Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

Jeweler’s Regulator – Stock Prep

Friday, April 25th, 2014

The lumberyard I use for hardwoods, Maurice Condon in White Plains, NY, has a great selection. Like most good yards, they don’t mind customers combing through stock as long as they put things neatly back in the racks. About this time a year ago, I pulled out a small collection of cherry boards. They were so nice that one of the guys working there said, “Wow, you found that here!? We have stuff that nice?”

Of course, there’s always a “…but…” Specifications for Cherry say that sapwood is not a defect. Yet, cherry that has been stacked in a rack almost since it came from the mill has had so little exposure to light that sapwood is not apparent. Get it out in daylight. Sticker it for a few weeks. Then the sapwood fades into view, and there’s always more of it than one wants. Despite that, it turned out to be a very nice collection of boards. Some have already become boxes.

the first of 8 pages of drawings, showing a list of partsNow, let’s find a clock case in those boards. One side of each board shows mostly heartwood, the other not so much. Turn the boards to show all the sapwood and start finding parts within the heartwood. I need 30-some pieces and found most of them within three boards.  All but the long pieces for the sides and door are four-squared. The rest are now rough cut, leaving a bit of length until final prep.

a board marked for cutting 11 foot board on a 12 foot long benchProcessing  long boards is a real joy when there’s a bench that can handle them with ease. The twelve foot long bench was originally for boat building but handles this sort of work superbly .. when not affected with HSS (Horizontal Surface Syndrome, which attracts all sorts of stuff randomly collected and in the way).

This wood has been here about a year and well acclimated. It is also straight grained enough that little tension is apparent. There’s no cupping among the cut pieces and only a slight bit of twist that already existed on one piece.

a stack of about 35 rough cut pieces of woodVery well behaved wood!

Jeweler’s Regulator

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Since my 47 year old mechanical school clock left home, there’s been an empty spot on the wall where eyes land several times a day, finding little but a faded outline and silence. It’s time to change that.

Jeweler's clockBack when clocks and watches actually had mechanical things inside, watchmakers and watch repairers (often jewelers) needed an accurate timepiece from which to set and check times. “Regulators” were accurate enough, probably not quite as accurate as H4, or other chronographs used for navigation, but close.

Many case styles exist for regulators. Two of my favorites are movements with longer pendulums, the Vienna Regulator and the Jeweler’s Regulator. Here we have a Jeweler’s Regulator that has been offered for many years by Klockit. I’ve admired it for as many years, keeping it on my bucket list as one of the clocks I want to build. Nope! I am NOT building a kit. Klockit offers drawings for this clock, 8 large sheets. I’m working from those drawings and using some Cherry that I bought last year. However, I will be using the mechanical movement components the clock was designed around, a Hermle regulator movement. When I built that school clock 47 years ago, mechanical movements were very plentiful and reasonably affordable. That was a decade and a half before the rise of quartz movements. The transition to quartz is now nearly complete and mechanical movements are becoming rarities. Demand has fallen, resulting naturally in fewer choices and dramatically higher prices.  So, I caught this one during a 20% discount sale before its cost escalated yet more.

Rarely do I build from plans. In this case, I’ll stick close to the plan but will make some alterations, specifically to allow some carving. At the moment, I’m thinking the biggest change will be replacing the dentil molding in the crown with egg and dart. Maybe more…

In any case, we now see the reason I jumped on that set of hollows and rounds a while back. They were bought for clock moldings. Learning curves ahead…

A Better Glue Bottle

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Glue is something that I try to avoid as much as possible. Carving rarely needs glue, but box making does and so does the most recent project (more on that in another post). For most work, I use Titebond glues. The glues work well, but I really dislike the bottles. How does this work for you? Pick up the bottle, turn over and shake 1, 2, 3 times to get some glue near the tip. Then, pull open the tip … or most likely wrestle with opening the tip. After two good yanks, the tip is still stuck. So go find pliers. Then, find the slot in the nozzle blocked. Scrape it out; danged stuff really sticks on the cap almost as well as the wood. Phew, finally open. Squeeze and use. Clean the tip off this time before closing. One big PITA, and that’s NOT pita bread.

