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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.




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
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.


The Casa Calvet Flower Bench – 1901


The Casa Calvet Corner Stool – 1901


The Casa Calvet Flower Chair – 1901


The Casa Calvet Arm Chair-1901


The Casa Batlló Chair – 1907


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.


The dining room.


The dining table.


And the dining chair.


The bar.


The server.


The office.


More from the office. Boat not included.


The bedroom.


The headboard.


The footboard.


The headboard.

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

Stickley Bookcase Class Results

Bob Lang's ReadWatchDo - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 5:03pm
Last fall I spent a week at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking near Indianapolis, Indiana, leading a group of woodworkers in the construction of reproductions of the iconic Gustav Stickley/Harvey Ellis No. 700 Bookcase. Marc Adams’ classes are always … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Tip of the day – Splines

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


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


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.




Categories: Hand Tools

Elia Bizzarri: Multi-talented Woodworker

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 10:25am
Elia Bizzarri

It won’t come as much of a surprise that woodworkers are frequently good at more than one thing. Sometimes it’s necessary, other times it’s just for fun. I was in Hillsborough, N.C., last week working with Elia Bizzarri on two new videos and we started talking about what music to use. He asked if we’d like him and a few of his friends to play something. “Yes!” was the easy […]

The post Elia Bizzarri: Multi-talented Woodworker appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 4: The Tormek System

Highland Woodworking - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 7:00am

Amy Herschleb attend Jim Dillon’s Hand Tool Sharpening class at Highland and came away with a new appreciation of working with sharp tools. In this series she will go into thoughtful detail on the 3 methods of sharpening Jim Dillon taught. Today she covers Method 3, The Tormek System.

The final technique covered in class was the Tormek system, specifically we used the T-8. The slow speed wet grinder put a new edge on a worn-out tool while the leather wheel, with abrasive paste added, polished the tool. It can be fitted with a wide array of jigs for different shapes of blades from knives to scissors to chisels to axes. A plastic gauge that rests against the grinding stone sets the angle at which you are removing material. In class I watched the principles of the operation, then put them to good use while in Florida, putting a new edge on my kitchen knives (a couple of them older than me) that had probably never been sharpened in their entire culinary careers.

Even with a jig, the process demands a great deal of attention, especially with long knives or those that end in a curve. In this instance, the use of a Sharpie is vital. By coloring the cutting bevel black, you may see where and where you are not wasting material. Often areas near the heel or the tip are ground away unevenly, because so much depends on consistent movement of the blade across the stone. By paying attention to the markings, the sharpener may check for inconsistency along the edge.

The Tormek system allows you to grind either toward or away from the bevel, toward for most knives and away for small knives. I ground the knives toward the bevel with the universal tool rest set up horizontally, keeping one hand on the jig and the other on the handle, floating the blades back and forth, keeping the jig resting on the tool rest bar.

Due to the shape of the wheel, sharpening on a this surface creates a concave bevel, that is, a slightly hollow shape. This makes for a narrower sharpening edge, and faster sharpening times. Over time, the sharpening bevel gets bigger as the blade gets shorter from sharpening. When sharpening takes too long, it’s time to regrind.

Beyond a couple false starts involving a flying carving knife (no one was hurt) and a gouge I tried to put into the leather stropping wheel and the part where I ignored Jim’s advice to test a blade on the arm hairs instead of a thumb tip (I wasn’t sure I’d done that good a job. Spoiler–I had) this went off without a hitch. For once, my kitchen is equipped with a selection of sharp and useful knives, and vegetables and meat may be cut down efficiently without gratuitous sawing and strong-arming.

After experimenting (in a supervised environment and then free range) with a variety of methods, I am most satisfied with the Tormek system. Sandpaper, though easy to come by and easy to replace, is absolutely repulsive to me in a tactile sense and will destroy a manicure. Knowing where there are two Tormeks at my disposal certainly helps things, as I can re-grind worn down tools, then keep them sharp at home with a 1000/6000 wet stone.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 4: The Tormek System appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

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


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

Aluminum – It Cuts Like Butta!

360 WoodWorking - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 2:18pm
Aluminum – It Cuts Like Butta!

I’m working on a contemporary project that uses aluminum angle as its legs. I decided to taper the legs, along with another embellishment. The metal then has to be smoothed with files and sanded for a cleaner look and better feel.

