Saturday, December 13, 2014

2B or not 2B

After being banished to Melbourne's western suburbs for most of the year I am now holed up in Auckland on family duties.  2014 is looking like  the year without tinkering.  After my last post I had a kind offer from Greg Merritt ( to use his knot tying illustrations but the thought occurred to me that I should be producing my own drawings. I am probably one of the last generations of engineers who has spent time at the drawing board with a pencil and paper so I should be able to produce a usable instructional drawing.
The interesting part of the exercise was realising that I really needed to illustrate hand positions as well as rope.  Not something they covered in engineering drafting 101 in 1985.  The other interesting point was just how difficult it was to communicate the sequence and details of operations so the Mrs Tinkerer could follow.
2015 could be the year to improve my drawing skills.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lessons learnt

I have, once again, had the pleasure of helping some Wooden Boat Association members tie knots.  My plan was to cover a handful of simple knots and get every one to make a small key fob with 3mm line by the end of the night.

I think I succeeded in confusing the hell out of every one.  Still, there were some very good lanyard knots completed and I think every one had a good time.  Congratulations to every one for keeping their sailors swearing to a minimum.

I guess I won't be launching my teaching career any time soon.

Here are my youtube training videos in case any one wants to practice.
lanyard knot
four strand braid
wall knot
crown knot
wall and crown knot

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Shakedown sail

Day light savings has started and the weather is warming up so today was the day for a quick shakedown sail in preparation for lots of sailing this summer.  The boat has been under tarps for the winter and has developed some mold which needs to be cleaned and oiled.  Other than that everything seemed to go pretty well today.

One hour at the helm brings my total to 148 hours.  That's not many hours over 8 years.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smith and Smith

I have just come back from Sydney and had the opportunity to visit Smith and Smith suppliers of tools and parts to what was once a clock and watch making industry.  I had been wanting to visit for a number of years and was hoping to browse through their stock and buy a souvenir.  Most of the stock was behind the counter so I didn't get the chance to rummage through old tools so I had to settle for a nice chat with the proprietor.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Swedish style trestle table

Not much tinkering has been going on in the workshop lately so it is with a real sense of achievement I can announce the completion of my trestle table.  I have opted for my preferred treatment of pine which is white paint.  I have tried to age the finish a bit with contrasting coloured under coats and a light rub so that some of those colours show.  The design is an interesting one and the table should prove useful because it knocks down to a flat pack for easy transport.  The cross beam has through tapered mortises which take a wedge.  The table ends fit over the cross beam ends and the wedges lock in place.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Winter in Melbourne

Nice winter day for a run up the river.  Unique opportunity to take my boat through the middle of the city up to Herring Island and back to Williamstown.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What's wrong with this picture?

Boating without a sail?  I don't know about that.  But with a trip up river on the cards I thought it was worth a try.  Our initial trip was out Mordialloc creek and was pleasant enough considering the rain.  Out on the bay it just didn't seem right without a mainsheet in one hand and a tiller in the other.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Breadboard ends

Slowly but surely my trestle table is coming together.  After edge joining six planks I cut a wide tenon at each end with my router leaving a raised ridge on the outer edge to support my router base during the cut.  I then cut the tenon to the finished 45mm length and cut out the two locking tenons leaving the shorter edge behind.  The end mortise started as a 10m x 6mm groove cut on my router table and then the two deeper sections roughed out on the drill press and clean out by hand with my mortising chisel.  Once fitted together I drilled holes and cut two hardwood locking pins and glued everything together.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sailing Begonia

Begonia is the Wooden Boat Association club boat.  I don't know its history in detail but I know it was built in the early 90's by Tom Whitfeild who I believe was a local boat builder.  The boat is traditional lapstrake construction with huon pine planking.  The Association claims the boat is easy to set up but I prefer to watch the experts setup her rig.  She does seem to be well behaved and sails well in light wind.  I need to spend more time at the helm.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wooden boat building made to look easy

