Thursday, August 30, 2012

Latest Box, Sneak Peek

     Sometimes as we work by ourselves, enjoying the solitude of the shop and becoming completely immersed in what we're doing you get the urge to share your work.  This is not an ego thing or being a braggart; it's just that you're really pleased with how something you envisioned in your mind actually turned out.  That's this box here, it's a take on the slanted dovetail series but the sides are inverted.  Here's the first peek at it:

Called the BowTie Box
Long View
     This idea has been in my head since the first of the slanted dovetail series of boxes.  In my mind it seemed doable although not too easy.  I believe in challenging myself and this design did that.  The first step in the process was to cut the side piece from some 1 1/4" Walnut.  My saw blade tilts left so I needed to place the rip fence on the left side of the blade to avoid trapping the off-cut and risk the possibility  of it shooting back.  This was a 20 degree angle and I used a rip blade for this task.  Now I needed to remove the marks made be the blade during this step.

The best way to take care of that was with a card scraper. It was a bit tricky drawing the scraper without messing up the intersection of the two angled cuts.  Here's a close up taken during that process.  I'll need to burnish the scraper after this but for the most part I created a lot of nice curls.

Working on the Sides

     Next up was to figure out how to lay out the dovetails to really make this box unique.  The contrasting wood used in this box is Brazilian Satinwood and it really is quite a contrast to the Walnut!  To figure out a pleasing tail lay out an off-cut was traced on a piece of graph paper and then I played around with a couple of different lay outs.  Once that was done it's time to cut the tails.  I generally cut both sides at the same time.

Tail Lay-Out
     It's always wise to do something to mark the waste area -- I'd bet that everyone who's ever cut dovetails is guilty of removing the wrong part!  You'll notice I cut the shoulder which really helps make a tighter fit, in this case I wish I would have made it a bit deeper.
     After the tails were cut, chiseled, and squared it was time to transfer them to the side pieces.

Transferring Tails
     After the lines are scribed there's a technique I use to help me see the required lines.  You know that being a retired teacher I'm bound to have some chalk. By simply rubbing the chalk on the piece and then wiping off the excess it'll stay in the lines and make it easier to see.

Chalk Enhanced Lines
     You can see it works better on the end grain than it does on the face but it really helps you see the line to cut to.  As always, when cutting the pin board you cut inside the line.  Chopping out this uneven tail is somewhat challenging.  I had anywhere from a half an inch to 1 1/4" to remove.  After the saw cuts were done, you need to use a piece of the off-cut ripped out of sides to secure the piece down for chiseling.

Chiseling the Pins

     You may notice there is an extra cut in the middle of the material being removed.  I've found that it's easier that way.  Work continued and once completed the box was glued together.  I almost always use a cabinet glue from Lee Valley for my work but for this project decided to try Gorilla Glue.  That's always my choice for book matched panels and it's never failed me so thought I'd use it on this glue up as well.                    
     As that was drying I worked on the lid for this box.  I've mentioned that many times the amount of wood I have will determine how it's used.  In this instance I had one small piece of the Brazilian Satinwood left.  It was hot glued onto two pieces of walnut to create a "sandwich", then that was cut on the bandsaw and reassembled so it looked like this:

Completed Bow Tie Lid
     This was after it had been planed smooth, you can see I'm laying out the cuts so that the design is centered.  This was a good planing process, starting with the cabinet scraper, then the jointer plane, and finally the smooth plane to get it smooth.  It's always enjoyable to me; that planing process where you put that final, smooth surface on your wood.

Tools for Surfacing

     At this point, the rabbets have been cut into the lid, the bottom has been glued in to place, and all that's left is the final smoothing and finish.  That will have to wait until tomorrow morning, the humidity is up again and my perspiration is causing the wood to swell, after all; it is the monsoon season.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Miscellaneous Hand Tool Ramblings

     It seems as if I'm on a countdown to the September 20th. show date and completing bits and pieces of different boxes.  There's still one more box I have in the works that I haven't even begun, of course; in my mind it's almost built.  I'm currently working on a pair of boxes that will have a carved and gilded top similar to the Gilded Cat Series.  I used the few, remaining pieces of Curly Maple for them.
     These are mitered with keys across the corner.  It seems as if my table saw is not quite in alignment because even with the jig I carefully made, the miters were off ever so slightly.  It must be time to use a dial indicator and adjust the table to make sure the blade is perfectly aligned to the miter gauge slot.  That's the downside to having the saw on a base, I'm sure that pulling it around by the top all these years has tweaked it a bit.  Until I get the time and the patience to do that I knew these miters needed to be refined.  That's where a shooting board comes in handy.