photo of honey bottle filled with glueBeing the cook, and grocery shopper, I’m seeing more and more products being sold in bottles meant to be stored inverted. SOME of those bottles actually have valves built into the lids. Two notable examples are Wallmart’s Great Value brand honey, and Heinz’s tomato ketchup. Wondering how well that valve handles glue, I cleaned out the last empty honey bottle and refilled it with Titebond glue.

photo of bottle valveWonderful!!! Pick up the bottle, flip the lid, squeeze and spread. Set the bottle back down closing the lid all in one motion.  No, it doesn’t have a long pointy nozzle, but how often do you really need that type of nozzle? Tilt this bottle a bit and there’s plenty of control. It works a bazillion times better than Titebond’s bottle. What’s more, the lid’s plastic surface is super slick and doesn’t hold on to spillover glue the way Titebond’s nozzles do. What little glue gets left on the lid slides right off.

Goodbye Titebond bottles; I’m sticking with the sweet ones now.


Catch Up – December 2013 Completions

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

The months leading to Christmas have extra security around the shop. Guards are posted to prevent word getting out about possible gifts being created within. Blogging is ignored. All of the gifts made it out in plenty of time, but the blog didn’t write itself, and the wimpy guards wouldn’t write anything, heading for warmer regions the moment this winter’s cold arrived.

I did take a few photos, but am not excited with them. Dark Walnut needs a lot of light to photograph well. I don’t know whether these photos suffer from my capability, getting used to a new camera, or the dearth of real light bulbs.

One might surmise from what I show here that there are four grandchildren, each having 3 parts to their names, one family liking lighter color wood and another liking darker wood. Correct. Each of the grandchildren now have a pencil box, either of Cherry or Walnut, and each supplied with “The World’s Best Pencils” and a sharpener. Each of those boxes uses standard pencil box construction, simple dovetails, sliding lid, solid base.

photo of a pencil box made of cherry with the initials E J E carved in the lid photo of a pencil box made of cherry with the initials M A P carved in the lid photo of a pencil box made of cherry with the initials H E P carved in the lid photo of a pencil box made of cherry with the initials G N P carved in the lid

photo of a walnut walking staffA young woman in our family puts up with a very strange nervous system malady and sometimes appreciates assistance when walking. I thought she needed something better than the mass-produced piece of aluminum tubing she has been using. The walking staff is dual purpose, long for use as a staff, and with a handle for use as a cane. The twisty part is a double helix, similar to one of the symbols of her profession.

photo of a walnut box with an oval rose carved in the lidThe oval rose is one of my favorite classical carvings. I’ve made several of these carvings. The box with the oval rose is about 9″ by 6″ by 2 3/4″ high. The lid is a flip up lid which will stand open at just a bit beyond 90 degrees. No pencils in that box. It traveled with a load of cookies.

Finish on all of the boxes is shellac and wax. All of the Walnut items have additional dark stain, Min-Wax Jacobean. The walking staff has  a polyurethane finish, better for exterior use.

oval-rose-patternUPDATE: In response to Shannon’s comment, I’ve attached the pattern for the oval rose, both as an image and as a PDF.  The pattern is free. The carving sequence is an exercise for the carver.  :)

… and for hints on how to transfer complicated patterns, see the “Ponce on That” section of a recent post.

Acanthus Carving on a WHAT?

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Tool tote!

Yes, a tool tote. One project too many found me making numerous trips to the workshop, usually for a few tools per trip. It’s long past time to have a carry tote or tool tote for the projects away from the workshop. One of the very simple projects at Paul Sellers’ Woodworking Masterclass site is a “Carrying Tote.” The purpose of the 2 episode project is to teach the basic dado (housed dado in UK) joint. Hey, I had some lumber of appropriate size. Actually it was a bit wider and I wasn’t in the mood for ripping. So, I used the width I had and it worked out OK. Building the tote itself was easy.

