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Issue 331 • May 2018

SEND IN YOUR TOP WORKSHOP TIP & YOU COULD WIN A FANTASTIC VERITAS LOW-ANGLE JACK PLANE – WORTH OVER £250! www.getwoodworking.com dwo

The No.1 magazine for aspiring designer makers

PRECISION TOOL-MAKING DOWN UNDER 20 YEARS ON & STILL GOING STRONG CHRIS VESPER ON STRIVING TO MAKE THE BEST HAND TOOLS IN THE WORLD

CREATING SMALL DECORATIVE BOXES S JOHN BULLAR’S GUIDE TO FURNITURE MAKING ON A MINIATURE SCALE

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Welcome

Welcome ‘Some of my favourite things from this issue’

Despite the Easter weekend being a wet and windy affair, which I hear was the case for most of the country, four days’ holiday is a definite bonus, especially if, like me, you made it extra long by taking the previous Wednesday and Thursday off too. I hasten to add that when I booked the hotel I didn’t actually realise when Easter fell, so this just happened to be a happy coincidence. Of course, the downside of having six days off does mean you have lots of work to catch up on as a result…

A damp Easter break I was going to include here photos of mine and my partner’s trip to the glorious New Forest – Lyndhurst to be exact – but the rain didn’t stop the whole time we were there, which sadly put an end to our plans of long walks admiring the plethora of trees and ponies. I also failed to realise that due to the time we visited and the trees still not regaining their leaves, the usual view of the forest from our beautiful balcony wasn’t as epic as it would have been later in the year. Never mind; the important thing was that we still got to relax. The stunning Limewood Hotel is set right in the middle of the New Forest National Park, so it’s definitely secluded and very much a hidden gem. Originally a mediaeval hunting lodge back in the 13th century, this sprawling manor house was reclaimed for royalty by the Duke of Clarence in the 1740s. Since then it’s obviously had a bit of a makeover and according to the staff, it took a team of architects, builders and designers five years to convert it to its current state. We were sad to also miss our trip to Beaulieu – home of the National Motor Museum – which is a magnificent historical estate boasting over 800 years of heritage. I hear the gardens are stunning during spring, but all the more reason to go back.

20 years of tool-making So that’s what I’ve been up to since the last issue, but what about you? I’ve received some lovely letters and emails this month, one of which is featured on page 44. It’s always so inspiring to hear of people who are either discovering woodworking now, or coming back to it after years and years, many of whom have reached retirement age and are looking to take up a hobby. We hope our magazine is helpful in offering you the guidance you require while providing you with project ideas, technical articles to broaden your knowledge base, and of course the odd feature to make you go ‘wow’. One such inspiring person I recently interviewed was Chris Vesper, who is this month’s cover star and featured maker. As I say in the article, his passion for what we does is really second to none and he shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Congratulations to Chris for reaching his 20-year milestone and we can’t wait to see what new tools he goes on to develop.

Tegan Foley Group Editor

Phil Davy Technical & Consultant Editor

Workshop hints & tips And before I go, don’t forget to keep sending in your top workshop hints and tips. While I’ve already received a fair few, there’s still plenty of chances for you to be selected, so please share your knowledge with us and get emailing in your text and photos. We hope you enjoy our May issue and remember to always have fun with your woodworking, regardless of your skill level; that’s the most important thing after all!

Email tegan.foley@mytimemedia.com

Dave Roberts Consultant Editor

We endeavour to ensure all techniques shown in Good Woodworking are safe, but take no responsibility for readers’ actions. Take care when woodworking and always use guards, goggles, masks, hold-down devices and ear protection, and above all, plenty of common sense. Do remember to enjoy yourself, though

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 3


Inside this issue

SEND IN YOUR TOP WORKSHOP HINT OR TIP & YOU COULD BE IN WITH THE CHANCE OF WINNING A VERITAS LOW-ANGLE JACK PLANE – WORTH OVER £250! SEE PAGE 45 FOR DETAILS

22

TIMBER-FRAMING Dave Roberts opens the series by trying to characterise the distinctive quality of life in the rural borderlands

4 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


May – 331

TOOLS PROJECTS TECHNIQUES ADVICE

PROJECTS

TECHNICAL

30 Feed the birds Clint Rose presents an entirely unique design for a bird table, which includes a series of planters to make it really stand out

66 Segmented sensation Tristan Dare creates a unique cutting board design consisting of 100 pieces of beautiful contrasting wood

73 On the latch Taking only a few hours to install, follow Phil Davy’s simple steps for installing a Suffolk latch on a ledged and braced door and be sure to avoid any of the common pitfalls

PEOPLE & PLACES

26 Boxes constructed with furniture maker’s jointing techniques

38 Useless objects Edward Hopkins makes three of them and finds that they aren’t

As John Bullar shows, box making projects are well suited to a small workshop with a few good quality tools and an ideal way to demonstrate fine furniture making skills

46 Centrefold Andrew Lawton’s latest exhibition piece, made using solid blackbean, is a contemporary British piece of furniture made from a very rare material

48 Learning about panel products Peter Bishop looks at how manufacturing processes and techniques have developed to utilise wood, as well as the classifications of sheet materials and composite boards

75 Window made new

58 Tool-making maestro Regarded the world over for producing first-class precision hand tools, Chris Vesper of Vesper Tools has certainly worked hard to achieve success, which makes his story all the more inspirational

90 When harm lends charm

Phil Davy shows you how to quickly and easily replace a rotten window board

The distressing tale of patination

KIT & TOOLS

80 A platter full of apples Taking a piece of spalted beech he’s had for a long time, Les Thorne decides to turn a platter, as well as a selection of apples in various exotic timbers

14 Makita DRT50ZJX3

54 Top tips from a riverboat wheelhouse build

cordless LXT router

John McMahon admits to being a frustrated naval architect as he shares the tale of how he went about building the wheelhouse for a large, steel hulled riverboat

20 Shogun Japanese saws 21 IRWIN QUICK-GRIP One-Handed Bar Clamps

YOUR FAVOURITES

78 The importance of responsible forestry Shaun Stevenson of G&S Timber highlights the importance of sustainability when sourcing timber, the certifications to look out for when buying, and how all timber suppliers should ensure they are practising responsible forestry

8 News 12 Courses 13 Readers’ ads 44 Letters & Makers 72 Around the House 89 Next month

Main cover image courtesy of effectiveworkingimage.com

http://twitter.com/getwoodworking www.getwoodworking.com Published by MyTimeMedia Ltd. Suite 25, Eden House Enterprise Way, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 6HF UK and Overseas Tel: +44 (0) 1689 869 840 SUBSCRIPTIONS UK – New, Renewals & Enquiries Tel: 0344 243 9023 Email: mytimemedia@subscription.co.uk USA & Canada - New, Renewals & Enquiries Tel: (001) 866 647 9191 Rest of World – New, Renewals & Enquiries Tel: +44 (0) 1604 828 748 Email: help@twwsecureorder.co.uk

BACK ISSUES & BINDERS Contact: 01795 662 976 Website: www.mags-uk.com EDITORIAL Group Editor: Tegan Foley Technical & Consultant Editor: Phil Davy Consultant Editor: Dave Roberts

ADVERTISING Group Advertising Manager: Rhona Bolger Email: rhona.bolger@mytimemedia.com Tel: 01689 869 891 SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions Manager: Kate Hall

MANAGEMENT Group Advertising Manager: Rhona Bolger CONTRIBUTORS Phil Davy, Dave Roberts, Mark Cass, John Bullar, Clint Rose, Email: rhona.bolger@mytimemedia.com Chief Executive: Owen Davies Edward Hopkins, Andrew Lawton, Peter Bishop, John McMahon, Tristan Dare, Shaun Stevenson, Les Thorne PRODUCTION Designer: Nik Harber Retouching Manager: Brian Vickers

© MyTimeMedia Ltd. 2018 All rights reserved ISSN 0967-0009

The Publisher’s written consent must be obtained before any part of this publication may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, including photocopiers, and information retrieval systems. All reasonable care is taken in the preparation of the magazine contents, but the publishers cannot be held legally responsible for errors in the contents of this magazine or for any loss however arising from such errors, including loss resulting from negligence of our staff. Reliance placed upon the contents of this magazine is at reader’s own risk. Good Woodworking, ISSN 0967-0009, is published 13 times a year by MYTIMEMEDIA Ltd, Enterprise Way, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 6HF, UK. The US annual subscription price is 62GBP (equivalent to approximately 88USD). Airfreight and mailing in the USA by agent named Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Good Woodworking, Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Subscription records are maintained at dsb.net 3 Queensbridge, The Lakes, Northampton, NN4 7BF

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News

from the bench

WOOD AWARDS 2018 – CALL FOR ENTRIES NOW OPEN The Wood Awards: Excellence in British Architecture and Product Design has now launched its 2018 call for entries. Anyone involved in a UK-based wood project is invited to enter and has until 25 May to submit their applications. Established in 1971, the Wood Awards recognises, encourages and promotes outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood in projects throughout the UK. The Wood Awards’ elite independent judging panel not only judges all submitted entries but also visits the shortlisted projects in person, making this a uniquely rigorous competition. The Wood Awards shortlist will be announced in July and the winners will be unveiled at the Wood Awards ceremony on 20 November 2018 at Carpenters’ Hall in London. The shortlisted projects will be on display at the ceremony and during the London Design Festival in September. Stephen Corbett of Green Oak Carpentry and design critic Corinne Julius are the new Buildings and Furniture & Product judging panel chairpersons. Stephen comments: “Every year the call for entries for the Wood Awards casts its net ever wider and deeper, as the new wave of enthusiasm for working with wood gathers pace. Years ago, timber buildings and furniture were the pre-eminent choice – now it’s clear that their time has come around again, presenting enormous opportunities for our foremost architects and designers.” Corinne adds: “Wood is such a beautiful, versatile material. It reveals the history of its use, with a richness of patina. There are so many ways to work with it both for commercial production and to make one-offs.

Winner of the 2017 Arnold Laver Gold Award & Interiors Award – Coastal House, Devon, by 6a Architects

In the last few years there has been a re-appraisal of its qualities with an increasing number of designers responding to its potential, matched by an increased appreciation by consumers.” With permission from the owner, anyone associated with a building or product completed in the last two years can enter. Buildings must be located within the UK while furniture and other products must have either been designed or manufactured in the UK. Fitted furniture must be in the UK. The competition is free to enter and entrants may submit more than one project. There are no restrictions on the size or budget of a project. The 2018 categories will be confirmed at the shortlisting. Building categories are likely to be ‘Commercial & Leisure’, ‘Education &

Public Sector’, ‘Interiors’, ‘Private’ and ‘Small Project’. The Furniture & Product competition will be split into ‘Bespoke’, ‘Production Made’ and ‘Student Designer’, which is open to anyone currently in education or who has left education in the past 12 months. Within the ‘Student’ category there are two cash prizes (£1,000 for the Winner and £500 for the People’s Choice). Other awards, such as ‘Structural’ and ‘Existing Building’, can be given at the judges’ discretion. The organisers are delighted to announce that Mears Group will be sponsoring this year’s Gold Award. The Mears Group Gold Award is given to the winner of winners, chosen from the winners of all the categories. To find out more, see the website: www.woodawards.com.

Winner of the 2017 Furniture & Product competition ‘Bespoke’ category – Eleanor Lakelin’s turned vessels

Winner of the 2017 Production Made category – Case Furniture’s Narin chair

TREND SNAPPY 35MM MACHINE BIT WITH DEPTH STOP The new Trend Snappy 35mm Machine Bit makes the fitting of Euro style kitchen hinges quick to achieve along with guaranteed uniform depths, thanks to the fully adjustable aluminium depth stop. Depths of 9mm through to 13mm can be quickly set through a viewing window against the depth markings on the drill for fast, repeatable setting across the range, thus eliminating any danger of drilling through the face of the workpiece. The cutter features Tungsten Carbide tips for increased durability and is

designed for use in abrasive materials such as chipboard and MDF. A centre point for accurate non-slip alignment in conjunction with outer scribers ensures a clean, smooth entry into finished surfaces. Complete with a quick change 6.3mm hex shank, the cutter is fully compatible with all Trend Snappy bit holders and standard hex chucks. The SNAP/MB35DS is priced at £27.54 inc VAT and is available from all Trend Routing Centres and stockists across the UK. To find out more, see www.trend-uk.com.

8 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


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News

from the bench

UJK TECHNOLOGY LEVEL BOX The UJK Technology level box is an essential gadget for setting circular saws, mitre saws, bandsaws, pillar drills, milling machines and many other situations which require an accurate angle measurement. This digital angle sensor with a resolution of 0.1° is very simple to operate, requiring only two buttons: an on/off and a zero function button. When first switched on the level box automatically displays the angle of the surface on which it is sitting, relative to absolute zero. Pressing the zero button re-calibrates the level box to reference this surface. Using this function, you can compare the angle of one surface relative to another. For example, you can check the angle of a saw’s table to that of the blade.

Magnets, hidden in the base, hold the level box firmly in position on any steel or ferrous surface. The level box allows you to set up tools efficiently and effectively. Odd angles that would have required several test cuts and even straightforward 45° mitres can now be set with complete confidence. Use the level box to ensure any angle or return stops on your machines are accurate. For more info and current pricing, see www.axminster.co.uk.

PROKRAFT LAUNCHES NEW ATOM PEN KIT Independent retailer Prokraft has launched a new click pen kit called the ‘Atom’, so named as it takes the pen kit back into the hands of the dedicated woodturner. The Atom is a full length (105mm) single tube click pen kit, which offers the turner the opportunity to make one single piece pen without the interruption of a centre band. While the kit itself is very simple it gives an opportunity for both material, design and skill to be shown to full effect. Gone are all the fancy embellishments and colours that make some pen kits more about the kit than the unique material and craftsmanship added by the maker. Prokraft have launched this kit to coincide with a new range of pen kits featuring top quality Taiwanese mechanisms built for reliability. The new range features slimline, fancy and sierra pro kits, all with premium quality transmissions. Prices for the Atom kit start at £2.70 plus shipping; see www.prokraft.co.uk for more info.

NEW TOOLS FOR YOUR WORKSHOP WITH MACHINE MART’S NEW SPRING/SUMMER CATALOGUE Whether it’s keeping your tools sharp or getting your storage well organised, Machine Mart’s new catalogue has all the tools and equipment you need this spring/summer. Featuring over 500 new products and massive price cuts, the 500-page catalogue is a ‘must have’ for woodworking enthusiasts seeking a huge choice at unbeatable value. New catalogue arrivals include the Clarke CMS210S 1,400W sliding compound mitre saw and a brand-new range of Clarke 18V brushless

combi drills. Machine Mart also offers a huge range of sanders, routers, dust extractors and saws starting from under £100, all of which represent great value for money. With over 21,000 items of tools and machinery in stores across the country and online, there’s bound to be something to meet your woodworking needs. To order your catalogue, simply see www.machinemart.co.uk, visit your local store, or call 0844 880 1265.

THE DURABLE WATER-BASED ALTERNATIVE TO OIL EGGSHELL PAINTS Ideal for use on wood and metal surfaces both inside and outside, the Futura Aqua portfolio of waterborne urethane alkyd-based interior and exterior finishes from TeknosPro provides varying sheen levels with Futura Aqua 20 offering semi-matt, Futura Aqua 40 semi-gloss and Futura Aqua 80 gloss. The paints can be tinted to all Teknos colour shades and also available is the versatile Futura Aqua 3 primer. Package sizes are 0.9 and 2.7, 9 litres. Suited to professionals requiring a handapplied brush finish that flows easily with few brush marks, it provides a very low sheen top coat and incredibly durable surface. The paints are environmentally friendly with low VOC levels and can be used for a

10 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

wide range of applications, including interior doors, window casements, cabinets, mouldings, panels, staircase railings and radiators. It is also suitable for use outdoors on primed window casements and doors. The modern pigments used disperse evenly through the paint and provides excellent resistance to weather and UV rays, plus they retain their colour and gloss over time. The paint may be thinned with water and is easy to apply by brush, roller and spray, which makes the application effortless. The surface is dust-free after one hour and thoroughly dry after two to three days. To find out more about the product range, see www.teknos.co.uk.


WORKS ‘BIG’ IN A SMALL SPACE: NEW GEARKLAMP GK FROM BESSEY OFFERS EXCITING POSSIBILITIES BESSEY is introducing a first-of-its-kind in the world with the GearKlamp GK: a product that conveniently masters clamping applications in a perfect way – even in the tightest of spaces. This is made possible by a patent pending mechanism that facilitates the separation of the spindle from the handle, which in turn allows you to position it around the rail. With the GearKlamp GK, BESSEY once again demonstrates its innovative leadership in the field of manual clamping tools. The special design is based on the sound technical know-how of the BESSEY development team, with the aim of making daily work in craft and industry easier. The GearKlamp GK is much more compact than the classic screw clamps, lever clamps or one-handed clamps as its handle is positioned around the rail. Each turn of the handle transfers the clamping force to the spindle via a mechanism concealed in the sliding arm. This innovative design gives the user key advantages. For example, when using the product, there are no protruding tool components in cramped working areas for the craftsperson to run into and thus damage the workpiece or injure themselves. For another, ergonomic handling and enhanced comfort is guaranteed in every clamping situation as there is no need to contort one’s hand. With its compact design, the GearKlamp GK achieves a clamping force of up to 2,000N. BESSEY has equipped it with a quick-release shift button for fast movement along the sliding arm. In addition, it has a smooth-running trapezoidal threaded spindle with swivelling pressure plate that adapts perfectly to the workpiece. Even round, pointed and angular workpieces are held securely with the help of the crossed V-grooves, which are located under the protective cap on the upper section. Meeting the BESSEY quality promise was also a focus in development. For this reason, only high-quality materials are used in the production. The stable profiled rail is made of tempered, burnished steel. The upper section and the sliding arm’s plastic housing protects the driving mechanism from dust and splintering and are manufactured using fibreglass-reinforced polyamide. This also makes the GearKlamp a winning choice in terms of durability. Available in four clamping widths: 150mm (GK15), 300mm (GK30), 450mm (GK45) and 600mm (GK60), each with a throat depth of 60mm, see www.bessey.de for more info.

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www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 11


News

from the bench

COURSES – MAY 1* Tool sharpening 9 & 24* Sharpening hand tools with Tormek 10–11* Beginners’ routing (2 days) 15 Bird, bee & bat boxes 15* Making a pestle & mortar 15 Pen making 21–23 Make a side table 30* Bandsaw course * Course held in Sittingbourne, Kent Axminster Tools & Machinery Unit 10 Weycroft Avenue Axminster, Devon EX13 5PH Tel: 08009 751 905 Web: www.axminster.co.uk 10–11 Ash splint basketry 12 Spoon carving 12–18 Windsor chairmaking 14–16 Longbow making 17–18 Willow sculpture Greenwood Days Ferrers Centre for Arts & Crafts, Staunton Harold, Leicestershire LE65 1RU Tel: 01332 864 529 Web: www.greenwooddays.co.uk 4–7 Beginners’ four-day course 14–18 Router skills Chris Tribe, The Cornmill, Railway Road Ilkley, West Yorkshire LS29 8HT Tel: 01943 602 836 Web: www.christribefurniturecourses.com 19 Pyrography 22 Pen turning 23–24 Woodturning Turners Retreat, Faraday Close Harworth, Nottinghamshire DN11 8RU Tel: 01302 744 344 Web: www.turners-retreat.co.uk 12–13 Wood machining John Lloyd Fine Furniture Bankside Farm, Ditchling Common Burgess Hill, East Sussex RH15 0SJ Tel: 01444 480 388 Web: www.johnlloydfinefurniture.co.uk 26 Ancient & recent river & sea boats of Sussex, Kent & South East England Weald & Downland Living Museum Singleton, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0EU Tel: 01243 811 363 Web: www.wealddown.co.uk 6 Greenwood low stool 10 Basic drill skills 13 Introduction to woodcarving 24 Introduction to sharpening The Goodlife Centre, 49/55 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0ES Tel: 0207 760 7613 Web: www.thegoodlifecentre.co.uk

CRAFT SUPPLIES LAUNCHES WITH INDUSTRY WEB FIRST Woodworking retailer Turners Retreat is incorporating Craft Supplies into its name to reflect its growing brand portfolio and follows its recent advancement into the art of pyrography. The move coincides with the launch of an industry groundbreaking website. The new website promises a fresh approach to online shopping in the woodworking industry with a browsing bar enabling visitors to quickly click through related products. Only seen in some of the large high street fashion retailer sites, this feature makes website navigation similar to browsing the aisle in your favourite store. For those who know what they want, an intuitive search facility will quickly select products and direct visitors to where they want to go. Alternatively, a neatly arranged menu option will take you to tool categories and product pages. The new website will boast more than 3,000 listed products, including over 200 exclusive items. There are new items for pyrography, branding irons and ceramic stones, along with a range of Foredom rotary power tools to celebrate the launch. A series of unique features will provide thousands of loyal customers with an enhanced user experience. Demonstration films, ‘how to’ tool guides and an inspirational gallery of finished projects showing what can be achieved with a little dedication are just some of the things visitors to the new website can expect to see. A product review and comments section will provide an opportunity for shoppers to have their say and an events page will keep users informed of upcoming shows, open days and craft workshops. Sign up online to receive the blog and newsletter and you could win over £1,000 worth of tools. Registered users will be the first to hear about the latest fantastic offers and new product releases. The Nottinghamshire-based outlet is a favourite for woodturners, woodcarvers and pyrographers across the UK. Excited by the launch, store manager David Green, said: “The coming together of Turners Retreat and Craft Supplies gave new direction to our company. The launch of our ground-breaking website has provided us with the platform to branch out into new areas of the craft world. The browser bar makes navigating quick, simple and easy. It brings a real-life sensation to online shopping normally only found in-store. Our vision is for our customers to make this their website of choice. We want it to be the go-to place for all their woodworking needs and provide the opportunity for them to help create an environment for like-minded woodworkers.” To find out more, see www.turners-retreat.co.uk.

