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Brush Shellac Like a Pro

p. 70

Shop Vacuum on Steroids p. 18

®

BUILD YOUR SKILLS • BUILD YOUR SHOP

Resawn

Veneer Tabletop Walnut Hall Table Double-duty Lathe Cabinet Wonderful Woven Chair Seats

Fantastic Furniture of Judson Beaumont Turning Seminar:

Master the Skew

Creative High-Tech Woodworking

#137 September 2008 $5.99 $ 5 . 9US 9US $6.99CAN

09

0 71486 01610 6 www.americanwoodworker.com


Contents

#137, SEPTEMBER 2008

Features 37

Handmade Chair Seats

42

Walnut Hall Table

48

Resawn-Veneer Top

52

Double-Duty Lathe Cabinet

48

Weave splint and rush seats like an old-timer. Frame and panel construction that breaks the rules. Build a veneered top that will last a lifetime.

59

Add storage and stability with one fell swoop.

59

The Fantastic Furniture of Judson Beaumont Playful design for kids and grownups.

37

42

American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

3


Departments 8 Question and Answer

26

Use chalk to spot surface flaws, lessons for building with air-dried wood, and making a curved caul.

12 WorkshopTips

Build a wall-mounted, collapsible drying rack, clamp a box to hold bits on a drill press, add a stop to a miter saw, and build a mobile under-the-stairs storage rack.

16 Tool Nut

A busted box scraper finds a new home; a cafeteria cart becomes an indispensable shop aid.

18 Well-Equipped Shop

Oneida Dust Gorilla Vac, Proxxon compact belt sander, BeadLock loose tenon joinery system, ChopStix miter saw stop, B’laster metal-surface protection products, Grizzly Extreme-series G0660X Jointer/Planer, MagSwitch doublesided featherboard, CNC upgrade for a Legacy Ornamental Mill, and Starrett Pro-Site 5-in-1 Combination Protractor.

22 School News

Virginia high school students go into production.

Talk 26 Tool ShopBot Computerized routing transforms a small shop.

12

Your Skills 70 Build Brushing Shellac A quick wrist produces flawless results.

Wood 76 Turning Rockin’ and Rollin’ with the Skew Who’s master– you or the skew?

80 My Shop

Grandpa squeezed his hideaway into a small basement.

82 Oops!

Breaking the record for mismatched miters.

4 American Woodworker

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®

EDITORIAL

Editor/Associate Publisher Senior Editor Associate Editors Contributing Editors Office Administrator

Randy Johnson Tom Caspar Tim Johnson Dave Munkittrick Brad Holden Seth Keller Alan Lacer Shelly Jacobsen

ART & DESIGN

Creative Director Photographer Category President/Publisher Associate Publisher/ National Sales Manager Vice President/Production Production Coordinator Ad Production Coordinator Systems Engineer Circulation

Vern Johnson Jason Zentner Carol Lasseter James Ford Derek W. Corson Michael J. Rueckwald Kristin N. Beaudoin Denise Donnarumma Dennis O’Brien Steve Pippin Susan Sidler Dominic M. Taormina

ADVERTISING SALES

1285 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121 CHICAGO James Ford (219) 462-7211 Classified Advertising, The McNeill Group, Inc. Classified Manager, Don Serfass (215) 321-9662, ext. 30 NEW TRACK MEDIA LLC

Chief Executive Officer Executive Vice President/CFO Vice President/ Publishing Director

Stephen J. Kent Mark F. Arnett Joel P. Toner

Issue #137. American Woodworker®, ISSN 1074-9152, USPS 738-710 Published bimonthly by Woodworking Media, LLC, 90 Sherman St., Cambridge, MA 02140. Periodicals postage paid at Boston, MA and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send change of address notice to American Woodworker®, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Subscription rates: U.S. one-year, $24.98. Single-copy, $5.99. Canada one-year, $29.98. Single-copy $6.99 (U.S. Funds); GST # R122988611. Foreign surface one-year, $29.98 (U.S. Funds). U.S. newsstand distribution by Curtis Circulation Company, LLC, New Milford, NJ 07646. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement Number 41525524. Canada Postmaster: Send address changes to: American Woodworker, PO Box 456, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6V2. Send returns and address changes to American Woodworker®, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 321420235. Printed in USA. © 2008 New Track Media LLC. All rights reserved. American Woodworker may share information about you with reputable companies in order for them to offer you products and services of interest to you. If you would rather we not share information, please write to us at: American Woodworker, Customer Service Department, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Please include a copy of your address label. Subscribers: If the Post Office alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within one year.

Comments & Suggestions Write to us at American Woodworker, 1285 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121. (952) 948-5890, fax (952) 948-5895, e-mail aweditor@americanwoodworker.com.

Subscriptions American Woodworker Subscriber Service Dept., P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235, (800) 666-3111, e-mail americanwoodworkerwebcs@palmcoastd.com Article Index A five year index is available online at www.americanwoodworker.com. Copies of Past Articles Photocopies are available for $3 each. Write or call: American Woodworker Reprint Center, P.O. Box 83695, Stillwater, MN 55083-0695, (715) 246-4521, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Mon. through Fri. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Back Issues Some are available for $6 each. Order from the Reprint Center at the address above.

6 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008


EDITOR’S LETTER Just Another (very useful) Tool Years ago, while learning to make dovetails and mortise and tenon joints by hand, I was also exploring my first computer’s capabilities. Its basic drafting program mesmerized me. I still loved the feel of a pencil sliding along a straightedge and the beauty of a hand-drawn line, but I realized that exploring design options and making changes was much quicker on the computer than on paper. This freed me to spend more time building than drawing, so I relegated my elegant mechanical drafting machine to the closet. In a similar way, the Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) router is transforming the way many woodworkers design and build projects. In the past, CNC routers were used primarily in commercial or industrial shops, mainly because of their high price, which was often six figures. Prices have come down significantly in recent years. A standard 4’ x 8’ ShopBot CNC can be purchased for about $9,000, and the ShopBot Buddy, a 24” x 32” mobile CNC, starts at around $5,000. Rockler and CarveWright sell bench-top CNC routers for $2,300 and $1,900, respectively. While these prices are still prohibitive for many woodworkers, clearly this technology is becoming more affordable. CNC routers have a well-established reputation for speed and accuracy, but I find most woodworkers who have never used one are pretty leery about buying one for their shops. Their main concern, after cost, is that a CNC router will turn them into “robotic woodworkers.” That perfectly understandable reaction was exactly what many members of a ten-person Minneapolis-based co-op shop, the Fourth Street Guild, felt when they bought a ShopBot (see “Tool Talk,” page 26). The Fourth Street skeptics quickly discovered that rather than stifling their creativity, the ShopBot expanded their abilities as craftsmen. After all, a CNC router is really just another tool – but a very capable, accurate, and useful one. Until next time, Randy Johnson rjohnson@americanwoodworker.com

American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

7


QUESTION & ANSWER

by Tom Caspar

The Chalk Test

A

Q

How can I spot flaws in my wood’s surface before putting on a finish?

Try this classic method: after jointing or planing, lightly rub the wood with the side of a piece of chalk. Chalk colors all the high spots; low spots remain untouched. You may see flaws that are very hard to spot with the naked eye. Here are some examples: • Planer and jointer snipe. When a planer takes a deeper cut at the beginning or end of a board, it’s called snipe. Snipe can be a real pain to sand out because it may be up to a paper-thickness deep. Chalk makes snipe stand out like a sore thumb. Snipe from a jointer indicates that the outfeed table is set too low. Raising the table fixes the problem. • Jointer milling marks. Jointers with three-knife cutterheads always leave a small ripple pattern at right angles to the length of a board. Each knife creates a small crest, like a wave, and a trough. On a final pass, these crests should be fairly close together in order to reduce sanding time, where you have to get down to the bottom of all the troughs. If one of the knives is set too low, some of the crests will be quite prominent; if you’ve pushed the stock too fast, the crests will be too far apart and the wood’s surface will look like a washboard. Chalk quickly reveals improperly set knives and washboarding. • Nicked knives. A nick in a jointer or planer knife creates a long ridge down the length of a board. Chalk highlights the ridge. On most planers and jointers, you can shift one of the knives sideways to temporarily eliminate the ridge, but usually this is a sign that your knives are getting dull. • Hand plane marks. If your hand plane’s iron isn’t adjusted exactly level with the plane’s bottom, it will dig in on one side and leave ridges. Chalk makes these ridges easy to see.

NICKED-KNIFE RIDGE

SNIPE

JOINTER WASHBOARDING

HAND PLANE RIDGES

8 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008


STRAIGHT LINE

SPACER

Curving A Caul

Q

A

I used pine cauls for putting clamping pressure in the middle of a 24-in.deep case. They bent and didn’t push down hard enough in the center. Do I need stiffer wood?

No, pine will work fine, provided the bottom edge of each caul is curved or tapered to compensate for its bending. You can figure out the amount of curvature you’ll need for any caul with a simple experiment. Mill all your caul boards so the pieces are foursquare. Mark the center of one piece, then stand it on edge on a thick bench top or a stout board. Place a 1/4

in. shim under the board’s center. Bend the board by clamping each end. Stop tightening the clamps when their handles are hard to turn. Draw a straight line along the piece’s bottom edge. When you remove the clamps, you’ll see that the line is now curved, or has two straight tapers. Bandsaw the line and smooth the rough surface on the jointer. Use this as a pattern for the other cauls.

CURVED OR TAPERED EDGE

American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

9


QUESTION & ANSWER

Using Air-Dried Wood

Q

Some of the glue joints failed on a project I built last winter from airdried wood. Where did I go wrong?

A

You may have been hit with a double whammy: wood that wasn’t ready for building and joints that weren’t clamped long enough. Wood that’s been dried outdoors usually has 8 percent to 12 percent moisture content (MC). When you bring this lumber indoors in winter, its MC will drop further, ideally down to 6 percent to 8 percent. As wood dries, it can warp or twist. A large, rapid decrease in humidity and MC is particularly stressful. Your wood was probably drying and moving when you built with it, and this could have forced the joints apart later on. It’s best to bring air-dried wood into your shop for a few weeks before milling in order to reduce its MC and stabilize it. Clamping time for yellow and white glues should be extended if you’re using wood with 8 percent and higher MC, for an outdoor project or to go in a relatively humid environment, for example. White and yellow glues dry and build strength as they lose water; the higher the wood’s MC, the longer this process takes. A few hours of clamp time may be needed, with full strength developing after two to three days. 10 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008


WORKSHOP TIPS

FROM OUR READERS edited by Brad Holden

RUNNER STORAGE DOWEL

HORIZONTAL RAIL SUPPORT ARM

BLOCK PLYWOOD UPRIGHT

SPACER RUNNER

COLLAPSIBLE DRYING RACK

Terrific Tip!

SUPPORT ARM

Sturdy yet collapsible is easier said than done, but this drying rack is both. It folds flat against the wall to save space until I need it. I made my rack 36 in. tall, with 8 in. between levels. Each side of the rack is made by sandwiching hardwood support arms between plywood uprights. Each arm measures 13/16 in. x 1-1/8 in. x 28 in. The uprights and spacers are 2-1/2 in. wide. The uprights hinge on horizontal rails fastened to the wall. When open, 3/4 in. x 1 in. hardwood runners lay across the arms. Blocks attached to the runners keep the arms spread. The runners’ top edges are beveled to minimize the amount of surface contacting the finished pieces to be laid on them. When not in use, the runners store on dowels attached to the rack’s hinged uprights. Gerry Tetrault

Send your best original workshop tips. We pay $100 for every tip we publish (and send along a classy American Woodworker shirt). In addition, we’ll feature one terrific tip in each issue. The winner receives a 12” Leigh Super Jig with VRS (Vacuum and Router Support), a $294 value. E-mail your tip to workshoptips@americanwoodworker.com or send it to American Woodworker Workshop Tips, 1285 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121.

12 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

Submissions can’t be returned and become our property upon acceptance and payment. We may edit submissions and use them in all print and electronic media. One shirt per contributor, offer good only while supplies last.

PHOTOS BY CONTRIBUTOR UNLESS NOTED

Terrific Tips Win Terrific Tools!


WO R K S H O P T I P S

PRESS BOX There’s just no place to set stuff on my drill press! My solution is fast and cheap. Screw a small box to a large cable clamp. Make sure the box does not interfere with the release tab for the clamp. For a snug fit, line the cable clamp with a strip of window sealer foam tape. It clamps securely to the back post of the drill press, and it’s removable when not needed. Mark Thiel Source Large Cable Clamp, www.cableclamp.com, (727) 528-1000, Large Cable Clamp Pack contains 10 large cable clamps, CCL-10, $25.

STOP BLOCK THAT STAYS PUT When making repetitive cuts, I found that my stop block would shift. With a hardwood cutoff, a leftover piece of T-track, a 1/4–20 hex head bolt and a jig knob, I constructed a stop block that doesn’t move and is super easy to adjust. First, drill a hole in the saw’s fence, then groove the block for the T-track. Slide the head of the bolt into the T-track and insert the threaded end through the hole. Tighten the jig knob on the back of the fence, and the stop block doesn't move! Ira Penn

FOR THE TOUGHEST JOBS ON PLANET EARTH.

