Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Getting off the couch (chimney cupboard)

One of my long time couch builds has been a chimney cupboard as built by Bob Roziaeski for Popular Woodworking Magazine some years ago.
I think that it is fair to say that the greatest obstacle for me when it comes to such a build, is to glue up some boards to the correct width for me to use. I don't know why I have such a hard time pulling myself together to glue up some wide panels, but it is just the way it is.

Anyway, this Saturday evening, I started the project, determined to finish the cupboard before going back to sea. The idea was to put the cupboard into the saddle room, to help organize some of the smaller stuff used for the horses, so it wouldn't be a deal breaker if the surfaces weren't super smooth which can be hard to obtain with larch sometimes.

Saturday and Sunday was spent gluing up stock and dressing it to the correct thickness by means of the jointer/planer.
I wanted to prove to myself that I was able to make a speedy build without too much fussing over details. I decided that I could use my router instead of a dado plane, since I haven't got one of those, and I think that a router is a bit faster.
The rabbet along the back edge of the sides were made with a moving filister plane.

I pretty much followed the descriptions from the magazine, but instead of making a groove for the floating panels for the doors, I made a rabbet with the router and squared up the corners using a chisel. Then I sawed some thin strips to hold the panels in place.
An advantage with this approach compared to a groove is that it is very easy to assemble the door frame at first, and then fitting the panel to the hole. The downside is that it doesn't look quite as nice. But the ease and speed of this construction method trumped.
The raised panels were also made on the table saw instead of using the moving filister plane. That worked really well and was very fast.

For the hinges I used some that I had purchased from Lidl. they are very coarse compared to the hinges that I regularly use, but they fitted the project quite nicely.

Two small porcelain knobs and a couple of toggles to keep the doors closed made up the rest of the build.

While visiting Brian Eve in Garmisch a couple of years ago, I bought some "old fashioned milk paint" from a local dealer in the town.
I have never seen it for sale in Denmark, and I have been hoarding the paint ever since - waiting for just the right project.
I decided that this cupboard would look just fine in Lexington green, so I mixed the small bag of powder and started painting.
The paint was very interesting to use, it dries quickly and covers really well. I like the chalky texture and colour of the finished surface too, so I am tempted to try to make some experiments with milk paint at some point.

Once the paint had dried, the toggles and knobs were mounted back in place again, and Asger helped installing the cupboard in the saddle room, and he also helped organize the various small pieces of equipment so the shelves were soon filled.

Mette really likes the cupboard and she thinks that it is almost too nice to keep in the saddle room. So with a bit of luck I might be "allowed" to make another one at some point.

Chimney cupboard, Lexington green

Mounting the panels with strips, "horns" not trimmed yet.

Completed cupboard.

After first coat of paint.


Chimney cupboard with open doors.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 16, staircase installed.

After preparing all the individual steps of the staircase, I hand planed them front and back plus the upside before mounting them in the stringers.
I had to keep reminding myself that it is for a barn, so I shouldn't go all wild in trying to achieve some show surface on the underside.
Mounting the steps was straight forward. But as I discovered, doing this on top of the workbench wasn't a smart idea.
I had to apply a couple of clamps to keep everything together so I could lift it down to the ground where I would be able to hammer in some nails.
A little bit of forward thinking would have been nice here.. (but that is not my strongest card).

I hammered in one nail per step, and then turned the assembly over so I could square it up before pounding in the nails from the other side.
When I had bashed in all the nails on that side I again flipped it over and hammered in the last set of nails on the first side. My idea was that if I had put in both nails in the first side straight away, it might have been more difficult to square it up.

The individual steps were sawed flush to the side that will be facing the wall, and sawed at an angle to the side facing the room. This is something I have seen on most old stairs, and I like the subtle elegance of this ornamentation.

The completed staircase was loaded into my trailer and I drove it to the summerhouse.
While maneuvering the assembly out of the shop I became aware that it wasn't very easy to move around single handed. But I managed in the end.

At the small barn, I mounted the assembly by means of a bit of ingenuity, a cargo securing strap and a couple of clamps.

As per Mettes suggestion, I have wrapped up the barn project for this time, since I'll be heading back to work in a weeks time.


The installed staircase.

Mounting the steps in a stringer.

This would have been smarter to do at the floor.

Flipping over the assembly.

The only decorative elements of the staircase.


Progress on the attic.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 15, work on the staircase and a small setback.

