Month: January 2011

Making Legs

Economy gotcha down? do you have the winter doldrums? I have some of the symptoms…. maybe this will help ….no not me I need more juice than that, a bike ride or a surf, skating a concrete park would be a welcome diversion or a sunny warm boat ride always does the trick but with the inches of snow falling this morning none of these things will work, a snowboarding trip would but doesn’t fit in right now, next best thing ? Green Woodworking!!!

To the shop bat brain! Down the fireman pole, through the Get Smart doors, past the Indiana Jones booby traps and …….ahhhhh shining in the light like an oasis…… the Work Bench!!! Lets create something.

I want to use this slab to make some stools, after considering the seat contour options I opted for a simple but tried and true shallow scallop both end to end and front to back. For me the most efficient way is to rough out with the adze and clean up with the travisher. I bought this travisher from John Kraus, a towering bearded man soft spoken and nice and incredibly skilled, (it was a long time ago that’s how I remember him) Drew at Country Workshops was carrying them. This tool is so nice it holds an edge so well I am surprised every time I use it and it sharpens up pretty quick too. I really need an inshave it would make my world a nicer place, one day.

You can’t really see the hollowing in the seat here the camera/lighting made it very flat. These are the tools I used to shape it.

I plan on turning the legs so I only need to square up two surfaces with the hand plane.I need nine legs so I rive ten or so blanks a couple of inches longer than what I want to finish at, these guys split out real streight and it didn’t take long to make two finished surfaces and a big pile of shavings, fun stuff planing cold wet ribbons off, the smell and lack of dust along with the singing of the plane to the Oak.

Now the blanks on the left are square two sides, on the right have just been passed through the table saw at a little heavier than my finished width to alow for shrinking so when I chuck them up on the lath I can still get the finished thickness I want.

And sized. The one on top doesn’t look like its going to make the grade, a little thin, but I’m keeping it with them as a potential back up.

I put these guys in a plastic bag to help them dry down without checking, I’ll take them out a couple of times a day to dry.

More to come, I’m off to the shop to make chair parts.

A way for the kid to reach the sink

I have had this idea about a stool for the kids to reach the sink and finally got around to puttin it down. I knew I wanted it to fit under a counter in our kitchen, we have a galley kitchen and it’s tight, pretty much single operator only, so things need to stow away neatly, and serve many uses whenever possible. I wanted it as a temporary seat for someone to have, say with a beer while someone else is doing dishes or prepin some eats. And could be used to stand on to reach the high stuff, the kitchen is narrow but has a high cieling.To me its more fun to make something from just a few basic measurements and an idea than to work over a hard set plan. I wanted the top to be 9″ deep and the bottom 15″ and have it 17″ wide, a common width for ladder back chairs, stools usually less. The feet or rails on the bottom ended up being longer than 15″ but I thought it best  that way for strength and to stop it from easily tipping , the amount of foot/rail sticking out hasn’t been enough to stub a toe or trip on. I wanted three steps but couldn’t make it happen with the width and hight measurements, they dictated some design elements. It would have been to ladder like and the seat would be real small.

  Of course Bean figured it out first try.


No metal fasteners or sanding on this one, I used mortise and tenon joinery except for the seat I nailed it down with oak pins. When attaching the seat on the 17th century period stools they are attached this way. Of the ones I have made over the years, none have failed they are loose but in no danger of coming off, and by loose I mean only when you pick one up by the seat or lid I might feel it move a sixteenth or so, it makes a nice sound when you push it back down too, a high percussion sound.

  I don’t have any pics to show you of joining the seat but Peter does.

  The seat is some Eastern white Cedar, a log that was given to me a few years ago I had sawn, its clunky I’ll do it different next time, I wanted it to extend to the outer width of the thing to give those wormy little legs a lot of room. Of course all the Red Oak parts are riven from the log and worked down with hand tools. Chopping the mortise and tenons by hand is fun and really trains the eye. Making a project like this with green wood makes a surprisingly light piece that the kid can easily push around the room and we can lift and maneuver it one-handed too.

Keeping Them Wet

I am past due to make a chair, I get a jones, when I don’t make one for a while. That and some shows are coming up its always good to have some ladderbacks on hand. This Red Oak log has served me well, its wormy and that is an aesthetical issue more than structure, I wont miss that but I will miss this log when its gone, it splits real reliably.I have two shorter sections so I do have a LOT left but this will be it for the long stuff.For more info on riving long stock see this post.

I split out a bunch of back post hoping to make three chairs but only could get enough for two due to a knot and trying to stay off the extreme outside where it has dried to a point that using the draw knife is a pretty lousy experience so I’ll save that and work it down with hand planes when needed.I spent all of a day working on design for a new back post, riving, shaving square, tapering the ends and shaving the post to an octagon. I wanted to get these in the steam before they lost much natural moister. I was too late in the day for that though so I buried them in the wet shavings from the days work. The next morning they were still sopping wet and I set out to make the third set, like beating my head against a wall I couldn’t get two post that satisfied the requirements, I have other things going on so I abandoned the mission and tried to salvage the day. I had cleaned up the shavings that morning  they were drier and the shop cleaned so I didn’t want to store them in shavings again. Mother Nature gave us four inches of the white stuff the other night, outside we went, the post and I, to tuck them in for a cool nights sleep. It’s been so cold lately never really getting above freezing. I probably didn’t need to cover them in snow but better safe than sorry, and if a I don’t get to them the next day they will be safe from drying out to fast and checking.

I was able to get them in the steam box and bending jig the next day.

I have wanted to try the bend on the set in the bottom of the picture for a long time now. I did it first a couple of years ago and had one successful and one break, more reason to get them in the bending form before any moister was lost.

The picture at the top of this post shows a Red Oak log with the bark still on it. This was offered to me recently from a man in Monkton, (close by) it is a section above the Butt or trunk really its a limb. The tree grows and splits into two vertical branches. These are very streight and quite large with the pith running true from the center of one end to the center of the other. I was always told by Alexander and Drew that these sections especially limb sections don’t produce quality wood for riving. I know this to be true from my own experiences too through desperation for wood and curiosity of what I can get away with, but its been a long time since I was real desperate for an Oak log and took whatever was offered. And I have a short-term memory.

As good as it looked I was sceptical I would find gorgeous stuff. You can see its not full of knots but it is real wavy inside, I could get some short stuff out of it like rungs but I have a feeling they  would bow when dried. I should have split some out to see, I still could, I sawed and split it up for fire wood…… its been cold outside!