®

1-800-966-3458 WWW.GORILLATOUGH.COM

SEPTEMBER 2008

13

© 2008 Gorilla Glue Company SF2HD3

American Woodworker


WO R K S H O P T I P S

UNDER-STAIRS MOBILE STORAGE I never enjoyed crawling around under the basement stairs to find what may or may not be in this or that box. However, leaving the space empty was not an option. I built this cart to make use of every inch of priceless basement real estate. The cart is made from 2x4’s, with 3/4 in. plywood shelving, so it's very sturdy. The shelving is stepped to match the underside of the stairs. I mounted 3 in. casters on the front, and 3 in. swivel casters on the back. That way I can easily steer it around my shop if needed. I mounted a 2x4 horizontally along the wall to keep the cart from catching on the studs when rolling it in or out. Todd Reimer

14 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

Computer Controlled

Woodcarving Machine

THE #1 THIN-KERF RESAW

Model “ABX”

Thin-Kerf Band Resaw

Call us at

713.473.6572 or Visit us at www.carvewright.com/aww

Diagonally split moulding blanks with the “ABX” resaw…

BEST PRICE!

Model M-412

4-Side Planer/Moulder MAKE TWO PIECES OF MOULDING FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!

E-mail: info@baker-online.com Phone: (800) 548-6914

www.logtolumber.com


TOOL NUT

TOOLS OUR READERS LOVE

ORANGE CRATES, ANYONE?

MY THIRD HAND This variable-height, mobile workbench began life as a church cafeteria food cart. I removed its pushbars, added a 1-1/4 in.-thick top made from OSB planks, and started dreaming. I needed another table for my bench tools and a support for sawing long or large stock–a real third hand. Hmm, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I could raise the table up or down, to make it just the right height for any situation? As you can tell, I’m a bit of a scavenger, too, so I set out to build a lifting mechanism from all the odd materials I had on hand. It was a great excuse to use parts from old machines and sort through my scraps. Turning the crank (see photo at right) causes the legs to telescope. One full turn moves the top 1-7/8 in., or about 3/32 in. per hole. Fully raised, the table is 45 in. high, 1/4 in. higher than my bandsaw table. I admit that my new bench appears to be cobbled together, but looks aren’t everything! Frank Muhvich

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SEPTEMBER 2008

We’ll pay you $100 to share your favorite tools, new or old, with fellow readers. Contact us by e-mail at toolnut@americanwoodworker.com, or mail us at American Woodworker, 1285 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121. Please include digital photos of your tool if possible.

EDITOR: TOM CASPAR • PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE CONTRIBUTOR

I collect all sorts of old tools. I figure that when the day comes that I need an unusual tool–I’ll have it, even if I only use it just once. I’m still looking for the right opportunity to use my latest find, though. While walking through an outdoor flea market the other day, I was stopped cold by one item: a plane with a swiveling head and a long, broken handle. I had no idea what it was for, and neither did the person selling it. I just had to have it. I took my prize back to the shop and tried it out. It didn’t work nearly as well as a standard plane. What gives? I’m a retired police detective, so I started to investigate. I found a friend who had John Walter’s “Antique and Collectible Stanley Tools” (now out of print, unfortunately). There, on page 408, was my plane–at least, a tool just like it: a Stanley No. 70 Box Scraper. A box scraper is a specialized tool. It was made for removing labels and stencils on boxes, such as orange crates, so the boxes could be reused. A recycling tool ahead of its time! No one reuses orange crates anymore, and I’m not likely to get any in my shop, so I may never get a chance to use my box scraper. Oh well, I still like to collect pieces of history. Dave Kaiser


T H E W E L L- E Q U I P P E D S H O P A SHOP VACUUM ON STEROIDS

35-GAL. BARREL

The disposal bag and bag pre- filter mean no more dust clouds from dumping canisters. When the barrel gets full, remove the bag pre-filter and place it in the plastic disposal bag. Tie up the disposal bag and set it out with the trash. The pre-filter and disposal bag are generic and readily available at home centers and hardware stores.

HEPA FILTER

PREFILTER

Source Oneida Air Systems, www.oneida-air.com, (800) 732-4065, Gorilla Vac, #XVK010135, 35-gal, #XVK010155, 55-gal., $2,385.

CYCLONE

18 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF MANUFACTURER UNLESS NOTED

DISPOSAL BAG

STAFF

Priced at $2385, Oneida’s new Dust Gorilla Vac is aimed squarely at the highend industrial vacuum market where prices sore into the $4,000 range. The Gorilla Vac weighs in at a hefty 103 pounds and stands 50 in. tall when equipped with the 35-gal. barrel and 61 in. tall with the 55-gal. barrel. The footprint is approximately 31 in. x 27 in. Despite its size, the Gorilla Vac is easy to maneuver thanks to the large rear wheels and the swivel front casters. The vacuum pulls down some incredible numbers: Powered by dual 120-volt motors, the Gorilla Vac delivers 220 cfm with a waterlift maximum of 80 in. That’s what makes it shine at collecting from machines like panels saws where the dust ports and collection tubes are small. A 25ft.-long, 2-in.-dia. static dissipating hose is included with the machine. This vac is designed for use on panel saws, floor sanders, solid surface countertop machines and anywhere there’s a demand for collecting large volumes of fine dust. The Gorilla Vac eliminates the problems that plague other vac systems such as filter clogging, poor filtration and messy canister dumping. The small cyclone separator mounted on the barrel lid practically eliminates filter clogging because it removes 99 percent of the dust in the airstream before it hits the filters. After the cyclone, the airflow is directed through a paper bag pre-filter to remove most of the remaining dust particles. That leaves only the finest dust for the HEPA filter that is rated to remove 99.97 percent of particles at 0.3 microns. In the end, the Dust Gorilla exhausts air that’s cleaner than the air you breathe.


MORTISE AND TENON JOINERY – USING ONLY A HAND DRILL!

BELT

SINGLEHANDED SANDING

It may look like a toy, but Proxxon’s Block Belt Sander is definitely the real thing: the block plane of the belt sander family. The belt is only 1-9/16 in. wide and 10-7/16 in. long. Weighing a mere 1-1/2 pounds, this well-built machine is perfect for one-handed use. Outfitted with an 80 or 120 grit belt, it makes a nifty scribing tool for cabinet installation or perfecting the fit of trim or molding. The belt is flush with the left side of the sander for getting right up to an inside corner. Using the included clamp to secure the sander upside down to a board or bench, you’ve also got a stationary tool for quick, on-the-job chisel sharpening or for shaping a piece of trim that requires two hands to hold. The Block Belt Sander comes with the same features of its full grown cousins, such as a fineadjustment knob for the rollers to keep the belt running true and a spring-loaded switch for changing belts without a special tool. You get five 120 grit belts and five 240 grit belts with the sander. 80 and 180 grit belts are also available. Source Proxxon, www.proxxon.com/us, (877) 776-9966, Block Belt Sander, BBS/S, $155; Replacement belts, 80 grit, 120 grit, 180 grit, and 240 grit, 5 belts $9 ea.

Mortise and tenon joints are the gold standard for strength. Usually, mortises are cut by hand or made on a mortising machine. Two jigs by beadLOCK make this much simpler and less expensive: all that’s required is a hand drill. Here’s how beadLOCK works. First, you use a beadLOCK jig to drill a series of overlapping holes in both sides of a joint. Second, you cut beadLOCK’s tenon stock to fit the mortises. The whole process is easy and accurate. The unique shape of the tenon stock adds up to 10% more gluing surface. The basic kit includes a 3/8 in. drill bit, stop collar, and a 3/8 in. guide block, allowing you to center a mortise 3/8 in. from an edge. Using shims, you can center the mortise up to 7/8 in. from an edge. The Pro Kit is based on a newly designed drilling jig and includes everything needed to make 3/8 in. joints. It handles stock up to 3-1/2 in. thick and makes mortises up to 3-1/2 in. wide. The drilling block slides on guide bars, allowing much more flexiblity than the basic kit in positioning a mortise. The new jig also enables you to make square mortises. You drill the holes as usual, replace the drilling guide with a straight-sided paring guide, and use a chisel to square the mortise. Kits for making 1/4 in. and 1/2 in. mortises are available for both models. Source Rockler, www.rockler.com, (800) 279-4441, beadLOCK Pro, 37801, $120; 1/4 in. beadLOCK Pro Accessory Kit, 39882, $40; 1/2 in. beadLOCK Pro Accessory Kit, 36546, $40; 3/8 in. beadLOCK Kit, 34802, $30; 1/4 in. beadLOCK Guide Block Accessory Kit, 38088, $15; 1/2 in. beadLOCK Guide Block Accessory Kit, 34985, $20.

CUT SMALL PARTS SAFELY AND ACCURATELY The ChopStix stop extension improves accuracy, speed and most importantly, safety when cutting small parts on a miter saw. ChopStix is sold as an accessory to the GlideStop stop system. It can be added to both new and existing GlideStop systems either permanently or temporarily. The scissor-like holding arm keeps the operator’s hand safely away from the blade. The holding arm can be adjusted to better hold work pieces of varying length. The second arm hugs the fence and acts like a stop block for repeatable and accurate cuts on 90-degree or angled stock. Source J.A.DAWLEY Mfg. Co., www.jadawley.com, (800) 808-5244, ChopStix, #GS118, $209.

American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

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W E L L- E Q U I P P E D S H O P

METAL SURFACE CARE PACKAGE The B’laster Corporation offers four spray lubricants that are handy to have in every woodshop. PB50, B’laster’s new allpurpose lubricant, is suitable for virtually any workshop, household or automotive job. The Dry Lube contains no silicone, so it’s perfect for lubricating tool mechanisms and reducing drag on cast iron tool tabletops. PB B’laster is a heavy-duty penetrating lubricant that works by capillary action to free rust-frozen nuts and bolts. Use Corrosion Stop to protect tools from rust or corrosion during long-term storage. Source The B’laster Corporation, www.blasterproducts.com, (800) 858-6605, PB50, 8 oz. can, $3.99; The Dry Lube, 16 oz. can, $4.75; PB B’laster, 16 oz. can, $4.95; Corrosion Stop, 11 oz. can, $5.50.

DOUBLE DUTY FEATHERBOARD MagSwitch magnetic featherboards are easy to position: you just rotate a knob to turn the featherboard’s magnets on or off. The fingers of most featherboards run in one direction, but the MagSwitch Universal Featherboard has two sets of fingers running in opposite directions, so it can be used on either the left or right side of a bandsaw blade, for example. The On/Off system is really quite clever. Each knob is connected to one magnet that rotates; below this magnet is another one that’s fixed. Turning the knob one way aligns the direction of the magnets, giving them extraordinary holding power. Turning the knob the other way cancels out the magnets, releasing the featherboard. Source MagSwitch, www.magtools.com, (303) 250-0930, Universal Featherboard, 8110015, $43.

20 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

EXTREME JOINTER/PLANER Bigger, badder, better. Those are the words that come to mind when you step in front of an imposing machine like this, Grizzly’s German-made G0660X 16 in. Combination Jointer/Planer. It’s part of their Extreme series of tools, which have extra features and extra power. Especially power. This guy’s driven by a 14 amp, 4.2hp, 220-volt single-phase motor, enough muscle to remove up to 3/16 in. in one full-width pass. The big advantage of a combination machine like this is to save space, of course. To use the planer, you just flip up the jointer beds, which is very easy to do. The beds are 66 in. long, so you won’t have any trouble jointing boards up to 6 ft. long. The planer has two speeds: 36 FPM to dimension pieces quickly, and 18 FPM to make a very smooth surface on the last pass. This machine weighs in at 640 vibration-soaking pounds. The G0660X also has a new type of three-knife cutterhead which uses twosided disposable HSS knives, somewhat like those on many portable planers. These knives don’t require height adjustment, long the bane of most jointer owners. Instead, you slip the knives and gibs in from the cutterhead’s end. When the knives dull, you just loosen a few bolts, pull out the knives, turn them around, slip them back in, and retighten the bolts. No further gib adjustments are necessary, even with new knives. Source Grizzly Industrial, www.grizzly.com, (800) 523-4777, G0660X 16” Combination Jointer/planer, $6,350; replacement double-sided knives, $150 for a set of 3.


W E L L- E Q U I P P E D S H O P

CNC OPERATION FOR LEGACY ORNAMENTAL MILLS Legacy ornamental mills and accessories perform an amazing assortment of woodworking functions, including flat-surfacing, tapering, panel-raising, template routing, straight and curved moldings, mortises, tenons, dovetail joints, box joints, spindle turning and ornamental turning. Now these functions can be controlled automatically on Legacy’s L0900, L1200 and L1800 ornamental mills with Legacy’s new Standard CNC Series and Performance CNC Series upgrade packages. CNC operation offers Legacy mill owners three big advantages. It adds relief carving capability to Legacy’s already impressive list of functions, it completes tasks up to eight times faster than manual operation and it adds versatility—computer-designed operating programs can be used repeatedly or easily altered to produce design variations. Both upgrade packages include Windows XP-compatible software for your PC computer and power units for the mill. Your computer must have a CAD program installed. The power units connect directly to your computer’s printer port through a standard printer cable. One power unit controls the spindle’s rotation, the other three units control front-to-back and side-to-side movement by the carriage and vertical movement by the router. The Performance CNC Series is equipped with more sophisticated drives and larger motors than the Standard CNC Series, so it completes tasks over three times as fast. Go to www.legacywoodworking.com/cnc.cfm to see this amazing machine in action. Source Legacy Woodworking Machinery, www.legacywoodworking.com, (800) 279-4570, L0900 Ornamental Mill, $1430; L1200 Ornamental Mill, $3095; L1800 Ornamental Mill, $6425; Standard CNC Series, $4500; CNC Performance CNC Series, $9000. Routers are not included.

