Monday, April 24, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 5, the lid and assembly.

I had glued up 4 boards to form the lid, so in my mind I just had to do a bit of smoothing, mount some breadboard ends and be done.
The reality was a bit different. The lid had warped, so I had to struggle to flatten it. A thing that really didn't help was the size of the lid. I could barely fit it on the workbench, and it scooted around because I couldn't place it in a single position that would enable me to plane the entire piece.

After a lot of time and cursing I decided that it was flat enough. The problem was that it wasn't the same thickness all around.
The top of the workbench is not flat, and I didn't see any point in continuing knowing that it would hardly get any better, so the lid just had to stay that way.

I marked up for some breadboard ends, and the first one didn't fit very tight. I fiddled some time without any obvious improvements, I mounted it hoping and expecting that the second end would turn out better.

At first the second end really did fit better, but the first dowel that I drove in burst out a huge chunk of wood from the backside. I guess the board is a bit punky.
The second dowel broke before getting through the board, but the third one came all the way thoguh as it should.
It bothered me that the second dowel never went all the way, so I decided to remove it and install e new one.
A drift pin, a hammer and a smart blow Took care of the problem with the dowel stealing all the attention, Instead the new attraction was the 6" long and 1.5" wide chunk that separated from the breadboard end. And somehow the dowel managed to stay put.
More cursing..

I squirted some glue in the crack and put a clamp on it. There was no point in trying to do anything abut it until the glue had set and I had cooled down.

Next I turned my attention to the carcase and did a bit of planing in a vague attempt to level the dovetails and the ends of the backboards.
Again the work was obstructed by lack of workholding, a not completely flat floor etc.
The back was the last thing I tried to plane. I decided from the start that I would only use the scrub iron on the back, because there had been enough misery already. The back ended OK, with clearly visible diagonal strokes from a scrub plane. At least it will show that it is handmade.

A set of skids were mounted under the bottom, and this part went without any hick-ups at all (very strange).

The glue on the lid had dried sufficiently to continue with that part.
I used a saw to cut the lid to the correct length and to remove the parts of the breadboard ends that extended a bit. Some planing actually made it look pretty good, almost level and fairly square.
So I decided to make a bull nose profile on all the edges.
A bull nose profile is hard to mess up, unless you make the rabbet too deep, so it will terminate at the same depth as the groove in the breadboard end. If you do that the result is clearly visible.
If you also ad a some grain blow out due to rabbeting cross grain you will know why there was even more cursing.

Finally I installed the hardware which didn't cause any real problems compared to the earlier difficulties I had experienced.

Assembled Dutch tool chest.

First blow out.

Second blow out. 

Chest partly opened.

Dutch tool chest opened.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 4, fallfront and the shavings deflector.

The panel for the fall front need something to keep it straight, and also something to catch the lower lip of the carcase. It seems as the traditional way of doing this is to attach a couple of battens using nails.
Another method that involves just a little bit more work is to insert some battens in sliding dovetails.
Now there is a plane that is designed for that specific purpose, but mine is at home, so I had to do it with my smoothing plane instead which means that my battens visually taper and don't cover the line up as they would have if I made them the other way.
Since this isn't a show surface it will be just fine.

A narrow board was divided to form two wedges. The surfaces were cleaned up with the plane. Each of the edges were planed at an angle, so the end of each wedge resembled had a trapezoidal shape.

I marked out where I wanted the pieces to go and clamped down the first wedge. Using itself as a guide, I sawed along its edge using my small dozuki. When I had reached my intended depth I loosened the clamp and shifted the wedge a bit to saw the other side of the dovetail dado.
Once the sawing was completed I removed the material with a chisel.
A router plane would have been the obvious choice, but the body of my small homemade one is so narrow that it would fall into the dado. And a chisel does the job fast and well enough in this case.

The wedge was marked out so I could saw off the lower part of the wedge, to enable the protruding end to grip behind the lower front lip. Finally the edges were chamfered with a chisel and the wedge installed.
The second wedge was negotiated in the same way.

A board was split and resawed and planed for making the locking pin. It was cut to length and a hole drilled in the upper part to give something for the fingers to grip when it has to be pulled out.
The bridge shaped piece that will hold the upper part of the fall front was a quick saw and chisel job.

Ralph asked about the shaving deflector for the Stanley No 50 combination plane (mine is actually a Record plane).
As you all know, taking pictures isn't my strongest side, but hopefully the pictures of the deflector mounted in the plane will give a bit of an idea on how it works.
The backside is sloped to match the blade.
The inside is sloped to that the lowest point of the deflector is positioned as far outwards as possible. This slope guides the shaving to the centre of the plane where it can escape without being jammed.


The completed fall front.

Sawing the side of the sliding dovetail dado.

Resawing the locking pin.

Shaving deflector seen from the side of the plane.

Shaving deflector seen from the front.

Shaving deflector seen from the top of the plane.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 3, tongues & grooves and assembly.

Having completed the dovetails, I made a dry test fit of them. While the sides and the bottom were assembled, I measured the length of the shelf.
The shelf was cut to the correct length, and the parts were glued up. Oh yes, I made the rabbets for the shelf before I glued it up.

