Monday, May 13, 2013

Summer is Here -- 99.3 Degrees in the Shop @ 5:00pm

     Oh boy, I think it's pretty early in the year for hitting 100 degrees in the shop but Mother Nature probably doesn't care what I think.  Now comes that crucial time where any glue ups will need to be done first thing in the morning or else inside on the kitchen island.  I'll work out there until my sweat causes the woods grain to raise or I fear rusting my tools!  Time to get my habit of drinking at least 70-80 ounces of water to make it through the day that's for sure.  The important thing I needed to get done today was to replace the cane in the Star Jasmine table that was accepted into the Design in Wood competition, the table needs to be delivered on Thursday, 5/23.
     The upside of doing one of a kind work and not pigeon holing myself into the same work processes is that it keeps me motivated.  The downside is that I need to re-train or familiarize myself with a process every time I do it.  Caning is no exception!  I've done a number of jobs using pre-woven cane and some requiring hand weaving but not enough to feel 100% proficient.  Diane and I both find that when we blog our work we will go back to it to jog our memories on a process.  With that in mind, here's a pictorial essay on how to cane with pre-woven cane.  I get my supplies from Frank's Cane & Rush Supply and found him to always be helpful either by phone or email so he's recommended by me.

     Here's the completed project:

Shelf Re-Caned (whew!!)
     I have to admit to some apprehension starting this since the table has already been accepted, just adds a little more stress to not slipping with a chisel and gouging the work.  The main difference is that this Radio Weave is actual reed whereas the other was paper.  Don't think I'll be using the paper product again although it's held up fine in a wine cabinet.  The process begins with soaking cane and the spline for at least two hours in room temperature water.

Pre-Mitering Reed

     Before I put the spline in to soak, I generally cut the miters but leave it slightly over-sized.  For that, a bench hook and Japanese razor saw it perfect.  Final fitting is done with a utility knife but I like having that first miter cut somewhat accurately using the bench hook as guide.

Beginning Step

     After the cane has been in the water for at least two hours it's laid onto the frame.  The process begins by pressing it into the groove using a wedge and working it in a little bit at a time. At this point, it's good to use your other hand to pull the overhanging piece up a little, this allows you to press it further into the groove.

     As you work your way around you need to anchor things into the groove.  You can use wedges for this but in my experience cutting short pieces of cane and lightly tapping them in place works better.  I'm using a wide wedge made of MDF which is nice for the width but the MDF begins to deteriorate in a fairly short time, better to make it out of wood.  I saw one video on YouTube where a large, metal one was used for this step.  My plan is to make one from wood and add a thicker section on top, maybe a dowel.  Really hard on the palm of your hand as you continually work the cane into the groove!

Trimming the End
     Although this looks rather unsafe it's okay if your chisel is sharp and you keep things under control.  Having those fingers on the outside isn't the safest but I keep them "out of the line of fire" of the chisel.  What's happening here is that now that the cane is pressed into the groove it's time to trim the pieces on the outside.  It begins by pulling out the strands that are parallel to the weave.  Most tutorials I've seen on this show using a utility knife which to me is more dangerous and much harder to control.  The goal is to trim the ends just below the top of the groove.  The slicing motion with a utility knife is hard to control and there's a definite risk of slipping out of the groove and slicing the wood.  It also has the tendency to pull and distort the weave.  You can rest the chisel on the inside edge of the groove, angle it downward, and trim them off without the risk of slipping out to cut the frame.  The chisel does have to be very sharp for this though.

Final Trimming

     Just about done trimming the ends of the cane.  Palm of my hand getting kind of sore by now!  The piece of spline is in temporarily for now on the right, long side.

Putting Glue in the Groove

     Finally time to glue the second piece into place.  Michael, from Frank's Cane recommends ordinary PVA glue like Elmer's Glue-All.  According to him the drying time for it and the cane is the same.  Previously I used Liquid Hide Glue which he told me dries slower than the PVA so the cane maybe dry but the glue isn't fully cured and that could result in the cane pulling loose.  Made me wonder if that's what happened with the previous cane and was the cause of the waffling.

See the Mallet?

     The longest sides are glued in first.  The tricky area is the miters at the corners.  If you undercut them it's easier to get a good fit.  As I mentioned, I precut them before soaking to give me an accurate angle then trim them with a utility knife to fit.  I use a rubber, dead blow mallet which is blurred in the picture but you get the idea.  Don't beat on the reed spline too hard because you can deform it.
     All that remains is to let it dry thoroughly for a couple of days inside the house and then re-apply the top coats.  I plan to do another coat on the top of the table and it'll be ready to take to the Design in Wood competition next Thursday.

     By the way, I just gave the panels a little tap and they sound as if they're as tight as the proverbial drum!

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