Shooting Board with 45 Degree Guide

     This shooting board is fairly small and was made when  I began working on the box series.  It uses a  dedicated a block plane and really works well.  I know that a table sawn miter is good enough for glue up but, as I said, theses were slightly off.  Check out the difference in the end grain where the block plane has begun to cut on the outer edge:

Planed vs. Sawn Edge

     I'm going to assume that a planed edge would have better glue strength than a sawn edge.  The same argument can be applied to finishing a piece.  If the wood is sanded, the fibers are abraded.  That will affect how the finish looks on the piece of wood.  By the same token, if that finish is planed the pores are wide open and the difference is apparent.  Sounds like a good argument to me, maybe I'll have to run an experiment!
     In any case, after these two boxes were glued up and ready for the next step which was to cut slots for Walnut keys.  Each edge has two slots.  Once again, here's an other good step for hand tool work.  I imagine you could just throw a sander to the wood but this is a cleaner, more accurate way to go about it.

Trimming Keys

     By putting my fingers on the back of the blade it helps to prevent the teeth from marring the work.  Saws like this that have no set to them are used to trim keys, plugs, or joinery even with the surface of the project.  Just like my example of sawn vs. planed edges, the same thing applies here.  The saw leaves a rough finish:

Paring Chisel to Refine Keys

     Here I'm using a 1" wide paring chisel.  I sharpen these to 25 degrees unlike the bench chisels sharpened at 30 degrees.  I had just sharpened this paring chisel and the Walnut shavings curled off like a piece of chocolate you might find on a Marie Callander's pie!  It was an easy process paring them flush with the surface of the box.  I know it's hard to see in the photo but there is a definite difference with the pared keys on the left and the sawn off keys on the right.  All of these little nuances add up to (hopefully) create wooden furniture, boxes, or whatever with a higher level of quality found commercially.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rain?? RAIN !! OMG -- *&%$^ RAIN!!!!

    Well, Tuesday night the weatherman said we had a pretty good shot at rain today starting in the late morning.  He also predicted that the lows could even be in the upper 70's and I was overjoyed!  Finally the temps were going to be a bit lower so I could spray shellac on the boxes and lids that I have been waiting to do.  Sure enough, at 6am the temps were just as he'd predicted and our usual blue and clear skies were cloudy and gray.  Since I don't like to disturb the neighborhood before 7am or so I had breakfast, read the paper, and then headed out to the shop.  After preparing the area on the side of the house with drop cloth, turntable, sawhorses, and boards to hold all of the parts I proceeded to tack cloth everything and prepare the air brush and shellac.  Must admit, I was feeling good!!
      I sprayed the bottoms of all the lids and the insides of the boxes and went back into the shop to work on hinge mortises.  Things were going fine when I started hearing the pitter patter of our much needed rain.  My first instinct was great, we're in a drought situation and really needed this --- then it hit me, I had 4 lids and 8 boxes out there with a fresh coat of shellac on them!  I moved pretty fast in spite of the knee I that had just been shot with rooster juice to get them indoors.  Probably muttered more than my share of "non-family friendly" words but it was a bit of panic.  In spite of it all, I managed to get them dry and finished by the days end.  Here they are inside with 5 coats of shellac on them:

Done & Drying
     The way I was able to conquer the weather was to make a temporary spray booth inside the shop, just inside the roll-up door.  This way I wouldn't get the overspray all over the shop or Diane's car but still have enough air circulation Here's what that looked like:

Makeshift Spray Booth
     With the garage door open to the street I didn't want to leave the shop unattended so found plenty to do to keep busy.  The one thing carried over from yesterdays jig making session was to fine tune the depth of the router and cut the mortises.  Worked great! Since I was planning to spray the shellac I didn't want to make too much sawdust so this was done while I was waiting for the rain to evaporate from the boxes and lids.

