Sunday, March 29, 2015

Picture this

My friend called me up.  Says he has a couple of pieces of art he wants framed.  This is the same guy I made the other picture frames for, so I ask what he has in mind and he says "wood frames" and leaves it to me.  I didn't take a lot of photos, but I milled up some ash.  There are 2 pieces to frame that are similar, yet different, so I made 2 slightly different profiles.  I used water based aniline dye (ebony) to make the pieces black.

A simple coat of shellac padded on for a French polished finish.  I built another frame of ash with 1/2 laps to go around the art, then the mitred frame was attached over top of that so the mitres are supported behind them.  I thought they came out pretty neat and my friend was happy too.

I also thought I would try my hand at making a marking knife.  I got a small piece of walnut that I saved from the firewood pile and mounted it in the drill press to turn it.  I didn't use a chisel though.  I took the Dremel tool and used that to carve with.  For the blade I used an old 1/2 inch spade bit.  I used the belt sander to shape it.

Again, I used shellac for the wood and then honed the blade on my stones,

The blade is a bit short, and could probably use a proper heat treat to harden, but it is quite comfortable and functions well as it is. Not bad for my first shot.

Another job was to get the vice mounted so the rear jaw was flush with the work table.  I also lined the jaw with leather from an old belt to help get a non marring grip.  I put a piece of ash on the outer jaw.  The vice I bought from KW Surplus.  Not retailers of the highest quality stuff, but it is inexpensive and near enough.  Wood working tool retailers are not exactly in abundance around here.

While I was at it, I mounted my metal working vice to a foot that can be held in the bench vice.  It has a swivel base, so it is very handy set up like this.

That is another bit of 2014 for you.  Thanks for dropping by!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Carrying on through the cold

Well, I was sure that I would have made an entry sooner than this.  Spring cleaning is about 1/2 done now and what a job!!!!  The ceilings are starting to look nice with a new coat of paint on them.  The pine panelled wall in the living room (see, now I am going to make you look back through past entries for the picture of the living room) has all been hand sanded with 320 grit and 2 coats of water based poly has been added to what I put on originally.  It is very smooth now!  I thinned the poly to make it a wipe on.

Here is a good tip.  If you are using a water based polyurethane for a finish and want to wipe it on, do not buy wipe on can make it easily and save money.  Wipe on poly is nothing more than thinned out regular poly, and they charge you for adding thinner!!!  With water based poly the thinner is water.  So just thin your regular old water based poly with water (distilled is probably your best bet as there are no minerals in it) 50/50 and you have it.  I went one step further and thinned with a product called Floetrol.  It worked really well and with the results I got I would recommend it.  A bit more expensive than water, but still cheaper than extra poly.  I first heard about Floetrol through Linn at Darbin Orvar , one of the many You Tube channels I follow.  I hope I spelled her name right....she has a wonderful channel full of creative ideas and projects.

So, cleaning.....Sally also decided that the wallpaper needed changing too (did you go back and check that picture?), and she was right.  I took down all the trim and she stripped the wallpaper while I was sanding and applying poly to the other wall.  We took a trip out to a paint and wallpaper store (where I bought the Floetrol) but there was very little in stock.  Disappointed, we took a chance and went to the ReStore in Exeter, and what do you know!  There is a whole rack of wallpaper!....We found some we liked and for $15 we had more than enough.  It looks great!

You see, it is not like I just "forgot" to sit and write.  I just have not had the time.  I can tell you, my aching body knows I have been busy!  We are taking a much needed break to recover.

Now, back to 2014.

I can tell you that February of 2014 was cold.....really cold.  The year of what they dubbed the "Polar Vortex"....whatever that is.  I really think the weather folks kind of make things up as they go along.  A Coopers Hawk availed itself of the pickings at the bird feeder again that month.

There is one thing that the extreme cold weather seems to bring, and that is sunshine.  It may be snapping cold with your nostrils freezing together and the snow squeaking under your boots, but you can get a decent amount of vitamin D if you are out.  I am usually not fond of being cold, but there are times that conditions come together and create a certain type of beauty.

It is OK if you can just observe it, but I have worked in this weather, and then it is no fun at all.  Touching anything metal, like having a tool in your hand, is not enjoyable.  What is a person with "cabin fever" to do when you want to do something productive and can't go out doors to do it.  You do it indoors.  Time to do some sorting and organizing of nuts, bolts, screws, hardware, etc.  Out to the shed,

and drag it all in to the kitchen table to sort.

