Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Officially Summer

One of the beautiful things about the Australian landscape is the way the native vegetation changes its moods.  We have just transitioned from late spring to early summer, and some of the eucalypts are flexing their re-invigorated trunks and sloughing off their old bark.  The bush is bursting with vitality. I find myself energized by it.

This tree is on the way to my shed - It is a passing acquaintance.

It was shelf preparation time in the shed today, and I cut the particleboard to size before adding the facings.  These act as cosmetic covers to the laminated board end grain - if it can be called that.
The shelves are deep, and the facings are around 50mm wide.

The facings need jointing to ensure they are completely straight and square.  On short pieces like these, a number 6 sized bench plane is just about perfect. This is a Millers Falls 18C - look at those lovely shavings.

There are several methods for attaching these, but I decided to use biscuits.  Dowels would work fine, and perhaps even a tongue and groove joint.  Biscuits are easy and quick.  The facings and the shelf are marked together so that the slots line up after cutting.

Give the assembled edge a dummy run before adding the glue and clamping up.
Then - glue, clamp, clean up and set to dry.
Carcass assembly comes next, but that might have to wait.
Tomorrow is the big day when the grandkids and I pick up the chookies - Doris, Florence, Edith, Esther and Sarah (the chooks - not the grandkids)
Family time - yippee.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bubble and Squeak

When I was a little tacker, I recall Mum cooking up leftovers in the frying pan for Sunday night dinner.  It was always called bubble and squeak, even though it was never the same recipe twice in a row.
All I remember was -YUM!
Well, the leftovers that are coming together to make this cupboard will likely never be repeated, so I am thinking of naming it my bubble and squeak cupboard.
I have settled on one shelf divider-cum-mullion, as this makes the best use of the materials that I have available, and generates the least waste.
A couple of daggy old boards were glued together to create a panel wide enough to serve, but these needed some serious cleaning up afterwards.

I pulled out my low angle block plane - it's a little Millers Falls 56 - to clean up the glue line, and was enjoying the experience so much I just kept going - using it as a small smoother.  The timber is sugar pine and meranti, so is as soft as butter.

Trimming to size comes next. While Disston Keystone saws were not exactly their premier line, this one is lovely in the hand, and cuts sweetly.  Disston's advertisement for Keystones reads:
In Keystone made by DISSTON Hand Saws, the
Merchant has a good utility product - a line made in
grades that will appeal to home owners, farmers, stu-
dents and all others who are willing to pay only from
$1.00 to $2.35
for a hand saw.
........Hmmmmmmm, it says something about the quality of manufacturing at the time (c1935) when a utility line product is as good as this.
What the heck - I like mine.

The shelves will be supported in the middle of the cupboard by this mullion.  It is too narrow to cut dadoes in both sides, so I have decided to use the time-honoured technique of adding cleats.
Measuring both sides is easily done by transferring the measurements from one side to the other.  These have to match the dadoes that already exist in the two side panels.

The cleats are nothing more than some left over rippings from timbers used in making the bench.  Because they are hardwood, and in thin strips hardwood is prone to cracking when nailed, I pre-drilled the nail holes. I used cut nails that I found deep in the nether regions of my collection of screws and nail-type things. I think that these were a legacy of an estate bundle acquired somewhere along the way.  I know that nailing isn't even considered as a serious fixing method by some, but there are plenty of occasions when it works a treat.

A little of the woodworker's friend - old mate PVA - on the back of the cleats, and we are good to go.  Clean up the excess glue with a damp cloth.
A simple nosing piece will cover the front of the mullion and hides the cleats from view.  It also adds some visual width to the mullion - and you can't have too much visual width I always say.

Next steps will be the cutting of the shelves, and adding a facing to tart up the particleboard from which the shelves will be made.
Can't wait.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What You Can Do With Leftovers

Shed time has been hard to find this weekend, as the rain-caused problems needed attention yesterday, and a trip to and from Coffs Harbour took up most of today.
As well, the tomatoes needed staking and the climbing beans had gone skyward without support. I was reminded of Jack and a certain giant. (Interesting little colonial story that one - use up all your own resources then go to another land and steal all the possessions of the inhabitant, before scarpering home and living happily ever ...)
I digress.
In trying to be more resourceful than Jack, I am pressing into service some re-cycled timbers collected from demolitions.
The bench is near complete. Last tasks were to panel the back for bracing, and to strengthen the unsupported particleboard shelf underneath.  Nothing fancy - a scrap of old masonite for the back and a piece of roughsawn roundback for the stringer.

The glued and screwed roundback stringer clamped to dry.

When I glued the nosing piece to the bottom shelf, I thought I had on hand more wood packers than were actually the case.  The glue was drying and I didn't have time to go cut some more - so - I did what every self deluding woodie does from time to time - I told myself that - just this once - it wouldn't matter, because the clamps would probably not mark the timber anyway.  
The evidence is before you in the next picture.
After I removed the clamps, I sent myself to the corner to write out a hundred times - I must not listen to the little voice of stupidity that lurks in the impatience zone of the cerebral cortex
Gnats with lobotomies don't make this mistake. 
Double Doh!