Mortising the Large, Urban Ranch Box
This was another case when I was really glad I had my bench on bench.  So much easier doing this type of work at a higher level.  My workbench is about 38" from the ground and this portable bench raises the work another 9 inches.  Speaking of the work bench, the class I was going to teach at WoodItIs didn't have enough people sign up so it won't be held.
     My procedure for the shellac is to spray 2 coats about 45 minutes apart and then let them dry for a few hours.  Everything is then lightly sanded with some 400 grit paper and wiped of with a tack cloth prior to being resprayed.  I generally put an additional 3 coats on them, spaced about 45 minutes apart. Once the shellac has cured at least a week it'll be rubbed out and waxed.  Since I was in the process of finishing,  I didn't want to raise any dust so it was time for that wonderful, quiet handwork.
     The large Urban Ranch Box (pictured above) has a tray that is about two thirds the width of that box.  Since it is pretty large I decided it would be a good one to divide in two.  The first step is cutting the stopped dado to accept the divider.  This will house the divider and is located above the groove for the bottom.  Approximately 1/4" wide, 1/4" deep, and 3/4" tall.

Lay Out of Divider Dado

     The outside of it is outlined with a the 3/4" chisel for the sides, the 1/4" wide for the top and then removed with a 3/16 wide chisel.  With the soft pine it was fairly easy going provided the chisels were as sharp as possible.

Stopped Dado

     Once they were both done it was time to make the divider piece.  Like I mentioned, no power tools on this operation due to the shellacking process and it was great to work without the noise and dust of the power tools.  Once the divider piece was cut to rough size, a marking gauge laid out the 1" size required.

Divider Ready for Planing 
     You can see how the divider with stopped dado looks.  Although I darkened in the scribed line so it would show up in the picture, the neat thing about using the marking gauge is that it will "feather up" when you're almost to the line.  That's the term I used with my students, not sure if that's the correct term or not but it got it's point across to them.  If you look closely at this picture you'll notice a very thin sliver of wood, that's what I refer to as feathering up:

Feather: Lower Left and Upper right

     Here's the tray almost ready for assembly.  Still need to sand the inside and then it'll be ready to go.  That'll be the first thing I'll do in the morning.

Mitered Tray with Stopped Dado Divider

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oxymoron: Softwoods can be Harder to Work than Hardwoods!

     This is a discussion that I'm sure many other woodworkers have had.  It seems as if the opposite should be true but you'll find that it may be more difficult to cut softwoods cleanly than it does to work with hardwood.  This is especially true when it comes to hand cutting joints or mortises for hinges.  At our last Sin City Woodworkers the focus was for the members to bring in various jigs that they had either bought or made and share them with everybody.  One of the members brought in a very complicated and technical jig for routing the recesses for butt hinges and although it did the job, getting there was definitely not half the fun!  Anyone who's ever used small butt hinges knows how temperamental that process can be.
     As luck would have it, the Urban Ranch series of boxes I'm working on now need those small, brass, butt hinges.  They are 1" wide and since the pine I'm using is 1/2" wide there is very little, if any) room to make a closed mortise.  This is where the frustration set in.  No matter how I went about scribing the outline of the hinge, the thin piece remaining towards the inside of the box would split off.  Marking gauge, sharp chisel, marking knife ---- made no difference.  I gave in and decided to just mortise all the way across but since I'm using inexpensive hinges from Lowe's they're pretty thin so there isn't even 3/16" of depth required.  By the way, I discovered all of this on scrap pieces of pine.
     Combined with my frustration and the memory of the hinge jig brought to the meeting I recalled how we'd make a "quick and dirty" jig to hang doors when I worked construction in the 70's.  At that time it wasn't real common to have pre-hung doors so we'd make a quick U- shaped piece, tack it on the door and jamb, then use a router to rough it out.  Figured that should work equally well for this operation.  Here's what I came up with:

Hinge Mortising Jigs

     I'm using 1" and 1 1/2" hinges so needed both sizes.  In the foreground is my test piece and it shows I need to lighten the cut just a little to increase the gap between the lid and the box.  The first step was to hold a piece of MDF upright and cut the opening for the hinge on the table saw.  Here I'm almost done, notice the hinge laying there?  That's used to make the opening exactly the correct size, carefully make your cuts as you sneak up on the measurements.

