounted as a sort of peoples fishing lure (to attract attention) or not, I would like to read it in a comment.
I would also like your opinion on how the plate should be positioned if you think that it should be displayed prominently. 

Cabinet with no metal plate
Plate mounted horizontally on door.

Plate mounted vertically on door (similar to raised panel)

Plate mounted on drawer.
(technically it could go in the center of
 the drawer, but that would require
 two pulls instead of one center pull)

Grooving /dadoeing the raised panel.

Position of plane to make the raised panel sides.

Glue up of door.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 8, drawer with half blind dovetails

Before attaching the face frame to the carcase, I smoothed the divider between the cabinet part and the drawer part, and i also smoothed the shelf that divides the cabinet in two.
Both these two panels were slid into their mortises, and the face frame was then glued onto the carcase.

Yesterday I began making a drawer for the lower part of the cabinet.
I crosscut a piece to the desired length plus a bit more, and reduced the thickness by planing.
When I was satisfied with the thickness of the piece, I squared the ends off, and cut it to the correct length.
The piece was held in position in the opening, and I marked the height of it with a pencil.
One of the advantages of not having mounted the back panel is the possibility to do stuff like that.

The drawer front was then ripped to the correct height, and the sawed surface smoothed too.

I had made some stock ready for the sides, by resawing it, so I just had to work it a bit with a plane to make it ready for some joinery. One piece would yield enough material to make both sides, so I left the piece in full length for the moment.
Luckily the wood had remained very stable, so it was a matter of very little work to get it like I wanted it.

Out here (just like in the real world), grooving comes before dovetailing. So the Record No 50 was outfitted with a grooving iron. I paid close attention to the grain orientation of the sides and the front.
I mounted the wood using a clamp, and made some really nice grooves.
Once I had the grooves planed, I cut the sides to the correct length.

Before stopping for the day I marked out the tails on the sides, and that was about it for yesterday.

Today I have made the half blind dovetails for the front and the sides, and now I just needed a small break before making a back to the drawer as well.
I have already glued up a panel for the drawer bottom, and it should be a quick job to attach it after the drawer has been glued up.

Half blind dovetails pressed in halfway.

Setup for grooving.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 7, face frame and dadoes

Yesterday I planed the individual strips of wood that was going to form the face frame.
I spent some time deciding what type of joinery I should use. The choices were: bridle joints, half lap joints or mortise & tenon joints.
After weighing the options against each other, mortise and tenons came out on top. I think they will end up looking the best, since the cabinet will not be painted., so these offer the least amount of end grain to be seen. Only the ends of the stiles will have visible end grain, and that will be OK.

After measuring the carcase, I laid out all the joints on the parts for the face frame. I decided to allow myself approximately 1/16" overall, so I wouldn't end up with a face frame that was smaller than the carcase itself.

The tenons were sawed using a hacksaw, and the mortises were chopped out using my 3/8" chisel. It is not a mortising chisel, but if you go slow and don't use the chisel as a crowbar for levering out the wast, it is no problem for me at least - to turn out an acceptable mortise with it.

I really tried to take my time and work accurate, and mysteriously it helped. 6 of the joints were really nice and tight, and only one of them was a bit loose.

When I laid out the joints, I had tried to make sure that all the inaccuracies in thickness would be on the same side, and it went pretty well. The one side is near flat with only a minor deviation in one joint. The other side is not flat, but since it will be the outside, I can level it out after gluing the face frame to the carcase.

With the face frame complete, I could measure directly of it, to make sure that the division between the drawer part and the cabinet part would end up where it should: Behind the middle rail of the frame.
The location for that dado was laid out, and it was then used for determining the location of the other dado. That will eventually house a shelf that will divide the cabinet into two.

My usual method for making dadoes is to clamp down a batten next to the line, and use it to guide the saw. When both sides of the dado has been sawed, I remove the waste with a chisel and follow up with a router plane.
I deliberately made the dadoes a bit narrower than the partitions, so I can make a nice tight fit for them by planing the underside of them a bit thinner, just like I did on the floating panels for the back of the cabinet.
Mock up with the parts.

Mortises and short tenons.

Face frame glued up.

