Medal Chest #6: The Devil's in the Details

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Blog entry by RaggedKerf posted 04-22-2013 11:43 AM 907 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Fitting It All Together Part 6 of Medal Chest series Part 7: Trimming the Fat in Style »

Note to my readers—-this is the secret project I’ve mentioned a few times.  It has consumed my shop time since February.  That’s why it’s been so slow on the blog for the last few months.  Now that it has been delivered, I can post the details.

While fuming over the death of my hand plane (see death of a plane below) I decided to switch tactics and work on the detail piece that will grace the front of the chest.  I plan to use a piece of basswood, carved, and set into the front of the chest.  How, you ask?  I will use the router to cut out a slight (the basswood is only 1/4” thick) notch the size of the carving and then set it in so it’s jut a little proud of the chest itself.  I got the idea from who else, but the Village Carpenter.  I’ve been reading her blog from the beginning lately and she is just AMAZING.  Very inspiring.

Here’s the design.  Since most of the medals are from track and field events (high jump, javelin, shot put, discus, and some running events—-yeah, I told you, my mom is crazy athletic) I opted for the winged foot of Mercury, international symbol of track and field events.  And flying feet.IMAG2850

Her initials will fit in opposing corners.  There will be a slight border around the hole thing.  I’m thinking it’s going to be about 4” x 4”.  Not enough to be a distraction to the overall design, but enough to catch your attention.

I transferred the image to the wood using tracing paper.  Draw the image (or trace from a master drawing—-as you can see above, the master drawing was a thumbnail, so I just did real thing on the tracing paper), then cover the back of the tracing paper with graphite over the image.  Place that on the wood and then use a stylus (or dull pencil or anything with a point that’s not sharp enough to punch through the paper) and trace your art.  Peel off the paper and this is what I ended up with (I darkened it up a bit so you can see it better):IMAG2861

I put the Ramelson carving chisels my lovely wife got me for Christmas (thanks sweetie!) to use today after a quick honing session (these things were scary sharp in the box ready to go…I can’t say enough good things about this set!)  and here’s the result so far:


This relief carving thing is so far, easier than I thought!  I love it… definitely going to do more of this.

The death of a plane: It met an untimely death (or maybe timely, actually…keep reading) during the sharpening process.  Well, the chipbreaker/iron assembly did actually.  The plane is what it has always been…a decent, usable (in softwoods that is) plane made in India.  The iron has always been prone to dulling very fast and the chipbreaker never did sit flush with the iron.  Try as I might I could not get it flat enough to be flush.  It didn’t help that the chipbreaker wasn’t manufactured correctly—-it was skewed towards the right so that it never did fit perfectly in the plane.  As I said, it worked plenty well enough in the pine I made the bench out of…the trash bags full of shavings is proof of that.  But when it encountered the maple and walnut this project is made from—-psshtpbbbth—-not so much.

So I decided to use the belt sander instead of the scary sharp sandpaper setup I have been using.  Well, the chipbreaker did not like it when I tried to flatten it and it disintegrated faster than balsa wood on that belt sander.  Result: one chipbreaker that no longer breaks chips and one plane blade that is sharp (or so I thought at the time) but utterly worthless.  The plane is now a paperweight.  A cool looking paperweight, but a paperweight none the less.

That’s when I had my "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!" moment.  I have struggled (silently) with the mechanisms and fit and finish on this plane since day one.  It served me (reluctantly) well enough but now that I have moved into so-called real wood species, the Indian plane (Groz if any of you are wondering—-by the way do NOT get one unless you are an expert and know, I mean really know how to rehab a plane) is just not usable any more.  Especially without a chipbreaker/iron.

I mean, I guess I could use it as a mallet.

After I calmed down a bit, I realized two things: (1) to my horror, a lot of this project (including the curved lid) was based on me being able to get the Groz working.  Now that it’s dead…gulp…without a table saw, how am I supposed to get angles and bevels cut? (2) I need a new hand plane—-see (1).  This new plane…whenever I acquire it will be a quality plane…not from India!

-- Steve

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