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Your are going to be disappointed to learn this post is about furniture making and not woodworking. They aren’t always the same activity. I haven’t come up with a new subtractive furniture making technique using flame.
What the title refers to is furniture I have found that looks like wood but is actually metal. First I found some chairs in Alpharetta, GA. a few years back:
Next, I found this kitchen rack at a local antiques multi-dealer shop:
Tuesday, I found two more pieces over in Raleigh:
And finally, this desk:
You can tell it’s metal by looking at a drawer side:
Editor’s Note: I am currently on my return trip home from visiting with Garrett Hack and his wife, Carolyn, on their idyllic Vermont farm. Garrett and I spent time in his shop doing the photography for his article in our upcoming Issue Three. I’ve asked Garrett to provide a summary for readers here at the blog. The following is his write-up…
“There is no mystery why woodworkers (and many other trades) relied on patterns. They are a simple and accurate way to transfer shapes easily and repeatedly. A shapely case apron, curved chair leg, or the serpentine profile of a tabletop are all typical patterns an 18th century maker would have had on hand and used to speed his work along, just as I do today.
Templates can do far more useful work than repeating pleasing shapes. Early in the design process when I am drawing a project I’ll make quick patterns — you could call them “sketches” — from thin softwood to more easily see the shape of complex parts such as the back leg of a chair. By propping it up on the floor as the leg will stand and getting back, I can see a lot more than from a drawing alone.
My pattern then guides me to cut out and shape the actual legs. I use it in laying out my cuts to get the most harmonious and strongest grain flow through the leg, and to organize those cuts — nesting them together when I can — to use my stock and time most economically. It might even yield an extra part or two, always a good idea. For the final shaping I work to the pattern, sliding it against each leg as I shave away with hand tools, to create multiple accurate parts.
When it comes to laying out cuts, joinery, details such as the location of a banding or bead, my pattern becomes a mistake-proof story stick. For curved parts where these locations are harder to measure with a rule, flexing a template and transferring marks is both easier and more accurate. These marks preserved on my story stick are often the start of the next iteration of this design.
Patterns are indispensable for one more task — getting difficult joinery right in complex pieces. While I can’t experiment with the actual part, I can fit a thin pattern carefully into position, to get an accurate length and shoulder angles. When the project is done, the patterns are the most valuable pieces I have left. I hang them around my shop waiting for the time I might need them again.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement of the next article upcoming in M&T Issue Three...
I have several days, even weeks maybe, to work on oak furniture now. Some carving yesterday & this morning. here’s a quick photo tour of cutting one lozenge/diamond shape, with tulips in it.
After laying out a diamond shape on horizontal & vertical centerlines, I strike an inner diamond with a small gouge, approximately a #7 sweep. Maybe it’s a 1/4″ wide. Just connect the dots, hitting the vertical & horizontal centerlines with the corners of the gouge.
Then I use the same gouge to “echo” this making an outline around it, these do not connect.
A more deeply curved gouge now comes off these outlines, beginning to form the undersides of the flowers.
Then the same gouge reverses, making an “S”-curve going out to the border. Or just about out to the border…
When you repeat this step on all four quadrants, your negative shape becomes quite prominent – it reminds me of those Goldfish snacks small children eat –
Now a larger gouge, approximately a #8 – reverses again, forming the tops of the lower flower petals.
Then a #7 about 3/4″ wide does more connect-the-dots – reaching from where I left off to the borders. that’s the whole outline. This one is quite small, the piece of wood is 6″ wide, and there’s a 3/4″ margin on both edges. You can use the same pattern on a panel, then some of this outline is cut with a v-tool instead of struck with the gouges.
Then I cut out the background. In this case, it was tight quarters in there, so I used a couple different tools, depending on where I had to get..
The end result. about 15 minutes of carving for the lozenge/diamond. This is going to be one of three muntins for the footboard of a bedstead I’m making.
Here’s the top rail I started back at the Lie-Nielsen Open House…they always show up better once they’re oiled.
Yesterday I started painting a desk box I have underway; but found out I was out of red pigment (iron oxide) – ordered some, and did the black for starters.
Nancy R. Hiller, a professional woodworker and author of the fantastic “Making Things Work,” will read a selection from her book and autograph your copy during a special free event at the Lost Art Press storefront at 7 p.m. on Aug. 12.
Thanks to Nancy’s agreeable nature and off-bubble sense of humor, we also will abuse a piñata she is making (filled with things that don’t normally go in piñatas). And we’ll play her version of “pin the tail on the donkey” – called “pin the tail on the dove.”
