Full Chisel Blog

January 30, 2011

Very Old Wood

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized,Wood — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:17 pm

I have a few very old things; mastodon bone, petrified wood and fossil amber and now I have a piece of workable wood that is between 30,000 to 50,000 years old.  I would encourage everyone to get at least a piece of this wood, a real piece of history.  You can purchase it here at WoodCraft Supply.  I have no connection and receive no compensation for this post. 

I just think that if I can own and work a piece of wood that old, it is a once in a life time opportunity and well worth the cost.  I am even going to save the sawdust and chips and burn them to smell what a paleolithic campfire might have smelled like.  Complete immersion in history.


January 27, 2011

Shop Window

My new shop has an opening in the door that at one time held an air conditioner.  I have since removed the modern contrivance and this is what I have.

Does let the light through and doesn’t look that great.  So I decided to make a simple window.  As I learned there is no such thing as a simple window.


I first ripped out the pieces, mostly 3/4 inch pine with a stool of inch thick stuff.  For some of the parts I made multiple layout lines and cut them all at once.  Well one at a time anyway.


And not having a sash plane, seldom needed for what I do, but I sure could have used one on this job.  Instead I used a slitting gauge to make all of the rabbits.  So instead of shooting rabbits I was slitting rabbits.  I reversed the blade in the slitting gauge set it to 1/4 in depth and the fence to 1/4 inch wide.  I then slit out the small pieces of wood resulting in no waste or shavings.    I finished the cuts with the fine blade felt knife, which I need to add some nice snakewood scales.  I used the small waste pieces for some of the stops.


It has two sliding sashes that are saddle joined at the corners and will be pegged and glued with hide glue treated with alum to make it waterproof.  The rabbit joint went all around the inside of the rails and styles and I haunched the rails to cover the rabbit on the styles.

I will treat it all with linseed oil/turpentine mix and allow to dry before glazing the ‘antique glass’ lites in with zinc glazing pins and oil based glazing compound.

I will have to make a screen before spring.


January 25, 2011

Vintage Varnish Can

Filed under: Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 1:43 pm

Why don’t they make finish cans look like this anymore?  Remindes me of a Dr. Bonner’s Soap bottle label.

I am not sure of the age of this can but it is full and never opened.

There is a stamp in the bottom that says: CANCO.

Even the top is attractive.  There is some bulging on the top and the lid is sealed and never opened.


January 20, 2011

Please Do Not use modern glue to repair old furniture.

Prior to World War II (1945) all furniture was glued together with what everyone called ‘glue’, that being animal or hide glue.  It is great glue for that purpose and because it is reversible, it is very easy to repair.  Simply clean off any dirt, old dried glue will be reconstituted when new hide glue is introduced.  You can use heat or steam to soften hide glue and it cleans up with water.

So far this year I have repaired 4 pieces all of which were ‘repaired’ with modern glue.  Two chairs were particularly insidious in that they needed to have the factory woven cane replaced and remnants of the old had been glued in with modern yellow glue.  To make matters worse the spline wasn’t normal rattan it was maple, what a nightmare. 

Then a recent chair glued with expanding poly-urethane primate glue.  ‘Great at void filling!’ they tout, but the void is filled with hundreds of little voids with no structural strength.  And it is nasty to remove.

You can see the fuzzy foam that did not tighten the joint but forced it apart.

And look how it filled that gap, lots of little brittle bubbles that required an hour to clean up two joints in this chair.  I used a broken coping saw blade to scrape the joint as I could not take it apart because of the intact caned seat.

So please if you are going to repair old broken furniture do not use modern glue; not white, not yellow, not poxy nor poly.  Get some ground hide glue and a glue pot or just a bottle of the liquid ready to use stuff from Titebond/Franklin or Patrick Edwards Old Brown Glue.  And if you are making furniture remember in the future it is going to break, so use hide glue so the person doing the repair is not muttering under their breath.

This post was originally much longer but I edited out all of the cuss words.


January 19, 2011

Top 100 Carpentry Blogs

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:08 am

Who knew?  I received an e-mail from a nice person telling me that my blog was was selected for the list of 100 top Carpentry blogs.  Here is the link Top 100 Carpentry Blogs

You have to scroll down, this blog is No. 99 on the overal list.

The site is PhD Programs, not sure what it has to do with woodworking.


January 15, 2011

Bee Smoker Bellows

I may have posted this picture earlier when I made the wooden parts for this bee smoker.  Made of pine, hand planed, one small hole for the air to exit and one large hole for the air to enter.  The remaining parts will be made by Shay Lelegren at Hot Dip Tin.  It took me a while to find the proper thin oak tanned leather for the bellows.


