Digging the Light Fantastic

Digger Revitalised

Digger Revitalised

A reminder of the digger I’ve been talking about that will hopefully be making an appearance in The Age.  Ok, so I’ve tripped it up a little (at least the background)

Yes, I know it is at the top of the page, but I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be keeping that header image. I have some ideas…….

Aristocrat Photo Gloss and the Burl Clock

While I was at the Brisbane Wood Show, I had a chance to chat with the guys from Photogloss(.com.au), and had a closer look at their Aristocrat Liquid Glass.  They have a whole display wall at the shows, displaying all the different ways their products can be used, and some were quite inventive.

Aristocrat Liquid Glass

Aristocrat Liquid Glass

It comes in 2 parts, which are mixed 1:1 (conveniently).  (The bottles shown above are after I took enough out for the photos that follow)

I’ve been looking for a project to try it on, and the new burl clock for the shed seemed a good opportunity to put this stuff through its paces.

I didn’t take any in-progress photos – I was too focussed on using the product for the first time (which is always nervewracking when it has such an impact on the final product).

You can see from the previous post what the raw timber looked like, and it still was like that, just a bit nicer, and a lot flatter when I had finished sanding!

Clock Face

Clock Face

I mixed up an amount that seemed like it would be sufficient (and got it pretty close – fluke!), poured it on, and expected it to flow everywhere.  It didn’t, and there were just some ribbons of thick sticky, araldite-like resin all over the project.  Hmm – that’s not good!  However, it worked out well – I took a straight edge (actually a bit of MDF), and carefully spread the stuff over the entire surface.  It had a lot of tiny bubbles everywhere, but the instructions said that one option was simply to breath on the surface.  I tried that and where I did, the bubbles vanished before my eyes – it was quite impressive!  A couple of bigger ones got popped, and they quickly disappeared as the viscous liquid slowly levelled itself.

It takes ages to dry, and 24 hours later I haven’t checked it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t still a little tacky.  Looks great though! I probably put it on a bit thick – you are meant to do multiple coats until you get the desired depth, but that comes down to experience (and I never get around to doing test pieces – always jumping right into the middle of a real project!)

It isn’t something you would use on every project (and keep it well away from fine furniture), but for items such as this, it is perfect.

Liquid Glass Closeup

Liquid Glass Closeup

Next step on this project will pretty much be the last – attaching the mechanism, sticking on the numbers, hanging it on the wall – I’ll post a final image when it is done. Looking at my burl clock in my office, and now I’m wondering whether to take it home, and refinish it as well – after a few years it is looking decidedly dull, and it is no longer showing off the beauty of the timber. (It was finished with oil and wax).

In the meantime, if you want to try out Aristocrat Liquid Glass for yourself, contact www.photogloss.com.au (07) 5486 5361

A Burl Clock for the Shed

To start the process, I’ve been preparing the burl slab itself, and the first part of that was the recent YouTube Chronicles video, running the burl through the drum sander.

Next, I took the random orbital sander to the surface, starting with the unusually coarse (for me) 80 grit paper (the burl is very hard), and continued through the grits to 400. For previous clocks I would normally oil the surface (with a burnishing oil), but in this case I didn’t think it would be needed to get the grain to show up, and I didn’t know how the Liquid Glass would respond to it.

I’ve then flipped the board over to mill out a cavity for the clock mechanism.

Creating the Template

Creating the Template

I needed a template to route out the opening, so started down the tradition path – marking out the opening, drilling holes, cutting with a jigsaw, filing off the jigsaw marks, and all the while I was thinking to myself – there has to be a better way. Then I remembered the Sonicrafter that I previewed for the manufacturers – one of the high vibrating speed cutting tools (takes different blades etc, the well known version is the Fein). This one is Worx brand (the bigger brother of the Rockwell that has recently hit the Aussie market) It will be in the marketplace soon fwiw. I gave it a try, and it worked like a dream – the perfect tool for the job. In future it will be the first tool I turn to for jig creation! I made the template out of MDF, and before you ask why I didn’t just cut the actual opening this way: burl is really hard, and I think any of these cutters would probably struggle, and secondly, and more importantly, I needed the opening in the burl to be a partial depth only.

A big reason for me using this tool, is I can cut a square opening, with straight sides a lot easier than my older methods!

The opening in the template is larger than the actual clock mechanism, as it needs to take into account the distance between the outside of the template and the router bit. I set the router bit depth, taking into account the thickness of the burl, the length of shaft of the clock, and the various components that are attached.

Router Bit Depth Set

Router Bit Depth Set

I used the Wixey Digital Height Gauge to set the height accurately. So once I had the template, this was clamped to the burl, and the opening created with the router.

Mechanism Opening

Mechanism Cavity

A perfect opening

A perfect opening (centre still to be removed)

The above-image has the outside routed to full depth, but as you can see the middle area needs another pass.

Back of Burl Clock

Back of Burl Clock

So this is the back complete.  I tend to leave it raw so I can see the difference in the finished front and the raw back when I want to.  I know this is not best practice, if for no other reason than it can encourage warping when the stock is thin.  Still, it’s a choice I make (in some circumstances).