Tablesaw to Cut Opening
      I used a piece of Walnut to attach the jig to, any scrap of wood will do.  Before that though, I cut the piece of MDF so there was the same amount of jig on both sides of the opening, in this case I used 1 1/8" as the distance I wanted to attach the hinge from the edge of the box.  This way, if the edge of the jig is lined up with the outside edge of the box they'll line up during assembly.  You could also draw a center line for the hinge and then use center lines on whatever project you're making to line them up.  When you attach the piece of MDF to the strip of wood, position it where you want the hinge to be on the box.  If you're cutting the mortise completely across the box it doesn't matter as long as you can cut the entire thickness of the box.  If you're making a housed mortise you'll need to calculate where the mortise will be located on the edge.  I used a brad gun and a spot of glue for that step.
     Here's how it all works together:

Jig in Use

     First line up the edge of the jig with the edge of the box.  Then cut the mortise with a short, 1/2" straight dado bit with a top mounted bearing or any other size you have.  Since the box and lid were made as one and then cut apart you can be assured the hinges will line up.  If the hinges were of Brusso quality you'd probably be better off making more than one pass to cut the recess but these inexpensive ones aren't mortised very deep at all.  The only down-side to this jig is that you need one for each different size of hinge.  Since most of us probably use the same style and size of hinges for what we usually build that shouldn't pose too big of a problem.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm Going to Start with a Riddle!

     What possible connection could there be between this picture:

1950 Ford
       and this one?

Contour Box Lid
     Give up?  It's a stretch to solve that one!  That's me with my very first car; a 1950 Ford 4 door sedan with a flathead V-8.  I talked my Dad into towing it home before I even had a license, it cost me $10.00 at the time but didn't run.  I had my license about 6 months later and the car was up and running.  The connection -- it's the sanding block in my hand.  That's the same one I used to completely wet sand that car by hand before painting it a Cadillac Mist Green.  That car was one of six I had before I turned 18 and enlisted in the Marine Corps.  Also had two motorcycles (BSA & Triumph).  I loved buying cheap, working on the engine, then sell it and move on to the next project.  Definitely kept me out of trouble, most of the time.
     I'm working on two boxes of Curly Maple and decided to call them Contour Lines,  here's why:

Contour Lines Lid

     If you've ever looked at a topographic map you'll recognize and understand why I'm calling them Contour Lines box.  I usually use 320 wet/dry paper to apply the first coat of Danish oil and didn't want to lose the crispness of the corners.  I remembered where the old, hard rubber block was and figured it's the perfect way to work the lid.  I'll also be using it for applying the top coats.  The boxes for these have finger jointed construction and used up the last of my curly Maple.
     While I was working on these I also completed the large and small boxes for the Urban Ranch series.  Figured that since the finger joint jig was set up, might as well be efficient and cut these as well.  If you recall, those were designed in honor of the gallery that's holding the box show, The Urban Ranch General Store.  The most difficult step to these boxes is beating them up to achieve an aged look.  To that the collection of nuts, cotter pins, and chain is used.  Have to admit though it is kind of cleansing to beat the #*(^%(%$* out of them!

Distressing to Create the Aged Pine Look

     It just goes against my sense of quality but I know it's good to add the character to this series.  It seems that after using block planes and the cabinet scraper to work all of the surfaces smooth you shouldn't be beating them up.

Trimming Finger Joints Smooth

     The first coat of oil was applied this afternoon and they will be distressed but smooth, no splinters or tears allowed here.  One of the fun things I get to do on these boxes is decide exactly where in the board the parts will be cut from.  With the first box, I just happened to step on a knot that fell out and was inspired to use it as the knob.  Didn't happen to have the same luck on these so I decided I'd just have to cut my own.

Knob Strategy

    The box on the left is the completed, medium sized Urban Ranch and you can see how that knot/handle almost looks like a branch.  Pretty ironic, usually you try to avoid knots in your work but in this case I was looking for them!  What I did was to take the piece you see in the vise and cut an angled yet square cut.  The back of the knob has to be smooth so the Gorilla glue can make a good bond.

