Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Marlinspike manufacturing

It is not a secret that I like to turn stuff on a metal lathe. On my first voyage with the Lehmkuhl, I made a large marlinspike just to test out one special way of making cones. 
The marlinspike was well received by the deck department, and I ended up making a couple of smaller ones later on that year.

I have great difficulties saying NO to a Newfoundland dog and to young people wanting to learn from me. So when I signed on this time and almost all of our volunteers asked me if I would teach them how to make a marlinspike I replied that I'd be happy to.

Making a marlinspike is a fine little project. There are different processes that involves different tools, and you can leave the project for some time and pick it up again later without any issues.
The turning teaches people a basic understanding of the lathe and how to use it. The surface is improved by a file and by sandpaper before it is hardened.
Some sort of head or handle is dealt with next, and finally everything is polished using some fine emery paper. 
One of the volunteers asked if I could also help him make a sheath for the marlinspike, which I was happy to help him with. Soon after, a couple more of them wanted to do that too. Then one guy wanted to make a sheath for his knife to match the marlinspike sheath, and another one jumped on the same idea. So I have spent a great deal of time helping and instructing in leather work and metalwork this time.

An interesting thing was to see how they each had ideas as how they wanted the head/handle made. So each has his own very distinct marlinspike. 
So far we have made heads from leather, wood, laminated wood, copper & brass and steel.
Most of the marlinspikes have been around 10" long, so they work well as personal tools that can be brought with them into the rigging. A couple of them have been 13-14" and a bit beefier, intended to be used at the deck mainly for splicing wire.

A great thing about all the projects is that people have all been incredibly proud upon completion, and they have each succeeded in making a functioning tool that they can use for the rest of their career. And I am happy because I think that I may have planted a small seed of making in each and everyone of them.


Adrian's marlinspike

14" (as far as I remember)

Wood from various ships he has worked on

Laurids' and Simon's Marlinspikes

Laurids' sheath for the marlinspike

Simon has made a sheath for his pocket knife

Aske's sheaths

Brass & copper head

Nice work for someone new to leather working.


Monday, March 15, 2021

Herringbone parquet table

Two weeks ago, Gustav sent me a mail asking if I had some wood that he could use to make a herringbone parquet table of.

I replied with a suggestion of using some roof laths, since I was a bit uncertain if I had enough ash for him to make a table. I tried to write to him later on the hear about the table since I was very curious, but since I didn't get any response I figured that he had given up on the project. (I hadn't received an answer as to whether the table was a commission, an experiment or something for himself either.)

When we got close to Norway some days ago, I called just to chat with the family, and Gustav suddenly asked if I had any shellac? I told him that I did, and asked what he was going to use it for. He replied that naturally it was for the herringbone table. 

He had become so immersed in the project that he hadn't thought about informing me at all, but all in all, he had almost completed a tabletop. And he even sent me some pictures to prove it.
We talked a bit about the different ways to make an undercarriage for a table, but I am not sure which type he will make. I guess I'll just have to see when I get back home.


Herringbone parquet tabletop.





Friday, March 12, 2021

Details of Gustav's DTC

I asked Gustav to take a few pictures of how his block plane was held in his DTC. He also supplied a few other pictures of details.

The block plane which was a gift from Brian Eve of Toolerable sits on the left side of the chest in the top compartment. The inspiration for the holding arrangement also came from Brian, who has his block plane sitting in a leather pouch in the same spot.
Gustav chose to make his out of wood. Each side is made out of two strips of wood glued together via a triangular piece. The entire holding arrangement was glued and tacked to the side of the chest after the two sides were dry. 

In the other side of the chest, his speed-square is mounted using a piece of wood with a groove in it and a notch in the outer tool rack. The framing square simply sits along the backside of the chest being supported by the narrow slots in the shelves. We had to cut off 1.5" of the long leg of the square to make it fit inside the chest, but It sits very well protected now.

The two drawers are dovetailed with through dovetails. The bottoms are massive wood planed down to 1/4" thickness and held in a groove in the front and sides and overlapping the back of the drawer. We made them the traditional way because I know that once in a while it can be useful to have an example of a drawer to show to people. For instance if you need to show your friends what a dovetailed joint looks like.
The pulls are thin leather straps nailed to the bottom of the front. The straps will bend when the battens for locking the fall front are inserted, and they don't protrude so much that the drawers needed to be made shorter. The notches for allowing the locking battens just need to be a bit deeper to accommodate the folded leather.

Thin strips hold the block plane securely in place



Hultafors speed-square on the side.
Framing square in the back


Dovetailed drawers with leather pulls.







Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Dutch tool chests

Gustav has started training to become a carpenter. I can't remember if I have blogged about it, but I guess not since I haven't blogged much the last year.
Anyway, the path he takes is four and a half years, and gives him a certificate as a trained carpenter and a high school diploma at the same time, so that if he wishes to go study later on in life to become e.g. architect, he doesn't need to take any additional classes before enrolling into that education.
The carpenter training is mixed school and apprenticeship throughout those years. During the first apprentice period, each apprentice gets his own set of standard tools from the carpenter. These tools are normally supplied in a rectangular plywood box. If you read the description of the idea/regulation behind the carpenter training, it is stated that during the first apprentice period, the apprentice should be given the possibility to make his own tool chest for the standard tool set, so that he can bring those tools with him for the coming school periods.

Most apprentices just use the standard plywood box. Some will try to make a few divisions in the box and maybe a tool rack of some sort. I had told Gustav that I'd be more than happy to make a small class for him and a friend where they could each build a DTC.
I milled wood for 3 chests, and bought hardware for them too, but for some reason the friend was unable to participate anyway, so we ended up just building two chests. One for me and one for Gustav.

I tried to work a little bit faster than him so he could look at my chest for the next step in the process, but I tried to mainly work on it while Gustav was also in the shop. I showed him the different possibilities such as breadboard ends or battens to keep the panels flat, and how the edges could be treated using a router, a rabbet plane or just a chamfer.

When the chests were complete, Gustav really took off fitting the interior of his chests with tool racks and special holding arrangements for saws and squares etc. I didn't have any special ideas for what tools I wanted to put into my chest, so I just made a chisel rack mainly to show Gustav how one could be made. 

At that point whenever Gustav's friends came by for a chat or a cup of coffee, they would as always start out in the shop, and Gustav would proudly show them his DTC with tools and lockable panel and all. 
All the friends were awestruck. you could practically see the envy in their eyes. When Gustav demonstrated opening the lid and removed the two sliding battens to open up the front. It might as well have been the "Resolute desk of the movie National treasure". 

With his chest complete, He felt that it was too nice to be painted and he opted for varnishing instead. He plans to use the Holsteiner breed logo as a mark, to identify which ones are his tools, so he started up painting it on the lid before the varnishing.

This might sound corny, but I think that I am just as proud as Gustav is. Helping your son to build a tool chest is an incredibly fine and meaningful way to spend some time together. And I enjoyed every minute of the build seeing his skills grow through the project.


Gustav's chest

Dovetailed drawers to the left




Batten /dust seal holds the lid flat

Holsteiner horse breed logo

The unfinished chest is mine..








Sunday, February 14, 2021

Making an anatomic breastplate for Gustavs horse

I like to work a bit in leather occasionally, and leatherwork gear is even easier than woodworking gear to bring onboard a ship. From before my dad got really ill, I had purchased some leather meant for making a breastplate that I had seen, and Gustav and I had measured his horse to get an idea of the size of the piece. I had made a sketch and sort of left it all due to making a coffin and all that followed.

This time due to the pandemic, I have had to stay 10 days in quarantine in a hotel in Norway. I have a hard time expressing how much I dislike sitting idle in a hotel room, so before heading out, I had made a bunch of leather straps ready and found my sketch so I could sit in the hotel room and do a bit of leatherwork. 

I had brought some basic tools with me, and a piece of 1/4" plywood, so I had a place to do cutting without damaging the hotel furniture.

A thing that I didn't bring was something to polish the edges of the leather after assembly, so I'll make some sort of polishing disc when I get onboard and then make the edges look really nice too. At the moment they look a bit dull.









All of it mounted and laid out on the bed.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Making a tabletop from a slab of beech

A couple of years ago I was asked by a friend to go and see one of his neighbours who had a tree cut down in their front yard. 
It was a massive blood beech and he asked me if I could use the tree for the sawmill. I really wanted to, but there was no way that I could move it if I bought it, so I respectfully declined, telling him my reasons to do so. Instead he offered if we could make a trade. He would get the trunk of the tree moved to my place and then I should make a table out of it for him, and I could keep the rest of the wood.

I agreed knowing that it would not be a lucrative deal, but what the heck,  I like making tables, and it was some serious wood to get delivered to my door. 

So a week or so later he had a truck with a crane coming and picking it up and dropping it of at my place.
I milled the largest part of the trunk and stacked it. I had informed him that it would take around 2 years for it to dry enough for me to start making anything out of it, and he was cool with that.

Last fall well before my dad got ill, I decided that I might as well get to it and build a Barnsley hayrake table for him. He had told me that I could make a table that I would seem fit and the material was just perfect for that.

Before starting out, Mette (smarter than me) suggested that it might be a good idea to call and ask them again if they had any requests in the size of the table. I thought it was a stupid idea but did as she suggested, and the guy and his wife were really happy to hear from me and were really interested.

