Thursday, August 3, 2017

A small barrel for a Newfoundland dog

After the barrel sitting idle on a shelf for a couple of months, I finally took the "trouble" of getting it onto Bertha for a quick photo.

I removed the barrel immediately after the pictures were taken, but Bertha actually didn't seem to mind the small barrel hanging by her collar.

Getting a dog to pose is not that simple..

Bertha with a small barrel.

Now with her eyes closed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What's the magic word?

Well, the magic word will surely depend on the situation.
Quite often the correct answer will be please.

But sometimes please just doesn't do it. A stronger more magic word is required.

Back in 1992 I spent some months in Minnesota, and I had the privilege of being allowed to help out at auctions held by the then oldest auctioneer company in Minnesota: "Fred Radde and sons, auctioneers and realtors"
Fred the main auctioneer knew the magic word for Minnesotan auctions was "Fish house". If an old crappy sofa or chair was unsaleable, calling it a fish house chair would instantly spark the interest in the crowd and someone would buy it for their fish house for the coming winter season of ice fishing (a great sport by the way). Fred's next comment would usually be in line with: "buy it now and leave it on the ice, in the spring it will be gone".
He really knew how to make a good atmosphere and that stimulated people to buy, and all in all it contributed to a nice event with lots of laughter and good deals.

Now in my case "fish house" wont do it. "Please" works sometimes, but "HORSE" works every single time.

If I need to start a new project:
"Honey, I'll go mill some wood to make some saw dust to spread in the stable for the horses to sleep in".
Such an approach will be greatly appreciated, in contrast to e.g.:
"Honey, I'll start building a new workbench"

There are a number of situations where you can use the magic word, tool purchases, classes etc. the imagination is the limit.

In reality you want to say: While I don't really need this tool, I am sure it would impress someone reading my blog.
Chances are that my request will be frowned upon and quickly be discarded as not essential for the household.
If I on the other hand say something like this:
"If I buy this tool, I could make a really nice cupboard for the saddle room, so you can easily organize the tendon boots for the horses."

I am sure you get the idea.

So I am thinking that a lot of the advice offered for aspiring woodworkers start in the wrong place such as:
Advice for a beginners tool kit.
What planes to buy and when.
The first saw you should get.
And so on....

A much better place to start would be by finding the magic word. The very word that will allow you to invest time and money in your hobby and being thanked for it. Now that is something that isn't described in a lot of "how to posts" for people wanting to get into woodworking.

We are not talking complicated psychology here, a good look at your wife's hobbies will most likely give an idea of what the magic word could be, Here are a couple of suggestions that might work, but remember like in Harry Potter, there is always the risk of a magic spell backfiring on you, so be careful!

Sewing room.
Interior decoration.
Gardening (this one is dangerous because you could end up using a shovel all day long instead).
Bespoke baking supplies.
Shoe cabinets
Doll house (this one might make it difficult to justify getting a portable saw mill)
Art supplies.

Finally, you shouldn't feel bad about using a magic word, because I am fairly certain that we are under their spell most of the time anyway.

Friday, June 30, 2017

A project for the local kindergarten (maybe)

In the village we have a small kindergarten. Our youngest son went there, and though it is some years ago now, I still help them once a year by providing some discs of wood for when they make Christmas decorations. These are just sawed with a chainsaw and the children slap a lump of clay on top and insert spruce twigs and a candle etc.

I talked to one of the staff quite some time ago, and she asked if I ever had any small scraps of wood, because they had a small workbench, and the children liked to saw and hammer on something.
So a couple of times I have driven by them to drop of a load of small scraps of wood.

For some time I have been toying with an idea that perhaps I should make X number of sets of wood that could be assembled into small ships.
Nothing fancy, just a hull, a superstructure, a funnel and perhaps two masts.
I am well aware that most ships today don't have masts, but I know that children think they belong on a ship, and who am I to argue with that?

It won't be an immediate project, because the stock that I have in mind are scraps of the roof boards used on the small barn. I will order a bunch more of those for finishing the inside of the barn too, and I know that I will be getting a lot of leftovers from that.
The wood is spruce which is a lot easier to nail than larch, and given the age of the children that will be an advantage.

If I drill pilot holes in the superstructure and in the funnel, It should be easier to drive the small nails home, and that will definitely be an advantage. Also they can still rearrange those pieces as they wish on the hull.
The hull itself I plan on making complete with a bow and two holes for a mast to be inserted.
Then I'll just have to purchase a bunch of dowels and cut those into fitting lengths of masts.

A small ship like that could be painted when complete, and unless things have changed a lot, children usually like to paint stuff.

