Another exciting milestone has been reached. Mark, who is the creator of the kit following this blog, suggested that I put the pedal assembly in before doing much more. I was leaving it til later thinking that I could use up the smaller pieces and slide it in from the bottom. I learned that no matter when you do it, keeping holes aligned accurately is not a job for beginners. I used a predrilled deep block to help guide the bit and when the pilot screw penetrated the far surface, I came at it from the other side. I got lucky that my brace just barely allowed that. I also measured the hole layout using "true surfaces" technique to assure accuracy across the width of the machine. The second tier has the first moving part, other than the pedal, and when I finished, it glides as smoothly and tightly as any linear bearing can. I bet I spent 10 minutes moving it back and forth just to enjoy the smooth quality. Awesome job on the kit parts, Mark. And I'm here to tell you Mark's attention to detail is phenomenal. Before uploading I could see the pedal mechanism in the second picture, but it apparently got cropped. You can see some of it in the third picture. I did not complete the second tier yet. There are four more pieces to cut, assemble and apply. They go under the sliding table you see here and will hold the ends of the chain that is driven by the crank on the left. So I've made a lot of progress today.
One thing that helped a lot was to print out more detailed pictures of parts with their dimensions. I have to be careful to check the dimensions for fit. Mark told me he made some changes (real improvements) from the drawings we made so I'm trying not to be tripped up by that. I also take time to record the "as built" so the drawings can be improved.
This machine has a lot of parts that have to fit together very accurately. While Mark has made it as easy as possible, there is an astonishing amount of detail to pay attention to. You need some serious planning and woodworking skills to pull this off.
I guess I'll have to figure out why this site crops so much of my picture off. I put the spring return on the pedal after moving the pedal stop up two inches because it didn't move far enough to make the head travel its full 4 1/2". Now on to tier 3 the X-axis table.
Shop time today. Made some good progress. Need to work on second tier drawing dimensions. You can see that the vertical height crank will probably need to be cut off. I'll do it last to be sure, but so far things are looking promising. You might notice a stray hole and some stray screw holes...I couldn't get it going right this morning. For the first 30 minutes, if there was a way to do it wrong, I did it. But it didn't mess anything up really, just frustrating.
You might remember that I have embarked on a major tool building journey. Customers come first, so this tool build moves forward slowly. But I have reached a milestone...the base is finished. This build has at least six major components, the largest of which is the base. You can see this is not a small machine. The next build will be Tier 1 which is the foundation for the other tiers and headstock. I'm not very good at blogging, and if it turns out to be desirable, I'll try to collect all the bits and pieces of this build into one place.
Here is a fun little scroll saw project a recent customer asked for. These knots will be applied to the center of plain panels in each of four doors. It will be a while, but I've been promised pictures of the complete project. I was not involved in making the cabinets or doors.
White oak is a wonderful wood for a pair of unfinished outdoor benches. It will age gracefully, resisting decay and turning a beautiful gray color. Do you see the benches in the first picture? The benches will be assembled in such a way that all the joinery is mechanical. The sketch at the end will make that clearer. I chose to use hand tools for the joinery and surfacing just to keep in practice. You may not be able to see it, but the second picture is of the top of one of the benches that is joined with a shallow tongue and groove cut with the tools shown. The joint is so strong that without glue it stays together for surfacing! Both tops will be assembled from two pieces slid onto the three hidden dovetails and glued together. The curves in the legs were faired with power tools, though, because this is a commission that is to be done before Thanksgiving.