The lower front lip and the upper front each had a bead planed to soften the transition where each part will meet the fall front.
I mounted the parts a bit too long, and when the glue had dried I trimmed them to the correct length.

My Record combination plane has got a blade for making tongues, and I was really anxious to try it.
At first it was a complete and utter failure. I could at best take a shaving that was 7" long before the plane was blocked with shavings and I had to use a screwdriver to pry them out.

I stopped for the say and chatted a bit with Brian Eve instead.  He asked about the plane and did the smart thing: He visited Patrick Leach's Blood and Gore page. I have visited that page numerous times, but I don't know why I didn't think of doing it this time.
It turns out that there is supposed to be a "shaving deflector" that has to be used while planing tongues. Patrick also states that these are very commonly lost.
A bit of Internet searching and I had found some close up pictures of what it should look like. Since it looks a bit complicated, I decided to fabricate one of my own design instead. I think it took me roughly 20 minutes work, and I had a shaving deflector ready for testing.
The deflector was installed and I sort of expected the plane to jam within 5" this time - so I started out with a very short stroke. No blocking.
I got cocky and tried to do a 10" stroke. Still no jamming, Actually it seemed to work as it should. Finally I tried taking a planing the whole length of the 25" board. Two fat shavings ejected perfectly from the plane! I could even take fairly heavy shavings, so in a very short time all the tongues were completed.

On those boards I made the grooves next, and followed with some side beads.
These boards were all installed as the back of the carcase. I used a dab ob glue in the middle of each board, and two nails. so in theory the middle of the narrow boards will be fixed by the glue, and the nails closer to the sides will allow for some wood movement.


Chest assembled with fall front set loose in its place.

After the glue up.

Trimming the ends of the lower lip and the upper front.

Record No 50 combination plane tonguing.

Homemade shaving deflector for Record No 50 or Stanley No 50

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 2, stock preparation and dovetails.

There is a large dumpster filled with old pallets and boards used for packing materials just next to the ship, so rather unusual for me, I don't rely solely on palled sides for this build.
The sides are a bit less than 8" wide, so I only had to glue on a 4" board to get the desired width for my panels.
I found a nice 1x4" pine board that I have glued to the old pallet sides.

For the lid I have decided to try and make it completely out of pine, since it will be the most visible part of the project, and the pine I have found seems to be a bit more stable than the fast grown spruce used for pallet sides.

I planed the panels for the sides, the bottom and the shelf and decided which panel should go where.
The planing was kind of hard, because the panels took up all the space on my work table. I just had enough room to start the plane about 1" before the blade would get in contact with the wood. I can suddenly remember why I make mostly smaller projects out here.

I cut the sides to the required shape with a 30 degrees slop on the top and square bottom. The bottom was made next, and before I started on the dovetails, I tried to determine where to put the shelf .
The official plans have a suggestion, but given that I don't follow them anyway, I decided that I might as well try to figure something out myself.

I took my 1" chisel (the biggest chisel I have with me on the ship, and placed it on the side board. I added a bit of air above and below it, so I could have a similar tool sitting in the future tool holder, and still be able to close the lid. When I later compared the position of my shelf with the plans, it was almost identical.

A bit of work with a divider and the dovetails were stepped off. I made a small template that had a bold angle to it, I just eyeballed it, so I don't know what it is in degrees or in proportions.
But it would at least make the angles the same for all the dovetails.
As per my normal routine out here, I do the pins first, because it is easier for me to transfer the layout to the tail board with the work holding that is available to me.

The dovetails ended up being nice and tight. Now I just hope that the dados for the shelf will turn out OK too.

Stock before planing.

jointing the sides of all panels at the same time.

Laying out the position of the shelf using a chisel.

Dovetailing. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dutch tool chest build 1, ageing hardware using an onion

I regularly participate in a panel for market research by answering a questionnaire online.
Often one of the questions is something like this:
Do you try new things or discover new trends sooner than your friends?
To which I always answer: "absolutely not"
This hasn't got a lot to do with woodworking, but it will mean that I can safely start building a Dutch tool chest now. A lot of the blogs that I read have already featured a DTC build, so I can in no way claim that I am a vanguard in this type of build which just suits me fine.

One of my favourite daydreams is to teach a small DTC class at home, it will probably be the boys who will have to attend it, but nevertheless I need to build one of those chests first to get the feel of it. It might also be that there is a little more interest in a build where you can see and touch an example of the end product.

There isn't a lot of hardware needed for a DTC. Technically you could get away with a couple of hinges and that is it.
Other pieces regularly involve a set of lifts and a hasp for a padlock.
I have a lot of chest lifts at home, and I was too cheap to purchase some locally here in Norway. So for this build I have settled for a set of strap hinges and a small hasp. Depending on the time frame and my mood, I might try to make a set of lifts myself, steel or perhaps some beckets.

The hinges and the hasp were zinc plated with a thin layer (electroplated). I decided that they looked a bit too shiny for my taste, and I decided to give them a bit of artificial age.

