26 July 2015

Drawer Dilema.

I've been to several very well known and highly esteemed training schools in the last couple of years, where young (or even not so young) makers were encouraged to produce so called 'piston fit' drawers.
There's nothing inherently wrong with the practise as it encourages absolute precision in the making and fitting of parts. A drawer thus made and fitted, by anyone, is an achievement to be naturally chuffed about...and quite rightly so.

But I've always been faced by a slight niggle about this sort of thing, for example, I saw a well made piece recently where one drawer was just about sliding in and out, but the other one by it's side had seized solid!

The one that moved was obviously a perfectly fitted drawer...but is it a good drawer?

A 'piston' fit drawer will only ever be a piston fit on the day it's fitted or on a day when the weather conditions are identical. Even the slightest change in the temperature or humidity on any of the  following days, weeks or months will play havoc with the fit. Moving a piece from the workshop to the house...

...as I did with this bow fronted cabinet was enough to jam the drawers and...

... I had to return to it at least six times with a block plane to ease them before they fitted comfortably.

The late Edward Barnsley is reputed to have toured the country with a block plane in his jacket pocket to see clients with similar afflictions. If a piece were ever to go to the West Indies, then a 'piston fit' drawer would be on a hiding to nothing.

A drawer can be classified as a perfect fit (not necessarily a 'piston' fit) when it slides smoothly in and out, with the minimum of finger pressure, under all atmospheric conditions.

And that's probably even harder to do.

As one very good maker replied to my question some years ago about fitting drawers...

"Make 'em baggy, Rob...make the bloody things baggy!" which makes perfect commercial sense.

I rest my case, M'Lud.

20 July 2015

Diverging Destinies.

Back in March of last year, I mentioned that I'd picked up an uber-tasty lump of Turkish walnut which was destined to eventually end up as a shotgun stock, except now that I'd got hold of it, it's destiny was going to be something completely different.

As I explained in that particular entry, there was just...say again, just enough of the good stuff to produce a smallish jewellery box, which I intended to give to my daughter as her birthday present.

The completed box turned out quite well:

Construction was with through dovetails at the corners and a burr walnut veneered base.  There's a solid panel inset into the lid, with very simple 'pin' style hinges (just a couple of bits of 3mm silver steel) and the jointing at the corners of the frame is with some 5mm Dominos.

The handle is interesting...

... as it's been shaped and sculpted from the solid, so nothing added. If you look very carefully you can spot the dovetails, but they're easy to miss because of the swirly grain.

With the lid opened...

...you can get a better idea of the handle and interior.  There's a small tray and I managed to find some very thin glove leather to make the squishy inserts for rings.

All told, in turned out slightly better than being slapped with a wet fish....  

16 July 2015

Chest of Drawers in American Cherry

Owing to a long hiatus in the publication of this monumental blog, the details on the construction of this piece have receded into the darkest and deepest  recesses of my pea sized brain, but worry not, dear peruser, it's been peppered with the most horrendous cockups so much so that at one time it had to be completely scrapped and remade.

For your delight, later on in this entry, I'll relate the very last occurrence of a 'faux pas terrible' 

Herewith some pics of the final, finished piece:

Firstly, a front view. The carcass is made from a core of 15mm mdf with 2mm bandsawn American cherry veneers laid over the top. From the second drawer down, the handles are morticed progressively 2mm higher each time, thus the lowest pull is 8mm above the centre line. 

The rear view.  Here there's a book matched panel...no problems thus far.  Finish overall is two coats of Osmo-PolyX with wax over the top.

Onto the drawers...

As can be seen from the pic, these are centre hung using a wide maple muntin, which means that you don't have to worry about fitting them to the cabinet sides, but it does mean that you need to apply a false planted front to the drawer box:

The advantage is that you can easily obtain a very snug fitting drawer...that feeler gauge is about 0.3mm or thereabouts.

Drawer bottoms are Cedar of Lebanon and possibly a trifling on the thick side...the next time I make some of these sorts of drawers, I need to play around and find a way of making them thinner.

Drawer pulls are always the most difficult decision to do, but simple usually always works so they were made from Indian ebony..

..morticed into the fronts.  The shaping was done with rasps, files and then finished of with sandpaper down to about 400g.

So now there's only the plinth..

The pic shows the construction; doweled and morticed.  The dowels were made using the Dowlmax system, which in this user's very 'umble opinion is the best thing since bread was first sliced by the Romans.

What's not shown are the pocket holes that I used to join the plinth to the unit.  I used the UJK Mini-Pocket Hole Jig from Axminster which worked very nicely...difficult to fault.

I know this is going to be incredulous for you to believe and you're best sat down, well away from your coffee (in case it's spluttered all over the screen) but when I tried another trial assembly, I found that on one of the short sides, the pocket holes were not on the inside of the frame...

...but on the bloody outside!

To cut a hideous story sideways, I had to completely re-jig and remake one short side.  The miracle of it is that a) I just about had enough material left over and b) nothing else went wrong.

It's now installed and I'm back onto the Elm Cabinet IV, which should be entertaining.

02 July 2015

A Tale of Woe and the 'Pheonix'

Time and tide, so they do sayeth, waits for no man (or bloke) and it was never more true about the state of the 'shop exterior.  I built it around twelve or so years ago from marine ply and apart from a cursory lick of green paint when it was finished, nothing else has been done.  Round about the beginning of April this year, the exterior and roof looked like they'd done a few rounds with our 'Enry (those of a certain age will know who 'our 'Enry' was, the rest of you will have to do a G search!)

