Full Chisel Blog

October 17, 2014

Pre-publication Sale of The Spinning Wheel Repair Book

I am offering a pre-publication sale on the Spinning Wheel Repair Book which is going to the press soon.  I will be delivering these by the first week of December 2014.

Here is a mock up of the cover, color being added as we speak, original artwork by Tim Burnham.


For the first 25 orders I will include an 8.5″ by 11″ hand impressed copy of the hand set title page by Lauri Taylor of Loose Cannon Press, along with your order.

lauri title page3

The book is 8.5″ by 11″, 77 pages with 160 illustrations and 25 photographs.

The book can be ordered here at the Full Chisel Store, the price is $20.00 plus $6.00 domestic shipping.  International shipping charges apply.  The book will be shipped by early December, 2014.

Thanks to all of those who helped with this publication.


August 21, 2014

Spinning Wheel Maiden repair

This is a maiden from a Canadian Production Wheel and had been previously repaired.  It was repaired with hide glue but the small bamboo skewer just wasn’t big enough to reinforce the joint.


I had to remove a nail holding the stub of the tenon on the end of the off-side maiden.  Instead of making a new maiden, I decided to use a shouldered tenon and make it match the original.  With the nail removed I could remove the stub tenon.


I cut the maiden off flush at the shoulder for the end of the maiden, then drilled a 1/4″ twist auger and then enlarged it with a 3/8″ duck bill spoon bit.  I fit the new birch tenon into the hole, applied hide glue and clamped it together.


I also drilled a hole with a gimlet bit for the wedge and made a new one of birch to match the original


The next day I applied pigmented shellac to match the original finish on the parts exposed.  The customer was happy.



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.

spindle head1

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

spindle head6

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.

spindle head9

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

spindle head10

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

spindle head11

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.

spindle head8

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.

spindle head12

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.

spindle head5

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



January 22, 2014

A Nail does not a good repair make.

As I have said before and will say again there is nothing wrong with nails used in the original construction of furniture or other wooden objects, but in no instance is a nail a good choice for repairs.  Nails do not help and in most cases make the future restoration much more difficult.

Here is the previous work I have already done on the foot treadle for this spinning wheel.

It took about a half an hour to take apart a simple pegged joint on the foot treadle for a spinning wheel.  Instead of carefully removing the peg and sliding the dovetail joint apart, I had to carefully work the nail loose in order to get the joint apart so it could be cleaned and glued back together.


The nail was particularly stubborn but with a few drops of alcohol on the shaft of the nail, it came loose, there was also some cursing.


Once I had removed the 6 nails from previous attempts at repair, I cleaned off most of the old hide glue then re-glued the pieces back together with Fish Glue, clamped them and allowed to dry.




I then noticed that the end of the treadle where it connects to the pitman was worn and not much wood was left.  I made a dovetailed Dutchman and glued it in place.  After the glue dried, I used a sharp chisel to trim down the birch Dutchman.  A little staining and it will be good to go.


November 18, 2013

Turned my Peg Board into a finish drying rack

I made this several years ago for clamping odd shaped object using pegs and wedges for tension.  I also have a couple of threaded pegs that allow screw pressure.  I have used it for restoration and repair work as well.  It is 16 1/2″ wide, 36″ long and 1 1/2″ thick yellow poplar with one inch holes spaced over the surface.  I can also use holdfasts in any of the holes.

Recently after finishing with Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish some curved stretchers for a table I am working on for a friend, I needed somewhere to place the pieces for the finish to dry with good air circulation.  So I stuck a couple of 1 inch dowels into the holes and they worked to hold the pieces spaced apart.  The weight of the pegboard was sufficient to hold the weight of the stretchers, even set out on the ends of the dowels.


An already handy tool has a new ability as a drying rack.


September 2, 2013

When you can’t take the chair apart…

because of nails in all of the joints.  Nails do nothing to increase the strength of the chair, but do weaken the wood where the nails were used.  This chair belongs to a friend, it was ‘unfinished’ furniture, table and chairs in oak.  Why the original manufacturer used nails is beyond my comprehension.

davis side chair1

Not being able to disassemble the chair to deal with the break or perhaps replacing it, it was necessary to repair in place.  I clamped the stretcher then cut a small mortise across the break to receive a loose tenon to strengthen the fracture.

davis side chair2

The depth of the mortise is to the end of the cross stretcher.  This is an inherently weak joint, exacerbated by the through nail weakening the joint even further.  The above picture shows the break spread open to receive hot hide glue.

