A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Galbert Caliper Review - Spoiler - saves hours!!!

Spindle Turning almost becomes a pleasure .... Almost!

You need to get yourself the "Turner's Tape Measure"

As mentioned in the previous post I have mega number of turnings for these Windsor chairs I am making and while I enjoy turning, the tedium of nearly a hundred turnings for a chair and bench set is not my favorite way to indulge this area of interest. I am so not into production turning that I have to play silly mind games to work my way through the task ... "I will turn two more legs before calling it a day" - get the picture?

The previous set of chairs were done the traditional way using multiple calipers set to several key dimensions and using them to guide the parting tool to the required depth - or at least close to it. The calipers would often vibrate a bit and loosen, modifying their set point and then the swearing begins.

So it was with high hopes that I bought the Galbert Caliper made by Peter Galbert (THE Chairmaker) for exactly this purpose. Lee Valley had recently picked this up so it eliminated the painful gouging (or skewing, if that's your bag) that goes on when we Canucks order stuff from the US. I will not spend a lot of time explaining its use as Peter has done a fine job of this with videos on the link above. If you do any amount of spindle turning, or turning to size for that matter; you must buy one of these. I'm serious, I estimate this saves me 5-8 minutes per spindle for me and that's after lots of practice; if you only turn spindles once in a while, it will save you gobs of time and reduce errors dramatically.

Once the caliper is calibrated (easy) it is very easy to turn to within 1/64" everytime, this aids me tremendously in trying to match my parts so they look close to identical. In a few seconds I can translate my dimensions from the story stick to the blank ready for shaping into beads, coves, curves or whatever. On harder material this is done with the lathe spinning, on softer stuff such as pine, you need to stop the lathe as the guide bar will mark the wood.

Do yourself a favour and make this investment, it will be the one of the best tool buys you will ever make.

Simple to use - just hold it behind the spinning workpiece, stop the parting tool when it hits the depth you are after

Simple design, well made, will definitely improve the quality of your spindle turning.
Peter Galbert calls it the "Turner's Tape measure" - a more appropriate description there is not! 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Dining Set Progress Report

And the adventure begins

After delivering the side table and confirming it met all the technical requirements of colour, look, feel, etc. I embarked on the daunting task of making the rest of the set. A trestle table, four bowback Windsor chairs and a Windsor-style bench (and yes I know there is no such thing, but stylistically speaking it is a Windsor).

I took a somewhat random approach to things in order to mill up the larger pieces of material that were underfoot in the shop:

Let's get started on the chairs...

Gluing up the seats was the first step in breaking down material, as I needed the widest boards for this.
This is birch and will be stained dark brown like the tabletop.

All the seats, with the cherry one I will build the prototype from on top. Lots of turning for the legs, so I like to get started ASAP to break up the wrist-slitting monotony involved!

All the seats cut to rough shape, drilled for legs and bowback, and most of the legs turned
rough to 1-3/4" round

The easiest piece is the table:

The trestle are pretty easy, as I have made the Dad-size version already for our home,
This table will be 36" x 62" long as per request for apartment size. The upright is
mortised into the top cleat and the leg with a 1" x 4" x 6 " long wedged tenon - should hold up!!

The trestles with a coat of paint and the final fitting of the cross-piece which will hold them together.
Just need to cut the mortise for the key to hold it together.
Table base complete, in the "paint booth", amazing how simple these are built.  Pretty easy to
bang together in about 2 days.

Now for the tabletop

The top glued up and the breadboard ends rough cut

Marking the mortise on the end pieces; this ebony marking gauge (sorry mate -  cutting gauge) was
a gift from Chris Vesper and yes it is as nice to use as it is to look at...

You think I am going to cut these by hand?
5/16" mortises for the table's tenon to slide into

All the table parts ready for me to cut the tongue - as soon as the new edge guide for my router gets into Lee Valley - anytime now would be nice...

Back to the lathe

The turning for the chairs are significant, there are 13 different turned elements for each chair. The leg design chosen has a number of complex elements (at least complex for me with limited spindle turning experience). It was time to turn the first leg to work out my strategy for efficient turning and confirm the paper measurements look good in actual material.
The first leg more or less complete, I think I will add a bit more beef to the bottom bead to make it closer to the look of the side table.
Otherwise this design works for me, just 25 more to turn just like this one...