Asymmetry thoughts

imageMachines seem to be good at making symmetrical  artifacts, nature is not. However, if you measure very accurately machines do have their limits in accurate symmetry.  We think we see symmetry everywhere, but this is a trick played on us by the way our brains create patterns. We perceive  people’s faces as symmetrical , they are not.

Me:

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Me split and flipped.

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Sorry, the software won’t let me actually shove them quite together

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2 plus 2 make a very weird number!

Lots of early artifacts, I think pre-industrial revolution, do not slavishly use symmetry.

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The Manor House Museum, Ilkley.

Consider the guilloche panel carved on the top rail of this chair. While there is a flower in the middle and three more at each side, our modern eyes might expect the flowers on each side to reflect each other.  Instead the figures are repeated in the same order at both sides, a repeat rather than a reflection.

Sometimes the issue is asymmetry because a pattern doesn’t fit:

portraict - 1Didn’t seem to be a problem then – this chair survived, the pattern on the lower panel also has a lively dance around the edges ignoring slavish symmetry.

I suppose the tiger looks symmetrical on first glance but to a tiger’s eye no doubt full of the charm of asymmetry.

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While natural scenes hold not a jot of mirrored sameness, we do occasionally mimic that beauty.

image … but then necessarily spoil it by repeats, often out of pure necessity as with this Wm Morris wallpaper block.

Then in the Arts and Crafts movement therer was a move against symmetry in architecture:

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The Red House

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Blackwell, Lake District

I find it hard to describe why I prefer the windows dotted around rather than in a slavish pattern. I wouldn’t try to say patterns are unnatural but I do enjoy natural chaos.

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Hang on, they’re not English oak leaves – Ed,  Nah, Bald Eagle State Park, PA – FS

portraict - 1 (1) portraict - 1 (3)Sorry the posts have been so thin on the ground.  A collection of various minor issues have been getting in the way: work; file sizes on my host server; holidays in the US, posting to Instagram – I would like to find a way to  post here direct from Instagram, anyone know if it’s possible?

Then there’s beekeeping and queen rearing, much easier in nature:

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Longwood Gardens, PA

Open the mural door … better make it first.


IMG_0692This is a copy of the door to a wall cupboard, or mural cupboard (just the same word but from a Latin stem, posh). I wrote briefly about this local cupboard now in Cliffe Castle Museum here.  Wow that was back in November 2014!  Well now, I’ve lots of pieces of oak hanging around from past projects so I sorted out eight pieces for the door frame and for the door itself plus a broader piece for the center panel.  Then lots of planing to get them all dimensioned, lots of shavings, lots of fire lighting materials, it does burn well does oak, this really is hardly green any longer (better wait until it’s been installed for a while before you get carried away. Ed.).

imageSome of this stuff too.

I think it best to do most of the carving before assembly.  Inevitably, discovered this by error.  Working the groove for the panel and then attacking the edges of an S-scroll carving with large chisel and heavy mallet can have rather unwanted consequences.  But that’s part of learning.  This is the first panel construction I’ve done, and I knew there would be a little frigging around to fill the end of the groove where it exits the stiles with a shoulder on the rail tenons.  That turned out not to be too bad.  The trickiest part was seating the tenons in the mortises.  I must have made a bad decision in opting for 1/8th inch clearance in the mortise bottom.  1 and1/4 inch mortise and 1and 1/8th tenon is a bit close.

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Tenons cut, next just been, draw-boring. Bore the mortise and borders the tenons thickness of a shilling closer to the shoulder.

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Mark the mortise hole through to the tenon, then bore closer, leaving the top of the hole intersecting the mortise hole so the pegs pull the tenon up tight.

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Here are the pegs. Dry oak, they bend through the offset holes.

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Much stronger than a board.

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Good and neat on the back.

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Same process for the frame.

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Ready to draw boring.

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A touch of edging, and we’re ready for hinges.

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Then nailing on’t wall.

Planing not.

Left the planes at home today when I needed an 16″x5″ planed board. But I did have the axe and draw knife.imageimageGah, who needs a plane?

imageOn with the job…imageMostly carved anyway. Just needs to fit together…

iRack

Second iPad in one year, hope the case is as tough as it claims to be.

Now need to stain (very dark I think) and oil, and then a few Sugru feet, I’ve drilled four holes to hold ’em, then I won’t need to put it on a mat on the table!.

Mind you those edges look a little bare, perhaps a simple running pattern, maybe the one I found in Beverley Minster.

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Faffing about

Hello!

Been a long time since I made a post.  January is a quiet month in Strid Wood, apart from the estate team carrying out annual track repairs – I’m glad I don’t have to work with a vibrating roller.  This January has been even quieter, El Niño has bent the Jet Stream and we have had quite a bit more than our usual share of rainfall, as usual the sun has kept to the far bank of the River Wharfe.  I’ve not had a big commission, nor a big tool project like making a bench.  However…

I have been learning power lathing – this is more unlike a pole lathe without a treadle, than a pushbike is unlike a sports car.  I’ve taken this up mostly to turn bowls.  I have tried making them on the pole lathe in the past, but I found the treadling rather hard work for an old boy like meself and quite a deal of input is required to get up to a decently salable standard.  Yes I know George Lailey carried on until he dropped

but I felt I would drop before his ripe old age, so bowls went on the back burner and I carved a few instead.

