Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cannon Wood, et al...

Ok, ok, don’t want to PO all the woodworkers out there, but damn, that stuff is nasty. Splinters, knots, splits, glue- the stuff is bad. Gimme steel any day- screw it up? Weld it up. Bad thread? Helicoil. Wrong shape? Heat it & beat it.

So- while cannon carriages are traditionally made of oak, & knowing my limitations, I opted to make the first try out of pine. I figgered when I fluged it up, the $$$ & time loss would be minimal. Pine is a lot softer, so easier to work with, also speeding up completion.
BTW, this was in early June of 2001, & I wanted to have her ready to go on the Fourth- seemed only fitting as a birthday.

With much trepidation, I began the work. I used everything from a chainsaw to a friend’s planer to make it happen. Thanks to my friend Dan, who DOES like wood, we got the carriage looking like it belonged on a cannon. A few coats of deck paint, & damn- it just might work!
Still missing from the cannon were all the small parts & hardware. Time to fire up the forge.

A side note on the forge. Anyone reading this will probably get a mental picture of the country blacksmith, leather aproned, under the spreading chestnut tree as it were, with a carefully fabricated forge & hand cranked or leather bellows.

Lose that thought- while the anvil is indeed from the 19th century, I constructed the forge from an old truck brake drum, scrap piping, some PVC pipe for air intake, a corned beef hash can (really), & an ELECTRIC SQUIRREL CAGE BLOWER! This thing is a real piece of work, but hey- it makes the steel red, & will even weld if'n I keep her hot!

Using scrap steel scavenged from our "recycling center" (read, dump) & the local scrapyard, I fashioned all the straps, hooks, hangers, handles, & plates on the anvil. For the screws, I bought regular hex head lag bolts, heated the heads, & pounded them into square drive units more appropriate for the era.

Phew, I was hustling now to make the deadline- many late nights in the garage breathing coal fumes. Coal fumes give the BEST headache ever.

MMMmmm… coal fumes…

NEXT: Boom?

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