Monday 31 December 2012

Karesuando Bushcraft Knife

My wife was struggling with what to buy me for Christmas this year so I asked for a good bush craft knife. I got a 4" Karesuando Boar knife, I asked for this one as it's not too expensive, has a good quality blade and should last me a long time for camping, hunting, whittling, etc.
Karesuando Boar Knife
The only downside to this knife is the fact it's been sharpened with a slight micro bevel . I decided to touch up the edge myself (in a break in the rain) using a water stone, something I've never used before - I'm more of an oil stone man!
New sharpening method to try
 I bought this water stone about 3 years ago and I've never got round to trying it so I though this would be the perfect thing to test it on. I only used the fine side of the stone (1000 grit) as it didn't need reshaping just continuing the main bevel to a point.
Using the whetstone
 The stone worked well and produced a polished edge, double sided tools are always much harden to sharpen than double edged and it took me quite a while, I could probably do with an even finer stone to get a sharper edge.
birch polypore strop 
 I stropped it using a little strop my brother made for me a few years ago out of birch polypore fungus.
A well balanced knife
I'm look forward to using this knife and with a bush craft course coming up it won't be long until I do.
Hope everyone has a good new year!

Thursday 27 December 2012

Throwing Axe!

I've been spoilt again this year (like always) and got loads of presents - far more than I probably deserve.
One of the wood related presents I got was a throwing axe, along with other things I'll blog about later. This was from my brother who also got himself one so we could have a bit of fun together.
Light weight Tomahawk
 On boxing day we went out into the orchard and threw them at a large poplar butt Dave had felled earlier in the year. To say it took us a little while to get our eye in would be an understatement -put it this way I wouldn't have wanted to stand behind the target! But once we did we were managing to get them to stick into the wood quite often.
Couldn't hit a barn door at... Oh wait you did!

Tomahawk - bit of fun
I feel that there will be many brotherly competitions coming up!
We're also both booked to attend an axe course (not throwing axes though) towards the end of January with Survival School (who we've done bush craft courses with in the past) and I'm really looking forward to it, although we're camping so I hope we have some dry weather. It should be a great opportunity to learn more about axes and how to use them.
Now I just need to make a target big enough so I can't miss it!
What wood related presents did everyone else get? (I'm sure Brian must have something...)

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Another year of work over with and it's been a great year.
Merry Christmas!
I've worked on some interesting projects, from a hotel to a prison to a big old farm house and more. Each has brought a new set of challenges and helped develop my skills as a carpenter.
I've missed not having my workshop this year but with a new baby in my life my hands have been pretty full anyway and luckily the jobs I've been on have kept my brain working.
Next year is looking pretty good with quite a few months already booked up.
Thank you to anyone who has followed me, commented on, or read this blog - it makes what I do so much more interesting to me if I have people to share it with, and it helps fuel my passion with wood even further.
Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday 17 December 2012

Repairing Old Doors

Some low quality photos on this post sorry! 
Last week was pretty cold, not getting above freezing for most of it and I had the pleasure of being out in it everyday except Friday where it hammered down with rain all day. Installing gutter in the rain is a job even I draw the line at, so I went on to repairing some doors that the other carpenter and I had hung previously.
These door weren't the easiest thing to hang in the first place with big cast hinges to remove & fill and frames where the wood seems too thin to hold the new screws needing splicing. On top of that some have got panels that are split and need replacing.
I first removed the beads from one side of the panel, on doing this I discovered that the panels are also fitted into a grove in the door. There is no way I could split the door apart and expect it to go back together (things would fall apart), instead I had to cut right round the panel (the multimaster came in handy again here) to remove it.
I then planed some boards to 10mm thick and fitted then in the door and replaced the beads I saved.
Now the painters fun starts - they're going to need quite a bit of prep work before they're ready to paint! Still doing this work preserves some of the character of the house rather than just buying new doors.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Building A Walk In Wardrobe

This is a continuation from the Building A Stud Wall Step By Step post I did a while ago. The stud wall was built to divide an odd shaped room into a bedroom with a large walk in wardrobe. The customer wanted two long shelves with hanging rails under and a set of large shelves at the far end.
Finding good fixings was the most important part of fitting these shelves as they're so big they need to be secure

With a timber fixed round the outside I added the timbers to carry the inside edges of the shelves

Check everything is level (I used a laser level around the outside so I was fairly confident!)

Add the MDF forn long shelves and the sides to the rack of shelves at the end, along with timber supports

I also completed the second fix carpentry work hanging the door and fixing the skirting and architrave

All the shelves fitted ready for some varnish

The wardrobe from the outside - looks like it's always been there. Just need to stain the woodwork to match in with the old
A nice job and the customer is really pleased.
 I also agreed to paint/stain it all for the customer so I've made quite a few visits in the evenings to try and get it done but its tricky as I don't get back till late and all my other time is booked up, mind you it's better to be busy than not!