Because I’m using multipurpose 6061 aluminum, I knew cutting it would be more easy than difficult. But what would be the best method to make the cuts? My first thought was to purchase a metal-cutting blade for my jigsaw.

Continue reading Aluminum – It Cuts Like Butta! at 360 WoodWorking.

How I Apply an Oil/Wax Finish

Hillbilly Daiku - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:03am

It is no secret that I prefer a hand-rubbed oil finish.  It is my go-to finish of choice.  I don’t think that I am alone in this fondness.  Judging by the blog posts and articles that I read, several others feel the same way.

Oil has a lot of things going for it.  It is easy to apply, easy to renew and easy to repair.  It can also be better for your health, depending on your product of choice.  An oil and wax finish does have some shortcomings though.  It’s not the most durable finish and if your after a high gloss, forget it, it is not going to happen.  Also, an oil and wax finish requires some maintenance. It will need an occasional buffing and reapplication once in a while.

Yes, an oil and wax finish is easy to apply.  Your don’t need any special training or skill, but don’t mistake easy application for quick or less work.  The finishing process can span several days.  Possibly even a week or more, depending on the size of the project and surface quality that you are after.  If you want a hand-rubbed finish…yep, your actually going to have to rub it by hand…a lot.

Since I’m just completed two large tables, I thought I would discuss the steps that I go through when applying an oil and wax finish.  I’m no expert, so this is not holy writ, just the steps that I have found to work best for me.  Please feel free to question or contradict any of all that follows.

Note: time on task in the following is based upon one face of a 30″x77″ table top.

First and foremost I want all surfaces to be from an edge tool.  I use sandpaper when I need to, but those areas are given more attention with oooo steel wool or burnished with shavings.  Why?  I want the surfaces to be burnished and that is what a cut surface from an edge tool is.  A burnished surface is basically a head start on an even luster from the finish.  I prefer to use Japanese planes, but any well tuned finishing plane will get the job done.  Push, pull, iron body, wooden body doesn’t matter.  It just needs to be sharp and finely set.

If I can’t get the burnished finish from an edge tool, I’ll use the alternatives that I mentioned earlier.  Rubbing a handful of shavings on the surface of the work piece is quite effective.  0000 steel wool will get the job done too.  Alternatively, I will use the uzukuri technique to both texture and burnish the surface.  This is what I did with the table top.

First using the rough and then the medium uzukuri brush, I went over every square inch of the table top.  I also employed a couple of different size gouges for areas that had deep tearout or that I simply wanted to have a more pronounced texture effect.  In all it took between seven and eight hours to complete the uzukuri treatment and bring this table top to the point of being ready for the oil.

Step two is an application of linseed oil only, no wax.  This is a penetrating coat of oil and for this I use Tried & True brand Danish oil.  Which is a polymerised linseed oil and contains no heavy metal driers and is completely food safe.  Also I have tinted the oil with “Raw Sienna” artist’s oil paint, which imparts a warm amber tone to light-colored woods such as pine, poplar and oak.  To apply this first coat of oil I use a soft cotton cloth and vigorously rub the oil into the wood.  The friction induced heat helps to drive the oil into the wood.  This application took between thirty to forty-five minutes.  I then let the oil “soak” in for five to ten minutes.

Below are side-by-side comparisons.  With tinted oil on the left, without on the right.

Once the oil has been allowed to dwell, I begin buffing the surface and removing any oil that remains on the surface.  I’ll continue this until the surface has NO remaining wet areas.  This step took about fifteen minutes.  After a couple of hours I go over the surface once more to remove any oil that seeps back to the surface.

Then I wait for twenty-four hours.  Technically the directions on the can say eight hours, but I almost always let it dry for twenty-four hours.

Step three begins with buffing the surface once again with a cotton cloth.  I repeat if necessary.  What I’m looking for is no color or oil coming up on the cloth.  Then I buff the surface yet again.  This time with 0000 steel wool.  This further burnishes and seals the surface of the wood.  All this buffing takes about thirty minutes.  Now I’m ready for the second coat of oil.

For the second coat of oil I use Tried & True Original finish.  This is a mixture of polymerised linseed oil and beeswax.  Again, it is food safe and contains no heavy metal driers.  Just like the first coat of oil, this is vigorously applied.  This took another half hour to forty-five minutes.  The product needs to “soak” in for an hour before buffing off, which took an additional fifteen to twenty minutes.

