Full Chisel Blog

April 29, 2011

Montana Spinning Wheel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:24 am

I keep posting about repairing Spinning Wheels and they keep coming in.  This one is from Montana, although it was made in Europe.  Scandinavian, Dutch, not really sure?  It doesn’t look like other Norwegian wheels and it has a unique design.  It is made of birch and birch burl and it has THREE bobbins, one of which is in perfect condition, one of the few in this condition I have ever seen.

I forgot the gnomon, the wheel is 21 inches in diameter.  The photograph below shows the detail of the base, the thick parts are made of birch burl.

Right above the rosette near the wheel are the initials AOS in a serrated border, probably the makers mark.  The shaping and scroll work on this makes it a unique piece.  It was a traveling wheel made to disassemble but parts of it have been glued together.  The nasty damage is on the wheel.

The nasty part is not the break nor the chew marks from a dog, the real nasty part of this damage is the attempted repair with modern glue.  Everyone knows how I feel about modern glues.  The owner is going to try and find one of the tapered spires on the inside of the wheel that had broken off, if not I will turn up another.  The pitman has been replaced and I would like to make a new one that matches.  It is also missing its distaff.

The bobbins are standard repairs except I need some birch burl and the pulley on the whorl is broken in a similar manner due to its endgrain orientation.  One arm of the flyer is broken off, but it is a clean break and will be a fairly easy repair.

Exceptional wheel, I will enjoy doing the restoration work [after I remove the modern glue].


April 25, 2011

Shellac, Linseed Oil & Paint – Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes, book cover

Here is the current version of the cover of the book Shellac, Linseed Oil & Paint Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes.

What do you think?


April 23, 2011

Dyeing wood with poplar buds

Filed under: Alchemy,Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:01 am

There are many dyes and stains [there is a difference] that are made from wood bark, roots, nut hulls and even fresh buds.  I just got a few to give this traditional method a test.

From a cottonwood tree next door these have been washed with water to remove dirt.  I also had to remove the harder bud sheath to get to the softer yellow material inside.  I then put it in some alcohol and allowed it to sit for a while.

The color looks a little green.  After standing in the sun for an hour the green [chlorophyll] faded a bit living it a more yellow color.  And the buds are a bit sticky but this went into solution in the alcohol.  I let it sit overnight before doing this test.

The color is a little off in this picture appears more yellowish in person.  This is a small test, I am going to try a couple of different species of poplar [Populus spp.].  I will concentrate this down and do another small test on wood.


April 20, 2011

Clarifying raw linseed oil

Filed under: Alchemy,Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 4:21 pm

Well that what the title of this blog post says.  Although if you look at this picture it doesn’t look clear at all!

This is raw linseed oil with two tablespoons of calcium carbonate, called whiting it is chalk, in a very fine pure grade.  Commonly used as a pigment, mild abrasive, filler and putty, calcium carbonate CaCO3 is used to clarify wine and beer it also has the unique ability of neutralizing acids by giving of CO2.  It has many other uses one of which is to clarify the oil, it will precipitate out the water soluble fatty acids and turn this raw linseed oil into a drying oil by chemically ‘boiling’ the raw oil.

Now this doesn’t look clear now, when I mixed it in I had to repeatedly shake the jar to get all of the larger particles into smaller ones and when no other large particles were observed, I will allow it to rest and settle out.  I will let natural stratification take place.  I will then decant of the oil for use.

Here is what it looked like after it had settled out overnight.  It will take longer for this to completely clear up, I will keep you posted.  This might be a good reason to build a centrifuge.

I am not sure how old this technique is but it appears that Rembrandt used nothing other than linseed oil and chalk in his painting mediums and they have not suffered from the acidification associated with very old linseed oil.  They don’t yellow, don’t wrinkle, don’t suffer from lead soap and seem to last unchanged.  That is good enough for me.


April 19, 2011

The Hide Glue Book

Filed under: Hide Glue,Historical Material,Of Interest,Publications,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 11:32 am

The Hide Glue book [Hide Glue – Historical & Practical Applications]  is now in its 4th printing, I just received a fresh shipment of books this morning.  I will rush a couple of boxes to Tools For Working Wood this afternoon.  [They still have some in stock.]


April 18, 2011

Sun thickened linseed oil

Filed under: Alchemy,Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:50 pm

I have started a batch of raw linseed oil that will one day become sun thickened linseed oil.  It has been and will continue to be exposed to all of the sunlight I can expose it to and so far it has been going for about 19 days.

The sample on the left has been exposed, the one on the right is fresh out of the can.  I perforated the lid and placed the one on the right in the back of my tool cabinet and will let it go about its job of ‘standing’ .  After a period of time it will become stand oil.  There are other ways to make this like boiling at a high temperature but this is much easier.