I'd made the roof with 4x2" joists at 20" spacings with a 12mm chipboard top and over the years, there'd been a steady bit of 'droopage' such that...

...the bloody pigeons used to use the depressions across the roof as a bird bath.  It was high time for a bit of TLC so I decided to sort out the exterior this year, including the roof, which I intended to get done professionally.

When the chaps started to strip off the old roof, the above pics show the sorry state is was in...patches of wet, soggy chipboard all the way across.  I guess I was one winter storm away from losing the complete 'shop!

The new roof being installed.  4x2"s at 15" spacings with an 18mm ply top and 100mm fg insulation.  By this time I'd already put a few coats of green paint on the outside and re-sealed all the suspect areas around the windows, so it was starting to come together.

Covering up the partly completed roof at the end of the day. The blue tarp was the position of the old window which I replaced with another dg pane of glass and a couple of louvered openers to allow a bit of breeze though the 'shop

The guys applying the three layers of felt, with buckets of hot pitch on the roof...not something that any amateur could possibly hope to emulate.  These chaps were good, very, very good!

Jeff, the boss, doing a bit of heavy hauling. With the new roof completely dun n'dusted, together with it's heat reflective surface and new guttering, the outside of the 'shop now looks like this:

There's at least six coats of water resistant green goopy paint on there and as an added Brucy Bonus I've gained an additional 150mm head room inside, which looks much the same as it always did:

Projects are forthcoming, complete with the usual hideous goof's and gaffs which will be documented in all their grisly detail in due course.

15 June 2014

Dropping Ducks

I happened to be doing a little machining today on some odds n'sods and noticed that despite my best efforts,  the Camvac 286 wasn't quite producing as much suckage as it ought, which was mildly disconcerting to say the least….stuff was flowing, but not nearly with the same gusto as before.

Puzzled, I was….

I started to look at the joints between all the gates, 'T's and pipes etc and all seemed tight.  All nicely bound with duct tape, with a pair of plastic ties on each to make them air tight  Then I noticed a couple of gates weren't closing properly by around 3mm, allowing air to leak past….not much, but enough.

The gates in question opened horizontally, allowing a build up of grunge in the groove, so there was nothing for it but to remove the culprits , clean them out with a 2mm Allen key and re-assemble the system so that all the gates, including the two offending ones, now opened by pulling vertically downwards.

It's little things like this that make all the difference, so it's worth paying a bit of attention and getting all one's 'ducks in a row' when the system's installed.

Which I clearly didn't first time round.


11 June 2014

Normal service will resume shortly…..

Many years ago, if my ongoing decrepitude still serves me, the TV wasn't too reliable and seemed to me, at the time, to be always going 'off-air'.  You'd then here a frightfully posh, perfectly articulated, genuine BBC Queen's English announcer saying that …

…."normal service will resume shortly" or so I seem to remember at the time.

The delivery yesterday of this bad boy from Axminster...

….means that like the early days of the BBC, normal service will be resumed shortly in the 'shop.  At present, I've got around five jobs stacked up all over the place that need the services of this bit of kit. They include, in no particular order, a picture frame, a jewellery box, a big Alan Peters style cabinet, and a large chest of drawers as well as load of little boxes for the craft fair next month.

Onwards and upwards...

05 May 2014

Devious Dealings.

Those of this readership who've got nothing better to do with their time on this glorious Bank Holiday Monday will have, by now, have realised that…''summat's up"  Previous posts hinted that devious dealings were afoot, so it's probably now time to come clean and reveal all…as the actress said to the bishop.

I'm going to try out a couple of craft fairs in Salisbury at the Guildhall this year, the first on the 19th July and the second on 2nd Dec, just in time for Christmas.  To that end, the organisers requested some information and a pic for an e-flyer.  I duly obliged with the image below:

…and decided to use it as a cover photo on Facebook.  My friend Ian Styles, the MD of Axminster Tools & Machinery immediately replied that he'd have to 'unfriend' me as I was leaning against such a noxious bit of equipment, to which I replied that I'd buy one from him if he offered a suitable 'inducement'…which I subsequently did and for which I'm very grateful.

However, Ian's email to me dropped into my inbox at around 11pm and the first line consisted of less that ten words reading something along the lines of…

"Here's a simple question.  Do you want a job?"

Now I do like an occasional tipple of something, but this time I nearly fell of my chair without any assistance and suitably gobsmacked, I chortled all the way up the stairs to bed.

I replied that I'd love to work for him, subject to conditions of service so that over the course of several weeks, we sorted out the 'what' and the 'how' of my employment.  In essence,  Ian, being a long time 'dipper' into the Blog, liked my scribblings and offered me a job as a copywriter for the company.  Having just retired, I didn't want to take up a full-time salaried position, so we've agreed that I'll be working from home for 27 hours a week with one or two (as required) days a month at Axminster HQ.

As an aside, you'll note that the big grey lathe is a serious bit of kit.  You'll be equally pleased to note that as I'm a bit of novice wood spinner, they'll be few references to the 'dark side' as the cock-ups will happen with such mind numbing regularity I'd need a whole new blog to document them.