Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Plane Hunting

Finding myself in Upstate NY over the Holiday week I did a little hunting, plane hunting. I knew from my previous visits up here that there was a great antique mall that had a hug hand tool section. Leaving Pam to look through the rest of the antiques I headed straight for my prey. This booth has a bunch of old Stanley, Bailey, and Sargent Plane's all in very good shape. He also had many wooden molding planes and a few wooden rabetting planes that were tempting, but that wasn't what I was gunning for. I was looking for a large style router plane to go with my small Lee Valley router plane. Something like a Stanley 71.

There was a nice wooden coffin smoother in this bunch much like one that I plan to make, I looked it over but the throat was pretty wide so I decided to go with one I make and keep looking for the router plane.

More eye candy for you old plane nuts.

Some very nice old heavy metal for your viewing pleasure, a couple of those No.# 7's were tempting.

Finally I spotted my goal, a whole herd of router planes, some old, some lame, but I singled out this prime buck and he was mine. As you can see, bright metal, never been rusted, good looking handles, all parts there. This plane has been well kept and used, you can see lap marks on the bottom, which is gleaming silver, and the blade was sharp even with a micro bevel. Someone loved this plane and now it's going to live in my tool chest and get used alot.

Kaytrim in The Woodwhisperer chat room helped me date this as between 1910-1924, perfect timing for the Arts and Crafts Period. I particularly like the Script "Stanley 71 1/2" and the patent date of 10-29-01, that's 1901.

As a bonus I also found a very nice spoke shave, Stanley No.# 51, the blade is stamped, Stanley Rule and Level Co. This tool has been used well, but not abused, again, no rust, no missing parts. A little sharpening and wax and its ready for work.

Happy Holiday's to you all, and good hunting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the Ulitimate guy present

I was walking in Lowes yesterday trying to decide what to get my brothers for Christmas and I bumped into the ultimate guy toy.
It is a $1600 stainless steel toolbox from Kobalt.
This behemoth holds 4000 lbs worth of tools, probably more than even the most diehard car nut has. It has LED lights in the upper lid. All the drawers run on ball bearing full extension guides and are lined with thick rubber padding in Kobalt's trademark blue color. You have to plug this bad boy in to power the lights and the stereo system, but it has a protected power strip on the side. It has a Pioneer CD player with its own speaker's and a connection for your iPod.
What looks like a cabinet door on the lower left is actually a refrigerator for "refreshments" and snacks.

While I am a wood guy and not a car guy, I can see why someone would lust after one of these babies. I can see this parked in a spotless garage with an epoxy painted floor next to a vintage sports car that only sees the road on sunny weekends. A car thats something that you work on and polish, a car that looks really great sitting next to your Stainless steel huge toolbox.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Workshop Redux

Things have conspired to keep me from finishing the Craftsman Tool Cabinet. A couple of house projects that needed my attention but this weekend I didn't have anything planned other than making a couple of more drawers for the Tool Cabinet, but then my new Bandsaw was delivered. Of course I had to put it together and get everything square, true, aligned and running well.
I had no problems with setting up my new Rikon 14" Deluxe Bandsaw, I had to put the stand cabinet together, set the saw on top (with the help of my neighbor) attach the table, fence, and handwheels. The body of the saw was complete in the box, it even had a blade installed.
My problem came when I started to try to walk around the shop. What started out as a spacious shop had turned into a cramped space with machines in the way every time I moved around. I decided it was time to make some changes. When I first designed my shop I envisioned a back bench where I would use all my benchtop tools and a downdraft sanding station where I would do all my sanding. Now, the benchtop is blocked by my mortiser which is no longer a benchtop, but lives on its own mobile base, and my router table that has moved from the front of the shop to the back. The downdraft area has become the place where I sit my sanders when I'm not using them on the assembly table and a repository for clamps that don't have a home. I've also added a belt/disc sander to go along with the oscillating spindle sander to add to the clutter.
So this weekend I spent my time cleaning the clutter off the bench, and removing all the junk that has been living under the bench over the years. This bench was 3 feet wide and ran the length of the back of the shop, so removing it will add about 45 sq ft of floor space to the shop. I started making a rolling cabinet that is going to hold the oscillating spindle sander and the belt sander. This cabinet will also have storage drawers for the supplies for both machines. I was able to push the router table and the mortiser back against the back wall. Once the cabinet is complete I'll have all the machines mobile and pushed against the wall, this will give me more room to move around the shop without poking myself in the back with sharp corners.
The next step will be to redo my well used assembly table so something with more storage and less of a dust collecting area that just holds jigs and extra wood. I'm thinking something like Marc's table. After that I'll attack the side counter and cabinets organizing and adding more drawers for storage.
Maybe all this cleaning and storage will lead me to a more creative space where my skills will improve.
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet. Part 4

