31
May 20

More rough work

One of the steps up to the garden broke underfoot the other day. Just age and normal wear and tear, combined with the original carpenters cutting all the corners they could. So a trip to woodies had to be done to get some decking boards to repair it and, well, these days that’s not a quick evening’s browse in the car, it’s an outright expedition complete with mask and gloves. So you don’t buy the one decking board you would have bought, you grab two and other targets of opportunity as well becuase you already queued for ten minutes to get in, but since you don’t want to browse you kinda have to know where stuff is (I’m almost embarressed to know the layout of two or three Woodies like this, I’m much happier ordering timber from places like Quinns or Brooks). I grabbed some overpriced knotty 12x145mm 2.4m PAO pine as well because the blackberry plants I bought are still in their garden nursery pots and if we don’t move them soon they’ll get into trouble from lack of mass in the compost and root compaction.

After repairing the step (and all I’ll say about that is who uses indoor chipboard screws on an outdoor set of steps for pete’s sakes?) I spent all of about a minute sketching out what I wanted the bramble planter to look like (and two more minutes after I realised that steambending a trellis was overkill and just did a box instead) and then broke down the pine into rough cuts. I wanted to save two feet of it to make a new shelf for the lathe bits and pieces, and I wanted the planter to be at least a foot deep and everything else just emerged from that.

Brad nails, titebond, a few stainless steel screws here and there where a bit more strength was needed, and two shaped handles on the ends. Apart from handsaws, it was power tools all the way. But hell, it’s just a planter, it’s not meant to last more than one or two years. It only has a single coat of BLO to protect it from the elements.

That crossbar across the top is not a handle btw, it’s a tie-in point for canes because brambles like to climb:

And since all my basil died, I emptied the planter and refilled it with fresh compost and moved the strawberries to there.

So now we wait and either everything will die or we’ll have jam in a few weeks…


31
May 20

Fire Pretty!

Yes, okay, I admit it, having a propane torch is a constant temptation after you’ve seen a shou sugi ban video on youtube đŸ˜€

You really do need the safey kit for this one though, and to stop before you light up and vacuum up the cubic foot of shavings that are all over the lathe and everywhere else. Small fires in an 8×6 shed that has several litres of various different solvents don’t happen. Large infernos, on the other hand, are something worth avoiding đŸ˜€

The nice people at The Carpentry Store gave me a few blanks when I bought my lathe from them “to get going on with” (thanks Patrick if you read this, that lathe’s been a load of fun) and one of those was an ash bowl blank about 6″x2″.

Ash is a hateful chippy wood when dry I’ve found, I don’t know where all these stories come from about it being pleasant to work. I suppose it’s a different animal when air-dried or when green, but when kiln-dried it’s like a Jacobs cream cracker. But it does have a lovely white colour combined with a nice open grain, so…

I finally found dovetail faceplate rings for my chuck (the viper 2 stuff from charnwood fits the xact 2 chuck) and mounted the blank that way. There’s a nice bowl shape I’ve had in my head for a while where the rim is basically a 45 degree bevel down from the flat top to the curved bottom, and I tried to get that shape here but missed. But I got it to a nice enough shape, turned a recess, ran up through the grits from 80 to 320, sealed it from the foot to the lip, and then used some yorkshire grit to polish and carnuba wax to finish.

Then I reversed the bowl, trued up the surface a bit, then cut a shallow chunk out of where the dish would be, and then I got out the propane torch (not the MAP torch, apparently that burns too hot).

And of course, vacuumed up and cleaned up the wood dust and shavings at this point, before lighting the torch and then burning the beveled part of the rim. Took my time here, burning lightly in a lot of quick passes until I had a fully charred look, then I took a steel brush to the wood in the direction of the grain (happy accident this, I wanted to use a brass brush but couldn’t find mine). The steel gave a sort-of-sandblasted look to everything which is nice, if subtle. Wiped everything up with kitchen paper (this bowl used a lot of kitchen paper), then burned it all again, and then cleaned it with kitchen paper and 320 grit sandpaper. Got it smooth and clean, then sealed it with two coats of cellulose sealer, and then put on a glove and rubbed gold buff-it as embellishing wax directly into the grain on the rim, and then removed the excess with kitchen paper and 320 grit paper, then put a final coat of sealer over the top of all of that.

