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An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...

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General Woodworking

Ruining the skirts (NOT!)

McGlynn On Making - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 7:06am

Yesterday wasn’t terribly productive in terms of how much I got done, perhaps just slightly ahead of “watching paint dry”, but I’m happy with how things are coming out.  It was about 85 degrees outside, and my wood shop feels like it’s ten degrees hotter than outside.  It’s weird, because the other building where I have my metalworking junk is probably 10 degrees cooler than outside.  Maybe I should only do metalwork in the summer…

I decided to do a little more scroll saw practice, but after a couple of cuts I decided that I was good enough on the shallow curves, and that the tight curves were too unpredictable.  The really tight turns also seemed to show up mistakes more, and if I got off the mark it was harder to correct.  So I did the only reasonable thing — I changed my design to avoid the tight turns.

Not by much, mind you.  I just changed the radius on the really tight turns to be a standard fractional drill size so I could drill out the ends and concentrate on connecting the lines in between.  I had to scale up the piercing a bit to make it look right, but I think it’s good.  I printed out my templates, and headed out to the shop.  Here’s how it went down:

First, I laid down blue tape on the wood.  I discovered that the “Super 77″ spray adhesive I’m using is just too sticky and it makes a mess getting it off of the wood.  This way the pattern sticks to the tape instead and the whole mess just peels right off when I’m done.

Lay down blue tape to prevent the spray adhesive from gumming up the wood.  Strike a center line on the part.

Lay down blue tape to prevent the spray adhesive from gumming up the wood. Strike a center line on the part.

You can just see the centerline I laid out on the tape, I carried this over the top edge of the wood so I could use it to align the pattern with a “tape hinge”.

Pattern lined up on the center mark and hinged with more blue tape

Pattern lined up on the center mark and hinged with more blue tape

I included center marks on the new pattern so I could accurately drop in the drill locations.  This is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Pattern glued down, hole locations centers marked with an awl

Pattern glued down, hole locations centers marked with an awl

Then I drilled the holes for the ends of the design elements.  For the “Star Trek Communicator” shapes I just drilled a 1/8″ pilot hole, far enough away from the line so I could nibble away the waste and start exactly on the line.  I thought about dropping in a tangent circle at the tightest point in the arc for another drill but decided I could cut that without panicking.  I think I will do that for the other skirt though.

Holes drilled to create the end arcs in the design.  I used fresh brad point bits with a backer board to prevent splintering on the reverse side.

Holes drilled to create the end arcs in the design. I used fresh brad point bits with a backer board to prevent splintering on the reverse side.

I’m using a “#5 Flying Dutchman Ultra Reverse” blade, high enough blade tension that the blade makes a nice high pitched “twang” when plucked and a relatively low blade speed — maybe 1/3 of the maximum speed.  I’m also wearing a #5 Optivisor so I can see the line and going relatively slowly, maybe half the speed I could theoretically push the board through the saw.  Seems to work.

Initial shapes cut out

Initial shapes cut out

End shapes cut

End shapes cut

The cuts aren’t perfect but they aren’t far off either.  There are a couple of little burs where I transitioned between the drilled holes and the sawn areas, but they are all undercuts (e.g. I left a little extra material instead of cutting outside of the line, or over cutting).  There are a couple of little undulations as I sawed slightly to one side of the line — I tried to split the line, or cut to the inside of it, but this difference is just barely visible.  I can clean all of this up with just a little sanding.

One skirt done, three more to do

One skirt done, three more to do

I’ll see if I can get an hour in the shop tonight and saw the matching skirt like this one.  I already updated the pattern for the other skirt to add the tangent holes for the ends of the design.  That design is significantly simpler too, it should be less challenging to cut.  A little file and sandpaper should smooth out the piercings nicely, then I need to figure out how to round over the edges.  I can do it with sandpaper I know — and probably will, as I want sort of an organic rounded shape anyway.


Categories: General Woodworking

Where do you go?

Rundell & Rundell - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 8:52pm
It's an interesting prospect making Windsor chairs for a living in Australia. On one hand your a relatively good sized fish in a small pond, demographically speaking. On the other, there's none too many other chair makers just hanging around for you to chew the preverbial fat with. And so, with the exception of good mate Bern, I tend to spend time searching for inspiration, as opposed to perhaps being inspired by others plying the same craft.

So you can imagine what it is like for me to be fairly and squarely in the workshop of one of the States best Windsor chair makers and a house full of his creations. Suffice to say it gives you food for thought.

