Friday, December 9, 2016

Dutch Tool Chest in Spain - Part II

I feel lucky to have been able to spend some good time today on my chest. The next bit that needs doing are the sticks for the locks, as well as the cutouts for them on the chest.

I decided to cut them a bit over length, and wait to trim them to final length once the chest is together and I can see how they are supposed to work. Since the wood I bought was sold in a metric measurement, my chest is actually an inch or two taller than Christopher Schwarz' plan.

Cutting these notches is pretty simple, even without a router. The trick is being accurate in marking out. The first cut is to saw the sidewalls of the notch.
Sidewalls sawed - check.
I also cut some relief cuts to prevent any disasters. Next, I rough out the notch with a chisel and mallet.
Roughed out - check.
Then it is just a matter of paring down to the line with a chisel.
Pared to the line, check.
Only a little more complicated are the notches in the bottom board, which are stopped. I approached it in the same way.
Starting the stopped cut.
In no time that part was done.
Locks fit.
The next challenge was the back. Christopher Schwarz recommends tongue and groove joints for the back boards, but those sound awfully fussy without any proper joinery planes. I think it can be done, but there are a lot of them, and I think the time spent isn't worth the end result. My opinion is that ship lap joints should do just fine.

I could make these rabbets with a chisel and a saw, but once again, there are a lot of rabbets to make, so the best way is with a rabbet plane, which I didn't have until I made one out of scrap wood yesterday.
First action shot.
The way it was, it seemed to work. It soon became apparent, however, that all was not well in Rabbetville. Every swipe I took led the plane a little farther inboard, and soon I had a big mess.

I'm not sure what the problem was, as I can make a rabbet like that just fine with my vintage rabbet plane that is safely in my tool chest in Munich.

I decided another piece of scrap and a couple nails should fix the problem.
I nailed on a fence.
It did. Once I had the fence on, I was making perfect rabbets in a hurry.
Action shot.
This worked just fine for this project. I'm pretty sure this plane won't last long, but I'm done with it for this project. If I need another one someday, I know I can whip one out in a hurry.
This rabbet is just fine for a ship lap.
Once this was done, I just had to nail the top piece on after squaring the carcase up the best I could. It was out 3mm on the diagonal, so a small push in that direction squared it up a little better.
Back pieces starting to go on.
I continued using Roman nails to attach the back. I really like these nails. They hold like crazy.

I spaced the ship lap boards the width of a 1 Euro coin to allow the boards to expand and contract with the humidity.
These nails are tapered, so I drilled pilot holes to prevent splitting.
This whole process took a bit longer than it would if you had a table saw and a powered shaper, but I also have all my fingers and hearing intact.
And, I did it in my home office. No table saw in here!
Next up is the front panel, the drop front and the lid. Plus hardware and paint, and who-knows-what I forgot. Like the guts for the upper compartment.

As a follow up to a previous post, my wife bought me a Spanish woodworking book that was recommended by a reader. This looks like a great book for learning woodworking Spanish. Thanks for the recommendation, António!
My birthday present from my wife.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dutch Tool Chest - in Spain! Part I

I was able to spend some quality time the last couple days in the office with a new project, a Dutch tool chest!

This project started a few weeks ago with a trip to the local home center on the bus.
Jonas says these wheelie bags are only for old people.
I haven't yet found a lumberyard nearby that I can get to without a car, so I am stuck with public transportation. I was able to get all of this lumber in my wheelie bag normally reserved for grocery shopping!

I'm lucky that this home center has such nice plastic-wrapped laminated pine. They are glued from long pieces of wood.
If you dig through the pile, there are often boards as nice as this!
I came to Spain with a limited tool set, and when I went to Denmark, I seem to have left my combination square at home in Munich. When I mentioned the problem to Jonas, he suggested using a piece of printer paper.
Testing for square with a piece of printer paper.
Even though I have a pair of saw benches, there are some operations that still must be done on the floor. Shooting these wide boards is one. I think I am getting used to shooting this way - marking a square line and planing to it.

