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Many pieces of English Arts and Crafts furniture, especially those of the Cotswolds school, feature a cheerful detail known as decorative gouging. It’s a simple technique and amenable to endless variations depending on the combination of gouges used, the spacing and depth of elements, and so on. Here’s an introduction based on the legs for a hayrake table. Decorative gouging gains as much of its effect from its context as […]
The post Decorative Gouging: A Traditional English Arts & Crafts Technique appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
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.
For most married men, an age-old question seems to be: ‘What should I get my wife for her birthday?’ Considering that my wife is already the girl who has everything (let’s face it, she hit the proverbial jackpot when she married me!), I usually struggle every year to find a gift clever enough to convince my wife that I actually put some thought into her gift. So this year I went a completely different route, and I’m glad I did.
My wife enjoys to read, though we have drastically different tastes when it comes to reading material ( I wouldn’t be caught dead reading some of the stuff she reads, but oh well). Rather than just purchasing a book for her, I wanted to make the gift of a book more of an experience, and that is why I decided to try the Mysterious Package Co., which specializes in some really out of the ordinary stuff. Without giving away too much information for those who may be receiving a gift, from the MPC in the future-the surprise is a huge part of the experience-you choose a package from the company web page, and the recipient receives a series of mailings featuring packing hay, old newspaper clippings, creepy introduction letters, haunted diaries, beat-up shipping crates, and demon-possessed statues (it all depends on which story line you go with). In any event, the box that contained my wife’s gift was pretty intriguing, and my wife nearly destroyed the lid in her zeal to pry it open. I really loved the vintage Indiana Jones , Ark of the Covenant like appearance (the crate the Ark was stored in, I mean), and since she’s received it I’ve built several different versions of it.
As you can see in the photos, the box is of simple construction, so it can easily be made with hand and/or power tools. I used only hand tools because my daughter wanted to participate, and she was responsible for the stencil print, which put her personal touch on the project. And for good measure I used pallet wood from my company warehouse (I refer to this wood as Danish Pine). The pallet wood had me a little concerned, because it’s pretty common to find old nails and stones embedded in the boards. Thankfully, I have several hand planes from my restored “collection” which were given to me, so I wasn’t overly concerned in using them. That being said, I hardly treat these tools like second class citizens, because I spent a great deal of time and effort restoring them. I am just saying that I am not the type of person who would use his $300 LN jack plane on a sketchy piece of pallet wood- in factI should have taken some photos of the unfinished wood, because it was pretty rough.
On that note, I just so happened to set free a fair amount of hand tools over the past month. It was much more quick and painless than I thought it would be, yet I still have a whole cabinet filled with hand planes.
Anyway, the box sizes were determined by the wood I had available, of which I had a decent sized stash. I sawed the boards to rough length and width, used a smooth plane to square the edges, and used a block plane to shoot the ends. I smooth planed a great deal of the roughness from both faces of the wood, though I truly did attempt to leave a few small rough patches to complete the vintage look we were trying to achieve, but considering the boards are all from pallets and were fairly warped/bowed to begin with, simply flattening them enough to be usable removed much of the roughness regardless. I probably could have left the faces of the box rough sawn, but because we were adding stenciling, and I wanted to apply a protective finish, I decided that a smoother surface would work much betters. To finish off the appearance I glued on some battens to the box sides, which my daughter chamfered with a block plane. Dimensionally the box is approximately 11 in x 5 in x 4 in deep, the wood thickness around ½ inch (I say around because it varies).
The lid for the box featured in the photos was also constructed with pallet wood, which I believe is a hardwood (I’m guessing oak, but that is just a guess). I butt jointed two pretty nasty boards together and left them dry overnight. After they were dry I sawed them to length and then used a scrub plane for the initial flattening, as those boards were by far in the roughest shape of the lot. I then smooth planed the panel, once again attempting to leave the box somewhat “unfinished”. Lastly I used shoulder plane and sanding block to create rabbets so the lid would recess into the box, which really helped to lighten the overall appearance.
The joinery for the boxes is mainly butt joints and cut nails. The only place where I got a little fancy was the for bottom of the first box I made, where I used ship lap joints, and the only reason I did that was because I want to save as many of the wider boards as possible for future boxes, so I pieced it together with smaller cut-offs. Any box with stenciling will receive coat a of shellac and/or some paste wax, more for protection than to enhance the appearance. If you ever plan on adding some type of ink stenciling to a box (we used heavy duty magic markers), I would suggest waiting at least a few days for the ink to dry and really seep into the wood. In fact, I would wait up to a week. Thankfully, I attempted a practice run on a scrap board, and the ink smudged somewhat when I applied BLO, so I knew for future reference to wait at least a few days before applying any type of finish.
