Monday, February 21, 2011

Ming Inspiration (40)

Fortieth post in this thread. If you're new here, or it's been a while since you dropped by the Carpentry Way, it might be worth a look in the 'blog archive', to the right of the page, to catch up with past postings on this and other topics.

One thing I don't tend to mention too often in my accounting of these build thread is the amount of time I spend here:

That is my sharpening 'pit'. You can see some chisels over to the side - generally I sharpen chisels in batches of 5 or so, and am working away in this 'pit' several times a day. I prefer to sharpen on the floor, knees folded under me. I find it comfortable, though I am quite used to it. I also work at the computer in a similar position.

Here's a look at this group of 5 after a going over on the rocks:

I'd like to say that all the camellia oil in the world won't do much good without sharp tools, and I have observed over the years a general reluctance among many woodworkers to sharpen. I'm sure there are a variety of reasons for this, however sharp tools, unless I am completely mistaken, are the very foundation of the art of working wood, and knowing how to get your tools sharp is both the most basic and the most important of all woodworking skills, IMO. Sharpening is both simple and complex at the same time, and is not something quickly mastered and from which you simply move on to more 'interesting stuff'. Sharpening IS 'interesting stuff'.

It's a continuum of relationships: Stone abrades steel, and one works to get the steel flat while keeping the stones flat too; steel slices wood and one works to get the wood flat. Working the blade over the rock is much the same as working the blade over the wood.

Alright, off my soap box, for the moment at least. Yesterday's post concluded with two of the four Giant's Arm braces having been fitted to the table frame and legs. By the end of the day (yesterday), I had all the braces fitted, and the table was on all fours again:

A view looking at how the braces can be glimpsed from the sides - they're pretty discrete actually:

Another view of the main part of the table framework:

A look at the meeting of brace and central rail, with the mortise for the hiyodori sen just visible:

Today I did some profiling work on those Giant's Arm braces, relieving material from the center of the section to leave a structural 'I'-beam form behind, just like the central rail. This profiling also shaves a bit of weight too, with minimum penalty in terms of structural strength. Here's the jig I made up to effect the relief cuts:

That work to make the jig and do all the profiles took all day to accomplish, somewhat to my surprise. When the braces were hollowed out, I gave their sides a once-over with the plane:

Reinstalled the parts and the table is standing again:

Another view:

And another view looking down a leg:

The upper end of the brace where it meets the central rail - looks like another pass is needed with the plane on the side face of the brace:

And a look at one end of the table with the braces attached:

All for today. Tomorrow I should be getting various loose ends tidied up, probably including fitting the locking bars which hold the legs to the apron corners. It should be fun. Stay tuned.

-->go to post 41


  1. Chris,
    Would you use bamboo for the hiyodori sen? Or is that tacky - mismatching the two different woods?

  2. That's a nice chunk of granite Chris!

  3. gderamel,

    Thanks for the question! There's nothing especially tacky about mixing woods. Bubinga, with a bending strength of 21,000 lbs/sq. inch, and Gabon Ebony with a bending strength of 24300 lbs/sq.inch are the benchmarks for comparison. I am not able to find the figure for laminated bamboo, however I will do a simple test in the next day or so to compare sticks of the three materials, of identical cross-sectional size, to see which is the stiffest. I'll post up the results.


    yes, it's Starrett Pink Granite plate, lab grade 'A'. Found it on Craigslist, and it is serving me well.



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