Playing with the Tim Manney made Adze…. amazing fun

The time to actually be present in a workshop that is not yours and doesn't have all the limitations and boundaries of your own, is an interesting place to find yourself in. To have time to carve or steam bend a part that is not earmarked for a commissioned piece, but to you is an exercise purely in honing skill or understanding a technique in a greater sense, can be very rewarding. To have no time limitations is a bonus too. To work green and dry timber alike, that is of text book quality as opposed to scrounging for a log of that species, let alone one that is straight enough to fashion a spindle from.

 It seems a lot like a dream at present. Pete put it well just the other day when Charlie expressed concern to him about me being out in the heat splitting maple. "Don't worry about him, he's just having fun experiencing what it's like to be a chair maker here."

Oh Well, I guess I'll make another few spindles outta this horrible wood...

But there's also a more confronting aspect to the picture. It begs the question, are you becoming staid? Are you at the forefront of your craft or is isolation from or lack of interaction with other makers meaning that you are treading water? I've asked and answered that questions of myself a few times since I've been here. ( No, I'm not audibly talking to myself in a  corner  somewhere ).


 There's been no real resolution and I think I'll have to see through the end of the trip before I'm quite assured of the answer, but I am content that the process of asking those questions is valid given my circumstances. And hell, even if the ultimate answer is not what I want it to be, then more reason to work towards changing that, and achieving the right end goal. Win win eh?

But while on the subject, I feel very fortunate to have been a guinea pig of sorts for a while in Pete's workshop. As you would all be aware Pete is currently in the process of writing his book on Windsor chair making. He has also kindly given me access to parts of the draft copy to read. 

One part was in reference to a technique for fitting a part of one of the chairs featured in the book. Pete asked me to read it and then based on that, complete the physical task on that particular chair part 
( sorry I can't give away any more detail for obvious reasons ) But what I can say, is based on Pete's text and illustrations alone I completed the task and it worked about as perfectly as you could ever want. I was supremely impressed.


So how good do I think this book will be? Well lets just say that I will strongly recommend that anyone taking one of my classes in the future reads Pete's book first. Despite the fact that in doing so they probably won't need to take a class with me at all.......?? Hmmm might have to rethink that one…. 

But seriously, I honestly believe it will be the 'go to' book of our time for anyone wanting to make Windsor chairs. It truly is that comprehensive. And it is beautifully illustrated by Pete too. He is a rare talent.

Categories: General Woodworking

An Old Friend Joins Me

The Barn on White Run - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 7:35pm

When back in the city last week I disassembled and loaded my first real workbench, a 5″ thick torsion-box mounted on an oak base unit, and brought it back to the mountains when I returned.

cIMG_6155

Reassembled and in its rightful place — it was designed and is intended for use in “the middle of the floor” rather than against the wall — its diminutive size makes it a near perfect fit almost anywhere, and the space between the Roubo bench in the window and the planing beam makes it an integral part of the shop activities. NOW The Barn feels like home.  It was home-y before, now it is home.

cIMG_6152

I built this bench in 1986 as I recall, using a pair of “Closeout table” vise screws from the local Woodcraft for the full length twin screw face vise, which is unbelievably handy.  The Emmert was mounted a few years later, and I remember listening to the debates prior to the first Persian Gulf War on the radio as I was rasslin’ the beast into place.

The only real downsides to this bench are three.  1) it is really small, as was dictated by the space I had back then.  At 24′ x 48″ for the core unit and 32″ x 54″ overall, it does limit the kinds of work you can do, but I have managed to do a lot with it over the years.  2) With the 90-pound Emmert vise hanging outside the trestle base, it does get kinda tippy especially when you put something heavy in it.  I found that using the base as a lumber storage rack pretty much solves the problem.  And 3) there was no end vise function, which I solved by designing and building the face-mounted end vise on it, a project that was featured in Popular Woodworking.

This bench has served me superbly for the better part of three decades and uncounted projects ranging from planing window trim to being a toy hospital to fabricating parts and even entire replicas) for priceless antiques and everything in between.  If you have a severe space restriction for your working area, you might want to give something like this a thought.   If so, I will be delighted to provide any insights and counsel I can to help you along.

But tread lightly when contemplating acquiring an Emmert.  If you do try one out, be forewarned that a complete one in excellent shape often costs a fortune.  In addition you will have to suffer the discomfort of kicking yourself non-stop for not having one before.  There is also the continued annoying (to other woodworkers) habit of comparing everything to an Emmert from this point on.  Frankly, nothing else measures up.  Thanks to Benchcrafted and others we are living in a Golden Age for woodworker’s vises, but this standard is what keeps me looking for improvements all the time.  Even when we get to fabricating Studley vises, this will probably remain my “go to” tool.