Oh, and we’ll have beverages for everyone. So to recap: Nancy, blindfolds, alcohol, sticks and sharp objects. What could go wrong?
The event occurs on the same day as one of our regularly scheduled open Saturdays. So if you’ve been contemplating a trip to our store, Aug. 12 would be a good Saturday to make it. The store at 837 Willard St. in Covington will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then we will re-open at 7 p.m. for the book reading.
To secure your free ticket to the event, please register here. Space is limited.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Making Things Work
Matt Estlea sent me these pictures of his Roubo work bench, constructed using the method of joinery demonstrated in my YouTube video 'Roubo Work Bench Made Easy'. A number of people have made benches using this method but this is the best I've seen yet.
It was made as student project at Rycotewood College and I've no doubt he will score very highly as well as having a great bench to take forward in his woodworking career.
The Benchcrafted hardware for both the leg and tail vice has been carefully installed and works like a dream.
The step I failed in was answering my phone to get the access code to authenticate me. I have an admission to make - I don't know how to answer my phone. You have drag one colored phone receiver icon over to another one. I always pick the wrong one and if I pick the right one, I go in the wrong direction. Whatever happened to just picking a phone up and just saying hello? Where and when did that go south on the nutso express?
Anyways, I am doing ok with texting and I seem to get that right. I should have picked getting my authentication code by text but that is a moot point now. My window of opportunity to talk to a representative to unlock my account was a bit on the narrow side and the times to do so were based on EST. As soon as I got home I got their number and called.
I placed the call at 1550 and I got done talking with the rep at 1620. I almost failed getting my account unlocked again. My SSN and DOB I know but my last transaction with the account was when? When did I open the account with them? This is where I was put on hold for a long time. While I was waiting I found my IRA folder and saw that I had opened this account in 2008. I told him it was 2010 or 2011. I did get the last contribution amount correct and that was what got me unfrozen.
The rep was good enough to stay on the line and set up my recurring contribution. That was a big help because I am not good with this kind of crap. I usually employ my wife to help with it. I'm glad I got it done, got my account unlocked and my contribution set up, and I don't have to deal with this again. But it did eat up a ton of my shop time.
|was on sunday's to do list|
|split glued up yesterday|
|two edge repairs|
|my big tapered dutchman|
|the face came out good and without gaps|
|I have enough time to do some layout|
|all by hand|
|the horizontal board gets a groove and the vertical one gets the tongue|
|look see to the future|
|my longest Hake brush|
|off center divider|
|this shelf won't be so straight forward|
|this will be the center divider|
|this will be the shelf|
|where has this been all my life?|
So far the cabinet carcass is made up from boards left over from the old kitchen cabinets. I was hoping to be able to make the entire finishing cabinet from that stock but it won't be happening sports fans. I'll get some pine from Pepin's Lumber for the door.
|today's temp sans the humidity|
|still tacky according to my wife|
Who was the first black quarterback inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame?
answer - Warren Moon who was also not drafted out of college
Here is an excerpt a small part of what to expect in the new issue. The magazine is far from complete but I thought I’d give you a teaser.
New and improved chip breakers
The purpose of the cap iron ie chip breaker is to deflect shavings, when setup close to the cutting irons edge, supposing to reduce tear out. Leonard Bailey introduced the curved cap iron to his thin irons to eliminate the vibrations which caused chatter. With the Bailey/Stanley versioned cap irons you can modify them to completely eliminate tear out altogether by slightly honing a small bevel on the front edge. The mouth opening no longer plays a part and you can safely even plane against the grain with no tear out, which eliminates the need for a scraper. With the modern so called improved version you can’t do that, I have tried and ruined the cap iron. The reason why toolmakers refuse to reproduce the Stanley/Bailey cap irons is due to the high costs involved in creating a hump in the steel. They need to renew their advertised claim of “new and improved chip breakers” to “new and not so costly to us chipbreakers”; if you have an old Stanley plane do not replace it with a thicker iron and nor the chip breaker with the modern one.
Here are my final thoughts I haven’t included in this issue. The old Stanley planes are remarkable in every sense of the word. Why modern day tool makers felt the need to change them bewilders me. The extra mass in modern day planes is taxing on the body, their reasoning behind it is the more mass the easier it is to push through the wood, I personally cannot agree with this. Whilst working professionally I used it all day everyday and with my bad back I could barely walk at the end of the day. I refurbished an old record smoother last year and found myself to be less fatigued whilst using it. The thin irons are easier to sharpen and quicker also as there is less metal to remove than the new thicker ones. They are also easier to sharpen freehand than the modern day type. The cap irons can be easily modified to plane against the grain eliminating all tearout while the modern day type cannot.