That ate up a couple of days.  Sorting screws and hardware can be a bit tedious.  But I got it done and everything put away.  But just look at that table!  We got it years ago for free and have held on to it, modifying it a bit to suit.  But the lady who gave it to us had refinished it, and I don't think she knew what she was doing.  She either used an incompatible finish, or didn't prep right, or something because whatever she put on it was flaking off and it finally bothered me enough to check it out.   Again, cabin fever does things to you.....

I got out one of my card scrappers and took it to the top of the table.

It is just a veneered top, I had a bit of chip out which I glued back and clamped with some green masking tape.  

A few hours to get this flaky sticky crap off.

A touch of sanding, and 3 (I think) coats of gloss poly and it looks much better.

I hoped you enjoyed that little tale.  Not hugely exciting, but it was productive in winter which is sometimes difficult when you have a hard time getting around.  Now, I guess I have to get back to this spring cleaning/re-decorating thing.  I will be back for more of 2014 in a while, hang in there.  I will be making something in the next entry.  Until then....

Thank you for dropping in! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Mallet

It's spring!  Finally winter is over.  There is still a bunch of snow on the ground but it is getting warmer.  I actually got out to the shed and chopped some mortices.  But I am getting ahead of myself......  First, we are spring cleaning, and this year, that includes some freshening up of the paint on the ceilings.  Wood heat may be cheap, but it has its down side too.  We are going to be busy for the next while cleaning and painting.  So I am going to break 2014 into projects and do the year in segments over the next while.  Shorter blog entries, but maybe shorter between them.  We will see how it goes.

The winter of 2013/14 was pretty brutal.  But I got out to the shed in January.  I was thinking that since I had a decent set of chisels, thanks to Sally buying me a set of Narex bench chisels for Christmas, I ought to have a carvers mallet to go along with them.  I was also thinking about the pile of birch in the firewood pile from the tree I had to remove the previous fall.  It was a huge tree and I loved the shade it gave us, but it was well rotted in places and the whole top fell off, narrowly missing the house.  I walked out back and took a look.

It looks like I can find one that is about "handle" sized.

Then I peeled all the bark off of it.

Then I found a piece that was about "mallet head" sized and cut a piece of that off.

I took the bark off that too.

Then a touch of work getting the handle a bit rounder and to size.

A hole to match.  The brace and bit is a nice quiet way to make a hole. 

I then cut a kerf in the handle,

then a wedge in the kerf,

Now I glue the wedge in the kerf, put a bunch of glue in the hole and around the handle end with the wedge in it, and stick the wedged end into the hole and give it a few raps with a hammer.  This forces the wedge into the kerf which expands the end of the handle in the hole......A fox wedged tenon.  Then we put a clamp on it and let it dry.

It works quite well I am pleased to say.  It is not very heavy, so for gentler work it is just perfect.  It has a few dents in it now, and that is as it should be.  It looks right at home on the shelf.

That is the story of how I got a mallet for free in the middle of winter.  A few more projects to go for the year.  

Thanks for dropping by!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Good bye, and Hello

Welcome back.

We are up to 2013 now right?  Gosh, I am going to run out of things to write about before the shop build starts.  I have got most of the plans made.  I am waiting for the snow to melt a bit so I can get out there with the tape measure and do the lot plan for the building permit.  I have most of my shopping lists made.  There is always something to add to them I find.  I have one list for the structure, one for electric, and one for heating.  I gave the last two lists to a guy who says he can get me a discount on the goods as he has a contractors license and can buy whole sale.  It looks like I may have found the help I need on the electric/heating end of it.  I am not sure, but I may have to hire out for the roof.  I am pretty shaky on ladders.  We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

In February we had a beautiful visitor to our home.

A Coopers Hawk.  He had a few meals of what was feeding at the feeders.  A couple of Mourning Doves made it on his menu.  Sometimes beautiful can be dangerous.  

Loosing the doves did not hurt us as much as loosing our faithful and gentle companion Aggie.  Old age, health, and her hips finally caught up with her and she was in constant agony and losing all control of her motor functions.  There was no more quality of life for her, only agony and suffering so we had to call the vet in and we cried and let her go, quietly, at home, with hugs.  

We were devastated.

We took a little time and thought that it may be a good idea to give ourselves a year to mend.  Yes, let's take a year.......