This weekend I worked on the doors for my Crafsman Tool Cabinet. I took my planes and placed them in their new homes and everything fits great. I took some nice Ambrosia Maple and resawed it to get bookmatched panels for the doors. I left the panels at 3/8th on an inch because holders will be attached to the doors.
I ripped some Quartersawn white oak to 2 1/2 inches wide and the bottom stiles at 3 1/2 inches wide. I then cut a 3/8th inch wide, 1/2 inch deep groove in each piece. I then cut the mortises for the stiles into the rails at the mortiser. I cut tenons into the stiles on the table saw then trimmed the fit with a shoulder plane.

I trimmed the panels to fit into the door frames and did a dry fit that you see here. After some final sanding, and a little touch up on the bottom of this panel with a plane, I sealed the panels with a coat of clear shellac so that the Dark Walnut Danish Oil would not penetrate the panels. This morning I unclamped the doors and trimmed them to fit exactly on the cabinet. After some hand sanding and cleaning I masked the panels with blue tape and wiped on a coat of Dark Walnut Watco Danish Oil.

Later today I cut all the drawer fronts out of Ambrosia Maple and the drawer sides out of 1/2 inch Baltic Birch cabinet plywood. After a coat of amber shellac and some wax I'll hand the doors and next weekend its on to handcutting some dovetails.
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, October 20, 2008

Craftsman Inlay

Back in February I had a post about Arts and Crafts inlays, today I was looking through the Fall 2008 issue of Style 1900 and I came across an ad for a new site specializing in Stickley and Ellis inlays in wood and metal. The guys at Craftsman Inlay offer reproduction inlays in a sheet of veneer ready to be included in your latest masterpiece.

They also offer custom inlay creation services from your images. I'm sure that the number of inlays that are offered will increase as their business grows.
The following is from their website.

About Us
The two of us share a passion for creating beautiful wood products
and for Arts and Crafts furniture styles. Combining our interests and
talents motivated us to start our company, Craftsman Inlay. Most of our favorite
Arts and Crafts designs include custom inlays, so it was a natural move to
re-create some of our favorite metal inlays from the designs of Ellis and
Stickley. Their designs were only produced for a short time, so we are
excited to bring these great designs back into production and offer them at
reasonable prices.
Dean Orsborn and Ben Brunick

