Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Communion Cupboard Completed and Delivered

We were trying to get some projects completed before leaving for a trip to Florida to attend a wedding and I knew when I returned I wanted this get this cupboard out of my shop. It's been residing there way too long and I was tired of moving it out of my way and working around it while making planes.

I get that way about a project sometimes. In the course of some projects, especially ones that you only have a small amount of time to commit, you finally reach a point when you just get tired of looking at a partially completed object and the only way to get it out of your shop is to finish it.

 I have to apologize for not doing a better job of documenting the finishing portion of this project but frankly when you're wearing vinyl gloves for hand applying finishing materials and then when you have a spray gun in your hand is just not the best time to be handling a camera. Well not any camera that you care about.

Below you will see some of the flammable poisons I used in the finishing stages of this project. I have to say the finishing schedule on this project was quite involved. The first step was the sanding step. Even though I had worked almost all the surfaces with a plane there was still a necessity to do some sanding.  I was to add some color and therefore I needed a consistent scratch pattern so the colors would be absorbed in a consistent manner. I block sanded all surfaces to 220 grit and the end grain surfaces to 320 grit. I was conscious to use a block on this pine so as to keep a flat surface and not create the wavy surface that is the result of removing more material from the areas of softer grain.

The next step was the blocker needed to keep the pine from splotching. I use a mixture of 2 parts tung oil finish mixed with 1 part lacquer thinner. I applied this mixture liberally and then reapplied in areas that seemed to absorb this material quite quickly. I wiped off the excess with a cotton cloth and then removed the application rags from my shop and laid them flat on the ground outside to dry. This material is most definitely a flammable poison.

After allowing a few minutes for this mixture to evaporate a bit I then applied a Transtint dye made from 2 parts medium brown, 2 parts honey amber and one part reddish brown. This was mixed in distilled water.

After the dye had dried overnight I sprayed a nice even coat of one and a half pound cut dark garnet shellac to the all the components of the cupboard. The next day I sanded the dust nibs off with some 320 grit sand paper and applied a glaze of Sherwin Williams Fruitwood oil pigmented stain. The following day I sprayed all the parts with two more coats of the Dark Garnet shellac. Shellac is not a poison but the alcohol that I used to dissolve the flakes is also sold as camp stove fuel so it's most definitely flammable.

Periodically this piece will be used to display flower arrangements so I scuffed up the shellac on the top and back splash with some 400 grit sandpaper and then sprayed these parts with two coats of a  hybrid waterborne lacquer that has proven to be very water resistant in my house.

When we returned from our brief vacation in Florida I wet sanded all the parts with 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper and then rubbed them down thoroughly with #0000 steel wool. I then completed the final assembly, applied a bit of furniture polish and the next day the cupboard was delivered to the church.

The congregation seems pleased, I'm happy it's in the church instead of my shop, but when It was completed I would have been happy to have put it in my house.

It was nice to walk back into my shop the next morning and concentrate solely on plane making. I don't know exactly what my next woodworking project will be, but I do know will be smaller than this cupboard.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Planing the Cupboard Doors, Video and More Video

So far I haven't shown the completed cupboard or even a sketch of the cupboard. I thought it would be more fun to have the viewer anticipate the final configuration based on the parts featured in the prior post.

I will tell you this, there are two of the doors featured in the attached video and the design is a very basic Shaker cupboard. In the next post all will be revealed. Good or bad. (Grin)

The linked video shows the final planing of the door battens and door panels. I've heard it said that a picture is worth a thousand words so once again here's thousands of pictures.

Video abounds this week. Recently Brese Plane had the honor to be featured in the second episode of "The Highland Woodworker." If you've not had the opportunity to view this episode follow the link below:


Friday, May 11, 2012

More Work on the Cupboard

The next step in the cupboard project was to rough out all the components. In the picture below the ends and the front face frame pieces are cut to rough size.

In the first post about this project I mentioned that a check existed in one of the boards and it was positioned so that it would run thru the end of the board and would be exposed on the exterior of the piece. This would not do so I set about ripping the board to remove the check and then prepping the edges in order to glue the board back together.

The two edges came together quite easily and you can see that the glue squeeze out was extremely consistent down the joint line with just 3 clamps along the length.