Of course I need to check with the kindergarten if they are at all interested in receiving such a set of kits first before I make them, and I also need to start on the interior of the barn to get some stock for the eventual project.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Arms dealers

I continue my description of the moral decay of Denmark with a mixture of child labour and arms dealing.

The local shop in the village once a year hosts a market day where there is a social gathering with coffee and socializing with the other residents of the area.
The important thing for our children though is the market part, which allows you to have a booth at the parking lot and try to sell stuff. This year Gustav didn't feel like participating, he is a teenager now, and won't risk compromising being cool by being seen selling odd stuff in a parking lot (at least that is what I believe is the reason)
Asger likes the idea of selling something that he has made himself, and we have earlier sold stuff like apple crates, a home made soap and old no longer used toys.
This year I returned home from the ship some 2 weeks prior to the arrangement, and Asger wanted us to think of something new to sell this year. He takes pride in that we never sell the same products two years in a row.
I quickly had to think of something that would look the part and not be too overly difficult to build, I would of course help, but I wanted parts of the project to be such that the kids could do it themselves, in order for them to feel more of an ownership of the project.

This year we decided on making a small production of wooden toy guns.
I sawed out the stock on the band saw, and after some initial sanding and planing, I used a router to round over all the edges.
Asger sanded the stocks and then we helped each other applying some walnut stain.

We decided to make a few different models of guns, but all using more or less the same stock:
3 shotguns O/U
3 shotguns S/S
2 small carabines (stock shortened by approx 5" for very small kids)
14 sub machine guns inspired by a Thompson.

I made the barrels ready by gluing up those for the shotguns and flattening those for the sub machine guns and the carabines.
Asger drilled holes in all the barrels for mounting and the he painted them all.

I made some magazines for the "Thompsons" and Asger tried to use the router mounted in a router table to round them over on the edges before he sanded and painted them.

The triggers are a screw that has had the end cut off and filed round, and the trigger guards were made out of some zinc plate that I bent into shape.
Finally the barrels were mounted and the guns were ready to be sold.
Asgers friend Andreas helped in selling the guns.

All photos courtesy of Olav.

Andreas (left) Asger (right).

The sales table is a small Sjöberg workbench.

Me taking a small break and enjoying a cold beer.

Andreas contemplating about why sales are so low.

The shopping cart of Bonnie and Clyde.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A terrible tale

Luckily this post does not have any pictures!

One of the things that happened this home period was that Gustav (14) finished his test exams from 8th grade.
He and his friends all thought that it had been exhaustive, and they wanted to celebrate that it was over and have a get together at our place.

I am fine with that, because they are all nice kids, and an added bonus is that I can keep an eye on them while they are here.
In Denmark it is legal and normal to drink at a fairly young age compared to a lot of other places, and 8th grade is a typical starting point. So this get together involved alcohol.
Each kid brings whatever he wants to drink, usually in cooperation with his parents. That way they will normally get a fitting portion with them, Gustav will normally be issued with 3 beers and a breezer plus perhaps a bit of vodka equivalent to two beers worth of alcohol. He'll consume that during an evening and have a great time.

One of the kids at this party had fairly long hair, and after just one hour or so he exclaimed that he wanted a haircut.
None of them were drunk at that time, and I didn't really think they would go through with it. They found an extension cord and my hair trimmer and headed into the garden to start.

Somehow this kid had managed to sneak a huge portion of rum and coke with him, and he had gulped it all down at once. So within 20 minutes he was regularly drunk. While he was sitting on a garden chair and having his hair cut to a length of 3/8", He lost his balance and pulled the buddy who was controlling the trimmer with him in the fall.
None of them noticed that during the commotion the distance piece of the trimmer had fallen off, so after mounting the chair and restarting, suddenly the trimmer now made a length of 1/16" instead!

I had left the scene for approximately half an hour to tend to the horses, but when I came back he had started getting sick and throwing up. I managed to get a phone number from the kid and called his mother. - She came around and picked him up about 15 minutes later. The time was just half past nine.

The guy who had handled the trimmer must have been inspired, because according to the other kids he had smuggled half a bottle of vodka with him, and he impressed them all by drinking it in one long swallow.
Needless to say, 15 minutes later he was as drunk as he could be, and started throwing up too..

Again I called the parents, and when his mother came to pick him up, she surprised me by saying that: Oh she had noticed that he had smuggled half a bottle of vodka with him. That actually made me kind of irritated. If she knew that he had exceeded the amount of alcohol that they had agreed upon, she should have stopped him from taking more with him. But I wasn't in the mood for discussing that. She was the one who was going to have problems with a drunk 14 year old inside a new car.

