Friday, April 30, 2010

Screen Play (9)

Moving right along with the build of a Japanese freestanding partition, or tsuitate as they are termed. Previous installments, if you need to catch up with this build thread, are found at the right of the page in the 'archive'.

Next step was to process the dadoes in the main frame members for the floating panel, which will be about 0.3125" wide:

Here's the separate rail for the bottom of the frame, now also dadoed for the floating panel.The rail will eventually be attached to the lower frame member (sitting below it) with sliding dovetail keys, and to the legs with some sort of partially-mitered dovetail joint (t.b.d.):

With the dadoes done, I started in on roughing out the mortises for the latticework. Since three parts of the frame are curvilinear, mortising is not quite so straightforward, so I made up a couple of jigs, one to fix the pieces, and one for the router:

To prevent any potential tear-out from the router messing up the dadoes, I inserted sacrificial strips into the grooves:

Then the routing could begin, a couple of plunges then a pass across:

As I am working in the kitchen, keeping things clean is important (at least to my wife!):

The rough mortises now completed in the two legs:

Another view:

Then, keeping the same fixing jig in place, I made up another jig to enable me to pare the mortises with a chisel while keeping in alignment to the mortises:

Let the paring begin:

The first couple of sets done - I'm only paring one wall of the mortises for the time being, and will use the actual grill bars later on to scribe fit each piece:

All for today, thanks for tuning in. --> Go to part 10

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Delivery is good

The mortising machine, the Multico PM22, arrived a couple of days ago after just three days in transit. The Multico company of Britain is no longer in business - after relocating to France it seems to have disappeared, so I am hopeful that the machine will prove durable and fixable over the long term. I have figured out already how I will modify it to be fully tiltable, and that will form the subject of a future build thread.

So far, it looks pretty good, and I thought I'd share a few pictures with the readership. Along with that, I've unpacked my Hitachi CB100FA bandsaw, so I may as well throw a few pictures on of that beast, just for good measure!

First the mortiser. It was dusty, but has only seen modest use, as far as I could tell. I was surprised to find that many parts, such as the material support table, are aluminum (aluminium for those from outside N. America). Here's a few pictures:

The handle nearest to view is for sliding the machine's head fore and aft, while the handle up from it moves the head from left to right. Travel was smooth, though the fore/aft is a little sticky. A spot of cleaning and oiling should take care of that.

A view from the front:

The Yellow cover comes off with a half-turn of an Allen key, to reveal the chuck inside. The chuck key is missing however, so I will need to try and obtain one specific for a mortiser (such chuck keys have a longer shaft on them than a regular drill chuck key).

Let's zoom in on the traveling mechanism for the head, which rides on a pair of hardened steel bars:

There are stops built in to fix the travel from zero to about 8" (200mm) left/right and about 6" fore/aft.

Another look at the machine, this time from the left side:

It comes with a drilling stop bar (a more complex repeat stop system was also available as an option). The bolts to fix the clamping mechanism were missing, as were the main bolts for attaching the table to the front plate of the machine, but they are all simply standard metric bolts and easy to obtain.

A little higher up on the left now is our vantage point:

The piece of wood on the material support table is a 19mm piece of plywood. It's a sacrificial insert, which is a jolly good idea (as some Brits would undoubtedly say, or used to say at least). Let's take a closer look at that insert:

Now, I wonder what lurks underneath?:

This would have a been a great place for a maniacal sprung puppet to jump out, but no such luck:

Judging by the virginal condition of the insert plate, the machine has hardly been used. I plugged it in and it whirrs away. Whew! I also think that getting a drilling attachment (once offered as an option on this machine) machined up will be pretty simple, so I'll be looking into that. I need to locate a good machine shop with some fanatical anal-retentive machinist on staff.

The bandsaw, which has been stored now for nearly five years, and has no doubt been feeling quite lonely, is still looking magnificent and ready to tackle some more adventures:

Hitachi still makes his machine and they haven't changed a thing on it, except for the paint color, in twenty years. Machines like these aren't subject to fashion trends, unlike the Hitachi impact drivers, say, which are beginning to look more and more like something from a ski boot manufacturer or an Alien film. My impression is that the Hitachi product, at least those for export, are going downhill in quality.