The advantage of sun thickened linseed oil or stand [linseed] oil is that they have begun the oxidation and polymerization process that makes them dry faster.  The thickening happens in both cases and this enhances flow of a paint or varnish and produces a higher gloss finish.  The oil also resists yellowing with age, reduces wrinkling and produces a very durable film finish.  The exposure to sun bleaches the remaining chlorophyll in the raw linseed oil.  Stand oil also lightens with age.

Linseed oil will dry to a lighter color if it is applied when the humidity is low.  When the humidity is high linseed oil will dry darker and may be prone to mold.


April 15, 2011

Sympathetic Ink

Filed under: Alchemy,Historical Material,Of Interest — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:05 am

My bottle was all dried up, so I decided to make a new batch.  I should have made a larger quantity, but this will do.  Sympathetic Ink has a couple of definitions, some are invisible inks, this one is different however and is based on an old formula.  It has little to do with woodworking, but amusing non-the-less. 


I started with distilled water and some ‘picked’ gum Arabic.  I ‘picked’ or ‘garbled’ the gum by selecting the lightest colored pieces for this application.  It dissolves readily.  Water is the solvent and gum Arabic is the binder.

And now for the color, cobalt chloride (CoCl2), rather pricey material, I bought the smallest container and now have a lifetime supply.  So I am going to start selling this and my iron gall ink.  This is an interest chemical that has a variety of uses one of which is an indicator of the presence of other chemicals.  When mixed up with water it is a red ink,  when writing and dries to a blue color  and when it becomes moist, from your breath or humid weather it turns red again.  When mixed with alcohol it is a light blue ink and can be rubbed with water to disappear.  It can be made visible with a variety of methods.

Here is a fresh ‘wet’ example:


Here is one half dry:


And here is the sample after it has completely dried:


The ink acts as a hygrometer, blue when it is dry or fair and red when it is wet and stormy.


April 6, 2011

How to ‘boil’ raw linseed oil with Garlic

I am not making this stuff up.  I was impressed with the use of garlic to make hide glue stick to smooth surfaces, I covered this in Hide Glue – Historical & Practical Applications.  While researching the Shellac, Linseed Oil & Paint, I came across the use of garlic and here is just one of those fun things you can do with garlic.  This technique dates from well before 1800.

Raw linseed oil takes a long time to dry [two to four days] according to the label, so it is common to boil linseed oil to a temperature of around 225° F, or to add chemical driers to the raw linseed oil to chemically ‘boil’.  Well there is yet another way and that is to add fresh crushed garlic to raw linseed oil.

While it starts out clear after one day it turned cloudy.  Below is a picture showing three different stages, on the left is raw linseed oil [this is becoming sun thickened linseed oil] then the garlic in raw linseed oil and on the right is the linseed oil that I washed [previous post].  The garlic does lighten the color of raw linseed oil after one day.

Now the washing process that I discussed earlier did remove a great deal of the odor of the raw linseed oil.  With this stuff you can not smell the raw linseed oil at all.

While it was a bit turbid yesterday when I took this photograph, today it is a bit clearer and I will put it in a balneum mariæ with the lid removed to drive off any water and other volatiles.


April 2, 2011

Washing Raw Linseed Oil

Filed under: Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:21 am

I was going to post this yesterday, but thought you might think it a joke.  No that is exactly what I did, I took some raw linseed oil and using a late eighteenth, early nineteenth century technique, washed the raw linseed oil.  And you may ask now why would I do that?  And that is a very good question.   Perhaps it is the rebel in me that spurs me on to go beyond what I have been told you shouldn’t or could not do.  I know water and oil don’t mix, but there is a very good reason for going through this process.

This is raw linseed oil that is commercially available.

This has water, sand [black sand in this case as that is all I had] and salt.  The water is the solvent, the sand is the physical part and the salt is the base.  This method was described and I have read of several other methods of improving raw linseed oil.  The mixture is agitated.

I then allow it to settle and as you can see in the picture below the water has gone turbid or cloudy.  These are the dissolved water soluble fatty acids.  And these are the things that cause linseed oil to wrinkle, slow down the drying process and cause yellowing of the linseed oil.  The process also removes much of the odor.

After several agitations and allowing the mixture to settle and separate out then it is time to decant it off.  The separation layer is called the ‘break’.

After it was decanted off and I removed as much water as I could physically, I put small amounts of the oil in a test tube and warmed them up to drive off the water.  Here is a comparison of a tube full of raw linseed oil on the right, next to a test tube of washed and ‘dried’ linseed oil on the left.

I am making some sun thickened linseed oil and some stand oil but that will take much longer to do.  I will however post a very interesting and simple way to make boiled linseed oil.


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