I am currently working on carving the details for a reproduction fireplace surround. The style is a traditional Charleston design and has 2 small vertically positioned sunburst designs on either side of a large horizontally shaped one.
I have finished one of the side sunbursts and have just added the video lesson to my online school. The wood I carved this in is poplar. It’s not my favorite wood to carve because it can be kind of spongy and stringy, but since this is going to be painted, this is what the builder chose.
This design is a little unique in that the “rays” on the design are carved down to a corner, rather than a curve – at least on the 2 smaller side ones. This creates a nice, sharp shadow. The large center horizontally positioned one has more rounded and hollowed shaped rays.
The grain pattern turned out to be quite nice, so it is a shame to paint it…
While attending a memorial celebration of Mel’s life and work last week, I revived an old acquaintance with one of Mel’s long time collaborators, a renowned architectural conservator. Our conversation was a winding one, reminiscing on our mutual respect and admiration for our departed friend.
Eventually we passed into the territories of our own projects, and he mentioned a gift he had for me out in his car. In a couple minutes he reappeared with an envelope with two index-card sized pieces of wood.
“These are some of the parquet floor remnants from the Oval Office, removed during the renovation of about 1990.”
I do not know the configuration or pattern of the parquet flooring, and even if I did the pieces are so small I could not make sense of them. Perhaps some day I will get a photo of the Oval Office flooring during this period and replicate it, but for the foreseeable future I will be content to enable these remnants to be prominently featured in The Barn alongside the c.1670 oak parquet flooring from the Palaise Royale in Paris.
So, in addition to sections of floor that may have supported Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, I have a scrap of floor that almost certainly bore the footsteps of Ronaldus Magnus. How cool is that?
Now I just have to somehow find a piece of flooring from underneath the only truly great President of the past 200 years, Calvin Coolidge…
The subject of topics is a popular discussion in correspondences I’ve had over the years. It’s kind of funny when I think about it, because the awesomeness of having your own show or blog is that the topic is whatever YOU want it to be.
First of all, it’s your show, so that means you have more say in the topic than anyone else. I’ll be the first to admit it’s hard not to let others steer your content. Even when you have a clear vision of what you want to share and how to share it, there will always be a little voice in the back of your head saying “you should listen to them!”
Take it from me, it’s alright to listen to the suggestions from your audience, sometimes they will help steer a good conversation to a great one. But it’s probably more important to be true to yourself. If you find that your creating content about topics you’re not passionate about, you’ll eventually stop creating altogether.
Second; chances are if you have an interest in the subject…there’s someone else who’s interested in it too.
Trust me on this one! If you’re interested in some obscure and arcane subject, I can guarantee there are many more other people who are also interested in too. Probably more than you ever thought could exist.
Of course the problem with obscure and arcane is that the number of visitors will be minimal, but chances are they’ll be quality. The kind of quality visitor that becomes friends you’re glad you met, even if you never actually meet in person ever.
And third, if you’re still convinced no one will be interested in the topic before you write it, there’s a good chance they will AFTER you post it.
The truth of the matter is that sometimes we either don’t know the topic exists or we do, but perhaps the way you present it is in a way we never thought about previously.
In the end, regardless, chances are someone will find it useful and a conversation will most likely begin. Often this leads to even more information and the chance of new interactions, which can lead you to your next topic.
So what I’m really trying to say is, NEVER let choosing a topic be the limiting factor if and when you decide to start a podcast or blog.
Even when you have writer’s block or think what you’re currently doing in the shop is boring, someone will contact you and thank you for the inspiration and information.
Does this mean ALL the content will be good? No way! But that’s okay too. Because sometimes you just need to get it out there so you can learn. Of course this also means you’ll get the occasional jerky comment telling you the content isn’t great, but that’s okay too…it means someone’s viewing it and that’s what you wanted in the first place!
It’s really special when an artisan can design something profound in a tight discipline. In a world where bling draws the spotlight, I’m always thankful for someone who can craft an extraordinary wine, shotgun, handplane, or chair. Here’s a short video about Martin Wenham, a letter carver who offers some insights about design. Take a moment to savor his thoughts and work. I’d like to thank Dave Fisher for sending me this link.
I created two fixtures similar to Christopher Schwarz in order to dock two panel saws (rip and XC) to the inside lid surface. After trial and error, I came up with these fixture dimensions:
The rip saw’s handle faces to the left while the XC saw’s handle is located to the right-hand side of the lid. When the lid is open, the teeth face upward. Since each saw is wider toward the handle than the toe, the groove to house this portion of them is longer. I laid the saws one over another and determined a rough placement of the fixtures.