I showed them the slab and the discussion started. It is always interesting when people suddenly realize that they can decide on height length finish etc. 
They asked if I could make the slab wider which I told them would be a shame since it would be impossible to hide, a bit more discussion and they agreed to think about the length of the table.
 A few days later they called back and the man said that his wife and the kids wanted a metal undercarriage, and he was the only one that wanted a hayrake system, so since he was outnumbered they just wanted me to make the slab ready for a tabletop. 
I was glad that they didn't try to make me feel obliged to make a set of metal lags since I normally dislike those on slabs. A lot of people seem to think that a table is just the tabletop, and then it doesn't matter what kind of legs or undercarriage is on it. I see it a bit differently.
The good thing was that it removed at least half of the work that I needed to do.

I started flattening the back first, using a jointer with a scrub iron. Then the slab was flipped over, and I did a little bit of work on the top.

It was Friday, and Gustav had invited a couple of friends over to have a couple of beers which was ok with us since they were going to sit in the man cave and wouldn't be disturbing us.
I told them that they could go through the workshop instead of waking up the horses constantly, but I kind of got to regret that part. 
Someone who I guess had a little bit too much to drink obviously wanted to show one of his friends that he knew what different tools were for. (Gustav did not witness it, other wise he would have stopped it all)
So the next morning when I wanted to start flattening the top a bit more I noticed a couple of holes, and surprisingly next to the holes were my awl.. He had first hacked it straight in probably 3/8" and then he had done the same plus wiggled it around to make the hole larger. Needles to say I got furious.
I tried to put some water on the marks and see if they would close a bit, but the problem was that they were in a low spot of the tabletop already. 
I calmed down a bit for probably 20 seconds (the time it took me to plane a couple of strokes more).
Then I could see that the same kid had wanted to try Gustav's batterypowered circular saw!
And he had chosen to do that with a 1.5" deep cut sort of 1.25" into the side of the tabletop. I was speechless at that point. I called Gustav and he was of course as sorry as he could be, and I tried not to blame him, but I was angry. But I knew that I could cover it up so it wouldn't be a deal breaker, just a pain in the neck.

As soon as everything was relatively flat, I installed breadboard ends. That was especially important in the wide end since it was a Y shaped trunk, and there wasn't much point in flattening it if those pieces could move independently from each other.

A lot more of flattening, and it was time to install some butterflies too, those were made out of elm since it is what they had wanted.
There were a few places where there were rotten knots and those places received a piece of elm too, as did the circular saw mishap.

Some sanding and I treated the oil with a linseed oil/varnish blend thinned a bit with some turpentine.

The slab ended up looking really good, so I might have to make one for myself at some point.


106" long, about 40" down to 28" wide, 2" thick


The dark spot on the edge left in the picture is where the saw cut was made.

Before finishing.

Using my recently acquired Ohio 08 jointer

Removing the bulk of the material with a router.

live edges and a breadboard end

Still a bit of work left.



Installing butterflies

Moving on

 Right now I am nearing the end of a 10 day long Covid quarantine in a Norwegian hotel. Lots of time to think and contemplate over different things.

I have been looking at my blog a few times, and it has made me sad every single time because it reminds me of my dad.

So I have decided that I just need to start writing something, to make sure that the first post that will meet me isn't one that will make me sad.

Since my dads passing away, my older brother and I have started clearing out our childhood home, It is tough to do, but luckily we have tried and succeeded in making it a cozy thing by making sure that we get coffee or tea and something to eat whenever we are down there.

My parents both loved collecting antiques, so there are loads of stuff, and since it is mostly all really nice stuff, we can't just throw it away. We would like to give some of it to charity shops, but due to the pandemic, they are all closed, so that kind of sucks.

We have sold some of his tools, and that was actually easier for me than I had imagined. I guess mostly because my dad gravitated from using tools to collecting maybe 25 years ago, so since he didn't have a regular go-to set of tools it wasn't too hard selling some of them. We managed to find some youngsters who wanted to learn about woodworking, and we sold a bunch to them, actually cheap, but I know that my dad would have liked for the tools to go back into circulation again.

I still managed to do some woodworking at home, also related to the clearing out. I made 6 large glass door cabinets that will be used for storing nails and screws etc. They are hung on a large French cleat in the room where the metal lathe is. It is a project that I discussed with my dad before he died, and the glass doors are extra windows from the old windows at my parents house. (As usual I forgot to take any pictures of them).
They are made with adjustable shelves, and have a total height of 75", the width is 27.5" and the depth is 7.5", so there is a lot of storage in the 6 cabinets all put together. 
I didn't do any fancy joinery or anything with the cabinets, I decided that they were meant for storage and they were simply glued and screwed together and the wood was thickness in the planer, but I could live with a less than perfect surface. I intend to paint them white at some point, but it has to be when the temperature is not below freezing anyway.

My long term plan is to do a bit of clearing out in my shop as well, and throwing stuff out that I never use. Also I would like to use the shop as a workshop, and then I can use these cabinets for storing stuff instead of keeping it in the workshop. 

Having to clear out also prompted me to start doing the same in the barn, and I have already made a lot of progress, there's still a way to go, but at least I have started, and that is the main thing.

Mette riding Bent in the forest