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    Lachlan Chidley
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    Lachlan Chidley
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    • Beautiful,  just freakin' beautiful.  I like it.
    • Not actually on the edge, it will be 3” in from the edge on all sides
    • I return now to completing the base.  As it stands the base still retains the “disappearing mortise ring” and this needs to be removed with final shaping of the lower third of the inside of the base.  The whole base then needs more sanding to bring it to a P600 finish.  So the first step is to mount the base onto the Longworth chuck then capture with the donut attachment.  With the base secured the bulk of the material can be removed, then the donut removed and the final contour achieved.  Then sanding of the entire piece to P600.  The next stage is to remove the unwanted portions of the top ring and sculpt the pillars.  I marked out the location and approximate form I expected the pillars to take as they rose up and curved inward.  Then I drew some pencil lines giving the tape a wide margin to to show what I could safely waste.   I planned to use the bandsaw to cut these lines, but it was difficult to be sure where the kerf would occur with the complex curve of this surface.  So I hit upon this idea.  Using a strong light with a single LED source and positioning the base carefully using wedges I was able to line up a very sharply defined shadow from the bandsaw blade showing me where the cut would occur.   This was surprisingly effective, and I repeated the test for all three permutations of the cut. These circumstances are unusual, but keep this trick in your pocket should you ever be in a similar situation.  However, after studying the bandsaw options and consulting all ten fingers I decided to use a hand saw and simply saw through one side of the ring at a time.  Cutting two side of the ring at once just didn’t offer any real benefit.  I then repositioned the masking tape to more carefully mark out the intended shape for the pillar, and here I ran into a small problem.   When I had originally conceived the piece I had just planned to have the pillars taper more or less continuously from the wider lower segment up and around to the inside.  However, I was not able to drawn this design in Fusion 360.  I was only able to make a crude representation, which at the time looked crude, but I believed would look good when I could see it for real.  It didn’t.  It looked crude.  In a butt ugly sort of way.   So I began sketching out different ideas and must have gone through at least eight renditions.   Unfortunately at this point I had already cut away the top ring on the assumption that the pillars would have a simple taper.  Fortunately I had left that wiggle room.  After several trials I settled on my design and cut this out of post-it note material, the kind with adhesive all over.  Then I traced the design onto all of the pillars.   It was very important to get the tips exactly centered.  So I stretched a rubber band around the base getting this on the high point of the curvature of the pillar, then sighting down with both top and bottom of the rubber band aligned I was able to mark the centers for the tips.   Cole jaws (with the lathe switched off) make for a poor man’s carving vice.  I like to use a small sanding drum on the Dremel to shape the edges of the pillars.  Eventually I’ll have a Foredom or Mastercarver, but in the meantime I have bought a flexible shaft attachment for the Dremel and this has been a big help.    Diamond rifflers and triangle file are also part of my standard kit when a bit of sculpting is needed.  These are followed with sandpaper, again to P600. The base is nearly completed.  Notice that the side of the pillar is not simply a flat surface, but that this plane twists as it rises from the cusp of the V to the pillar’s inwardly bent tip.  I feel this small detail adds quite a bit grace and curve to the pillar.   The last detail before surface coating is the brand.  Using the flat tool rest to reference the heated iron I put my mark on the bottom edge of the base, which by design is just big enough.    Applying the surface coating is the last step, and more than the usual challenge.  Neither the basin nor base really has a distinct and well defined top and bottom, hence there is no place to break off with the varnish application.  So the entire piece has to be coated at once begging two questions, how do you hold it, and how do you put it down.    I use Bartley Gel Varnish which is very viscous (more so than the General Finishes product).  It applies easily and quickly with rags; wipe on, wipe off, and buff after which it has very low tack.     So I applied the varnish with one hand while holding the piece in my other hand using a large rag.  Then I used this large rag for a light two handed second buffing before putting the piece down to cure on a newly procured non stick baking sheet.  The baking sheet worked great.  And yes tested with a drop of finish and the cured finish does not stick.   And that’s the end of this project.  Finale pictures of the completed piece just need a little tweaking, but will be posted shortly.  
    • I took  a couple hour break from the dining table Sunday to make a shelf unit to go next to my miter saw. I just had 2 shelves here before, they were small and tilting away from the wall so objects were likely to roll off. It was instigated by that and also i got sick of the plywood cutoffs from the bed platform project. After that I milled up 3 pieces of birch to make the stretcher. The stretcher is going to be 46" long with 2 4" long tenons so the legs will be spaced ~38" This will put the leg near the outside knee of someone sitting at the table. With the trestle design their knee shouldn't be close to the leg at all though. The through mortises were already cut before the trestle legs were glued up so after the beam glue was dry and 3 handles were turned on my lathe i cut the giant tenons. Only tricky part is getting them sized perfectly to the mortise but still slide on easily. My trick for this is simple. The only critical part that needs to be perfect to eliminate gaps is the portion of the tenon that is right at the face of the leg. I know the legs are 2.125" thick (yeah they are beefy), so i put a mark on the tenon at this point. Now i undersized the tenon everywhere except for 1/4" in either direction from my mark. It's sort of like back cutting a shoulder. These tenons are going to be wedged so glue surface isn't an issue at all which is why this trick is so nice. If you put a strait edge on the tenon each of the 4 surfaces will bulge out slightly 2" down the tenon. The above picture with zero gaps is quite nice. Next is to cut the shape on the stretcher and then create the mortises in the tenons for the wedges. After that I'll keep working on the benches. The remaining lumber i have for the top needs to dry some more. It's sitting around 11% but I'd like to see that at 10% before I start. This birch is a dream to work with.
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