NEWS IN BRIEF Coming up next month is Makers Central, a brand-new event which takes place at the NEC Birmingham on 5–6 May. Bringing together thousands of makers from around the world, from crafters and inventors to hobbyists and artists, this event allows them to share their passion for all things creative. Makers Central is specifically aimed at the maker community; if you make or just share the passion for creating, come and join Nick Zammeti and the extensive range of exhibitors and demonstrators for this spectacular weekend of fun. Book your tickets now to join in the celebration of creativity and learning – to find out more, see www.makerscentral.co.uk Axminster Tools & Machinery’s managing director Alan Styles was recently made a liveryman of The Furniture Makers’ Company at a court meeting and dinner held at the Furniture Makers’ Hall back in March. Alan has moved up from the position of corporate liveryman, which he became in 2013, to liveryman, which means he is now entitled to wear the livery of the guild to which he belongs. Alongside Alan, Axminster’s sales director Darran McLeod was admitted to the Company as a corporate liveryman. Membership of the Company as a liveryman, corporate liveryman or freeman is available to those employed or who have been employed in the furnishing industry. Thus, individuals are able to contribute to the industry and its work outside of their normal employment, and even after they have retired. To find out more about The Furniture Makers’ Company, see www.furnituremakers.org.uk, and to find out more about Axminster Tools & Machinery, visit www.axminster.co.uk

12 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


BOSCH 12V CORDLESS PLANER & CORDLESS EDGE ROUTER MASTER GONDOLA CRAFTSMANSHIP "It is a challenge to yourself. You put your body and soul into every boat. You put your all into it, to make it perfect." Roberto Tramontin has a passion for his demanding craft running through his veins. He is a gondola builder in Venice, the fourth generation of craftsmen in his family. His yard is in the district of Dorsoduro, where the canals are often completely still and calm water reflects the facades of the old buildings. His great-grandfather Domenico Tramontin opened the workshop in 1884 and had a hand in shaping the tradition of gondola-building in Venice. The tools used in traditional construction include the axe, saw, hammer and planer. Roberto still has his grandfather's wooden hand-held planer into which the impression of a hand has become worn over the years. At the same time, he also counts on professional power tools. "It is a traditional craft, but that does not mean you always have to stick to the old ways of doing things. You have to keep developing in order to improve," he says, and hands his colleague Paolo Favaro the Bosch GHO 12V-20 Professional cordless planer – the only 12V version on the market. "A planer needs to be lightweight because it is mainly used with just one hand and for long periods of time," he explains. The GHO 12V-20 Professional is comparable to a traditional hand-held planer in terms of weight and size, meaning it offers familiar handling characteristics. This helps Paolo to work comfortably, flexibly and with control in any position. The tool is also well-balanced, ergonomic and especially compact, which is made possible by the 12V system as well as the use of brushless EC motor technology. Furthermore, this EC motor offers high performance and does not require maintenance. As a connoisseur of silence, Roberto particularly appreciates the fact that the planer is quiet. The robust design with an aluminium planer shaft and many practical features make a positive impression on Paolo. The depth can be adjusted at the turn of a 20-step knob, up to a maximum of 2mm. If a planing depth deeper than 1mm is required, a safety button releases the adjustment. The replacement blade is housed in a small drawer in the tool handle, and the hex key required to change it is located in a division within the battery compartment – so nothing can get

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lost. The chip ejector also ensures flexibility since it can be inserted on the right- or left-hand side of the tool as preferred. “Gondola construction is painstaking,” explains Roberto, “and this is why the quality of the tools we use for working the wood is very important to us.” The small cordless planer has passed its mastership examination, a good reason for the gondola builder to test out another tool from the Bosch 12V Professional range. The GKF 12V-8 Professional is the first 12V cordless edge router. Its handle is especially narrow and ergonomically shaped, so the tool is comfortable to operate with one hand, for routing convex or concave profiles and chamfers. Roberto adds: "You see the wood lying there and you make something from it which the whole world envies. It is a symbol of Italy. I love building them; it comes from my heart." To find out more, see www.bosch-professional.com.

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www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 13


Kit & Tools Makita DRT50ZJX3 cordless LXT router

A SERIOUS & COMPACT POWER TOOL Benefitting from four different versatile bases, this cordless router/trimmer includes a whole host of accessories, making it a very comprehensive kit

U

nlike the recently launched Ryobi and Bosch power tools, the new Makita DRT50 is a cordless version of their 240V palm router. But it’s more than merely a machine for adding edge profiles or trimming laminate. With so many accessories provided in this comprehensive kit (including four bases and a straight fence), it’s a serious compact power tool. Although pricey, this is a professional tool and is available in a less expensive format (around £217) if you don’t want all the bells and whistles. The kit tested here comes bare, with no batteries or charger included. Should you need these, the X2 kit with two 4.0Ah Li-ion batteries and charger will set you back around £600. A cavernous, substantial Makpac storage case is provided here, plus a lift-out fabric inner bag. With so many small gadgets, screws and wrenches it would make sense to store these in a small plastic box – there’s certainly plenty of room for one.

Brushless technology Before taking a closer look at each base, let’s investigate the tool itself. The low-energy, brushless motor is housed in a cylindrical, cast aluminium body. Machining and finish here are faultless, as you’d expect, and even without a base attached it’s weighty. With a 4.0Ah battery and plunge base fitted it’s a hefty 3.04kg. Designed to accept any 18V Makita battery, the tool will sit securely upside down on the bench for cutter changing. The battery simply slides into the upper plastic

A cavernous, substantial Makpac storage case is provided here, plus a lift-out fabric inner bag

housing when you’re ready for action. A recessed thumb dial enables you to select speeds from 10,000 to 30,000rpm, a wider range than offered by some 240V routers. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this is the world’s first cordless router equipped with variablespeed. Constant speed control and soft start electronics enhance performance. A pair of on/off buttons mean it’s virtually impossible to activate the tool accidentally and these are shrouded against dust. Pressing the left one puts the router into standby mode and switches on a pair of bright LED work lights underneath. These will switch off after 10 seconds unless you press the second button, which fires up the motor. Pressing either button shuts off the power. You can either change a cutter with the motor fitted into a base or removed from it. The red, spring-loaded spindle lock button is easy to reach, while a spanner is used to tighten the collet nut. Both 1⁄4in and 8mm collets are supplied, as well as a second spanner, which can be used if you prefer to bypass the spindle lock and use the more dated but reliable system.

Trimmer base In its most basic format the router comes with an aluminium trimmer base as standard. Most of this is covered in rubber, creating an excellent hand grip. It’s dead easy to fit together, a cogged wheel on the collar locating on a toothed section on the motor housing. A plastic knob operates the smooth rack and pinion action to set cutter depth.

Pressing either button shuts off the power. There are two LEDs in the base

14 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

A sturdy steel lever then locks the base at your chosen setting, its tension adjusted with a small wrench if necessary. Both metric and imperial graduations are etched on the housing, with maximum travel of 35mm. The 5mm thick plastic soleplate can be replaced if necessary, with a cut-out diameter of 30mm. A plastic thumbwheel enables a 160mm long, pressed steel fence to be attached, up to 90mm from the cutter. A couple of holes mean you can fit a hardwood facing. By turning the fence upside down circular routing work is feasible, using the arm with a nail inserted as a trammel point. A clear plastic dust shield is supplied that clips into the base, enabling you to hook up a vacuum extractor hose. With a 32mm outlet, a thumbscrew secures the shield in place.

Tilt base You can increase the router’s scope further by adding the 90mm square tilt base. With a similar surround to the trimmer base, the steel plate can be tilted and locked with a pair of wingnuts. Again, there’s a 5mm soleplate screwed to the face. Open on one side, access for cutter changing is particularly good with this base. Tilting up to 45° forward and 30° backwards, there’s a protractor scale on one side. Marked in 5° increments, there’s no stop at zero (or 90°), so you have to trust your eyesight for accuracy when resetting. Maximum depth travel is 40mm. You’ll need

The red, spring-loaded spindle lock button is easy to reach, while a spanner is used to tighten the collet nut


In its most basic format the router comes with an aluminium trimmer base as standard

Both 1⁄4in and 8mm collets are supplied, as well as a second spanner if you prefer to bypass the spindle lock and use the more dated system

A couple of holes in the fence allows you to fit a hardwood facing

Tilting up to 45° forward and 30° backwards, there’s a protractor scale on one side

A plastic knob operates the smooth rack and pinion action to set cutter depth

With a 32mm outlet, a thumbscrew secures the dust shield in place

You can increase the router’s scope further by adding the 90mm square tilt base

The plunge base transforms this router into a really versatile tool

A pair of comfortable textured rubber handles offer great control, and one of these can be swapped for the bar grip handle that’s standard

The plunge base transforms this router into a really versatile tool. Again, it’s sturdy and a cinch to fit, with ubiquitous locking lever.

The 70mm diameter opening means you can use larger cutters, while a 17mm steel guide (included) can be installed for template routing. With no exposed springs to collect dust, the two plunge columns retract smoothly into the aluminium housing with up to 35mm of travel. A pair of comfortable textured rubber handles offer great control

of the tool, and one of these can be swapped for the bar grip handle that’s standard. Plunge locking is via a plastic lever that’s easy to reach, while the rotating, three-way depth turret has fine adjuster screws. The steel depth post is set approximately by depressing a spring-loaded button. You then move a red plastic pointer along the post to

Plunge locking is via a plastic lever that’s easy to reach, while the rotating, three-way depth turret has fine adjuster screws

The threaded rod incorporates a fine adjuster screw at the top, with a full rotation equal to 1mm travel

The fence is locked with a couple of thumb buttons and gives a maximum capacity of 125mm from the cutter centre

to run the router against a guide fence or batten as it’s not possible to attach the fence with this base.

Plunge base

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 15


Kit & Tools Makita DRT50ZJX3 cordless LXT router

A second plastic dust shield is provided with an extractor port

What’s really useful with the offset base is that you can work tightly into a corner

The collet itself is offset from the motor spindle and is driven by a toothed rubber belt. Fitting entails unscrewing the 6mm plastic soleplate…

read zero on the depth scale, with graduations in both metric and imperial. The threaded rod incorporates a fine adjuster screw at the top, with a full rotation equal to 1mm travel. Once this is set, you can lock the depth setting via a screw collar surrounding the button. To use the fence with this base you need to fit an adaptor to the side. This is locked with a couple of thumb buttons and gives a maximum capacity of 125mm from the cutter centre; however, it can only be mounted on one side of the router. This base will accept standard, full-length fence rods, though these are not included. A second plastic dust shield is provided with an extractor port.

forget a cut. To revert to another base means reversing the whole process. There’s no depth adjustment here, so you’re restricted in cutter choice in this mode. The offset soleplate can also be screwed to the standard trimmer base to increase its surface area. You can then add the bar grip handle for increased control.

though fitting a hardwood facing would definitely be an improvement. Cordless tools generally continue to grow in popularity as battery technology develops. With battery routers flavour of the month, could we see them eventually replacing 240V versions? Maybe, if power-hungry cordless mitre saws are anything to go by. A three-year warranty is standard with the DRT50. GW

Conclusion

SPECIFICATION: Battery type: Lithium-ion Voltage: 18V Collet capacity: 3⁄8 and 1⁄4in Noise sound pressure: 78dB(A) Plunge capacity (trimmer): 0-40mm Plunge capacity (plunge): 0-35mm No load speed: 10,000-30,000rpm

What’s really useful with the offset base is that you can work tightly into a corner. Compared with the other bases, though, it’s a faff to fit. That’s because the collet itself is offset from the motor spindle (by about 65mm) and is driven by a toothed rubber belt. Fitting entails unscrewing the 6mm plastic soleplate, removing collet and retaining nut and replacing with a toothed nut, sliding on the base, then hooking up the drive belt. You then refit the soleplate before inserting a cutter. Instead of a spindle lock you use a spanner and hex key for tightening. The set-up actually works very well, but you do need to plan your routing sequence to avoid the frustration of having to switch from offset base and back again should you

The bar grip can be fitted to either the plunge or offset bases. An alloy trimmer guide is also provided for cleaning up curved edges and is simply screwed to the side of the trimmer base. Its steel roller is adjustable laterally as well as for depth. There’s a risk that anyone buying this package could be slightly overwhelmed by the contents. I don’t know how useful four individual bases are likely to be, though it’s nice to have these options. All are fast to fit apart from the offset version, which takes a considerable time. With the advantage of constant, variablespeed and a brushless motor there’s sufficient power for any small-scale routing task, though make sure you have a fully charged second battery as back-up. The LEDs are a real benefit when working in less than ideal lighting conditions, while the dual power buttons are a clever safety feature. Ergonomically the Makita is well designed, with excellent build quality. Using the router is straightforward enough, with controls easy to reach. The basic fence could be longer,

… removing collet and retaining nut and replacing with a toothed nut, sliding on the base, then hooking up the drive belt

You then refit the soleplate before inserting a cutter. Instead of a spindle lock you use a spanner and hex key for tightening

The offset soleplate can also be screwed to the standard trimmer base to increase its surface area

Offset base

16 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Typical price: £390 (bare) Web: www.makitauk.com

THE GW VERDICT PROS: Variable-speed; safety on/off buttons; four bases included; LED work lights; high build quality CONS: Offset base takes ages to fit; no zero stop on tilt base RATING: 5 out of 5


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Kit & Tools Shogun Japanese saws

FINE & EFFICIENT CUTTING

This range of saws represents an affordable introduction to Japanese tools with all three capable of producing fine, efficient cuts

F

or finer cuts in timber it’s hard to beat the efficiency of a Japanese saw. With a blade thinner than an equivalent Western tool and generally with much finer teeth, these tools are designed to cut on the pull stroke, rather than being pushed across the wood. As the blade is under tension the steel can be thin, thus creating a narrower kerf. Traditional tools can be pricey, though, so if you’ve never used these oriental wonders, one of the inexpensive saws from Shogun could be a good introduction. Traditional Japanese saws tend to have handles wrapped in rattan, which adds to

their mystique. Although still made in Japan, these Shogun tools are slightly Westernised in that handles are beech and riveted to the blades. Blades cannot be replaced once blunt, however, and teeth are too tiny to resharpen. There’s a wide range of Shogun saws available, though we’ve tested three here.

Triple edge tooth saw With an incredibly thin, flexible blade, the FL120 saw is ideal for flush cutting. Cutting off protruding dowels or trimming small joints is easy with the razor-sharp, triple-ground teeth. Blade length is 120mm on this fine, general purpose saw.

Mini dozuki saw Dozuki saws are closer to Western dovetail or gents saws as they’re made with steel backs to give rigidity. The FLB100 has incredibly small teeth on its 110mm blade and would be a great choice for box making, musical instruments or other detailed work.

Azebiki barrel saw Blades cannot be replaced once blunt and teeth are too tiny to resharpen

More specialised than the other two saws, the MBS70 features a shorter, 70mm blade with a convex lower edge. This enables you to make a plunge cut anywhere in a thin board, though starting it off accurately can be tricky. To get a really straight cut it’s best to run the saw against a guide batten cramped or pinned to the workpiece. The stamped teeth are slightly coarser than those on the other two tools.

Conclusion With an incredibly thin, flexible blade, the FL120 saw is ideal for flush cutting

Blade length is 120mm on this fine, general purpose saw

Remember that once teeth have become dull on any of these saws they’ll be hopeless for

The FLB100 has incredibly small teeth on its 110mm blade and would be a great choice for box making, musical instruments or other detailed work

20 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

cutting wood, though that’s also true of most Western gents and jewellers saws. I’m sure there’s scope to make the blades into mini scrapers, though… For a fine-toothed saw that’s good for both cross-cutting and ripping I’d choose the FL120, which gives the bonus of flush cutting. The FLB100 mini dozuki is great for very fine cross-cutting work and offers a stiffer blade. Finally, the azebiki saw is more limited but could be useful for some jobs where you cannot start a cut from the edge of a board. GW SPECIFICATION: The triple edge tooth saw features a thin blade with triple-edged teeth The mini dozuki saw features a steel spine for steadying the ultra fine blade The azebiki barrel saw is designed for making accurate plunge cuts and slots in solid and manmade panels and boards Typical prices: £14.99 (FL120 & FLB100); £19.99 (MBS70) Web: www.johnsontools.co.uk

THE GW VERDICT PROS: An affordable introduction to Japanese tools; very fine, efficient cuts CONS: Teeth too small to resharpen RATING: 3.5 out of 5

The MBS70 features a shorter, 70mm blade with a convex lower edge

To get a really straight cut it’s best to run the saw against a guide batten cramped or pinned to the workpiece


IRWIN QUICK-GRIP One-Handed Bar Clamps Kit & Tools

QUICK & EASY CLAMPING We get to grips with this new range of clamps and accessories from IRWIN

I

t’s something of a woodworking adage that you can’t have too many clamps, and a pair or so of these QUICK-GRIP versions from dependable and long-established manufacturer IRWIN would be an excellent addition to everyone’s clamp collection. Clamps are top of the list of most useful pieces of kit in the workshop, and without them life would be a lot harder, not to mention the adverse affect it would have on our work.

clamps come in medium- and heavy-duty versions (as well as a mini one) and represent the latest evolvement of the genre. They are now even more versatile with the addition of a number of well thought-out accessories. Both jaws on the clamp have removable pads – one of which will pivot to increase functionality on awkward shapes – and can be replaced with a number of specific attachments. These include the following: the Clamp Coupler, Deck Tool Kit, Corner Clamp and the Holddown Jig.

Even more versatile

Conclusion

Since its introduction to the market some 20 years ago, the quick clamp has proved its worth, providing one-handed operation and more than adequate holding force in countless situations. The IRWIN QUICK-GRIP

I found that the clamps themselves, and all the component parts, were of a strong and robust build, and jaws and accessories clipped together firmly and stayed that way during operations. Good stuff. GW

SPECIFICATION: Heavy-Duty clamps available in six sizes: 150, 300, 450, 600, 900 & 1,250mm Medium-Duty clamps available in five sizes: 150, 300, 450, 600 & 900mm Light-Duty clamps: the Mini is available in 150mm and 300mm; the Micro is available in 115mm Available accessories: Edge Clamp; Wide Pads; Corner Clamp; Clamp Coupler; Hold-down Jig; Deck Tool; Clamp Stand Typical price: From £13 Web: www.irwin.co.uk

THE GW VERDICT PROS: One-handed operation; versatile; robust CONS: The price of the accessories can mount up RATING: 4.5 out of 5

Great range of fixtures and fittings available at IronmongeryDirect Fixtures and fittings are an essential part of many carpentry jobs. However, with so many products available on the market it can be difficult to know which ones to pick. The UK’s largest supplier of ironmongery, IronmongeryDirect, offers a wide range of products suited to every type of carpentry project, be it a professional or DIY piece of work. Among the range of available fixtures and fittings is the Vida All-Purpose screw pack. Exclusive to IronmongeryDirect, the pack offers 1,000 pieces in five popular sizes, with features that make them resilient and reliable for the great price of £12.50 – only £1.25 for 100 screws. Each pack also comes with five PZ2 driver bits.