Great video showing how easy it is to build a wooden boat.  Interesting steam bending technique and an interesting rowing technique towards the end.  Not a battery drill or pot of epoxy in sight.  Amazing.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Swedish flat pack. 18th century style

This project started out as a way to use up some of my extensive collection of junk pine collected from hard rubbish.  The idea was to produce a knock down utility table out of scrap and move it on to a new home.  What I didn't count on was just how well the design would be received in the licensed2tinker household.  Now the pressure is on to turn my junk pine into fine furniture.  That $75 worth new hoop pine boards will help.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Forging a froe

The ultimate aim of my recent venture into blacksmithing has been to make myself a froe.  A froe is not the sort of thing I can pick up at my local hardware so forging my own has always seemed like a good idea.  I have previously used an improvised froe made from a flat tire lever welded to a round shafted wrench.  The tire lever was only 25mm wide so there was barely enough leverage to open out a split.  The new froe is made from a section of leaf spring 50mm wide.  I started by forging the eye and then drew out the edge, hammering the section down and out to a thin taper, so the the finish width is about 60mm.  One unintended consequence of drawing out the edge is the curve in the blade.  Drawing out the edge also stretched the material along the length of the blade.  If I were to make another I would pre bend the blade to compensate.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rye sailing day

As usual Rye turned on great weather for our regular February sailing day.  A great turn out of about 16 boats, many of which I haven't seen before.  The highlight of the day was being swept up by the couta boat fleet returning to Blairgowrie.

Not so much a sailing day as a beach picnic day one hour at the helm brings my total to 147 hours.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Alma Doepel

After several months occupied as a gentleman of leisure I have recently gone back to full time work to pay my debt to society.  As a result I have been spending less time on line and even less time in my workshop.  I did, however, have the opportunity through the week to visit the Alma Doepel restoration workshop.  The Alma Doepel is a three masted top-sail schooner built in Bellingen in 1903.  She is a shallow drafted ship with two center boards so that she could carry goods along the NSW coast and be able to cross river bars.  Seeing the ship dismantled with all the items cataloged made me realize just how complex a process restoration is.  It would probably be easier to build from scratch.  It's possible the volunteers just just want to maximize their time in such a massive and impressive workshop.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The weirdest workbench you'll ever see.

I have had my engineering vise mounted to a three leg trestle for a while now and find it quite useful.  In my workshop the name of the game is to be able to move things around to suit the job.  The original trestle was welded from 50mm RHS and whilst functional I did notice some flex whilst using the hacksaw.  Having recently been given some heavy 75 x 100mm RHS I decided to make a new matching pair to suit my tinkerers work holding beams.  I haven't decided what to do with the spare post but I might mount my bench grinder on it or fabricate a post vise.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Years in the planning.

I'm getting to the end of my stash of exotic scraps.  It has been a stretch to figure out what to do with some of the smaller pieces but I think it has been worth the effort.  Off cuts from son of tinkerers laminated banjo neck have made some very simple boxes and candle holders.  The cutting board may or may not be teak.  At some stage during the nineties I recovered a broken, danish style, side table with a split down the table top. It was far too good a piece of wood to throw out and now, twenty years later, I have a large presentation board.

Friday, January 31, 2014

From tree to treen

I finished this birch wood box today.  Again the timber has come out of my scrap bin but this piece is unusual in that I recall the tree it came from.  Most of the wood has been used to carve spoons but I cut some planks buy hand and picked the nicest piece for the lid with a beautiful curl in the grain.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A plea for common sense

If you're an online retailer of brass hinges could you please list all the critical dimensions.  "25mm brass hinge".  What the @&#% is that!  My latest pile of scrap includes some blackwood which I have dressed to 10mm so I needed some hinges which were 10mm from the edge of the hinge plate to the center of the hinge pin.  I also had a fairly thick piece of unidentified wood I wanted to use as a center panel so I didn't want a flimsy pressed hinge, and wanted to know how thick the material was.  They say you can find anything on the internet.  They are wrong.

