Saturday, 8 December 2012

Splinter the Wooden Bicycle!

Just watched an excellent video on building a wooden bicycle! The bicycle is called splinter and it is such an eye opener! So much so I fancy making one! The website ( has some great clips of the bike. Hmm a new year project?? Time will tell! To watch the video online click on this link

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Why does it take so long?

So for the last few months I have been trying to get some time to update my blogger pages. I have spent some time over the last week or adding some more detail.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Plaques for work

My school has got links with a range of different schools from around the world. I was asked by my Head Teacher if I could make some wooden plaques to celebrate them visiting our school.

My first stage was  to make a template that would allow me to have my school name, logo and year on it. This allow me to work out the correct size of the plaque.

After discussions with my Head Teacher I decided that I was going to make the plaques of Oak as it is seen as a very 'British' wood. I chose to use American White Oak which I bought from Morgan Timber.

The oak that I bought was just narrow enough to fit through my thicknesser!!!

 My first step was to cut the board into blank size pieces so that I could work out what I was working with. One of my main reasons for doing this is because where I have got my thicknesser located it doesn't easily allow me to put large boards through it. I need to sort this really! But as I don't plane that long boards that often its one of those jobs I will do at some point.

 I then planed each of the boards to smooth the sides of them. In hindsite I should have got them planed at the wood yard. This would have saved me so much time!!

My next stage was to make an oval template. This allowed me to use a bush in my router to cut out the oval part of the logo. This allowed me to accurately route out the different plaques.

Next I routered out the plaque. This allowed me to test the different cutters and the depths that I would need to cut to. This was an important step as it told me a lot about the finished products!

After I had routered out the detail I used black and gold  enamel paint in the different parts of the plaque. I also tried out different stains and waxes. This allowed me to get a feel for what the plaques were going to look like.

After making the test plaque I moved on to the 5 proper plaques. My  first job was to spend a couple of hours sanding the wood back and totally smooth! After doing this I plan to make a sanding box that sucks the dust away in my workshop. I also want to add an air filter to clean the air!

I then routered out all of the five plaques. I then painted in the detail on the plaques. I changed the paint on these ones to Acrylic paint and used silver instead of the gold. I used this because when I made the test one the gold did not stand out enough.

Filling the letters and the tree with the paint was probably the most tedious part of this project! This seemed to take ages! The advantage of using the acrylic paint was that I could go over the top of the plaque and then clean it up by using the electric sander.

By this point my workshop was looking a mess!!! Oh to get it clean!

 After some more sanding the plaques were looking good (if I do say so myself!). My big issue now was having to stain the oak!! I really like the colour of the oak and did not really want to darken the plaques. But everyone I spoke to thought oak was a dark colour, so dark they went.

I was really pleased with the finished product. This product taught me a lot about using a router to route out detailed images. I quite fancy using this technique to make a plaque for the front of my house.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Plywood Windsor Chair Part 2

So I have hard some time to get into my workshop to spend some time working on my Plywood Windsor chair. I have been trying time to find this for the last few weeks and I just haven't had time to get into my workshop. 

To get some inspiration I have been reading a couple of woodwork books. The first book I read was Furniture with Soul by David Savage. I really enjoyed this book as it gave a great insight into the world of the designer maker. OK so not everything in the book is a style that I would choose to have in my house, there are some pieces that are stunning! After reading this book I have set myself a target of building (at least) one piece of furniture a year. My aim behind this was that I should be able to find time to make at least one piece for my house! If I build more than one it is a bonus!! 

The second book I have read is a collaboration of articles from Fine Woodworking on making chairs. This was interesting as it covered a range of different techniques involved in making a range of different chairs. It was a really good article on Sam Maloof, so much so I have ordered Fine woodworkings DVD on him.

To start making my chair I started making the seat part. This was three layers of birch plywood glued together using polyurethane glue. To make this I used two layers of 18mm ply with a layer of 12mm glued into the middle. I made a template to allow me to make the edges of the chair. I am not going to shape these pieces so that I can have flat area to drill the holes for the legs / arms etc... Although when the holes are drilled I may shape the edges slightly, depending on how the chair looks.

 Next I made a template for the front of the chair. This allow me to mark the part that is rasied between your legs. In hindsight this was slightly large and I had to reduce it when I was shaping the chair as I found it was a  too large.

I made another template to allow me to mark the depth of the shaping on the front of the seat. This was designed to allow me to curve both sides to the same profile.

To make me life easier I cut the the corners of the base using my bandsaw. Then the gave them a quick sand on my disk sander. I hold my hand up! I need a bigger more powerful sander! I quite fancy having a go at making a belt sander, just need to find some time!

I then routered the corers of the top of the wood to give it a gentle curve all of the way around. This was to try and create a uniform curve and also to save time with the shaping process.

To remove the bulk of the wood on the base of the chair I used an angle grinder with an Arbortech wood carving disk in it. I bought this from Axminster tools a few years ago, it is amazing how many jobs I have found for it!

Below is a photo of the plywood after a couple of minutes of being attached by the blade.

