Interesting Woodworking Link

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Episode #107 – Engagement Chest Update & Scratch Stock in Action


Shop Made Scratch Stock in Action!

I had a very productive day in the shop yesterday. I even had time to shoot a bit of video showing the scratch stock in action. I had time to practice with the scratch stock and developed enough confidence to put it to use on the engagement chest.

Engagement Chest Dry Fit

As an update on the chest, I have completed veneering the 8 panels, cut the curves on the bottom rails, cut the panel grooves in the rails & stiles and cut the tapers on the legs. I even had a chance to scratch quirk beads on the panel rails. They turned out great and it was very satisfying to know that they were done with a tool I made myself!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Episode #106 – Quirk Bead Scratch Stock


An Easy to Make Quirk Bead Scratch Stock Blade

It was almost a year ago to the date that I built a
scratch stock. My inspiration came from a finely written blog entry by Kari Hultman on her wonderful blog The Village Carpenter. Ever the experimenter, I chose to use a cap head allen screw to secure the blade. I also added a couple of steel straps to the top of the scratch stock to reinforce the blade slot from the force of the set screw. The first stock I built broke the first time I tightened the set screw, splitting along the grain at the blade slot.


My scratch stock has been patiently sitting on my shop bench under my hand planes awaiting a profiled cutter. I finally got around to shaping a cutter and giving it a quick test run on some scrap jatoba. I was very pleased with the results. This scratch stock has a relatively long flat face so it is better suited for cutting profiles on flat work opposed to detailing curved work. I cut my blade stock with a jigsaw and metal cutting blade from an old cabinet scraper.



My first profile is a quirk bead. I am thinking of adding this detail to our niece’s engagement chest. We will see. I know I will need to now put in some practice with this seemingly simple tool so I can confidently produce a smooth bead profile.


Kari offered some important advice on her blog regarding sharpening the blade. It is very important to polish and hone all edges! I ended up flattening the sharp tip of the blade which made it much easier to use. This also made for a nice narrow flat bottomed quirk. I also discovered lightly spritzing the wood with alcohol before the final couple of passes produced a quirk bead as smooth as a baby’s bottom! The final result has just the slightest hint of hand work which is very satisfying.

Return Bead • Uncut Stock • Bead & Quirk

Scratch Stock Related Links

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Episode #105 - Engagement Chest Update


Dimensioning Lumber & Frame Construction

Things are moving along nicely in the shop. Last week, lumber was rough milled and final dimensioned. While lumber was adjusting to shop conditions, I made a set of full-scale drawings (visible in the background above the frame) and generated a cutting list.


Last weekend I assembled the frame for the chest. Next step is to clean up joinery, shape the bottom rail curves and cut the leg tapers.


The panels will be ¼ MDF with flat cut cherry for the outer veneer and flat cut maple for the inner veneer. I like using light colored veneers inside cabinets and chests because it brightens the inside making viewing contents easier for the owner. I used this technique very effectively on a cherry display pedestal (shown in photo below) last year.


MDF makes for a dimensionally stable panel eliminating seasonal movement and ultimately a solid construction since these panels can be glued into the frame.



The solid wood frame is jatoba (aka Brazilian Cherry in the U.S.), a hard dense wood that machines well. I purchased the lumber locally at Crosscut Hardwoods in Portland with a gift certificate from my very supportive wife. The selection at Crosscut is outstanding. It almost seems like a "wood library" as you walk down the aisles, appreciate the aroma from many varied wood species while reading the descriptive labels at the top of each bin.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Episode #104 - Best Laid Plans . . .

The Kraus House - Aurora, Oregon

This weekend Beth and I planned on a quick weekend get away trip to Sisters, Oregon thinking the kids would be away on activities until Sunday afternoon. Well, the operative words there are “thinking the kids would be away”. Turns out we didn’t have that quite figured out as well as we thought!


We quickly came up with a Plan B. We had a great weekend antiquing, eating out at some favorite spots and catching a couple of movies. It’s the woodworking I saw while antiquing that I want to share. We visited the small town of Aurora several miles South of Portland. The Aurora Colony was a utopian society established by Dr. William Keil similar to the communal settlement he established Bethel, Missouri.




Today Aurora is a wonderful small town that is a local Mecca for antiques and collectables. We found a number of treasures to bring home that weekend. I took the opportunity to take a few photos of some marquetry I noticed on furniture in several of the shops.


I have started to study and practice marquetry in my shop. You don’t have to spend much time at the scroll saw or sand-shader to appreciate the fine details that marquetry adds to furniture.


I was surprised to note that I didn’t have to look long before I found my first example. Unfortunately I have no specific details on the pieces to share other than close-ups of the marquetry. Well, I am certainly motivated for my next piece!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Episode #103 - Cherry Blossom Marquetry Panel UPDATE


I was pretty excited the other day when I took the cherry blossom marquetry panel out of the vacuum press. I had to wait to see the final result as had regular work the following day. This morning I was up bright and early and started removing the gum tape from the finish face. I then mixed up a batch of 1/2# cut Hock Blonde Shellac. I'm pretty pleased with the results . . . not bad for my first marquetry panel. I learned a lot that I will apply to the next panel!