 

Fixing a Hole

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 12:20pm

Because I had a little bit of free time on Friday night after work, I got a little bit of a jumpstart on my built in cupboard project I started last week. The first task was to place the cupboard in its soon-to-be home and mark out the portion of the wall to be sawn out. I then used a drywall saw to cut out the hole and make a huge mess in the process. The next task was installing the back of the cupboard, which was a simple piece of 1/4″ thick Baltic birch plywood, which I cut on the table saw. I installed the back piece with a little glue and some brad nails. I then installed the semi-finished cupboard in the hole. I possibly could have installed the face-frame before and then installed the cupboard in one shot, but that would have made it more difficult to shim. So I installed the case with some finish nails, added a new 2×4 header to the wall, and called it a night.

Plywood back installed

Plywood back installed

Shimmed and ready to go.

Shimmed and ready to go.

I had work yesterday morning, and things to do in the afternoon, so the face-frame portion of the project had to wait until this morning. For the face frame I once again used Pine, ripped to 3 1/4″ wide, except for the bottom piece which was only 1 3/4″. To take away the tooling marks I used the jack plane set very lightly, as I didn’t want to change the dimensions any more than necessary. I then gave the boards an overall sanding 150/220. When they looked satisfactory I double checked the boards to be sure they were square, because I used pocket holes to assemble the frame, and while pocket hole joinery may be dead simple, if the boards aren’t square then it doesn’t mean a thing. I assembled the frame on my workbench, hung it with just one nail, checked everything to make sure it was even, and then finished the installation using finish nails.

A small pile of shavings. I must not be a real woodworker.

A small pile of shavings. I must not be a real woodworker.

Face frame installed

Face frame installed

It holds stuff

It holds stuff

The last act of the day was filling the cabinet just to see what it can hold. For not being very large it holds a nice amount of stuff. I don’t really have any specific plan for the cupboard, it was really just an experiment. Because I didn’t have enough wood to make the door frame, it will have to wait until next weekend. That will be a bit more challenging, as it will involve mortise and tenon joinery, as well as fitting panels. I would also like to add a small cap of sometime to the top of the frame. I can’t be anything that sticks out very far, but I do want to differentiate between the cupboard and the rest of the wall with some type of border.

Considering that the wall isn’t very even, and covered in bumpy drywall, the cabinet fits nicely. I think it will look even better once the door is in place. One thing I probably should have done differently was leave off the adjustable shelving and just uses dadoes to hold the shelves in place. The cabinet really isn’t tall enough to need adjustable shelving, and it was a bit of a waste of time to put the holes in. Otherwise, I am happy with how it is shaping up. Next weekend I should have little problem getting the door built and installed. I will then be able to call this project finished and move on to making my smoothing plane.


Categories: General Woodworking

Fixing a Hole

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 12:20pm

Because I had a little bit of free time on Friday night after work, I got a little bit of a jumpstart on my built in cupboard project I started last week. The first task was to place the cupboard in its soon-to-be home and mark out the portion of the wall to be sawn out. I then used a drywall saw to cut out the hole and make a huge mess in the process. The next task was installing the back of the cupboard, which was a simple piece of 1/4″ thick Baltic birch plywood, which I cut on the table saw. I installed the back piece with a little glue and some brad nails. I then installed the semi-finished cupboard in the hole. I possibly could have installed the face-frame before and then installed the cupboard in one shot, but that would have made it more difficult to shim. So I installed the case with some finish nails, added a new 2×4 header to the wall, and called it a night.

Plywood back installed

Plywood back installed

Shimmed and ready to go.

Shimmed and ready to go.

I had work yesterday morning, and things to do in the afternoon, so the face-frame portion of the project had to wait until this morning. For the face frame I once again used Pine, ripped to 3 1/4″ wide, except for the bottom piece which was only 1 3/4″. To take away the tooling marks I used the jack plane set very lightly, as I didn’t want to change the dimensions any more than necessary. I then gave the boards an overall sanding 150/220. When they looked satisfactory I double checked the boards to be sure they were square, because I used pocket holes to assemble the frame, and while pocket hole joinery may be dead simple, if the boards aren’t square then it doesn’t mean a thing. I assembled the frame on my workbench, hung it with just one nail, checked everything to make sure it was even, and then finished the installation using finish nails.

A small pile of shavings. I must not be a real woodworker.

A small pile of shavings. I must not be a real woodworker.

Face frame installed

Face frame installed

It holds stuff

It holds stuff

The last act of the day was filling the cabinet just to see what it can hold. For not being very large it holds a nice amount of stuff. I don’t really have any specific plan for the cupboard, it was really just an experiment. Because I didn’t have enough wood to make the door frame, it will have to wait until next weekend. That will be a bit more challenging, as it will involve mortise and tenon joinery, as well as fitting panels. I would also like to add a small cap of sometime to the top of the frame. I can’t be anything that sticks out very far, but I do want to differentiate between the cupboard and the rest of the wall with some type of border.

