Friday, 4 September 2015

Homemade sanding mandrels...

If you're into making stuff from wood (or other materials) you'll know that some times the price of equipment can be quite high, so why buy it if you can make it for free ? (well almost free)

I'm often in need of small sanding tools, specifically something to attach small sanding pads to, and although you can get them quite cheaply when you have to start buying three or four the the price can add up, so I made my own.

Here they are -

Nothing special, by they work well.

There are benefits to making your own tools, the first is obviously the price, you can more often than not make things quite cheaply, or as in the case of these mandrels free from stuff you have lying about, the other benefit is that you can custom make things to suit your needs.

These where easy to make and are basically a bit of plywood with some rubber stuck to it, with some threaded bar to form a shaft for use in drills, or in my case they get used with a flexible drive shaft for sanding stuff I've made on the lathe.

Ingredients - 

Bit of threaded bar - 


Some 'T' nuts and normal nuts (and a few washers) -


Some plywood to cut discs from - 

Already cut.

Some rubber or dense foam - 

Two sorts here, neoprene and the stuff they repair shoe soles with.

And some Velcro (if you use tape use the hook part) - 

Doesn't have to be sticky.

To cut the plywood discs I used a hole saw, this was handy as the hole through the middle is just the right size for the threaded bar, it's also a good fit for the 'T' nuts, I salvaged the 'T' nuts from an old chair, but you can buy them quite cheaply.

Once the 'T' nuts are fitted into the wood discs (which only takes a couple of taps with a hammer) you can cut the threaded bar to what ever length you want, I cut mine to about 45mm, then you can screw it into the 'T' nuts, I also used a bit of thread lock on the end of the threaded bar, but you don't have to.

Bar and 'T' nuts - 

Now for a bit of thread lock.

Thread lock applied - 

It's not essential.

The thread lock is like a glue which helps stop things coming undone, the next step is to add a few nuts on the other side of the wood disc, so what you're trying to do is clamp the wood between the 'T' nut on one side and the normal nust on the other.

Make sure to get the threaded bar as flush with the 'T' nut as you can, you can also use nyloc nuts on the other side of the mandrel, they are the nuts that have a little bit of plastic (Nylon) at one end.

Nuts added almost done - 

A washer will help stop the nuts digging into the wood.

Now for a bit of tidying up - 

Just a quick sand to tidy the wood up a bit.

I put the mandrel into my post drill, just to get the rough edges of the ply, the main shaping and finishing was done on my lathe, but there's no reason you couldn't shape the mandrels in a post drill, or a hand held drill in a vice.

I also sanded the side with the 'T' nuts, just to make sure there were no sharp bits, and to make things nice and flush.

Sanded nice and flush - 

Ready for foam type stuff.

Onto the foam / rubber, I've made a few of these now with different materials, some with a fairly soft neoprene which gives me a bit more flexibility when it comes to sanding curved stuff, the more ridged rubber is great for flat stuff.

All I've done is cut a rough square of the foam (slightly bigger than the wood) and using impact adhesive stuck it to the wood part of the mandrel, then all you have to do is wait for it to set.

Waiting for glue to set - 

Leave it for as long as possible to make sure the bond is good.

When the glue was set I trimmed up the foam and then put the mandrel on may lathe so I could shape the wood and the foam with some sand paper, then all that needed to be done was to add the Velcro for the sanding disc to stick to, again I cut a little more than I needed and then trimmed it up once the glue had set, even though the Velcro I used had adhesive on it I still used a bit of glue to make sure they don't fall apart.

Waiting for glue to set again - 

It's easy enough to remove the extra bits of glue.

Finished, I've made some in slightly different shapes, and I plan to make more to suit my needs, they work well and they hold the small sanding discs quite firmly, which is good, and as I have more than one I can keep different grades of sand paper on each one, which makes changing grades quicker as I can just swap out the whole thing.

All done - 

Ready for action.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Cupboard repair...

We have a fair bit of furniture in our house from the 1950's and some built during the second world war, it's good stuff, although these days people don't seem to go for brown furniture that much, they much prefer to murder it with paint shabby chic it, but we like it.

The problem is that it's not always in perfect condition, and some times small repairs are needed, which was the case with this small cupboard we got free.

Looks pretty good now it's done (well we think it does) -

This is where it lives now.
It had some damage to the side, and it was quite obvious and not easily hidden.

The damage - 

Not great.

So how to fix it? well it just so happens my lovely wife bought me a book on furniture restoration a while ago, so I thought I'd put some of what I've learnt into practice.

