Andy gets his own chair and “iddy-biddy” parts

Posted February 27, 2017 by D.B. Laney
Categories: Uncategorized

Woodworking has been subordinated by the work of giving the home interior a new look.  But we still manage to scratch out a little time for “making chips.”

Les completed another high chair for Raggedy Ann’s soulmate, Andy.  Cherry was used and Les opted to give the chair a little “sun tanning.”  The result was rewarding.  The chair darkened to a deep reddish color, then was finished with three coats of Waterlox Original, prior to the seat weaving.

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We continue to plug away on the jewelry box project, changing designs “on the fly.”  We’re at the point of making small interior partitions.  I’ve concluded that sawing up bunches of small parts is not my favorite part of woodworking.  But the final product should displace the anxiety.

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Winter work

Posted January 28, 2017 by D.B. Laney
Categories: Uncategorized

Working in my shop in winter is akin (I imagine) to being sent to the Gulag.  Suffice it to say that it’s difficult to be at the top of your game while wearing a toboggan cap, gloves, a sweater and a mackinaw.   So the bulk of the winter months provides me with time to work on designs, play the banjo and catch up on reading.

However, Les and I get together at least once a week to indulge our creative “demons”.  The projects tend to become somewhat smaller during the “first quarter” of the year.  This year’s effort is centered around getting rid of scraps.  My guess would be that just about all woodworkers share a certain reluctance to get rid of “shorts and drops.”  A number of justifications for this “failure to eject” seem to be universal: “These can be used as glue blocks”;  “The minute I through that away, I’ll need another”; or the “classic”, “I’ll never be able to find another piece like that”.  (If anyone needs glue block material, let me know.)

This year Les came up with a plan to rid his shop of “fancy and exotic” scrap.  His plan?  Jewelry boxes.   So we’ve been doing our best emulate several of the older elves at the North Pole.  The process is proving to be rewarding.

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There are few things better than the feeling of freeing yourself from the aggravation of “surplus, potentially unusable inventory.”  However, this project poses a conundrum in it’s own right; what will become of all the finished boxes?

Not forgotten – just finally complete

Posted December 9, 2016 by D.B. Laney
Categories: Uncategorized

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Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that Les and I tend to work slowly. And, it’s not unusual for us to put aside an unfinished project due to being distracted by some new “bright shiny object.”  (One might argue that this is evidence of old men being similar, in many ways, to children.)

We started our Asian inspired hall tables quite some time ago.  We’ve both gotten tired of tripping over, navigating around and moving them out of the way.  So we completed them.

Les’ table is all blood wood.  Mine has a blood wood top and an ebonized walnut base.  Our first plan was to finish them in sprayed lacquer but the weather just never proved to be cooperative.  We opted to use a variety of finishes but the common thread was the use of Waterlox Original finish for the tops.  Waterlox is a marvelous finish, one of the very best wiping varnishes on the market.  But a word to the wise, it is a fairly expensive product and it doesn’t have a very long shelf life.  The manufacturer recommends one year after purchase.  Normally I look the other was at shelf life dates.  But not on Waterlox!  A final word of caution:  Never, never shake it!  (It polymerizes and when you entrain air, especially if you’re closing in or past the “use by”, you’re in for a big surprise – a can of semi-solid goop that can’t be re-solubilized.)

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Now that we’ve had our little adventure in the realm of contemporary furniture, I expect that we’ll get back to the “old lookin'” stuff.

“Puttering” for practice

Posted November 15, 2016 by D.B. Laney
Categories: Uncategorized

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Everyday, after his retirement, my grandfather could be found in his workshop.  Friends from my youth will remember that in a corner of the shop was a sofa (for napping), television (for baseball), beer tap (for sustenance and refreshment) and a cigarette rolling machine.  It was the 1950’s equivalent of a “man cave.”  But much of the time, Gramps would be found at the workbench.  When asked what he was “up to”, his usual reply was “just puttering.”

Of course, what he was doing was continuing to practice skills that he knew were valuable to his craft.   He maintained this activity to within just a few days of his death.  He was fond of telling me that there was a difference between talent and skill, talent was a gift, skill needed to be exercised.

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When I’m between projects, or it’s too warm or too cold to spend entire days in the shop, I find myself “puttering.”  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Bannister back finds cozy corner

Posted November 14, 2016 by D.B. Laney
Categories: Uncategorized

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The bannister back chair is completed (for all intents and purposes).  The finish sequence was; medium walnut oil stain, two coats of one pound shellac, van dyke glaze, two more coats of shellac and a final coat of Waterlox.  The seat is woven sea grass and after a little adjusting with a fid and a sharp knife, I’ll give it a wash coat of shellac, as well.  Our home looks more and more like a museum with each passing day.

Bannister back chair – simple jig saves the day

Posted October 30, 2016 by D.B. Laney
Categories: Uncategorized

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had decided to “sight” bore the stretcher mortises on the chair.  Big mistake!  I’m loathe to build fixturing for a “one off” project.  Call me short sighted.  Call me cheap.  But sometimes, you’ve just got to do it.  So after realizing that my original boring method yielded a far less than perfect result, I vowed to plug and re-bore with the assistance of some sort of drilling guide.  I opted for something very simple, knowing that, in all likelihood, it would end up in the kindling box when I was finished.

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Three blocks of scrap, same section dimensions as the posts, “rubbed” together,  inscribed with the correct drilling angles for the side stretchers.  A fourth block, beveled at the seat pitch angle is inserted and provides the correct angle for the seat rails.  As simple as that.  Down, dirty, quick and easy!  Why didn’t I do this from the start?  Answer:  Being 70 only means you’re older, not necessarily smarter.  Plus you forget techniques, rules, etc., if you haven’t used them in the past two weeks or so!

The result was rewarding.  Assembly required only a few gentle taps and, voila, the chair sits perfectly!

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The arms are roughed in.  Now begins the “clean-up”, fettling the details.  With any luck, we’ll set Santa’s milk and cookies along side the chair.

BTW, here’s a thought you may want to share with  family, friends and neighbors who are unable to put down their communications devices whilst driving:

“Honk if you love Jesus.  Text if you want to meet him.”

Bannister back chair – Oh! So many angles!

Posted October 17, 2016 by D.B. Laney
Categories: Uncategorized

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Well, it’s coming together and looking something like a chair.  But I have a little confession to make.  I thought I’d save a little time by simply “sight” boring the posts for the side stretchers.  Seemed simple enough.  The seat plan is trapezoidal, only two angles, “should be able to do this in my sleep.”

But then I decided to drop the back of the seat by an inch, to make the “slouch angle” a little more comfortable.  KABOOM!  I created a resultant angle situation, like “when does a triangle contain more or less than 180 degrees?  When you introduce a second plane into the situation, kind of like “bending space”.  You know, time travel, that kind of stuff.  To complicate matters even further, I was using mirrors.  One mirror in one plane works like a champ!  But add a second mirror, which can create a resultant angle if not placed correctly,  add an actual resultant angle and you’ve got way too many moving parts.

The moral is, either throw together a jig or invite a couple of friends over to sight for you.  However, offer them nothing to drink till the boring’s complete.  I’m going to have to dig deep into my bag of “tricky corrective measures” on this one.  Remember the old adage, “the difference between a pro and an amateur is that you can’t find the pro’s mistakes.”


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