Truly multi-purpose The screws are suitable for a variety of materials such as hardwood or MDF, and do not require pre-drilling. Every screw has a double countersunk head to decrease the likelihood of head shear, and aids in the completion of countersinking. The Pozi recess prevents cam-out

and improves torque, along with a low torque coating that enhances insertion time, provides extra driving force and protects from corrosion to ensure products withstand the test of time. The screws also have a 40° deep single thread that provides a secure fixing, with high pull-out resistance and an easy-start slash.

Wide range of screws The Spax Decking Screw is another great product, which again requires no pre-drilling. The non-thread shank allows two materials to be pulled together tightly with the upper thread locking in the deckboard securely. The screw comes with a WIROX coating, which is exclusive to Spax, and has a 15 year no-rust guarantee. Plus, for a limited time only, you can get a 20% saving on a tub of 250! IronmongeryDirect also sells an assortment of round head nails suitable for generalpurpose use, and brad nails to reduce the risk of splitting and provide a neater finish. Other helpful woodworking products include anchor fixings, lost head nails, panel pins, hinges, bolts, sealants and adhesives.

Vida All-Purpose screws are exclusive to IronmongeryDirect

IronmongeryDirect has over 16,500 products available. Orders can be placed as late as 8pm for next day delivery, and by 4pm on weekends. For more info, visit www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk or call 0800 168 28 28.

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 21


Solutions Borderlands

Timber-framing Dave Roberts opens the series by trying to characterise the distinctive quality of life in the rural borderlands

B Our forester who does some woodwork: “I like the idea of self-reliance, of not having big companies make money off my back”

etween lowland and mountain; beside Offa’s Dyke; in the Welsh Marches; astride a line drawn in the 16th century. There are many ways to indicate where the rural borderlands between England and Wales lie, including colourful anomalies like the The Lion in Llanymynech: until it closed, the pub sat astride the border and had one bar in Wales and two in England, so drinkers could avoid dry Sundays in Montgomeryshire by sitting in Shropshire. It is much harder, though, to characterise the nature of life in these areas, where the cultures of both countries have long mixed with fluidity, albeit at times with a turbulent fluidity. The result – hereabouts, anyway – is an outlook that is neither wholly the independence of the Welsh hill-farm, nor the more collective mindset of the English town. It is instead a type of ‘apartness’, a bartering self-reliance that’s easily overlooked because it doesn’t trouble to make itself heard over the everyday static that washes in from outside. You could hear it, though, when the deep drifts of March closed the roads for a spell: it was in the sounds of the countryside still at work, and in the self-containment of the villages, their clustered lights surrounded by the snow and darkness. If the immediacy of this connection between labour and life is a source of the ‘social cohesion’ cited in a 2008 report as a reason why this, one of Britain’s least populous regions, is also one of its most contented, then that’s the place to look for a better understanding of ‘apartness’. And, out here in the borderlands, you don’t have to look any farther than those who work with timber to find people who put their backs into their living…

“It’s a lifestyle thing” … though when there’s a thin wind blowing, like now, it isn’t 22 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

hard to persuade Dai here to fire up the Trangia stove in his workshop and make a brew. “I try to do work when I’m enthusiastic,” he says, “when I’m enjoying it; it’s generally something I do enjoy, but it’s about not being pressured into anything.” It is, he explains, a lifestyle thing – and a life-long thing, too. Dai completed his forestry bachelor’s degree in 2005, topping up his HND of ’91, a qualification that not only encompassed two years of academic work but a sandwich year working as a student manager – “that was useful; it taught you how things really work” – and before that two years related work experience in the Youth Training Scheme of the ’80s. History doesn’t remember the old YTS kindly, but Dai’s recollections are more positive: “It was free education: three months – two six-week blocks – in college a year, and you didn’t have to pay for that. It was open to abuse in certain places,” he concedes, but in a judgement that reflects on current times and our national need for skills-training, he maintains that its practical approach, “got your feet on the ground, and you worked from there.” For Dai, ’there’ was Northern Ireland, where between ’94 and ’04 he worked in woodland design: “That was my speciality, getting them funded and done; a lot of woodlands in Northern Ireland” – 5,000 or 6,000 acres, he reckons – “have my name on them.” That, he says, was when the establishment grants to support planting were ‘moving and shaking’. At the same time, however, the Forestry Commission was also busy selling off satellite woods, areas of between 30 and 40 acres considered too small to be worth the trouble of managing given that the demand – which in this area came from the Shotton paper mill (which now uses pulp from recycled paper), and the board manufacturer, Kronospan, in Wrexham – was for industrial quantities of sitka spruce and other softwoods. This in turn called for the large, monocultural plantations that march across the mountains, and which can accommodate big machinery and large-scale production techniques. While Dai’s family took the opportunity to buy some of the first tranche of woodland sold by the Forestry Commission, acquiring four lots of mixed woodlands of between 26 and 35 acres at around £800/acre, the continued sale of these lots has led to their commodification by resellers: “They take blocks of woodland, say 30 acres,” Dai explains, “divide them up into four-acre plots, and” – in selling on these parcels,


typically for £5,000-8,000/acre – “effectively take them out of production. There’s no consistency to [their] management: one person applies for a clear-fell licence to harvest their money back, and the [neighbouring] owners object.” And it is here, having also worked in private woodlands in the south of England, and in commercial forestry in Wales and Sweden, that there comes a certain parting of the ways for this forester and mainstream forestry, in which he sees, “a lot of harvesting and replanting, but not much new planting.” So, while current management of this vital national resource sees planting rates falling far short of Government targets, Dai has scaled his own lifestyle approach to the management of those 30 or 40 acre-sized woods – which brings us to the reason why we’re sitting in his workshop.

A forester who does woodwork It’s not only because it’s cold enough to favour tea-drinking over sawmilling, but because – this being the borderlands – a dropped word in the village pub about wooden out-buildings set the jungle telegraph humming, and connected me to our local timber-framing chap, or as Dai describes himself, our ‘forester who does some woodwork’. The wood where the workshop sits is one belonging to his family and, at 35 acres, wasn’t regarded as terribly productive in Forestry Commission terms. By Dai’s yardstick, however, “it’s absolutely corking; it’s one of the best little woods,” producing, among other things, the Douglas fir from which Dai’s buildings are framed. “You don’t have to have shipwright’s skills to do this sort of thing,” he says, looking around at the workshop’s 10 × 6in timbers and their pegged joints. “It’s artisanmade; it’s something that a farmer with moderate woodworking skills would’ve done using local materials and local people.” In the same way, then, Dai is taking wind-felled trees from the wood which, in ones and twos, would be of little worth if it weren’t for the fact he can add value by milling them within tens of yards of where they fall to produce the members for timber-framed buildings, which, because they’re built locally, avoid the environmental cost of transportation. “And, if you want to look at it from the carbon point of view, timberframing jobs also lock up the carbon in the wood” –

though, since not wasting means not needing, the offcuts produced in milling the logs square are used for firewood. Dai isn’t setting out to build an empire, mind: “It’s about more than making a crust. If I advertised [the timber-framed buildings] I’d have too much work; instead it’s about getting away from stress, away from working for other people, and gradually managing things.” To illustrate what he means by managing things gradually, we take off for his own wood – 26 acres of plantation that crowns a hilltop from where you can look far into the heart of Wales. It was, Dai explains, a woodland site that was ancient 600 years ago, when the hall of Owain Glyndwr – the last Welsh Prince of Wales – stood in the Cynllaith valley, which is part of the wood’s view. Once populated with what Dai describes as ‘bits and bobs’ – oak, elm, ash, hazel, holly, alder, and birch – it was clear-felled in the ’60s to pay the death duties on an estate, and replanted with a crop of softwoods. Today, the uniformity of its sitka spruce, Douglas fir, and larch is only broken by the scattering of broadleaves that survived the felling because they weren’t the right shape, and – importantly – some semi-ancient oaks that have regrown from stumps. So what’s the plan? “I’ll wait for some [of the softwood] to blow down, then replant with Borderlands: where could be better for broadleaves; eventually, if I live someone with a dog and a taste for long enough, it’ll return to independence? something resembling semiancient woodland with all the age groups represented.” Letting the wind thin out the stock is an organic process and a slow one, unless a storm breaks through the hardier trees on the perimeter and levels a swathe of the more vulnerable interior. “But it’s never going to be cleared” – which would be the quick and commercial way www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 23


Solutions Borderlands

Drawboring: off-setting the holes run through the mortise & tenon joints means that when the oak dowels are driven in, the halves of the joint are pulled together

Solid construction: these Douglas fir jowl posts borrow an English design from Sussex; flaring out from the 10 × 6in posts, the perpendicular tenons in their heads engage in both the tie-beam and wall plate, making for a very stable joint. “They’re over-engineered in a building of this size; I could use smaller section timbers but the proportions wouldn’t look right. Part of this is about aesthetics; you need to have something that feels strong; something solid that’s going to last a long time” ABOVE: Tools of the trade 1: the head of a carpenter’s axe (top) is shaped to allow a hand to hold the very top of the haft and use the head as a giant plane iron. Meanwhile, the wedgelike head of a splitting maul (inset) is designed to spread the fibres of a log: “It won’t stick the way a felling axe can; it either splits the log, bounces off, or busts”

to realise a return, of course – “it’ll be continually in trees, what’s called ‘continuous cover forestry’.” In the meantime, he says, “it’s growing faster than I’m using it; I’ll just take what I need.” And ’need’ is the operative word there; it’s about appropriate scale. Back in the rolling tobacco and Trangia meths-scented warmth of the workshop – where solar panels feed the deep-cycle batteries powering the rhythmic grinding of the sawmill blade sharpener – Dai explains his borderland philosophy: “I like the idea of self-reliance, of not having big companies make money off my back. If I can trickle along on a sustainable basis…” Is he dropping off the grid, then? “To a degree. The house I’m buying” – Dai’s trading his spot in the village for a view in the hills – “has its own water supply and sewage [plant]; I’ll be using wood for heating, and I’m thinking of adding solar panels. I’m sliding into it bit

Tools of the trade 2: dressing the Wood-Mizer blades ready for the next day’s milling 24 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Chain mortiser: handy when you’re working with the large dimensions of a timber-framed building. Heavy-duty tactics are applied to the tenons, too, whose cheeks are kerfed with a circular saw, the waste is then removed not with a chisel but a hatchet by bit,” but, he admits, “it’s always going to be a tad difficult.” For while he may have a financial advantage in that his woodlands are paid for, and the machinery to work them is to hand, there are still prices to be paid, especially in a lifestyle like this. “The logistics of woodland management are that you’re working with big lumps of timber and steep banks…” Dai’s now closing on his first half-century of outdoor weathering, and he knows that, in the long run, he’s as vulnerable to the wind as the trees in his woods. “I don’t want to be hefting” – he cocks his head towards the timber-framing members – “for the rest of my days. I’d like to get into surveying again,” he says, “taking an area of woodland, measuring how much timber is available for sale. It’s a lot of walking…” But for a man with a dog and a taste for independence, what could be better than a stroll in the borderlands? GW

Heavy lifting: “The logistics of woodland management are that you’re working with big lumps of timber and steep banks”


FINISHING

SCHOOL

Choosing a Sanding Sealer. Sanding Sealers do several important jobs; forming a seal on the surface of bare wood, filling the open pores so that less of the top coat is 1 needed to achieve a first class finish. Also binding any loose fibres in the wood together and levelling any invisible irregularities to give the best base possible for finishing. Several different sealers available:

2

3

1 Cellulose Sanding Sealer is the most popular in our range; it's ideal for turners as it dries in minutes, goes on evenly and is compatible with anything that needs a sealer! 2 For awkward shapes, or where you just need an easier application, the aerosol version of Cellulose Sanding Sealer has all the benefits listed above in a spray can! 3 Shellac Sanding Sealer, a more

4

traditional product, based on meths and shellac; slower drying at about 20 minutes it's still popular with turners and also cabinet makers for application on larger areas. Overcoat with wax or Friction Polish.

5

4 Acrylic Sanding Sealer is waterbased, so no flammability and no strong smells. It requires two hours to fully dry; patience is also needed in application but this will be rewarded with a great finish. Use with Acrylic Lacquer, waxes and Friction Polish. 5 The aerosol Acrylic Sanding Sealer uses different resins to dry quicker and harder and can be used with Acrylic Gloss and Satin Lacquer, Ebonising Lacquer, waxes and Friction Polish. More information available from your local stockists or contact us at: PO Box 260, Stowmarket, IP14 9BX Tel: 01473 890118 mailroom@chestnutproducts.co.uk www.chestnutproducts.co.uk


Improve your furniture making Little boxes

BOXES CONSTRUCTED WITH FURNITURE MAKER’S JOINTING TECHNIQUES

As John Bullar shows, box making projects are well suited to a small workshop with a few good quality tools and an ideal way to demonstrate fine furniture making skills

T

his article is about furniture making on a miniature scale – I want to give you an overview of how I go about making small decorative boxes. It might be a storage box such as to hold jewellery, a collection of family mementos, or else simply an ornamental case made as a gift. While other types of small wooden boxes may be made by carving, turning, bandsaw work and so on, here we will concentrate on boxes constructed with furniture maker’s jointing techniques. Boxes like this are ideal projects for the furniture maker with a small workshop and hand tools or small machines, as well as being good exercises for developing the precision skills of any maker. They also happen to be very popular with clients.

Box construction All furniture joints require careful preparation, but when working on a small scale there is proportionately less room for misalignment or gaps in joints. All the wood must be prepared to extra precision with every face, edge and end accurately planed.

A shooting board is a simple jig (generally made in the workshop), which enables the end of a wooden board to be trimmed precisely with a plane (Pic.1). The shooting board features a shallow rebate along the front edge for the plane to run in so that the cutter can cover the full thickness of the wood. We previously looked at methods of cutting dovetail joints in this series last year (see GW316, March 2017). Unlike a drawer that is frequently pulled in one direction, the storage case normally only has to resist external pressure. This means the tails may be positioned on the back, front or sides. Alternatively you can use finger joints (sometimes called box joints), which are simpler because they have no tapers. Whatever joint arrangement you choose, finish cutting all the joints then ensure to trial-fit the whole box by partially engaging them (Pic.2).

Assembling boxes Once you are happy with the fit of the joints between the sides, before assembling

them you need to make provision for the lid and base. One of my favourite methods is to trap the top and bottom panels in grooves down the sides (Pic.3). By making the box as a sealed item before separating the two halves, I can guarantee they will align perfectly. I include extra space in the corner joints, allowing the box lid and base to be sawn apart after the glue has set. Alternatively, the top and base may be made as flat panels and fitted later (Pic.4). Once glue has been applied to the joints they are all pressed together using lightweight clamps while they set.

Curved boxes Sometimes I like to make one or more surfaces of a box curved to produce a more flowing design. Curved panels may be cut out of solid wood, which is simple but wasteful; steam-bent, which is a bit unpredictable; or laminated from layers of veneer, which we will go on to look at. Another way to form curved panels is to ‘cooper’ together a series of narrow, flat ‘staves’ with slightly angled edges,

1 Here I use a shooting board to guide the block plane so I can trim the end of a board precisely true

2 This compartmentalised case has dovetail joints cut on the side, front and back panels

3 Here I used mitred dovetailed corners and when the box is assembled the top and bottom panels are trapped in grooves in the sides

4 Once glue has been applied to the joints they are all pressed together while they set, using lightweight clamps

5 This arched box lid is ‘coopered’ with a series of narrow, flat sections, then the ridges are planed away to ‘fair’ the curve

6 To smooth the inner surface of a curved panel, here I am using a reshaped wooden block plane

26 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


in a similar manner to that of barrel construction (Pic.5). After gluing up, the outer surface can then be planed into a continuous curve using a bench plane. The inner surface of a curve cannot be smoothed with a flat plane, so I use a wooden block plane with a rounded base and rounded blade (Pic.6). Once a box is assembled, depending on the design, it may be necessary to curve edges to match the surfaces and this is best done using one of my favourite hand tools – the spokeshave (Pic.7).

Drawers A jewellery case or similar boxes can be constructed as a miniature chest of drawers. Alternatively, it may combine one or more drawers with a lidded compartment (Pic.8). Because of the lightness in weight, any friction in the sliding of drawers would be very noticeable, so the drawers and their openings must fit perfectly in size, as well as being parallel and smooth. Drawers incorporated into a box should be made to zero clearance and then planed at the sides and edges to make a piston-fit without tightness or wobble.

Box trays Boxes like these often house internal trays, which provide several layers of storage to keep small items in order. Each tray can be divided into a number of compartments of various sizes, depending on the intended contents. Trays are joined at the corners with dovetails or finger joints while partitions are rebated into the sides with sliding dovetails.

For jewellery, I will sometimes line the base of a tray, such as with padded velvet. It is satisfying when an internal tray is dropped into the open top of a box and floats there for a second. It then sinks slowly under its own weight while air is displaced from beneath. The speed at which it falls in practice depends on the weight and the

7 Here I am using a spokeshave to shape the sides to match this box’s curved lid

8 Drawers incorporated into a box need to slide smoothly without tightness or wobble

9 This tray with compartment separators features sliding dovetail joints where I have braced them into the sides

10 Thanks to the piston-fit, when I let go this tray sinks slowly into position as air escapes around it

11 The makers have designed these knife hinges to be fitted to recessed lids

12 Before fitting a conventional hinge, I rebate a shallow mortise into the back edge of a box

clearance gap for air to pass through. You can speed it up if need be by drilling small air release holes in the tray base (Pics.9 & 10).

Hinges & locks Hinges for boxes come in many dierent patterns, such as conventional butt hinges

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 27


Improve your furniture making Little boxes

13 To limit its opening to just over 90°, I used quadrant hinges on the corners of this case to fit the rear edge, knife or pivot hinges to fit at the sides, or invisible rebate hinges such as the Soss type. Before fitting a conventional butt hinge, I rebate a shallow mortise into the back edge of a box, mark out rebates for locks and hinges with a fine knife, then chop the edges with a razor-sharp chisel before paring out the central area (Pics.11 & 12). Some clients like to have locks fitted either for tradition or perhaps to keep out children. It must be admitted that these don’t offer much security and any serious thief would likely steal the whole box plus its contents! Locks are fitted in a similar way to hinges, although they often require two or more different depths of rebate. Both are generally made of brass, which can be polished up before fitting so as not to contaminate the surrounding wood. To polish new brassware, I use very fine grade steel wood lubricated with a spot of beeswax.

Stops & stays How far should the lid of a box open? One possibility is to allow it to swing through

14 In addition to the quadrant hinges at each corner, I fitted two conventional hinges to share the weight of the lid

15 While looking quite conventional these little Brusso ‘stop-hinges’ incorporate stays, which limit their movement to 95°

a complete 180° so it rests with the inside facing upwards. Traditionally, small brass chains have sometimes been used as box stays in order to restrict movement, but I wouldn’t recommend them because they easily trap and tangle. A more elegant solution is to limit the motion to around 95° with a stop or a stay so the lid rests just beyond vertical. Options are to use hinges with built-in quadrant stays (Pics.13 & 14), flap hinges where the barrel itself is shaped to limit the angle of travel (Pic.15), or to fit a separate sliding stay in the box side (Pic.16).

decorative boxes out of fine-grained hardwood such as maple, walnut or any of the fruitwoods, then it will respond well to lacquer (Pic.17). The internals may be left bare or given the lightest rubbing of lacquer.

Finishing boxes A decorative box needs to be suitable for handling so the surfaces must therefore be sealed to stay clean. Avoid heavy wax finishes that come off on n fingers or thick varnish that runs off edges ges and clogs up details and mechanisms.. If you make your

16 On this box I have used conventional hinges with a separate sliding stay recessed into the side panel. The internal tray uses spline joints on its corners 28 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Conclusions Box making projects are well suited to a small workshop with a few good quality tools and an ideal way to develop and demonstrate fine furniture making skills. As well as providing useful organised storage they also satisfy a demand for gifts or presentations. Another added bonus is that small decorative boxes are always well received. GW

NEXT TIME In GW332, W John will look at the subject of veneering

17 I used a semi-matt lacquer on this box, which allows the natural beauty of the wood figuring to show to best advantage


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For more information or to find a retailer go to brimarc.com/proxxon or call 03332 406967 Prices may be subject to change without notice.


30 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


Bird table with planters Project

FEED THE BIRDS

Clint Rose presents an entirely unique design for a bird table, which includes a series of planters to make it really stand out

I

t was recently my sister’s birthday and I’d promised to make her a bird table. Despite being a little late, I got there in the end! I built this project completely on the fly, so I will give approximate measurements for the timber required and some of the cuts and techniques I used. I managed to make it entirely from pallet wood (without counting other small items such as screws, glue and stain). To give it a different look, I decided to add two little planters at different heights; I also think this might help to camouflage smaller birds from predators while they are feeding, or at least that’s what I intended! I hope you enjoy this project and the accompanying video can be viewed on my YouTube channel, details of which can be found at the end of this article.

