Sunday, August 2, 2009

Laying Pipe

We rented a trencher and a mini-excavator for the weekend on Friday (1 day rate for 2.5 days use). I worked on water and power over the weekend with help from my Dad and brother. 460' of water line is in the ground waiting to be covered. 400' of conduit for the underground power line is ran to where a transformer will be set. It rained about half of both days, and made for some muddy, muggy work. We have also been working on grading a bed for the driveway by removing the topsoil.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ishido Kanna in Inomoto Dai

I haven't made any progress lately outside due to health and weather. After an inquiry a few weeks ago about a kanna (Japanese hand plane) on Iida Tools website, a found myself in the process of a purchase. Iida Tomohito was very helpful in obtaining information and helping me secure a purchase of my new tools. These are the first new tools I have purchased directly from Japan, and my first new kanna. The blades are forged by Ishido Hideo and his son Ishido Yoshitaka. Ishido Hideo passed a few years ago and this may not be his "best" blade but I am proud to own even one of his lower lines of blades. The blade by Yoshitake looks to be every bit as fine. The blades are both 70mm Blue Steel #1 with laminated chipbreakers and carry the name "Tonchinkan"(I have no idea what that means). The blades were not yet set in a dai yet, so Iida-san politely asked if I didn't mind waiting a week to have them set. My blades were then sent to Inomoto Isao a daiya shokunin in Sanjo. They were both set at a standard 8 bu (8/10 or 38.5°) as recommended by Inomoto-san per my description of the softwood I plan to plane. Both dai are oimasame grain pattern and have tsutsubo. It is hard to express the exceptional quality of the dais, as the soles came "pre-tuned" and are just perfect as can be. I would like to thank Iida-san, Inomoto-san, and Ishido-san for putting these fine tools in my hands, which will help me put together a home. The photos show the Ishido Hideo blade on the left and Yoshitaka blade on the right (the blue pictures are the ones Iida-san sent me). The end grain shows both of Inomoto-san's stamps.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Milling Juniper Again

Made progress on the log pile over the weekend and afternoons this week. I am down to the last 7 logs in the pile I had cut. I milled somewhere around a dozen logs over the weekend, using my last sharp bandsaw blade. I resawed the 30+ flitches left from the posts and still have some sharpness left in the blade. I took a rare break and went fishing with my brother on Sunday evening. I haven't been fishing in at least 10 years, and it was nice to be out on the water. I took some photos of an interesting tree I cut down. The tree had exposed heartwoood on two sides. The sapwood was divided into two seperate sections all the way up to the limbs. I made a nice stack of posts and lumber that is nearly as tall as me (i'm not very tall). I rolled my last 7 logs down to be milled when the rain clears. I have been having problems with insects boring into my bark/sapwood, so I am trying to hurry through these logs before really warm weather.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Milling Persimmon Again

Finished up the butt log of the two persimmon logs I got out of the tree. There is a third top section still waiting to be skid to the mill. The log was around 14" small end, 16" big end before milling, and 17' long. The widest board is 14" and all is milled to 1x dimensional lumber. All the lumber is bastard sawn which is a colorful way of saying flat sawn. I sawed all the lumber into flitches, and then removed the bark by resawing on edge, for the maximum width boards possible. I started the milling on Sunday, and resawed on tuesday, and finally stacked the lumber for air drying today, on top of the other persimmon wood. I removed what was left of the bark with a drawknife. I finished my 8-way bamboo splitter today also. I plan to make some wooden handles out of poplar to go over the metal handles.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

4- Way Bamboo Splitter (takewari)

I made a 4-way bamboo splitter (takewari) yesterday. I welded it up from scrap metal, it isn't beautiful, but serves the purpose. I have a larger 8-way splitter halfway done on the workbench. The ones commercially available are made of cast iron and are quite costly ($27 for 4-way, $69 for 8-way). The cast iron ones cannot be struck with a hammer, mine can :D . It took about an hour to make the 4-way, and will have the 8 way finished with around 2.5 hours in it. I need to finish painting it tomorrow. I made it to overcome the problems of getting the long ~40' strips of bamboo I will need later on for making hoops for the wooden tub (ofuro). I am basing the construction off of what I learned from book on "The Tub Boats of Sado Island" by Douglas Brooks. The tub boats are also known as taraibune or hangiri.

