Saturday, 30 November 2013

Round the Bend

Currently on my bench is a bench.  A sitting bench.  This project started last Tuesday with a trip to KJP Select Hardwoods to purchases the cherry for the bench uprights and drawer components.  At the end of two weeks I have both of the uprights constructed.

The uprights are faceted.  Each of the eight staves (per upright) has a 4 degree bevel cut on the edge.  When all put together the have a slight barrel shape.  To get the best glue joints possible I hand planed all the beveled edges to remove the machine marks.  Then I planed the inside faces which will not be possible after glue up.

I then began prefinishing the staves (easier to do now), and this will also help in the removal of any glue squeeze out.

The finish is three coats of garnet shellac, followed by three coats of super blonde shellac and then two coats of wax buffed out with a cotton cloth.

Next week I wont be at the bench much as Adrian Ferrazzutti will be in at Rosewood Studio teaching box making.  With a full class means I give up my bench to a student, I will still be around helping out with the class and may be able to get a little work done.

Hans Christopher

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Much Wanted Item

Yesterday was the bi-annual Tools of the Trade Show in my home town of Pickering Ontario.  If your in the Greater Toronto Area, and even if your not the show is the place to go to find antique tools and other cool things.  Yesterday I scored an Emmert pattern makers vice.

The vice as I bought it

The vice is in remarkable condition, it worked perfectly so all I needed to do was clean it up a little.  So today I did just that, I fully disassembled the vice (carefully) and cleaned off and out all the schmutz (a technical term).  Then I reassembled (carefully) the vice.

The built in metal dogs spring loaded and fully functional

Few things blur the line between beauty and functionality.  This vice really does just that.  It is an amazing piece of engineering that I have wanted for a while.  I cannot wait to get this mounted on a bench.

The thread and cam mechanism cleaned and reassembled

I also made a set of maple jaw liners for the vice, there a little nicer on wood then the cast iron.  I also plan to make some wooden dogs to use instead of the metals ones (again the wood is a little gentler then iron).

I finished restoring a walnut blanket chest recently as well.  A pain in the butt job, but it paid off in the end.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Going up in the World

Looking back a year on my life the picture below is a great testament to how far I have come in a professional sense.
View first thing Thursday morning at work

This is the view from the porch roof of my latest project.  I am currently repairing some fascia and sofit, as well as installing new drip edge, eaves-trough and downspout.  A year ago I would have been doing similar work in the middle of a big city where the view would have been very different.  Now instead of hearing busy streets and car engines I hear birds singing and wind rustling leaves.  And instead of seeing asphalt and row after row of houses I see trees and wide open fields.  For me this is a great improvement and I find that I enjoy the work I love even more in these beautiful settings.

 The job on the farm house has expanded slightly.  Starting Monday I will be replacing the wood siding on one side of the house above the porch.  I have to build a work platform before all the work can begin and that means some demo first.  If the weather holds I should be able to get the work done this week, and have a great time doing it.

The new wood fascia board installed

Being on a site means little shop time.  Classes are still underway at Rosewood Studio students finished up the mastering machinery course this week.  When at the school I am working on a blanket chest restoration.  I began by stripping all the paint off the chest, with scrapers and chemical strippers (as little as this as possible).  

Under the white paint there was green paint and under that there was some very brown shellac.  And under all of that there was walnut, I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to cover up the walnut, non the less the paint is all off.

Though it took a fair bit to get it out of the moldings.

Recently I finished a small and simple project.  A set of coasters for myself, made out of scrap walnut.  Fun to do and super easy.  The set of eight are book matched and sequential from piece to piece.

Hans Christopher

Friday, 13 September 2013

New Semester

The Fall semester has just gotten under way at Rosewood Studio here in Perth.  The students for the six and twelve week classes settled in this week and right away began learning about handplanes and sharpening.  While I, at the back of the room, began work on my next piece of furniture.  Still in the design process, I am hoping to receive a commission for a hall bench (should know by next week if I have a go ahead).

Last week I delivered my latest build, a painted blanket chest.  The new owner is thrilled with the piece and while it is not being put where it was initially intended to go it has found a good home non the less.  The chest its self was a great build and rather fun, a much simpler build compared to the coffee table I recently finished.

I wanted the build to be simple and a relatively quick process so I choose not to dovetail the corners of the chest and instead used a locking rabbet.  Much faster then cutting dovetails, and the piece still feels plenty strong enough and should last for years.

The finish is (obviously seen in the photo) latex paint and while I am fairly happy with the final look (the colour is perfect) the paint was a pain to apply.  For my next painted project I am going to try another type of paint and maybe spray instead of brush it on.

My hope is to be able to sell more of these chests, as the are quick to build and can be adjusted in size fairly easily I can build them to order in a short turn around.  And once my official website goes live there will be a way for people to contact me and place an order.  Which brings me to the other project I have on the go right now, a website.  I am still just getting under way with the site, but I hope to launch the site the end of this month, so check back regularly for a link to the new site, and do not worry the blog is staying.

