This is the current page, posts from 02/26/21 through today.
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This box that we started a month ago is finished and a first coat of poly applied. It is made from wood salvaged from a damaged piece of furniture found on the side of the road. I'm guessing it might be white pine, as it is soft and easily worked. Even so, it should last 100 years, as long as it doesn't get abused. Most furniture doesn't wear out, it gets broken or thrown away.
Looking for something small, useful and handsome that we could make in the shop, I thought about a tray to hold sewing machine bobbins. I wanted something that would hold a fair number of them, since I sometimes need ten or fifteen pre-wound for canvas projects, and I think that many people like to keep a lot of colors on hand. I also wanted it to have a lid to keep out dust between sewing sessions. We spent some time trying to figure out the geometry and joinery, both of us having some difficulty in wrapping our heads around how to cut the rabbets and make it so the cover would hinge open. Finally we decided to build a mock-up out of some 1/2 inch cutoffs left over from another project. In short order we had it cut out, nailed together, and fitted to allow the cover to swing back out of the way.
Now that we know how to do it, I hope we can make several of these boxes, in 3/8 inch stock, of some nicer wood, and maybe dimensioned a little taller to allow bobbins to be stacked three high. I think it would serve us to drive up to Wall Lumber and buy some stock already milled to thickness rather than try to do the resawing ourselves.
I know I would like to have one. As many people as we know who sew, we should be able to get rid of quite a few of these, if we decide to make them. And if the firefighters ever start having auctions again, I think these would sell like hotcakes.
No major projects under way at the shop, so we are working on a couple of small things; this box and a tool tote.
I read somewhere, probably in one of Tilman's books, that things should be stenciled with the boat name in order to make it easier for sailors coming across wreckage to know what boat went down. Old Bill had a mordant sense of humor, partly a result of losing two English Channel Pilot Cutters himself.
My cypress larder box has quite possibly gotten the hardest use of anything we have made in the woodshop. It gets drug across wooden and concrete docks, rained on, slammed across the cabin sole and any number of other abuses. Eight years after construction, it is scarred but solid. Yesterday I unpacked it, flipped it over, gave the bottom a light sanding, stencilled the boat name, and rubbed on a fresh coat of poly.
In general, I don't think that wood movement due to humidity changes is a real problem in modern furniture. Houses these days are heated and cooled, holding the humidity in a closer range. But in the case of the larder box, which would see much greater variations on the unheated and uncooled boat, we took it into account. We built it with cut nails, which are more likely to stay inserted than modern wire nails, and we only used glue in a couple of joints where the wood grain of both components ran in the same direction. Otherwise, wood movement due to humidity changes would have loosened the joints.
Our friend Graham gave Joe this solid old Craftsman table saw, and we spent some shop time getting it set up. First, we made a zero clearance insert to go in the blade well. Having one installed reduces tear-out and more importantly, makes it impossible for small pieces falling into the well and causing kick-back. Next, we made a panel to close off the end of the table, around the motor and belt. This contains the sawdust dropping below the blade and keeps the shop cleaner. Finally, we made another panel for the bottom of the table with a fitting to allow a shop-vac hose to be attached, which should help even more to control dust.
The DeWalt contractor's saw has served us well, and has a new blade in it. We'll probably still use it on occasion, especially when we need one of the specialized jigs we have made for it. But the Craftsman is much heavier and stronger, plus it uses a larger blade, so we can make deeper cuts. It vibrates less and has a bigger table. All around a better saw. We are glad to have it in the shop. Once all the work was done, we had a round of Highland Brewery IPAs.
A length of leaf spring makes a good pry bar. I found a broken one and made good use of it removing sections of caprail from my boat. Today, while I planed out new caprail stock to fair curves, Joe took a grinder to the end of the leaf spring to thin it and make it easier to slip under a joint.
Our primary intention for the woodshop when we started it back in 2013 was to make things for young people just starting to furnish their apartments. We wanted them to have at least a shelf, table or stand that was made out of solid wood with durable joints. Another thing they need is a few tools and a box to keep them in. We have built quite a few of these boxes and stocked them with tools, either extras from our own kits or inexpensive ones found at yard sales or ebay. Old tools are commonly better made than new ones, especially pliers and wrenches, and they can be purchased for a fraction of the price.
