The Woodshop at Joe's Basement

This is the current page, posts from 02/26/21 through today.
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May 12th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

May 6th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

May 5th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

May 1st, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

April 29th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

April 23rd, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

April 22nd, 2022

Posted by Paul


We built this a year ago and it fits in place very well. I could see making a similar one sometime in the future.

April 18th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

April 6th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

April 1st, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

April 1st, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

March 22nd, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

March 15th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

March 13th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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".

March 11th, 2022

Posted by Joe


Another Craigslist find, a generous load of seasoned black walnut; some of the logs' ends were sealed to help prevent splitting. Thanks Dave.

March 8th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

February 22nd, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

February 22nd, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

February 15th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

February 9th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

January 28th, 2022

Posted by Paul


The top is pegged to the frame of the drop-leaf table. A little more light sanding and it will be ready for finish.

January 6th, 2022

Posted by Paul


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.

December 28th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

December 9th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

November 15th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

November 13th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

November 1st, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

October 12th, 2021

Posted by Paul


Here are the completed emergency plugs. An article about their use can be found at my sailing site.

October 11th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

October 6th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

August 19th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

August 11th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

August 8th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

July 27th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

July 6th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

July 5th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

June 30th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

June 3rd, 2021

Posted by Paul


Here's the cedar cart we made for Dee. No flat surface goes unused, right?

May 16th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

May 14th, 2021

Posted by Paul


We completed assembly on the dice tower. It may get a little more filling at the miters, and then a few coats of poly.

May 9th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

May 5th, 2021

Posted by Paul


The completed train box.

April 22nd, 2021

Posted by Paul


The oak step stool looks really good with a first coat of poly.

April 15th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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!

April 15th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

April 15th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

April 4th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

April 4th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

April 2nd, 2021

Posted by Paul


Payday. The bench got a first coat of polyurethene, the half-round table a second coat, and several smaller projects got finish as well.

March 25th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

March 17th, 2021

Posted by Joe


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.

March 17th, 2021

Posted by Paul


First coat of finish on the half-round mahogany table.

March 12th, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

March 3rd, 2021

Posted by Paul


The stenciled mahogany boards are clearly from a shipping crate. We left them unplaned on the back and the underside of the top.

March 3rd, 2021

Posted by Paul


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.

February 27th, 2021

Posted by Joe


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. -- pmc.

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