I made a full size paper pattern approximating how wide I have seen other bee smoker bellows open.  It was a guess, and it turned out fine,  4 1/2″ at the widest, tapering down to the thickness of the two pine boards.  I then transferred the pattern to the leather cut it out and used fish glue to glue the leather to the wood as I tacked it onto the boards with traditional carpet tacks.  I did one segment at a time to keep everything straight.  I used a leather welt like the original.  The front narrow edge has the leather doubled up to act as a hinge.  There is a leather flap that acts as a one way valve only allowing air to enter the bellows chamber.  When it is squeezed the air blows out a small hole on the opposite side.  This will go into a tin container that is holding the smoldering material making the smoke.  This forces the smoke out the tin funnel shape focusing it onto the bees to sedate them.


January 14, 2011


Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:34 am

Of course you all know the Jack Plane; Fore plane, Moxon said it was called the fore plane ‘because it was used before you come to work either the Smooth Plane or the Joynter.’  Twelve to 18 inches long, open or closed handle and with a radius [convex, cambered, etc.] blade.  All of the marks you see on the underside of old furniture are not made with a scrub plane [which is used for edge reduction] but are made with the Jack Plane.

Short for John.

Jack, a man or the figure of one.  A man of the common people, a lad, a fellow, chap, ‘knave’. 

Royalty in playing cards, just below the Queen, in hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs.

A familial appellation for a sailor, Jack Tar.

Various contrivances consisting of rollers and winch.

A wooden frame for sawing wood or timber upon.

A machine for lifting.

A clockworks machine; clock jack, chimney jack, etc.

A device used instead of a boy to remove boots, a boot jack.

A wooden wedge to split rocks.

Part of a virginal, spinet or harpsichord made of wood that holds the quill that plucks the string.

An engine to lift a carriage or wagon.

The least bit, a whit.

In bowls, the mark or target set out for the bowlers to take aim.

A farthing.

A term for money

A coin with a head on both sides for cheating.

A half a pint.

A roasting jack for cooking meat, etc., before a fire.

A fire basket [cresset] for illumination when hunting or fishing at night.

A male hawk or mule.

Some birds and fish, e.g. young pike.

Jack bat is a vessel for straining wort during brewing.

A pitch or wax lined leather drinking tankard.

A small navel flag.

Jack rafter, timber, etc., that which is shorter.

Jack in a box, a large wooden male screw turning in a female one.

‘Cutting out top near its size, a long bridge and jacking off ditto.’ 1833 New York Pianoforte

Jacked over

Rough Jacking

Every man jack of you.

[These are old usages; there are other modern terms that have also used the word ‘jack’].

I met Jack about 25 years ago at coffee one morning, nice guy.


January 10, 2011

Keep your feet off the furniture!

Filed under: Finishing,Furniture,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 11:33 am

My six word epitaph.

Dust the furniture regularly using a feather duster.  When sweeping or mopping avoid abrasion to furniture legs, etc. and dry any parts without delay.  A damp (not wet) rag can be used to clean up any stubborn surface accumulations, finish with a clean dry cloth.  Do not us any modern spray chemicals to clean furniture. 

Wipe up all spilled water immediately.  Cups, mugs, jugs and other containers filled with cold liquid can ‘sweat’, surface water condensing on the outside and dripping onto furniture.  Use coasters, placemats or doilies to protect wooden surfaces.  Wipe up any food spills right away using a damp rag and detail with dry cloth or rag.

Do not write directly on tables, desks or other flat surfaces without providing protection, blotter paper, writing desk with proper writing surfaces as this can cause indentations in the softwood surfaces.  Wipe up ink spills immediately, the oak gall ink can be washed out of rags and clothing if done right away within 24 hours.

Do not drop anything heavy on furniture as it will dent or gouge the soft woods.  Do not drag heavy objects across furniture.  Protect table tops from heavy objects or objects with rough bottoms such as pottery with a runner, tablecloth or doilies.  Protect tops from hot utensils with proper trivets or cloth pads to save the surface from harm.

Do not pick up chairs by their arms or cresting rails.  Pick up the chair by the seat using both hands.  Do not drag a chair across the floor; it is bad for both chair and floor.  If you have to move a table, do not pick it up by the top but by the apron.  Do not drag tables or any other furniture across the floor.  Get someone to help you move heavy or awkward furniture; it is easy on both furniture and yourself. 

Do not lean or sit neither on tables nor on the arms of chairs.  Do not put your feet on furniture especially the front rungs of chairs and politely discourage guests from doing so.  Do not stand on chairs, it is dangerous and can damage the chairs, use foot stools, step stools or ladders.  Grit on shoes can damage furniture.  Do not lean back and tip onto the rear legs of chairs. 

