Monday, May 28, 2012

Padauk of Earl

Danger Boy and I spent a fair bit of time on the road today.  We were “forced” to make the rounds at Rockler, Woodcraft and Home Depot.  Throughout our mission we were tempted by a couple of large purchase opportunities, but were able to keep ourselves in check with just a few smaller items.  I picked up supplies to get started on some veneering as well as rare earth magnets and rubber pad feet for the upcoming box projects.

There were a couple of extra stops along the way for some other “necessities”…some chocolate for Mom, Coffee and Chicory…you know, those things you just can’t seem to do without.

Tomorrow we’ll mix up a glycerin based solution used to soften (and then flatten) veneers.  The plan is to get our veneer sheets into a press so that they’re good and flat when we’re ready to use them in a few days.

Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in finding brass post-rivets at any of our stops today.  They’re sometimes referred to as screw posts or binding posts, but whatever I called them or however I described them, most folks looked at me like I had a third eye.  Looks like we’ll have to order them online from Lee Valley.  As I’ve been designing more projects myself, I’ve decided to build a couple Fibonacci gauges to utilize the Golden Ratio in establishing the proportions of the pieces I build.  Those brass rivets are a key component in constructing the gauge.

I’m planning to build one for myself and one for the boy.  Hopefully his will survive as I’m sure the temptation to use it like a ninja throwing star will be great!  Our good buddy Steve over at Woodworking for Mere Mortals made a gauge last year and documented the build in video (complete with an appearance by Donald Duck.)

Lately I’ve been on the lookout for a good sized piece of straight-grained Padauk (Pa-dook) for a hanging wall cabinet I’d like to build for the Colorado State Fair.  While drooling at the lumber rack in Woodcraft we stumbled upon this beauty.

It’s a 4/4 slab at 8’ 5” long and 9 1/4 inches wide.  It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, and it will easily yield all the stock I need for the design.  I wanted a nice, clean board without any knots, streaks or wild figure…so this one found its way home with us.

It will be matched with a prized selection from my own lumber rack…a pair of book-matched Padauk boards that I’ve had stowed away for about five or six years now.

I bought (snatched up!) four pair of these boards as soon as I laid eyes on them.  I don’t often see Padauk boards with both heartwood (red) and sapwood (white) in the same slab, and I rarely see them resawn into book-matched pairs.  I had no idea what I was going to do with them when I bought them.  You fellow wood junkies will understand.  Don’t even get me started on that piece of spalted Zebrawood I have tucked away! 

One pair was used to make three boxes that are still to be completed, and this pair will be the second that finds its way into one of my projects.  I’ll post some final sketches soon, but these boards will be used for the doors on the hanging wall cabinet.  I’ll have a little less than two months to complete the build before the submission deadline, so expect the updates to start coming fast and furious.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thinking Through Some Design

Sometime here in the next day or two I’ll begin cleaning up and milling the Oak that was salvaged from the old dressers.  As many of you know I’m a big fan of making boxes, so that seems like a great option for the recycled Oak mementos.  My lovely bride’s parents spend most of their time living on a sailboat or in an RV, so something small would be in order for them.

As I was moving a few things around the shop I found myself looking at a few pieces in my, very small, collection of veneer.  This got me to thinking that I’d like to take a crack at veneering some panels for the box lids.  I’m thinking of using one of these…

The veneer there on top is one of my most favorite woods, Karellian Birch.  I’ve never worked with it before and I only have a few sheets of this veneer, but every picture I’ve ever seen of pieces using this wood just blow me away.  I’m getting excited just writing about it now!

The other sheet at the bottom of the picture is no chump-veneer!  That’s a curly (fiddle-back) English Sycamore and it’s also a very stunning wood.  I think either of these will make for a nice contrast with the old Oak and won’t be too overbearing or gaudy.  Both will look amazing with a simple clear finish as well.

I was also kicking around the idea of a candle holder…something small and that could even be broken down and stored flat when not in use.  I like Steve’s design over at Woodworking for Mere Mortals ( so I might tinker with that thought a bit more.

