Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chatoyance -- now there's a word that you don't use every day !!

After all of the final fitting is done, the wood has several coats of shellac on it and a coat of wax has been applied -- that's when you realize all of your work and planning has paid off!  I'm really glad to have found this piece of quilted maple, the photo doesn't begin to show the chatoyance of the grain, especially on the upper section.  There is a little bit of distortion but I like what I'm seeing, hope my client does too.  With our recent rains the finishing is taking longer than usual due to the humidity.  I think it was Art Espenet Carpenter who said "time is care"; I prefer that phrase to the more poplar one of "time is money".

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why a woodworker should be ambidextrous!

I don't know about you but it always seems that when I get towards the finishing stages of a project there are a multitude of details that must be done. Kind of like running a 50 mile race I guess, the last 10 seem to take much longer and require more concentration than the first 40.  Doing work like hand planing the chamfers on the dust check, is really enjoyable. I suppose many would hook up the router and be done with it much quicker but something about hearing the plane make these curly shavings is soothing and calming.  No real chance of burning the wood, splintering that wild section of grain, or spewing dust and chips all over the shop.  So, why be ambidextrous? -- you always have to plane with the grain of the wood so that will determine which way your hand has to travel --- maybe that's what folks mean when they say " I just let the wood talk to me when I design things"! I like to plane about an 1/8 - 3/16 chamfer on the outside edge of the dust check to allow the lid to close easily and make a seal.  I'll ease the sharp edges during the final assembly.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Separation of Lid and Box

One good way to make a box with a perfectly fitted lid is to build that box like a solid cube and then separate the lid from the box on the tablesaw.  Although this works pretty well there can be a problem at the corners where there's a slight "snipe" to ruin it.  Several methods can be used to overcome this like trying to place a spacer the same thickness as the kerf so that they won't squeeze together at the end of the cut but that is iffy at best!  I had read somewhere to cut partially through the box and then finish it off with a utility knife, thought that would leave a sliver which could potentially ruin the edge.  Here's what I did and the results.  These boxes are about 11" x 27".  The first thing I did was to set the fence and then adjust the blade so that it left about 1/32" of the side.  I didn't measure this, just eye-balled it.  Then I cut the 11" ends first.  Now I raised the blade to just cut through completely and ran the long sides.  Hard to tell from this picture but that's what it looked like.

Next thing I did was to take a thin piece of wood and place it into the box near the ends as a "kerf keeper". This allowed me to use a flush cut saw to complete the cut.  You can see the small section that remained.

The final step was using a low angle block plane to smooth the edge.  I set it for a very thin cut, planed with the grain, and also skewed it towards the end to avoid tearing out the outer edges.  All that remains to be done is knock down the edges and we're good to go -- give it a try!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rain & Humidity??? Thought this was a desert!

This has been a strange weather month to say the least.  So far this month we've had 1.55 inches of rain which is almost as much as we had all of last year!  So, my problem was wanting to use liquid hide glue but it needs at least 50 degrees.  I called the folks at Titebond and they were more than helpful.  It was about 52 in the shop when I started so they suggested warming the glue under some warm water so it wouldn't gel, that made spreading easier.  I hooked up the propane heater and raised the temperature to around 65 before I began to glue all of the finger joints.  Always get a bit anxious before glue ups and there were lots of fingers to cover.  All the preliminary things like the dry fit and having all of the clamps ready were done so away I went!  The plan was to keep the heat going during the initial clamp up period and then after 3-4 hours, removing the clamps and bringing the boxes in doors.  The folks at Titebond also suggested that I put some glue on a scrap piece and test it to make sure it wasn't sticky before removing the clamps. I had already put the glue on a scrap piece of plywood for application so that worked for my test piece.  As luck would have it,  my propane bottle ran out so that meant going out into the rain to get the other one on the barbecue. I was able to keep the glue up area at around 70+ degrees most of the time.  All went well so tomorrow I can continue work on the outside of the cases before separating the lid from the bottom.  You can see in the picture that the top and bottom panels have been oiled on the outsides, they also have two coats of my top coat sanded into them.  That's taking a little longer to dry also due to the high humidity. The inside of the cases will be finished with shellac/wax, the insides if the panels are done already.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fitting the Top & Bottom Panels

I spent most of  today laying out the dados in each piece for the panels.  After that the panels were rabbeted to fit the dados.  First step was using a rabbeting bit in the router table and then fine tuning them with a #90 Stanley rabbet plane as shown in this picture.  The cases are approximately 26" long so any variation in the flatness of the panels has to be dealt with.  The problem is always to decide how much play is needed to allow for the normal expansion and contraction of the wood.  I'd rather have a little more play, especially since it's been raining most of the day and the humidity actually needs to be considered!  Just the thought of assembly and having all of those fingers to apply glue to and clamp as quickly as possible before the glue sets up makes me anxious!  I'm going to use liquid hide glue this time since it has an open time of 10 minutes.  I've also read that it's easier to clean up with warm water even after it's dry.  Before assembly though I need to finish the tops and bottoms of each panel.  The exterior will have Watco oil while the interior will be shellac and wax.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Try this Link

I tried my link in the Almost Forgot post and it didn't work, so try THIS.

