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Inside the Oldwolf Workshop
Did you see the cameo by my oldest daughter/director/producer/video task-master? If you missed it try again.
Ratione et Passionis
I had to change the look of the sides, I just wasn't happy with the elongated ogee on the original. I used a couple of sectors to lay out a federal period crown moulding profile and I was happy with the results. (You can read about the process HERE) After I was done I realized I could have worked the stock to exclude the big knot in the board. I started with including it because if there has to be a knot I want it contained within the piece, not riding the edge.
I like knots, they can bring a visual interest to the piece, I plan around them when I can but I don't shy away from them unless I'm carving. What I don't like is when a joint line or board edge bisects across a knot. Half a knot is not attractive.
To cut them together on the band saw I used some drywall screws to pin both sides together. Ahgast and horror at making these unsightly holes in a piece, especially where the bevels under the screw head mar the wood further. I know, but never fear, three of the four screw heads went into areas that would be waste. The prominent one up front is where I planned to drill a hole for a peg, The other two fell into areas to be removed for the joinery of the back and tool board. The only blemish left would be along the back edge on top. Building it for someone else and I would fill it. Since this is a shop piece, I'll be happy to leave it alone.
After sawing them out, I kept the sides screwed together while I cleaned up the saw lines by rasp and by scraper.
Then I drilled through mortises for the tool board and a space for the back board was sawn out.
Then I could separate the twins.
I pinched them back together with a couple clamps, (because I forgot this part) and sawed a couple through tenons to fit through the top shelf. Joining the top shelf with a dado and wedged through tenons.
I cut my dado into the top shelf using a stair saw and chisels. Then I used the sides to line up where to drill and chisel all the way through.
I did a dry fit assembly and surveyed my work. The sides were good but there was something missing. I thought about Peter Follansbee's tool chest, and not only the painting on the outside, but how he had used some scraps of carving demos for the shelf rails on the inside. (You can read about that HERE) I had already built my tool chest by the time I saw what he had done and I was sorry I hadn't thought of the same thing. I decided to not let another opportunity pass me by.
I laid out a quick pattern of interconnecting circles, thanks to George Walker I've come to know this as a Guilloche pattern. It's become one of my favorite carving themes. After carving out the circles I carved out a pattern of swirls and flowers to fill the rounds.
Pine does not like to be carved. It is much more challenging than oak and getting a crisp line can be difficult between the winter wood and the summer wood. The carvings turned out a little rough, but over all I'm ok with that. Over all they look good together, and again, this is for my shop.
I got the glue up in and after letting it set up I was able to balance the tool rack on the bench top to see how things might look eventually.
Now I was down to the pegs. but we'll save those for next time.
Ratione et Passionis
It is done.
And better yet, it saws wonderfully. The old girl looks pretty good for being around a hundred years old. It took me a while to run the last leg of this race but yesterday I got my act together and finished the rehab.
What took so long was my wait for a couple parts I used a local metalsmith to fabricate. The stock guides are L shaped braces that I wouldn't call vital, but they are damn handy. They sit in shallow dado's in the bed and clamp into place with a thumb screw clamp behind the fence.
When you place the stock on the bed, you snug up the stock guide to support the piece in place against the back and forth friction of the saw stroke.
Yes you could hold the stock with your hand, but that may be more difficult when dealing with crown mouldings. They make using the saw much nicer.
I tried to fabricate these by myself couple of different ways. I bought the flat and round steel stock and first I tried to drill and tap the end of the steel bar for a machine screw. I tried to be careful and take my time, I drilled the appropriate hole and used oil to lubricate the process. Yet my tap broke off inside the steel bar.
So I went to plan B. I had read another online account of a similar rehab where the author fabricated his using a two part epoxy. I picked some up and gave it a shot. Again I followed the instructions carefully but I couldn't get the epoxy to hold up to even light handling. I was doubtful about it, but it was worth a shot.
One thing I don't have in my skill set that I would love to learn is welding. I cast around and found a local metal smith / artist who was willing to throw down a couple quick welds for me. After a few weeks I was able to stop and pick up the pieces.
