Thursday, March 31, 2011

Driving me buggy!

"I have wheels, Houston, and I have running gear. What do I do next, over?" Houston obligingly answered, "bodywork, dummy! Out". Much obliged, Houston, you're quite right. So it's time to make a buggy body. The dimensions are no sweat. We have the cardboard model, remember? But the wood is another matter. We could cut rear end out of solid wood, but however we look at it we are going to need thin sheets about two mm thick. So we saw them out, and then plane them. This was actually the most time-consuming activity of bodyworking. I did not buy so much as a toothpick for this model.
Above, the rear end is being glued up in my homemade clamp. Woodworkers, regardless of scale, will all agree that you can never, never, have enough clamps. The one above is a bit large, but perfect for its purpose. Next we glue and pin on the front end. For pins I use thin wire, #22 I think, and drill the holes with a jeweler's drill.
There are quite a few clamps in operation. The toolmaker's clamp, along with the jeweler's drill and bits to suit, are available from Lee Valley, my favorite tool place.

Now comes the wheeling, so we put the wheels on the running gear.
I have dowel axle pins put in. There are also wire pegs sticking up. These are to match the springs. Amazingly, the buggy is attached to the running gear only by springs. So I had to make the springs. These were made out of an old bandsaw blade, annealed, teeth ground off, formed around a block, and wired together. For this wire, I use the kind of wire that holds lettuce together at the supermarket. Free with my salad. Strip off the paper and there you are. You can just see the springs in the next picture.
The springs, "elliptical" they are called, are being held in place by even smaller toolmaker's clamps. This whole business is all about clamps. I could not deliver the buggy that way! So I made a nut out of a piece of very thick wire, courtesy of Mat-Su Electrical co-op; they left about a foot of cable lying around after wiring up somebody; I pounced on it, cut off a little section, and laboriously drilled a Morse #70 hole through it; then I forced it on to the wire, and it acts as a nut. So then we attach the wheels permanently, with pins (they can turn); we carve out a seat, put on the rear deck, and ta-da (music, please, Houston! Thanks):
The Doctor Buggy is complete. Much remains to be done on this tableau. We need a horse, for instance, to draw the buggy. And the harness, and the shafts. We need a doctor to drive the buggy! We need a nurse and at least one patient. But this is a long-tem project. Making models is fun. I still have a lot to learn about wheels, for instance. But for the moment it will do very well. I wanted to put steel tires on the wheels, but had no suitable steel on hand.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

ChalupyLeaks: The Doctor Tableau

The recipient of the secret project is now aware of my intentions, so all can be leaked. The project (which will take a long time, spring is here) is a tableau for my doctor. I am transposing (translating?) her practice back to the year 1910 or so. Now, the first thing a doctor would need in 1910, in rural practice, is a Doctor Buggy. In those days the doctor went to the patient, not vice-versa. I did my homework and learned a lot about carriages. There are all sorts of styles. There are phaetons, victorias, sulkies, dogcarts, landaus, coaches... the list is almost infinite. But the favorite vehicle of the rural doctor was a Doctor Buggy. Much to my surprise, you can still buy these things, in full size. Some restored, and some new. Some people are still building buggies! Of course, you need a horse to go with it, but provided you can feed Dobbin in the winter you are immune to gas prices. Here is the prototype:
I shamelessly stole this image off the 'net. Handsome, isn't it? If you google on "doctor buggy" you will be overwhelmed with images. Note that the front wheels are definitely smaller than the rears; why this may be I wot not. It caused headaches.

So now the question is how to build this thing. In everything I read, not one dimension was mentioned. Scale drawings not possible. So I went about this another way. I built a cardboard prototype, with barbecue skewers for the wooden parts. Here is version 0.0:
Now you know what the wheels are for! My next step was to unearth the Amazing Skeletor. I have mentioned him before. He is a barbecue skewer-and-wire mannequin, to a scale that all my tableaux follow. It is about 30:1 -- 1 unit tableau = 30 units full size. Why? I dunno. I feel comfortable at that scale. It is very small by model-builder's standards, who like 20:1 or 24:1, or 12:1. When I put Skeletor in the driver's seat, it was obvious that the ramp between seat and front was much too large. Nice thing about cardboard, you cut it with scissors and paste it up. After some experimenting, we came up with v1.0:
Ahhh. Sleletor looks quite comfortable. By george, we've got it! The next step was to build the chassis, or "running gear" might be the proper term.
Compared to the wheels, this was the proverbial piece of cake. But the front axle swivels, just as in the prototype. Note the piece of wire sticking out of the front axle. This is where the spring fits in. (It is also the swivel for the front wheels.) If you look at the prototype, you will see that the body is attached to the springs and the springs to the running gear. It is a suspension, in fact, with no shock absorbers.