This was a fun and relatively easy project, though using all hand tools made it somewhat time consuming (mainly flattening the boards to make them usable). I completed two boxes so far and repaired the original, which as I mentioned was damaged when it was opened. I currently have enough pallet wood left to make at least two more boxes, and I have in inexhaustible supply constantly coming into my company warehouse. And I think making boxes from several different pallets could make them a bit more interesting.
Yet, not sure if it would be better to purchase pre-surfaced boards and add my own touches to change the appearance (beads, chamfers, different widths etc.) Because while I did enjoy all of the hand plane work, I don’t want to spend the entire summer flattening pallet wood for hours on end, in particular because the hot and humid weather is now in full swing. Still, I’ve already prepped more boards which are generally ready to go, so I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll have a few more of these boxes finished in the next few weeks.
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
On a regular basis, probably at least once a week, someone contacts me looking to have a pin oak milled into lumber. They are excited because they finally got their hands on a truly giant specimen of a tree, and even though it is just a red oak, they are excited to get to work with a hardwood at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, I have to be the bearer of not-so-good news and try to get them to reconsider.
As I mentioned, pin oak is in the red oak family, but that is about the only relationship it has to any decent red oak lumber. Pin oak is not milled and sold commercially under the name red oak, and as far as I know, is only used for low-grade products like pallets and blocking, where the only requirement is that it be made of wood that will stay together. And funny enough, pin oak often falls short of even that low requirement.
The problem is that many pin oak trees suffer from ring shake, which is where the rings of the tree peel apart like an onion, making that section of lumber nearly unusable. The beauty of ring shake is that it can’t be seen from the outside of the log and it won’t always be visible even early in the milling process. Sometimes, it won’t be until the lumber has been fully processed and dried for it to start falling apart. Needless to say this is frustrating, especially if you are counting on that lumber for a project and then end up with no wood to work. Even if the ring shake isn’t bad enough to make the lumber actually break, it very often leaves at least one fancy break line somewhere in a board where you would rather not have it. Again, super frustrating.
So, let’s say you find a pin oak that is solid, with no ring shake, then it is all clear sailing, right? Far from it. You may have lumber, but you probably don’t have great lumber. One of the main attractions for pin oak is the giant size and the promise of a never-ending bunk of lumber comprised of super-wide boards. This, you may indeed have, but it comes at a cost. The cost is that all of the super-wide lumber will have super-wide growth rings, rings that may be up to 1/2″ or more in width. Because the tree grows so fast, putting on up to 1″ in diameter per year, the logs get big in a hurry too. It isn’t uncommon for a 36″ diameter log to have only started growing 45 years ago. It was planted because the trees grow to a large, stately appearance quickly, and that means big, wide growth rings.
Big growth rings mean a coarse textured wood, no matter how you cut it. Whether flatsawn or quartersawn, red oak is already known for its open, in-your-face, grain, and pin oak is ten times worse. Imagine an 8″ wide flat sawn board that may only show a couple of annual rings on the face. It looks more like the cheapest of spiral cut plywood for sheathing the side of your house, instead of quality hardwood lumber for building fine furniture. That same 8″ wide board, if quartersawn, will probably show about 20-25 rings, where a high quality white oak board will show 60-80 rings. The difference is night and day, with the higher growth ring count looking much more refined and not so clunky.
Even if the wood stayed together and for some reason the growth rings weren’t so wide, pin oak would still be far from a great hardwood. The lumber typically also sports bad color, bad smell (commonly referred to as “piss” oak by local tree guys), and many more knots than are outwardly apparent. Since the trees are usually open grown and well pruned, the always straight, always perfectly upright trunks appear to contain up to 30′-40′ of clear lumber. The truth is that the trunks typically contain only 8′ of clear lumber near the ground, with the remainder being full of knots from previously trimmed branches.
Overall, I have nothing good to say about pin oaks, except that they grow big, tall and straight. And, while it may be possible to mill pin oak lumber that meets some minimum requirements (like staying together), the best pin oak is still easily surpassed in quality by almost any other reputable wood. Just know, if you are thinking about paying someone to mill a pin oak tree for you, that I wouldn’t even mill a pin oak if it magically fell on my sawmill. I would take the extra time to get it out of the way, so I could mill something better. It’s just not worth it. Move on.
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.
