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Finishing - Try Natural Shellac

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 9:37pm

Two varieties of Shellac: Dewaxed Platina on left and Natural Golden on right

India is the world's primary supplier of Shellac. The tropical jungles of eastern India (whatever little is left of them) continue to yield tons of laac smeared twigs that are processed into usable Shellac.

Shellac or laac (as it is known locally) has been around in India for centuries and has been used as an effective wood finish for as long. The use of Shellac in finishing travelled to the West following the arrival of European seafaring traders in the 16th and 17th century.

Today, most wood finishers seem to prefer the de-waxed, bleached variety of Shellac. Natural Shellac is golden, orange or garnet in colour and full of a type of wax.

De-waxed Shellac comes in many varieties differentiated chiefly by the extent of bleaching. Shellac from which wax has been removed is usually of a golden or garnet tint. This Shellac is then bleached to different extents, producing variants such as Platina, Blond and so on.

De-waxed Shellac is virtually colourless, dries very hard and adheres to virtually any surface. This variety is most widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to coat pills and capsules.

Many woodworkers claim this is the best type of Shellac for finishing. In India, however, woodworkers traditionally have always used, and continue to use, natural Shellac for finishing.

There are varieties or grades of natural Shellac as well, starting with seedlac, which is an unfiltered first stage of Shellac production where the bodies of the microscopic insects that produce laac are present. This Shellac is distinctly orange in colour and is the most widely available in Indian hardware shops.

The next type is called button laac; this variety has some of the wax and most impurities (dirt and dead insect bodies) removed and is pressed into large button like shapes.

The third variety is purified Shellac which still retains its natural wax. This comes in the form of fine flakes and in a variety of colours, including Lemon, Garnet and Golden.

I tested some natural Golden Shellac and loved it. The flakes dissolve quickly and easily in spirit (rectified alcohol) to form a dark cloudy finish. (see photograph).

The two trays have been given a couple of coats of Shellac: the left is one finished with Natural Golden and the right one with Dewaxed Platina. In the foreground are pieces of the original Pine used in makig the trays.

I tried some of it on a pine tray and was very pleased with the splendid golden colour that it imparted. The Platina de-waxed Shellac, on the other hand, did not tint the wood.

Clearly, the choice of Shellac depends on personal preferences but the notion that Shellac with wax is inappropriate for finishing is not correct. It would of course be a wrong choice if Shellac is being used as a sealer over which some other finish such as polyurethane is to be applied.

Natural Shellac dries as hard as the de-waxed type but is easier to use for French Polishing on account of the wax it contains. The use of de-waxed Shellac in French polishing requires the use of some kind of oil which needs to be removed later on. Natural Shellac does not require the use of any oil and the wax seems to bond well with the Shellac.

Traditional finishers in India, at one time, would add various resins such as rosin (Pine resin) gum Copal and Sandarac to add shine, hardness and so on to the Shellac polish. These techniques are mostly lost. But the use of the much cheaper "natural" Shellac varieties, some of which like Natural Lemon are extremely light, continues and has much to recommend itself.

Indranil Banerjie
24 March 2017
Categories: Hand Tools

Inexpensive Window Trim

MVFlaim Furnituremaker - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 6:22pm

The windows in our house aren’t much to talk about. Just 36″ square vinyl windows in a typical ranch. I’m not sure how old they are as I know they aren’t original to the house, but were here when I bought it fifteen years ago. My wife, Anita, wanted to jazz them up a bit and give them some character, so she asked me to make trim to go around them.

20170312_105920

The first thing we did, was to take out the marble sill, which was the hardest part. Sometimes they get stuck inside the frame, so I had brake them apart in order for them to come loose. If I was lucky, I could cut the sealant around the sill and jimmy it loose.

20170312_105942

I made a new sill out of 7/8″ thick maple. I tried to get rift sawn material so it wouldn’t warp too bad. I cut notches on both sides of the sill so it would stick out on the wall so the 1×4’s could lay on top of it.

20170312_123610

We wanted the header to have character so we took a 1×6 of pine and attached a 1×2 on the top. We then laid a cove molding on the 1×6.

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Using my small miter box, I was able to cut the tiny pieces of cove for the ends.

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I then took a piece of pine 1/2″ thick and used my block plane to shape the corners and ends to create a bullnose. I pinned everything together  with my 18 gauge pneumatic nailer to complete the header.

img_20170312_142516_891

Back at the window, I measured, cut, and nailed the rest of the pieces to the wall using a 15 gauge finish nailer. I trimmed the maple sill so that there would be a 3/4″ overhang to sides on both ends.

img_20170312_202015_986

Here’s the close up of the header nailed to the wall. The 1/2″ thick bullnose hangs over 1/2″ on both sides of the frame.

20170323_203246

After filling the nail holes with putty, Anita caulked, primed, and painted the window trim. We did both windows in our bedroom the same way. The next step is to frame around the closet, paint the room, get a new headboard, new blinds, ceiling fan, rug, etc… I don’t know, ask Anita, she’s the designer. haha


Sawing Tenons

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 5:05pm
Fig95

Fig. 95


This is an excerpt from “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing.

Fig119

Fig. 119

The accurate sawing of tenons (Fig 119) is a vital skill. They should be sawn with confidence and should fit from the saw. To saw clear of the lines, for safety, is not recommended since whittling an overthick tenon to size is both more difficult and less accurate than sawing correctly in the first place. A 250mm (10in.) tenon or backsaw is the most commonly used for this purpose. Frame saws are used in Europe and by some workers in the USA, but they have never been popular in Britain since the manufacture of good-quality backsaws, and beginners usually find them rather clumsy.

