All you have to do is touch the wood to understand why: it feels waxy to the touch. Unlike any wood I've ever seen.
However, I'd read gloom-and-doomster accounts saying it was so hard that it would blunt sawblades in an instant, and turn aside chisels with scorn. Would I be able to cut and shape it with ordinary tools?
|Block and enough Lignum Vitae for 7 or 8 sheaves|
|Ready for shaping|
Then it was time to shape it from a square block into a round sheave.
Again, I used the method found in the Duckworks tutorial to turn the sheaves in my drill press. It took some patience to work it down, but the results were nothing short of spectacular.
|Perfectly fitting sheave|
I have given up on trying to use oil as a finish on anything used outside the cabin. Even the best Scandinavian oil is only good for a week or two. Fine if you have a hired hand to oil all your blocks ever week. Not so good for normal boat owners. The only realistic finish is paint or varnish.
Since I truly believe there isn't enough varnish in the world, I obviously decided to use varnish.
Varnishing is dead easy, the only problem being speed: you have to count on a day for every coat of varnish. This is a bit inconvenient if you are making them one at a time, but once you have your prototype done, you could easily do a dozen at a time.
Anyway, you certainly don't want to take two days per coat, so you must find a way to varnish both sides of the block at once. The easiest way to do this is to hang them.
Here's the finished Mark IV block, next to the Mark II block. Quite an evolution.
|The finished block (top) next to the Mark II block (embarrassing!)|
Since starting this set of posts, I've gotten a dozen requests for a longer, more detailed tutorial. A real 'how-to', if you will.
I've always considered this a 'how-not-to' blog, thinking I had more to show by showing my mistakes, rather than posing as an 'expert', but if there is enough interest, and if I reach the point that I feel like I've mastered the making of these blocks, it might be fun to share in detail.
If you'd be interested in a detailed tutorial, please drop me an email or leave your vote in the comments section.
Next Up: Vixen's Voyage