Monday, 29 August 2011

Resto...Ration Work Uses Up My Mana

First off if you get the opening title joke you are a nerd...and congratulations on that.

So as I hinted to on Wednesday I have begun a new project here in my shop. I am restoring an old, very old in fact, dresser.  My family has owned the dresser for around 45 years, but the piece is much older then that.  I could not find any dates written on the piece which would give me an exact date of the piece.  The construction type and finish on it leads me to believe that it is close to a hundred years old.  Also the piece just feels old, the old growth pine feels like it has existed forever and when you touch the piece it feels like it has lived a long life and could tell some stories.

One thing I have to say about having the dresser down in my shop is that "damn does it look good in there".  Not the dresser itself but the image of a completed piece of furniture was really cool thing to see in my shop considering this is the first time a whole piece has been on the shop floor.  I had to take a few minutes to stand back and just stare at the dresser. 

It was one of those moments where I was really excited about what I do and I cannot wait to see a piece of furniture I actually build sitting there just looking good.

So as you can see the dresser is very green.  A woodworking crime if you ask me, you will see later what I mean by this.  The whole thing is green even the solid brass hardware got a nice coat of green paint. So my job is to remove the paint and apply a new finish to make the piece look good as new.

A nice look at some of the details in the piece.  Round over and beads are the predominate details in the piece as well as some carved details.

To remove the paint I started by using a chemical solvent and applied it directly to the paint.  After it sitting the for 10 minutes I come back with a paint scraper and pull off the softened paint.  After that I go in with the paint scraper and a card scraper and remove all the remaining crud left.  Finally I hit the piece with 60 grit to try and expose as much fresh wood as possible, this was to help achieve a uniform finish on the piece when I went to apply stain later on.

To prepare the surface for finish I began with 120 grits sand paper and worked every surface of the piece.  Then 180 everywhere, and finally 220 on all exterior surfaces, I am not finishing the inside of the dresser so no need to go that high as well rarely will anyone see the inside.

And with the sanding all finished the piece is ready for finish.  I plan on applying a stain and a couple coats of a semi-gloss polyurethane.  Now if you excuse me I have a melon juice to drink (nerd joke again).

Hans Christopher

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Scrap the scrap scrapper

So I have begun another project this week, restoring an old dresser my family has from our old cottage.  The piece has a great deal of sentimental value as it is one of the few tangible keepsakes from the old cottage, but it is also an amazing piece of furniture.

However the dresser is the topic of Sundays post.  Tonight I am going to talk about everyone's favourite topic...SHARPENING.  There is a lot of information out there on sharpening, so much in fact that one little week day post could not possible cover it all.  So tonight ill talk about my sharpening mantras and how I sharpen an odd tool maybe so people often over look...the paint scraper.

My collection of paint scrapers and blades (front to back: new blade, blade in need of a tune up, blade in need of a miracle)

When I sharpen (and I buy no means believe I am a sharpen expert I just do what works for me) I have a three step process.  Flatten, to create a true surface on the apposing edge to the cutting face.  Grind, to establish an angle on the cutting face.  Polish, to create the smoothest finish on both faces.  Step one for my scraper blades is to remove all the crud built up on them.  The two scrapers are my grandfathers and have had many years of use and a good amount of paint and other shmutz built up on them.

Using a wire brush to remove old paint.  Soaking the blade in mineral spirits first helped to loosen and dissolve some old shmutz.

With a clean blade I can begin sharpening it.  First step it truing up the flat back.  These blades are not made of the same steel you would fined on other tools it is much softer and there for faster to work with, but requires more frequent sharpening.  To flatten the back I use a coarse diamond plate and then fine diamond plate.

Flattening the scraper back (you may notice it is not flat on the plate, there was some crud left on it before I started to sharpen, it went away quickly and the blade registered well to the plate).

So the back is now true, as close to flat as i could achieve, now I move on to the bevel.  I use the same diamond plates (one plate two different sides) to work the bevel.  A quick tip when learning to sharpen an edge you have not done before.  If you do not know what you are suppose to achieve when sharpening buy a new blade and study it to figure out what you need to achieve.  Ive never sharpened a paint scraper before so I didn't know what to work to, so I bought a new one and realised that a sharp burr is the final desired result.  So for two dollars I understood what I needed to achieve and I got a spare blade that was already sharp.

Working the chambered bevel.  Please ignore the sorry state of my thumb.

To deal with the chamber I start the blade in one corner of the plate and put weight on one side of the blade and then as I pull it across the plate I switch weight to the center then to the other edge.  Now to achieve the burr on the blade I could have used a burnisher but instead what I did was I sharpened the bevel until I had a uniform wire edge on the back and then stopped.  Final step is to apply a little oil to help prevent rust.

As the Shwarz calls it using my woobie to oil the blade.

OK to get a little side tracked here, my woobie is a proud little invention of mine.  I have a combination oil stone that I got as my first sharpening stone that I hated for ever, then I learned to use it and now I use it more and more.  My woobie is a oily rag that I wrap the stone in and when I got to oil a blade or a plane soul I just squirt oil onto the rag and rub it onto what ever I am oiling.  The nice thing about this is that the oil is absorbed through the rag and into my stone so it is always getting a fresh charge of oil.

Speaking of oil stones when I tuned up the other blade I used my oil stones.  I also didn't create a burr on one edge of the blade so that it would be a little gentler on the surface I was scraping.

Using an oil stone to create the wire edge.