I learned recently that bamboo continues growing internally year after year. The outside diameter is initially "shoots" up, and the distance between nodes will lengthen for the first year and a half. I believe what I recently harvested is a Japanese Timber bamboo known as Madake (phyllostachys bambusoides). Shown in the photo is a section of what would be a cane that came up last year, compared to a much older one, both with about the same outside diameter (2.5" and 2.75").

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bamboo Pens (Sumisashi)

I made bamboo pens (sumisashi) and ink/oil pots from some of the bamboo I cut last weekend. I bought 3 of the pens on ebay last year and paid $3-4 a piece for them. I found the ones readily available too narrow and short for me to hold comfortably, so several various sizes were made to try out. I made 75 tonight and must wait until they dry to finish them. I don't know of many sources for the sumisashi, and don't know of any sources of ink/oil pots, so I am going to try my luck at selling them once they are dried. I had a nice surprise in the mail today, 3 Japanese chisels from eBay. The two small ones (shoji chisels) were new old stock from a fellow Japanse Woodworking Forum member Sheets (thank you!). Some journey they had, Japan>England>Canada>Alabama, and thats just whats known. The big slick came from another person. It is slightly used and dwarfs my other slick, which is well used comparison.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Milling 'Simmon

I started milling on one of the persimmon logs on Friday, and finished it up Sunday. It milled surprisingly smooth. The wood turned a funky green after milling, then mellowed out after it dried a bit. It was cut into 1x lumber hopefully for face frames for cabinetry. I have no experience air-drying the species, but from what I have read, it is very prone to bucking, farting, and warping. My Dad and I drove to b.f.e. today and purchased a pair of non-running parts tractors to help keep mine and his alive, and maybe put together another tractor out of the pair. Photo shows the Farmalls right after being loaded up front is a 1946, rear is a 1940 model.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Truly Free Bamboo

After sending a friend of mine a link to this blog, he responded that he could get me "all the free cane poles I wanted". After tagging along with him to get firsthand directions, all the necessary connections were made to avoid any confusion. The fella had already hired a bulldozer to swipe a 100ft across his property, as it was invading his home and outbuildings. I am not sure what kind bamboo it is, but it is a timber bamboo of some sort and it is female. Some of the bigger pieces are around ~4" in diameter at the base, and the tallest was bumping 55', with averages in 45' range. I clipped them down with a chainsaw with a picco chain and cleaned the tops off with a nata hatchet (an extremely sharp and dangerous tool). Four hours of cutting was all I could handle on the somewhat steeply sloped hill, which required a 2 hour nap to recover from. I ended up clearing a 16'x16' area before becoming severly exhausted (asthma and arthritis). The landowner was super nice and I am very grateful for the bamboo, and will return again to get some more and some rhizomes soon.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Once a year snow

We got our annual snowfall today. It rained most of the day Saturday, and woke up to a white blanket outside this morning. By noon it was a sloppy muddy mess. I stayed inside most of the weekend, working on practicing mortises yesterday, and sharpening chisels today. My wife and I visited my grandmother and I got a chance to take a picture of a circa 1900 barn built with juniper posts on her property. The barn was built by either her father or her grandfather (I forgot which one she said) as the land it is on was homesteaded by her family. The barn has really went down in the last 15 years, as it has not been maintained like it formerly was.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Riving Shakes

On average I end up cutting around 1.5'-3' off of the bottoms of logs to remove doty pith. These cut-offs become bolts, which are then riven(rived? rove?) with a froe and mallet to become shakes for roofing or siding. In the old days, they would have went through one more process of being smoothed and shaved to thickness and and possibly tapered with a draw-knife on a shaving-horse. Ideally all the shakes would be vertically grained, although all of mine are not. I purchased my froe for $8 at an antique store, and replaced pine handle with a persimmon sapling. I plan to make a bigger froe from an old leaf-spring sometime. Curved froes were used in the past to make staves for casks (barrels and such). It is a very primitive and effective tool, until you hit a knot. I am on my 4th mallet. The first being made of hickory, next was cherry, then persimmon, all of limbs or saplings. I am now using a piece of what I think is acacia (thorn tree), which has been the longest lasting. The pictures somewhat show the process of making shakes. I first split the bolt with a wedge (not shown), then knocked off the sapwood with the froe. The bolt is oriented upside down (tree top towards ground) for the whole process, as it splits easier for juniper in this manner. After spacing the froe from the edge it is hammer down flue with wood. The handle is then levered against the bolt to seperate the shake from bolt, and worked down and levered again, until the shake plops off. The shake can then be squared up if desired by using the froe again to slice through wood.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Toolbox for Moulding Planes

