Well, I never wanted to talk about anything but woodworking on this blog, but I feel like I owe an explanation to the blog readers for my extended absence, so here goes.
Back in March of 2010, at age 41, I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I was fortunate to find the right doctors and after a 12 hour surgery to remove 40+ tumors, a 23 day hospital stay, and 12 rounds of chemo, all was good until August of 2012. That's when a tumor presented itself in the area around the liver. Would not have been a big deal except it decided to nest itself amongst blood vessels so that it can not be surgically removed. Eight more rounds of chemo kind of held it where it was, but now I'm getting ready to start IMRT (targeted radiation) to try to fry this thing and kill it. Radiation is scheduled to start next week, 5 sessions spread out over 10 days. I thank God for a strong and loving wife and family that helps keep me going and keeps me on track.
So anyway, that's my story and the main reason for my lack of posting. I've been able to work out in the shop and even build the shop through most of this, but I just haven't felt well enough to get out there much in the last few months. I do get out there when I can, even if just to do a little light sanding on a saw handle or just to sit there and soak up some shop atmosphere.
I still have big plans though. I have a trip scheduled to Pittsboro in July to take a 2 day class at Roy's on restoring wooden planes. And I'm still asking for woodworking tools for birthday's, Christmas and Father's Day. :-) I've got a couple of panel saws that I got a start on and a hanging cabinet for the shop that's in progress. And I have to find some time to get on the spring pole lathe and get some turning practice in for some joynt stools/formes that I want to build. And some windsor chairs are definitely in my future. Hope to be posting again real soon.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
After a few medical procedures and a 3 night stay at John Hopkins, I finally got feeling well enough to complete my spring pole lathe. The following is a short video showing the lathe in action. I have found out two things; one, the lathe seems to work as it should and excess vibration doesn't seem to be a problem. Two, I have absolutely NO natural ability as a turner. I think this is going to be a rather steep learning curve. I have fun with the roughing gouge though. :-)
I will try to do another video later showing all the features of the lathe.
Oh well, without further ado, here's the video, my first on this blog.
Video by Casey Bacon
Music: Protect the Innocent by The Fuzzy Mountain String Band
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Finally got a set of steps off the back of the shop. Laid the stoop a few weeks back and have been piddling with the steps along with about 6 other projects for about a month. Got them installed on Monday. Rough cut 2 X 10's; leftover 2nd story floor joist material from the shop, so they're a full 2" thick, actually about 2 1/8". I can now confidently bring an elephant in the back door. Well, I guess I'd need a bigger door. But the steps could handle the weight! :-) Steps were finished with solid color white and gray stains. Left the rough surface for better traction. Through tusk tenons are pegged with 1 1/4" dowel that I cut at the appropriate angle to wedge everything together tightly. The good news is I'm really happy with the way these turned out. The bad news is I now like them better than the front steps. Oh well.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I haven't had a lot of time recently to work on the spring pole lathe, but I've made some decent headway on it. I didn't realize it'd been so long since I posted an update. A few weeks ago, I disassembled everything and chamfered the edges of the post and the movable poppet and also put a chamfer on the feet. I just used a drawknife to do the chamfers followed by a little sanding and the chamfer on the feet was just done with a couple wooden planes. With this done I was ready to permanently attach the post to the feet. I split off some white oak that I had sitting in the garage and ran it through a doweling plate I made a while back, ending up with 1/2" pegs. I put 2 oak pegs in each foot, offsetting the drilling process to achieve a drawbored joint. Although I'm sure it wasn't necessary, I added glue also. Those are rock solid joints. If anyone hasn't tried drawboring, I suggest you try it out. It adds an amazing amount of strength and really pulls things tight. And you don't even have to clamp up the joint.
|Drawbored post to foot connection|
Somewhere in all this, my bolts came in from Blacksmith Bolt.com. Some massive 5/8 x 10 square headed bolts, square flat washers, and square nuts. No practical reason for the square headed hardware, I just think it was a good look for this project. I also had ordered some square headed lags to use as pikes for holding the workpiece, but ended up scrapping that idea for the finer threads of some square head machine bolts that I was able to pick up locally at the neighborhood Posner store. More on those in a minute. Anyway, with hardware in hand I was ready to permanently ( well, semi-permanent; no glue) assemble the bed rails to the post. Since I was going through about 8" of wood, I decided to drill halfway from each side and meet in the middle. THAT didn't work out very well. I got off somewhere along the line and had quite a bit of rasp work to do to make that bolt go through. But eventually I got it and all was well. I was still a little concerned about the post splaying in or out so I added a 3/4" oak board to the bottom of the feet to act as a stretcher. I let the board into the bottom side of the feet and chiseled out material deep enough that the board is an 1/8" or so above the floor; I didn't want to take a chance on it rocking on this piece. A couple screws on each side through the board and into the feet and then the whole works was back upright again. Boy did that tighten things up. There is zero side to side movement in this thing now.
