Safety mortising

I have always rather struggled with making mortices. Tenons are less of a problem.  Getting the waste out of the mortice hole and avoiding bruising the shoulders was always a challenge. Having made a couple of handfuls of M&T joints on the joined stool following P Folansbee Esq’s advice, I have more confidence in setting out and bashing away at the chisel, and now I can produce a reasonably sharp mortice chisel.  However, I have refined my own technique a little.  Following an expensive break out of the side of a stool leg mortice I now cramp the sides to avoid accidents.

SAMSUNG CSCLooks a little industrial I realise, but essentially the wooden screw cramp is holding the sides of the stool leg in its grip.  Because the leg is pentagonal (more later) I need a V-block (thanks David) in the cramp as well.  Then one holdfast is pinning the cramp to the bench.  Just to make sure everything is good and solid I have another holdfast pinning down the leg itself. (Blimey!  That chisel edge looks rather close to the holdfast – Ed).

Now then (as we like to say in Yorkshire), the softener under the second holdfast comes in very handy as a sacrificial fulcrum for the chisel, thus saving the edge of the mortice.

SAMSUNG CSCThis gives me leave to get some muscle into the mallet and extract large amounts of waste in one go and speed the whole process up.

SAMSUNG CSCOK that’s actually the top end of the mortice which is not seen as it will be inside the joint.  I now also appreciate how important it is to start off using the chisel with the bevel facing the ends of the mortice, makes levering out the waste much easier, and then using the flat side when approaching the shoulders and then turning it round again to lever out the waste at the ends, so the fulcrum is the top end of the bevel which is down in the hole, not at the shoulder.

I have also filed a mark on the chisel at 1 and 3/8ths for 1 and 1/4 inch tenons.  This makes getting the correct depth much easier.

SAMSUNG CSCSeems to work.

SAMSUNG CSCIt was quite a worry working out what the shape of the legs should be for a joined three-legger.  I did lots of drawing on charcoal bags and test leg end grain, but finally reverted to schoolboy geometry, or what I remembered of it.

SAMSUNG CSCThe angle of the nose is very off-putting when starting from square timber and using one only of the square corners.  I have about 2 weeks to finish this stool for a competition, but at the end of today I have all the aprons fitting properly  and the top nearly done, and the rails ready for making the second tenons.  Phew.

It was Harlow Carr‘s Taste of Autumn last weekend, which was a really good event, lots of visitors and fine weather (apart from a little rain on the Saturday morning, which we won’t mention).

Owen Jones MBE was there making his beautiful and very practical swill baskets.  I must say his shelter is very enviable for its small size (mind you he doesn’t have to accommodate a flippin’ pole lathe).

SAMSUNG CSCWe were also delightfully entertained by the Barrow Band singing their hearts out about fruit and veg.

SAMSUNG CSCIt was a grand taste of Autumn (even tastier if I can get the Shitake inoculated log to bear fruit).

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Chainsaw blues

I’ve been to the APF (Association of Professional Foresters) show for the last three days.  We were near the chainsaw carvers – 26 of them I believe, pretty noisy.  As you can see they have several means of making noise and carvings.  This guy had 4 saws, a drill, a blower, an angle grinder and something else I can’t make out.

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(He’s making a bottle to go with the two chalices for the three bears at table). Don’t ask.

Some of the carvings were impressive:SAMSUNG CSC
Others rather sad:SAMSUNG CSCYet others world-changing (Is the globe really that shape?).
SAMSUNG CSCWe, on the other hand, were doing our own bonkers activity, racing each other to make legs that will never be used in chairs.
SAMSUNG CSCKevin from Ireland won the singles International log to leg race on the Saturday, he didn’t use a shelter.

SAMSUNG CSCEven though on two days the weather was somewhat soft (as I hear they are wont to say in Eire).

SAMSUNG CSCHere’re the ash logs we started from to make a pair of matching legs SAMSUNG CSC Penalties were awarded for bad turning and mismatches. See those black dots – they cost you time penalties – 15 seconds each.SAMSUNG CSCMe, I was more interested in carving and a spot of lunch (I’m not entirely sure why there’s a drawing pin in the banana). No I didn’t carve with the Opinel – strictly for culinary use.

SAMSUNG CSC(Oh, I suppose you’re going to gloss over your double last place position in the racing – Ed)

Seven inch knocker

LACK OF WOODWORK WARNING

(Whoops!  Thought I’d pressed publish on this one, but obviously didn’t.)

This post is mainly about blacksmithing of which I worked two shifts yesterday.  One in the woods and one at Craven College.  The latter was on a beginner’s course and will be the last one there ever as they are closing the metalworking facility, it seems like to make more courses for nail clipping and painting courses, etc. No not iron nails, but the ones that ladies wear.  I think we are rapidly losing our sense of reality.

Here’s my door knocker ready for its back plate and hinge to be finished next week.

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It has its faults, but there are some useful techniques in there.  It reminds me of Mint Sauce, a great cartoon that used to appear in a mountain biking magazine my son and I used to read when we were full-on mountain bikers.

Copyright MBUK

My friend David make a great little bucket forge from the expansion tank used in a domestic central heating system.  It makes a good midge repeller too when topped with shavings

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He also built a box bellows, operated by hand.

David aka Bellows Boy

David aka Bellows Boy

It works really well using the hardwood charcoal I make.  I finished the initial twisting of the ram’s horns above to save time at college.  (It’s a double helix, tha knaws.  Of course rams don’t have double helix horns, the horns have rings, and then they are curly, small point, but I s’pose blacksmiths are allowed artistic licence because they are wizards really).