Making this buggy was a two-month job. So I will split the posts on it. The wheels took by far the lion's share of this odyssey. The bodywork was much easier, and I'll post it later. And I'll tell you about the springs, which were much harder than I had anticipated. This is because proto-buggy, v1.0, has springs bent out of beer can material. Very easy to bend. Lots of flex. Not so steel! So stay tuned for Doctor Buggy, episode II, on this channel.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Liquid water!

Today I got out and visited a couple of parking lots. To my utter amazement I spotted a puddle of liquid water in each parking lot! Furthermore, the temperature was +4C! As we know, that is above freezing, so it should not really surprise me; but it did. This happens around the time of the equinox, which according to my calendar ocurred on the 20th of March. Just a little after the Ides of March, fatal to Roman Emperors. Not being a Caesar, I did not worry much about the Ides. But could this be the harbinger of the long-awaited breakup? We had a long succession of very cold days in March, -20C in the morning, although it did get up above zero in the afternoon. The barometer was sky-high, 1040 mb and steady. But about a week ago the high dissolved. Temperatures rose. Clouds came, but no snow. I tried asking that well-known bird of omens, the raven, what this meant. Raven said: "cark!" Very difficult business, soothsaying. I wonder what cark means in Raven. At least Raven did not say "nevermore!" Plenty of snow on the ground still, although it has compacted down to about 50 cm. Well, we will have to see.

About this time of year everyone in Alaska is fed up with winter. Can't ski, too icy. The lakes will be too dangerous to walk on soon. Bicycling is downright dangerous. So it's walk on the roads. but at least it's warmer. And then comes breakup, mud everywhere. As I have said before, such is life in Alaska.

And the secret project is ready to be revealed. But I am a bit too tired today, so stay tuned.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Handy Bandy

I am at the end game stage on the secret project. All will be revealed very soon. But in the meantime I have acquired a new tool, a portable bandsaw. He has been named Handy Bandy. Handy is an asiatic tool. I got him for cheap at my favorite pawnshop, brand-new.
I had two things in mind when I acquired Bandy: winter use to hack out carving blocks and all the things I have to do this summer. Bandy is a weird contraption. The blade is twisted 50 degrees from the vertical (or horizontal depending on what you take for a reference). The boade actually twists by that amount. The instruction manual borders on the pitiful. No, it is pitiful. It is written in English, and its syntax is impeccable. It is the information content (none) to which I object. The net is not much better, it tells you how to cut pipe with a portable bandsaw and that's it. But what I want to do is rip branches anywhere up to 10cm diameter into rectangles. And indeed I have, witness the slab at the left of the picture. It took about five minutes -- it is an hour's worth of ripping by hand. Somehow, in spite of my hatred of power tools, I find this might have its advantages.

Of course, I started out macho freehand. None of these snapped chalk lines for us. Just press the trigger and go. The saw will immediately jam up against the work on the left side. It is very powerful, Superman would have his hands full (or, if you prefer, Wonder Woman would have her work, so to speak, cut out for her). After a while, I found out that the strangely shaped piece of steel in the plastic bag, along with two anonymous screws, is a blade guide. It gives you a reference. The blade on this saw has a weird twist, 50 deg. per "manual." The blade is actually twisted by that amount. The guide also helps you keep the saw sliding along the work. So I screwed the guide on. The saw is still a difficult customer to control. I persevered -- and then the blade stopped. Motor ran, but blade did not.

