During the week I found that the thicknesser was really struggling to mill more than a millimetre at a time on the 90 mm face of the timbers.
I was concerned that I had damaged the motor (I had an incident about 2 months ago where I accidentally stalled the motor at 10% of revs for about 8 seconds).
I rang up the very helpful owner at Timbecon to ask if it was still possible to buy replacement motors for the ML392.
He told me he was confident that the problem was that the blades needed sharpening.
On Wednesday I plucked up my courage and did a blade swap (I have two other sets in reserve)
I used a magnetic jig that I purchased recently and the process was surprisingly painless.
After this I was amazed at the improvement - instead of agressively pulling down the revs of the motor, the thicknessing process raised just a whisper as the sharp blades effortlessly shaved away the wood.
However, after processing a further 12 sticks I found that the beautiful, effortless action was starting to revert a little to a more laboured process.
Judging from what I have been told, and my experience so far, I am estimating that I will need to sharpen the blades about 20 times while building the two levels of stud frames.
At about $35 each this comes out to $700.
Carbatec has a blade sharpener using a horizontal aluminium abrasive disk, a jig system and a manual traverse.
This costs $339 and may well be worth considering.
The opinion on the wood working forums was mixed as to whether you should attempt to sharpen your own blades.
It looks like the main danger is grinding different amounts off each blade causing the head to fly apart.
The first job of the morning was to fix the cheap wooden horses that I stack short timbers on (underneath) and painted stud timbers on (above).
I had been walking past this for a few days noticing that one of the cross pieces had come away.
I don't want my nicely milled timber to become bowed so I took action and sorted it out.
While I was at it I sorted all the short timbers by size.
Then up to 14:00 I thicknessed the remainder of the 18 stud timbers.
I was lucky enough to find Tony M was available for grading my timber.
I spent the rest of the day loading the studs up (including short studs from before) visiting Tony, sorting through the lengths, and marking them up as "S"tuds, "S"hort "S"tuds, "N"oggings and "F"ire"W"ood.
Back home I pulled 8 good studs of the utility, laid them out on the horses and painted two sides of them.
I ended up unloading the remaining pieces in the dark.
First off I painted the remaining two sides of the 8 good studs.
Next I worked through all the marked up timbers and cut out any "bad" pieces as firewood.
Finally I sorted and stacked all the short pieces under the horses.
Out of the 18 studs I prepared, 14 are usable as studs.
This gives me 8 studs for the first frame but only 6 for the second.
Fortunately I have extra from previous work.
Also while stacking the timber I found that I had a full length piece that was only 80 x 45 mm.
I can use this as the "return" stud - ie the stud that is used at the junction of two right angle walls to provide an attachment surface for the wall cladding.
So the good news is that I do not need to have another milling session before I can build the next two studs.
I gave the work area a good vacuum and clean up before going any further.
Next I calculated the positioning of the studs along the top and plates, temporarily joined them together and marked up each trench position.
At this point I had to stop as I had work to do for a client that evening.
During the week I am hoping to complete a frame so that I can install next Saturday.
I need to investigate the work surface of my old DeWalt radial arm saw.
When I trench with the dado saw I am getting very inconsistent depths (varying by up to 3 mm).
I am working as carefully as I can with it but the variation means that I have to custom fit each stud to ensure a final outcome of 2750 mm total frame height.
I spent spare moments of Wednesday laying out the frame and cutting the studs to length.
I numbered every piece so that I could lay them out in the same arrangement once I moved up to the workshop area.
I have to assemble the stud frame up near the workshop or else I would not be able to move it out on to the trailer.
The verandas around the house are two narrow, even if I tilt it up at 45 degrees.
I spent every break today using a framing gun to put the frame together.
Some places need drilling and hand nailing - the short fillin pieces for fixing to a return stud and the noggings.
I just managed to finish as darkness fell.
Tomorrow I need to install the strap bracing and tensioners if I am to have any chance of installing on Saturday.