As I’m writing this I just had the idea to build a small, knock down, candle holder and a box to hold all the parts, and maybe  a few of those tea light candles.  Perfect for my gypsy-sailor in-laws.  J

I’ll get to sketching and post a few ideas this weekend. 

Side note:  A couple days ago I was turned on to by Tom Iovino over at  I watched Tom’s latest video of a presentation he gave on veneers, so I’ll be checking out the Veneer Supplies website for some veneer softener and the appropriate glue and tape.  Thanks Tom!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Second Wind Blows...

As more and more space begins to “appear” in the workshop, we finally have some room to start working on some real woodworking projects.

Take these two dressers…

OK, so I’m sure you can tell that these aren’t new dressers that I just built.  These are actually pieces that were handed down from my lovely bride’s grandmother to her parents, and then down to us.  We've used them in our bedroom for over 15 years and have carted them all over the country in our travels.  At each stop (and many times in-between) I would make several repairs to keep them patched together.  Drawer runners and supports were the usual suspects, but the dovetail joints on the drawers and the carcasses themselves have received quite a bit of attention over the years.  Today it was finally time to free these well traveled bundles of 60’s oak from their current confines and help them find their second wind.

Today’s task was to dismantle these pieces and salvage as much of the wood as possible.  My plan is to make something for my wife, her parents and her grandmother from the wood…all three generations that stored their underwear in these drawers will soon have a hand crafted memento to remind them of how heavy these things are to move…and we all moved a lot!

As I began the demolition process earlier this afternoon Danger Boy came down into the shop to check on my efforts.  I explained the plan to him and after securing his approval he chimed in, “If we take these apart and keep all the wood, we can add it to our other wood and we’ll have more to use and we’ll save lots of money!”  He’s a Second Winder in the making…or he’s as cheap as his Dad…or he likes pulling things apart…all good things in my book!

After giving a hearty thumbs-up to the plan Danger Boy then proceeded to do nothing whatsoever to help me.  Where is that little guy that used to follow me around with the brush and dustpan?

All was not lost though as he headed over to his workbench and clamped up a scrap piece of 2X4.  I could see where he was going with this, so we paused the dresser demo to work on some hand sawing practice.

Last week we had watched an episode of The Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill, and the guest on the show was Christopher Schwarz, of Popular Woodworking fame (   He and Roy talked about various sawing techniques and we picked up some great tips from these masters of woodworking.

Notice Danger Boy’s hand placement on the work piece and his positioning that allows his arm to swing freely and in-line with the cut.  He’s also got his index finger pointing in the direction of the cut on the saw to train his brain and body how to work together in making straight cuts.

Here you can see how he’s turned his hips and opened his legs a bit to keep himself stable.  As I watched him cut it became apparent that we’ll need to build a couple English Saw Benches (a la Chris Schwarz) as his workbench is a little high for him to exercise proper technique…hence the wide stance to keep himself from falling over.

The sweet prize of victory!   (I didn’t even clue into the fact that he was still wearing his hearing protection until he was done cutting.  I had been running the jig saw just before our practice session.)

Chris and Roy would be proud for sure!  I’m sure he’ll be guest hosting with Roy in no time.

After the cutting was done, it was back upstairs for one of Mom’s homemade blueberry muffins while Dad got back to work on the dressers.  Still no mention of the dustpan…

Once I removed any screws and really got going, the dressers came apart pretty quickly.  The strongest joints were the ones I had repaired in just the past few years.  I had to cut through those few, but the rest of the joints came apart with a little bit of coaxing from a heavy mallet.

Behold the fruits of my labor…

There is some scrap that isn’t going to be usable and will find its way into the kindling bin, but this pile is all solid oak and should yield some good project stock.  Fortunately I’m due to replace the blades in the thickness planer, so I think I’ll let those old blades do my dirty work of removing the old finish and streaky globs of glue.

And there you have it folks, a blog entry that didn’t have anything to do with shop set-up or organization…it has been a while, eh?