Then I got out the bowl gouge again, and cut out the inside dish of the bowl, though by the bottom I was having to switch over to the half-round scraper because the bowl gouge’s bevel wasn’t steep enough for the turn I was trying to make. Then sanded up through the grits and then sealed the inner dish, then yorkshire grit over the whole top half (inner dish first, then the rim because I thought I could pull soot into the pores otherwise). And then carnuba wax all over, and then two coats of spray lacquer from a can. Which of course, I got a drip on with the last coat, so I may need to finish that properly later.

But overall, I’m not too unhappy with this, even if the shape isn’t exactly what I wanted:

I have no idea what you’d use it for mind đŸ˜€
I just had this idea in my head to try a few ebonising methods after that bowl I stained a week or two back, and this was next on the list (and I like the gold-in-black look from the embellishing wax, though I think silver would work even better. I must get some later and try it).

The next method though, should be even more interesting, but that’s a few days or so away yet…


30
May 20

ex-Xmas Tree Xmas Tree Decorations

So a few years ago, some woodworkers on a podcast made an April Fool’s joke about how they always picked the same species of xmas tree so that they could mill it up for lumber after the holidays and make a chest of drawers out of them. Which was funny, until another woodworker went and actually did it (with small boxes not a chest of drawers, because there’s a lot of timber in a chest of drawers):

And this was important because until this point, the several xmas tree trunks in the back yard were just there because I had been too lazy to make a second trip to the recycling yard with them. See, after the holidays I take our now-long-dead-and-drying tree into the back garden and hack off all the branches with a hatchet and bag up the branches and the two kilograms of needles that have fallen off them on the ten-yard trip from living room to back garden. Those bags go to the recycling center because if you tried to just shove the tree into the car to bring the whole thing there, you’d be cleaning pine needles out of the car ten years later.

But now, there was a reason I was keeping those trunks đŸ˜€

And what better time than during a pandemic lockdown to do something with them? So, first up, take a glazier’s hacking knife and debark them and lop off the top foot or three until we get past the really bad shakes and checks on the surface (these things have just been drying outdoors untended for up to five years now).

Then I took the more manageable-in-my-shed lengths into the shed and cut out all the pieces that looked salvagable, trying to get at least one chunk from every trunk so we’d have every year represented. The bandsaw rendered the rest into firewood.

The oldest two trees just resulted in a handful of chunks but the most recent trees yielded a lot more material (that binbag is shavings btw, I had to empty the extractor that day)

Some of the smaller pieces turned out to be spalted when rough-turned, which is kindof pretty in a monochrome sort of way.

The shakes in this piece were just too large to ignore though, so out with the hot glue gun to make a dam and it’s resin time!

Daler-Romney pearlescent acrylic ink in sun-up blue, in case you’re interested.

It’s pretty nice stuff, and handles very well. I may need to get a few more of these. The resin pour proved messier than expected though…

And yes, the whole damn thing did in fact leak all over the live center, lathe bed and drive center and why yes, that was so much fun to clean up, how did you guess?

You couldn’t even really see the resin and its colour in the end. But it held the piece together while I chucked it up then put a jacobs chuck and 7mm drill bit into the tailstock and drilled out the center for an insert from a kit (bought mine from The Carpentry Store). I turned a small test shape to see how the wood handled, sanded it, sealed it, thought “no, that needs colour” and stained it then thought “wait, sanding sealer and stain should have gone on in the opposite order, oh bother”, and then promptly bent the ferrule learning how to get the head and ferrule into the tube running through the center.

Still. It’s only a test piece, I have three-and-a-bit trunks to play with still. And the stains don’t react too badly to pine (and it’s interesting to see how they react when you seal the surface first), and the buff-it gold compound I used as embelleshing wax works nicely (gold because, you know, xmas colours). So I learned a few things (like don’t try to pour resin into a crack in a piece while it’s still on the sodding lathe). Worth doing.

So there you go, an ex-xmas tree xmas tree decoration đŸ˜€