Saturday, 31 August 2013

A faux door for an antique door knocker

My friends live in an 18th century cottage in South Glouceshireshire, England and they are having a new garden room/kitchen built upon it. The cottage is considerably larger now than it was in the 18th century due to various additions over the years. When they removed the ivy covering most of the external wall nearest the lane it revealed a blocked up doorway. This must have been the doorway from the roadway into the 2 room cottage when it was originally built. My friends have lived in the cottage for the best part of 30+ years and did not know of its existence.
Whilst on holiday in Cairo, Egypt a few years back they bought an antique door knocker and had never fitted it. This last weekend we went over to Westonbirt Arboretum a few miles away to visit TreeFest. This is an annual event and attracts people from far and wide to everything to do with wood. Norm decided he wanted a nice piece of wood to mount the knocker on.
He turned up a piece of brown English oak for about £2. It had wormy edges and a few straight saw cuts. It was about 16mm (5/8") thick.

I took it, complete with the knocker, back to my shop and set to making the straight saw edges into a more pleasing irregular pattern with the scroll saw.
Scroll sawing the sawn edges to an irregular shape

Thursday, 29 August 2013

WoodFest at Westonbirt Arboretum England

Last weekend was the annual Woodfest at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire, England. I went along with a few friends and bought some English Elm in the wood sale. One thing I thought you may be interested in was a demonstration of a steam driven "tablesaw". This thing was huge and was probably used to threaten James Bond in a movie. "I expect you to die Mr Bond"

This thing was very impressive and had an enormous blade that cut through lumber like a hot knife through butter. In fact the tree trunk shown in the picture was completed end to end in about 10 seconds. It was about 12 feet long and the board was about 12" deep. The blade still had plenty of capacity and had a riving knife.
When on load the drive belt was jumping about considerably but was in no danger of falling off. One thing did worry me though was the blade was constantly turning when the men were turning the log and manipulating it for the next cut. The spectators were behind metal fencing about 20 feet away.

The full rig

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Astronomy Observation Chair

As the nights get longer at my latitude (North West England) thoughts can now go back to observing the universe. Last year my wife bought me a brilliant present of a 8" reflecting telescope for a significant birthday.
I have been using it whenever there were clear skies last year and during the winter of this year.
One of the problems I found though was I just couldn't find a chair that was comfortable enough to cope with the varying angles possible with the telescope. When it was pointing upwards I had to stand, when it was pointing at around 45 degrees I had difficulty sitting or standing. When it was a low angles I just couldn't get a chair or stool down low enough.

I saw an article in last August's (2012) Sky At Night Magazine about building a suitable chair. Unfortunately the iPad version of the magazine didn't contain the plans. Undeterred I decided to google it. I mean everything is on the internet - right?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Baritone Guitar Build Part 9 - Completion

So the wiring was completed and the two active Seymour Duncan Blackouts are wired in conventional Neck-Neck/Bridge-Neck mode. I have only used single volume and tone controls too. The wiring diagram is here but as it is on the Seymour Duncan website the location may change in time. Look for 2 blackout, 1 vol, 1 tone, 3 way.
I fitted this wiring into the cavity
And ended up with this
All the remaining hardware was fitted including the nut and the guitar had the Elixir Baritone strings added.
The thickest string, a low B, was 0.068" or 1.73 in diameter and would not fit through the machine head hole. I had to carefully open it up with a 2 mm drill. Fortunately the metal was just brass so was easy to drill. Also the locking anvil mechanism had to be opened in the same process.

The strings were all tightened and then I had to carefully adjust the depth of each of the nut slots with nut files. I ended up with each string clearing the 1st fret by 0.5mm or 0.020". This is as a starting point because I will see how over the next few weeks it reacts. The intonation of the Schaller Hannes bridge was set and the truss rod tightened very slightly.
The clearance at at the 8th fret when fretted at the 1st and 17th frets is about .75mm on the bass side and .25 on the treble side. The string action at the 12th fret when the strings are unfretted is around 3mm on the bass side and about 1.75mm on the treble side. This seems to be ideal for a baritone guitar. I didn't have any frame of reference to refer to for this one so just using my experience building others.

Front view
So here it is in all its glory. The Dunluce IIIB Baritone.

Rear view
That red stain is glorious over
the mahogany.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Making my bench lighter

Yes I know we always strive to make workbenches as heavy as we can but just have a think about this:
Everytime we flatten our benches we remove stock to do so. Stock in the form of shavings has mass. Hence we make the bench have less mass!
Anyway in my email inbox today was one from Megan Fitzpatrick from Popular Woodworking. Apparently they were having problems with the electronic distribution of Oct 2013 edition so she sent me the url of where I could download it.
In the magazine was an interesting letter from a reader and a reply from Megan asking how to flatten a workbench. This set me thinking:

  • How long have I had my commercially bought workbench? - 5 years or so
  • When did you last flatten it? - Er never!