A sad thing is that those two kids are not part of the group that normally comes to our house for those parties, they had just been invited because Gustav didn't want to exclude anyone from the celebration. so I felt bad that they couldn't behave as nicely as the others.

The next day we had a little chat about the event, and we agreed that the next time we would just stick with the regular group of 7-8 people.

Mette contacted the mother of the kid with the hair cut the next day, and believe it or not, the kid was real happy about it, and the mother did say that they had discussed the idea of a crew cut for a long time, so at least that wasn't a problem.

Bertha was probably the one who had the best time of them all. Part of the evening involved a bonfire and a bunch of sausages that were to be roasted over the camp fire.
The remaining part of the sausages were left on the plate on the ground, so she kind of helped herself to most of what was left.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The reluctant blogger

As some of you might have noticed, while I am at home I rarely blog. That doesn't mean that I don't work wood. But for some reason I find it incredibly hard to find the energy to sit down and turn on the computer and write a blog entry.
I have sort of reached a conclusion as to why it is so, there are a couple of reasons and why they might not make sense to all, they are nonetheless the fact in my case:

-I prefer building to blogging.
This could be true to a lot of woodworkers. If blogging was the goal itself, then it is unlikely that woodworking would be the theme of a blog.

-I find it exhausting to take a picture of my current project and have it uploaded to the computer.
This is technically ridiculous, since taking a picture isn't hard. All I have to do is to find the camera (most likely it will be in Gustavs room), take a picture, plug in a cable and get it onto the blog. But for some in explainable reason I see this as a major obstacle. I procrastinate if I have to find the camera and often I end up completing a project without taking any pictures, and then it is sort of too late (in my mind).

-I don't like to spend time behind the computer screen while at home.
I feel like I am at work if I have to turn on the computer, so even checking my email account is likely only done every 10 days or so.
This is also the reason why I very seldom comment on anything during my home periods.

-Some of the stuff I do at home is not really interesting blogging material for this blog.
While I do try to spend a great deal of time in my shop while at home, there are also loads of regular tasks that simply aren't interesting to blog about. Stuff like changing the injection pump on our car, changing 37 individual pieces of thermo glass in various windows, mowing the lawn, fixing the lawn mower, re establish the correct air cushion in the hydrophore tank, fixing the horse trailer, treating the porch with a protective varnish, walking the dog etc.

The funny thing is that if I manage to pull myself together and do blog while I am at home, I really enjoy it. The problem is that I am really good at procrastinate when it is "required" and the blog is what suffers from it.

Whenever I get back to sea I suddenly find that I should have blogged about this and that etc. But it is too late at that time, especially since I haven't got any pictures of the projects.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I am hoping for nice weather.

Two years ago I bought my older brothers motorcycle. The deal was that he could buy it back anytime he wanted to, and at the same price more or less.

He had an idea that he wanted to try a Honda Africa Twin instead of his Moto Guzzi. The Honda never really caught on, so he sold that after only riding it for about a month or so. I called him and reminded him that he could get his old bike back - so the bike went back to him again.

Now he has bought himself a Yamaha SR 500, and he seems to be pleased with it. He lives in a city, so an upright sitting position and a bike that is a bit shorter geared is better suited for his commuting than a 1978 Moto Guzzi Le Mans II (There is a Le Mans I fairing on it).
I on the other hand thrive with a bike that requires a crouched riding position, can do 50 mph in 1st gear and feel as stiff as a railroad sleeper to sit on.
So I have yet again bought it from him.

This time I am going to put in a new set of piston rings in it, because it spills out oil like crazy. It is a common thing for old Guzzis to do that since a lot of them were born without air filters, and instead they just had an open intake with a small mesh screen to sift out birds and stray cats etc.

Hopefully the weather cooperates, cause good motorcycle weather is also good weather for working on the small barn at the summer house.

The following motorbikes can also be found in the pictures (somewhat hidden):
Lambretta Li 150 series1, 1959
CZ 125, 1965
2 x JAWA 634 (350 cc), 1977 and 1978

Moto Guzzi Le Mans II 1978

Dual ignition and open air intake.

Not ideal for city driving, but for small roads it is perfect.

Moto Guzzi V7 Sport 1973 (US model)

V7 Sport

Something this beautiful has to come from Italy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 6, painting and thoughts about the build.

There are some adventurous woodworkers out there who will make their own paint, I have tried that before with various success, but I felt that there was no need to stretch my luck anymore on this project. So I decided to go for the sure thing and find a bit of grey oil based paint.
A small DTC doesn't take much paint, so if you need to buy or mix paint yourself, a small portion wil get you a long way.