It was important that this piece be quite flat as it is the base for the entire piece. I used a long straight edge to sight the high spots and to check my progress as I removed material from these areas.

As I got close to flat I began using a set of winding stick. Actually these winding sticks were two of the vertical elements for the front of the cupboard. They are exactly the same size and were matched planed to match each other perfectly so besides being very accurately made components they also served as quite good winding sticks.

I then set about the same process on the piece that was to become the top of the cupboard and the picture below shows the top being held as I planed it to final width with a jointer plane, cleaning up the edge with a smoother. This old growth material was such a pleasure to plane I had to make myself stop when I hit the layout line.

A dead man and the BenchCrafted Leg vise made holding and working the edge of this large board quite easy. Below is a link to a short video showing the last passes of the plane on the front edge of the top.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nailed Furniture and These 4 Boards

Lately there has been a resurgence of interest of nailed furniture. I became interested in this idea while nailing down the wide pine floor boards during the construction of my house. I was amazed at the holding strength of square cut nails and began incorporating cut nails in furniture pieces that I made for my house.

 I think most that are intrigued with this idea are still trying to define the parameters of what exactly qualifies. I've read that nailed furniture is devoid of joinery but what does this mean? Where are the dividing lines between what is considered joinery? I can't imagine one could create a good nailed piece without using glue. Does the addition of glue constitute joinery?

 I guess one deciding factor is the use of fasteners, but this brings up another question. Screws. Screws are fasteners and nails are fasteners. I can't imagine the top of a cupboard on a sizable piece of furniture would stay in place long with just the use of nails for attachment, especially if there is reason to move the piece on a fairly regular basis. Even though it's not the correct way to do things, people will always look for a way to grab the top and lift up when the need arises. Then again maybe there is a solid method to attach the top of a case piece with nails that I've not come to as of yet. Certainly we'll use screws for attaching hardware but does using screws to fasten wooden parts together constitute joinery?

The piece below is nailed with square cut nails but given it's small size there's not a lot of stress on any part of this piece.

 Last year I was commissioned by a local church to build a piece that would provide a place for the elements of Communion. I've not made a lot of rectory furnishings but this church is fairly unique in that the building is very craftsman in style and the details are quite simple in form. It has none of the formality that one usually associates with churches so this worked right into my interest in simpler furnishings which has been my mindset as of late. As I worked with the Pastor to develop an idea for this piece we came upon the idea of a "Communion Cupboard". I was a proponent of this idea because of some special boards that I had in my possession.

As you can see in the above picture there is a rather large sugar pine board on my workbench. I possessed 4 of these boards that were 22" wide, 1.5" thick and 8 feet long. They were quite flat and there was not a knot to be seen anywhere in these boards. Only one piece possessed a check that would have to be sawn out.

 I came into these board approximately 8 years ago, and the gentleman that owned these boards before me had purchased them in 1961. I know that wide sugar pine boards can still be had today but these boards are from old growth trees and quite frankly I've never seen anything quite like them. All these years I've been waiting for a project to use these boards in their widest context and the design of the "Communion Cupboard" fit perfectly.

One of the machines left in my shop from my days as a full time commissioned furniture maker is a 25" Woodmaster planer. Obviously I would need to flatten one side of these pieces before utilizing that tool. As flat as I thought these boards were they still required a considerable amount of hand work with planes to make them flat and accurate enough for the piece I had designed.

The simpler the piece the more of a premium is placed on accuracy and proportions. This piece will have two sizable doors that will be required to lay flush in the case. In lieu of making many compromises later I have to make some very accurate piece parts in order to pull off this design.

I know I've wandered a bit in this post and you're probably wondering why a Plane maker would bother with taking on a commission of this type. It's not so much the piece as much as it is the opportunity to work these boards. Everyone that has laid their eyes these boards in person has marveled at this wood. I feel quite privileged to be the one that gets to create something from these 4 boards and given that these boards are so unique It's only fitting that they be put to use in a setting where many people will have the opportunity to enjoy them.

You may be wondering why I'm just now posting about a commission that I received a year ago. Well.....I am a Plane maker and that being the case I've had to build this piece in my "Spare" time and therefore it has taken a while.

This brings up another question, and I realize I've asked more questions than I've answered in this post, however here goes...Is there any such thing as "Spare" time?