But, it was plain. Plain wood. Ahhhh, the problem was an absence of carvings! Have to fix that…

There was a time that we vacationed away from the shop, and I substituted a pencil and yellow notepad for gouges and wood … making lots of drawings of Acanthus leaves and scrolls.

I borrowed from that collection for these carvings. These are shapes that are actually better in high relief, on wood an inch thick or more. The challenge here was executing them in low relief while still giving the right sense of shape. At the same time, I wanted them incised instead of raised where every knock and bump would produce damage.

The box is made of Radiata Pine from New Zealand, the “white wood” carried by our big orange home center. When I started, I was skeptical about carving this stuff. It actually worked out well, a bit stringy in places, but not too bad. Finish is 3 coats of shellac. No rub out. No wax.


Wow! They had a Party!

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

How often do you order something online? How many times have you seen the “Your order has shipped” email message? They’re usually polite, business like and factual.

Not THIS one… I wanted a few pieces of beech for a tool making project (details later, maybe, beech = planes usually) and went shopping online. Woodworkers Source listed just what I wanted at a price I think reasonable for the project. It was a small order, $32 total. Little did I expect the following as “Your order has shipped.” Enjoy.

I have some great news, Robert.

Our team of 107 hard working (and exceptionally good looking) employees has – with great care and attention – selected, packaged and shipped your order #78701 on this beautiful day.

I really think you’d have enjoyed watching all the action when your order came through. When I handed it to Robert, our master packager, he looked at the order, smiled, pulled out a pair of his favorite Italian leather gloves and slid them onto his hands. “Nothing but the best,” he said. And off he went! As he selected your order, he placed it all on a satin-lined chariot to transport it to the packaging center. And there’s more . . .

All other 106 crew members stopped. Every last one of them. They gathered around, lit incense and candles, and watched with hushed awe as he wrapped the entire order in the finest gold-laced cardboard and stretch wrap that money can buy. Seriously, you could have heard a pin drop.

In the end, the guys were so thrilled that they wanted to throw a party just for your order. We’re talking about a big fiesta with live music, a roasted pig, and a dessert spread of homemade chocolate ganache, Ukranian prune tortes, and cinnamon madeleines. You should have seen the look on the UPS driver’s face when he showed up. He thought he was going to pick up the packages as usual, but instead we picked *him* up carried him down the street on our shoulders while the band played. You can imagine what happened next, right? Our neighbors came outside to see what the fuss was all about, and when they saw your beautiful order they joined in, and toasted ol’ Robert who then delivered a rather moving speech on the joys of working with wood as a means to self improvement.

Someone must have called the local TV stations because the next thing I knew I had six interviews to handle for reporters who asked, “What does Robert Easton intend to make?” But don’t worry, your secret’s safe. I told them, “World peace.” Man! If only woodworking could do that!

Anyway, the guys hope to see pictures of what you make so we can have another party (I know what you’re thinking). I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at Woodworkers Source. We enjoyed every minute of it, and we’ve named you “Customer of the Year.” That gets you a pretty good parking spot right out front if you ever come see us. So come see us some time.

Okay, okay. You want the info, I’m sure. Your tracking information is below, or you can also get it all by logging into your at account at our website.

After you receive your order, we’d love to know what you think:

Thanks again,
Craig Haggarton and The 107 Good Looking Lumber Pickers
Woodworkers Source

Yes, putting some extra fun into business has me wondering what the next “Your order has shipped” message will say.

Oh by comparison, an order for some extra strong neodymium magnets sent a “Your order has shipped” message that was a long page of warnings about how dangerous the things were, warnings about not eating, swallowing, breaking, cutting, sawing, drilling, setting fire to, breathing the toxic fumes from burning, or placing them near stuff you want to keep working … like pacemakers. Nice info, but the tone of the Woodworkers Source message made for a much bigger smile.