A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

I have turned it up a notch!

Mills anyone?
While I do not consider myself a turner like the pros in the videos; guys who can turn a bowl with one continuous shaving and one arm tied behind their back. I have become pretty accomplished at it mostly for decorative art, functional and furniture components. The house (and relatives' houses) are full of bowls of different shapes from the past 20 years. Most of my turning tools have new shiny handles and have made many handles for hammers and chisels alike.

I was getting a little fed up with my Delta 14" lathe which is 6 years old and it was time to upgrade.

The old setup - lots of work came out of this rig.
The 14" size limit was becoming an issue when I wanted to turn some stool seats as well as larger size bowls. I did not want to go overboard but wanted to buy a pro-level lathe but one that was not too large. I settled on the Oneway 1640 for a few reasons, it is acknowledged to be one of the best made out there, and they are made in Canada, which meant less hassles getting it here. Last weekend my buddy Jason was by and got a turning lesson and carted off the old Delta - this was to be payment for helping me mule the new one into the shop.

This morning we made the trek to Busy Bee, disassembled the beast (all 650 lbs. of it), threw it into the "man-van" and lugged it here. After some struggling we had it assembled in the shop and ready to plug it in. Man does it ever run smooth, looking forward to turning a project to christen it later. Here she be in all her glory...

The cleanest she will ever be...

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Progress report - dresser complete

The completed dresser, with one coat of finish.
Lots of progress...

I have been spending considerable time in the shop working on the bedroom dresser and chest of drawers for my son. Many hours of milling and cutting the many parts in these projects. I decided to complete all the finicky parts for each piece together so I did not waste time setting up the machinery twice. There was much consternation on the joinery on the drawers and I elected to go with a drawer lock joint instead of the dovetails I was planning (sorry Jason) - I figured this would be the only way I would complete this in this decade.

Here's a picture diary of the work to date. BTW, this project involved 84 mortise and tenon joints for the webframes and outside frames... (click to make the picture bigger)

All the interior and exterior pieces milled to finished dimensions,
time for some joinery.

84 tenons cut on all the parts, these are 1.5" long and 1/4" thick.
The cherry haunched ones are for the exterior frame.

Marking out all the mortises to double check the layout for everything.

Mortising out the parts on the benchtop mortiser - talk about tedious!

The side panels for the chest are complete with cherry ship-lap boards in the field.

Cleaning up the rabbet for the top webframe
and getting ready to hand cut dadoes for the interior webframes.

The dresser framing and assembly complete - time for some drawers

With so many parts to keep track of, I used this
handy filing system to keep everything straight.
The parts included all drawer sides, backs and front,
as well as the LV wooden drawer glides

Stealth Tool Gloat, this lovely 3/4" Brazilian Rosewood
Shoulder Plane arrived from Konrad Sauer last week, just in time to
help with the project. This completes my set (I think).

A first coat of finish on the carcase to keep shop grime from marking
the lovely cherry, also could not wait for the pop you get when that first finish goes on.
Starting the drawer assembly exercise, with all the parts milled this
went pretty quickly. Once each drawer was assembled,
the wooden drawer glide was glued to the bottom and the guide rail installed.
All the drawers installed with glides in their final position,
next the gaps between all the drawers and outside edges were trimmed.
Once I was comfortable with the fit, a chamfer on the outside edges and VOILA!

One complete dresser, ready for some finish and hardware.
Now to finish the chest...

Thanks for following along,


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Next Major Project Underway - More Bedroom Furniture

Now that things have settled down and I have more time to focus on the shop and the weather is too shitty to get out and ride, I am spending lots more time in the shop.

I spent a little time cleaning small projects up after Christmas, as well as completing my Maloof chairs, which we are liking very much. I am replacing my old Delta lathe with a new Oneway 1640 and have some work to do to prep the area for the new occupant - this means no large turning for a couple of months until the new lathe is installed. I will use some downtime, (or glue-up waiting time) to re-organize that area.

Current lathe setup - time for renewal
The next big undertaking is to make a dresser for son #1's bedroom to match the bed, nightstands and lamps I made in the past. This project started out as a dresser and as I worked through the design and layout, it occurred that it is not much extra effort to make a chest of drawers at the same time. In fact the millwork and joinery for the outside frames and interior web frames require all the same equipment setups so this would be a very efficient approach.

Mini dresser and Chest (1" scale)
I have often thought about building mini prototypes of my new projects and had
been doing some reading on it as well. These pieces would be odd sizes to fit into smaller bedrooms so building a model was the ideal way to test out my design. I also wanted to model the various drawer front options to see what looked the best. I dug out some thin (3/32") cherry and the hot glue gun and in about 30 minutes had my models made. This approach was very revealing and confirmed my dimensions were okay and also the optimal drawer layout.
Only the beginning...

Time to finalize the layout, cut list and start milling some wood.