NO-MISTAKE PROTRACTOR If walls were all exactly 90 degrees, installing cabinets and trim would be a lot easier. When it comes to installing trimwork–especially crown molding–it sure would be nice to have a device that directly reads a corner’s angle and instantly gives the exact setting for your miter saw. Here it is, from a company whose name is synonymous with precision: the Starrett ProSite 5-in-1 Combination Protractor. To use the protractor, just hold it up to a corner and swivel its 12 in. legs to contact both walls. Say you’ve got a wall or cabinet with a 110-degree corner. Let’s see: that requires a 55degree miter, but the settings on

a miter saw require you to subtract 55 degrees from 90 degrees, to get….confused, right? The Combination Protractor gives you the answer right away: set your miter saw to 35 degrees. No math required. If you’re cutting crown molding flat on your miter saw, you can refer to a compound cut table on the protractor for miter and bevel angles. If you’re butting molding into an angled corner, the Single Cut arrow on the main dial gives the correct miter saw setting. The opposite side of the protractor gives the actual angle of a corner. This is an extremely sturdy and reliable tool, easily readable within 1/2 degree. No doubt it’ll be handy for any kind of cabinetmaking project. Source Starrett, www.starrett.com, (800) 541-8887, CP505A-12 Combination Protractor, $90.

American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

21


SCHOOL NEWS

V I R G I N I A S T U D E N T S B U I L D 1000 TOY TRUCKS FOR CHARITY

Toy Story I

teach construction technology at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, Virginia. I love woodworking, and working with wood is a large part of the construction industry, so I’ve tried to integrate woodworking into my classes whenever possible. The perfect opportunity came last fall when I developed a community service project that required some production woodworking.

THE PROJECT

solicited vendors to get the best prices on wheels. Including the engineering students was critical to the project’s success and almost doubled the number of students that participated. The truck bodies were made from 1-1/2-in.-thick lumber ripped to 2-1/8 in. widths. We used recycled dimensional lumber and leftover hardwood from previous projects to reduce costs. The wheels (which came with wooden axle pins) and 1-1/4-in.-dia. dowels had to be purchased.

The goal was to teach students how to safely use several woodworking machines while learning about the industrial revolution and assembly line production. The plan was to build 1000 toy trucks to donate as Christmas gifts to the US Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” program. I chose 1,000 trucks because the number was big enough to capture my students’ attention. Designing a toy that could be produced in a classroom assembly line—using different machines for each operation—was a major challenge. I decided on a tanker truck because it was an action toy with a simple design. Tech. Ed. teacher Tim Zich volunteered his engineering classes to help with the design (Fig. A, page 24). While drawing up plans for the truck using CAD (computer aided design), they discovered that mitering its rear end would cut production time and decrease waste. They also helped design jigs and even

As part of the project, students learned how to safely operate several woodworking machines.

22 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

EDITOR: TIM JOHNSON • PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF PAUL STEINER

by Paul Steiner


SCHOOL NEWS

Fig. A

Forest Park H.S. engineering students used CAD programs to design the trucks.

THE ASSEMBLY LINE PROCESS 1. Cut the truck bodies to length on the miter saw, with the blade angled 12 degrees. 2. Establish the cab’s back by cutting a 12-degreeangled slot on the tablesaw, using a miter gaugebased jig to hold the truck body in position. 3. Create the truck bed on the bandsaw, by using the fence and making a stopped cut. 4. Use a template to mark the window and axle locations on the truck body. 5. Drill window and axle holes on one drill press. 6. Counterbore the windows on a second drill press. 7. Cut tank body dowels to length on the miter saw. 8. Belt sand the bottom of each dowel flat. 9. Miter one end of each dowel on the bandsaw. 10. Sand the parts. 11. Glue the tanks on the trucks. 12. Install the pin axles and wheels. 13. Apply mineral oil finish. 14. Package the trucks for delivery.

Students used assembly line production methods to build the trucks. Here, Brandon Crawford prepares to drill window and axle holes in the truck body after Corbin DiMeglio uses a template to mark the drilling locations.

PRODUCTION The first day of production was devoted to teaching. I demonstrated every step in the process and trained each student to use every machine. We also discussed the importance of quality control and ontime delivery of parts. Then students rotated through machine operation, assembly, quality control and transportation assignments. Cardboard boxes would keep parts and assembled trucks organized. That first day, my five classes produced only 21 trucks. Daily production numbers kept rising, and by the seventh day of production, we reached our goal. Students made about 125 additional trucks to sell for future fundraising. Then we shifted to finishing the trucks.

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SEPTEMBER 2008

Five construction technology classes (about 100 students) manufactured all the parts and assembled all the trucks in seven days.


SCHOOL NEWS

"No rough edges and no splinters for the little kids,” explains Cameron Vigliano (center) as he sands. “Make sure they're safe." Luis Almendarez (right) adds, "This is an experience that we will never forget."

SCHOOL NEWS

Students applied mineral oil as a non-toxic finish for the toys.

As a finish, each truck received a coat of mineral oil. Students were aware of recent news stories about toys with lead paint and wanted to make sure the finish on our trucks was safe. Mineral oil can be found at any drugstore. Setting the trucks out to dry was a real eye-opener: What do 1000 trucks look like? How many benches will they cover? Seeing all the trucks helped my students realize the magnitude of what they had accomplished.

DELIVERY After the toys were delivered, the Marine commander presented a Marine Corps Toys for Tots 2007 coin as thanks to all who participated. The coin now sits on display in the window of my office with photos from the days of production. Students admire the coin and the pictures on a daily basis. Allow plenty of time if you decide to pursue a “Toys for Tots” project with your woodshop class, as a key element is delivering the toys to the Marines on time. Donation stations and due dates for toy delivery in your area can be found on the Toys-for-Tots website, www.toysfortots.org. Follow the links “Contact Us” and “Donate Toys” to get in touch with your local Campaign Coordinator to discuss the details of your project.

Tell us about a dynamic woodworking school or vibrant teaching program. What makes it work? Point out notable teaching strategies and student accomplishments. Explain how the program excites students about woodworking and tell us how it helps them develop woodworking skills. Whether the program operates in a public school, community center or a private workshop, we want to hear about its success. E-mail your story to schoolnews@americanwoodworker.com.

In the military, commemorative coins are given as thanks for a job well done. The Marine Corps presented this coin to construction technology and engineering students at Forest Park High School for their “Toys for Tots” donation.

Teaching my students basic woodworking skills as they learn about the construction industry is my way of keeping woodworking alive at Forest Park High School. My classes often revolve around community service projects, because I discovered early on that my students actually prefer them over projects to take home. Service projects encourage my students to develop a compassionate world view as they learn practical skills—and get covered in sawdust! —Paul Steiner

American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

25


TO O L TA L K

BUYING ADVICE

FOR

SHOP GEAR by Seth Keller

ShopBot CNC Router FAST, ACCURATE AND CREATIVE

C

omputer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines for drilling, sawing and routing have been around for decades. Their precision, speed, versatility and ability to perform repetitive tasks have revolutionized the cabinet and furniture industry. But the CNC revolution came at a high price – six figures for the big production models – which has kept CNC technology off-limits to most small shop owners. Recently, that has changed. Thanks to companies like ShopBot, CNC routing machines have trickled their way down to the small shop. ShopBot sells CNC routers starting at $5,000. The woodworking coop I belong to bought their most popular model, the PRS Alpha 96 x 48. At $9,495, that’s a good chunk of change, but we’ve been amazed at what it can do.

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T O O L TA L K

GANTRY

RAIL SPINDLE

1

The ShopBot has a high-speed spindle or router, suspended over the table on a moving gantry. The spindle moves up and down and side-to-side across the gantry. The gantry itself rolls on rails along the length of the table. The result is a cutter that can move in three axes at once; vertical, side-to-side and front-to-back.

Small shop owners use CNC routers like the ShopBot to carve signs, images, architectural elements and to machine cabinet parts. One of the great things about a CNC machine is the ability to “set-it-and-forget-it.” Once you’ve got the machine working on it’s task, you are free to go about other work in the shop. A CNC router generally consists of a table with one or more routers (or “spindles”) suspended from a gantry that moves over the table (Photo 1). The spindle moves up and down and across the gantry while the gantry rolls on rails along the length of the table. The result is a cutter that moves in three axes at once: vertical, side-to-side and front-to-back. Watching it work is like watching a well-choreographed ballet. The brain of the system is a CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) program and a CAM (Computer Aided Machining) program. First, you draw the parts with the CAD program (Photo 2). Then the CAM program tells the spindle what to do. The precision is astounding; whatever you can draw on the computer, the CNC can execute to within .001 in.

THE LEARNING CURVE

2

The brain of the ShopBot is your own PC. First a design like this sign (above) is drawn on the CAD program. (This sign was designed for my uncle’s garage, dubbed “Kellers’ Clubhouse”. Don’t ask me what goes on in there.) The computer then tells the spindle router how to carve the sign. At right is my uncle with his new sign. Gold painted letters and a black border are added embellishments.

It took me a few days to master the ShopBot CAD/CAM software. Designed for the beginner, the software is amazingly intuitive yet powerful. When showing off the machine’s capabilities, more than once I heard, “Man, they thought of everything!” Finding ways to hold the stock in place while it’s being cut was another skill we had to develop. Screws and/or clamps are the usual method. It’s not rocket science but it does take a little practice to get right. (We ruined a few router bits along the way.) Vacuum holddowns are available as an accessory and simplify the job, but they add $6,600 to the cost of the setup.

A SHOPBOT ODYSSEY I belong to the Fourth Street Guild, a woodworking cooperative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pete Schmitt, Dan Cramer, David Olsen, Paul James, Keith Moore and I share shop space and pool our resources to equip the shop. We are a diverse group. Pete, David and I specialize in oneof-a-kind furniture pieces. Dan and Paul design contract furniture. They use the shop primarily for prototype building. Our odyssey began last year when we decided to add a ShopBot to our shop. Some of us (myself included) feared that a CNC machine would stifle creativity and turn us into a dreary cyber shop. Instead, we found the ShopBot actually unleashed individual creativity. We were all surprised by the ShopBot’s versatility and user-friendly design. After 6 months with our ShopBot, we Seth Keller can’t imagine being without it.

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T O O L TA L K

SET-UP

AND INITIAL

TESTS

The ShopBot arrived in two very large and very heavy boxes. The manual was relatively straightforward, and whenever we hit a dead end during assembly, a quick call to ShopBot solved the problem. We were cutting parts in two days, an amazing feat considering we knew next to nothing about this type of machine. We tried out our new ShopBot on a basic bookcase (Photo 3). Drawing the rectangular parts was a great introduction to using the CAD program. The old problem of sizing the dadoes to fit undersized plywood was a dream: just measure the thickness of the plywood with a dial caliper and punch in the number. We even added adjustable shelf pin holes. With the CAD design complete, it was time to get the sheet stock positioned on the table. A few clamps held the sheet of plywood down on the sacrificial MDF table. Once the plywood was secure, it was show time. The nervous excitement in the air was palpable as we wondered what we might have forgotten or done wrong. Finally, with a shrug of the shoulders and a fatalistic “here it goes,” we flipped the power switch and engaged the router. I’ll never forget the thrill I got watching the spindle quietly float across the plywood to its designated starting point then gracefully drop the bit to a precise depth and start the first dado. It was a bit odd to see the dadoes and rabbets cut first, followed by the perimeters of the cabinet parts. After the parts were cut and machined, the ShopBot dutifully paused while we swapped out the 3/8-in. straight cutter for a 1/4 in. drill bit. Back in action, the ShopBot made quick work of drilling all the shelf pin holes. Everything was done with incredible accuracy. All the cabinet parts were dead-on square. Plus, there was no muscling sheet stock on a tablesaw, fussing with crosscut sleds or making test cuts.

DEAD SQUARE CABINET PARTS PRECISELY DRILLED SHELF PIN HOLES

3

PERFECTLY SIZED DADOES

Our First ShopBot project was a simple bookcase. The parts were drawn using ShopBot’s user-friendly software. All the parts were cut and machined in less than 15 minutes, including the shelf pin holes and the perfectly sized dadoes.

4

The ShopBot can be controlled manually with a keyboard. We used this feature in place of a handheld router and a straightedge to cut grooves, mortises, dadoes, etc. A tap of a key moves the ShopBot .005 in. Simply line the bit up with your mark and go.

NO-SWEAT SURFACING Encouraged by our bookcase success, we turned our attention to an unusual slab of wood that was too big for our jointer or planer. Jointing and planing this 26-in.-wide piece of kauri, a valuable wood from New Zealand, was no problem for the ShopBot. Jointing a gnarly piece of slab wood perfectly flat is a walk in the park for the ShopBot. A large end-mill bit makes multiple passes to flatten this piece of New Zealand kauri. It took about 40 min. to do both sides.

ShopBotmachined surfaces require only a little sanding before finishing. End-mill bits leave little or no tearout, even in highlyfigured woods.

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T O O L TA L K

Of course, we watched while the whole cabinet was cut out, but seasoned ShopBotters will set the machine in motion and go work on something else, returning only to change bits or stock. The ShopBot can also be used in a manual mode for operations that are typically done with a hand held router and a straightedge guide (Photo 4).

QUICK DESIGN VARIATIONS

5

Full-scale prototypes are a cinch for CNC machines. Most of the chair parts for this prototype chair were cut from a single length of 2x12. With a CNC, you can make changes, then generate the new parts in minutes.

MOCK-UP PARTS

Many woodworkers use CAD to speed the furniture design process, but decisions affecting final design, construction and comfort are best made using full-sized prototypes. Building these prototypes was always a bottleneck in our shop. Here again, the ShopBot was like a gift from heaven. We’re now able to translate our CAD concepts into three-dimensional reality without jigging up to cut odd shaped parts or committing to hours of laborious hand shaping. The ShopBot makes it possible to quickly build and easily modify project prototypes. As an example, I wanted to explore the comfort, construction, and aesthetic details of the dining chair I was designing. I drew chair parts in CAD and cut the parts out of a pine 2x12 (Photo 5). The ShopBot did most of the cutting, including the mortises. I had to modify some of the parts by hand, but most were ready to assemble right off the ShopBot. I was also interested in exploring a three-legged table I had sketched out on a napkin. I transferred my sketch to CAD and made multiple versions on the ShopBot (Photo 6). Using samples made from MDF, I was able to check scale, thickness and construction details before settling on dimensions for my final piece.