Temporarily Taped in Place
      All that was left was to cut a shape that seemed "knob like" with a jig saw and then chamfer and smooth the edges to make it touchable.  Here you can see the way the knots and grain was selected for the front and lid of this small box.  I've always seen faces, animals, trees, whatever in the grain patterns of wood which is probably one of the reasons I'm so fascinated with wood in general.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Miter Sled & Finger Joints

     Any of you that are also teachers know that the profession usually doesn't give you that immediate gratification.  On occasion I do run into former students and they tell me how they enjoyed the industrial arts or construction classes I've taught them in the past.  Keep in mind though that these were students from grade 6 to grade 12.  Since retiring and now teaching the occasional class plus giving private lessons the things I've taught to adults give me quicker feed back.
     As an example, I had a fellow woodworker take some one on one instructions on how to set up, sharpen, and use a hand plane.  That's one of the basic hand tool processes for those of us who aren't infatuated with machinery!  He shared with me how he had made a bracelet holder which needed to be oval in shape.  He started with a round form and by using the hand plane he had so carefully sharpened and tuned up was able to achieve the required shape.  Some of it still needed sanding because he wasn't able to get the plane in all of the places.  When I saw him last night he told me about that and how the planed area took the finish much better than the sanded area.  We had talked about that; a surface cut with a sharp plane versus one that's been abraded with sandpaper will have a sheen to it.  He shared that with me and I could sense his excitement and pleasure about conquering the plane.
     That brings me to the Urban Ranch Box I'm currently working on.  It's made of common, knotty pine from the local big box store.  Even that though will respond to the plane.

Surfacing the Inside

Sizing the Top on the Shooting Board

     This is an instance where as the builder and designer of the piece I can choose the lumber and decide where it will look the best.  This is the largest box of the series and will feature a full size, lift out tray.  A good sharp plane will have no problems with the knots and sap found on this fairly common lumber.
     Leroy also makes boxes and at our Sin City Woodworkers monthly meeting last night, the focus was on different jigs and fixtures we use in our craft to make work go smoother and safer.  He brought in his miter sled that he uses on his tablesaw.  We got to talking about the box making procedure and he mentioned having to set up the stops so that each piece would be sized accurately.
     The first rule of box making is that opposite sides of a box must be exactly the same size for your corners to be nice and tight.  Another important consideration is that you want the grain to flow around the box in a continuous manner.  In other words, if you cut a long side first your next piece will be a short side, then another long, then the last short.  You can't set a stop for the long side and cut both at the same time.  There are several solutions, one is a hinged stop that you can flip up or down depending on the piece being cut.
     Here's the solution I use to overcome this problem.  My miter sled is fairly short but sized for what I want to do.  After setting the sled on the tablesaw I slide the rip fence towards it.

Ready for a 6" Piece

     After mitering the first end I put in an MDF spacer.  It's identified and says that if my fence is locked at 9" and the spacer is butted up to it I will have a piece 6" long.  To make the next cut all that needs to be done is to switch to another spacer:

Spacer for a 3 3/4" Piece

     Each piece will need to have the smallest amount cut from it to have the miter go the correct way, that's what those small scrapes on the upper right are.  I've laid the cut pieces on the sled so you can see how the grain will flow around the box once it's assembled.
     If you have a larger sled and the pieces you plan to cut won't extend off the end like they do on my short sled you can easily clamp a stop block to your sled for the longest piece you need.  For an example, suppose you want a box that measures 8" x 12".  Clamp a stop block to your sled for the 12" piece and make your first cut.  Next, make a 4" long spacer to put between the piece being cut and the stop block and you'll have a perfectly sized, 8" piece.

     Very Important Safety Note
Do not leave the spacer in place when you make the cut, remove it before cutting.  You should never use a miter sled or the miter gauge that comes with your saw in conjunction with the rip fence.  It'll bind and you'll end up with a piece of wood flying back at you at about 100 mph!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Now a Copper Kitty!

     I have a number of followers to this gilding series on the Picture Framer's Grumble message board so I decided I should elaborate just a little bit more for them as well as anyone else that's interested in the oil gilding process.  Since I had some copper leaf, thought to myself I should use it too so did two of the lids with it.  The size of these is approximately 4" x 6" and when the weather allows I'll post some pictures of the box and lid shellacked, waxed, and ready to go!

Copper Gilded Cat
     The copper leaf works pretty much the same as the gold but to my fingers it felt as if it wasn't quite as flexible.  I had more faulting around the outline of the carve with it then with the gold but as you see here.......