Now I was in business. The only metal fabrication part I had left was a top bar that connects the two towers and keeps them from racking while you're sawing. This was a simple piece of flat stock, (the same as I used for the stock guides) and it took me re-taping and replacing one of the thumb screws with a replacement.
A couple of screws connected the saw box to a off-cut of 1x12 pine. Now I can cinch it to the bench with a couple holdfasts and store it underneath when I don't need it.
All that was left was to sharpen the saw itself. I always kind of work myself up about before hand and when it's over I think, "Damn, that wasn't so bad." For certain it's not that difficult of a thing to learn, and the more I do it the better I've gotten.
One of the turning points for me was taking a saw sharpening class with Mark Harrell over at Bad Axe Tool Works. I wrote about that experience HERE. Working with Mark taught me to trust my the feel of the file and the things my eyes were seeing and has let me do away with the guide blocks and jigs I'd been using up to this point. Knowing what to look for has improved my sharpening greatly. He's teaching more of these classes. As I understand it a couple times a year. Drop by his site and get in contact with him about dates and details. It's so worth it.
Once I sharpened the teeth I used another piece of pine off-cut to test my work. Another trick I learned from Mark. I scribe a square line and saw it, burying the saw to the back. If the saw follows the line, we're good. If it appears to pull to one side or the other, a little sharpening stone on the toothline will adjust that.
This time things turned out just right. No stoning necessary.
Now would be the moment of real truth. Would the miter box give me accurate cuts? or would more adjustments be required?
I grabbed a piece of cherry scrap and gave it a shot.
90 degree cut checked out perfect. No light creeping under the trisquare blade when it was checked.
Encouraging, but what about 45 degree miters.
According to my miter square. Accurate as can be. I'm a happy boy!
There is only one more thing I'm curious about with this saw. It's a little steel disk with three holes. It was attached to the back of the saw when I bought it. It has two beveled screw holes flanking a threaded center hole.
In doing some research on this saw I downloaded a Stanley Tool Catalog from 1914 from a site called Rose Antique Tools. The part is listed as 109 a Stock Guide Plate.
And in the direct picture of the saw box, you can see it in use. It's obviously an attachment to set a repeatable cut for length. I just don't understand for sure how the Stock Guide works in conjunction with it.
I wonder if the stock guides I had made up should have one with an oblong slot down the center. After that it's getting another thumb screw made. I'm not sure I'm ready to go through all of that, but it would be cool to know.
I've looked around some and not found any reference or seen any pictures of this part in use in the wild, and I'd like to know how it works. If you have one, or some good pictures of one, maybe you'll consider sharing them with me. Please drop me a line at email@example.com so I can share that information here. I'd appreciate it.
Either way, I'm calling this done (at least for a while) Old tool rehabs like this are fun distractions, but I am always happier when I'm done with them and can get back to making saw dust. There is a certain satisfaction in making sawdust with a tool you've saved from the scrap heap, and there is no better way to get to know and understand a tool intimately. In the end I'd rather spend time fussing with wood instead of fussing with tools.
Ratione et Passionis
|A picture of the original tool rack borrowed from the PW website.|
|A layout of the sides, This picture also borrowed from the PW web site.|
I mostly use them for dividing up spaces and laying out carvings. I knew they could be used to scale up drawings and dimensions, that's the best reason to have a pair of different sizes, I just hadn't actually exercised that knowledge yet. The process turned out pretty simple. Tool wise it took two sector's of different sizes, two dividers of different size, a try-square and a pencil.
Then I set the smaller sector on the page and line up the markings from two of the same number to bracket the outer corners of the drawing. It doesn't matter which of the 13 numbers I line up, I chose 10 at a whim. The perspective of the photo makes it look funny but the outer corners of the drawing are in line with the inner lines of the 10.
Then I take the measurement I locked on my small dividers and find where it measures out on the sector. The tips fell just inside the lines for the number 1.