There isn't much to be said about the work progress at the small barn, installing all those boards takes a longer time than I anticipated while sitting on the ship. I had the unrealistic idea that I could install them all in a matter of a couple of days. That has not been the case. I'll admit that I haven't worked exceptionally long hours out there.
Instead I have taken my time in the morning, driven out there slowly. Taken Bertha for a long walk along the shore before making a pot of tea. And then I have started on the actual work. I have generally tried to stop around 2-3 P.M. to be home in the afternoon with the children.
Today I hope to be able to install some of the last boards, and then I'll see if I can complete the staircase.

The small setback occurred Sunday afternoon. I was supposed to drive to Viborg to pick up Asger from a goalkeeper camp, and I decided to take the green Volvo Valp. I had to bring some large boxes for my older brother, and Mette wanted to use the regular Volvo to pull the horse trailer so she could ride in the forest with a friend.
I have changed the ignition coil, the points and the capacitor on the green Valp, and it ran like a sewing machine. All the way till I reached the middle of Sallingsundbroen (the main bridge leading to our island). At that point the engine suddenly died completely.
After testing the starter button, I found that the engine could turn, but it turned much faster than normally. I then tried to look into the rocker arm cover by removing the oil filler cap - and nothing moved at all in there.
These old Volvo engines haven't got a timing chain or a timing belt. Instead they operate with timing gears. The middle gear is made out of some sort of fiber and does not last forever...
After checking with an old mechanic who's a friend of mine, he said that nothing is damaged inside the engine when this occurs. So I just have to order a new set of timing gears and replace them. I think that might be a job for the next time I am home.

Following the advice of Nathan Simon, I used a framing square for the lay out.

View from the bridge (to the North).

View to the East.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 14, starting on the staircase.

In the evenings I have tried to start out on the staircase for the  small barn. The work is not very efficient, since both Gustav and Asger have started some projects in the shop too. I try to help them out, and once they are tucked into bed, I'll have something like an hour where I can use the shop by myself.
I have milled the steps, and they are pretty close to the thickness of the floor boards (1.75"). The two longitudinal parts of the staircase (I have no idea what the correct English word is?) Are a bit thinner. I would have liked them to be the same size, but the two boards that I had of the correct width were fairly twisted, so it took some thickness to get them flat and level. I suppose that I could have milled some new boards, but they would not have been as dry as those, and they finally ended up something like 1 3/8" which I think will be strong enough.

I have been looking as Das Zimmermannsbuch  for some inspiration, and they suggest that for the more modern approach you should attache the steps by means of sliding dovetails.
An older and simpler method is to just use a groove and either make a tenon on half of the steps or secure the steps by means of nails. I think that I'll go with the groove and nails model. Because the barn is supposed to be kept a bit simple.

Right now I have had to devise some special workholding, in order to be able to joint the edges of the longitudinal parts.
10' is a bit too long for my workbench, but perhaps that could justify building another and larger one?

There will be very 8" in height difference between each step, and the angle of the stairs will be 58 degrees. So it will be a fairly steep staircase, but this is to avoid that it will take up too much space in the relatively small room of the barn.

Asger sanding a cutting board. Gustav's apple crates are in the background-

My co-driver Bertha sniffing the fresh autumn air.


Workholding of the long parts of the staircase.


Monday, October 30, 2017

A small barn for the summer house 13, internal boards.

I have been making some progress on the internal boards for the small barn.
Those were the boards that I had to shift inside as I was called to work a week earlier than anticipated.
So the first task was to shift all of them out again. I decided that I could work around the table that was inside, but I still needed to move the chairs and a bit of other stuff outside before starting the actual work.

The boards are the same type as those that were put on the sub roof. It is not a typical type of boards to use for internal paneling/boards, but it is of a much better quality than the regular type used. In Denmark the usual boards to be used would be something called "rustic boards". They are made out of the surplus Christmas trees that grew to fast so they were too large to sell. The distance between the growth rings is typical 3/8" or thereabouts, so the wood is of an exceptionally poor quality. The shape is like a tongue and groove board with the tongue something like 1/2" too long. So once the boards are mounted, there is a trench between each board. They are available in various widths and either nature, or artificially whitened, smooth or rough sawn.
But that aside - I chose the other type because I think they look better in a classic barn, and they were actually cheaper per square meter (or square foot if you like).

I mount the boards using regular nails. I know that a pneumatic nail gun is faster, but I actually like to hammer in nails, so I go for the slow and old fashioned way.

Once all the boards are mounted, I plan on putting some strips of wood in the corners and around the window sills, to cover the gaps.


Internal boards mounted.

The "famous" stack..



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sawbench for dowel plates

I had a plan for what I would like to build this time at home, but somehow a non-scheduled project has found it way into the workshop.