Fig105

Fig. 105

Before starting, check over the names of the parts on Fig 95 and shade in the waste. While there is little chance of throwing away the wrong piece, it is essential that the sawdust should be removed from the  waste and not from the tenon. That is, the ‘kerf’ (the sawcut) should be in the waste and just up to the line. Beginners using the thick pencil aid in Fig 105 should saw away one pencil line and leave the other intact. The technique is not difficult if the following guidelines are followed: do not saw down two gauge lines at a time; do not saw to a line which is out of sight. (A modification to the saw is described in Appendix B.)

Start sawing always at the farther corner not the nearer one. Beginners may find it useful to chisel a triangular nick there to start the saw accurately (Fig 120). With the rail held vertically in the vice, start to saw at that far corner, slowly lowering the handle until a slot is cut about 3mm (1/8in.) deep (Fig 121). Now tilt the workpiece (Fig 122) and, keeping the saw in the slot, saw from corner to corner. Then turn the work round, or stand on the other side, and saw again from corner to corner, leaving an uncut triangle in the centre (Fig 123). Now grip the work vertically and, running down the two existing sawcuts, remove this last triangle, sawing down to the knife line, but no farther. Keep the saw horizontal (Fig 124).


If there is a set-in or haunch, saw this next. Repeat these stages on all the other tenons (Fig 125). The haunch may be sawn right off now or later.

Sawing the shoulder is most important as this is the piece left exposed. Except on wide rails, which may be planed, the shoulder should go up from the saw. Cramp to the bench, deepen the knife cut and chisel a shallow groove (Fig 126). Lay a very sharp saw in the groove and draw it back a few times to make a kerf, then saw off the cheek. Take the greatest care not to saw into the tenon (Fig 127), which would then be severely weakened. Should the waste not fall off, the cheek has probably been sawn with an arc-like motion, leaving some waste in the centre (Fig 128). Do not saw the shoulder deeper. Prise off the waste with a chisel, then gently and carefully pare away the obstruction. Saw off the haunch if not sawn previously.

Saw off the set-in with a little to spare, and trim this back to the knife line with a chisel only just wider than the tenon size. This avoids damage to the corner of the shoulder. Finally saw the mitre (Fig 129). The tenons should be lettered or numbered to identify them with their mortices.

Meghan Bates


Filed under: The Essential Woodworker
Categories: Hand Tools

Shavings of Fibonacci

Paul Sellers - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 8:25am

Though Fibonacci developed his numerical sequence to provide a formula that’s used throughout many mathematical considerations, and mathematicians may enjoy its reality in their work, it also occurs naturally in elements of nature too. The nautilus shell is an example and so too the natural numbering system appears in the arrangement of plant leaves, pinecones, pineapple cones, …

Read the full post Shavings of Fibonacci on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Bookboards I

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 7:15am

Some time last year I was contacted by the ancient book caretakers of the Library of Congress (LC) to inquire about some in-house training they needed in woodworking.  Yes, that’s right, ancient book caretakers needed to know about woodworking.  Actually I knew that because many, many years ago I had helped a colleague in the same department with a project having to do with  very large format book (about the size of a Roubo original edition) that was having problems with its bookboards, or cover boards, which were made of oak.  You see, the the world of old books, especially those from about 1500 and older, wooden book covers are simply part of the equation.  While the specialists at LC were expert in the care of the paper contents, and their bindings, they were a bit hazy on the details and practices of fashioning the wooden boards.

Having participated in a number of collaborations with LC over my career, they asked if I could come and teach them.  Of course the answer was “Yes” and we began the Dance of the Conflicting Calendars.  Combined with the political brinkmanship that is endemic to Mordor on the Potomac it took many months for the training to occur last month.  One of the items looming overhead was the sub rosa blustering about “shutting the government down” to accomplish some partisan goal or another.  (My own attitude on that matter as a skeptical non-partisan Strict Constructionist Declarationist I wished the government would shut down, or at least retreat to its Constitutionally mandated activities, which by my count means elimination of ~90% of FedCo.)

The goal of the two-day session was to impart the knowledge and implant the muscle memory so that each member of the ancient book posse could fabricate a technically faithful book model as a practice exercise in preparation for the next time one of the ancient wooden board books needed re-binding.

So, on a bitter cold and blustery February morning I pulled up to the doors of the elegant LC Jefferson building, my CRV filled to the brim with tools and materials for them to use under my tutelage.  In a caravan of carts all of these were wheeled down to the book conservation space underneath the Madison Building across the street, and I set up shop.

Only one of the crew had experience in woodworking (the fellow using the bow saw in the picture below) so I needed to start at Point Zero to review the nature of wood, tools, and the processes used in planing, sawing, etc.  I brought plenty of 5/4 white oak to work with, and we got down to bidnez.

The first assignment was for everyone to use the bench bench hooks I made for them to saw a single piece to the size they needed for their book model’s boards.

Then came the flattening of one face of that board to provide a reference surface for the resawing.  Given the human scale involved (this crowd was for the most part more petite than a typical woodworking gathering) they were particularly pleased with #4 planes, which are too small for my routine use.

With the flat reference face completed, next came the resawing.  I’d made a Fidgen-style kerfing plane to leave with them, and they took to it like me and bacon.  The final product was to be a 1/4″ thick book board, so I made the kerfing plane to create a 3/8″ thickness.

One of the more serious challenges for the exercise is that as a book conservation unit they were not well equipped for woodworking in the bench category.  Their only bench was an ancient and wobbly Sjoberg hobby bench.

I have one exactly like it that I got out of the trash many years ago.  Frankly if I had to use one like this every day it would end in the trash too.  I completely remade mine, mounted it on some 4″ slippers to get it to a decent working height, and screwed the entire thing to the floor, resulting in a very nice and oft-used work station.  Mine is currently ensconced in the corner, perhaps not coincidentally closest to the propane furnace, and is dedicated to the finer work of decorative objects conservation, gunsmithing, etc.

I will do my best to address their lack of a decent workbench, hoping to make and donate a mini-Roubo in the coming months.  But for now, all we had was a wobbly little bench and some mobile work tables.

