Saturday, June 4, 2016

The door frames

In my last post I wrote that I started a new project, a bathroom cabinet. I didn't really introduce this new project, so here is a short intro.

I've always been smitten by the looks of the 17 century English carved chests. But I don't have any need for a chest like that. But those chests really look like they could be converted to a cabinet with small doors in the front instead of those panels. The lid doesn't need to be a lid anymore in a cabinet like that, it can be a fixed top with plenty of room for a sink, making it suitable for our bathroom.

I don't know if it is very visible in this picture but here are the drawings I am working from. (click on the picture to enlarge it)

The way I started ths project is a bit haphazard. First the bottom boards, now the doors. The doors are good to make now, so they are a reference for the size of the rest of the frontpanel. These are standard frame and panel doors, so I dressed the wood for the rails and styles. Here are a few pictures of the mortise and tenon construction proces.

Chopping out the mortises. I like to work like this. A clamp to prevent the wood from splitting, working above a leg of the bench and fixing the style in position with a holdfast. Diagonally so I can stand in line with the style to keep the chisel nicely vertical. I chop the mortise with one of my Dutch mortise chisels, allthough this one is made in Germany, way back in the 19th century.

Mortising isn't that much work, tenoning takes me more time. Here are a few little tricks. When I saw the shoulders, I like to undercut on purpose. This makes fitting the tenon easier. Especially when the inside shoulder is a bit gappy. A gap on the inside makes it much easier to get the visible outside shoulder really tight.

Oh, and another usefull little trick. My eyes are slowly but surely loosing their youthfull strength. I can't always see the knife lines very well anymore. It really helps to switch off the overhead lights and only work with light from the side, which throws a dark, very visible shadow line. Hard to see in the top picture, much better in the picture below, as far as my Iphone captures this.

I do saw the shoulders, but I split the cheeks.  The grain of this cherry wood isn't very straight, but when I take small bites, the split rarely wanders in the wrong direction. I do these cheeks in 3 or 4 splits. First split to see in which direction the split is going to wander, second or third split to remove most of the wood and the last split in the marking gauge line.

And that's 3 door frames. Mortise and tenon joints done. I still need to run some grooves and cut of the horns.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sharpening a saw really helps!

Yes yes, I know. No apologies about neglecting my blog. I am just one of these victims of Instagram (for a link, look above). But a blog is a better place to pause a bit longer on certain subjects. Anyway, after doing loads of jobs around the house, upgrading the entrance of the garage, lots of painting etc, I am back to normal woodworking. The bathroom cabinet needs to be build.

For the bottom boards of this cabinet I still had some leftover wallnut from the dining room table project. It's mostly sap wood, but perfectly suitable for something like this. One problem though, it still was one massive piece about 5 cm thick. Crosscutting in smaller sections made it more managable.

My humble workshop friends, the planer and tablesaw, helped to square these boards. Then I  used the tablesaw to rip into the board's edges as far as the blade allowed. 6 cm from both sides.

That left me with 12 cm in the middle to cut away with my trusty 4 1/2 tpi rip saw. A job I have been avoiding for quite some time allready.

Well, in the end it was all half as bad. It's hard work, but goes relatively quickly. But, as the title sais, it really helps to sharpen your saw first! I did the first board without resharpening the saw. It has been used quite a lot but still didn't seem too bad. It took me almost 20 minutes.

Then I decided to give the saw a quick once-over. A light jointing, then filing the teeth until they were razor sharp again.

The next board went quite a bit quicker. I cut the time in two, only 10 minutes for a 54 cm long, 12 cm deep resaw in wallnut! Not bad.

The last board is a little narrower and took even less time of course. So, all in all, in less then two hour I was through the entire stack, including extended tea breaks and sharpening the saw. I do feel my arms though!

A board split open and the sawdust on the workbench

And all the boards together, ready for further processing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Making strike knob buttons

On old English planes, especially the longer ones, you often find a strike knob on the front part of the stock, made from wood. On Dutch planes you find similar strike buttons, but they are invariably made from steel. I had an old, worn out plane, and I sacrificed it to get hold of the button so I could replicate it. Here is how I go about making them.

First on the lathe I turn a spike-like shape, but still in the round. I don't turn to a point, that comes later.

Then I use a large bastard file to create the flats, so the result goes from round to square. Still in the lathe, not rotating of course! The four jaw chuck gives a nice visual to make the square as square as possible, allthough I don't pretent it turns out perfectly. Counting file strokes helps to keep everything more or less symetric. First I file the straight part.

And then I file the tapered part. this also brings the spike to a point. When you don't leave enough material when turning, this step will strongly shorten the spike.

Then I turn it around in the chuck and shape the head. Rough shape with the lathe tools, then refining the shape with a file. (a sacrificial washer behind the head to protect the chuck).

When I am happy with the shape I bring it to the vise and use a hammer to give the head a hammer finish. Which means hammering the surface to create small facets all around.

And that's one finished strike button. After this I will heat it up with a propane torch to cherry red and let it cool slowly to give it a nice black color. Finish with linseed oil.