Lie Nielsen and Veritas and others that are coming on the market are high quality planes without a doubt but if I had to do it all over again I would make the switch. I don’t wish to rub any toolmaker up the wrong way but the facts of practical use speaks for itself.
I call this piece the “everyday table” because you see this design everyday. I spotted this one at Home Goods just last week. It’s kind of a cross between a table and a bookcase. As far as construction goes, it’s very simple. Six framed legs with a top, a couple of shelves and a cross “X” on each side. In fact, there’s a website that shows how to build this table, pocket screws and all.
Say what you want about the design and construction, but they are very popular and super easy to build. My wife found the website the other week and asked me to customize one to fit in our dining room as a coffee bar.
Being true to form, I built ours out of southern yellow pine (2 x 10’s). I wasn’t a fan of the thick 2 x 4 legs so I milled all the parts down to 1″ thick.
Keeping it simple, I used pocket screws and glue to attach all the pieces. The shelves are southern yellow pine boards I ripped and glued back together to create a quarter sawn panel so they wouldn’t expand and contract too much.
The hardest part about building the piece are the X’s on the sides, but all that entails is cutting a couple of half lap joints.
Here is the finished bar with a vinegar steel wool solution and gel stain on top to give the wood some depth. The coffee bar has turned more into a display table for my wife’s Rae Dunn collection, but that is another story for another day.
I have since played around with the design again and built another one using eastern white pine. Construction is similar except I used floating tenons instead of pocket screws to build the frames. I’ll still use the vinegar and steel wool solution again on this one and stain it a dark color. My third design will probably have a thicker top and I may use plywood for the shelves. Stay tuned.
I’m in the final week of a project that in some respects highlights my idiosyncratic nature, and truth be told I sorta revel in not fitting in. (I’ll be blogging at length about this project starting in a week or so, and it will take several dozen postings to get it all.)
My first sense of not fitting in with woodworking came on November 9, 1980, when I attended a weekend workshop in Atlanta taught by Ian Kirby. I remember it so precisely because it was in a classroom at Georgia Tech, and that was the day that Tech tied the #1 football team (Notre Dame) in the country and the campus went wild. The subject of the workshop was ostensibly mortise-and-tenon joinery, but I seem to recall him spending an inordinate amount of time extolling the virtues of a new power tool, the biscuit joiner. Of course I bought one, and of course it has remained unused for the past 46.99 of the intervening 47 years. I’m soon sending it off to my friend Pete who can put it to good use.
As is often the case at weekend workshops, regardless of the setting or instructor, there is the opening ritual of the attendees introducing themselves to each other. At this particular weekend the attendees were a mixture of doctors, lawyers, accountants and such. When I introduced myself as a finisher by trade and that I loved finishing, I could almost sense the rest of the students recoiling as though I was some alien creature whose spaceship was parked out on the lawn. Despite that, and despite the fact that I was the youngest participant by two or three decades, at every break and every meal I was peppered with questions about the mysterious and un-knowable world of finishing.
I’ve heard that surveys of the populace reveal that the single greatest fear is the terror induced by the prospect of public speaking (I have no such trepidation, probably because I do not care if the audience agrees with me or not). During that student introduction I was left with a distinct impression that has become cemented over the decades that some/many/most/virtually all woodworkers are as terrified of finishing as they are of public speaking.
Which brings me to my current project, as this week I am rubbing out and detailing the finish I have been so lovingly applying for the past 40 or so hours of shop time. Not only has every moment of the surface prep and application been something to savor, the bringing of the piece to exquisiteness through the finishing process is simply an embarrassment of riches to me. Sure, I found it amusing to make the piece from scratch using almost exclusively early-19th Century technologies as specified by the client, including resawing the lumber, cutting all the lumber and joinery by hand, carving all the moldings, hand sawing and assembling the veneerwork. But to me they were simply the appetizer.
Finishing is the feast, and the whole point of the making. Which I guess makes me a polisher luxuriating in my own peculiarity.
Come on, you witty and waggish woodworkers! Caption this illustration.
From ‘Livre d’Amour’ by Pierre Sala, first quarter of the 16th-century. Collection of the British Library.