Almost Forgot!

I meant to tell you that I've finally completed my website for the pistol cases.  It's kind of a long type in so I'll link it here,  try this.  As always when someone (especially the computer challenged like me) creates something on the internet I'd appreciate it if you find any glitches to let me know -- Thanks :)

Finger Joints Revisited

After what seemed like a bizzillion practice cuts to double check the accuracy of the joints they are now completed.  I've talked about this particular jig before and it's good but far from perfect and predictable.  It's weakness is the method of adjusting which can be seen on the right side of the photo.  There's simply too much variation possible when you have a metal screw head pushing against a thin wooden piece that is also attached to the fence.  Sounds somewhat convoluted but if you're familiar with the Incra line of jigs and fences I can see the value of something along those lines.  The down side the Incra line is their cost which can go up to five or six hundred dollars.  The Dutch in me is trying to figure out how to make the adjustments on this jig more accurate.  For starters, waxing the surfaces where the two fences slide together is worth pursuing.  The other thing is to make the adjustment system entirely out of metal will be the next.  If these pistol cases take off I'll definitely work on making the jig a "better mousetrap"!
    You may notice the shiny spots on the two longer boards -- one of the thrills I get from resawing is that you never know what the grain will look like inside the board.  In this case there were a few knot or worm holes which I filled with a sawdust/epoxy mix.  Personally, I think that small knots or defects can add to the beauty of the piece, just so we don't get that knotty pine, cabin look on the pistol cases. The next phase of the cases is to size the panels and cut the dado for them.  I'm going out Monday to talk to a perspective client that's needing some book cases built -- see what I can do for them!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Curly Maple

If you've never seen curly maple before here's a quick shot of the panel for the doors.  It's just all ripply and iridescent, Only finish on this will be shellac and wax.

Problem Solved!

In my last post I mentioned the slight dilemma about getting that continuos grain pattern with the limited amount curly maple I had.  What you see on the assembly table is the inserts for the pistols -- they net out at about 3/4".  The piece that is still in the clamps will be planed down to about 3/8" for the doors that go over the storage compartment.  Anybody remember those types of clamps?  I picked them up for $10.00 each at a garage sale and they really work to glue up a flat panel.  The guy I bought them from was complaining about how difficult they were to use because glue sticks to them and wax paper wouldn't stay put.  I solved that problem by screwing full lengths of that UHMW plastic to them -- nothing sticks to that stuff!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mission Picture Frame

Well, here is one of the corners of the completed frame.   I took it to Larry at Artistic Framing, , so that he can mat the print, do his magic to keep the print looking good forever and place the matted print and glass into the frame.  Glad  to have it complete and now it's back to the pistol case project.  Yesterday I went to Peterman Lumber to find a nice piece of maple for the panel the pistols will be displayed in.  I lucked out and was able to find a nice piece of curly soft maple.  Since the panel needs to be 9+ inches wide it was necessary to joint the edges and laminate them together.  The trick is that besides the 3/4" thick panel needed for the pistol I also need a 3/8" piece to make the lid for the storage compartment.  I believe in having the grain run continuously all the way through, from one end of the box to the other end.  The lid is less than 7" long and my planer won't do a piece that short -- I do like hand planing but not a 7" piece of curly maple!   Got that one figured out and I'll share that in my next blog.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mission Style Picture Frame

I mentioned doing a small Mission style picture frame out of walnut and it's almost complete.  I'd forgotten how small pieces such as this can be a challenge.  The frame members are 7/8" thick with the sides being 1 1/4" while the top and bottom are 1" wide.  I remembered (too late) that when cutting through mortises near the top of a piece you should leave the end long and trim after the joint is completely fitted. I think the proper name for that is a horn and it's purpose is to minimize the risk of splitting the thin end of the piece.  Happily, if you too forget this it can usually be repaired with a little glue and clamp.  The tenons are 3/8" thick and to chamfer the ends of them I used an old, Stanley plane that my stepson brought back from a trip to England.  I sharpened it and it did a good job on the chamfers.  I've received the small size kit from Lee Valley for making a wooden spokeshave which will give more control on these small chamfers.

At this point I've just completed gluing the frame together.  It wasn't too warm in the shop and the glue was pretty thick so I warmed it up with a sink full of hot water!  This was my first opportunity to use the torsion box as an assembly table and it worked well.  The detail I wanted to show here is how you can make a U-shaped caul when you glue tenons that are proud of their mortises.  I used very little glue, which once it was warm  was easy enough to spread inside mortises.  Rather have too little glue than have a mess oozing out.  As far as strength there really isn't much required for a picture frame and tomorrow I'll be drilling for the ebony pegs that go completely through the joint.