Fault Repair
........... it's just a matter of taking a small piece of the leaf and pressing it into those areas.  I suggest that you avoid rubbing over the sized areas too much as you leaf the piece because then you'll remove all of the size.  Large areas can be re-sized and re-gilded but it's hard to blend it in.  Something I should have mentioned before is that the burnisher/sealer material from Rolco is available in a yellow as well as the traditional red.  Just like the traditional clays used in water gilding you can apply the yellow in deep grooves and other areas you think the leaf will fault.  Now, when it does fault the undercoat is yellow which blends into the leaf color better.
     I mentioned burnishing the sealer before you gild the piece.  I found my can of Rolco's red burnisher/sealer and it's far superior to the spray can application of primer.  You really need to stir it well because there is a lot of clay in the mix.  Here's two pieces that have one coat of the red on them:

See the Difference?

     The one on the right side has been burnished with a wad of 4/0 Liberon oil free steel wool.  It's important to use the oil free variety.  Any oil left from the standard variety steel wool could mess up your finish.  The difference is pretty obvious, keep in mind that the leaf gets it's shine and luster from the surface below it.  Although oil gilded objects can't be burnished like a water gilded frame can it will still telegraph the surface that it sits on.
     Another thing I should mention is that once you've covered all of the surface with your gild, take a soft brush to gently remove all of the skewings from the surface.  I inherited this big, soft brush from my wife's make up drawer that works fine.

Skewings are the Remnants of the Leaf

     Once they're removed you'll be able to find the places that need to be repaired.  The size will remain tacky for up to 3 hours, depending on the humidity and temperature.
     Keep in mind that all of the metal leaf, Dutch gold, composition leaf, or what ever name it comes by needs to be sealed.  They are alloys of tin, brass, copper, etc.  Straight shellac works well and is compatible with any other finish.  I use an air brush to avoid runs and puddles.  There is a frame maker that has given demo's at the WCAF show who works with different chemicals to really make the metal leaf shine.  He gets some fantastic finishes on his frames -- I'm pretty sure his name is Eric Tolfinger  or something like that.  If you're interested you may be able to locate him through PFM magazine.
     Well, let me end this post by showing you the sample board with the copper and gold, side by side for comparisons sake.

     If you want to cut the shine you can rub it gently with the 4/0 steel wool before sealing but I've found that after 4-5 thin coats of sprayed on shellac some of the shine is taken off anyway.  Experiment with it, it's much cheaper and easier than precious gold. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gilding & Carving Tutorial

      At this years West Coast Framing show held at the Mirage here in Las Vegas I met several people in a class I took that were interested in a tutorial for Dutch metal or composition gold gilding.  Since the art market, along with almost every other one!, has changed and Diane's focus is no longer on painting I haven't gilded for a while -- until now that is so that I can have Ali's inspiration on some boxes I'm preparing for my upcoming box show.  Here's the final result:

Final Result
     The first step to this process was to create a pattern using Ali's picture.  Since I'm making a series of these and want to keep them somewhat consistent I decided to make a pattern.

     The pattern was made on 1/4" MDF and then attached to the Basswood that will become the lid.  Use two sided tape to do this.  Next was using a plunge router with a 3/16" bit to outline the profile.  You could just as easily use a V-chisel to carve this free hand but since I'm making multiples, like I said, decided the pattern was the best bet.  This is that result, I couldn't find a V-bit small enough so used a straight one instead.  A V-bit would have left a nice, tapered edge but by using a V-Chisel before removing the sides it worked just as well

Next came the chisel work.  I began cutting away from the pattern to the outside of the board using a #5/20mm gouge.  To prevent an accidental slip I prefer to work out from the pattern first if the grain of the wood will allow.

     After getting the bulk of the material out with the large, I switched over to a #3/10mm fishtail gouge. It's important to note that the blank is larger than needed so any tear out the occurs at the edges will be removed when the lid is cut to size.

     Now it's just a matter of refining the shape to suit your taste.  I want it to be recognizable as a cat but not be so detailed that it becomes too time consuming. One of the final steps to the carving process is to get rid of the "whiskers" along the edge of the carving.  Basswood tends to do that and I've found that a small, brass bristled brush works great to remove them.  You can pick them up at any hardware store, usually in the plumbing department.

