Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas Break, Another Clock and Rain, Rain, Rain

I arranged my holiday schedule in order to actually have some time off this year. I completed my last plane of the year about mid December. I really wanted some time to pursue some woodworking projects that have been on the list. The idea of projects in the plural may have been ambitious on my part so I decided I would be happy to complete one project.

As a tool maker I find it hard to make time for actual woodworking that is not tool related. This is too bad because I miss this type of woodworking. Frankly after you spend a great deal of time in the shop making tools the idea of going back into the shop for any reason is not really an attractive idea. It's really better to create time to pursue one thing at a time so the week before Christmas and this week were set aside for personal work.

Of course I immediately begin thinking thru all the house maintenance items that needed to be accomplished but I was resolute to make this an enjoyable time to pursue a project that's been on my mind for a while and one that I actually started a while back and left unfinished.

I had roughed out some walnut boards for another clock like the pine version I made a year or so ago. Each time I walked thru my lumber shed, going and coming from the shop there those pieces were, leaning against some mahogany boards in one of my lumber racks. I felt as though they were mocking me. It was like an unanswered question...."when will you finish me?"

And then it started raining...........and raining, and raining and then it rained some more. It seemed we were experiencing a near Biblical event. As you can see in the picture above, the lake on my neighbors property was over flowing on one corner of the damn. A lot of water can flow thru a 10" diameter over flow pipe. You can just imagine the shear volume of water that was coming into this lake that resulted in more water than the drain could possibly dispense below the dam.

Of course this did not interrupt my woodworking project in the shop, however it did necessitate running the dehumidifier to keep the moisture content of the air in my shop at an acceptable level. The unseasonable tropical type weather we experienced created a situation we've never encountered. Never have we needed to run our air conditioning system while there was a Christmas tree in the house. This was a first.

Back Boards

Lots of people use 1/4" plywood for back boards these days and there's really nothing wrong with that. I've chosen to use pine back boards on my last couple of projects. They are a more authentic detail and they add visual interest when the case is opened. Leaving them a light color also has the functional advantage of creating a better lit interior.

I cut 3/8" deep rabbits in the back of the case to accept the backboards so I re-sawed the back boards to 5/16" out of 3/4" thick stock. Pine is very stable and the pieces came from the bandsaw quite accurate in thickness, and stayed quite flat. I had planed smooth the show face of these boards prior to the re-saw operation and I left the backs of these boards rough right off the bandsaw. I would much rather spend my efforts on the show surfaces of this piece in lieu of refining surfaces that will never be seen when the piece is placed where it will reside.

I used a business card cut into pieces and folded to double thickness to space the back boards. This leaves plenty of room for wood movement. To join the boards together I simply sawed a slot gauging from the face that would show on the interior surface of the clock case, then cut and planed splines to fit into these slots. This is easy, fast and the end result is much more interesting than a ply panel.

I broke the corners slightly to accentuate the join between the back boards. I had some waterborne lacquer that needed to be used while it was still viable. I added a bit of amber Transtint to this material so the finish would not have the cool look associated with waterborne finishes. Two brushed on coats then sanded with 400 grit paper and then rubbed down with some steel wool finished these up quite nicely. This may have been a bit over kill for back boards and a well prepared then waxed suface would have also worked well.

Board and Batten Doors

Board and Batten doors are under used in fine cabinetry in favor of frame and panel doors. I think in some context they are very suitable. In this instance the case construction is quite simple and so should be the door.

Most of my recent furniture making pursuits have been in the idea of simplifying construction to make the build aspects more enjoyable and less taxing. The construction method can be quite simple until you decide to include a cut out that will retain glass, then the method becomes somewhat complicated and the sequence of building up the door requires considerably more work. Housing a clock works always complicates case construction.

Some would say it may be hard to control wood movement in this style of door and that is why they prefer a frame and panel door. I disagree. This door is pre-assembled using pyramid head screws. I will remove the battens to refine the surfaces for finish. When I re-assemble the door I will actually put a bit of glue under the batten at the outer edges of the door and will enlarge the large the holes for the screw at the center of the door battens which effectively makes all the movement occur in the center of the door. This is the same thing that occurs in a frame and panel door and the doors I've made with this method are doing quite well and enduring seasonal changes without issue.

You could subsequently add cut nails driven thru the front face of the door and clinched over into the battens, thus eliminating the need for the screws in the backs of the battens. Or you could do both. I'm using the black pyramid head screws so the front of the door is cleaner with no fasteners.

The clock dial cutout with stopped chamfer detail around the opening

There are plenty of ways to add visual interest to these type doors. The simple chamfer where the boards come together at the center along with the stopped chamfers around the door opening are ways to create visual detail.

The assembled case with back boards installed

As you can see the board and batten door allows your eye to flow around this piece easily and is most probably a more attractive choice in the context of this piece.

In a general summary of the construction of this piece I should mention that it is basically assembled using pyramid head screws and nails. In fact the top of the case will not be permanently joined to the case sides and front stiles until after the finishing process. At that point it will be fastened by driving pyramid headed nails thru the top panel into the sides and the top of the front stiles. I will pre-drill holes for the nails to avoid splitting the finished pieces. At least that's the way I have it planned in theory.

We'll see,


1 comment:

  1. This piece looks really nice and you have done a very good job in creating it. The finishing is very good. Do share the pictures of the finished product.