Sunday, June 14, 2009

More furniture making

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker
My college course is going well - the frame test piece I started with is now complete. 4 different joints made and all of sort of OK quality. As the tutor said, if I'd been on a City & Guilds course I'd have been told to go and do the whole lot again, but I'm not and on evening classes you get to say that you want to move on. Personally I blame the quality of the wood - I was using a second hand bit from the college wood store and inside it behaved more like balsa than pine when attacked with a chisel.

Anyway, the next project is a small table. First up the challenge was to read the plan and work out a cutting list. Not a big problem as I'm used to plans and picking up the missing dimensions. Then I get handed the wood - a 30ft long 2 inch deep plank. A few minutes with the tools that can kill you hacked enough of of this for my little job and the rest went back into the store.

The wood was quite green with a sticky surface. Once reduced to rough cut parts, most were left for a week to settle. Apparently if you try and work to quickly on anything cut out of a large lump, it can twist or something.

While working a fellow student who is a few weeks ahead of me was trying a machine I'd not seen switch on for a while. Apparently it is a mortiser. For the non woodworker it is a machine that drills square holes.

To use the language of teh interweb: OMG. OMG. OMG !!!

So the next week, one I'd thicknessed all my wood, I asked if I could use the same machine for my mortise holes. "If you really want to" say the tutor as though it wasn't nearly as much fun as making the same holes with chisels. "Yes please" I said - which is short for, "Of course I do ! I've been looking forward to having a go with this bit of kit all week !"

The mortiser is very clever, if a bit limited, doing only one job in the workshop. The way it works is to have a square tube with chisel sharp ends at the bottom. A course drill pokes out through this and chews away most of the wood. Then the chisels carve away the rest giving a nice square hole with the excess wood being taken away by the flutes of the bit. Simple but very effective. I quickly had some nice clean and accurate slots for the joints. Top stuff.

Incidentally, an evening class attracts a surprisingly wide variety of people. I have wondered if the appearance of an Economics Professor in the group means we should all worry how deep the recession is really going to be...

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