Filed under: Historical Images, Personal Favorites
Back in June I found this modified plantation desk at an antiques shop in Winston Salem, NC:
It had been modified to change the angle of the writing surface:
This piece was covered in Less Than Fancy Furniture.
We were in Hermann, MO over the weekend for a wedding. We arrived Friday night and the wedding wasn’t until 3:00 PM on Saturday leaving some time for research. Our plane left at 7:15 PM on Sunday leaving more time for research. I am a very diligent researcher. In a shop in Warrenton, I came across this desk:
This desk has also been modified to change the lid angle:
Looking inside leads me to believe that they might have replaced the front legs as well.
This desk is has a gallery rail and locking storage box affixed to the top:
The tag gives one possible history of this desk:
I am now looking for a third one and I won’t stop until I find it.
And not even then.
We are on the verge of releasing a four-hour video on building a full-blown 18th-century French workbench in the next week or two. The video, starring Will Myers and me, is as complete an explanation of the process as we could manage, and it covers everything from dealing with wet slabs to what is the appropriate finish for a workbench.
In between, Will and I discuss a variety of techniques for completing every operation necessary to build a bench, no matter what sort of tools you use. For example, for making the tenons on the stretchers, we show how to cut them by hand, ho to cut them on the table saw and even how to use a Domino XL in the process.
The video will be available to stream through our website, and (if all goes to plan) you will be able to download a copy of it so you can watch it while not connected to the Internet.
Before we launch the video, two things have to happen: We have to settle on the retail price of the video, and I have to complete the construction drawing that accompanies it. Unfortunately, my computer was fried in an electrical storm a few days ago (don’t worry, everything was backed up), but I don’t have a machine loaded with the suite of software I need to make the drawing.
So stay tuned.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Workbenches
This past weekend I had the good fortune to visit Frank Klausz and his shop in preparation for shooting some videos on Japanese woodworking tools for Popular Woodworking in August. It was a great time, and Frank and his wife Edith were completely gracious hosts to me and my sons.
Those of you who know our history might be surprised at this, but us New Jersey guys stick together, in the end.
Why do we gravitate towards seeing things in black and white, right or wrong, this or that? In this article, Danielle explores the tendency of such a dynamic in the world of woodworking, a world where art is frequently thought of as less-than; a recurrent villain to the hero of craft. Why does the word “art” incite such pushback and how can we inhabit more of the gray areas that exist, in both our own work and the appreciation of others’?
Speaking from her perspective and using the work of furniture makers who inspire her as an example, she describes the journey of balancing traditional hand tool techniques and practicality with the importance she places on the many modern, improvisational, and experimental methods used to shape and embellish her work.
Her encouragement lies in the acceptance of many modes of expression, and emphasizes that the very recognition of one mode does not necessitate the negation of any other. This article does not escape the sociological scope that Danielle frequently employs to identify and make sense of common human behaviors, especially within the realm of hand tool woodworking.
As a child in a declining rural Maine paper mill town she sought beauty where there were only gray smokestacks nestled in the foothills and an overwhelming sentiment of collective defeat. She learned that what she was searching for was something she could create. With this perspective she addresses the value of beauty within the world of craft and the function it serves, suggesting that function goes far beyond the capacity to perform a task. Beyond her own role in this sect of the trades, she makes a case for others to explore their own vision of beauty within utility, either theoretically or in their own work, to help further the craft in all its forms.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement of the next article upcoming in M&T Issue Three...
One thing I learned from my father was how to paint. And especially so how to clean brushes which was my job when I started painting with him. Not bragging, but I am a damn good painter. I could cut in a multi pane window sash with a straw broom if I had too. I thought I had done everything the way I should have on this - primer coat followed by two top coats. Or in my case, 2 primer coats and 4 top coats and it still isn't 100% dry. I can't give this to my wife as it is because I am afraid that the books will stick the paint job. This has to feel dry to touch before moving on.
|no joy in Mudville|
|got them out of the cellar|
The exterior of the bookcase feels totally different. It is dry without feeling clammy anywhere, even the bottom of the bookcase. I can feel the texture of the wood so I know that I can coat this with poly. It isn't necessary but with a couple coats of poly it will be easier to dust and keep clean.
|the before pic|
|after 5+ minutes in the soup|
|cleaned the knurling with a toothbrush|
|the red grudge is gone now|
|Duh, brass on brass won't leave scratches|
|Bar Keeps powder|
|a whole lot of better looking and shiny too|
|working on the frog|
|a couple of minutes later|
|port side done|
|the starboard side|
|face is done|
|getting my finishing cabinet width|
After cutting out the stock for the sides and the top/bottom, I noticed that I didn't have any stock left to make a door with. I have what I need for the shell but I'll have to buy stock for the door and for the drawer(s).
|the cabinet shell|
|they are off|
|corner is blown out|
|also has some shakes and splits|
|I'll dutch something in because I don't have stock to make another side|
|sawed a tapered rabbet|
|cleaned up both faces with the rabbet plane|
|two more hiccups to fix|
|ran gauge lines top and bottom|
|chiseled out the waste between the stop cuts|
|another split on the other end being fixed|
|made some 1/4" dowels|
Maybe tomorrow I can get the carcass together.