Our latest toolbox, for Marie, is built out of all salvage wood, and stocked with a hammer, a shop-made mallet, two sizes of screwdrivers in straight and phillips, slip-joint pliers, needle-nose pliers, channel locks, small level, and tape measure. All it needs is a roll of duct tape to be complete.
We left this in the clamps after the first day of work, glued it up the next, and it took over a month to get the finishing done. I've been out of town, and a big, high priority boat project got in the way. It's completed now, delivered and hung, and it looks good. I hope we make another one some day.
A project from last winter finally comes to payoff. Lars launches his battleship onto the waters of Horne Creek.
As long as we have the time and the tools, we're willing to take a stab at just about any woodworking project. My sailboat Terry Ann is in desperate need of new caprails. The original ones from when the boat was built in 1964 are badly eroded. Last time I was in Edenton, I pulled the first two sections off the starboard side of the boat and brought them home. This constitutes about 18 feet of board, half of one side.
We went to Wall Lumber to get suitable stock, with my first choice being cypress. They didn't have any in exactly the dimensions we were looking for, so I talked to one of the staff about perhaps using sapele. He was enthusiastic, and said he thought that would be a much better choice. His impression is that the new growth cypress that you can get now is nothing like the old growth wood and really not worth considering for boat work.
Sapele is an African hardwood that is often used as a substitute for mahogany. Ordinarily I don't use exotic hardwoods unless I have a good reason, but in this case it seemed justifiable. Sapele is not considered to be under sustainability pressure, but it is vulnerable to overexploitation. It is moderately to very resistant to rot, which makes it suitable for cap rails. While expensive, it is no worse than white oak or walnut. Quite a bit more expensive than cypress though. The staff person really helped us out, giving us one plank because it was warped and estimating the footage on the rest low. In the end, it didn't cost much more than the cypress would have, and after using it I feel like it is a much better wood for cap rails. It seems stronger and less liable to splinter and break than cypress.
The cap rail curves along the edge of the boat, capping the junction between the hull and the deck. The part that lies on top of the deck is curved, and that had to be cut out with a jigsaw, since we don't have a bandsaw. A fascia board runs along the edge and extends down three-quarters of an inch along the side of the hull. The two parts will be painted with Petit EZPoxy and attached to each other and to the boat with bronze screws and 3M 4200.
This project has a long way to go but it will be a major upgrade for the boat. The original cap rails as installed by Pearson Yachts in Bristol, R.I., are teak. When Terry Ann was built, the countries of East Asia were industriously cutting and milling their vast teak plantations, and the wood was considered cheap. Why not replace the cap rails with new teak? Things change. Teak now costs around $50 a board foot.
Mounted under the bridge deck on my boat is the shop-built panel box with a solar controller, fuse buss block and sockets for cigarette lighter and SAE connections. There is room to hard-wire a few appliances and add more sockets for other connection types.
The gnawed chair is repaired. A dog did the damage here, but it is not uncommon to find older furniture that has been gnawed by rats or mice. When a piece passes into its "old furniture" stage, it gets pushed into an attic, cellar, back room or barn, where it languishes, prey to water damage, extremes of heat and cold, and rodent depredation, until it becomes an antique, and then it is brought back into the light, repaired, restored, and placed in a position of honor.
Here is the set of hanging shelves. I'm looking forward to seeing this with the finish on it. I think it will look really good.
Joe picked up a Windsor-style chair with extensive gnawing damage. We took the legs and stringers apart and at first thought we might have to turn new ones, but some exploratory sanding suggested they were salvageable. Joe chucked them in the lathe and hit them with sandpaper, and then I did some detail sanding by hand. We managed to get them all cleaned up enough to be useable. We glued them back in place and will rub some kind of finish onto the sanded parts to get it to blend in - Old English scratch cover or Early American stain. Then we will probably give the whole thing a coat of poly and it should be ready to go back in service.
It was very interesting to see notations and reference lines on the bottom of the seat that make us think that someone replaced the seat at some time in the past. If so, they did a good job.