Now I take my larger sector and set it up with the stock. Since I chose to use the number 10 on the smaller, I repeated that on the larger. I also made sure to take into account the amount of board that would disappear into the eventual dado joint.
Once I had the larger sector set and stable, I took my larger dividers and repeated the reading I took with the smaller, just a little inside the number 1's lines. Since everything is spaced out equally on the sectors, the spacing will be proportionally identical, within a slight factor of human error. This isn't a C&C machine I'm running and a few millimeters matters little when it's the over all look I'm after. In the end it will look right or it won't and that will be the ultimate determination of success.
Then I use the new set dividers to transfer the spacing to the board. repeat the action over for the other measurements and you'll work out the spacing and pattern. I drew the curves between the hard line elements freehand, but mostly because it was quicker. You could use the same method to plot out a few points to follow if you need to. I suggest trusting your eyes and instincts though.
With the lines all set down in pencil I went back over where I wanted the hard line to fall with a sharpie so it would stand out across the room. I also shaded in the space to be removed to help from a distance.
I picked up the book, and from across the room held the image out at arms length and judged the job I had done.
I ended up a little narrow in the top, front of the board to back, but the shape was there and it was pleasing to my eye from a distance. I decided to keep it.
I hope I explained how I made the process work well enough. If not I may consider shooting a video to help explain, however I don't want to step on Jim Toplin and George Walker's toes as I suspect sectors may be something well covered in their new book "By Hand & Eye" from Lost Art Press. I've ordered my copy and I cannot wait to read it. You may want to consider it too.
If there are a bunch of questions, please comment, email, open your back door and scream them to the stars. I'll be able to try and answer two of those three instances.
Ratione et Passionis
My family and I are looking at the end of a very long journey with some real excitement. At the end of this month we close on our new home in LaCrosse. We have basically been "homeless" for several months as we have been searching for the right place at the right price. My parents have been generous and patient and let us live with them while we worked this problem out. It's been a long few months.
We found a nice, three bedroom house on a double lot in an older part of town. Enough room for our family of five to all fit and thrive. As far as I'm concerned the best thing of all . . . the two and a half car garage in the back yard.
I'm moving shop again. You would think I'm getting exceedingly good at it by now.
I've been hitting the graph paper hard in the last few days. Figuring out different configurations of tools, deciding where I want my wood storage to go, and wondering why my wife is insisting that she be able to park her car in "her" half of it. The truth is this is all dreaming and playing around and until I start pushing my workbench through the doors, I won't know for sure where everything will go.
This will be the fifth different studio space I've worked in since I started writing this blog. First was the basement shop in Northern Maine. (1) Then we moved back home to Wisconsin and I basically ended up in a 5'x9' closet at the bottom of our duplex stairs. (2) From there my father offered a significant section of the steel shed in his back yard (3). A space I'm still working out of right now. In between, I moved a small amount of the shop into the dining room of our old apartment for a winter. (4)
This will be the more permanent shop home I've been looking for for a long time and that is an exciting prospect indeed. Something I've been looking for since we left Maine in our rearview to come back home. Almost feels like I'm getting ready to stand on two feet again.
Ratione et Passionis
Chairs are an intimidating thing to me. I've built one, just one in the past, and though it saw light use, the friend who took it off me in a trade a half dozen years ago has recently told me that some of my questionable joint making has failed.
In my defense, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started that chair, and I made some very naive decisions. Things I know better now. I'm not surprised it failed.
So chairs and I kind of have this spotty history together and I've resolved that I need to take a good class in them to get over my avoidance issues when it comes to them. But here was a chair I needed to have a good go at fixing.
It was dowel city for the joinery. Many of them broke or wiggled free in the trauma.
Originally I had pulled it apart into three pieces by stressing the joints by hand. A little while later, as I was cleaning things up, one more joint loosened. I had four joints to dowel and glue.
I sawed things even where they stuck out and plugged what was pulled out. Then I redrilled new dowel holes and redid the joinery as it had been in the past.
I glued the front together first and then connected everything else together once the front had dried. In the excitement of it all I forgot to take any pictures until I took the clamps off.