 

Then the resawing began with a variety of saws, and thus endeth Day One.

Stanley #120 block plane rehabbing.........

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 1:43am
Had a quick night in the shop tonight. I didn't make any pit stops and as soon as I got home, I put the garbage out. I didn't get any pickup last week and I think I know why. I have gotten a few notes in the past on my garbage bins explaining the errors of my ways. It seems here in Warwick in order to get your garbage dumped you have to put out at least one recycling bin. Be it the paper or the bottle and cans one. I didn't do that and for the second week in a row, my garbage wasn't picked up.

I have put out one recycling bin only to be told that it must be at least 1/2 full to be put curbside.  Let's see if we can do the math on this together. In order to have the garbage picked up I have to have a 1/2 full recycling bin. I have put an empty one along side the garbage and I got a note explaining how wrong I was to do that. I didn't get my garbage picked up that day neither. So, Einstein, what is the solution to this?

What does picking up the garbage have to do with the recycling? If I don't put out one that is at least 1/2 full, nothing gets picked up. I think that there is one and only one genius that has thought up these rules. 90% of the time I only put out the garbage and it gets picked up.  Why? because I don't generate enough recycling to put a 1/2 full bin curbside every week. Every once in a while this no pickup crappola happens. I gave up calling city hall to get a clarification on this. I am stuck with the fecal covered end of the stick no matter which I turn here.

look familiar
A friend of mine asked me why I went 'ape shit' (his words) on flattening the back of this iron? He said you only have to do a 1/4" or a 1/2" at the most. I made this so large because it is easier for me to do it this way. By having more real estate on the 80 grit belt, there is less of a chance that I'll be doing this with the iron pitched down. With this much on the belt I can also bear down on the top of it with the heel of my palm. That saves a lot of wear and tear on my fingers. That is why it is that large Frank.


Stanley #120 block plane
Matt from the Tiny Workshop offered me his 120 for parts to get my #120 up and running. Of course I accepted. Now I can get at least one of these working.

I don't know a lot about these block planes. According to Stanley Catalogue #34 this plane cost 75 cents and was an upgrade over the #103. The #120 got ground parallel sides and a rosewood knob instead of a metal boss like on the #103. Both planes were intended for light duty work. Insert one of Bob Demers blogs on fleshing out about everything you had to now about the Stanley #120 here.

I was expecting a derelict or at the very least something that didn't look as nice as this does. To my eye it is looking like I might be able to rehab the both of them.

slight differences are apparent
The first difference is the lever caps cutouts are not the same. Matt's block plane (on the right)is larger and it extends back toward the heel more. And I'm pretty sure that the knob is rosewood too.

knob fits on my plane
It didn't tighten until it was almost down to the bottom. I'm sure that these knobs were lost with a lot of frequency. I think the boss from the #103 should have been used on this plane too. I'll keep looking for a spare knob but I won't be holding my breath till I get one.

irons are the same width
Matt's iron is cleaner and has some shine to it.  Mine is rusty but it is only half ass'ed sharpened. In spite of that it took pretty decent shavings. I didn't try Matt's iron but his bevel is shiny and looks to be sharp. Matt's iron has been used a wee bit more than mine as you can see in the pic.

the bottoms
Matt obviously loved this plane and took good care of it. His toe and heel appear to have a larger radius and both planes are close to the same length. The width is also within +/- 5 frog hairs.

From the Stanley catalogue #34, the bottom and sides were ground on the #120. I'll be doing that on mine a little later on. The #103 had a ground bottom but japanned sides.

taking a citrus bath until tomorrow
I got both planes in here and nothing is touching bottom.

new feet material
6/4 ash on the left and 8/4 white oak on the right. I don't want to use the white oak so the ash is batting lead off.

two wide ribbons of sapwood
When I fumed the clock I'm replacing the movement in, the sapwood barely changed color. I don't know how the sapwood will react to ebonizing. This goes back into the wood pile.

ash is about a 1/4" wider

I think this is the best choice to to go with. I can easily get the reveal I want on both sides.

I got my 1/8"
If the sides end up a bit thin, I can thin down the feet to get a balanced reveal.

I can get both feet out of this and avoid the sapwood
found a smaller piece
I have less waste with this so this is now the lead off batter. BTW, these cherry feet are the off cuts from the cradle ends I made for my daughter.

stickered my parts
I am feeling under the weather. My stomach hurts and I'm getting light headed. Not a good mix with hand tools or power tools. We'll see what tomorrow brings but for now I am quitting and heading for the bunky.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Before the hair dryer was invented in 1920, what was used to dry your hair?
answer - the vacuum cleaner

It Followed My Wife Home.

The Furniture Record - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 9:15pm

I can hear the derisive snickers out there. You’re all thinking:

“It followed his wife home? Sure!”

As Roy as my witness, I promise you the story I am about to tell is true. I can’t make this stuff up.

I can embellish…

It is a closely guarded secret that I spend my spare time visiting auctions and antiques shops, recording and documenting the rare treasures I find there. It is our past. It is our legacy. It defines who we are as a species. It’s a bunch of old stuff people don’t want anymore yet has some perceived value.

On occasion, my wife will accompany me to an auction preview. It is usually my second visit. I know she has no interest in spending two hours admiring and photographing every item that was made before McKinley was president. It is one of the things that makes our marriage work. I don’t insist she spends hours staring at old wood objects and she doesn’t insist I accompany her to the beach. Exceptions have been made in certain extreme situations. We must all be flexible.

A recent auction caught my wife’s attention. It was the quarterly catalog auction and it included wine. One cannot actually preview the wine but one can read the list and do research. My wife is very organized and likes to read lists and do research. She found a lot of three bottles of Napa wines that she managed to get significantly below current North Carolina retail, if she could find it.

Buoyed by this success, she decided she wanted to hit the auction preview with me. The evening before the auction, I made my second visit and she made her first. She was better prepared. She has studied the online descriptions and had a list of items she wanted to see. I had a vague notion of what I needed more pictures of.