Since the chair repair turned out to be a quick, easy project, we started work on a hanging shelf to go in my mother's new apartment. I have long admired the hanging shelf in Kettell's Pine Furniture of Early New England, plate 128, and there is even a plan included in the back of the book. Since ours would not go into a corner, we scalloped both sides. I also modified the side profiles to make the distance between the bottom and middle shelves slightly larger.
Ours will be in cherry. We are getting close to finishing out the last of the 200 board feet that we bought at Wall Lumber in August 2018 to build the kitchen hutch that is at Levi's house. We have enough to build another of these hanging shelves, and we might do that. For that matter, they would look good in almost any kind of wood, and they are very simple and quick to build. We had this one in the clamps before we quit for the day, something of a speed record for us.
It's still a week and a day until Friday the 13th, but the household was accident-prone today. Joe, while extracting a leg from the Windsor, managed to jam it into his forehead. He hit it pretty hard - not as hard as Gary did in Morphine's "The Virgin Bride" - but hard enough to see stars. Then Marcia came downstairs with blood streaming out of her elbow where she had taken a fall, and Joe took a few minutes to patch her up. Let's be safe out there, everybody.
Not enough sun today to make much energy. I took the electrical panel home, painted it, wired it, and hooked it to my test bed 10 watt panel and battery. The fuse bus has plenty of room to hard-wire a few low-amp appliances once the panel is in place on the boat. There is room to wire in another receptacle if I ever need something more than the cigarette lighter and SAE ones already in place.
We glued up an electrical panel to mount the boat solar controller and a fuse block. There will be a cigarette lighter plug and an SAE automotive type plug to feed appliances that don't need to be permanently mounted, plus a few open locations on the fuse block in case I decide to hardwire a low-draw fan or light. The controller has two usb ports for phone and AA battery charging. I don't think we are going to give Square D any competition, but it will be a good custom panel.
Way back in April of 2017 we delivered this shoe rack to Marie and Levi, and it has sat near the front door of Wood Duck Road ever since.
We built this a year ago and it fits in place very well. I could see making a similar one sometime in the future.
We made the small mallet and cutting board years ago to keep on the boat. One side of the cutting board is used for rope work, and the other for cooking. Here we see a length of line with a freshly-tied sailmaker's whipping. The end has been cut off by heating the knife on the stove and then hammering it through the rope with the mallet. Any stray wisps are then burned off with the lighter. All that remains to do is to dip the rope end in a can of spar varnish.
Three of the four feet of the old chest needed repairs. Someone at an earlier date had attempted to fix them with nails and effected only a very temporary improvement. Older nail holes suggested that this was not the first attempt. We got all the extraneous hardware out, cleaned up the mating surfaces and reglued with Titebond III. This repair ought to last fifty years or so.
Due to time constraints, I took the DVD shelves we made for Marie home with me to finish. There I realized that we had not signed it, so I made a paper label and glued it on. We've done this a time or two before.
We are doing repairs on an old cedar chest. It appears a dog chewed on two corners. We cut back the damaged wood and replaced it with new blocks, and are working them down to the original profile. One foot is also loose. It is clear that someone tried to make repairs to the foot some time ago, but probably just made things worse. We will do it right, replacing wood if necessary, and get something more permanent. The more I look at the chest, the more I think it is quite old, probably from the early days of mass-produced, machine-made furniture, the 1870-1900 era. That makes it between 120 and 150 years old. In other words, it has survived past the stage of being "old furniture" and can now be considered a true antique.
Shop and splitting mallets don't last forever, so Joe recently built these two new ones. Only woodworkers who are diligent about finding salvage and free wood can afford to make mallets out of walnut. Joe found free walnut unsplit round stock on Craigslist.
Way back in June of 2014 we built several of these peg racks to put inside closet doors. A few minutes of work, close to eight years of service. I get no end of pleasure out of being able to make simple utility items rather than having to buy them. Counting all the boxes, crates, racks, step-stools, benches and larger pieces we have made since we started the shop in 2013 would probably total 300 or more items. They are scattered over dozens of homes and being made of solid wood with competent joinery, should last for generations.
