Wednesday, December 29, 2010
This is by using a Stanley #71 Router plane. That's right, this is one router you don't have to plug in! This model dates somewhere in the 40's and I really enjoy working with it. The trick was to take a scrap piece of wood that is the same thickness as what you're working on to support both sides of the plane. This method insures that the cheek will be even, sometimes a chisel will cut a slight angle so this gives more control. This also gives a good view of the haunch cut on the end of the tenon. Here's another view of it:
The purpose of a haunch is to prevent the piece from twisting. I created the groove on the inside of these pieces with a dado head on the tablesaw. This is where the Maple panel will float in. You can see how the tenon was notched so that only a small portion of it goes to the top of the piece. It's a pretty common method of making a frame and panel piece. In retrospect, I probably should have made two tenons as they are pretty wide but I think it'll work out fine.
Another thing I realized today is that Alder, although classified as a hardwood, is pretty soft. Trimming with chisels proved that so I'll have to hone them well before starting the dovetails for the drawers. It's funny that a soft wood is harder to cut than a hardwood -- seems kind of backwards! In practice chisel work on softer woods like Alder or Pine is more difficult because the wood fibers will "smush" rather than cut cleanly unless the chisel is extremely sharp. Anxious to see how the Bloodwood works, that's where the half blind dovetail pins come in, the tails will be the Alder and sides of the drawers.
Keep learning and keep your chisel sharp!!
Monday, December 27, 2010
In many traditionally built pieces the back is made of solid wood, contemporary design has us making backs from plywood where you don't have to worry about contraction and expansion of the wood across the grain with changes in the humidity. I had a short length of 8/4 Maple which I re-sawed and turned into several pieces measuring 3/8" thick and about 3" wide. Here's the pictorial sequence of how I formed tongue and groove joints on these to turn them into my floating panel for the back of the chest.
Next I set up a 3/8" rabbet bit and cut the opposite side of each board to create the tongue. I used that new fence I mentioned in a previous blog and am happy to report it sucked up about 90% of the sawdust -- nice improvement!
Here are the boards when they're assembled. More than enough to span the panel that will make up the back of the chest.
Although I have made a general sketch of this chest, much of it is being designed "on the fly". If this were a commission I wouldn't have so much leeway. Also, since I'm using leftover lumber that dictates my sizes too. Tomorrow will be spent making the side panels. They will be made out of the only wood I purchased, Alder, and have maple panels.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
In the meantime,here is a shot of the last series of picture frames that are now hung in the dining room:
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This is essentially a hollow box with a hardwood cleat (between fence and box) that has holes in it so that the clamps attach it to the tablesaw fence. I drilled a hole to at the end to attach the shop vacs hose. As we woodworkers tend to do I modified it somewhat by cutting a semi-circle in both the top and bottom pieces for the bit. The purpose is so that I can use this on either side of the fence and still keep the vacuum hose at the rear. Depending on the bit and my feed direction, the auxiliary fence may need to placed on either side of the tablesaw fence. I also added a baffle inside to hep channel the dust into the hose -- worked well, even when cutting all of the flutes on the panel faces!