So I took Bandy apart, and found some weird stuff. Bandsaws have two wheels, the tractive wheel and the idler wheel. They also have guides, thrust bearings, and other stuff. The wheels and guides were immediately recognizable. But the wheels are sections of a cone. This is all due to the fifty degree twist in the blade. None of this stuff, except the tension, is adjustable, as far as I can tell. Oh yes, and the "tire" had come off one of the wheels. The tire is a rubberlike belt on which the blade is pulled. So I put it back. I cut some more wood, and it jammed up again. And again.

So now I have to figure out how the tires are put on the wheels. On a real bandsaw they are either cemented on (old-fashioned!) or made out of some stuff that you boil in water and expand. Then, while hot, you slip it over the wheel. When it cools, it by George will stay put. Shrink-wrapped, in fact. This saw is none of the above. But the tire has a skirt. I suspect the skirt has to be pinched by the wheel. Tomorrow I will have to take the wheel off. It is held by an Allen bolt. So we will see if the anonymous Allen wrench that came with this device will fit it. If it doesen't I have all kinds of Allen wrenches in the shop. But that's the ice axe and snow shovel to get in!

Meanwhile, I have found out that the way to rip is vertically. Clamp the piece in the workmate and saw straight down. However, you have to take off all knots, limbs, and protrusions on your left side with an axe. Else the saw jams against them. We all learn by doing. Stay tuned to the further adventures of Handy Bandy.

But why in Hades did they twist the blade fifty degrees?????

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Take a bow

Having ruined two wheels for the secret project, I bade lilac goodbye for now (although fond of it, I find it very hard to bend, even in the pressure cooker). So I went out and scanned my driveway for a suitable alder. Found it. Split it, planed it, and it bent 360 degrees, one piece, with no steaming. No wonder the spinning wheel was so easy.

But while I had the alder quarters, I thought of the NanoDivider and said, "if I had a bow for it I could turn with it." Now I have been reading up on the fine art of bow making, and they all say you should use dried wood. But I wanted a bow, so what I did was to make it green. This would not do for Sherwood Forest, but for my purposes it might do all right.
What you do is take a pole, or in my case a section of alder, and split it in quarters. One of your quarters is the bow-to-be, or stave, as the bowyers say. OK, the rounded part of the quarter is called the belly of the bow. All you do to the belly is peel it. Never touch it after that. If you turn your quarter so's the back is away from you, you have a sharpish edge, containing pith. This is the back of the bow. You do all your wood removal from the back. A bow has two tapers. It tapers from the center to the tip as you view the bow from the back, and it tapers same way as you view it from the side. The whole trick in bowmaking is to get these tapers right. This activity is called tillering. Why, I cannot say; I thought tillers were used to steer sailboats. I began with my trusty Frost knife and wound up planing for finer work. Bowyers use spokeshaves, but my indoor spokeshaves are all too big.

Periodically you bend the bow. Or try to. At the beginning it is impossible. As you remove wood it becomes easier. You are looking for the right curve in the bend, and for symmetry port and starboard. If you are wise you will build a tillering jig for this purpose; the net and bowmaking books are full of tillering jigs -- they ain't rocket science. But I did it all by eye, and it shows. Then you string it up. Where it doesen't bend quite right you remove some wood. Very easy to take off too much. While thousands of people have devised clever methods of removing wood, not one has devised a method of putting it back on, except, of course, glue.

So now Sir Brian-le-Bow is drying out. I twanged Sir Brian today, and it was quite satisfying. I am tempted to make an arrow, and practice indoor target-shooting. I can hardly wait for spring, so I can make a full size one. Sir Brian, by the way, is 26 cm strung; hardly the thing to poach a stag in Sherwood Forest. But it was fun to make.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Divide and Conquer

Ah, the weekend where we switch from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time, or DST. Our beneficient congress is under the illusion that it saves energy, whatever that means. It might have been true in 1914 but it certainly is not true now. So it jerks me around for no good reason. I have, therefore, modified the statement in my previous post about politicians in my chilly Hell. The ones that voted for this measure get to shovel snow with a teaspoon.