With the two side pieces picked out and the bottom cut to length, I can plane the edges. I made one edge smooth on each side, then clamped them together to gang-plane them in the hope they will all turn out the same width.
Here is where I really miss my square, but the eye is pretty accurate when it has to be.
With that done, I can start dovetails. Last time I risked the death penalty by sawing them clamped to our brand new sideboard. Now that I have some saw benches, I'll try some less-risky (to my health) work holding.
I did buy a pair of C-clamps.
This is the first time I ever gang-cut dovetails. It seems to have worked. And, I am amazed I can cut dovetails with the same saw I use to break down rough lumber.
Gratuitous Dick saw shot.
These saw benches make a world of difference. Getting things off the floor makes it much easier to work longer and requires less ibuprofen.
Chiseling out the waste after coping. BTW, I love having sun light in the shop.
Having low benches isn't perfect, but with a bit of thinking about a workholding problem, most things can be solved.
Marking the pins.
With no joinery planes here, I wasn't able to plane a shallow rabbet on the pins. I had to forgo that trick. Cross your fingers!
Cutting the pins.
With the dovetails done, It is time to cut the grooves for the shelves. I used a leg from the broken safari chair as a saw guide.
Once again, A4 paper to the rescue!
The chair leg worked brilliantly, but it was a bit too tall for my Ryoba Dick saw. I solved that problem by removing the handle.
Sawing crossgrain kerfs for shelf dadoes.
It takes a light touch, as there are sharp teeth on both sides of this blade. With a bit of care it can be done.
This is how I sawed the dado.

Approaching the line.
Sawing that way works great. All that is left is to hog out the waste with a chisel and clean it up with a router plane.
Oops! I don't have a router plane. I guess do it all with a chisel!
The next step is to cut the angle on the side pieces. I then clamped them together, clamped the whole works to a saw bench and smooth the ends.
Aren't self-timers a great invention?
Glue up. I didn't have a clamp wide enough, so I just glued the snot out of everything and pounded it home with a mallet.
I thought it was a booger, but it's not. (You have to say that out loud for it to be funny.)
Now I get to try my new tapered drill bit to make pilot holes for Roman nails!
Pretty, isn't it?
Well, while I was trying to take this fancy shot, the eggbeater fell on the floor and broke the tip off of the tapered drill bit. I was able to finish with it, but that bit now likes to wander all over the place.
Not sure this art shot was worth it.
Mike Siemsen left a comment on my Instagram recomending I just cut the head off of one of these nails and use that for a tapered pilot hole drill bit. Great idea!

I've been thinking of ways to keep the lid and the front panel flat with battens. I don't really want to use screws on this project, so I thought I would make a test to see if I could clench these Roman nails to join two pieces of this pine.
It works brilliantly!
So that means I'll be clenching some nails on those panels.

That's all I have completed so far.
Well, it holds tools!
I was trying to figure out how to make tongue and groove or shiplap with no joinery planes for the back boards, and was inspired to spend thirty minutes making Paul Sellers' version of a rabbet plane out of construction pine. We'll find out tomorrow how well it works.
A Paul Sellers tool on a Christopher Schwarz tool chest.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

DCBE - I'm Dreaming of a White Safari

I finally finished the second Safari Chair that I began while at the Danish Chair Building Extravaganza a little more than a month ago.
White safari chair in elm and white leather.
I am pleased with the result of this chair so far. I say so far, because there are still just a few little tweaks that need doing in order for me to say it's completely done, but it looks done.

Another glamor shot.
On the surface, this looks like a plain old safari chair with not too much in the way of crazy new ideas. At least there was no burning of wood...
hairy cowhides...
or crazy twisted sticks.
This one is a little less weird.
Still looks pretty normal.
There were, however, a few things I had not previously tried. For example, most of the belts on this chair I fixed with rapid rivets, rather than copper rivets, which I've always used in the past.
Looks good from here.
I used them because there was just a little less banging with hammers required to install them. While that was true, I found that the tiny cupped setting tools that are required to set them either marred one side of the leather, or did not set properly in such thick  (10 oz.) leather. My only option when they didn't set fully was to set one side on a flat surface, rather than the cupped one, which deformed and flattened one side of the rivet.

Ultimately, one of the belts on the thigh strap completely failed when I tried to tighten it, so I replaced those rivets with copper ones. The rest seem to be holding for now.