Things are going nicely on the picture frames. Many, many steps are required to make the 12 sides that are needed to create the 3 frames. I'm making two extra pieces just in case. It's funny how that works, if I make extra parts I never seem to need them but if I don't, then I screw something up -- cheap insurance I guess! Anyway, here's how things are looking now:
The pieces on the left are the panels. Besides cutting to correct size each one needed to have the outer edge shaped and the tongue cut on the opposite edge, this was done on the shaper. Then each needed their 3 flutes cut with the router table that I mentioned above. The pieces on the right will become the sight edge. These had the bead formed on the shaper, a groove for the tongue of the panel, and finally the rabbet was cut for the painting to sit into. Next up is sanding the flutes, planing the faces and then gluing them together as shown in the middle. Let's see, miter, biscuit, glue, clamp, dye, shellac ......... hmm, should be done in a week or two.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As I did my research I remembered talking with Peter Werkhoven at the West Coast Framing show last year. Like me, he's a Dutchman so who better to ask for advice! He has his shop in San Francisco, click on this link to go to his website. In any case, he suggested India Ink to blacken the wood followed by French polishing final coats of shellac. Sounded great to me so here's what my sample mold looks like:
To get the ebony color I used aniline dye (JE Moser) which is something I've always wanted to experiment with. For this mix I used 1 oz. dye, 2 oz. denatured alcohol, and then 6 oz. distilled water. Two applications of the dye with a foam brush a couple of hours apart, wiped dry, and then allowed to dry overnight. I used shellac, a Jathwa button mix, to bring out the color and add a warm amber cast to the piece. This was padded on but next time I think I'll use an airbrush to seal the dye first, followed by the French polishing technique. I had some color transfer on the pad which was more pronounced on the first couple of coats. This may or may not be a problem. In any case, I padded on at least 7 coats and I like the way the planed surfaces have more sheen than the routed grooves. It's finished off with Liberon wax, love the smell and sheen it provides.
Was it successful? well according to my best client/wife it must be because she requested 3, 12" square ones just like the sample for her current Square Foot of Art Series!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Speaking of frames, after the Thanksgiving holiday I have a couple of goals lined up. We have a whole bunch of frames that I've carved, designed, and/or gilded. Some of them were created specifically for a painting of Diane's which may have been sold unframed through a gallery. Others were exercises in techniques. In any case, they do take up a lot of space so the plan is to open an Etsy store to sell them at a decent price. Monies will be used to purchase materials to make more frames, buy carving tools, gilding material, and whatever else. Seems as if the more we do, the more we want to improve our craft and this is a means to free up space and purchase more materials. Anyone interested in some frames? I'll put it on my blog as soon as I open the Etsy store.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Currently I'm working on a set of three picture frames for Diane. She has a new series called "A Square Foot of Art" which is a series of 3 separate paintings. I've designed a frame for the first three. Obviously, they are 12" x 12" and the molding I've made is about 3" wide. Here is a shot of the work in progress:
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The other thing occurred by accident. To help me see better when I carve I bought a really nice light from Lamps Plus. It's an LED and gives out a pretty intense light and the color hue can actually be adjusted. I was ready to take a break but forgot to turn off this light at the carving. When I turned off the main light I saw I forgot so went to shut it off. That's when I noticed how the shadows and grain on the frame were much more distinct with the LED light only. Let me illustrate with these pictures:
Notice how distinct the grain of the wood shows up when the main light was turned off? Every little facet shows, see what I mean about the grain being pretty wild in the center? This will be a good challenge and learning (hopefully) experience.
|Main Light Off|
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I was inspired by a picture I saw of an art nouveau, Taos style frame created by Frederick Loeser. The size of that frame is 55" x 48" while the frame I'm doing is only 9" x 12" so things needed to be scaled down a lot! I started with a piece of 8/4 Walnut and decided to use the edge grain for my face grain. The pieces I cut off were just under an inch thick and 1 3/4" wide. Here's the first photograph of this project:
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Earlier I'd mentioned that I have a couple of projects in the works. One of them are the two frames I'm currently gilding and one of those is just about complete. The other I'll try to improve what I did on this first one -- it's a definite work in progress this business of gilding. The other is the box to hold my cabinet scrapers, files, burnishers, etc. Here's how it looks at this time:
|Scraper Box in Progress|
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Character limit per line: 30
Pros: Work in restricted space, Works Effectively
Best Uses: Small detailed carvings
Describe Yourself: Professional
Primary use: Personal
I found these very useful for the small areas that are carved into my picture frames. The "dog leg" design keeps the handle out of the way and allows you to cut to your design or stop cut. They make a strange sound as you cut because of flex in the shaft where it makes the "dog leg". My designs are low relief but these chisels could reach down into a pretty deep space. A little tricky to sharpen but I'm pleased with the set.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
|Carved Lid for Tool Box|
It's made of materials I had left over in the shop and it's the finger jointed, Oak box that you see in the background. The lid slides in and is made of Cherry that has been resawn and turned into a book matched panel. The image is of Ali, my buddy -- she's an Oriental Shorthair and this is how she spends much of her day, splayed out on top of the couch watching over the house. She's a really cool cat but like my father in law says: "jeez, don't get him started on that d#%&* cat!". Suffice to say she's truly captured my heart and made me her chosen one.
