Thursday, January 8, 2009

On to the fancy stuff

Decorative axletree and tongue

I'm still working on the plans in CorelDraw. Two steps forward, one step back, but it's getting there.

When I couldn't stand it anymore I went down to the McKennawerks and played with the toys. We're moving on from the plain jane version to a dressier one, with more bells and whistles. This starts to move us beyond the realm of the very easy, but it can be done with basic hand tools still, but a contractor saw and a router make a big difference. Any way we're going from the old axletree to this one. So how do we get there?

First was to run the crappy piece of shop scrap I used across the jointer and through the surface planer. A little sandpaper and we've got a nice piece of wood.

Here's where we start to move from plans to art. I can't tell you how to strike the curves for the axle because I do it by eye with a french curve. But there are a few tricks you can use, and one of these days I'll make a grided version for the plans.

In the meantime, one thing you can do is mark it up on paper. You can put a coat of spray adhesive on the heavy brown paper you can get in huge cheap rolls at the home center, and another coat on the wood, stick it on, and mark away without buggering up the surface of the wood. If you don't like the shapes just keep adjusting them. If you mess up the paper just peel it off and start on another. You can also print out plans full size and attach them to the wood and the peel/sand away the paper after cutting. This is especially useful if you're doing scroll saw work.
So first we attach the paper, then trim it to size. Then I put on various guide marks and lay out the curves on one side with the french curve. Here I've marked the guideline measurements with a Sharpie so they show up better in the picture. After deciding on the curve and marking it I go back with a box knife and cut lightly down the curve, peel off the cut out, turn it over, and use it as a template to mark the other side.

After that it's off to the band saw to rough cut the curves a little bit shy of the line, then the oscillating spindle sander to true it up. After that I mounted a 1/4" round over bit with guide bearing in the router and routed the edges everywhere except the dado for the fifth wheel. Some sanding and we've got it.

The tongue is done the same way. I just eyeball a curve, cut away some wood, spindle sand, rout, and voila. In the case of the axletree I set the router bit to cut a little deeper. The square edge creates visual interest. For the tongue I backed off on the bit and just rounded the edge over on the front half. That's it.

"But wait, McKenna!" you say, "What the heck are those two square holes that suddenly appeared in the axletree?" Funny you should ask.
Those are the mortises for the hounds and whippletree we're going to use to mount a set of shafts, so we can get some work out of that dog that's just been lying around the house, and eating and getting fat and lazy.

The hounds are tenoned so they can be dismounted to allow us to switch back to the tiller when we want to give fido a turn to ride in the wagon while we pull. Cutting the mortises takes about five minutes with a hollow chisel mortiser, or considerably longer with a drill and chisels. I'll be making the shafts and swingle tree tomorrow, and I'll post the complete instructions for cutting the tenons on the hounds and the measurements. 'Til then...

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