Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bird Mouths

Spar making has been a real challenge for me. Just cataloging and planning lumber needs and keeping the inventory straight is a lot of work by itself. Keeping all the different spars straight along with their mathematics required a table of information.
There are all kinds of defects that show up after rough stock is surfaced. Resin inclusions, small knots, dings from handling, squirrelly grain, splits, checks and so on are some of what was showing up. Board feet are being eaten away in kerf and remainders, imperfections, scarfs and the like. We sorted through the pile last night and sorted out all the staves to scarf because of flaws. Ed dug out the scarfing jig which will trim up the ends of the staves after they are rough cut on the bandsaw. Most all the good staves were birdsmouthed. Here is the process it took to get this far.
First all the mast measurements were tabulated and the amounts of board feet calculated. Then Jeff made a trip to the lumberyard to pick out the stock. Sitka spruce is not carried in the local yards, so it was a long trip. He had to recalculate lengths and widths and board feet based on availability when he arrived there and and then had to load the stock for the trip back into town. Jeff is my hero. We unloaded the truck into the shop and I resorted the pile according to the needs of specific masts and spars. All of this lumber was restacked under SILENT MAID so it would be out of the way.
The next work night the planks were surfaced using the big parallel planer. Ear muffs and glasses are a good idea. Constant checking of dimensions kept me moving. The next step was to joint one edge square. If the board was too crooked, a chalk line was used to snap a straight line which was either bandsawn or hand planed, not perfect, but closer to straight so it would go through the feeder.
Next the power feeder was enlisted to drive the stock evenly across the cutter head and perpendicular to it. The power feeder is a heavily built machine imbued with certain manly features. It taught me several important truths, some of which I already knew, but have now been refined and firmly embedded. The last time I set it up it only took about ninety minutes including rest breaks and mental health refreshers. It does an amazingly consistent job when operating, so it is desirable that the product is consistently good rather than the other way round. I have failed to mention that my hero, Jeff, is again involved with simply moving the behemouth. The good old power feeder takes two strong, burly guys to carry it from one cast iron perch to another. My job was to move and rebolt the bases between locations (once on the jointer, twice so far on the table saw) and guide the support leg into the receptacle. Once it is mounted, * a few moments of adjusting each of it's six axes and then snugging it down, then repeat from * for a number of times proportionate to your level of intimacy with said mechanical monster.
In between all these steps, the pile of lumber has been repeatedly restacked and sorted into the troll size space underneath the world's most beautiful catboat. A place of honor to be sure, but definitely created for short-statured, hard headed persons.
The jointer was arrayed with the glorious green power feeder, in and out feed rollers adjusted for height and level, and a path cleared for the twenty foot long boards. The TSCA guys ran over 300 feet the first night and I completed the stack the following day after resetting the machine. I think we are getting on friendly terms. The stand was moved on bolted to the table saw. My pal Murphy had definitively made a brief here, since the one socket, open, or hex head wrench that was required were all on vacation some place else so this actually took longer than aligning the cosmology of the green giant.
The axes of all planets in alignment, the staves were cut in short order, again completed in less than twenty-four hours. Another resort and transfer to under the beautiferous minor catboat TORCH, with even less headroom than her big sister, had the sorters seeing stars. The following week had the usually outstanding favorable ratings of the chief henchman reduced to rubble since by relaying the fact that steel nuts and washers sink into the sawdust beneath the table saw when dropped, you-know-who-dropped one when changing out the blade for the dado. A few moments of consultation with the only other living being who had actually seen the operational set up, had the set up completed in record time. Adjustment were made and voila! eight chunks cut from the test stave actually came to together well.

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