A closer look at the control panel - this machine has Star Delta and a digital fence, along with a 4+" re-saw blade, Stellite tipped:

And here's a look around the back:

The machine has sensors for detecting the blade position and balance, and if it gets out of whack, the machine automatically shuts down. It also has a foot-operated braking system. I'll wire up a plug soon enough and power it up again within a week or so - I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

French Connection 11

Previous Posts in this Series:

French Connection
, French Connection Part Deux, French Connection 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

I decided to explore some of the drawings in the Delataille work to see what was what, and started looking at some pieces on plate 15, which included a series of sub-sections of framing with through-tenoned parts. Here's the plan view drawing for one of them:

Now, I'll hold off for the moment showing exactly what this drawing is meant to depict, as I thought I'd share how I use SketchUp. My strategy is to draw the 2D development, then superimpose the parts on the drawing and transfer the marks needed to define cut lines, mortises, tenons, and so forth. This is using SketchUp in an unconventional manner, but it is a method very similar to the standard practice of both French and German traditional carpentry drawing, where the drawing is made full scale and the wood placed directly upon or above the drawing and the marks transferred. SketchUp is a modern tool, and I'm adapting it to use in the manner of traditional drawing practice.

Here's one section of the plan view that is up for a transfer to a corresponding stick of wood:

Note the location where the two arcs swing through the stick outline in gray at the left lower section of the picture. Where these arcs meet the lower edge of the stick, they are 'reflected' back across the stick, the lines at 90˚ to the length of the stick. Notice the area on the stick with the 'x' marked on it - this is the outline of a mortise.

Here's a closer-in view of the area, and I now have made marks, out and away from the stick outline, showing the intersections of the various lines I need to transfer:

Now, rotating around to look from another vantage point, the section of wood is placed atop the plan drawing and lines are transferred plumb up the stick. The plan drawing, in this case, is showing the top surface of the stick, so the marks off the plan need to be taken from the floor to the stick's upper surface:

When all the lines have been transferred onto the stick, I can connect the dots and define that mortise:

The same procedure is repeated for the other parts and surfaces needing marks on them:

The stick at the top and the bottom of the drawing, connected it would appear at one end, are in fact two copies of the same stick, just positioned so as to transfer marks to one side of the stick or another. The stick in the middle is a brace.

Once all the parts are done, I can 'assemble' the piece in 3D- here's the finished construction:

A couple of points:

-the post is rotated at an angle to the beam (not 45˚ but closer to 50˚) and the beam and brace tenons pass through the post at an offset angle. That's what the drawing is all about.

-this piece could not be assembled as drawn! There's no was that a beam and brace, tenoned together, and each through tenoning into a post, could assemble to the post. This could be done is the tenon shoulder on either the beam or the brace were trimmed to a taper.

So, just like Mazerolle, the Delataille book shows constructed items that are impossible. Perhaps the point is to show individual examples of various connections, I don't know.

Here's another example, first in plan:

This one is an irregular hip rafter problem, with a jack rafter and a cross-wise purlin which both tenon through the hip. Interesting (to me anyhow!).

Here again is the step of taking marks right off the plan drawing and transferring them to the sticks:

The purlin is seen at the bottom of the drawing, while the jack is angled to the left above the purlin and is in two sections.

Here's the finished construction:

The purlin is a continuous piece of wood, while the jack rafter is supposed to be in two sections, each tenoned into the sides of the purlin. Still, unless the crossing points of the purlin and jack were a good distance away from the side of the hip, it would be very hard to assemble this construction. I'm following the drawing in the Delataille work quite faithfully in terms of the relationships between parts.

Another view:

So, As I have noted previously, it seems like these early French layout books tend to show a lot of stuff which would trip up the unwary. There are good lessons to be gleaned however - for instance, while the above-constructed hip rafter assembly is not really possible to assemble, the drawing method does provide techniques for through-tenoning either jack or purlin on it's own through a hip rafter, and that might be desirable to do in certain circumstances. I can see some applications in traditional Japanese roofs with their hidden roof/structural roof system, for instance.