First the zinc was removed by immersing the pieces in a mixture of water and sulphuric acid.
Chemistry did its thing and in a short time the pieces were down to the bare metal.

My next plan was to give the  pieces a brown colour. So I experimented by using chlorine on the hardware. A thin layer of rust appeared almost instantly. The problem was that every time I removed the pieces and rinsed them the rust disappeared too. I guess I should have been a bit more patient, but after a couple of hours I grew tired of that experiment and decided to think of another interesting way of adding age to the hardware.

I have used a propane torch earlier, with very fine results, but I wanted to see if there was a way that someone who didn't have access to such a tool could also do a satisfying job of adding a bit of age to some hardware.
During my time as an engineer on a high speed ferry, I did a lot of cooking during the winter months when the ship was laid up. A colleague of mine once wanted to show me how soup was coloured traditionally, namely by burning an onion either directly on the hot plate or in the pot that you would later use for the soup. The result was impressive, the stainless steel pot turned as black as coal, and the fire alarm went off. I think we ditched the soup, but the experiment had been fun.

On this ship we have an excellent extraction fan for the galley, so I turned it to maximum and placed the hardware directly on the stove.
After some time it started turning blue, and I then rubbed the surface with an onion. The steel immediately turned darker. About three sessions of rubbing gave me the colour that I was looking for. After the hardware had cooled down I rinsed it with some water to remove a few fine particles of burnt onion.
To avoid the pieces sliding around during the rubbing, I used a regular fork to hold them and also to turn and remove them from the heat when I was done.

It looks as there s a bit of blotching for a lack of a better word, but that is due to my first experiment with the chlorine, which left some parts of the metal very lightly pitted after the rust attacks. I guess that after giving the hardware a light coat of oil it will be much less visible.

Onion coloured hardware.

After the first dip in the chlorine solution.

hardware in a chlorine solution.

Heating on the stove.

Blue colour means it is getting pretty warm.

First onion rubbing.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

I am a couch builder

I don't know if I am alone in this matter, but I have to admit that quite often I consider myself a couch builder.
Maybe you know the drill yourself.
You sit in a couch an read a woodworking magazine. Not just to get inspired, cause that would be fine. But somehow you more or less imagine that it is you doing the build. And boy I know that I am efficient in those projects.
A tool chest, 20 minutes maximum. A workbench, maybe 25 minutes, but that includes a cup of tea etc. In my mind I can build as fast as I can read the magazine. Actually after reading the articles a couple of times I don't even have to read the fine print anymore. I just look at the pictures and maybe read the text accompanying them. 
One of the really nice thing about building this way is that there are never any surprises such as reversing grain, knots, running out of stock, wood movement, bad finishing, overcutting lines, tear out, bad glue ups, twisted stock or dull tools.
Actually these builds are probably my best ones. They never go wrong and if they by some stroke of bad luck should, fixing them would be a piece of cake.

I can't quite remember the imaginary number if times that I have built the Roy Underhill joiners tool chest. But I have built it for real once, and it was definitely not as fast as the couch builds.

The same thing goes with a chimney cupboard.
Bob Roziaeski built a really nice version for Popular Woodworking some years back. And I have built it at least 10 times. It is such a pleasant project. It is guaranteed to turn out perfect every single time. And even the finish can't go wrong. A nice homemade yellow ochre coloured paint based on BLO. covers the perfectly hand planed boards in a jiffy. Drying is instantaneously. The dark paste wax is applied and buffed off, and after mounting the hardware without the screwdriver ever slipping, the project is once again complete.

In a way - it is very satisfying to build like that. There isn't a project that you can't handle, and the result is perfect every single time. 

But..

In another way - building projects that way isn't satisfying at all. Once you look up from the magazine, they vanish into thin air. There isn't even the nice smell of freshly planed wood from your shirt. Those projects also tend to be difficult to show to friends and family. 

The problem is that if you leave the success zone of the couch, and head into the real shop, maybe you will encounter difficulties. Perhaps even set backs. You might find that you are not quite as skilled as you thought you were. And if the project was described as something to be done in "a weekends time in the shop" You had better be quicker than that because if not.. It must mean that you are not as skilled as you were in the couch.

The harsh reality of my own limitations and mediocre skills always strike me full force when returning home from the ship. 
For 5 weeks I have thrived as a very successful couch builder, and then suddenly I am just my own regular me in a workshop filled with all kinds of annoying problems that the professionals never seem to have.
Like the earlier mentioned reversing grain, knots, running out of stock, wood movement, bad finishing, overcutting lines, tear out, bad glue ups, twisted stock or dull tools.

A strange thing is that most people seem to like the stuff that I build in the real world better than what I build in the couch. So perhaps I should focus more on getting into the actual shop and stop couch building.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Handling a hatchet

Olav has made a new handle for a hatchet.
He was looking for a piece of lightly crooked ash, so he could make a handle that would swing out.

I had an old piece of ash just like that, and as you can see from the pictures, the wood has been put to excellent use.

I don't know the brand of the hatchet, but it looks as though it is sharpened and ready to go.

All pictures are courtesy of Olav