TOOLS & MATERIALS REQUIRED TOOLS • Pencil and rule • Combination square • Rip saw and crosscut saw (table saw would be easier!) • Wood chisel - 20mm or so • Bench plane (or jointer) and block plane • Mallet • Clamps • Brace (or drill) with 8mm bit • Hand drill (or power drill) with 3mm bit • Mitre box • Philips Screwdriver • Staple gun • Paintbrush

Making the feeding table I wanted to give the bird table a bit of a different look, so I went for a triangular feeding table. Taking the two planks, I cut two pieces so they were around 250mm long. I then jointed the edges with a smoothing plane and glued them together. The next day, I planed the surface down flat and cut the angles. I made sure the smaller end of the table matched the width of the post.

Pointing the post & attaching the table Not wanting the post to look square at the top, I decided to chamfer the sides to give it a more finished look. This was simply a case of drawing identical slopes on opposite sides and then sawing and chiselling the waste off. I then finished the chamfers with a block plane. Next, I drilled two 8mm holes into the side of the table – these would connect to the post. I then drilled the corresponding holes into the post and glued it together with dowels, using an exterior wood glue. Where you position the table is an entirely

personal preference, but I decided to position mine about 300mm from the top of the post.

Attaching the brace & table sides Knowing that the glue and dowels wouldn’t be sufficient to hold the table up in the long term, I decided to make a simple brace. Using a mitre box, I cut a 45° angle on one end of a piece of wood followed by a 45° angle at the other end. This piece was about 250mm long or so. I then drilled a 3mm hole at each end and attached it with two screws, making sure to keep the table at 90° to the post while doing so. To keep the seed and bird food from blowing away in the wind, I added two side pieces. This was simply a case of ripping two small bits of wood, matching their angles with the table and the post, before screwing them in place.

PALLET SAFETY For some great tips on how to tell whether or not your pallet is safe for reuse, see www.1001pallets.com/pallet-safety 1 Marking up for the cut

MATERIALS • 3 planks of wood: 1,000 × 140 × 20mm • 2 pieces of wood: 1,000 × 70 × 40mm • 1 piece of wood: 500 × 40 × 15mm • 30 × 50mm screws • 10 × 100mm screws • 8 × 40mm screws • 10 × 50mm dowels • Outdoor wood glue • Exterior wood treatment (I used stain) • Landscape material 2 Jointed with the hand plane

3 Gluing the planks together www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 31


Project Bird table with planters

4 Marking the base

5 The base once cut to size

6 Marking up the post for the chamfers

7 The first two chamfers can be sawn...

8 ... and the rest completed with a chisel

9 Finding the location for the base

10 A brace and bit is used to drill dowel holes

11 The base dowelled and glued in place

12 Using a mitre box to get 45° angles on the brace

Making & attaching the roof

my projects), so forgive my hazy directions! Taking the planks again, I cut two pieces around 250mm long and chamfered the front and side edges. I then cut a trussshaped piece to screw to the post, which the roof components would then screw into. The pitch and position of the roof are completely up to you – everyone will have their own preference. I pilot holed the two roof pieces and continued to screw them in place into each of the trusses. Once done, I decided to make a front truss piece from one of the planks. I then pilot holed the roof items again and put two screws from each roof piece into the front truss. This immediately afforded the structure more rigidity. The next step was to make a kind of beam to keep the roof from flopping around. I cut a smaller piece of wood to around 140mm; this was the correct length for my particular roof, to ensure it was straight, and also to make it look more pleasing to the eye. I put two screws through the bottom of the table and into the beam. Things then got a little trickier, as I needed

to make the very top of the roof and also attach it to the existing pieces. I took a scrap of pallet wood and chamfered its face into a point to allow water to run off when it rains. I drilled a pilot hole at the back end and proceeded to screw it into the back truss. I then drilled a hole at the front end and began to drill a 100mm screw down through the top roof piece and into the front truss. When the screw touched the front truss,

This was a tricky part and much of it I did without any planning (like many of

13 Drilling the pilot holes for the screws

32 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

14 Two screws are put into the brace


Project

15 The brace attached to the base and post

16 Two small lengths, cut and planed to size

17 Lining up to mark the pilot holes

18 Clamping the sides and screwing them on

19 Marking out the roof pieces

20 Two of the roof pieces once cut out

21 Marking out the back truss

22 Screwing on the back truss

23 The roof pieces once screwed in place on the back truss

25 The front truss once cut out

26 Screwing the roof pieces into position on the front truss

I took it out and drilled down through the roof piece and into the front truss by a small amount. This made it easier for the screw to pass through and also into the beam, thus securing the roof to the truss and then to the beam.

dowels, in the same manner as I did with the table. I then cut another piece at around 100mm and attached it to the post with dowels at a right angle to the first piece. It was then just a case of screwing in two other pieces to make a square-shaped planter. For the bottom pieces, I just attached four screws to the bottom inside areas of the planter walls, screwed in about halfway. I then cut a piece of plank that would fit inside the planter walls and rest on top of the screws.

Making & attaching the planters

24 Marking up the front truss

Of course, if you don’t want planters on your bird table then you can completely skip this step. Using the planks, I cut a piece of wood to 120mm and attached it to the post with

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Project Bird table with planters

Making & attaching the feet

Turning the pieces upside down, I then marked where the post would go and drilled five more pilot holes. I could then screw in five 100mm screws until they were protruding a few millimetres above the surface. I was then able to use the points of the screws to mark points on the bottom of the post, which is where I would drill further 3mm pilot holes. At this point, I could now drive all of the screws in. I was going to add some angled braces from each foot to the post, but as it was sturdy enough already, I chose not to – I also think it looks better without them.

27 Attaching the roof support

I planed down a thicker piece of pallet wood and cut it into two equal lengths of 500mm. I then used a combination square to mark halfway down the thickness of each item. After finding the two centrelines, I was able to mark the width of the pieces. I sawed down each side of the cuts and then made some relief cuts all the way along the joint. Using a chisel, I took out all the waste and then slotted the two pieces together. Next, I chamfered the ends and edges to make it more pleasing to the eye.

28 A final roof piece attached to the top

29 Lining up dowel holes

30 Gluing up the planter sides

31 Screwing the other two sides in place

32 Using clamps to hold the sides steady

33 The planter base once cut out

34 Finding the centre

36 Chiselling out the waste

37 The finished joint

35 Marking up the joint

34 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


Painting & fitting the landscape material I used a water-based stain to treat the wood as I’ve been told that it’s not harmful to wildlife. After the treatment was applied I took some landscape material and stapled it to the sides of the planters, cutting off the excess with a pair of scissors.

Fill the planters & the table You’re now ready to move the bird table to a desired spot in your garden and add a couple of plants of your choosing. I went

to a local garden centre and picked a grass for the top planter and a kind of trailing/ hanging plant for the bottom. Of course, you can choose whichever types you like. The great thing about this bird table is that as you’re making it, you can tweak the roof position, table shape, planter position and shape to fit your own personal tastes. Being made from pallet wood, I’m not sure it will last a lifetime, but the wood was free, it took one weekend of my time to make, the design is unique to me, and at the end of the day, I find that incredibly satisfying. GW

FURTHER INFO If you’d like to see extra photos and videos of Clint’s projects as well as what happens in and around his workshop, then give the Timber Anew Facebook page a like, and to see a video of this project being made as well as others, visit his YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/timberanew

38 The pieces are then slotted together

39 Screwing the feet to the post

40 All finished and ready to stain

41 The complete bird table, all planted up www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 35


TW SMPJ

TW DMPJ


TW 7PHJ

TW AJ


USELESS OBJECTS Edward Hopkins makes three of them and finds that they aren’t HOLDING THE FORT The fort is a bit of nonsense with no known function or purpose. Except, as soon as I’ve said that, I want to contradict myself. Perhaps it is not as significant as a dining table, but nevertheless it embodies an amount of design. That design produces feeling and attitude. The fort says something. It is easy to read now that it is finished, but along the way there were several judgements to be made, any one of which would have produced something slightly different. All judgements had to speak together, with one voice. It’s the same for any design. Every element must be considered and incorporated in the whole.

38 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


Home Truths Woodworker’s journal

The turret (and the window, and the door) on the right is slightly wider than that on the left. It is important to set up the mortiser precisely but it is surprisingly difficult to centre it: you think you have it, then you don’t

I’m a kid at heart. We probably all are. I like castles with their ridiculous romantic associations. Reality was much blunter, but we ignore that. Horses, maidens, leather tankards, real swords, open fires and lutes: this is why so many people spend summer weekends at re-enactment fairs. If you’re not one of them, don’t knock it. It’s not nurdishness, but an alternative way of living (if with many modern conveniences). Anyway, I don’t. I just thought I’d say. There’s something about a fort. What do you have to do to a lump of wood to turn it into a fort? Well, it depends on the scale. A complete castle with curtain walls and ancillary buildings could be represented by simple rectangular blocks because it’s not the individual edifices that matter but the relationship between them. We see Caernarvon Castle and are not deterred by the lack of detail.

Creating crenulations

1 Rip, plane, plane square and thickness strips. Cut to length. Keep substandard pieces for testing settings

2 Chamfer all round. This gets rid of the furry bits that might get in the way of precise stopping. It has to be done sometime and is best done now. If it was done after the crenulations, they would be likely to fray. Use a router set in a table

Come closer and what stands out? Crenulations. These alone say fort, or fortified wall. Next, windows. Old style windows with some sort of military function. Arrow slits work well (one little hole drilled above the other and joined by a routed vein). So do embrasures. And what about the door? How big is that? What does a big door say? ‘Welcome!’ A corbel layer indicating floor levels is refreshingly horizontal, and that’s about it. Any smaller detail would be fussy. Cutting the crenulations is simple and effective. I set up the mortiser over a piece of ply cut to an angle as a jig (Pic.3), with left to right stops set on the carriage. The same cut on each of the four faces produces not only corner turrets/crenulations, but a pitched roof as well! A flat roof would have worked but not so successfully, for this pitched roof is architecturally accurate. Also, the four sloping cuts are a lot cleaner to produce than a meeting of horizontal planes. And the resultant shape is more interesting.

3 Take time to centre the mortiser on the blank. Once set, leave it alone for the whole process. Here a simple jig holds the timber at an angle so that crenulations and a roof are cut in one process

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Woodworker’s journal Home Truths

out corners by hand because this is where my human error will be conspicuous. I want fool-proof repetitive procedures in which every source of error, however tiny, has been eliminated. The easiest neatest windows would be circular ones drilled with a new lip and spur bit. This, however, would have produced an architectural curiosity like a medieval dovecote or a regency garden folly. Nice enough in their own right but not, um, a fort.

Return to through-mortises I went back to through-mortises. By themselves they look crude, then I realised I could slice in an embrasure, giving the window added function and character (Pic.7). It took a couple of hours from a standing start to work this out, but having done so, it is quite simple. Just make sure that the slanting cut of the embrasure doesn’t foul the ceiling of the windows. The doorway is clearly important. Get the right size, the right depth giving a hint of openness, and the fort becomes a gatehouse, inherently inviting. The last touches were the horizontal cuts indicating floor levels. Interesting (possibly) you might say, but what’s the point? The point is delight. I made 19 of these. I haven’t gone through them all yet but I think there are more than a dozen good ones. They will all benefit from a going-over with abrasive paper, and a coat of wax. Then what? Little gifts. Grandchildren (mine and other people’s) are obvious candidates for downloading. But adults too. I’ve just had an appointment with a professional who is providing me with good supportive help. I gave her one. Her face brightened up: she was clearly pleased. ‘Does it have a meaning?’ she asked. ‘It’s a watchtower’ I told her. ‘Will it bring me luck?’ she smiled. ‘Yes!’ I replied (because if she looks for it, she will find it). How much less useless could a piece of wood be?

STATING THE OBELISK 4 Not a perfect process, but not bad The windows provide the most conversation. I’ve tried through-mortises and been unhappy with raggedness of cut. Round headed recesses look good but are fiddly to produce. One of my guiding principles is ease of production (and everything else). I don’t want to chisel

5 Using the mortiser as a drill press/milling machine, set a depth stop and rout out the doorway

40 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Next on my list of uselessness was the obelisk. I don’t understand obelisks. I don’t like them much. They look pompous, self-important and victorious. They might be alright in Egypt, but here they epitomise (to me) the worst aspects of the British Empire, plonked unavoidably on hill tops, and at the end of avenues for all to see and be intimidated by. They are powerful in an unelaborate primal assertive way (they are not phallic unless yours is a very different

6 With a hollow chisel, pierce over halfway through on all four sides to create the upper windows. Elongate the mortise so that it can tramp from side to side, stepping down


shape to mine). They make a point. The point is the pyramidion – the miniature pyramid capstone (though not a separate piece, as obelisks are made from the solid). I think I’ve just answered my own question. The point of an obelisk is to raise a pyramid in the air for us all to remember, and be in awe of. It’s landscape punctuation. It’s to make the garden look nice. And, in this case, the mantelpiece. You can’t get away from it. Wherever you put it and however big it is, an obelisk is proud, and you, if it’s your obelisk, are proud too. So I still don’t like them, but I’m going to make one anyway.

The completed obelisk

A question of representation Other obelisks represent something. They’re some type of memorial. Mine would represent nothing but itself. For this I needed the most characterful timber: the obelisk wouldn’t work in softwood unless it were 4ft high (a tantalising thought!). I had some holm oak from 20 years ago. Heavy stuff. Visually beautiful. The main feature wherever it features, so where better than here? My obelisk would be a memorial to nothing more pompous and nothing less grand than timber itself. Already I felt better. Bandsawing the sloping sides was fine. Smoothing these cuts by one pass over the planer was almost OK: this is hard timber and though I tried to maintain an even pass, where I hesitated, to change my grip, I later found marks in the timber. They appeared to be deeper indents (as you’d expect) but I spent a few hours sanding and scraping, and they wouldn’t disappear. I decided in the end that the planer knives spinning in one spot had heated up the oils in the timber and it was these marks that resolutely remained. I could be talking rubbish, I don’t know. Either way, the marks were annoying and I hope they fade. Cutting moulded strips to go in the rebates so as to give definition and proportion to the obelisk was the least satisfactory part of the whole job. So far it was all looking neat. Now a degree of slip and shift came in. It’s a shame. For this obelisk to be as awesome as it can be, it has to be precisely made as if of jade or onyx. If I did a batch of these, I’d rout those rebates in, not saw them. This would be more accurate, and then I’d size the moulded strips to a snug fit. When I glued the strips into the rebates, I used the vice to touch the faces in parallel, this way and that, until a good compromise was reached.

7 Go back to the jig used for the roof, and slice an embrasure on the windows

8 Score in the floor levels. A mitre saw fitted with a trenching stop works well. Clean up with abrasives and file

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 41


Woodworker’s journal Home Truths

CHEOPSAWING* (*Sorry: best I could do.) This is not a model of the Great Pyramid of Giza, it’s just a pyramid. But again I want to correct myself. I’m not going to go all-Glastonbury on you, but there’s no such thing as ‘just’ a pyramid. Pyramids have something special. They are something special. They are geometrically and architecturally pure; archetypal, essential. A model of a pyramid (cut to a convenient 45°) would be good enough, but this, Ladies and Gentlemen, takes the process one step further and opens up, before your very eyes, the wonder of mathematics, the wonder of music, and the wonder that they are both the same! Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, the pyramid is taken apart into 36 blocks so that you can become the builder and the sculptor. No longer are you sold a work of art that comes as a finished product. You can change this from day to day. Express yourself! Interact! Enter the world of Khufu, and see what you make of it! One word of warning: though the pyramid has an educational as well as a fun value, it is not suitable for small or reckless children because some pieces end in sharp points. Rearrange the 36 blocks symmetrically or haphazardly, however you do it, there is something satisfying about the result. It’s as if the purity of the pyramid cannot be dissolved. It has been exploded, and the pieces

The completed pyramid 42 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

9 Find your timber. Machine it square. Make strips that will form the mouldings

drawn back to themselves as if magnetised. Not every rearrangement is beautiful but many are. 64 blocks work even better; 100 is a bit much: stick to even numbers squared or the centre piece will be a little pyramid itself and will stand apart in most rearrangements.

Easy pyramids And it’s easy! If you have a good saw. My mitre saw does well. You have to start with square stock (obviously), thereafter it is careful slicing with the saw slewed over at 45°. Then it all depends on how fussy you’re being. What’s your scale? My blocks were 2in square and peppered with burrs, many of which did not plane up well: they were never going to become marble. Anyway, I couldn’t rely on them. The wood was dry but it would


10 Run a concave moulding down the edges of the strips. Produce more than you think you’ll need

11 Cut the capstone, the pinnacle, while the workpiece is still rectilinear

12 Cut the rebates for the moulding while the blank is still square

dry further. A square section will dry as a parallelogram or, if you’re unlucky, a trapezoid. But not a square. There will be slop. Best accept it. You don’t want the blocks so tightly packed into the stand that they weld themselves together. So loosen-up. It’s easier said than done. Too loose and you’ve lost it, not least because a well packed block of blocks supports itself, and this is good. If the blocks are contained in a slack fashion, they’ll exhibit slack nature. You can be too good. If the blocks sit in the stand too snuggly, you may not be able to get them out (without turning the pyramid upside down and smacking it on the underside, which you really don’t want to do). The answer is a finger hole drilled in the baseplate so that the centre pieces can be pushed up and gripped. GW 13 Now stop it being square. A piece of MDF has a slanting fence screwed to it. The workpiece is held against the fence; the MDF base is held against the bandsaw fence and the whole lot slowly slid through the blade. I took first cuts only three-quarters of the way through so as to keep the block square for as long as possible. It wasn’t really necessary. The final parting cut meant keeping the plinth squarely on the worktable, but that was no problem

14 The capstone was cut on the mitre saw. Here it is being finished by the delicate slicing of a guillotine. I used the offcuts from the bandsaw to ensure the correct position of the workpiece. I spent far too long scraping (this is hard timber), then I fitted those fiddly bits of moulding

36 placings; 5 different shapes (16 of one, 8 of another; 4 of three different ones) each with four (rotational) positions, gives a total number of permutations of the pyramid pieces, according to a statistician friend of mine, of approximately twelve thousand, nine hundred and eleven billion billion billion billion! www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 43


Letters & Makers

LETTERS & MAKERS TH

LETTER OF THE MON

REDISCOVERING WOODWORKING

Matt’s low garden bench was made using joinery grade redwood

An 8 × 10 shed is where Matt’s woodworking takes place

Hi Tegan, I retired a couple of weeks ago and for some time I’ve been planning to take up woodworking as a hobby. The only woodworking I’d done previously was at school in the 1970s, but I used to enjoy it back then. Here is my first attempt. I used redwood to make the bench and painted it using Cuprinol Garden Shades. I wanted to use joinery grade timber so that I could make sure I was starting with square edges, but that meant the cost was very high (over £100 just for the wood). There are things I will do differently next time as throughout the process I purchased new tools and machinery to allow me to be able to do it easier and better in future. My old Bosch jigsaw, circa early ‘90s, has now been joined by a nice new bandsaw from Axminster, which will make cutting out templates more accurate. My workshop is a 8 × 10 shed, so trying to build the two-seater in such a small space was challenging! There are loads of machines that I would like to add (such as a planer/thicknesser so I can buy cheaper timber), but I really haven’t got room. My next mod will be to fit castor wheels to my table saw so that I can move it out of the way when not in use. I also have a lovely pillar drill but it will only fit in the apex of the roof, so I’ll build another bench across the back for it and slide the table saw underneath when not in use. I have two LED strip lights in the shed and am really impressed with the light they give out. No matter where I stand, it doesn’t cast a shadow over my workpiece. My eyesight isn’t so good nowadays so that’s important. You can’t see it in the photo but on the left-hand side are racks that are currently filled with offcuts from my hardwood flooring. None of them is longer than about 2ft, but I’m convinced I’ll find a use for them! They are engineered boards with a lovely oak facing on one side and ply underneath. Maybe other readers have found a use for them? I’ve also recently bought a new Bosch router and Trend router table. I’ve never used a router before and am loving it, but I’ve only got two cutters so far. I also forgot to mention how much I enjoy the magazine. I received a subscription as a present from my daughter and can’t wait for the new edition every month. I’m collecting them as each one has something in it that I will want to build in the future. Top of the list for the summer is Phil Davy’s garden gate, which appeared a couple of issues ago. Regards, Matt Russell Hi Matt, thanks so much for sharing your story with us – it’s fantastic to hear how you’ve rediscovered a love of woodworking after all these years. Your garden bench is wonderful and I particularly like the low design – it looks very comfortable indeed. I love the colour you’ve chosen too. I really hope our star letter prize of the Trend 30-piece Router Cutter Set will be a worthwhile addition to your collection of new tools, and we hope your enthusiasm for this enjoyable pastime continues to grow and grow! 44 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

TURNING A DJEMBE DRUM Hello Tegan, Please could you forward these questions to Barrie Scott in reference to his interesting article on Djembe drums (see GW328) as I’ve been thinking about turning my own version. However, I need to know answers to the following: 1. How are the outsides of the drums made in West Africa? They look smooth and I wonder if they are turned in some way? 2. How are the skins strung and tightened, or is there a good website link/book to show how it’s done? Thanks for your help, Gordon Cookson Hello Gordon and thanks for your interest in my recent article. There’s quite a lot of approaches to making a Djembe, but this link – http:// pdgood.us/handdrum/djembe.html – shows a very different method of constructing the body, and if you scroll down the page you will note the stringing of the instrument is shown in quite a useful way. Much of the online material focuses on restringing, but this chap starts from scratch. It is clearly quite a complex process. Regarding your question about the finish on the exterior, the makers I met at Brikhama do just about all the operations using a selection of adzes. The shaping of the exterior, and the clean finish you noted, is also done with an adze. Their skills are awesome, which was my main interest in conducting the article. It is a sustainable, lo-tech, highly specialised style of working. Decorative features are made using a mallet and gouge. Another interesting website can be found here: www.african-drumming.co.uk/djembe-making.html. I regret I cannot give any advice on turning one on a lathe as I have no turning skills myself. I don’t doubt it’s possible, but it would seem that a hefty machine would be needed. The best way would be to visit Brikhama market yourself if you’re able; I imagine one of the craftsmen there would happily show you how it’s done. Best regards, Barrie Scott

NEW FLEXIBLE CURVE ROUTING

GUIDE TEMPLATE ACCESSORY An 8mm thick mini flexible curve used to make templates, enabling a shape to be cut repeatedly with precision.

p p p

Used in conjunction with a self-guided cutter, a router or router table. Alternatively a standard cutter can be used when guided with a guide bush. Includes fixing screws.