CARVING: FROM SIMPLE TO COMPLEX

6

The table at right went from several full-sized mock-ups to to the final result in mahogany in less than a day.

The ShopBot is an incredible design tool. It allows us to quickly build and modify prototypes to test out new designs. 30 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

A friend was in the throes of remodeling her Victorian style house and asked me to duplicate some missing rosettes for the window and door trim. I could think of a number of ways to make the rosettes, all of them would take a fair amount of time. Once again, I found the ShopBot to be the perfect tool for the job. After I quickly made drawings on the computer, the ShopBot cut them out in minutes (Photo 7). A shopmate turned to the ShopBot to make a pair of corbels for a mantel he was building (Photo 8). He used a ‘texturing’ tool to mimic a rustic gouging technique. He then sanded and detailed the corbels by hand. The ShopBot also excels at three dimensional, or ‘relief’ carving. Thousands of predrawn models are available on the internet and can be made at any scale with precise detail (Photo 9). The ShopBot can “carve” out furniture parts as well. We used it on a chair back with a large sweeping arc (Photo 10). Work like this used to be as dusty as it was tedious. The ShopBot cured all that.


T O O L TA L K

7

Simple carving tasks take only minutes. These rosettes replaced ones missing from a home restoration project. Both are based on a basic design of concentric circles with a small floral motif in the middle. The ShopBot created these in minutes.

INDEXING FIXTURE

CARVED DETAIL

8

These corbels are carved on both sides. A CNC-cut indexing fixture precisely positions the corbels for carving. The parts are held down with double-stick tape.

10

Deeply contoured work can be executed with ease on a CNC machine. Starting with a block of gluedup MDF, the ShopBot carves out a form for a vacuumbag veneer job.

SECURING THE WORK We programmed tabs into the cutting path to keep the parts anchored to the sheet. The tabs are areas where the cut doesn’t go all the way through. The parts are released by cutting through the tabs with a hand held trim router and a flush cut bit.

TAB

9

Sculpting is another CNC attribute. Many images like the ones above, can be downloaded as models from the internet and fed right to the ShopBot.

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T O O L TA L K

TWO THUMBS UP The ShopBot is an amazing machine, and it’s fair to say that its most limiting factor is your imagination. Furthermore, if you are ever stuck on a problem with your ShopBot, there’s a toll free number with patient, wise and willing tech support on the other end. If that isn’t enough, online forums and chat rooms are filled with ‘Botters’ who relish the opportunity to bring new owners into their community, compare stories and help troubleshoot problems. Some purists may argue that a CNC machine separates the craft from woodworking. Let me reassure you, the ShopBot won’t replace your handplanes, or your tablesaw for that matter. Some of our power tools, especially the handheld router, do get used less, but the ShopBot is really just another tool that does the same processes in a different manner. Its efficiency, accuracy and speed have increased and enhanced our creativity as woodworkers. It’s been half a year since we installed our ShopBot yet we’ve only just begun to explore the opportunities that this machine has to offer. There isn’t a doubter left in our small shop.

For more on these marvelous machines, visit: www.shopbottools.com, (888) 680-4466 34 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

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Handmade Chair Seats TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES AND MODERN MATERIALS PRODUCE ATTRACTIVE, DURABLE RESULTS by Tim Johnson

V

isit any antique or second-hand furniture store and you’ll find great old chairs—such as these solid cherry ladderbacks—that are bargain priced because their woven seats have worn out. In fact, any chair with round rails or dowels used to form the seat frame can have a splint or a rush seat installed. The choice is mainly an aesthetic one. Splint seats (above left) are created by weaving together flat lengths of wood that have been soaked in water to make them

pliable. Rush seats (above right) are installed by wrapping twisted strands of fiber around each corner of a chair in a continuous loop. Both seats take about the same amount of time to install and the cost for materials is similar. With proper use and occasional maintenance, both seats can provide ten or more years of service. I find installing these seats satisfying, quiet work. Yes, it takes time, but the techniques aren’t difficult and mastering them connects you to an ancient craft.

American Woodworker

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Splint Seat Tips Traditionally, splints were split by hand from native hardwoods such as ash, oak and hickory. Flat reed splint made from the stem of the tropical rattan palm is much more common today. The rattan palm is a climbing vine-like tree; its stems can grow up to 600 ft. long! A uniform creamy-white color, flat reed splint comes in different widths and is machined to uniform thickness. Flat oval reed splint is also available. It has a rounded top surface. The amount you’ll need depends on the size of your chair seat and the width you choose. I used just over one bundle of 1/2 in. splint for this chair, which has an average-size seat. Bundles cost $15 or less (see Source, page 40). Flat reed splints should be soaked in hot water for at least twenty minutes prior to use. Each splint has a top and bottom face—always weave with the top face up. The top face is smoother to the touch. You can also bend the splint into a tight “U”; small fibers breaking away on the outside of the curve indicate the bottom face. Thinned varnish (equal parts mineral spirits and varnish) applied to both the top and bottom sides helps to protect splint seats from drying out due to seasonal changes in humidity. Splint seats can also be stained; seal with varnish to keep the stain from rubbing off onto clothing.

1

Chair seats are usually wider at the front, so the first step is to establish a rectangular seat area. Mark the front rail while holding a square against the back rail, with its corner against the back leg.

2

Splint seats are created by weaving together flat lengths of wood that have been soaked in water to make them pliable.

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SEPTEMBER 2008

REFERENCE MARK

Nail the first splint to the back rail. Draw it over the rail and forward around the front rail at your reference mark. Take out the slack, wrap the splint back around the back rail and draw it forward again. Continue this process to wrap the entire length of splint.


3

Connect new lengths of splint on the bottom. Use a spring clamp to keep the wrapped splint under tension. Overlap the previous length by about 6 in. and staple all along the overlap. Orient the staples crown-side-out.

4

Keep wrapping splint front-to back until you reach the opposite reference reference mark on the front rail. Cut the splint and staple it to the adjacent underside loop. This layer, now completed, is called the warp.

SYMMETRICAL WEAVE

3 UNDER 3 OVER

2 UNDER AT BOTH ENDS

DIAGONAL WEAVE

5

Weaving is the next step. Experiment with different patterns, using short splints. Simply alter the over-under counts between the weave and warp splints. We’ll proceed with the diagonal “herringbone” pattern.

6

Establish the back edge. Weave a length of splint, called a “weaver,” across the warp, using a 3-under, 3-over pattern that’s centered, so the weaver passes under the same number of warp splints at both ends. Cut the ends flush.

FIRST WEAVER

3 UNDER

3 UNDER

1 SPLINT PATTERN SHIFT

7

NEW WEAVER

8

To create the diagonal pattern, shift the 3-under, 3-over Wrap the weaver around the rail and weave it across the pattern by one warp splint with each new row: Here, the seat’s bottom, using the same pattern as on the top. back weaver started “2-under,” so this weaver starts “3-under.” Secure the next weaver by overlapping the end of the first On the next row, the weaver will start “1-over.” weaver by 6 to 8 inches and weaving it in.

TABLE KNIFE

9

When the seat is about half finished, fill in the corners by weaving in additional warp splints. Lock them in place on the top by looping their ends around weaver splints and drawing out the slack. On the bottom, just weave them in.

10

Completing the last few rows is challenging, because the seat becomes more taut as you weave. A table knife spreads the warp and helps to guide the splint. American Woodworker SEPTEMBER 2008 39


Rush Seat Tips Natural rush strands are made from cattail leaves. Fiber rush, made from kraft paper (think grocery store bags), is an economical substitute that’s more widely available than natural rush and much easier to use. Fiber rush comes in a variety of colors and diameter sizes. The smaller the diameter, the longer it takes to complete a seat; larger diameters are stiffer and harder to work with. Fiber rush is commonly available in 2 lb. coils and costs $10 to $15 per coil (see Source, below). I always buy two coils for every chair seat, to make sure I have enough. I also check the color, to make sure the coils match. Make fiber rush more pliable before use by misting it with water from a pump spray bottle. Two keys to success are to keep the strands consistently twisted and consistently taut as you weave. Use short strands at first, to build out the front corners, then work with strands that are 20 to 25 ft. long. Use a spring clamp to maintain the tension when you tie in new stands. Finish fiber rush seats with two coats of shellac thinned to a 1 lb. cut.

1

Chair seats are usually wider at the front, so the first step is to establish a rectangular seat area. Mark the front rail while holding a square against the back rail, with its corner against the back leg.

2 UPHOLSTORY TACK

Rush seats are installed by wrapping twisted strands of fiber around each corner of a chair in a continuous loop.

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SEPTEMBER 2008

Rush seats are woven by repeating one wrapping pattern. Starting from the left rail, draw the rush strand over and around the front rail. Continue up, over and around the left rail, turning 90 degrees and crossing over the strand. Draw the strand to the top of the right rail and repeat the pattern. It’s that simple.

Source The Caning Shop, www.caningshop.com, (800) 544-3373, Flat Reed Splint, 11/64” to 1” widths, $8.75 per bundle; Fiber Rush, 4/32”-dia. to 7/32”-dia., kraft brown or golden brown, $10 per 2.2 lb coil.


STARTING POINT

REFERENCE MARKS

3

Create the rectangular seat area by filling the front corners, using short, individual strands wrapped around both front legs and tacked to the side rails. Each successive strand builds the seat toward the center.

4

5

6

Tie in new strands on the underside of the seat, using a square knot. Always keep the strands taut.

7

Press the rush strands to the corners to fill gaps and keep uniform spacing. Fiber rush comes in different sizes. Larger sizes build the seat faster, but they’re harder to pinch and press, so a few gaps are likely to remain.

Once the rectangular seat area is established, wrapping begins in earnest. Tack a long strand to the left rail and begin a continuous counter-clockwise loop that wraps around all four corners.

As you wrap each corner, it’s important to keep the rush strands at right angles and to straighten the diagonal line formed by the crossover joints. Pinching each crossover joint makes the job easier by compressing the strands.

8

When the seat is about two-thirds complete, fill the space between the top and bottom strands to add support. Install two or three layers of cardboard that’s been cut to fit inside the seat’s four triangular-shaped sections.

TACK

9

When the seat area is wider than it is deep, the final wrapping goes front to back, through the ever-shrinking hole in the middle of the seat. If the seat is deeper than wide, the wrapping goes side to side.

10

Tack the last strand to the bottom rail. Unravel the end and stuff it under the strands on either side. American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

41


Walnut Hall Table A SPECIAL PLACE YOUR KEEPSAKES

TO

DISPLAY

by Jim Frankard

42 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

EDITOR: TOM CASPAR • ILLUSTRATION: BRUCE KIEFFER

M

ementos are important to me. I’ve collected a lot of them over the years from a long career in the Air Force, the airlines, and manufacturing. I designed this table to display the larger items; smaller ones go in the drawers. I like traditional frame and panel construction, but if you look closely at my table, you’ll notice something different: there are no rails above the drawers or end panels. Instead, these pieces are “framed” by a thick top. This gives the table a sleek contemporary look, which required an unusual method of assembly.


1/8" BUTTERNUT VENEER

When I first saw this table in my mind’s eye, I knew that I wanted to use butternut and walnut, two contrasting woods that go well together. Both have similar figure and texture, but butternut is much lighter in color. I planned on using walnut as a dark outline to frame the butternut, giving the whole table a lightweight feeling. As I designed the table, I realized that I faced a big problem with wood movement. I couldn’t use solid butternut for the top and shelf, because thick edging surrounds them. The edging wouldn’t permit the center sections to expand and contract. I’d have to use butternut plywood, which does not expand and contract, instead of solid wood. Of course, I couldn’t find butternut plywood at any local lumberyards–it’s too unusual. What to do? The answer required a big leap into the unknown, for me: resawing butternut into thin pieces and using them to make my own plywood. I could have special-ordered some butternut plywood, or used a different species, but I liked facing this challenge (see “Resawn Veneer Top,” page 48). I knew that butternut would be easy to resaw because it’s fairly soft. I planned on making the veneer about 1/8 in. thick–much thicker than most commercial veneer. Thick veneer has two advantages: first, it doesn’t suffer as much as thin veneer from the dings and scrapes of everyday use; second, I wouldn’t risk sanding through the veneer when I evened up the plywood and the edging. Fortunately, I had the machines I’d need to make the plywood: a well-tuned bandsaw, a jointer, a planer, and a drum sander. For building the rest of the table, I used a plate joiner and mortising machine.

MAKE

THE

TOP

AND

MDF

1

Make the panels, top, and shelf from shop-made plywood. Resaw butternut 1/8-in. thick and glue the pieces to MDF. For more information on this technique, see “Resawn Veneer Top,” page 48.

RAIL PANEL

2

The ends of the table are composed of two pieces: a panel cut from the shop-made butternut plywood and a solid-walnut rail. Make both pieces extra-long and glue them together, using biscuits for alignment.

SHELF

1. Resaw thick veneer and glue it to an MDF substrate (Photo 1). Make three pieces of plywood: one for the top (A1), one for the shelf (D1), and one for the back and side panels (B5 and B6). Note that they are veneered on both sides, to prevent warping. Cut the top and shelf pieces to final size. 2. Mill the walnut edging for the top (A2 and A3) and shelf (D2 and D3). Miter, fit, and glue these pieces to the panels. Even up the edging with the panels, then rout a reveal all the way around the top and shelf (Fig. C). Cut angled corners on the shelf using a miter saw (Fig. D). You’ll have to rig some means to support the whole shelf when you make these cuts.