Episode #102 - Grand Slam Tools Home Run 4-Pack Arrives!



Hey guys, I just had a very cool package dropped off on the front porch. I’ve been waiting anxiously ever since placing my order when I first heard these tools were in production.


Knowing Tommy, I knew this would be a quality set. Now that they have arrived in my shop, I must say I am not disappointed!


The custom packaging makes for an absolutely excellent presentation for this tool set. The “dugout” paring blocks (1:6) are the perfect size. The maple mallet is awesome with tight, dense grain that is well turned and exquisitely balanced. The mallet is turned from an actual major league hard maple baseball bat billet at the premier major league bat manufacturer right here in the USA!


However, the marking gauge, well it is in a class of its own. It is light but yet has a solid feel. The brass adjusting knob lends a real sense of class. The gauge bar slides very smoothly and the
custom made Hock blade is wicked shaaarp!


I had to quickly remind myself to NOT run my thumb along the blade as I was admiring the marking gauge.

This marking gauge works perfectly right out of the box! Order your set today at Grand Slam Tools!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Episode #101 – Sand Shading


After spending a very pleasant afternoon cutting on the scroll saw I was faced with approximately 20 small pieces of veneer representing the various pieces of this cherry blossom motif. The cutting went very well.


I learned to be flexible and go with the process. As each piece was cut free of the packet, I placed them on an off-cut tray sitting to the right of my saw.
The next step was to get set-up for sand shading.


My sand shader consists of an old No. 8 cast iron skillet, an electric hot plate and some fine white quartz sand. My wife picked up the cast iron skillet for me at a second hand store. Try as we may, we could not locate a used electric hot plate so I ended up purchasing one new from a local hardware store. The sand was purchased a pet supply.



As each piece was selected for sand shading I would refer to the original drawing to identify areas to be shaded. I used some scrap veneer to get a feel of how hot the sand was and the time needed for a light shading. Turns out that with the hot plate set to medium I could put the veneer in the sand and get a perfect degree of shading by counting to 5.


After sand shading each piece was returned to the cut-off tray. Heat from the sand shader made each piece of veneer dry and brittle with a slight curve. The next step was to re-hydrate the pieces with a small bit of water on my finger tip. Each piece was then placed in a “press” made from two scrap pieces of ¾ inch Baltic Birch Plywood covered with wax paper. The weight from the top plywood platen was all that was needed to flatten each piece of veneer as it absorbed the water and gently dried.


I was pretty excited as I started to assemble the pieces into the background veneer. A thin green border was applied followed by a wide banding of mitered mahogany. My favorite part of every veneer project is putting the assembly into the vacuum press. I have a small heating pad on top of the press covered with a heavy moving blanket to keep the temperature high enough for the plastic resin veneer glue to cure under heat and pressure.


As I write this blog entry this evening the vacuum press is running. I will be fun to share the results within the next few days!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Episode #100 - First Foray into Marquetry

Cutting veneer and packet assembly

First Foray into Marquetry . . . A Great Way to Celebrate Episode 100!


Packet Assembly

The last several months have been exciting for my small shop as I have been accumulating supplies and initial equipment to begin exploring marquetry. I have been considering this for some time since it is a natural extension of veneer work. Thanks to stimulating conversations initiated by Neil Lamens, I have been augmenting my woodworking reading with the likes of Silas Kopf and Paul Schurch.


Cutting Packet with a Scroll Saw

The video clips embedded in this post were initially recorded to share with Neil my fledgling progress. I thought they would be interesting to include giving context to the process. As every other aspect of woodworking, I am self-taught at this juncture. In that vein I have been doing a lot of reading, as well as, watching a few select DVDs to the point of almost wearing them out!

Cheery tree in full bloom

Building an engagement chest for our niece has catalyzed my interest in marquetry. I have always been very practical and having a project to pursue has always provided a solid impetuous to learn and apply a new skill. I thought that a small piece of marquetry would be a nice detail to add to the bottom of the storage tray inside the chest. Beth and I decided on a small branch of cherry blossoms.

Using my kitchen window as a light board

Sketch of a branch with cherry blosoms

It turned out I had had a lot of inspiration right outside our kitchen nook window as the cherry trees bloomed in all their splendor this last month. I used the back-lighted window as an inexpensive light board and worked out a sketch that hopefully will not be too challenging to execute.

My first marquetry exercise

Close-up detail of my first marquetry exercise

My first exercise was a simple 4x4 packet using some scrap veneer to get a feel of the process. I mad no attempt to work with grain or do any sand shading. This packet basically gave me a feel of packet assembly, scroll saw work and assembly. As expected, I made a lot of mistakes, but more importantly, I learned volumes.

Cutting veneer and packet assembly

My second exercise is a bit larger piece adding the complexity of working with grain patterns, color and sand shading. I am feeling a bit less intimidated by the scroll saw and my cuts are starting to flow with less effort. I also significantly reduced my saw blade breakage rate; 10 blades on the first 4x4 packet compared with 3 blades on the larger packet! I’ve noticed that good lighting at the blade and my shop magnifying eyeglasses have been a significant help.

Close-up detail of veneer selection