All ready to build, models, drawing and story stick with dado cuts for each (two sided)

And Heather could not resist having some fun with mini furniture...

The Crocodile Hunter returns!!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Project Update - Small Stuff

Been very busy in the shop since Christmas, finishing up some small projects that were in the works for awhile. Some of those projects you start and set aside for, like forever.

Maple, Padauk and black-dyed veneer plate
This plate was an idea I had and glued it up maybe a couple of years ago and then set it aside. I needed a small project to fill a morning so this was one of the things I picked up to finish.

This was an attempt to salvage a piece that was just too punky to turn so added a wedge of Padauk, edged with black veneer - I might try this design again.

Maple, Cherry, Walnut Salt & Pepper Mills

Next up are a few mills that I turned for a good friend who asked for some gifts for his children. These are my laminated style mill in salt and pepper sets. I have not turned too many salt mills and this was the first sets I turned at one go. They turned out okay - :-)

Cocobolo and Ash Handles,
Desert Ironwood and African Blackwood faces

I had given away all the hammers I made in the last batch and wanted to send a few to some friends, so spent an afternoon turning some handles and wooden faces for three more - these are now gone, time to make a few more.

Cherry and Curly Maple Lamps

Moving away from turning, I made a couple of lamps to go with my son's headboard I had made in the fall. These were a Christmas present, so had to be secret until after the big day. These replaced my old desk lamp he has been using since he moved out 5 years ago.

Meah (Vana) models the bedroom suite with new lamps
I saw a lamp on a table at the Thomas Moser store in Freeport, Maine when my buddy and I went on the Great Maine Tool Hunt last fall. I knew at that time, this was the design I would use. The lamps incorporate some Cherry and lighter maple to show some contrast and tie into the headboard of the bed. It is subtle once the shades are on but creates a nice effect.

Maple & Walnut Storage Box

In keeping with my need for organization, the new chisels I turned before Christmas needed some storage, both to keep them safe, but also to make storage efficient. I made a box similar to my other sets, using rare earth magnets to hold them in place.

This approach lets me bring the box I want to use, set it on the bench and provides a place to set the chisel as I am using it. I spend too much time looking for stuff I have set down - this helps.

And finally, I had finally settled on how I wanted to shape the ends of the arms on my Maloof Dining Chairs, they had sat idle for at least four months with me looking at them almost every day trying to determine how I would remove that last 1/4" of material on the arm and front of the arm. I really wanted them to be my own and needed a unique element to complete them. One day after New Years it came to me and I went to work that morning and they were done later in the day - good to finally get some finish on them. Here's a quick shot of them in place; I will do a separate blog entry and higher quality pictures once I rub out the finish for good.

Maloof-inspired walnut low-back dining chairs and table

I still have a list....

Monday, 16 December 2013

As the Wood Turns

I have been quite busy lately with travel and have been challenged to finish the Christmas presents that have been ordered by friends and family. I am pleased to say things are done and this past weekend I have been doing a little shop project for myself.

Blue Spruce (USA) Cocobolo Handled Chisels and Mallet
(you may recognize this shot from last year's tool calendar)
A while ago I decided I wanted to make a set of handles for the new Veritas PMV11 line of chisels that Lee Valley brought out last year. Most of the user chisels I have are made from various exotic handle materials, and I felt these should be no different. A few of my current users are to the right.
The Blue Spruce set is my main bench set that stays in my bench tool slots and I have the full range including the beveled, fishtail and marking tools.
Harold & Saxon (Aus), rippled blackwood bench chisels and
Australian ironwood mortise chisel set. These boxes allow them
to be stored and kept organized when being used, the chisels are
held into place with rare earth magnets.

The Harold & Saxon bench chisels are the ones for prolonged dovetailing sessions. made from one of the hardest tool steels in the world, I can usually make an entire project without feeling the need to re-sharpen.  The mortise chisels are very substantial and take a serious licking and of course stay razor sharp throughout the abuse.

BRW Blanks - aren't they precious??
The Veritas chisels' project commanded some nice handle material. I really wanted Ebony, but after searching high and low was unable to locate blanks of the requisite size, so I looked for inspiration elsewhere. I recently scouted some local old stock Brazilian Rosewood for a buddy who was shopping from afar and needed eyes on the prize before pulling the trigger. He did not buy everything they had, so I picked up a couple for myself. These were old stumps that had been harvested long after the trees had turned into guitars elsewhere; the price was right and these blanks all had the awesome figure that we love in BRW and the stump areas have more figure than normal tree sections - I was in love...

Once I cut into the larger piece the figure amazed me and the turning project was on. The challenge for me was getting the handles' shape to match the originals and for them to be close to identical in shape - lots of stopping the lathe and checking with the caliper to make sure everything was in spec. I chose not to shape the flat that the originals had on the handles, as these will be used in a box like the H&S ones above.

