Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lo-Cust Raised Beds? Part II

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect about this project is the opportunity it presents to not sweat the details so much as I tend to do when making a piece of furniture or the like. It's a chance to just make something without losing sleep over it and to be accepting of imperfections. Very freeing really.

I had also forgotten what it is like to work with relatively green material - a dull chisel suddenly becomes a slicing weapon of unsurpassed durability. One can imagine weeks going by between sharpenings. After years of working with extremely hard woods like Jatoba, Wenge, bubinga and rosewood, and recent months of work with Burmese teak, which is a highly abrasive, edge-devouring monster, it is a relief to slice and dice material without having to think too much about edge retention, reassessment of bevel angle, and all that - whatever I happen to have near to hand in the chisel roll seems to work just fine, coming or going. I feel like I could almost pare with the other end of the tool fer gawd's sake. Okay, I exaggerate.

Today's blog entry, and the photos to follow, represent the work completed today between 9 and 5. After yesterday's joint and plane session, I lined up the boards and laid out the joinery. For this application, I am going with double-wedged, multiple mortise and tenon. In this case, I am doing the joints bare (i.e., without shoulders) as this is the simplest form and all that is really merited in this case as far as I'm concerned.

There are 2 end pieces, and 2 middle cross pieces which keep the 2 long sides together. Here's a view of the completed layout of the mortises on the long pieces:


Then it was on to hollow chisel mortiser land for a good long stretch:


The middle cross pieces attach with 2 tenons, and are a little less than half as tall as the side pieces:


A while later, the mortising was complete:


The boards are 30mm thick, and I figured a flare of 3mm was about right on each side, 3/10 giving a 5.71˚ angle of flare. I used my chopsaw to prepare a  paring guide block and tackled the next part with, er, flair?:


Two mortises have their flaring complete - another 22 to go:


Then I cut tenons on the two middle cross pieces and kerfed them for wedges - no real need for the pencil lines, but I did them on these anyway:


The end pieces also were tenoned - four tenons for these. Here they are after rough cut out:


A bit of paring and tweaking and the parts start to come together:


Down it goes, with some entertaining wood squeaks and groans:


Peekaboo!:


The middle cross pieces were likewise fitted up - you can see how the bare tenons reveal any imperfection of fit at the mortises:


Exit face:


Another view:


I gave the upper arrises of the long side and end pieces a quick chamfer with a plane, just to keep any potential splinters at bay for a while at least:


Then I took the end pieces and kerfed their seemingly endless tenons - skipping the pencil lines this time:


The upper two are kerfed:


Once the kerfing festival was over, I proceeded to assembly:



That was relatively uneventful, and the parts came together cleanly. The frame was then flipped back onto the sawhorses for wedging:


I found a piece of Jatoba which could be sliced up for wedges, made the 48 wedges plus a few spares on the chopsaw. The wedges I made at a total of 6˚ flare. Then, with the frame clamped up, I drove them in one by one:


I decided to be non-paranoid and spared the glue altogether - usually I would put glue on the wedges. we'll see how it does over time. Outdoors is going to be a harsh environment and we'll see how shrinkage and deterioration affects these joints over the next few years.

The first tenon is nearly all wedged up:


Then a row:


Once the wedges were in it was pretty much done. It came out okay, but not a piece for the fine furnishings show to be sure.

One last step was to put some latex paint on the exposed bits of end grain, which should help mitigate, I hope,  a certain amount of weather-induced degrade over time:


I'll probably trim the wedged tenons flush to the surface tomorrow. The wood will likely shrink a bit and make them proud later on. Tomorrow morning I'll pop down to the shop, finish that bit off, and drag the sucker home. My wife has been away for a few days so I'm thinking she might like the surprise tomorrow.

I'll see how the first one looks in the garden before making the next one - might want to narrow it down a bit, ya never know. This first one took about 10 hours altogether, however the long side pieces for #2 are already mortised, so it should be a bit quicker to build.

All for now, thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lo-Cust Raised Beds?

Spring is here in the northeast and added to the various tasks I am engaged with at present is getting the garden ready, which has so far included planting several fruit trees and roto-tilling the 15'x20' plot we have in the community garden.

Last year we moved into our house at this time and didn't have quite as much time to get a garden together as we might have liked. We managed to put in some raised beds and had a great crop of tomatoes, basil, and kale. Not so much luck with the arugula, which bolted, or the squash, which suffered from the predations of the squash beetle.

This year we're doing raised beds again, and for a variety of reasons i have decided to make wooden raised bed frames. As the wood sits directly upon the soil, I needed to pick a suitable wood for that, and it is hard to do better in that regard than Black Locust. There is lots of it growing in this area, and there is a sawmill business just 20 minute's drive away which specializes in cutting BlackLocust and has lots of stock on hand.