This helped me to then measure the width of the corresponding fixture groove, from the saw spine to the tip of the teeth. With this done, I laid out the fixtures…
…and cut the stopped grooves at the router table.
The longer grooves barely had 1/8” between them and the ends of the fixture. So to keep them from breaking, I reinforced them with plywood pieces to prevent breakage. I subsequently revised the fixture dimensions you see posted above.
Note the “Base Line” in the above photograph. The spines of both saws will rest in the same plane with the lid open.
Next, I cut the long notch at each fixture end, then drilled a hole (about 5/8” in from the end) and countersunk it to accommodate the mounting screws.
The 4” placement of the fixtures from the front edge of the top of the lid allowed enough clearance between the fixtures/saws and fully-loaded tool rack for the lid to properly close.
With the lid done, I turned my attention to completing the fixtures for the top section of the chest. And that’s the subject of the next post.
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.
The meeting is going to be held at my place, and I am going to supply the elm for the seat blanks.
This means that for once I actually have a purpose for sawing with the mulesaw.
going through 24" of old elm isn't easy, so one plank takes more than 1 hour to saw. Yesterday I had to rearrange the motor for the mulesaw, because the flat belts kept slipping. Now I have made the setup, so there is no clutch between the electric motor and the saw, but still it is not a fast saw.
The good thing is, that the surface looks nice, and the board is flat.
Today I made picture frames with different moulded shapes using moulding planes, smoothing planes, rebate planes, scratch stocks, screws and tenon saws of different types and sizes. The work was different using so many tools for so small a project. The demands were high, tight tolerances essential and I felt the tension build until alI the parts came together in exactness. The tools were cast iron and steel as well as wood and steel. I used dedicated tools and improvised by making tools as I went. So many times we think making a tool for a task takes longer than setting up a router and sometimes that’s true but often not. A tool made is seldom a one time use tool so economy figures in in different ways. I can make a temporary rebate plane in about 10 minutes from a chisel and a piece of scrap wood. It’s not complicated to do this and most of us have an old chisel or a spare one. Anyway, I was rewarded with a new tool to use and all the components for the next filmed series making picture frames that are very different than anything you might have seen before or ever bought or made or ever considered. I will be interested on your take on it when it’s online in a couple of months There are a series of rebates formed and some of the methods I use to form them will be quite unique to see I think. I am so glad we don’t need to use a chopsaw or jump through the hoops of making a tablesaw sled for the mitres and that we make a perfect mitre guide with two knife cuts and two saw cuts in under a minute. Much of what I do is about speed and efficiency yet without compromising my lifestyle of lifestyle woodworking that’s so effective and tangibly real I would find it hard indeed to live without it. I know, some of you out there might be saying ‘get a life, Paul,’ but this is the life I love living.The neat thing for me is that I don’t need to prove anything and at the same time I prove everything I believe in. There is no competition between the machine and the hand in my world. I have used both and find both useful. I find undeveloped skill is often diverted to machine dexterity and thereby skills, I mean the skills that could be passed on, apprehended and lived with, lie dormant and unused in most people’s lives. I find that simple and honest. Trying to prove one over the other seems to me to be like comparing an apple to an orange or even say a sledgehammer to a nut. Another thing I did this week was restore a couple of tools I picked up from the Woodfest Show a couple of weeks ago. Here is a very ugly paring gouge used mostly in pattern making. The gouge itself fell victim to someone who knew nothing about the tool and thereby a careless hand at sharpening. The important part of this type of gouge is only partly the bevel on the inside of the hollow. The very important part is the rounded outside. In this case and the case of a second one I retrieved from a mass of rusted tools in a box the bevel was badly ground and hacked at and the outside round was badly distorted by inappropriate abrading. I felt the best tack was to break off the end and rework the cutting edge. I clamped the main body of the gouge in the metalworking vise to reduce the risk of an uneven fracture into the cannel. There is no guarantee. Two swift and firm strikes with a cross peen hammer effectively separated the waste from the wanted. From snapping off the former bevel I squared off the end of the gouge to give a new start point to grind the in-cannel bevel. I used the corner of the grinding wheel to create the new in-cannel bevel of 25-degrees. It works well to do it this way and frequent dipping in cold water keeps the temperature of the steel tolerably low enough to prevent excess heat build up resulting in burning the steel. It’s best to take your time with this. Especially strive not to burn the steel and keep the tool moving from side to side around the cannel and so avoid stopping at any fixed point on the corner of the wheel as this will definitely burn steel away fast. I got very close to the edge and left only about 0.5mm of a square edge left. From here its abrasive paper on a suitably sized dowel going from 250 to 400 and then in increments of 200 to 2500 in steps of around 200 or so. Beyond that the same dowel can be wrapped with leather and charged with buffing compound. The bevel is now completed. The outside round surface should be polished already, but a final buffing with a leather strip or strap or the rough side of a leather belt charged with buffing compound completes the sharpening and I have vary nice gouge for the rest of my life.