Then we started manufacturing tangs for holding bowl blanks to the mandrel in the pole lathe.  We used silver steel to make a centre and two driving teeth, a bit like on a power lathe. (When is a pole lathe like a power lathe? -Ed.)

This is what I was bashing away at – round to square taper:

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Here’s the hardening colours, from shiny through straw to blue:

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I wanted to make a confining collar to stop the wooden mandrel from splitting and David took over opening up some iron piping on the anvil beak and then truing it on an ash former turned to finished size …

Shrinking onto the mandrel:

Here’s the partly finished mandrel.

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We found the tangs were sticking out too proud and a combination of too blunt angles on the drive teeth and length of centre stopped the mounting of a blank.  This is work in progress, lower mounting and a couple more tangs needed.  And I’m intending to turn the mandrel core again, shorter and from rocky-hard hornbeam.

Bit quiet

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Well, it’s that time of year, back to coppice work, elf sales fallen away, time for some bodgery admin.  New racking to store all those useful bits that might come in useful one day.

 

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I also repaired the woven hazel fence/shavings barrier at the front of the workshop and dragged back about six inches od shavings – I thought the chopping block seemed lower than it was.

 

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Coppicing here in this weather means wet gloves, sometimes three pairs in a day.  They tend to be covered in green algae from the bark so I decided to make a glove drying rack to fit over the porch radiator.  It was pretty much industrial strength, over-engineered somewhat for holding gloves.  The brackets are quarter riven oak knees and the rails are ash.  I was persuaded to lighten it a little.

 

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Prettied up the rails a little (“Now looks like they’re for table football.” – Ed)

 

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Axed away about quarter of an inch thickness from the brackets.

 

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I’ve also been doing some off-piste steam bending.

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Just for that little handle end on the adze haft.  It buckled a little at the vice edge, but should be OK cleaned up.  The adze head (shipwright’s) was only £3!  And probably unused, it’s a while since they build ships in Whitby whence it came.  But they did build Captain Cook’s Endeavour there.

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I’ve also been doing a little recreational spoon carving, and found that a massive stock knife is pretty useful for roughing out.

 

 

 

Change management at Malham Tarn Centre green woodworking course

What to do if the bench is too high to accommodate a brace and bit without it reaching higher than your chin?

Take the legs off the bench, and pretend you’re in Japan.

SAMSUNG CSCWhat if the leg of the shave horse breaks?

Add  a new one:

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And those pesky seat rungs with the horrible profile that makes a yam-pi-yam-pi-yam rhythm on the pole lathe?  Oh man! design a new mandrel and execute it in 10 minutes!

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Such is life at the hot coal-face of stool making at Malham Tarn Field Centre:

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Mind you – worth it in the end:

SAMSUNG CSCOh yes:

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Old shrink pot

This is the shrink pot which was discovered by peat cutters in 2009 in a peat bog.  It was, and still is, filled with butter. The National Museum of Ireland is conserving the find which is 3 foot high and a foot in diameter – bigger than any I’ve ever made.

I like the closer. Watch this space for imitations.

Read more about it here.  But feel free to ignore some of the journo rubbish like “An oak barrel dating back to about 3,000 years ago”  alongside: “‘It is hoped that through further tests the species of the wood will be identified and the vessel dated through radiocarbon dating,’ the museum said in a statement.”  They may have well as saved their breath!

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A Correction for Laziness

Title page of the first quarto edition of Shak...

Title page of the first quarto edition of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1600 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been struggling along with a sash cramp made up of Marples loose heads and a 3 foot odd piece of milled ash.  The ash was thicker than it needed to be, so I’d attacked it with the axe to thin it down and seem to have drilled random holes that were:

a) not far enough away from the edge of the  ash to make the heads seat properly, and

b) the randomness meant that it was almost always the wrong length and much packing was needed to make them kind of work.

I occasionally get fed up with my sloppy ways as I did when I was using this sash cramp on the memory box which has now gone to a satisfied customer:

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When I set initially set up in Strid Wood I had a pole lathe and a shave horse and a stock – simple old days.  Then I added a bench.  No vice mind, just some dogs and a weird cam device, which kind of worked.

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Now I have a proper(-ish) bench with a vice I made a couple of winters ago, with dogs, yes, and some Gramercy hold fasts from Brooklyn.  But why do I put up with inconvenience for so long before I sort it out?  The inconvenience is often more time-consuming in the long run than doing the fix.  Well all I can say with Puck is ‘Lord, what fools these mortals be!’ (Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing....

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing. From William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway,  I sorted out the ash plank yesterday:

SAMSUNG CSCAll I needed to do was some (rather warming) planing the thickness, measuring and boring.  So now the heads sit properly, are set at the right width so I can cramp any length up to about 3’3″ on a continuous scale, and I can pat myself on the head (but not necessarily rub my tummy at the same time (C’mon it’s not that hard – Ed)).

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Look how crazy the old holes were on the back of that plank, doh!

Weather update

It has been too cold for anything much to grow for the last month when Spring should have been springing, but I’m delighted to say that Spring has now indeed sprung and the wood has suddenly come very much alive, even the bluebells look to be about to give us their misty display at any moment:

SAMSUNG CSCGrass is flowering:

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Any day now the wood will be carpeted with these little beauties – wood anemones:

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And now the Bodgery has its chimney in constant smoke to keep away the little flying blighters that love to bite my skin:

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