Basically I had to repair the plywood that had broken off, obviously if I was going to paint this I could have just filled it with a bit of car body filler, but as we wanted to keep it as original as possible that wasn't an option.

The first thing to do was find a bit of plywood that had a similar grain to the original, once I found that I then had to make it thinner, I could have gone online and found a veneer perhaps, but this fix cost about 50 pence (the cost of the plywood)

I clamped a small piece of the plywood in my vice and cut it down the middle with a had saw, I made sure I cut enough to allow for mistakes.

Clamped and cutting started - 

I used some off cuts to stop the vice marking the wood.

Once I'd cut the wood I then had to sand it down on the opposite side to make it thin enough to match the thickness of the original plywood.

Cut and ready for sanding - 

This is the side that will be stuck to the cupboard.

Sanded to more or less what I needed thickness wise - 

The curve won't matter once glued down.

Next I had to prepare the cupboard, this was just a matter of marking around the damaged part and then tidying it up.

The wood inside the pencil marks is to be removed - 

Next a bit of careful surgery.

Using a square and a sharp knife I cut along the pencil lines, making sure not to push too hard as I didn't want to cut the wood any more than I needed, this wasn't too hard, and once I'd cut along the lines I used the blade to carefully lift the wood away from the cupboard, and I was left with a nice neat rectangle.

Most of the wood removed, it came up easily - 

Much easier to fix when you have tidy edges.

When I'd removed all the unwanted bits I then had to cut my patch, I did this using the sharp knife and a square to get the edges nice and clean, then it was just a matter of gluing the patch onto the cupboard, I left some over hang on the front and top edges so that I could take a little off at a time, it's easier to take a little off than it is to add a bit, it was a little proud of the original wood, but a light sand fixed that.

Patch stuck down, just needs trimming - 

A good fit, the grain isn't quite the same, but it'll do.

And now the tricky bit, colouring the new bit of wood to match the old, this is difficult because a lot of what gives a piece of furniture like this it's colour (patina) is age, years of being polished and if we're being honest the build up of dirt over the years as well.

Wood stain added - 

Needs some tweaking.

The colour isn't too bad, and it has to be better than having a big chunk missing, I'm still tweaking the colour to see if I can get it a little closer to the old wood, in some lights it's hardly noticeable, but all in all I'm much happier with it now it's been repaired, and apart from the colour matching issues it was an easy fix, so now I won't be quite so quick to write of a piece of furniture because it has a bit of damage, we can rebuild it.

Seems less obvious now it's in it's place in the front room - 

Just don't look too closely ;-)
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Garden chair fix...

Sometimes it's worth looking in what I call the 'sin bins' in your local diy shops, most places have them, and most of the time it'll just be random off cuts from where they've cut large sheets of material for people, but every now and then you might find some thing a little more interesting.

Like this -

It's a garden chair.
Yes we found a garden chair like the ones that come in sets with a table and umbrella, in this picture it doesn't look too bad, but it was damaged in a couple of places, and to be honest I wouldn't have taken it if it weren't for the table base that was with it.

This table base - 

Perfect for patching up the chair.
Two of the chair legs were broken, one not as bad as the other, but because we also had the table base, which was also broken we had the perfect material for repairing the chair.

The damage - 

Easy enough to fix.
More damage - 

This is a little more problematic to repair.
I decided that although the legs from the table were longer, they were also the best bet for fixing each leg, so I took the table base apart.

The table legs had a fixing point at the top that matched the chair, it was just a matter of adding the right holes in the right places.

I fixed the old chair leg to the table leg, so that I could get things lined up.

Like so - 

The long groove holds a pin that allows the chair to fold up.
Then using a drill bit with a depth guide on it I drilled out the groove, I didn't bother with the mortises, just the groove for the pin that allows the chair to fold up.

Drilling out the groove - 

I could have used the depth guide on the post drill.

Groove drilled out - 

Ready for the router.

Next I used my router with a straight bit that matched the hole size I'd drilled to tidy the groove up, I could have skipped the drilling and just used the router, but I wanted to make sure the groove was in the right place.

Groove done - 

Spot the problem.

As you can see there was a small problem, that being one of the fixing points on the table leg, and as there's a pin that slides up and down the groove I had to plug the hole to stop the pin from catching, this isn't a difficult thing to do, all you need is a plug cutter, a bit of wood that matches and some glue.

Unfortunately my plug cutters are a bit old, and probably in need of a sharpen, so they tend to burn the wood, it wasn't until after I'd finished the whole chair it struck me that I could have just used my lathe to make some plugs.

