Full Chisel Blog

May 25, 2014

Fairbanks Home – finished ready to install

The door and 3 lower sash windows after being treated with Moses T’s St. John’s Oil were primed with an oil based primer.  The door was then painted on off white yellow color on the inside as were two of the sashes.  One sash is painted the grey color on one side and white on the other.

sash and door complete

kitchen door exterior painted

The door was painted grey on the outside.  The window panes were set in glazing putty, secured with zinc points and the putty applied to the outside.  The photograph showes the putty ready to be knifed, this was done by Mr. Jones my helper.  I told him it looked like a bad cake frosting job, but it cleaned up just fine.

sash with glazing

Will be installing the door and windows tomorrow.

Stephen

February 19, 2014

Walking Wheel Spindle Head Repair II

I started talking about this restoration here.   I made a drawing for making a new maple whorl [head or flange] on the spindle.spindle head4

This is the whorl temporarly fit to the metal spindle, I will later roughen the spindle slightly, etch with garlic and glue in place with Fish Glue.  spindle head7

Here is what the mother-of-all looked like when it arrived, I discussed replacing the obviously newer maiden with a proper one.  My client said that would be fine but insisted as much of the original should be maintained, music to my ears.

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Here is the new replacement in birch to match the original.

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In order to get the finish to match the original it took several steps, the first is a mixture of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil and yellow ocher dry powdered pigment.

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The next step is a coat of shellac with some burnt umber dry powdered pigment.

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Then a bit of black iron oxide dry powdered pigment with shellac to get near the final color.

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Then some abrasion of the shiny finish and a coat of wood ashes makes it a good match to the original, there is no way to do this in one step to match the old finishes.

Here is the damaged pulley on the shaft together with the replacement part and the pattern that matches what is remaining on the original.

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Having fit up the two pieces, I etched them with garlic and glued them in place with Fish Glue.  It was impossible to clamp so I held it in my hands for 10 minutes then set it aside to cure.  A little work with a chisel and I gave it a coat of shellac with burnt umber pigment.  I will add a bit of black later.

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I still need to braid up a couple of corn shuck bearings and tie them onto the maidens.  This is an unusual method of attaching the bearings, most are secured through a hole and fixed with a wedge.

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I was able to fit the pieces back together to determine just how they were tied on.  This job is nearly complete.

Stephen

 

January 23, 2014

My work goes largely unnoticed

Here is the final finish on the Dutchman repair I showed in my last post.  I used pigmented wax to fill in the joint, then worked it over to match the surrounding optical surfaces.

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Stephen

October 7, 2013

Spinning Wheel Flyer – grain orientation

This is my first order for a custom made spinning wheel flyer, mandrel, whorl, and bobbin[s] for an existing wheel.  The owner sent photographs with a measuring tape and confirmation of the distance between the leather bearings.  They can be ordered here.

first order flyer3

While it may look like this is just using up some useless scraps of maple with nasty knots, this wood was chosen because of the knot and the way the grain runs in the board.  The grain runs around the knot in such a way as to follow the pattern of the U shape of the flyer.  It is also a great use for useless scraps.

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The wood, in this case hard maple, for any flyer should be flat sawn and not quartersawn for proper grain orientation for maximum strength; no short grain as would be presented if the board was quartersawn.

first order flyer5

A hole for the mandrel is drilled in the end of the board, a corresponding hole is made in the opposite end, and are used to center the wood on the centers of the lathe.  Excess wood is first removed with a saw then it is turned on the lathe.  This can be a harrowing experience as the flat board flies past ones knuckles at an alarming and distracting manner.

first order flyer6

Because of the unusual grain around a knot the finished flyer off the lathe has some nasty splits along a couple of edges, but because the ends of the flyer are tapered thinner, this can be ‘easily’ planed off, then scraped with a card scraper.

first order flyer7

After raising the grain with water, I scraped it again and it is ready for the mandrel being made by a machinist friend of mine.  Now it is on to making the hooks and the soft metal nut in the whorl.