She quickly dismissed most of her list. The rugs were the wrong size or color. The decorative accessories were in worse shape than the casual collector could tolerate. There was one item on the list she really liked, an English settle.

English Style Settle

DSC_5489

This lot has sold.

Description:   Early 20th century, oak and pine, barrel form with shaped arms, curved seat.

About settles. We have had a front porch in need of a settle since we moved in. I know just the settle I want to build. The problem is that I have not delivered said settle. The wood is not even in the shop. Nothing on the calendar. I was slightly hurt that she wanted to buy one but I got over it.

The morning of the auction, I attempted to enter our carefully considered maximum bid, saw that we were already $80 below the current bid, talked and bumped it $100.  Then when my wife wasn’t looking, I added another $40.

That night she asked what it went for. I told her that it closed above our second bid. I waited ten minutes to tell her of the third bid that was successful. She forgave me my subterfuge.

And here it is:

DSC_6045

Front view.

We had to place it flat against the wall. Being relatively lightweight pine, it makes a great sail. I was going to build mine from whire oak.

Here you see the barrel form:

DSC_6038

I bet when new, the boards overlapped.

DSC_6039

A nice bent molding.

A relatively shallow settle:

DSC_6034

Shallow and not very deep.

Relatively simple construction:

DSC_6037

No dovetails. And yet I bought it.

Nothing fancy on the sides:

DSC_6040

A simple bridle on the armrest.

DSC_6035

Joinery so simple, I could make it.

DSC_6047

All I need to do is learn to turn spindles.

DSC_6043

An interesting square patch. I wonder what the wound was.

Looking at the bottom, I could see that it has been stripped. It had gone through most of its life covered with mustard colored paint:

DSC_6041

Or is it flax, Naples yellow, arylide yellow, or citrine?

I suggested to my wife that for the sake of authenticity, we restore the mustard paint. She was not impressed by this notion.

I expressed my concern that this pine bench might not survive long outside, even on a covered porch. Her response was, “Well, if it only lasts two or three years, it gives us time to find something else.”

I thought, “I have shared a bed with this woman for 26 years and right now, she is a stranger to me. I don’t know this person.”

Fortunately, as an adult, I have a filter and what came out was, “Well, OK.”

This brings up two questions. Firstly, is this a historic and significant piece of furniture or just old? On some level I believe that every piece of furniture ever built needs to be lovingly preserved until we run out of PODS and U-Haul storage units. This is not realistic. Some furniture must die so others can live.

Second question, what is the best non-opaque finish to use on this settle? It will require a fairly high level of UV resistance. My first thought was a good marine spar varnish.

I am willing to entertain other suggestions.

 

 


Chris vs. the Volcano

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 7:10pm

pompeii_carpenters

I leave for Naples, Italy, in the morning to research Roman workbenches, which is a shocking sentence to write.

When I wrote my first book on workbenches, I had never seen an ancient French workbook in person. I’d never used a leg vise. And I had about 238 other unanswered questions as I pieced together my first Roubo workbench.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of workbenches all over the world, and I’ve learned an important lesson: There ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. Getting your hands on a thing is worth 1,000 images or translated texts.

Before starting Lost Art Press, jetting off to Europe to look at old paintings, sculptures, woodworking and a volcano was a laughable idea. But thanks to the company John and I have built during the last 10 years, this trip was an easy call.

We couldn’t have done this without your support. I know that a lot of you buy all our books, regardless of whether you are deeply interested in the topic or not. That sort of customer loyalty is the reason we can take chances with projects that may or may not produce results.

I know that many of you are wondering why the heck we are dabbling in these benches that look like they are for slaughtering pigs (and yet you buy the books anyway). I can now assure you that this particular adventure is a rich and untapped vein of craft knowledge that has been right in front of our faces for a couple centuries.

I have a big pile of paper on my desk that is filled with stuff I have to translate, build and put to use on this topic. But first, I have a date with a volcano.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. I won’t be blogging much during the next week. Meghan, Kara and Suzanne have all offered to pitch in during my absence. So enjoy a profound absence of squirrel metaphors during the next eight days.


Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

In 2013 I Traveled the USA

Paul Sellers - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 2:14pm

Tuesday 21st March 2017 It’s hard to believe but in 2013, starting in January, I traveled 12 US states to demonstrate my belief that hand tool woodworking could feature a thousand percent more highly than it did if we could seriously consider what we wanted from being woodworkers. I knew from my experience living and working …

Read the full post In 2013 I Traveled the USA on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Tasai Japanese Dovetailing Chisels

David Barron Furniture - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 1:02pm

Here is my set of Tasai dovetail chisels bought many years ago from 'The Best Things' in the US. They are still selling them now http://www.thebestthings.com/newtools/tasai_japanese_bench_chisels.htm


I made a nice little box for them from rare Andaman Padouk, purchased from the widow of the great Alan Peters. This wood was a favourite of James Krenov, my other hero.


These are beautifully weighted chisels and just superb to handle. Unlike other Japanese dovetail shaped chisels, these are actually suitable for getting right into the corners of dovetails. Instead of finishing with square edges, they are angled sufficiently to cope with the corners without bruising.


Tasai is more famous for his dramatic and showy Damascus chisels which 'The Best Things' also sell. But I just love the way these all black chisels are so understated, no fancy layering, no multiple hollows and no exotic handles. Just beautifully made, superbly balanced and extremely practical.


The handle maker (I've forgotten his name) discreetly leaves his mark on the red oak handle.


And the famous Tasai mark, again discreetly stamped on the blade. If you bought a set you wouldn't be disappointed with either the look, the feel or the performance.


