Flattening going wrong

Flattening stones is very satisfying, as the sounds changes towards the whole surface being true. I’ve got an annoying one though, that seems to be bowing out ever so slowly. I think it’s that I’m using two different grades of stone (two 1200 and one 800), and so they’re wearing at different rates. I suppose the real answer is that one should have three stones of each grade, and to only flatten like on like. Ah well. Maybe next wood show.

re: Public art lost for future generations

PUBLIC ART LOST FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

By Roel Loopers August 20, 2018.

The initiative by the City of Fremantle and other local councils to introduce a percentage for the arts scheme has been good for WA artists and the public, but it comes with the risk that the lifespan of some of the artworks will be relatively short if they are attached to buildings.

Take the great Rick Vermey art within the LIV apartment building at Queen Victoria Street. Nowadays buildings are considered to last for about 50 years before being replaced by more modern structures, e.g. the Queensgate and Myer buidings at Kings Square. If the LIV buildings get demolished in 50 years that would also be the end of the Vermey artwork and that would be a real shame and a loss for future generations.

The same applies to the Loretta Grant artwork on top of the Quest Hotel in Pakenham Street and the round artwork on the building on the corner of Bannister and Pakenham streets by Tom Mueller.

The percentage for the arts scheme states that the requirement for a public art contribution can be waived by the City of Fremantle where the same value of artwork is incorporated in the development, clearly visible to the general public.

It worries me that many outstanding new artworks in Fremantle, created as percentage for the arts, will not be preserved because they are incorporated in a development and not free standing in the public realm. We have a duty to share our cultural riches with future generations!

https://freoview.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/public-art-lost-for-future-generations/

This is an interesting point about the short projected lifetimes of buildings. Fifty years doesn’t seem like a very long time to expect a building to last. But perhaps it does make sense: maybe the cost of building something to last 100 years (say) is more than twice the cost of building something twice? Or is it just a case of people now offsetting that cost onto people in the future?

I always feel sad when I see a building in Fremantle demolished. Not just demolished, but in the modern way of completely and utterly erasing its presence from the landscape: every skerrick of its fabric removed and the site raked clean and level. I know it’s easier to build new things that way, but it does seem to mean that there’s no accretion, no embedding of (small, incidental) bits of history in the places. Sometimes developers put an intentional relic in, like the weighbridge from the CSR refinery, but it just looks silly.

CSR memorial weighbridge
CSR memorial weighbridge (2018-04-14): The weighbridge deck set into the road on Colonial Gardens in Mosman Park.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with a gang of Wikimedians and led by the wonderful Wikimedians in Residence at the Met, Neil and Richard. It was the day before we were all to catch the Adirondack (Amtrak #69) to New York, and it was raining, and I was completely jet-lagged from the trip from Australia the day before.

But it was wonderful!

After an initial (whirlwind) tour by Richard, our group of a dozen or so organically decided that we’d really quite like a bit of alone time, and went our separate ways around the hundreds (literally!) of gallery rooms in the museum.

I found George Washington of greenback fame:

I'm in the States now I guess

But reasonably quickly gave up on being a good art-looker and hid myself in the cafeteria with an overly-salty soup and some dry crackers… I’d been up since 3 already, and wasn’t sure I’d make it through the rest of the afternoon without crying.

However, after lunch I found the Frank Lloyd Wright room and the American Arts and Crafts items; and what a joy it was.

The American Wing

Frank Lloyd Wright room

I remember Greene & Greene vaguely from my days at art school, but seeing their armchair (1992.127) and library table (1981.316) was a breath of fresh air, and a reminder of the joy of truth to materials. These were pieces in which one could see the reality of the work. Ebony through-tenons in a table-top? That’s a beautiful idea!

Greene & Greene table with tenons

Then Gustave Stickley in the next room: his library table (1976.389.1) with a leather-clad top, screwed down with steel butterfly lugs (to the outside of the rails), and sidways-pegged tenons to the six legs. The inside bottom rails didn’t intersect, but are stacked on one another; such obviousness!

Library Table MET DP209329

Stickley’s sideboard: the doors are solid boards, jointed only with butterfly through tenons and seemingly no other bracing (they don’t need any). This stuff is about design, not so much for the Common Person, but for the Common Craftsperson. Design that makes things easy to make, honest in their representation of the abilities of the materials, and from those things to exhibit a raw and accessible beauty.

After that I returned to the open storage area, where large numbers of items from the collection are displayed in shelved glass-fronted cases, with as many items squeezed in as possible. It’s not the most flattering way to see some things, but then most of it was overly-ornamented 19th century stuff that I had little interest in. The good stuff, the simple and wooden furniture, was if anything enhanced by being often up higher than eye level (we could see underneath it with ease).

