Thursday, June 6, 2013

On the move again - we relocate to Cape Cod!

It has been one crazy year of change.  Last May we moved our family to Maryland, sold our beloved home in Maine, made a major career change and I moved my wood shop - and we just did it all again this May.  We are happy to be back in New England and have landed on Cape Cod with the plan to stay put for a long time.  
With this move comes a new studio in a barn on the property.  It will provide 1500 square feet of shop, office and storage space.  I have to put most of my furniture projects on hold over the next several months while I renovate.  Currently it has stalls on either side of the open center section which I plan to remove and add beams to carry the second floor providing an open floor plan.  Other changes include new windows, doors, lighting, insulation, flooring and heating.  
Above you can see the two dividing walls currently supporting the second floor.  Once removed it will be wide open space allowing for some amazing studio space.  Much to coordinate, materials to order, etc.  Not sure how long this will take, but only one way to find out...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spirits Cabinet - Part One

After several consultations to discuss design, dimensions, function, wood tones and more I am finally getting underway on the spirits cabinet commission.  I like to lay out the planks, usually after skip planing to get a sense of the grain pattern and tones of the wood, living with them for a bit in the shop.  This helps me to visualize how they fit into the project before sectioning them further.
I was able to find some wonderfully figured kiatt for the primary wood of the cabinet and to stretch the use, and the other woods for the project, it will be sliced into veneers.  The major woods involved in the project are Kiatt, Caribbean Walnut, and Moosehead Red Birch.  Below is my basic setup for veneer slicing on the bandsaw. 
I was able to get six slices about  3/32" thick from this board.  It will be used in the door and drawer fronts.  When all is done, there will be about 60 veneer slices 7 to 12 inches in width. The next blog installment will include cutting the substrate panels and adhering the veneers to them.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Workbench Repair - Part 2

In Part 1 of the workbench repair, I disassembled the wood screw tail vise, repaired the cracked bench tails, added a new through bolt, mounting plate and reassembled the tail vise.  The next steps will include making the new tail vise top, installing it and chiseling out the bench dog holes.  Below is a picture of the old tail vise top with a chunk of 6/4 hard maple stock for the new one. Its a pretty stick of maple with some nice rays.

After jointing one face and side it was off to the bandsaw for resawing the new top.  Below is a picture of the resaw in action with the end result shown next to a jointed surface - pretty smooth right off the MM20.

In the original configuration of the tail vise the top also serves as a stop to prevent sag as the vise is extended.  I thought an improvement was needed with a support under the guide arm.  I decided to add a new corner block in the bench tray as well since it was missing.

With those new additions tackled it was on to fitting the new top, hand planing to final thickness to match the bench, and chiseling out the dog holes.  The final results below and a clean bench top, which won't last long. It locks up tight and holds a work piece solid now.  With some time the new vise top will be close in patina to the rest of it, probably when my son receives this bench.

I'm happy to have completed this project, it will certainly help in doing some solid woodworking, but it was really a bit of a trip down memory lane that I didn't expect fully.  As I started to remove the vise, clean things up and bore some new holes in the bench,  the wood released the smells of my Grandfathers basement trapped in its pours.  It transported me to those great little moments of building projects with him that we would pick out of the Boy Mechanic volumes.  It was really him and my father doing most of the work, but I could see them clearly in my mind and remember the smells of the wood, the basement and that great bench.

I will part with a final shot of the completed project in contrast to the old tail vise top, which will get tucked away in a safe spot. Until the next time.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Workbech Repair Part 1 - An Old Dog Gets New Tricks

So, here goes the first entry... Hopefully, some will find these interesting.  I am about to start a new commission, the first since relocating to Maryland a few months ago.  Most of the time has been spent getting the shop in order, tuning up machines, making some new jigs and hand tools.  While planing on the bench last week, I notice the top of my tail vice starting to come loose and rise when clamping.  Below you can see the cracks in the upper left and several pins that had been added over the years.

I suppose after 100+ years of service the bench deserved some attention, not only the tail vise top but, the bolts holding the vise screw guide/bench cap were stripped out, the bench top itself on this end was splitting apart and was uneven and the tails of the bench had cracked were the lags were placed.

Clearly the job was expanding, however it all needed to be addressed.  I was well aware of the task for quite some time, but had been putting it off.  Not because I could make due, but because this bench was  once used by my Great Grandfather in his New Jersey mill and then handed down to me by my Grandfather who had put many years on it. There was some trepidation in knowing that I would have to alter this piece of family history, in doing so I knew it would continue on its journey which finally motivated me.

First task was to repair the end splits, the one piece to the back I was able to pry off cleanly and reattach. The front piece I would have to pry open and blow glue into it with compressed air.  Both clamped up tight and I chiseled square the missing chunk in the front and fitted a new piece of maple.  The next task was spreading the gaps and removing all of the sawdust, small nails and debris.  Then on to lining up the surface, clamping it tight and drilling a hole through the bench for a new bolt to keep this end tight.  There was one on the far end and thought it odd one was not added here originally.

Here the vise top is removed, it revealed an addition or repair made by my Grandfather, a piece of 2x4 that housed the bench dog holes.  Either way, I would replace it with a solid piece of hardwood.  You can also see the wood screw that drives the tail vise, the front vise is the same.

Below are pictures of the stock used to make the new dog hole support next to the old 2x4, and the new piece installed in the vise.


The picture above is after I reinstalled the vise and made bench repairs.  If you look closely you can see the silver head of the new threw bolt in the center of the image.  Also, you see a new piece of 1" thick maple between the bench tails and the screw guide.  This extends the width of the bench and the height of the screw guide. Instead of trying to re-lag the massive screw guide and risk splitting out more of the top, I put bolts threw the new piece of maple to hold the screw guide.  The new maple piece is then secured with heavy screws to the bench end.  

Thanks it for now!  In Part 2, we'll complete the new tail vise top and do final assembly!