The other thing I want to experiment on with this box is a finish I've read about that is better suited for dining tables. Less maintenance than the finish I've always used. Basically it's several coats of polyurethane brushed on, then lightly sanded and followed by hand wiping gel polyurethane onto the surface. Although I stay away from surface coatings and prefer to hand rub in oil and my own top coat concoction this should stand up better to a surface like a dining table that is subject to spills. Time will tell and I'll share the results.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
|3/4 View showing the grid and footrest|
|Head on View|
Saturday, September 18, 2010
After gluing the blank together you need to drill and tap holes for the adjustment screws to thread into the wood. Obviously, these must be perfectly square and aligned to the body. The kit even supplied the tap needed. In this first picture, the holes are drilled and taped and I'm preparing to cut out the angled section for the ware. The tape was to see the line better, I made a series of cuts with the dovetail saw which were then chiseled out.
|Cutting the Ware|
|Blade recessed into the Body|
|Wear Strip Installed|
|Pattern in place, ready for the Bandsaw|
|Rounding over the Edge|
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
In a recent newsletter from Fine Woodworking they talked about how computer controlled woodworking is coming to the small home and professional shop. Just like any other technology the price has come way down. This opened a discussion as to whether or not we (fine woodworkers) would embrace it or say that it belongs in manufacturing only. Several had put their two cents in and I'm still deciding if I want to or not. Technology is pretty much about doing things faster, repetitively, and accurately -- bottom line for me is GREED! One person made the point that if we can produce things quicker we are also using our natural resources up quicker which really goes against the whole green movement. My personal feelings are that the process of designing and making "stuff" is what brings satisfaction. Saying that though, I also realize that to make money you need speed and efficiency and technology can give that to you.
The other thing that happened is that a couple of my neighbors came over and asked how long I've been working on the stools. In spite of the movement limitations caused by the knee surgery I told them about 40 hours. Now that's quite a while, especially to the 20 somethings who are accustomed to the microwave society and instant everything. They did admire the work though.
Here's a little photo essay to help illustrate some of the process. I'm currently fitting the curved backs to the square uprights of the stool.
|Dovetail Saw and Flush Saw used to cut an angled notch.|
|Back is carefully laid out and notch is pared to match the curve|
of the back using spokeshave and chisel. Tape is used to locate
the center of the back in stool.
Friday, September 3, 2010
|Seat Back Lamination Jig|
Each back consists of 4 pieces, in spite of the swollen knee and foot I was able to stand for the time it took to glue them up early this week when the weather was so cool in the morning. Temperature makes a difference in how much open time you have with the Plastic Resorcinol Glue. The process is to use a small roller, apply glue to both sides of each piece (except for the front/back), sandwich them together, wrap them in wax paper, and stick them into the form. The biggest improvement on this jig is being able to get clamping pressure on the bottom of it. This was accomplished with the holes in the male portion and the deep F-clamps. Once the pieces are in the form I lay the 2 bar clamps across the top and start to bring them together. Under the F-clamp in the center is a center line I use to keep things lined up. I've found that it's best to start from the center and then work out to the outsides. They all need to be tight but you have to keep in mind that they also slide against each other as they're forced into the curvature. Once everything is tightened in sequence I let it dry at least 24 hours, no sense rushing it.