Then I wait for another twenty-four hours.  Buffing once more along the way.

Coat number three follows the same exact steps as the second coat.  Buff, burnish with steel wool, apply the oil and wax mixture, wait, buff, wait, buff again and wait.

Generally three coats will do.  One coat of the tinted linseed oil and two coats of the linseed oil/beeswax mixture.  After the third coat has been allowed to dry, forty-eight hours this time, a final buffing with a cotton cloth completes the finish.  I’ll typically add one more coat after a few months have passed.  From then on out, a periodic buffing is all that is needed to keep the piece looking fresh.

So there you have it.  An oil and wax finish doesn’t require any great skill, but easy is a relative term.  This type of finish does require some hard work and time.  Sure, you could skip some of the buffing and burnishing steps, but the end result will suffer…trust me on this.

Greg Merritt

Categories: Hand Tools

Dutch Boxwood Bead Boxes

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 7:43am

On my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York I saw, among the monumental and famous pieces, a small item that captured my eye. It was so impressive that I even decided to buy a postcard with a picture of it. This was a spherical shaped miniature wooden box that, once opened, displayed an intricate biblical scene that shocked me with its complexity and level […]

The post Dutch Boxwood Bead Boxes appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 3: Waterstones

Highland Woodworking - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 7:00am

Amy Herschleb attend Jim Dillon’s Hand Tool Sharpening class at Highland and came away with a new appreciation of working with sharp tools. In this series she will go into thoughtful detail on the 3 methods of sharpening Jim Dillon taught. Today she covers Method 2, Using Waterstones.

The next technique we practiced was with Japanese waterstones. Jim recommends Ian Kirby’s book Sharpening With Waterstones, which covers far more material than the title suggests. We began with 800 grit and worked up to 8000. A simple setup for waterstones Jim suggested was to make a wooden rack for the stone that will sit atop a 5-gallon bucket, so that the stone may be rinsed efficiently and the mess contained. In lieu of this in the classroom setting, after the initial soak, we wet ours constantly with a plastic squirt bottle and kept the stones on plastic sheeting.

The Japanese stone (specifically the 1000/6000 combination stone) is a great tool for touching up blades after using them, such as in the kitchen, before they can wear down far enough to warrant grinding a new edge.

Several weeks later, when I had the chance to visit the shop in Florida, I tried Dad’s DMT Duo-Sharp diamond stone. This one also had a plastic base and was reversible, with a grinding grit on one side and a polishing grit on the other (Dad’s is Fine/Extra-Fine). This I simply kept on the counter near the sink to rinse, then thoroughly dried the stone and base after use to protect the nickel from corrosion.

I found this technique to work very well, when I had the angle set by a guide. Without it, I managed to dull a kitchen knife significantly, simply by sharpening at the incorrect–or even an inconsistent–angle. This episode in the kitchen particularly emphasized the importance of careful setup and attention to detail in what risks being considered (by the uninitiated) the least vital of tasks. Meticulous preparation does indeed save you time down the road, as our buddy Young Thomas learned 178 years ago.

Check back tomorrow to read Amy’s thoughts about the last of the three basic systems of sharpening she learned.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 3: Waterstones appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Dedicated Kerfing Planes

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 5:57am

My next step in the Great Kerfing Plane Saga was to go where I think kerfing plane evangelist Tom Fidgen started – kerfing planes with a fixed fence to produce a set width to the cut.  My most typical use of resawing by hand is making hand-sawn veneers, so I decided to make my first kerfing plane part of that equation.  Since I am not yet as skilled at veneer sawing as the craftsmen in the 18th century Parisian ateliers, who routinely harvested twelve sheets of veneer per inch of stock, I struck a more realistic task of cutting eight per inch.  Thus, my need was for a dedicated kerfing plane set to 1/8″.

Falling back on my old habits and routine, I made the body of my plane from 13mm baltic birch plywood.  I had first made a pattern for the tool, one I could use repeatedly.  I derived the pattern template from a backsaw, which I traced onto 3mm plywood and cut out.  The template now hangs overhead off a joist in the shop, awaiting for new kerfsaw-making urges to strike.

I traced the new kerf saw pattern on the thicker plywood, and drilled out holes where they would make the sawing the most amenable.  I accomplished this with my coping saw in a couple minutes.  Once I was done with the sawing I worked on the profiles of the handle with rasps and files so that it was comfortable in my hand.

