Monday, February 27, 2017

How much does your wood move?

Wood movement is one aspect in furniture making that is more important than many really know or willing to understand.  There are books, articles, and charts to determine wood movement and one particular book that comes to mind is Understanding Wood by Bruce Hadley. While books and charts are good sometimes recording wood movement physically is a better option. Especially since most lumber that are available these days are not fully mature before they were cut. Also sadly the wood drying has changed rapidly. Today wood is being pushed to the limits, often drying too quickly.  I know this from the visual piles of wood in the short bins full of end checks that go several feet in from the ends.

My preferred method to measuring wood movement is to gather several pieces of soft wood and hard wood that I commonly use. For me that is pine, poplar, cherry, oak, walnut, maple, and mahogany.  I often use a small off cut that has been milled over the years. I will use this off cut record how much the wood itself has or will move in width. Several times a year I even measure the length. Yes even wood moves in length, but not much. When recording the width I also record the date, humidity, and time. A perfect example it the pine shown in the photograph, it has moved a 1/16 of an inch just this month alone.  The humidity has changed rapidly last few weeks and that plays a huge role in furniture making.  I will record all wood movement for 1-2 years to ensure I get an average and understanding of possible movement.  The instrument I use to measure humidity and temperature is the AcuRite 00613 Indoor Humidity Monitor. I have one in every room in my shoppe and it is quite accurate.

So while its fun just slapping furniture together, always beware wood will always move and if you don't compensate for wood movement the results can scare you.  Trust me!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Giving new life to a piece of furniture.

When it comes to my world of restoration and woodworking I not too picky if the money is right. Take for example the set of 4 shield back chairs made from mahogany and now painted. While some will say why would you paint them? There are also many who will say I love them! Really when it comes down to it, my business is to save furniture from heading into a dumpster or another land fill. If I can give a client the look they desire by painting and/or adding new upholstery than I have succeeded. But not only have I succeeded in satisfying the client, I also prevent them from purchasing a low grade, off gassing, production made item made who knows where. Now that puts a smile on my face.

The process I went through to paint the chairs was relatively simple. I abraded all surfaces with the red scotch brite pad from Norton, wipe all the dust down, and brushed on a couple coats. Than I sprayed on 3 more coats of paint.  Why brush and than paint? The client wanted a brush look so by brushing first the spray coats will lay over the brush strokes and appear each layer was brushed on.  Spray painting is far easier and faster than brushing. Also spraying gives you more control and allows you to get paint in hard to reach areas. The spray gun of choice... drum roll please.... The cheap harbor freight gravity feed gun. Why? I dedicate my guns and I don't want to spend the time to clean each gun perfectly.  So I have a paint gun for white, black, grey, finishes, shellac, lacquer, etc.  This says a ton of time and solvents.  Once all the painting is done I hit all surfaces with  a brown paper bag and burnish the surface.

That is it. Quick and easy. If I can do you surely can as well.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Q & A Interview with Steve Hewson from Triton Tools

Steve Hewson from Triton tools came to the studio to talk tools and do a Q&A interview. I hope you enjoy the interview for I surely did.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Flexible sanding forms for curves.

Often when working with curves there can be a huge amount of filing, sanding, scraping, and spokeshaving. The goal is to get a smooth consistent curve that is flat and 90 from the reference edge. While blending everything is enjoyable it is also very time consuming. This is especially true if the surfaces are going to get veneered. Nothing worst than hollow spots behind the veneer due to your substate not be flat and continuous. So for me my favorite go to method for blending curved surfaces is the flexible sanding caul. 

 To make this sanding caul all I do is is glue on a piece of masonite or plywood onto some particleboard or mdf and cut 1/8 inch grooves about 1/2 apart. By cutting the grooves close together it allows for a flexible sanding block that will conform to almost any surface. The closer the grooves, the smaller the spacing, the more flexible the sanding form is. But beware they can snap on you. So there is a necessary balance or trial and error.

 Once the grooves are cut I than apply stick back sand paper or spray adhesive some sandpaper on the other side of the grooves and we are off to the races.

Tips like this is what makes a frustrating day turn to the better quickly. 

Happy blending. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What's the temperature/humidity

Knowing the temperature and humidity of your shoppe is far more important than you may think. Not only is it important to know the current temperature but to also know the lows and highs when you are not around. This information is especially important when it comes to milling lumber, finishing, gluing, and fitting parts.

I always recommend makers to be aware of where the item they are making or repairing will end up living. Some examples of concern is the spacing around drawers. This gap may need to be bigger or even smaller than you think. Surely the last thing you would want is a stuck drawer. Having too much moisture in the air can be an issue when finishing. Surely the last thing you would want is your furniture to turn a milky white color from moisture trapped.  Than there is the adhesives that may gel or set up too quickly due to the temperature or wood being too cold.  Ask me how I know that....

If this wasn't enough I also have a piece of cherry and eastern white pine in the shoppe that I will measure in width several times throughout the year to see how much the wood has moved in dimension. I even keep track of pass years measurements to visually see the difference over the years and establish an average of possible wood movement.

I know this sounds crazy but everything I have mentioned above has occurred once. It is frustrating but you need to understand why the issues have occurred. So keep accurate records and purchase a good monitor for temperature and humidity.

Happy woodworking!