Hans Christopher

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Slab Table

Busy, busy, busy.  Since my last post I have been working non stop, not all ways in the shop though.  I have been in the office fairly frequently working on improving my social network, the blog and trying to build a web site.  The idea for all of this Internet based work is to help get me more paying work.  Normally word of mouth is a good way for a construction company to generate job leads.  However being new in town means I know few people and few people know me, but it's getting better and people are starting to know me and what I do.

In more exciting news my first designed and built piece of fine furniture is coming to an end.  This large slab coffee table has been an incredibly fun project, challenging and incredibly rewarding.

Getting the table base glued up was a bit of a nail biter.  Even with sub assemblies the final glue up had ten different glue surfaces coming together all at once; which meant working very quickly.

After the base glued up I secured the top to the base and began the finishing process.  I sealed the top with several coats of shellac to help the final polyurethane coats take more evenly.

After four coats of wipe on polyurethane the table is finished and looks fantastic, I am really pleased with how it turned out.  I will post portfolio pictures of it once I've got them, as well as shots of where the table will be located in my house.

And now on to the next project.  Look closely and you can see it lingering in the background.

Hans Christopher

Monday, 29 July 2013

A Huge Can of Worms, I Mean Ants

This past week I framed a small landing and stair case in a carport, as well as repair some water damaged board and baton siding, well I thought it was some water damage.  Further inspection revealed ants, a lot of ants, like seriously a lot of ants.

Beneath the siding I discovered several ant nests and a two by ten that had been eaten down to the size of a two by four.

So a simple repair job turned into a much more involved structural replacement job.

First step finding out just how bad the damage was.  This meant digging back into the house removing siding and sheathing to see how far the ants had gone, lucky they did not go far and had only damaged one structural member (all be it an important one).

Having found all the damage I could then go about repairing it.  No small task.  A temporary wall went up to take the load off the roof rafters so the beam could be removed and a new one installed.

After the new beam went in the temporary wall came down new plywood sheathing went up followed by an air barrier, strapping and finally the new siding.

Later this year I will be going back to paint all the new siding that was installed after I replaced the beam.

Was a good project, fun to do.  Involved a few sustainable solutions (deconstruction instead of demolition,  recycled materials, and materials that can be recycled).  Now on to the next one.

Hans Christopher

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Cool Sustainability Tips

OK so these tips may not be cool as in hip, styling , or happening, but these tips may help you stay cool this summer, especially if (like me) you lack air conditioning in your home.

The simple close line.  Hang your stuff out to dry on a line instead of using the dryer.  You will save on energy and not generate heat running the dryer.  Best location for a close line is out side in area that gets lots of sun (and a breeze would be fantastic).  If you cannot find a space like that no worries.  Just about any place will work, so long as the humidity is not to high (close line in a sauna not so good).

LED light bulbs and LED fixtures.  New LED bulbs are amazing the bulbs last for a long time so you won't be spending money on replacements frequently and fewer replacements mean less waste.  Yes they cost more initially but reports indicate you can recoup the cost in energy saving in two years.  They also produce virtually no heat helping to keep your home cool.

Use a barbecue (grill for my American readers).  Gas cooking is more efficient then electric cooking so you can save energy, and cooking outside won't heat up your home.

Hope these simple sustainability tips help you stay cool this summer, these tips are good all year so try them out.  More sustainability tips and ideas to come so stay tuned.

Hans Christopher

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


It is fun to go back and build a series of these saw horses.  You may have recalled back in January I built my own set of sawhorses as part of 12 week curriculum.  The fun part is seeing how much faster I have gotten at  the operations necessary to construct the horses.

Today I was able to cut the majority of the joints on all the parts.  The majority of the mortises are cut on a specific jig using a router (very Norm like).  After all the joints are cut I can finish plane all the surfaces and then it will be time for some assembly.

Having everything close at hand, ready to go into the jig and the jig clamped down meant the whole routing operation took only 20 minutes.  Hoping tomorrow to finish it all off.

Hans Christopher

Horses In The Shop

This week I am taking a break from my coffee table project to help out at Rosewood to build two sets of sawhorses for the school.  Yesterday I managed to get all the rough maple milled to final dimension, and prepared to have all the joinery cut.

The saw horses are around 32 inches tall, 26 inches wide and 16 inches deep, and everything gets held to get with mortise and tenon and half lap joints.  Nothing revolutionary.

While I am building these saw horses Ron is in the bench room this week teaching a new group of eight woodworkers the basic of hand tools.

This is the first week of a two week basics in fine woodworking class.  The class will be running again in August and right now there are still spots available, so if you ever wanted a comprehensive introduction to woodworking this is a great value and a fun time.  Bonus Perth is lovely in August.

