Thursday, February 28, 2013

a dangerous addiction...

last christmas my parents and robin gave me 3 tools, which are made by a small little company in Maine. Called Lee-Nielsen Toolworks.

These were 3 chisels in 1/4, 5/8 and 1/2 size. Which do more or less everything I will ever need from a chisel. But they are so beautifully made and lightweight. I haven't touched my Crown or Fuller Chisels than and terrible neglected them. There is just no point in using anything else anymore. Which brings me to my current dilemma.

The more I work with power-tools  The more they annoy me, because of all the noise and dust they generate. So I try to use hand-tools, whenever possible.

Don't get me wrong. I love my bandsaw, table-saw  mortiser, drill press, planner and drum-sander and don't want to miss them. Especially the table/band-saw. Since I can't cut or draw a straight line, even if my life depends on it. But something is just really justifying in using a plane or chisel to fine-tune and optimize joints. And I really dislike my 'el-cheapo' router-table, since every-time I use it, I worry about my fingers. It's just such a flimsy tool...

And since I got spoiled by using Lee-Nielsens terrible overpriced tools, I can't help myself, but wanting more and more. I don't need a full chisel set, since I barley ever have the need for anything bigger than 1/2" Chisel. But there handplanes are just so beautiful and well made...

Needless to say, I splurged yet again and order a Small shoulder plane and a Dovetail Saw. (Which I will most likely return, since as I mentioned I can't draw or saw a straight line....) But I hope to learn how to cut a dovetail in 30 days with a handsaw or just have to face the truth and stick to tenons.

Now the good part is that there is a very low risk of me acquiring a lot of handplanes, since they are

a) way to expensive
b) I make my money with software development and woodwork is an attempt to get me away from the pc and make some money to keep us in nice furniture.
c) I don't have a workbench, which means I won't be able to use any bench-plane.

Speaking of workbench, I actually attempted a while back to build one, around 2-3am in the morning over several weeks, using left over pine and fir from the doghouse. And it was a gigantic disaster. It warped, was to light and lacked any form of vise. Which meant I kept using clamps to awkwardly hold pieces in place.

So I would love to build a nice workbench sometime around the end of this year, except that hardwood is ridicules expensive and you literally need several hundred board-feet of maple for the top. I run some quick calculation and came up with a number of ~1800$ to build a workbench, just in wood and an end vise.

Maybe I can keep left over parts from my cutting boards and patch a top together over time, which will look funny. But aslong as it's flat and heavy should work.

Speaking of nice furniture,

at this point in time I have enough projects on my 'honey do list' to keep me busy for the next 1-2 years. From building a small reading table, over building 2 nightstands, a bed and headboard, refinishing the kitchen table again, turning chair legs to fix the broken chair to building planting boxes for the backyard...

I guess I'm going to generate a lot of sawdust and maybe a piece or two of furniture...

making progress with the stereo rack...

at this point I spend close to 5 days just prepping wood, cutting it down to size, cutting and mortising tenons etc...

Tonight I finally managed to test fit the first shelf (roughly, way way togo before the tenons are all precisely squared)

dry fitting the shelf to get an estimate if my crazy idea will work...

gluing up the shorter legs...

24 hours togo, before these are dry

The sad part is, I have about 40 clamps at this point in time and keep running out of them. And have honestly no idea yet how to get my hands on 4 more 50" cabinet clamps, to glue up the legs to the tenons. I just refuse to pay 80$ for such large clamps, which I barley ever going to use. For my cutting boards I need 20" clamps max, which 'only' cost 40$ a piece....

But once the shelf is done, it should roughly look like this (from the architecture point of view, haven't decided on chamfers and so yet.)
rough design, no details added. Since it would take to long
The design itself is done, using google sketch-up. Which is a fantastic and easy to use software for 3D designs and basic modeling. The best part is, that it's completely extendable by using the programming language ruby and provides me with plugins to calculate how much wood I need and how it has to be cut.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

too many projects

I guess I should start to hire some woodchucks for my little woodshop. Since I'm starting to get a little much on my hands to handle and my garage looks like a lumberyard.