Categories: Hand Tools

How to Use a Marking or Mortise Gauge (reprise)

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 4:00am

I try to write a new entry for my blog every week. I also try to make it useful or at least not boring. Sometimes I succeed. However because it's a weekly thing lots of content gets rolled under the covers and after a time lost. So this week I decided to take one of the earliest blogs I every wrote (#8 from a decade ago) and bring it current again. Yes I know everyone hates when magazines to a yearly article on the same subject again and again, but like magazines we have a lot of new readers who haven't see this topic.
(note: I shot a video for this yesterday but I didn't get a chance to finish editing it so check back over the weekend and I should have added it in).

Every time someone comes in and buys a marking or mortise gauge, I give them a quick demo on how to use it. It's not unusual for customers to know they need a gauge, but not how to use one. It's not their fault. There is a hell of a lot of misinformation on this subject, and using a gauge properly isn't intuitive.

The goal of a gauge is to provide a line that is just deep enough to catch a chisel or a pencil. Some people like deep cuts with a knife, but the deeper the gauge line, the more you will have to plane the finished surface - otherwise finish will catch in the line and the entire world will see the gauge line. The great woodworking writer Charles H. Hayward noted that when he apprenticed (around 1910) visible gauge lines in a finished work was considered sloppy but it was a common practice. These days, it is all too common and perversely considered a proud mark of "hand craftsmanship."

The problem that people have in using gauges is that when the gauge sits square on the wood, its pin will dig in, follow the grain, wobble, and give you a jerky cut. So various woodworking gurus have advocated filing the pins really short, so even if the gauge sort of works, you can't see where you are going; filing them into knives, so you get a deep line that is hard to get rid of later; remounting the pins on a diagonal; and giving up entirely and using a wheel gauge.

Here is how you really solve this problem:

1) Set the fence to the right setting.
2) With your hand curled around the fence and beam, tilt the gauge away from you and rest it on the long cornered edge of the beam (the corner away from you). The picture and diagram should make this easier to understand.
3) Put pressure on the fence in so the gauge is tight against the wood, and with the corner of the bean firmly on the wood, tilt the gauge towards you. With this method, with all the pressure going into the fence and edge of the beam, it is trivial to control the pressure on the pin. You can have a tiny bit of pressure on the pin that just leaves a mark for smooth visible wood, or you can just as easily bear down on with more pressure for rough wood so that you get a mark you can see.
3) Then push the gauge away from you, always keeping the long edge of the beam on the word. You push the gauge away from you so that you can see what you are doing. And of course with the pin tilted it won't dig into the wood.
4) You don't want the gauge to go off the the end of the board, because once the beam goes off the wood, you will lose control. So stop just before the end of the line and repeat from the other end of the board this time tilting the gauge towards you.
5) It's better to have a light mark than a dark one. If you have trouble seeing your scribe mark, just run a very sharp pencil in the groove.
6) That's it. A sharp pin isn't super important because in general you want a thin shallow line, but that's a personal preference. I don't think I have ever sharpened a pin in my life.

We sell gauges from about $15 and up. They all work. If you are getting just one gauge, I would suggest the Marples screw adjustable combination gauge. The screw adjust allows you to set the width of a mortise independently of the fence setting, which is a real boon. However, in a pinch all the gauges we sell work. You don't need the fancier Trial 1, although I do like the weight of it. Colen Clenton's gauges feel wonderful in the hand. You won't regret the purchase, but it's certainly a next gauge to get, when you settled into joinery and have the urge to splurge. Over the years I have acquired a lot of gauges because I will set a gauge to particular measure, and then put a piece of tape over the thumbscrew so that I don't accidentally move it, and I'll recognize that it's set for a particular project. On a long project, I can tie up gauges for months, so I have a bunch of gauges.

You'll see over the years and over your projects a hierarchy of favorite and "others" will naturally emerge.

PS - The scribe line in the picture looks a little ratty because it took a bunch of tries to get a shot in focus.

The Principles of Design

Journeyman's Journal - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 2:23am

There are three fundamental rules in designing furniture:  Rhythm, Balance and Harmony, according to Fred D. Crawshaw who has based his theory on E. A. Batchelder’s book “The principles of design.

Here is an excerpt from a book I’m reading dated 1912 for teachers of woodworking, I feel that many of you may find this beneficial in understanding the fundamental laws of furniture design which you may consider when drawing up your own furniture designs.  Even if you don’t design one yourselves you will at the very least have a better understanding of furniture design concepts and be able to differentiate between a good design and a bad one.

Steps to take in designing a piece of furniture

  1. In response to a need for a piece of furniture consider carefully it’s detailed use.

 

  1. Determine the material to be used in construction. In general, close grained and fine textured woods are most suitable for furniture which has a limited use such as parlour and bedroom pieces.  The courser grained woods have their principle use in living and dining room furniture.  Again, the close grained and hardwoods are best suited to pieces of furniture having many curved lines formed either by modelling or turning.  The courser grained woods should be used principally in furniture of severe design.

 

  1. Determine, if possible, the place a piece of furniture will occupy in a room. This will fix some of the definite dimensions and will enable one to make a wise selection of the kind of lines to be used that the piece may be harmoniously associated with its companion pieces.

 

  1. “Block in” the design so as to make the piece of furniture harmonise with the general “makeup” of the room. Secure the harmony by having a re-echo of the line.

 

  1. Consider now the indefinite or detailed dimensions to make all parts of the piece members of one family. This will result in unity.  All details such as the modelling of top and bottom rails, the use of curves in stiles and legs, the modelling of feet and top of legs or posts, and the making of metal fittings, etc., will affect this element – an all important one – in the design.

 

  1. Make good constructions and proportion serve as an important factor in the decoration of the piece.

 

  1. Before considering the design complete, give careful attention to the three fundamental elements of design: viz.: rhythm, balance and harmony. If the several parts are so arranged and formed that there is movement as the eye passes from one part to another in the design, then rhythm has been secured.  If, by having the whole arranged symmetrically with respect to an axis or by a judicious arrangement of parts, the whole seems to stand or hang truly, there is balance.  If the design as a whole does not “jar” upon one; if all parts seem to belong together, then there is harmony.  The design is a unit.

