Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chilly Las Vegas Update

     As you may have read in the news, here in Las Vegas we've been faced with some pretty cold temperatures lately.  For many of you, low's in the 20's and high's in the low 40's are par for the course but that's not the case for us!  I've been lucky if I can get the shop into the 40's and that low temp really effects gluing and finishing.  Since there is a deadline I needed to get the interior pieces of the chess box shellacked.  My finish for them will be shellac and wax.  Thankfully here's what was completed yesterday when we had an afternoon high of 45 degrees or so.

Inside PIeces Shellacked
     I was able to do this after finding this information on Zinssers website regarding their shellac, something I didn't know but glad to know now.  Here's part of what it said:

Shellac's Great Properties

Shellac has such remarkable properties that if it were just recently discovered it would be hailed as a miracle finish of the 21st century.
  • All-natural – Shellac is an all-natural resin of insect origin that is harvested regularly and is therefore a renewable resource.
  • Fleeting alcohol odor – Shellac is dissolved in denatured ethyl alcohol. It has a fleeting, antiseptic odor that dissipates quickly as the product dries.
  • Easy to use – Shellac is user-friendly and virtually goof-proof. It can be applied with a brush, pad, sprayer, or wiping cloth.
  • Super-fast dry time – Shellac dries to the touch in MINUTES and, in most cases, can be sanded or recoated in a little over half an hour
  • Cold temperature application – Unlike other finishes shellac can be applied in cold temperatures (40o F. and below) without concern over proper drying and curing.
I only copied a couple of them but the last one on the list  made me happy.  I've been using an air brush at about 20 psi and find it works great for this application.  I first used this for sealing picture frames, it's much easier than brushing or padding and there's almost no chance of runs, drips, or errors.  Before these are put into the case they will be rubbed out with wax.
     In the meantime, I've been pre-finishing the top and bottom panels for the case.  Wish I could show you how nice this Maple looks, here's the best shot I could get.

Three Hand-Rubbed Coats
     It's probably more of a tiger stripe Maple than a curly one but it has the chatoyance I wanted.  Of course, that figure comes with a price.   The best way to smooth it is with a card scraper.

Scraping Smooth
     The grain wants to tear out even with a smooth plane set up for a light cut with a tight mouth opening.  With the card scraper the initial passes allow you to actually feel the stripes but they work themselves down with each pass.  You can see here that the scraper is making about 90 shavings with a bit of dust thrown in to let me know I need to create a new burr!

Card Scraper Results
     At our woodworkers group meeting last night I learned that the chess pieces I'm making this case for are considered to be what's referred to as "tournament size".  I thought they were really large but then I've only seen small chess sets with the little plastic pieces.  Apparently the size of the boards squares are a regulation 2 1/4".
     This project has been an interesting one to say the least.  Not only am I  learning a bit about chess pieces but also the complexity involved with making all of these "egg crate" compartments to fit them to.  It's much more complicated and time consuming than I imagined --- I'll know for next time!

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