Monday, December 28, 2009

The Beginning

I know that I can make a nice wall cabinet, the challenge with this project was the inlay that I had thought of for the door. That being said, I decided to start with what for me is usually the end, the door. This is going to be a stand alone wall cabinet to replace a smaller one in my bedroom, it's made from Cherry and I wanted to incorporate a bolection inlay of a Japanese Cherry tree on the door. I've never done a bolection inlay before and wasn't sure if I could pull it off well enough so I wanted to complete the inlay first to leave me multiple options with the design if I couldn't pull it off.
I started by selecting an interesting grain pattern and cutting it to size of the planned door. I wanted the underlying grain to mimic the mountains that you would see in the background of a Japanese print.

With the grain pattern set I sketched out a Cherry tree on large graph paper, at this point I had in my mind how I was going to do the wood of the tree but I still wasn't sure about the blossoms. I cut the sketch of the trunk into smaller components and using spray adhesive I attached them to pieces of 3/16 inch thick walnut aligning the grain in pleasing ways. After cutting out all the pieces on the scroll saw I used double sided tape to hole the walnut to the door and outlined them with a sharp Exacto knife. Working with one component at time I then routed a 1/16th inch deep relief into the door. After fitting the piece I then would move on to the next piece, completing the tree in a few days between finishing up Christmas projects. I still had in my mind that I would cut the blossoms and without routing glue them to the door and shape them with my Foredom power carver. I tried this method as a test and was very disappointed. The small blossoms were very hard to cut on the scroll saw and attempting to shape them scarred up the base wood. I gave up on this approach.
As often happens I had an epiphany in the shower, I'd go abstract and simple. After I dried off and dressed I went out into the shop and using a 3/8th inch plug cutter I cut a scrap of curly maple into plugs. I drilled some 3/8th inch holes into some scrap cherry and drove the plugs in. I trimmed the plugs with a chisel and shaped them with a sanding block. I noticed that there was a slight space around the plugs and that all of one size would look odd, so I undersized the drill bit by 1/64th of an inch and tried that. The plugs fit very tight and after trimming and shaping there was no space around the plug. I then moved to the drill press and cut 3/8th and 1/4 inch plugs from a block of curly maple. I started placing holes where they looked good and plugging them, I kept adding them here and there until I was happy. After trimming them and sanding the plugs and the trunk I decided that the project was a success and the wall cabinet could proceed with this design. More to come as the cabinet takes shape.

"The beginning is the most important part of the work." - Plato

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Limbert #234 Tabourette, Part 2

Well here it is, the Limbert #234 Tabourette completed. The build was very easy with no complicated joinery. Download the Sketchup plan here, make some simple patterns and go for it.
The finish is a little different from my previous posts, on this table I decided to skip the shellac for the final layers and go with Arm-r-seal from General Finishes. The result is really nice and has a more satin finish than the shellac, I still topped it all off with Watco dark liquid wax as usual.
The top is attached to the base with figure 8 table irons to allow for any movement and I aplied felt pads to the feet as it going to live on a hardwood floor.
My neighbor was very happy with the final result and is looking forward to the coffee table that I designed to go along with it, more on that in a series of later posts.
"No matter where you go, there you are" Buckaroo Bonzia

Friday, October 30, 2009

Limbert #234 Tabourette, Part 1

My neighbor asked me to make her an end table and a coffee table in the arts and crafts style to go in her bungalow. I showed her some of the completed pieces in my house and she was drawn more to the Limbert style. I did some more research in my books and online and came up with this little tabourette as an end table, I showed her the pictures and described my idea for a coffee table that would compliment the design of the end table. Coffee tables weren't a part of American homes in the 1900's but I took a Limbert cocktail table and lowered it and changed it some to make it a coffee table, more on that in a later post.
In previous posts I have described my method of scaling plans from pictures but luckily I was able to find descriptions of this table along with dimensions, which are 16"x16"x18" tall. These relate to the widest measurements, the top which will be square. From this and the photos I came up with the dimensions in the picture at the left.