 

Correlation in Design

 

It is believed that no better line of work can be introduced in conjunction with woodwork than that commonly called “Decorative Metal.”  Many woodwork constructions are enriched by the addition of some escutcheon – a strap, a hinge, a pull or a corner plate.  The making of these metal fittings may be considered a legitimate part of a course of study in woodwork, especially one in which emphasis is laid upon the design and construction of furniture.  It is believed there is no line of work which offers a greater opportunity for the teachings of the principles of design and for their application than this.  There is, too, not only an opportunity but a demand for close and natural correlation between furniture making and its associate, decorative metalwork.

 

General lines and Proportions

 

The general character of the lines will be largely dependent upon the lines in the pieces of furniture with which the one you are designing is to be associated; there should be a general harmony of line, a re-echo of line, in the room as well as in the single piece of furniture.  The general proportions will be determined by the space your piece of furniture is to fill and its use.  In case it has no particular place in the home or there is not a decided need for it, a design is not called for.  It is believed that much of the furniture of either poor or mediocre design is the result of a misdirected effort due to a misconceived or purely mercenary demand.

 

Construction

 

The shape of the piece of furniture will generally determine its construction.  One will hardly make a mistake in the selection of joints to be used, but there are many forms of some of the principle joints, such as the tenon and mortise joint, from which to select.  Here, again, one must be governed by that fundamental law of design, viz., there must by harmony.

If the general design is a severe one, then the protruding form of joint will be appropriate, such as, for example, the open or pinned tenon and mortise joint instead of the closed one or the screwed construction instead of the nailed butt joint, etc.

Construction is no less an important factor in the ultimate beauty of a piece of furniture than is its design.  The best designed article may be ruined by poor constructions.  Makeshifts such as glued on parts to represent protruding tenons and pins are deprecated.  The butt joint fastened by means of screws or lag bolts may be an appropriate form of construction and decoration, but it should not be used as a general substitute for the tenon and mortise.

It is a false interpretation of honest construction and is one of the many things in manual training which helps to swell the number of those who condemn the subject for its insufficiency and impractical methods.

 

Decorative features

 

Simple carving, upholstering or textile or leather panelling is often the thing needed to give a piece completeness in appearance, but, ordinarily, good lines, good proportions and good finish are quite sufficient to fulfil all aesthetic requirements.  The simple modelling of the top or bottom of a post and the introduction of broken or curved lines in some of the rails and stiles is sufficient decoration.

In addition to these three considerations, it is desired to call attention to two others dependent upon one or all of these three:

  1. There will constantly arise as one works over a design the question of widths and lengths of certain parts.  Some of these will be definite because of the use to which the piece of furniture will be put, but many may be determined with some degree of accuracy if one will carefully consider the three following laws governing arrangement.
  • Uniform spacing of similar parts is usually unsatisfactory.
  • Wide masses and narrow openings should be made near the bottom of a piece instead of near the top to give the feeling of stability.
  • The centre of weight in a design should be directly below the centre of gravity.
  1. The satisfactory of filling of space areas is often difficult.  This is largely a problem in decoration although it may be one in construction when the strength of the piece of furniture is an important factor in the design.  As an aid toward a satisfactory of arrangement of parts in a given area the designer should become familiar with the term “measure” and the principles in design affecting it, viz., rhythm, balance and harmony, as set forth in E.A. Batchelder’s book, “The Principles of Design.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Categories: Hand Tools

new (old) project.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 12:30am
I've had this project staged and ready to start since last year. One thing or another has grabbed my limited attention span it has sat unloved until now.  I've been thinking a bit about it and on how to do some of the joinery. I'll get into that later.

I haven't forgotten about my workbench build. I still have to clean up the face vise and buy all the wood and I'll start to do that next month. I'll make a road trip up to Highlands to buy the wood for the base. I'll build that first and then I'll start in on the bench top. That is in the sequence of events as of now. I'm hoping that I'll be done with it and using it by the end of summer.

flattened with 80 grit
I totally forgot about doing the clock. Instead I played with one of the four irons waiting to be sharpened. The 80 grit was still set up on the workbench so I decided to see how long it would take to flatten this #3 iron. From a short go on the 80 grit yesterday it looked it would be quick to do.

the diamond lapping plate was next
I noticed that after the 80 grit, I don't get the total flattening when I move up to the diamond stones. I did strokes on this until the cloudy areas by my fingers were gone.

I used all 4 of my diamond stones
I went through them all skipping the 8K Japanese stone. I could stop after the first diamond stone but I don't like the scratches so I go through them all till I get the polished look.

I inherited this shiny bevel
I rounded off the corners before I started to sharpen and hone the bevel.

iron is done
Went up through the 3 diamond stones, polished it on the 8K, and then I  stropped the snot out of it.

the chipbreaker
Someone had already prepped the chipbreaker. There were a few tiny chips on the edge that I stoned out. I stropped it after that and the chipbreaker was done. This took me 13 minutes to do from start to finish. I don't consider that to be too excessive time wise. I probably could have done this in less than half that time if I had done it free hand and did a micro bevel the way Richard Maguire does it. But I'm not interested in shaving nanoseconds off of my sharpening time.

right and left shavings - both the same size and thickness
shavings from the center of the iron
15 secs work on the 80 grit
I have made a decision on my sharpening and I am not changing the way I do business. I am getting good shavings and I am able to work with my planes on my woodworking and get good results. No more faffing about on diamond stones flattening the backs though. I'll be going straight to 80 grit (which I'll be changing to 100 or 120 grit). This is one aspect of sharpening that I do want to save time and finger wear on.

I'll continue to use my diamond stones for all of my tool steel and O1 tools. With the A2 irons I may go back to using water stones just for them. That depends upon what Richard presents in chapters 4-7. I don't have time to watch them on weekday nights and I can't watch them at work on my lunch time(they are blocked). The weekend is the only time I'll be able to catch up on them.

