Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mock-up and wood selection

Finally I am sitting down to share this...I'm going to try to catch up on where this project is at over the next couple days, but for now some photos of the chair mock-up and a quick discussion about wood selection and part harvesting.
No, the not-so Hobsonian lattice work won't be part of the look.  I wonder if those window shade Bruce made are still in use..?
The shaping on the left front leg is sort of what will happen, only less severely than this.
All six chairs are going to be arm chairs.  It's a departure from traditional dining sets but that's the beauty of custom furniture.  You can ask for whatever you want and all of your guest can sit in as much comfort as the hosts!
The seat rails are curved both top and bottom.  This weave of the seat will therefore not be flat, but slightly bowled which I think will look unique.
 Once the mock-up was ok'd and the comfort was dialed in I used it to create full scale drawings that are used as a reference for the construction of the real thing.  From the drawings I created templates of the parts that I needed to find in the wood.
This is a negative template of the arms.  It was handy because it gave me a look at the graphics while the outside rectangle showed me what I was aiming for as far as the initial rough stock size.  Pieces such as this stay square until the joinery is done, and are then cut to shape.
I got my Walnut from a place in town call Upper Canada Forest Products.  They were really helpful and actually brought this in for me from their Vancouver Warehouse.  I requested rift and they sell it as rift/quartered so I knew I was taking my chances on getting enough rift to do the job.
As you can see, there was a fair bit of quartered in with it but I managed to get all of the pieces requiring true rift out of what I had.  It was really interesting to look at a pile of wood, knowing that you need to find 12 front legs, 12 arms, 12 back rails, 6 stretchers, etc, plus extra parts for setups.  In this case starting with lots of clear wood that was relatively straight was a real blessing.
My "scrub-plane".  I never liked scrubbing and with so much needing to be done, this kicked ass.  Time saved here can be better spent later on something that will make a difference to the project.
I was discussing with someone over e-mail, the idea of straightening grain when harvesting something like a front leg of a chair.  This is how I do it.  Keep in mind that I basically needed a 2x2 rough dimension out of 8/4 (2") stock.  My final dimension is 1 1/2 x 1 5/8 so this allows room to tweak graphics and allow for settling and movement as it nears the final size.
Photo 1 :My piece is nice rift, almost perfectly 45 degrees but as you can see, the grain is not running parallel to the edges of the board.
Photo 2: You can also see that on the edge, it is slash grain, meaning it cuts diagonally across the surface.  Now, I could give up on this and go looking somewhere else as upon first glance you might think that it must be slash grain all the way through. The truth is that  cut at this angle, it is.  If you sawed this piece into 2x2 and said to hell with it, you'd have ugly slash grain all down the front of your chair legs.  So what to do?
Photo 3: It's really a matter of taking care of one side.  I started by drawing a line parallel to the grain ignoring the existing edges.  Then rip your piece along that line.  A quick pass over the jointer to flatten that new edge and I was ready to set my band-saw fence to 2" and rip off my front legs.  Ok fine, but what about that slash grain on the side of the board?
Photo 4: What?  It's gone?!  These are the 2x2s rotated so that you see what would be the front of the legs and what was the edge of the board before.  Essentially, because the end-grain in photo 1 was angled diagonally, taking care of the slash grain on one face, winds up giving you nice straight grain on all four sides of your piece.  Also of note, if you take the two center pieces from photo 3 and open them like a book, you get a mirror image (book-match) with identical grain on the front of both.
 I hope that makes sense but you may also be saying: "What a waste of wood!  Half of that piece went to the scrap pile and all you got out was two legs!"  It has taken me a while to get used to this idea, and honestly I struggled even while at school with the "waste".  I'll tell you what RVN told me though. 

He said, "What's a bigger waste?  Getting two beautiful legs out of that piece and wasting half, or getting four ugly legs out of it and wasting the whole thing?" 