Using Google Sketchup I created a model of the table along with dimensioned elevations, I was also able to look at the components and come up with construction details such as how to connect the sides.

After removing the stock from the clamps and trimming it to size I took this template I made up from the plan above and marked out the areas to be cut out. After removing the bulk of the waste with a jigsaw for the cut outs and the bandsaw for the bottom I carefully aligned the template to the inside of each side piece and screwed it in place. Using a template like this for routing is always good, you can attach it with double sided tape or if piece has a hidden side you can just screw the template to the stock. I used a 1/2 inch pattern cutting bit in the router table to give the cutouts the proper radius at the corners. After this I cut a 45 degree miter on each side of the side pieces.

What followed was some sanding and a little hand work on the cutouts then I glued the miters together using the miter cutoffs as glue blocks a little time cooking in the clamps while I sanded the top. A final sanding on everything inside and out and attaching the top with figure 8 table irons, a little more touch up sanding and a cleaning finished up this project for the weekend and now all that is left if finishing. My neighbor looked at the finish samples that I keep and picked the middle range of the five I have so when I start on the finish I just turn over the sample and the "recipe" is written on the back. For more on my arts and crafts finish and a look at the samples see this post.
" Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Music Stand part 3

This weekend I started out by sanding all the flat surfaces of the mahogany ribs and then taking to the edges and curves off everything with a folded piece of sandpaper . There are no pictures of this because I don't like getting dust all over my camera. Once I started to assemble the music stand I didn't think that I would need to clamp the ribs into the stand because the fit was tight enough that the last they took a gentle rap with a deadblow hammer to drive each one that final smidge, but I decided to err on the safe side and clamped each rib in place just in case the glue would piston one of the ribs out as it set up.

After a little more hand sanding and the first two coats of Watco Natural Danish Oil I decided to take the stand out onto the lawn for a better shot. I think it turned out great so far, with many more coats of Danish Oil and a coat of wax this stand will glow.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Music Stand part 2

Having left the back leg on the bending form all week, Saturday morning saw it unclamped and removed from the form. From the side view here you can start to get an idea of what the stand will look like when finished. After trimming the back leg to match the width of the front legs I glues the two sets together and let them sit while I prepped the Mahogany for the cross ribs by resawing stock to 3/8th inch thick and running them through the drum sander to clean off the saw marks.

Once the clamps were removed I trimmed the legs flat by setting the stand on the assembly table and using a block of MDF for a gauge marked a line on each side then trimmed the feet with a handsaw. I then cleaned up the edges with a block plane and a smoothing plane and finally some sandpaper. I used a small router and a 1/4 inch round over bit to ease the edges, where I couldn't get the router I used a strip of 80 grit sandpaper and rounded the edge.

I made a gauge block out of a strip of MDF and a small piece of 1/4 inch plywood so that I could cut a groove across the stand at 2 inch intervals using a dado blade set at 3/4 inch deep. In these grooves will fit 5 Mahogany ribs that will hold the sheet music.

This is the only picture I took of the glued up stand but if you look closely you can tell that there is a taper. Before gluing the back leg to the front I used the jointer to run a 3/8th inch taper along the length where it contacted the front legs. When I dryfitted the legs I wasn't happy with the bulky look of the top of the stand so I decided to add the taper and if I cut if off the back of the back leg the laminates would have been visible, so I cut it from the inside of the back leg, it turned out great and in the final post I'll take more detailed shots of it.
I made two routing templates to cut the inside and outside curves for the ribs. Here you can see the inside curve template, a blank, and a blank with the inside curve rough cut. I ran the "downhill" cut on the router table and then flipped the blank to avoid tear out from the flush trim bit. After running all the ribs I marked out for the cuts that will fit around the stand. Working without a plan and just a rough sketch if freeing in a way as you can make changes along the way. Next weekend will see the ribs completed and sanded and assembled to the stand, then a nice oil finish will make this wood glow. I hope that the finished product lives up to my vision.
"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Friday, October 16, 2009