Marie's DVD shelf is glued-up and in the clamps. When I told her it would hold about 90 DVDs she said "Well, that's a start".
Another Craigslist find, a generous load of seasoned black walnut; some of the logs' ends were sealed to help prevent splitting. Thanks Dave.
Earlier we built a box with a lexan cover to protect the instrument panel in the cockpit of my Alberg 35 yawl Terry Ann, now we have built one to cover the back of the panel, inside the boat under the bridge deck. I made a canvas pouch to hold wallet and keys, things that have no use when out sailing but must be kept safe and easy to locate, and attached it to the face of the box. As the cook aboard one of Bill Tilman's pilot cutters put it, "all things on a boat have a name and an assigned location", during his ongoing battle with the other crewmembers to maintain some sense of order in his galley.
This 16x20 box holds canvas and sailwork tools, supplies and materials. A big deep-throated stapler is what sailmakers use instead of pins for basting panels. Spur grommets require a special heavy grommet set and a mallet to drive them home. Big projects require hundreds of feet of thread, so it is best to keep large cones on hand. A few hand stitches are sometimes needed, so whipping thread and sailmaker's needles are good to have ready. YKK zipper stock and pulls. It's enough to fill up a good-sized box.
Last week we bought the wood - dimensioned lumber from Home Depot - to build a dvd rack for Marie, cut the boards to size, and glued up the wide side panels and shelves for the lower part. This week we cut the dadoes and fitted the shelves. With the project dry-fitted, we left it in the clamps which we have found helps to straighten out any bows, warps and twists in the wood. Next time we work we will glue it up.
In February 2019 Mark gave us some old pine planks from a torn-down deck. They had a fair amount of rot, nail holes and actual nails in them and were destined for the burn pile, but we took them to the shop, cleaned them up, cut around the bad spots, and got a lot of nice heart pine to use in projects. Today we finished milling out the very last offcuts and scraps into 1 1/2" x 3/8" slats to use in making boxes and crates.
Payday! Even though we don't sell anything we still call it payday when several projects all hit the finishing stage at once. Today we put a second coat on the dropleaf table, a fresh coat on the top of a small folding table of Marie's, first coats on two crates sized to hold DVDs, and a first coat on a large slide-top box. The box will give me a place to store canvas and sail materials and tools, including grommet sets, a large stapler (used in place of pins for basting heavy cloth), and cones of V-92 UV-resistant polyester thread.
We cut out and assembled the DVD crates out of scrap material left over from some earlier project, along with slats that we milled out "on spec" some time ago. It only took about an hour to make the two of them, and they will be something to sell at a firefighters' auction.
The top is pegged to the frame of the drop-leaf table. A little more light sanding and it will be ready for finish.
We finished building the battleships for Lars and Lex, all that remains to do is painting them. They each have 5 ounces of lead imbedded in the keels to keep them from capsizing. The rings in the stern are to attach lines so they can be let down the creek and retrieved.
Closing in on finishing the drop-leaf table we started in August, following plans in a book by TV celebrity woodworker Tommy "Mac" MacDonald. The tapered legs and the wooden hinges for the arms supporting the drop leaves were new details for us, but they didn't really present any difficulties. The top will need a lot of planing to get it level, and then we can attach the top to the frame, break all the edges, sand the surfaces smooth, and put on a few coats of poly.
Building boats for Lars and Lex. They will be four-stackers with gun turrets fore and aft. We will drill holes in the bottom and pot machine nuts in epoxy for ballast. Each boat will get a ring in the stern to attach a line so they can be let down the stream and retrieved.
It was a big day for glue-ups. We started with the top to the drop-leaf table, and ran into a lot of problems getting the edges joined closely enough to make a good glue joint. We finally used epoxy, which is a good gap filler. We mixed some sawdust in to get the color close. Once that was done, we did a couple of cuts on the hinged arms and then glued them to their backers. With the workbench covered in clamp jobs, we went outside and enjoyed what may have been the last warm day of fall, while knocking back a couple of rounds of beer.