I made a 3mm rectangle to be glued to the heavier plywood to provide for the cutting spacing.

The assembling continued apace with another scrap of bowsaw blade and a piece of scrap brass barstock to serve the retaining element to hold it all together.

The completed tool is a delightful amalgam of lightness with robustness for vigorous use, combined with comfort and precision for repeated cutting of veneer.

The test drive was perfect!

I followed up on this kerfing plane with one for some teaching I had upcoming, where the ultimate objective was to derive prepared oak boards of 1/4″ thickness from 5/4 stock.  In this case I made the fixed cutting distance 3/8″ since this was the closest scrap I had handy, and in recognition that the folks I would be teaching had no woodworking experience and a bit extra waste would be advantageous.  I will soon recount that tale, confirming the tool removed a huge potential hurdle to them completing their assignment and future task.

Thanks again Tom Fidgen for leading me down this path of simplicity for the sake of precision and efficiency.

lots of shrpening.......

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 1:55am
I feel like I've taken two steps forward and nine backwards on this sharpening thing. I don't have a warm and fuzzy with it at all. Some aspects of the sharpening I think I understand and I am executing properly. Other parts of it seem to escape my understanding. Some of the steps to the end results were a bit convoluted but I was able to make shavings. So is it the end is justified by the means or the means is justified the end? Or if a tree falls in the forest and you are answering a phone call at the same time, will you hear your neighbor's door bell ring?

minor hiccup
This is the chipbreaker from the LN iron. While I was sharpening the iron and shaking the bench, this fell off and played the drop test with Mr Concrete Floor. He won. The iron lost.

I can't fix this
The other side I was able to remove the ding and roll over on the stones. This here won't stone out so easily even if I could do it. While I was crying about this, I noticed that the opposite corner had a ding in it too. Smaller, but still a ding. Looks like Mr Concrete Floor won by two points.

outlined the scratch area still to be done
I made it smaller but this A2 doesn't like diamond stones. This is taking a lot of time and effort and I'm not getting much to show for it.

lots of ugly looking scratches
5 more minutes of work
It doesn't look like it's getting smaller.

compared to the first pic, it is finally getting smaller
I was doing all this work on the coarsest diamond stone I have. It is supposed to be used to flatten water stones but I am using it for this. I don't know the grit size of it but it isn't removing a lot of this A2 metal.

switched to my 80 grit runway
5 strokes on 80 grit and I got a consistent scratch pattern
10 strokes on the coarse diamond stone
A2 still isn't working well on diamond stones.

stepped down to the coarsest diamond stone
I got a better looking bevel off of this stone.

consistent scratch pattern - not as coarse looking as the 80 grit
back to the coarse diamond stone
what my bevel looks like
I don't get this oval pattern on my O1 irons. Getting rid of this took about ten minutes of stroking back and forth on the stone.

it's shiny
I got a good shine on this but I can still see random scratches across the bevel. That isn't  good thing.

couldn't get rid of all of the scratches
I did raise a burr across the back of the iron and I had one until I removed it on the 8K polishing stone.

going to road test it as is
I like shooting end grain pine for testing. I meant to shoot the opposite end, so I did all four ends.

thin and wispy
smooth as a baby's butt
I have tried to use only O1in this plane but it dulls real quick. The A2 dulls too but not as fast as the O1 does. I had used a Lee Valley A2 iron in here and it lasted over twice as long as the LN A2 did. But I had a lot of adjuster problems with the LV iron so I went back to using LN irons.

other end smoothed
In spite of the scratches, it is working. Ken told me that Richard talks about A2 irons and water stones in later chapters. After this blog post is done, I'll be watching them.

flattening the back
The adventure starts on working iron #2. This is a Stanley iron made in the 2nd quarter of 1945 and I am assuming it's soft tool steel. Five strokes on the coarse diamond stone and I can see I have a hump.

ten strokes on the 80 grit
Before I got to the 80 grit, I made a brief try on the coarsest diamond stone. The results weren't coming any faster there neither.

lunch time
I have tried several different kinds of gloves to protect my hands when I do this type of work. None of them have worked. They either rip and tear themselves into shreds, or they are so thick that I lose all tactile feeling with the iron. This orange stuff and a blue scrubby pad clean up my hands quick and it does a good job of getting all the nasty stuff off.