But I digress, so let's get on with this post. When I did the wheeling and dealing post I showed you a picture of the hubs being drilled up in a dividing gadget. Dividing a circle or cylinder into equal parts is an ever-recurring problem. For instance, I want to divide a wheel hub into N equal parts so I can push spokes into them. Clockmakers, on the other hand, want to cut gear teeth at exactly equal intervals, or their clock won't run. The expensive solution is to purchase a dividing head. This is a worm-and- gear gadget that allows all kinds of divisions. But do I really need a dividing head? Not really. That old clockmaker's standby, the direct division plate, would do me just fine. Simply a circle with holes drilled into it.

So this weekend I took time out from secret project and improved the device. Here's the first improvement:
We have acquired a direct dividing wheel. This is a plastic wheel with 12 slots-- from where I have no idea, I found it on the floor and said "hey! a pre-made dividing wheel!" It also has a three-step pulley on it. Well. Maybe three, a piece broke off when I was parting it off. Parting off is such sweet sorrow, and far more experienced turners than I have come to grief with it. The super-useful plastic calipers ( fifty cents, part of a set, reads out to 0.1mm and if your eyes are good, to 0.05) are 80mm between divisions -- the whole divider is tiny.

You will note the suspicious resemblance to a lathe. In my mind I thought of that when I cobbled it up, and believe me "cobbled" is the operative word. I have it in mind I could drive it with a bow if I wanted. If so we'd need a tool rest, wouldn't we?
Here is my trusty third hand acting as a toolrest, and a pencil acting as a turning tool. The tool has also acquired a much sturdier base and has been dadoed into the same. A posed picture, of course. A wine cork is standing in as a turned piece. But if I can divide a wine cork, or even turn it, the possibilities are endless.

OK, but how do you hold the thing while you are dividing it? And what are you going to do about a tool rest? So today's steps are to rig a tool rest and put in a detent. A detent, in machinery-speak, is a device to hold something still.
I never throw pieces of steel away, especially saw blades, and there is a piece of broken coping saw blade in a hole, fixed in (I blush to admit) with plastic wood. It has a cross-pin put into it which providentially is just the right diameter to engage the slot in the divider. I will have to make a pullback handle of some sort for it. You will note, also, a block of wood fixed to the side of the base. This will support the tool rest.

You will also note the board the whole thing is sitting on. This is my work board. I use it for all my miniature work. It was originally salvaged from a huge dump of offcuts in the village. It is rock-hard, I suspect maple but it might be some asiatic wood. Anyway, today I made an Aluminum clamp thingy and fixed nano-vise to it.
I made the front-holder bracket before, also out of Ally. Aluminum (or Aluminium, as the british say) is very good for this sort of stuff. Much easier to work than steel, and much stronger than wood. One of the problems with NanoVise was that the screw pulled the brass rods right out of the vise! Never underestimate the power of the screw. I could epoxy the rods. I suppose someday I will but for now this works fine. And now I must return to secret project.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Alaska Interlude

So when I went and skied to the Iditarod, a post ot two ago, I did not ski any longer than I usually do. Thing is, I cooled off in the middle. And the snow was so nice coming back that I went all out. Disaster. My legs hurt and due to all the complications of old age and the rather convoluted human nervous system, I hurt. A lot. So I have not been skiing until today, almost a week. Instead, I walk. I am learning to toe in. Thanks to some very clever therapists, I can walk without my back aching. All I have to do is toe in! Try it sometime. American Indians toed in; in fact they could tell whether tracks were made by palefaces or one of their own kind . Most Europeans toe out. Guaranteed to give you backache in your old age. So I am learning to walk again, strange though it may sound. So out I went to what I call "Polushkin Pond," retracing my ski route. And there he was...
Aloysius X. Moose, browsing on the ur-Reutov birches (or alders). Totally unconcerned. Now mind you, I have moose tracks one meter from my house, but they are nocturnal tracks. Seldom do you see them in the daytime. Now how do I know that it is probably "he" and not "she?" Well, the ladies are usually accompanied by calves. No kids? Probably a male. Also, the attitude. Females will usually vanish. Protect offspring at all costs, even interrupt a tasty meal. Not the blokes. Their attitude is "if you get any closer I'll stomp on you. Now go away!" Not wishing to be stomped on, much less interrupt a moose at breakfast, away I went. By the way, Aloysius is probably either Ricky or Racky. Those are my two resident males. In the fall, they pal around together, with their splendid racks of horns. Racky's rack is a bit bigger than Ricky's.

