Friday, April 30, 2010

What the Heck is a Dishing Stump?

The title is the question I envisioned people asking if I had just written my original title idea "Dishing the Stump" The answer is that this is a dishing stump.

What the hell do you do with it? Another excellent question. As I have written here before, I have two hobbies in my life. One is woodworking, which I am slowly working on turning into a second career. The other is Medieval Reenactment, where I am a member of a group that spends several weekends a year dressed in medieval clothing, cooking and living in a medieval way, and sometimes dressing and fighting in medieval arms and armor. (I know some of you may have heard of this as the SCA or Society for Creative Anachronism, for several very good reasons we are not associated with this organization, we are a group of our own forging and identity, We cal ourselves "Tribe Woden Thor" if you want to see that side of my life you can check out our group's website by clicking this link) The reason many of you may not know what a dishing stump is or what it is used for is because it has little purpose in a woodworking world. It is used by a blacksmith or armorer to form sheets of metal into bowl like shapes. Specifically this is going to be used to make shield bosses. A round, dished metal plate that goes in the center of a shield. It provides both protection and a place to hold your shield. Here's some pics of my shield and the cheep boss I bought many years ago.

Another member of the group and I were talking about bosses about a month ago. This was during one of our groups monthly combat practices. (yes I really dress in armor and beat the hell out of my best friends with steel and sticks) I was saying it would be great if we could make some bosses ourselves to use on some of the combat shields. He said he could get the steel to do it and would do the sweat work but he had no idea how to make the dishing stump. I volunteered to figure it out. The house we were at had cut down a maple last fall and the logs were still lying in the yard. I asked if we could have one, No problem. and I took the stump home. Telling my buddy I'd have it to him by the time we met again in a month.

Well that month will be up tomorrow, I realized today I had played a bit with the stump, but hadn't accomplished much. Time to get off my ass I figured. I know I have been on a hand tool kick lately but in reality I am a hybrid woodworker, I just think that I shouldn't limit myself based on a bias against electron utilization. Honestly tonight the choice was try to work with several gouges to make a circular depression, or plug something in. I went to the plug. I hadn't used my router since before we left Maine, that would be almost a year, but that old friend was sitting there patiently waiting, Happy to be hooked up with a dishing bit and put to work.

First I took a wire brush to the stump, to clean off as much dirt and crap as I could. Then doing my best to flatten the beast out I went back and forth between my belt sander and a #5 plane. I didn't need to, want to, make it perfect, that wasn't necessary, but taking out some of the chainsaw scratches and giving it a close level makes me feel a little better at least.
 Then I scribed a ring to one side of the stump with a pair of dividers and darkened the line with a pencil. I moved to one side to find the heaviest and most stable wood. The core of the tree is definitely not that, so by moving to the more stable outer radius I found a better home for the dish. This actually worked out well because the core of this log was way off to one side. This must have been a sizable branch because there was for sure some reaction wood there.
I drew some concentric circles inside the outer ring. Then I set the router to the deepest it could reach and cored out the center.
 I then worked my way out to the outer ring in three stages of raising the dishing bit. I worked from the center out so the router would be supported the whole time.

Once that was done I got out another old friend, the rotary tool. I chucked up the biggest and most aggressive burr style I have in my arsenal and went to work forming and smoothing the actual dish.Here it is about half way done.
Then I used a scraper and some sand paper to smooth it. Again I'm just going for even, not perfect glass. I then took the heavy blacksmithing hammer I own and pounded on the inside of the dish, giving some compression to the freshly exposed wood fibers, spreading them and smoothing them before they could dry out.
Over all not bad for a quickie project and an evening of making some serious sawdust. It always amazes me how I can forget how much dust and chips the router makes. My wife came down and said she hadn;t seen me so covered in a long while. Still, if you have to be covered, you could shoose something much worse than saw dust, don't you think?


Monday, April 26, 2010

Ripping by Hand . . . What a Workout

Boy oh boy am I gonna feel it in the morning. I can tell already. I didn't have a chance to do much today, I only ripped two 2x8's in half. I know I'm not in great shape. Ripping these two boards was a real workout for me and I haven't decided if it's a good thing or a bad thing and if I really should do it more often. I guess I probably should. Man it had me huffing and puffing and sweating up a storm for a while.