 The near complete bench.

Next step will be to construct the carcass for the cupboard that will sit atop the bench.
I have a couple of demolition panels that I thought were meranti (pacific maple).  Turns out they are veneered solid pine core.  Good and solid with plenty of stability. 

veneered solid pine core

These will form the sides of the cupboard, and as an added bonus, they are already dadoed.  
The spacings aren't what I would have chosen, but they are close enough.  
There will be a shelf divider-cum-mullion, (or maybe two, haven't decided yet) in the middle, which will need dadoes on both sides.

Pre-dadoed panels  - eeeh ha!

This week in the shed is going to be interesting.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wet, wet, wet!

Hard to believe we are in the same season of the year as we were a few days ago.  Wet and cool!
Lovely weather for getting things done, but PVA doesn't like it and refuses to dry or cure.  Activities in the shed have slowed down a bit as a result.
Nonetheless I did make some progress on the bench.
The front rail was attached and supports for the top installed.  Particleboard has a nasty tendency to sag if not supported, making these supports essential.
A nosing was attached to the front of the bottom shelf for added stiffness and to protect the edge.
And that is as far as I was able to go until the glue dries.
What's that clamp on the top I hear you ask - the world's oldest pipe clamp - Noah lost the other one during the great flood.

In the meantime here are some pix of a couple from our our back yard menagerie.  Since the covers went over the veggie gardens, this jill will have to teach her joey to eat grass like all the other kids instead of lettuce, beetroot, peas ..........................................

Just how joe fits inside jill's pouch is one of life's wonderful mysteries.  And she thought pregnancy was uncomfortable -sheesh!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wet Weather = Shed Time

It's wet, it's cool, and it's just the weather for spending time in the shed.
The bench and tool cupboard project is coming together nicely.  Today, the rear rail was mortised and tenoned, the top was prepared with a nosing piece, and the carcass took its first steps towards assembly.

First step was to cut the mortises in the legs with the trusty Makita. Unlike a traditional mortise, these will be open at the top because the brittle old hardwood disintegrated at that point when the router approached it.  No matter, the particleboard top will be screwed in place and covers this quite well.

Next step was to cut the tenons in the rail. This is a very old Blakeley Tenon Saw that still cuts like a dream. Check out that kerf.

 The roughed out tenons were then finished with a Stanley shoulder plane. This is an English made 93, and even though some poo-poo the quality of the English blades, I have found them to be fine in practice, and a joy to use.

With the rail glued in place and firmly clamped, it was time to add the shelf.  This will be an open cabinet bench, where the shelf will keep things off the floor and out of the way.  The front and rear have had a second thickness of particleboard added as stiffeners.  These were offcuts anyway, and better used than discarded. Glued and clamped with spring clips, they will dry overnight.

The particleboard top needs a nosing piece across the front to both protect the edge and to stiffen it.  I have cut a rebate in a length of matching hardwood, and glued this to the front edge.  Since this has glue faces at the front and underneath, it needs clamping pressure in both directions.  Tighten the clamps gradually, a little at at time, working along the row of clamps in sequence to pull it in snug in both directions.

An end view shot shows the rebate, and the directions that the clamping pressure needs to move in, to snug this up good and tight.   Good old PVA - what a great adhesive.

I can hear the rain tumbling down outside, and I am looking forward to tomorrow afternoon when I'll be ready to continue assembly.
Life is good!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Summertime .... and the Livin' is Easy.........

Well, it isn't officially summer yet, but the last few days of 35 degrees (95F) have certainly made it feel so.
The hens are delayed and won't arrive until early December -mutter, mutter, grump, groan!  The other jobs around the patch haven't stopped, and after a few days of rain, the grass is jumping out of the ground.
Yesterday saw a valiant attempt to tame the front padddock, and all was going well until the ride-on threw a belt.  Not the easily replaced blade belt, but the main drive.
While I await the pleasure of the repairers, it is off to the shed to get some more work done on the new bench and cupboard that will house some of my woodplanes.
Fine woods and fancy joinery are often presented as the objective in all woodwork.
These are eminently suited to furniture, and I will address both of them from time to time.
But this will be a utilitarian piece made from what is available - I know that there is some hardwood and a few left overs of particleboard.  These will serve well enough for the bench, and there is some re-cycled meranti that will make a useful cupboard to sit on top.
There's an old saying - perfection is the enemy of good enough.
For this cupboard, good enough will do nicely.
I've been attempting little bits and pieces on this project for a while now, but they always get shunted sideways when higher priorities intervene.
Today I finished the legs and assembled both sides. The front and rear rails are cut and the top roughly dimensioned. Photos later.

