Thursday, February 24, 2011

My First Cloud Lift!

If you're familiar with Arts & Craft style, especially Greene & Greene's take on it you've no doubt heard of the "cloud lift" detail that was a common element of the style.  It adds a certain Asian influence to the piece.  For the rush seated bench I'm making I decided to incorporate it into the stretcher.  Here's my piece:

  I first made a template from 1/2" MDF.  I like using it because it's very easy to form with sandpaper or files yet hard enough to guide a template router bit.  I used a technique from a recent article that suggested using a pin nailer to temporarily hold the template to the piece.  At 23 gauge, the pin hole won't show and, as advertised, it's much more secure than double back tape.  My suggestion would be to use the shortest pin possible.  My shortest was one inch and it was difficult pulling it out of the Mahogany, surprising how well that little pin held!
As it is now this stretcher is way over size, the plan is to insert it into a through mortise on the leg stretchers.  It will be secured with one of the Ebony pegs I made earlier and a bit of glue.
As far as the rest of the project I've completed cutting all of the mortises on the legs and the tenons have been cut and sized.  Something that has been a real joy to use is the Lie-Nielsen rabbet block plane I recently bought. My way of making tenons is to use two blades from my dado set with a spacer in between so that the tenon can be cut in one pass.  I like to leave it just ever so slightly oversized so I can get the fit I want.  Trimming them down is what has been the challenge.  I've tried a good sharp chisel (okay), a Stanley #92, cutting it perfectly on the saw, but nothing has worked as well as the rabbet plane.  I got the optional nickers on it and it really does the job.  About half a dozen passes on each cheek and the fits just what I'm after.  Here's what she looks like:

As with all of Lie-Nielsen tools it's a thing of beauty and after honing the blade it takes a whisker off at a time.  Very easy matter to hold the piece in a bench hook and trim away.  That's one of the stretchers with the through mortise for the cloud lift detail.
The tenons for the upper seat stretchers need to be mitered since they meet inside the leg so once that's done the final smooth planing and chamfer details will be next before glue up.

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