First of all I'm now 13 days late to deliver a part of my valentines gift to my darling of wife. Since I can't figure out how to finish this project.

Basically I promised her a little guinea pig cage, so that Mojito can 'roam' the 'great outdoors', meaning our backyard and be save from Hawks and puppies.

The initial part of building the frame was rather simple and straight forward and I literally used every power tool in my shop for this. Which is exciting, that they are all playing together.

pairing the lab joints, with one of my christmas gifts

they are getting more and more precise

turning the tenons on the lathe, as an exercise to repair our chair-legs.

all parts are cut and ready to be glued up

frame is ready, now how to stop the guinea pig from escaping?

But I'm stuck at the point of adding some form of wire mesh, to make it look nice and safe. This has been the stand of the last 13 days and there is no end in sight. Which makes me feel rather bad.

The second project was to re-saw a part of a tree, for my friend martin and flatten the surface (so that he can polish it) This was done in about 6 hours and not to bad, and promptly maxed out the capacity of my bandsaw.

martins mystery wood, which smells strangely like cat urine...

building a small sled to keep all my fingers save and sound

cutting the first slice on the bandsaw. This piece of wood is about 14"/35cm heigh.

all cut into 1 1/2" slices and ready to be flattened

Last but not least, after 2 years of research and planning I decided to buy the first parts of the stereo system, I really want to have. Meaning speakers and amplifiers, but these need an audio rack. Apparently at a depth of 20", my amplifiers are now to deep and to heavy for normal audio furniture. Which means I need to build my own (or buy one for thousands of $$$, which I refuse).

So now I'm designing my first piece of furniture and hope it will work out ok, which will be a long process and let's me work with some new wood, called poplar. Which is rather cheap and affordable.
working with purple hearts for accents. The 'drill' is btw a mortiser, which drills square holes

first 30 mortises and 30 tenons cut and paired. Again using one of my beloved chisels

a first try at the legs, using a lock miter joint to simulate 3x2" wood. Since it's impossible to find in this size

glueing up the first leg

using a small block pane to cleanup the joints. Not to happy with the legs at this point in time and I really need some more lie-nielsen planes.

So at this point I invested about 200$ in poplar and generated quite a bit of saw-dust, but have no real results. Besides 5 legs, of which one is not really up to my standards and one cracked under clamp pressure. Which makes me rather nervous about trusting them with my amplifiers.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

progress with the mini lathe

Now that I finally learned how to sharpen my lathe tool and after picking up any thicker wood (2-3") I can find for the last couple of months.
I managed to turn my first 'muddler' for mojitos.

Which is made from some ash and took about 3 hours of turning and sanding up to 600 grit. Still need to practice a lot more, since it still has some tool marks.

first real attempt at turning something

basil is keeping watch, that nobody touches my mojito
Next job, turning a new chair leg for our broken chair, once I find a 2-3x thick piece of oak somewhere and learn how to follow pattern.

I'm also making progress with turning baby rattles, now I just have to get the size right...
'little' baby rattle for my co-workers newborn. About 13 cm long, turned out of a single piece of ash.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Christmas (long overdo)

so after a couple of busy weeks, I finally had time to give my beautiful wife her well deserved christmas gift (well next to the other stuff she got actually on christmas)

 For some reason making her coasters took a lot longer than expected. Since bloodwood is amazingly hard and ruined a couple of my saw blades in the process.

sadly the picture does not do justice how beautiful they are

Another delay was caused, since I wanted to utilize the beautiful face-grain and cut not batch it, as you can with end-grain.

Also I finally managed to finish the development of our christmas pictures. Which shall be used for next years christmas cards.

finally nearly perfect 
smiling is optional in this family. But at least all have the same expression

Basil is ain't that happy with the stupid santa head.