A couple of weeks later......

6 lbs of love that saved our hearts.  Meet Lil' Lee.  Sally stumbled upon her and was smitten and Lil' Lee easily worked her way into our hearts.  Now, once again, Sally has something to dote upon.  I admit the little critter has done my heart some good too.

Both of her parents were 1/2 Shih Tzu and 1/2 Poodle (toy) so she is a Shih Poo.  Although we think sometimes there might be some Mog-Wei (from the movie Gremlins) or Ewok (Star Wars) in there too.  The name?....well, it was just before Easter (Lillies) and when we picked her up I suggested that since we were in London spending money on a pet. I ought to be allowed to go to Lee Valley for a present too.  As soon as I said "Lee" the dog got all excited and started wagging her tail and giving all kinds of kisses to Sally.  So the name became Lil' Lee.  Partly for the flower of the holiday, and partly because of the store.  

Oh, I got the Veritas mk ll honing jig with a 1000/4000 grit stone at Lee Valley.  Man I love that store.

There will be lots more pics of Lil' in the future, she is just too cute.  Bold as brass outdoors, and scared of heat registers and noises indoors.  Lots of stuff to explore outdoors, and we continue to get visitors that we would have never thought of.

She did not lay any eggs, but was determined to look around for a spot.  Eventually she made her way back to the river and I filled the hole in the lawn.

Another experiment in the fall of the year was jelly.  We are in the habit of taking walks down the road and there are plenty of wild apple trees about.  We picked the ripe fruit and gave it a shot.

We have enough apple jelly to last a couple more years.  We don't eat a lot of it, but home made? It is a delight.

As far as wood working for the year, I did one significant project.  I built a saw bench.  But not just any saw bench.  I built the one from billyslittlebench .  Bill is one of the many blogs I read, I also subscribe to his you tube channel.  Bill is a fantastic hand tool wood worker and he has plans and videos available.  I would recommend his instruction in a heart beat.  As for the saw bench.

I made it from left over pressure treated wood I had laying around.  It was a good lesson in joinery.  Some were executed better than others.

But it came out pretty good in the end.

I use this thing all the time.  It is the most functional piece of shop equipment I have ever made.  Go to Bill's site, and make is that good.  The experience of learning the joinery is worth it alone.  Bill does have a couple of videos of this build, so it is easy to follow along.  It also doubles as a pretty comfy place to sit too.

Other projects for the year were some tea light holders for my kids for Christmas.  Not a big project, but I wanted to give them something I made.  

I also threw together a box for fire wood.  It helps keep the floor cleaner.

Heating with wood can be a mess, but it is really inexpensive, so I put this together from the last of my barn board I had in the shed.  It planes up nice and I like the looks.   It was right about this time, just over a year ago, that I started thinking I should get a bit more serious about doing some wood working.   I don't expect it to be a huge deal, just a small shop where I can while away some hours doing something I am getting increasingly fond of.  Being able to do it year round will only help, as my work quality suffers from the long winter of inactivity.  I also tend to pack on a few unhealthy pounds during the winter due to lack of activity.   So building a shop will be good for my health too.  

I am slowly getting a nice collection of tools.  I still have a lot from my "mechanical" days too.  Some, also, from my dad too.  I sometimes find it hard to transition from the super accurate world of machining, mechanics and parts production to the world of wood where the medium itself moves more than many of the tolerances I worked with.  I am not going to kid myself and say the shop is going to be all 100% woodworking.  That is why I am calling it a "workshop".  My interests are too varied.  

So we come to the end of the year.  A short drive from our house we saw a Red Tailed Hawk.

That was one large bird.  

I have a bit of a fondness for photography too.  I just forget to take pictures when I am in the middle of something.  But I think sometimes I can get a good shot.  I use the "shotgun" principle of photography......take lots of pictures, one of them has to look good.  The digital world makes that a bit easier.  Then there are times when you get it on the first try.  Like when someone finds out what snow is for the first time.

She loves it!  Crazy girl.....although right now she doesn't.  We made the mistake last week of taking her out and getting "professionally" groomed.  They just about shaved her.  Nicked her a couple of times too.  She gets cold really fast now.  That will be the last time we do that.  We just wanted to get a few knots out and her toe nails trimmed.   Another lesson I suppose...

Well then, that was another year gone.  One more and we are just about up to date.  Thank you for stopping in!