Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I had a trip into Tokyo with Sammy to hand in his application for a passport at the British Embassy. All went well with that, the lady behind the reinforced glass was very friendly and we were back on the street in a few moments having been reunited with phones and cameras and whatnot.
It was not sunny, but the cherry blossoms were about half out. We strolled up around the imperial moat and on to Akihabara to peruse the plentitude of electronic bits and bobs. I bought a cheep solar charge controller, a couple of meters with different ranges of functionality and a lot of other bits and bobs. I could not resist a couple of 100farad capacitors. They each hold 2.5 volts, so in series they will hold five. I am interested to see how much energy they hold in real terms, powering LEDs or charging the ipod etc..

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Glue sprite

The door glue up was my main task of the day, I could feel a sprite about the place and wondered when it would bite. I put one of the little panels in the wrong way round and had to pry the thing apart half way through the glue up. Lucky I was on my guard to keep checking at each phase, shame I didn't spot the error before it went into place. Silly mistake, but no damage done. I wanted the more attractive grain on the panel to face out and it was on the inside. I have one quick clamp that can be easily reversed into a spreading device and that made short work of pulling the tenons out of their burrows one last time.
I used to do glue up work on the flat, but for some time now I have worked with one stile in the vice so that the door stands on its edge while parts are added. This gives access to both sides for applying clamps and wiping off excess glue. Once the clean up was complete I got Sammy to give me a hand lifting the door over to lie flat on the bench with battens under it to hold it flat and let it cure up in a true plane. The weight of all the clamps was sufficient to hold it down solidly against the blanket covering the battens to keep it from scratching anywhere.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Lots of finishing on the parts for the second door. Sand blasting and applying the stain. Not ideal weather for it with flurries of snow harrying the spring rain.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Somewhat unencumbered by the thought process. We have had a week of rain and today the sun came out, the toads thought this a good time to make an appearance and it was surprisingly easy to twiddle the implements across the paper for a few moments while this one pondered his next step.
The larger door is hogging the bench at present while the clamps hold it in shape and the glue dries to a fairly solid consistency.
I used to pull the things out of clamps after 24hrs, but these days I give them a lot more time. I want the glue inside to dry out properly and allow that surface area of adhesion to take effect.
I have been working on other items meanwhile, small things that I had forgotten about. Hinges and those little covers to guard the gap where the bolt and latch are visible from the outside. Vital stuff in the world of doors when it comes down to it. I will treat the world to a shot of that door with all its accouterments once it has emerged from the clamping frenzy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Frosty booth

This is a small blurred section of the frosty pattern after a bit of clean up. I aim to sand blast the door parts next to lighten them up a bit ready for staining, so I have been making a little blasting booth under the veranda outside the shop. This is the hopper where hopefully the sand will collect ready to pass through the tube to the gun again. I am making the thing in such a way that it will not be too much trouble to set up and take down. Three plywood walls hung from the edges of a board under the veranda with the corners held together by hooks and rubber bands made from sections of inner tube. I will have a curtain across the front and stand inside with my fish bowl respirator and other assorted protective items in place. I used an old plastic sweet container to act as a disposable visor over the front of the respirator as I don't want to frost up the actual visor.

Friday, March 19, 2010

This is a closer picture of the chipping in action. The layer of glue here was about a 16th of an inch thick when wet. It has dried to a third of that or less. At the temperature in the double boiler (an old saucepan sitting in a frying pan with water in) the consistency of the hide glue was like hot honey. This taped off strip is about an inch and a half wide, that should give an idea of the size of the chips.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Frosty spring

I am up in the air again starting a new line of stuff. I felt the glass for the door windows needed some kind of treatment to reflect the sectional nature of the frames, so I am trying chipping glass with hide glue. This was an instructive site Glass Chipping with Hide Glue.1 but no pictures. The process is described there. Here you can see four sheets of glass with the backs masked off completely with green packing tape, four areas on each piece have been bordered with tape (black tape on the upper central one). I then poured a gloopy mix of hot hide glue on to the glass and scooped off any excess once it turned to jelly. The chips around and about under the mesh are the glue chips that have ripped flakes of the frosted glass from the surface and jumped for their freedom. As it says on the web site, hide glue attracts animals and hide glue with chips of glass in should not be part of the daily dozen for your beloved petkins. Hence the mesh and the rooftop location. These pieces have been out in the spring sun on two successive days and are now almost done. A thin coating seems to form smaller chips, so a finer frost leaf pattern.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Clear up

The snow continued to fall over night and caused havoc among the local flora. Several trees fell and many more lost limbs, the cedars seem more prone to lose their crowns and a couple did so. I earned a couple of cans of beer removing some bowed bamboo and other assorted casualties from a neighbors property. The septuagenarian lady lives alone and had been struggling gamely to clear her own path to the road, but wisely turned back on reaching the victims blocking the way.
Most of the day went on clearing up the carnage around the home. Now I am glad that I removed most of the tree growth that overhung the homestead.

Monday, March 08, 2010


We have been having a lot of rain, But wanted to get the snow tires off the truck as one of them appears to have a slow leak. Sammy and I tackled that with a will only to find that we had jumped the gun as it began dumping snow on us with gusto within 48 hrs.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Flatten and twist

When you have a reasonable taper of a square section, you can beat it on the flat surface to make is more or less round, then work the round section into something with the number of sides you want. If that was four I have just led you down the garden path and you will have to work it back into square again.
A light hammer with a nice polished surface and if possible rather longitudinally well developed should do you well. A hammer with a long head holds its course a lot better than something stubby and fat, which can spin about easily.
The lower picture shows the twisted taper. You start with the fattest part as that will take more heat to twist. I have made orange blobs along the side of the bar to indicate roughly the area heated for each twist and counter twist. Six successive heats for this little section.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


With the work held as at left strike the fattest part a blow, shift it along its length in the direction you want it to get thinner and strike it again a little more gently, continue doing that until you get to the end, then if you still have a fairly soft red color rotate it 90 degrees and do the same on the neighboring face. Here I would be pulling the bar toward the left and gradually reducing the strength of blows with each shift.
The lower picture shows a bar that has only had a couple of blows applied on two faces. Holding the bar flat on the vice you can work out all the divots to give a smooth sided taper.
The shape the bar makes when struck on a more square shouldered anvil edge reminds me of the Brancussi sculpture, which I believe is called Endless column. I don't suppose he was into smithery, but it does seem appropriate that similar forms to his endless module are to be found in metal being drawn out into infinity.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Drawing out

Guilty of burning time again this week. A brief attempt to explain drawing out a length of bar. The first step is to make a point on the end of the bar like the one standing up in the foreground. I am going to make a six sided length of bar that tapers down to nothing on the end.
The hammer resting on the anvil is there to demonstrate what happens when you don't point up the end of your bar. This was a normal lump hammer head that I experimented with, shaping it under the fly press. When the hot metal is struck the surface shifts and spreads, while the central mass remains unmoved, so a kind of crater forms at the end of the bar. In the case of the hammer this was kind of what I wanted. I ground off the rim of the crater to form some blob shapes that make it very useful for texturing the surface of bars and whatnot.
While applying the point to the end of the bar and also while drawing it out it is best to forget the section of the stock you are using. It does not matter that the bar is round square or whatever, it is easiest to work it square and try to keep it that way until you have your taper, then work it back to the section you want. When making the nice tall pyramid shape on the end of the bar, you hold the tip pointing at the floor just on the very edge of the anvil so that the face of the hammer can strike it without the bottom edge of the hammer face striking the anvil.