So I got the saw benches finished. But the point of them is that they are a stepping stone, A necessary evil on the way to building a joinery bench by hand. Have you heard about the Joinery Bench?  Until this last February I hadn't either.

Early February I had just began the concept of getting myself up and running to do hand tool wood working demonstrations at Medieval and Renaissance Faires (you can read more about it in my previous posts starting here) I was thinking real hard about what kind of bench I could make that would be able to take knock down and pack up and still supply a variety of good bench qualities. Low and behold I catch a blog entry by Chris Schwarz at the Popular Woodworking site about this Joinery Bench (see the entry here) It was designed and built by Tim Williams, who you can find at the Wood Therapy Blog and more specifically his blog about benches especially the construction of this one at Bench Vice. Well it was like the light shone in from heaven and all the light bulbs in my thoughts went solar.

I know I feel a little crazy about the whole thing. Considering I had recently finished building a full size workbench that was the impetus of this very blog. But this was more than one thing for me. Here was a bench that I could build to knock down, it was small enough to be reasonable to transport, and seemed flexible enough to handle all the jobs I needed it to do while performing demos. It also offered something to use in the shop. Both in my current shop, where I am basically working off a cabinet. I would love to replace it with a smaller size workbench with a real vise. (oh to dream a dream) and as I eventually upgrade back to a real sized shop a joinery bench offers some flexibility and options that are different from my current workbench, (woefully stuck in storage for now) so my bench for demo's does not have to be something that rests in the corner, waiting to be hauled out a half a dozen times a year. It can actually work and earn its living year round. I really like that.

So the Joinery bench started tonight with beginning to rip these 2x8's down to make the laminated pieces for the top. Four of them to rip . . . two down and two to go.



A Couple Hunting Trips Helps Bag Some Decent Game

Well there was not much sawdust this weekend. Thursday I did manage to get the second saw horse glued up and I spent a little while Saturday cleaning up the glue squeeze out and doing a little additional surface smoothing and today I got the Danish Oil on her. Starting tomorrow she'll be good to go and I can start on the Joinery Bench I need. So not very productive, but it spent most of the weekend raining here in Western Wisconsin and not being able to use the outside is like not being able to use half of my shop.

Love this pic of one horse atop the other, both inverted.

However we did have several errands to run this weekend, and I did manage to add a few things to the itinerary. I got a call from my mom about a rummage sale in the nearby burg of Sparta that she said had a lot of tools. We took a drive out there, and it did have some tools, but the only thing that caught my eye was a saw vice, It was in pretty rough shape and I already have a pretty good one, so I let it go. There were some other nice Lumber Jack saws, one and two man, but I just didn't feel like dropping 30 dollars for something that would just be a novelty.

On our way out of town I did decide to swing by one of my favorite places. There is a little store by the interstate that sells a combo of new, used, and antique booths. It's a fun hodgepodge kinda place, and I almost always find something there. This time I really did. I found an old woody joiner, 24 inches long, I tried to get the plane blade to pop out but I couldn't get it to budge in the store, maybe that's why it was only marked 15 dollars.

This morning I played with it a little in the shop, thinking I could get it out with a couple hammer taps. Boy was I wrong. It took me a half an hour and the sacrifice of two drill bits to get the blade out. Near as I can figure the wood of the plane must have dried significantly since the last time it was used. The plane blade is obviously the one the plane was made for, all the cut outs in the body and the wedge are exact for it, it was just pinched on the sides. Like when a box constructed of green wood and nailed and as the wood dries and shrinks it grips the nails until they are basically a part of the board. This made me think of that.

The only thing I could do was use a drill bit like a punch, (I didn't want to use a hardened steel punch, I was hoping a drill bit may somehow damage the blade less) place it against the cutting edge of the plane blade and pound the blade out through the planes mouth. Even after pounding the blade half way out, it would not budge. I had to hammer until it was completely free. There are no signs of the blade being forced in by some well meaning antique dealer, that's what makes me think of the wood shrink theory.