In other climes, March is spring. Things start to bloom. But my driveway is still rather snowbound:
Car tracks outside, ski tracks in the middle! This is actually not my driveway. It is a road, known to the Beneficient Bureaucracy of the Mat-Su borough as "North Basargin Circle." I cannot understand this. It is not a circle. Not even approximately. Perhaps the Russians who cut the road were conversant with Lobachevsky's geometry, where circles can become straight lines. It goes the wrong way to be North. You are looking South in the picture. Not even Lobachevsky can get away with that. However, the beneficient bureaucrats regard it as a "private road" and don't clear it. So I have to do it myself or I can't get in. My driveway actually starts where the picture ends. Bless all bureaucrats. May they spend their time in the afterlife shovelling snow in Jehannum. Dear me. Maybe it's too hot in Jehannum for snow. Never mind, if Dante could imagine many Hells then I will imagine one where bureaucrats get to shovel snow. Politicians will go there too. They will shovel snow with garden trowels.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wheeling and dealing

Once again we have arrived at secret project time. These are projects that are destined as gifts for someone who may be reading this blog. It is a whole tableau, but of course I cannot tell you what it is. However, a piece of it has turned out to be quite the Odyssey, so I'll post it now. The thing is, I have to make four wagon wheels. (They are not "wagon" wheels but let that pass). Two of them are 50mm across and the other two are 40mm. Not very big.

I was misled by the ease which I made the spinning wheel. But that has six spokes and a very thin alder rim. Well, on with life. The spokes are made on the drawplate. You have seen drawplate before so I won't waste bandwidth reposting it. They are 2.5 mm diameter. The next job was to make the hubs of the wheels.
I took a piece of mahoganoid ex-table top and sawed out a rectangular piece. Then I planed it down to an octagon. The octagon is 8mm across flats. The first idea I had was to turn it down to 6mm on the Taig, easy enough; but getting the holes for the spokes in it was a nightmare. That's the left end of the piece above. Kept chipping out. No. No round hubs. We'll go with 8mm octagons! So I cobbled up the fixture in the picture. I call it the dividing fixture-future nanolathe. It will come up again. The centers are broken moto-tool drill bits. It is very easy to break a #80 Morse drill. With this fixture, holding by hand, I could drill out the spoke holes.
And there are the hub and spokes. The piece of paper is the beginning of an evolved jig. So the next step is the rims. Steam bent. At this point I figured out how to use the pressure cooker that I picked up at the thrift store for ten bucks. Amazing! Three minutes; you're done. Saves gas. Saves time. And it even cooks! So I took some pieces of lilac and planed them 2x5 mm. Tedious. Steam them, dig out every small clamp you own:
Notice that the jig has evolved from a piece of paper to a wheeling jig. I bored it out on the Taig (and it needs to be rebuilt) but it was much better than nothing. There are two pieces to these wheels, three for the small ones. It proved impossible to bend 2mm thick stuff into a circle 50mm diameter. Crack! Broken. Maybe alder next time.

The next job is to drill the thing. Mr Gerald Wingrove does this in his sleep, but I am a lot less skilled. Also his jigs are a lot more elaborate! I now see why. The jig allows me to mark out the positions of the spokes. Then I spot each hole with an awl (another broken #50 Morse drill bit) and drill on the drill press, after painstaking alignement in the drill press vise. Big wheels are built in segments called fellowes, but this might be even more work for me. The rims have to be scarfed at the joints; more painstaking work. However, at the end...
We have a wheel! Spokes need to be trimmed up, of course. Naturally, lessons have been learned. Mr Wingrve's elaborate jigs are just the thing. Save trouble in the long run. However, I am not sure that I will start turning out wheels en masse, but if I do I will certainly rethink the jigging.

The word "jig" is a curious one in English. For one thing, it is a dance; for another it is a way to fish; third is my usage -- a contraption to hold things put while you work on them, although the word fixture is also used for this. If it is a dance, the word probably comes from MF guige, as in the Jig Fugue by J.S. Bach. I am quite sure Johann S. did not have wood or metal working in mind when he wrote that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ready, set, woof!