Considering that the wall isn’t very even, and covered in bumpy drywall, the cabinet fits nicely. I think it will look even better once the door is in place. One thing I probably should have done differently was leave off the adjustable shelving and just uses dadoes to hold the shelves in place. The cabinet really isn’t tall enough to need adjustable shelving, and it was a bit of a waste of time to put the holes in. Otherwise, I am happy with how it is shaping up. Next weekend I should have little problem getting the door built and installed. I will then be able to call this project finished and move on to making my smoothing plane.


Categories: General Woodworking

Stuff I like, part 1

McGlynn On Making - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 9:08am

The internet is a pretty wonderful thing when it comes to publishing information.  I remember when I was first trying to learn about metal shaping in the 1980′s.  I had a handful of books and magazine articles (and was glad to have them) but going beyond that wasn’t easy.  I met people, took some courses and learned what I could.  Then in the early 1990′s I attended a talk about “Mosaic” and the “World Wide Web”, when I got back to my office at work I figured out how to download Mosaic (which was, of course, the first web browser) and started trying to search the internet.  I found something called “ArtMetal.com” and was immediately networked with a bunch of people around the country who shared similar interests.  Sadly, it looks like the original ArtMetal site archives at Washington University are gone and the current site has loads of broken links.

Chris Ray

One of the first internet buddies I made was Chris Ray, a blacksmith and sculptor in Philadelphia.  I had a business trip to the east coast once where I managed to add in a side trip to visit Chris and stayed with him for a couple of days.  He had an interesting live/work space in a scary area, and we got to play in his shop raising abstract shapes from thick copper and forging iron.  I have two original Chris Ray pieces, one from his “Flotsam” series and another that is a house number that I commissioned, and the plant hanger I made at Chris’ shop around 1995 still hangs on my front porch.

"Nomad" by Chris Ray, wrought copper

“Nomad” by Chris Ray, wrought copper

Street number forged/fabricated by Chris Ray for my house

Street number forged/fabricated by Chris Ray for my house

Plant hanger forged by your truly under Chris' watchful eye.  I was trying to get a plowing, plastic shape like taffy melting.

Plant hanger forged by your truly under Chris’ watchful eye. I was trying to get a plowing, plastic shape like taffy melting.

But I digress.  I’m just pointing out the obvious; the internet makes access to information on art, craft and processes easily available where previously it was difficult to find information and artists had little chance of broad recognition outside of a lucky few individuals.

Theodore Ellison

I found Theodore Ellison’s web site through a posting on a G&G mail list about some beautiful wood doors that had these stunning stained glass panels in them.  I’ve spent hours browsing through the pictures on theodoreellison.com.  I really like his compositions, use of color and decorative soldering.  Do yourself a favor and take a look at his work.

Detail of a cabinet door designed to match nearby windows

Detail of a cabinet door designed to match nearby windows

Having done a few simple stained glass projects, I really appreciate the details in his work.  The decorative soldering is something that I want to pay particular attention to in the future.  Take a look at the details on the glass panels in this door from his blog, the solder seams become realistic branches in the tree.

wood and glass detail of Dunsmuir Door by Theodore Ellison Designs and the Craftsman Door Company

wood and glass detail of Dunsmuir Door by Theodore Ellison Designs and the Craftsman Door Company

Debey Zito

In the same way I discovered Ellison’s work through the Craftsman Door Company, I discovered Debey Zito through Ellison’s blog.  Both are members of Artistic License, a local San Francisco organization of craftspeople involved in historical architectural work.  Zito and Ellison collaborated with other local artisans, including coppersmith Audel Davis, to create this stunning room — an homage to the work of CF Voysey.

zito_07

Ravens (a popular motif) recall the lively birds in a fireplace grille by Voysey. The oak trees are all about California. Photo: Nathanael Bennett

There were pictures of several of Debey Zito’s pieces, but this is my favorite by far.  Interestingly, she has made several pieces of furniture for the owners of the Blacker House, including this one.  I like the lines of the cabinet, the decorative (inlay?) on the upper panels and the sculpted metal handles.  Really, really nice.

 David Ramsey.

Aesthetic Cabinet. 70″H, 60″W, 23″D. Black walnut. We have made this piece several times. One is in the Greene and Greene Blacker House with water lilies carved on it. Photo: David Ramsey.

 David Ramsey.

Voysey Desk and Chair by Debey Zito. Desk: 53″H, 44″W, 17″D. Chair: 45″H, 23″W, 22″D. Black walnut. Photo: David Ramsey.

