Saturday, December 13, 2014

Johnny, sleep like a god tonight!

A couple of months ago has arrived in our family Johnny, a four months old Beagle. 
I always thought, if a new born was arrived a day, I should have to make a cradle but never I would have imagined I should have build a dog kennel! 

The job was easy; I utilized mainly recycled wood and pine wood paneling (2 cm thick) for sides and roof.
Simple joinery by lap joints, some brass screws and dowels make this project really easy to realize. 

The pitched sunroof (slightly asymmetric) helps to access to the internal zone. The panels are not glued and are stopped by a thin internal nailed frame. The rebates are obtained by gluing 30x10 mm elements to the external frame (6 mm dowels secure the frame in place).     

 This kennel has been built thinking for an external collocation. The roof is impermeable, being treated with a special plasticized varnish; a ridge avoids to the rain of penetrating between the two movable roof panels.
The entry door is decentralized, so the dog can find more repair from wind and cold. Some gum strips cover the opening, offering more repair but easy access.
I added wheels to the structure in order to move it easily.
Here in South of Italy the temperature is not too low, even in winter.
However, in the case it lowered overnight, a small fan heater and a thermostat avoid too much low values.

The wood has been treated with two coats of cementite and two coats of covering paint.
The flag is a tribute to Beagle origins.....

Here he is, shooted by camera....a little bit confused, but after awhile the kennel has become his preferred shelter.
Johnny, I am sure, you will sleep as a god, tonight!!

The project sketch up file can be downloaded here:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Panels in five steps

When we are using solid wood, the panel building is a frequent process in our projects. Apart the difficult of finding boards large enough for our intents, wider pieces have frequently stability problems and risk too much movements in following the humidity changes. 
Building a wood panel is not a particulary difficult job if we have the right tools and follow some precautions.

We can divide the process in five steps:


1)    Planing the elements
  2)    Composing the dry panel
  3)    Planing the edges
  4)    Gluing
  5)    Smoothing the panel

In planing the single elements, admitting of using rough wood as start, we can utilize (in order of use) the classical planes as scrub, jack and jointer if we have longer pieces.
Personally, I do not use a smoothing plane in this phase, but I pay particular attention to obtain straight elements and of same thickness (slightly more than the final thickness). In fact, even if a good attention is observed in this phase, is quite improbable to obtain perfect panels: little steps between the elements are frequent and not rarely we will have to relevel the entire panel surface.  
The second phase consists of a dry composition of panel for searching the best aesthetic result. When hand planes are used, is better to orient the elements in the same grain direction in order to favour the next planing steps. For a bigger stability is then better to use well seasoned and/or quarter sawn woods.
If I have to obtain a raised panel, however, I use to orient an external element in the opposite grain direction; in this way, the raising (or moulding) plane can work always with the grain for a better result.
Of course in the successive levelling step this element should be planed in the right grain direction (although this is not always necessary if the wood has straight grain).  
A ideal case occurs when the panel is obtained by resawing a single board in two pieces opened like a book. In addition to the possibility  of using raising planes with favorable grain, the aesthetic result is particulary interesting, mostly if the wood is well figured.

After the wished sequence of elements has been found, mark the panel surface whit a "V" (or a triangle), so we can easily reconstitute the exact sequence.

It is important that edges join perfectly. This is not always easy when the job is done with hand tools. 
A method I use is planing two adjacent panel elements together, a technique I call "book planing" ("tecnica a libro" in Italian), in wich the pieces are picked and closed like a book (see pictures), so the error of plane squareness can be compensated when the elements are opened and joined together.

By planing the elements together, the errors self compensate

the concavity has been exaggerated for drawing clarity
Our attention will be then payed mostly for obtain two straight edges or slightly concave, permitting to the clamps of keeping easy the pieces well joined during the gluing.

What kind of plane is better to utilize for this job?
My advice is to use a longer plane. A Jack plane could be suitable if the work has reduced dimensions (max 50-60 cm long), otherwise, better to use a jointer. It, as its name says, is the plane designed for this specific task.

During planing pay attention to not rock the plane and to obtain a continuous shaving for both coupled elements while we are using little cutting depth.
Pay particular attention in entering and in exiting from the piece (the pressure is on the knob while entering, on the handle when the plane leave the piece).

Marking pieces with a pencil can help in following our job. Continue until all signs are disappeared.