Some PB Blaster was needed to get the blade and cap iron unscrewed from each other and then I was able to take a look at the makers mark on the blade. It reads "W. Butcher" in an arch, with a crown mark underneath, (which I understand relates to it's manufacture in England) and the "Warranted Cast Steel" I did a little research on the net today and found out about a William Butcher who made tool blades between 1822 and 1870. But from what I could find about his makers mark it was his name in an arch, then an arrow pointing at a small Maltese Cross, and the "Warranted Cast Steel" below, This made me stop as I could find no reference to a crown. I wonder if this blade may be different in some way,

I usually use a wire brush on a drill and scrub away all the rust and patina back down to shiny steel. I do this because I buy these planes to use them, not to collect them, and a rusty tool will never work as well as a clean one. I always try to do some research first because I don't want to be That Guy, who destroyed a rare piece of history because he didn't do his due diligence first. If anyone knows anything about the difference in the makers marks I would appreciate a comment or even an email. Even if you have a good idea where to go look or who to specifically ask. Please give some help if you know.


But that was not the only game of the weekend hunt. There was a big Flea Market at the Lacrosse Center today, and like most flea markets, 95% crap, 4% interesting, 0.5% I'll think about it, and 0.5% OK I'll buy it. I did pick up a few things. One was a Stanley sweetheart era No. 61 marking gauge, in pretty decent enough shape.

The other thing is probably only cool to me, but I have to share it here anyhow. I work for a living as a Surgical Technologist, what's that, we're the people who set up all the sterile instruments and supplies before a surgery, stand during and pass instruments during the surgery, and clean up after. I've done the job for 11 years now, and I still enjoy most every day, (lets face it every job has it's days where you wish it was time to retire) in the middle of my career I had the opportunity to teach surgical tech students at the local college for around 2 years. Teaching gave me a little more perspective on the history of surgery and it's instruments. Well I was able to pick up some of that history today and bring it home. A pair of surgical scalpels. Today, and really for a long time, surgical scalpels are reusable steel handles that you affix a disposable blade to. This is a pair of old scalpels where someone in my position would actually take and resharpen these blades after every surgery before sterilizing them for their next go around. I'm not sure when these date to, I have to do some more research on that, but for me they're pretty cool anyway. I'm pretty sure I'll think of something to do with them eventually.

Anyhow that's it from the hunting grounds, coming up next, as promised, a Joinery Bench in C Minor.Until then . . .  goodnight and Cheers!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Woodworking and Art with a Capital "A"

Here's the story, currently we are living in a small, two bedroom, upstairs apartment my wife, my three daughters, the dog, and me. Not a lot of room. This was a necessity for a while when we needed something right away and reasonably priced when we moved back to Wisconsin from Maine. Now that I have a stable job working full time again we have began to look for a reasonably priced new dwelling, preferably with at least 3 bedrooms. There is some new construction in LaCrosse, a large residential complex over a bus transit area. Quite the sizable build. We caught a story in the local paper the other day that listed some apartment pricing and we thought it sounded reasonable enough to check out. I did a little more research today after we went to see a very disappointing house for rent, and found out that the building was really a push to help create an artist and crafts person community in the center of the city, a interesting "revitalizing the downtown" strategy, one of the better revitalizing ideas I've ever heard of. I joked with Naomi and said "it's too bad I gave up being an artist" referring to my high school years where art is what I lived for and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

"What the hell are you talking about, you and your woodworking makes you just as much of an artist as anyone else." She said. I was speechless, I'm not sure why the two things didn't seem to jive in my mind. I have never thought of what I do as capital "A" Art before, and I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable calling it that. Art is something that is created for beauty's sake, or to make a commentary on beauty. Art is created for Art's sake. Woodworking is created with a specific purpose in mind, it can carry elements of art and beauty in it. Design, perspective, structure. but furniture is not created for it's own sake, it is brought into being to serve a function. Now it could be that those years I spent studying Art have left me with a skewed sense of it's essence.

Then I have to think about why I think I really came to fall in love with woodworking, When I started to play around with sawdust it just seemed natural and it supplied me with some things I had not felt since I had put away my drawing pencils and paintbrushes a few years previous. It gave me comfort in the outlet for my creativity, it gave me goals to meet and exceed in competition with myself and the difference between what I see in my minds eye at the beginning and what a work manifests itself as in the end. The difference for me is that, in the end, woodworking supplied me with a usable piece of furniture, and all Art supplied me with was a couple of heavy cardboard boxes full of used canvases and half full sketchbooks. I know they're heavy, I've moved them with us from house to house since I was 18.