Time for that great Alaska Classic, the Iditarod. I have posted a lot on this, but this year I did something completely different: I skied out to it! I discovered a shortcut via the frozen village pond. So off I went on skis. I carried a backpack with a thermos of tea and a spare vest in case I got really cold. Over the pond, through a clearing, gap in the trees, and you're there! Half an hour after I left home, I was there. The usual snow machine (Satan Sled) folk festival was underway.
The race goes from Anchorage to Nome. But they truck everyone up to Willow for a restart; they used to do it in Wasilla but this city has urban-heat islanded itself out of business. In spite of my prejudices against Satan Sleds, these people were very nice and offered me some very nice smoked salmon with cream cheese and crackers!

Restart was at 2PM. Thanks to my friendly neighbors, who had a program, I knew ahead of time who was who. The first musher through was the legendary Deedee Jonrowe, won twice, overcame cancer, wears a trademark pink parka.
We all cheered! She waves back; as any good star, she values her fans! One of the problems I had in this episode was the camera. It worked perfectly. But I cleverly put the sun at my back. No sun in my lens! Yes, but I had great difficulty seeing the screen. Sun at my back, sure enough. On top of this I had to take off my gloves to operate the darn camera. Hands froze. It wasn't that cold, maybe -5C, but that will still freeze your hands, and I kept pressing the "off" button instead of the shutter. But there are some good shots.
The dogs look happy, don't they? They seem to love to pull. These are huge teams at this stage, because attrition will set in; no substitutes allowed in this game. One more musher shot...
And then it's time for the clown act. One musher stopped right in the middle of the track and gave his dogs a snack.

Well, maybe he forgot to do it in Willow! Who knows. Dogs really appreciate the snacks; they are burning up an enormous amount of calories.
Note the leader. He (or she) let his/her snack go on the ground and is nibbling around it! And so it goes. One last musher shot, this one with elegant pink booties on the dogs.
Then there was the musher from Jamaica. A most unusual origin for a musher. That was one of shots where I pressed "off" instead of the shutter. I plead cold hands, your Honor. We all cheered him on. And the guy on a bicycle! Really fat tires, too. Tracking along with the dogs. Wonder if he goes all the way to Nome?

OK, time to go home. An hour's ski all told, my usual daily workout; but the middle of the workout was most unusual.

In the old days it took 20 days to get from Anchorage to Nome. Nowadays they do it in a little over eight! 1,600 Km, circa 1000 miles. Part of the reason is that now there is the "Tin Dog" Iditarod, Anchorage-Nome on Satan Sleds. They pack the track, so the going is much easier on the dogs. Don't approve of it, but it is out of my control.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Crochet Hook

The title of this post looks completely bizarre. What, JRC taking up crocheting in his dotage? Not at all. But I do use crochet hooks in my weaving. When a stubborn warp thread is having a wild affair with its neighbor, and refuses to pull out as a good warp thread should, I reach for a crochet hook and assist it to conclude its amours. This is one prong of the fork in the road to crochet hooks. The other is a very interesting discussion on Bodger's forum on making crochet hooks (Beginner's corner, How thin can you go?). Person wanted to know how thin you could go on a lathe, because she makes crochet hooks by whittling. Well, said I, you get down to 2-3 mm -- but not on a lathe. When you turn real thin stuff it tends to whip. If you can support it with a steady-rest you are in better shape, but even steel will whip without tailstock support and/or a steady. My suggestion was to use a drawplate, which you have already met. Drawplate is now at version 2.0, because for my sheet-metal drawplate got reamed out by my lilac dowels. Lilac is iron-hard when it finally dries; never mind the poetic stuff about "perfumed with lilacs." Here is v2.0 drawplate:
It is a piece of steel about 4mm thick. The turned-up corner was an attempt at mini-forging a square corner; it didn't work (not with a propane torch) but it makes a useful handle! The rest is drilling. When you drill steel, by the way, you step drill. That means drilling a very small hole first. Then a slightly larger one, and so on until you are at the desired size. Failure to do this can ruin your drill bit (and your day). Tough stuff, steel; even unhardened "mild steel."

