23 December 2014

Layer on layer

Open post #5 dating back from September

A post about a technique that looked counterintuitive to me, repetitive layering.  Maybe it is more a finish carpenter technique.  Anyway it is nicely illustrated by Jon Peters with the build of a blanket chest.  He starts with a box and then ads a frame, feet, ... and ends with a detailed chest. Nice work. jonpeters.com

21 December 2014

Lure and lore of the framing square

Open post #4 dating back from September

Framing squares with their sides filled with tables and numbers are attractive.  Maybe because in my mind they share something with rune swords.  And that's of course my mistake,  I want magic and it's mainly about math.  To get the swords part right, swords are in medieval literature supposed to rely on relics not text:  E! Durendal, cum es bele e seintisme! En l'oriet punt asez i ad reliques:  La dent seint Perre e del sanc seint Basilie, E des chevels mun seignor seint Denise, Del vestement i ad seinte Marie. (Turold 1080)  That's the fantasy part, in real they probably relied only on a hard edge.  I can imagine that rune swords are just like framing squares mainly a 19th century invention.

Now OK, I did look at the framing square maths.  As I was curious enough I studied the tables and numbers.  It's interesting but it doesn't relate to anything I ever did.  Stairs for example are mostly made here with steps between the stringer,  not on top.  The advantage of seeing inches on the square as scaled down feet is also probably lost if I use a metric square.  So I have a book, but not the square.

When making structures with diagonals nowadays things have changed.  Compared to 40 years ago I now have calculators, excel sheets, tape measures of more than 2m and no need for a plumb bob. I would probably be better served with something like an alpha square to solve angled framing problems.  There is a good video about precise measurement cut with a chainsaw using a long tape measure and an alpha square.

Looking for framing square information on youtube I discovered Mark Harmon implementing a low math framing square for framing composed hip roofs: The adjustable hip square.  The square is made to set out 45° hip and valley rafters. To simplify calculations the frame scale is offset by a √2 factor so that the orthogonal values can be used when measuring diagonals.  And by keeping that scale and measures to the horizontal, the roof angle doesn't change the values either.  The only problem is that the measures are stepped,  giving most probably cumulative errors.  A specialized jiggery,  but it looks like an attractive low math solution for one type of problems.  

Of all that lure I acquired a Stanley adjustable quick square to serve as a sliding bevel. I offers me a locked angle together with its complementary angle (90°- angle).  It's jiggery, but I know I sometimes miss the complementary angle on a sliding bevel.  Now what about my next problem, the halved angle?  There is certainly a jig about that too.  Maybe all I needed was a good protractor.

14 December 2014

Wood pecking

Open post #3 from June

Walking in the woods in I saw that someone found a woodpecker in a tree and many other animals.

A little further I found a white-red GR marking (tree on the left) of a long-distance Grande RandonnĂ©e  footpath,  following that trail could have lead me over France through Spain. Compostella, Gibraltar, ....

But there are plenty of short distance alternatives too.  The number  on top allows to walk by numbers over a grid.  There is also a more global grid for cyclists.

Walking by numbers
Cycling by numbers

12 December 2014

Wooden planes - Japanese

A late seventh post in a series about western wooden planes

Thanks to the possibilities offered by ebay I unexpectedly added a Japanese plane to my collection.  The plane was described as 1940's Japanese Old Wood Plane Tool Carpentry. It was offered at a very good price and after a two month wait,  I finally got it home. No complaints about the quality,  no notable bedding problems, no cracks, the only special part is the blade geometry.  Where I expected to see flat surfaces,  I found a lot of curves.  First a secondary bevel just on the lamination,  making it difficult to see if it really is a laminated blade (it is) or a cheaper massive model.
But there was also a curved primary bevel. It will take a number of iterations to straighten the blade and to improve my sharpening technique.  A great help is the youtube series by Sumokun about Japanese planes,  and the faint memory of a Japanese carpentry session.