I am less confident about these repairs than I am of the repairs to the table, the cross corner blocks help quell my anxiety.
In the end I would much rather build from scratch, but these occasional repair jobs are good because they push me out of my comfort zone and make me do some different kind of problem solving. The table and chairs have been delivered and the owner was tickled to see her Grandma's table come back to life, especially since she thought it was a goner.
If you missed the repairs, or want to review the whole process, all the posts about this project have been collected at this LINK.
Ratione et Passionis
I decided to start the process by replacing the cleats. The originals were made from rough sawn 5/4 poplar and it just so happened I had some more of that in the shop. I decided to replace both cleats so the thickness would match between them. I didn't want to fight to get the legs even.
I cut the poplar down to the same width as the original cleats and used the original cleat to replicate the pattern for the holes.
A little time at the drill press and things were looking pretty good.
I thought about leaving the new cleats bare, but decided that putting a little stain on them to darken them like the originals was probably a good idea.
I had a little dark stain still sitting around from a past project. I squared off a section around the center because the original had been glued lightly between the leg and the cleat. End grain to side grain gluing is never a certain prospect but the originals had the bolts and a couple "anti-rotation" nails placed to help hold things together. I figured it would hurt to add some glue as well. I taped off the square so the glkue and the finish wouldn't have to play together.
One of the legs had it's mounting bolt ripped clean from it's center.
To replace it I had to plug the original hole and re-drill and replace the center. I lined up a 3/4" forstner bit and drove down as deep as the bit would go.
Some glue and a poplar dowel and the hole was good and plugged.
Once the glue was dry, I hit it with a flush saw and found the center point
Drilled a new pilot hole.
And replaced the bolt.
Repairing the other leg was a little bit more of an adventure. I'll write about that more next time
Ratione et Passionis
I had replaced the cleats completely and repaired the leg that had the mounting bolt ripped from it, but the other leg was in a little bit more trouble. It had one of the feet torn from the body.
The foot side of things was easy to take care of. The broken dowels only needed to sawn of flush.
The leg side was a little more complicated. One dowel had been ripped out, chipping out a good amount of the surrounding wood. The best repair I could think of was to remove the broken wood and glue in wood to replace it and bring the surface out to the end of the leg again.
I started to define the sides of the section to be removed with my tenon saw.
Then I went after it with a chisel and a mallet until I had cleaned out a rectangular section.
Then I used some of the poplar scrap from the cleats and glued a couple strips in place, matching up face grain to face grain. A little glue to set the repair and I left it sit and cure overnight.
The next day, a couple swipes of a plane and the repair was flush with the leg and as good as new.
I drilled for the new dowels but clamping up the feet on the leg was going to be difficult with the curves of the feet. As much as I dislike jigs, I had to cut a couple simple ones to make the clamping go easier. I used some scrap pine and scribed the curves of the feet. A little bandsaw time and the clamping jigs were cut.
With one on each foot, I would have square surfaces to put my clamps on.
I clamped another couple pine scraps above the curved clamping jigs to keep them from sliding up under the clamps pressure.
A little more dry time on the glue and I could attach the cleats to the top of the legs.
Then reattach the legs to the bottom of the table.
Flip the table back over and test to make sure the drop leaf mechanisms work well and we can call the table done.
But I still had the chair to worry about.
Ratione et Passionis
The leg on the left had been ripped off it's mounting bolt.
And the other leg had one of it's feet torn off.
The hardware to work the drop leaves was interesting, I hadn't really seen anything like this before.
Unfortunately the cleat had broken off on the other side.
The dowel joints at one corner were broken completely.
After stressing the rest of the joints, I was able to pull the chair apart into three pieces.
It's an odd thing to build something that will be buried in the earth before too long. It's an honor, but a strange honor. To compound on top of that strangeness, I decided to experiment with my shop time management.
Setting up and taking photos can be a huge time sink for me. Don't get me wrong, most of the time the documentation is well worth it, but I wasn't really building anything new. It's mostly a smaller rebuild of a traditional tool chest. There were somethings I did new. Beckets for rope handles on the ends, but that wasn't earth shattering enough to break out the camera.