Product Ref.

Length

Price

CURV/8X500 500mm £32.40 CURV/8X1000 1000mm £62.40

INC VAT INC VAT

www.trend-uk.com enquiry@trendm.co.uk 01923 249911

WRITE & WIN!

We always love hearing hear about your projects, ideas, hints and tips, and/or like to receive feedback about GW’s features, so do drop us a lin line – you never know, you might win our great ‘Letter of the Month’ prize, currently the new Trend 1 ⁄4in 30-piece 30-p Router Cutter Set, worth over £100. Simply email tegan.foley@mytimemedia. S com for a chance to get your hands c on this fantastic prize – good luck! o


READERS’ HINTS & TIPS For the next 12 issues, in conjunction with Veritas and BriMarc Tools & Machinery, we’re giving one lucky reader per month the chance to get their hands on a fantastic low-angle jack plane, worth over £250! Ideal for shooting mitres, working end-grain and initial smoothing, this must-have hand tool also features a combined feed and lateral adjustment knob for fast, accurate changes to depth of cut. To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic piece of kit, just email your top workshop hint or tip to tegan.foley@mytimemedia.com, and if you can, please also attach a photo illustrating your tip in action. Good luck! To find out more about Veritas tools, see www.brimarc.com

Small vice-held table

Small router table in bench vice

NEW-FOR-OLD ROUTER TABLE

fixed base from the router table – ever! I bought a JessEm table insert with a 100mm diameter hole that takes different diameters of bung, some aluminium tracking and a kit of knobs and T-bolts to make an up-to-date version of my old table. Then I had an idea. I have a Hegner lathe and comparatively rarely require it for cabinetmaking, so, I designed the part of the ‘L’ to fit reasonably snugly between the bed bars of the lathe and, of course, it can still be clamped in the vice if I wish. The beauty is that when it’s on the lathe, I have access to the whole bench and vice versa, and when not in use, it can be stacked away.

When space is at a premium, few enthusiasts can fit in an unlimited number of free-standing machines, even if they can afford to buy them. I know there are router tables on the market that can fold away, but they still require floor-space when in use. About 30 years ago, I came up with a solution that has served me reasonably well until now. I built a rigid L-shaped table from a double thickness of 20mm ply that could be clamped in the vice on my bench. A solid metal plate was recessed into the top and a slot cut for a mitre fence. This was a great leap forward (for me) as long as I stuck to using cutters of up to about 25mm – but it did have its limitations. When it was in situ, I lost the use of my vice and the most useful end of the bench. Initially, I only had a small 6mm router and if I wanted to rout something off the table, I had to take everything apart. I then acquired another router, again 6mm capacity, and that solved the problem – for a while, anyway.

Creating my own solution However, once I had the luxury of a 12mm router, I found a major limitation in my table was the lack of ability to use larger diameter cutters. Of course, being human, I only discovered this after I had bought them. The problem was that the steel plate could not accept interchangeable inserts and if I had merely enlarged the hole, some of the smaller items being routed may have headed down the hole for Australia. However, in 2018, we are spoiled for choice and I did consider buying an off-the-shelf router table, but I do like creating my own solutions. There was also a bonus: I’m a great Bosch fan and my 12mm router is the one that comes with two bases: one for plunging and the other, fixed. This meant that I wouldn’t have to demount the

Small table held in bench vice

Into design mode So, on with the thinking cap and into design mode. I had some 25mm-thick MDF and an offcut of wet bathroom wall left over from an installation. I used the combination of these two materials for both the table and the fence. I had cut and shaped the wet wall top to the exact size I wanted for the finished table, but left the MDF base proud all round. Using a top bearing template cutter, I machined the MDF flush with the table top. I made a template from 20mm MDF and, using an appropriate insert bush in the router, machined the recess for the JessEm insert and, using a jigsaw, cut away the centre to enable the fitting of the router base to the insert. Then it was a simple rout using a micro-adjustable side-fence to cut the slot into which fits the aluminium mitre track. The fence design called for some thought, not least to ensure that the table locking knobs did not foul the sliding section knobs. I decided on MDF for stability and was very careful with the settings on my Kity table saw to ensure to get the right angles ‘right’. I got the idea for the fence lower sliding sections (to open up/close up the gap depending on cutter size) from

YouTube. I finished the fence, set in the two parallel fence tracks and all worked well, so I began to design the cowling for the dust extraction. Anybody who has routed without extraction knows the pain of subsequent clean-up, but luckily I found a cowl fitting in my workshop which was an exact fit, snugly capturing both the outside and internal diameters of my Axminster extractor hose. A simple box structure fitted to the rear of the fence and it was time for a maiden flight.

Mess-free routing No, not so fast. I still hadn’t fitted the second Bosch base to the underside of the JessEm plate. However, that done it was in with the router body, in with a cutter, on with the extractor and hey presto! Dust-free, chip-free, mess-free routing. I still had to design and make my bespoke mitre fence, but that is now well under way. Ken Mackinnon

Large lathe-mounted table showing mitre and extraction

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 45


Centrefold Unique chest of drawers

‘CHEVRON’ Chest of drawers Andrew Lawton’s latest exhibition piece, made using solid blackbean, is a contemporary British piece of furniture made from a very rare material

F

or his latest exhibition piece, Andrew has created a chest of drawers from solid blackbean, a rich, beautiful hardwood, somewhat similar in appearance to walnut, but denser, harder and heavier. Blackbean has not been exported from its native Australia since the 1970s, but Andrew acquired four planks, 2,400 × 170 × 75mm, from a long-retired maker who was selling off his remaining stocks; this is a rare, possibly unique chance, to own a contemporary British piece of furniture made from this material.

The design The design, intended to provide plenty of useful storage space with a small footprint, has existed in Andrew’s sketchbook for several years. The chevron-shaped sides follows one of his favourite themes, which he has used on a number of pieces, beginning with his ‘Chevron’ desk of ripple sycamore, designed and made in 1993. “I had thought of using English walnut, but when I got hold of the blackbean, I realised that not only the colour and grain, but also the dimensions of the planks would be ideal for this project,” says Andrew.

Stages of making The first stage in the making of this piece was to prepare a full-size drawing showing the front and side elevations and plan, drawn in pencil on a sheet of MDF. Any changes to the dimensions and detailing were then made; looking at a full-size drawing from the normal viewing position can often suggest changes and improvements, which aren’t always obvious on a drawing on paper or computer screen. Each of the planks were examined and the one with the most interesting grain was chosen for the drawer fronts and carcass top; the less highly figured boards supplied material for the sides. The full width drawer rails are of ash with 50mm wide blackbean lippings and are in effect shelves on which the drawers slide, since the grain all runs in the same direction and any movement will be in the same plane. Each side of the two carcass sides is built up from six individual staves, which are tapered in the length as well as shaped to a 30°

bevel. This was quite an exacting operation and with the aid of a jig was done on the bandsaw, planer/thicknesser and tilt-arbor sawbench, followed by careful hand planing with a Record No.7 try plane. The butt joints were also shot by hand and biscuit jointed for accurate alignment. The main carcass joints are housed stopped (blind) mortise & tenons. “The blackbean proved relatively easy to work with both machines and hand tools, considering its density and in places, rippled and interlocked grain,” says Andrew, “it is, however, slightly oily so as a precaution, all joints were degreased with cellulose thinners before assembly.” After the carcass had been glued up and set aside for the adhesive to set (Titebond Original), the internal faces were carefully checked with an engineer’s straightedge to ensure that every surface was dead flat and that the carcass was not narrower at the back than the front. The accuracy of the interior of a carcass is vital if the drawers are to run smoothly and truly and time spent here always pays off. Quartersawn sycamore was chosen for the drawer sides and backs, which provides an attractive colour contrast to the blackbean, with cedar of Lebanon used for the bottoms. The dovetails, as in all Andrew’s drawers, are cut by hand. The drawer pulls are of oak, which has been ebonised by the application of vinegar in which old steel screws have been left to soak for a few days.

Finding the right finish Deciding on an appropriate finish can sometimes be a challenge but in this case it was felt that, in view of the oily nature of the blackbean, Danish oil would be the best, and it has indeed brought out all the richness and varieties of shades of the wood while providing adequate surface protection. The drawer sides and backs were finished with clear wax and the bottoms left bare, so that the scent of the cedar is not impeded. The dimensions of the finished piece are 1,350mm high × 550mm wide × 410mm diameter. The carcass back is of sycamore veneer on an MDF core and is slotted into a groove before being secured with brass screws. GW

ANDREW LAWTON Andrew creates furniture that is fit for purpose, of high quality materials throughout and using the best constructional methods for the job, with the joints themselves forming a decorative element of the design where appropriate. Much of his work has a geometric rather than organic feel, which is partly a result of his fascination with Art Deco and Modernist architecture. Most of his work is made to commission, but he also makes several speculative pieces each year to offer for sale at exhibitions and directly from his small showroom. Enquires are invited for any single item or room scheme that requires distinctive and individual handling, for private homes, corporate clients and public buildings. To find out more, see www.andrewlawton.co.uk 46 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Carcass top offered up dry to check the fit of the joints

Carcass glue-up. Note the cauls or cramping blocks, which spread the pressure of the cramps, and the MDF boards prevent the apexes of the chevrons from being crushed

Carcass mortises before the housing was worked


www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 47


Understanding timber Sheet materials & composite boards

LEARNING ABOUT PANEL PRODUCTS Peter Bishop looks at how manufacturing processes and techniques have developed to utilise wood, as well as the classifications of sheet materials and composite boards

A

s manufacturing techniques improve, year on year, we see a wide variety of new manmade wood products coming onto the market. This is partly driven by the need to utilise wood, as a raw material, in more efficient ways, partly to produce products

that meet a specific need and partly to generate profit for the commercial manufacturing companies involved. Sheet materials and composite boards are broadly split into three main classifications: particleboards, fibreboards and laminated boards. I’ll try to describe the main features

SOME COMMON CLASSIFICATIONS INT

Interior use

Obviously for interior use only. It is likely that not only the bonder but also the wood itself is not that durable

MR

Moisture and moderately weather-resistant

The boards with this classification will stand moderate exposure to cold water and damp conditions but will not withstand hot, wet applications

BR

Boil-resistant

Although the binders in these panels may have been tested for boil resistance, it is likely that they might fail under prolonged exposure

WBP

Weather and boil-proof

The binders used for these panels are most suitable for external use under most conditions, and the timbers in WBP panels are less durable than the binders

48 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

of each, some of the interesting variations, and other information about usability, etc. One thing for sure is that there is probably a board out there, somewhere, which will perfectly meet your project making needs. Apart from the make of the board, content or structure, the other key factor is the binder used to hold it all together. Historically, animal and vegetable glues were used for the construction of interior grade plywood. That is why woodworm damage is seen on the backs of some older pieces of furniture; they love the taste! Most panel products are currently manufactured using synthetic resins of some form or other. Laminated boards, especially plywood, will generally drop into one of the four classifications shown in the table below. Particleboards and fibreboards are manufactured in standard or MR, moisture/moderately weather-resistant grades; however, there are exterior qualities of both produced for specific applications. When determining what and where, you should try to match the use to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

PARTICLEBOARDS Particleboards

Particleboards can be made up from a range of cellulose base materials other than wood. These include fibres from flax, sugar cane residues and waste bark. The boards are made up by a process that mechanically produces fibre particles of various sizes. This mash of loosened fibres is then combined with a resin binder, extruded out into flat sheets and subjected to a high temperature pressing process that forms the board. These


UK chipboard

Chipboard flooring

boards are generally fairly light weight and may, for example, be used for notice boards or cheap partition sheathing.

made up in three wafer layers, similar to plywood. The inner core, central wafers, are laid across the width of the board and the outer layers longitudinally. All is held together with a resin binder that, in the main, allows for external use. The manipulation of the wafers, their ‘orientation’, led to the name. OSB has greater strength than chipboard, especially in the longitudinal plane.

Chipboard Chipboard is generally made up from sawmill residues, wood waste and forest thinnings and is an ideal way to maximise the use of wood. The particles of wood, hard or soft, are produced through a chipping process that then grades them by size. Chipboard is made up with the larger particles concentrated in the central core and the smaller, finer ones on the outer faces. The result produces a board that can be used ‘as is’ or be faced on both sides with veneers and other materials. There are a number of manufacturing variations that produce chipboards with an evenly coarse texture and with finer surfaces. Chipboard use will depend upon the manufacturing process, the wood content, and the resin binders. Some boards will be specifically remanufactured after production to produce items such as flooring. Although it can be produced for external use, it’s best used internally or in protected, less harsh external locations. Any increase of moisture tends to result in a swelling of the panel that eventually leads to a breakdown of the structure. It has been a favourite flooring material with T&G edges covered by underlay and carpet.

Orientated Strand Board Orientated Strand Board (OSB) is made up in a similar way to chipboard but consists of thin wood wafers that are laid in a specific way. The most common of these we see around is ‘Stirling Board’. The sheets are

Flaxboard cleverly utilises the waste from the linen industry

Wafer board This board is also made up from wood wafers, but this time they are randomly laid throughout the thickness of the board with some general alignment towards the longitudinal plane. Like OSB, wafer board is stronger than chipboard and is used where appearance is not critical.

OSB in use

Hardboard

Odds & ends Other particleboards can be made up from various residues produced as a result of different processes. These include Flaxboard, which utilises the waste from the linen industry and Bagasse board, which is produced from sugar cane residues.

FIBREBOARDS The manufacturing process that produces fibreboard starts out by separating the wood fibres of the wood raw material. These fibres are refined at high temperature and can be mixed with water and/or resin binders, extruded and pressed in a similar method to that of particleboard production. The treatment of the fibres, the amount of binders added, the pressure processing and temperatures while manufacturing, determine the density of board produced.

Hardboard

Having separated the wood fibres, they are mixed with water to produce a sludge. This sludge has the excess water drained off and is then spread into the compressing machine. The remaining water is squeezed out through a roller system, under controlled high temperature, to produce the board. In most cases natural resins in the wood bond the fibres together; however, some binders are added if required. The mechanical ‘felting’ of the fibres gives strength to the board. Standard hardboard, smooth on one face only, is not suitable for external use. Greater use of resin and oil additives while manufacturing produces a hardboard that is water- and abrasion-resistant. Hardboard is a fairly cheap, multi-purpose panel product that has a range of uses from floor lining to furniture drawer bottoms.

Medium board Medium board is produced in the same way as hardboard. The main difference is the density of the product, which, in the

Wafer board can be used to level the floor of a workshop www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 49


Understanding timber Sheet materials & composite boards

Water-resistant MDF

Veneer-faced MDF

Bendy MDF

case of medium board, is about half that of hardboard. Generally, two grades are produced. The lighter weight one is used for such applications as pin/notice boards and the slightly denser one for internal panelling. It is not suitable for external use.

thinner boards are of higher density. It is, however, slightly less dense than hardboard. The sheets have two smooth faces. MDF can be worked like wood and is an ideal product from which to make skirting boards and other second-fix internal mouldings. For furniture and decorative items a range of veneer-faced sheets are available. As usual these should be faced both sides to ensure stability is maintained. The range of products available in MDF now includes those that are moisture resistant, flame retardant and of an exterior grade.

includes some that are metal or plastic-faced for specific applications.

Soft board The name soft board describes what this panel product is. At about a quarter to a third of the density of hardboard it is mainly used for insulation only.

Medium Density Fibreboard Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) has become tremendously popular. It is manufactured from fibres that have been dried, had resins added and are then pressed to produce the board. No water is used. Because the fibres are dry the ‘mat’ produced can be pressed under lower temperatures than those used to produce hardboard. The density of MDF will vary depending on the thickness of the board;

HEALTH & SAFETY Cutting and sanding any of these panel products, especially with power tools, will produce a fair amount of fine dust. This is especially so with MDF. At the very least face masks should be worn and, when cutting MDF, it is recommended that a full face mask should be employed. The simple fact is that the working of wood releases carcinogens and, when mixed with resin binders and adhesives, becomes a nasty cocktail. On that basis it is a good idea to take as many precautions as you can to safeguard your health

MDF mouldings

Laminated boards The most common and easily recognised laminated board is plywood. Logs are peeled to produce veneers that are then bonded together in alternating grain directions to produce the ply board. Core veneers tend to be of lesser quality than the faces and each layer can be made up of different thicknesses. The type of raw material used, coupled with the choice of adhesive, determine the suitability of the board for a particular use. Blockboard and Laminboard are variations on the theme using larger sections of solid wood in the core.

Blockboard Once a very popular board for thicker projects, blockboard, although still available, has been overtaken by chipboard and MDF in many cases. The inner core of this panel product is made up from solid strips of wood. These can be hardwood or softwood depending on the grade and end use. The outer veneers are laid in the opposite direction to the core. Some less common boards are made with a solid core and two alternating veneers to each face. The core strips are generally laid without adhesive. When the veneers are applied, with the associated adhesives, the whole lot is bound together.

Laminboard This is a superior quality board to blockboard, although it is made up in a similar way. The core strips of solid wood are much thinner and are glued on edge as the board is constructed. A strong panel product that is used in furniture production with veneer faces.

Plywood

Battenboard

The minimum number of veneers used in plywood is three and moves upwards, two at a time, to a multi-layered board. Thinner boards use thinner veneers, usually of the same thickness. However, depending on the quality produced, internal veneers can be thicker than the face veneers. Two main factors affect ply board uses: the quality of the wood veneers and the type of adhesives used to bond these together. The range of products available is huge and

Not a common panel product, battenboard is made up using wider solid strips of wood. Varying the type of timber in the core produces lighter or heavier panels. GW

Plywood

Blockboard

50 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

NEXT MONTH Peter examines the range of wood-boring insects woodworkers may discover – ‘woodworm’ to you & me!


TOP BRAND SPECIAL PRICES All prices include VAT and delivery (UK mainland).

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GIVES THE SHARPEST EDGES. BUILT TO LAST.

The specially developed rubber on the zinc drive wheel ensures a constant speed, even under full load.

Stainless steel main shaft with EzyLock makes it easy to change stones without using any tools.

The sleeves are integrated in the fully cast housing, which minimises play for the Universal Support.

The powerful industrial motor is a true workhorse.

THE TORMEK T-8 is a high quality machine which sharpens your edge tools with the highest precision. Water cooled sharpening is gentle on the steel and the edge is continuously cooled by water — there is no risk that the steel becomes over-heated and loses its hardness. This machine is built for continuous use. Its unique drive system is efďŹ cient and manages to hold a constant speed, even under full load. You get a sharpening system that will sharpen your edge tools razor sharp, making them a pleasure to use.