So then I think there is a difference between the two, but then I think again. Take this picture for instance.

This was taken a few weeks ago when the whole family made a day trip to Madison so I could go to the Woodcraft store. We decided it would be cool to take the kids to an art museum and it had been years since we had been to one ourselves. To my surprise the museum had several pieces of furniture on display. Up until tonight my only thought had been how fortunate and inspiring it was for me to have a chance to look at those master works, to photograph those pieces of history. (note: this panoramic picture was taken from one floor up and across  open foyer, it was just a cool chance to get the whole display in one shot) Now tonight I have been thinking about the fact that the furniture was included in the gallery at all. and not the crazy, post modern, deconstructionist furniture that sometimes graces the show off pages of "fine woodworking" magazine. The stuff is cool and picture worthy, don't get me wrong, but sometimes one questions it's functionality, which should always be the point of furniture.

But if I think about, it that fits into Art to. If Art can be ugly, to provide commentary on the beauty inherent in Art, then shouldn't some furniture be allowed to be nonfunctional, just as a commentary on the inherent functionality. . .

So then where does that leave it. After thinking about it I guess I have to come to the conclusion that furniture is Art. but that doesn't answer all the questions. Does that mean all furniture is Art?  I would have to say yes. and I have a couple arguments to support the idea.

1. I think we can all accept pieces like those in the photo above, but what about the prefab, pressboard furniture peddled by the Wal-mart's of the world? I still have to say yes. Not all Art is museum quality Art. Infact I would venture a guess that the vast majority of art in this world does not deserve a space in any given museum's lavatory. But that does not make it any less Art. Turn the corner in Wal-mart and you'll find that they offer a decent amount of lifeless framed art and such as well. Art gain it's value when someone puts their own value into it. If I buy a mass marketed wall hanger from Wal-mart, then I have put some value into it. That value is what makes art work.

2. The Art you own and chose to display says something about you, or, probably more accurately sometimes, says something about what you would like to say about yourself. The furniture you purchase and use offers the same array of insights.

So in the end, though you may not feel that way at first, but give it some thought, all of you out there making saw dust, you are all artists. Welcome to the club.



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tunnel Vision

Well, I only got to spend a little time in the shop tonight, but any time spent is a good time. In my last post I told you all about the split in one of the legs for the second saw bench I'm working on. In the end that incident turned out to be serendipity. Yes it was easy to cut the mortise after it was done but the reality was I had a purpose going at the time the leg split. I was purging on and on towards assembly, pushing to get to the point where I could spread glue and go. I was bending my will towards it but my progress was stopped, and for good reason.

After I put up my post the other night and crawled in bed, it hit me. If I had been allowed to continue, blinders up and strapped in with full on tunnel vision, I would have completely blew past getting the carving done. If that had happened I'm not sure what I would have done. The pieces wouldn't have matched and the carving is one of the cool things that sets these apart and will make them work well at a faire. I would have had to half ass it and try to accomplish the carving on the assembled bench, that would have sucked.

I'm glad fate seemed to stop me. Or maybe the wood of the bench went to it's own measures to make sure it would get the same treatment it's twin did. Either way there are times that happens to me, tunnel vision, and it always ends up screwing me hard. I'm just happy I escaped it's clutches this time.

Tunnel vision confessions aside, I have been enjoying the process of learning to do some simple, by hand, chip carving. When the family and I made the trip to Madison several weeks ago, I got to stop by the Woodcraft store there. Although I came home with a few different goodies, the reason I insisted was so I had the chance to pick up a couple of decent carving tools. I was hoping to find a starter set of some kind, there just wasn't one there. In some of the reading I've done since I guess I understand why, Carving is such an individual pursuit that there would be no way to have a cut and dry, one size fits all set. I have seen sets out there, some even assembled by woodcraft, in the end I am glad there wasn't one in the store.

If there had been a beginners set, lets say six or eight chisels in size, I would have bought it, and I would have walked out of the store with only that, I had a limit of around 100 dollars to spend and that would have sapped that up and probably over done me. Instead I was forced to take my time and look at all the chisels offered and make a measured decision about what I wanted to accomplish and what I would need to do that.