Cutting plugs ( it got a bit smoky) - 

Time for a new set of cutters perhaps ?

Once I'd cut a plug or two (I cut them from the old chair legs) I then used them to fill the gaps.

Plug in place - 

Just needs sanding.

Plug sanded - 

The down side of old plug cutters.

Because the wood got burned when I cut the plugs I was left with a dark ring around each plug, but because you won't see where the plugs are I wasn't too worried.

There were a couple of other holes to fill, but in the end once I'd cut the extra off the new legs I had two pretty good replacements.

New legs - 

They do the job nicely.

The last job was to fix the bar back onto the legs to stop them coming apart which would have meant the pins sliding out of the grooves every time the chair was folded.

For this I just cut the broken tenon of the bar, and used a couple of wood screws on each side to hold it in place, and again I plugged the holes.

New bar screwed in place - 

Now to fill the holes.

More plugs cut and fitted into place - 

They don't stand out too badly.

And that was it, a garden chair that probably would have ended up as fire wood given a new lease on life, looks even better now it's had a sand and a generous coat of tung oil.

Good as new - 

And comfy too.

So it's worth looking in the 'sin bin' once in a while, even if you don't find a chair sometimes there's useful bits of wood, I recently found a small piece of plywood that's going to be ideal for a cupboard repair I have to do.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Allotment update (belated)

A some what belated update on the comings and goings of our allotment plot, time flies when you're having fun.

It's been a productive year so far, the plot has been doing okay, we've had some very dry weather here and as such we've had to water a lot more than usual, but all in all things are doing okay, if not a little behind compared to last year.

So to May, our forced Rhubarb experiment worked okay, the large black bins we used, whilst not ideal seemed to do the job, and there is a difference in the Rhubarb, it's more tender and slightly sweeter.

Rhubarb -

Might have left it a bit too long.

We now have an Asparagus bed, the plants are small, and won't be ready for harvesting for a while, we've grown all the plants from seed, hence the extra time before we can harvest it.

Asparagus - 

Seems to be doing well.

The Strawberries have settled into their new location, they've already had fruit on (the picture is from a while ago) and as usual the kids have eaten most of them, same goes for the ones in the back garden.

Strawberries - 

Fresh picked Strawberries are great.

And that was May, not a lot went on to be honest, the plants we started off in the green house seemed to take an age to do anything, and as a result not much went into the ground before the beginning of June once the weather had perked up a bit, the broad beans and the spuds we put in early were doing okay, as where some of the other things, like the beetroot’s.

The plot as of May - 

Bit of weeding still to be done.

June was a bit busier, the spuds and beans were all doing well, and that little bit of weeding we left in May turned into a lot for June.

The plot at the start of June - 

Lots of weeds for the compost heap.

It didn't take long to get things a bit tidier, and on the same day we put in our sweetcorn and the first lot of squash plants, along with a few celeriac plants, and some peas.

We decided to put a second broad bean crop in, in May and the plants were starting to get bigger.

Squashes in - 

More plants in the ground.

We paid two visits to the plot in June, on the second visit we finished the rest of the weeding and also put in a load of cheap seed spuds, they cost 75p and I got two bags, so with the early spuds we put and the ones that went in a bit later we should get three lots of spuds, hopefully the last lot to go in will do for later on in the year.

And that was June, bit of planting and a load of weeding, but at least the plot was looking a bit tidier.

The plot as of June - 

Coming along nicely.

This time of year is always very hectic for us, we have fathers day, a wedding anniversary, and four birthdays in the space of about six weeks, but because of the work we put in at the start of June the plot wasn't in bad shape come the middle of July.

The corn is doing well - 

We're growing more this year than we did last year.

Some of the first lot of squashes have fruits on them - 

Small at the moment, but they grow up quickly.

The second crop of broad beans although small have some good pods on them, we've already harvested the first crop of broad beans and after shelling we had about 3.5kg of beans, some of which have been blanched and frozen for winter, the rest we're eating as we go, luckily our beans were not affected by blackfly as badly as some people, who lost entire crops.

Broad bean plants - 

Small but with a good amount of pods.

The cheap seed spuds are showing signs of life - 

We shall see how many spuds we end up with.

Second lot of squash plants in - 

We may only get small squashes from these.

And that's about it, as I sit and type this the sun is just trying to come out, it's been raining for 24 hours non stop, so at least everything has had a good water, once it dries out a bit I shall go and dig up our first lot of spuds.

The plot as of July - 

The front section has loads of spuds in it ready for digging up.

Thanks for reading.