Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Timber Framing 1 - The School and Layout

I have been interested in timber framing for a couple of years now, after waiting for the right time I have found the opportunity in my schedule (due to a supportive wife and a boss who is generous with time off) to pursue the interest full time for a month.  I am taking a course at the Island School of Building Arts on Gabriola Island under the instruction of James Mitchell.  The School has a large lumber / assembly yard, and a gorgeous shop made of large log posts.  We've had two days so far and are into cutting our joinery already. 

The Workshop

The Assembly yard. 
The workshop with timbers set out for joinery. 

The morning of day one comprised of an overview of the project, and lofting the plans.  The project we plan to build is a pair of hammer bent trusses which will span 20 feet and associated girts and purlins to build the skeleton of a building.  Lofting is a full scale drawing of the plans on the shop floor to work out any details that may be needed.  The process starts with laying out control points down the center of all the beams we will use and connecting those to make a wire frame drawing of the structure.  This is then flushed out with drawing in the full size timbers and finally a full set of joinery is drawn in.  It goes remarkably fast, I think because the drawings are full size and it is intuitive to most people what to draw next each step of the way. 
A hammer bent built by a previous class. 

Lofting the bent on the shop floor. 
Full scale joinery layout and templates. 

In the afternoon we built a parts list for all our frame components and checked that against the stack of timber by the shop.  Each of the member of the class chose a component to start working on and retrieved the timber from the stash.  We cleaned up the timber and proceeded to scuff plane (a rough cleaning) the timbers to allow easier marking and handling.  All in all a fun first day.  Of course getting to visit the West Coast Islands and working with big timbers I don't know how I wouldn't have had fun. 

Scuff Planing the timber. 

Day two we started with lay out.  The convention used here is a center line layout technique.  This more easily accommodates irregular work pieces.  The timber is leveled off and a series of control lines are drawn on the timbers against which the joinery will be referenced.  Once this is done the time comes to lay out the joinery for each individual piece.  I'm working on a principal post which requires a sloped shouldered tenon on the top, a mortise for the hammer girt and a mortise for the connecting girt.  In time it will also receive a mortise for a knee brace but that will be done after an initial test fitting.  By the end of the day (after a series of corrections to initial layout) I was able to start cutting the tenon.  Using the biggest circular saw I've ever held.  The saw is a Mafell 16" circ saw and runs off 220v power.  A truly impressive beast. 

Center Line Layout Reference Lines

Joinery is laid out and ready to start cutting. 

Using the 16" circular saw. 
The "little" 10" circular saw is set to the depth of the tenon cheeks. 
 I'll try to keep everyone posted as the work comes along.  
Hope you're all having as much fun as I am.  
I can't wait to get out of bed tomorrow!  

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Wood Shop

Welcome to the wood shop!

I figured that starting with the shop would be as good a place as any to start this woodworking journal off.  My only real plan with this is to document some of the projects as they are being built so that everyone who is interested can see some of how things are done. 

Anyways, on to the shop itself, most of the work is done in a 2 car garage, and with the arrangement of the tools a car can still fit in the shop; though that parking space is often used for assemblies.  The tools in the shop are pretty standard for woodworkers.

The studio, seen from the garage door. 

And as seen from the main door. 

The table saw is a Wadkin Bursgreen (English Manufacture) and came from a high school in Edmonton.  It has thick cast iron components and weighs in at about 400lbs. I couldn't have gotten it to my house without help from my friend Aric, and I wouldn't have gotten it running without advice and help from another friend Dave. The dust collector was the most expensive machine in the shop.  It is a Clear Vue Cyclone and I have run duct work with blast gates to the major tools.  The cyclone moves 1800cfm, after doing the math that means it can filter the air in the entire studio in under two and a half minutes.  The band saw is an American made 14" Delta with riser block.  The jointer is an older 8" Delta, it came from a neighbor and when it arrived it was quite rusted and hadn't run in over 10 years.  Of course these are supported by a collection of powered hand tools and traditional hand tools.

The workbench and hand tools.

Some of the most satisfying work done in the shop is done with hand tools.  Performing the final smoothing of a board with a hand plane, feeling the slide of a chisel as it pares off the last of some end grain, and watching a dovetail joint slide together to close up a drawer are some of the most satisfying parts of wood working.