Sunday, 31 July 2011

The First Steps Upon A New Path

OK so are you ready for this.  Yea you guys all six of you following the blog (thanks for that by the way) you ready you ready.  I don't think your ready...yea that's better.

Alright enough of the silliness and on to some serious stuff.  First off is the announcement I hinted to last time, I have decided to use only hand tools when building furniture. GASP.  Yes shocking isn't it considering I have some many power tools and love them all dearly.  So why the change you ask?  There's a lot of reasons and no one definitive answer.  The big reasons are these; working as a carpenter I NEED to use power tools, cutting 2x4 with a handsaw while possible and good for the arms is not practical, so using power tools at work has to stay the same, but I am not under huge time crunches so I can use the power tools and this offers a nice change from work.  The second reason is that of noise, hand tools are quiet working in a basement shop i feel bad making all that noise with a table saw not to mention that I have to wear hearing protection.  With hand tools I can listen to my music and only worry about the sounds of Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden disturbing the family.  Finally and maybe the most important is that I find hand tool usage way more rewarding.  Life is a journey and so to is building furniture.  So if I use power tools its more like rushing and not as fulfilling as using a hand tool, it important to take life slow and enjoy and relish in every moment of it.  So there you have it I am now off on this hand tool journey of mine I hope you tag along.
Old Shop

New Shop

On to other things this past week was an interesting one in my work world.  On what was easily the hottest day of the summer thus far I built a deck for some family friends of mine.  The original was an old and dangerous rotting poorly built pressure treated deck.  Now after 7 days roughly they have a lovely much larger cedar deck.  The deck is the first one I built with out the supervision of a boss and it went fairly well.  I have built a deck before and I am a more then decent framer so I knew I could get it built.  But the deck is not perfect and I definitely made some mistakes.  I have learned from these mistakes which is what matters and I now know things that will be important when I build my own deck soon...I think I here the ipe being delivered.

So what's next for me.  Well there are some changes obviously going on in the shop this week and I have a lot of loss ends to tie up at work before I start anymore projects.  Stay tuned to find out more.  If you are interested in hand tool wood working I recommend two websites to visit.  First is Tom Fidgen is a hand tool only woodworker here in Ontario Canada and does some amazing things.  Second is Shannon Rogers over at and his hand tool school, you can join up and learn a lot of traditional techniques as well as belong to an amazing community.

Till next time cheers
Hans Christopher.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

And We Are Off

I have done a fair amount of work for my family, my parents bathroom (still need to get that medicine cabinet done), my own bathroom (which only got the finishing touch last week) and last Christmas I did a fireplace install that I must say is pretty cool.  One of the coolest features of the fireplace is the custom mantel I built for it.

This is the second fireplace mantel I have built and what makes this one special, at least to me is that its all about the wood.  No stain, no profiles and no finish just good wood in a natural state. 
The mantel is effectively a box, simple butt joints with biscuits added for alignment.  The only real work that went into the mantel was to flatten one face and joint one edge of each of the five pieces that made up the box.  This was necessary so that when I cut the pieces to length and used my biscuit jointer I had straight flat edges to register from.The end result is a red oak box that seems to float on the stone wall.
In other news...I have some non woodworking pictures to post here.  I know this is preliminarily a woodworking blog, and don't worry it is going to stay that way, I do however have a love photography and this blog offers a good outlet for my amature picture taking shenanigans.  These three pictures (out of a set of nearly 1200) are from a school trip I took to Italy 3 years ago.  Enjoy.

Stayed tuned for more pictures and woodworking blogging.  If you listen carefully the next blog post you read may carry an important message with it, so stay tuned.  Thank you to the guys over in the woodwhisperer community,  if anyone has an interest in woodworking I highly recommend, for all the support you great people are giving me the strength to carry on with this little endeavour of mine.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

A Good Place To Start

OK so let me say this first,  I suck at blogging.  This is my third attempted now at writing a blog and I have no illusions of this going better then the previous attempts, and that's all I am going to say about the blogging.  Now on to the meat of the issue woodworking.

I recently finished a bathroom renovation that turned out pretty well, pictures should follow soon if the blogging thing goes well.  The last part of the project is to build a medicine cabinet that matches the vanity.  The cabinet is just a simple particle board box that is existing from the bathroom, my job is to build a new solid wood door that matches the profiles of the doors on the vanity.  I have never built a raised panel door before and I have never done such a project using so many hand tools. Should be interesting.  This is how it's going.

One aspect of the rails and stiles of the door is a bead detail.  I believe that normally when making a bead or a round with hand tools someone would use a molding plane of the specific radius.  I do not own any molding planes yet, I hope to own some soon.  So I made my bead using a block plane and some sandpaper and inlaid it into a grove I cut into the rails and stiles.  The first step was to layout the 3/4" diameter circle on both ends of the maples stock I am using, this was done using a simple pencil and a drafting circle template.  After drawing on the circle I added some lines to act as visual reference.  The first line is in the centre of the stock and the second lines are at 3/8" in from both edge and down each of the stock.  These lines represent the large chamfers I will plane first to start to establish the circular profile.  With that said it's time to make some shavings.

Using my block plane set for a fairly aggressive cut I begin to shape the round profile.  I first plane the chamfer between my two  3/8" marks.  Then I keep making more chamfers that are less and less severe.  At this point I am also not trying to get right down to my circles I drew earlier.  Working with hard maple, that actually had some beautiful section with some curl (lucky me), using a low angle blade and a heavy cut can tearout a bit, so the next step is to reset the block plane to take a very light cut.

With the plane now taking a lighter cut I find it much easier to tame the tear out.  Now I can work my way down to the circles I laid out.  Also with the lighter cut the facets left by each plane pass are smaller helping to create the round profile.

With the profile more or less set it's on to the final steps.  To remove all the little facets if work through progressively finer sand paper.  I start with some 120 and work up to 220.  I'm not entirely sure on my finish for this piece yet so I might sand higher if I chose to use an oil finish.  However because this is a bathroom piece I am thinking that using a finish that acts as a sealer would be a good choice.  I recently purchased some general finishes water based varnish and I think this would be a great time to try it out.

With the profile all done its on to the tablesaw to cut the profile off of the maple strip I was using.  The grove I am putting the profile into is only at 1/2" wide.  So when I set up the fence on the saw I am trying to line it up so I am left with a half inch thick strip with a 3/4" profile.

So with that the profile is done.  Next is to fit the profile into the rail and stiles and after that its on to the raised panel.  But that is for another time.