I looked at it and the front and rear aprons had warped slightly making the bench concave from edge to edge. End to end was still relatively straight and there wasn't any twist (using my winding sticks to make sure). The storing of it outside in the yard last autumn (in a tent) while my shop was being rebuilt had soaked up humidity from the air and it hadn't been too kind to the bench.

As I'm nearing completion of the baritone guitar and it has now left the shop to go inside to my studio for tweaking I thought I would spend 10 to 20 minutes flattening my bench with the Veritas bevel up jointer.
Sure enough it did only take 20 minutes with a final light cleaning pass followed by a very light pass of my #4.
The bench being flattened
with a Veritas BU Jointer

A big pile of shavings.
This probably weighs about
1 pound

Flattened benchtop awaiting Danish Oil

I was rewarded with a flat bench. The question now is - why didn't I do it before? It really was quick to do the jointer making light work of the beech top. Two coats of an exterior Danish oil and I'll be all set to go for the next project. But that's another story.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Baritone Guitar Build Part 8 - Nut making and fitting the hardware

I used a 5/8" Forstner bit to bore the counter-bores for the neck bushings. Then I transferred the pilot holes through to the open mortise.
Then fitting the neck in position carefully transferred the pilot holes into the neck. I then took the neck out of the body and drilled to full size 1/8" diameter x 3/4" deep the holes for the screws. Then I drilled clearance holes in the body.
The screws are actually around #8 or 4mm in diameter and needed some wax to screw into the neck but went in without stripping or breaking.

I drilled some counter-bores with a 6mm drill bit for the magnets to hold the cover plates on. Into these I used some CA glue to fix some rare earth magnets (6mm dia x 1mm thick) in place. There are also corresponding holes drilled into each of the covers. They fix in place with a satisfying "plop" noise and are very secure. No screws showing on this build. To open the covers I have a finger nail grove and slot cut in the cover and body.

Making a nut

The nut is made from a bone blank and was first thicknessed on some sandpaper so it fitted in the dado (slot) I had cut in the fretboard in an earlier post.

Then using a pencil that was cut down the middle with its lead sharpened to a chisel point I scribed the profile of the 1st fret onto the bone
Here you can see the pencil sliced down the middle

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Table Saw Blade Storage

I'd had enough of hanging blades on nails driven into the walls of the shop. I got a pdf as part of Popular Woodworking subscription called Workshop Storage Solutions. In there is an article by Steve Shanesy on making an open fronted box to store your table saw blades.

As I had just bought a few more blades I decided to make the box. It comprises 4 sides of 3/4" ply and I made the back from 1/2" ply. The shelves are just 1/4" thick ply and the box is intended for 10" diameter blades.

The finished size is 8" high x 11 3/4" wide x 11 1/4" deep.
The box is very simple rabbeted construction just glued with some yellow glue (no brads ;) .
The shelves are around 11/16" apart in dados cut in the sides. They have shaped front edges with a cut-out so you can grasp the desired blade.
The front is cut at an angle at 70 degrees and there is an internal partition of 1/4" ply also at 70 degrees.
I can't publish the plans as they are probably copyrighted but I can show you some photos of the results.

Do you think I put enough clamps on?

Monday, 5 August 2013

Baritone Guitar Build Part 7 - Buffing and Polishing

It's been a couple of weeks or so since I applied the last coat of finish to the Baritone guitar. In that time I've been on holiday to London and done some modifications to the theatre groups scenery. This last weekend I have spent some time building a storage box for table saw blades (see next post) and started to complete the finish on the guitar.
It had some time to harden off and I had one or two blemishes to sort out. Those have now been rubbed out using 1200 grit wet and dry and then burnished with a polishing compound.
My regular buffer is tied up as a grinder at the moment so I found my automotive buffer and using some mild abrasive polished all the wooden parts of the guitar.
You can now see your face in it.
The sides of the body had to be finished by hand as I had a little overspray resulting in some orange peel effect. Careful rubbing with 1200 grit and polishing with burnishing compound on a soft cloth corrected that.
Suitably polished

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Telecaster (T Style) Guitar

The Fender Telecaster (see here) has been around for a long, long time. In fact it was one of the first commercial solid bodied electric guitars. It was developed by Leo Fender in the early 1950s and has been in continuous production ever since. There are several different models comprising solid bodies, semi hollow bodies, many different pickup/hardware permutations, different fret board materials and different timbers. It has inspired many copies over the years by different manufacturers.

I've decided to make one next as it is a simple spec and easy to produce - yes I know I haven't finished the baritone yet! There will be no fancy wood work or book matched tops on this one.
Of course mine will not be called a Telecaster as that is copyrighted by Fender themselves. I haven't got a name for it yet but it will probably come under the TMc "Dunluce" banner.