Here is a strike button on the front of my new jointer plane. You hit it to retract the blade or you hit it very hard to loosen the wedge.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The smoother is finished!

Making the coffin shape wasn't very difficult. Cut the corners with a ripsaw, smooth the curve with a chisel and a block plane and finish with a scraper. More difficult were the chamfers on this rounded shape. I really strugled. I'm also not too happy with the round corners at the rear of th eplane, they are not very well defined, a bit too much sandpaper!

But the plane works very well!

I must reduce the camber a little bit, story of my life...

Today I started with the next plane, a tryplane. First I did the metal work, a 2 1/4" blade for the tryplane and a 2 1/2" for a jointer plane. It was the usual hard work to get everything flat and coplanar, but I succeeded in the end. Can't get my nails clean anymore.

And I cut into this billet of beech to find some wood in between the end checks on one side and the worm holes on the other side. I didn't succeed entirely, I will have to hide two wormholes somehow later on.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Tuning the smoother

Today I got around finally to work on the smoother again. First problem to tackle were problems with the feeding of the shavings through the mouth of the plane. Better said, no shavings actually wanted to feed through the mouth. The plane clogged immediately with the shaving wrinkling up like an accordeon between capiron and wear of the plane.

It took some itterations to fix the problem. First I polished the edge of the capiron, making sure there was absolutely no burr left on the edge. The fit between capiron an cutting blade is very good, so no problem there,

Next was the wear, There still were some rough spots, so I polished everything up as good as possible. This of course opened up the mouth a bit more. At the end the mouth was around 1mm, starting to get rather large. With the capiron set further from the edge the plane now worked very well. But with the cap set close to the edge, still no joy!

I decided to compare with another wooden smoother, a Nooitgedagt. This one has a wear angle of 80 degrees, while mine was 75. So, another round with the chisel, and this finally did the trick.

Thick shavings, thin shavings, doesn't matter, it feeds through the mouth effortlessly. So the mouth is a little wider then first intended, but I'd rather have a plane working correctly then a theroretical perfect design.

Actually, the plane is now very much like the smoothing plane in the Seaton Chest. That one has a mouth of 0.9mm (calculated from the descriptions) and a wear angle of 89 degrees (almost vertical). So I feel in good company.

Tight mouths and a capiron set close to the edge is a troublesome combination in a wooden plane.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The smoother

This weekend I started the build of a typical English coffin smoother. This one has to get a nice tight mouth! So I advanced with the utmost care!

Some tips. First one, I drill the mouth first under the drillpress. This time I aimed the drill at almost the same angle as the wear. Somehow that makes creating this thin narrow mortise a lot easier. This was a tip from Stewie from Australia and Steve Voigt from the US. Also important was to use a very sharp chisel to cut this mortise. That prevents any unwanted breakout. Finally it was usefull to use the float as soon as possible. After I sharpened the only Lie Nielsen float I have, it turned into a very capable tool.

Another area, cutting the abuments. Here is a picture of the setup I use.

The spacer is carefully fitted so it sits tight against the wear. It is helpfull to wedge it in place, makes for a more steady surface. Of course check if everything is square before commencing with the saw. It seems that I am slowly getting on good terms with my no-set abutment saw. It is just a piece of old sawblade on a handle. I use wax to reduce the friction in the slot. Of course, the abutment ends in the wear in a double iron plane, so it is not possible to saw through and through. But it is remarkable how much you can work the tip of the saw into the wood.

The rest is chisseling and the float is helpfull here too.

And this is where I am now. The blade just barely touches the wear, so I still have room to open it up a little. I think I'll shoot for a mouth about 0.5 mm wide, which is fine for a double iron plane.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Wooden plane tuning tricks

Some tricks to get a wooden plane up and running. Hardly my tricks, but usefull nonetheless.

A good working wooden plane needs:
- a flat sole.
- a well bedded iron.
- tight fitting wedge.
And a sharp edge of course.

The flat sole is not so difficult. I get close by planing with another plane. Very close, but never really close enough. So I lap the plane on some 120 grit sandpaper glued to a piece of thick glass. This goes very quickly, it's not a metal plane after all, so check often.

The bedding of the iron is checked with oil smeared on the backside of the iron. You can also use candle sooth, but oil is easy. Insert the oiled blade carefully in the blade, tighten the wedge and tap the iron downwards a little. Then remove everything again and have a look at the oil spots on the bed of the plane. You are looking for a good fit along the bottom and some touch points at the top. The bottom is most important. The middle should ideally not touch at all. I use a scraper to remove wood where I don't want it.

This is a patern I am very happy with.

And then the wedge. The fingers should be tight, especially at the bottom and at the top. Again, the bottom is more important. And they should fit tight on both sides equally otherwise the plane doesn't adjust straight. I check this with a very thin feeler gauge.

And then there were two jack planes. A larger 16" one with a 2 1/8" iron. And this one is 14" with a 2" iron. Both sharpened with a camber, the small one with more camber then the larger one.