Inside the chest, on the sloping part of the back, I have chiselled MMXVII, just like I normally do, but I felt like it could be interesting to paint some sort of decoration on the outside too that would show the world that this is my tool chest.
Brian Eve has got his Spanish bull painted, and that looks good, but if I made a bull it would be a shameless copy.
I like beavers because they are woodworking animals, but people might think that I was from Canada (which sadly I am not).
Termites are sort of woodworking creatures as well, but I don't like those.

I have wished for an exlibris stamp for my birthday, and my daughter Laura and I did a bit of brainstorming about that. I guess that brainstorming for my part is mostly keeping quiet, but we ended up combining two of my favourite things: Newfoundland dogs and gambrel roofs.

So I enlarged our stamp suggestion and used that as a decoration. Maybe someone will think that I actually live in Newfoundland in a house that has got a gambrel roof :-)

I am pretty good at sketching gambrel roofs, but I genuinely suck at drawing Newfoundland dogs. So In order to get by I taped the print out onto the lid. I then traced all the lines and the outline of the dog using an awl. I didn't poke through the paper, but the pressure is enough to leave a faint line in the painted surface. It is very similar to how I do when I mark out for the name signs for horses that I have made earlier.
The template was removed and I just had to colour inside the lines. This would most likely have been a bit easier with a smaller paint brush.

All in all, I find that the Dutch tool chest is an interesting and satisfying project to make. The project can be completed in a variety of ways, simple or difficult according to the abilities or the desires of the maker.

For a simpler version,  the chest can be made with rabbets instead of dovetails for the side to bottom assembly, and the fall front and the lid can be made with regular battens nailed on instead of sliding dovetails and breadboard ends.
Similarly the project can be made more complex e.g. by using stopped dados or sliding dovetails for the shelf, and using breadboard ends on the fall front or perhaps use a frame and floating panel construction for the lid and the fall front. 

As I have demonstrated, the chest can be made out of reclaimed dumpster wood or pallet wood. Using this kind of wood can give some challenges in preparing the stock, but after all, it is a tool chest, and not a jewellery chest, so I can live with a less than perfect surface, as long as the chest is sturdy.

I have to accept the fact that the project was a bit too large for me to do out here. I mean physically too large. I had difficulties planing the lid and the sides due to their size, and that pestered me during most of the project.
Having completed this project, I now remember one of the reasons why I normally make smaller items out here.

I haven't added any handles to the chest, but I think I'll do that once I get home, and can use some of the handles I already have in my shop.

Painted and decorated Dutch tool chest

Newfoundland dog and gambrel roof

Scrub planed back.

Precision paint brush.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 5, the lid and assembly.

I had glued up 4 boards to form the lid, so in my mind I just had to do a bit of smoothing, mount some breadboard ends and be done.
The reality was a bit different. The lid had warped, so I had to struggle to flatten it. A thing that really didn't help was the size of the lid. I could barely fit it on the workbench, and it scooted around because I couldn't place it in a single position that would enable me to plane the entire piece.

After a lot of time and cursing I decided that it was flat enough. The problem was that it wasn't the same thickness all around.
The top of the workbench is not flat, and I didn't see any point in continuing knowing that it would hardly get any better, so the lid just had to stay that way.

I marked up for some breadboard ends, and the first one didn't fit very tight. I fiddled some time without any obvious improvements, I mounted it hoping and expecting that the second end would turn out better.

At first the second end really did fit better, but the first dowel that I drove in burst out a huge chunk of wood from the backside. I guess the board is a bit punky.
The second dowel broke before getting through the board, but the third one came all the way thoguh as it should.
It bothered me that the second dowel never went all the way, so I decided to remove it and install e new one.
A drift pin, a hammer and a smart blow Took care of the problem with the dowel stealing all the attention, Instead the new attraction was the 6" long and 1.5" wide chunk that separated from the breadboard end. And somehow the dowel managed to stay put.
More cursing..

I squirted some glue in the crack and put a clamp on it. There was no point in trying to do anything abut it until the glue had set and I had cooled down.

Next I turned my attention to the carcase and did a bit of planing in a vague attempt to level the dovetails and the ends of the backboards.
Again the work was obstructed by lack of workholding, a not completely flat floor etc.
The back was the last thing I tried to plane. I decided from the start that I would only use the scrub iron on the back, because there had been enough misery already. The back ended OK, with clearly visible diagonal strokes from a scrub plane. At least it will show that it is handmade.

A set of skids were mounted under the bottom, and this part went without any hick-ups at all (very strange).

