Full Chisel Blog

March 30, 2012

Making grape vine charcoal pigment

Filed under: Alchemy,Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:57 am

After harvesting my grape vines, you can only make so many wreaths from the vines, I had a lot left over, so I decided to make up some more charcoal/pigment.  I did talk of this earlier on this post, however this is just grape vines [Vitis spp.].

I took a little bucket that I have for small scraps of various pieces of wood and my nice brazier made by blacksmith Brian Westover.

A sliver of veneer was easy to ignite and I used it together with some pine scraps to get the fire going.  I also used some grapevines in the fire.  It reminded me of the tryworks on whaling ships that used the rendered cracklings of blubber to fuel the fire.

A small hole in the lid of this tin cannister allows the gas to escape, it also came out around the lid itself.  The cannister is tightly packed with grape vines and most of them were turned to charcoal/pigment.

I did put a new handle on the brazier, the one in the first photograph is from my other brazier.




March 28, 2012

Leg repair – finished

I finished the repair with a couple of coats of shellac, sprayed on using a mouth atomizer.  I had to soak the atomizer in alcohol to clean it out to make it work properly.  This is important as a blocked or slightly blocked atomizer just doesn’t work properly.  I could tell when I immediately got light headed from trying to force the atomizer to work under less then ideal conditions.

Two other legs [not repaired] on one end were not damaged but the joints were loose, so I worried them apart, cleaned the joint [of old hide glue fortunately] and glued the legs on one at a time.

Once this the hot hide glue set up overnight, I glued on the other leg.  Then it came time to glue on the repaired leg.  I had drilled the two holes for the dowels [one replacement] using a twist auger bit and a duck billed spoon bit in a brace.  Once I was happy with the fit, I glued it with hot hide glue.

I did have one glue up fiasco where I could not get the joint up tight after three attempts, so I took the joint apart and cleaned off the gelled glue and allowed it to dry overnight.  I cleaned things up again after it had dried overnight, got the joint tight, the dowel was slightly too long, which I did not notice during dry fit up.

One thing I like about my little glue pot is that I can mix up a small quantity for a small job.  One teaspoon of granular hide glue and two teaspoons of distilled water gave just the proper consistency.

I will remove the clamps today and wash the table with soap and water then treat it with a coat of Moses T’s Reviver to bring it back to near original condition.



March 21, 2012

Making a dowel

In the process of restoring this table leg, I needed a 1/2″ diameter hardwood dowel, two inches long.  I spent about 20 minutes looking for a half inch dowel, and do you think I could find just two inches?  No I could not.  I got out my dowel plate and decided to make my own.

I made my dowel plate from a section of wagon wheel tire, it is true wrought iron.  The large stepped hole in the center was for a tire bolt.  The holes are drilled the size of the dowel, then the top edge is turned by hitting it with a ball-peen hammer then using a cold chisel I serrated the edges of the hole to score the wood as it is going through the plate.

I cut a three inch piece of hickory and split off the cut sides to insure the grain runs straight through the dowel.  I could not put my hands on my basket froe, so I used my small froe to split the piece.

I then split off the corners and whittled down the end to go in the proper hole in the dowel plate.  I also used a rasp to chamfer the top edge to prevent edge chipping as I drove the piece of hard hickory through the plate.

I placed the blank into the proper hole and positioned the dowel plate over a hole in my workbench.  I started with a round carvers mallet.

I then had to move on to the froe maul.

And pound and pound and stop and move the things on the bench dancing toward the edge, back to safety then continue to pound.

After I had driven it through the plate, I turned it end for end and pounded it through again to smooth out some of the ragged surface.

In less than 10 minutes I had this dowel done and that includes the time it took to take a picture of each process.  I think next time I am at a store that sells hardwood dowels I will have to pick up a couple of half inch.  But for this application, this is the way to go, nice straight grain and grooves to provide a key for the hide glue.



March 18, 2012

Leg repair continued

I started this repair much earlier and am getting down to the finishing process, this is how it came out.

I then did some darkening with burnt umber in shellac, then added a wash of shellac and yellow ocher dry powdered pigment.  After it dried I mixed up a bit of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil, and kieselguhr [rottenstone, Tripoli, diatomaceous earth], and rubbed into the grain of the new wood to fill the pores of the mahogany.

It is a bit hazy and should get even more hazy as the oil dries.  It is raining today so it may take an extra day to dry out before it can be sanded and the finish process continues.


March 15, 2012

Table leg repair

I started this repair earlier with a comment on nasty foaming glue.  I first rough shaped the replacement piece to near its finished size, leaving the details where the joint shows until after I have glued the replacement piece in place.

The problem was then how to clamp it together as it is an odd shape.  I considered making a special jig for clamping then I decided to break out the pegboard.  Now my pegboard is 17″ wide, 36″ long and nearly 1 1/2″ thick piece of poplar with 55 holes drilled in rows.

I positioned the leg with the aid of pegs and wedges and the addition of a couple of clamps to hold it place.  I used 192 gram strength granulated hide glue from Tools for Working Wood in New York.  I heated it up in my newly re-tinned small glue pot and applied it to both surfaces [which were previously toothed with a toothing plane].  At the same time I warmed up both pieces to avoid chilling the hot hide glue.