I think that was when I stopped worrying about the "waste".  Besides, I've made a nice end-grain cutting board out of all those types of scraps, and now our Chirstmas shopping list is shorter.
This is what parts, and extra parts for six chairs looks like.  The back legs wound up being cut from flat-sawn stock.  I debated doing bent tapered laminations, but in the end, after a few very valuable consults with my IP alums it was decided that this was the way to go, both graphically and it terms of time.  I didn't like the idea of seeing the glue lines in the end-grain at the top of the legs and flat-sawn cut right gives you nice graphics up the four sides.
Joinery has begun and I had an exciting realization about floating tenons that I'll post about next.  Bye!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mom's Dining Set

So, I said I had an exciting project to start on soon.  It is exciting, but it is also large and not really an ease yourself into things way to start.  I am psyched though and ready for the challenge.  I'm really thankful for the opportunity as it seems like a good kickstart to what I hope will be a successful venture in furniture making.

Below you will see some sketch-up renderings of the dining table and chairs that will one day belong to my Mom.  This month was a milestone birthday for her and without giving away her age,  lets just say it was a big enough one that my Dad decided he wanted to commission an extra special gift for her. 

Keep in mind the purpose of these was to give them a general idea of what I was thinking.  The slightly off proportions and shapes leave them looking quite blah but you'll get the idea.

Side view of arm chair.  The stretcher will not have that weird angle...thanks for that sketch-up...

Seats will be woven and yes, I realize Ill be weaving for a week.  I'll pop in a few good movies and tada!...I hope.

I like the armless, plus it keeps thing less crowded around the table...we have discussed the possibility of having 6 arm chairs but I will be voting neh.

The table top looks nice with this perfect quarter-sawn walnut graphic.  I'm still debating how to best construct the table-top.  Veneers or solid wood?  Both seem to have their advantages but we'll see.

The legs of both the chairs and the table will taper slightly and be a little heavier on the bottom.
The mock-up of the chair is done and awaiting testing and approval from Mom.  Mylene and Byron have been kind enough to lend their bottoms and opinions in the name of comfort but I will talk more about that in the next post.  I also have a big pile of wood in the downstairs family room that I will share...well, not share but you know.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bench Top (Ulmia-ish Pt. 2)

The bench-top involved many "strips" to be glued together in order to make up the big, flat surface that is the goal.  This isn't simply because my lumber wasn't wide enough to get it out of one piece.  With the top being made out of roughly 2" wide pieces, glued together with the growth rings alternating, it is a much more stable piece of wood.  If you simply took a big wide plank and flattened it into a bench top, in time it could cup and you'd find yourself re-flattening it often.  What this meant was much laminating and much blistered and sore hands.  A wiser man would have worn gloves...
I believe this is the thick section being laminated.
This template, together with a plunge router and guide bushing made the dogholes in the front-most strip before it was glued on,
These are them...
One improvement might have been to make sure that the cleat that seated my template was as thick as my routing was deep.  This would have prevented the jagged bits you can see in the bottom right corner.
The big final glue-up of the top.  I had most recenty jointed and thicknessed these parts when they were in thirds of what you see here.  This left a lot less flattening to do at the end.  Not sure what the plane was there for...just hanging out I guess.
The bread-board ends are slotted with and edge guided router.
The end of the bench is made to match and then a plywood spline is inserted to hold them flush to each other.
This joint is left unglued as the bench top must be allowed to come and go with the seasons.  As such, a big bolt holds the two snugly together.  It is not a lag bolt but I didn't take a photo of the mortise in the underside of the bench that houses the nut.  The end is finger jointed to the back of the tool tray.
Both bread-boards done and the tool tray back glued in place.  It is really beginning to look like a bench.  The tool tray bottom is plywood and it is screwed on in case it ever requires replacement.
The tail vise is also finger jointed together but this sucker was a beast.  Those pieces were basically 6x6s.  Some careful cutting on the bandsaw and, chopping by hand and some fine tuning and they eventually went together.  Likely the biggest joint I'll ever do.
This is the tail-vise installed.  I did not unfortunately take any pictures of the process.  I'm sorry because it really was quite interesting.  The hardware was the veritas tail vise from lee valley.  It differed from the one that the guy had in the plans so in the end I had to alter the elbow part of the tail-vise.  As you can see it is now thinner because my screw was shorter than his was.  No need for fancy handles...a piece of dowel rod and hockey tape is far more Canadian and is quite comfortable too. 
The dawgs, also a fun process, also unphotodocumented.  I promise to be better in future.
I put several coats of oil on the top and sides, letting it soak in, mostly to avoid stains from spilled coffee that I know will occur sooner or later.
The front vise hardware was also from lee valley, their "large" veritas one.  Why do those dogs look so long?   I put a special bit of spalting on the front just because. No drawer because it always annoyed me that it interfered with the dogs and vise-versa.  I can have a drawer elsewhere. 
Done and done, at home with his friends the tool and plane racks and sharpening station as well as a few homages to IP and reminders of how I want to work.
Assembly table out of 2x4s and MDF.  Holds all of the F-clamps, bar clamps and glue-up supplies.  Also rolls over to act as an outfeed table on the table-saw.
Sharpening station.  I bought the motor at a garage sale and combined it with the right sized pulleys so that it goes more slowly.  It's faster still than a hand-grinder but I like having two hands free to guide the blades over the stone.  Not running to the machine room to grind is also nice, I tend to do it more often because it's right there.
So that's it, the bench is done and the shop is really 99% where I want it to be.  The next step is doing some work!!  I have an exciting project in the initial stages and I will share more about that in the next entry as this one is already a monster...