The glue on the lid had dried sufficiently to continue with that part.
I used a saw to cut the lid to the correct length and to remove the parts of the breadboard ends that extended a bit. Some planing actually made it look pretty good, almost level and fairly square.
So I decided to make a bull nose profile on all the edges.
A bull nose profile is hard to mess up, unless you make the rabbet too deep, so it will terminate at the same depth as the groove in the breadboard end. If you do that the result is clearly visible.
If you also ad a some grain blow out due to rabbeting cross grain you will know why there was even more cursing.

Finally I installed the hardware which didn't cause any real problems compared to the earlier difficulties I had experienced.

Assembled Dutch tool chest.

First blow out.

Second blow out. 

Chest partly opened.

Dutch tool chest opened.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 4, fallfront and the shavings deflector.

The panel for the fall front need something to keep it straight, and also something to catch the lower lip of the carcase. It seems as the traditional way of doing this is to attach a couple of battens using nails.
Another method that involves just a little bit more work is to insert some battens in sliding dovetails.
Now there is a plane that is designed for that specific purpose, but mine is at home, so I had to do it with my smoothing plane instead which means that my battens visually taper and don't cover the line up as they would have if I made them the other way.
Since this isn't a show surface it will be just fine.

A narrow board was divided to form two wedges. The surfaces were cleaned up with the plane. Each of the edges were planed at an angle, so the end of each wedge resembled had a trapezoidal shape.

I marked out where I wanted the pieces to go and clamped down the first wedge. Using itself as a guide, I sawed along its edge using my small dozuki. When I had reached my intended depth I loosened the clamp and shifted the wedge a bit to saw the other side of the dovetail dado.
Once the sawing was completed I removed the material with a chisel.
A router plane would have been the obvious choice, but the body of my small homemade one is so narrow that it would fall into the dado. And a chisel does the job fast and well enough in this case.

The wedge was marked out so I could saw off the lower part of the wedge, to enable the protruding end to grip behind the lower front lip. Finally the edges were chamfered with a chisel and the wedge installed.
The second wedge was negotiated in the same way.

A board was split and resawed and planed for making the locking pin. It was cut to length and a hole drilled in the upper part to give something for the fingers to grip when it has to be pulled out.
The bridge shaped piece that will hold the upper part of the fall front was a quick saw and chisel job.

Ralph asked about the shaving deflector for the Stanley No 50 combination plane (mine is actually a Record plane).
As you all know, taking pictures isn't my strongest side, but hopefully the pictures of the deflector mounted in the plane will give a bit of an idea on how it works.
The backside is sloped to match the blade.
The inside is sloped to that the lowest point of the deflector is positioned as far outwards as possible. This slope guides the shaving to the centre of the plane where it can escape without being jammed.

The completed fall front.

Sawing the side of the sliding dovetail dado.

Resawing the locking pin.

Shaving deflector seen from the side of the plane.

Shaving deflector seen from the front.

Shaving deflector seen from the top of the plane.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 3, tongues & grooves and assembly.

Having completed the dovetails, I made a dry test fit of them. While the sides and the bottom were assembled, I measured the length of the shelf.
The shelf was cut to the correct length, and the parts were glued up. Oh yes, I made the rabbets for the shelf before I glued it up.

The lower front lip and the upper front each had a bead planed to soften the transition where each part will meet the fall front.
I mounted the parts a bit too long, and when the glue had dried I trimmed them to the correct length.

My Record combination plane has got a blade for making tongues, and I was really anxious to try it.
At first it was a complete and utter failure. I could at best take a shaving that was 7" long before the plane was blocked with shavings and I had to use a screwdriver to pry them out.

I stopped for the say and chatted a bit with Brian Eve instead.  He asked about the plane and did the smart thing: He visited Patrick Leach's Blood and Gore page. I have visited that page numerous times, but I don't know why I didn't think of doing it this time.
It turns out that there is supposed to be a "shaving deflector" that has to be used while planing tongues. Patrick also states that these are very commonly lost.
A bit of Internet searching and I had found some close up pictures of what it should look like. Since it looks a bit complicated, I decided to fabricate one of my own design instead. I think it took me roughly 20 minutes work, and I had a shaving deflector ready for testing.
The deflector was installed and I sort of expected the plane to jam within 5" this time - so I started out with a very short stroke. No blocking.
I got cocky and tried to do a 10" stroke. Still no jamming, Actually it seemed to work as it should. Finally I tried taking a planing the whole length of the 25" board. Two fat shavings ejected perfectly from the plane! I could even take fairly heavy shavings, so in a very short time all the tongues were completed.