I made a new toolbox for my Japanese moulding planes tonight. I still have to build a couple more toolboxes, luckily I have no shortage of lumber. I used juniper for the sides and bottom, and a couple of scraps of black walnut for the lid. It was built to match the length and width dimensions of my saw box. Dimensions are 36"L x 10.25"W x 4.75 and is finished with linseed oil.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Workshop Beginnings in SketchUp

This is my first attempt to draw 3D with SketchUp. It is not complete nor accurate at this point. I need to add rafters, extend the beams for barge rafters, and adjust my dimensions. I want when completed a shop around 16'x32'. Being a hillbilly, I have no choice but dirt floor (concrete is roughly $100yd here now). I will either set the post on poured concrete piers or flat out sink them in the ground. The walls will be wrapped in board and batten siding from the 1x's I have been pulling while milling posts.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Logs

I cut 5 junipers and 1 persimmon tree (Diospyros virginiana) down today, working right at 5 hours. The tree on the far right (2 logs) was the first persimmon I have cut. From all the stories I have heard about how hard the wood is, I was expecting a real challenge. Yet it is was much easier than cutting pecan. I cut an 18' and a 14' section and there is at least another ~16' left to bring in, putting this tree nearly at its maximum height range of 60'. From my understanding, this tree was a male, out of the 7 persimmon trees the property, only one is female and bears fruit. I am still unsure about what to cut out of this white ebony, but I am leaning towards flooring planks, and maybe some cutting boards for my wife.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Logging on Valentines Day

After a rainy morning it turned pleasant around noon, so I commenced to logging again. I finished cutting juniper off the old fence line I have been working the last month, and moved into the woods today. After clearing out a narrow trail around 300 yards long I was able to get to this tree:

I am grateful to have such a tiny tractor in such situations. I needed to buck it into two 20' sections to get it out of the woods. The first limb was right at the 20' mark. The bottom picture shows the other smaller logs I cut today.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Milling

The weather was beautiful this weekend, but I did not get a whole lot done. Kept getting sap on my arms/wrists and once on my eyelid, was too warm for longsleeves. Goo-Gone will remove tree sap, but I seem to be allergic to both. I milled four logs over the weekend and produced 3-7"x7"x17' posts, and 1-6"x6"x12', plus some random 1x lumber and stickers from the flitches. I loaded up the firewood from the summer's slabs (scrap wood with bark on it) which was mostly pecan. This is my 3rd trailer of firewood from my mill, and I have at least another trailer full in a pile to be cut up. I heat our workshop at work with the scraps and limbs/branches. On another note I started learning google SketchUp last friday. This seems to be a very user friendly program. I was inspired to try it after seeing Bob Le's toolbox done in it a few weeks ago.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Proposed Building Site

This is the area I hope to build on. It is located on my father's land. The section I have picked adjoins property where there was once a limestone quarry (the big blue/black area on the maps). I will either build on the cleared hill, or clear out a spot in the woods directly north. The ground here is solid red dirt, with a limestone rock bottom 15ft under the dirt. A stream flows from west to east across the property along the property line. If the ground perks, and I can get a well dug (for secondary water source) this will most likely be the spot for our future home. Special thanks to google earth for the old satellite images. The top photograph was take from SE facing NW corner. Yellow circle on the sat. image marks planned site.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Junipers

I am going to take a moment here to share some trees while they are still standing. Most of the Eastern Red Juniper (also known as Easter Red Cedar or simply Cedar locally) that I see are in fields or along fence rows. Free standing trees such as these are heavily limbed from top to bottom, have no true trunk and are extremely knotty when milled. Forest trees are much more desirable for wood, as they usually have true trunks. I only know of a few standing groves of pure juniper, as they are usually found mixed among deciduous forests. If trees grow in barren rocky conditions they will have almost pure red heartwood, with just a tiny band of sapwood. Those trees grow very slowly and produce excellent rot resistant timber/posts. What I am currently cutting is in upper lowland, these trees can grow to tremendous size for their species, up to 36 inches. But they are somewhat cursed by containing more sapwood, sapwood mixed with heartwood, ingrown bark, and other defects. The top left photo shows an average fence tree, bottom left is an old fence tree with almost perfect form yet half doty, bottom right shows a true trunk on a ~24" juniper. The very bottom picture shows a couple of lowland forest junipers .