|Blacksmith Bolt hardware|
|And the other side|
Ok, so back to those square head machine bolts from Posner. I ordered a two 5/8"-11 bolts; one 6" for the movable poppet and a 7 1/2" for the fixed upright. I chose the longer bolt for that side in case I wanted to add some sort of crank handle at a later date to make fine adjustments easier. Of course, both bolt were only threaded about the first 3", so I had lots of fun running a die down both of them, only leaving about 1/2" unthreaded. Now I had to get some 60* cones on the end of them. I bounced around a lot of ideas in my head and tried a few. What finally worked best was drilling a 5/8" hole in a 2 x 4 at the proper angle, attaching that to an auxiliary table I'd made for my bench top belt sander and running the bolt through that hole so that it met the belt sander at the angle I needed for that 60* tip. It worked surprisingly well. Now it was time for the scary part, drilling through the 3 1/2" thick stationary upright and movable poppet. After my previous adventure with drilling for the bed rail holes, I was pretty apprehensive. Gotta be done though. Measured and marked both side of each piece to be drilled, chucked up a 9/16" auger bit in my favorite brace and went to it. I decided to NOT drill from both side this time. I guess I was thinking pure thoughts during the process because when the tip of my auger bit emerged on the other side, it was right on my mark both times. What a relief it is having that done. Tapped the holes with a 5/8 tap and I'm in business.
|I was SO relieved to see these line up like this|
|And from the top|
|And just one more :-)|
I've also been working on the treadle assembly. Got a pretty good start on this. The joints are drawbored mortice and tenons. The wood is some oak I had from a never completed project about 20 years ago. Good to see it finally put to use. The design is pretty much a rip-off of Peter Follansbee's treadle from his lathe at Plimoth Plantation. I really love the look of that lathe and tried to capture some of it in mine.
|Treadle assembly a bit better than halfway done|
|Drawbored mortice and tenon|
|And from the back. The material was different thickness,|
but for shop equipment, I thought it was ok. Well, since it
was on the bottom. :-)
|Peter's lathe at Plimoth showing the treadle I'm trying to|
I think that pretty much catches things up. Now that the pikes are installed I can make the mortices for the arms that will hold the tool rest. Have to finish up the treadle and then go find an appropriate little tree for the actual spring pole. I can't wait to start turning on this thing. I have visions of joynt stools and joynt formes dancing in my head.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Got bored again the other night. And since I said I didn't have any use for the first haversack I made, it was perfectly logical to make another one. I can't say this one really went any quicker. Made the flap a different design with different stitching. I will say that my button-hole stitch improved a little, even if you can't really tell it from the picture. Now I have an excuse to go back to Colonial Williamsburg and get another pewter button to complete this. :-)
Friday, January 4, 2013
I am very fortunate to have a wife, mother, and children who ask me what I want for Christmas and are happy to facilitate my woodworking
My Mom got me the Ray Iles scorp, season 6 of the Woodwright's Shop, the new Peter Follansbee DVD on making a joined chest, and a really nice book, Chairmaking Simplified.
My Dad gave me the lock-blade Kershaw knife, which I think I'm gonna keep in the shop. I have a smaller knife to keep in my pocket and it's nice to have a knife like this for general purpose task in the shop.
My girls surprised me with gifts of their own this year. My 11 year old, Gillian, got me a really nice welcome mat which resides on my brick pad at the front door of my shop. And Casey, my 14 year old, made the sweet sign for me to hang in my shop. She used a wood burner (first effort) and got the images for the tools off of my blog site. Pretty cool. :-)
So, thank you ALL. I appreciate all my gifts and will be sure to put them to good use. Man, my birthday's a LONG ways away yet. :-)
Monday, December 31, 2012
I only made one piece this year as a Christmas gift. I believe that's one more than I made last year though, so I'm making progress. This year's gift was for my dad. I usually try to get him a nice bottle of bourbon or something; an unusual or small batch product. Well this year while looking around, I saw a bottle of Laird's 7 1/2 year aged apple brandy, non blended. Laird's Apple Jack was my dad's dad's drink of choice when he was at his hunting cabin, ( He bought 251 acres of land in the mountains near Berkley Springs West Virginia in 1957, which my dad still has ), and my dad likes it every now and then also, so I'd found what I was looking for.
Now my dad's dad was a bit of a woodworker himself and I've got some cherry that was his that is probably 50 or 60 years old. I got it about 20 years ago and it had been planed down to 3/4" but obviously with some very dull planer knives. It was riddled with tear-out, so I planed it all down to 1/2" thick stuff. Well, after buying the bottle of apple brandy, I thought how cool would it be to make a box out of that cherry that came from my dad's dad to hold the bottle that my dad's dad liked to drink? Pretty cool I thought. So I decided on a sliding lid candle box type design sized to fit the afore mentioned bottle. Turned out to be a really enjoyable little project to build. I took a minimalistic approach as far as the tools I used. The corners are through dovetailed, the bottom or back just nailed on with reproduction headless brads from Kennedy Hardware ( nice stuff ), and I just used a marking gauge and a chisel and mallet to cut the grooves for the lid to slide in. I find it fun sometimes to askew specialty tools like a plow plane for a chisel and mallet. Anyway, after about 8 hours or so of work I was really pleased with the way it turned out. So much so that I'll be making myself one soon. For a finish, I applied a coat of True Oil, let it dry, and then buffed it out with fine steel wool. Because of it's age I suppose, this cherry has such a warm patina to it right away and it really begs for a simple finish. I made a bunch of cherry shavings from some of the scraps and used these to pack the bottle in the box. I find this packing much more attractive than styrofoam peanuts. :-)
Anyhow, Dad came down day before yesterday for his Christmas visit and he was very pleased indeed. Especially with the box being made from the cherry that was his dad's. Nothing can compare to the joy a woodworker gets from seeing how much a loved one appreciates a project you have made for them. Makes you want to get right back out in the shop and build more gifts.
Oh and by the way, we broke into the bottle and toasted Pappy with that apple brandy. That was some really smooth sipping stuff.
|Most, but not all, of the tools used to make the box|
|No, the dovetails aren't perfect, but neither am I|
|Really love the warm look of this cherry|
|A happy gift recipient and the humble cabinet maker|