When you are responsible for part of a project it's quite normal to focus on that one thing. Making sure the detail is right, workmanship good and mouldings clean. Sometimes however, what we make can be at best a compliment to the broader project, or even perhaps go unnoticed. You'll see from the stunning photo above this project is one such situation. With Devon's rural setting many of the unused barns have been converted and this trend continues. These barns have excellent potential to connect the outside world to the everyday goings on at home. Simple glazed gable frames work brilliantly to achieve this.
On this particular project our joinery fits in between structural steels. I must admit, as much as I like to use wood extensively I do like when steel has been used to create the supporting structure. It gives us lots of good fixings and as you'll notice from the photo above the steel is easily concealed within some simple cover sections. One of the most difficult issues on this kind of work is the glazing. The glass often has to provide high levels of insulation while also providing protection from falling through it, this also influences the cost! The bigger the glazed area the more dramatic the view but sadly the cost becomes more dramatic too!
We have moved to glazing our gable frames internally, that is to say the glazing beads are on the inside. Our motivation here was making the long term maintenance easier. Double glazing will not last forever, sometimes there can even be an issue where a double glazed unit can fail prematurely. Having the glass inserted from inside the building means the heavy lifting can often be done more easily from the internal floor level. I'm not totally wedded to this approach for all jobs but in this case it proved effective. Just seeing the amount of scaffolding required for building work means if that if it's future use can be reduced, so much the better.
The scaffolding was being dismantled as I was taking these photos, I hope to share some better photos once it's intrusive structure is gone so you can enjoy more of the stunning views of the Devon countryside!
Although we're not a horticultural business, one of the items I sharpen the most for our customers is Garden Tools. The sharpening service we offer is mixed between a third party saw doctor and what we can do in house. Gardening tools and woodworking hand tools are easily done in house, therefore allowing a quick turnaround. I normally sharpen the tools myself, it can be a welcome relief from the computer screen and surveys! Just before lunch today I sharpened an edging knife, 2x telescopic bypass loppers, standard loppers, garden shears and secateurs. Typically is works out at around £4.00 per tool.
We don't typically offer a postal service as the cost can become prohibitively high, although if you can't get help and you're not close to South Molton, send us an email and we can advise you of postage costs. You can find our contact details here. Although we don't sell gardening supplies, Mole Valley Farmers, our close neighbors on the Pathfields Business Park do, potentially making a journey to see us worthwhile, even if you don't need our woodworking services.
Please plan to be without your tools for at least 3 days, sometimes this might be longer if I'm of on holiday (I should be so lucky) and also bear in mind we are not open at the weekends.
The large shoulder plane is not an essential when first starting out, but as your experience grows and projects become more varied this tool becomes very helpful indeed. In woodworking terms the shoulder plane seems a recent development. I'd speculate its only been in serious use for about 175 years. It has one very specific task, to refine the shoulders of tenons. It can be used for other tasks but if you mistake it for a rebate plane you'll be very disappointed. Sticking a rebate is best suited to something like a Record 078, wooden filister plane or basic wooden rebate plane. However a rebate can be refined with a shoulder plane, it's just not designed to do that.
In the photo above you can see how the plane sits on the length of the tenon, using the tenon as a reference surface. The plane is then introduced to the shoulder, this is the upstanding section of the joint. Fine cuts are then taken to get an accurate fit. Being honest, a shoulder plane should be avoided if at all possible, joints should be cut right first time. For most work this is always possible. However when work has large shoulders, typically found on stairs or doors with diminished styles and is also of a customised nature, sometimes a joints needs a little extra help.
In the photo above I've shown two types of shaving, a very thick and heavy cut and a very fine. Unless the shoulder is very bad a fine setting should be all you need. As the plane is working across end grain the shoulder often needs support in the shape of a support piece or the shoulder has to be worked from both sides to prevent break out.
You'll notice the shoulder plane I use is the Record 073, sadly no longer in production, I obtained mine via ebay. It is a wonderful piece of industrial design, it lacks some of the flair and comfort of the Victorian era Infill planes from makers such as spires, but it's comfortable enough and is easy to adjust. Fortunately the plane has been copied by the excellent American tool maker Lie-Nielsen. If you do choose the Lie-Nielsen option do consider replacing the standard cutting iron for a Ray Iles version is 01 steel. The other shoulder plane in the photo is the well made Veritas which belongs to one of our joiners. For me, searching for a Record 073 is still worth the effort.
Back in mid December I started a write up on our stair making process. I had hoped to share more of the process but that'll be for another day! The project is now at the stage of fitting the winders, these are the kite shaped steps we walk up when the stairs turn a corner. Although the straight flights can be machine cut with a minimum of hand finishing we cut and prepare the winders individually. The setting our rod we draw helps us a lot, and gets the tread and riser cut close to where it needs to be. We then cut, trim and plane with a combination of hand and power tools to get the fit just right. It's this aspect of the job that perhaps gives the most satisfaction. When we use machines to help us and relive the burden of some tasks, we still must fully understand how the project comes together, how traditional joints are formed and getting the right quality. However when we do that using hand tools and more direct processes it becomes even more satisfying to see the project develop
Tomorrow we'll be dismantling the stairs, carefully applying reference marks and numbers to the components and giving a final finish. Arises will be removed and the stairs made ready for collection, our client is aiming for collection at the end of the month. I will say how pleased I am that the client had such good piece of mind to plan their work so well, there is nothing worse than unreasonable pressure when working hard to make things come together properly. Tomorrow I'll show you three examples of the same traditional hand tool that we still find incredibly useful for traditional stair building.