Our friend Tom needed handles for his two-man crosscut saw, so we made them. Joe did most of the work, making metal spacers to keep the wood from rubbing on the saw blade, as well as hunting through the scrap pile to find a couple of good pieces of oak. I did the turning, and then we countersunk the screw heads and nuts that secure the handles to the saw. Joe had some time the next day and made a cover for the saw blade.
A couple of small utility projects to make the boat more comfortable and convenient. A toilet paper roll holder and a rack to hold bottles of hand wash and rinse water.
Here are the completed emergency plugs. An article about their use can be found at my sailing site.
Joe got this picture of me lathing a softwood plug for the boat. In an emergency, one can be hammered down into a broken seacock or hose to prevent the boat from flooding. I made four of them to have a couple for my boat and a couple to give away. Strikes me that delivery crew might want to keep one in their seabag. When you step on someone else's boat, you never know how well maintained or equipped it might be.
Lots of wood milled, some joined and ready for assembly. It all started as salvage, broken down furniture, random planks. It got pushed through the table saw, shaved and resawn, then cut to length on the chopsaw. A couple of good projects will come out of this.
Joe bought a book of plans and instructions by TV celebrity woodworker Tommy "Mac" MacDonald and found several projects that looked interesting. We decided to start with a drop-leaf table that features wooden finger-joint hinges. Joe designed and built a jig for making the hinges, and to prove it out we built a sample. We made one wrong cut, but even so it folds easily and looks good. We now have a working model and can build the two hinged arms that hold up the drop leaves with confidence. The legs are tapered and that required another jig. The frame is mortise and tenoned, which is getting to be old hat for us. The whole table will be built out of good solid yellow pine that we bought for some forgotten project a while ago.
When Miller Park Circle was built in 1947, the buildings each had a boiler in the basement that provided hot water and heat. In 2008 we converted to individual heat pumps and electric water heaters. The radiators now had no function, and some owners had theirs removed and the wall space sheet-rocked over. Some built shelves into the vacant wall spaces. Recently I decided to pull the radiator out of the bathroom and replace it with shelves. Joe and I constructed a unit out of cherry that would slide into the vacant wall space. Today I installed it, molding in the narrow gaps along the sides with some cherry-stained pieces from a broken picture frame. I'm quite pleased.
Long ago in the early days of the woodshop, we drove up to Mayodan and bought 100 board feet of cedar from Wall Lumber. The initial use was as the top to the table we built for Marie and Levi when they got their first apartment. Since then we have worked through most of it, and just a few board feet are left. Scraps have been used to make slide-top boxes and other small items. We found just enough cut-offs to make this step-stool, one of many but the only one of cedar.
This mahogany shelf in the starboard locker of my boat is a convenient, safe place to keep suntan lotion and a VHF radio. It also protects the engine control mechanism that extends through the side of the locker.
Three step-stools on the table at once for finishing. That's a lot - but not unprecedented. The one in front is oak, the next is cedar, the one in the back is pine.
The table looks good from every angle. It's a pleasure to have it in the house, until we find a permanent home for it.
Val turned up this attractive upholstered rocking chair. Joe repaired a broken frame, and now it is ready to go back into the parlor of a country Victorian home. Swan arm rockers were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Here's the cedar cart we made for Dee. No flat surface goes unused, right?
The half-round table looked great in the shop but it looks even better at home, so I have been taking lots of pictures of it.
Writing about finding and purchasing antiques in her book Fake, Fraud or Genuine, Myrna Kaye states that collectors should expect dealers to let them take an item home for a few days before finalizing the sale. That way they can do a thorough inspection to verify authenticity. She points out that "Antiques look far better at home than in the shop, and the dealer knows it". While our table is not an antique, it could pass for one to somebody who has not read Kaye's book.
We completed assembly on the dice tower. It may get a little more filling at the miters, and then a few coats of poly.
The half round table is finished. I took it home to enjoy until we decide what to do with it. We'll either give it to someone or donate it for a charity auction.
These projects have been in "inventory" for a while. Joe plans to take them to the burn survivors' meeting this weekend and give them away. That will give us room to build more, yeah!
We are still building these step-stools. This one, in oak, makes sixteen, though there may have been a couple more that didn't get pictured.