In the end the newly tuned blades work just as well as the brand new blades.  They can scrap away paint and leave a surface ready for final scraping and sanding.  Until next time.  O yea I almost forgot if you want to learn more about sharpening I suggest looking into Chris Shwarz's method as well as Shannon Rogers method over at the Hand Tool School if you have any interest in hand tool woodworking I highly recommend joining the school, as well as looking into more of Chris Shwarz's work, both of these people really no there stuff.

Hans Christopher Mueller

Thursday, 18 August 2011

What's Coming Up The Roots

OK sorry for the delay in posting but I was sick one day and then got backed up with work and I am still getting the hang of my posting schedule.  So let me start there with explaining what I hope to do with these posts.  My plan is to post 7 times a month, 4 Sunday posts and 3 Wednesday posts.  The mid week post will be a smaller post usually on some random topic I can think of and demonstrate.  And the weekend post will be a following of what ever project I am working on at that time.

So what do I have planned.  For people other then myself I have a few refinishing projects to do, some of which are already started some of which are still to begin.  One cool project that is both for myself and for others is a hall bench.  I am sure as time progress more projects will arise.  However the projects I have planned for myself really get me excited.

First every month from September to December I plan to build one hand plane a month.  Three wooden planes in the krenovian style.  I have recently finished reading David Finks book Making & Mastering Wood Planes which I would recommend as a read to anyone interested in wooden planes.  I plan to make three wooden hand planes.  Which three I am not entirely sure of yet but I would like to make a smoother for sure. I would also like to make a jack plane, I do own a jack plane already but because jacks are so versatile that multiple jack planes allow for multiple plane setups that allow for more efficient productivity.  The final plane I am not sure of yet, I am considering a spokeshave,  yes a spokeshave is a plane, or some specialty plane such as a rabbeting plane or a grooving plane.  However it is the fourth and final plane that is really exciting to me and also a little terrifying.  I would love to make an infill plane either a smoother or a jack plane.  Not sure if this idea is foolish or brave, maybe a little of both but I am excited to give it a go.

Besides that plane making I plan to make a tool box based on Tom Fidgen's cabinetmakers toolbox featured in his book Made By Hand.  Also inspired by Tom is a dedicated sharpening bench, and the final project for myself that I plan to build over my Christmas break is to build a traditional workbench... with a twist.

I hope to bring everyone along on my woodworking journey over the next four months and beyond.

This week sees the end of my most recent project, the project that started this entire blog.  The cabinet door comes to a conclusion.  This past week so the panel get its final surface prep with the use of smoothing planes, card scrapers and sandpaper.
Resawing the face frame stock down to 3/8"
After the door was all prepped for finished I moved on to the face frame for the cabinet, a very easy task in comparison to the door.  I started by resawing some maple stock and then dimensioning it to the appropriate size.  Then like on the door cut some mitres and then shoot the mitres on my shooting bored (have I mentioned how much I love that bored).  Then a little glue and its also ready for finish.

Planning to final dimension
The finishing process started with finding an appropriate stain that matched the existing vanity.  After finding the perfect colour I applied it using a foam brush.  I let it soak in for about 10 minutes then using a clean Cotton rag I wiped off all the extra.  The final step is to apply the polyurethane.
The Finished Door and Face Frame

So with that I come to the end of the first project I have blogged about.  Till next time

Hans Christopher

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Patience Equals Perfection

So it has been a week now since I announced that I have made the move to hand tool only woodworking and I am loving it.  The transition is a little cumbersome, having to find homes for some of my machines was difficult but worth it.  The amount of space I have now is amazing plenty of bench top room to work and another whole surface just to put pieces done and do some assembly.

So what has gone on inside the shop this past week, a fair bit but unfortunately not as much as I had hoped.  Lets take a look shall we.

The first post of the blog had me explaining the process of making a bead molding for a door frame I am working on.  This week sees the completion of all the parts ready for final fit and finish.  I began with the raised panel.
Cutting the rabbets to define the tongue to go into the rail and stiles and the edges of the raised profile.
Using a molding plane cut the profile in the long grain and end grain of the panel.

Using my Veritas Bevel Up Jack Plane with a 50 degree iron i smooth panel.  Then using a card scraper I clean up the tea rout and the finally hit all the profiled areas with some 180, 220 and 320 sandpaper.

A few notes about the raised panel.  For my first raised panel it's not bad, saying that there is lots of room for improvement and I look forward to showing everybody how I make a profiles using molding planes.

The next part of the project was getting the mitres on the rails and stiles to fit nice and tight.  I cut the mitres using a sliding compound mitre saw (I made these cuts before I went all hand tools) and they came out poorly.  The mitre was very close to a perfect 45 degree however every cut had a bevel making a tight mitre very difficult.  Luckily using hand tools I knew how to correct this issue.  I used a shooting board and my jack plane to shoot the mitres to get some nice fitting joints.  However I did have to build a mitre shooting board first, not a hard process.  If people wanna learn how I made the shooting board leave a message in the comment section below, and saying please helps.

A ugly open mitre (looked worse in real life)
Shooting the mitre

nice tight closed mitre (looks better in real life)

And the nice shooting board I made so worth the 3 hours it took to make
While using the shooting board something to remember is to be patient.  The first couple of cuts I made i had the plane set real heavy and tried to rush resulting in a very harsh and sudden stop of the plane, hurting my wrist and marring the work, so as with all woodworking patients pays off.

So starting tomorrow I can begin the final assembly and then all that is left is to put stain and finish on it.

And a few more pictures from my trip to Italy.  Enjoy.

Till next time cheers.
Hans Christopher