after 80 grit back to the coarse stone
I have yet to flatten an iron and have it be a quick and easy outing. The coarse diamond stone didn't flatten out the hump. Went back to the 80 grit runway.

still have a hump to flatten
highlighted the problem spots
I don't have side to side scratches covering the black marked areas.

making progress
getting closer

I hope that I am not the only lucky person in this universe that has now spent half an hour flattening the back of an iron. I rounded off the corners on this too. I didn't have any problems doing that.

almost there
I have a faint bit of the black still at the top to remove.

my last  run on 80 grit
still needs more work
I have already spent well almost an hour working on this and this is what I have accomplished so far. This iron is the hardest and longest one I've had to work on so far.  I have another iron like this made in the 4th quarter of 1945 that needs to be flattened too.

20 minutes later
I started to work on the 3 diamond stones after the bulk of the removal with 80 grit.

pits are gone
I had two pits, one on each end of the chipbreaker. A few minutes work on the 80 grit and they were gone. I'll have to remember this and see if I can do this with the other chipbreakers that have pits in them.

before I road test the iron
I didn't have any problems sharpening the iron. Raised my burr and I maintained it until I removed it on the 8K. I sanded the sole of this plane to remove the paint on it before trying out the iron.

nice shavings
I set the iron to take even shavings and I went to town. I got wispy, see through, light and heavy shavings. All of the shavings were full side to side and continuous end to end off the board. I took the iron out and stowed it in the plane iron rack.

took another break
Took another break after the last iron was done and made a road trip to Ocean State junk lot. I went there to get some T-shirts and I saw these. For $11 apiece, I took a chance on them. These are deep throat, heavy duty, 24 inch clamps. The screw threads don't look like heavy acme threads but they aren't wimpy looking neither.

not quite 5" to the center of the screw
They have a 36" size too and if these work out and prove not to be crappola, I'll get a couple of them too.

the iron from the plane with paint on the sole
This is one aspect of sharpening that I can't wrap my head around. I had previously sharpened this iron and I got it set up to sharpen it again the same way I did it previously. This is the coarse diamond stone and I couldn't raise a burr on the iron.

If everything is set up the same way and I'm using a honing guide for repeatability, why can't I raise a burr now? Did the iron somehow get out of sharp in use - the back of the iron wasn't meeting the toe of the bevel at nothing anymore? Or did I sharpen this before this and not get a burr and just went with a shiny bevel? If I had done that I can see me not being able to raise a burr here and now.

I will have to take this from this point forward. I will raise a burr on this and sharpen and hone it. The next time I have to touch it up we'll see if I can get a burr off of the stones.

no detectable burr off of the coarsest diamond stone neither
got my burr off of the 80 grit runway
The small amount of light at the end of the iron is the burr. I could see it and feel it. I went up through the stones and did the road test with no further problems. Before I had sharpened this iron I had made some shavings and they were ok. There wasn't any need to sharpen the iron but I did it anyways. I compared the road test shavings with those and there weren't any dear diary discrepancies.

I still have a ways to go on my sharpening. I would like it to be a 1-2-3 event and then back to woodworking. I think I have a ways to go before that happens.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What was Perry Mason's win loss record on his first 7 cases?
answer - 7 straight losses - from Perry himself in the TV Movie 'The Case of the Musical Murder'

Call it Done (For Now)

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 2:34pm

After the worst Thursday on record, I awoke the next morning and resolved to sort out this stool. I needed more maple, so I headed to Frank Paxton Hardwoods and found the perfect board waiting for me. Straight. Clear. Flat. Reasonably priced. So I assumed I’d get into a car accident on the way home. (No collisions.) I milled the new seat, assuming it would be case hardened and twist […]

The post Call it Done (For Now) appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Big Batch of Soft Wax now Available

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 12:26pm


My daughter Katy made another monster batch of soft wax for the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool event last weekend and had 45 tins left over to sell in her etsy store. Check it out here.

Remember: It’s for furniture. We had some people visit the store last Saturday who seemed intent on using it on their lips, beards and what-not. It will sting, and not in a good way.

Also, don’t use it on your dog, though it would be great to have a dog that smelled like soft wax. Gerbils are right out. Parrots? Verboten. Argh. Just furniture.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools


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