Here we have a partially-constructed dice tower. I didn't know that such a thing existed until I saw a short video on building one at Matt's Basement Workshop. My son-in-law Levi is a gamer and has periodic D&D games at his house, so we decided to build one for him. Joe had the idea of building it partially from polycarbonate. He drew it up and we cut out the wooden parts. While Joe milled the Macrolan ramps and sides, I cut the blind dadoes. We assembled it with E6000 construction glue. Remaining to do: band the top with wood and build a tray for the dice to exit onto.
The instrument panel for the new engine on my boat needs to be protected from salt water spray, so we built this cover at the shop. It will get a couple more coats of Pettit EZPoxy to help protect the locust wood. I'll probably install a magnetic catch to hold the marelon cover closed.
We put a coat of finish on the bench and I took it home. The next day I layered on three coats of spray-on polyurethane. The procedure is to put on a coat, wait a while for it to tack up, then put on another, and repeat until you have as many as you want. As long as it is less than two hours between coats, it is not necessary to sand. If the spray-on poly sits for over two hours, you have to wait three days and sand before the next coat.
Our long-time PATH friend Martha Emrey gave us several long shelving boards and we used a couple of them for this project. They had mahogany finish on them but it planed off easily.
I like this design and can see how it would be useful for many things. A family with school-age kids could keep one near the front door, for shoes and book bags. A little deeper, and without the lip on the front of the top shelf, it could serve as a seating bench. With more separation between the shelves, it could store paint cans, or any kind of canned goods, in the garage or shed. It is a good, easy to build, useful thing, what Chris Schwarz calls "furniture of necessity" - the kind of thing that a competent man would build to make life better for his family.
Payday. The bench got a first coat of polyurethene, the half-round table a second coat, and several smaller projects got finish as well.
Loosely patterned on the water bench in Kettell's Pine Furniture of Early New England, this piece will go next to my trestle table. It will provide a place to store shoes on the lower shelves, computer gear, keys and random small items on top.
Not all shop work is done in the shop, last week we hoisted the marten house back on its pole after repairs were made. Some discussion of strategy came to the use of the largest power tool to date, the 2006 Pontiac mini-van. Mission success. We'll see how long it lasts this time. Welcome Marten family.
Lex riding on the truck we built for Lars in February 2018. We've had to fix broken wheels a couple of times, but at least wooden toys are repairable. I don't think injection molded plastic would hold up to the kind of usage this truck gets, and of course, once it is broken, it goes to the dump. The old steel toys would have held up, but I don't think you can get them any more.
The stenciled mahogany boards are clearly from a shipping crate. We left them unplaned on the back and the underside of the top.
I wouldn't go so far as to call this little half-round table Federal, but it does share some of the characteristics of the popular post-Revolutionary War style. It is built of mahogany and features graceful, straight verticals and light construction. The prototype from Kettell's Pine Furniture of Early New England that this piece is modeled on was, I'm guessing, a provincial work along the lines of the sophisticated furniture being made in the cities, but without the intricate veneer and inlay. It is a far cry from the earlier post-medieval work with its heavy turnings, geometric carving and riven panels, or the William and Mary that followed, and even further removed from the mid-18th century Queen Anne with its cabriole legs and ornate, curving stretchers and capitals. I could see it as a precursor to Shaker style.
The table is almost complete, lacking a few details. The drawborne pins need to be cut off flush, the top needs to be attached, probably with glue blocks, and a few coats of polyurethane appled. Then it will go into inventory. It's a shame to push this nice piece to a dark corner in the basement, but in truth, neither of us knows anybody who needs a half-round mahogany table just now.
I'm almost finished with the table top, this vise is really making this process a lot easier.
Working on a mahogany half-round table modeled on one I saw in Russell Kettell's Pine Furniture of Early New England. Joe kerfed all around the table top and is now planing an indent, which should lighten the appearance of the top considerably.
Working on a mahogany half-round table modeled on one I saw in Russell Kettell's Pine Furniture of Early New England. Joe kerfed all around the table top and is now planing an indent, which should lighten the appearance of the top considerably.-- pmc.
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