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet. Part 3

With the final dryfit complete I disassembled the case and gave each piece a final sanding and started thinking about the glue up. As you can see, there are quite a few parts to this cabinet so you have to start with some sub assemblies. First I glued the vertical dividers to the thicker of the horizontal dividers and then I added the top divider. I clamped this assembly with a squaring block while I get the other parts in line. Starting with one side flat on the bench I placed the sub assembly in the corresponding dadoes. I glued the small vertical divider to the thick horizontal divider, I followed this with the shelf. Repeat with the next small vertical divider and the bottom shelf. I added the lower horizontal divider. I glued in the bottom dovetails and the two top stretchers. Finally I started the other side on the dovetails, painted some glue bottom half of the pins and the top half of the tails. I started banging the side down with my fist while lining up the interior dividers to meet with the dadoes on the side. Amazingly everything came together pretty easily. A few clamps to hold everything tight and I let it sit overnight.
Once the clamps were removed I attached the top to the case with some glue and a couple of screws in the back to help support the french cleat. I finished the cabinet with a coat of dark walnut Watco Danish oil, followed by a couple of coats of shellac. I cut a 1/2 inch thick plywood back and painted it dark green. I attached the plywood to the back with brad nails along the edge and across the stretchers.
I cut a french cleat to attach to the back to go with the cleats that I have around the shop wall. I also added a block to the bottom of the cabinet to hold the cabinet off the wall the thickness of the cleat.
Now I can take my time and make the doors and the drawers. The door inserts and the drawer fronts will be out of Ambrosia Maple.

"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet. Part 2

Keeping with the theme of the hand tool cabinet I hand cut the dovetails for the case this weekend. Doing the joinery by hand will definitely slow you down and force you to take you time to get it just right. If you read Chris Schwarz's chapter on this project from Popular Woodworking's Arts and Crafts Furniture Projects book you'll find some very nice techniques for cutting these through dovetails. I used his method and clamped the two sides together and cut all the tails at the same time, this was no more difficult than cutting one board. Chris says, and I agree that cutting both together helps you get squarer cuts across the board.
The top of the case is spanned by tow horizontal stretchers each dovetailed into the sides. I cut a single dovetail for each of these 3 inch wide boards. I then transferred the lines to the boards using a marking knife and cut the pin. By cutting on the waste side of the lines and paring to the lines with a sharp chisel you get a very tight fitting joint. A dovetail joint should go together with just a little bit of force banging your hand. If it takes a large dead blow hammer , it is too tight, pare away the contact areas and try again. My problems with hand cut dovetails when I first started was that I tried to cut too close to the line and ended up with loose sloppy joints. I recommend the article and accompanying video in the latest issue of Fine Woodworking on a visit to the Dovetail Doctor.
I laid out the bottom dovetails in a staggered fashion to reflect the hand cut nature of the joint. I didn't go with very small pins as this cabinet will hold a great deal of weight. The most difficult part of hand cutting these joints is chiseling out the waste, using a set of very sharp chisels and a mallet makes it easier. I chiseled them out from the inside then switched sides half way through to avoid blowing out the wood on the other side. Much like before I cut on the waste side of the line then pared up to the line.
What I ended up with was a sturdy cabinet with tight dovetails. After a trial fit I disassembled the case and added the interior partitions. With the final dry fit done the next step will be some sanding and smoothing and then glue up of the cabinet. Doors and drawers will follow.
On an unrelated note, one of my local woodworking stores, Mann Tools, has started carrying 10BF project packs of 4/4 wood bundled in 3-4 foot lenghts. The interesting thing is the price, I got two of these in very nice ribbon Mahagony for half the price that its going for. They are also starting to carry some very wide, (24-36 inch) stock in some exotic species like waterfall Bubinga. Its pricey but would make some very cool tabletops.
"Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us." - Jerry Garcia

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet.

So I started out with just one block plane, of course, it was a POS home center Stanley, the one in the picture with the red palm rest. I added to that with a better block plane, then a pretty good made in England Stanley No. 4. This was followed up by a couple of small shoulder planes and a Stanley No. 80 scraper plane. I picked up a couple of antique Stanley planes, cleaned them up and sharpened the blades and they cut okay. But then, I made the mistake of trying out a well tuned Lie-Nielsen block plane, I finally realised what a high quality plane could do. That started my downfall, a low angle L-N block plane, a L-N block shoulder plane, these planes rocked. I made my first wooden plane last spring and with a nice blade it cut surprizingly well. At IWF this year I ordered a Lee Valley low angle smoothing plane and a scraping plane, both of which are awesone right out of the box. Well the downside of all this is that now I have nowhere to keep all these tools except a drawer that is now too crouded and I'm afraid that they will be damaged. So now I'm making a cabinet to hold all my prized hand planes.
I'm using Chris Schwarz's plan from Popular Woodworking's Arts and Crafts Furniture Projects book but changing it some. My Lee Valley scraper plane is wider than the cubbies that he called for so I adjusted them so two cubbies are 4 inches wide and I made up for it with two smaller cubbies that will fit my No. 4 plane and my L-N block planes. I also used quartersawn white oak instead of Cherry because thats what I have plenty of in my wood supply. I haven't decided yet how the doors will look but I think that I'm going to change the look of the top.