I actually sat down on the floor in front of the carving chisels and studied them, hanging in their little blue polyvinyl sleeves and dangling from hooks. The variety was over whelming. As I thought about things one inspirational figure kept returning to my mind. Peter Follansbee, master of 17th century furniture. I am a close follower of his blog, and though the resources on the internet I have watched several videos staring Mr. Follansbee and his carving techniques for pieces such as this joined chest I had the privilege of photographing that same day in Madison. One was shot at a woodworking seminar, the other was Mr. Follansbee's guest appearance on Roy Underhill's Woodwright's Shop. titled "Peter and the Box" I really appreciate his no nonsense approach to what he does. the message that hits my ears is akin to saying "don't make a meal out of a snack" Break a job into pieces and go.

I thought about the tools I saw him use in the demos and the techniques I could identify with, and that is what I based my first choices of carving tool on. The first was obvious, a decent "V" gouge. one I could drive in one hand and mallet with the other. That simple decision eliminated half my choices. full handles, none of the palm ones. Now it was choosing the size. That was pretty easy. One down.

The other thing I wanted was a shallower gouge. That took a little more searching and deciding, but eventually I narrowed it down and pulled the trigger.

Working with these chisels has been a dream to learn with. They are both Swiss made by Pfeil, and using them is very intuitive. They are beefy enough the don't significantly deflect under the blow of a mallet, yet fine enough that paring with them is a dream too. I know that the carving I have done on the saw benches is very simple and straight forward, nothing to inspire, but one must start somewhere. and I have had many, many more painful starts than this one. I believe I am following the best proscribed path on this one. Starting with two and mastering them and I'll add more when it seems appropriate.



Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Easiest Mortise I Have Ever Cut

Finally, a relatively slow day for the Oldwolf Clan, slept in a bit, got up and watched a movie that's been waiting to go back to Blockbuster Video for a week, and hit the shop. Got to spend most of the day working there to. Pretty nice day if I do say so myself.

Started it out by fulfilling a plan I made a while ago on this blog. I was talking about the four full size hand saws I own, I call them the Four Brothers, The trouble is one of the four brothers was embarrassed, He is a good Disston saw, but he was just born in the wrong era, all he had to hold on to was a cold and heartless chunk of plastic. I had vowed to make him a new wood handle, but then the weather turned and I could take the opportunity to use some space outside to cut and begin the saw benches, The saw has waited patiently ever since.

Patience turns out to pay off because yesterday I picked up several old saw handles at a garage sale. I went through the handles and chose the one I thought would fit best. Sanded off most of the green paint that was on the poor guy. Marked and drilled some new holes in the blade. (you can see the multitude of holes in one of the pics, getting the holes drilled was actually a little of an ordeal, some of those old saws have tough steel) Popped the saw nuts in place and Ta Da. Now little brother doesn't have to be embarrassed any longer.

Then I did a little rearranging on the peg board. I had my dividers and calipers all bunched up and on top of one another for a while. A few days ago I went to pull a hammer off the board and bumped one divider, and I'll bet you can guess the rest of the story. A couple of them swung about a bit and then fell down. All I could think was how I didn't want either of these casualties of gravity to get bent when they landed on the concrete floor. Thinking quickly and disregarding my own personal safety, I stuck out my foot to cushion the blow.

I wasn't wearing shoes. 

The point of my small divider is a pretty sharp point.

It bit me. Not deep, but enough to remind me what a dumb ass I can be sometimes, and that I should have taken care to set things up right from the beginning. Same ol' story.

But then the rest of today was interesting to. I was working away on the saw horse. Gonna try to finish it up today and I marked one of the thru mortises on the legs and began to chop away with a chisel and mallet. A small crack in the wood developed early but I didn't think a whole lot of it. I had similar crack that I repaired on for both legs on the horse that's finished. All I did was finish the mortise, then spread the crack a bit, push some glue in, and clamp it for a while. Stronger than ever. Today the crack went from hairline to complete split in three blows of the mallet. I stared at the piece for a minute. The split followed exactly along the line of one edge of the mortise. Well this was interesting. I didn't see any reason I had to replace the leg from scratch, it's a saw horse for gods sake, and the split was clean with lots of glue surface. Only had to finish the mortise.