Setup for making a dado.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 6, carcase

After blogging about the too large back panel, I decided to follow the advice of Brian Eve, namely to cut the thing apart and pretend that it had been an exercise in making bridle joints.
I really don't like to do something like that over, but I think that it really was the best solution. That way I won't be pushing more problems ahead of me for the rest of the build.

The stock for the carcase ended up being closer to 1/2" instead of the 5/8" that I had hoped for, so instead of a groove for the back panel , I decided to make a shallow rabbet.
I used my Record No 50 combination plane for that task, and I have to say that a dedicated rabbet plane does a better job in my opinion. I will admit that having some stock that is far from straight grained didn't help either.
Eventually the four rabbets were acceptable, and as they will all be hidden under the frame of the back panel, the look of the surface doesn't really matter that much after all.

I sawed the pieces to the correct length, and marked out for some dovetails.
The wood is considerably harder than the pine or spruce I usually work with on board, so I had to trim the dovetails a bit to make them able to go together without splitting the boards.  One of the corners was a bit loose, but the remaining three were nice and tight.
The sides of the carcase were pretty flat. The top and bottom were quite a bit more warped and cupped.

Finally I glued it all up and made sure that it was square.

The next task will be to make some dadoes for the shelf and the divider between the cabinet part and the drawer part.

Record No 50 set up as a rabbet plane.

Glued up carcase. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 5, a minor discovery.

When I left yesterday, the two larger panels were reasonably flat, and just needed to get their edges thinned, so that they would fit in the grooves.
A bit like my earlier experiences with pilot ladder wood, those had warped a bit too. I am not sure how dry the wood is, but at some point it will hopefully stop moving around.

No need to worry though, a bit of work with the scrub plane, and the panels were able to get into the grooves.

Contrary to my normal work habits, I performed a full dry assembly of the back panel, to see that all would go together as planned. - And it did.

I planned the sequence of my glue up, made sure to orient the pieces correctly, and even I will have to admit that it actually help in achieving a stress free glue up.
The diagonals confirmed that the assembly was as square as could be expected, and I applied all our clamps to the bridle joints and left it to dry.

While the panel was drying I sorted out the panels to find the best looking ones for the carcase and the door.
I ripped them to a similar width and tried to plane them too, I managed to make them tapering in that process, but jointing and straightening long pieces is not easy with a smoothing plane.
It isn't much, and I'll just use my regular trick of keeping one side as the reference side - and then later plane the other side flat after assembly. It is how I usually do out here because my stock preparation is never really spot on; due to materials, tools, workholding and other excuses (I suck at manual stock preparation).

My idea was to crosscut the parts to length, and then maybe plane a small rabbet on the inside of the back, to accommodate the back panel.
I placed one of the short boards on top of the back panel, to assure myself of that I could remove close to 2".
At this point I could hardly believe what I had discovered:
I couldn't even remove 1/16"!
In fact somehow the back panel was 2" wider than it was supposed to be.
The length was correct, but I was a bit puzzled to say the least. I mean how could it have happened. I had marked everything out, and even used a marking knife.

I have to admit, that I never measured the assembly while it was dry. But if I had done so, I would most likely have discovered that I had made all the joints for the width of the panel so that what should have become the outside of the joint was "suddenly" the inside. Alas the width of the panel was increased by exactly the width of my two stiles.
The only place that I had noticed something a bit irregular was on one of the top corners, where the outside wasn't quite flush. I never thought much about it but blamed my sawing technique.

In hindsight, I should have crosscut the rails to the correct length first, and then made the joints, but I decided that being such a "pro" there was no need to do that, I could just saw of the protruding ends once I had assembled it all. And since I didn't want to make a deep open mortise in one end, i had just sort of centered the rails, so I had to remove an equal amount in both ends. It all looked fine to me during the build.

But if there can be any sort of wisdom hidden in this discovery, it have to be that accurate measuring doesn't mean much if you saw/cut on the wrong side of that line. And never bother to check the measurements before applying glue.

I still think that I will be able to save the build, but somehow it is not getting easier.
And now my idea of trying to use the golden section as overall dimensions is effectively shot down too.
Hopefully tomorrow it will all be better!

Glue up.