Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Another Boxing Day

The workshop was host again to our Shaker Oval Box course this weekend just gone. Our last for 2013.

Furniture maker and friend Tim McLeod came up to help me out with the class too and it was a resounding success. Six enthusiastic people who made a total of 18 fantastic quality oval boxes.

Tim and I honed a few new techniques on the course which ensured that we had a 100% success rate bending all 18 sets of bands and fitting all 36 lids and bases. Unheard of for us previously and the quality of the fit of bases and lids to bands was flawless. It was a real pleasure. So thanks, Jean, Jeanette, Kim, Glenn, Meredith and Beverly. Well done and I hope you keep making oval boxes for a long time to come. Cheers.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

One good turn deserves another....

After a year or so in the workshop I'm often working on improving the layout and functionality in order  for it to work more efficiently and be user friendly for the people who come along to make chairs, boxes and other stuff with me. Recently that included identifying that we needed another lathe for the courses.
                                             Australian made Waldown High Precision Drill

Those who know me well know just how much I 'appreciate' quality machinery and more specifically Australian made quality machinery. Ok, I admit I perhaps have a slight infatuation with Waldown machinery. But I digress.....

Back in the day we had any amount of makers of quality machines but now I can only think of Parken ( drilling machines, linishers etc ) and Vicmarc ( wood lathes ) that are making woodworking machines in any number now.

Even Waldown, once the makers of some of the finest Australian made drilling machines and grinders available, have now taken their manufacturing off shore to Asia and the resulting offerings from them are not much more than landfill.

Another fine maker of days gone by was 'Tough.' Made in Western Australia, Tough manufactured drilling machines, morticing machines, wood lathes and apparently tractor implements! Their machines were rugged and hefty to say the least, but their quality spoke for itself. So given that my budget didn't come close to a new or even used Vicmarc lathe, I decided to keep an eye out for a Tough.

A few weeks ago one appeared on ebay. It was down on the Mornington Peninsula, about two and a bit hours away, so I watched it like a hawk, threw my hat into the ring and as luck would have it, won it. For the princely sum of $255. Nice.

Nice........ and rusty. The lathe in situ in Red Hill. I think most of the Red Hill was sitting on or       around this lathe!

On arriving to collect it I soon realised it had been sitting dormant for a few years, as everything was covered in rust. Apparently, the seller had acquired it when she bought the small farm it was on and the fella who sold the place couldn't be bothered getting it out of the shed! Out with socket set and screwdrivers and in a just under an hour I had it stripped down from it's flimsy pine stand, in the back of the ute and headed out of the paddock for home.

I had every intention of building a solid wooden base for the new beast, but when I got it back to the shed I remembered that I had an old cast iron bench that I'd bought a fair while back. Voila, new stand for the lathe.

Now to strip the rust off everything. I ended up using a combination of steel wool, a Beartex wheel on the bench grinder and elbow grease. In one afternoon I had pretty much had the rust beaten.

The next morning I sat the bare lathe bed on the cast table and marked out where I needed to cut a hole for the v-belt to run to the motor.

A pattern was then made to locate the holes for bolting the bed down. With the holes drilled and v-belt hole cut out, I then started to make a new stand for the motor to sit on. Most lathes of this age rely on the sheer weight of the old motors to create enough tension in the v-belt, so I simply laminated a nice bed for it to sit on and hinged it from the rear so that the v-belt pulleys would would be pivoting in line with the belt. The motor had previously been pivoting perpendicular to the line of the belt, meaning the belt would wear disproportionally when under tension.

                                            Headstock pulley to corresponding motor pulley below

To line up the headstock and motor v-belt pulleys I sat the motor on it's new stand and sighted down through the top of casting to line them up as best as I could be eye. I then used a plumb bob to check this and adjust it slightly.

I have some new linked v-belt coming in the mail and a few other bits and pieces to pick up to finish the job, which hopefully should happen shortly after I finish classes for the year, at the end of this month. It'll be good to see this thing turning once again.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A cut here and a bite there.


Like most, I feel pretty good after a haircut. A bit of a trim around the edges always makes things look a little more respectable. And so it was the other day when Lisa ( and Tom after school ) spent a day at the new block, mowing lawns, brush cutting thistles and black berries and generally tidying the new place up a bit.

 I reckon we've collected at least a few tandem trailer loads of rubbish just from around the property so far and that's not including the scrap iron and steel. It seems the more grass we cut and clear, the more the detritus appears!

But despite the mess it's amazing how a day of cleaning can start to transform the look of a place.

I even pulled out the nasty 70's aluminium windows that were in the South side of the verandah. With these removed your can actually see what the place might look like after we have re-instated the verandah posts, where they were originally. 

While we were in the swing of things, ( the sledge hammer that is ) the old lean-to which was attached to the side of the laundry wall, came down too. 