The Tormek jigs give you full control over the sharpening, see all at tormek.com Included with Tormek T-8

The Square Edge Jig SE-77 makes it easy to sharpen chisels and plane irons.

With the Gouge Jig SVD-186 you can easily follow curved shaped tools and v-tools.

With the Knife Jig SVM-45 you can sharpen most of your knives.

The Tool Rest SVD-110 is ideal when sharpening turning scrapers.

For more information visit www.tormek.com or call UK importer: BriMarc Tools & Machinery 0333 240 69 67


Sharpening Innovation AUTHORISED SKILL CENTRES Axminster Tools & Machinery, Axminster, Devon EX13 5SN

01297 302370

Axminster Tools & Machinery, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG22 6HN

01256 637477

J Carr & Sons, Boston, Lincolnshire PE21 9BN

01205 351555

Axminster Tools & Machinery, Cardiff CF5 6EH

02920 025000

The Toolpost, Didcot, Oxford OX11 7HR

01235 511101

RDG Tools on Line, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 5AD

01422 884605

Axminster Tools & Machinery, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP12 3FF

01494 885480

Classic Hand Tools Ltd, Ipswich, Suffolk IP6 9EW

01473 784983

Yandle & Sons Ltd, Martock, Somerset TA12 6JU

01935 822207

Toolite, Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire GL17 0SL

01594 544521

Axminster Tools & Machinery, North Shields, Tyne & Wear NE29 7UJ

0191 500 5966

Norfolk Saw Services, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 2AW

01603 898695

Axminster Tools & Machinery, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV10 7RA

02476 011402

Romford Tools Ltd, Romford, Essex RM1 2EP

01708 765489

Westcountry Woodworking Ltd, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 7SR

01726 828388

Axminster Tools & Machinery, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 8QP

01795 437143

B McNamee & Co Ltd, Strabane, County Tyrone BT82 8EL

02871 882853

D & M Tools, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 4AW

0208 892 3813

Axminster Tools & Machinery, Warrington, Cheshire WA2 8NT

01925 595888

The Woodsmith’s Store, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE26 3TN

0191 2524064

Frank Clark Ltd, Cork, County Cork Ireland

021 454 2222

The Carpentry Store, Naas, County Kildare Ireland

Tormek appoints Authorised Skill Centres in UK and Ireland Tormek have appointed Authorised Skill Centres across the UK and Ireland to give customers the very best demonstration of Tormek sharpening at the nearest location. Now you really can see how good Tormek is before you buy.

Five-day training course On a recent five-day training course, Tormek met all the UK and Irish retailers. Staff members were trained in all aspects of sharpening with Tormek, and shown why Tormek is the No.1 for your Delegates sharpening on the Tormek T-4 edge tools. Both the T-8 and T-4 were reviewed in detail including the seven-year warranty; delegates examined every jig, and then each one sharpened a tool from blunt to finished edge. The theories of sharpening were also discussed so that everyone on the training course would know how to get the very best edge on their tools. Tormek’s trainer, Stig Reitan, said: “It was great meeting everyone and feeling the positivity among the participants. Lots of questions were asked and answered. Buying a machine from a person who knows and understands the system is reassuring for new users and we’re very excited about the new Skill Centres in the UK and Ireland.”

The tomato test Those on the course brought their own knives to the training and carried out the Tormek tomato test. As soon as delegates had determined and understood the angles for the different types of knives, they then had to sharpen and hone theirs. Once satisfied they had the sharpest edge, their next task was to slice a tomato without holding it or it moving on the bench. If they achieved this, they had passed the test and could then have the tomato for lunch!

A razor-sharp, Tormek sharpened knife carries out the tomato test

Tormek in action

045 883 088

John J Ronayne Ltd, Thurles, County Tipperary Ireland 0504 21033

To finish the training, each Skill Centre representative had the chance to sharpen their chisels and other tools with Tormek watching, ensuring they understood every detail as to why this award-winning Swedish export is the leader for sharpening all your edge tools. Now you can see Tormek and have a personal demonstration at all of the authorised Tormek Skill Centres. For more information about Tormek products, visit www.brimarc.com.

Tormek has Authorised Skill Centres in the UK and Ireland, where you can speak to a factory trained person who will demonstrate how easy it is to sharpen with Tormek. Please come and see why Tormek is No1 for all sharpening. Axminster’s Meg Burden sharpens her knife

Stig Reitan talks Tormek to the delegates


Technical Tales from the riverbank

TOP TIPS FROM A

RIVERBOAT WHEELHOUSE BUILD John McMahon admits to being a frustrated naval architect as he shares the tale of how he went about building the wheelhouse for a large, steel hulled riverboat

W

hen I was in my early 20s I had a career change; up until then I was convinced I was going to build ships and be Isambard Kingdom Brunel. My eldest son changed all of that by being born, selfishly requiring food, clothing, etc. So, I cancelled my planned degree in naval architecture and got a job instead. That job would use the only marketable skill I had to offer; I had been making things out of wood since I was a kid and had occasionally made a bit of money from this activity, so it seemed obvious that now we needed an income, I would become a professional woodworker. I have never regretted this (I love my kids and I love being a woodworker) but I still hanker after ship building. I have worked as a boatbuilder on and off for years but since moving to the very centre of the UK, I haven’t had many opportunities to practise this facet of

1 Cruiser stern on a broad beam riverboat

my craft, so I was really happy to take on the commission to build this dismantlable wheelhouse for a large, steel hulled riverboat. I use the term ‘dismantlable’ because the alternative term, i.e. ‘collapsible wheelhouse’, just doesn’t sound like something I would want to put my name to.

Why make it dismantlable? For that matter, why have a wheelhouse at all? Pic.1 shows a typical wide beam boat; it looks like a narrow boat but wider (obviously). That’s because its form has evolved from that of a cruising narrow boat. It’s designed to do pretty much what any leisure boat does: pootle about the pretty back waters of our lovely country. It is definitely wider and therefore a bit more comfortable than a narrow boat… that driving position isn’t very weather proof, though, is it? Pic.2 shows a very different animal – this is a working barge. Lots of

2 The wheelhouse should be the focus of your boat

these have been converted to cruise our larger waterways, often as liveaboards. They make a fine, roomy boat and the wheelhouse is often the main living space. There is a problem, though: these boats were always intended for use on industrial waterways. You could take this beauty pretty much the full length of the Trent, but as soon as you try to go a little off the beaten track, guess what happens… (see Pic.3) – it doesn’t fit. It’s like having a Winnebago that you can only drive on a motorway. Many boat owners use a removeable canvass cover as a solution but although this is effective, it doesn’t really make for pleasant cruising and it definitely ain’t pretty (Pic.4).

The project takes shape

3 Who put that there?

4 Canvass wheelhouse

54 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

My clients came to me with precisely this dilemma, but I was also happy to learn that they had a solution: lots of riverboat owners are coming around to the idea that they can have an elegant, traditional


wheelhouse and still get through tunnels and under bridges: the trick is to make the whole structure dismantlable. The dismantling and reassembly needs to be quick and easy and the resulting components must be light and small enough to be handled on a boat, on the water. The designer must factor in the limited space as well as the possibility of bad weather and poor light so, all in all, this proved to be quite an interesting challenge!

Job well done This was a hugely enjoyable project and was made even better by clients who knew exactly what they wanted. Michael and Trudi are experienced self-builders and were able to do most of the work on their riverboat themselves; they were also wise and humble enough to know that the wheelhouse itself was a job for someone with more experience. However, they did fit the finished joinery themselves and now, as intended, the

wheelhouse is the focal point of the boat and turns heads wherever they go. Bon Voyage! You can see more photos of this build, along with a video of the dismantling process, on our projects page and blog: www.mcmahonfinewoodwork.com. If you are contemplating a self-build and need advice, or if you’re looking for a professional to fit out your boat, please get in touch; it’s a few months now since I’ve done any boat work and I’m in need of a fix…

Finished and ready for installation

Installation in progress

Ready for anything! www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 55


Technical Tales from the riverbank TOP TIPS FOR YOUR PROJECT (EVEN IF IT’S NOT A BOAT) Almost any river boat can look great with a well-designed and ship-shape wheelhouse; however, this is a project a lot of self-builders face with some trepidation. I have written this to highlight a few ideas that might help if you are contemplating a similar build. Some of the processes here can be extrapolated and used elsewhere too – if you use your imagination perhaps some of my 30 years’ experience in boatbuilding might help with your new hardwood conservatory…

TIP 1: Get the design right first I have seen quite a few versions of the dismantlable wheelhouse and all of the good ones have a few things in common. First, they all look good – seriously what’s the point in an ugly boat? Start with a concept sketch (Google SketchUp is good for this). Make sure you have a pleasing, well proportioned design and then take the time needed to find ways to make it function well. Form and function should be harmonious: too many boats are designed to cram the most stuff into the smallest space with no thought to a sweet line. Don’t fall into this trap; the results are heart-breaking. Don’t just start throwing timber together either; unless you are very experienced you will need to prove your idea by drawing it first (Pic.5). The quest for beauty doesn’t make practicality unimportant; the design still has to work. The main pitfall I have seen in this area involves creating components that are just too big and heavy to handle in normal use. My solution for this build was to make the sashes a structural component. There is no frame as such and each window can be removed separately. This worked well, and, after a bit of practice, we were able to dismantle or assemble in about 10 minutes.

5 Always draw it first

TIP 2: Always start with an accurate building jig Make the jig a couple of feet off the floor so that you can get under the sill plate to work, but not so high that you can’t reach the top without steps (Pic.6). This jig was built to replicate the steel coaming that the finished joinery will be fixed to. Having a jig allowed work to continue on the boat while we built the complex joinery in dry workshops, with easy access to machinery, benches and tools.

TIP 3: Use half-lap mitres on the corners

6 Start with a simple building jig

Boats hate plain mitres like nature hates a vacuum. The half-lap adds lots of glue-up area, makes clamping much easier and significantly reduces the risk of failure even if the corner takes a heavy bash (Pic.7).

TIP 4: The glue-up For larger structures, glue up with the components in situ on the building jig and leave them in place as you complete the build. Use masking tape on the sill plate to show the sash positions, as you would when using a joiner’s rod (Pics.7 & 8).

7 Mitre half-lap the corners

TIP 5: Use lift-off hinges to fit the sashes to the sill You might need to grind off the small retaining lug, but these hinges look good, work well and you don’t run the risk of losing the pins as you would with loose pin hinges (Pic.9).

TIP 6: Use cascamite wood glue Cascamite is old school glue, which costs a lot less, is slightly less deadly and worked really well on this project.

9 Use lift-off hinges to make each sash removable

56 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

8 Use the ongoing build to align each new component


TIP 7: Tap your timber This is something I read about in the instructions for a bench-crafted face vice and was a bit of a revelation to me. The idea is to use a metal working tap to form a thread in the bore of a hole drilled in timber. Metalworkers do this all the time but it never occurred to me that I could do the same in hardwood. In the past I have used threaded inserts when I want a knock-down joint like this. Tapping makes a better fit and does it faster (Pics.10 & 11).

10 Use a tap and a bolt for a strong joint…

11 … that can be dismantled and reassembled repeatedly

TIP 8: Draw all the angled components full-size You can get by with pretty basic scale drawings for most of the joinery on a job like this, as long as you are reasonably confident. However, the more complicated stuff just goes better if you map it out first, in detail on a rod (Pic.12).

TIP 9: Keep it all together with stainless hold down catches

12 Draw the complex stuff full-size before you build it

13 Hold down catches are expensive but do the job really well and look smart

14 A simple laminating jig

15 Locating points for birdsmouth joints

16 Cutting the birdsmouth

17 In situ and supporting the canvass

These aren’t cheap but all the alternatives I could think of would either spoil the look of the job or add too much to the overall build time (Pic.13).

TIP 10: Ask around the marina to see if anyone else is considering a similar project Some of this work is a lot easier with two strong backs, and two heads are often better than one. Also, you’ll have the luxury of being able to re-use the laminating jig, which brings me neatly to...

TIP 11: Laminate your curved beams – never saw them unless the span is very small Laminating adds loads of strength and rigidity to your curved beams and also allows you to keep the beam section small, thus allowing you to maintain your headroom (Pics.14-17)

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58 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


Vesper Tools Profile

LEFT: Chris with his trusty ‘Bandosawrus’

TOOL-MAKING

MAESTRO

Regarded the world over for producing first-class precision hand tools, Chris Vesper of Vesper Tools has certainly worked hard to achieve success, which makes his story all the more inspirational

I

nternationally renowned for producing some of the finest woodworking hand tools in the world, Chris Vesper is a man who came from very humble beginnings. Choosing to make sacrifices in life in order to further his career, his passion for what he does, as well as a great pride and satisfaction, is indisputable. Following on from Phil Davy’s review of Chris’ 7in blackwood infilled try square in the last issue, I decided to find out more about him and where it all began, which turns out to be from a workshop he built himself on his parents’ property. Things have certainly changed now, however, as a growing and successful tool-making enterprise has allowed Chris to branch out and expand, and he’s pleased to confirm that tool production is certainly in full swing, but more on that later...

A passion for fine woodwork

Chris in 1996 with his Queen Anne Tallboy

Aside from being such a talented and esteemed tool-maker, Chris’ talents don’t end there. As I came to find out, he is also a hobbyist furniture maker whose passion for fine woodwork was discovered at the age of 14. Very much enjoying the time he spent in the woodworking department at the technical and trades-based high school he attended, Chris tells me he was “immediately hooked on the beautiful warm touch and exotic smells emanating from the timbers and polishes.” He was also struck by the impressive machines and plethora of tools at his disposal, and from here he made the decision to self-learn traditional woodworking – mostly from books but also any older craftsmen or hobbyists – with the aim of soaking up as much knowledge as he possibly could. “Learning about timber, cutting it, drying it, tree species, etc. all started early,” he says, “there was no family influence in taking up woodworking, but more a strong personal desire to do so and do it well.”As Chris was set to discover, the passion that was forged early on would go on to develop ten-fold. At age 15-16, he took it upon himself to make an ‘apprentice piece’ – a Queen Anne Tallboy (pictured left) – which measured around www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 59


Profile Vesper Tools

Document box, 2001

Chris’ range of tools back in 2003

610mm tall, featuring traditional joinery and hide glue veneered walnut as appropriate for the walnut period. “Starting with nothing but some saved pocket money, I needed to make or buy whichever tools I could find in order to build the piece, and this started me off with making tools for my own use.” Chris explains that he is lucky in the fact he has an ability to look at commercially available hand tool designs and decide for himself what is good or bad, with regards to design aesthetics, function, and quality: “In the mid 1990s, this left a lot to be desired,” says Chris, “except for a rare few.” When his apprentice piece was finally completed, he entered it in the ‘Mother of Pearl & Sons Youth Woodworking Scholarship’ in Sydney back in 1996, and although he didn’t win, the experience of building it would prove to be the beginning of a life-long journey, self-learning to a high level, all of which translates into many aspects of Chris’ life to this day.

gauge, sliding bevels, panel plane, mortise gauge, and more. Stating that “to become an artificer it seemed was the inevitable path in life,” I asked Chris how he made the decision to set up his own tool-making business. He explains that he sold his first tools – the most successful of which was a cutting gauge of unique design – in 1998 at the age of 18 while attending the Melbourne Woodworking Show. After finishing high school that same year, he worked various jobs, mainly fitting and turning/machining, until eventually he could see the writing on the wall with his low tolerance for workplace politics and a very strong desire to do his own work. “Throughout this period,” says Chris, “I kept the tool-making and sales going in a small way, but in mid 2003, I finally launched into full-time making, although no tools were marked with a maker’s stamp until around this time.” Chris says that going full-time was a decision based on the desire to make beautiful things rather than financial sense or more practical reasons: “It’s very hard work, taking many hours to produce the quality by hand, but it’s a worthy profession and one I very much enjoy.” As a self-taught tool-maker, Chris’ woodworking knowledge and skills have given him the unique ability to design and make tools that are a joy to use, and he says that, to him, function is foremost over form: “Beauty is inherent in an object that is a pleasure to use.” Following on from the success of the Melbourne Timber & Working

Difficult beginnings For the next few years, Chris continued to learn as much about tool-making as he possibly could, working to improve upon those on the market. “There were all sorts of things drawn up and one-offs, patterns and castings made,” says Chris, “some finished, but many not. These included an infilled toothing plane, a bronze router plane, several shoulder planes, a honing guide, mallets, dovetail

Matched set in Amboyna burl 60 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Ringed gidgee infills


With Wood Show, the next year saw him making dovetail gauges and carving/marking knives, plus a mortise gauge and more cutting and marking gauges of the old design. Once he’d gone full-time, Chris tells me that he continually invested any money made back into the business in order to buy better equipment for making tools to a higher standard, as well as working to streamline the processes used. “To this day, this is still how things are run here,” he comments. At the start of his career, equipment was very basic and a gravel floor was the beginnings there, with most wages to this point being put right back into the workshop build, or old machines and tools that could be found and repaired. The first job in 2003 was to re-design the old style of cutting gauge to the current design with locking knob on top of a unique and ergonomically shaped gauge head. “The old design was a labour of love,” he says, “requiring much time and sore fingers from the hand sanding and shaping in order to make the extremely unique head design. The reality of having to modify the shape to streamline production in the new venture was apparent early on.” Chris remembers the first couple of years being very difficult as the decision to go into business had been taken with a headstrong desire to do what he wanted in life, rather than becoming rich and famous, so with no real business knowledge he dived into things, but over time, the product range expanded, sales grew and things started to get easier. At this stage, Chris was becoming recognised in the industry, and people were beginning to associate his name with quality tool-making. “From day one I have tried hard to uphold my reputation for unerring quality,” he states. “Sales and reputation grow every year at a slow and steady rate; there is no one amazing thing that sells thousands of tools, but a little bit here or there ensures it all comes together eventually. One big jump in life, other than just sales, was my first trip to Woodworking in America in Berea, Kentucky, in 2008, which really opened my eyes to the world.”

Being in a position now where his tools are very highly regarded, I wondered if did Chris ever anticipated this level of notoriety, to which he responds that he never really thought about it: “I guess I always knew my tools would be sought after because I make quality, but whether or not people can recognise that, and then come to the ultimate appreciation of one’s work with a purchase, is always another thing. But thankfully they do.” With more recognition and ultimately sales, Chris was therefore able to further expand his tool-making repertoire, producing sliding bevels with a low profile side locking knob, for example, which went on to evolve into one of the flagship products after changing to the current flush locking design that is still available today. “These have proven worldwide as simply the best bevels available bar none,” says Chris, “the design of which was inspired by the Isaiah J. Robinson patent of 1876.”

Tool-making evolution

Asking Chris about any other potential bespoke tool-makers who may have influenced him, he says he has to take his hat off to Thomas Lie-Nielsen, who is credited with beginning the ‘quality hand tool revolution’: “From 1980, this was the push against the corporate cost-cutting efforts of the larger bean counting manufacturers of lesser and lesser quality and range of tools, which came into force from about the 1960s.” He also references Karl Holtey, Konrad Sauer, George Wilson, and Veritas for their innovation in making quality items, all of which have inspired him and the whole industry in their various ways.