When all edges join together well, we are ready to gluing up following the order indicated by the "V" previously traced.
Prepare all before. For the job we can use some 50x30 mm straight pieces. They keep the panel flat while the clamps push the edges one against the other. Their face in contact with the panel can be overlayed by masking tape in order to avoid their gluing. 

Spread the glue onto both edges by a little brush. If our jointing job has been well done, the glue, with the clamp pressure, squeezes out uniformly along the gluing line.
Eliminate the glue excess with a wet cloth and leave it dries.

The finishing step will give to the panel its final appearance, so it is necessary to do it well. The plane type to use depends from the flatness grade achieved during the panel building. Normally a smoother is enough for the job (rarely we will have to use a jack first).
I use to attack the panel with a bigger cutting depth and a diagonal action, so the panel becomes flat rapidly.
In a second step the plane is set for cutting thinner shavings. The action is along the grain. The panel is ready to receive the finishing cycle.

Monday, July 28, 2014

More weight for better smoothing

Some time ago, while surfing the net,
I found and purchased this infill smoother. 
It has no marks on the body, the blade is a tapered one type (more thick at cutting edge) and may be is not the original iron, as these planes often had a parallel iron (constant thickness).  
The infills are rosewood, the anterior one shows evident signs of a customer repair. The iron is marked I & HSorby, the cap iron has "Dell Bros Cast Steel" on the showing surface.

I have been very impressed from its weight, 2,2 kg, although the plane was only 18 cm long. The body seems to me a single piece of steel. The iron is held in place by a rosewood wedge. It fits between the blade and the strong steel abutments.  
If compared to a wooden smoother
(1,1 kg) the weight is doubled, although the infill plane was shorter.

The performances are very good and, I am sure, the body mass, concentrated in few inches,  provides something extra.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Adjustable Wedge

We know, the German products frequently offer inusual features but often effective.
This is the case for a wooden jointer of my collection. It shows a somewhat particular wedge.
It is retained in position by a steel pin and has on its upper face a metal plate of which the position can be varied along its height. The plate is kept by a little screw and a washer, inserted into the wood by two nails, also used as guides. 

Two little wings avoid to the screw of touching the steel pin.
A first function has been evident: avoid that the rounded pin can damage the wedge wood and decrease its grip. But why the plate is adjustable? Playing a little bit with it I understood that in this way the wedge can be adapted to blades of different thickness and/or cap iron of different shape, providing always the optimal grip.
A relevant advantage in case of blade and/or chipbreaker substitution.

Monday, March 3, 2014

An unexpected recovery

 In a ebay purchase of tools I found a very old transitional plane in poor conditions. This plane (may be Union) was very like to the Stanley 122 Liberty Bell, planes made across the XIX and XX century. This planes are called "Liberty Bell" because have the famous bell engraved on their lever cap (is a screwed type lever cap) and tell us about a transition era from wooden to metal planes. They have a wooden body (frequently beech) but a metallic frog as well as the typical regulation systems of metal planes.

The plane lacked of blade, cap iron and lever cap and had the body deeply split in more than one point. The knob was damaged as well as its screw (cracked head). Moreover someone put several big screws (completely rusted) into the body, so I had to make some holes for eliminating any trace of metal. 

Fortunately, the cast iron part was save, so I tempted a desperate recovery.
The action was radical: I sawed out the damaged parts and added a new piece of beech in order to have the right plane width. On the left side a beech patch was added for covering the holes I made.

Then I re-glued the body and chiselled out the seat and the cavity for the depth adjusting lever. A new sole was necessary. I used a piece of ash.

I used a woodie blade and cap-iron, so I had to move the threaded hole for cap-iron screw and create a slot for the depth adjusting lever.

The cast iron part was de-rusted with a vinegar bath and repainted with a black epoxy two-component varnish.

The knob was restored, as well as its screw: It was repaired by a welding. 
For the lever cap I choosed of making a wooden new one and used a brass wing screw for it.

A color treatment completed the job.
Honestly, I thought this plane was good as firewood and my satisfaction was big when I saw soft shavings to come out from a hundred-year old plane. 

Now this plane can shine again together with its more lucky sister!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dovetail backsaw (version 2)

Stewie has just finished this dt backsaw, the same of previous post but made whit a different wood. Enjoy it!

Well this one is of the same design but I have used Makore as the handle wood. I have included some end grain photo's of the handle so you get a better idea of the amount of work that goes into achieving a quality finish. That also goes with the shaping of the bevels on the brass hardback. It takes a lot of time to do this by hand and I sometimes curse the extra effort required, but it does add that extra flair to the final look of the saw.