On those boards I made the grooves next, and followed with some side beads.
These boards were all installed as the back of the carcase. I used a dab ob glue in the middle of each board, and two nails. so in theory the middle of the narrow boards will be fixed by the glue, and the nails closer to the sides will allow for some wood movement.

Chest assembled with fall front set loose in its place.

After the glue up.

Trimming the ends of the lower lip and the upper front.

Record No 50 combination plane tonguing.

Homemade shaving deflector for Record No 50 or Stanley No 50

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 2, stock preparation and dovetails.

There is a large dumpster filled with old pallets and boards used for packing materials just next to the ship, so rather unusual for me, I don't rely solely on palled sides for this build.
The sides are a bit less than 8" wide, so I only had to glue on a 4" board to get the desired width for my panels.
I found a nice 1x4" pine board that I have glued to the old pallet sides.

For the lid I have decided to try and make it completely out of pine, since it will be the most visible part of the project, and the pine I have found seems to be a bit more stable than the fast grown spruce used for pallet sides.

I planed the panels for the sides, the bottom and the shelf and decided which panel should go where.
The planing was kind of hard, because the panels took up all the space on my work table. I just had enough room to start the plane about 1" before the blade would get in contact with the wood. I can suddenly remember why I make mostly smaller projects out here.

I cut the sides to the required shape with a 30 degrees slop on the top and square bottom. The bottom was made next, and before I started on the dovetails, I tried to determine where to put the shelf .
The official plans have a suggestion, but given that I don't follow them anyway, I decided that I might as well try to figure something out myself.

I took my 1" chisel (the biggest chisel I have with me on the ship, and placed it on the side board. I added a bit of air above and below it, so I could have a similar tool sitting in the future tool holder, and still be able to close the lid. When I later compared the position of my shelf with the plans, it was almost identical.

A bit of work with a divider and the dovetails were stepped off. I made a small template that had a bold angle to it, I just eyeballed it, so I don't know what it is in degrees or in proportions.
But it would at least make the angles the same for all the dovetails.
As per my normal routine out here, I do the pins first, because it is easier for me to transfer the layout to the tail board with the work holding that is available to me.

The dovetails ended up being nice and tight. Now I just hope that the dados for the shelf will turn out OK too.

Stock before planing.

jointing the sides of all panels at the same time.

Laying out the position of the shelf using a chisel.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 1, ageing hardware using an onion

I regularly participate in a panel for market research by answering a questionnaire online.
Often one of the questions is something like this:
Do you try new things or discover new trends sooner than your friends?
To which I always answer: "absolutely not"
This hasn't got a lot to do with woodworking, but it will mean that I can safely start building a Dutch tool chest now. A lot of the blogs that I read have already featured a DTC build, so I can in no way claim that I am a vanguard in this type of build which just suits me fine.

One of my favourite daydreams is to teach a small DTC class at home, it will probably be the boys who will have to attend it, but nevertheless I need to build one of those chests first to get the feel of it. It might also be that there is a little more interest in a build where you can see and touch an example of the end product.

There isn't a lot of hardware needed for a DTC. Technically you could get away with a couple of hinges and that is it.
Other pieces regularly involve a set of lifts and a hasp for a padlock.
I have a lot of chest lifts at home, and I was too cheap to purchase some locally here in Norway. So for this build I have settled for a set of strap hinges and a small hasp. Depending on the time frame and my mood, I might try to make a set of lifts myself, steel or perhaps some beckets.

The hinges and the hasp were zinc plated with a thin layer (electroplated). I decided that they looked a bit too shiny for my taste, and I decided to give them a bit of artificial age.

First the zinc was removed by immersing the pieces in a mixture of water and sulphuric acid.
Chemistry did its thing and in a short time the pieces were down to the bare metal.

My next plan was to give the  pieces a brown colour. So I experimented by using chlorine on the hardware. A thin layer of rust appeared almost instantly. The problem was that every time I removed the pieces and rinsed them the rust disappeared too. I guess I should have been a bit more patient, but after a couple of hours I grew tired of that experiment and decided to think of another interesting way of adding age to the hardware.

I have used a propane torch earlier, with very fine results, but I wanted to see if there was a way that someone who didn't have access to such a tool could also do a satisfying job of adding a bit of age to some hardware.
During my time as an engineer on a high speed ferry, I did a lot of cooking during the winter months when the ship was laid up. A colleague of mine once wanted to show me how soup was coloured traditionally, namely by burning an onion either directly on the hot plate or in the pot that you would later use for the soup. The result was impressive, the stainless steel pot turned as black as coal, and the fire alarm went off. I think we ditched the soup, but the experiment had been fun.