You see instead of measuring, when I don't have to be perfectly perfect but I need matching mortises in pieces, I'll cut one and use it to mark for the other. If I couldn't cut the other mortise I would have stalled out in the shop for the day and it was still early.

I put the vise on the table. Clamped in the leg, grabbed the backsaw, and cut a series of kerfs working to bottom out as square as possible. (but not killing myself for it, this is a saw horse not a highboy) Popped out the slices between the kerfs, cleaned up the side with the chisel, Fasted and easiest mortise I have ever made with hand tools


I was able to use it to mark the other leg, and that gave me something to work on while the glue and clamps worked their magic on the splitter.

It sure made for an interesting way to check the fit of a tenon though. 

All in all an interesting day, but most days in the shop are. The glue wasn't quite set up when I broke to come upstairs, eat supper and update the blog. Here's hoping I get down to the shop again to finish tonight, either way the second horse should get finished tomorrow or Tuesday. Then it's on to a bigger project.



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Back in the Horse Saddle and A Couple Recent Finds

Well it has been a bit since I've had the time to post, or even the time to come up with anything valuable to post. Two days ago I managed to get started on completing the second of the saw horses. Really the same build all over again so I don't see any point in boring you with a "second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse,"  So I will just say the progress is flowing much faster on the second, as things are prone to do. and I will start up again in earnest when I finish with the matched pair and move into the Joinery Bench.

I do have some other interesting pics here though I have bought a few things on the cheep here in the last few weeks, mostly because it was recently my birthday, and I was allowed a little leeway. we went to an antique show the other day and I found a nice Disston Backsaw, Needs some clean up on the blade and a good sharpening, but at 12$ it was too nice to pass up. Also in the pic is a dovetail chisel I found at a rummage sale for 2$ and a small triangular file that I bought and Menards, but I did take the time to make the handle and ferule for it the other day. I'll need it to sharpen the Backsaw

Next I used a gift card from my sister to get a set of Irwin, Marples chisels,  Given them a little test drive, not much as I haven't had the chance to properly sharpen them yet. So far I have to say I prefer the length they give me over the short buck bros bench chisels I have used for a few years.

Last comes the prize I captured today, a 1950 Delta Milwaukee Jointer (The year I surmise by looking up he serial number) we went to visit a friend and her neighborhood was having it's annual community rummage sale. We looked around a bunch, and really saw nothing. There's usually not much in suburbia. But at one sale I found 4 old Disston saw handles sitting out, no price. I asked the guy what he wanted, "buck a piece" OK I thought, What happened to the saws? Apparently he buys old saws and hacks up the blades to make Ulu knives, which he then sells on eBay... I cannot imagine how many good saws are lost now thanks to this guy, but I was good and kept my mouth shut.

"Do you collect old saws?"  I said No I just do a lot of woodworking and I'm always looking for good tools,  "Well," he says "Come look here." and he turns me around to an almost hidden section of the garage sale pile and points out an old jointer. Well now I have to admit I am interested. "it's a heavy son of a bitch" he says "I don't wanna have to put it away . . . (here it comes I thought) I'll make you a hell of an offer.

OK I'll bite, how good of an offer?  "Forty dollars"  a little more than I came out planning to spend today but it seems to be a decent deal. There's rust and a lot of it, but the belt is intact, all the adjustments move, the knives are all there, they need sharpening, but they're present. "Throw in the saw handles?" I ask,  "sure" he says.

A jointer for 36 dollars, and the price of elbow grease and rust remover... I guess I can't beat that at all. It'll sit in storage with the other power goodies until I get a chance to set up a real shop again. Under the tarp you go Frankenstein, only to rise again!!!

More time in the shop tomorrow (hurray) and probably some more pics and posts



Friday, April 2, 2010

One Down, One to Go

Well, Good Friday is a slow day in the OR, as a result I was asked if I wanted to go home a bit early, save the hospital some staffing money, I said hell yes and lit up outta there before the charge nurse could change her mind. See I work on the Orthopedic Surgery Team, and our specialty is usually pretty busy, and we don't get the opportunity to get outta there early very often. When the chance presented, I jumped.