I really wanted to find out how fast I could work if I buttoned my lip and got to it. Turns out I can go pretty fast (at least in my estimation) By rough figures I estimate about twenty hours into this box from boards to finished box. Pretty decent, but I have to remind myself I only hit the essentials here and nothing more. If I were making this for someone's bedroom I would have been a whole lot more meticulous with the surface preparations. That can be a big time consumer too.
I did take final pictures though.
I did put a finish on the chest. One good coat of what I've come to call The Maloof Finish. It's one part each tung oil, wipe on poly, and boiled linseed oil. I read an article written by Sam Maloof where he listed this. It's a good oil finish that has a great "touch" to it. Over the top of this I buffed on a coat of paste wax. I didn't finish the inside, no one wants to show up at the pearly gates smelling like finishing products. Sawdust maybe, but not oil.
I did for a while desperately want to paint this box black. In the end I got over that and decided the oil would be fine enough.
This was the first project I was able to push through the shop this summer, I got started just as the weather was barely starting to break for the better. It's very satisfying to have one down before the season has gone too far.
But enough of all this thinking and dwelling on the end of things. I'm off to go play a Sunday night board game with my kids.
Ratione et Passionis
I had a piece of 1/2" thick red oak rolling around the shop and that seemed like it would do the job nicely. I took the old saw bed and used it to get the proper width.
A few seconds with a rip handsaw and a little plane to the edge and I was down. I then laid out the bed on the miter box to get the correct length and cut that with a carcass saw and a bench hook.
I don't think the originals had dressed up corners, but one of the other restorations I saw out there had them and I liked them, so why not?
I sawed out the space and hit the edges with a rasp until I had refined the shape I was looking for.
I guess you couldn't tell I've recently finished reading "Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light" by David Mathias. The corners look a little cloud liftish to me. I kind of like them.
One of the missing parts I have to fabricate is a pair of "L" brackets that ride in a couple grooves in the saw bed. They help hold the stock you're sawing in place against the back and forth of the saw's motion. I hadn't made the pieces yet but I knew they would be 1/2" wide and the bed section would be 1/8" thick. I marked their placement out and cut down the sidewalls with my carcass saw.
Then I cleaned up the groove with a chisel and a router plane.
All that was left was to place a little finish on the board and screw it back into place
I'm pretty happy with the end result. Soon I'll have the other parts finished and the miter saw will be good as new and pulling it's weight in my shop.
Ratione et Passionis
Usually when I'm building something I take a lot of pictures. Much more than what shows up here. I made a conscious decision to document less this time around and really see how efficiently I can get things done without my usual time sink. I did take some time to teach my oldest daughter how to do some sawing and she cut and chiseled one corner of the dovetails for me. I don't get to trick her out into the shop too often so it was a bit of a guilty pleasure.
I'm not doing anything that's groundbreaking, or that I haven't documented a dozen times here already. In fact, as I was telling my wife the other night, it almost feels like I completely know what I'm doing this time around. I haven't had any mystery or problem solving. I started with some rough measurements given to me by Thom and I just started building. No sketches, no sketch-up, no printed plans, or even a reference picture. I knew what I needed to build and I'm just doing it. Trusting my eye and my abilities. That's scary enough by itself.
I'm not shooting for anything fancy. I will probably do some carving in the lid. but beyond that I'm just looking for simple, straightforward, strong and classic. In the end it's a smaller version of my tool chest, with a variation on the lid. People may ask why I've gone to the bother of dovetailing the corners and ship-lapping the bottom. If I'm in a hurry, then nailed joints should be enough right?
In the end I'm a victim of my own compunctions. I'm doing things the right way according to my definition of right. To do anything less would be shorting the project and shorting myself. Valen would never know the difference, and his master probably wouldn't either. In a short amount of time no one will know because the box will be buried under several feet of earth. I always fall back on a line "The things I make might be for others, how I make them is for me" from Tony Konavaloff's book "Chisel, Mallet, Plane, and Saw."