One piece caught my eye, and a visit to the weird huge touch-screens taught me that it was actually another Stickley piece (well, built by him; designed by Harvey Ellis). A small writing desk, 1981.440.1:

Desk MET 234742

This simplicity of construction gives an easier path between the designer and the maker (ideally, the two should be the same person). These ideas were explored more in Stickley’s journal The Craftsman (1901–16); I shall see if we can add these to Wikisource.

The Met has uploaded a huge number of images to Wikimedia Commons, and so as I went around I tried not to take a million photos—there are so many better ones already on the web, and freely usable. But I had to take some, either as aide-mémoires or because it seemed unlikely that the professional photographers would have paid close enough attention to the things that I am interested in. So I’ll upload at least a few new ones to Commons; the rest of mine can stay on Flickr.

Shed doors

My new house didn’t have a shed, but just a carport with no fourth wall (it was brilliant in every other respect, really—even insulated in the ceiling). So, as part of the WMF’s “Spark Project” (that aims to encourage employees to do more than just be wiki geeks), I decided to turn the carport into a shed by adding a set of wooden ledge-and-brace doors. There was a deadline of April 18 (i.e. tomorrow).

This post documents the process up to the point of being ready to hang the doors. Unfortunately, the hinges aren’t back from the galvanizer’s yet (or haven’t even been welded? Zoran the welder wasn’t communicating with me over the Easter break) so the project is incomplete; I’ll post more when the doors are up.

All of these photos and a few more are in a Flickr album.

Design

How wide is not wide enough, or what is the absolute minimum garage door size that will still fit a (small) car? I settled on 2.2 m, and subsequent testing has confirmed that this is fine for most cars—not that cars will be allowed in this shed, mind.

Some changes were made as construction progressed: the double studs either side of the door were turned 90° in order that the hinge bolts be able to add some extra joining strength between them; the sizing of all timber was adjusted to match what was available. Mostly things turned out as planned though.

Timber

Fremantle Timber Traders

I wasn’t sure what to build the doors with, but heading to Freo Timber Traders (above) and finding a couple of packs of nice old Wandoo settled it.

Selecting the boards

The 60×19 for the cladding came from a house in Wembley; the 110×28 for the ledges and braces came from an old shoe factory in Maylands. The ex-factory floor was covered in machine oil, and full of holes from where the machines had been bolted down. None were in any awkward spots though, and as I was planning on oiling the finished product I wasn’t too worried about the oil.

Doors

The first thing to do was to prepare the timber for the ledges and braces by removing the tongues and grooves with a draw-knife and plane (shown below). I wasn’t too worried about making these edges pristine or accurate; these are shed doors not furniture and I rather like the rough, used, look. It was also stinking hot while I was hacking away at these, and there’s something viscerally satisfying about draw-knives, sweat, and following the grain of the timber (and what shitty grain some of it was! But some, smooth as silk).

Using a draw-knife to remove the groove

The main joinery of the doors is the mortise-and-tenon joints at each end of the four 45° braces. These are what take the main load of the cladding hanging on the outside. (It’s worth noting here how common it is for this style of door to have their braces put on the wrong way around — the idea is that the brace is in compression and for it to go up from where the hinge attaches; if it’s running from the hinge point downwards then it’s pretty much doing nothing, and the door will sag.)

Cutting the tenon cheeks:

Cutting a tennon

Some tenons, with the ledges behind:

Ledges and braces, cut to size

The mortises were easier than the tenons in some way, although they took longer. Mortises, cut by hand as I was doing, are basically an exercise in holding a chisel vertical and square, thumping it with a fair bit of strength, and moving it 2 mm before repeating.

One end of each mortise is cut at 45° where the brace comes in; the other is square and is where the main force of the door is held.

Finished mortice, with 45° at one end
Laying out number two door
Laying out number two door

Once the ledges and braces were done, the cladding was screwed on from the back with 40 mm stainless steel decking screws.

Screwing the cladding on

The boards were spaced with 2 mm gaps to account for timber movement, to prevent the doors from warping. The ends were docked square and to size once all the boards were on.

Spacer between the boards

The finished doors:

Both doors finished

Walls

The two side walls are 2.1 m high and about 400 mm wide. They’re painted treated-pine stud frames clad with more 19×60 Wandoo flooring.

They’re fixed to the slab below:

Bottom plate bolted to slab

And screwed to the beam above:

Top stud fixings

(The threaded rod in the background of the above is a tie to hold the top beam in its place when the force of the open doors is tending to pull it outwards.)

The cladding was put on with the same spacing as the doors:

Cladding the side panels

And when completed, had the place looking a fair bit closer to enclosed:

Cladding the side panels

Incomplete

Unfortunately, this is where it stops for now, because I’m having some hinges fabricated and they’re not yet done. As soon as they are, and the thirty bolts are doing their thing, I’ll post some photos of the finished project.

(By the way, I am surprisingly grateful to the Spark Project initiative for making me get off my bum and actually get to work on these doors.)

