Monday, May 28, 2018

Re-Handling Swedish Steel - VIDEO

I have a weakness when it comes to Swedish steel. I literally have a bucket in my Munich shop that says, "Swedish Chisels."

The last time I was there, I grabbed a couple that needed re-handling and brought them to where I am now living in Spain.
I'm pleased.
They turned out pretty good. They aren't in any way original to how they would have been handled in Sweden, but it is a way I have learned to do it , and they are very comfortable to hold and use.

A big problem occurred when I started this post three days ago. I had so many pictures in the post that it detracted from the quality of the post (more than usual). Therefore, I decided to put them in a video. I haven't done a video in a while.


The freaking video took longer to put together than the actual woodworking did. I apologize in advance, if I have a post like this in the future, I'll just post a zillion pictures instead.

The video turned out OK, so I hope you enjoy it:
I had some special brown oak that was sent to me by a fellow InstaGrammer. I am working on another project with that stuff, and I wanted to see what it would look like finished. It is really cool.
Brown oak. I laid out the handle in line with the grain, rather than the face of the board. It split nicely.
Now that I'm looking at my favorite Finnish chisel, I think that it might need a new handle, too.
Next victim.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cribbage Board

It's been three years since my last cribbage board. Time flies.
I finished something!
In an effort to keep from overloading this post with photos (again), I have combined a bunch of photos of this build into a little animation for your viewing pleasure.
I hope you don't get a seizure.
Cribbage is a really fun card game. I like it best for two people, but three-handed cribbage is also a hoot. Sadly, my wife hates cards, and I don't know anyone else nearby who plays. It sucks to be them, because I'll be on a crusade to teach people this fun game, and those people are all going to soon hate me.

I have kind of a weird philosophy when it comes to cribbage boards. I don't think one should find the perfect piece of wood for a cribbage board, I think you should make the cribbage board fit the piece of wood you have.

I happened to have an offcut of a piece of American birch laying around. It was small enough that it would make a handy size for a travel board for two-handed cribbage. However, it was a bit too long. I thought it would be a shame to cut it down, so I decided to make it double-length: a traditional layout requires that you move the pegs up one side and down the other twice. This board will allow you to go up and back for the required winning score of 121 points.

I learned a while back it is much easier to lay out a cribbage board with dividers than it is to do with a paper template. I feel the template constricts the design, whereas laying out your own pattern allows you to use the wood as you have it. This way I feel like I am not searching for the perfect piece of wood, I can use whatever wood I have.

In the past, the holes haven't all lined up exactly perfectly. I decided this time to start by using the brad point drill bit in my fingers as an awl to start the hole exactly where it needs to be. This improved the quality of how the holes lined up immensely.

I first did this to improve accuracy.
Also, I've really come to like using an eggbeater drill for this job. A drill press doesn't make these holes any faster, and I can do it at my desk during breaks at work. Just frequently keep dusting the sawdust away.
The perfect tool for the job.
One problem I came upon after I drilled out 244 holes on this board, was that they were too close together. When my pegs (purchased from Lee Valley) were in adjacent holes (something that happens frequently in cribbage), they bump against each other in a way that prevents them from seating fully.

To remedy this, I put away the metal pegs I had, and got out the wooden ones that are shaped just the same. I spray painted the heads red or blue, and then made a jig to plane them into a hexagonal shape. This actually lets them get closer together. It's not perfect, but the pegs seat well enough to prevent disaster from happening while playing the game.
My peg-shaving jig made from an old drawer front found in a dumpster.
I kind of eyeballed the angles for the hexagon. I'm pleased with how they look.

An interesting look.
I thought it might be fun to add some more Hillbilly Inlay. This time with spray paint. I ran a marking gauge up the center line of each track, and then widened the mark with a shop knife. I taped it off and sprayed it with two coats of each color.
Right after removing the masking tape.
A few strokes with a plane and there was some nice colored kohlrosing to match the color of the pegs for each player.
Almost done, don't screw it up!
Lastly, I wanted to add a decorative profile to the edges. I've done this profile before with great success, and this example isn't such a great success. I wish I would have just chamfered it. I'll decide in a few days if I want to mess with it any more.
Finished piece.
Overall, I'm generally very pleased with this cribbage board. If I make another one, I'll probably space the holes a little farther apart, and avoid the decorative profile unless I have the proper tools. On the plus side, I'm tickled with the accuracy of the holes, and the effect of the colored stripes.