Stephen

September 20, 2013

Extrapolating Furniture Parts from Photographs

I first received an email with a photograph of a walnut table leg, early nineteenth century [client said 1860's, I think it is 1840's] dining table from Virginia and was asked if I could make one as the 5th [center] leg was missing.  I said ‘yes’ and got a couple more photographs with a tape measure in the photograph.  Another email or two and I had other dimensions I needed.

walnut table leg7

I then made a scale drawing of the leg and worked on that until it looked correct and then proceeded to make a full size paper pattern of the leg.  With the help of Richard MacDonald [Master Wood Carver, who loves to turn] turn the leg from the pattern.

I then ripped the waste wood on the taper of the octagonal part, to a square taper.

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Next I layed out the octagonals with a white pencil, easier to see on walnut than a graphite pencil.  I planed the first one by hand then decided to use a chisel to quickly remove the excess then my two small coffin smoothers [one set coarse, the other set fine] to smooth out the rough chisel marks.

walnut table leg8

A card scraper finished up the flats and it is ready to go.  Yesterday when the client called I had just finished up the work, it will be picked up today and be on its way to Texas.  They have a furniture restoration guy there that will cut it to length and do the finish work.

A fun project, the rendering took a bit of time but was well worth the effort and the customer was happy, just picked it up.

Stephen

June 24, 2013

Restoring a Coach-maker’s Brace

I have a few coachmaker’s braces, those with wooden knobs and handles and iron bodies, I also have one all metal Fray&Pigg brace, they are called coachmaker’s braces as they don’t break when you step on them.  Frequently coach shops floors were covered with shavings and stepping on a wooden brace hidden in the shavings would indeed break.  That is the story, sounds good to me.

This particular brace is made of iron and cherry, there is a brass bearing between the head and the iron body.  It has seen enough use that the inside of the handle had been rind out making it fit poorly on the metal body.

brace

I used a fine blade in a jeweler’s fret saw to cut the glue joint and unfortunately one of the iron pins added for additional strength to the split handle.  It is necessary for the center handle to be split in order to attach it to the iron drill body.  The center section had some rust and pitting and was quite rough.  I used a file and some emery cloth to remove the rust and smooth out the metal to prevent it from further rinding out the wooden handle.

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Using a sharp gouge, rasp, file and small tombstone scraper I smoothed out the center that had been rind out in order to make the replacement wood fit properly so it could be glued into place.  Holding an egg shaped object in the hand while using sharp gouges was a dangerous operation, I paid close attention.  When using the round rasp I did manage to rasp myself.

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Making the replacement part I had a couple of failures; my first was that the drill drifted following the grain of the cherry.  The next one split the minute the pilot screw entered the wood.  I then double clamped a piece and got a good hole through the end grain of the new piece of cherry.

brace1

Once I had it apart I had to use my small prick to excavate the iron pins, one from one side the end and the other pin from the through pin.  I then had to add material into the excavation, I chose to make a small square mortise on one side and after that tedious process I did the other side with a round bung plug.

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I then had to cut the new bearing in half in order to glue it into the two halves of the handle.  I used a clear plastic block and a wooden clamp to get them in the correct position and allowed the Fish Glue to dry overnight.  The next day I used a toothing plane to smooth the surfaces flat prior to gluing it back together.

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With a round rasp and round file I made the wood fit the metal then glued it together and clamped the egg shaped handle with an upholstery spring clamp and allowed to dry overnight.  I then made new iron pins, flattening them out on the end like the original.

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A coat of Moses T’s Gunstocker’s finish and a bit of black iron oxide dry powdered pigment I got the filing marks that smoothed the wood to match the un-filed surface.

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Stephen

 

June 17, 2013

Blow Pipe Bellows

This has been on my list for a while and now I can cross it off.  It is based on a traditional design and is a typical two chambered bellows powered by a foot treadle.  I over thought the design and got retentive about vortices and valve placement, but was told not to worry about those things by a physicist.

I had some 1″+ thick pine, I used one piece of full thickness for the center board then had my apprentice re-saw the other board into two 1/2″ boards, one for each chamber.  Also had him hand plane the surfaces smooth [again worried about the smoothness and air currents].