After the glue dried, I drilled two 1/4″ holes on the underside and glued in two birch dowels.  I tried first with a twist auger, didn’t work well, then a gouge bit, again slow going, then I used a gimlet bit and it went quickly.  I flattened out the bottom of the hole with the twist auger then glued the dowels in place.

I trimmed off the dowels and using the same tools for shaping brought the surfaces to match.  There is a little gap on the front edge which I filled with putty [linseed oil, whiting {calcium carbonate}, and red iron oxide and burnt umber pigment].  This will take a couple of days to dry, then on with finishing.


March 13, 2012

Twin Bill Hardy Hole Anvil – Rockwell 58

Got the new anvils and they are hardened to RC 58, harder than the previous anvils [which will be rehardened].  Also took care of some of the bad factory grinding and all of the anvils look great now.

I will put these up for sale in the Full Chisel Store soon.  Price $225.00 FOB Salt Lake City, Utah and domestic shipping $12.00, shipping to Canada $35.00.


March 11, 2012

Cold tinning process for a hot hide glue pot.

When I first took up woodworking I came across a reference that in the nineteenth century, Gypsies in Europe would travel around and re-tin copper, brass, and iron pots over a fire with a stick and a rag and some chemical formula.  After not ever finding a reference, I thought it might be folklore.

Then I published The Universal Receipt Book which had a formula that would work under those conditions.  Of course a stick and rag would ignite in molten tin, so this process was something else.  I immediately gave it a try and it worked.  I have ‘cold’ tinned a number of pieces and thought it was time to tin my little glue pot.

I first soaked the cast iron glue pot in vinegar for 4 days to clean off the rust.  I scraped it with a putty knife and thought I got all of the rust.  I then treated all of the inside surfaces that needed tinning with distilled water and sal ammoniac [ammonium chloride] to prepare the iron for tinning.

I then prepared the tinning solution as described in the Universal Recipt Book, put it on the stove and let it boil for 20 minutes.  The inside and outside of the inner pot tinned up just fine, however the inside of the water jacket only had the tin on certain areas and not in others.  I then noticed some sort of junk that the vinegar and sal ammoniac missed.  I think I will try some commercial stripper, and if that doesn’t work, I will heat it up and burn off what ever is contaminating the surface.

You can see the tin coating on the glue pot.  I have a repair to do and need the glue pot, and when I am done I will re-tin the water jacket after it is properly cleaned.



March 9, 2012

Foaming Polyurethane Glue disaster

I started this project a while back, and it has been hidden in the corner of the shop until I recently started to clean and organize my shop.  The leg was badly repaired and broken again, here are details.

When I first started repairing old furniture about 40 years ago, my nemosis was modern white and yellow glue, then hot glue guns became the rage and just when I didn’t think things could get worse, foaming polyurethane glue was introduced.  Me against modern technology, and the new stuff beat me on this one.,

I had to make a decision, try and get the pieces clean enough to re-glue, which is what I normally do, trying to save as much of the original as possible.  In this case the damage was so catastrophic that I had no choice but to remove all of the damage and put in a new piece.

After I sawed off the damaged wood I used a toothing plane to get it flat and properly prepared for hot hide glue.  I fashioned a new piece separately and will glue it on the the existing leg then do the final feathering of the details.

I loaned my large glue pot to a friend and am in the process of cleaning and re-tinning my small one, so I will have to do a makeshift glue-pot for this repair.




March 6, 2012

Steel Graining Comb wallet

Filed under: Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:44 pm

I know, I should be cleaning up my shop, it has been 5 days now and I am still not done.  I have come across many interesting items during the cleaning and organization.  I have been meaning to make a wallet for these 12 steel graining combs for a while now.

I did make a wallet for my tombstone scrapers and am using the same hair cell pig skin and linen thread.  These wallets protect the tools, I have another one I am going to make for some additional odd shape scrapers.

Back to cleaning the shop.


March 5, 2012

Finishing Louisiana Furnishings

Filed under: Finishing,Furniture,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:52 am

Is the title of the lecture I will present in New Orleans Louisiana on April 19,2012 for The Historic New Orleans Collection during their exhibit of Louisiana Furnishings 1735-1835.  The collection is beautifully rendered in the catalogue book, the back cover below shows a painted and grained Armoire 1815-1830.

I purchased my airline ticket today, first time flying [in an airplane] since 1999, should be interesting.

The lecture will be based on Shellac, Linseed Oil, & Paint – Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes, and will cover all types of finishes used on furniture of the Mississippi River from the 18th through the 19th century.  This lecture is for the general public and will be on April 20th [my birthday] at 6:00 o’clock PM and finishes up by 8 with question and answer period.  The lecture will be at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

The following day will be an in-depth traditional finish workshop for curators, collectors, conservators and interested woodworkers.  Both the lecture and workshop are free to the public, but please contact The Historic New Orleans Collection for a reservation.

Should be fun.


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