As I've been building I've been doing a lot of thinking about WWSD or "What Would Setles Do." Setles is my wife's grandfather who passed away several years ago, I inherited the start of my hand tool collection from him. I use his No 5 Stanley and hand saws on every project I work on and I think of him often. He was not a woodworker, he was just a man from a different age. One where you grew up on a farm and knew a little bit about doing almost anything. You could build a chicken coop and fix your car. You could even do a little blacksmithing if called upon.
The things he made from wood have a workman's character to them. It's often obvious they're built from salvaged wood and there's small mistakes here and there. But he knew what he was up to and was able to bring things from scratch parts into the world. If he had to cut a dovetail he would hardly mark out a specific 1:6 ratio angle. He would grab a saw and cut it, what difference would a specific angle make. The idea was to get it done and get it done right.
After a grand total of about ten hours in the shop I've completed the base of the chest. There's a little sanding to do on the skirt and it's done. The lid panel is already glued up as well. Tomorrow I can start planing that flat, cut it to size, and probably get the carving done.
It wasn't the price that made me walk past it for so long, I almost felt guilty buying it at 25% off, it was the saw handle someone had cobbed on to it that caused my snobbish smirk. So now that I'm hip deep in the restoration process, there's no doubt the old handle must go. It seems serendipity that days after I found the right handle pattern, the cold weather broke enough to get me back into my shop.
After reclaiming the shop and doing a little clean up and put away, I got to work on the new handle. I found a nice piece of cherry off-cut, a full inch thick and I got the handle pattern to fit perfectly over it. A little spray adhesive and I was ready to rock.
First thing was to drill out the marked holes. Bring on the Forstner bits and the drill press.
Then I took the block over to the bandsaw and removed a ton of the waste around the handle. I thought I was done so I took the tension off the saw blade and covered it back up. I used a coping saw to cut out the finger hole. I started taking some progress pictures and realized I had missed cutting out a section with the bandsaw.
I hate putting something away just to drag it out again so I opted for a different style of stock removal. I made a quick series of crosscuts with my carcass saw . . .
. . . and knocked the waste out of there with some chisel work. Now no one will ever be the wiser to my bonehead move, unless I write something about it online.
The I broke out my rasps and cleaned up all the saw cuts and chisel marks.
I made a point of turning the piece over regularly. I didn't want to get too fixated on the paint-by-number paper. I'm glad I had it as a guide, but I wanted to make sure I paid attention to the wood and the handle itself and make something that would be comfortable and fit me well over something that followed all the exact lines of the mark up.
Then it was time for more rasp work. A heavy cut rasp to remove most of the stock followed by a finer smoothing rasp to bring it down to that touchable feel.
I worked my way around the outside and then hit the inner curves of the grip. Every few minutes I would pull the tote from the vise and test the feel in my hand. Then reclamp it and refine the curves until I was happy.
The paper template was marked with four holes for the saw nuts. I knew there was no way my saw plate would line up perfectly with those marks. They were close but not right. I had to be careful here because I knew from listening to my buddy Mark Harrell the "hang angle" of the handle is very important a saw's function and usability. (It's saw-ability??).
Hang Angle is the relation between a saw's toothline and the handle. Different saw geeks (like me) have different feelings about this relationship. It can be like rating beer with your buddies. I prefer a Cream Ale while John likes a Stout and Cindy likes Bocks. You get the idea. Matt Cianci at "The Saw Blog" has a great article that describes a saw's hang better than I can, You can read it HERE.
Careful, you might find yourself falling down the same saw geek rabbit hole I have.
For my money I have always loved my Bad Axe Saws so I used my 12" carcass to help set the hang angle for the miter saw. I blocked it up so the plate rested on the handle and adjusted things until I was happy.
I marked out the location of the saw nut holes with a sharpie.
Then I set to drilling them both the through holes and the countersinks. The saw only came to me with one medallion saw nut and one regular one. A few years ago I picked up a couple of saw handles at a rummage sale. There was no saw plate attached, who knows what they did with that, but the nuts were there. One of those handles had three matching nuts that were brass like the medallion.
