Saturday, May 11, 2013

What -- Making Candy in the Shop?

Candy Thermometer but no Candy
     First of all the exciting news is that my entry of the Sapele Hall Table was excepted into the Design in Wood competition sponsored by the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association.  Here's a view of the table, actually one of the pictures I submitted:

Sapele Elliptical Hall Table with Drawers
     There was one slight problem and that is that the caning on the bottom shelf began to waffle!  My suspicion is that the cane was so dried out from being in my 100+ degree  shop in the summer that it was unable to re-hydrate and stretch tight.  It was fine for a few weeks but as it became accustomed to the indoor conditions the waffling began.  I had already ordered replacement from Frank's Cane before the table was accepted -- couldn't stand seeing the waffle, seems as if my eye went right to it!
     Of course that meant I needed to disassembly the shelf, bring it out to the shop, and remove the existing caning.  Even without the pressure of the upcoming competition I wasn't looking forward to this needed task knowing that one slip of the chisel and we'd be back to square one.
     I had used Old Brown Glue for the cane so wanted to double check with Patrick on the website to get his advice on the best way to rehydrate the glue.  That brings us to the top picture and the candy thermometer.  For some restoration work I'd used a water and vinegar solution but his suggestion was water and a steam iron to about 150 degrees.  Didn't want to use a steam iron and risk raising the grain so did the compromise thing and heated the water instead.  The small bottle was used like a syringe to suck up some heated water and then squirt it where needed.

Removal in Progress
     My first thought was to remove the reed that holds the cane in by stripping sections out as I went.  I figured that the more layers of reed I removed, the easier it would be for the water to penetrate and dissolve the glue.  That was a good start but I discovered it worked better if I elevated the shelf so the water would run downhill at the bottom of the groove.

It's Working!!
     This allowed me to pry it out and pull up at the same time.  The tool I'm using is one of a set of those high quality carving tools offered by Harbor Freight for less than $10.00 for a complete, professional set!  There was a sign to tell you more water was required, a cracking sound that sounded just like I imagined the wood would make if it was splitting.  Kind of alarming but it turned out to be the glue cracking because it was too dry.  More water = no more splitting sound.
     Here you can see a before and after cane removal.  The plan is to let it dry completely until Monday, then I'll make a thin scraper that will just fit inside of the groove to remove any residue and re-cane.

One Down, One to Go

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