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Double choc.

I also wanted to make honey drizzlers which I find are too small to take the strain of a full size pole lathe, as are lace bobbins.  You can’t make needle cases either on a pole lathe, easy on a machine.

So, I’ve been faffing about with the lathe I bought in Lancashire, and it’s just about set up now, complete with a new bench grinder, wooden jaws for the scroll chuck for bottoming, as I’m starting to call tidying away the spigot used for holding the work in the chuck.

It has been rather a steep learning curve, here are a few early days casualties:

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Ready for the fire.

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Good enough for a working man’s syrup tin lunch though.

A few tips: watch where your chisel end is, especially when you’re not cutting with it; if you turn a bowl in green wood it is silly to remount it when it’s dry (wobbly thin bowls at 400 odd rpm are terribly vulnerable, chisels are their predators); think about the presentation of the chisel to the work – you can’t just dig in like on a pole lathe;  always stop the lathe to check what it looks like motionless before parting it off – faults are hard to see in a fast turning bowl; use sharp chisels, I now realise I’ve been rather lazy in this respect and you can’t get away with blunt tools on a power machine, hence the new bench grinder.  The first morning with the latter I hollow ground a gouge and honed two tiny edges with about 6 strokes on the stone – I think this is the first time I’ve got that much read-about profile.  Anyway, sometime soon I’ll be making bowls fit for sale I hope (once I discover and sort out why the lathe motor has suddenly gone on strike (sorted, the wire fuse had burnt out, talk about retro, but I managed to get a card of fuse wire from Mortons of Ilkley)).  Here are some I’ve not completely wrecked in the chuck:

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Hang on, there’s a ringer in there, left back is carved – Ed.

A drop of walnut oil does bring out the colour in the spalted beech I’m rather enjoying working with.  It is about 18 months down, but spalts very quickly in the wood.

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Before.

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After – baby you’re so square.

Of course the new luxury indoor workshop has had to be modified to take the lathe, special shelves for chisels, extra sweepings up and extra shavings boxes, more lighting.  And I must say, my Monday learning sessions in the workshop (AKA #2 Bodgery) beat puddling about in mud in the dark damp wood.

Also been faffing about coppicing and felling, breaking and repairing the chainsaw and Land Rover, trying to do steam-bending, which is a severe challenge if you only do it about once every two years, planting hops, processing bees wax, doing my  tax return.

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Screw vice.

Ah yes, and making a bowl blank holder, whilst renewing the saw horse.  This rather unpretty device holds a blank while I saw the corners off …

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Surely not a chainsaw carving bar on that lil Sthil saw? – Ed.  Oh no, just perspective distortion – FS.

Aha yes, this morning I collected new bandsaw blades.  Having watched an excellent video on The Physics of Bandsawyering I realised I needed a blade with less teeth for resawing (watch the video, it is very clear and informative).  Now my little old Halifax-made Whitehead Junior run by a washing machine motor nigh-on as old as meself has a new lease of life with  3TPI (that’s teeth per inch, no idea what the metric equivalent is), helped by the earlier addition of lignum vitae blade guides.

This isn’t mine:

bandsaweasy to tell from the guards (same model though).

Dark side of the faceplate

It was never like this with the pole lathe.

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Bought it … how the heck do I get the faceplate off?

When the East wind blows, the lazy wind that can’t be bothered to go around you so it goes through you, it can get a bit chilly in the woods where the sun doesn’t shine.  We had the old garage taken down

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SAMSUNG CSCI’ve bought an old Sheffield-built power lathe so I can spend some time in the warm in Winter and turn some of the things I can’t turn on the pole lathe.  Bowls are for you men to make with younger legs than mine.  Tiny thin treen is impossible on a pole lathe – honey drippers, lace bobbins and such.

I took my newly recovered trailer to near Chorley, Lancashire and collected the lathe, a Myford ML8.  Also collected a new chunky hitch lock from a trailer dealer nearby so I wouldn’t be needing to recover stolen trailers anytime soon.

I sent off for a four jaw chuck for turning bowls.  It’s also made in Sheffield, we can still make good stuff in Yorkshire.  Trouble was I then found the faceplate where I needed to install the new jaws was firmly fast.  With the help of friends I tried a few different ways to get it off.  I needed to hold the spindle locked still and then turn the faceplate clockwise.  I de-threaded the aluminium outboard faceplate trying to use it as the lock.  Then, after reading up internet fora, I engaged a low gear and turning the belt in reverse I hammered a board locked onto the stuck faceplate against the wall.  Still stuck.  Heated it up lightly and gradually with a paint stripper gun … still stuck. Made lunch, had an idea.

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This might work…

Two levers, one oak lath against the pulleys to lock them, and the ply board to turn the faceplate.  What a feeling when it just unscrewed!

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Off

The cause was mistreatment by person(s) unknown.

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Dinged

Can you see the damage to the last thread?  No wonder it was stuck.  I used some anti-seize grease with added flake copper during installation of the Sorby Patriot chuck, that should make life easier in future, and the added electricity will too …

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Hello world, my first powered wooden treen – test piece only, or do I spy a mustard pot in there?