The not so flat bevels made me think about cupped sharpening stones.  That's not what I expect from todays Japanese blades, but fifty years ago thing could have been different.  Paul Sellers presented today a first post about past cupped sharpening stones.
The same could have been the case in Japan.  In a video 17th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith Murray Carter works fluently with a cupped natural stone and expresses his unwillingness to waste stone by just flattening it. He seems to favor controlled wear to get stones flat.

Back to the plane,  with three parts a wooden body and two blades it is a most simple plane.  Setting it up a new plane is probably less simple as every part needs a perfect fit.  The blade for example is wedge shaped in width and thickness.  An extra problem is the width of the blade,  it is certainly impressively wide but it makes everything more difficult to handle. It is a lot wider than my 5 cm stones (2") and also probably than most sharpening jigs.  So if bought  new I would have taken a narrow model. In the meantime I still need a few sharpening sessions to get the blade right and some patience to see how the plane sole stabilizes to the local humidity.

09 December 2014

Rali planes

Open post #2 also from January
Last week I saw a video of a German apprentice carriage-maker with a Rali plane (to be seen at 8:00) and I thought why would she do that.

So, I tried to see why.  According to some it is best to have an expensive quality plane as first plane, a way to know what it is all about from the beginning.  That is until you need to sharpen, as planes are mainly about sharpening.  Are Rali planes an alternative for beginners?
Price,  I found a factory price-list on the internet and suddenly the prices just look right.  We are talking 40€ for the standard model.
Setup, in a Rali demonstration video one can see the demonstrator  switching from thick to thin shavings in 2 seconds. Seeing Paul Sellers doing the same feat in 3 seconds with a #4 Stanley plane was impressive,  this is a near idiot proof alternative.
Sharpening,  Rali goes for replaceable blades.  The idea is not new but for a beginner this is perfect,  after messing up the first blade,  just reverse the blade and continue planing.  Even for a professional,  with the price of one edge set at 1€ (still that factory price-list)  there is little reason to go for a resharpable blade.  With the possibility of tungsten carbide blades, probably to plane plywood.

The factory pricelist is more a dream and it was probably dated,  what I can get are planes at 140€, HSS blades at 4€ and tungsten carbide steel blades at 24€.  Now,  4€ for a blade is 2€ for one side.  This is still a good offer if one considers the time and investment needed to sharpen. The only problem is that chisels also need that sharpening investment.  Rali is probably happy I mention chisels as they have also a solution with the shark chisels,  but ...
Apparently the insert bottom right is to hold a jigsaw blade,  center right are scrapers and their angled holder.

07 December 2014

Stanley mileage

December,  time to post a number of unpublished posts and eliminate the others.  #1 from January.
After I had questioned the unused,  pristine state of Zyliss vises in a post,  I thought it would be fair to also look at second hand Stanley planes.
Here the opinions diverge,  according to some second hand planes are often usable as such,  where others consider those planes only usable after a drastic overhaul.
For the planes I bought, the soles were definitely more flat than the old ironing irons I have. Looking at the plane irons I find them mostly long,  with much, maybe even all, sharpening length left.  Only the shortish #10 blades, starting with maybe 1" of usable blade, show worn blades.
So,  to make it scientific I did an ebay search and looked at the first 5 #10 planes. I did found 1 worn blade.  The four others give the impression that one or more ownerships are good for an average of maybe 1/2" of wear.

The end of life blade,  the blade is the small shadow at the bottom.  Seeing the iron poorly aligned I checked to see if there are different iron widths.  No just one width,  the #10 is similar to a #5 and the #10½ to a #4.

I once nearly bought a second hand wooden plane with iron sole and HSS blade, made for harder stuff like plastic. Upon searching I found a saved picture of it.  The blade was completely used and buying a new iron would have more than doubled the price. On the other hand maybe there were still years of use when using it on softer stuff like plywood and welding the blade back to length with an extension.  And maybe not on aesthetics,  but technically it is close to an infill plane.  Anyway this is mileage although most of it could come from abusive grinding.