Island Workshop Day 6

Built a reclaimed fir boardwalk at the front of the shop, installed the leg vise and post drill, and built the charcoal retort, beta version.

Day 8 of the secret island workshop set up.

Under the Boardwalk

I picked up some reclaimed tongue and groove fir from my favorite demolition experts while I was waiting for the steel pipe for the charcoal retort. It is 2×6″ and beautifully aged, water-stained, and distressed. There is a low spot in front of the shop that becomes somewhat of a seasonal creek with heavy traffic and increased rain so I built a little boardwalk out from the shop a few feet over the grass and mud.

It is framed on cedar floating on cedar blocks and begins from a foot or so into the shop. I will leave the rest of the floor in as-found earth for now but may need to add some clay and sand if it dries too crumbly…if it dries. Part of the wood floor extends up to the forge on one side so that shorter ‘smiths may use the small anvil from the other side of the standard-height block.

The boardwalk is a rounded freeform shape, I did not cut any of the fir, just fit them to the space as I went. The effect is a very natural and welcoming extension that glows gold at night and makes a nice layout area for preparing or finishing projects.

Miami Vise

I attached my old post vise or leg vise to the wall so it is ready to use. It is still mounted to the original wooden stand I have used since 1992. In addition to very sturdy construction, a post vise has an iron leg that goes straight to the floor under the rear jaw. This transfers the energy of hammer blows to the floor instead of breaking out the bolts mounting it to the bench.

The long handle allows you to really clamp hard on a piece of iron, and the smooth jaws do not mar the soft, hot iron. A post vise should be mounted at the height of a ‘smith’s elbow for operations such as filing and bending.

All Driller, No Thriller

I have owned a turn of the (previous) century post drill since day one, converted to electrical power, but have never set it up due to lack of space and one cracked off counterweight on the cam that is critical to its feed function.

I picked up another very similar one, minus the electrical conversion, at a garage sale recently and it has all the parts except the cast iron fork that mounts on the post and holds the work has a missing clamp ear. I attached the drill to the wall next to the vise and will need to degrease it and come up with a work support of some type in the near future.

“Charcoal!”, he retorted.

There are a few loose ends to tie up in the shop set up, but since it is pretty much operational, I am going to make this the last set up post for now and go ahead with charcoal production so I can get the fire going soon.

This is my first foray into high-tech low-tech charcoal production but I am stoked to try it out. I picked up a steel drum along with a 6″ diameter steel pipe about the same length as the barrel is high, intending to build my own version of some of the retorts I have seen online…

Read the whole post here:

…and all the charcoal experiments here: