Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Figurehead – initial cap carving

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

I gave Abigail the week off for Thanksgiving. That way, I can focus on the cap, a safer thing on which to practice my carving. If I mess it up, no one will notice. But if I mess up the face, everyone will notice! This way I can get used to the tools and different techniques. The cap will be a lot of work, and I don’t have to worry about damaging completed facial details with a lot of handling. It is also hard to work on the head with the cap not being trimmed down to size, especially in the back.


Cap progress, with shavings swept up from the floor and tools used

I was mostly concentrating on the back half of her cap, where it curves around the back of the head to that gathered tail-thing on the back. I stopped there, because I’m not sure yet how to do all those wavy crinkles, and where wood needs to be left to do them.

Those things are sharp!

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

I’ve been recently using a couple carving tools I bought, and have already slashed my thumb. I had bought a leather thumb protector, but I had it on the other thumb at the time! I didn’t have the protective fish cleaning glove on. I need to be careful to wear that. Thankfully, the thumb doesn’t hardly hurt, and is healing fine.


Bandaged thumb, protective gear, and carving knife

The photo shows some work I was doing shaping the shoulders and working on the collar.

Lid marquetry – inlaid

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Like other inlay recesses I’ve done here, the edge was scored with an X-acto knife, the inner edge beveled with that knife, then Jerry’s little plane was used at various depths to gradually hollow out the recess. You can see in the photo how I used a strip of the veneer to keep the plane level, even when the wood was cut out from under it.


This shallow recess made quite a pile of shavings!

I lightly sanded the back of the marquetry, to rough up the glued side and to level up any thicker spots. Then I made some mahogany sawdust to dye the glue to hide any gaps around the edge. I wanted to used epoxy just in case wood glue would eventually be effected by any perspiration from my forearm constantly sliding back and forth along the lid. I mixed up the rest of my 5-minute epoxy and quickly started spreading it into the recess. It got quite messy as it was on my fingers and getting on the edges of the lid, but that should be no problem when it’s all sanded. The last thing I wanted was for it to start hardening before I had it all spread out and the marquetry inserted.

After rolling it down with my marquetry roller, I clamped it to a flat board, with tin foil and and several layers of paper towel. The tin foil is to keep it from gluing to something else, and the cushioning of the paper towel is to make sure any thinner veneers in the pattern also receive pressure.


Making sure the 145 little pieces of veneer get glued in there tightly

After removing the clamps…


Section of inlaid lid showing epoxy mess

Holes in keyshafts threaded

Monday, June 13th, 2011

I wanted to have the holes for the tangent screws threaded before gluing on the key buttons, so I did that Monday night. But first I needed a “T” handle to put on the square end of the tap to turn it with. I used a scrap of mahogany, drilling a hole and squaring it enough with an X-acto knife for the tap to fit in. The tap was provided by Hurdy Gurdy Crafters, along with the drill bit.


Makeshift handle for threading holes in keyshafts with tap

I tried to do it slowly and carefuly so the holes remained as straight as possible. So, they’re all done, both blacks and whites. I realize I didn’t cover the adventure of drilling the holes in the keyshafts to begin with. I had some problems with that, so I need to cover it sometime.


Close-up showing threaded holes in keyshafts

White key buttons cut

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Progress! The white button stock is cut to the lengths of the 10 buttons. The router bit I got for $5.50 and free shipping arrived today. Here is the major difference between it and the old bit I had, which had no bearing and only two cutting edges.


Old and new 1/4" roundover bits

The slot “straighteners” I epoxied to my old aluminum miter box didn’t hold, so I had to resort to the plastic one. It is holding up good enough, though already the slot is starting to angle/widen at the bottom, not making the greatest vertical cut. The nice thing about the Midwest miter box are the cam-like clamping pins that hold the pice being cut in place.


Cutting buttons to length

I always rounded the end of the button stock in the router before cutting off the next button. That way I could take advantage of the length of the stock to hold it securely. The longer buttons I rounded off the other end after they were cut to length, but that started to get riskier and riskier for them and their holder [me] as the length of the buttons decreased. The last two I did this on, the tops of the buttons got gouged sightly because they rocked a little as they were pushed through the blade. I will round the second side of the last three buttons by hand. They all need improving by filing and sanding.


Cut buttons with most of the initial rounding of the edges

The lengths seemed to come out good. The plans called for the first two buttons to be the same length, but I decided to make the first one longer than the second by the same amount that the third one was shorter.

Miter box repair & roundover bit

Friday, June 10th, 2011

It’s been a hard couple months. Okay… where was I on the hurdy-gurdy? …cutting the buttons?

A couple weeks ago I bought a new aluminum miter box, but the slots were too wide to hold a straight cut. My old X-acto one originally had narrower slots. I took it back – Revell, I think? The only other one I could find was a Midwest one that is plastic. Hope it holds up. Another idea was to epoxy something along the worn out slots in the old one to hold the saw straight again. I tried that last night, using old X-acto blades.


Re-narrowing worn out miter box slot with worn out X-acto blades

I would like to round the vertical-cut edges of the buttons to match the top and bottom edges. So, I wanted to use a router bit if possible, instead of trying to do it by hand and keep it uniform. I have a 1/4″ roundover bit over 20 years old, but I tried it last weekend and it is too dull. The trip to the hardware store was unproductive because what I needed is sold as part of an expensive set. When  all else fails, look on eBay! The seller shipped this yesterday, so I am waiting for it.


eBay router bit I ordered for rounding the button edges

I hope this cuts well. The whole idea may not work out, anyway. Maybe some edges can be done on the router, if the bit is any good, and some will have to be done by hand.