PLYWOOD SUPPORT

3

Crosscut the glued-together pieces to length. The panel is thinner than the rail, so it must be supported by a piece of plywood. American Woodworker

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43


FIGURE A EXPLODED VIEW

A1 A2 REVEAL CUT #20 BISCUIT

A4

A3 B7 B8

E6 #20 BISCUIT (TYP.)

D3

C2 B5 C3

C5

B2

B3

C1

C4 #12 x 2-1/2" FH (TYP.)

D2 B6 B4 REVEAL

1/4" SETBACK (TYP.)

LENGTH OF FRONT AND BACK RAILS

D1

LENGTH OF SIDE RAIL

FIGURE B DRAWER EXPLODED VIEW 1/4"W x 3/16"L TONGUE B1 E3 E4

E5

E2

E1

44 American Woodworker

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Note that the distance between the cuts on the end of the shelf determines the length of the side rails (B4).

ASSEMBLE

THE

ENDS

3. From the remaining piece of butternut plywood, cut the side and back panels to exact width and 1 in. extra long. Cut two side rails and the back rail (B3) to exact thickness and width and 1 in. extra long. Mill the front rail (B2), at the same time, but set it aside. Cut biscuit slots to align the panels with the rails, placing a 1/4-in.-thick shim on the panel to create a 1/4 in. setback between the rail and panel, then glue the pieces together (Photo 2). Repeat this process for the back rail and set it aside. 4. Measure the precise length of the distance between the angled cuts on the end of the shelf (Fig. A). Trim the side panel and rail assemblies to this length (Photo 3). 5. Make the legs (B1). Cut tapers on both inside faces (Fig. G). Cut biscuit slots to join the legs to the side panels and rails (Photo 4). Note that the side rails are flush with the legs. To cut these joints, place the 1/4 in. shim from Step 3 on top of the panel piece and register the plate joiner’s fence from this surface. 6. Cut biscuit slots in the legs for the back rail. Cut mortises in the front legs for the front rail (Photo 5 and Fig. F). 7. Cut notches in the legs to fit the shelf (Photo 6 and Fig. G). There are two critical dimensions: the notch’s length, which must match the shelf’s thickness, and the notch’s width, which must precisely match the width of the shelf’s angled corner. Use a stop block and spacer to repeat the same cuts on each leg. 8. Drill pocket holes in the side rails for fastening the top, then glue the table ends (Photo 7). 9. Drill holes for joining the shelf to the ends with screws. The screws will be hidden from view because they run underneath the shelf. Turn the shelf upside down. Using a 7/8-in.dia. Forstner bit, drill 1/8-in.-deep holes in the shelf’s corners (Photo 8). These holes create clearance for the screw’s heads. Slide each end onto the shelf. Clamp two handscrews on the shelf, next to the legs, to prevent the shelf from shifting, then drill pilot holes for the screws. Screw the ends to the shelf.

SHIM

4

Cut biscuit slots in the end pieces and the legs. Place a shim on top of the end piece, flush with the walnut rail. This gives you a level surface for the plate joiner’s fence.

5

Cut mortises in the front legs. This is the joint for the rail that goes under the drawers. This rail requires a mortiseand-tenon joint because it’s too narrow for biscuits.

THE BIG GLUE-UP 10. Now you can precisely measure how long the front and back rails should be. Measure the distance between the legs along the edge of the shelf (Fig. A). Cut the back rail to this length, then cut the front rail 2 in. longer. Cut biscuit slots in the ends of the back rail. Make the tenons on the front rail (Fig. F). Be sure that the distance between the front rail’s shoulders is exactly the same as the length of the back rail. Unscrew the ends from the shelf. 11. Rout slots for the drawer support splines (C5 and Figs. C and E) in the front and back rails. 12. Prepare to glue the shelf, rails, and ends all in one shot. Assembling the table upside down is best, so the back rail can sit on your bench. You’ll need a level work surface, such as a door, that’s at least 5 ft. long. Make blocks and shims to hold the shelf upside down at exactly the right

SPACER NOTCH

6

The table’s shelf fits in a notch in each leg. Make a Vshaped cradle to cut the notches, then use a dado set and spacer to make two overlapping cuts. The shelf’s corners are angled to fit the notches. American Woodworker

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height, so it will slide into the ends. Make a support block to hold the front rail at the correct height, too. 13. Glue the table (Photo 9). Although you have three different kinds of joints (biscuits, tenons, and screws), the ends go straight on. Use glue on the screwed shelf-to-leg joints.

ADD

7

Begin assembling the table by gluing each end. Elevate the parts to make clamping easier.

BOTTOM OF SHELF

CLEARANCE HOLE

THE

DRAWERS

AND

TOP

14. Remove the clamps and turn the table over. Cut the drawer supports (C1) to length and rout grooves in their ends to fit the splines (C5). Position these grooves so the drawer supports are flush with the top of the front rail. Glue the supports in place by sliding them between the rails (Photo 10). 15. Make the drawer dividers (C2) and middle runners (C3). Drill pocket holes in the dividers for fastening the top. Glue the runners to the dividers, then glue the dividers to the supports, making sure they’re square to the front rail. Make the end runners and screw them to the end panels. Make the front and back stiles (B7 and B8) and glue them in place. 16. Measure the distance between the runners for each drawer, then build each drawer to fit (Figs. A and C). Apply the faces (E1) after making sure the drawer boxes slide smoothly. Add any pulls that you like. 17. Fasten the top. You may have to notch the runners with a chisel to access the screws, but that won’t affect how the drawers work. Enjoy!

8

Slide each end onto the shelf, without glue. Drill screw holes through the shelf and into the legs. Use an extra-long bit to drill these holes at a low angle, like a pocket screw.

SPLINE

SUPPORT BLOCK

9

Support the shelf on blocks and glue the whole table, upside down. Use long pipe clamps to draw up the front and back rails, then drive in the screws to pull the shelf tight to the legs. 46 American Woodworker

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10

Slide in the drawer supports. They fit on splines let into the rails. Glue drawer dividers on top of the supports, then build the drawers–you’re on the home stretch.


FIGURE C DRAWER SUPPORT

AND

SIDE DETAILS

FIGURE D SHELF-TO-LEG JOINT

1/8"W REVEAL, 1/16"D

1" D3 1/2" ANGLED CUT

1-3/4" 1/4"

9/32"

B1 1/2"

1/2"

1/2"

B1

4-1/2" 1/4"

1/4" 1-3/4" 1/4" SETBACK

FIGURE F FRONT RAIL JOINT

1/4" 1/4" 1/4"

1/2" 3/8"

1-1/8"

1"

SPLINE SLOT 1-1/8"

B2 FRONT

FIGURE E DRAWER SUPPORT SPACING

1/8"

13-5/8"

13-5/8"

14"

FIGURE G LEG DETAILS

28-3/8"

Part Name Top A1 Top A2 Long edging A3 Short edging A4 Strip Legs and sides B1 Leg B2 Front rail B3 Back rail B4 Side rail B5 Back panel B6 Side panel B7 Front stile B8 Back stile Drawer supports C1 Support C2 Divider C3 Middle runner C4 End runner C5 Spline Shelf D1 Shelf D2 Long edging D3 Short edging Drawers E1 Face E2 Front E3 Side E4 Back E5 Bottom E6 Drawer Stop

3/4"

Overall Dimensions: 36" H x 60-3/4" W x 15-1/2"D

CUTTING LIST Qty.

Material

Dimensions (Th x W x L)

1 2 2 5

Butternut ply Walnut Walnut Walnut

1" x 12-1/2" x 57-3/4" (a) 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 60-3/4" 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 15-1/2" 1/2" x 2" x 12-1/2"

4 1 1 2 1 2 3 3

Walnut Walnut Walnut Walnut Butternut ply Butternut ply Walnut Walnut

1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 34-1/2" 1-1/4" x 1-1/2" x 58-3/4" (b) 1-1/4" x 1-1/2" x 56-3/4" (a, c) 1-1/4" x 1-1/2" x 11-1/2" (a, c) 1" x 4-1/2" x 56-3/4" (a, c) 1" x 4-1/2" x 11-1/2" (a, c) 1/2" x 3/4" x 4-1/2" 1/4" x 3/4" x 4-1/2"

3 3 6 2 6

Baltic Birch Baltic Birch Maple Maple Maple

3/4" 3/4" 3/8" 5/8" 1/4"

1 2 2

Butternut ply Walnut Walnut

1" x 10-1/2" x 55-3/4" (a) 1-1/4" x 1-1/2" x 58-3/4" 1-1/4" x 1-1/2" x 13-1/2"

4 4 8 4 4 8

Butternut Yellow Poplar Yellow Poplar Yellow Poplar Plywood Yellow Poplar

1/2" 1/2" 1/2" 1/2" 1/4" 1/4"

x x x x x

x x x x x x

B5 1-1/2" 4-1/4"

16-1/2"

3" x 12-1/2" 4-1/2" x 12-1/2" 1" x 12" 1" x 11-1/2" 1/2" x 3"

1-1/4" BEGIN TAPER ON TWO INSIDE FACES

15-1/2"

4-3/8" x 13-1/2" 4" x 12-3/4" 4" x 12" 3-1/2" x 12-3/4" 11-3/4" x 12-7/8" 1" x 4-1/2"

Comments (a) Consists of 3/4" MDF substrate and two layers of 1/8" thick veneer. (b) Includes two tenons, each 1" long. (c) Adjust length, if necessary, to match distance between angled cuts on the shelf’s corners.

1"

1"

American Woodworker

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47


Resawn-Veneer Top THICK VENEER AND MITERED EDGING MAKE A TOP THAT WILL LAST AND LAST. by Tom Caspar

ere’s one technique every budding furnituremaker should know: how to make a framed top with thick, shop-made veneer. A mitered frame adds a polished, professional look to a project, in the same way that a picture frame sets off a work of art. It also offers many practical benefits: • A frame can make a 3/4 in. or thinner top look much thicker, because the framing members can be thicker than the central panel. • A frame puts long grain on all four sides of a top, so every side looks the same when the top is finished. In a solid-wood top, the ends often appear darker, particularly if they’re stained. • A frame may be made from a contrasting wood, adding drama to a top’s appearance. • A frame may surround veneer laid in a pattern, such as a diamond shape. • A frame is more durable than thin edging, and can be shaped with a molding.

Generally, a framed top is built around a plywood panel (see “Why Not Use Solid Wood?”, page 50). You can use commercial plywood, of course, but you also have an opportunity to make your own. Why would you want to? Using commercial plywood, you might run into three problems. First, you may only need a small piece, and buying a full sheet can be expensive. Second, you may not be able to find 48 American Woodworker

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plywood of the same species as the solid wood in the rest of your project, or the plywood’s grain or color won’t match the solid wood. And third, with commercial veneer as thin as it is, you always run the risk of sanding through it, particularly when you level the frame with the plywood. All of these problems can be solved by making your own plywood, using shop-made veneer. Sure, this takes extra time, but not a lot of extra expense. The top will match the rest of your project, because you’ll make it from the same batch of solid wood. The veneer can be up to 1/8 in. thick, so there’s virtually no chance you’ll sand through it. Thick veneer is much more durable than thin, commercial veneer. For hard-wearing surfaces, it will hold up much better to scratches and dents.

MAKE THE VENEER 1. Begin by milling the wood into boards with parallel faces and edges. If you’re using 4/4 (1 in.) lumber planed 7/8 in. thick, you should get three or four veneer pieces from each board. Crosscut the boards 2 in. longer than the final panel. Make enough veneer to cover both sides of your top. 2. Install the widest blade your bandsaw can handle. It should be quite coarse, with 3–4 teeth per inch. Position your fence 3/16 in. away from the blade and make a test cut with a 12 in. long piece of plywood, face side down. If the cut is straight, you’re good to go. If the cut wanders, you’ll

ILLUSTRATION: FRANK ROHRBACH

H


have to adjust your fence to compensate for the blade’s drift angle (see AW#104, Nov. 2003, Recipe for Resawing). 3. Make a box-style guide block to steady the boards as you saw (Photo 1). Together with a tall fence, this device helps make the sawn surface as smooth and straight as possible. Make the box about 6 in. long and as tall as the boards. To position the box, temporarily clamp one board to the fence. Push the box tight against the board and clamp the box to the saw table. Remove the clamp holding the board to the fence and try sliding the board in and out. It should move freely, but not wiggle.

Resawing with this guide block makes a straight, smooth surface. 4. Saw the veneer. After you’ve cut one piece from each board, run the boards through the planer to smooth the sawn surface. Re-position the guide block box and re-saw the boards again. As the pieces come off the saw, pile them in a stack. When you’re done, weight the stack with plywood or blocks to keep the pieces flat. 5. The next step is to glue the veneer pieces together, making two panels, one for each side of the top. Test the fit of the edges before you glue– they may need to be straightened once more on the jointer. Place the jointed or planed sides up, butt the pieces tight, and tape them together (Photo 2). 6. Turn the pieces over and run a narrow bead of glue down each joint (Photo 3). Lay the assembly flat on the bench and push down each piece so that the joints are even. Scrape off the glue squeeze-out and weight the panel (Photo 4). 7. If your sawn surfaces are very smooth and exactly equal in thickness from side to side, you can glue the sawn side down to the substrate as it is. For the best bond, use epoxy (which fills gaps), but yellow glue should also work fine. If your sawn surfaces are a bit uneven, or unequal in thickness from side to side, you’ve got two choices. You could use the panels as they are and epoxy them to the substrate, or, better yet, use a drum sander to smooth both sides (Photo 5). Sanding saves a lot of evening-up work after the top is assembled, because the top surface will be as uniform as commercial plywood. Sand until the panels are 1/16 to 1/8 in. thick.