On this ship we have an excellent extraction fan for the galley, so I turned it to maximum and placed the hardware directly on the stove.
After some time it started turning blue, and I then rubbed the surface with an onion. The steel immediately turned darker. About three sessions of rubbing gave me the colour that I was looking for. After the hardware had cooled down I rinsed it with some water to remove a few fine particles of burnt onion.
To avoid the pieces sliding around during the rubbing, I used a regular fork to hold them and also to turn and remove them from the heat when I was done.

It looks as there s a bit of blotching for a lack of a better word, but that is due to my first experiment with the chlorine, which left some parts of the metal very lightly pitted after the rust attacks. I guess that after giving the hardware a light coat of oil it will be much less visible.

Onion coloured hardware.

After the first dip in the chlorine solution.

hardware in a chlorine solution.

Heating on the stove.

Blue colour means it is getting pretty warm.

First onion rubbing.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

I am a couch builder

I don't know if I am alone in this matter, but I have to admit that quite often I consider myself a couch builder.
Maybe you know the drill yourself.
You sit in a couch an read a woodworking magazine. Not just to get inspired, cause that would be fine. But somehow you more or less imagine that it is you doing the build. And boy I know that I am efficient in those projects.
A tool chest, 20 minutes maximum. A workbench, maybe 25 minutes, but that includes a cup of tea etc. In my mind I can build as fast as I can read the magazine. Actually after reading the articles a couple of times I don't even have to read the fine print anymore. I just look at the pictures and maybe read the text accompanying them. 
One of the really nice thing about building this way is that there are never any surprises such as reversing grain, knots, running out of stock, wood movement, bad finishing, overcutting lines, tear out, bad glue ups, twisted stock or dull tools.
Actually these builds are probably my best ones. They never go wrong and if they by some stroke of bad luck should, fixing them would be a piece of cake.

I can't quite remember the imaginary number if times that I have built the Roy Underhill joiners tool chest. But I have built it for real once, and it was definitely not as fast as the couch builds.

The same thing goes with a chimney cupboard.
Bob Roziaeski built a really nice version for Popular Woodworking some years back. And I have built it at least 10 times. It is such a pleasant project. It is guaranteed to turn out perfect every single time. And even the finish can't go wrong. A nice homemade yellow ochre coloured paint based on BLO. covers the perfectly hand planed boards in a jiffy. Drying is instantaneously. The dark paste wax is applied and buffed off, and after mounting the hardware without the screwdriver ever slipping, the project is once again complete.

In a way - it is very satisfying to build like that. There isn't a project that you can't handle, and the result is perfect every single time. 


In another way - building projects that way isn't satisfying at all. Once you look up from the magazine, they vanish into thin air. There isn't even the nice smell of freshly planed wood from your shirt. Those projects also tend to be difficult to show to friends and family. 

The problem is that if you leave the success zone of the couch, and head into the real shop, maybe you will encounter difficulties. Perhaps even set backs. You might find that you are not quite as skilled as you thought you were. And if the project was described as something to be done in "a weekends time in the shop" You had better be quicker than that because if not.. It must mean that you are not as skilled as you were in the couch.

The harsh reality of my own limitations and mediocre skills always strike me full force when returning home from the ship. 
For 5 weeks I have thrived as a very successful couch builder, and then suddenly I am just my own regular me in a workshop filled with all kinds of annoying problems that the professionals never seem to have.
Like the earlier mentioned reversing grain, knots, running out of stock, wood movement, bad finishing, overcutting lines, tear out, bad glue ups, twisted stock or dull tools.

A strange thing is that most people seem to like the stuff that I build in the real world better than what I build in the couch. So perhaps I should focus more on getting into the actual shop and stop couch building.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Handling a hatchet

Olav has made a new handle for a hatchet.
He was looking for a piece of lightly crooked ash, so he could make a handle that would swing out.

I had an old piece of ash just like that, and as you can see from the pictures, the wood has been put to excellent use.

I don't know the brand of the hatchet, but it looks as though it is sharpened and ready to go.

All pictures are courtesy of Olav

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Stealing someone elses work.

Today I was searching the Internet for information on "The Milkman's workbench".
It was my dad who sold his old one to Christopher Schwarz, so I once in a while like to read about all the different places this little bench has been built.

I just random clicked on the hits that looked interesting, and one of them was from a site that offered an instruction in building a copy. I had hoped that they perhaps had found some novel idea to make it even easier or more user friendly to build etc.
Instead it was a copy of the original article as it appeared in Popular Woodworking Magazine a couple of years back. As it happens I have brought that issue with me on board this time, cause I like to read my older issues every now and then, so I checked to make certain that I was not mistaken.