Christopher Vickers

Since several of Debey Zito’s pieces are inspired by CFA Voysey, I decided look more into his work.  Which lead me to Vickers’ website.  He is a craftsman in the UK, and he produces both wood and metal items, but it’s his metal lighting fixtures that really are stunning in my opinion.  There is a lot to look at here, primarily English Arts & Crafts styled work.  Some, like the Voysey items, tend toward the abstract.  I haven’t looked at everything on his site yet, and need to stop if I have any hope of getting work done in my shop today, so I’ll leave you with this simple but elegant hanging light.  I think it’s just spectacular.

Birmingham Guild of Handicraft Pendant Light.

Birmingham Guild of Handicraft Pendant Light.


Categories: General Woodworking

Taking Traditional Woodworking to the Modern World, Shannon Rogers

The Craftsman's Road - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 9:00am

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Shannon Rogers, creator of the Hand Tool School, joins us today for an in-depth look into what it takes to bring your skills and passion onto the world wide web.

The Hand Tool School

The Renaissance Woodworker

 

I found this interview with Shannon to be very enlightening, as someone trying to create something on the web for the woodworking community this gives me hope. In this interview Shannon and I discuss what it was like for Shannon in the beginning, the time and effort he put into creating an authority site within the hand tool niche, and what it was like for him when he went from a free online site to a paid membership site.  Shannon, being an online content marketer for his day job, tells us what is and is not working in online marketing, and what he is doing to drive new students to the Hand Tool School. We learn how the Hand Tool School has progressed financially and today is exceeding his 9-5 day job, and Shannon’s plans for possibly going full-time with the Hand Tool School ( this should be very exciting for any of you looking to create something on the web, as we now have multiple people who have proven that doing content driven educational media online is working, just look at The Woodwhisperer, and The Hand Tool School, this is an exciting time for woodworkers, take advantage of it!).  To wrap up this show Shannon gives us all some advice and guidance to help us along on our own path in this craft. Hope you enjoy the show, please leave any questions or comments below.

Categories: General Woodworking

Easy Sign, Difficult Customer

Wunder Woods - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 10:51pm

At the end of May, my daughter and pickiest customer Mira, turned eight and planned to have a mermaid swimming party at Grandma’s house. Grandma has a swimming pool and we knew that she would be willing to heat it for an early-season swim, so it was an easy choice. The difficult part was finding mermaid themed items that met with Mira’s approval and weren’t for little girls (Ariel, A.K.A. The Little Mermaid, is not cool when you are eight).

While searching for party decorations, my wife, Chris, came across a little sign that she thought was cute and asked if I could make one for the party. It said, “Mermaid Lagoon” and it was pretty simple, and since it was right up my alley, being made of wood and all, I said “Yes”.

I dug out some cypress that had lots of knots and a good rustic look and started cutting. I wanted the sign to be bigger (who wouldn’t) than the one in the photo, so I cut the boards about two feet long to make the height. I trimmed the ends at random lengths, some at a slight angle, until I had enough to make the sign about three feet wide. It went quick, especially since I had no formal plan. If a board didn’t look right, I just trimmed it more or flipped it around or just grabbed another board. I love that kind of woodworking; no tape measure, no pencil, no worries.

After I nailed the boards together, I painted them with a wash of blue/green paint. I already had some bright blue paint in the shop and added green Transtint to get the color right. I thinned the paint down with water and brushed it on as quick as possible. While it was still wet, I wiped it off like it was a stain to show the wood below.

Once the paint was dry, I did the lettering, which I laid out and printed from the computer. I cut out the words with an X-acto knife and used a light coat of Super 77 spray adhesive to hold it in place while I painted it. A light mist of white spray paint did the trick, making the words legible but not too pronounced.

After the sign panel was assembled and painted, I needed to come up with a post. My first attempt was a weathered piece of oak 2″x4″. It had the right look and feel since it was old and gray, but I thought that Mira might not approve since it just looked like an old board, so I continued to search for a better way to display it.

A quick walk to the other end of the shop revealed a piece of driftwood that was perfect. It was the right size and height, and with just a little block added to the bottom, it sat up beautifully crooked. Plus, I wouldn’t have to pound it in the concrete-like ground since it would stand up on its own. That piece of white oak driftwood couldn’t have worked out better.

All that was left to do was screw the sign to the post, which took a grand total of 30 seconds. If it was going to be for long-term use I would have been more serious about it, but two 3″ deck screws worked just fine and quickly put this job to bed.

The perfect piece of white oak driftwood and cypress lumber teamed up to make this sign for my daughter Mira's swimming party.

The perfect piece of white oak driftwood and cypress lumber teamed up to make this sign for my daughter Mira’s swimming party.