     Here's the completed carving with the tools I used.  From the left there is a #6 V-chisel, then a #3/10mm fishtail gouge, a #8/8mm gouge, the brass bristled brush, and the #5/20 gouge.  Once I was satisfied with the carving the lid was lightly sanded with some 180 grit paper and cut to fit its' box.  The only thing left to do is cut a rabbet around the lower edge to fit into the box.  Then we're ready to do the gilding.
     The first step is to prepare the wood for the oil size.  It may be my age but I prefer oil based adhesives and finishes over water based ones so that's what I'm experienced in.  The first step is to seal the wood so that when the size is applied it won't soak into the wood -- you want the size to leave a film that completely covers the surface.  No film = no gold leaf!  Your best bet is to use Rolco Burnisher/Sealer but in a pinch you can use a spray can finish.  Krylon and Rustoleum have a primer that is sometimes referred to as Damp Proof Red Primer.  The advantage to spraying is that it's easy and doesn't require cleaning a brush.  The advantage of the Burnisher/Sealer is that it's a thicker material that contains clay. It won't penetrate into the surface of the wood as much as a spray will.  I was in a pinch and used the spray can this time and built up at least 5 coats.
     Irregardless of what you use, let it dry thoroughly before going on to the next phase.  You need to burnish the surface before you gild.  This can be done with 4/0 steel wool (I prefer Liberon oil free) and you'll see the surface get shiny.  Keep in mind that even with oil gilding it's your surface preparation that gives you the shine. The best way to clean any residue off is with compressed air.
     Now you're ready to brush on a very thin, uniform coat of oil size.  Follow the directions on the can but most have an open time of 1 to 3 hours.  For small scale work quick size is fine but when I do a frame I prefer slow set size which requires about 12 hours  before it's ready to work.

Applying the Size, Can you see the Burnished Effect?

     How do you know when the size is ready for laying the leaf?  I've heard this referred to as The Knuckle Test.

Knuckle Test

     After an hour or so, use your as shown knuckle above.  If the size isn't sufficiently dry you'll stick to it and leave a mark.  If, on the other hand, you do this and hear a squeak like sound the size is ready.  Pretty hard to describe but in grade school wasn't there at least one obnoxious kid who ran his thumb over the desk top and it sounded like something else!!  Well, my teacher said I was obnoxious when I did it.  Okay, ready to lay some gold.

     I've made what I call my leaf layer.  Here's what it looks like:

Leaf Layer

     It's a piece of 1/4" MDF which is very smooth.  Slightly larger than a piece of Dutch gold with the edges rounded over and then waxed.  The half round cut out at the top allows you to hold it easier,  Generally my thumb is on top and my tigers support the rest.  Similar to an artist's palette. Dutch gold, composition metal, schlag metal, is all the same.  The biggest difference with it over the water gilding method using precious gold leaf is that you can handle this with your fingers and it won't fall apart.  I start by laying a sheet of the gold on the leaf layer:

Beginning the Lay
     Go towards the outside edge and allow the leaf to extend off the layer. Use your fingers to gently tamp the leaf to the board or frame and now it becomes a dance.  You need to slowly pull back with your leaf layer allowing the leaf to settle upon the surface.  At the same time, smooth the leaf over the surface from side to side. If you pull back too quickly you'll tear the leaf; too slow and it'll bunch up and wrinkle.  I can lay full sheets but it's probably wiser to start with partial sheets until you get the hang of it.  Here I'm beginning the second piece, it's only a partial sheet:

Second Piece

     No matter how slowly you go you're bound to have faults or tears in the leaf.  This is especially true where you have edges like around the profile here:

Faulting or Tears in the Leaf

     Keep in mind that there is still size in those faulted areas, you can just take a small piece of leaf and tamp it down to cover them:


     When you've patched all you can, it's time to press the leaf firmly into the size.  I start out with my fingers and then end the process with a micro fiber cloth which also helps to remove any doubled up leaf or skewings.  Since this isn't real gold it needs to be sealed but before you do that let it dry overnight.  To take off some of that garishness that composition gold has the first step would be to lightly burnish the surface with 4/0 steel wool.  Be sure to get rid of any residue from that, especially if you use water based sealers or toners -- the steel wool will rust.
     I generally use shellac as a sealer because it's compatible with most anything.  You can pad or brush it on or; if you have it, use an air brush.  That's what I like to do because it eliminates any brush marks or puddling.
     Well, this ended up being quite lengthy and if you were able to see your way through it I hope it was beneficial.  You can get copper, aluminum, and even variegated leaf from suppliers like Sepp Leaf, Dick Blick, etc.  Let me know how this worked out for you.