So today I meant to post on something else, but this afternoon I was tired of that and I said -- hey! Let's try a crochet hook!
So I had this piece of lilac branch. Cut it about 20cm long. Cut it into quarters with tiny froe, at left. Hammered it through the 4 mm hole in the drawplate. Then I took out my favorite crochet hook and measured it. Hmm, about 3.8 mm diameter at the thick part. Not bad, I'm at 4.0. Tapers... but perhaps that is too much detail. Anyway, I took my smallest knife (it is sitting in the still life above) and roughed it out. At the end I had to use my swiss files (beween froe and knife) to finish the hook. But I did it. Still a bit rough. More swiss file work needed, I am afraid, even tiny knife (or maybe it's me) can't quite do those 1 mm radius turns in the hook. But I am pleased with it. Not bad for a beginner, I think. It goes very well with my Navajo loom.

Oh, and speaking of whipping on a lathe. At the right is a homemade pin punch made out of a derelict screwdriver. The pin is 2.6 mm diameter. This is metal, so it was done on the Taig lathe. But due to a combination of the length of the piece and the configuration of the Taig, I couldn't use the tailstock. The 2.6 mm was as far as I could go before the whip got out of hand. The pressure of the turning tool causes the piece to bend (whip). This is steel! Wood would whip at twice that or so. I use Mr. Pin Punch to drive the wood out of the drawplate when I have hammered it through.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More Plane Dealing

Long ago I thought I might end up making miniatures (little did I know) and a little Stanley plane showed up at a hardware store, cheap, and I bought it. It turned out to be awful. Stanley used to make good tools but I fear that they have fallen into the clutches of the dreaded marketroids, creatures with MBAs whose god is the bottom line. Perhaps Stanley meant it to plane balsa wood. (By the way, balsa in Spanish means raft. This fact did not escape the eagle eye of Mr Thor Heyerdal, when he built Kon-Tiki out of balsa logs and sailed it across the Pacific. But he didn't plane anything on that raft.) So anyway, I thought a new body might help rescue the marketroid monster. I could make a new body for it. Krenov method, natch.
Above the original plane, ugly black, minus the blade. You can see that it's a cheap channel metal with a cap which goes into slots in the metal. Below it is a block of wood, blade on it, as we lay out the long rips that make the cheeks of the planes. If you search for "Krenov planes" you should find the post I did on the method, in great detail. The blade calipered out to 25.4mm wide, so it's an inch in RGU, exactly.

And there it is all cut out. Notice I drilled the registration holes already. This is a mistake. I should have read Krenov (or Finck) more carefully! There is a reason for this. We want a very narrow throat on the plane. The way we do this is by planing the plane! We plane the sole (with another plane, of course) until the blade just goes through. Many a planing failure is due to a wide throat. Moral: clamp it together so's the blade is about 1-2 mm above the throat opening. Then drill the registration holes.

So we went to the gluing-up operation, made a wedge, and out came Plane Jane.
Already much better than the original ugly; but when I finished planing out the sole it was much too wide. See above under mistake. So I had to inlay a piece to close the throat. A good throat depth is 1 or 2 mm; more than that only for very rough planing indeed. Good practice for inlay work, look at it that way.
The inlay is a piece of copper beaten out from old gas pipe. You do not need Titanium alloy in a wooden plane. Copper is much easier to work. Jane is a vast improvement on her original form; but the blade is really too short so it is hard to adjust. It is also very difficult to sharpen. It is difficult to hold the proper angle on such a short blade. But I am one up on the Stanley marketroids. I will be very happy if I can figure out what to make of the leftover original parts.

One of these days I suppose I should post all the stuff I have learned on tuning planes so that they actually plane. But Mr Garret Hack has already done so; read his The Handplane Book (q.g.). Lots of good information in Krenov and Finck, too. There is probably all sorts of stuff on line but I haven't looked. If you buy a Veritas plane from Lee Valley (q.g.) or a Lee-Nielsen plane, you can plane out of the box. You will pay dearly for the privilege. No others need apply. You buy a secondhand plane, or build one yourself, you have to learn to tune it. It is not difficult. End of rant!