I had forgotten some of my reference material in the house and I couldn't remember which hole to use for the medallion. Instead of going in to get it, I used my iPhone for a quick image search of Disston miter saws and the first one I saw had the medallion in the lower back position. After I finished and came in the house I found my reference pictures had the medallion in the upper back position. So the saw is a little custom and a little different than standard. I guess I'm OK with that.
I know you might say, "Why don't you just switch them?" but the back has the holes countersunk for the screw heads and the medallion head is bigger than the other three. Functionally I could re-drill the upper one and put the smaller nut in the over-drilled lower hole and things would be fine. But the smaller nut with the oversize countersink would mess with my Feng Shui. I couldn't deal with that, so I'm happy to leave it as is.
All the saw nuts have the same patina, tough decision to leave them alone or shine them up.
OK, who am I fooling, of course I'm going to shine them up.
The next step was to cut the kerf the saw plate would nestle into. I clamped the handle into my big wooden clamp and secured that to the benchtop.
I used a marking gauge from both sides to help make sure I set my saw line in the center of the handle.
Then it was just time to go to it with my small tenon saw.
Followed by some chisel and rasp work to clean a slot for the saw's back.
After test fitting the saw plate and refining the fit of the kerf and the back notch I used a bit of sandpaper and a random orbit sander to take off the remnants of the paper template, spray adhesive, and other grime, oil spots, and crap the handle picked up in the process.
I sanded 120 grit and followed with a 220. I also hit the curves with some 220 by hand.
I applied a simple oil finish I like to use on shop pieces, I've considered it for real pieces but it just seems like cheating to me.
After seeing the way the finish treated this cherry I might change my mind and "cheat" a little more often. Are you ready?
I spray it down heavy, (it's still wet in the pictures) wait a minute or two, then wipe off the excess. I wait a few more minutes then I spray the piece down with a aerosolized, bee's wax furniture polish and wipe that down.
Both products dry super fast and things are ready to handle almost right away. I've found the treatment to be very durable and it has a great "feel" to it.
I joined together the handle and the saw plate, shiny saw nuts in place, and I was a happy puppy.
I have to spend some time with the toothline now, jointing and sharpening like you would expect, but that is no big deal to accomplish.
What's left to finish this piece? Two big things. First remaking the wooden bed the stock "to be saw" rides on. That won't be a big deal. But the second thing is more challenging to me. There were several parts missing and instead of trying to buy them, or buy more older miter saws to get those parts, I've decided to fabricate them myself. I can bend wood to my will, and I've done some steel work before, but I always seem to run into some problem or frustration . We will see how it works out this time.
Until that time.
Ratione et Passionis
I've been slowly working my way through the winter season by rehabbing a Stanley Miter box. The clean up of the rust and the repainting was fairly easy to finish off, though a bit time consuming in a pleasant way. But now I was headed into the weeds of fabricating the parts that were missing, wrong, or FUBAR.
The last thing I finished, even back before I took off for Nicaragua, was cleaning up the rust on the saw plate and I wanted to get the saw finished before I moved back to the rest of the work. My issue was the handle that had made it onto the saw.
Somewhere along the line something bad must have happened to the handle. Some kind of rot or other abuse because the saw plate itself is dead straight and beautiful. I guess necessity is the mother of invention and someone took a panel saw handle, modified the living snot out of it, and cobbed it onto the saw plate. An interesting solution but just not right for the saw at all.
I spent some time searching the interwebs for a good picture of the four hole miter saw handle that I could get to scale and recreate the saw. I asked some friends and acquaintances if they had a handle I could trace, borrow, or even get a good, heads on picture of. I scoured the Disstonian Institute website. Then this morning I had a little epiphany and changed my search parameters and found exactly what I'm looking for.
|Picture from the Disstonian Institute Website|
Their site also has some interesting items for sale, including a kit to make a stair saw. If you've read my blog for a while you know I love using a stair saw to make the sidewalls of my dados and thanks to these guys and a little of your own elbow grease you can build a new stair saw for about the same cost as I've paid for vintage stair saws I had to go to the work of cleaning up afterwards. I'm thinking I might pick up their 8" Deluxe Stair Saw Kit to give a try. Who couldn't use one more stair saw?
