Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chipped a Tooth?

Greetings again, sorry for delays. Though work on the sofa is indeed progressing, I have been quite distracted otherwise.
The above is an albumen print by Oscar Rejlander entitled Hard Times. Obviously many can relate.
To skip the tired sob story I think it is sufficient to say that all my socks have holes in them. Times have been tough and I've been wrestling over it with myself for some time.
I've decided to bite the bullet and seek "real" employment.
I got a job at a cabinet shop located across town about 30-35 min away in clear traffic. The work is neither glamorous nor what I am terribly interested in, but as we know sometimes something has to give.
However, thus far I have only signed on for 32 hours a week trying to still get a level of focus on my personal work. Yes, my productivity will go down. On the other hand this will allow me to afford some things, like potential co-op gallery space, marketing tools, and lets not forget wood and replacing some tired tools... and new socks. As much as I want to feel sorry for myself I try to look at it in a positive light.

Aaannd here's proof of progress heh. The back frame dry-fit.
The legs and leg stretchers are being pre-finished currently. Hopefully I'll be able to start pre-finishing bits of the seat and back frames tomorrow. I'm using oil again so it takes time, even more time in the cool winter basement.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fat Man, Little Coat

After the drawing board (in my case, floor) was hit I've done some rough milling for the Sofa.
These are pretty BIG planks of air-dried Walnut from IA.
My little shop can hardly handle them! I had to improvise a bit and do an initial rip with a circular saw.

Though the sides are basically the same as the chair version, the pieces between the sides will be 6 feet long. I haven't built anything on that scale since my workbench. I had forgotten how much of a hassle the scale is working from large rough timber in a small shop with small machines.
Oh yeah, the Roller Stands I have here are terrible. When I got them it was tough for me to justify the price of better rollers but now I wish I had. Yet another item on the list.

After some long hours of milling, this is what I got.
The lumber is not ideal, it's mostly quarter-sawn and every big plank has at least one big knot. Even trying my darnedest, there was an awful lot of waste resulting in less than ideal grain. I realize I may ask a lot on these matters, but hey, I've done my best choosing from what I have and it will be fine.
Had a short day today finishing up the rough milling this morning only to step back and allow it a little time to settle. Got some cleaning and "sketching" in.
Hopefully I can move onward tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Learning Isn't Always Easy

Fast forwarding a number of final and finishing steps, here is the seat webbing. I ended up using #4 screws to fasten the webbing. I wonder if certain tacks would work as the screws were a bit more difficult and therefore a bit more time consuming.
This slightly elastic webbing was urged by the upholsterer I've been in contact with, who is basically the guy around town for Danish/Mid Century Modern stuff.

The woodwork is all done and here it is giving all the knock-down hardware a go.

This was a sizeable undertaking for me in terms of things to learn.
That being said, it is "certainly" not perfect. I say certainly, my lady is more forgiving ha. She has a point though, it was meant as a learning tool.
Here's the run-down...
It's too wide by maybe 1-2".
I would like the seat deeper 0.5-1".
I want to kick the angle of the back leg a bit more.
With the variables of webbing and upholstery involved in the sitting height, it sits a smidge  low.
A related note the lower sitting position effectively closes the back angle a tad. I'd like to adjust that. Though I need to wait to try the real foam which will be softer for the back, opening it up a bit.
The seat and back frames are pretty chunky for a single chair. I think they would be decent for a sofa. I was hoping to keep all the dimensions the same except width between chair and sofa. That may not work out, as I would like to build a sofa that I'm not afraid to use.

On the more positive side... The chair feels rock solid and I thought of a couple techniques along the way to use next time.

This was certainly a learning and humbling experience. After this sofa, I don't know that I'll be working on many more chairs heh... Though I still like the idea of a dinning chair / chair to go with that Walnut Desk. I do know that I would like a make a fairly simple bench with danish chord.

what to do now. I feel a little jumbled up... Perhaps finishing that plane will help.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Almost a Chair

I'm back before fellow US citizens get lethargic and drunk over the holiday. If that isn't what happens to you, you're probably doing it wrong?
At any rate, the legs and side stretchers have been pre-finished. Here is the second stage of the assembly, gluing the back leg. Per usual I've dealt with this tricky situation in a low-tech way. Worked out for me!
I'm certainly happy to see some bits coming together... for good heh.