I was pleased as punch. I showed it to everyone within shouting distance of the shop and couldn’t wait to bring it home and show the girls. They were pleasantly surprised at how it turned out and I was pleasantly surprised that Mira quickly approved it (I was still a bit worried that my unauthorized driftwood addition might have been a bit aggressive in her mind (even though it was perfect)). We capped the whole thing off with hot glue, a few seashells and then perfect weather for a “Mermaid Lagoon” swimming party.

The sign now resides in my shop, where it generates many inquiries, but as of today, no more official orders for driftwood mermaid signs.

 


Categories: General Woodworking

Practicing using a scroll saw

McGlynn On Making - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 5:55pm

I never imagined I’d own a scroll saw, much less find myself watching videos about “scrolling” and practicing with a scroll saw.  But that’s what I’ve been up to today.

Whaaaat?

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

Yeah, the next step on the little Thorsen table is to cut out these abstract designs in the skirts.  I don’t know how the Halls did it, but my thought was to use the scroll saw I got when I was making the Gamble Inglenook sconce.  I learned that sawing accurately on a scroll saw isn’t as easy as I’d hoped.  On the sconces it was mostly straight lines, I sawed as best I could then spent a lot of time cleaning up the piercings with sandpaper stuck to a piece of sheet metal to make a thin file (of sorts).

Piercing for the Inglenook Sconce

Piercing (pattern) for the Inglenook Sconce

My concern of course is that any little screw up in the piercing is going to show up like a nose wart on a beauty queen.  If I can cut them accurately the sawn edge won’t need much attention to be “finished”.  If it’s wavy and over cut, all of the sanding in the world won’t help.

I found a close up view of the piercing in the “taboret” from the Thorsen house, which has the same design.  Take a look at how nice those shapes are.

Taboret detail from the Thorsen house.  A little wider and 3.75" shorter than the "plant stand".

Taboret detail from the Thorsen house. A little wider and 3.75″ shorter than the “plant stand”.

So, what else could I do but spend some time practicing.  I’ll give away the surprise ending: I still need more practice.

I started by watching a couple of YouTube videos on scroll saw techniques.  This one seemed to have most of ht basics:

I downloaded the practice  pattern and headed out to the shop where I glued it to a scrap of 1/4″ pine, fit a blade in the saw and proceeded to embarrass myself.

Practice pattern glued to some pine

Practice pattern glued to some pine

The straight lines aren’t too bad.  That is to say, I didn’t totally screw those up.  The right angle turns are going to take some more practice, although I can do “ok” on those.  Curves, those are going to take a lot more work before I’m comfortable with them.  I did all of the practice elements, then decided I was tired of practicing and wanted to do the real project.  Luckily I didn’t give in to that impulse.

Practice circle

Practice circle

Instead I decided to practice on the same type of wood (Sapele) in the same thickness (3/4″) as the skirts.  I glued a pattern to the wood and drilled access holes for the blade.

Sample pattern

Sample pattern

I fitted a fresh “Flying Dutchman Ultra Reverse #5″ blade, set the tension, slowed the speed way down, and went to town.  The results?  Not horrible, but no where near good enough for the table.  The long arcs are OK, the tight turns on the ends are tricky, you have to rotate the piece a lot factor than you would imagine.  The moon lander shaped arc on the end detail came out pretty sloppy in particular.

 MEH.  Almost, but no cigar.

One word: MEH. Almost, but no cigar.

The finish from the cut is very nice, if the cut is fair then it probably won’t need any sanding.  I tried some scroll saw sanding files to try to smooth out some of the undulations.  It helps, but the files are kind of a joke.  Using light pressure it would take several files to get the job done, and they really only work well on gradual curves.  They are marginal on tight turns, and useless on tight areas.  A spindle sander with a tiny drum might work in some areas, but I don’t have one of those.

I want to get this figured out though, I can see being able to cut accurately with this saw being a real asset for some of the furniture that I want to make.  Eventually I want to try doing “Greene & Greene style inlay” or Bolection Inlay.  More practice tomorrow.

Some detail sanding done, but this is certainly not going to fly (except into the kindling pile)

Some detail sanding done, but this is certainly not going to fly (except into the kindling pile)


Categories: General Woodworking

Welcomed Guests

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 4:36pm

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Yesterday I had the unmitigated delight of hosting Charles Brock (aka Mr. Highland Woodworker), Mrs. Brock, and Charles’ videographer colleague Stephen Price.  They were up to film a segment for an upcoming HW episode, talking to me about my passion for finishing, which does make me a bit of an oddball in the woodworking world (which just confirms my oddball-ness in relation to just about every facet of the human endeavor) and my upcoming production of Gragg chairs.  Being a chair maker himself, Chuck and I got into pretty deep weeds about the minutiae of curvilinear chair construction.

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Thank you Chuck (and Mrs. Brock) and Steve for a day of invigorating conversation, and giving me the opportunity to show off The Barn to you.

