Interesting Woodworking Link

Friday, May 30, 2008

Episode #62 - Scratch Stock Part I

The Scratch Stock – Part I

I had a great day in the shop. I started by dimensioning stock for my next project which is now stickered and adjusting to the shop environment. I also started experimenting with hide glue . . . more on that in the future. I also made a scratch stock. After following Crazy Leg Federal Table forum project on The Rough Cut Show, I started working on developing skills anticipating building a similar table. I thought the scratch stock would be a fun little project to end a great day in the shop. Well, I was right and wrong on that account!

Version I - getting ready to
test the retaining screws

Version I - system failure!

My first scratch stock was inspired from a Garret Hack design built by Kari Hultman on her blog The Village Carpenter. Unfortunately, there was a sickening sound of splitting wood and mine broke in two pieces as I tightened the retainer screws. In retrospect the two screws likely produced too much force and I should have allowed more end grain length. Not about to be defeated and leave the shop disappointed, I powered up and built another with a slightly modified design.

Set-up to cut the blade blank from a card scraper

Using a hacksaw to cut the blade blank from a card scraper

Version II sports steel reinforcement that also serves to keep the blade secure from racking in the slot. These are quick and easy to build. Now I just have to get some time to shape the cutter!

Version II ready to be drilled

Version II complete


Click here to see completion of this scratch stock with a quirk bead blade

Some interesting scratch stock resources:

Beading with a Scratch Stock - FWW

Scratch Stock – Kari Hultman • Village Carpenter

Scratch Stock Moldings – Shavings and Sawdust

The Venerable Bead – Lee Valley Project Article

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Episode #61 - Shop Reflection

A time for reflection in the shop . . .

One of the interesting aspects of working with wood is the exploration process. There is always something new to learn and there is always room to perfect a skill or technique. I have in mind ideas for a number of projects; the real question for me is which project to do first. I also have some techniques that to want to explore and incorporate into future projects.

As I built my last project, I generated a self-critique of what went well and what I would have done differently. I think the overall scope and scale of the project went well. Having an opportunity to build again with a different skill set, I would approach the drawer and drawer housing much different. I would also work in more design elements to move away from a stark rectilinear form. I also would approach the general carcase construction differently building a separate case and base rather than an applied built up base.

Without a doubt, one of the most important and useful things I did with my last project was to draw a full-scale set of shop drawings that I constantly referred to during the construction process.
I felt comfortable with the frame and panel construction of my last project. With future projects I want to explore other methods of carcase construction. I also want to add to my joinery skill set, for example hand-cut dovetails.

I made a conscious decision with the drawer construction on my last project. Ultimately, I felt machine-cut dovetails or finger joints were just too heavy or bulky for a four-inch deep drawer. Up to this point I hadn’t really given hand-cut dovetails much thought, thinking I could just pull out my router. Now I realized that the ability to cut a fine set of thin dovetails had tremendous utility. I ended up pinning this drawer with small contrasting cherry dowels made with a Lie-Neilson doweling plate.

The veneering went very well. This was the first time I combined two different veneers on one panel. I got this idea from a Fine Woodworking article written by Mark Edmundson. The goal was to provide some interest, contrast and to
lighten up the interior of the pedestal.

Fine Furniture from Plywood: Custom thicknesses, matched grain and seams, and solid-wood details beat the plywood box look; by Mark Edmundson

I also want to work on making, cutting and installing shop-made moldings. This was the first time that I used shop made moldings from the same stock as the project. It turned out well, but something I definitely want to practice.

After watching the Crazy-Leg Federal Table forum project being built on The Rough Cut Show, I have become very interested in inlay work. I also realized that a table of this type is an excellent project to work on construction details. They have two projects underway, the Crazy Leg Federal Table and a Shaker Style Step Stool with dovetail joinery. The forum has a lot of expertise and advice so well worth checking out!

Another interesting Fine Woodworking article that is sitting on my bench:

Engineering a Table with Drawers: There's a simple, adaptable system hidden in almost every table; by Will Neptune

So what is happening in my shop? I am working with dovetails. I hope to cut a dovetail joint daily until I get a good handle on this skill. I also want to experiment with hide glue, inlay, and scratch stocks. Small boxes and tables are in my immediate future. Later this summer, I also have a jewelry display case in the works, but first I need to make full-scale drawings.