Sunday 2 December 2012

Making Stairs

My blog post about replacing the handrail last week made me think about the first flight of stairs I made back in 2006 with a good friend/mentor. Looking through some old photos I found some from when we made them.
The string and newels routed out to accept the treads and risers
 These were to go in a barn conversion Andy and I had been working on and off for well over a year everything was oak and everything had to be top quality. It's unusual to get site carpenters to make stairs on site in the UK, but as we had our own little workshop there with all the tools, the customer we were working for decided it was the best way he could get the stairs he wanted without having to wait for a joiner to make them and he was pleased with all the previous work Andy and I had done for him.
Using oak meant everything had to be spot on - no bruising wood together here!
 These were made out of oak (the strings were 2" thick!) and as we'd only ever fitted stairs before we went over our workings quite a few times before we started! With stairs a full sized template is sometimes the best way to go if you've got the space.
Beginning the first glue up
 We machined all the treads on the spindle moulder, routed the strings with a purpose made jig and cut the wedges on the bandsaw with another jig to make sure they were a perfect fit.
The glue up went well, with both of us working hard to get it together fast as we were using quite a fast setting glue

All the treads glued in position

Andy cleaning the excess glue from the first flight of stairs

The stairs fitted in position

The nice chunky newel posts really go well with the feel of these stairs
This was a great project and a great test of our skills, they came out looking perfect and on time, the customer was over the moon.
Anyone else taken on a large job like this that they'd never done before?

Saturday 24 November 2012

Replacing handrail

We're getting through the second fix upstairs now and during this week I've replace the old handrail with some that matches what is in the rest of the house.
What was left of the old handrail
 I decided it was best to rip it all out and start again, this way I could make sure I got some solid fixings and make sure it won't move.
Ripping it all out and starting again
The first job was to add the newel post at the top of the stairs. This one had to be strongly fixed as it's what everyone will grab and swing on as they walk down the stairs. The old newel post ran right down to the floor, so I cut it off flush with the top of the stairs and then made a 12" long halving joint to fit the new newel with. As the old post was 3"x3" and the new one is 4"x4" I had to make this halving joint more like a giant L shaped rebate so it would fit over the top of the old post, glued and screwed it was rock solid when I finished.
Adding the newel post, this has to be solid
 The rest was fairly plane sailing, the newel posts already had mortises in them but the tenons on the handrail had to be added on, taking a bit of time (I did these by hand as it's sometimes easier this way), I fixed all the handrail and newels in position then replaced some of the flooring and added the spindles. The flooring I replaced so it finished in line with the new newel posts, it also had a round over moulding on for the apron lining to butt into, giving a nice detail. By doing this all my spindles could also be fixed from the underside giving a much better fixing.
The finished handrail from the top

It was then a matter of adding the apron lining and doing all the finishing touches like pelleting the screw holes, sanding them down and punching in any nails. The bottom of the old newel post also had to be packed out so that it was the same size as the new one

I decided at the start to replace the apron under the handrail as well and it looks much better all being new

The joint connecting the new newel to the old post.
Anyone else had a hand railing project they've done lately?

Sunday 18 November 2012

Making Single Glazed Windows Into Double

I'll be honest - this wasn't a job I was looking forward to!
The customer wanted the 5 windows on the exposed face of his property to be changed from single glazed to double. As the windows were hardwood, of good quality and thick enough, we decided that it would be best to increase the size of the rebate (or rabbet for the Americans) where the glass sits so it could take the thicker units.
Working on the wrong side of the heater!
 This is a bit of a dirty job really every step involves dirt and dust! First we had to remove the old glass from the windows, this was done with a combination of chisels, knifes, the multimaster and a hammer! Cleaning up any broken glass before moving on to the next step.
Luckily I had Tim with me to help or it would have seemed a bit of a daunting job on my own as you couldn't rust it for fear of damaging the frames.
Removing all the old putty
Once we'd removed all the glass and cleaned up the old putty from the edges I could set about making the rebate deeper. My new little Bosch router (bought mainly for this job) was ideal as it has such a small base it could get round all the edges without hitting the walls. It was tricky to find a rebate cutter for the router with the right sized bearing to give us the correct width of cut, the ones in the set were either too big or too small but luckily I had a bearing from an old router bit set that was just the right size (shows you should throw nothing out!).
My new little router was ideal for this job - still had to have a steady handso as not to wobble
 Once I routed round each window, three of them having 16 panes of glass (this was a dusty job - I had sawdust everywhere - and I mean everywhere!) it was just a matter of tidying up the corners with a sharp chisel. I had to be careful when routing as a lot of the time the router was just resting on the thin mullion or transom and a wobble would have been really noticeable.
Cleaning up the waste in the corners
I then made some templates for the new glass and boarded up the windows.
A dirty job, but one that will make the house feel a lot warmer on this exposed site when the new glass is fitted.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Completed Curved Architrave (almost)

The underside now re-skimmed and the architrave filled and painted
The Plasterer, Justin, has now re-skimmed the curve under the architrave to a mirrow like finish and the woodwork has now had it's first coat of undercoat. So although it's not completely finished it gives a good idea of what the finished product will look like.