Although the processes he uses for making his tools have no doubt changed and evolved since he first began, I asked Chris about the factors that need to be considered when manufacturing them: “The way I make tools is poly-technical, and that’s for sure,“ he says, “I utilise precision engineering and woodworking machinery combined with lots of fine hand skills and processes to produce my work, all of which have been developed over the years.” He explains that on the metal-work side, his tool-making involves a lot of milling, turning and acres of surface grinding, and in-house laser marking is required to achieve the precision of parts required to make his tools. “There is not a lot of woodwork involved in producing them as they’re mostly made of metal. My infills in bevels and squares are made on the milling machine in order to achieve the accuracy required, and my marking knives are turned by hand on a wood lathe.” Other than that, Chris utilises a huge variety of skills, hand tools and machines that sand, polish, grind, detail and finish, all of which are required in order to complete each tool he makes during the various production stages. Going back to the evolution of Chris’ designs, the functional try square was the next logical step in order to complete the essential layout tool range: “After persistent prodding from customers, the squares began.” These are designed with similarities to the very successful sliding bevels with infilled bodies and stainless steel blades, the design and development of which began in 2010: “This took around 18 months to complete by developing new production techniques, workflow and tooling in order to make these squares efficiently.” During this time, the unique ‘Support Tab’ was invented,

‘Support Tab’ on butt end of try square

Precision machining

Influential makers

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Profile Vesper Tools

CHRIS’ TRADE SECRETS • I polish my tools with shellac, which is a great finish. It’s not as tough as two-pack lacquers or other such products I could use, but it is organic and repairable. With a little steel wool and perhaps 2-3 new coats, it’ll soon be near new again • No matter your level of skill in woodworking, be it trade or hobby, I am firmly of the belief that quality measuring and marking tools make the difference as foundation tools. You can have all the planes, chisels, saws, etc. in the world but if you don’t have an accurate line to work to, then you’re going to battle that rather than enjoy your work. This foundation of measuring and marking is one of the things that personally drives me to produce quality tools. If you don’t buy mine that’s fine, but buy the best you can afford. If you choose to continue woodworking, you’ll find it’s much cheaper in the long run Testing squares on the master which is used in all Vesper Tools’ try squares, and this was followed by prototyping many different versions and developing the idea further, all the while fulfilling mounting back orders. In terms of the timbers used for his sliding bevels, try squares and marking knives, Chris says that Australian native varieties are definitely high on the list: “I love to use the classic exotics such as ebony, boxwood, amboyna, cocobolo, etc., but timbers like Tasmanian blackwood, ringed gidgee, and 10,000-year-old black red gum are pretty hard to beat in so many ways.” Chris says that over the years he has made very small numbers of special order tools featuring Damascus steel blades, mother-of-pearl infills or other unique details, and he regards these as demonstrating the peak of his talents. Basing many of his designs on those from the 1880s (particularly his infilled versions), Chris is eager to point out that his tools are traditional while embracing contemporary production methods. These are undoubtedly works of art in many ways, with each one being carefully made with consistent handmade quality and an unerring eye for detail, and by doing this for the last 20 years, it’s fair to say that Chris has undeniably carved out an incredibly successful niche in the industry. In 2009, Chris re-branded the business to ‘Vesper Tools’, which required a new stamp to be made for branding tools and the old ‘CV within Australia’ outline stamp was retired in June that year.

The ‘Bandosawrus’ Asking Chris to tell me a bit more about his new place of business, he says it’s important to point out that for 13 years, he ran Vesper Tools out of a shed in a back yard in a semi-rural area just outside Melbourne. With the improvements of bigger and better machinery over the years, plus increasing amounts of stock and workflow, this 140sq.m workshop was outgrown many years ago. “My reluctance to pay rent and thus pay off someone else’s superannuation fund meant I had to sacrifice a lot in life and business, sticking it out in a crowded workshop until I could purchase the current space, which measures 500sq.m and is situated in an industrial factory building.” After fitting out the workshop over five months, Chris finally moved in and re-started production in September 2016. “This workshop 62 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

will allow the business to grow and has already improved workflow and efficiency no end,” he says. Describing this new space, Chris says that, above all, is it big – very big! He informs me that he tries to purchase quality machinery and hand tools to help him make his tools, and comments that over the years, he’s found that trying to save money on equipment invariably leads to costing him much more than he saved. “Anything from simple sanding machines to engineering machinery, the same principle applies.” Admitting to having a penchant for quality and heavy iron, which started when he was 18-years-old and looking to buy his first major piece of woodworking machinery, Chris says that through much personal experience and research he knew he wanted a bandsaw as they can cut curves and re-saw much better than circular saws, but he didn’t want the “pressed metal junk” that is still proffered on the market today. “So I set my mind on finding a heavy cast-iron bandsaw,” he says. “After months of scouring the Trading Post, I found an advert that read ‘heavy cast-iron bandsaw for sale’. Bingo. I had no idea what it really was or how significant the machine would become, but I knew it was the one, so I agreed to buy it. And that was the beginning of my machinery journey.” Now affectionately known as the ‘Bandosawrus’, it even has its own Instagram hashtag: #bandosawrus. “It was a wreck when I got it and I restored it to better than new over the next 12 months.” Built in the UK by Western & Co of Derby & London, it is extremely unique in its construction and rarity: “If I was to close up business tomorrow, this bandsaw would be the last thing I’d sell and I dare say it would follow me to the living room of any house I lived in.”

The travelling tool-maker Despite being based on the other side of the world, Chris manages to travel a great deal, especially to the USA and UK. Unfortunately I missed him at last year’s European Woodworking Show, although this was where Phil was able to chat to him and get his hands on the beautiful try square (which, incidentally, he couldn’t resist buying having tested it...) So what has Chris learnt from woodworkers over here? He says he has a huge respect for the traditions of hundreds of years of high craft, which we are lucky enough to lay claim to:


Profiles clamped in a large press

Bevel with mother-of-pearl inlay

“Sadly, Australia doesn’t have the length of history nor does it really have any unique styles or designs of its own, whereas the UK has entire books on its furniture history. The Brits are interesting in that they are very fixed in tradition in some ways, yet in others are very innovative and forward-thinking.” As well as meeting customers at woodworking shows all over the world, Chris finds that social media, particularly Instagram, allows him to keep in touch with buyers of his tools and viewers regardless of geographical location, lets them see what he’s working on, and, most importantly, shows the world what he does and how he does it. “Social media is capable of doing all this in a very quick and economical way, with a smartphone being the only tool required.” So, as you can see, Chris is incredibly business savvy.

FURTHER INFO

The future When I ask Chris about his plans for the future and how he sees the business progressing, he tells me he’d like to build Vesper Tools to a more sustainable level with perhaps a few people working with him, although this will require very skilled craftsmen

Hand polishing and de-burring

whom he will most likely have to train. The fact that Chris has no developments in the pipeline at present really attests to how well things are going, and as he explains, he simply doesn’t have time to carry out R&D. He tells me that the majority of his time is spent fulfilling orders and trying to keep up with production, and that, of course, is no bad thing. This year – 2018 – is a special milestone for Chris, as it marks 20 years of him making and selling tools, which he’s now been doing for more than half his life. “If I find the time,” he says, “I hope to be able to launch some celebratory tools or special work later in the year in order to commemorate this achievement.” So with that in mind, fans of Vesper Tools should definitely be excited... GW

Knives in production

To find out more about Chris and view his entire range of stunning hand tools, see www.vespertools.com.au. You can also follow him on Instagram: @vespertools

Blanks ready to make infills www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 63


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aving completed his City & Guilds in Furniture Craft as well as a series of apprenticeships at top cabinetry and joinery firms, Marc Davies is now an award-winning cabinetmaker based in Milton Keynes who creates bespoke joinery, mostly for domestic properties. He commented: “My love of woodworking started when my Granddad bought me a tool kit when I was aged four, and it has only grown from there.” When Marc started Marc Davies Bespoke Interiors around 10 years ago, he purchased smaller machinery before eventually working his way up to a FELDER K 500 s panel saw. Marc said: “The step up to FELDER machinery from what we had has improved the accuracy and saved time by eliminating the need for prep work on the panels before cutting them. When choosing this saw, it had to take a full sheet but still work in the compact space of my workshop. It also required a scoring unit. This saw ticks all the boxes. For a start, the scoring unit makes life so much easier: we use a lot of melamine to make our wardrobes and kitchen carcasses, and with a little adjustment you can get all of your cuts absolutely perfect, directly from the saw.” Talking about his experience with machinery from the FELDER GROUP,

Marc commented: “I came across FELDER a year or two into my career; it has always been a present name and every company I have ever worked for has always had at least one, if not two FELDERs. I spent the early days of my career using their machines; these stood out in the workshop, and if there were multiple machines, the FELDERs were the ones you wanted to use as you knew they would make the nicest of cuts.” Marc then went on to say: “The reason I chose FELDER was because I knew they made quality products. I hadn’t had any experience of their customer care or after sales support, however; I bought the machine purely from a user’s perspective, so when it came to picking a panel saw for my workshop, that was the brand I chose.” See how a range of machines from FELDER can benefit your workshop at www.feldergroup.co.uk or call 01908 635 000 for more information. You can also watch the full testimonial on YouTube by searching for ‘FELDER GROUP UK TV’.

FURTHER INFO See more of Marc’s work on his website: www.marcdavies.webs.com

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 65


Project 100-piece segmented cutting board

SEGMENTED SENSATION Tristan Dare creates a unique cutting board design consisting of 100 pieces of beautiful contrasting wood

T

he perfect gift for any time of year? Absolutely! This cutting board is not only unique, but consists of 100 pieces of beautiful leatherwood, wenge and maple. This little board will impress anybody you show it to, so let’s get the project started.

Choose & mark the wood The first thing you need to do is gather the wood required. In this project I am using contrasting pieces of leatherwood (red coloured), wenge (dark coloured) and maple (white coloured), although you can of course use whichever timbers you prefer. Each board should be about 610mm long × 180mm wide × 20mm thick. To start, you will need to mark the boards with a pencil at 10mm. Next, set your table saw at exactly 10mm and prepare to cut the wood. The setting is important as when cut and squared later on, you will end

1 Start by choosing your wood (you need to select red, black and white coloured varieties)

up with three layers of each colour, maintaining 32mm.

Cut the wood Once you’ve set your table saw to 10mm, it’s time to start cutting. You can use a hand

MATERIALS & TOOLS REQUIRED • • • • • • • • • • •

Leatherwood (red coloured wood) Wenge (dark coloured wood) Maple (white coloured wood) Abrasives from 120-1,000 grit Hand plane Palm sander/orbit sander Table saw Wood glue Pencil Square Food-safe wood finish (mineral oil)

2 Using a pencil, begin to mark your pieces of timber at 10mm

saw if you wish, but it’s more efficient and precise to use a machine method. The next step is to cut the wood into strips – you should have three of each colour. Feel free to cut a few extra strips as there is always margin for error when it comes to woodworking. Once cut, make sure all are the same width.

Glue & cut

3 Cut the timber into strips (three strips for each colour of wood)

4 Here you can see the three strips for each of the three timbers

66 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Now that the wood strips are cut, it’s time to glue and clamp them together. Before gluing, ensure to remove any sawdust from the surface of the wood so that the glue joint bond is stronger. Layer the dark wood first, followed by the white wood, then the red coloured timber last. Make sure the strips are level to the surface you are gluing them on, then clamp the piece and leave it to sit for 24 hours until the glue has dried. Once done, take the pieces to the table saw and cut the more uneven side to 12mm. Repeat with all the glued pieces, then set aside once again.


Cut the squares Now that your strips are glued and trimmed, it’s time to cut them into even squares. If your pieces were cut evenly, your strips should be about 38mm wide. If not, lay a strip between the fence and the saw blade, then tighten the fence. This will get it as even as possible. If your strips are already even, all you have

5 Glue the strips from each colour of timber, so they are arranged red, white and black

to do is set your table saw fence at precisely 38mm. Once done, use the table saw’s mitre gauge and set it to 90°, then start cutting the strips into small squares. For safety precautions, clamp a board about 50mm or larger to your table saw fence, and make sure it is behind the blade by about 50mm. Next, measure the board to the saw at 38mm.

Ensure to keep it as precise as possible, as all squares must be even when it comes to gluing later on. Cut about 40 squares; you will only need 32, but it’s good to have spares.

6 Once done, clamp the strips to a flat surface

7 Leave to dry for 24 hours before moving on to the next step

Sand the squares Now that the squares are cut, it’s time to sand all their faces and edges. Doing this ensures

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 67


Project 100-piece segmented cutting board

8 Using a table saw, begin to cut the 40 squares (PLEASE NOTE BLADE GUARD REMOVED FOR CLARITY)

9 Once evenly cut, you should have 40 squares of contrasting timbers

10 Sand all corners to ensure there is no tear-out from cutting

11 Arrange your pattern according to the sequence

12 You can then arrange the pattern squares (4 squares × 8 squares)

13 The final pattern arrangement should look like this

14 According to the pattern, apply glue to the side of each square

that all the faces of the squares are even, and won’t cause problems when gluing up later on. This step may be a bit long-winded, but it’s worth taking your time here. Sand each piece with 400 grit abrasive, ensuring to remove any chipping that may have occurred during the cutting process. Once done, make sure no sawdust remains on the surface of the wood, as repeated in previous steps.

with red coloured wood on left side, followed by horizontal layer with dark coloured wood on top. Repeat pattern with eight squares. Second layer (pattern B): strip flowing horizontally with dark coloured wood on top, followed by strip flowing vertically with red coloured wood on left-hand side. Repeat pattern with eight squares. You should then have four layers, repeating the pattern as follows: A, B, A, B. Once arranged, glue the strips together one-byone and leave to dry for at least 24 hours. Note: do not glue all the strips and pieces together at the same time; you will need to glue the strips together first, and you will then glue the strips on top of each other later on in the process.

Arrange & glue

15 Glue the squares into strips so they are horizontal

Now that the squares are all sanded and symmetrical, it’s time to glue them together into the final board, but first you need to arrange them into a given pattern. Start by arranging them in the following order: first layer (pattern A): strip flowing vertically

68 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


16 As before, leave to dry for 24 hours before moving on

17 Apply glue to the strips vertically, according to the pattern

18 Clamp up and leave to dry for another 24 hours

19 Hand plane the squares until they are smooth and flat

20 Square on a table saw ensuring to cut as little material as possible (PLEASE NOTE BLADE GUARD REMOVED FOR CLARITY)

21 Cut 19 × 13 × 400mm trim pieces from the white coloured wood

Cut & glue the strips

necessary at this time, but does reduce work later on. This also makes the board flat and even when it comes to gluing the trim.

Now that the strips are glued together, you can begin to cut them on the table saw to make them even and symmetrical, before gluing the strips together on top of each other. To start, set your table saw fence to just a hair shorter than the width of your strips, then run it through the saw to even out the sides. Repeat with all strips, on both sides. Once done, glue all the strips in a group. Make sure the pattern is aligned correctly, as shown previously. Once glued, let everything sit for 24 hours until dry.

Hand planing Now that all the strips are glued, you can start hand planing the board. This step isn’t

22 Cut trim pieces at 45° using the table saw’s mitre gauge (PLEASE NOTE BLADE GUARD REMOVED FOR CLARITY)

Cutting the trim Once the board is flat, it’s time to square it off so it’s symmetrical for the trim. As before, remove as little material as possible. If you remove too much, the pattern will not reveal the symmetrical squares. Once done, you will need to make the trim for the board – I chose to use maple. I started by setting my mitre gauge to 45°, then cut two strips ‘C’ at 165mm (on the outside angle) and two strips ‘D’ at 317mm (on the outside angle). ‘C’ strips are 165mm overall, and 125mm on the inside angle. ‘D’ strips are 317mm overall,

23 Glue trim to the centre piece, then align to fit correctly

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 69


Project 100-piece segmented cutting board

and 279mm on the inside angle. Once the strips are cut, dry-fit them to the board to check they align perfectly. If so, you’re ready to move on; if not, cut a few more pieces, which will allow you to achieve the correct angle while ensuring they still align.

Glue the trim

24 Leave the board to dry for 24 hours before starting the sanding

25 Sand smooth with a random orbit sander, using a selection of 220-400 grit pads

Now that the trim pieces are cut, it’s time to glue them to the board. This can be a bit tricky, as the angles may allow the pieces to slide around. This can be remedied by clamping each piece one at a time, while letting each set with glue for about 10 minutes in between each clamping. After gluing on all the pieces of trim, you may encounter some voids in the glue joints. To fix this, fill each crack with wood filler. Doing so will give you a much nicer final product.

26 Next, begin to hand sand the board from 400-1,000 grit

Sanding the board Now that the board is almost finished, it’s time to start sanding. I started removing more material with the random orbit sander fitted with a 120 grit disc, and slowly moved on to hand sanding from 120-1,000 grit. Take your time between each grit; this will ensure you remove all the scratches. Any scratches left behind from the previous grit should be sanded out before moving on to a higher one.

Finishing To finish the board, you’ll need to apply a food-safe wood finish. The finish used must be food-safe as it’ll come into contact with bread, etc. I chose to use a mineral oil applied with a paper towel or rag. I’d suggest around five even coats, leaving the surface to dry between each one. GW

27 Oil with a food-safe wood finish (mineral oil) using either paper towel or a rag

FURTHER INFO If you’d like to see more from Tristan, just visit his YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/burlywoodworks – or website – www.burlywoodworks.com – for more projects like this one 28 The completed 100-piece segmented cutting board 70 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


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Around the house with Phil Davy

AROUND THE HOUSE WITH PHIL DAVY

P

erhaps it’s the constant need for mankind to reinvent, but have you ever wondered why some hand tools appear to be so complicated? There seems to be an endless flow of new tools, mostly from the USA, that are marketed as the next must-have product. Not only will these items make your life simpler, they will save you time and money in the long run, or so the spiel suggests. All well and good, but I wonder how many of us have been tempted to buy such a tool, perhaps at a woodworking show, only to find a year or so later it’s still in the box, unused? That old acronym ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ often makes a lot of sense… And the same can apply to power tools. I remember several which had a shorter shelf life than intended and were taken off the market.

There appeared to be little glue used in the pew’s construction

WORKSHOP:

PEW POWER Do you remember a time when ecclesiastical furniture was trendy? To the dismay of some people, many churches were removing creaky pews to replace them with far more comfortable, upholstered chairs. As a result, it became fashionable to create a rustic feel in your home by installing a pew or two. This entailed finding an appropriate seat, cutting it to size and plonking it in a suitable corner of the kitchen or porch. Some were relegated to the garden, where they soon deteriorated. Pews were popular, and although you could find them at reclamation yards and auction houses, they tended to be pretty pricey. I remember more than a decade ago visiting an architectural salvage yard near Bridgwater, which seemed to be teeming with them. The bottom had fallen out of the market, so I was told, and as a result they were unable to shift these substantial pieces of church furniture.

Siberian pine When the pews were being removed from my church (an elegant Victorian building) as part of a major refurbishment programme, I took the plunge and bought a couple. With very few knots evident, this was perhaps the cleanest run of antique timber I’ve come across. Obviously softwood, the timber was identified as Siberian pine from church records. With more than 150 years of regular use, the seats were well polished and had the odd dollop of hardened chewing gum stuck underneath. No graffiti or carved initials, though. A few of the rear pews had doors on the

72 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

There were one or two hefty screws used, but they came apart easily with little damage

Hinged umbrella brackets were among other such memorable features

ends, presumably to cut down on draughts. Brass name holders and hinged umbrella brackets were other memorable features. The first problem, though, was how to get them home. Each pew was about 17ft (more than 5m) in length, far too long even for a long wheelbase rental van. A friend offered to deliver them on his trailer if I sliced them in half. Still more than 8ft long, each sawn pew was bulky, though not too heavy. With no obvious project in mind, storage was the next problem, though they were easy enough to stand on end and cover in polythene. With my recent house and workshop moving saga, I needed to shift the pews yet again. This time I took them apart, labelling the ends for easy rebuilding if necessary. There appeared to be little glue used in their construction, the vertical end sections nailed to the seats and backs, plus one or two hefty screws, but they came apart easily with little damage. Originally I’d thought about making some Shaker-style kitchen doors from the timber, though I’ve since abandoned that idea. A project of some sort awaits, though I still don’t know exactly what to do with them… These days there are plenty of church pews for sale on eBay. Some look grand, others are in need of plenty of TLC. Many are quite basic and perfect for recycling purposes, though if you’re looking for furniture with character there are often lovely carved examples, too. If you’re after high quality, knot-free timber (mostly pine) that’s guaranteed to be well seasoned, I’d suggest you could do a lot worse.


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SPRING PROJECT – SUFFOLK LATCH BOOK REVIEW:

PLAYING WITH FIRE: THE ART OF CHOPPING AND BURNING WOOD

TAKES: Two hours TOOLS NEEDED: Steel rule, combination square, bradawl, drill and bits, coping saw, chisel, hammer, screwdriver

Ideally you should read this book sat in front of a roaring fire, rather than reclining on a distant, sunny beach. There’s a slight danger it could make you pine for colder weather, and we’ve had enough of that in recent months. Good preparation is important if you burn logs, and here TV presenter Paul Heiney explores the science and practicalities of getting the most from your fuel. He admits this was something of a mystery early on, but through long experience and conversations with foresters, woodsmen, survivalists and craftsmen, the elements of the firemaking puzzle gradually came together. Here he passes on his wealth of knowledge without baffling us with science. In his words, there’s a lot to learn about burning wood!

How things burn Heiney begins with an insight into how things burn, the history of the humble match an eye-opener before it was perfected. He stresses the importance of carefully managed woodlands and highlights the disastrous impact of 20th century coniferous plantations. It seems as though community woodlands may be the way forward to prevent the industry falling into further decline, and we meet characters who are making a real difference in helping to turn the tide. A useful chapter on suitable timbers for burning and their properties includes the odd poem, while subsequent pages on the traditional axe includes fascinating profiles of axe makers, grinders and handle craftsmen. An important part of the wood fuel process, there’s a vital section on axe safety and maintenance. The author admits that he hates chainsaws, though sees them as vital, time-saving tools in the right hands. It’s encouraging to read about ancient woodlands such as Suffolk’s Bradfield Woods, and the woodsmen responsible for its successful development in the 21st century.