I also managed to score a couple of advance copies of the 3/16" and 1/8" sizes to make a complete set in one go. I have been advocating for the 1/8" size for a while; I understand they are VERY hard to make which is why they are not that common. Having used this one for a couple of weeks now, I think Veritas has nailed this and I would strongly recommend this for almost any type of woodworking - one of those tools you don't think you need, but cannot live without once you have had one. I have a 3mm one I bought from a luthier supply house many years ago which is on my wall rack, ready to be used on every project.

Okay, okay, enough pontificating already, here's the money shot:

Brazilian Rosewood Veritas PMV11 Bench Chisels (L-R 1",3/4",1/2",3/8",1/4',3/16",1/8")

Thanks to my friends at Lee Valley for helping out with this project; I hope I have done their work justice.


Monday, 14 October 2013

Tool Porn Update - Plane and Spokeshave handles

WIA is only 5 days away and very much looking forward to seeing some old friends and make a few new ones in this great world of woodworking.

I had promised a good friend of mine some new handles for his Boggs spokeshaves and spent the weekend turning a few.  He sent me some wonderful Blackwood and Rosewood to make the handles from. Here's a quick iPhone shot of the finished handles.

I will be delivering these on Friday in Cincinnati.

I was making a new set for my two Lee Valley shaves as well and they use a different attachment method which I did not like. They used a small hanger bolt with a 1/4"-20 thread to attach to the shave. I did not think this gave me enough material in the handle to be secure. I am sure it was fine for the original bubinga handles but some other handle materials, not so much. The Boggs shaves attach with a 1.5" long 1/4"-20 bolt with a hex head for an allen key. This put about 1-1/8" of material in the handle which was more like a tang and I felt added more strength. I bought some threaded rod and cut some for myself and inserted them into the wood with a double-bolt setup. Here's a few process shots on the LN ones, but I ended up using the same process for the LV ones.

Tapping the 7/32" hole for the 1/4"-20 threaded insert

The threaded inserts placed in the blocks. Important point here is that they
are not glued in place; once they are installed in the spokeshave and grain aligned,
they will be glued - we must align our grains...

Stage 1 of turning, setting length and diameter, before the final go

The finished Lee Valley Spokeshaves:

Honduras Rosewood and Cocobolo
I also received my newest plane from Konrad Sauer, its a K9 - that is Konrad-speak for 9" long plane. This plane is made from the most spectacular Desert Ironwood I have ever seen. Not much I can really say about this, the picture will just have to speak for itself:

Sauer and Steiner K9 in Desert Ironwood

Monday, 7 October 2013

New Headboard for Oldest Son

The Finished Piece!
My oldest ask a while ago if I would build him a new headboard for his bed; he had an idea what he wanted, however was not entirely sure. There were many emails and sketches back and forth working out things until a final design was reached. He did not want it to look too "factory" made, so the challenge was adding an element to make it more casual without becoming too primitive. I tried various wood options for the slats which had to be horizontal and finally settled on some local cherry boards that came from my Dad's old homestead - these boards were just one step above firewood, and a small step at that! Careful thicknessing on the planar and then the thickness sander was the only way I could get usable boards without massive tear out and knots blowing up. The final product was worth the effort as these boards were a lighter colour and heavily figured with knots and lines which gave him the look he was after - relief!!

Here's a few build shots:

Cutting the mortises for the cross-members, 2" deep. My story stick
on the right and various chisels to get them perfect. Of course this is the most work
and is the most important part of the build - yet 100% invisible when complete.
Cutting shoulders on the bottom cross-member with my new Lie-Nielson
Tenon saw - like corn though a goose!!
Test fit of all the mortises and tenons to ensure its square and solid.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Maloof table finds Loving Home

The table is finally complete, 7-8 coats of Deft danish Oil and its ready to move into its long-term resting place.

Finished table gleaming in morning sunlight.
This spot is under our back window which looks out onto the backyard where LOML and myself sit down to eat and talk about our day. A few pictures and an update on the chairs.

Closeup of the base showing the ingenious joinery,
Maloof was inspired by tree roots in the original design.

Another angle showing entire base.

A couple more construction shots which did not make the cut before:

A complicated glue-up for the legs, the dowels inside keep everything aligned.

Cleaning up the groove in the centre post with the router to ensure joint line disappears.
This is what makes the base look like one piece when it is done.

And where am I with the chairs for this table? I had a lot of head scratching to do in order to come up with my final design for the chairs and I am still not there. Building the chairs is the easy part, turning them into a gorgeous flowing piece of art takes the time. I am almost there. Lots of time was spent shaping the transitions of the joints and finding a way to join these elements to one another. I took advantage of the nice weather over the weekend to do some carving outside; both to deal with the dust and the oblique lighting helps the refinement process.

Three-quarter view

Side view showing my unique arm treatment - almost there!!