Tuesday, June 6, 2017

School Box Class at Lie-Nielsen Tool Works

On June 3rd & 4th I was invited to teach a class at Lie Nielsen Tool Works, located in Warren, Maine. For me this is a humbling opportunity and well now its an experience.  I am happy to say the class was sold out and everyone learned a ton and had fun. Many of the students completed the school box and many are in the final stages of completion.  

If you don't know of the school box project than please head over to Lost Art Press and take a look at the amazing book titled, "The Joiner and Cabinetmaker". The school box is one of three projects detailed in the book.   

Jim was one of those students that was so good that I had to keep up with him . 

 The two photographs above are from my studio where I am in middle of making the school box. I always make the project before the class starts to prepare myself mentally and verbally. More importantly I consider the possible mistakes that may occur and the possible options to correct the possible mistakes.

Highlights of the class....

Planes just hanging out. Ready to be used and tested. 

All the saws are sharp and ready for work. 

The students hard at work. 

Deneb from Lie Nielsen going over the honing guide, the sharpening process, and the ruler trick. I think I am  a convert. 
 Highlights of the showroom....

Every tool Lie Nielsen offers is available for use. 

I went and visited a BNB that a few of the Cerritos Woodworking College Students were staying at.
The view was amazing. 

Hanging cabinet by Chris Schwarz.
Another highlight of the weekend was Liz my assistant in the class. Liz works at Lie Nielsen and has a major in furniture design and making.  I personally think Liz will make a great instructor. The passion she has and the skill she possess is just amazing. 


Camerino was one of two students from the Cerritos College of Woodworking.  I honestly have never seen a modern woodworker cut dovetails so flawless and so perfect. It was scary how skilled this kid was. I wish he lived closer so I can hire him to work with me. 

Just about every 1/2 hour I would inform the class that if this starts to feel like work it means its time to sharpen. 

Mark was very happy in the progress. 

Mr. Carpenter was a hard worker. There was huge progress in the hand skills after this weekend. 

There may not be many of us FIMsters but one thing is certain we are damn good. 

Glue up time. 

Nailing the bottom. 

Cut away plane. 

Cut away low angle jack. 

We use blue tape to hold things in place while the glue dries. 

Eric one the students from Cerritos Woodworking School in California. I took this image because he reminds me of Cheech. In all seriousness Eric is very talented and a great person. I hope he is very success in his woodworking career. 

Benjamin another student from Cerritos College is a great person. So skilled and passionate. Benjamin and I have a lot  in common. I wish he lived closer. I think we would become great friends. Another young man that I would love to hire. 

Just fitting those dovetails. These dovetails were flawless. It was breathtaking.

Well that is all folks. The class was a success. I work hard in having the students leave with a completed or almost completed project. I hate having students leaving with piles of parts. So my goal is to work them like employees but in a fun enjoyable atmosphere. I think I did just that.

Till next happy dovetails and remember this stuff is just wood and it grows on trees.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

When all other clamps fail...

I am in the middle of restoring an amazing English drop leaf candle stand made from great old English Oak.  I have become quite fond of English Oak or Oak in general and look forward to working with it more in my work. 

The table came into the shoppe because a leg needed to reattached, another leg was loose, and a few fragments of the post started to crack and fail.  While gluing the parts back to their locations, I quickly noticed that from the broad selection/style of clamps I own nothing was going to work. 

This is where the infamous upholstery springs came to the rescue again. The clamps get cut with wire cutters and the tips get ground or filed to blunt tip. I love these clamps because they give me the desired pressure where it is needed.  These clamps are easy to make and I highly recommend having many on hand. I often use them for so many clamping situations.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

What size screw is this?

I have an addiction to old/vintage slotted screws.  Why? Slotted screws are easy to use, don't strip easy, old stock are made from quality steel, and the threads really bits into the wood. But what if the screws in the box are not what they say they are? Now imagine buckets of screws, how do you determine what size the screw is?

Buckets of old slotted screws that no one wants because they are so called hard to install.  I love buckets of screws. 

To easily determine the size of the screw I own/use many standard screw gauges. Screw gauges can easily inform you of the the size of the screw and the length. I often buys these gauges at flea markets for a few bucks.  Many may not need to know what a screw size is but for someone who repairs furniture knowing what screws I need really saves a ton of time.  
Standard Screw Gauge to determine screw dimensions. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Clamp pads

There isn't a rule stating what the ideal clamping pad material is. But if there was one rule it would surely would be to make certain the clamping pad you plan to be using is softer than the wood you are clamping. For example I wouldn't recommend  using hard maple pads to clamp eastern white pine. The reason being is the hard maple will most likely dent the pine under clamp pressure.

Most my clamping cauls I use are either plexiglass, thick leather, bending plywood, or homasote soundboard. Each has there place but all of them won't dent the wood.  There are times in gluing or repairing furniture that I want make certain I can see my joints/repairs coming together nicely and this is where the plexiglass comes in nicely.  The bending plywood is great for areas that not straight and I need the plywood to conform to the surface.  The thick leather is often used for really delicate glues up. Lastly the homasote is used for all general purpose glue ups.