Music Stand part 1

My newest project is something different for me, I'm making a music stand for a present. It involves bending wood to quite an acute degree, tighter than I've ever done before. After consulting with my friends in The Woodwhisperer chatroom I decided to stick with a technique I'm familiar with, bent lamination. The first thing that i had to do was to create a bending form, I cut a piece of 1/2 inch MDF to 24x12 inches, I used my beam compass and drew a 12 inch radius arc in one end. I rough cut it on the bandsaw and cleaned up the cut using my disc sander and finished it with a flexible sanding strip made from a strip of 1/8th inch thick Baltic birch plywood with a block of wood glued to each end for handles and 80 grit sandpaper glued to it with spray on adhesive. Once the template was true, I marked out three more blanks and rough cut them on the band saw. I glued each blank onto the template using small brads to lock them flush. I clamped the sandwich together and let it sit for a few hours.
After lunch I removed the clamps and used a flush trim bit on the router table to flush up the arc. I then marked a line 1 1/2 inch
along the top and drilled 1 inch holes every few inches to make clamping easier. I applied packing tape to the top to keep any glue from sticking to the form.
The legs of the stand are made from Curly Maple, I ripped 2 pieces 2 inches wide by 50 inches long and using the band saw I resawed it into 3, 5/16th inch thick pieces. To clean up the saw marks I ran each piece through the drum sander to a final thickness of 1/4 inch.
Next comes the hard part, gluing and clamping the laminates to the form. The open time on the glue is limited and there are many clamps that have to be tightened. After covering each layer in glue with a roller I taped them together to keep the laminates from slipping. Starting at the center of the arc I clamped the laminate sandwich to the form tight as possible. I alternated each side of the center to even out the pressure working the clamps as tight as you can and moving to the next, you won't always be able to tighten the clamp completely until you get some leverage from the next clamp in line. To get the last clap in place I had to resort to a long clamp to help lever it in place. You might think that you could start clamping at the top end of the arc and use the long straight end to pull the laminate to the form. You can't do this because the laminates must slip along each other to form to the contour or the arc, by starting in the center of the arc you allow the wood to move equally on each end of the laminate sandwich.
Once the glue has set overnight I removed the clamps and got only about an inch of spring back. I repeated the process of gluing and clamping for the second set of laminates. I scraped the excess glue off of one side and using a number 4 plane, block plane, and finally a low angle finishing plane flattened it. Starting with the arc sitting on the tablesaw table and held to the fence using a featherboard I ripped it down to 2, 3/4 inch thick legs. These are glued back to back to form a Y that makes up the front 2 legs. The second piece will be ripped to 1 1/2 inch wide for the back leg and glued to the front Y to form a tripod, more pictures in the next post will illustrate it better.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." - Douglas Adams

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Picture in Wood

The weekend before last I took this picture at a park near my house late in the day when the Dragonflies were having a great time buzzing around and doing what Dragonflies do. This one landed on this leaf long enough for me to get a few snaps of him.
This weekend I printed out a copy of the picture and turned it into an inlay. I used walnut and cherry for the plant. On the dragonfly I used quartersawn mahogany for the darker wings and plainsawn mahogany for the lighter wings in an attempt to give it some depth. The abdomen is zebrawood and the legs and eyes are wenge. The background is curly maple with nice dark streaks in it, and a neat curve from a branch.
After the glue dried I smoothed the inlay with a bevel up smoothing plane followed by a card scraper, I then glued it to a 1/4 inch Baltic plywood substrate. This piece will eventually find its way to the top of a jewelry box, but for now, its just a picture in wood.