Week in Review At Pop Wood, we create a lot of great content and I think it would be downright tragic if you missed an article, social media post or YouTube video. So I have compiled all of our content in this post for your reading pleasure. Not included is the outstanding content that Megan Fitzpatrick curates on our Instagram account, find that here. Have a great Sunday! – David […]
|the back of the shelves|
|Stanley 102 blockplane|
|dirt from the vise|
|dirty finger prints|
|planning stages still|
|what will be going in the new cabinet|
|the biggest thing I have to put in the cabinet|
|nice and shiny|
|knob off my #2 on the left|
|the back side before and comparison pic|
|the new way|
Last night while doing the 5 1/4 knob the Bar Keeps settled out to the bottom and today I kept stirring it to keep in solution. I kept doing this until I was able to hold the knob in my hand.
|been about 4-5 minutes|
|looks better and as good as it's neighbor|
|my Stanley parts|
|this is the same barrel nut that is in the plane tote now|
|ready to sand the sole and cheeks|
|wanna be frog screw washers|
|another diversion, broken tab on a lever cap|
|a helping hand?|
|sizing the cabinet|
|my minimum depth|
|double stacked the spray cans for a minimum height|
|enough distractions, I started the sanding with 180 grit|
|dropped down to 80|
|five strokes on the fresh 80 grit|
|it's getting smaller|
|starboard side cheek|
|port side cheek|
|ten minutes later|
|#4 for my grandson|
|done with the sanding|
|there is a burr here|
|back to the 5 1/4|
|blurry pic of a paint holiday|
|220 grit on the left, fine grit on the right|
|got some reading to do|
Why was popcorn banned at most theaters in the 1920's?
answer - it was considered too noisy
A rather well-known author/publisher/editor/woodworker/furniture maker/journalist/educator/entrepreneur/raconteur/anarchist/cicerone/father/husband has now gotten two blogs out of something I found and shared with him. Now, it’s my turn.
It all started with a unique pair of winding sticks I found near Charleston, SC. I was told there are no tools to be found in the Charleston area but I am too stubborn/stupid to listen and went out looking. To be fair, I wasn’t only looking for tools and there weren’t all that many to find.
But find them I did and these are them:
Taking a closer look reveals some interesting details:
First piece of revelatory information is that we have been using the wrong terminology. These are not winding sticks, they are wood levelers. A knowledgeable dealer would not go through all the trouble of writing the wrong name on the label of an item he/she wishes to sell.
The second is not really that important and I am not going to waste your time making you read something that is unimportant and uninteresting.
This was not my first set of wood levelers. My first set was a purchase from Lee Valley for a saw bench class taught by Chris Schwarz at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro, NC. I bought them because the levelers were on the tools list that was sent out three days before the class. I was out-of-town on business and would be getting home just in time to pack my tools and head out on the long 0.57 hour drive south.
I did take some abuse from the instructor for having store-bought, aluminum levelers. I worked through the shame and humiliation, after all, better abused than ignored.
The next set I made when I got a really good deal on some thin hardwood strips:
My fourth set came from a toolmaking class I took from the aforementioned Chris Schwarz at Highland Woodworking in Atlanta. This was his classic layout tool class, hand tools only.
Which is my favorite set? I use them all equally.
I might repost this post with better pictures. Then again, I might not.
We just compiled a new collection over at shopwoodworking.com! I am in the midst of setting up my home shop, so the pain of sorting out layout and storage is very real for me. I have leaned on The Practical Workshop for several ideas already. This collection is a great value and won’t be around forever. If you’ve considered picking up a couple of these titles, this may be a great […]
Tonight I came to the shop hoping to sand the bookcase and apply poly. But I saw instead that the shelves needed another coat of paint. I came very close to saying I've had enough this, I'm done painting, but I was a good boy. Not doing this now will just bite me on the ass later on. This not being painted would stick out like a beacon and make the rest of the project seem invisible to anyone else. Just like one 'aw shit' wipes out ten 'atta boys', one holiday on a project can turn it into crappola. People looking at it won't see the other 99.99% of it once the holiday enters their field of vision.
|one last spot to touch up|
|I had to do something else|
|punched the pin for the yoke out|
|wrapped the yoke and the pin|
|the after pic|
|look see with the new knob and tote|
|the original tote is rosewood|
|rusty studs partially cleaned up|
|wired brushed them rust free|
|yoke back on|
|this I don't like|
|called it a night here|
It felt real good to do something other than painting the bookcase. Maybe this was inconsequential but it got my juices flowing again. I emailed Bill Rittner to buy a new stud for the knob and two new barrel nuts. This plane had an old barrel nut on the knob and a newer replacement Stanley barrel nut on the tote. (the stud for the front knob is for a high knob not a low one)
Who was Edwin Land?
answer - the inventor of the Polaroid Camera
Earlier this week our online content director David Lyle raised the question of which modeling software seemed to be most popular with woodworkers. There’s been growing interest in Fusion 360 – David attended a “roadshow” event for the software this week. It seems like SketchUp is still king for the moment, but there always new makers out there with new ideas and ways of designing things. Of course, there are some woodworkers who still swear […]
I received a very timely message in my Inbox this morning. It was from Seth Godin. It was titled, “The Two Fears of Voluntary Education.” In it Godin writes about two reason why people hold back from online courses. The first is that the class won’t work because anyone can create and sell online courses. Who knows of their qualifications or experience? There is reason for the buyer to beware.
