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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 4, back panel

A regular way to put a back on a small cabinet is to make a rabbet along the inside of the carcase, and then nail some boards on. these could be shiplapped or tongue & groove, or with a loose spline etc.
Another approach is to make a large floating panel that sits in a groove or use plywood.

All of the above mentioned solutions will sort of require that you have sufficient stock of an appropriate length - which should be equal to or longer than the height of the finished back.
In theory it is possible to put the boards on horizontally, but I have never seen it done, and It is really not a classic way to do it.

I only had two long pieces of steps, and after gluing up panels for the sides, there was not much left. I still need to use a bit for the front frame, but there was just enough for a frame on the back too.

The individual sticks were planed to a somewhat uniform thickness, and then I tried to lay out where the grooves for the small floating panels should be. I used my combination plane to make some grooves, and it ended up looking like shit. Some earlier owner had rounded the end of the blade that I used, and also softened one of the cutting edges. I hadn't noticed it, but it cause the blade to wander and the grooves were not very consistent. In addition the grain orientation helped to ensure that at least one of the sides had a hefty amount of tear out, so I wasn't too happy with the results.
I try to remind myself that very few people judge the quality of a completed cabinet on the appearance of the grooves hidden by the floating panels - and that actually made the thing a bit easier to live with.

In order to not complicate things further, I decided to assemble it by making bridle joints. The plan is to glue the entire panel assembly inside the carcase once it is complete, so it won't have to hold up to that much abuse - and it is technically also just a small cabinet.

I can feel that I am a bit out of training when it comes to something like this, because I managed to disregard the marriage marks on the stiles and also to make a few extra saw cuts in what was to become the lower rail.
It might have paid of handsomely too, if I had made sure that the sticks were of the same thickness before starting joining it all together.
I still feel fairly confident that I can fix the small errors with a sharp plane and a few swipes, so that the frame and panels will end up looking OK.

The next task will be to plane down the sides of the two larger panels, so they can me mounted in the frame and the assembly can be glued up.

Ripping to make the two large panels.

Frame loosely put together.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 3, planing

Yesterday I started planing the glued up panels. My plan is to plane all with a scrub plane first, and then let it rest for a bit and finally give it a round with a smoothing plane.

The first piece I oriented so that I was going with the grain, and the first couple of swipes looked great. Apparently there was a bit of reversing grain in the other end of the board, because suddenly there was some serious tear out.
I switched to traversing the piece instead, which works fine, but doesn't leave quite as nice a surface.

Also this first board had managed to open up one ind of the glue line, but I think that it will still be wide enough to be used as a shelf or as the drawer bottom. So I am not too worried about that.

At some point, someone has mounted a new worktable by welding a steel plate under the original tabletop (steel). This is done at an angle, and it is just like having a giant 1/4" planing stop built into the table.
There are a few welds that hold it in place, and they are sloping, so for a wide board, I have to put a couple of small hexagon nuts between the board and the planing stop edge.
But all in all it is an improvement over the arrangement on Troms Artemis, where I would regularly smash my hand into the bulkhead and bruise my knuckles while planing.

I got to think of, that I tried using pilot ladder stock earlier, and it didn't work out at all.
Once the stock had been sawed and planed, it twisted so badly that I had to give up on using it.
Hopefully this stock will behave a bit better.

Planing arrangement.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 2, resawing.

Today I started doing some stock preparation. It was mainly crosscutting the steps from the ladder to remove the holes for the ropes. 
I still have a couple of short steps left, but I am pretty sure that I will have enough wood for this project from what I have cut so far.

Once cut to length, I tried to resaw some of the short pieces. I split them a small distance from the middle, to take into account that the surface of the boards have some depressions routed into them, to make them more grippy when wet. I expect to be able to end up with some stock just shy of 5/8".

Resawing semi wet wood with a hand saw is not that much fun, but on the other hand it is one of the few types of exercise that I do - so I guess it is OK.
I timed my efforts for fun, and I could resaw a board in 12 minutes. The length of the board is 15.5" and the width of it is 4.5". It isn't fast, but I have learned over time, that in the end - the fastest and most enjoyable building experience for me is to have made all the stock ready and dressed from the start. That way once I start on the actual joinery the project goes a lot more smoothly compared to when I process the stock when I need it.

There were two long steps (spreaders as Jeff correctly calls them), and they were able to provide some stock that is 26" long. I didn't resaw those yet.

The plan is to make the cabinet something like 20" tall, 8" deep and 14" wide. But nothing is certain yet.

I have toyed with the idea of incorporating the original metal badge certificate of the ladder into the cabinet. Probably on the inside on one of the sides.

Should I incorporate this in the cabinet?

The ends have been treated with some end grain sealer.

Still a bit of resawing left to do.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 1, considerations and finding some stock.

As you might have guessed, I am back at work and ironically able to find the time to blog.
Our last ship was temporarily lend out to the Canadian branch of the mother company, so we have all been transferred to a "new" ship.
This ship has been mothballed for the last two years, but has just been through dry dock, so apart from a bit of dirt here and there, she is ready to go to work.

This ship was built in India, so instead of the normal pine timber on the deck, we have 1000 square meters of exotic decking. All made up from 2 x 4" planks. It is rather impressive!

I am not sure what species it is. The chief officer who was present during the building of the ship thinks it is teak, but I am not so sure about that.

My reasons for the doubt is that I had spotted a few extra pieces on my tour around the ship to locate different stuff.
I have tried to saw a bit in one of those pieces and it doesn't smell like teak, It is a bit open pored, but still heavy. Anyway, it is nice looking wood.

I have made up my mind that I should get back to making some real stuff out here, no more playing around making planes and other tools that I will never use. It is much better to make some furniture (that I will never use either).

Looking back on my blog it seems to be a long time since I have built a cabinet. You could argue that a cabinet is nothing more than a box flipped on an end. But my intentions are to make a small drawer under the door as well.

As you might have guessed, my initial idea was to use the spare 2x4"'s as material. But they are parked well underneath a bunch of other wood, so I was unable to pull out any of them.

Instead I found an old pilot ladder that was going to be thrown away.
I think the reason is that it is more than 5 years old, and therefore not necessarily safe to use anymore. The wood is also some sort of exotic looking stuff of unknown sort.
But contrary to the deck planks - it is easily accessible.

So my plan is to make a small cabinet with a drawer from the steps of the old pilot ladder.
There are some large holes from the ropes that will give a natural limit as to the possible usable lengths of stock. But it could be fun to see how I can work around that. I might leave the old metal certification plates on part of the stock, as a gimmick to show where the wood came from.

4 spare planks for the deck + a small piece in the foreground.

An old pilot ladder (soon to become a cabinet).