Justin the plasterer trying to show off the "guns" under the freshly coated arch

A near mirrow finish on the plasterwork sets the architrave off great, just a couple of coats of paint needed then it'll be finished.

Good feature for the room

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Fitting Skirting To A Curved Wall

I always like doing the out of the ordinary jobs on site. I like it even more when other trades have to ask you how you did it!
A relatively tight curve
This was the case with some skirting I fitted to a curved wall today. It was quite a tight curve and it wasn't a quick job to fix it on, but with a bit of preparation I got the skirting to perfectly match the curve of the wall.
Kerfing out the back of the skirting, as the curve was tight I needed lots
How's it done? Well you can read any good book on carpentry and it will tell you about "kerfing" the back or front of a board to make it bend round a curve. But until you try and do it you yourself you'll never know if you can do it properly or how close the cuts will have to be. A kerf is the width of material removed by the saw blade, adding lots of these evenly lets the wood bend a certain amount.
A good, even curve
This curve was quite tight and as the skirting had a moulding on it I could only trench the saw so deep on the first pass, I "kerfed" the back of the skirting for the length of the curve leaving a 2mm bit of wood in between each cut. I then trench cut deeper at the base of the skirting where it was thicker to remove even more wood. I then removed some wood from the back with the electric plane to try prevent it from cupping as all the tension had been taken out of one side with the cuts.
A job that when it's done right looks really good
To fit it to the wall I first fixed the short straight run, then started to bend it round the curve. To make the wood bend easier I first poured some boiling water on the back and trickled it over the skirting as I bent it round until I could get a fixing on the far side. I then added plenty of fixings to prevent it moving when it drys out.
Another enjoyable, usual job.
Anyone else have to fix curved work lately?

Sunday 4 November 2012

Making Curved Architrave

The main job I've been on has given me plenty of unusual projects where I've had to do some thinking. Curved architrave around an arched opening is the latest one.
I formed the arched opening some months back where the curve was to be semi-segmental, but since then the customer has changed their minds and decided that they want it to be semi-circular. I'm to build the architrave out and then we're to bring the plasterwork out to match at a later date.
Clamping boards up - the red light is from the heater.
 Making anything curved on site is harder than you might think and involved many more steps than putting architrave around your standard square door frame.
The architrave has to match the original architrave mentioned in a previous post. This is built up out of two parts. A thin flat layer with a bead on, then a narrower moulded section that is fixed to the outside of it.. To start to make the curved architrave I had to make the flat section first. I decided to leave the bead off for now and attach that later, as no router cutter would shape it in the same way as it is on the original (two cove cutters wouldn't look quite right). I planed the timber down then clamped boards up together and left them to set (with a heater chucking some heat on to them - the barn isn't very warm!).
Rough cut with a jig saw
 I then rough cut the curve with a jig saw. Drawing the lines on with a homemade compass and pencil. If you were just making one side of something curved you might be able to cut it free hand but any imperfections and flat spots would stand out on what is to be matching sets.
Using a homemade router jig
 To make sure every piece was identical I made a jig for the router with two points for it to be fixed to for each cut (inside and out). I screwed the wood down to prevent it moving while I routed it. The screw holes on this first piece will be covered by the second set of architrave.
The first layer fixed around the arch.
I then fixed this architrave around the arch using plenty of adhesive and pins.
Same jig but with another point to make a narrower set of architrave.
 The second set of architrave used the same jig but with the addition of some extra points to fix it down. I also routed a large groove in the ply base of my jig so a bearing guided cutter would then run against it to create the moulding without having to take it off the ply. I used my larger router for this and as the cutter was new it cut the moulding cleanly in one pass.
The second set fixed on top of the first
 I then fixed the second set of architrave on top of the first and switched the kettle on. This wasn't for a drink but instead to fill a 4" pipe full of hot water. The only way I could think of bending the beading to fix round the first set of curves. This involved leaving the wooden bead in the pipe to get hot and steamy before running up stairs to fix it on. I had to move pretty fast as it soon cooled down, it also had to be in quite short sections so it didn't twist as I fixed it. Only managed to complete one side last night though as it got too dark and the lights weren't working on site.
It was dark when I took these pictures but I'll get some close ups next week. The beading is fixed on these as well. It also needs a good sanding down.
A couple of day of firsts - Never made curved architrave before and I've never bent wood using hot water.
I really enjoyed the challenge of this project, even though many people won't know the effort that went into creating a seaming simple set of architrave. I love the fact that after over 10 years in the trade there are still completely new projects to test my skills and keep my brain working, I can't think of a more enjoyable job than being a carpenter!
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