My father, Robert Emmet Gaffney, was a copy editor for 30 years and a lifelong woodworker. While I was always excited to take up his reins as a woodworker, I now find myself taking up the red pen and pursuing his editorial path as well. My name is Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney. I’m Popular Woodworking Magazine‘s new managing editor, a woodworker, toolmaker and, depending on the day, musician, engineer and general autodidact. […]
|no match here|
That is the bane of these old molders. Less then half of the irons in my molding herd are an ok match and work and others, like this, work but not well. I only have 4-5 molders that I would say are a good match and plane well. I would guesstimate that over half of my molding plane irons don't match the plane sole well enough to plane their profile. I have two I would like to use but they aren't any good except to use as paperweights. I have a lot of man hours upcoming reshaping irons to their soles.
|forgot about this|
|see the glue line?|
|good and solid now|
|fingers crossed on this|
|it is not a shadow|
Freddy Roman had left a comment on my blog a while back that the Parlee Lumber and Box company lumber yard out in Littleton Mass sold wide pine boards. I put in for a vacation day next friday and I had planned to go there and get some wide pine to make my grandson's tool chest. That won't be happening because Freddy did a post on the lumber yard closing. I remember a lumberyard in Griswold Conn(?) that sold wide pine boards so I'll search for that and see what shakes out. I would like to find someplace within a two hour drive of my house.
In what war were khaki colored uniforms first used?
answer - the 1880 Afghan war
For a number of reasons, I was looking through some photo files here tonight. During the past year I have had a couple of chances to revisit some old favorite piece of oak furniture, and saw a couple related fragments for the first time. There is a group of chests and boxes made in Dedham and Medfield, Massachusetts during the 17th century. Years ago they were the focus of a study by Robert St. George, culminating in his article “Style and Structure in the Joinery of Dedham and Medfield, Massachusetts, 1635-1685” Winterthur Portfolio; vol. 13, American Furniture and Its Makers (1979), pp. 1-46. You can join JSTOR and read it here – https://www.jstor.org/stable/1180600?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
But like all oak of the period, our friend Robert Trent was all over them too – thus several examples were featured in the exhibition New England Begins at the Museum of Fine Arts too. (Boy, did that set come down in price – https://www.amazon.com/New-England-Begins-Seventeenth-Century/dp/0878462104 -If you don’t have it, and you like the furniture and decorative arts of the period, get it. Used to be way more than $90…)
This chest is in a private collection, I had it years ago to make a new oak lid for it. Typical for this group, 3 carved panels, moldings on the framing parts. Not great work, but real nice. Black paint in the backgrounds, originally bright red on the oak, dyed with logwood or brazilwood dye.
This one was made for the Fairbanks house in Dedham, was illustrated in a late 19th/early 20th century article about that house. For many years it was MIA – then the Fairbanks Family was able to buy it at auction either late 1990s or early 2000s…I forget which. Has the only oddball center panel. (see the detail, top of the blog post) Refinished.
A reader sent me these photos once, shot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. These boxes are often pretty tall – maybe 9″ high. Pine lids and bottom, oak box. I made a copy of this one for a descendant of one of the joiners credited with this work, John Thurston of Dedham and elsewhere.
Now it gets really wiggy. I cropped this shot from an overall of a chest in a museum collection. Notice the panels on the left & right. They look good, right?
Here’s one – then compare it to its cousin below…
The other. Amazing what your eyes & brain can tolerate and still accept as a repeating pattern. I’ve carved this design a lot, and I can carve a panel about 10″ x 14″ or so in under an hour. I bet this guy was flying right along. Or old and infirm. Or somehow incapacitated, or compromised. Or something. Notice too the holes in the corners where I presume the panel was nailed down to hold it still for carving. I nail mine to a back board, and fasten that to the bench with holdfasts. That way I don’t have to move the holdfasts – they’re out of the way.
A related, but dead-simple version. Why all that blank margin? No applied molding, the framing is beveled around the panel. Ahh, everyone who knows why is dead.
These next two are the lynch pins for the attribution to John Houghton, joiner. These are fragments from a meetinghouse in Medfield from 1655/6. The town records cite a payment made to Houghton for work on the desk, a table and more. The “deske” in the records is the pulpit. These panels are believed to be part of that pulpit. This panel is about 6 5/8″ x 14″.
a detail of the rectangular panel.
This diamond-shaped panel is nailed to a piece of oak that looks like some framing stock – but it tapers in width. Tradition says that these pieces were saved when the 1655/6 meeting house was demolished in 1706.
One more – this one’s in Nutting’s books, now at Wadsworth Atheneum. “Refreshed” paint, or completely re-painted. I forget which. Really nicely carved.