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Oh dear.  The old sack barrow stripped of its metalwork.

I don’t remember when or where we got it, but hanging out in the garden for years we’ve had an old sack barrow, made from timber with a forged frame. It was worm ridden when we got it, but I’ve always had my eye on it. One day, I said to myself, I will bring you back to life.

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Brought back to life!

Having had an epic day tidying the timber pile, sorting through and reminding myself of the contents, and having ‘spring cleaned’ the workshop, my gaze fell on the sad remains of this antiquated object.

“Perhaps we can stick it in a corner and train sweet peas up it?” was Martine’s suggestion.

I don’t think so. My journey though the wood pile had revealed a board of oak that had straight grain except for, at the end, a curve around a shallow knot, which was exactly the right shape for the handles. It was providence talking to me. It had to be done.

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A bit of luck, straight grain and then exactly the required curve at the end

I stripped off the old metalwork. Everything was sound except the wheels. I happened to have some spare pneumatic types in the shed, although the axle bore was 20mm, rather than the chunky 1” axle on the old ones. Various thoughts occurred to me about that, possibly making a new axle, or swaging down the old one on the forge to 20mm. But I didn’t really want to change the old one. I really liked the way the square section had been housed into the wooden frame and through bolted to the carrying fitting. Good design. So I decided not to think about that yet. Something would turn up.

Having ripped up the board and planed the pieces, I located the curved grain I would be using for the handles and worked from there. I clamped the pieces together and marked the cross strut locations on both at once. Then to get the angle of spread I screwed the metal frame to the stiles.

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The old version had through mortised stiles and wedged tenons. But the cross struts had no shoulders. This did not make sense, because the frame would be held in compression with the steel tie bars, so properly the struts should have decent shoulders.

To mark the joint locations I laid the stiles on the cross struts, aligning them with the marks on the stiles and checking the angle was the same each side. Then I scribed the stiles onto each cross strut, and the cross struts onto the stiles.

Because of the spread of the handles, the mortises were obviously angled. These I marked in the usual way with a mortise gauge. I always knife in the ends of the mortises to provide a register for the chisel. I removed the waste on the drill press being careful to leave a margin to avoid the hidden undercut. Then it was chisels to cut to the lines.

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I like to cut tenons by knifing in the shoulders first and cutting out a V groove with a chisel for the saw to slide in. This method is very quick, and so accurate that I rarely find any tuning of the shoulders to be necessary.  I have found that for this to work really well, the knife cut must be perfectly vertical.  If it is inclined the cut does not provide an accurate enough surface.

20170414_154929_New Quay Court20170414_154938_New Quay CourtTo work the handles I drew a ‘progressive’ template on hardboard. I needed to take the knot out, so I drew a curve that did that, cut it out of the template and drew it on the stock. I removed the waste with cross cuts, a gouge and a spokeshave. Once I had a fair curve, I drew in the other side of the handle on the template and cut that out. Then I copied that to the stock and cut out. This all looked good, so I faired up the end on the template and copied that to the stock. Once that was looking good, I flipped the template over and drew it on the other handle and cut to the lines. Then it was smoothing up and rounding over until it felt good.

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Go on, you really want to grab it.

My new tyres were a little bigger than the old ones so I adjusted the size of the timber axle bearers to suit. I fastened these using big screws, predrilling the clearance holes and screw head hole on the drill press. Later they would be drilled for bolts to hold the axle, but I could not do this until I had located and housed it.

Before going further I decided I would clean everything up and put in the finishing touches. I used a trimmer with a chamfer bit, held in the vice, to cut the stopped chamfers on the cross struts. Then I went around the whole frame with a 1/8” round over bit to take off the sharp edges.

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Stopped chamfers thin down the appearance in the middle, but leave a sense of solidity at the ends.

I always clean up with a cabinet scraper. It’s much faster than sanding, and leaves a fine finish. It is really worth learning how to sharpen these quickly. The cabinet scraper is one of the most useful tools – if it is sharp.

The tie bars were in 12mm hot rolled steel. I turned the ends of these down to 10mm on the lathe and cut threads on them. The holes had to be drilled carefully because they are angled relative to the stiles, and the rod has to fit through both exactly. After inserting the ties and pulling it all up tight, I cut off the protruding tenons flush with the handles.

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With my thoughts on the lathe, it occurred to me that I could deal with the discrepancy between the 1” axle and the 20mm wheel bore, by knocking out the wheel bearings and making some delrin ‘top hat’ bushes to fit the hub. So I turned those on the lathe to a nice driving fit.

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Housings cut.  The white delrin bushes are visible in the hub.

I located the axle on the chocks and scribed the edges of the housings, cutting them out with a tenon saw and chisel.

When I knocked the axle into place that gave me my hole location. The other side was an existing hole on the metal frame. So some careful drilling from both sides gave me an 8mm hole to take a long coach bolt.

The rest was just a final sand over and a coat of tung oil!

One rather nice thing about this project is that it was entirely made from stuff I already had lying around.

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New and old!

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