All things are difficult before they are easy. - Dr. Thomas Fuller

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dragonfly Inlayed Jewelrybox

This is my second inlaid jewelry box and like the first one it is also a gift. The box is made from one board of Bolivian Rosewood planed to 5/8 inches thick. I cut the miters so that the grain would appear to wrap around the box.
The background for the image is curly maple with an interesting knot feature and some dark streaks. The wings are quartersawn mahogany with ebony tips. The main body is wenge and the tail is zebra wood. The eyes are padauk outlined by ebony and the legs are ebony. The branch is walnut, click on the image and view it larger to get a better idea of the inlay. The inlay is attached to 1/4 inch thick Baltic birch plywood, the bottom is also Baltic birch plywood.
After sanding I cut the top off on the tablesaw leaving a very thin piece of wood to be removed with a handsaw. I cleaned up the remaining wood with a block plane and some sanding. One this box I used a couple of 10mm barrel hinges, they worked out better than the hinges I used on the previous one. The box is finished with multiple coats of Danish Oil followed by two coats or paste wax, the inside is top and bottom is covered with wine colored flocking.
This is the first small box that I am completely happy with the way it turned out. As with anything, practice makes better, not perfect, but still better.

What matters is the value we've created in our lives, the people we've made happy & how much we've grown as people. ~D. Ikeda

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More Fun with My Camera

The image on the left has been photoshopped to produce a High Dynamic Range Photo, the image on the right is the original photo.

The same process was applied to these two photos. I really like the way HDR brings out the detail of the rust around the antenna and in the lights. I also love the way it brings out the streaks in the paint and the dirt that is barely visible on the original.
If you are interested in the technique you can find out more about it here.

"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some Fun with my Camera

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tetanus, what you don't see can hurt you

Much of our attention during safety week is focused on preventing injuries, but sometimes no matter how careful you are, accidents do happen. When these things happen one of the most important things you can do, appart from not bleeding on your project, is to avoid a serious infection from the wound. Your wound should be cleaned and properly dressed, and if you seek medical attention one of the first things they will ask you is, "have you had a recent Tetanus booster".
The bacteria that cause tetanus, Clostridium tetani, are found in soil, dust and animal feces. When they enter a deep flesh wound, spores of the bacteria may produce a powerful toxin, tetanospasmin, which acts on various areas of your nervous system. The effect of the toxin on your nerves can cause muscle stiffness and spasms — the major signs of tetanus. The time between infection and the first sign of symptoms is 5 days to 15 weeks, with 7 days as the average. Most cases of tetanus in the United States occur in those who have not been properly vaccinated against the disease.
The most frequent symptom is a stiff jaw, caused by spasm of the muscle that closes the mouth, accounting for the disease's familiar name "lockjaw." Muscle stiffness all over the body may follow. An infected person may also have other symptoms: difficulty swallowing, restlessness and irritability, stiff neck, arms or legs, fever, headache, and sore throat. As the disease progresses, the victim may develop a fixed smile and raised eyebrows due to facial muscle spasms. Spasms of the diaphragm and the muscles between the ribs may interfere with breathing, often requiring mechanical ventilation. The abdominal or back muscles may become rigid.
Wounds on the head or face seem to be more dangerous than those on other parts of the body. If the person survives the acute illness, recovery is generally complete.
This disease is easilly avoided with a common vaccine, which is virtually 100 percent effective in preventing tetanus. Adults that have recieved the initial vaccine in childhood shoul recieve a booster shot every 10 years or if the injury has occurred more than 5 years after the last booster.
So do what you can and get a booster vaccine every ten years, and if you do cut your finger off, remember to put it in a plastic bag and then put in ice and take it with you, perhaps they can reattach it, or if not, its really good to gross out everyone in the ER waiting room.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Limbert Tables in SketchUp