1st dovetail joint . . . lots of room for improvement!

My new shooting board with an adjustable fence

Dovetail tools on the bench

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Episode #60 - Boston Vaction

The Folding Rule . . . Away on Vacation . . . in Boston!
A folding rule on the museum workbench display at the

Well, our family has been away on vacation last week. We surprised the kids and took them to Boston. I used to live in Scituate, 45 minutes south of Boston, many years ago. Since we all love history and the East Coast, Beth and I thought it would be a great idea to spend some time in the Boston area. We were not disappointed! The weather was a wonderful and refreshing break from the gray overcast rainy skies of Portland. Everyone in the family got a chance to explore special areas of interest, including yours truly.

Now, I did not plan to incorporate woodworking into this vacation, but I did know I would get to see some wonderful furniture, as this is truly one of the great centers of early American furniture. I did see some great furniture, however, most of the places we visited did not allow photography. Some of the most amazing pieces were on display at the Adams Old House.

Enjoying bread, cheese & dark chocolate from
Salumeria Italiana
“The Best Italian Grocery”

I also had a chance to visit a very special woodworking icon. One day we were exploring the North End and sampling some wonderful Italian cuisine. We had made a short stop on The Freedom Trail to visit Salumeria Italiana “Boston's Best Italian Grocery” for some bread, cheese and chocolate which we ate while basking in the sun of Paul Revere’s Square behind the Old North Church. We had a wonderful Mother’s Day dinner at Lucia on the opposite side of the square.

Now, what does this have to do with woodworking? Well right around the corner of The Old North Church is The North Bennet Street School. I had an opportunity to explore the NBSS Gallery and examine some truly amazing work.

The store and gallery manager, Ken Craggs (CFM-07), was kind enough to spend some time discussing his “Chinese Inspired Collector’s Chest” made of curly cherry, redwood burl and wenge. I was amazed at the finely fitting drawers, especially considering the multiple compound angles. I really liked the finely crafted lock mechanism, a thin brass rod with a delicate flared curve. Interestingly, Ken utilized the skill of a fellow craftsman in the jewelry making department of NBSS.

Ken Craggs - NBSS CFM 2007 and his
“Chinese Inspired Collector’s Chest”

We are traveling home today refreshed, relaxed and inspired.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Episode #59 – Cherry Pedestal – Finished!

Cherry Pedestal Photo UPDATE – Finish(ed)!

It was with mixed feelings that I lifted the pedestal off my bench with the help of my daughter. We carried it inside for a few photos and to wait safely until delivery tomorrow. By the time the finish schedule is completed, your hand has become intimately familiar with every grain, nook & granny of the project. Interestingly, this phase is almost as time consuming as the building phase requiring the same level of patience and attention to detail.

As I was buffing the final coat of wax, I thought of a quote by Glen Huey from the most recent issue of
Woodworking Magazine.

“While finishing already takes nearly as much time as building the project, why would you want to add another step to the process?”

- Glen D. Huey, Senior Editor
Glazing for the Ages (pp. 30-31)
Woodworking Magazine • Spring 2008

He of course was referring to adding glaze to the finish process. While I did not glaze this project, I did add a layer of Victorian Mahogany Wax to the finish schedule. I think the result was worth the extra couple of hours needed to apply and then buff out the colored wax layer. All in all it took well over a week to apply the layers of oil and wax.

I always put one of my brass makers marks in a discrete location on each major project. This time I also added a small label giving credit to those that provided inspiration.

The building process is interesting and at times an all-consuming endeavor. I would add to Glen’s commentary that the design process can take as long as the building process, which can take as much time as the finishing process! This evening I was reviewing my project notebook and realized this project started November 2007 when a commission bid request arrived on our FAX machine. Sketches, emails, SketchUp renderings and a full sized drawing lead the way to the building phase.

I learned a lot from this project which I will review in a future episode. For now, I am relaxing and happy knowing that tomorrow I will deliver the pedestal to its future owner.

finis for now . . .