Keep wooden furniture away from working fireplaces and stoves, protect surfaces from lamp oil spills and candle drippings.  Keep furniture out of direct sunlight if possible.

If doors or drawers are stuck in furniture, do not force them, see if the furniture is sitting squarely and not out of plumb affecting the moving parts.  If there are wedges under the legs of furniture make sure they are in place.  Never pull on just one handle or knob if there are two, apply even pressure with both hands.

Thank you.


January 4, 2011

Turpentine and Turpentine

Filed under: Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:28 pm

Turpentine – during the nineteenth century ‘turpentine’ was differentiated from ‘spirit of turpentine’ or ‘oil of turpentine’, the latter being the distilled spirit solvent.  Raw (crude) turpentine is described as having the consistency of honey and it is basically the sap of the tree that has not been oxidized or distilled.  This is added like a resin to various varnish and paint finish recipes. 

Terebrinth – of or pertaining to turpentine.

Recipe from The Joiner and Cabinet Maker, 1839:

             Rectified spirits of wine              1 quart

            Gum shell-lac                                  1 ounce

            Gum seed-lac                                  1 ounce

            Venice turpentine                       1 ½ ounce*

*indicates this is in solid not liquid form

Turpentine – Spirit[s] of Turpentine, oil of turpentine, spirits of gum turpentine – (C10H16) an oleoresin from the distillation of the sap [raw turpentine] of; pine, fir, spruce, larch and a number of other conifers.  French or Bordeaux turpentine are from Pinus pinaster or P. maritima, Venice turpentine is from Larch (Larix spp. or Pinus Larix). Chian turpentine also called Chios turpentine, Scio turpentine or Cyprian turpentine, this one considered by some to be the finest.  Canadian turpentine from Balsam fir trees is by far the most common.  Spirits of turpentine is flammable, has a flash point of 90-95° (F), boils between 302 to 356° F, a lower ignition limit of 8% and auto ignition at 476°F, has a specific gravity of 0.89, is soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, acetic acid and is insoluble in water.  Turpentine has a molecular weight of 136.112, and a dielectric constant of 2.2 at 68° (F),is not photo reactive and is considered a non polar solvent, but can dissolve polar substances [solutes].

J. Davies Manual Materia Medica, 1831 – American Turpentine, Pinus palistris Lin P. australis, Michaux from the southern states, Terebinthina communis, common turpentine from P. sylvestris, P. rubra.  Bordeaux turpentine T. picea from P. maritima, Lin. Bordeaus pine.  Strasbourg turpentine T. abietina from P. picea, silver fir tree.  Venice turpentine T. laricea from P. larix, white larch.  Canadian / Balsam fir turpentine from P. balsamea, American silver fir.

Tar, pitch and turpentine mentioned as products of Virginia as early as 1610, the full scale production of oil of turpentine did not start in America until the second half of the eighteenth century.

“To make turpentine varnish.

Mix one gallon of oil of turpentine, and five pounds of powdered rosin put it in a tin can, on a stove, and let it boil for half an hour.  When cool, it is fit for use.” 1829

Spirit based varnish recipes can be either spirits of wine [alcohol] or spirits of turpentine.

Turpentine is best stored in non-metallic containers such as glass or ceramic.  Venice turpentine is used by veterinarians to treat horses hooves and English turpentine is used in fine art painting.

Strong alcoholic beverages were said ‘to go down like lighted turpentine’.

DMSO a natural treatment for arthritis is refined turpentine.  If you use turpentine regularly, ticks won’t bite.  Care should be taken when using turpentine read the MSDS for all warnings.

Colophony – [rosin, yellow resin] a byproduct of turpentine distillation, the sap from various pines, fir, spruce and other conifers, is collected and distilled.  After removing the turpentine and all the water has been driven off, the resulting dross is colophony rosin.  It is a vitreous, brittle Abietic Anhydride that melts at 80-100° [F] with a specific gravity of 1.045 to 1.085, and fractures in a conchoidal manner. Soluble in alcohol, benzene, ether, glacial acetic acids, oils and solutions of fixed alkali hydroxides, it varies from pale yellow to dark brown depending on grade.  Colophony rosin can be hardened by the addition of 2 to 5% lime, taking care not to turn it into soap, zinc oxide also hardens rosin.  It is interesting that after it is made it is not readily soluble with turpentine.  Acts as a dryer in varnish when added as an ingredient.

Rosin is also the slang term for an alcoholic beverage imbibed by musicians.


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