I received a couple of emails and comments on scaling the images to create templates for the two Limbert tables I recently posted as SketchUp plans. The first step is to click on each of the pictures to get the larger view, save these to your computer and print them as large as you can. You will notice that the drawing is on a grid, this grid is 1x1 inch. Take a piece of poster board and draw a 1x1 inch grid on it, you can buy poster board with a ghost grid 1/2 x 1/2 inch printed already. Next scale the drawing by transferring the corner points and some guide points for the curve onto the poster board. Connect the dots and you have an outline of the side of the table you want to create as a template. Cut it out and trace it onto a piece of plywood or MDF, cut the template out on a bandsaw and clean up the lines and you have a perfect template to use to create the sides of either or both tables. I hope that this helps.
"The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows." ~Buddha

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Limbert #244 Fern Stand plan

I previously describe making this table in a series of posts starting with I had made my own plans from pictures of the antique original and dimensions taken from the original catalogs and antique auction sites.
Playing with Google Sketchup lately I decided to create a plan for this fun little table in case anyone wanted to make one.

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Limbert #240 Lamp Table part 2

While I am a huge fan of Robert Lang's Shop Drawings series of books I have found that there can be differences in his shop drawings and some photos of the antiques that I find on the Internet. These differences may well be design or process changes between runs of the furniture. As an avid searcher for pictures of details or original Arts and Crafts furniture I often find details that I prefer better than the one described in Mr. Lang's books. One of these differences is the top cross piece on this table. To your left is a photo I found of an original Limbert #240 Lamp Table, notice the cross braces holding on the top. In Mr. Lang's More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture he calls for four small corbels that match the end of these cross braces. While certainly adequate to hold the top in place I found when I previously built this piece a few years ago that I was less than happy with the final result. I found this picture on EBay where it was listed as an original and indeed had the original stamp of Limbert. Most pictures I've found on antique auction sites show the table from the front and top not showing any of the details. While this may be great for selling the piece it isn't as satisfying for a woodworker that wants to turn it over and see how its made. That is what makes this on of my favorite pictures, apart for the beautiful antique sitting on gravel and leaning on a concrete curb, yikes!
As a result I measured out and made these cross braces for my version of the table. The ends match the curve drawn out by Mr. Lang. I cut 2 pieces of 7/8 inch thick stock 2 inches wide and 18 inches long. After cutting a halflap joint in both pieces I transferred the template of the curve to the wood and cut it out on the bandsaw, I cleaned it up on the oscillating spindle sander and by hand. I then went to the dryfit of the sides and measured the exact distance across the top where the braces will sit. I then transferred the angle of the sides to the stock and cut out the dado on the tablesaw by adjusting the miter gauge, in this case 3 degrees, and sneaking up on the lines then nibbling away at the dado while checking fit with a scrap block. After making all the cuts I could at this angle I moved the miter gauge to the other side of zero to 3 degrees and repeated on the other dados. I tested the fit on the dryfit sides. To my great surprise everything fit and lined up, with just a few light taps with a deadblow the cross braces locked into place on the top of the table.
I cut the tabletop to 20 inches square and marked out 3 inch radius rounds on the corners. I cut the corners on the bandsaw and cleaned it up on the disc sander. Taking everything apart I sanded all the parts to 150 grit and left it for the weekend.
This week while stuck in a hotel overnight for work I pulled up Sketchup and decided to give drawing this table a shot. I have been working on learning Sketchup but it has been a slow process, one reason is that I don't work on it very often, the other is that I'm working on my laptop and had not been using a mouse. I picked up a wireless wheel mouse as recommended to me by many Sketchup guru's and success. Here is a model of this table that I have posted on The WoodWhisperer forum. I did this from memory not having the book with me but after making the jigs, templates and pieces I was very familiar with the measurements. I would suggest using the model to see how it goes together and not for the exact measurements, for that pick up Robert Lang's book More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture.
The project is sitting on my assembly table waiting to be glued up this week and start the finishing process this weekend. This is a really fun project, and while there are no tenons or ebony plugs its beautiful in its lines and curves. Use the sketchup model to take it apart and see how everything goes together, you can learn a lot about how to make a piece by doing this. I'll still do my designing with paper and pencil as it is faster for me and I can let my ideas flow and work them out in my head, but for complicated designs like this one I'll virtually build it and refine it on the computer. Besides, it gives me something to do when stuck out of town in a hotel.
"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Limbert #240 Lamp Table part 1