While pre-finishing and assembly were going on, I took some time off to work on a new high angle smoothing plane. This wood is called Mora, it's not the prettiest wood out there but it is fairly dense and hard! It's structure reminds me of Shedua as does its odor, though not as "pungent" as Shedua.
I glued it up and will save the rest for another time.

Moving on to arms!
I've been looking forward to working on the arms, the shapeliest pieces of the chair!
With joinery dry fit between the arm and legs I went on to the touchiest part, these reliefs at the back of the arms. This will allow the back frame to connect flush with the arm and the rest of the arm to over-hang a bit. This also allows me to do some shaping to give the arms a slight opening towards the front inviting the user to sit comfortably.
If you haven't guessed, this was done on the router table with a stop-block.
Dialing in the depth of the relief is critical for a good fit and smooth work. I got it to just be proud of the leg allowing me to just use sand paper to finesse it flush. Thus far, this is the only thing I've used sand paper on. Considering it is Oak, I'm quite happy with that.

A couple hours of shaving and good tunes later, this is what came out. Always difficult to photograph these kinds of things. In the end perhaps I will have enough angles to tell a story.
The end grain has only been cut on the table saw and has yet to get its final shaping.

Moving on to the front apron and back stretcher.
Dialed in the dimensions and ends, laid out, and bored for them main knock-down fasteners. I made the dowel holes a tad asymmetrical so that one can only assemble it one way.

To make life easier, I attached a large bit of ply-wood to the drill-press table. Looks a little silly, but worked like a charm!

Looks like I was due for a stupid mistake. It always happens when work seems to be going nice and smooth ha. However irritating, frustrating, disappointing it is, it's not the end of the world. In this case I just plugged the wrong hole with a dowel and glue then tried again. It will not affect the structural integrity of the piece and will not be seen when assembled, but damn. I will NOT make the same mistake on the other side!

Setting the threaded insert. For me, this is a sizable fastener with a sizable thread. Particularly in Oak this is a bit of a scary moment for me. Making the hole tight enough to ensure a well positioned insert, it takes a fair amount of force to set it. Hence the long hex-key just in case. Oak is strong and hard. It doesn't have a ton of give, instead, it breaks. The countersink for setting the insert flush helped against splintering, nice.

Here's where I'm at thus far.
The arms and knock-down rails are not done, but it's almost a chair?
At the moment I'm stuck on the frames, waiting for a router bit I'm not even sure I will use. It was supposed to be in this past Friday or today (Monday). Hopefully tomorrow or I'll be waiting till next Monday. Bah!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

catch up on the chair

Last time I left on the progress side of things I was making slip tenons for the back and seat frame.
Here is the tenon side with checks cut off on the band saw, dialing in very close on the router table.

The last bit of fitting can be done with a file, a bit of sand paper or what have you.
This has to be the biggest joint I've made since my bench!
You may note that the outsides of this joint are proud, beyond flush. This is to make clamping easier, quite convenient.

Cut some stock for back slats, and set that aside.
Turning back to the legs I dialed in the end grain angles. I must say that the O-1 steel blade in the block plane is proving itself as I had hoped! My A-2 would just crumble on Oak end grain. The O-1 keeps on cutting, relatively speaking, this is still Oak here ha.
Anywho, back to the boring machine to cut more twin tenon mortises. This time for the arm to leg joints.

After that was done I was finally free to cut the legs to shape! The arm isn't joined here, it doesn't even have mortises yet. That will be saved for after the legs and stretcher are glued up.
Starting to look more like a chair though!

Pillowing done to the edges of the legs and stretchers I could move on with edge treatment. This is a bit heavier softening than I've done before. A couple reasons. This is a chair which will hopefully see plenty of attention by its owners. Make it soft for friendly and comforting use. Also the sides of the components are flat, no pillowing. I wanted to try to emphasize the pillowing on the edges while still maintaining a squarish look as opposed to the full radius of much Danish Modern pieces.
Pre-finishing comes next for these parts!

Back to the boring machine for back slat mortises.

I decided to use live tenons on these. It could certainly be done with floating tenons, and I may do that on the sofa with a bunch of these to make. I just wanted to make live tenons. It feels like it has been a while. Perhaps I wanted the practice or to prove to myself that I can still do them, but there are some days that you just need more hand/bench work.
It was a gratifying bit of work. Probably the best live tenons I've made in a while, certainly the fastest! I needed that heh.

