Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Viscount Project, Part II

(The second in a series of how-I-am-turning-an-old-electronic-organ-into-some-new-modular-instruments)

Woodworking: A class at Bath City College.

From some friends I heard about this woodworking class.

I had, yes, already bought a ridiculously good saw in fulfilment of the stereotype that the first thing to do when you get interested in some new past-time is to go out and spend some money on pro-level kit.

Now it was time to do something about it.

The class was a bunch of dudes, predictably and unfortunately. (Oh, England. Oh, Western civilisation) On the upside, they were all super nice guys. Also on the upside, my new boss decided to take the class when he heard me talking about it (Paraphrase: "Is it ok if I take that class? It sounds really cool but I don't want to crash your weekends.") so we got to have some casual time together learning how to chisel out a mortice.

Paul, our very capable instructor, quickly got us up to speed on the various tools involved in woodworking. Turns out there are a lot:

  1. Square (two types, a 'normal' one and an engineer's one)
  2. Gauge (two types: Mortise and Marking)
  3. Ruler, duh.
  4. Some kind of bench squaring helper I don't know the name of
  5. Vise
  6. Clamps
  7. Chisels (four sizes) and wooden hammer
  8. Plane (my favourite tool!)
  9. Sander (many kinds)
  10. Tenon saw (the thing I have already)
  11. Dovetail jig
  12. Router
  13. Bandsaw
So with those things at home, I could begin to duplicate this project. It is impressive! I want them all, but also I don't want a home full of tools I never use. Hmm.

Probably the most critical thing I learned in this class is the importance of making a full-scale drawing. This is part of the 'design process' and really forced me to be specific about how things were going to fit together. (Unfortunately no documentation of that drawing exists for blogging purposes.) As we will see, I didn't think everything through and so the design process continues through the time of this writing. :)

Once the drawing was sorted, I got to pick some wood, use an amazing planing machine to get it to the approximate thickness I wanted, and then get starting cutting these badass dovetail joints:

Making sure the keys fit in the bits of box I have cut. (Spoiler: they fit!)

They don't fit that way! Lots of clamps keep things square during gluing.

The college is full of mad things like a 6' stone saw. Definitely do not distract anyone using that thing! Also: Sawyer! Neat.


Paul was great about things like: reminding me to (for instance) mark out where I was going to put nails ahead of time, rather than just pounding them in and hoping they looked okay. Also there were several times when I felt like I had screwed something up irretrievably, and he had some magic trick for fixing it. Most of the time it involved approximately 5 seconds of using some power tool I have never heard of. This made building a nice box with basically no woodworking skills a bit like walking a very low tightrope just over an incredibly reassuring net.

I'll leave this one here, with two future-post teasers:

  1. Wait, how is this thing going to work? What does it do?
  2. I make a nearly-fatal error in the assembly of the box!