Both of the backs are done and one edge has been scraped of glue and hand planed square. My next step is to bring the other side parallel on the tablesaw but I'm afraid I don't have the stability in my leg yet to operate the saw safely. Sure am glad my client hasn't put a deadline on this project. Bending wood is a cool process. As you can tell though, it's not a quick and easy one, hey; if it was easy everybody would do it!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The composition ornamentation really shows how dimensional it is in this view. Some of the largest work I've done but so much easier and quicker than hand carving all of this detail. Adam and I installed the television as well and the mechanism from Nexus is a quiet, smooth operating piece of equipment. When we first tried the swivel action, it seemed to stop at about 95 degrees -- not a good thing. Ron decided to give just a bit more effort and in spite of making some strange noises the unit swiveled like it was supposed to. After that I remembered reading in the manual that the first swivel or two may be difficult as the bearings need to set in.
All in all, this was a good project, one I'm glad to have taken on and completed.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Diane snapped a number of pictures and when we returned home this is one she began on. You're looking out of a window but the ship is a model, perhaps of one that is still to be built. The shop itself oozed character, open framed walls, rough cut studs, pots and containers of who knows what, things hanging off nails stuck into the wall, and of course the tools set on any available surface. Here's what the painting looks like:
Monday, August 23, 2010
The next step is to glue up the laminations for the back. All of the pieces are ready to go, I just need to have the weather cooperate. Each back consists of 4 pieces, 3/32" thick so that means 6 surfaces that measure about 3" x 28" that need to have glue applied, wrapped in wax paper, and put into the form all before it starts to set! Laminating requires resorcinol glue which needs to be mixed fresh before glue up. I'm thinking of maybe covering the island in the kitchen, throwing down some drop clothes, and doing the glue up in the house. Betcha I can talk Diane into it, heck I know she'd help me if I need it. I always get somewhat stressed during glue ups anyway.
Let me share a construction detail with you. This is what I did on the bottom of each leg, a very slight chamfer that serves two purposes. First off I think it adds a small detail and makes it appear as if the stool is "floating", then, from a construction stand point it will prevent the grain from splitting should the stool be dragged across the floor. I have some glides from Lee Valley Hardware that lift the stool up ever so slightly and are designed for tile or wood floors.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Let me use the grid I'm making for the bottom of the two bar stools I've been commissioned to make. On the surface this looks pretty straight forward, the two maple pieces at the ends or the stretchers for the stools themselves while the grid of Chakte Kok is not only a decorative element but supports the foot rest at the front. A 1" copper pipe will be attached to those half round recesses for that purpose. What you may not realize (or care about) is the setups and time it takes to create the lap joints holding the grid together, then drilling counter bores and pilot holes for the screws which will be hidden or plugged. This requires careful measurement and inventing ways to make the cuts all the same on each piece. Then there's the tenons at each end of the stretcher and the chamfers I cut on the ends of each piece as a style element and also to minimize splitting on the ends of the pieces.
To cut all of those chamfers I made this jig and guide block to have some control. When only a couple of chamfers are needed it's easy enough to eyeball them but with multiples it's best to make a jig. When your mindset is to "let the computer" do the design work then you're at "its" mercy and limited by what it's programed to do. If, on the other hand, you understand the problem, then you can figure out how to solve it based on experience.
So, what's my bottom line, purpose behind my blog today?, not really sure! Must be the heat because when I know I truly enjoy the work and process behind making things. I'm afraid that much of what I do is a dying art. My last years teaching woodshop showed me that these traditional skills, those that take time and effort to perfect are not that appealing to the general public. I hope this art form will never be lost. Diane and I like to watch American Pickers. A recent conversation we had is what will happen when the people that can recognize "junk" that we produced here are gone? Who will carry on that tradition of knowing that the engine block you found is one of a few produced and worth thousands?