My study is on-going, as this is all about the journey and the lessons picked up along the Carpentry Way. Thanks for dropping by today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Screen Play (8)

Previous installments in the Screen Play series:

Screen Play and then Benched, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

A few more steps have been taken in this project. One was to create a new template for defining the inner 'frame' from the outer frame. In this case, I made a duplicate of the master template, and then cut the master up along previously-marked lines. First, the rough cut piece is shaped to conform to the master template:

Then I trimmed the master template to the line:

Here's the two pieces stacked, to show the profiles at the corner:

I followed this up with a session of filing and spoke-shaving to bring the new template to the line.

Then back to the mahogany, where I was working the corner joints together. After a little chisel work, the fit was getting pretty close:

Then I made a few adjustments using a shoulder plane:

The resulting fit was improved a bit:

As you can see in the next photo, I've begun shaping the outer corner of the joint by profiling from the outside surfaces in:

I then did some work with a chainsaw file to clean up the irizumi side:

Here's how that looked afterward:

The slight opening at the right corner doesn't matter as I will be removing around 0.5" of material from the faces of the parts when I form the inner frame from the template made in the first few photos of today's post.

I then moved the shaping of the outside of the joint a little further ahead:

Then a little more chisel work and it's starting to get pretty close:

And then a little more chisel work brings it closer yet (not sure if it is obvious from the photo though):

Also in the course of today's work I trimmed the bottom of the legs closer to length, and made up some temporary wedges to lock the joints together out of some scrap Bloodwood I had kicking around. The wedges will be parallelogram-shaped in section.

That's all for today my friends, thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. On to post 9

Sunday, April 25, 2010

French Connection 10

Previous Posts in this Series:

French Connection
, French Connection Part Deux, French Connection 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

After putting the Mazerolle book back on the shelf for a while, due to the vexing nature of a text which is simply ridden with mistakes and drawing methods that elude comprehension or logic, I got in touch with a heavy hitter at the Timber Framing Guild who, in the course of our conversation (mostly me whining about how many problems I had found in Mazerolle's book), mentioned another old French Carpentry text. This text in fact was a four volume set from about 1900, and apparently was quite similar in content to Mazerolle's book. Unfortunately, the fellow said that he wasn't sure where his photocopies of it were located, but that he would let me know if he managed to dig it out.

I was intrigued, and a few weeks later I received an email where I learned that the material had been located, and that he would be sending me what he had, on a loan basis - he had three of the four volumes. I was pretty excited to say the least!

The four original volumes are by a certain Emile Delataille. I had never heard of the author or his work, nor had I come across them previously. A search of the Library of Congress database revealed they had no copies either, and the same went for the Boston Athaneum and other similar sources of ancient tomes.

The set is available for sale in a couple of places, if you want to part with a lot of money. One set in nice condition that I came across was 400€. Too rich for me, but the ad did display two of the the original covers - here's part 1:

And here's part 2:

Each volume covers some 26 examples, so for 400 euros one could have a collection of 104 different carpentry examples.

Unlike Mazerolle, where the drawings are fairly well described and labeled (yet erroneous in many spots), Delataille's drawings take 'cryptic' to a whole new level. Most of the illustrations of the descriptive geometry are unlabeled entirely, or, once in a while there will be a few sparse identifying marks, like A-B-C-D..., or 1-2-3-4-5, etc. Otherwise nothing beyond the odd carpentry mark, and a simple section of text which describes the drawing.

I presume some readers will remember the drawings of the Mazerolle sawhorse in my 50-part tréteau series from earlier this year? Delataille shows the same sort of sawhorse - here's the Delataille drawing or a similar piece:

I could show many similar examples - this stuff is nearly impenetrable!

I found a section on the noulet problems in the book similar to the ones I had been working on from Mazerolle, in the series I did recently called "Following Mazerolle". I was able to decipher Delataille's drawing after a few hours of staring, and puzzling out, and it did produce a correct result. OMG! So there is hope there, if I am prepared to devote a lot of time to figuring out the puzzles. I probably am going to do just that, but not right now as I have a few other things on the go.

