Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Making A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow's Ear...

Last November I did a post on milling some Elm and Ash from logs to planks. You can check it out here.

I had to move the stack of planks I harvested from two trees that were felled last fall. I use the term "plank" rather loosely here, as planks are usually relatively flat, and these are far from that. I didn't mind moving them because it allowed me to check their moisture content and change their sticking order and orientation. What I found was a bit of a surprise.

I thought the Ash wouldn't take much time to dry out because the tree had been standing dead for the past 4 or 5 years. I expected the Elm, however, to still be wet, given the tree it came from was still producing leaves, not very many of them at all, but leaves none the less. As it turned out, they were both dry enough to work.

I moved a couple of the slabs of Elm over to my outdoor workbench and started to have at it. Before I started work, though, I went out and purchased a 12 1/2" surface planer. I love working with hand tools, but I'm not looking to die with a plane in my hand.

After the "some assembly required" part of my new purchase was done, I got to work. I used my Stanley #5 1/2 with its radius blade to waste some wood.

I didn't try to make the surface perfectly flat. Instead, all I wanted to do was even out the surface enough to ensure it wouldn't tilt or twist as it went through the surface planer. Another way of doing this would be to attach some straight scrap pieces to the outside edges of the slab, making sure they project beyond the bottom surface so they act like sleds. If you don't do one or the other, the surface planer will give you a parallel surface on the opposite side, bows, twists, hills and hollows included.

I cut the two slabs cut down to 12" wide with a circular saw and planed both on the surface planer with parallel surfaces. Both slabs ended up being 2" thick. 

I was impressed with the Elm's grain last year when I first saw it after cutting it up with a chainsaw. All the planing only made the grain look even better. I stopped at this point and hauled both slabs into the house and stick stacked them in the living room for a few weeks so they acclimatise.

My plans are to take these slabs down further, to about 1 1/2" or so. I will then glue them together and cut them into a 22" square. I am think of putting a simple, reverse angled egde all around, finishing it in some way that will bring out the grain even more. I want to make the grain the feature of this table, so I am leaning towards mounting it to a 12" clear acrylic cube. Hopefully doing so will make these beautiful pieces of wood look like they are floating off the floor.



Friday, 16 September 2016

It's Nice To Get A Handle On Things...

Here are the finished products. I really enjoyed this project. I made a few mistakes but learned a lot doing it. It also doesn't hurt that I'm really pleased with the results.

I don't think I'll be making another handle for anything for a while, at least until my finger prints grow back. I lost them during an estimated 28 hours of sanding.

I went through 80 grit, 150 grit, 220 grit and 400 grit. I then rubbed them down with #000 steel wool.

They then got 8 coats of amber shellac, rubbed out between each coat with 400 grit paper. I left them to dry for 48 hours, gave them a final sanding with 400 grit and then rubbed in 4 coats of Minwax Finishing Wax (I love that stuff) using #0000 steel wool, buffing them out between applications.

Great stuff.



Friday, 2 September 2016

Cheeky Little Bugger...

I have started on the second saw handle, this one in apple wood. While I was drilling out for the cap studs, I broke off a piece of the cheek inside the saw plate slot. It isn’t coming out as the bottom of it is thicker than the top and the back of it is thicker than the front.

To fix it, I thought I would force some glue under it and tap a wedge between it and the opposite cheek. Once the glue sets, I could recut the saw plate slot.

If anyone has another idea, I would really appreciate hearing about it.



Thursday, 1 September 2016

I Guess I Won’t Have To Burn It...

I came close a few times but luck saved my arse every time...

One of the problems I faced was completely of my own making. I decided to lower the plate a little bit more into the handle as too much of it’s back was showing. If I had noticed that while doing the drawing I could have changed the template to reflect the change, but dummy here didn't notice it until  the handle had been cut out, half shaped and the plate’s mounting slot cut into it. If you look above the screw studs you will see that I didn’t quite get the front hole right and the result is the plate is aiming downwards a bit. It is an easy fix, thank goodness. All I will have to do is adjust the top of the handle to match the angle of the plate. It will work, but it still bugs me.

I have now pulled the plate from the handle again so I can do a lot more sanding - not my favourite sport.