Gradually the wood is removed, this is shown in the photo below. I find that going slow and steady removes the wood quicker than trying to work quickly.

The photo below shows the front profile being shaped.

The advantaging of using the carving blade is that in about 30 minutes I had roughly carved out the seat base.

Randomly I forgot to take photos of the next stage! This was to use a sanding disk on my angles grinder. This allow me to smooth the lumps out of the plywood. The advantage of using an angle grinder for this task rather than a conventional sander is speed! The angle grinder spins so much quick and really eats through the wood. So you have to be careful to keep moving it around so that you don't take away too much material. The down side to this is the mess and the dust!!! 

Below is a photo of the mess that is made by shaping the base! At the time I writing this I have spent about half and hour vacuuming up the mess and that's only about half of my workshop! It got EVERYWHERE!!

The picture to the below shows the basis shape of the seat base. This will need more sanding before it is finished, but that will take place after I make the legs and the arms.

 My next stage will be to make the legs of the chair. I still haven't worked out how I am going to do this yet! I may end up cutting out loads of circles using a hole saw on my bench drill, but hopefully I will think of a quicker way of doing it.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Startrite Bits n bobs

Last summer I bought an old Startrite 301 bandsaw. I had originally been looking for a Startrite 352 but this one came up on eBay about thirty minutes drive away. I have used 352 bandsaw's a lot having had one in my old school workshop. In hindsite I am pleased that I got the 301 because it is far easier to transport and that bit lighter when moving it down my garden to my workshop.

Just after I bought the new bandsaw I found the instruction manual. At the back of it there was a section on jigs that the machine would have come with when new. When I bought the machine it came with the original fence and mitre gauge but the instructions also showed a depth stop and a compass cutting attachment (photo of instructions below). So my plan is to have a go at making these two attachments that didn't come with the bandsaw. The compass attachment will really be useful for making the legs of my Plywood Windsor Chair as I will be able to cut out the circles.

Using the instruction manual as a guide I set about make a compass attachment. To be honest I am not sure how much use this will be, I will have a go but I'm not convinced. The circles I need to cut will be small and I just don't think it will do small enough circles.

Below it the depth stop that I have made. This seems ok, but I would usually use a piece of wood clamped to the fence. Again time will tell!

The photos below show my bandsaw in place in my workshop. I think most of the time the jigs can probably stay in place. If not I will fasten them to the side of it will a couple of magnets so they don't get lost!        

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bits and Boxes

One problem I seem to face is that I am building up ideas of how to improve my workshop quicker than I can make them! I use Microsoft One Note to track the ideas and I must have 20 or so things I would like to make. Tonight whilst I was walking my dog I decided to go into my workshop and spend some time making one of the things on my list.

I have just ordered some rolls of sand paper. In total I will have five different grits. My plan is to make a dispensing box for them to they can be pulled out and easily cut.

To star this I have glued a box together (not joints, just PVA). Inside there are dividers that will separate the sections.

When the glue has gone dried tomorrow I will cut a slot on my table saw on one side. This will be the slot that the paper comes out of. When this is wide enough I will chop the whole top of it with the bandsaw. On the back I will put a piano hinge and then a couple of clips to keep it closed. I  have an old bandsaw blade that I will fasten along the front to cut the pieces of paper.

Below is how the paper will be spaced out:

Ok, So I missed taking a few photos. Basically what I did was cut a slot through one side of my box (8mm wide) on my table saw. I then used the bandsaw to cut the lid off.  On the back I added a piano hinge to allow access to the inside.

On the top I added an old bandsaw blade. This allows the sand paper to be ripped off - this has to be done in a quick movement. But it works! I also added a couple of latches to keep the lid closed. 

At the end of the day I wanted a quick way of storing my different rolls of paper, have I achieved this.... yes! Ok I could have spent time putting some wood joints on it... I could have smoothed all of the edges and put a finish on it. But the box does everything I need it to do. Now whats next on my list of little jobs that need doing?!?!?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Good Woodworking Magazine

I got this months copy of Good Woodworking in the post today, I have been excited about getting it because I have got letter of the Month in it. I know its sad ...... but it made me smile!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Birch Plywood Windsor Chair

So my plan is to build a Windsor Chair out of Birch Plywood. I have developed my idea after reading a book by John Brown on building Welsh Stick Chairs. I have no idea if this concept will work but only time will see!

To start with I made a quick model to see the rough shape of my chair. Must admit I need to change the legs to some thicker legs. I will change these at some point.

Next I glued 3 layers of Birch Plywood together to create a thick chunky piece to make my seat base out of.  This was made up of two layers of 18mm ply with a layer of 9mm in the  middle.

Next I started to work on making some test pieces for the legs. I made this by cutting out some circles using a tank cutter and then gluing them around a piece of M8 threaded bar. My idea of using the breaded bar is to add some strength and keep the parts aligned. Before I cut loads of these I need to work out a quicker way of cutting out the circles. Not sure yet if I will go the bandsaw, router or lathe route. I might have to do some more testing.