Still pretty chunky looking. The main frame will lose about 1/8" around the perimeter. Hopefully that and the edge treatment will lighten it up. Perhaps it will all come together in the end. Seen that before.
Yikes, I'm going to have to figure out this seat webbing soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Though I have made some progress on the chair itself, I wanted to take this time to share some trials.
Here is a test run with the set-up and milling for the main knock-down hardware I will be using.
It took me a while to find a good quality hardware system that satisfied my construction desires.
What I found is an Australian manufacturer of mechanical fasteners by the name of Zipbolt. The model I have here is the Zipbolt UT mini 12.720 - KD6.
It consists of a threaded insert, for the leg side in my case, a double threaded rod, and a "nut" mechanism for the stretcher side.
Oh yes, the only supplier I found to sell these units retail was

In use your joint can be tightened up with a simple hex-key. Pretty frickin slick!
You will note the gap as I did not counter-sink the threaded insert on this test.

I imagine for the rear stretcher I will fashion a "plug" a bit like this. I imagine some edge softening and a hole in the middle or a bit cut out on the side to easily be able to pry it off when needed. This plug is obviously too small for the hole but you get the idea. A plug that is not trying to be invisible, they never are, so give it some tasteful intention ;).
And yes, the joint feels strong when assembled!

I ordered a sample of WOCA's "Master Oil - White" via their direct US seller in Georgia - WOCA Direct, after the post and comments about it on Mr. Godfrey's blog.

Here are a number of finish samples including the WOCA White Oil at the bottom-right.
The WOCA product produces a nice minimal build up with a durable feel to it. It is light in color and pretty matte in sheen which is what I'm looking for.

There IS a problem though. About the only woods I would imagine using this on are Oak and Ash. Both are open grained woods As such the oil "pools" in the pores and more white pigment is deposited. Much like when staining these kinds of woods you get a pronounced color in the pores, in this case white. My immediate thought when seeing this is that it looks like there is dust in the pores, which I do not find very attractive.
WOCA is on the bottom. Just Clapham's wax above.
The just wax finish seems to be yellowing ever so slightly with time. The extra blonde shellac with wax starts out very slightly blonde but has seemed to stay put.
After doing some research and talking to a friend who works at a Danish Modern refurbishing shop I gather that a Soap finish is simply not durable. Although it is aesthetically what I want, practically it doesn't quite hold up.
Thus far I think my best bet is to go for a very thin extra blonde shellac with a thin coat or two of Clapham's wax.

In further sampling, here are some upholstery fabric options I've been looking at. I'm sure the photo/monitors don't do the colors justice but it's a "jist".
Hmmm tough decision.

Lastly, as I expected, staples are just not going to be a good option in securing seat webbing in an Oak frame. What I have seen before is a routed out section replaced with something like Poplar or perhaps Soft Maple to be able to staple the webbing in.
Also I have an idea to use recessed brass bars and screws to do the job. It could be pretty nice but pretty time consuming...
Any thoughts?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chair Tenons

With Art Attack coming up I have been pretty distracted this past week. Fitting more days in the part-time so that I can have the weekend off for the event, and preparing for the event. I have managed to get a little work in.
Shown above is tenon stock for the stretcher joinery between the chair legs. I cut pieces to rough dimension on the band saw. Joint and plane the stock with machines very close to fitting. I further dial in the thickness with a hand plane before cross cutting them to size. Once they are cross cut, any further fitting is done with block plane and sand paper.

This can be some nice quiet work time. I rarely sit when working but this kind of operation allowed me to also give some lovely tea bowls I commissioned from Bev and Ray in Roberts Creek, BC a first go. Lovely work.

Everything was looking good in the dry fitting. Pretty neat looking joinery heh.
Went on to gluing the tenons in the stretcher side.

While the tenons were being glued I went to work on the relatively large slip tenon joinery for the seat and back frames.
This shows the mortise side of the joints which will be the width spaning of the seat and back.
I cleared out all the waste with the band saw. A bit time consuming and tedious with a normal band blade. A carbide blade would have made a little quicker work of it. I could have set the table saw up for these but figure I wouldn't be able to use that method with 6'+ long frame parts that the sofa will have. Part of the point of this prototype is to work out/think about methods of work for a sofa sized piece.
Oh I also don't have a proper ripping blade for such joinery with the table saw. Perhaps I should get one and clear the smaller frame parts by table saw and just do the big ones on the band saw hmmm.