More than once I had found myself perplexed by a fret that would not gracefully seat itself completely in a fret slot. More often than not the problem was the slot being too shallow for the tang on the fretwire. I saw the slots to an appropriate depth when making a dulcimer fingerboard but by […]
Cleaning a record with wood glue, with impressive results. Props to the maker of this video for using Miles Ahead for this demonstration.
This demo uses Titebond II. Being a fan of hide glue, I wonder if hide glue would work as well. But since hide glue dries harder than PVA glues, I would guess that peeling the glue layer off might be harder with hide glue as opposed to PVA glue.
A few months back in blog titled The Ones That Got Away , I wrote about two auction items I coveted but apparently not enough to win. One of them was this salt box:
For a friend’s birthday I made this saltbox:
I was pleased with the build. Only thing I believe I got wrong was the angle of the cut-a-way for the lid. I didn’t pick the color, the recipient did. My mistake was picking up a milk paint sample chart from an antiques dealer 80 miles from home. I did find a local dealer but would have preferred she had chosen one of the General Finishes acrylic “milk paint” over the mix-me-up powdered genuine milk paint. She also wanted a more primitive finish, not the smooth and uniform finish that I usually try for. Just like Peter Follansbee not letting me make the English jointed stool too pretty when I took the class at the Woodwright’s School.
If you read Chris Schwarz’s blog at either Popular Woodworking or Lost Art Press, you know he has been writing about historic squares in the past month or two. The squares looked like an interesting project, relatively quick to build and not requiring much material. (No trip to the Hardwood Store.) As a woodworker with ADD, I am always looking for a diversion and something to keep me from doing what must be done. These fit the bill.
It was a rewarding build. Hadn’t really used hollows and rounds to any great extent. I scratched the bead on the Melencolia square with a #66 beading tool. The challenge is to figure out the sequence of using the planes and the best way to rough out the molding profiles before using the molding planes. I have been taught it is best to use a block or other plane to remove most of the wood before switching to the hollows and rounds to refine the shape. Block planes are easier to sharpen than a molding plane.
I made multiples because it is easier to make longer moldings than shorter ones. I have learned my lesson there. Now I have to find something to do with the spares. Always my problem, what to do with the stuff I make. Not a bad problem to have. Beats gout.
Ah, the middle of Summer, usually the hottest time of the year but also the usual time for vacations and relaxing. If you’re currently on vacation right now we invite you to sit back in your hammock or adirondack chair and enjoy our July issue of The Highland Woodturner. If you’re not on vacation and sitting at your office desk right now, we still invite you to CLICK HERE and maybe keep the browser covered so the boss doesn’t see you checking out some new woodturning project ideas and tips.
This month’s Woodturning stories and tips include:
Vacuum Chucking: Initial Impressions- Curtis Turner shares his experience in Vacuum Chucking, a system used to help “reverse mount a bowl or platter to provide total access to the bottom of the item.” Curtis goes over his process and the advantages and disadvantages he found when using this system.
Turning with Temple: Long, Thin-Stem Goblets: Temple Blackwood shares his step-by-step process of turning long, thin-stemmed goblets, which make great wedding presents!
Show Us Your Woodturning Shop: This month we take you on a tour of Dennis Purcell’s woodturning shop in Austin, Texas where he has a variety of turning and woodworking tools, including a new “old” lathe.
Popular Woodworking Presents: Woodturning with Tim Yoder: In this 30 minute episode brought to you by Popular Woodworking, Tim Yoder demonstrates the process of turning a Roman Canteen.
Improve Your Turning with the Oneway Woodworm Screw: Phil’s July turning tip gives you a recommendation on how to use the woodworm, the funny-looking screw that comes with chucks.
All of this and more in our July issue of The Highland Woodturner.