I went and picked up half a dozen 12' long, 6/4 thick by 8" tall sticks to start, which should see me through the making of at least two beds. Planning on 3 or maybe 4 beds altogether. The material is green, which is a somewhat rare occasion in terms of my work in recent years. Here I'm making some decisions about where to crosscut:


The material is fairly tight grained:


I decided I could make the beds about 4' wide and 10' long, and cross cut the material accordingly:


Some of the pieces were bowed, so I elected to joint some/all of the bow out, without taking the available thickness down too much:


Then a run or three through the planer to dress the material down. Have the planer set on metric at the moment, so took it all down to 194mmx30mm:


I'll be putting the beds together with nails and glue - - just kidding. I'll detail the joinery in a follow-up post. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cross-cutting the German Way

I use various tools for cross-cutting. A lot of time, it is with a handsaw, a ryoba or dozuki or azebiki, depending:



Other times I am inclined to use my sliding compound miter saw, or, when the opportunity is available, a sliding table saw, to execute cross-cuts, especially if there are many to be done or the material is unpleasant to handsaw.

The other day I was looking on a few German web pages and came across some interesting types of double cross-cut saws. Now, it is not uncommon for pairs of chop saws, sliding or not, to be paired up on either end of a support table, like this fancy unit, an Omga TR 30 NC:


What I had never seen before, however, is that the Germans also do the same sort of thing with pairs of table saws, and put a giant sliding table between them - a doppelablaengsaege as it is termed. I thought it would be of interest to readers out there to see some of these monsters, which are presumably used for simultaneous cross-cuts on the same timber:


The ways are both 45˚ vees, which by all accounts is one of the best shapes.

Here's another one, the Bauerle DS with an enormous sliding table, and the table saw heads are floor-mount:


Then there's the Bauerle DSII, which doesn't have a sliding table but a roller-wheel equipped beam in the middle:


Some details of the same machine:





The  Rueco 32:


The Huellhorst DH50:


This one, made by Torwegge, resembles a large lathe in certain respects:


The German tool manufacturers certainly know how to go big or go home. Well made, hulking pieces of equipment.

All for today - thanks for dropping by!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Coming Up For Air

It's been nearly three weeks since my last post. Time can fly by when you're completely absorbed in a project. I'm making some pieces for an artist in New York and after 11 months of inactivity following a prototype I built last year they decided to proceed with 'phase 2'. And of course, it needed to be done right away. I worked the last 30 days straight, and completed the piece within a day of the deadline, and delivery went very well. They are totally happy with the piece, and I can proceed with the next phase of the project, however (for now) with a much more relaxed deadline. Suits me fine!

After a work blitz like that my shop ended up in shambles, so I spent a few hours yesterday cleaning up, putting things back where they belong, restoring some semblance of order.

I've got some ideas about constructing a floor-to-ceiling lumber storage rack, in an effort to condense my pile of material, and improve its accessibility. Like a lot of woodworkers, dealing with off cuts is a major source of vexation. I'm already long past the phase where I saved nearly every off-cut, thinking such noble thoughts as, "oh, I could make some pegs out of that", and such. Follow that strategy for a while and you will bury yourself in a pile of the stuff, and as an added bonus won't be able to readily find specific pieces when you needs them, which often seems to be at moments of time pressure. Right now my challenge is in dealing with sticks that are about 2' long. I can readily toss out stuff that is 1' or less in length, but 2' is a sticking point. Seems too valuable to toss on the firewood pile, but they do accumulate quite rapidly, so eventually a solution needs to be found that doesn't involve renting a storage locker or warehouse space. So, I'm going to be researching storage ideas for dealing effectively with little pieces like that, and if any readers have good ideas in that regard I'd be all ears.

I feel most fortunate to have a good spell of work lined up, and anticipate that I will be able to afford another large machine this year. It will probably be a sliding table saw. I've been looking for a while and it will be a matter of the right saw coming on the market at a time when I have the funds set aside. Most sliders are used for processing sheet goods and have 8' or longer sliding tables on them. I don't use plywood or the like too often - and certainly not for furniture - and thus the long slider, with its large footprint and need for operating space is not what I'm after at all. Also, most sliders have a 12" max. main blade and come with a scoring saw.. I have no need of a scoring saw, and would prefer at least a 14" blade. At least. So, I guess what I'm after is a slider with a 6' stroke, a 14"~18" blade capacity, no scoring, and a well thought out miter fence system. That's the main reason I'm after a sliding saw - precision cross-cutting and compound joinery work. The search continues.

Blog-wise, I will be continuing on with the 'tools of the Trade' series, on at least an intermittent basis, and anticipate moving the Mizuya build along in the next while, which I intend to photo-document and post in a build-thread fashion. I've got to obtain a spot of quartersawn bubinga for that project, and plan to visit a hardwood dealer up in Maine later this month  to see what they have. The other projects I have on the go right now are all subject to non-disclosure agreements, so I can't share any details. There is a large potential project looming for later this year which will not be likely subject to non-disclosure, but I'll count those chickens after they have hatched, so to speak.

The tow online study groups are still rolling along. The fundamentals group and I are working on the andon project, while the drawing study group is working on a Japanese regular hip rafter study. I have had to put that on the back burner for the past month and look forward to moving those projects forward in coming days.

All for now, over and out. Thanks for your visit!