I'm happy they were there for me though. I really needed this template. Thanks to them I think I see some sawdust coming up this weekend. That makes me happy to think about.
Ratione et Passionis
On mornings like this I will make a cup of coffee and settle down in "my" chair in the living room and read. No television blaring it's incessant inane babble, no radio, internet or otherwise, playing less than 66.6% of the songs I like. Only the occasional, easy to ignore, iPhone jingle as it finds an errant email or a "Words With Friends" update. My 16 year old daughter sits at the nearby dining room table working on a large pencil drawing and the only consistent sound in the house is a mixture of the rhythmic light scratches of graphite on paper and the muffled passing of the occasional car on the highway outside.
I get my best reading done on mornings like this. Not the simple fantasy books I often bake myself to sleep with, but books that require a commitment, books that demand thought and engagement from me, books I want to learn from. It was a morning like this I read the last section of "The Anarchist's Tool Chest" and it made such an impression on my life, pushing me to align my woodworking values with the rest of my life.
This morning I'm paging through a wonderfully inspiring book, "Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light" By David Mathias. The book has been since 2010, and to my shame, it took me this long to pick it up. I love Greene & Greene furniture, I've been hooked since the first piece I saw on the cover of a woodworking magazine, but I had a couple Greene & Greene books already and I decided to wait. To my detriment, I decided to wait.
A handful of times I've watched something, read something, or used something that has changed the way my eyes see things. James Krenov's books opened my eyes to the material I was using. Now when I design and build a piece of furniture I pay more attention to the stock I choose and the flow and direction of the wood's grain and color in a piece. Chris Schwarz's work made me more mindful of the tools and techniques I use and changed my world from the power tool, production line mentality I had before, into a more comprehensive and enjoyable view of how I can work.
This morning Mr. Mathias's work opened my eyes again and caused me to think about furniture in a way I have not before. A simple shift in my personal furniture design paradigm, that, for me, transcends specific styles or tastes. I have seen lots of pictures of Greene & Greene furniture, originals, reproductions, and pieces inspired by. I can't say I have often seen pictures of their furniture in its natural environment. in the rooms they were designed to live in.
It is one thing to design and build beautiful and functional furniture in a vacuum, focused wholly on the details and construction of the piece itself. Choosing a style you want to work in like an artist might choose oil paints over watercolors. Furniture that can cram itself into anyone's eclectic home makeover style.
In the end, after the sawdust and shavings have been swept up, the last drop of finish has been applied, and the glamour shots are taken against a white generic background with point specific lighting, the work finds it's permanent home. Placed with careful, haphazard precision between the antique credenza/entertainment center and the Ikea couch in your living room, lit only by the warm glow radiating off your 60" flat screen television and the lava lamp in the corner.
It is completely another thing to design and build a piece of furniture that will compliment and counterpoint the space where it will live it's life and serve it's purpose. The most revered of architects design their buildings with consideration for the property that will surround it. They pay attention to the views that surround the home and how to maximize or minimize them, they pay attention to how it will appear in silhouette within the environment, to the cardinal orientation of the building so the light of the sun can play it's game of highlight and shadow.
Grasping this idea, a holistic approach to furniture design, is pretty new in my mind and I haven't worked out how it will assimilate into my larger brush strokes. At the moment it's still like removing your sunglasses midday and squinting your eyes to adjust to the bright sun. I've got some new eyes and some new ideas and from here on out, but I'm not sure where I will go with them.
But that's part of the adventure.
Ratione et Passionis
-- If you don't have yourself a copy of David Mathias's book "Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light" then I'd say you should head over to his website (CLICK HERE) and buy a copy from him. The Greene's furniture is so fantastic on it's own, but the fantastic photography and informed writing inside the covers of this book is so inspiring. I wish I hadn't waited so long.