Friday, April 24, 2015

Project Update: Back at It

The CTScan is still pending, but I'm feeling much, much better. So much better, in fact, that I've jumped back out into the shop.

The beer is optional.

While out there, I decided to go ahead and complete the assembly table before starting the case of the instrument, a pretty big job. Rather than just slam lag bolts into the sides, I decided to use eye bolts because I can foresee a time when I will need to use rope to secure the pine boards when jointing the case bottom, as well as other large pieces.

I just need to install the 2x4 cross beams and it's done!

On an unrelated note, two major events are taking place this weekend in the Portland area: A Gathering of the Guilds at the Oregon Convention Center and the Handmade Musical Instrument Exhibit at Marylhurst University. Admission is free to the Gathering and $3 for the Instrument Exhibit. I'll be attending both. In fact, I'm displaying the keyboard at the Gathering this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers Show and Tell booth.

It should prove to be an informative and interesting weekend, indeed.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Project Update: The Tortuga Always Wins

Greetings from the house attached to Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters! I wish I could report I'm doing much better healthwise, but I'm still having a significant amount of kidney pain. I'll be returning to the doc this afternoon to try and discover why. I've not set foot in the shop for more than a week and the withdrawals from that are nearly worse than the kidney thing.

Some good news to note is that I'll be displaying the keyboard at A Gathering of the Guilds at Oregon Convention Center on April 24, 25 and 26 - that's next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. My work will be included with other members' works from the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers. It will be fun to see what sort of reactions it prompts, if any. Of course, I'll also provide a summary sheet of exactly what a harpsichord is, what the immediate and long-term goals are for the instrument and Tortuga Early Instruments, etc. I hope people like what I've done so far.

I go off the antibiotics this Sunday and will still need a few days for the stuff to work its way out of my system before I can jump back into the shop. At least, that's the plan so far. I may learn differently this afternoon. They want me to have a followup CTScan, which I do not take as a good sign. The additional scan and the pain are causes for some pretty deep concern here, but I've learned over the years to not make up stories until I have all the facts. Then, all bets are off. Please send me your prayers, good energy and general good wishes (I think I may need them).

And don't forget: the Tortuga always wins.

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Project Update: Pausing to Heal and Wax Philosophic

Well, I've gone and gotten a massive kidney infection and will be laying off the project for at least two weeks while I heal and take an antibiotic that threatens to shatter my tendons should I attempt to lift anything. Or walk uphill. Or breathe. Needless to say, I'm not going to make any progress on the project for at least a fortnight. Dammit.

Before I came down with the latest malady, I was able to work up a crosscut sled for the table saw. This is an important safety measure for the Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters, especially when I cut smaller items. You simply cradle the wood you intend to cut gently in the sled and then cut away. The fence nearest the operator prevents kickback because, you know, it's never good to have small pieces of wood flying past your head at high speeds. I've not yet run the blade through the sled in the photo below.

Along with this, I still have a lot of work to do on the assembly/outfeed table before I consider it completed:
  1. Install two aluminum (aluminium for my UK friends) t-tracks in the table to accomodate the crosscut sled and miter gauge rods,
  2. Install the 2x4 crossbeams to the legs using lag bolts (I still need to pick up washers of sufficient size),
  3. Install dividers underneath the top to store wood vertically in what I consider a more organized manner than shifting the piles next to the walls to a larger pile under the table top,
  4. Lag the top into the legs using large eye-bolts from which I can hang various tools, gadgets and gizmos for easy access,
  5. Drill 3/4" holes in the table top for use with holdfasts and dogs and 
  6. Install a torsion box grid system under the top to further stabilize it to act as the bottom of the inevitable go-bar setup (still need to work on the ceiling mount for that).
It seems nothing is ever quick-and-dirty at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters. Then again, I made this bending tool using $12 worth of pipe and fittings from Home Depot and a $20 heat gun from Harbor Freight.

Okay, some things are quick-and-dirty. 

Speaking of quick-and-dirty, I've been struggling with my 12" compound sliding miter saw since I purchased it four years ago; it just never made a good, straight cut. Ever. So, I got to looking at the miter fence and, lo and behold, it's held on by four bolts. Even more amazing is how I discovered those bolts actually determine the alignment of the fence. As I loosened them and aligned the fence with the blade, I said a little prayer for the bonehead who originally assembled the saw without properly aligning the fence to the blade. May he or she someday discover that simply using a square to align a compound sliding miter saw fence to its blade during initial setup is a metaphor for life.

Until next time (in at least two weeks)...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Project Update: Assembly Table Mostly Completed

The chest cold has about subsided, so I was able to get back into the shop last night to begin the process of finishing up the assembly table. It went fairly smoothly (gotta remember that "measure twice, cut once" thing) and it's 95% completed. I just need to mount the top and bottom with lag bolts into the legs, get the 2x4 crossbeams in place using lag bolts and drill some holes for iron holdfasts. These are a great way to clamp large pieces to the table; they wedge themselves in with a strike of a mallet on the top of the holdfast and then you tap it on the back to get it to come on out. The same holes will also accommodate bench dogs for clamping. As you can see from the links, the holes will need to be 3/4" and I will be adding a couple of quick-release vises to the table over time to use with the dogs.

I will be adding dividers under the table for the various wood species I have buried in boxes along the shop walls. This will help me keep the woods organized and clear the walls so I can move tools closer to them, creating more working space in the shop. I'll be extending the table saw miter slots with miter channels routed and placed into the assembly table to maximize it as an outfeed table for use with the table saw miter gauge and crosscut sled I intend to build soon. Finally, I will be adding a torsion grid structure underneath the top to support the go-bar setup in the near future, but I need to get back to work on the instrument case, as well as a side project for my son that's due on the 9th (eight days from today - and that's no April Fool's joke) for his birthday.

Until next time...