Happy woodworking!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ulmia-ish Part 1

This is going to be a whirlwind post about how I made my bench.  It has been an ongoing project over the last couple months but has mostly come together in the three weeks.  I found plans on the internet that were based on an Ulmia bench like the ones we had at school.  Front and tail vises, tool tray and solid trestle base.

"Here we go..." - St. D.S.
The wood I chose for my bench was "Natural" Maple.  It was the cheapest hardwood available because apparently no one likes the heart-wood color in their maple.  OK?! Bring it on...
The mortises for the base were challenging because of the size.  I needed 2.5" x1" mortises that went 2.5" deep.
I tried this jig (left over from Rya's crib) using a 1/2" bit, figuring I'd rotate it 180 and have a nice centered mortise.  Problem: it left the ends needing to be cleaned out by hand and I was ending up with varying mortises, thus requiring more custom tenon fitting than I wanted to do.
In the end I made a template and used a bushing to do them.  It worked really nicely and my first attempt with the jig turned out to just be waste removal! :)  And no, the legs are not all nice straight rift....
Some nice shaping detail on the front ends. Tenons were cut on the tablesaw and bandsaw and then fit using the shaper before being fine-tuned by hand.  It went quick and made for an incredibly strong joint.
The front and back stretchers.  You can see the stub tenon and the holes to accommodate the 6" bolts, nuts and washers that secure them to the leg trestles.
A little edge softening with yes, a roundover bit and the base is done!  It's rock solid and what more could I ask?
 On second thought, I'm going to break this into 2 posts.  It'll be too long to get through if I do it all in one.  The rest is more interesting so check back!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some pics of my shop

I've been working in the shop now for a week and a half and needless to say I've been enjoying myself.  The first couple days I was actually down there by 6:30 and the sound-proofing has been worth all the effort as my girls were still peacefully sleeping upstairs.

I'm going to skip the rest of the construction phase and get to the good stuff.  Don was actually in town on a wood/ Lee Valley run and was able to help me get all of the machines downstairs with the aide of a furniture dolly.  Anyway, here's some photos of the shop:
My little 14" band-saw that has actually surprised me.  I thought it would be the first thing needing to be replaced but it has been working quite nicely.

The "cyclone" has actually worked well.  It needs tweaking if I ever get around to it but it grabs maybe 80%.  I've emptied the can 5 or 6 times and the bag is still only half full.