I glued up the stock yesterday after planing it to the appropriate thickness. Today I unclamped the stock and used the smoothing plane to flush the panels. I then cut the panels to size and started on the dado's for the cubbies and dividers. At the end of the day today I had my first dry fit, you'll notice that the cubbies on the left are wider than the ones on the right. Below the plane cubbies will be 4 small drawers and 2 larger drawers. I plan to add a rack for my fine chisels inside one of the doors and a holder for my Gent's saw on the other. The drawers will hold my marking guages and knives, my files and rasps, and other tools that are banging around in the one large drawer now.
I've learned that hand tools are an important addition to a powertool shop and that quality tools make the difference. What I'm trying to teach myself, and this is hard, is to slow down and take my time. I've always worked quickly and I think that sometimes what I need to do is to not rush through a project, but slow down and work more on precision. My projects come out looking great but there are pieces and parts that could be better, probably no one knows this but me, but it does bother me. So now, for me, I want to slow down and take my time with each and every part of a project.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Albert Einstein

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stickley Footstool, Part 3

The Stickley footstool is finished and in place next to the extra large Morris chair. I finished it to match the chair and used matching fabric for the cushion. Pam was very happy when I bought it into the house and immediately curled up with her book in the chair.
One of the most rewarding things about being a woodworker is making high quality furniture for your home. I'm slowly filling my home and those of my friends with furniture that I've made. You can't find furniture like this in most stores and if you do you can't afford it. It gives me a huge amount of satisfaction to take rough boards and transform them into fine furniture.
As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it. - Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meditation Bench

This project is a meditation bench for my friend Jameela, its so a person can maintain a comfortable posture during extended mediation. I had no plan for this but I wanted an oriental feel so I added a cross stretcher with a slight arch and mitered ends at 10 degrees. After doing some research on the Internet I found that the seat should be angled at 10 degrees and the front of the bench should be between 6-7 inches. I had a nice curly maple board that was just long enough to get the seat and both legs out of in my stash. I cut the legs with a 80 degree angle on the top with the front 6 1/2 inches tall. I laid out for two through tenons in each leg and a notch for the mahogany cross stretcher. I cut a bevel on the top of the cross stretcher and cut notches to mate with legs.

I fit the cross stretcher in the legs and tried to visualize the best arch for the bench, I decided to start the arch on the outside of the miter and run it all the way across the stretcher.

I used an adjustable bow to lay out a pleasing looking arch and traced it, I cut it with the bandsaw and cleaned it up with a flexible sanding block.

The arched cross stretcher in place. I was very happy with the results. Now the hard part starts.

I didn't get any pictures of the process but I laid out the mortises using the tenons. I drilled out the waste and cleaned them up with some sharp chisels. Curly maple is a form of hard maple and its very difficult to cut and pare but if you take your time and are careful you can get good results. I eased the edges of the maple with an 1/8th inch round over bit but left the mahogany edges square.

I trimmed the tenons with a flushcut saw and cleaned them up with a block plane. I finished the top with a card scraper. I finished the piece with several coats of natural Danish oil and two coats of satin carnuba wax. I'll let the next few pictures speak for themselves.

Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little. - Buddha

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stickley Footstool, Part 2

I spent this weekend finishing up the Stickley Footstool, I decided that since it was just a single drawer that it would be faster and easier to hand cut the dovetails instead of setting up the Leigh jig for half blind and through dovetails. Well... I underestimated how difficult it would be to cut the half blind pins in quartsawn white oak. My first attempt turned out great, nice tight fit and everything, the second side however was sloppy, so I gave up for the afternoon on Friday and walked away.
Saturday morning I cut a fresh drawer side out of poplar and carefully lined up the pins and gave it a good whack with a mallet. This left a perfect impression of the pins on the tail board. I carefully cut out the tails and had a perfect fit, I may switch and use this method to begin with instead of cutting the tails and marking them on the pin board. I ran a groove around the bottom and inserted a 1/4 inch plywood bottom for the drawer.

From all the pictures I've found of the original the edges of the legs seem rounded over, so I installed a 1/8th inch quarter round bit in the router table and ran the leg sides and ends. I inserted 1/2 inch plywood into the grooves at the top and bottom and glued up the sides. Sunday I removed the drawer and footstool from the clamps. I trimmed the pins flush on the drawers with a low angle block plane and sanded everything smooth. Next comes the finish and some antique hardware that I picked up last winter in upstate NY. Instead of rapping the edge of the stool in leather and using tacks like the picture of the original I plan on upholstering a piece of plywood with 4 inch foam to fit inside the top.
"He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often, and loved much." Elbert Hubbard

Friday, September 12, 2008

Limbert Fern Stand, Felicia's table

This nice little table was delivered to Felicia Day today and being the sweetheart that she is, she wasted no time in unpacking it while taking pictures and making up a funny little comic of it.
If you are at all into online gaming you might know her as the writer/producer/actress responsible for the award winning Webshow The Guild now in second season production. Or if you, like me, are a Joss Whedon fan, you might know her as Penny alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, or as Potential Slayer Vi, in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Felicia is IMHO the most websavvy, online connected actress in Hollywood, she's in the top 50 of people followed on Twitter. Felicia also is in many comercials and tv shows and movies. Basically she's a very talented woman and a working actress, plus she's really cool and geeky.
She tweeted (its going to be a word soon like googled) that she was going to the New Media Expo and I knew that Marc and Nicole were going there so I asked Nicole to get a picture for me, which she did, Nicole is so awesome. Nicole helped me get in touch with Felicia and I told her I was making a Limbert Fern table for my blog and that I would like to send it to her is she was interested. Felicia wrote me back right away saying that it would fit right into her 1925 Spanish Colonial and to please send it.
I'm not usually someone that sends emails and stuff to celebrities but Felicia seemed so nice, and from reading her website and blog I saw that she reads the same books as I do, our politics are the same, and she likes old houses. I think though the thing that made me really think that I wanted to contact her was her blog post about having a dream about Reese Whiterspoon, if you've read it you'll understand, by the way Felicia, Reese has a house here in Charleston, if you come to town maybe we could go stalk her together.
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stickley Footstool, Part 1

NOTE: Please be aware that the picture to the left is of a reproduction made my Kevin Creedy, I had thought the picture was from an auction catalog, it was also a Limbert, not a Stickley. I stand corrected.
This project is based on Stickley's "Smoker's Footstool", I guess back in the day when Dad got home he'd want to sit in his Morris Chair and puff on his pipe, basically smelling up the house and exposing his kids to the dangers of second hand smoke. Luckily things have changed somewhat in the hundred years since its debut and hopefully Dad's aren't smoking in the house. So I'm going to rename this "Reader's Footstool" as the drawer is a good place to keep your book safe and at hand.