I love to do wood turning, so when an opportunity presented itself, I stepped forward to volunteer the work. It is only a brief interruption to building the mill. The pictures below showing the process I used are pretty self explanatory. The first picture is a set of cherry knobs I did to warm up to turning the rosewood. So I cut the rosewood into blanks so I could use a tenon cutter to cut a 3/4" stub to hold the knob, needed for the last few steps (pic 7) The backsaw was used to remove the waste from around the tenon. Then the usual layout, caliper work, and profile cutting. Note the floating ring on the knob in pic 7. Rosewood turns very easily and crisply, even wet like this seemed to be, so the ring was intact until I took the knob off the lathe. It was not intentional. Pic 8 is one down and one to go. In a careless moment, I wrecked the second piece and was heartbroken (pic 9). My mentor, long gone now, taught me an important lesson for woodworkers. "The difference between an amateur and a professional is how they fix their mistakes" was apparently an old saying back in the '60s. So I bore down on this "disaster" and fixed it. I had no extra wood to do the knob over, so the pressure was on! The fix is shown in the last picture and I deliberately oriented the knob so the gouge would be front and center. Can you find it? Neither can I, but I know which knob it was.
Remember how I said I was fairly confident about the assembly so far? Well, it's dry fit screws henceforth! In a fit of oversight, I cut the bottom rails the wrong size. What's worse, Mark had it right on his cut sheet and I thought the sheet was wrong. So I paid some stupid tax. It's good to have appropriate tools to help with the repair. When all cleaned up, one could not tell there was a problem. Minimal setback, but I'm glad I caught it now, not after the next steps.
I'm learning that this assembly is not like furniture where you can do sub-assemblies. Because of the overlap style of joinery, I have found it to be strictly piecemeal.
I have printed out the revised cut sheet and an assembly drawing to use for reference in cutting out parts. I have selected photos that represent operations that might be unique to this build. I'm not documenting the common operations like ripping ,etc. The first photo shows a quick and "dirty" sled that accurately replicates parts. Three nails in the waste plywood sled hold the position very accurately. Interior openings were cut on my big scroll saw, but drilling holes in the corners and connecting them with a saber saw will work too. The plunge feature of the Festool saw was handy for cutting the notches needed; quick clean and very accurate. A hand saw finished up the cut and a little chisel plane action made the notch clean and precise. Then I had to decide when to drill the hole for the pedal stop, and I chose to do it after assembly using my "vintage" Jennings bit. It cut fast and clean in the test hole shown. ( I deliberately got very close to the edges to see how much blowout. None.) Another way would be to use a drill press before assembly, but I thought it would be harder to line everything up. So then I chamfered the bottom of the front feet with a little block plane and put the first seven pieces together. Assembly has begun! This part of the assembly I was fairly sure about, so I glued and pinned it before clamping. I will countersink screws (maybe with plugs) later and use just screws for assemblies I'm not 100% sure about.
Today marks the beginning of physical work on my router mill. I was able to lay out a template and apply it to the first pieces to cut. I used whatever tools I thought would work efficiently to true up the template with the intent to use a pattern cutting router bit against it. I broke down the first panel using a panel cutting setup on my workbench. Then I transferred the template to the blanks and cut them out. I used my 30" Excalibur scroll saw to quickly cut them out and realized that I didn't need to use the router to make them precise and smoother. You can use any technique you like using the tools you have available. The scroll saw left edges that need no sanding and after easing the edges with a 1/8" round over bit in my router table, I consider them ready for final sanding before a sealer coat. So now I have the four X braces needed. I've made two corrections to my drawings already, and will continue to do so as I find discrepancies. I also found that Mark's layout of pieces on the panels to be very useful. Part numbering will help keep track of what piece goes where. That's part of the reason for this build.
I'm going to try to document this router mill build to assist Mark Sternberg, the designer, to develop good assembly instructions. Here is about 2/3 of the kit just removed from two shipping boxes and stacked randomly on my assembly table.(I'm kinda wondering if I leave it there overnight if it will be assembled in the morning.) Mark did a great job packing the stuff. The next step is to consult the plans I have developed with Mark's guidance and begin cutting the first tier of wooden frame, which in this case will be Baltic Birch plywood. It looks like I will have some interruptions to this over the next few days, so posts could be irregular (as usual). Here is a picture of the finished item.