ON THE LATCH

Taking only a few hours to install, follow Phil Davy’s simple steps for installing a Suffolk latch on a ledged and braced door and be sure to avoid any of the common pitfalls Traditional Suffolk latches date back to the late 16th century, being distinguishable from the later Norfolk latches by the absence of a backplate. These latches can add the authentic finishing touch to an internal ledged and braced door, especially in a period cottage. But they’re not always straightforward to fit. Nowadays, most of the more expensive latches are hand forged in India, which explains their rather rustic appeal. Screws supplied can be a bit hit or miss – the countersunk slotted ones provided with this latch did not look right, and should ideally be round head. Originally, latches would simply have been nailed to the door, with the tips clenched over. You’d position a latch about two-thirds up from the floor, with the latch bar fitted on the opening side of the door.

A worthwhile read Remaining chapters cover felling trees, chopping and stacking timber, plus the ubiquitous woodburning stove and how to use it efficiently. Should you be interested in smoking food, there are even tips on operating a smokehouse. Whether you use a woodburner or an open fire, I think many will find this book to be a THE GW VERDICT worthwhile RATING: 5 out of 5 read. All in all, a fascinating Published by Paul Heiney hardback for the autumn, PRICE: £20 or maybe WEB: www.thehistorypress.co.uk even the Christmas list.

1 Using a combination square, mark the hole for the thumb lever on both sides of the ledged and braced door. Tongued & grooved boards extend the full width and are not framed

2 Draw the slot needed for the thumb lever and drill holes top and bottom. To prevent breakout, either cramp an offcut to the back of the door or drill from both faces

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 73


Around the house with Phil Davy

3 Slacken o the coping saw blade, insert an end through the upper hole and re-tension the tool. Make two vertical cuts to link the top and bottom holes, so forming a slot

4 Check the fit of the thumb lever in the slot, and enlarge if necessary. The curved end of the lever acts as a pull handle, passes through the door and lifts the latch bar

5 Position the handle against the door and mark fixing holes with a bradawl. Drill and screw in place, lining up the slots for neatness. Round head screws would be neater

6 If the latch bar is too long, cut to length with a hacksaw. Wrap masking tape around the steel to form a clear cutting line. Clean up the sawn end with a file

7 Place the bar above the thumb lever, mark the end hole centre and screw it to the door. Avoid fixing through a joint between adjoining boards. Check the bar rises and falls

8 A staple is driven into the door to retain the latch bar. Mark its spikes, drill pilot holes and tap in, taking care not to split the wood. Traditionally, spikes would be clenched over

9 Draw around the bar end where it meets the architrave or door jamb. Drill a pilot hole for the spike of the frame keep, which will be hammered into the wood for a tight fit

10 The frame keep for this latch is rounded at the bottom and awkward to fit to Torus architrave. A Forstner bit cuts a clean hole, but hold an ocut in place to centre the drill

11 This keep has a spike at the top and is secured with a screw. Mark and drill a pilot hole to prevent splitting, then insert part way to see if it fits the architrave

12 Where the latch bar sits behind the keep, cut away architrave with a chisel if necessary. If paint exposes bare wood, tap the spike into the hole and screw the keep in place

13 Check the latch mechanism works correctly from either side. Although not easy to adjust once spikes have been driven in, parts can still be removed and sawn or filed

14 Traditional forged Suolk latches include bean head and Gothic patterns, as used here. You can get staples with locking pins for use on bathroom and toilet doors

74 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


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SPRING PROJECT – WINDOW BOARD REPLACEMENT

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Renewing a rotten window board is straightforward, though be prepared for plenty of dust and debris as you remove the old one. I used pine board, which is available from most DIY sheds in thicknesses of 18 and 22mm. It has one long rounded edge and comes in several widths and lengths. Once cut to size, treat with preservative. With solid timber it’s a good idea to elongate the screw holes; this allows for movement and prevents splitting. Finally, make sure any exterior work is carried out. Here, gaps in the pointing meant driving rain was finding its way inside. GW

TAKES: Three hours TOOLS NEEDED: Bolster, club hammer, narrow cold chisel, cheap screwdriver, jigsaw or hand saw, router, filling knife

WINDOW MADE NEW Phil Davy shows you how to quickly and easily replace a rotten window board

1 This old window board is rotten in the corner, due to damp penetration from defective pointing. The window frame is actually fairly recent and in sound condition

2 Cut a line along the wall with a bolster and club hammer. You will probably need to do this on both sides above the timber. Rake out the plaster with a narrow cold chisel

3 You may need to remove nails, so dig down with an old chisel or grind a cheap screwdriver for this job. Ease out the old window board and use this as a template for the new one

4 If the window board is to be painted, MDF will be more stable. Here, the timber will be stained, so pine board is a good choice. Cut to size with a jigsaw or hand saw

5 Try the new board in the opening and trim if necessary. If there’s a groove along the back of the window frame, rout a tongue on the board’s rear edge to fit. Screw into place

6 If the gaps around the masonry are quite small, use a suitable filler. Smooth off the surface with a damp filling knife and allow to dry. For larger gaps, make good with plaster

7 If fixing the board with screws, holes should be counterbored. Cut plugs and tap these home with PVA. Saw off excess material. Sand and seal the board with preservative

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 75


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Technical Responsible forestry

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPONSIBLE FORESTRY Shaun Stevenson of G&S Timber highlights the importance of sustainability when sourcing timber, the certifications to look out for when buying, and how all timber suppliers should ensure they are practising responsible forestry

A

s one of the most valuable resources in the world, wood has been sourced for millennia in order to provide warmth, decorations and construction. The responsible sourcing of this resource has been a topic of discussion for many decades, as local populations of people, animals and vegetation are impacted in the beginning stages, but the entire world will see and feel its consequences.

is imported: 80% is softwood from Scandinavia, Latvia and other Baltic states, and Russia; 15% is imported from Canada, Europe, and the USA; and the remaining 3% from Malaysia and Brazil, among other tropical regions.

Consequences of irresponsible forestry

Wood is sourced daily for use across a number of industries, such as logging, bio fuels, and for the expansion of land for agriculture. When practised responsibly, sustainable timber allows for the continuous renewal of forests as wood is sourced: when a tree is cut down, another one is planted in order to replace it. Sustainable forestry considers more than just the replantation of trees; it ensures the lack of ecological damage to the environment and to the flora and fauna native to the area. Additionally, sustainable timber is renewable due to the long-term approach to managing local resources. The sustainability factor will ensure that the trees and forests in modern times will survive for generations to come, while allowing a high level of clean air and wildlife. At present, two-thirds of the UK’s timber

The irresponsible sourcing of trees has a deep impact that is felt across the world. Both short- and long-term, deforestation is a big threat to both animals and the planet itself. With the absence of trees, global warming becomes a major factor in the destruction of the planet: trees absorb greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen and water vapour that are released into the atmosphere. In addition, loss of animals’ habitats will result in the extinction of many species, as around 70% of both flora and fauna live in forests. Indigenous people also lose their homes, which represents a great cultural loss. With the absence of trees, the soil becomes more exposed to the sun, which dries and renders it unusable for farming, and without tree roots holding the soil down, there is an increased risk of flooding and erosion. Erosion causes dangerous contaminants to enter water sources, and greatly diminishes the overall drinking water quality as a result.

Timber truck picking up logs

An oak log being processed

Sustainable timber

78 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

Controlling measures to guarantee the responsible sourcing of timber In order to ensure the existence and maintenance of sustainable and responsible forestry practices, timber certification

Oak stack being loaded into the heat vent kiln


The Stenner 60 bandmill has a 229mm × 10m blade. When in use the blade has 10 tons of tension – the main motor takes 150Kva to start the saw blade. It’s certainly an impressive machine!

This tractor with Botex forestry trailer is capable of lifting 2.5 tons

systems were put into place. Organisations such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) ensure the promotion of Sustainable Forest Management and responsible forestry. The presence of their certifications and logos across a company’s website or promotional material guarantees the business meets the highest social and environmental standards in the aid of forest protection. The FSC accreditation encompasses 10 Principles of Forest Stewardship, which begins with the compliance of all principles and laws that FSC and other governments put into place. In addition, ensuring the legality and the right of use is vital, as is safeguarding indigenous people’s rights of ownership above a company’s. The local communities and workers must be accounted for,

guaranteeing their economical welfare, and the forest, ecosystem, landscape, resources, and the biodiversity must be respected, maintained and restored in order to minimise the impact as much as possible. Similarly, PEFC works towards upholding the forest supply chain and guaranteeing all components of transparency, accountability and ensured continuous compliance to all sustainability demands are followed. By ensuring both the initial impact of sourcing the timber and the long-term effects are not only managed but minimised, the protection of forests and biodiversity across the world is guaranteed. With trees being such an important factor for the well-being of the entire planet, companies are required to adhere to these organisations’ principles and criteria in order to assure customers across the world that their timber is responsibly sourced. GW

Deforestation in Latin America – the result of irresponsible forestry practices

FURTHER INFO G&S Specialist Timber are specialist hardwood timber merchants who provide high quality woodworking tools and machinery. They are certified by both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). To find out more, see their website www.toolsandtimber.co.uk

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 79


Turning Spalted beech platter with exotic wood apples

A platter full of apples Taking a piece of spalted beech he’s had for a long time, Les Thorne decides to turn a platter, as well as a selection of apples in various exotic timbers

M

any years ago, turning wooden apples and pears was a significant part of my business. I used to turn them for local and national retail outlets as well as making some for other professional woodturners. Many of these turners attended large craft fairs but were too busy making bowls and pots to turn, what is always, a great seller. A little while ago, I was asked to do a demonstration to a group at a private club in London and they specifically requested I bring some apples for sale. Luckily, in one of my wood stores, I still had a few prepared blanks, including some really beautiful timber.

80 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

The problem I now had was what item I’d use to display them on. This predicament was caused by me lending my good friend, professional turner Gary Rance, my large display platter a few years ago, which he then promptly sold (and never told me). He then asked me to make another – good job he’s one of my best friends! I’d had this piece of spalted beech for a long time and haven’t done anything with it until now due to it developing a couple of small cracks, which really renders it unsaleable but perfect for a display piece. In my opinion, a shallow plate does tend to show off the contents better than a bowl. GW


1 My poor old electric chainsaw struggled through this piece hence the poor quality of cut, but I just about managed to get two for the price of one

2 By taping a pen to one of the arms, large dividers can be turned into a large compass. I’m often asked what the best bandsaw blade size is for circles: I find a width of 10mm and 3tpi to be perfect

3 The blank was very thin so the initial holding on the lathe required some thought. Short screws through the faceplate would hopefully not cause any problems, such as leaving holes in the top once I’d hollowed the plate out

4 Here you can see how badly shaped the piece was before I started. At this stage, I wasn’t sure whether I would actually manage to get the desired piece from it as there were so many saw cuts into the blank

5 Turning spalted timber can be a problem due to the fungal spores, so it’s imperative you take precautions by wearing a decent mask or respirator. The face shield is also important due to the splits in the timber

6 This cut on the top surface with the bowl gouge will determine where the rim is going to be. The toolrest is swung around to the front to give the cutting edge the best support

7 There was still a large, deep chainsaw cut in the underside of the platter that needed to be turned away. The black or zone lines in the wood are where different fungi make barriers against one another

8 The dividers are used to transfer the internal diameter of the chuck jaws onto the blank. If you are really limited on thickness, you could glue a piece of scrap wood on the bottom and turn your spigot on that

9 Here I’m using dovetailed chuck jaws so I needed to replicate that on my spigot. I used my skew, which is ground to 15° across the top, to cut the desired angle

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 81


Turning Spalted beech platter with exotic wood apples

10 A nice straight piece of timber can be used as a guide to show how flat the bottom is. Mark the high spots with a pencil so you can see them when the blank is spinning

11 One of the easiest techniques to remove small amounts of material is a scrape with a bowl gouge. The flute of the tool is pointing at 3 o’clock with the lower wing in contact with the surface of the blank

12 Once the bottom is as good as you can get it, you need to decide what to do with the rim. Half a cove is a simple but effective shape on the edge. This is cut with a bowl gouge, making sure the bevel is in contact with the surface

13 Having my brother’s cabinetmaking workshop next door has many advantages and these used sanding belts come in handy for many turning projects, especially as the edges often haven’t been used

14 A piece of quality 100 grit abrasive on a wooden block is perfect for flattening off any small discrepancies on the base. Once I was happy with the shape, I power sanded the rest through the grits down to 400

15 Turn the blank around and begin to hollow out the platter, starting with the rim. At this stage, leave as much stock as possible in the centre; this will stop some of the vibration that is experienced when turning this thin

16 Regularly check the thickness of the piece using a pair of figure-of-eight callipers. Here I am aiming for something around 8mm; any thinner and the plate would probably fall apart

17 An option for turning thin is to support the work behind the cut with your fingers; this is a technique that should only be used if you’re experienced in bowl turning

18 A good tool for cleaning across the bottom on the inside of the platter is the 60° bowl gouge. This tool is sharpened by rotating the tool on the grinder platform

82 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


19 This tool can be presented to the surface horizontally with the flute pointing at 12 o’clock. A normal bowl gouge presented like this is likely to, at worst, catch and, at best, leave a poor finish

20 Any unevenness can be removed with the 75mm sanding pad with a 100 grit disc. It’s important to present as much of the surface of the pad to the timber; this stops you creating more problems than you solve

21 Here I’m using the vacuum chuck to hold the platter in order to remove the spigot; this could be done between centres with the top face up against a wooden disc

TURNING THE APPLES

22 Even though the piece is on the vacuum chuck, I keep the tailstock in place for as long as possible. If you don’t have the luxury of a vacuum chuck, it would mean finishing this last bit by hand

23 The little details are everything, so I turn a small button in the base. Always do this after you’ve sanded with the coarser abrasives otherwise you run the risk of removing all the fine details

24 My set-up for turning apples couldn’t be simpler: a screw chuck with a 4.5mm screw and a 3mm drill in the tailstock. Here I’m using the versatile Oneway screw chuck, but a home-made one will also do the job

25 Often the apples are made of exotic timbers, so you want to keep waste to a minimum. Using a 60mm long blank means I can get five from a 300mm length of stock

26 After making the blank round with the spindle roughing gouge, the shaping is done with the 13mm signature gouge. The bevel is in contact with the surface the whole way through the cut

27 You’ll need to move the toolrest around the end to turn the top. The locking collar on the stem of the rest allows you to move it without altering the height of the toolrest, which makes the process much more efficient

www.getwoodworking.com GW331 May 2018 83


Turning Spalted beech platter with exotic wood apples

28 Cutting the indent in the top is difficult; it’s important to keep the point of the tool away from the wood as you can experience the tip running back, causing a dig in. The other thing to remember is that the tool must hit the centre in order to remove the last bit

29 Drill a 3mm hole in the top as accurately as possible using a drill mounted in the tailstock. If you’re working with the harder exotic timbers, increase the size of the drill to put less strain on the screw

30 Once you have turned the top and sanded it, reverse the apple onto the screw in order to turn the bottom. A business card against the aluminium faceplate will stop the sanded top of the apple from getting damaged

31 It’s now easy to turn the ‘flower’ end of the apple. I like to take this down to about 25mm diameter before cutting an indent in the end, just as I did on the stalk

32 If the apple doesn’t reverse onto the screw perfectly then it will run slightly out of true; this isn’t a real problem, as you can see here, but it can easily be rectified with a piece of 180 grit abrasive

33 I like a high gloss sprayed and buffed finish on my fruit and the best way to hold them for spraying is to use an old bicycle spoke inserted into the hole. The apple can then be easily rotated while applying the lacquer

34 What you choose to cover the bottom hole with is completely up to you. I like to use a clove that is glued in with CA adhesive; it does look pretty natural and the glue will harden up the otherwise soft clove

35 The stalk is made from hazel twigs that have been dried in the microwave; the bark then falls off. They are then soaked in black stain for a few days. The stalk is then pushed in with a small dab of PVA glue

36 The completed spalted beech platter with a selection of turned apples, in a variety of exotic timbers

84 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com


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Next month GW332 on sale 25 May

SEND IN YOUR TOP WORKSHOP HINT OR TIP & YOU COULD BE IN WITH THE CHANCE OF WINNING A VERITAS LOW-ANGLE JACK PLANE –WORTH OVER £250!

DARING TO BE DIFFERENT

A unique learning establishment in an inspiring location, Tegan Foley visits the Chippendale International School of Furniture in East Lothian to learn how the team are helping students to develop creative careers in wood

WOOD-BORING INSECTS As a wood restorer, Peter Bishop often encounters instances of wood-boring insect attack, and here he identifies the main culprits that we as woodworkers will come across

A WOODWORKING LINK WITH THE PAST Jim Sutherland tells us why, after all these years, his Grandfather’s old tools still hold such a central place in his tool cupboard

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End-grain

I bought an old GWR bench from a junk shop. Knifed into the back rail by some disenchanted passenger were the words ‘STAB THE B******S’. Initially I thought I’d sand them out but then realised they were part of the bench’s history. The Station Master at the time was probably livid, but anyone I point this out to now finds the lettering amusing

WHEN HARM LENDS CHARM The distressing tale of patination

Photograph courtesy of Lara Clarke-Wardle

T

here is a chasm between what we admire in old furniture, and what we admire in new. Some people wonder at the scenes that an antique piece must have witnessed; they value the marks of use it has picked up along the way; its resilience and endurance – its wearing and bearing. Some people wonder at the sheer dazzle of a contemporary piece; its faultless finish and crisp lines, its freshness. How does the one become the other? How does the new become the old? The answer is: with difficulty. The first red wine ring; the skid marks of a toy truck with no wheels; the cat scratch; the accidental dint – life on a daily basis: the first cut is the deepest. Perfection is suddenly and irretrievably lost. With loss comes grief, but soon too comes the second red wine stain and all its brothers and sisters. You still grieve, but not as much. You get out the tin of wax, and give it a going over. I’m abbreviating history now because this may take many lifetimes, but as dents and scuffs accumulate, you become less anxious. The piece of furniture becomes part of the furniture, and it takes its chances along with the rest of us. It can’t come to too much harm now. You’re not happy when the buckle of a sandal scores through the 17th century wax, but more wax will cover it and light will perform its shady tricks. The result is called patination, and in the marketplace, it is highly desirable.

© Edward Hopkins 2018

Giving the lie Patination is so desirable that it is replicated. In antique restoration and reproduction, you can’t wait a hundred years. Handfuls of old chain thumped down and scrubbed around; the odd flailing, and a cocktail of chemicals and dyes can fool all but the experts, and sometimes even them. While ‘patination’ is a warm, friendly term, the term used for artificially replicating it is ‘distressing’. It is not distressing to the distresser but to the distressed: the piece itself, which did nothing to deserve being drilled with false woodworm holes or bleached of 90 GW331 May 2018 www.getwoodworking.com

all its natural colour. Am I being sentimental? Does a piece of furniture have feelings? No, of course not: but why then do we use that term defined as ‘causing anxiety, sorrow or pain’? Deep down do we know that what we’re doing is a lie and therefore wrong? No. Didn’t think so. More likely we know it’s a lie and we welcome the profit it’ll bring. The biggest difference between patination and distressing is speed. Leave speed out of it and what remains? Those things that wear well, and those that don’t, because patination can bleed into damage, and damage exhibits weakness. One table top is of melamine clad chipboard. It can lose its perfection on the way out of the box, and will never absorb its loss into characterful charm. Another top is a slice of tree already old and fit for purpose. One can only get worse while the other gets better. This is my gripe against man-made boards: they don’t, in the main, wear well. If you’re going to use ply, use birch ply, and finish it with all the precision you’d afford oak. Avoid MDF entirely for it will never patinate.

Forgive & forget You’ll not avoid red wine stains unless you avoid red wine. This is an unfair demand that no piece of furniture has the right to make. Instead make furniture that embraces function, and enjoys being used such that marks are not marks of damage so much as marks of life, and therefore liveliness and interaction. Furniture is to be used, not just looked at. The exhibition piece untouched behind a cordon will not age. It may be superb as a piece of graphic art, but it remains an intellectual thing, not a practical one. Wood displays its nature in the way it grows old. The better the wood, the more graceful the process. And the more friendly. Red wine turns brown and scratches are absorbed in time. Old wounds, like old graffiti, eventually acquire charm. Your great great great grandfather was a dangerous highwayman who caused great, great unhappiness. Centuries later he has become a loveable rogue. GW


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