The way I'm sharpening now is working for me. I like the results I get. I can do anything I want with these methods. Now that I know I have to raise that damn burr first, I think I'm heading in the right direction.

the new project parts
There isn't a lot of wood in this. The board under the plane is the shelf. The angled cherry pieces are the feet and the two small walnut boards are the ends.

these were the back slats
I am replacing these with poplar boards. I will ebonize them and that will hide that they are poplar.  The other reason why I am changing to poplar is that the cherry slat is too short in the length.

getting an eyeball guess-ta-mate
This will be my first hardwood bookshelf that wasn't made from pine or poplar.

my last pine one
The walnut one will be bigger, have feet instead of the side bottoms resting on the top of whatever, and it will have 3 slats rather than 2. I had thought of putting a drawer underneath the shelf but that may or may not see the light of day.

it's a year old
I didn't realize that this much time had passed since I made this.

cherry feet
Thinking about ebonizing these too. It bugs me that I'll be doing that to cherry. I think I should ebonize the feet to match the back slats, but not with cherry ones. I'll have to check and see if I can find a substitute for it.

my latest rehabbed #3 plane
This is what convinced me to stay with the sharpening setup I use now. I can blow on these shavings and they would disintegrate. This side of the board was rippled along it's entire length by the planer that was used to get this to thickness. This 100 year old plane sailed through smoothing this face with an iron sharpened my way.

first side is twist free
second one has a slight amount to remove

I'm keeping the sapwood
I like using the board as it comes to me from the tree and that means using the sapwood too. These two will be the outside faces.

the inside faces
These faces are both relatively sapwood free.

the shelf is twist free
humped
I haven't planed the sides to thickness yet. All I've done on them is make one reference face and one reference edge. Both of these boards were rough sawn and I just smoothed the non reference face. This works in my favor for getting a final thickness.

the sides are almost as thick as the feet
I want a 1/8" reveal on both sides
I also want to keep the sides as thick as possible. I may have to glue up some stock to get some thicker feet to work with. I'll be able to see how or if I can ebonize a glue line.

The thing that has been giving me headaches is how to attach the sides to the feet? I have a biscuit joiner and I could use that. Another option is making floating tenons by hand somehow. The last option I thought of was a tenon on the bottom of the sides fitted into a mortise on the feet.

no hump
Both sides of the shelf are flat with no hump. This board wasn't rough sawn but S2S so that had a lot to do with this being humpless. I quit here and tomorrow I'll start on getting the sides to thickness and looking into new feet.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was the first president to receive a salary of $100,000 a year?
answer - Harry S Truman (current salary is $400,000 a year)

Antoni Gaudí – Day One of Many: The Furniture

The Furniture Record - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 10:37pm

It is impossible to spend any significant time in Barcelona without feeling the influence of Antoni Gaudí. Being easily influence, I couldn’t get enough of his work and am truly fascinated by him and his works.

For those not so influenced (or aware), I offer the following paragraph copied and pasted from a Wikipedia article:

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet; (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works reflect an individualized and distinctive style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.

Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

As an introduction to Mr. Gaudí, we will explore some of his furniture then. In time, several of his buildingswill be explored.

Much of this furniture was designed for specific buildings. It is firmly in the Art Nouveau style with its organic fluid lines with direct references to nature.

DSC_3814

The Casa Calvet Flower Bench – 1901

DSC_4166

The Casa Calvet Corner Stool – 1901

DSC_3809

The Casa Calvet Flower Chair – 1901

DSC_3812

The Casa Calvet Arm Chair-1901

DSC_3808

The Casa Batlló Chair – 1907

DSC_3806

The Casa Batlló Double Bench – 1907

Reproductions of these and other Gaudi pieces are still available.

I am not sure if the following furniture is designed by Gaudi but it does exist within Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera. This was the last civil work designed by Antoni Gaudí and was built from 1906 to 1912.

The furniture may not be Gaudi but it is era and style appropriate and in Barcelona.

DSC_3836

The dining room.

DSC_3828

The dining table.

DSC_4178

And the dining chair.

DSC_3827

The bar.

DSC_3826

The server.

DSC_3822

The office.

DSC_3823

More from the office. Boat not included.

DSC_3829

The bedroom.

DSC_3831

The headboard.

DSC_3830

The footboard.

DSC_3831

The headboard.

Shortly, we will examine some  of Gaudi’s s iconic buildings.


Tip of the day – Splines

Journeyman's Journal - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 1:37pm

vertical-splines

When reinforcing mitres place the splines as close as possible to the inside surface.   If they are too close to the outside surfaces, the mitered ends of the adjoining surfaces will be weak.  It’s not the splines that make it weak but the grooves made for the splines that make it weak.

 

Btw I haven’t given up on the moulding planes, I’m just a little busy designing a small router plane that will help in the build of the moulding planes.

 


Categories: Hand Tools

Beginnings

Northwest Woodworking - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 12:24pm

Don’t we all start at the beginning? Even bringing the wealth of experience or talent or skills that one might have from another field to the bench, we still take our first steps in complete, utter, and blissful ignorance.

Then when we start to make our mistakes on a project, we learn about the process, the materials, and the tools. We learn how to hold ourselves at the bench, how to hang onto things, and we discover how much there is still to learn.

Join us at the Studio for The Compleat Novice class starting March 29th. It’s sure to be a fine beginning.

saw

 

 


Categories: Hand Tools

Hi Wilbur: When it comes to making chairs, what is the japanese equivalent tool for a TRAVISHER? Thanks

Giant Cypress - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 4:38am

I’m not sure there’s a true equivalent, since traditional Japanese woodworking didn’t involve making chairs with sculpted seats. Having said that, there are Japanese planes with convex soles that can be used for that sort of task. They are sometimes referred to as “spoon planes”.