Chillaxing by the pool sure felt good this afternoon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Eons ago, in our first year in the Village, a good friend of my son thought to help us out, by delivering a grocer's dozen of near-feral chooks that had been terrorizing Upper Rollands Plains. These, the boys had rounded up in one afternoon's feathered version of catch the greasy pig.  A car boot load arrived just on sunset - and unannounced.
What the ...!
Where to put them - no chookhouse, no cages of any kind - in short - no preparations at all.  The boys stood there like cheshire cats, so proud of their contribution to Tele Point self-sufficiency.
The poultry spent the night in a zincalume garden shed, and the next day it was all hands on deck to .....let's go make a chookhouse.
There wasn't much in the way of materials - a little wire mesh, some scraps of corrugated iron sheeting, and an old child's swingset pipe frame without the swings.
Inside a day we had a lean-to roof and a half, and a wire enclosure with a rudimentary door.  Good enough for now - we'll build a better one down the track.
Seventeen years later, and the original dog's breakfast of a chook house was still there, and in need of a make over.

Out came the door, and in its place went a mezanine of nest boxes - three in all.  A new door was added in the side, and that same side extended to provide an A-frame yard. Another door, and we can walk in without stooping.  Add some more corrugated iron to protect against the southerlies and westerlies, and mesh on the northerly outlook - and it was nearly finished.
A small offcut of shadecloth to temper the summer heat, leaving a sunny corner for those cold days - and we are done.
All we need now is for the ladies to arrive and take up residence.
That should happen this week if the chicken gods are kind.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Keeping the Ladies Happy

Well, it has been an age since we had poultry down here on our little plot, and the old fowlhouse has been begging for a makeover.
I have been slowly doing renovations to the chook palace, and it is nearing completion.
Today was superb weather for working outdoors, after the heat and humidity of the last couple of days.  Overcast, mild temperatures and a slight breeze - does it get any better than this!
So the chookie yard had its wire attached, and there are only a couple of pieces to finish off and the ladies can move in.
I have been seeking advice from all and sundry about poultry breeds, and have even joined the Australian Poultry Forum to see what is currently best practice in poultry culture.

Hopefully the large numbers of alektorologists who read this blog will chime in with advice. Maybe even the experts from Pony Paradise will share their knowledge and experience.
Once its finished - should happen over the weekend - I'll post some piccies.
But in the meantime - feast your eyes on today's sunset.  A modest affair by Tele Point standards but still awesome.

Sometimes the trees do get in the way.

A full review of Poultry Paradise will follow shortly .....................................................................

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hastings Woodworkers and all things Woodie

As an active member of the Hastings Woodworkers Guild, I have the pleasure of the company of many like minded wood loonies, as often as I choose to visit the clubrooms.  Open every day over at Timbertown in Wauchope, the Guild offers a centre of excellence in woodworking that is fun to be part of.
The Guild offers members a meeting place, a workshop, a display room, lunch room, timber store and a small mill for converting logs to lumber.
It may very well be unique in its range of services to members.
The workshop is well equipped and there are members whose collective expertise in all things woodie, has educated many others in wood lore.

We held our annual exhibition back in October, over a three day period in the heart of Port Macquarie NSW.
A couple of thousand visitors came through the doors and experienced the demonstrations, discussions and displays that were offered.

Planning has already commenced for 2012's big event.
In the meantime we will be present at a number of other functions, the next of which is the Craft Show in Port Macquarie on 18-20 November.
Meetings are held on the third Saturday of the month, and our next will include a club auction of a wide variety of tools and timber.  Can't wait!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Feuds With the Neighbours

Living in the country has many charms, and that is why we chose to do so.
However, some of the neighbours are really starting to become annoying.
Every night we have a visit from an absolute animal, who vandalizes our property without a second thought.
Sometimes we are visited by red-necks who treat the place as if they own it.
Well I've had enough.  It's time for action.
When that rotten bandicoot turns up tonight to plough up my vegetable garden, he's going to get a shock.  The soil in the garden beds is so full of worms that he can't resist. Our lovingly tended vegetables are turned over as if with a mouldboard plough.
And when those king parrots fly in to feast on our corn, they are going away hungry.

I have built protective covers over the veggies.  I watched a frustrated kookaburra who sat on the top staring at worms he couldn't get at. "There are plenty more in the front paddock" I told him.
Star pickets, poly pipe and bamboo provided the frames, and whatever mesh I could dig up from the "might be useful one day" pile, provided the covering.
The finishing touches were a couple of old shade sails from the front deck, that I hadn't gotten around to disposing of yet. ("Might come in handy one day")
Mr bandicoot will have to dig for worms elsewhere - he is a veritable bulldozer in the garden.  And those red necked parrots can go back to eating wild tobacco berries and wattle seeds.
While I am typing, the bower birds are tap dancing on the roof - there must be twenty up there. They are omnivores and seem to eat everything.  They can go back to pestering the dog for the kibble in his bowl.
A cold brew on the back verandah was very satisfying this afternoon.
In spite of the neighbours, we wouldn't swap living here for anything.