Monday, March 29, 2010

Frighteningly Dangerous Workshop Tools.

Since I got into woodworking, I’ve always wanted a spindle moulder. It’s a man-bling thing I guess, but I always thought it’d go nicely with my planer thicknesser. I also covet tools like bandsaws and bench morticers, anything which is made from cast iron so weighs a LOT and has a nicely obscure name will do really.
However, being currently of similar means to the proverbial church mouse this is one of those little dreams that will have to remain so for the near future at least. Anyway, I recently scored this pile of oak.

Before you go mental you need to be in possession of the following facts:

1) It came out of the walls of a strongroom that’d been demolished and consequently has nail holes in one face so it’s only good one side.
2) Because it was reclaimed from a strongroom it was a total and utter bastard to extract, but it was at least free.
3) It didn’t look like this when I got it, it’s already had a day on the planer thicknesser lavished upon it to square it up and make each piece the same section, 16x75mm if you must know.
4) I like to think it’s red oak, but I may be wrong, I often am about these things. Shortly after starting work on the cabin construction I went through a brief period of thinking everything I saw was made of iroko.
5) The guys I got it from had a load more come in the same evening, but the bloody idiots put it on the bonfire before I saw it, so I should have had twice the amount I’ve got-
6) Which adds up to about 7 square metres. After wastage that’s enough to do either the cabin ceiling, or the wheelhouse ceiling, but not both; for which I’d need about 11 square metres.
7) Grrrrrr.

So. One pile of wood, which I want to use for ceiling lining. I could just nail it up couldn’t I? Me being me, apparently not. As a direct result of spending too much time talking to Mark I’ve decided that I’d like to make it into tongue and groove panelling. A really good tool to have for doing this sort of thing is a spindle moulder, but I can’t afford one so I’ve had to think laterally about this little hang-up. For some time now I’ve been in possession of a bright yellow1/2 inch Clarke ‘contractor’ router. It’s such an unwieldy behemoth that it’s almost useless as a conventional router, because it’s approximately the size of a boulder. It is however EXTREMELY powerful. Now I know you can buy router tables, the underside of which you bolt your router to but that involves spending money. So last week I found myself looking at my rather large and sturdy workshop table (that I built as a Christmas present to myself) in a new light and soon wandered off to borrow a holesaw from someone and set about cutting a hole in it to make this.

I know, it scares the pants off me too, particularly because the cutter block that’s sticking out of the table surface (the one in the picture does the ‘tongue’ side of the wood stock) has four extremely sharp TCT knives in it, is about 50mm in diameter and spins at god knows what RPM. With the giganto-router mounted to what’s effectively a large sounding board I have discovered to my dismay that the machine seems to go through several harmonic frequencies as it runs up to working speed. This creates the convincing sound of a small but extremely loud spacecraft taking off in my workshop every time I switch it on, the effect this has upon me is to give me the overpowering urge to flee the workshop and go and hide under another table in, say, the next county.

Before I am lambasted by some beardy health and safety freak who happens to read all this and decide to again accuse me of being a reckless danger monkey, I am at pains to point out the following fact:

1) It’s not finished.

That block of wood with a sawcut in it that you see bolted to the table is a feathering board, designed to help keep the work piece hard up against the aluminium fence, I want more of these including a pair to help press the work piece down onto the table before I’m prepared to chuck all my precious oak through the machine. Also I’m so scared of it I’ve decided if I have to be in the same room as it then I MUST fit some sort of guard to at least partially cover that cutting block whilst it’s running. Also I’ve wisely decided to omit the photograph I’ve got of the underside of my table as the wiring I frankensteined up to test my switching idea is probably enough to get me arrested.
Annoyingly, until I bite the bullet and get on with sorting these things out and finishing the job I now cannot use my workbench for anything else, and my other bench has got half an oak tree stacked up on it so the whole workshop’s even more of a squeeze than it usually is.

Oh Bugger.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Wendy Leaks.

No, thankfully not from the bottom up, but instead from the top down.
Since the launch I’ve learned that every time it shats it down with rain Wendy develops two reasonably annoying rainwater leaks. One is through the engine room skylight, and I’m still scratching my head about how best to fix this. The other was through two of the wheelhouse windows. The wheelhouse is an original part of our vessel, and survived not only our big rebuild, but also seventy years of service largely intact. It has these (for want of a better word) sash type windows, which slide down into spaces in the wheelhouse structure when opened. Any rain that makes it’s way down the windows and into these spaces is supposed to be caught by these sort of built in tray thingies underneath and then directed outside again through little brass spouts mounted in the bottom of each tray. Trouble was that the tray that looks after the two forwardmost windows was mostly missing. Our previous owner had made an effort at reinstalling it, but in doing so the little spout holes had been covered up. As I discovered at the beginning of the extra wet winter we’ve just endured, this resulted in a rather large amount of unwanted dihydrogen monoxide (lit. ‘get me a cagoule and a flask of weak lemon drink’) making its way into our accommodation. On Tuesday I hope I dealt with it. Ripped out what was left of the previous owners tray thingy, cleaned up and drilled out the drain holes, then installed a new tray of marine ply with plenty of mastic sealant underneath, before lining the interior of the thing with glassfibre.
I’m afraid it’s another one of those dull, dull photographs, but in case you’re at all interested in the above, here’s a picture of the result so far, I just need to epoxy in the new brass spouts and give the tray a splat or two of protective paint and it’s done.

Hopefully I can now rid myself of one of the two drip catcher buckets that’ve become a near permanent feature of my vessel’s interior design, but not before I’ve indulged in a little ‘storm simulation’ test, which is also known as throwing a bucket of water at the wheelhouse and seeing what happens. I shall have to make sure I’m wearing my best cagoule for this one…