Sunday 25 August 2013

Large Oak Frame

In what must have been a moment of weakness I agreed to make a green oak frame this week for someone that needed it asap. The frame was to measure 5m by 4.3m in a H frame with mullions on the top section.
Some big bits of wood. 5 of these were over 5m long and and so heavy that I couldn't even roll them over on my own
Looking at the plan it didn't seem too bad, just lots of mortise and tenons to cut, but the job was made much harder by the size of the timber. Some of it was 200mmx300mm section and I couldn't even roll it over.
Luckily I had a large work area as by father had cleaned out the grain shed ready for harvest but hadn't started combining yet. Also I had a forklift to help move the timbers around, but it was still tricky to move them round on my own and it turned out to be a really hard weeks work with some late nights chucked in to get it finished on time.

The A4 plan I had to work off

A homemade hook to roll the beams on my own

The chain mortiser didn't come with a clamp big enough so I had to improvise

Lifting one of the smaller timbers

Checking a mortice and tenon fit

The only way to move these beams

Chiseling up a tenon

Chain mortiser makes it a little faster but they still need a lot of cleaning out

My only worry with this frame was the fact that there are 4 mortise and tenons I couldn't check to see if they fitted. This was because they were far to big for me to handle with the forklift to get them to line up (you'd need a crane). I checked them load so times so there should be no problems.
I also drilled out for the pegs in the mortise side of the timbers only, leaving the hole in the tenons to be drilled on site. This means that if there is any discrepancy with the building it's being fitted to then it can be altered slightly before they are drilled (as the building it's for is a couple of hundred miles away there is no way I can check it myself).
I'm sure carpenters have sat like this for hundreds of years whilst cleaning out mortises
This was a hard week, back breaking week, and I can really feel it this morning. But the frames finished and ready to be shipped to it's new home. Hopefully they'll send me a picture once its been erected. Lighter work next week please!

Tuesday 20 August 2013

New Kit - Festool Plunge Saw TS55REQ

As stated many time on this blog, I'm somewhat of a tool snob.
I spend everyday working with my tools and I like to use the best.
I've been looking at buying a new circular saw for sometime now and I wanted one that would follow a guide rail for straight cuts when I'm building built-in units out of MDF or ply.
 I kept looking at all the different ones on the market and although I'm normally a Makita man I decided it was time to move up to the next level and buy a brand I've wanted to try for ages - Festool.
Anyone I've ever spoke to about these tools raves about them so I thought I'd suffer the cost and try it.

New saw - not for normal site work
I decide to go all out and bought the saw complete with two guide rails and the auto start midi extractor, which will be great on things like my mitre saw and sander as well as the circular saw.
Hopefully these tools will be a bit of an investment. The extractor should mean I breath in less dust during the day and make it easier to clean up when I'm working in someones house. The circular saw should make building things like fitted cupboards and wardrobes easier, faster and more accurate.
I'm looking forward to putting these through their paces! Anyone else have any experience using Festool kit?

Saturday 17 August 2013


The last week turned out to be a bit of an adventure.
After a few phone call, someone going to Liverpool passport office for me and a ferry ride, I ended up going with a friend to work in France for the week!
Leaving England behind
 The job was to fit a flight of stairs, handrail out a balcony and to second fix as much of the house as possible. We got loads done over some really long days.
Unfortunately the stairs were a nightmare to fit. Whoever had measured them to fit had given absolutely no tolerance to get them in. They had winders round a complete 180 degrees so things became a little difficult. It would have been much easier if they'd had gone in before the house was boarded or plastered. We got them in in the end but we did have to cut the wall in a few places to make them fit.
These stairs were the most awkward I've ever fitted

Not much space to get them in
 The balcony handrail also took some thinking about, this went in easy once we decided on our method and looked really smart when they were finished
Balcony to be hand railed off
 The only difficult with them was clamping the handrail to the newel posts as the glue went off. Tom and me managed to quickly knock together a wooden clamp that could be wedged up so the glue could go off over night, leaving a perfectly tight joint in the morning.
Clamping the handrail together with a quickly built clamp

The adjustable end of the clamp

Balcony handrail finished
 Tom and me worked really fast doing the second fit together, I think we were both impressed with the amount of work we got done in the time. We had a good system going and each stuck to a certain job to increase speed and keep the quality high.
Tom routing hinges out of the doors

Oak doors, pine linings and MDF architraves and skirting fitted.
All in all it was an interesting experience. I enjoyed working with Tom Weston again - who is an excellent carpenter (I think we both learnt a lot from each other) and made good friends with the plasterer, Rick, who came out with us. We worked hard and did a serious amount of hours, but I was missing my family by the end of the week so I was glad to come back to a rainy UK yesterday.
I learnt lots and got some good stories to tell, not much more you could ask for really!
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