Click for details: Cherry Display Pedestal

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Episode #58 – Cherry Pedestal – Veneer

Cherry Pedestal Photo UPDATE – Veneer Grain Pattern Selection

This episode is a photo update of the door veneer selection process for the cherry display pedestal being built in my shop. During construction of the carcase I took particular care to select and showcase the best grain pattern for the flat cut 2-ply cherry veneer. All the cherry veneer for this project came from a 4x8 sheet of 2-ply cherry veneer that I purchased from Veneer Supplies, a great Internet source of veneer and veneering supplies associated with Joe Woodworker. I purchased my veneer press and the majority of my veneer supplies from this source. I have been highly satisfied with both customer service and quality from Joe. If you were thinking about getting started in veneering, this would be a great place to get your feet wet!

Like many woodworkers I draw inspiration from a number of sources. Someone that has been quite influential for me has been Neil Lamens at Furnitology Productions. Reminiscent of the opening to his Furnitology 101 DVD, I can hear Neil’s voice saying, “what does this panel have to offer” every time I begin a project. So, it was with that thought in mind that I approached this 4x8 sheet of 2-ply flat cut cherry veneer. I realized that the frame and panel construction of the carcase and the doors presented an opportunity to showcase the wonderful cathedral grain pattern of the flat cut cherry.

If you don't already have Neil's DVD in your woodworking library, I highly recommend you consider adding it as soon as possible . . . you won't regret the purchase! The DVD will only whet your appetite so head over to his Furnitology woodworking blog / podcast for a wild ride into furniture history & design, some wonderful projects documented with some outstanding video and most importantly flat out inspiration.

A trick I came up with to optimize the selection and position of the grain pattern was to make a viewing frame. I basically taped scrap 1/4” MDF hardboard around the platen for the door panel. A masking tape tab in the center of the panel made it easy to lift the panel out of the frame. I then just slid the frame around the sheet of veneer until I liked the grain pattern. After that it was a simple matter to trace a line around the frame opening with a pencil. I rough cut the veneer with a pair of shears and the trimmed to the line with a straight edge and a sharp knife. I duplicated the process for the matching door. After that you follow the regular veneering process to make a package ready for the press.

1/4" MDF hardboard viewing frame
with central door panel

1/4" MDF hardboard viewing frame
with central door panel removed

Pencil line tracing selected grain pattern

Laying out the second panel to match the first

Pair of door panels in the vacuum press

The end result with a well
centered cathedral grain pattern

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Episode #57 - Cherry Pedestal - Finishing

Cherry Pedestal Photo UPDATE - Finishing

Congratulations again to Frank Thorton from Springfield, Illinois for winning the Kreg Jig Project Drawing!

Well, I believe every project has something to offer for the builder in terms of advancing their craft. This project is no exception. In a future post I plan on reviewing what I learned, what went well and what I would do different next time . . . sort of a post project wrap-up if you will. Right now I am happily applying finish and hope to meet my anticipated delivery date early next week.

View of back & side of pedestal carcase

One of the best moments of any project is the finishing phase. I followed some sound advice and started working out the finishing schedule early in the building process. As soon as I was ready to put panels in the vacuum press, I made a couple of extra panels to test my proposed finish schedule. I have started to use Tried & True Wood Finishes in my shop because they manufacture a fine natural and safe wood finishing product that provides excellent and consistent results.

Front view of pedestal carcase

A quote from the Tried & True website: "Tried & True Wood Finishes has combined some new and some old ideas to create the best oil finishes made. We use 18th century varnish making techniques and the best natural ingredients to make environmentally safe wood finishes that make no compromise for beauty, durability,or safety."

Frame & panel door with book matched cherry veneer panel

Tried & True Wood Finishes are available from Woodcraft.

Finish Schedule
  1. Finish sand to 220
  2. Burnish with grey (fine) abrasive pad
  3. Wash coat of 1# cut amber shellac
  4. One coat of Tried & True Danish Oil
  5. Three coats of Tried & True Varnish Oil
  6. Two coats of Liberon Black Bison "Victorian Mahogany" Fine Paste Wax
  7. One coat of Liberon Black Bison "Natural" Fine Paste Wax

Something new in my shop that I found very helpful are Painter’s Pyramids. These have essentially replaced my prior system of dowel pins set in a pegboard base. Painter’s Pyramids are made of durable easy to clean plastic with soft rounded corners that don’t mar your work surface. Plus they are of uniform height and easy to clean!

Painter’s Pyramids are available from Rockler or Woodcraft.