Wood and the working of it not being my forte, what does the group
recommend as suitable timber for a trolley?
In other words, when I pop along to B&Q, what simple formula can I use
to buy a length of wood that will lend itself to the construction of
(probably) a durable wheelbarrow-like trolley for my Lister D?
Reading through previous postings here I note a number of strategies
for building trolleys but no mention of wood types (but that's probably
because it's taken as read that no-one can be so stupid that they don't
know what wood to buy -- I'm the exception that proves...etc.)
And -- changing the topic completely! -- any interesting
stories/sightings/purchases from/at Enstone? I was unable to go. As
well as an abiding interest in engines I'm also a musician on the side
and had gigs (unusually)both Friday and Saturday night. At my age, my
constitution demands that I involve myself in one activity at a time...
Mainly "What You've Got", or its cousin "What You Can Get Cheaply"
The basic rule of buying timber is that it's fairly cheap, and if it
isn't then you're in the wrong shop. I can get top-quality cabinetry
timber far cheaper from my favourite suppliers than I can cheap rubbish
from a DIY shed. So shop around!
Ash is probably the best all round. Cheapish too, as you can find
squares cut from small trees much more cheaply than furniture-grade
boards from big trees.
Oak looks nice and has a sense of tradition to it. It will show iron
stain though and it's heavy and tough stuff to work, so I'd avoid it.
Softwoods are less good as they tend to be softer, and that makes it
hard to get a good bolted location that won't work loose over time.
Where you use bolts, then counterbore your holes a little and use great
big washers. Certainly never put a non-round head against bare wood -
it looks awful. Remember that timber shrinks across both grain axes but
not lengthwise, so don't use long steel tie bolts unless they're along
lengthwise timber (i.e. ladder rungs).
If you are using softwoods, then this is fine and it'll work -- but
choose your species carefully. "Red deal" (usually a pine or fir) is
going to work better than the "whitewood" (usually hemlock or spruce),
if you're stuck with builders' merchants rather than a timberyard. Also
pick out the tightest grown stock you can find (narrow rings) and
arrange bolted compression loads so that they're radial through the
rings, not parallel to them. Given a choice, Douglas Fir is common,
workable and cheap (=A316 / cube foot).
As to joinery, the typical trolley design is a ladder made with big
mortice and tenon joints, then the ironwork bolted on with vertical
bolts. Tenons should be cut with two shoulders not four (i.e. full
width in one direction). A pair of smaller tenons (in a deep
cross-piece) is stronger and much stiffer than a single large tenon.
Tenons should also be wedged from outside to lock them, but arranged so
that the wedges act along the grain of the mortice, rather than trying
to split that timber. Don't try to peg or draw-bore tenons in this
size. Arrange the rings horizontally, to resist the bolt clamping
Andy, thanks for that, obviously you know your stuff...
...but tenons, draw-bored or pegged?! I'm hard-pressed to bang in a
nail that remains true -- yes, *that* stupid, I'm afraid, where wood is
Why? Because (fingers in ears woodworkers) I don't like the stuff.
'Course, I can readily see the merit in someone else's
beautifully-worked wood, and appreciate the skill and joy that goes
into every lovingly crafted joint, but for me wood is to metal what
chess is to draughts: there's nothing to suggest superiority in either
yet there's the faint astringent whiff of IQ quotients about chess and
the nod-and-wink of (ahem) 'real' skill in woodwork.
Blimey, I'm new here and hope I haven't upset anyone with this post. My
own opinion only, obviously. (And you can bet I'm really just looking
on, green with envy!)
I do appreciate your advice however and will certainly look out for
tight rings when I'm next at a DIY superstore...
No big deal - mortice and tenons are amenable to knife-and-fork
carpentry. After all, I was telling you _not_ to peg them!
Cut your mortices first, because they're the harder part to get
accurate. For "trolley size" timber then they'll be two rectangular
mortices roughly 1/5th height of the cross rail timber and the full
width of it. Put two of them vertically above each other and a bit
further apart than each is high. Cut them with a chisel (hard), having
first removed much of the timber with a big drill. Make as accurate a
square hole as you can, but perpendicular sides matter more than
accurate size and size across the tenon thickness matters much more
than size across where you're yet to fit the tenons.
Then make the tenons to fit. Make each one fit its own mortice, which
is easier than trying to keep them identical! They should assemble
with a good shove, not a mallet. As you can problem saw these more
accurately square than you can cut mortices, I suggest adjusting the
mortice where needed to get the fit perfect.
Then saw vertical slots through the tenon ends, such that after
hammering a wedge in (after final assembly!) you'll tend to stretch the
frame lengthwise (i.e. not splitting the mortice grain). If you can't
make neat shallow tapered wedges, then just make parallel ones and
chamfer the ends so they'll go in. Drive the wedges with a hammer, not
a mallet, and leave them long enough to trim neatly.
Finish (IMHO) with Danish Oil (Screwfix, cheap) or your favoured
I do metal too 8-)
Now that's just showing off!
Loved the toast case...
Seriously, thanks for that. Excellent stuff for budding builders like
me. Just seems that however much I measure, examine and carefully
handle, wood never quite goes together how I imagine it should.
Personally, I like blind mortice pockets.
Cut the tenon so it is (say) 1/4" shorter than it would be if it went right
through the timber. Bore holes for the pocket with a drill marked with tape
to stop 1/2" above the outer surface. Join up the dots with a SHARP chisel,
clearing the bottom of the pocket to retain 1/4" of material. I like a light
wriggle fit on tenons.
Make a good, clean wedge to fit in the slot cut in the tenon, coat with a
GOOD waterproof glue and drive into place with the face supported on a flat
surface so it doesn't split out. Needless to say, it is a one shot wonder
Try to avoid criss-crossing timbers, thus raising the heavy bit far from the
centre of gravity. The things are dangerous enough to handle alone as it is.
Andy is right - ash for me everytime, although I have just helped build a
wooden framed structure involving over 1,000 cu/feet of oak!
J. Kim Siddorn,
J. Kim Siddorn,
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