July 2, 2009

Texturing timbers

The items you see in the photo above are involved in some of the stages of creating textured timbers that are going to be used on a 1:12 scale structure I am building.

One of the popular teachers of storybook cottages has the students texturing timbers by scraping the wood with a piece of saw blade. The tales of days of pain in hands and arms from this method can heard round the world!

My hands would never hold up to long days of that kind of abuse. Besides I like power tools and they save vast amounts of time to say nothing of pain. Downside is of course the cost of the tools and the need to control the sawdust. There will always be sawdust no matter the method. It does help to have a good dust collection system. I have dust collection but it is far from perfect. The black shape you see in the photo is a dust collection hood I use with various tools around the shop. It helps keep the fine dust out of my face and lungs.

Stage one was sizing the timber on the 10 inch tablesaw.

Stage two was routing a decorative edge, you can't see really see that edge on the piece of wood since I took the photo at distance. Note that I am not using a Dremel Motor as a router, I use a 1/4" router for this kind of work. It can be done with a Dremel but I don't care for their router table.

My router table has a special feature that allows me to adjust the height from the top of the table, pure workshop luxury! I just got a digital readout that I will be adding to that router setup so I can tell how many thousandths of an inch I have moved the bit, major pure luxury!

To create the texturing I used my reversible direction Foredom motor with a structured tooth carbide bit to rough up the surface of the wood. The last stage is removing any little fuzzy bits sticking out on the piece of wood. That is quickly achieved with a few swipes of a 3M Scotchbrite pad. That aluminum wool material cuts the fuzzies right off without removing the texture.

My workshop smells great from all the cedar sawdust I have been making.

Cutting edge miniatures

You would think that a new out of the box knife blade would be sharp. Unfortunately that is often not the case, the one you see in the photo was very dull indeed.

An essential item in your tool box should be a small sharpening stone. I purchased the "stone" in the photo from my local hardware store, it is coated with very fine bits of industrial diamonds. Regular sharpening stones are fine too, just as long as you have something on hand to touch up your cutting edges. A small size stone is handy for taking along in a toolbox or stashing in a drawer with your knife.

Working with dull blades is really frustrating, a time waster and you are more likely to get cut. It only takes a few licks across the stone to make working a pleasure and improve accuracy too. The trick is to hold the blade at the same angle as the cutting surface was ground and then push it along the stone as if you were cutting something. One direction only rather than back and forth works best.