MAKE A VENEER PRESS 8. Gluing the veneer requires a fairly elaborate setup (Photo 6) and a sufficient number of clamps, or a vacuum bag. If you make a press, the main trick

1

You can use standard plywood for a framed top or make your own, using extrathick shopmade veneer. Begin by resawing solid wood into 3/16 in.thick pieces.

GUIDE BLOCK

2

Joint the edges of the veneer pieces and tape them together. Apply the short pieces of tape first, across the joints, to pull the joints tight.

3

Turn over the tapedtogether panel and let one piece hang over the edge of the bench. Run a small bead of glue down the joint and fold it back together. Repeat this process for the other joint.

4

Place blocks or weights on the veneer to hold the pieces flat while the glue dries. Make a second panel, too. Your shop-made plywood should have veneer on both sides. American Woodworker

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5

For the best results, run both sides of the panel through a drum sander. Keep sanding until the panel is smooth and even–an ideal surface for gluing to a substrate.

6

Assemble a shopmade veneer press and go through a dry run. The lower half of the press consists of a series of stout crossbearers supported by two boards that run the length of the bench.

CROSSBEARER

Why Not Use Solid Wood? Gluing thick, mitered edging all the way around a solid wood top is a potentially disastrous mistake. It bucks one of the most basic rules about working with wood: you have to allow it to expand and contract. Ignore this rule and you run the risk of joints failing or wood cracking. That’s why it makes sense to use plywood rather than solid wood for a framed top. Plywood doesn’t expand or contract, for all practical purposes. Here’s how the wood movement rule applies in this situation:

WINTER W IDTH SUMMER W IDTH

1 Let’s start with a solid top, just by itself. When humidity increases in summer, the wood’s cells expand and the top becomes wider. When humidity decreases in winter, the top becomes narrower. A 24-in.-wide oak top might shrink and swell as much as 1/4 in. from summer to winter.

7 SUBSTRATE

MELAMINE CAULS

VENEER

Here’s a closer view. A melamine caul, covered by builder’s paper, sits on the crossbearers. Next come the veneer panels and substrate, topped by another caul and set of crossbearers.

NO CHANGE

2 Now let’s add the mitered frame. Wood doesn’t change in length from winter to summer, so the frame’s size is fixed. The solid wood panel is trapped inside.

GAP

SUMMER WIDTH

GAP

8

Cut miters on the long edging pieces, but leave the short pieces uncut. Glue the long pieces to the center panel.

3 When the solid wood panel swells in summer, it may force apart the frame’s miters.

WINTER WIDTH

GAP

CRACK GAP

4 When the top tries to shrink in winter, something may give. It may pull away from the frame’s sides, or develop a crack.

50 American Woodworker

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is to get adequate clamping pressure in the middle of the panel. If the panel is less than 16 in. wide, straight, stout crossbearers work fine. If the panel is over 16 in. wide, make a slight crown on the side of the bearer that pushes on the caul, so the bearer flattens out from the center as you apply clamping pressure. Alternatively, you can put shims under the center of a straight bearer. In either case, make enough bearers to space them about 6 to 8 in. apart. 9. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) makes an excellent substrate because its surfaces are smooth and flat. Cut the MDF and two cauls the same length and width as the veneer panels. 10. Use a roller to apply a thin, even layer of yellow glue to the MDF (don’t put any glue on the veneer). If you work fast, you can glue both panels to the substrate in one shot (Photo 7). The builder’s paper is optional. It captures glue squeeze-out, so the veneer can’t adhere to the cauls. 11. Allow the glue to dry overnight, then remove the clamps. Cut the panel to final size.

FIT THE EDGING 12. Make four pieces of edging; two of them should be about 1/4 in. extra-wide. If the top is rectangular, the extra-wide pieces should go on the short sides. Miter the long pieces to fit the veneered panel, then cut biscuit slots about 12 in. apart all around the panel and along the long pieces. 13. Cut biscuit slots in the mitered ends of the edging. You can use smaller, shorter biscuits here or cut larger biscuits to a shorter length. When cutting slots in miters, use a scrap piece of edging to balance your plate joiner. Glue on the long edging (Photo 8). 14. Miter both short pieces. If you can cut them exactly the right length, great! That’s hard to do, though, so it’s easier to start out with the pieces a little short (Photo 9). Here’s where the extra width comes into play. Adjust your jointer to take a minimal cut, then joint the inside edge of each piece (Photo 10). Test their fit after each pass. You’ll see that they’ll gradually come closer to fitting the opening. Because the pieces are mitered, each cut on the jointer increases the length of their inside edges. When the pieces do fit, cut their biscuit slots. Mark what remains of their excess width (Photo 11) and remove this waste using the jointer. Glue the pieces. 15. Having used biscuits for alignment, the edging and top should be close to level with each other, but not perfect. Make all the pieces flush by using a random-orbit sander, drum sander, No. 80 scraper, or a hand plane (Photo 12). The thick veneer makes this job much less stressful–there’s really no chance you’ll accidentally sand or cut through it!

9

Fitting the end pieces is a three-step process. Note that they are 1/4 in. wider than the long edging pieces, for now. First, miter the short pieces so they’re about 1/16 in. too short.

END PIECE 1-3/4"

SIDE PIECE 1-1/2"

1/16" GAP

10

Next, joint the inside edge of the short piece. This edge becomes longer with each pass, “lengthening” the piece, in effect. Stop jointing when the piece fits perfectly.

11

Draw a line on the short piece indicating its excess width. Joint the piece’s outside edge to make the piece narrower. Cut biscuit slots and glue it to the top.

EXCESS WIDTH

12

Even the edging with the top. You could run the top through the drum sander, but planing or scraping by hand is more satisfying. With thick veneer, there’s no danger of cutting through. American Woodworker

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Double-Duty Lathe Cabinet by Ray Lanham

ONBOARD STORAGE FOR TOOLS, ACCESSORIES AND 150 POUNDS OF BALLAST 52 American Woodworker

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A

fter several years of making lots of shavings and dust with a small, underpowered lathe, I decided I deserved an upgrade. My new lathe has big capacity, ample power and electronic variable speed—important features that my old lathe lacked. Only one thing was missing: an on-board storage cabinet for all of my turning tools and accessories. My new lathe has cast iron legs with brackets that were perfect for adding such a cabinet. I chose this design because it also includes a ballast box that holds up to 150 lbs. of sand. Adding ballast to dampen vibration and lower a lathe’s center of gravity is always a good practice, especially if you plan to turn large-diameter bowls as I do. Actually, you could opt to build only the ballast box. The tool box simply nests on top of it. This design easily adapts to lathes with open stand bases—just extend the ballast box beams to rest on the end rails. To build both boxes, you’ll need one 4x8 sheet of 3/4 in. plywood, one 4x8 sheet of 1/2 in. plywood and 8 bd. ft. of 8/4 oak for beams (or one 10 ft. 2x4 if you decide to substitute dimensional lumber). You’ll also need a 4 ft. 2x6, a 6 ft. 1x6, three 10 ft. lengths of 2 in. PVC pipe, a couple 6 ft. lengths of foam pipe insulation, hardware for the door and three 50 lb. bags of sand. Of course, unless your lathe has legs similar to the ones shown here and a 42 in. bed, you’ll have to adapt this design to fit.

BUILD

THE

1

Every lathe benefits from additional mass to dampen vibration. These legs have castin brackets for beams, the perfect setup for hanging a ballast box. On an open stand, the beams can rest on the end rails.

SHELF SUPPORT

BALLAST BOX

Cut the beams, sides and supports and glue and screw them together (Parts A-C, Fig. A, page 54). Hang these assemblies from the leg brackets (Photo 1). Then install the bottom (D) and the dividers (E). Once you’ve added these parts, the assembly can’t be removed from the lathe intact (Photo 2). Use glue only if you want the installation to be permanent. Line the ballast compartments with heavy-duty plastic (at least 3 mil. thick) and then pour in the sand. Seal the bags and install the top (Photo 3).

CUT PIECES

EDITOR: TIM JOHNSON • ILLUSTRATION: FRANK ROHRBACH

BEAM BRACKET

FOR THE

TOOL BOX

Cut the ends (G) to final size (Fig. B). I used a tapering jig to cut the sloped sides. Cut the soffit bracket (H) at the same time— it’s an end piece with an additional diagonal cut. Attach cleats (J) to the ends. Make sure all the edges are flush. Crosscut the 1/2 in. plywood sheet at 44 in. Then cut the back, the top, the top rail and bottom rail (K-N) from this piece— they’re all 44 in. long. Bevel the top edges of the back and the top rail at 13 degrees, to match the slope of the ends. Bevel both edges of the top at the same angle. Test fit the pieces to make sure the top’s beveled edges are flush with the faces of the back and the top rail. Then glue and screw the ends to the back (Photo 4). Note that the back extends 1 in. below the ends.

DRILL HOLES

FOR THE

BALLAST COMPARTMENTS

2

Assemble the box in place to make the ballast compartments as large as possible. Drop in the bottom after installing both beam assemblies. Then install the dividers.

TOOL SLEEVES

To allow the tool sleeves to angle to the back corner of the box, the holes in the top rail have to be drilled at a 45 degree angle. I cut these holes on my drill press, using a shop-made drilling support (Fig. C) and a 2-3/8-in.-dia. Forstner bit (Photo 5 and Sources, page 55). Here are some tips for drilling these holes: • Drill at a slow speed (500 rpm, or less). • Install a sacrificial board on top of the workpiece. Because

SAND BAG

3

Place sand-filled trash bags in each compartment. Install the top in two pieces—a single piece won’t fit between the legs. American Woodworker

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FORSTNER BIT

45o SUPPORT

BEVELED TOP EDGE

4

Start assembling the tool box by fastening the ends to the back. The ends are patterned after the lathe’s leg and sized to fit between the ballast box and the lathe’s bed.

FIGURE A EXPLODED VIEW

5

Use a 45 degree support to drill angled holes for tool sleeves in the top rail. Position the rail so the holes start at the rail’s beveled top edge. Drill through a clamped-on sacrificial board to eliminate tearout.

L 2-3/8" DIA. HOLES DRILLED AT 45o

H J

2" PVC (TYP.)

K

HOLE AND BEVELED EDGE FLUSH

3-3/8" (TYP.)

1-7/8" DIA. DISC

Q

3/8" X 3/8" RABBET

M

PIPE INSULATION P

G

TAPE

S

o

33 BEVEL R

F

N 4"

#6 x 1-1/4" FH SCREW (TYP.)

D

E B

C

FIGURE B END VIEW

3/4" x 4" x 16"

A

7-1/2" o

13 BEVEL (TYP.)

K

M

L 4-1/4"

FIGURE C 45O DRILLING SUPPORT

H P

G N

1-1/2" x 2-7/8" x 7-1/2"

2-1/2" 16-1/4"

54 American Woodworker

1" OVERHANG (TYP.) SEPTEMBER 2008

45o

3/8" ROUNDOVER


SOFFIT CLEAT

TOP RAIL

STILE

SOFFIT BRACKET

BOTTOM RAIL

6

Assemble the tool box. First fasten the top rail and the bottom rail to the ends. Then install the top. Add the stiles last.

7

Install the soffit bracket (an end piece that’s cut diagonally) and cleats. The tool box has no bottom because it nests over the ballast box—the overhanging back and bottom rail hold it in position.

of the steep angle, the bit may chatter until the center spur is engaged—especially if the bit has sawtooth edges. The sacrificial board stabilizes the bit before it cuts into the workpiece. • Reposition or replace the sacrificial board before drilling each hole. • Drilling these holes requires a 4-in.-long quill stroke. If your drill bottoms out too soon, stop the drill, loosen the chuck and extend the bit. Rechuck and make a second plunge.

ASSEMBLE

THE

SOFFIT

TOOL BOX

Glue and screw the front rail and bottom rail to the ends. The bottom rail overhangs 1 in., just like the back. Install the top. Fasten it to the ends with glue and screws. Glue and clamp it to the back and the front rail. Finish by gluing on the stiles (P and Photo 6). Use the soffit bracket to locate cleats on the ends for fastening the soffits. Then glue and screw the bracket in place (Photo 7). Slide the tool box into position on the ballast box. It’s held in place by the overhanging back and bottom rail. Cut the tool sleeves to fit the box. I found that cutting the front at a 43 degree angle fit better than the 45 degree angle I expected. Go figure. Install the soffits (Photo 8). Decide how far you want your tools to extend beyond the tool sleeves. Then fill each sleeve accordingly to make them fit (Photo 9). I turned a dowel to make the discs that serve as tool stops. Adding or subtracting discs is an easy way to adjust the tool heights.

TOOL SLEEVE

8

Cut the tool sleeves to fit and install the soffits. The tool sleeves (made from 2 in. PVC pipe) are only friction-fit, so they can be removed and reinstalled without removing the soffits.

FINAL DETAILS Cut the door to final size. Round over the edges and rout a rabbet all around the back. Install the hinges and mount the door. The self-closing hinges I used were designed to mount on a 3/4-in.-thick face frame, so I added blocks at the hinge locations to build out the bottom rail. Install the knob and add chains to keep the door from falling too far open. Sources Woodcraft, www.woodcraft.com, (800) 225-1153, 2-3/8” Forstner Bit, #125946, $14. Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, www.rockler.com, (800) 279-4441, 3/8” Inset Partial Wrap Hinges, #32122, $2.59 per pair.