Left couple – recess cut

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

After several hours, one stiff neck and two sore shoulders,  I got the other couple done today!


Clamped in position over keyhole, ready to trace with X-acto knife

I was even able to do it without adjusting the plane. Before, I had gradually increased the depth of the blade. This time I cut lightly without moving the blade until the plane bottomed out . That ensured both recesses would be at the same depth, which will be a big help when doing the sanding.


Planing in progress inside beveled outline

The keychest wood is very nice to work with. Very even grain, doesn’t chip, no problems. It makes it very easy to get a good fitting inlay.


Completed recess

But what about that hole, though? I didn’t want a bunch of glue being squeezed down in there when the marquetry was clamped over it. It is going to be hard enough to carefully clean out the wenge veneer from the opening without having to worry about hard globs of glue, too.

I came up with the idea of sealing off the hole with something light that could easily be removed [unlike the glue]. My first idea was using part of a styrofoam peanut, but it wasn’t easy to cut flush and was crumbly. I ended up with a piece of cardboard from a food box. It fit in there really flat and tight. I believe this will keep out the majority of the glue that would have otherwise ended up in the hole, plus [since it will be glued to the bottom of the veneer] maybe it will help strengthen that while I open up the hole!


Cardboard plug for keyhole to help reduce glue entry

Naturally, I didn’t stop here, I went ahead and glued the marquetry in. It will have all night and most of the day tomorrow to dry. Then we’ll see how it came out.

Right couple – recess cut

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Tonight I cut the recess for the inlay…


Marquetry clamped in place for scoring the outline onto keychest part

Thankfully, there was no real damage to the marquetry tracing it. No one lost their head, or anything, this time. Some places wanted to flake/split off, and I just quickly put a tiny spot of glue on it to keep from losing the slivers.


With marquetry removed, the lines were deepened with the X-acto knife

The magnifier is a must for working around these edges, if you want an accurate fit.


Next, the knife was used to bevel edge inward to make planing easier

This is where Jerry came to the rescue again, letting me borrow his little hand plane. I planed out the interior area three times, increasing the depth each time. I had to be very careful not to gouge my outlines.


Completed recess with plane and magnifier

It came out great, but a little deeper than I intended. I expected the thicker veneers to be slightly above the level of the keychest piece, and the thinner ones slightly below. It turned out with the thicker ones about level with the keychest. Oh well, just a little more overall sanding should do it. I have to be careful to do the other one close to the same depth.


Closeup of recess for inlay

Keychest dancers 1

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I made good progress on the marquetry picture of the left couple over the weekend while watching football. The man is done, except for the visible part of his head, and several pieces of the woman are done. My legs got a little cramped sitting on the hard tile floor at the coffee table, though.


Part of temporary work area set up on coffee table in the den

This photo shows [top to bottom]:

  • the edge of a piece of walnut burl used for most of the clothing,
  • the pattern printed on translucent vellum used for tracing shapes onto wood with carbon paper that will be cut out with an X-acto knife,
  • the printout of the pictures for reference, showing relative darknesses of pieces, shadows, etc.,
  • the scrap of veneer with the marquetry pictures that are progressively cut into it.

The magnifier is used for cutting out the small pieces to get good fits, and the wooden roller is used to make sure they are flat when glued into place with yellow carpenter’s glue.


Closeup of left couple after one weekend's work

The hat and shoulders look a little angular and blockish right now because the outer edges of the pieces are extended past the actual picture edges. The outline will be trimmed to proper shape and removed from the scrap holding piece after the picture is done.

You can see the wenge —the wood with the thin vertical stripes— that I used for the man’s hatband. His hat [if these inlays get used] will eventually have a wenge keyshaft sticking out of it, so this choice for the hatband is an attempt to disguise that as much as possible.

The man is currently 1 5/8″ high. That will be reduced about 1/8″ when the excess is removed from the bottom.

Keychest front 2

Friday, October 8th, 2010

On the inside of the front piece I needed to scoop out a channel for the rotation of the chanter lifting cams. I used a cove router bit to get me started, even though it was well below the needed diameter. I cut it to almost the right depth, though, so only the edges needed to be widened out.


Initial step of rotation channel creation with cove bit

I looked around for something that was 1″ in diameter to enlarge the channel. A broom handle in the garage was about 7/8″. I also  found a wooden flute from Peru on top of the piano, which was right at 1″. I protected that a little better than the broom handle before wrapping it with sandpaper. This process made a very nicely curved channel which I think will allow the turning cams to avoid hitting the front.


Broom handle wrapped with sandpaper to widen channel

I wanted the exposed top part of the piece to be 3/8″ thick, like on the original kit part, so I used a flat router bit to remove 1/8″ off the back. Below the rounded channel that isn’t really visible, it will remain 1/2″ thick to provide a stronger joint with the sides. The unrouted top edge is scrap.


Angled view showing profile of edge with thinned top section

Since this inside edge is not straight, it wasn’t really practical to use the double rabbet on the side joints. So I went  back to Leonard’s and cut them off as well as the extra scrap on the top. I marked in pencil where I will cut the top opening with the scroll saw.


Sides trimmed to 2.5" width for side butt joints, top removed

Next was further sanding of the front to get the inlay fairly flush before the scroll sawing, and rounding off the inner top corner on the base.


Sanded front ready for scroll sawing