Who was Francis Gabreski?
answer - American's #1 Ace in the european theater during WWII with 28 kills
The rabbit hutch project is finally taking shape. I usually don’t paint or finish a project until the very end, but this one really calls for painting along the way. Painting many of the inside parts would be difficult later, but easy if done now.
- The Rabbit Hutch – Part 1 (Front frames and doors)
- The Rabbit Hutch – Part 2 (Sidewalls)
- The Rabbit Hutch – Part 3 (Carcase assembly)
- The Rabbit Hutch – Part 4 (Floor frames)
In the last post, I made the floor frames for both levels of the hutch. I need to install these, but first I’m going to paint the inside of the hutch while I can still get in there.
The two floor frames were installed with screws. I had drilled countersunk pilot holes in the last post, and they made installation must easier now.
You may remember way back to my first post in this series when I made the doors. Now it is time to install and paint them. I also installed galvanized latches.
I gave a little thought to the inside of the hutch and decided that it would be pretty dark in there once the back and the roof are on. I decided that I could lighten it up a little, by painting the interior surfaces gloss white. This will help to reflect what light does come in through the wire mesh doors.
After testing the fit off the back, I prepped it for painting.
With the back installed, I moved on to fixing an oversight in my design. There is a large gap above the front face frame and below the roofline. I decided that I could fill this with a piece of plywood, but needed some backing support to attach it to. I cut three pieces of douglas fir and beveled the tops to match the pitch of the roof.
I screwed the backer blocks to the hutch and painted them before installing the plywood board.
With that, the main body of the hutch is done. Now I need to build two poop drawers, a roof, a ramp, and a small insulated box that the rabbits can go into to avoid the worst of winter.
In the next post, I’ll tackle the drawers.
– Jonathan White
It’s not very often that I get requests for projects that I build. Some of my stuff is a little out there. But, when I do get a request, I try to accommodate. My version of the ratcheting book stand design that Peter Follansbee brought back into focus has proven popular among family members.
The nephew is in from college for the summer and asked if I would make him a “medium” (3/4 scale) version to take back to college in the Fall. Of course I will! Apparently the Summer is all but over because he will be packing off for the Fall semester in a few weeks. Given that sobering time frame I figured that I had better get with it.
I dug through the offcut pile and culled out enough bits from which to mill up the parts.
I began with the posts by first bringing them to a rough round at the shaving horse and then to final shape on the spring pole lathe. I turned a small urn-shaped finial on them and a single, simple bead. The locations for the rungs/spindles I set in with a skew chisel and then used my bit of welding wire (shown in use on a garden dibber) to burn them in.
Each of the parts progressed in the same manner, shaving horse, lathe and done. I’m definitely no speed demon at the spring pole lathe, but I am getting quicker. So by the end of the day I had all of the parts turned and ready for assembly.
Today I did the boring bit and then shaped the shelf. Everything went pretty smoothly , mostly due to my working at a relaxed pace. Or it was just pure luck. Either way, the dry fit and subsequent glue up is done.
One trick-of-the-trade that I have been using is to pre-finish the individual parts while they are on the lathe. It gives me a jumpstart on the finishing process. More importantly though, it makes cleaning up the glue squeeze out much easier.
I’ll add a couple of more coats of my usual Tried & True Original over the next few days and this little ratcheting book stand is ready for college. I hope the nephew has been saving his pennies from his summer job in preparation for his upcoming economics lesson…
…uncle Greg doesn’t work cheap!
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I was working on an office interior in which all four walls had something made from sapele. I thought I’d share some of the woodwork, but I particularly wanted to show the before and after when using shellac – off-the-store-shelf, right-out-of-the-can shellac. Thank you Zinsser.
And thank you suppliers for stocking fresh shellac, when they had it. The first stop – big blue – had two outdated gallons (one from 2008 and one from 2010) and one from 2014.