Thankfully my local supplier let me rummage through their stock with my six inch ruler.

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's not art. It's knotwork.

The recent run of extreme temperatures has forced me to bunker down to try to stay cool.  With project work grinding to a halt I have been working on some new lanyards and fobs.  Mrs Tinkerer seems to think I like decorating my tools with a bit of macrame but I maintain these are functional and help me identify and grab tools quickly.  I find a fob particularly useful for those pesky, and increasingly small, USB devices.  I am reminded of the craft verses art debate which pops up on a regular basis.  Such discussions don't normally hold my interest for long because so much effort is wasted debating unhelpful classifications.

As a tinkerer I like learning and developing new skills that might be useful one day.  Knotwork has many utilitarian applications that I am interested in, but yes, it can be decorative.  I guess it's about the maker.  If I had dedicated my life to working with rope and had generations of tradition behind me I would probably see myself as a craftsman.  If I was trying to express some deep seated emotion or make a comment about modern society I would probably see myself as an artist.   If I was trying to make a product to a specification with the minimum of resource allocation I would probably see myself as an engineer.  If I had too much time on my hands and wanted to make all manner of ... unusual stuff ... I would probably see myself as a macrame crafter.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cool relief

After four days over 40° sailing in a blustery SSW wind was a joy.  The boat handled well and the reefing system worked perfectly.  Three hours at the helm brings my total to 146 hours.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Free time at the forge

Along with twenty years of forge project backlog I also have a matching stash of high carbon steel scrap. After my initial success forging 3/8 mild steel I was keen to see what I could do with some my scrap.  One old tire lever has been ear marked for a solid roughing gouge and skew chisel.  Well, talk about experiential learning.  I can tell you that high carbon steel does not forge like mild steel.  Two hours of solid pounding barely shaped some serviceable chisels and the bulk of the work was in forging the tang.  With the bulk of my energy exhausted I turned to some lighter work forging a small chip carving knife from an old file and a spoon gouge from a one inch spade bit.

Heat treatment was a bit difficult because I was struggling to see the colour change.  Back home I cleaned and shaped with my flap disk and ground and polished cutting edges.  On the lathe these new chisels are and order of magnitude better than my bargain basement tools.  They take and hold a great edge and their mass dampens any vibration.  The skew chisel particularly produces a good clean finish which was remarkable considering the trouble I had with my old chisel.

I had ground chip knives from old files before but they have never been any good.  The hard material would simply fail when it became too thin either during the sharpening or during the first cut.  The tempering on my new knife worked a treat softening the material so that it will hold an edge.  Both the knife and the spoon gouge cut well and forging is the only practical way I was ever going to get the right shape.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Taking a closer look

I have been restoring a set of dining chairs in the previous week, stripping back upholstery and removing upholstery tacks.  I have estimated 300 tacks per chair or 1200 tacks in total.  Pincer pliers are one of the tools I have had problems with over the years.  There have been a number that have been thrown out in disgust within a week of purchase.  They don't sit in the hand right or they wont dig in under the tack head.  I picked up my current set some time in the last ten years.  They have a very flat nose with next to no bevel so they dig in under most nail heads.  Probably the most notable feature is that when they close around a nail head the handle is in the perfect position for my hand to apply maximum pressure.

With my new appreciation for forge work I thought I would clean off the paint and epoxy and take a closer look.  To my amazement the handle is stamped "E. A. Berg Eskiltuna Sweden".  That would explain it.  I now need to find a replacement and keep these away from all the paint and epoxy.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A new basic, but useful, skill

I was lucky enough to be given an introductory lesson in blacksmithing recently which was a real blast.  Managing a coke forge, scroll work, twisting, punching, cutting, riveting and heat treatment.  The hardest lesson learned was to resist the urge to pick up things with your bare hands.  I cant wait to get back and try my hand at a big project.