They are made in various sizes ranging from large block plane size to finger planes. Here’s one that I have that’s on the finger plane of the spectrum.

If I was to try to make a chair seat with Japanese tools, I’d probably start by using a gouge to get rid of most of the wood, and then use an appropriately sized version of one of these planes for the finishing steps. If you want to see how someone who actually knows what he’s doing did this, Brian Holcombe has a great article on how he made a chair using Japanese tools.

clock retrofit update.......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 12:25am
Made a pit stop on the way home to get some cereal. So what did I go home with? Moo Cow juice, a tomato, a bag of cat food, and a head of iceberg lettuce. I walked right by the cereal because I was thinking I should get some cat food. Stercus Accidit. I'll try to remember it on wednesday.

I got through the first 3 chapters of Richard Maguire's sharpening video.There are 3 more chapters available now with the 7th one due on the 22nd(?). I was reluctant to buy this because I didn't want to muddle my head up with another person showing their way of sharpening. The 3 chapters I've seen so far have been an eye opener. I have watched them each two times so that I could digest and not miss anything that Richard put out.

Like the other videos outputted by Richard and Helen, this one is outstanding. He explains each step in a way that I can easily grasp what it is. I would recommend this to anyone interested in understanding and upping their sharpening game. And this is based on just watching half of it. He also makes sharpening look like it is as easy to do as breathing air. I'm hoping that I'll be able to do it 10% as well as he does. And I'll be happy with that too.

the real time is 1545
I set the clock to the hour count and for the first two hours it ran it was correct. After that I didn't pay attention to it. The next day I noticed that the hour chime was two hours ahead of what the hands indicated. It was also chiming the hour count a couple of minutes past the hour. The partial Westminster tune was playing on the quarter hour even though the hands where off. According to my cell phone though, the chimes and hour count where occurring at the proper times. Even the though clock hands weren't correct.

After the first day I switched from the Westminster chimes to the bim-bam and I was disappointed with them at first. I could barely hear the first hour count when they sounded. Instead of being a 'gong' bim-bam, they have a bell sound which I don't like as much. But as time passed, they seem to get louder and I could hear them and count the hour as they bim-bam'ed..


two problems

The first problem is the hands. They don't fit properly on the time shaft and I think they are slipping. I can move the minute hand 5 minutes in either direction before I feel resistance from the time shaft. It has been running now for two days and the chimes are working correctly but the indicated time is off.

The second problem is the paper dial. Where my finger is has a hump. It is humped in a few other places too but not as high as it is here. The minute rubs on it as it passes by and it looks like the hour hand barely clears it too. I will have to fix these two problems before I try to set the time again.

speaker holders
These are still solid with no give anywhere.  I am a little concerned about the pressure these are exerting on the speaker and the hide glue that is holding them in place.

I will have to take the movement out to fix the dial. Fingers crossed on getting it off without ripping it.

adhesive dot holding the dial in place
I got the dial off without ripping it. What saved my butt was there were only 4 dots holding it down. There was one in each corner.

double sided adhesive dots
I got this dial from clock prints and they recommended fixing the dial to the dial board with these dots. In the past I have used Elmer's white glue diluted with a little water to make a paste and used that to secure dials.

more than 4
I don't know how many of these that I actually used, but I used every single one I had. I don't think I will have to worry about the dial developing humps now.

first use of my veneer roller
Rolled all the dots to ensure that I had good contact. Mark Baldwin made this for me last year (he did the metal parts, I made the wooden handle) and it worked good doing this. I'm sure it will work just as well when I use it on some veneer.

Went looking for my plastic hands but I couldn't find them. Searched the shop and then I searched upstairs. I looked there because I set up the clock while watching the Perry Mason marathon. After searching for a while I gave up without finding them.

interesting look
This is the 4th quarter of 1945 made iron and the scratches on the back tell a story. It is high but I have a low spot in the middle of the high spot. I don't think I'll be flattening this one as easy as Richard did his in chapter 3.

#3 iron
It is almost five o'clock and I didn't want to start to flatten either one of these. Of the two, this one looks like it will be quicker and easier. Both of these will have to wait until the weekend.

found it
I was getting ready to write the blog post and I saw this. I was looking for a empty chow mien container with the clock parts in it. Instead they were in this white box.

fixed the problem
I should have put the parts in a proper box in the first place. If I had I could have put the hands on the clock, as ugly as the plastic hands are, and started round two of setting the time. I'll do it tomorrow instead.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What time is it when 7 bells rings onboard a ship?
answer - 0330, 0730, 1130, 1530, 1930, and 2330

A George II Walnut Serpentine Chest – Part Six

Pegs and 'Tails - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:29pm
Eighteenth-century bow and serpentine drawer fronts were constructed in a number of ways: The most basic method was to simply saw the sweeping shape out of the solid (fig. 1). The other technique was to laminate the drawer fronts using … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

On Sale: Roubo ‘Pied du Roi’ Rulers

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 3:38pm

IMG_0021

When translating Andre Roubo’s “l’Art du menuisier,” we debated converting all of his dimensions to U.S. Customary Units or metric. After some discussion, we decided to leave them as-is for the same reason that we tried to maintain Roubo’s writing voice. This is a work of the 18th century, and so we sought to keep it there.

Translating French inches from that period isn’t difficult. Roubo uses the units of “thumbs” and “lines.” A thumb is just slightly more than our modern inch — 1.066″. The thumb is further divided into 12 “lines.” Each line is equivalent to .088″ today. The French foot is 12.792″.

If you wish to complete your “period rush” when reading “With all the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture,” you might like to have a ruler at hand that is marked in French inches and lines.

Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney of burnHeart has put his “Pied du Roi” rulers on sale today, and they are gorgeous and useful when reading Roubo.

If you have ever wanted one, don’t wait. Brendan says it will be awhile before he makes more.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Categories: Hand Tools

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