FOAM PIPE INSULATION

9

Fill the tool sleeves with pieces of foam pipe insulation to make all your tools protrude equally. Use a wooden disc as a stop. Cut the foam to length and hold in place by taping across the bottom of the sleeve. American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

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CUTTING LIST Part Name Ballast Box A Beam B Side C Support D Bottom E Divider F Half-Top Tool Box G Ends H Soffit Bracket J Cleat K Back L Top M Top Rail N Bottom Rail P Stile Q Soffit R Door S Knob

Overall Dimensions: 55-1/2" L x 17-1/2" D x 27" H

Qty.

Material

2 2 2 1 3 2

Oak Plywood Pine Plywood Pine Plywood

2 1

Plywood Plywood Pine Plywood Plywood Plywood Plywood Plywood Plywood Plywood Maple

1 1 1 1 2 2 1 1

Dimensions 55-1/2" x 16-1/4" x 7-1/2" 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 55-1/2" 3/4" x 6-3/4" x 52" 3/4" x 3/4" x 52" 3/4" x 11-11/16" x 52" 1-1/2" x 5-1/4" x 11-11/16" 3/4" x 16-1/4" x 27-3/4" 44" x 8-1/4" / 17-1/2" x 20-1/2" 3/4" x 7-1/2" / 16-1/4" x19" 3/4" x 7-1/2" / 16-1/4" x19"* 3/4" x 3/4" x 12'** 1/2" x 20-1/2" x 44" 1/2" x 8-1/2" x 44" 1/2" x 5" x 44" 1/2" x 2-1/2" x 44" 1/2" x 2" x 13"** 1/2" x 17-1/4" x 21-1/4" 3/4" x 13-1/2" x 40-1/2" 1-1/4" dia. x 1"

*Blank size—see Fig. B for final dimensions; **Cut length to fit

I turned my first bowl when I was 14, but my affinity for turning got lost amid the shuffle of life. Forty-six years later, while renewing friendships in Australia, I realized that my “mates” had all discovered woodturning during my absence. Inspired by their enthusiam, I quickly rediscovered my love for working at the lathe. —Ray Lanham, www.coeur-de-larbre.com 56 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008


The Fantastic Furniture of

Judson Beaumont IMAGINATIVE WORK THAT MAKES YOU SMILE by Dave Munkittrick

F

Cabinet” possess that magical, cometo-life quality that cartoon animation creates and yet every drawer in the cabinet is a working drawer. It’s not surprising that an animated movie proved to be a watershed for Judson’s designs. “I started Straight Line Designs using straight lines – then I saw the movie ‘Roger Rabbit’, where the furniture was drawn with lots of curved lines. By ‘89 I was doing bent stuff.” Judson acquired his technical woodworking skills in high school shop classes, one of

Boom Cabinet 52-1/2”T x 21-1/4”W x 12”D Stained maple and maple veneer the few places he felt comfortable during those formative years. Judson’s father recognized his son’s creative bent and encouraged him to consider art school. Following his father’s advice, Judson left his native Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and migrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he studied sculpture in the 3-D department of the Emily Carr Institute for Art and Design. Shortly after graduating in 1985, he founded Straight Line Designs Inc. in East Vancouver, where he has been creating one of a kind furniture pieces ever since. At first, Judson just tried to keep his art school experience alive by working the daylight hours building what other people liked in order to finance

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF JUDSON BEAUMONT

ew furniture designers lay claim to inspirations that range from cartoons by Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss and Warner Brothers to architect Frank Gehry and designer Phillipe Starck. Judson Beaumont’s furniture designs manage to embrace both form and function. Pieces like his “Boom

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building what he liked at night. To his surprise, people were drawn to his late night work. It wasn’t long before he dropped the “day job” and his art became his everyday work. An optimist when it comes to design and construction, Judson truly believes anything is possible. “I love it when someone tells me, ‘You can’t build that,’ or says, ‘No one will want that’. These words only encourage me. My rule is: if you can draw it, you can build it.” His palette of materials includes typical woodshop fare such as solid maple, veneers, Baltic birch plywood and plastic laminate. But he also uses “off-the-wall” stuff such as truck-bed liner spray, fiberglass and colored MDF. Although he has done a number of installations designed for kids, and his furniture often exhibits a playful, cartoon quality, Judson does not consider himself a children’s furniture designer. “That’s a label used by people who don’t know how to react to my work.” Judson strives to make his furniture functional as well as conversational. His work ranges from the comical to the stunningly realistic. “Each piece I design has a unique personality – that’s why they all have a name.” Over the past 23 years, Straight Line Designs has grown to include eight full time craftspeople who help design and construct a wide variety of work, including custom-built furniture, commissioned pieces, sculptures, movie props, installations for public institutions, and children's exhibitions throughout North America. A. Bad Table 40”W x 18”H x 20”D Stained maple and maple veneer, aluminum pee on an Ikea carpet “There are plenty of good tables – I wanted to design a bad table.” B. Daddy Long Legs 14-1/4”W x 18”- 84”H x 12”D Stained maple and maple veneer C. Accordion Dresser and Noemi 52-1/2”W x 24”H x 17”D Clear solid maple and maple veneer

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D E

D. Button Tuft Bench 43”W x 17-1/4”H x 21”D Made entirely of wood and numerically computer cut colored MDF“It’s not leather, really!” E. Canned Bench 60”W x 25”H x 29”D Wood, plastic laminate and upholstered vinyl F. Mountain Pine Beetle River Rocks 2” – 3” L Salvaged blue-stained mountain pine beetle wood.

F

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"I hope that my furniture is recognized as unique, creative and original. I also hope that my furniture will help inspire both young and old to take innovative approaches to make their ideas come true." G. Crash Tables 18”T x 18”D x 36”L Stained maple and maple veneer H. Raymond with Shelby 38”W x 35”D x 41”T Stained solid maple and maple veneer I. Sullivan Cabinet 78”T x 26”W x 24”D Stained solid maple and maple veneer

H

I 62 American Woodworker

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J

J. Tear Away Cabinet 58-3/4”L x 14-1/2”D x 36”T Maple and mahogany K. Tree Cabinet 36”W x 72”H x 14”D Stained maple, Plexiglas and lights L. 10th Anniversary Cindy Dresser and Drewyn 15”W x 49”H x 13”D Stained maple and maple veneer

K L American Woodworker

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B U I L D YO U R S K I L L S

by Mitch Kohanek

Brushing Shellac Apply Shellac Like a Pro

I

f you aren’t brushing shellac these days, it’s either because you’ve never tried it or you’ve had a bad experience. Let’s see if I can change that. The number one reason people abandon shellac is they expect it to behave like polyurethane. But shellac and poly are different animals. For starters, shellac uses fast-drying 200-proof grain alcohol, or ethanol, as a solvent. The non-toxic ethanol is “poisoned” with small amounts of toxic solvent such as methanol or acetone in order to render it undrinkable and escape liquor taxes. Ethanol evaporates quickly and requires a different method of application and tools than slowdrying polyurethane varnishes. A skilled professional can make brushing on any type of coating look easy. But, like any skill, applying shellac takes practice. Were your first hand-cut dovetails perfect? Practice brushing on a two-foot square panel before you touch anything of value. It’s easy to sand the panel back down to the wood and brush it again and again. After you get comfortable with brushing the panel, go to a garage sale and purchase a small table or chair. Lightly sand it with some 320 grit sandpaper and practice brushing on real furniture.

There are two reasons for using any finish: The first is to enhance or change the original appearance of the wood; the second is to protect it. Shellac creates a warmth and depth that makes inexpensive woods look expensive and expensive woods look even more impressive.

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EDITOR: DAVE MUNKITTRICK

SHELLAC’S ADVANTAGES


B U I L D YO U R S K I L L S

So you’re covered on the good looks front. As a rule of thumb, use light colored shellac on light woods and a dark colored shellac on darker woods. Let’s look at the protection issue. Many people refrain from using shellac because they’ve heard it offers little protection. But how much protection does the project really need, and from what? A kitchen table needs a whole lot more protection than a jewelry box or a grandfather clock. Shellac may not be the best choice for a kitchen table but for many other projects shellac offers plenty of protection. Besides beauty and protection, shellac has other distinct advantages: Unlike polyurethane, shellac is repairable and can be fixed without stripping off the old finish. Also, shellac’s rapid cure leaves little time for dust to settle into the wet finish and you can recoat in less than an hour. Finally, shellac does not require sanding between coats saving you time and elbow grease.

1

Thin your shellac before use. Store bought shellac is typically a 3 lb. cut. Mix it 1-to-1 with denatured alcohol for a user-friendly 11/2 lb. cut.

2

A 1-1/2 or 2 in. square flat brush made with golden nylon, or “Taklon” bristles is a great starter brush for applying shellac. It’s best on flat surfaces but it can handle a cabriole leg with a little practice and it won’t break the bank.

3

Set up a light source at a low angle so it rakes the work area. A raking light will show defects like drips and “holidays” (places you missed) before it’s too late to correct them.

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In recent years, protecting the environment has become another criteria for choosing a finish. Shellac stands out as one of the greenest and least toxic coatings available. Shellac is a pure, natural finish that’s often used to coat fruits, vegetables and candy. As always, good ventilation and an organic vapor mask are recommended.

TWO KEYS TO SUCCESS #1 Thin your shellac to a water-like consistency (Photo 1). A 1 to 1-1/2 lb. cut is ideal for beginners. Pre-mixed shellac is usually a three-pound cut (the exception is Zinnser Bulls Eye Seal Coat, which is a 2 lb. cut). This means three pounds of shellac has been mixed into one gallon of alcohol. #2 Use a high quality brush. A good brush will hold a lot of shellac and apply an even coat without leaving ridges or pronounced brush marks. One good starter brush is the Winsor & Newton Regency Gold 580 series (Photo 2) made with Taklon synthetic nylon. Another one is the Loew Cornell 7550 (see Source, page 74).

BRUSHING TECHNIQUES There are two ways to brush shellac: Lay down a thick layer using a slow gravity-feed method or paint it on thin and work fast. I use both of these brushing techniques on a small tabletop: the gravity-feed method on a molded edge and the rapidbrushing method on a top. I prefer the gravity method on the edges because the brush can cover the whole edge and leave a relatively thick, even coat without worrying about ridges. I use the fast and thin method on the top of the table because it’s less prone to leaving ridges and brush marks. For this table I will use a 1-1/2 lb. cut of shellac and a 2 in. Taklon bristle brush. Set up a raking light so it washes across the area you are brushing (Photo 3). Shellac sets up fast and is pretty unforgiving if a brushing defect goes undetected even for a minute. The light will illuminate any runs and “holidays” (missed spots) before the shellac has time to set. If you notice a brush mark or a holiday, and

4

Charge the brush by soaking it in denatured alcohol for a few minutes before use. This helps the shellac flow better from the brush.


B U I L D YO U R S K I L L S

it’s been longer than 10 seconds, leave it alone. Going back will only make it worse. A minor amount of sanding with 320-grit sandpaper will get rid of the brush mark. A holiday will disappear when you apply the next coat. Charge the brush with some denatured alcohol (Photo 4). Then brush some clean paper to draw out the excess alcohol. Dip your brush into the shellac 3/4 of the way up to the ferrule. Hold the brush with your fingers firmly on the ferrule. When brushing a tabletop, I do the edges first using the gravity feed technique (Photo 5). Don’t lay down the shellac so heavy that it forms a run, but do maintain a consistent wet look. End the stroke by exiting off the edge of the table like an airplane taking off. Return to the corner where you began and land your brush in the opposite direction like an airplane touching down (Photo 6). Aim for a few inches inside the wet shellac and run the brush past the corner, taking off as you did in the first stroke. Work your way around all four edges, taking off and landing as you go. If you should accidentally hit the top, immediately wipe it off with a clean rag. Switch techniques to brush the flat part of the top and use small rapid strokes to lay down a thin coat. Start the stroke by landing your brush near an edge. Brush on the shellac with a rapid back and forth motion. Shoot for three 10 in. strokes every second. When the brush begins to empty, recharge the brush and land it in the dry area just ahead of where you left off (Photo 7). Do the airplane takeoff stroke once you reach the table edge (Photo 8). Don’t let the brush hit the edge of the table on a return stroke or you will create a drip for sure. Brush with the grain all the way across the table. On a large surface it is necessary to overlap your strokes (Photo 9). Unlike the gravity feed method that lays down a heavy coat in one continuous motion, this technique lays down a thin layer of shellac with multiple brush strokes. A thin layer sets up fast and does not leave brush marks. By the time the first coat is done the shellac will be dry enough to apply a second coat. You can take advantage of shellac’s fast drying time to apply three coats one after another with no time for dust to settle in and ruin the finish. With a 1 or 1-1/2 lb. cut of shellac it will take about three coats before you start to develop a noticeable build. I generally try to give the object three light coats for the first setting to seal the wood. I like to lay down a minimum of 9 layers in 3 or more settings for a good build. The time frame for additional coats is dependent on temperature and humidity. If your bristles seem to be dragging while applying another coat, then the previous coat has not yet cured – give it more time to dry. The first

5

Shellac the edges first. Start the brush stroke an inch or two from the end. Move the brush slowly to lay down a long, consistent wet layer of shellac. Nestle the edge of the brush in the fillet to keep excess shellac from accumulating and running when your back is turned.

FILLET

START HERE

6

Come back to finish the bare spot where you started the stroke. Think of your brush as an airplane. Land the brush near the unfinished end and then lift off right at the edge to avoid snapping the bristles over the edge. Lifting off prevents pools of shellac from being left at the edge and turning into drips.

