Monday, December 30, 2013

New years resolution

I took the opportunity after my last project to clean out the workshop.  I emptied all the crap in out into the back yard with the idea of cleaning out the workshop from top to bottom but was shocked at the volume of scrap I have.  I briefly considered throwing out every off cut under six inches but there were too many nice pieces.  There was no option but to start using those scraps for the projects I had planned.  First project off the rank was a set of Steve Ramsay train whistles. An enjoyable little project which took a couple of attempts to work but resulted in some nice toys to give away.

PS - Yes that is an unfinished 14 foot canoe in the background.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In praise of pine

I have used hoop pine a lot over the years for all sorts of projects.  It is light and strong and good quality boards are readily available thanks to well established plantations.  I have sometimes struggled, however, to achieve a good finish.  It is a very pale wood which is not the most visually appealing for furniture.  Very old pine furniture tends to develop a very nice, mellow, golden colour.  There is no question that the best treatment for new pine furniture is paint.  I have had some success trying to apply an aged or distressed finish but I have also had some disasters applying stain.  Hoop pine seems to bring out all the artificial colour from a stain.  For this project I have tried to create an aged patina starting with several rubbed coats of linseed oil.  I have then stippled and wiped a stain to create and interesting colour and texture.  It is finished with several coats of wax.  I am happy with the finish and I think it will improve as the linseed oil darkens.

Monday, December 16, 2013


I have been putting the finishing touches to a warping mill for Mrs Tinkerer when I popped down to the local hardware to buy some 1/4 inch BSW wing nuts only to find that they don't stock them because there is no demand.  What is the world coming to and what does the world use to fasten a light frame assembly without tools?  Back in the workshop I pulled out one of my small hole saws and cut blanks out of some scrap.  Drilled a clearance hole for my 1/4 inch coach bolt and a counterbore with an interference fit for a standard 1/4 inch BSW nut.  I then pressed a standard nut into the wood and rounded over the edges on the router table with a jig to keep my fingers away from the cutter.

The warping mill has been an interesting project because I have never seen a warping mill let alone know how it is used.  I have had to learn a bit about weaving to be able to make a usable device.  The mill is similar in function to a the warping board I made earlier in the year but is capable of preparing a warp for a much much bigger weaving project.  I set up at least three prototypes with bits of wood and G clamps and tried to wind a warp before I was confident I could build the final unit.  One prototype idea that made it to the final version was to mount the mill on the back of two standard chairs rather than build a frame which needed to be stored when not in use.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

South Channel Fort and Pile Light

It was a fairly late start launching at Rye at about 3.30pm but a steady south westerly kept us going almost all day.  The first point of interest was the South Channel Pile Light built in 1874 to guide ships through the narrow South Channel.  The light house was manned until 1925 but now is occupied by seals and sea birds.  We reached the South Channel Fort by 5pm and sat down for a cuppa and a walk around the island.  The South Channel Island is a man made island built during the 1880's as part of Port Phillip's strategic defence network to protect the colony against Russian aggression. The wind shift and incoming tide took us further up the coast that we would have liked leaving us a slow tack up the coast to come in at about 7.30pm.  Three hours at the helm brings my total to 143 hours.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A folding table

The second quick project is a small folding table for Mrs Tinkerers table loom.  Examples of this design are all over the web and I have never really understood how they would go together so I have been wanting to make one for a while.  This example has been adjusted so that the loom sits quite low compared to a normal table height but the dimensions are good for a table 700m high by 800mm wide.  The four longer members are 900mm long with a pivot dowel at the mid pint (450mm) and 30mm from one end.  The shorter four members are 600mm long.  There is only one longer length of dowel and 4 short lengths.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The tinkerers tool stool

Just when I had resigned myself to padding and polishing all summer to finish my wardrobe, Mrs Tinkerer has requested a number of simple projects to support her new interests in weaving.  This is a golden opportunity to move scrap from my workshop to the house so I'm not going to let it go.  First project off the rank is a low bench so that Mrs. Tinker can work at her new floor loom without having to constantly stoop over.  Generally with these type of jobs I prefer to whip something up out of scrap and use it rather than labour over the design details.  If it proves useful and usable I can recreate the design in exotic timber with fine joinery at a later date.

I have had the idea of making a pair of tool stools in the form of a scaled down six board blanket chest since the rash of bloggers who started making and writing about the English and Dutch tool chests.  My theory is that two smaller and lighter boxes would be easier to move around and be more useful as saw horses.  These two his and hers stools are 36 inches 18 inches high and 10 inches wide.  Hers will be used to store spools and shuttles until I can recreate it with fine joinery.  Mine will be fitted with a saw till and screwdriver rack.  The tops are pinned in place with 1/4 inch coach bolt and have a hand hold in the center so they can be easily moved around.