Cylindrical Vessel No. 4

This laundry drum was a long-sought possession.  I craved a barrel-type wooden vessel large enough to hold a fortnight’s tee shirts (or a month’s undergarments).  Three previous buckets were of knotty cedar, which created knotty problems to the hand plane.  Enter advice of a Massachusetts woodworker:  “Use quarter-sawn clear lumber of tight grain”.   Hmmm, makes too much sense.  Guess my Yankee was sun-stroked.

Tail-end of last winter I spied a curbed sideboard waiting for the rubbish hauler.  Figuring I could salvage a drawer or door, the item made it into my truck for dissection and reuse.  The top?  Magic.  Lumber of the tightest grain I thought may be spruce, as it resembled the Bavarian spruce of nicer centenarian violins I’ve restored.

After exhaustive research,  grad students in assistantship, hours on a Cray computer deep within NSA’s 3rd-lowest bunker, we have answers.  The top is pinus strobus.  Yep, treasured old growth eastern white pine.  You do not buy this wood at the supply yard.  By 1920, 99% of all old-growth eastern white pine had been logged out.

The right time arrived.  The sideboard top was laid out, studied for a few days, measured twice, lined out, and porch-cut on the c.1988 ∆ Delta 34-670 10″ 110 lb table saw.  Freehand crosscut into half, twice more, everything ripped to 2 7/16″. All planks had 3/32″ resawn off to remove old paint in two passes each with half-height blade for safety.  With a 10˚ bevel ripped into both edges, cylindrical Vessel No. 4 begins.

These ninths of an arc have been rabbeted to accept an inset base.  Yep, hauled the ∆ Delta to the porch for 15 minutes of 90% humidity cutting.

Gluing the 18 slats sort of corkscrewed.  Became 19+ slats in a peculiar helix design.  I’m blessed in saving the scraps from cutting 10˚ bevels on the staves, as there were three seams which wanted solid filling.  They worked, far better than a glue/sawdust putty would have.

Things got wonky.  The cylinder began moving into a helix, so the rabbeted ledge for the base had to be abandoned. I made that bottom the top and retained part of the rabbet detail in the final.

Nearly all of the wood from the sideboard top was used to make this vessel. It’s got one application of SealCoat on the exterior.  A final buff of 0000.  Another project off of the bucket list.

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