I started with one board of 8 inch wide 4/4 quartersawn white oak and one board of 8/4 quartersawn white oak. I cut two lengths 18 inches and two lengths 15 inches. I jointed and planed the 8/4 inch stock to 1 3/4 inches thick and ripped 4 legs 1 3/4 inches square. I then ripped one of the 18 inch pieces to 1 1/2 inch, 4 inches and 2 1/4 inches for the top rail, drawer front, and bottom rail.
If you zoom in on this image you can see the cabinet maker's triangle that keeps the woodgrain aligned, this will help me keep the grain on the drawer in place with the top and bottom rails.
You will also notice that I used a dado blade to cut 3/4 inch long, 3/8 inch thick tenons on the ends all the sides but not the drawer front.

I reset the dado blade to 1/2 inch and ran a dado 3/4 inches from the top and 1 3/4 inches from the bottom on all four sides that will later receive 1/2 inch plywood. I used a bow to draw a nice arch on the bottom of all the sides and cut them on the bandsaw, cleaning up the sawmarks on the spindle sander.

Sometimes its just faster and easier to use a handtool to cut the shoulder's of the tenons, I could have used the bandsaw but I've found that it tends to over cut and leave a notch in the board, so I prefer the gentleman's saw.

I layed out the mortises to leave me with a 1/2 inch of leg sticking out past the sides. After installing the 3/8th inch mortising chisel and squaring it to the fence I aligned the fence so that if I ran each leg outside face towards the fence they would all be aligned correctly. Remember that the drawer face isn't mortised the whole width of the side but just for the top and bottom rail.
With the mortises cleaned out a little hand fitting with a shoulder plane gives the tenons a perfect slip fit. Here is the first dry fit, the next step is to cut the plywood top and bottom, install drawer guides and make the drawer. This project will be the perfect companion for a Morris Chair or anytime you want to just kick back.

"No man is good enough to be another's master." - William Morris

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Limbert Fern Stand, Felicia's table.

Here is the completed Limbert Fern Stand for my friend Felicia. Its all glued up and sanded and ready for the finishing to begin.

But before I start finsihing its time for a little branding, I like to put my logo in a place that doesn't show unless you really look, this one is under the top. My brand is heated up with a propane torch and tested on scrap pieces of oak, once its hot enough I carefully place it and press firmly, there is no second chance here.
My finish process for an authentic Arts and Crafts look isn't simple and it isn't fast, but it looks great compared to original period pieces and it really "pops" the ray flecks in the quartersawn white oak.
Sand piece to 150 grit and clean with tack rag or vacuum.

Wipe a good coat of dye on, for this piece I chose Transtint Medium Brown dye in water, be sure to cover all sides and keep dye from puddling in corners and at base. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours.
Lightly sand to remove raised grain with 220 grit, avoid oversanding especially at corners and edges.
Pad on a 1LB cut of amber shellac or sanding sealer.
Using a 320 grit sanding pad gently rub surface, clean with tack cloth or vacuum.

Apply Brown Mahagony Gel stain being careful to not cover too large of an area because once dry its very hard to wipe off. Once the gel starts to haze rub it off with a clean lint free cloth, I prefer old T-shirts. This gives you a warm rubbed in look. Let dry overnight.
Pad on 2-3 2LB cut coats of amber shellac, I tightly fold a square of T-shirt material, then soak it in the shellac and squeeze out excess, rub it in until it starts to drag then let dry. The coat of shellac should dry in 30 minutes or less. Repeat until you get the build you want.
Again, using 320 grit sanding pad gently rub surface, clean with a tack cloth or vacuum.
Take a few minutes to go over the whole piece with your clean hand, checking the surface for any rough areas or holidays.
Using a clean square of T-shirt rub in a thick coat of Watco Dark Liquid wax. Avoid plain or light colored waxes as these may leave white residue in the pores of the oak. When the wax is dry buff it out with a clean square of T-shirt.
Let the wax sit and "harden" for a few days then its ready to take in the house or in this case, ready to be shipped across country. Hope you enjoy the table Felicia, it should fit right in with your old house.
"True art expressed in its simplest formula is merely use made beautiful" - Charles Limbert