Friday, December 4, 2015

The Big Build

The Big Build has begun and the saw till is nearly complete. I have a little more work to do carving the face frame by hand, but I wanted to wait until I had the tool cabinet done as well.

I built the case for the till and turned a rope design in the dowel.

I made a simple face frame, then took away it's simpleness.

To remove a bulk of the wood for carving I used a grinder.

Then I added a drawer for files and sets.

The saw till nearly done I turned to the tool cabinet.

Both pieces are all hand dovetailed.

When I had the case about done I cut a piece of plywood the size the door panel would be and laid out the tools I wanted in it to see what would fit. I took pictures, then set planes on the shelve of the cabinet and took a picture. I then laid the cabinet down on it's back and took a picture with tools laying on the back panel. When I was all done I used photoshop to see what it might look like.

Looks like it will work well. Can't wait to see the tree design in the doors.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Shop remodel

After years of woodworking I am remodeling my shop to have a nice space for me to work and to be more picture friendly. I have been working in dark caves for years and I am looking forward to having a beautiful space for me to create new designs. 
I started by ripping everything out of the workbench space and moved my old workbench to the back of the shop to create a second work space. I extended the wall where my new bench will go and ran some new electrical then painted it as a backdrop.

I have designed a very ambitious  set of cabinets and a bench for the new space, if it turns out like I am hoping it will be very amazing. It will all be built from maple and black walnut. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Fiery Pits Of Hell

So I got a wild hair when I was cleaning up my table saw.
But first a little background, I have been trying to clean up my shop and make it presentable for pictures and videos. I have been woodworking for 16+ years and I feel confident that I could teach. So I thought the logical place for me to start would be some on-line videos and see where it went from there. It is a slow and arduous process to take a woodworking shop that has been used for years as a factory of furniture making and turn it into a showroom for teaching woodworking, but I am going to give it a try.
Which brings us back to my wild hair. So I took a plane to my workbench that exists as an extended part of my out-feed table and smoothed it down to refinish. My table saw top was coated in years of neglect as well so I carefully sanded it down to a beautiful metal color instead of what was there. I think it bordered on greenish ;). The last zero clearance insert I made for it was about two years ago out of some particleboard and it was looking pretty rough. I had some MDF left over from a form build I did. That is about the only thing I like that stuff for, but I thought it might work well for the insert so I tried it out, we’ll see how it works. I cut it out, routed it to size using a pattern following bit and put some set screws in the bottom to adjust it to height. I put some magnets in the back to hold it down good and a short nail in the back end to keep from flying out.
All done it looked o.k., but I wanted more than o.k. so I painted it bright red… There that was better, it looked official. Like a real woodworker, concerned about safety and all that jazz. It looked like it just came off the factory floor. Something inside me beckoned to have some fun with it. It needed more.
“FLAMES! I said to myself. “This sucker needs flames!” So I pulled out some clear drawer liner I use for glass etching sometimes and put a piece on the insert. Using a razor blade I cut out my flames and hit it with some spray paint. A final coat of clear and it was Hot! I like it, it makes me think if I stick my fingers near there they will get burned.
The fiery pits of hell on my table saw. Yeh, that’ll do.

Hope you like it. I will try to add to this blog so you guys can follow along as I “pimp my shop;)”

The bear in the last photo is another use of scrap mdf, it is my bear push stick. I usually make them out of solid hardwood, but hey it was there. Maybe this MDF stuff is growing on me…What am I saying, yuck.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Don't get all bent out of shape!!

                                                                                                                                                                       Sometimes in woodworking you need a shape that just won't work because of short grain issues, stock availability, design concerns etc. It comes to a choice of steam bending or bent lamination. When choosing bent lamination there are some concerns to consider. 
The First consideration is the form you wish to use for the glue-up process. I normally hate MDF with a passion, but for this application it works well. I have used cdx and a/c plywood, solid wood, and phenolic plastic to make forms and I like the smoothness of the form you can get with MDF, but they are very delicate and need to be stored safely. Laminating many sheets of MDF and using a pattern follow bit you can create a form of almost unlimited width, but they get heavy quick. When you use two piece bent lamination forms there is an inherent spring-back to the glue up that needs to be addressed so your piece will work out how you want.
Unfortunately we have to go back to math class before we can build our form. Working with your plan you need to discern your arc or chord depth, meaning the deflection the curve is to make from a straight plane. There are several formulas that can be used to approximate the final shape of the material after being removed from the form.