Oh, and for the doubters, yes I do use my JawHorse, all the time, and for almost every project!

Next post will be about finishing the front.

A Subtle Rebranding…

is occurring for Chris Vesper’s tools.  Instead of the original “CV” inside an outline of Australia, the new branding is

Vesper Tools

Vesper Tools

as he transitions the brand to “Vesper Tools

On my way, to The Age

Sitting on the train on my way into Melbourne central to drop off my dozer project for them to photograph for an article in the Melbourne Magazine (one of those ones that comes out, inside the newspaper each week).

It’s quite a mission to get this in there- 2 hours of travel to drop it off, and I still have to repeat the trip to pick it up again! Hope it is worth it. It is rare I’m even awake this early 😦

The project they wanted is one I made years ago – 2002? 2003? so when I took it off the shelf last night, it was looking rather tired, and dare I say, I can actually see how much my woodworking has matured since then, which was quite a surprise. I’ve looked at it numerous times before, but it has been an “age” since I looked at it though another person’s eyes- thinking how it might be judged by them.

The dozer also has had some wear and tear since then too, some breakages and component replacements. So as it sat there on my workbench, I got out some 400 grit (35 micron) sandpaper for a quick once over, then a generous amount of wood oil. Amazing how the beauty of wood absolutely pops with a little oil.

The dozer is 100% jarrah (not counting the glue)- there are no metal components anywhere in the project, so it really responded to the wood oil with a beautiful, dark, rich colour. Probably a good thing I didn’t get much warning- I could have seen myself deconstructing the project to really finish it properly.

It did have one other benefit- a reinspiration to make another, and hopefully my maturing woodworking skills would result in something even better. Imagine what my woodworking might look like in 40 years time!

…….time progresses………

Now on my way out again- the city is just weird. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked in the centre of the concrete jungle (central London in my case, 21 years ago).

Felt like I shouldn’t be there- all these ‘important’ people streaming past. Guess I’ll never realise my potential of 6 figure salaries. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. And I couldn’t- stupid train system couldn’t tell me which train to be on. After letting a half dozen trains pass, I got on one to get to the next station, got off it, then straight back on when it turned out the train was going where I needed it to. I pity strangers coming to Melbourne. Perhaps it will be different now Connex has lost the contract. Yeah right.

So I escaped. Thought I had been recruited by Men in Black- that’s the only colour everyone was wearing. Melbourne- a Gothic’s dream location.

So that’s 2 hours of my life I’ll not get back. Was it worth it? Only time will tell.

Think I’ll go hide in my shed the rest of the day.

From Chris Vesper to Melbourne Woodworkers

Special plea to Melbourne locals

I was reading my local Leader newspaper the other day and came across a small news mention titled “Hand-crafted toolbox taken”.

The article went on to read:
An elderly Frankston man had his precious tool box stolen after thieves broke into his garage.  The 87 year old told police he had made the wooden toolbox in 1946 after he returned from WW2.  His Bokissa Drive garage was burgled between June 4 and 25th.  (A big window of time I know! Chris)
“It was hand planed and engraved with the initials JJ” detective Mark Garrett said.  “It was of great sentimental value to him and would be nice if he got it back”

I then contacted the detective who emailed me further info:  The box also contained woodworking tools.  The victim indicates the box was stained and had a metal handle and metal clips securing the box.  Dimensions of about 2ft by 18″ by 6″.  Some of the tools had wooden handles painted red and comprised of chisels, punches, hand planes, hand saws and a measuring square.

I have tried my best to give you more tool specific details like branding or vintage or even if the planes were metal or timber body but it is hard when the victim himself hasn’t been able to give those specifics.

So… Tool Aficionados and Hoarders of Melbourne (yes me too):  Garage sales, pawn shops, markets, antique shops, auction houses, where ever you are please keep an eye out.  Contact either myself on the usual numbers or speak to Detective Mark Garrett at Frankston CIU, his direct line is 9784 5588.

Any members of clubs and associations that recieve this email please circulate it in print and electronically, pin it on your noticeboards.  Lets see if we can help this digger out by finding his unique JJ tool chest.

From the latest Chris Vesper Newsletter

Looking for a Lifestyle Change?

The Lumber Bunker, in West Gosford on the Central Coast (east) of Australia is currently for sale as a going concern.

The Lumber Bunker

The Lumber Bunker

Its asking price is $A20,000 (plus fixtures etc at cost), on eBay of all places!  I can honestly say I’ve never seen a business sold on eBay before, but then I can also say I’ve never looked!

It is near surf beaches, so if you are looking for that lifestyle change, here’s one possibility.

Of course, as a woodworker I would have one concern – it would be like a drug dealer too addicted to their own product.  How could you bring yourself to sell stunning timber that you’d rather be going into one of your own projects (or you have a project on, and you find yourself shopping for timber in your own store – I’d never have anything left to sell!!)

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