Monday, June 29, 2015

First blueberries! Ah yeh!

                                                So, the first ripe blueberries arrived. I have about eight bushes, and two little ones that haven't produced any yet-They were scrawny cheap lil' fellas. Hopefully with the nice soil I gave them they'll produce next year.

So, here's a nice picture for Jason: I was talking earlier about a little anvil for setting saws, and he thought I meant a stump anvil- like this kind: Well, there's the picture, straight from Old Ways of Working Wood. This is a GREAT book for Western woodworkers. Simply wonderful, I love the hand drawn illustrations. Almost nothing about Eastern styles, though, just a brief mention that Eastern woodworkers stuck with pull saws, even after the Catalan furnace was invented in the 14th century; he thinks it's a possibility that pull saws are prevalent in the 'Orient' due to the stronger influence of tradition.

It also has great plans on making a pole lathe and a treadle lathe! Thinking of making a pole lathe if I ever get the space...Will need some way to make handles. 

Not much woodworking today, besides starting a pyrography picture. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A little catch up

Right, so, here's just a catch up of my latest project:
Started with some walnut from the scrap/reject pile cart from the lumberyard.
I soon found out why it's rejected: Checking and nails abound. 

                                                                    I made two tenons.

                Made some inlays of some exotic wood (Possibly sapele? I need to learn my woods!) to stop the splits. I would've gone with a traditional butterfly joint, except the wood reminded me of a band aid. So, since this stool will be for my mom's birthday and my dad's Fathers Day gift, I decided to leave the wood as it was, as a reminder how my parents would help bandage my cuts when I was young. I'm hoping for this piece to tell a story.

Finally got my bow saw set up for a rip cut. I think the bow saw came out nice; the mahogany toggle is, again, from the scrap cart. Really clumsy to use, though; Still prefer my crosscut kataba for dovetails and small tenons. 

                                           Here is how the bench looks without wedges:

And here it is with wedges. My parents really liked it: now I just need to put some danish oil on it. 
After the bench, I made a lot of oak pegs to finish my trestle horses. 

Friday, June 26, 2015


For a forge to be a forge, you need bellows.

All a bellows is is a way to get air into a fire.

There are many, many different ways to build one. Those massive European/American bellows aren't the only way. I heard one man in the countryside made a bellows out of cardboard to fix up some equipment, and have seen many makeshift bellows ranging from sacks to pistons in a tube utilized by African blacksmiths.

Taking this in mind, I decided to make up the simplest bellow I could think of, to make out of a sheet of plywood.

Here's the a picture of the model so far,

you can see it is essentially a piston enclosed in a box, with holes at the top to bring air in, and a single hole at the bottom where it will be connected to the forge. 

If anyone has any suggestions to improve the plans, post quickly- I plan to start real soon on this project, and have the forge up and running before my cousins arrive. Also, if you would like the sketchup file, I can probably figure out how to get it up on the blog.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

The layout for Last week's Joint

Right, so, I woke up early enough to have some time to study before the Spanish exam, and also to work on the layout on Sketchup.

Here, I used 3by3 timber instead of the 1by1 pieces I was using, because material is infinite in Sketchup. And free. By the way, I am using Freedom Units for measuring.

So here is the layout for the first piece, if you can see it...

 Then, I remove the first bits of waste:

 Then, cutting down to the top of the keys, I make the tenon:

And I then use the chisel to make the keys proud. I always seem to take too much material leading to gaps. 

On to the mortise: 

 If only making joints was this easy in practice...

But then, where's the experience in that?
As to what next week's joint should be...I really dig the scarf joint in this video:, and in this one: However, I think Gabe won the first round, so it's his call. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


Warning, it's 11:30 PM after tests, so...This will be a bit rambling until I can edit it.

Two exams today...Think I did good, however there was a TON of algebra on the geometry exam. Why? I studied for geometry, not algebra!

Anyways, sorry Gabe, when I finally had time to work on the joint, I got in the zone and didn't take any pictures of the layout. Tomorrow, I will try making a Sketchup model.

So ya. Turned on some Random Access Memories and focused on the joint. I wish I could say I became one with the wood, and talk about all my memories with oak and how this joint has contributed positively to change my spirit and my perception of the world. But I just zoned out and worked.

This one actually got put together. This time, I did each part separately. I didn't adjust as I went. I did exactly as the layout lines told me. For the mortise part, I did the mortises, then the miter and dadoes. I think that made a difference, but I also learned why this joint is easier to cut on >1" square timbers.

I have to say. Despite all the gaps, the two horizontal pieces are extremely strong. The dovetail tenon would probably have been stronger if it wasn't less than a 1/4" deep.

Here's the better angle. Well, the worse angle: here you can see all the gaps, and all my mistakes. I think it's the better angle because it's only when you show your mistakes, and learn how to fix them or avoid making them, that you improve.

I guess, this joint did change my perception a little bit. I learned a TON about how to use a chisel, how to strike, how to hold work. I learned how to read the grain better, and just how tough and mean oak can be. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday's Work

Ya...Not much progress here.

Maybe I should first master simpler joints, I can't even make dovetails without a jig... jeez.

I regret nothing. Challenging yourself is how you improve.

Anyways, I moved up to 1 1/4" square oak. More wood from the $20 USD scrap cart at the lumberyard. I hate oak; in my experience, it will split as soon as you look at it.

Anyways, so ya... I switched my blind tenons to a through tenon, and layed out the dado, and ya. somehow, this one came out WORSE than the mini-cherry version. The cherry version actually held and was really, really strong. The through tenon version with the added dado pretty much falls apart. Oh the gaps aren't as bad as the picture makes them look; I rubbed everything with charcoal to try to figure out what to fix. 