Actually it is a project that I have considered for some time: A new sawbench.
I made a sawbench something like 8 years ago, and it is one of the most used pieces of equipment I have in the shop. A thing that I have thought would be useful was if I could use a sawbench for my dowel plates. That way I didn't have to mess around on the top of the workbench, to make sure that a hole for one of the dogs was straight below the hole in the dowel plate.
Also the stretchers for the legs would be a perfect little test subject for my new chain mortiser. And with Asger and Gustav in the shop, I didn't have any room for building the staircase which meant that it was perfectly OK in my mind to start another project.

The first bench I made was made exactly to the measurements outlined in Woodworking Magazine.
This time I decided that it might not cause the world economy to collapse, if I decided to make a few alterations to the design.
So I made the top thicker, wider and a little bit longer than on the original. I stayed with the same height, and also the same angle of splay on the legs.
This time I used larch for legs and stretchers, and a piece of Sitka spruce for the top that I milled long time ago.

The tenons of the stretchers are drawbored and wedged. The top is secured with dowels that I tried to drawbore as well. I did that so that the dowels will hold the top to close to the notch in the top of the legs.
Below the top there are a couple of reinforcements glued and screwed to the legs.

I used a chisel and a router plane to make a recess for the dowel plates. I chose not to make it the same depth as the plates, because it is easier to remove the plates when there is a bit protruding through the top like it is now.
A small piece of elm was cut and planed to fit into the recess while not in use for the dowel plates.


Asger working on a gambrel roofed church.

Hot glue gun, strips of wood and some imagination is all it takes.

Glue up.

Making a recess.

Elm insert.

Blum dowel plate.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Haffner KKF 15 chain mortiser

Ever since I borrowed Olav's portable chain mortiser, I have been eager to get one myself. I discovered during the initial phases of the small barn build, that I really enjoy timber framing.
There aren't many used portable chain mortisers offered for sale in Denmark, and the idea of forking out $2400 for a new Festool or $4000 for  a new Mafell is out of the question. Even I have to be realistic once in a while.

I have regularly checked the various classified home pages in Denmark, and one day while looking, I spotted something on a stationary mortiser that made me take a closer look.
In addition to the lever type handle, this chain mortiser also had two smaller handles. Now those would only make sense if the machine could be used as a portable unit.
I enlarged the pictures and could see that part of it looked like aluminium castings and not cast iron. I also managed to decipher the designation of the machine which is cast into the front cover: KKF 15

A quick search and I found a page from an old catalogue that listed the features of the machine. To me the most interesting thing was that it could be used as either a wall mounted or a portable machine.

Whenever I find a machine that I would like, chances are that it is situated far from where I live, but this machine was being sold just 20 miles from our place. So I arranged with the boys that we would drive down and get it, Gustav had to be picked up at the train station after a trip to Copenhagen with his class, so first I picked him up, and then went for the machine

Originally I had intended to do a bit of haggling just as a principle, and my argument for a lower price would be that there was only one chain , and it even needed sharpening. It turned out that the chain mounted on the mortiser was in excellent condition, and besides there were two brand new chains to go along with it as well. Knowing that a new chain can easily reach 200$ on its own it seemed pointless to haggle, so I paid the guy the  $200 he was asking for the machine and he helped me load it in the back of the car.

Once home, I checked the machine, and it was in much better condition than I could have hoped for. I tested it on some pieces of scrap, and it is a joy to use.
The only problem is that even though it can be used as a portable chain mortiser, it is designed to work like that in another way than the one that I borrowed from Olav.

Olavs chain mortiser is a 100% portable machine. It is designed to work with the chain running along the grain, and it has got a clamping fixture that is perfect. Once the machine is clamped, you can slide the sword lengthwise, and make a nice long mortise that is only the thickness of the chain wide.

My machine is heavier and works across the grain when used as a hand held mortiser. That means that the width of my mortises are limited by the width of the sword and chain combined. The good thing is that You don't have to clamp the machine to the work piece. The action of the chain will ensure that it packs the fence close to the work piece all the time.
Now if I only made one size of tenons that would be OK, but I would like to be able to use the machine on different sizes of timber, so I have to figure out a way to make a clamping fixture so my machine can also work like Olavs.
A good thing about the current set up is that it is perfect for making mortises in e.g. work bench tops. Because it only requires one flat face to register to in order to make a mortise. So I don't have to invent a longer clamping fixture to span across the width of a work bench top just to make the mortises for the legs.

I guess I should make a workbench just to use the new machine..

Haffner KKF chain mortiser mounted on a stand.

Chain mechanism.

Plunged into an imaginary piece of wood.