Not being happy with how they turned out, I chose to go with traditional copper rivets on the show part of the back, but found you can also get brass rivets.
I think brass rivets look good with this white leather.
The brass rivets seem to work just like the copper ones. Only time will tell if they hold up, but I have no reason to think they won't.

To give my neighbors a bit of a break on Saturday evening, I only set the brass washers, I still have to clip the rivet post and set them with an awful lot more banging. I suppose I'll try to do that when most of the building is at work.

One problem I had was once again I punched holes for these rivets in a bit of a hurry, which resulted in the back being a bit too narrow. I've made this mistake once before, and apparently did not learn from my mistake. You can see a gap in the above picture between the leg and the wooden back piece. That is due to the leather being too short. That's the only way it will fit. I might have to insert some kind of spacers there, but the chair works the way it is.

Another problem I found too late is the seat piece has a big slice right in the middle.
Big slice, about 2 1/2" long.
The slice doesn't go all the way through, and is purely cosmetic. I haven't completely decided how to best deal with it. I think I can get some glue in there which will stabilize it and prevent it from fraying in the long run. Surprisingly, this cut isn't too easy to see unless you are looking for it. As an alternative, I have some more leather I can use to replace this panel. Perhaps I should also replace the back piece. I'll have to think about that.

Something really cool on this chair are the cup washers I've used. Alex gave me these cup washers, which are solid because they were milled. The cup washers I've used before all were stamped from thinner sheet metal.
Bad-ass cup washers.
While the stamped ones look fine, these ones are nicer.
Thanks, Alex!
The big difference on this chair compared to the other chairs I've made is something a bit more structural. On this chair, instead of using my Veritas 12 degree tapered reamer, I used the six degree reamer that I've used on my staked furniture.
Six degree taper. The end of the dowel exits in a hole about 3/4".
I was amazed at the difference. I would say if you already have a 12 degree tapered reamer, use that. If you are looking to buy a new one, go with the six degrees. I got mine from Elia Bizzarri.

One big difference is the six degree tool is extremely accurate. It is possible to dial the mortises in to a degree of accuracy that surpasses the accuracy of the tenons. It was no problem to get all eight mortises 100% perfect. I've never been perfect with any other chair I've made. This accuracy isn't strictly necessary, as the chair seems to be able to work just fine with some small deviations.

The fact that these mortises are straight result in a chair that is extremely stable. It doesn't squeak, or rock in any way. As a bonus, the chair stands perfectly stable with none of the leather attached. This makes it much simpler during construction and assembly.
These parts stood like this for several weeks in my office without falling apart.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with how the chair turned out. Unfortunately, the Frau isn't crazy about the color combination, so I might have to make another one for the living room, and this one can stay right here in my office.
At home in my office.
Before that, however, I think I need a Dutch Tool Chest...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Danish Chair Building Extravaganza - Epilogue

I've been back to Spain for a couple weeks, and have had some time to reflect on what happened during that awesome week of chair building in Denmark.

Jonas, Brian and Alex on the last day.
But first, let me catch you up. Day 5 turned out not to be the last day, like we were supposed to. Alex and I talked Jonas into letting us stay one more night, so we could cram in a bit more woodworking the morning before we drove off.
Here I am slathering BLO on my elm chair parts.
Alex was a bit slower, but to be fair he built two chairs in tandem. He had never built a Roorkee chair before, and actually had quite a few firsts, including first time turning on a lathe and first time working leather. That being said, he came up with a pair of the finest Roorkees I've ever seen.
Alex's chairs approaching completion. One elm, one sycamore.
I started an elm version after I completed the sycamore one.

I think I could have gotten a bit farthur, but I wound up re-doing a stretcher, as one of them disintegrated in the mortise. I posted this pic before, but just to jar your memory:
Rotten stretcher.
We made a giant mistake when milling the wood. The ends of the sycamore board we were using were gray in color. I figured that was just on the surface, but it was gray all the way through. That was my first sign, but I figured it would be OK.

This particular stretcher happened to be running fore and aft, and the broken part was in the back again. Funnily enough, the chair still sat even when the part was broken like in the picture. I thought it had a funny lean when I was watching some of the others sit in it.