A poor craftsman blames his tools, but ya...I've had this saw for around two years now. It's just a bit dull now, lost a couple of teeth, and a lot of teeth are missing their tips or are bent (Mainly from when I was first learning how to use this). It was ten dollars though. I'm using two chisels and this saw for this joint, nothing else besides layout tools. Going to bid on some saws soon, and Saint Sebastian de Chile is sending a couple as well. 

So, Even though most of the dados had fallen apart due to the nature of oak, I soldiered on and just glued the splits back together...Then the whole thing shattered when making the mortise. Will have to start again tomorrow, yo necesito estudiar español. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sneaking up to perfection... then stumbling and falling off a cliff, while Perfection laughs.

Yes, I know I've already posted once today.

Yes, I know perfection takes decades.

Yes, I know I'm using yes a lot. 

Anyways, I decided to try again at that...hold on, let me check Sebastian's blog post again...the
So ya, I just took the same sticks of cherry as earlier and cut off the bad joints.  I then started anew. 

So, this time, I cut the waste down to where I will have that little proud area between the tenon and the mitre.

I then chopped it out, and made the mitre. 

 With the mitre made, I started work on the island of wood:

 I hope I didn't forget any other part of this joint...Jeez, there's a lot to this joint. Anyways, I started work on the tenon's brother:

Well, here is the joint so far. It was eight by this time, so I decided to go study more world history for the test tomorrow. 

First try at Sumitome hozo sashi

Viewer discretion advised.

Seriously, if you are expecting beautiful tight joints, with no end grain showing and all made on the first try, you might want to leave now. 

If you are also expecting an experienced woodworker showing you the half-forgotten secrets of ancient craftsmen, drawn up in far away lands, run away.

This is just a teenager in a shed with pointy objects. 

First of all: While working on the hickory tree, after the small chainsaws overheated about a quarter of an inch into the wood, I decided to try sharpening the old logging saw as a safety measure and a practice in sharpening. Plus, I plan on eventually moving somewhere more rural. If it's near a designated wilderness area, then crosscut hand saws are the only saws allowed. The only downsides to this saw is it's missing two teeth or so, and has had two holes screwed into-I think those may be for a detachable handle though. 

Gonna need a bigger file. 

Right, to the joint. I decided to try the two horizontal pieces first, then mortise through those. I saw something similar to this joint here, at around the 5:34 mark:

 First, I took a scrap of cherry and made roughly 3/4" square sticks. I really didn't think too much about the layout: I just wanted to get a feel for the joint first. I'm not planning on this to be a perfect fit for the first time. I'm planning on learning more about the joint then I can get from pictures.

 Started with some basic layout lines made using a marking gauge.

I started working on the forty-five degree angle and tenon.

                                 I sawed into the middle of the waste to minimize any big fails

 Here's the 45 cut so far.

 I finished the tenon and angled thingy, then moved on to it's friend. Started with the angle, then the mortise.

It had split, but not too badly, so I planned on fighting through, until the whole mortise wall broke through as well.

                     So I cut the ruined part off, and started again, this time going more slowly.

Here you see one my many mistakes in this joint: I cut out the wrong parts. Bleh. Live n learn.

All through this, I was listening to The Shepherd's Dog album. At the end of the whole thing, this is the end result: I know what not to do. I have a better feel for the joint, and how to cut it.

This is going to take a couple of hours to do correctly. I just wish the challenge allowed power tools, so I could get about twenty identical sticks to practice on. I also feel like I should get bigger sticks-the small size was definitely hard to work with, but, I think Tage Frid said something about how you learn more doing things small scale than large scale.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Aftermath

Right, so after three weeks of rain, Nature topped it all of with a tornado, lightning, thunder, and massive winds. Winds that knocked down a fully grown hickory at my Grandma's place.

The hickory, fate would have it, fell on some raspberry bushes. While waiting for the chainsaw crew to come and buck it into six-eight foot lengths, I started removing branches for chisel handles. They ended up not coming today. My mom tried hiring this company, they never showed up. My grandma is giving them a week.

Here, you can see just how powerful the storm was to actually uplift such a massive tree. 

Now, this is really, really good wood. Hickory is expensive, and is great for tools, barbecues, and handles, along with furniture. 

I was thinking of  splitting it and hewing it into final shape, but then I realized just how wasteful hewing is. Yes, I know traditional timberframers love hewing and splitting boards. But, at least from what I've seen of it, it is incredibly inefficient. Most of the wood is turned into chips.  I've seen one method used by Native Americans of the West coast that actually splits boards right off the log that I might try: They make two notches, the length between the notches being the length of the plank: They then drive wedges of bone or wood into the bottom of the notches, and drive more wedges throughout the length of the log, until a plank pops out. This seems much, much more efficient than the European methods. 

But, it still is inefficient, and requires the right tree. A tree that has weird curly grain won't split cleanly. And a tree that has valiantly fought off ice and thunderstorms for so long deserves to be used. It's life as a stoic watcher of the raspberry patch may be over, but it has so much more life left in it: A longbow, furniture, axe handles, chisel handles. 

So, off to looking into chainsaw milling I go! I've been saving money for a while for future costs (College, a car, a new bike), with a small fund allotted to woodworking tools. However, with so much wood ready to be milled, I would be set for a LONG time if I had a mill... I could save so much money. 

My mom loves the idea of a chainsaw mill and being able to actually use all the trees falling down instead of turning them into mulch. My godfather (an extremely talented sculptor and artist) would probably love being able to use a chainsaw mill. He loves chainsaw carving.