Before anyone becomes alarmed at the thought of me removing what was an original part of the structure, let me just say that the remnants that were left of the lean-to were being supported by the corrugated iron only ( and a few rocks on the roof ! ), as all of the studs had been eaten by termites or at some stage just rotted away. And at least half the roof and rafters were gone too.

                                                            "Look Mum, no studs!" 

What was interesting though was that some of what was left of the timber structure was, I believe, pit sawn timber. So of course that has been saved and put away for the future, where it can be utilised in some form in either the rebuild or a new building.

But the picture is not all rosy. In my exploration of the house I found that my little friends the termites are still chomping their way through the floorboards and god knows what else too. 

So first things first, it's time to call in some form of toxic avenger to curb their enthusiasm. Next week we'll see just how bad the damage is. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

English Oak Rocking Chairs

Sunday afternoon saw the end of our last group class for 2013, a Continuous Arm Rocking Chair. The four guys were joined by Sarah on the last day, who was making up for missing the last day on the previous course and I'm happy to say we finished with four great rockers and a chair, all trimmed and ready for paint and or oil.

Richard ( far right ) had come the furthest, from Northern NSW and we had a great week comparing everything from weather to timber and everything in between, in true NSW versus Victoria fashion. 

On Friday night at the bar, he made me write and sign a guarantee that we would finish the rocker by Sunday! 

Here he is sporting it on his shirt. I think he had some doubt that we'd get across the line. But we did and had a lot of fun in the process. Richard, like all past students, is welcome back in my workshop anytime. Hopefully I may see his too in the future..... I'll bring the Wickhams Road Merlot Richard!

Another great aspect of this course was the material we used for the spindles and crest rails. If you follow the blog, you'll remember the huge English Oak that came down in a storm in March this year, it was well over a hundred years old. Now this grand old tree from Simpson Street, Kyneton will live on in those four rocking chairs, hopefully for another hundred or so.

And while we are on the subject of beautiful old trees, I was fortunate enough to have another past client, David ring and tell me of this old gem. 

It's an old Blackwood that came down in his paddock recently and rather than see it cut up for firewood, I'll hopefully take a few saw logs from it and put it to good use. Plenty of chair legs there me thinks! Thanks David.

Tomorrow Lisa and I are hitting the ground at Tylden for the first of many days of cleaning up around property and cutting grass. Stay tuned for some progress pic's. Cheers!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Worth Waiting For

I had thought that Spring had arrived, but the on and off rain, cold nights and gale force winds are certainly making me have second thoughts. But despite the weather, the workshop has been busy with courses, commissions and general work.

This included a couple of perch classes ( one's a staggered class finishing this week ) a Shaker Nightstand project coming to an end, George Smithwick's fantastic Coopered Bucket course and a 3 person Continuous Arm Chair course. Trusty fellow Windsor chair maker and devotee Bern came up today too, to prepare for our next group course, a Continuous Arm Rocker, which starts next Monday. Then I've been putting the finishing touches to a matched pair of Crested Rocking Chairs and milling timber in between time. Here's a few pic's.

The group course will be our last big course for the year as we'll have another project which will be taking up a bit of our time until the end of the year......... and then about another 10 years after that.

Our new home. Well, 'new' might be the wrong word. We've been told she's about 163 years old. And with any luck 'she' will be the last home I renovate. At number 4, I'm hanging up the renovation nailbag after this one! And that's not including the ones I lived in and helped renovate when I was growing up. But I digress....

One of the original Tylden homes, 'Pineville,' as I've been told she was known as, is quite an old gem. For years as I'd drive through Tylden, always on the way to somewhere else, I'd always slow down and admire it as I drove past. 

Then one evening a number of weeks ago, Lisa saw that it had been listed on the internet for sale. We arranged to look through it the next day and put in an offer straight away. A bit of juggling and too-ing and fro-ing later and now she's ours. 

Leaky roof, termite damage and about ten tonnes of rubbish to boot. And judging from the smell of ammonia, a few incontinent possums too.

But despite the fact that the back part of the house needs totally rebuilding and we don't know just how much damage the termites have done, it's what remains which sets this house apart from anything I've seen before. Things like the original hardwood weatherboards, nailed with blacksmith made nails. They are all there, protected for years by the verandah which wraps around the entire house. 

The well at the back door. The cast iron hand pump in the laundry, which pumps water from the well into the riveted iron water tank in the ceiling. The fireplace crane which is still in one of the two kitchen chimneys. The fact that the entire double gable roof has every single hand split shingle still in place under the iron roof. 

Yes she is one in a million and Lisa and I intend to bring her back to her former grandeur, as best we can. It will be a long road, but what a great journey. 

So the blog might take a bit of a side track now and then and report on our progress on the house as well as things chair and furniture related. But I'm sure it will be worth tuning in for.