Turning the Corner: Summer Projects
By Temple Blackwood

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Turning the Corner focuses on using woodturning on the lathe as a way of enhancing cabinetry, furniture designs, and architectural installations. Each article also suggests an important woodworking book to read, reread or listen to, and a link to an appropriate article in The Highland Woodturner. Along the way, these articles seek to inspire woodworkers (cabinetmakers, carpenters, and housewrights) to extend their skills into basic, novice, and advanced woodturning while discovering for themselves this particularly sensual and spiritually rewarding dimension of working with wood.

This year’s summer adventure began with a desire to replace a seriously dilapidated aluminum and plastic greenhouse that we had acquired used to store our various hoses, fuel cans, and outdoor equipment with a larger, more attractive post and beam storage shed that could partially function as a late-spring garden plant starter. Mid-summer provided a time and working from a PT 4” X 6” X 12’ beam perimeter foundation and the collection of collected hemlock posts, the new shed emerged fairly quickly. Design/build with only myself to manage, I enjoyed working outside in the sunny days at my own speed and the freedom to adapt my build as I had new ideas about what I wanted to accomplish. From experience, the roof and upper sides clear “Sun-Tuff” panels are exceptionally durable, manageable, and quick. The board ‘n batten siding is typical of my shop and works well in our climate.

The most intriguing challenge was to create a pair of rolling doors (avoiding having to clear snow or manage the stresses of having wide free-swinging doors) that could open to a full 7’ width infrequently,

to a narrower 5’ width more frequently,

to an often-open 3’ width, as well as fully close.

Working with my friend David, a maritime engineer and architect, I designed a pair of roller doors similar to a single door we made several years ago for an indoor facility at our local museum’s boat shop. While David did the heavy lifting with his pencils and rulers, I worked on the manufacturing side of the track, supporting hangers, and rollers, all in red oak.

Not unexpectedly, I worked ahead of David, and we were both delighted when our designs ended up essentially the same plan, each with slight variations the other could admire. The roller track was quickly shaped using a spokeshave which provided the spacing and design of the sheave. On that first door at the museum, we had used a wooden pin to provide the sheave’s axel, but this time, respecting the outdoor setting, I decided to use a bolt with a trapped brass bushing for the axel to avoid swelling and binding that might occur. I will add that along with a generous eve on the building, the front roof protrudes about 14” in front of the gable offering further protection to the doors.

With the oak rail mounted and the doors hung by their rollers, the final trick was to create a “stop” for each door as they meet in the center as well as when they are fully opened. With the astragal mounted on the right-hand door, the prevailing winds from the front/right are less likely to peel the doors from their mounts.

Spacing the outside hanger/roller properly allows each door to exceed the width of the building when necessary (I have a mower-deck to store that is 6' 6" wide).

But most of the time, particularly in summer when the sun’s heat will need to be vented through open doors to a panel that opens at the rear, either one door open or both doors open to the side of the building will be adequate.

All in all, the project turned out well. The doors work beautifully. The new garden shed turns out to be a terrific place to work on various smaller projects that are better suited for working remotely from the shop.

I anticipate that the winter sun will warm it nicely during the few hours we see it, and I have the satisfaction of accomplishing all of my door-opening goals at the price of two stainless steel bolts and two bushings. The red oak came from my drying pile and will probably provide the materials for whatever latch I might decide to add later.

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Located in Castine, Maine, Highlands Woodturning gallery and shop offers woodturning classes and shop time, a gallery of woodturned art, custom woodturning for repairs, renovations, and architectural installations. You can email Temple at temple@highlandswoodturning.com. Take a look at Temple's Website at http://www.highlandswoodturning.com/

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