My company, Red Gate software, has given me a 6 week sabbatical. I’m documenting the time with all the posts under a tag if you want to follow along.
After the weather ruined my first jig, I decided to plan better, and wait for a clear time to work on the flagpole. Today was that day. I was slow to get going, but I managed to get to Home Depot in the morning and purchase a few hardware items along with the wood for the jig. It takes 3 8” strips of 3/4” plywood and I had them cut those. They also agreed to do the 1 1/2” strips for the cleats, which was nice. Not only did it mean I could transport things easier, but also I didn’t have to muck with that.
First was biscuiting the pieces together. I learned this isn’t super strong, but it will hold enough. I used #20 biscuits this time instead of #0 ones. Make a big difference.
Then it was layout time. First, get the total length.
The plan is 22ft 2 in, but I opted to go with 22 as I didn’t want to get too close on cuts. A new saw blade went in to try and get as clean a cut as I could.
Then I can to measure the taper. The idea is that I taper one side (of both the front and back) first. I used a chalk line to get the angle, and then colored that in with a pencil.
I’d also bought some 1/4” plywood, which I ripped strips from to make this cleat for the saw to ride on. I screwed those in along my line.
Then it was time to cut the jig. I ran the saw along the cleats to trim the jig to size. Some scrap plywood I’ll use for other projects at some point.
I was feeling pretty good at this point and had a good sense of accomplishment. I’ve seen this on the video 4 or 5 times, but it’s quick there, and slightly intimidating. However good sun, not much wind, and I had a jig.
Then I needed to cut a scarf joint in my boards. It’s hard to find a good 20+ft board, and even the 16ft ones I got were culled from a large number of other ones. They’re slightly warped, but the straightest I saw and I think they’ll be OK once they are glued up and holding each other. However I need a way to join them together. This is how I did that.
I won’t glue these yet, but when I attach everything they’ll get a good coating of glue.
With that done, I put two of the boards (front) under the jig and cut. It made me a little nervous, but this isn’t a lot of wood (in cost) and if I mess up, I start over. At least I have a jig now.
Things went well, and I put in the other two boards (back) and cut them as well. With that done, I had one side tapered. But I needed the second side done, so I flipped over the jig and attached a cleat on the bottom for the boards to sit against. In the picture below, the jig is upside down. With that cleat on, I flipped it over, butted it against the wood, and cut.
It’s hard to see, but the close end is 3” side, and the far end is 4.5” wide. That’s the taper of the flagpole.
I got some of my glue as well, and I’m expecting the rest this week.
That was most of the day, and of course, I had to clean up and cover up in case it rains. When I planned this Monday, there was no rain in the forecast, but by Tues afternoon, there was a chance for Wed.
Woodworking Fundamentals Class
Tuesday night was woodworking class, so after cleaning up, I packed up the car and headed out with my supplies to the west side of town and class. I barely made it there on time and just had time to sharpen a plane blade before the instructor wanted us to gather for a lecture. Lucky for me the blade was in good shape and fairly sharp.
We started class with introductions. Now that the class was set with 12 or 13 students (down from 18), the teacher wanted us to get to know each other. He talked about his work as a furniture maker and fitter, working for restaurants, museums, etc. Then we went around the circle.
What was surprising for me is that most of the people there, probably 10 of us, wanted to do this as a career in some way. Most people were in their 30s or 40s, but were looking for something else. A few construction people, a few artists, looking to improve their skills. However there were 4 or 5 of us that worked for a corporate company, and except for me, everyone hated their jobs. We had one software engineer who’s doing this as a hobby, but doesn’t love his job. A banker, a video person, some other corporate people that are hoping they can find work for themselves, doing woodworking.
Interesting. I avoided talking much about my job, since I have the best job and didn’t want to make anyone feel bad, but it’s a sad state of affairs for corporate workers if I had any kind of representative sample.
Then we got into woodworking, which was learning to square a third side of our leg, in this case the top end. That’s a bit of a challenge, but not as hard as the other two. Once we finished that, we were looking to chop a mortise. I’ve tried to drill and rout one, but never hand chop one. We watched the instructor do some layout and marking, which looked easy, but as I found out, wasn’t. He also chopped two intersecting mortises in a few minutes.
Everyone was tired at this point, so we were on our own. My boards were square and flat, so I got to work quickly. I first cut the big board into two with the bandsaw to get the aprons. I’m sure Thur will be tenon time with those. Then I checked my leg, which was barely off square. Using a shooting board, I managed to get it square quickly, surprising myself.
Our software engineer, Tony, chatted with me a bit as he tried to square his leg. He’s a java guy, and hates SQL Server, so he complained a bit and I listened to him vent. I gave him a few tips on SQL Server and what had worked for me squaring the wood. I’m not advanced yet, but I am ahead of most people.
I got my wood marked, using my new marking gauge to set up the mortise spot. Then it was time to chisel out the wood.
It went surprisingly quickly. I thought it might take me the rest of the night to do one mortise, but I actually ended up getting both of them done and intersecting. I didn’t take a good picture, but I will Thur. Especially as I they were pronounced “pretty good”, but then I was told to “do it again”.
I managed to mark out two more mortises below these since this is a practice leg, but was feeling tired. It was 9 at this point, so I cleaned my area, packed up, and left.
A good wood day.