Stay tuned, as I predict I'll make more of these, as they are a lot of fun to make.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Royal Game of Ur - Part VIII - Game Board Complete

Yes, that's right. Part eight. I last blogged about this project in September, and that post starts with excuses to why it is taking so long.

My woodworking has been in a funk lately, and the idea of this board in the first place was  something quick and easy that I could do to get me back in the swing of woodworking.

Maybe it'll work this time.

Anyway, I finished the game board.
Finally completed.
Just in case you are wondering, I based this one off of the game board in the possession of the British Museum - an ancient Sumerian artifact somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 years old.
The original, made a long time ago. I took many liberties, but I think it will do.
Bear with me while I explain what I did:

The part that I was most dreading was carving the rosettes. I intended to chip carve them, but was unsure of my skill, since I have never chip carved anything before. So I thought about it for about it for around eight months.

I found my test piece the other day, and it didn't look as horrible as I thought it did when I made it. I decided if I did that, it would be better than not finishing it at all.

I also figured out that I didn't need to chip carve, at all. That was too hard to learn on this hard wood. So, instead, I took an old gouge I happened to have, sharpened it up, and used it to make the leafy shapes, and cleaned up with my new chip carving knife. Finally, I used my chisel to mark the outer outlines.
Rosette. It could have been worse.
After I did those, the rest was pretty easy. A combination of laying things out with dividers, carving small circles with my eggbeater drill, and drilling holes for Hillbilly inlay.
Not sure why I used blue tape, but it did make some nice layout lines.
The great part of this project, was I could do it at my desk (which is in my shop), and work on it between my lessons teaching Chinese kids English.
Between classes.
I really like how the eyeball thingies turned out. Drill some holes for the eyeball inlay, chop some eye patterns with a gouge (eyeballed, of course), and more eyeballing of the little crosses with my chip carving knife.
The only thing not eyeballed was the location of the eyeballs. I used dividers for those.
Some hide glue and 3mm bamboo skewers made the inlay. This would have taken forever if I had decided to make my own dowels with a dowel plate. Greg, you are my hero for this idea.
I have no idea what the purpose of most of these tiles will be in the game, but they sure do look cool!
After all that was done, before I cleaned anything up, I cut out a little stencil in some scrap cardboard and spray painted the rosettes.
Red and blue rosettes.
My next step was a bit of a risk. I had an idea, and hadn't heard of anyone else's experience with it. I wanted the lines I carved to pop out, so I thought Greg's method of Kohlrosing would be a good idea. The only thing I happened to have around that I could think of was black shoe polish.

I went with it.
I learned spit-shining in the Army.
Here's what I did: I brushed it on, trying at first to only blacken the raised panels on my board. There was plenty of parts where I went over, so I just went with it.  I was careful to get black in every little nook and cranny so it would show up later.
Don't worry, I'm not done yet.
Once that was all done, I let it sit for ten minutes or so, then I used the boot brush. No idea why, I guess old Army habits die hard.

Now it is time to clean it up. I sharpened my smoothing plane and set it for extremely light cuts. I didn't want to plane my newly blackened lines away, only to have to re-carve, re-blacken, and re-plane-them-away again.
Cleaning up the shoe polish.
Many of the inlays were still a bit proud after having cut them with a flush cut saw. Once they were all leveled, I start taking shavings off of the panels, one by one the best I can.

This didn't turn out perfect, but I like the effect.

After this was done, I treated it to a coat of my super-secret-home-refined linseed oil.
I like this effect.
The black shoe polish does indeed accentuate the lines I carved. Plus, it gives an air of age to the game board. I like it.

Not quite complete, but I do have some functional dice.


 If I build another one of these, there are some things I really like, and some things I'd do differently.
  • It might be a good idea to do the carving before planing and sawing away the grooves. There was some blowout in a few spaces because there was nothing to support the fragile edges when chopping a decorative line near the edge. Or not. Perhaps a backing piece would be a better idea.
  • The shoe polish was a great idea. But, it gets in the grooves no matter what. Go with it, or mask it. But with a wood like this, the black will stay in the pores of the wood.
  • Try to complete the next one in less than nine months.
  • Cutting the rosettes with a gouge was a masterstroke: I never could have achieved such uniformity with a carving knife. Maybe others could.

Next I'll have to come up with a plan for the game pieces. Stay tuned!

If (like me) you've forgotten all about this project and want to read all the posts about how I got to this point, they are all here.