Fortunately we don't need to read "Composite Materials: Mechanical Behavior and Structural Analysis" to figure this out. There are some simplified formulas to be found from woodworkers who have experimented for years. Now we can move forward and feel safe using our good materials to produce the bend. The simplest formula is as follows;

Y=Distance the arc will change
X=Height of arc from base
N=The number of layers of material 
Using this equation if you have a curve with a chord height of 3" and you are laminating 4 strips of wood to make the curve you will have
 y=3/42 which will yield Y=.1875 or 3/16" difference.
Knowing this you can change your pattern to give you the curve result you are looking for.
The next thing to consider is the thickness of the material you are laminating. Again if you are laminating 4 strips each 1/8" thick your lamination will be 1/2" thick. Your form must be made with a positive and negative part with a 1/2" hollow between them.

After I have figured out the math and cut the layers out and glued them together it helps to run some bolts through the form to keep the layers from de-laminating under clamping pressure. I like to add a piece of  plywood to disperse the clamp pressure and protect the form corners form being damaged.
A good coat of finish on the form helps when you need to get the glue cleaned up. I sheet the form with a clear drawer liner as added glue protection. You have put a lot of time and material into building this form, anything you can do to keep it from getting coated in glue that can telegraph into the piece is good.

As you can see from my photos I have added strips of wood down the middle of the form, this helps keep the form even as it is pulled together. 
So now you have a form and have milled up your wood and you are ready to glue it up, dry test everything to make sure you have all the tools you need at hand and good luck. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

The year of The Book
This year has been a good year of book buying for me. I have tried to expand my chair book selection and I think I just about got it. It started earlier this year with the wonderful book by Peter Galbert "The Chairmakers Notebook". 
This is the best book on Woodworking let alone chairmaking I have ever read.

 Just recently I bought a few more that I feel are really worth the read.


 The current state of the art, with the who, the why, and the what of it  By Peter Bradford

Chairs By Judith Miller 

 Judith Miller also wrote the book on furniture, literally. If you ever want a comprehensive book on furniture her book would be it.

Chairs: A History By Florence de Dampierre

I have many books just solely about chairs and it might be a bit obsessive, but hey I am a chairmaker and there are worse things I could be obsessed with.
 I would say that woodworking is my healthy obsession.
I decided about 15 years ago to study woodworking in depth, in particular chairmaking. I have come a long way and this year acquiring these books has been helpful. 
I am not sure how interesting this blog will be to the average person other than to show I am batty about chairs, I guess that might be a good thing. There are many other books I have and a few I don't, contact me for a good list if you would like to know more.
Drawing in Perspective

You don't have to be an artist to be a woodworker, but a good foundation in perspective drawing can come in very helpful. I have the fortunate history of many art classes to pull from and I am often asked by clients to draw up a design that I have proposed. Being able to draw a design that will eventually resemble the piece you plan to build can make the process easier. I am a firm believer that a woodworker should always keep a journal of design ideas nearby to sketch out any ideas you can come up with. 

Perspective drawing will help immensely  when you have drawn out a shape you like and want to enlarge it to full size to be used as a blueprint. Without this you could be just guessing when it comes to production.

 The chair shown above was a miniature that was done in reverse where the full size drawing was done first and the reduction was done second. Using my sketch book I was able to make both plans using perspective drawing.
Sheraton, Chippendale, Hepplewhite all used perspective drawings to portray their furnishings in their books.

Knowing 1 point and 2 point perspective drawing is a valuable skill to have. It is used by architects and builders to draw up plans for buildings and can help alleviate the surprises that pop up when you are working out a piece of furniture. The 2 point perspective gives a view from an angle of the work.
This is a rough sketch that I did for a client of a bench I was contracted to build. It is done in the 2 point perspective and is helpful because you can see the piece in three planes at once. If you want to have three separate figures to work from try this trick to work up a blueprint.

1.  Draw up your piece from the front angle with height measurements needed.

2.  extend the horizontal lines to the right and using your depth measurements and angles draw in your side view. Above the first object draw a 45 degree angle from lower right to upper left. Take any vertical lines and carry them straight upward to the angle.
3. Now take the vertical lines drawn on the right image and extend them upward as you did with the first image. Use the intersecting lines from the 45 degree angle to deflect to the right and you can work up your overhead view.
You can use this to mark out joinery and make your patterns.
If you draw up your piece using the 2 point perspective and the blueprint view you can make a miniature or mock up of the piece to be made. Using these you can see your work from many different views and address any concerns before you have begun to use the good materials.
Using perspective drawing can make life easier.