At any rate I moved on to the tenon side, the sides of the seat and back.
Cut the shoulders on the table saw with a stop block for repeatability. Also cut the ends with the same dept for setting up the band saw when cutting the cheeks off and for consistency.
I cut the tenons a bit fat and will be dialing further in on the router table. I haven't gotten to that yet because I've been distracted too much with the event really starting this evening! I need a steady hand and mind for this kind of work so it will wait till the weekend is over. I will be in depose for most of it anyway and was able to get this post in now.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sale at Art Attack!

Wow, time is flying! Art Attack is just a week away immediately preceding First Thursday at the Northrup King Building.
I will be in attendance for much of the event(s) Nov. 3rd - 6th.

I've decided to significantly mark down the prices of a couple my pieces in Blue Sky Galleries during the event. Looking to put these pieces in homes and make room for new ones!

Frame-Top Coffee Table in Oak.
White Oak from the Metro, Glass, and Unryu that was sourced and sent to me by a classmate and friend in Japan.
Just one piece!

Frame-Top Side Table in Shedua.
Shedua comes from Africa while the Burr Oak top panel came from the local metro area.
There is a pair of these that will be $875 each!

Frame-Top Pedestal in air dried Walnut.This picture shows a kiln dried Walnut piece however the air dried version is quite similar. A tad lighter and more red/violet tones.
This air dried Walnut is also coming from the metro as is the air dried Maple top panel. The process of air drying is a very slow one compared to modern kiln practices. Thus it is increasingly more difficult to find. This natural process yields lumber with greater color variation which people like me enjoy, however it is easier for industry to work with more "homogenized" material.
Just one of these!

Again this is November 3rd-6th at the Northrup King Building
1500 Jackson Street Northeast
Minneapolis, MN
in Blue Sky Galleries Suite #295

See you there!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Get this Boulder Rolling

Ugh I've felt so distant from my own work let alone wood working as of late. Well I finally got a little time to heave-ho and see if I can get some momentum rolling. There are still a number of things to learn and look for that aren't wood working. I'll be thankful when my learning/sourcing curve is over and I can just get to work... Hmm seems kind of familiar heh.

Anyway, I got the rough milling the White Oak I picked up a bit ago. Here are the roughly cut out components for the easy chair. All that is missing in wood here are my back slats. I figure I'd wait on those just in case.

A couple days went by and the Oak is looking stable. I milled some pieces to final thickness and closer to final width.
It's time to start joinery for the chair sides. I cut the inside curves on my leg stock leaving the outside straight for referencing on my boring machine when cutting mortises.

Along the shaping way I check for edge squareness and check the curve against my shop drawing.

Cut my legs to length with "appropriate" angles... I assume I'm going to have to dial those in further when the right time comes. This is good enough for joinery though.

Before cutting mortises I wanted to do a bit of surface prep to try to get the closest I can to a flat planer side when joined together. As I've mentioned, Oak isn't the friendliest wood to work. Sometimes you can plane it just fine, sometimes not.
I'm finding this selection responds best to a higher angle smoother I have. I used this in my last project with the Kwila stands... I think it's about time to upgrade this style plane with a heavier, more dense plane blank I have.

I was debating between wide tenons for the back or splitting them. I ended up splitting them because of the angle this joint is at. I can utilize more depth this way and the split twin tenon will be more "mechanically" strong. Though this chair design doesn't quite fit the typical dinning chair style construction, the joint between the back leg/back and the seat stretcher is the most critical. I know I may be going above and beyond what may be commonly used but I certainly want this joint to last a long, long time!

Getting down to the business of figuring out my jigging. Here are a few blocks I'll be using as spacers in my mortise endeavors.

Here you can see one of my blocks acting as a spacer for the twin joinery. In this way I can leave all my horizontal settings as the are and prop the work piece up for another set making it "exactly" repeatable.

One pair of wide tenons for the front and a set of four for the rear.
One might say "what's up with your big old shoulders there (above and below the mortises)?" Well there is going to be a bit of rounded shaping in those areas, and I'm just concerned? I mean this is a chair, a lowish one at that. Most of the stress put on a chair is when a grown person sits down or gets up which probably happens a lot more and with much more force than a person opening a drawer in a tea cabinet. It makes sense to me to leave more material vertically above and below the main joints... alas, I'm not a real expert on chairs but I'm sure I've covered my bases here.

Alright, lets do it again, but sideways!
Uff-duh this is turning out to be a longish post. Well it's about time to cut this one... I'll be back with some tenon stock and such later!