 

Repairing Woodworking Chisels with Blacksmith Bruce Dembling

Wood and Shop - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 11:46am

My friend Dr. Bruce Dembling recently invited me to his small blacksmith shop in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the above video you’ll see how he repaired several problems on my old antique woodworking chisels.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

These blacksmith chisel repairs included:

1. Fusing a broken chisel blade:

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2. Removing the “mushroom” from a socket chisel:

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3. Cutting off the end of an irreparable chisel fracture:

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This video isn’t meant to be a full tutorial of blacksmith work, but an enjoyable tour and a tutorial for those already familiar with the basics of blacksmith techniques…so don’t get mad if some details are left out!

If you’re interested in learning more about blacksmithing for woodworkers, then buy these DVDs by Peter Ross (master blacksmith). I’ve loved them!

 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO JOSHUA’S FUTURE ARTICLES & VIDEOS!

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A Small Taste of Winterthur

The Furniture Record - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 8:28am

Living in Kennett Square, PA my wife and I were spoiled. The magnificent Longwood Gardens became a place that we could get a quick dinner and take a long walk all summer. Henry Francis du Pont’s Winterthur was where we took our Sunday morning walks. We were members of both places and visited them both as often as we could. No house guest could avoid a trip and no one ever complained. Both have Yuletide displays that we have visited at least 18 times in the past 21 years.

Both are former du Pont estates that have become non-profits to allow the public to come and see what these families had built and loved. And if you can avoid some taxes, that’s nice too.

There are two other du Pont properties of note in the area, The Hagley, E.I. du Pont’s orignal gunpowder mill and mansion that now also houses a research library and the Nemours Mansion and Gardens, a 300 acre estate with formal gardens and a classical French mansion. Also on the property is the renowned Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. A really good use of their money.

But we’re here to talk about Winterthur, Henry Francis du Pont’s obsession. As copied from their website we learn: Founded by Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the premier museum of American decorative arts, reflecting both early America and the du Pont family’s life here. Its 60-acre naturalistic garden is among the country’s best, and its research library serves scholars from around the world. We invite you to visit and explore this place of beauty, history, and learning.

The largest portion of the museum is the over 170 period room displays featuring over 85,000 objects. Mr. du Pont collected primarily Americana from 1640 to 1860. Period rooms are only available through one of their several standard tours or by arranging a private special interest tour.

A small view of one of the 175 period rooms.

A small view of one of the 175 period rooms.

In the 1990′s they built a more formal museum that features permanent and rotating displays. Much to my dismay, they are now featuring the Costumes of Downton Abbey. That ain’t Americana although it might be good business.

On the second floor of the museum is reconstructions of the Dominy clock and woodworking shops used by the Dominy family’s four generations of craftsmen working in East Hampton, New York, from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s.

One view of the Dominy woodworking shop.

One view of the Dominy woodworking shop.

Chris Schwarz (Popular Woodworking, Lost Art Press, Goetta Illustrated) wrote a blog about the Dominy workbench back in 2007.

The first floor displays highlights of the collections including furniture, glass, ceramics and textiles. When I was there last they were displaying some of Philadelphia’s finest.

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To view a small portion of the Winterthur collection, click HERE.

If you are in the area (north of Wilmington, DE and west of Philadelphia) you might also consider the Brandywine River Museum. It is: Renowned for its holdings of the Wyeth family of artists, the museum features galleries dedicated to the work of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. And others. (I stole this, too.)


My Main Roubo Bench (for now…)

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 6:07am

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This was my first Roubo bench, built from leftover timbers that were part of the original barn in Illinois. It’s been several years since I built it, and I never really did get the top finished all proper. Now it is.  Using my scrub plane on opposite diagonals I got it pretty darned flat. At that point I slathered it with some of the Schwarz bench varnish of 1/3 polyurinate, 1/3 tung oil, and 1/3 turpentine. I did it at this point because two of the timbers turned out to be eastern white pine and were a bit soft compared to the southern yellow pine; I hoped the softer timbers would be firmed up by impregnating them with the varnish. They did, but only after a week or so, which was way longer than I was willing to wait.

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I followed the scrub plane on the varnished top with a toothing plane, on opposing diagonals again, checking to make sure everything remained flat. I prefer the tightly checkered surface of the toothed top as it grabs the work piece a little better than a smooth surface.

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In the years since fabrication the entire unit has twisted a tiny bit, so I have a thin shim underneath one of the legs to keep it from rocking.

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I have not installed a leg vise, even though I have a vintage one ready to use. I’m just trying to see how long I can keep on using the bench as is, with my workpiece-holding functions solely with holdfasts.