This weekend I started a reproduction of a Charles Limbert design #240 Lamp Table, the original was produced circa 1903. Unlike Gustav Stickley, Limbert was not concerned with humble simplicity of design, his furniture borrows heavily from the prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright and the designs of Charles Renee MacKintosh.
I really like Limbert's designs, I've made one of his large tables, the Double Oval Table, and two of his smaller tables, the #244, and the #238. I previously made this table for a friend, but I have always wanted to have one for myself and luckily, I had just enough quartersawn white oak to complete this table. When I was done with the rough cuts I only had 2 feet of 4/4 quartersawn white oak left.

The plan for this project came out of Robert Lang's More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture , these books are a great resource for anyone interested in making authentic Arts and Crafts style furniture. Robert includes a drawing of the sides with their irregular shapes in a grid that can be reproduced by creating a 1 inch by 1 inch grid on a sheet of posterboard and transferring the drawing to that. I used this posterboard pattern to create a template out of plywood for both the sides and the shelf.
Taking the panels out of the clamps this morning and scraping off the excess glue the first thing I did was to trace the patterns onto the panels. I then cut proud of the line on the bandsaw for both the shelf and the side panels.

I attched the pattern to the cut our of the shelf using a couple of screws making sure to attach it to the underside of the shelf. This lets me pattern route it on the router table without worrying about the pattern slipping as can happen using double sided tape.

I make sure to label all my templates, jigs, and patterns with not only the name, but any directions and dimensions for the project. The sides call for a taper on both sides and a bevel cut at just under 45 degrees. The trick to this, which Mr. Lang does not describe in his book, is to create two jigs to enable you to easily repeat the cuts on the table saw.

I created these jigs using the template for the side. For the first jig I placed the template top up on the plywood and aligned the right side with the edge. I then attached blocks to hold the stock in place around the template. I adjusted the fence so that the bevel cut would be at the correct location and ran the stock through for all four sides. I labeled the jig with the name and the stock dimensions as well as the settings for the blade angle and the fence.

The second jig is made by placing the top of the template to the other end and aligning the edge of the template with the edge of the plywood. Again attaching blocks to hold the stock in place. Adjusting the fence so the the width of the bottom of the side is 15 inches, I run the stock through, and repeated for the other sides. I labeled this jig just as I did the first one. When I was done I trimmed off the excess plywood at the bottom of both jigs to make future cuts easier.
With the cuts complete I traced the cutouts on the stock and using the bandsaw roughed them out. They will be finished on the router table like the shelf.

When routing a template make sure that you use a starter pin to keep from getting kickback when the stock comes in contact with the spinning bit. When possible router with the grain and not against it. If that is not possible, try to sneak up on the cuts against the grain and not cut into it all at once.

One trick I use if I have to cut against the grain is to take little bites out of the stock with the bit to create breaks so that the spinning bit will not cause too much tearout. I still find that I am left with tearout, but its contained and rather than ruin the piece I'm left with a small defect that can be cleaned up using a spokeshave and some sandpaper.

With the sides beveled and shaped I like to do my first dryfit before I get too far into sanding and trimming in case I need to make any changes. Luckily everything fit nicely.

I used a Ryoba saw and a chisel to clean up the round corners left by the router bit. I then sanded the shelf and sides down to 100 grit. I tilted the blade on the tablesaw 3 degrees and cut a bevel on the bottom of the sides so that they would sit flush on the bottom. I then did a second dryfit, this time including the shelf. I cut the top to its final size, 19 inches square and called it a day.
"If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine." ~Morris West