Varnishing Act

The Wood demon menacing Michael courtesy of Jonny

The wood demon can attack any time in the joinery shop; he’s always on my case. After spending days ex-foliating my tool box with block plane, cabinet scraper, 150 grit and 240 grit sandpaper, in a moment of madness I rolled my tool box on it’s back without securing the lid properly. The lid flew open and landed on a plank of wood that was in the vice as a back-stop, and there was a dent in my previously perfectly flat lid; more damage to fix, time to reach for the Brummer yet again.

Brummer covers a multitude of sins

A more subtle way to defeat the wood demon

Fortunately, Jon, Ian and Tim are experts at fixing the damage done by us students. Jon suggested that I soaked the area with water so that the crushed wood in the dent would expand, and sure enough it did. I’m sure they see the reversed mitres, sawn off dovetails, missed saw lines and general messiness time and time again, but it feels like a disaster when it happens. Sometimes we’re not completely to blame; wood twists and warps according to the temperature and humidity, so something that you thought was straight is suddenly warped or has wind in it, you need to work out whether to work with it as it is or force it back into shape. Dealing with the wood demon is a vital skill for boat building, I don’t think he’s going to give up in the near future.

Half a coat of 50:50

Getting my box ready for varnishing went on for days;  I was covered from head to foot in sawdust, fingers dry and split and gasping for the next tea break. “It’s getting there” said Tim at regular intervals. It’s not as if the box is that big; what would it be like to do a whole boat? At last I passed the inspection and was lead upstairs to the varnishing room. It’s warm and there’s no dust; but you have to get the timing right because once you start you’ve got to keep going, so tea breaks come and go as you look on with sticky hands and a precarious state of partial coverage. Across the grain first, then along it, keep moving so that it doesn’t run. Only 2 more coats to go.


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