02 July, 2012

Keeping my eye in

While waiting to start the sailing season I decided to keep my hand and
eye in train in my wood working skills. Not that I have to do any
renovations on Malua this season but after fitting Malua out from a bare
shell I have all the tools and more than enough wood to do the whole
project again. Rest assured I would not start that willingly so I found
another project to keep the tools and my eye sharp.

Build some outdoor wood chairs. Do we have any..yes but steel not wood.
OK what wood will I use. The lovely rich red myrtle I used in the boat
is carefully stacked next to the workshop ready for some deserving
project so that would not do and I would not purchase wood. I had to
find some extra wood. Just that week a house in the next street was
starting to be demolished as they do these days tear down the old and up
with the new. This house was built about the same time as ours in 1963
and used the same Australian timber for the roof and floor beams. Strong
hard wood well seasoned.

I spoke to the foreman and asked if I could take some of the beams
before the dump truck arrived. Come tomorrow to another site and I will
have them ready for you was his reply. I arrived and he loaded four 5
meter long floor beams into the back of the VW combi all for a carton of
VB beer. The best deal I have done for a long time.

I have the wood now the design. Unlike the last set of chairs I made I
did not go to the local museum and measure up a chair in the display
area. I sat down with tape, paper and a good eraser and designed the
chair. With the wood I had, I estimated I could make six chair to go
round the table I made from the roof beams of our neighbours house.
Another recycle project.

Now the hard work, cutting the rough timber into the correct length
pieces and preparing the timber for final trimming and finishing. Let me
tell you a five meter by 400 by 20cm solid hard wood beam is not the
easiest piece of timber to cut. My table saw required a new sharp blade
after just half the job. The band saw blade broke after 10 back legs and
the dust bag from the planner needed emptying twice during the project.
It seemed to go on and on. Of course the cold winter weather of Canberra
did not help – I was working outside because of the dust. With
temperature below freezing at night so I was only game to go outside
after 11:00 each morning and then wearing gloves. It started to get dark
soon after 4:00 so that is not a long day on any project.
After three weeks of cutting, planing and sanding all the pieces were
ready to be assembled. This next stage required that I only do the
gluing when the temperature was above 10 degrees C so that limited the
time for gluing and clamping. The project stretched on and on.

After weeks, the six chairs where assembled and ready for the first coat
of varnish. More limitations due to the drying temperature of the
varnish. Well, after many weeks the final coat was applied and the
chairs are now ready to be used around the timber table. I will have to
wait for next summer for the temperature to rise and I can then enjoy a
cold glass of wine sitting on the wood chairs knowing that my
woodworking skills are still sharp.

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