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The leather for the bellows is oak tanned and quite thin, the pattern for the bellows needs to be offset to account for the fact that when it is open the moving boards are shorter than when closed, typical of bellows construction.

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I used the same leather for the main hinge and for the internal valves.  The center valve is inset in a rectangular shallow mortise to give more room in the upper chamber.  The entrance valve is mounted flush as the board is only 1/2″ thick.

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I used an old piece of flat spring steel that I fashioned into a spring to push the lower chamber back open after the foot pedal is pressed.  The weight of the lower board will also help open the chamber as the leather softens up a bit after use.  In my too-much-attention-to-detail, I inadvertently mortised the space for the spring on the wrong side, fortunately the center board was thick enough to accommodate the mortise on the correct side.

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I glued a small piece of leather on the hinge end to hold things together and eventually with both side leathers become the bellows hinges.

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The first side I glued and tacked on by myself, it was such a gluing frenzy that I ended up with glue in my beard.  I used Lee Valley Fish Glue because of its aggressive tack to glue the leather to the board.  All edges of the boards were smoothed and toothed with a toothing plane, glue applied to both leather and boards.

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The second side I had help from my apprentice and it went much more smoothly and after 226 tacks [total for both chambers] it was complete.  I then went on and made the base which consists of a board for the bottom and three uprights mortised and tenoned into the base and glued in place.  I then began on the treadle.

blowpipe bellows8

Once again I was over-thinking the foot treadle design trying to come up with a mechanism that would push up on the bellows when the foot treadle was pressed.  I looked through 507 Mechanical Movements from Tools for Working Wood for inspiration.  One of those slap my forehead moments when I saw an illustration of a see-saw, teeter totter.  Push down on one side and the other goes up.

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A metal hinge simply would not work for the fulcrum of the treadle so I settled on leather held in place with round head screws and glue.  The end of the treadle that pushes against the bellows, I inserted a wooden wheel in a slot to reduce friction.

I hooked it up to a hose and blow pipe and it works as advertised.  Fun project now to find a buyer.

Stephen

 

May 14, 2013

Double Hacksaw – 1749

turning1

I have posted about this hacksaw before during a workshop with the Nevada WoodChucks, and thought I would post the original influence.  Charles Plummier’s L’art de Tourner published in 1749, this is a photograph of an original edition in the collection of Ray Wilson of Indianapolis.  I shot the photograph in 1977.

double hacksaw

I have made and sold several of these including a couple of replacement arms, it is remarkably easy to break the end by overtightening the tension.  An iron version would not have this problem.  Very handy tool which I find I use on a regular basis.

I used the shape of the iron version on the upper left as I liked the looks of the arms, the wooden version is on the upper right.  Did you know the paint on hacksaw blades is actually a lubricant?

Stephen

 

May 3, 2013

The Complete Cabinet Maker And Upholsterer’s Guide – J. Stokes 1829

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Gary Roberts over at Toolemera has done it again and reproduced a fine tome from the nineteenth century.  The book has many full color plates, hand colored engravings and Mr. Roberts has reproduced the entire book in color, so the pages appear as they would in an original edition.

Mr. Stokes has done an excellent job at assembling material from his peers and predecessors, which I won’t call plagiarism as it was common practice.  Some of the engravings have the long f for the s, indicating an earlier time.

The book is however full of very useful information about lay out, perspective, drawing, design and construction of furniture, with an emphasis on finishing, which I found fascinating.  This is a great hardbound edition of an historical work that is a pleasure to hold in ones hand and read about the past and the ways of old.  Add this one to your bibliotheque.

Stephen

January 11, 2013

Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker – First Review

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This is the first book review of my first book that was originally published in hardbound in 1981.  This review appeared in Smithsonian Magazine April 1982.

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I found this while doing research at the University of Nevada, Reno at their excellent library.

Now I need to find the reviews in Workbench Magazine, Soldier of Fortune Magazine and Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly.

Available at Tools for Working Wood

and The Full Chisel Store or from Amazon.  Amazon also has original hardbound editions for sale.

Stephen

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