Saturday, August 29, 2015

What I've Been Up To

There hasn't been much activity on my blog lately because the Frau and I have been doing a renovation of one of our apartment's rooms.  If any of you have had a project like this, I'm sure you know why not much woodworking goes on during this process.

Add on the fact that I have chosen not to spend any vacation hours for this project, and it gets done only during evenings and weekends.  That next project is just going to have to wait!

The first thing we did was empty this room - which essentially is what I would call a rec room - of 15 years worth of crap that we've collected.  Jeesh!  Who knew all that stuff would fit up there?

We hauled about 12 car loads of stuff down to a local storage shed, and probably an equal number of carloads to the dump.

The gross old carpet had to go, too.  Unfortunately, it was glued down.  Doubly unfortunately, my father-in-law did a particularly good job of gluing it down when he installed it.

Lucky for you, there are no photos of all this.
But here is one of the room after the carpet came out.
We laid down a quality underlayment, and used a really nice looking oak parquet.  This one has a thin layer of oak on top, a layer of some softwood, probably fir, on the bottom, and a layer of MDF in the middle.  Over all, a good looking and (hopefully) stable product.

One of the challenges was there are two cubby holes like this in the room.
I have laid several parquet floors in the past, and I usually use my DeWalt 18V circular saw to cut the parquet planks to length when the end of the row is reached.  I decided this time I was going to try hand tools, and decided my trusty Dick saw would get the job.

This ryoba saw worked fantastic for this!  The kerf is way thinner, so less dust is generated.  Plus, the sawdust doesn't fly all over the room like with my power tools.  Less noise, so the building's strict noise policy is not violated, and I think it really is no slower than using the power saw.

The only time I got a power tool out was the jigsaw, which I chose to use for the rip cuts.
Here is the toolkit I used to install the floor.
Overall, the floor came out meeting our expectations. 

We like how it looks.
The next step is we have some built-ins being custom made for this room, then fill them up with all the crap we have in storage.  The idea is this room will look nice rather than just collect all of the stuff that doesn't have a place to be put away.

Is It Possible to Make Your Own Chisels?

I intend to find out!

One of the guys on Instagram made a set of chisels from O1 tool steel very similar to the steel I used for my French style moulding planes.  I was thinking about making some chisels from this stuff, and went so far as to order some steel in 1/4" thickness for exactly this purpose.  The toolmaker on Instagram inspired me to go for it.

My plan is to make some firmer chisels, tanged with some kind of octagonal handles.  I thought that my J. Jowett chisels would be good ones to model.
I like these chisels, and hope mine turn out as nice.
The heaviest part of these chisels is near the handle, and the thickness tapers off to roughly half the thickness at the business end.  After looking at my other firmer chisels, I find that this shape is fairly standard.
I think I might have a problem.  This is my latest pile of Swedish chisels.
On my way out the door the other day, I couldn't be bothered to dig for my J. Jowett chisels, so I grabbed a rusty beater firmer chisel from the above pile on my bench.  It is a Jernbolaget, and needs some serious rehab, but has the right shape.

To grind the shape on the un-hardened tool steel, I made the decision that I needed some kind of belt grinder for major waste removal.  There happened to be a cheap Chinese belt sander at the local grocery store for 29.99 Euros.  Perfect, just in case this ruins the tool.  I don't really see myself needing this for woodworking.
Here is my setup on the balcony for using this as a belt grinder.  It came with the clamps and seems to be sturdy enough.
I found that this works relatively quickly with a 40 grit belt installed.  I use a wooden batten for stability and a little pressure, and move it back and forth from the tip of the chisel blank to the back of where I want the taper to stop.  This makes a nice taper of just about the shape I want.

It probably took 15 or 20 minutes on this 3/4" wide blank.  The chisel in the photo is the Jernbolaget that I used as a reference.

The steel blank is 18" long, plenty to make two chisels.  In fact, the bench chisel I am making uses only about 8" of the blank, so if this works, I should come away with a set of longer paring chisels as well.

My plan is to heat treat and finish this chisel to see if it works before I spend a bunch of labor on the whole set.  I think I may grind the longer side of this chisel blank too, before I cut it in half.  It seems to be easier to hold on the grinder that way.

One way or another, I will post on the finished project when I get it done.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

June Chair Build - Finished in the Nick of Time

Another day or two, and I wouldn't have finished this chair in June!
Chair is done.
All kidding aside, I'm glad I took the extra time to do this chair properly.  Although it isn't perfect, I am very pleased with the shape and I learned a lot.  Mostly thanks to Peter Galberts' book.

Here are a few pics of the last part of the build.  The first is of the wedged leg from the top of the seat.  I wound up reaming the holes quite a bit larger than the 5/8" which is usual.  I did this because I felt it made for a stronger joint, which I think was necessary due to the extreme splay and rake of the legs.
Fumed oak leg with an elm wedge in the elm seat.
There is a little spring to this chair.  The legs tend to splay a little more when you put your weight in it, but it feels solid to the sitter.  The back springs a little, too.  I'll let you know if anything ever breaks.
Small chamfer on the feet.
I used a block plane to chamfer the feet.  This chair will live on a wooden floor, so the intent is to put some felt protectors on the feet to avoid scratching anything.  I have only ever had good luck with the felt protectors that you nail in.  The sticky-tape ones tend to come off over time, and the next set doesn't stick as well as the last.

Here is a pic of the chair while dry-fitting the back.  This was the first time I got to see the whole chair together in one piece.  All that was left from this point was to figure out how to permanently attach it.  I decided to wedge everything.
Dry fit of the back.
Here is how I did the blind wedges:  I cut some wedge stock from some scrap mahogany I had laying around (it was the right width).  I sawed a kerf in the end of the stick a little less than the depth of the mortise.  I placed the wedge loosely in the kerf with glue on one side, slopped glue around the end of the stick that will enter the mortise, and beat the crap out of it with a mallet.
Shortly before being driven into the mortise.  I did actually trim this wedge a little shorter right after this photo.
The idea is the wedge will force the ends of the stick in the mortise apart a bit making the joint tighter the farther it is driven in.
Imagine glue everywhere.
This went relatively smoothly.  To drive the sticks, I didn't clamp it in my face vice, I clamped the crest upside down on my bench to my planing stop.
Driven home.
For the bottom, I used through mortises and was able to drive wedges after the sticks were in place.  Once I did this, I flush cut them so they wouldn't be visible when looking at the chair.
Through mortises for the sticks in the seat.
And that's it!  This chair really wouldn't take too long to make if one was able to spend a few days uninterrupted.  The reason for me was I had not much time to do woodworking during this project, I had breaks of a week or so between shop sessions.  Even so, this project didn't really take THAT long.  I recommend a chair in this style to any aspiring chair maker.
The finished chair.
I'll soon post some more glamour shots of the chair, along with some of the more technical aspects of it and the build.