This gave me a chance to finish up on one of the pair of saw horses I have been working on. Just a couple of loose ends to tie up. I started by sawing all the tenon wedges even and cleaning up the glue squeeze out from last night. Then I set to marking out where I wanted the end notch to be. But something was not quite right.

You can see my brilliance went to work once more, when I was cutting my dado's I measured my cut on the wrong side of one of the lines. I had used the full length of my tri-square to set the depth of overhang, Obviously I messed up on the one on the right, Now I have to replicate this error when I cut the dados for the other horse so it looks like I meant to do that, What's that you say? No I'm not completely sure why I'm mentioning the mistake here if I plan to forever pretend that I meant to do that from this day forward. Ahh such is life.

Anyhow I chose to cut the notch in the end with more overhang. I set the horse on the floor and went to town with the rip saw.

Then I went to work on the patch where I had the knot knock out while I was chopping the mortises, I was musing on here about a type of wood putty. . . I just didn't really like that idea. As I sat and looked at it this morning I decided a dutchman patch would be just the trick. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me before. Thank god it did now.  In the pic below you can see the chiseled out area for the patch and the two pieces of pine I sized to fit the hole. The knot hole looks smaller because it obliterated one corner of the patch area, so I glued and pounded a little chip of scrap into place to even it out . . . a dutchman under a dutchman . . . brilliant! 
I let the piece dry in place for about 15 minutes, tinkered around with rounding some corners and planning where the holes would fall for the ability to use holdfasts, After time was up I planed the patch flat and was very happy with the result. There are several other chips and knock outs that I could have patched as well, nothing as bad as where this knot fell. This was cheep, super dry construction lumber, It would crack and split if you looked at it crosseyed. I decided that I would leave the rest, I am not constructing a thing of beauty here, I'm building a tool, and several blemishes, as long as they do not affect the function, are more than acceptable.

I do have the one confession here to admit. This horse was supposed to be done with all hand tools, and 99% of it was, in the course of today I discovered that I lack a 3/4 inch brace bit (or I have seriously misplaced it in all the recent moves across the country) either way I had none today to drill the holes for the holdfasts. I did not have the patience today to go to the antique stores in town to try and dig one up, nor did I want to wait for that gem I bought on eBay to show up at the door. I took the bait, chucked a forstner bit into the cordless black and decker drill, and blasted out the holes.
There I feel better with that off my chest.

To finish up I gave the horse a good coat of Danish Oil, and set her off to dry, Like I said one down, one to go.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Horse is a Horse . . .

. . . Of course, of course,


Well the last few days have been a little of a drag. I spent a little time in the shop on Monday playing with the new carving chisels from Woodcraft. Man is there a huge difference between a tool that works and a POS that doesn't. Simple, straightforward, and easy to steer. Very nice.

I got the carving I wanted finished on two of the legs, I learned a quite a bit as far as handling the chisels, working with the grain of the wood and getting acceptable results. The first one took me a couple of hours even though the carving is pretty simple. The second one went much quicker.

Along with that I chopped out the mortises for the cross bar between the legs, and cut the cross bar and the tenons on that. I then cut out the relief for the tenon wedges, and, of course, made a few wedges.

I dry fit the horse together, and then figured what the hell, might as well put the whole thing together for real.
Some glue and a little sweat later and ladies and gentlemen we have a saw horse. Tomorrow I'll be able to cut off the extra tenon length I left on top flush, Fill in where a knot broke out while chopping a mortise with something, (no I still haven't decided, I guess I'm not even sure if I will at all) clean up the squeeze out and maybe throw a little danish oil finish on it.Then I'll get to work on the other one.

Oh I cannot forget that I need to cut the notch in one end to make it easier to start cuts on shorter boards or shorter cross cuts, and drill a couple holes so I can use some hold down clamps with it as well.

Sorry for the short and sweet one today, feelin a bit under the weather and not feeling to wordy or witty, There should be more soon, I may have a place to set up a full shop again. That will be something fun to work on and document, I have a couple commission pieces as well. One is a traditional build for the Medieval Group I am part of. The other is possibly getting to build a buffet or huntsboard  for my wife's sister. Neither real money makers, mostly I'll do them for cost, but they're good for the portfolio at any rate.So with that, Goodnight all.