Drawer for my toolbox

My main woodworking toolbox has two runners inside, near the top edge, on which to slide a drawer. I put them in when I built the thing (I made them too long, or the lid props too long, or something too long, and had to chop a bit out of them so the lid would close; see at right. That’s irrelevant to the task at hand though.)

But I have no drawer — so, I’m making one. I’ve got a few odd bits of pine sitting around, mostly destined to be paint stirrers; I’ll bodge them together in a squarish shape, and my chisels and small things will have somewhere to be put.

The piece of 19×42 was a bit fat, or at least I thought it might look a bit odd next to the skinny walls made from the other pieces, so I ripped it in half.

Docked to length (with a few millimeters to spare for cutting off later), I then cleaned up the sawn surfaces (a bit; I’m not fussy, and sometimes like to see some saw marks). I usually work with Tas. Oak, and am always surprised at the soft squishiness of pine, and the speed with which it can be worked (or butchered, as one might say in this case).

The drawer bottom pieces were actually already within a gnat’s crotchet of where they needed to be, so I just planned their ends to get them squared up and the right length. The sides I then marked to length off the bottoms, because I really don’t care how big this thing is (it just has to fit itself).

I really should get around to making myself a bench hook or two; they’re far better than hanging things off the end of the bench. But I’m lazy; whenever I’ve got energy for woodwork, I want to get on with the thing at hand, and not get caught up in jigs and set-up and prep. A ridiculous, inaccurate attitude, I’m sure. It’s not like I get shit done anyway.

The time had come for beer, so that was procured (from a shockingly plastic homebrew bottle), and the glue-up commenced. It didn’t go right, at first, but I went and found a proper glass for it (and found my battery drill with a 1 mm bit), and after that the nails went straight and true and didn’t blow out the sides.

Probably, one should try to avoid blogging about gluing things together while actually doing it. But then, the computer was right there in the cupboard playing odd things from Radio Paradise, so it seemed easy enough. Got a bit of glue on the camera grip though.

The two short sides were next, being cut to length each to their own. They fitted with no dramas. By this time it was dark, and I was wondering what it would cost to get something more than a single fluro tube lighting my shed. Or even a new extension cord so I could run the computer, amp, and a desk lamp on my bench (radio takes precedence at the moment).

So, all done.

The album for all these photos is at photos.samwilson.id.au/index/category/222.

Agh, the sadness of blunt tools

The wood really wasn’t being nice to me, today. I was dressing some old jarrah with a scrub plane, and it just wasn’t cutting the mustard or the wood. Of course, it simply wasn’t sharp:

Plane blade, blunt

That shiny bit in the middle isn’t a trick of the light, it’s bluntiness.

However, I have no grinder, and this blade needs a fair bit taken off, so I’m giving up for the day…

Maybe I should get one of these from Carba-Tec:

Or be tricky and build something like this:


(From here)

The trouble with that latter is that it’s pretty impossible to find the stone for such a thing! Otherwise, would be brilliant.

Ah well… I’ll keep honing that blade…

Bookpress, free to a good home

I built this press in 2003 out of pine salvaged from bed frames that were being thrown out by University House at the ANU. I’ve barely used it since, and the time has come to admit that I’m never going to be the small-time bookbinder fellow that I perhaps at some point thought I might be.

So, hopefully, this will end up being of some use to the WA Craft Bookbinders Guild.

Ripping

I am ripping down a piece of 135mm tas oak for a drawer-bottom. Straight down the guts of it, I mean: the sectional cut of greatest area; the big-board-to-two-thin-boards break; if you see what I mean. The sort of thing done in twenty-five seconds by a bandsaw, but taking me an hour and a half (maybe; I’m not counting, and I don’t think you should either). I sharpened my dad’s dad’s ripsaw yesterday (well, it’s sort of mine now — and how I love the thing!) and it’s now doing it’s octagenerian best (no, actually I’ve no terribly firm idea of how old it is) to rip straight and thin and planar. My muscles are attempting to keep up with it, and not doing so well. Perhaps another few drawer-bottoms, or wardrobe-backs, or other thinish bits of furniture cladding (which don’t mind their back’s been furry) will see me back in condition. Perhaps not.

Ripping timber like this is fun. That’s why I’m doing it. I don’t really need a drawer bottom made in this way — my dad gave me a perfectly suitable panel of ply just three days ago, that he didn’t want and that I’ve not other use for — so it must be for fun. Why else would I have eschewed the much faster (and yes, certainly more structurally stable, and probably stronger) route of plywood-and-glue and have the drawer slid into its home and gone from my todo list by now?

Because this isn’t about making a drawer, it would seem. (And oh! what other new-age cliches are to come next?!)

It’s about standing at my bench, making sawdust, hearing the tools in the wood, breathing with the strokes of the saw… feeling non-analytical for once! Just doing, very slowly, and not thinking anything of the future, or how all this is meant to work. It’s time to let the programmer’s brain sleep for a while…

(Oh, and “non-analytical”?! Yes, quite; but I didn’t say “non-ironic” did I? Hmm…)