There are times where I do use wood for cauls for when clamping dovetail drawers or chests. Or even when I am making chairs and need angle wedges. But after that I use the pads mentioned above. I keep them all in a wooden box with handles ready and with in reach. Its amazing how many you need and the wide selection of sizes.

Happy clamping.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Broken round tenon

I am in the beginning stages of repairing 110 chairs for the MIT chapel in Boston Massachusetts. When I am repairing any piece of furniture new, vintage, or antique I always weigh my options. The question I always ask myself is can I save the damaged area or do I need fabricate a new part. There are many things to consider when making this decision and they should not be taken lightly. In the video above you will see me saving a chair rail from one of the MIT chairs by fabricating a new tenon.

The process... To save the chair rail I vertically bored a 1/2 inch hole about 1 inch deep in the chair rail. The rail was 5/8 thick overall. By boring a hole perfectly centered I knew I had 3/32 -1/8 inch of wood all around to help hold the new tenon in place.  Why bore 1 inch in the rail? Over the years I have tested different length and width tenons in holes and have determine that 1 inch is ideal. Anything less can break and anything more doesn't drastically improve the strength.

Once the hole is bored I take a dowel and size it to fit in the 1/2 inch hole. I make the tenon by rotating over a saw blade while using a miter gauge.  This is really quick work and really easy.

The adhesive I love using for such repairs is West System G/Flex epoxy. This epoxy is thick, slow setting, and wicked strong.  I have tested this epoxy by gluing two pieces MDF for 24 hours and than trying to break the joint. What resulted from the bashing of the hammer was everything else broke but not the joint.  

After the epoxy is dry I am ready to glue the chair. The new joint/tenon is stronger than ever. Please note epoxy is only used when all other options will possibly fail. There is no need to use epoxy to glue up the chair. Always think about the next person who will need to fix the chair in the future. 

Thank you for reading and watching the short video. 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Labeling parts

 I'm in the middle of restoring 110 chairs for a chapel in Boston.  I need to disassemble each of the chairs while keeping track of all the parts.  So what is my method to the madness of parts laying around the shoppe?  Well its pretty simple actually, I use blue tape and a sharpie and label every part. It is very important that each of the markings can easily be seen and each chair has its unique labeling system. By unique labeling system I mean not every chair will start with the letter A or number 1. Some chairs depending on quantity of parts may start with the letter Z and work back to the letter A or start at number 99 and work back to number 1. Some chairs may even have a combination of numbers and letters. When things start to get crazy than I switch color tape from blue to green to purple.  

 In the end it doesn't matter what you label the parts just as long as they go back exactly where they came from.  One important thing to remember is don't use masking tape or duct tape. The adhesives on these two tapes are often to strong and will remove the finish or just leave terrible tape residue which now needs to be removed.

As you can see there is no way I can screw this up and that is the point of labeling.  I hope this helps.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The $400 dollar handle.

The damage handle on the right. My reproduction on the left. 

Restorers love dogs! Especially if they enjoy chewing on furniture.  This was the case with the handle seen above. Often when the damage has occurred there is usually no going back and saving what was left. A new handle had to be made to match the rest of suite of furniture in the home.  Like everything in this field having to reproduce one of something is more time costly than making several.   

Once I shaped the handle using the original as a pattern I was able to cut close to the shape on the bandsaw, sand to my lines with the Rigid belt and spindle sander combo machine, and than router cut the rabbets on the edge. Rabbeting the edges was easy but what about the ends?

If I was making more than one than I would make a jig and pattern and flush trim the shape. But again its just one handle. So I traced the bottom reveal from the original handle and pared down to the line with my Lee Valley Pm\M-V11 chisel, which works and cuts like a dream.  If you want to read up more on that please visit:http://periodcraftsmen.blogspot.com/2016/12/lee-valley-veritas-pm-v11-chisels.html.

Once the rabbets around the whole edge was cut it was time to shape the quarter round. Sadly a router bit couldn't take care of this issue quickly so I had to use a scratch stock and cutter.  

Here is a view of the scratch stock and cutter working the ledge to shape. 

Another view of the cutter shaping the quarter round. The scratch stock made quick work of the lipping. 

Locating the cutter was simple because I had an original handle to match the location and desired shape. 

My favorite scratch stock cutters are old radius gauges. I own several that I use for its purpose in determining radiuses and for drawing. But one added bonus is to use them as scratch stock cutters. I know... I know this sounds crazy but these are often thrown away by many tool dealers. So why not give them another life.  

Once all the scratch stocking is done I proceed to further refining the edge with a carving tool. After a little sanding I am ready to cut the  groove for the banding. 

To cut the groove for the banding I used a straight bit mounted in a router table. I centered the groove to match the original. The banding I made for the handle came from old stock I had on hand and was the proper color. It may not be the same species as the original but its close enough.  I glued the banding with fish glue which is a protein glue, sets quickly, and dries in a couple hours.

Next comes the easy part, a little color, finish and wax. In the end this was a lot of work and I should of charged $400 but you live and learn. Just another day saving furniture.