The DC is actually in that booth.  It has helped dampen the noise but also filters the air before it returns it to the shop.
The Mini-Max combo I found on Kijiji took a lot of time to get set and tuned up but now that it is running it is sweet!  There are no words to describe how brilliant Tersa knives are...
Looking the other way, that space will eventually be home to my bench, wood rack and an assembly area.  In the foreground is the table-saw which again has been a pleasant surprise.  It's just a GI 10" hybrid but combined with the cross-cut sled it has been great.  have a 50 tooth CMT combination blade in it most of the time.
Back in the corner is the Delta shaper I also got of of Kijiji.  I've outfitted it with the router bit spindle attachment and it is running nicely.  I really need to invest in some decent bits at some point though.
As you can see the bones are there but I still have a lot of work to do in terms of organizing and making it user friendly.  Currently I find myself tripping over clamps, moving hand tools from the table saw, to the shaper, back to the table saw, to the floor....etc.  Thankfully the bench is almost done and in time the rest will follow.  The tool show is this weekend, maybe I'll find a drill press.

I'll do a post about the bench progress asap.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ian Crosby: Woodworker

For the last 4 months I have been working in the hole, which quite literally was an enormous hole that we worked in.  Doing concrete form carpentry in a setting like that provided ample contrast to the peaceful woodworking we all experienced in Roberts Creek.  Anyways, long story short...the company I was working for expects 60 hour weeks Mon-Sat and with Mylene and Rya at home who wants to work that much, especially in a hole.  I will miss some of the guys there as we often shared good laughs but I am more than excited to get back to wood and have as much family time as I want.

As I haven't posted anything since July, despite the other job, progress has been made in the shop.  In fact, the shop is done and the work bench is currently underway.  I remember people saying that to build your own was a ton of work.  They weren't kidding, but it has given me a great opportunity to tweak and tune machines without worrying about spoiling precious project wood.  I want the bench to be nice but functionality is all I'm really concerned about.  Don't worry, I've put no effort into grain graphics...that would be ridiculous. 

So as of this coming Tuesday, I will be in the shop full time, trying to make a go of this whole woodworking thing.  No time better than the present!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shop construction

Much like when Mylene was pregnant, the shop seems to progress very slowly.  The anticipation of the final result and all the good times that will follow is almost too much but yet I must wait.  I still am not feeling it kick, but at least the morning sickness has subsided for now.

Here's where it's at:
The stairs down to the level that will be the shop.
I'm being as diligent as I can be with regards to containing the sometimes unpleasant woodworking sounds.  I decided to separate the furnace room from the shop with a "party" wall.  The idea being that there is far less solid material to transfer the sound as no stud touches the drywall on both sides of the wall.  Basically 2x6 plates with staggered 2x4 studs.  Insulation to come and hopefully I'll be ok to thickness things at whatever hour I desire.  Fingers crossed.
Another soundproofing measure has been to insulate the ceiling with Roxul Safe and Sound.  I've also put strips of 1/2" styrofoam insulation on the bottoms of the joists to further dampen what could go through to the upstairs living space.  As you can see the pot-lights are also in.

I decided that from a re-sale perspective, should that day come, that very few people would want their basement wired with 220V all over the place and bench height plugs etc.  Therefore I decided to first finish the space as a rec-room with all the appropriate plugs and lights for that.  Once it is drywalled I'm going to run the shop power off of a sub-panel with the wires in conduit on the outside of the walls.  This way I can tear it all down, patch the walls and no one will be the wiser.  Plus, I can take all my expensive wire and breakers, etc with me to the next shop.  Who knows if this will ever matter but it seems sensible, plus I can always move plugs if I want to re organize the shop for whatever reason.
Ah yes, furniture quality sawhorses as a reminder of what all of this effort is for.  As I said, it seems so far off that this will result in woodworking but I'm plugging away as fast as this whole working thing will allow and before I know it, it'll be done!