Dalataille's work did confirm some of my suppositions concerning the Mazerolle tréteau being impossible to assemble as illustrated. There are a few versions of that sort of sawhorse shown by Delataille - here's the one most similar (not identical) to the one I built:

Notice that nails are shown at all the connections and no through tenons are depicted. That makes sense.

Here's a different one:

In the above example, pegged through tenons are shown, and the arrangement would be workable, given the way the Saltair braces (Saint André's Crosses) are in axial rotation relative to one another and not in the same plane. Thus the x-braces cannot be lapped from two pieces but must be constructed from three pieces each. Essentially, this version of the sawhorse is like a combination of the Mazerolle sawhorse with the Mazerolle trépied établi, or three-legged joiner's bench, which is an exercise in dealing with such funky brace arrangements. I must confess, even after all the work to build that last sawhorse, I am entertaining the idea of tackling another sawhorse like the above example, as it would be a more useful piece to me than the trépied établi. Not this year though.

Anyhow, it's nice to see that the horse depicted by Delataille makes sense and would be constructable if the drawings could be deciphered. I feel a bit vindicated by that.

I'd like to share with you all some of the curious structures depicted in the work by Delataille, as I think they are inspiring, if not bizarre.

Here's an asymmetrical ogee roof on a square plan:

Next, a semi-circular wall plan surmounted by a pair of towers, which produces a highly unusual valley:

Another semi-circular, or perhaps elliptical, wall plan, topped by a pair of conical turrets:

If you cross-breed Saint André with a Hershey Kiss™ , one might expect something like this:

Here's the definition of 'bizarre':

Merging a flat plane roof with an ogee - neat idea! And then add in a Saltair cross for extra challenge.

This is one of my favorites - a vault with curvilinear timber work located in a geometrical staircase arranged around a staved cylinder:

An intriguing continuation of truss bracing out along a hip:

Here's a Mansard roof, in ell form, with a descending ridge (though the lower roof plates remain horizontal) running over to a tower which is square in plan, and connects at the tower's corner:

A related example to the previous one, and a piece I have already sweated a few hours over, the fan-shaped dormer (lucarne évantail):

This is a similar problem to the one in the Mazerolle tréteau, in which a brace joins a faces aplomb leg:

I find the pegging at the lower connection a little odd, given that it goes right through the barbe.

A couple more - here's a truly demented sloping table:

And, if you are looking for an even more difficult challenge in table construction, try this one for size:

Well there's a lifetime of study in the Delataille work, and some thoughts occurred to me in relation to that. Delataille of course stands on the shoulders of several carpenters before him, especially the creator of descriptive geometry, who was not a carpenter at all, but a military officer, a certain Gaspard Mongé. Dalataille's work is valuable in that it shows many original and intriguing ideas in terms of how wooden architecture might be arranged and combined. Unfortunately it falls down in terms of how difficult the material is to access, given both the rarity of the text today, and in the nature of the unlabeled drawings.

Given the way of things these days in the world of carpentry, where the staple gun reins supreme and all things done hyper-fast are to be admired and financially rewarded, such work as shown in Delataille is on the cusp of total obscurity if not irrelevance. How many are likely to pony up 400 euros for a chance to look in a book that, as laid out (no pun intended), is accessible only to those prepared to spend many hundreds of hours to study? I for one am willing to study, but I can't afford the outlay right now to buy the originals. And then of course there is the matter of opportunity to build such things, beyond the world of models, in today's building climate, and this serves as another killer of motivation for many I'm sure.

It's a bit sad to me to see this treasure of carpentry knowledge on the cliff edge, all but lost to the modern world. I've resolved to do my bit, in that I plan to incorporate what useful lessons I may glean from Delataille and Mazerolle into my Art of Carpentry Drawing series. Just as the work of these French carpentry masters has projected forward in time 100 or more years to land by chance on my desk today, I imagine that my own efforts to bring forward some of their insights in what I write might also serve to keep this knowledge alive for another few years yet, to land on someone's desk who finds such material similarly intriguing. One can only hope at least. We can't let this knowledge die.