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