A vague attempt had been made to incorporate a water mark from the site, but it was so poorly done it couldn't fool anyone.

My Friend Brian Eve told me some time ago that he had encountered a similar thing, and he had contacted Megan Fitzpatrick of PWM, to let her know what he had found.
So I thought that I would do the same thing.
Megan replied and thanked for the information which made me glad that I took the "trouble" to write a couple of lines and add a link to where I had found the information.

I don't know what can be done about it, but I guess that FW publications have got some sort of lawyer that might be able to approach the people behind the website.
After all they are the holders of the copyright to the article, so offering it like that is actually a way of stealing from them.

Most people have the courtesy to inform if they try to follow the advice of someone who has made a book or an article about it and this piece of work is being used as a direct source of inspiration during the build.
But is is still interesting to see how that particular person goes about getting the job done.

What I don't like is a downright rip off like what I encountered today, where another persons work was just copied and offered in a shameless manner, like the owner of that site had the right to do so. I am fairly sure that the only reason someone would do that is to get traffic to their site, and that way earn some advertising money.

I am a bit angry with myself because I couldn't spot the bad site while looking at my search hits, and I hate to think of that I might have helped generate 1 more click on some jerks page full of illegal stolen content.

Guess I just had to blow out some steam..

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A steam punk passive speaker for Lauras Iphone

A weekend this home period where Laura was home, I asked her if she wanted to build something in the shop, because it would be a really nice father/daughter thing to do.
She thought that it would be fun too, so we started discussing what we should build.

I suggested building a passive speaker for her Iphone, and she was a bit curious about what that was. After showing her some made out of wood we tried to search Youtube to see if there were other passive speakers - and get some more inspiration.
One speaker was made out of an old hunting horn, and it looked kind of cool. It would also go perfect with the bookcases due to all the brass hardware on those.

Luckily for Laura, I had once bought a hunting horn in Poland, back in 1988 - so that model was within reach.

We immediately headed into the shop and found a piece of elm and got going.
Laura took some photos during the build, so all the photos are courtesy of her.

The idea of a passive speaker is to make some sort of channel that the sound can travel through, and then end out in something that will amplify the sound. In our case the bell mouth of an old hunting horn.

I started by squaring up a thick piece of massive elm, and then split it horizontally.

A long slot was made using the mortising machine, and a through hole was made at the exact location of the speaker on the phone itself.

A large hole was drilled in the centre of the top board, and on the underside of  this board, the large hole and the small speaker hole were connected with a channel, I think it was approx. 5/16" deep.

The two boards were then glued back together and while the glue dried we started working on the brass part.

Since the horn was soft soldered together, it took only a little heating with a propane torch to loosen the joint. After separating the bell mouth from the rest of the horn, I used a pipe cutter to cut of a length of the curved pipe that we would also use.

The curved piece was soldered back on in a 180 degrees twisted position, so the horn would end flowing in a bit of an S shape.
Some sort of disc or flared part was needed to be able to mount the brass part onto the wooden base.
I did't have any sheet brass lying around, and I thought about firing up the metal lathe and turn something. But I wanted to check if I had something stashed away first.
After a bit of searching, I found an old candle stand that I think was part of a mystery box I bought at an auction at some point. There were two holders for candles on it, and each one of them had a round "catch the molten paraffin before it reaches the table" thing. (I am sorry, but I don't know the correct English term for this part of a candle holder).
These drip catchers had some Art Nouveau ornamentation on the underside. And since we were going to solder them to the horn part upside down, this ornamentation would be visible once the speaker was done.
We drilled holes for three mounting screws and countersunk those. The centre hole was enlarged so the brass tube could slip on, and then I soldered it together.

The parts were washed and I lightly brushed the ornamented part with a brass brush to clean it up a bit.
Then we screwed the horn part onto the elm base and we were ready for the first test of the speaker.

I found some of the green felt that was left over from the travelling bookcase project, and it was glued to the underside of the base. Next morning when the glue had dried, I trimmed the surplus felt so it looked nice.

All in all this was a fairly quick project. I think it took a little less than 3 hours in total, including a bit of tea drinking during the process and searching for parts etc.
The sound quality isn't overly impressive, if you are testing it out on modern music. But for classical pieces such as "We'll meet again" with Vera Lynn, it is downright great.
Making projects with children is always high up on my favourite list, because they build memories as well as objects.

Steam punk passive speaker.

Firing up the band saw and looking if the small piece of string will hold the window from falling down.

The split base (and an auger that we didn't use)

Soldering on the flared bottom.