I used 192 gram strength ground hide glue from Joel at Tools for Working Wood, high quality ground hide glue; 1/2 teaspoon glue, 1 teaspoon distilled water.  This is the smallest batch I make, put it in the glue pot, the pot on the stove and when the water jacket boils over, the glue is ready in minutes.

davis side chair3

I used a tourniquet and a couple of wood end cam clamps as well as a wedge of pine between the front legs to close up the fracture, not the easiest clamping job, but I accomplished the task.

Using a flat chisel I pared the excess oak away to bring the tenon down to the curve of the stretcher.  Then some shellac with yellow ocher and burnt umber to get the color match and a bit of beaumontage to optically hide the fracture and joint around the loose tenon.

davis side chair4

Cursing the inappropriate use of nails.



August 9, 2013

Wood Turning On the Foot Treadle Lathe

Always a good idea and in 1922 William Fairham published this book of the same title.

wood turning on the foot treadle lathe

And in 2013 Gary Roberts at Toolemera Press has reproduced this fine English volume on turning on a foot treadle lathe.  The book has some great stuff, good illustrations with patterns of all types of turnings including square turnings.  The square turning is of particular interest, must give it a try.

This book also goes well with the plans for the Wooden Treadle Lathe available at the Full Chisel Store.  Get the book from Gary and the plans from me and you are all set.


July 17, 2013

Arts & Crafts, Craftsman, Gustav Stickley Lamp Shade

A client referred by a local Antique Store asked me if I could make a ‘wicker’ top for their Stickley style lamp.  I said sure and they came to my shop with a picture of what they wanted and the lamp shade over which the wicker covering would fit.  So not knowing any better I said sure.

Between the time I said ‘sure’ and the time they picked up the lampshade I learned how to make the cover.  I actually spent more time thinking about making the shade to the actual process of weaving.  It also had a snowshoe weave pattern with which I was familiar as they are the same as the rawhide seats on my Quebec/Virginia ladder back chairs I make.

I first measured the diameter of the top and bottom rings, divided by two and multiplied it by 2 pi [6.28\, that math I hated in high school comes in handy come to think of it.  I then cut a rather thick piece of maple veneer to 5/8″ wide and 40″+ for the top hoop or ring then not having veneer material long enough I used a rattan chair spline, for factory woven cane, I had left over from another job.  I cut it to 62″ long and put a scarf on each end so I could glue them together.  The maple was also slightly scarfed and roughened with a file to increase the surface area for the Fish Glue.


With some scrap aspen I made a framework to hold both hoops 11″ apart in such a manner as I could weave the cane material, while keeping the hoops in place.  I purchased chair caning, 250 feet of 3.5mm, just over 1/8″ wide, it was the widest they sold and the shortest length.  I figured I used about 60 feet to complete the shade.


I first did a test with some linen string to make sure everything worked out, the first attempt had too many purchases; so I reduced the number.  The number of runs needs to be odd for the weaving to work out.  It is also critical that the strands running diagonally to say the right must be on top while the strands running diagonally to the left need to run on the back to make the final horizontal weaving possible.


Instead of soaking the cane material in water, I only did that to take the folds and kinks out of the pieces then allowed them to dry completely.  For use I just got the parts wet where I was knotting them to the rims.  I did a test of a piece that was soaked and cut it 12″ long when wet, it shrank over 1/8 inch in length which would cause problems.  So I just got it wet where it was looped over the hoops.


When I was ready to match the ‘fumed’ stain on the lamp I had the client bring the lamp base over.  They asked if it fit and I said I have no idea if it will fit.  There was a pause then they said ‘you must be very confident that it will fit?’, to which I said yes, the diameters of the hoops did fit on the test fit and the height is right.


The picture below is showing a couple of sticks and a holdfast to flatten out the upper hoop that got a bit of a dip in it during the process, it worked out fine.


Because the material will not fume evenly because of the different materials, so I used shellac with red iron oxide, burnt umber, yellow ocher, and a touch of black iron oxide to get a good pigmented stain/finish that matched the original.  I had help from my apprentice with staining the entire shade, the horizontal strands were stained before they were woven in place.  A bit of fish glue on the ends finished things up.



This is only the second Arts & Crafts period piece I have worked on,  I built a white oak bookcase for a friend.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.







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.


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.



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.




May 3, 2013

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


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.


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