Monday, January 21, 2013

Julie Wants a Porch, Part 2

A Dance Floor and Rafter Tails

The flooring we decided to use on the porch is a KDAT 3 1/2" tongue and groove material that is very similar in looks to what you may have observed being used on the porches of older Victorian styled homes. The KDAT designation means the material is kiln dried after pressure treating. Being able to use material that is dry, yet treated for rot resistance will be a real advantage given that even though Julie's porch will have a generous overhang it will not be anywhere nearly the size overhang used on the older Victorian houses.

The flooring was available in 12 foot lengths so if we installed it with the length running from the house to the outside edge of the porch there would be no butt joints along the length. However the way the porch was framed would not work with this configuration so we had to install a layer of 3/4" pressure treated plywood in order to install the floor in this manner later in the process.

At this point we had a dance floor at the very least. We also added some Azek trim to further restrict access to the under side of the porch.

The following weekend the weather was not cooperative with working in the out of doors so we utilized this time to create one of the millwork features that would adorn and provide support for the overhang of the porch. This porch would feature exposed rafter tails that would support the overhang and create a nice visual feature and we needed 21 of them.

Luckily I had stored some left over pressure treated 2 x 12s and 2 x 10s under my shop for the last 6 years. (left over from house construction)This material had time to thoroughly air dry and was the perfect material for the rafter tails. The design required that we rip pieces to width and then joint and laminate them face to face. You can see a stack of the glued up and somewhat processed blanks in the picture below.

We made a template of the shape we wanted and used it to layout the blanks and rough the shape out on the bandsaw. We then used the template to guide a large flush trim router bit that would refine the shape.

Even though we still have a few more to make, the picture below shows the fruits of our labor for that weekend.

When we completed all 21 rafter tails we sanded the fuzzy areas and applied 2 good coats of an oil based primer, sanding between coats. There is a lot of end grain exposed on these rafter tails that would require extra protection in the elements and it was easy to apply paint when we could hold them in our hand.

In the next post we go vertical,


"I've found that not giving a damn about meaningless crap makes me a happier person"  Meredith Searcy

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wood Added

A while back there was a post on the blog titled "Just Add Wood". This post is a follow up to show the wood added to a couple of the plane bodies featured in that post.

Early in my plane making career I was having a conversation with my good friend Johnny Kleso. He told me something that has certainly proven to be a fact. Two things that are exactly the same size cannot be put together. In other words if you're trying to fit an infill that measures 2.187 in width into a plane body that has an inside measurement of 2.187 you will never be able to put that infill into that plane body. However if you make the infill 2.1865 to 2.186 it can happen and when it goes in it will be a suction type fit. Once installed it will not move until forced to do so. So all this begs the question, how do you make that happen?

First thing is to create a very accurate plane body. If a great deal of care is taken the worst condition you typically get is a plane body that is slightly smaller at the top as compared to the  dimension at the sole. Typically you can still make the infill dead square and given the shape of the infills the plane sides will expand just slightly as you slide them into place. This makes for a perfect fit and a rather square plane.

I use my milling machine to get my infills close to the final dimension and this also goes a long way to keeping them very square, however when it comes to the final fitting nothing works quite as well as a hand plane. A well set up plane with an extremely sharp iron allows you to work in increments not possible with any other tool.

I had fit the Gabon Ebony infills in the 875 plane pictured above. A weather system containing a lot of moisture and unseasonably high temperatures came  thru our area. Two days later when I attempted to install the rear infill it would not go in. I lightly lapped one side on a piece of 320 grit paper adhered to a surface plate. Total material removal was probably somewhere between 1/2 to 1 thousandth. The rear infill once again went right in with steady pressure. 


“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Julie Wants a Porch (Part 1)

When Julie and I were building our house we stayed the course and put all the details I had designed into each of the respective rooms. As the project was growing long (we moved in 4 years after we started) it would have been easier and faster not to put in the horizontal wainscoting on the living room walls that ties into the window trim and the mantel. It would have been faster and less expensive to have foregone all these details but then our house would not have the look that we had dreamed of during all the years of planning.

One of the last items to be completed before we could move in was the back porch. I spent a lot of time sorting out all the other details of the house but I was at a bit of a loss as to the back porch. I just never could get my head wrapped around an idea for the back porch and with the construction account dwindling we built a plane 8 foot x 20 foot deck. It was close enough to the ground that no hand rails were necessary so a pressure treat timber platform was what we got and we moved in.

That was about 6 years ago. During this time exposure to sun and rain had taken quite a toll on the decking boards. In earlier discussions about the future of the porch Julie had expressed a desire to have a screened porch. She expressed this desire on many occasions so when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas this year she  answered "I want a screened porch". Okay I can take a hint especially when it's that direct.

I set about designing the screened porch.  Fall and Winter were coming so we decided that we would build the porch in two phases. The deck, the columns, roof and flooring would be Phase 1 and in the following spring and early summer Phase 2 would include the actual screening of the walls.

To use the porch as we intended we needed to increase the width by four feet. This meant several large shrubs, including some very over grown forsythia and junipers had to go. The shrubs were incredibly well anchored to the ground and did not go willingly but a nylon strap and a Toyota Tundra helped us accomplish this task. Fortunately we had some friends that wanted the old decking boards so they removed the old boards from the frame.

One other problem we had with the old deck was armadillos. It was open access underneath so one of those critters took up residence and made a burrow against the foundation of the house where it proceeded to dig down all the way to the footing. We had to back fill the burrow and tamp everything back into place.  Settling and shrinking pressure treat lumber make it necessary to reset the grade on the old frame.  Finally we were ready to do some actual building.

In the picture above you can see the contrast between the old framing and the new. We also sistered on end joists to tie everything together. If you look closely at the picture below you will see some heavy duty plastic netting that is nailed to the rim joist and anchored to the ground with rebar. Hopefully this will keep out armadillos and other animals.

More construction details in the next post,


An old saying from India,

Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay then it’s not the end”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Christmas Aftermath

We had a very clean house prior to the kids and grand kids coming home for Christmas. As you might expect with the shear number of people going in and out of our house during this time our clean house was totally trashed and look nothing like the day they arrived. I'm not complaining, in fact I wouldn't have it any other way.

Julie and I delivered the last two to the airport Saturday morning and when we returned home we declared Christmas officially over. It was quiet was actually a little too quiet.

It really seemed that we had been to a week long dinner party. Meals are one of the highlights of the holidays and fortunately our children are "Foodies" and do a lot of the cooking. My son Daniel rose at 5:30 am on Christmas eve in order to start the smoking of two 8 pound briskets. 12 hours later we were in western style barbecue heaven. This was a new Christmas eve meal for us and I'm thinking it may become a tradition.

So now I'm turning my attention to what improvements I would like to make at the Brese Plane shop in the coming year. This is a great time of year for re-assessing. Reviewing operations required to complete planes and making plans to perform work better and more efficiently.

I know you're thinking, here we go again with New Years Resolutions. Actually that is not the case. Every year at this time I decide what operations need improvement and I see them through unlike resolutions that go by the wayside pretty quickly. I'll be starting with some changes to the way I work my irons. New grinder, new grinding wheels and a new set of Shapton Pro water stones.

I've set a pretty ambitious schedule for myself from now till the HandWorks show in Iowa this spring. It will be here quicker than you think. I hope to see your there.


"Here's to a new year. Giving our old habits a fresh start!"    Meredith Searcy