Above the bench I finally built racks to hold a multitude of tools, mostly files, and am hanging saws and the like off the joists with nails.

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No doubt this may soon be supplanted by the group of in-process benches in line awaiting my ministrations, including a 5″ solid maple top with white oak legs bench; my French Oak Roubo Project bench, which is slowly being uncovered by the ongoing archaeology within the barn; a pair of Roubo benches also made from salvaged barn timbers (although I am almost certain to hang an Emmert K1 off one of them); a mahogany slab and black walnut legs Roubo bench (I was originally going to use this for a Studley bench, but have now decided to build a Studley bench the way Studley built it instead), and finally the true Studley bench.

I’m thinking I may need to install some of my existing or future benches up on the fourth floor.  That’ll take a passel of stout guys even with a compound block-and-tackle.

Finishing the Work Stations, One By One

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 5:13pm

In my workshop in the Barn I have a number of work stations — planing, main bench, secondary bench, Japanese tool corner, main tool cabinet, sharpening, metal smithing, etc. — awaiting my ministrations to make fully functional and dare I say it, DONE!  I am going to attempt to address them one by one for a week or so to get the place ready for making and restoring furniture, as it was intended to be from the beginning.

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The lowest hanging fruit was the planing beam and surroundings, as it has been in place and vaguely functional for quite some time.  Still, my planes were scattered about in a variety of boxes and bins, so I cut, planed, and installed several shelves into the window well behind the beam to hold the ones I wanted close at hand.  It looks like I have space for a few more planes, but never fear, I have more and will pack the joint very shortly

One unexpected benefit was the realization that my shaving beam for making Gragg Chair parts fits right behind the beam on the trestles, nestled out of the way and immediately accessible.

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No doubt about it, this image makes me smile. You can just barely spot the head of the shaving beam behind the planing beam.

Award Winning Woodshop Video

Bob Lang's ReadWatchDo - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 2:28pm
I’ve written before about Dean Mattson and his work as a shop teacher at North Salem High School in Salem, Oregon. Shortly after meeting him online, I published “The Future of Woodshop, Win, Win, Win.” That inspired me to travel … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Time to start on the details…

McGlynn On Making - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 1:27pm

All the skirts, legs and stretchers are cooperating nicely. Next I will do the details on the skirts.

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Categories: General Woodworking

Grain orientation in panel glue ups

Kees - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 1:16pm
Very often you see the recommendation to alternate the grow ring orientation when doing a panel glue up. Otherwise they fear that your panel will bow enourmously. An example I just plucked from the Internet:

When alternating the cup up and down, you should get a washboard effect in the panel, but not that enourmous bow over the entire length. Now, you almost never use a panel as a free standing object, It is usually build in a construction and the rest of the construction tries to keep your panel flat. When you have all the little cups it is actually harder for the construction to keep your panel flat, because the lever arm is much shorter.

In real life panels don't always behave like they should do either, I have an old table top standing in a corner of the garage. On close inspection it proved to be bowed all the way over the entire width.


But the grain in the individual boards was perfectly alternated, up, down, up, down:


Which shows how usefull theory can be. :-)

In the mean time I am inching forward on the workshop rebuild. The bench is moved into its new position, and I have attached the old table top to the wall above the bench to be used as a tool rack. It starts to feel like home allready!


Categories: General Woodworking

Scything rocks!

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 12:39pm
Scything YorkshireI often get emails and questions from people asking if the scythe can cope with cutting grass in what they think are difficult situations. The answer's pretty much always 'yes' so I thought nothing of it when I was invited to teach a day of bespoke tuition for Mike and Rachel who said that the mowing on their smallholding was "challenging". Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Table Tenon Trimming

McGlynn On Making - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 6:30am

I got exactly half of my tenons trimmed.  Since both my band saw and my only carcass saw are DOA that made me stop and think about my options.  I have to saw away a little over half the width of the tenon, then tune it up with a plane so it fits properly.  I used my scroll saw on these, which worked OK.  Probably a good warmup for doing the piercing, but it’s like using a pair of tweezers to put your shoes away — it’s just not the right tool.  As I think about the other tools I could use to do this it makes me realize how easy it is to get locked into one way of doing a job.

Regardless, I got the tenons on two skirts and two stretchers trimmed up.  I’ll get the others today, and then move on to the details that make this table special.  Probably the piercing next, then the waterfall legs.  Need to start the top too.

I’m happy with the fit of the tenons.  They slide home with firm pressure and a light tap or two from the mallet, and the shoulders close up almost perfectly.  They do look a little plain at this stage, but that is about to change.

Two sides of the table dry-fit

Two sides of the table dry-fit

 


Categories: General Woodworking

It Must Be Getting Close

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 6:18pm

T3900

You can order it here.

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by Dr. Radut