Hans Christopher

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Another Workspace

Over the weekend I have been setting up and organizing my new home office.  My company H3 Design & Construction (which I started back in 2011) is starting to get busy, and now needs some permanent office space.  The house I moved into in April has a small room on the back over looking a yard and was previously a bedroom (was a very tight space when the previous tenets had a bed in here).  It now is my home office and it seems to work great.  Everything is organized and close at hand making the space very efficient.

I have a drafting table which I use as a desk, a file cabinet to sort all the paper work and holds up my new printer, a new 1 TB hard drive rounds out the office so far.  More additions and alterations (I'm sure) to come.

Next week at Rosewood Studio there will be a class of eight people, so I will be off my bench for two weeks.  I will be helping out in the class, running around preparing material for demos and generally lending a hand.  I look forward to meeting a new group of woodworkers, should be lots of fun.

And it's raining again, what a wet summer this year.

And finally you may have noticed a few changes to the blog's aesthetics.  I have been updating the blog to match more with my company's look.  I like the new look, miss the old because it was the original blog.  All things change though.

Hans Christopher

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Nice Legs Seated Well

My gawd when did I get so busy.  In three days I finished a drywall repair job (yes begrudgingly I did some drywall work), continued with my coffee table base,  received a commission for a coffee table, was asked for an estimate on a deck and a fence, a estimate for a concrete slab and preliminary design and research for a home I am helping to design.  This means I have been spending more time at the drafting table and computer then I have in the shop.

The work in the shop is going very well.  I am currently building a large slab coffee table.  I have designed and engineered it myself (with some suggestions from Ron).  I went through a few design mock-ups, sketches and drafts, but now the solid walnut version is coming together and looks fantastic.

Getting the 12 legs to fit into the trestle stretcher takes a lot of patience and accuracy to get a tight fit.

Hans Christopher

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Tool Chest

After the twelve week class at Rosewood I was enrolled in the Chris Schwarz Anarchist Tool Chest Class.  That was a heck of experience, the class was action packed, lots to learn, and lots to build in five days.

Chris was an awesome guy, fun to share a pint with, with lots of information to share.

Laying out the pins

The majority of the week was spent cutting dovetails, everything is dovetailed; carcass, skirts, till, dust seal.  So after five days laying out, sawing and CHOPPING dovetails is almost second nature which is a great skill to have.

Watch this video to see me assemble my tool chest.

Fitting the bottom boards of the chest

I wasn't able to finish the chest in the five days.  I manage to get the carcass assembled and the skirts installed.  The following week with no class running in the school I finished off the lid and got all the interior storage completed.

The chest is now complete and I love it.  I like that all my tools now have a solid home.  The tills on the inside mean everything has a place to go, which helps with my work flow during the day.  Once I am done with a tool I find that I put it right away back where it belongs which helps keep my bench top clear.

The chest now sits behind me at my bench which makes everything I need in arms reach which is fantastic.

The saw till is screwed straight to the lid and holds my backs saws.  A saw till in the chest holds to hand saws and a coping saw, with more space if I want to add more saws.

The three tills in the chest hold everything from joinery planes to pencils, callipers to braces.  I may add some dividers to the tills to keep some items from banging around, but I don't want to limit storage flexibility in the tills.

Added a tool rack to the chest, the rack sits on a french cleat so it can be pulled out and hung on a wall if it wanted to.  Right now the rack holds my chisels, marking knives and marking gauges, but has space to hold more.

A wonderful project, and a very fun class to participate in.  A huge shout out to Chris and many thanks.

Hans Christopher

Back And With A New Spin

Alright I have been gone from blogging for a few months now.  And I was doing so well with the regular posting.  Truth is, aside from losing Internet connection for a long period of time, I have not wanted to blog.  Right on Hans no one cares (Internet troll voice).  Yea why would you care.  However why I haven't been wanting to blog I think is a good conversation.  When I started this blog I did it to show fellow woodworkers in the online community what I was working on and how I was doing it.  After a while the idea of sharing my experience turned into thought (bad thoughts) of educating people on how to work wood.  I thought I knew all and people should listen to me.  Now that I have completed the Rosewood Studio twelve week I realised how little I did know and how much I still have to learn.  So now blogging shall again be about sharing my work with others...At least in part.

 Working on my tool chest in my new bench space

The other change I want to make to the blog is expanding the horizon of what I blog about.  I want to share more about to other big topics close to my heart; architecture and sustainability.  Even before I had a college degree in architecture I loved architectural design and environmentally friendly design.

Since my last post in march I have completed the twelve week program at Rosewood.  WOW what an experience.  I learnt so much in a short time and enjoyed every minute of it.  And thankfully it has not stopped.  Ron, the teacher and owner of the school has invited me to stay on at the school as the new resident craftsmen (shop tech, shop rat if you wanna be less fancy about it).  I get to use the shop to work on my own projects, attend all the class that get run and absorb even more knowledge, this is an incredible experience and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

The view from my new bench space

So keep checking back and see what is getting done.

Hans Christopher