If you look closely at the above picture, there was enough of the tapered tenon in the hole that the chair still held up. I only noticed this when I disassembled the chair.

The gray colored wood turned out to be rotten. It was about the consistency of a wine cork. There was no strength left in it.

The fix was easy, I just milled another stretcher and was back in business. It did take a while, though, as I didn't have a spare stretcher octagonalized.

Moving on - I tried something else for the elm chair. Up until now we all had used the Veritas tapered reamer (12 degrees taper) and tenon cutter for all of the chairs. Having examined the original Klint chair (I'll have to do a whole additional post on that chair) we borrowed, it looked like those tenons were less of a taper than the 12 degrees we used. Why not try a six degree taper, since I have a six degree tapered reamer here?
Using my six degree reamer.
This is what it looks like when the taper is done being reamed.
This was amazing. This reamer is much more accurate to use. It is possible to check for square after every half turn (or less, if you wish)!

Stretchers with six degree tapers.

Assembled joint.
The design of the Roorkee allows for the joints to be a little sloppy. It will still sit and hold together if everything isn't perfect. The leather keeps everything from falling apart.


Using the six degree tool allowed for an insane level of accuracy so each joint was perfect. Plus, I think the six degrees holds a little tighter.

This means that the wooden bits stay together on their own as in this photo:
My elm chair and the saw benches already in use.
In fact, the chair has been sitting in my office waiting for leather since I got back without falling apart. I'm curious as to what difference this will make in how the chair sits, if any.

Alex and I stayed up until after two in the morning working on our chairs that Friday. When I got up Saturday, Alex was already in the shop. "This isn't a chair building vacation," he he explained, "it's an extravaganza!"
From top to bottom, the original Klint, Jonas' bench from two years ago, his Roubo stool, his Safari chair, and mine in black.
Jonas and Mrs. Mulesaw were busy Saturday morning, but let us have our way in the shop. We finished up about noon and made our way back to Germany.

We stopped in Kiel to visit Pedder and have a cup of coffee. Pedder was kind enough to show us his shop.
Pedder in his shop.
Pedder's shop, just like mine, is in a Kellerraum in the basement of his apartment building. His shop isn't a whole lot bigger than mine, but he has it set up a little smarter, I think. One thing I really liked was his light which can be seen in the above picture. I might have to get one like it someday.
Pedder's saw vice.
He has a really cool saw vice. It is like many other's, but it has ebony inlaid in the jaws to aid in a contrasting background when filing saw teeth.
A perfect idea!
We left Pedder's after a short visit, and spent the night at my in-laws.
Alex and the Schwiegereltern.
When I got home, I put a final coat of paste wax on the sycamore chair.
Glamor shot.
I then packed it up and mailed it to my brother.
I figured out a way to pack up the legs to take less room.
Here is another shot with the belts undone.
While I was home in Munich, I tried out the brass screw Jonas made for my No. 12.
You can see the old one was bent.
I don't know how he did it, but it is a perfect match. He turned it on board his ship without the original to look at.
Perfect fit.
After two days, I boarded a plane back to Spain. I booked 50 kilos of luggage, and wound up taking 60!
Here's why.
Alex finished up his chairs the day he got back.
Alex enjoying one of his new chairs.
I had a little work to assemble my saw benches that I brought in my checked luggage (along with the elm Safari chair, and enough wood and leather for two more chairs).

I glued the legs up, and since each bench had one elm leg and three ash, I figured I would put an elm wedge in the ash legs, and a sycamore wedge in the elm legs.
OCD therapy.
I also constructed a precision instrument for marking the legs for cutting.
The finest of construction.
After that, it was just a matter of cutting to the line...
Using one saw bench to make the other.
Action shot.

Ready for finish.

I really like them.
They will have to pull double duty in our apartment, so they will need some kind of finish. I decided to just put a coat of boiled linseed oil on them.
Finished staked saw benches.
I was going to write a bunch about what I learned from each of the other woodworkers here, but I might save that for later. Let me just say that if you ever get a chance to work with other woodworkers, whether it be a cooperative build like this, or a class, the projects you take home are just a bonus compared to what you really get watching the others work.

Once again, a big thanks to Jonas and Mette for being such kind hosts.