WET AREA DRY AREA

7

A completely different brushing technique is used on the top surface. Instead of a long and slow stroke, use short fast strokes. Land the loaded brush in a dry area and with rapid back and forth strokes work the shellac back into the wet area. Aim for a thin, even layer of shellac.

8

Finish the stroke at the edge. Lift the brush as it passes over the edge just like an airplane taking off. This prevents the brush from pushing shellac over the edge and dripping down the freshly finished edge.

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B U I L D YO U R S K I L L S

setting will leave the surface of the wood rough. A light scuff sanding with some 600-grit sandpaper will remove the whiskers. After that, sanding is not necessary until after the final coat has cured and it’s time to rub out the finish. Allow the shellac to fully cure for a few days. Then, do a final rubout. Shellac can be rubbed out to any sheen you want, high gloss or matte. With enough practice, you will develop your own preferred blend of shellac and alcohol, your own speed for brushing and your own feel for how wet and thick to lay down the shellac. Eventually, you’ll get into the different types of brushes and shellacs that are at your disposal. Trust me, it’s a lot of fun.

BRUSH

CLEANING.

A few sloshes in some clean alcohol will get 95 percent of the shellac out of the brush (Photo 10). Pad the brush with a paper towel or clean rag (Photo 11). Then form the bristles in their proper shape (Photo 12) and you’re done. The next time you need to use the brush, place it in some clean alcohol for a few minutes, wipe off the excess on a paper towel and rock and roll. Finishing with shellac is like any other aspect of woodworking – it takes time and practice to develop the skill. Ultimately, you will find yourself joining the ranks of those who enjoy using a finish that is safe, fully repairable and has a proven historical track record for stability and beauty. That’s something really nice to pass on to future generations. Good luck, and have fun! Source: Hofcraft, www.hofcraft.com,(800) 828-0359, Winsor & Newton Regency Gold 580 Stroke Brush, 1-1/2 in., #WN580-1-1/2”, $25. Loew-Cornell 7500 Flat Sky Wash Brush, 2 in., #LC7750-2, $40

9

Overlap your strokes on a large surface. Any time you re-wet the brush, land the brush in a dry area. Use a back and forth stroke to blend the new stroke into the wet shellac ahead of it and beside it.

10

When the brushing is over, cleaning your brush is a breeze. Just swish it around in a container with clean denatured alcohol. This will clean out most of the shellac from the brush. Unlike varnish or water-based finishes, it okay to leave some residue in the brush.

11

Pull the brush across a folded paper towel or rag to remove the excess alcohol.

Mitch Kohanek is a member of the American Institute of Conservation and has interned at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute in Washington, D.C. He founded the National Institute of Wood Finishing at Dakota County Technical College where he has been an instructor for 30 years. It is the only certified wood finishing school in the country. Visit his website at www.woodfinishing.org.

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Form the bristles so they dry in their proper shape. The brush will dry stiff from the shellac left in the brush. To use again, just soak the brush in alcohol for a few minutes.


T U R N I N G WO O D

by Alan Lacer

Rockin’& Rollin’ with the Skew

EDITOR: DAVE MUNKITTRICK

AN EXERCISE IN MASTERING THE SKEW

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T U R N I N G WO O D

D

o you like a challenge? Want to develop your woodturning skills? Can you learn from mistakes? If your answer is “Yes!” you’re ready to tackle the rolling cut with a skew chisel. The rolling cut is most often employed to cut beads in spindle work. Without a doubt, the rolling cut can be the most difficult skew technique to learn. For that reason, I advise people to start with the planing cut (see “Skew Planing,” AW#133, January 2008, page 90.) Practice makes perfect and you must practice the rolling cut to gain control over it. However, it is worth the effort as the skew handsomely rewards all who develop skill with this cut.

TOOLS

AND

MATERIAL

Start with a 1-1/2-in. to 2-in.-square by 6in.- long piece of soft wood like poplar, alder or pine. Mount the stock between centers on the lathe. Round the stock to a uniform cylinder. At first, limit your practice cuts on the cylinder ends only.

1

Posture and grip are important for a controlled approach to rolling a skew chisel. Position your left hand under the tool, touching the rest. Hold the tool handle with your right hand. Reverse hands if you are left-handed.

TIP: Use a cup drive rather than a spur center; it’s safer and easier on the nerves if you get a catch.

SHORT POINT

SPUR CUP

Practice the rolling cut with a 1/2 in. to 5/8 in. skew that’s really sharp (for more on sharpening, see “Reshaping the Skew Chisel,” AW#127, February 2007, page 40.)

ROLL

THE

SKEW

Before you turn the lathe on, practice holding the skew to the blank(Photo 1). When you’re comfortable with the hand position, turn the power on and let the bevel rub on the blank without cutting any wood (Photo 2). Then lift the handle as you slowly rotate the skew to hook the short point in the wood (Photo 3). Make this a light cut; there’s no need to hog off a lot of wood. Rotate the tool as you move it slowly forward. Keep the bevel in contact with the wood at all times to maintain control. Losing bevel contact will produce the dreaded slash (Photo 11). Repeat the cut starting at the top of the roundover (Photo 4). Rotate the skew as you lift the handle

2

The best way to master the skew is on a practice blank. Start at the cylinder’s end. Hold the skew’s shaft at a right angle to the axis of the lathe. Rub the bevel, preparing to tilt or roll the short point of the tool into the wood.

3

Lift and rotate the handle in the direction of the cut to engage the short point of the skew in the wood. Keep the bevel in constant contact with the wood. The cutting action should only take place from the red mark on the tool to the short point.

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T U R N I N G WO O D

4

Make a series of rolling cuts. Continue with the lifting and rotational action and be sure to keep the bevel against the rounded surface. LONG POINT

5

Complete the cut with the bevel of the skew vertical to the axis of the lathe. The tool will stop cutting at this point. Pull the tool straight back to avoid catching the wood with the long point.

6

Practice on the other end of the cylinder. You will find one side easier than the other. Practice extensively on the weak side until you’re comfortable with the rolling cut in either direction.

7

Time to make beads and put the rolling cut to use. Lay out a series of 1- to 1-1/4-in.-wide beads with a parting tool. Cut down on each side of the bead about 1/3 the cylinder’s diameter.

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until you reach the bottom of the cut (Photo 5). The skew should end the cut with the bevel held vertical to the lathe’s axis. The tool will stop cutting or “weathervane” at this point. All of this involves a variety of coordinated actions. The tool must simultaneously lift, rotate and advance downhill to an eversmaller diameter. At the same time, the tool must slide along the tool rest to accommodate the width of the curved area. Keep the bevel in contact with the side of the rounded surface with light pressure. This mix of actions reminds me of dancing with a partner: all the steps must work together to achieve success—a fine cut with good shape and no slashes. Work on both ends of the cylinder (Photo 6). Most people find the rolling cut easier either to the left or to the right. Concentrate your practice on the weak side until you feel equally comfortable in either direction. Don’t get discouraged if you experience a few slashes as you practice. This is normal. Remember, the slash is always the result of the bevel losing contact with the wood. Once you’re comfortable with the rolling cut, chuck in a fresh blank and use a parting tool to lay out some 1- or 1-1/4-in.-wide beads (Photo 7). Make a wide pencil line in the middle of each bead. This marks the area to stay clear of when shaping the bead (Photo 8). Practice on these “bead sticks” until your beads are consistent in size and shape (Photos 9 and 10). Keep your eye on the horizon of the curve to see how well it has developed. The perfect bead has a sweet convex curve with no flat areas. How do you achieve this? The answer is simple: practice, practice, practice. In time you will want to practice varying the width of the beads. The ultimate exercise to develop skew control and achieve good shape is to turn an egg. Turning an egg is both fun and practical as they make great gifts. First, turn a Morse taper on one end of a 5 in. blank of 2 x 2 material held between centers. Be sure and leave a shouldered area to ride on top of the spindle shaft. Then drive the blank directly into the headstock spindle and make rolling cuts to form the egg (Photo 12).


T U R N I N G WO O D

8

9

Draw a broad pencil line at the center of the bead. The skew should never cut in this region. When you sand the bead, the marked area will blend nicely into the rounded sides.

Make two or three light rolling cuts on each side of the bead to rough out the shape.

The rolling cut requires a mix of actions that remind me of dancing with a partner: all the steps must work together to achieve success.

10

Make additional light rolling cuts to achieve the balanced look of a good bead. Continue making additional beads on the blank until you achieve consistently good results. SLASHED

LOPSIDED

FLATTENED

POINTED

PERFECT

11

Four common bead problems: A slashed bead caused by loss of bevel contact; a lopsided bead from uneven cutting on either side; a flattened bead caused by insufficient lifting and rounding; a pointed or triangular bead from pushing the tool without lifting and rolling. Finally, a curved and full-looking bead—the real objective.

Alan Lacer is a woodturner, writer and instructor living near River Falls, WI. Check out his website (www.alanlacer.com) to see more articles or purchase skews, diamond hones and videos.

12

The ultimate skew exercise is to turn an egg. A Morse taper turned onto the end holds the egg blank in the headstock. The egg represents a challenge in tool handling and good form.

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WHERE OUR READERS LIVE

n the early 1960s a man named Maury Meyer set up his woodshop in the only space available: his unheated garage. With only a couple of hand tools and an old 10 in. Craftsman tablesaw, he managed to remodel his entire house from that shop. Maury was my grandpa. Grandpa and Grandma Meyer moved into a smaller home in Kaukauna, Wisconsin after their children were grown—and the tablesaw moved with them, into the basement, where it remains today. Gradually, Grandpa transformed half of the basement into a 12 ft. by 25 ft. workshop. It was dusty and crowded and anything but neat, absolutely littered with tools and materials—Grandpa bumped his hip on the tablesaw too many times to count. But he knew exactly where everything was, right down to

80 American Woodworker

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EDITOR: TIM JOHNSON • PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF CODY MEYER

MY SHOP


MY SHOP

the smallest item. Under the clock hung a homemade sign: Grandpa’s Workshop. Grandpa spent so many hours in his shop that he and Grandma installed a doorbell to communicate between upstairs and downstairs. Grandma would use some sort of Morse code to indicate phone calls and dinner. Holidays and birthdays were always chaotic as the two of us worked overtime to finish presents. My woodworking eventually included school projects, home repairs and even furniture. Grandpa’s projects included everything from toy trucks to entertainment centers, all bearing his stamp, “Handcrafted by Maury Meyer.” Project after project, his tablesaw came through for us. As a kid my favorite task was sweeping the sawdust off that old workhorse. One year ago, at the age of 80, Maury Meyer passed away. I’m not sure what will become of that steadfast Craftsman saw now that he’s gone. For now, anyway, it will stay right where it has been for the past 50 years, taking a well-deserved rest. Cody Meyer Milwaukee, WI

Tell us about your shop! Send us photos of your shop, a layout drawing and a description of what makes your shop interesting. Tell us what you make in it and what makes your shop important to you. If “My Shop” features your shop, you’ll receive $100. E-mail your entry to myshop@americanwoodworker.com with digital photos attached. Or mail your description with prints or digital photos on a disc to My Shop, American Woodworker, 1285 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121. Please include your phone number. Submissions cannot be returned and become our property on acceptance and payment. We may edit submissions and use them in all print and electronic media. American Woodworker

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SEPTEMBER 2008

81


C R A Z Y M I S TA K E S W O O D W O R K E R S M A K E FRAMED

MURPHY’S LAWS

OF

WOODWORKING

Murphy’s Law states if anything can go wrong, it will. I’m convinced that axiom applies to woodworking. Here are ten examples I’ve experienced: • The more expensive the wood, the more you will waste. • When you drop a piece with freshly applied glue, it will land glue-side down on a pile of dust and shavings. • Every scrap piece will be 1/2 in. short of being useful. • During glue-up, nothing lines up as well as it did during the dry fit. • For every hour you spend woodworking, you will spend two hours cleaning up. • The phone only rings when you’re gluing or applying finish. • You’ll always spot the area you forgot to varnish immediately after cleaning your brush. • When you install butt hinges, at least one brass screw will break. • A dropped tool always lands where it does the most harm. • Staining highlights the grain…as well as the blotches, scratches and glue spots.

Edwin Hackleman

82 American Woodworker

SEPTEMBER 2008

Make your woodworking mistakes pay! Send us your most memorable “What was I thinking?” blunders. You’ll receive $100 for each one we print. E-mail to oops@americanwoodworker.com

or send to AW Oops!, American Woodworker, 1285 Corporate Center Drive, Suite180, Eagan, MN 55121. Submissions can’t be returned and become our property upon acceptance and payment. We may edit submissions and use them in all print and electronic media.

EDITOR: TIM “OOPS!” JOHNSON • ILLUSTRATION: STEVE BJÖRKMAN

The old family photograph that needed a new frame was an odd size, 10-5/8 in. by 11-3/8 in., so I knew I couldn’t buy a frame to fit. Starting with a length of straight-grained oak, I used a combination of router bits to create a unique profile for a new frame. I sanded, shellacked, buffed and polished with paste wax. Voila—an exquisite length of picture frame molding! I calculated how much to add for the mitered corners and then cut the molding into four pieces, two of each length. Then I carefully cut all the miters. I always glue mitered picture frames one joint at a time. I carefully aligned the first two pieces and clamped them. Then I repeated the process with the other two pieces. The miter joints were perfect! I set both assemblies aside to dry overnight. The next day, I positioned one assembly for gluing and reached for the other. But as I moved the second assembly closer, I realized I’d messed up: Both times, I’d glued together two pieces of the same length. The result was a lop-sided frame that no amount of wood filler could disguise! Alan Underwood


American woodworker no 137 september 2008