Sabbatical Day 27 – Flagpole Week

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.

I haven’t got much scheduled this week, just class Thur night (and Scouts Tues night). I will need to make up some time in the shop, but I’m thinking to go early Thur and work on a few things.

However I have planned on spending most of this week working on the flagpole. This is my last week, and I’d like to get it done, though probably not mounted in the air. I was up early for Pilates, and then grocery shopping, but around 11 I was home and I headed out in the 95F heat.

I uncovered the bench and unscrewed one of the guides on my jig. I want to use that as a way to glue things up in a line, so I got one side flat, flipped it over, and then moved the cleat to the widest mark, giving me a surface for the pole. I laid down the first side, which was the 2x6s that were thinned and tapered.

With that down, I put biscuits in all the slots and then put one of the 2×4 sides on. I quickly realized that even though I’d gone slow last week, I’d completely missed one of my marks. Since the biscuits are for alignment, and not support, I just left that one out.

Photo Jul 07, 12 48 42 PM

You can see above all the biscuits sticking up and one side piece there. I added the second part to this side, and then did the other side. Things lined up well, though the boards were slightly twisted. I used a few clamps and decided things weren’t that far out.

However when I tried to add the top, I had problems. I couldn’t get it to slide onto the biscuits, a few of which were mis-aligned to the side. That means I hadn’t registered things properly with my cutter and one of the slots was too close to the edge or too far.

I also found I’d missed 5 or 6 marks completely. I suspect my marking was compromised with not having everything clamped down, so I need to re-cut 6 or so slots.

I didn’t want to skip gluing today, so I decided to glue the bottom and sides on, and then I’ll re-mark, re-cut, and glue the top on tomorrow. With that plan, I removed the biscuits and then got ready.

First, lay out the clamps.

Photo Jul 07, 1 40 51 PM

It looks like a lot, but as I found out, I wish I’d had 6 or 10 more. With those laid out, I started mixing up my epoxy. I’d used the West Marine system, which has a resin and a hardener.

Photo Jul 07, 1 52 59 PM

I had everything handy as I worried about things setting up in the heat. I mixed 5 pumps each, which I thought was a lot, but I think I should have mixed 6 as I was scraping the bottom of my bowl to finish.

Next I added filler to thicken the mixture and fill in any spaces. I’m not 100% confident I’ll have super tight joints, so I want to fill in spots where I can. As soon as I put some of this in, I donned gloves and mixed it up. As Norm said in the video, "if you get this stuff on you, you’ll be wearing it awhile." I remembered that as a bit of the filler dust came out.

Photo Jul 07, 1 53 32 PM

No pictures here as I was hurrying, but I’ll get a kid to take some tomorrow. I thickened things to a thick waffle batter, and then grabbed my roller and went out. The bottom was down, and the sides were flipped over next to it. I rolled glue down the bottom, covering things thickly and then worked my way down the other side of the bench covering the sides.

I was glad I had gloves as I had to hold and reposition the sides a few times to cover them. Also to get the scarf joints covered. That was tricky and without gloves, I’m sure I’d have glue all over my hands (and probably not be typing today).

With the glue down, I raced up and down getting biscuits in the slots and then putting the sides down. I’d put biscuits in the one bad slot, so I pulled them quickly and dropped them, getting the sides on. The wind was also picking up, which had me worried about debris on the glue.

This was tedious and I worried about things setting up as I aligned the pieces, used a mallet to get them down and clamped sections. I worked my way down all 4 side pieces, using clamps around the scarf joints to hold things tight.

Photo Jul 07, 2 28 46 PM

When I was done, this was what I had. Lots of clamps used, every one of the handheld 6", 12", 18" and even a few larger parallel ones and a bar clamp. Things looked tight, but I wish I’d had 6 more.

Photo Jul 07, 2 28 59 PM

I covered everything up with a tarp as there were some dark clouds and called it a day. Hot, tired, I needed a break.

Tomorrow I’ll recut slots and glue the top. I also need to get the large rounding router bit so I can begin curving it on Wed.

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