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Previously I'd mentioned how it's crucial to make a full size drawing of chair parts and then taking sizes and angles off of that, here's a photo:
Tomorrow I plan to fit all of them, start on the grid for the bottom, and begin shaping the legs with a spokeshave. As luck would have it the weather man has predicted more heat -- bad timing! When I laminate the back I need as much time as possible to spread the glue on all of the pieces, can't have it setting up before I get them into the form and clamped. Hopefully too, some time this week I'll get a call from the finisher telling me that the TV lift cabinet is ready for it's final assembly. Be glad to write "Completed" next to that project.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
That's the Bloodwood on the left and the Chakte Kok on the right. It will be used for the curved and laminated back rest and also combined used in a grid at the bottom of the stool that will have a section of copper pipe and serve as the footrest.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Using the plane was nice, totally different feel to it but as you can see by the thin shavings it worked out well for me. Nothing like using a sharp blade to get rid of the chatter marks a planer will always put on the surface. Another plane I'm holding on to is a bullnose that's over 1 1/2" wide and will be a good choice for trimming tenons. I'm currently sharpening that one (needs a lot of work) and will try it out on the tenons for the bar stool. Had a minor setback on that project, the Bloodwood they sent doesn't have the brilliant red color like the Chakta Kok I showed for the barstools. Currently Woodworkers Source is out of stock but thankfully, the client for those is not in a hurry.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
As far as chairs go, a tried and true method to tackle the joinery is to make full size drawings and then use a bevel to establish your angles. In this photo, I've done just that:
Monday, August 2, 2010
Here we have it, the final design of the ornamentation. I'll allow it to dry thoroughly over night and then use a scraper to eliminate the "ghost" patterns where the compo left its' tracks. It's hard to make out in this picture but there is a line of compo that finishes the bottom curve nicely. If you've never worked with this stuff it's pretty neat. This was really fresh so didn't take too much time on the steamer to activate the glue. Just like anything else, there is a learning curve. I did the sides first, then the back, and left the front for last. A friend of mine came over to see how to work with it and even though he's a carver could see the value in using the compo -- imagine how long it would take to carve all of this by hand? Like he said, maybe Christmas; yeah, 2011 ! The next step will be getting it to the finisher so he can work his magic to make this piece look like an antique, French Provincial chest. After I clean up any little details, tape off the lift mechanism, and organize the inside wiring it'll be ready for the finishing process.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The other good thing is that I was contacted by a man who was wondering if I'd be interested in designing some bar stools for him. Of course I was, we've met and I'm adding this to my list of projects. As luck would have it I decided to take the prototype of the bar stool I designed for my own. It was just about the perfect height, shape, and design and I probably could have sold it right then and there! However, it's made of Poplar with a laminated Walnut back but not finished to the quality I'd let leave the shop, besides, he needs two of them. We made some changes, it'll be made of Hard Maple to match his kitchen cabinets and island and have a laminated back and grid of Chakte Kok (aka Bloodwood). Since two stools are needed I've been busy making the pattern for the legs and improving the lamination form for the back rest. That's the kind of thing that takes an incredible amount of time. It's probably taking 5 times more time to make the form as it will to laminate the backs. There is a possibility of doing a set of chairs for him as well so it's worth it to make a quality form and not toss it like I did with the other.
Luckily there isn't a huge rush on the bar stools. The TV lift cabinet needs to be completed first and I should be getting the compo for that within the next two days. Once that's all applied I can get it to the faux finisher and concentrate on the other work. What other work? well, besides the stools there are two picture frames I have compo coming for and also a Walnut frame for a painting Diane has entered into a show coming up.
Friday, July 23, 2010
One of the things required for the TV lift cabinet is that the top comes up out of the center of the cabinet and needs to have the smallest reveal possible. Even though this piece is being painted I still want the grain of the wood to be continuous. The piece that is movable must match the rest of the top exactly. Here's how I solved this problem:
All went well and now I'm just waiting for the glue to set on the pieces so they can be installed into the cabinet. Hopefully the composition ornamentation will arrive early next week and I can get it applied and the cabinet to the finisher.