Rob Cosman showed me how to lay out dovetails using dividers about 12 or 13 years ago, and I have never looked back. I’ve caught a lot of crap for using the divider method from fellow hand-tool woodworkers who say that laying them out by eye is much faster. I don’t disagree. However, there are some advantages to taking the extra time and use dividers. 1. My work looks more […]
|This is a detail shot of the Fisher property from an 1824 landscape. His yellow 1814 house is on the far right. Photo: Brad Emerson|
"On Saturday, July 26th Joshua Klein of Klein Furniture Restoration will present his research on the furniture produced by Jonathan Fisher (1768 – 1847) of Blue Hill. The talk titled, “The Fashioning Hand of Jonathan Fisher: An Inside Look at the Parson’s Furniture” will begin at 1:00 pm and will be followed by a guided tour of the collection.This exciting new research has uncovered a rare look into the productive life and mind of this farmer-artisan of 19th century Maine. The surviving body of furniture, tools used to produce them, and diary entries recording their creation are a uniquely comprehensive record unparalleled by any other chair or cabinet maker of preindustrial Maine. Klein will discuss how a close investigation of Fisher’s furniture reveals to us insights into the complex relationship between the parson’s religious devotion, intellectual pursuits, and craft skills."
As an aside, I’ve made a little bit more progress on my tool chest… Bottom boards, plinth, and becket cleats. Next up is the interior storage. Oh and I was playing around with some paint yesterday. I decided to grain paint this chest like the mahogany graining so common in Maine in the early 1800s. I’ve not done that before so I am making up some sample boards.
|The Chest in the white|
|The dovetails are reversed on the plinth (for added strength)|
|Becket cleats of poplar I had laying around|
|This is the 'mahoganized' sample board sitting against the chest.|
Part of my job at Popular Woodworking Magazine is to talk with tool manufacturers and get their newest innovations into the PWM shop to test and review. I tend to do things in a big way, which means I have a small mountain of things to review crowding the shop, my cubicle and the storage area in the front of the PWM offices – it’s a big pile. And with […]
If you hunt for the older generation of tools from quality makers, as I do, you’ll know how excited I am to have found these yesterday. A Mathieson Sash Fillister (No.14) and Mathieson Plough Plane (No.12). If anyone has a suitable (grooved set) of Mathieson plough plane blades, please let me know, I need to locate a set as the plane has none.
I’ll shoot some pics of the planes in use soon.
Fixtures really make this chest an excellent storage space. And since I intend to travel with my chest, I want it to travel well. By “well” I mean that I don’t want tools to be damaged in transit. As is, the virgin top space doesn’t meet that standard.
So to ensure that things stay put during the rigors of a “Florida or Bust” road trip I created a number of fixtures.
Top-section Fixture: plane dividers lattice
One of the reasons that my fixture layout worked out so well was because I started with the ones that “fixed” the dimensions of the others. That meant installing the plane lattice dividers first to house the jointer, jack and smoother.
Now, keeping in mind that I often change up my peg-board tool storage layout, I wanted to give myself the flexibility to do that in my chest. So I chose to install free-standing lattice dividers. No glue or screws.
The divider lattice consists of five parts:
(2) runners: poplar-1/2” x 1 ½”
(2) divider slats: poplar-1/4” x 1 ½”
(1) jack/smoother divider: poplar-1/2” x 1 ½”
The lattice joinery is simple. The lateral divider slats have tabs at each end which seat in slots cut into the vertical runners.
I started by cutting the lattice side runners a bit long and then dialed in a snug fit using a shooting board. After that, I sized the slats to create the divided storage areas.
To determine the position of the jointer slat, I measured from the backside of the front, added 3/16” (to allow for the ¼’ thick fall front locks, plus 1/16” clearance from them), added the width of my woodie jointer, plus 1/16” clearance on the back side.
That gave me the inside dimensions of the jointer storage area.
I marked this on the lattice side runners and routed notches for the jointer slat. The notch depth is ½ the width of the runner and the notch width is equal to the width of the slat. With the notches cut, I sawed the jointer slat to length, tweaked it for a snug fit, and routed a “tab” onto each end to fit into the runner notches. The tab depth equals the depth of the notch and the tab length equals the thickness of the side runner.
The next area houses both the jack and the smoother. To complete the lattice for these I repeated the process. The only difference was the addition of a dado in both the jointer and jack slats to accept a ½” thick divider between the jack and smoother.
The completed lattice looks like this.
After the shellac dried, I installed the lattice and turned my attention to the backsaw till. And that is the subject of my next post.
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.