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.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The value of scrap

How could I throw this stuff out?  A collection marquetry and veneer scraps I have saved for years has now been incorporated into a collection of trinket boxes.  I particularly like the little marquetry detail I saved from a broken down wardrobe.  Some one building this wardrobe between the wars came up with this beautiful foliage design and I am proud to have saved it.