Posted tagged ‘etabli roubo’

Nicholson Bench Project Update – Cross stop complete

May 7, 2014

The mill of time grinds slowly, but exceedingly fine.

So we’re old and we’re slow.  But we finely got the cross stop finished (except for a coat of BLO) and in place.  It’s made out of walnut, because that’s what we had.  It has two 1/2″ thick cheeks with intermittent 3/8″ spacers placed over the leg sets and cross members, made long enough to accommodate several steps, which will allow the stop to be positioned 1/4″ or 1/2″ above the surface of the bench to hold material in place while planing across the grain (cross planing).  The steps were simply “rubbed” with Titebond I, so no clamping was necessary.

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steps glued in place ready for trimming and fitting

 

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cross stop set at 1/2″ position

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cross stop provides temporary storage for saws, protecting teeth from a “workbench catastrophe”

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cross stop in “storage” position

 

Nicholson Bench Project – Shellac on a workbench?

April 20, 2014

We’re getting closer to finishing this thing up and putting it into everyday service.  One question has been repeatedly asked; why are you using shellac for a finish on a workbench?

The normal thinking is that shellac is for fine furniture, musical instruments, carvings and objets d’art.  And, of course, the assumption is that the surface would be too reflective and “slick” for a workbench.  But the truth of the matter is that shellac provides a durable, protective film that will withstand the harshest treatment.  Recoating and repairing a shellac finish is very, very simple; just apply a new coat over the old film, as the alcohol solvent “re-wets” and “bites” into the existing film, creating a complete bond.

But the most significant reason to select shellac as a workbench finish is that it is fast.  I was able to put on four coats in something under three hours.  It would have taken me four days to put on four coats of oil.  This may not be important when you’re first building a bench, but when you decide to recoat an existing bench, you want to be able to get the job done as quickly as possible.  Time is money.

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There is, however, one caviat.  If you’re using a shellac that has any color (orange, amber, garnet, etc.), you must be careful to apply very even layers to avoid lap marks.  Witness above.  I was using amber shellac (because that what I had) and literally “throwing it on” with a big, soft brush.  You can see the lap marks on the apron.  While this does nothing to diminish the protective quality of the finish, it does wear at my artistic sensitivities.  It’s a pretty simple problem to repair.  A little sanding or scraping on the apron’s surface, and a single coat of shellac, padded on, will take care of the problem.

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While “rooting” through some old finishes, I found a can of One-Shot sign painter’s gold enamel.  The last time I used this stuff was in 1976.  No one, in their right mind, would use something that old, right?  Well, I opened the can, stirred it up and it looked pretty good.  Painted up a little sample and to my surprise it dried just like it was supposed to.  So I just couldn’t resist a little “faux gilding” on the date carved into the vise chop.  And, we do plan to replace the pipe handle with something a little more “appropriate”.

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Nicholson project update

March 26, 2014

We’re going to make the cross members full height.  This will add to the torsional integrity of the bench, making it a very strong “box beam” structure.  We’ll locate the cross members with the help of a stopped sliding dovetail.  The lower portion of the cross member will be lagged into place to pull out any irregularity in the apron surface.  (If you choose to use a stopped dado, remember you’ll have to lag it top and bottom.)

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Our dovetail is marked out and we’ll cut it will a backsaw.  Note that we aren’t using any saw guide blocks.  If you haven’t done much hand sawing, it might be a good idea to use a guide.

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After we cut the “cheeks” of the dovetail, we remove the bulk stock.  A small router, router plane or simply “hogging” out with a bench chisel will do.  A sharp paring chisel will be required to do the final fit up.

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Here we’re using the bench, prior to completion for some fair heavy chisel work.  Note that the bench is being held together with clamps.

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 The finished joint and the full height cross member.  These two features add incredible stiffness and weight (always a good thing, in workbenches).

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The storage shelf is put into place.  A ledger is added to the lower stretchers and loose shelf boards are laid in place.  Be sure to leave enough space to accommodate seasonal expansion.  Lapped jointed boards are probably NOT a good idea here, as falling debris will impede their movement.  Remember, this shelf is for big stuff, not jewelry.

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The Crochet, or Hook, is attached to one of the top halves with lags.  It will be a great help while joining multiple boards.

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Over the weekend, we’ll “roll this baby out”.  We’ll be exploring many of the work holding methods that the Nicholson bench accommodates.  Should be very illuminating.

 

 

Nicholson Bench build continues

March 12, 2014

As Winter Storm Vulcan howls outside, work continues on the Nicholson bench for the classroom.

View from my living room window.  Honestly, enough.

View from my living room window. Honestly, enough.

We’re starting to “dry fit” the base together.  “Doublers” that will provide additional clamping surface adjacent to the aprons have been glued in place.  As there are “right and left” components in the base, it is very important to double check lay-out.  And, upon dry fit, it’s a very good idea to match mark parts.

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As a “lesson learned”, we could have simply centered our stretcher mortises on the primary leg face.  But we’re designing on the fly and for some reason, we decided to move the stretchers closer to the outside surface.  Can’t remember what the reason was, but centered should be just fine.

Les presented a “prototype” that might have served as a “universal” primary leg.  After noticing a look that indicated Les’ wry sense of humor, I realized that he was pulling my leg.

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Tenons are hand fitted.  The “leg set” will be glued and pinned.  Accordingly, the stretcher tenons have a slight interference fit, that will provide enough room for the glue to do it’s job.  Be careful to give yourself a little depth clearance.  There’s nothing quite like trying to pull a joint together that has an excess of glue in the bottom.  It is virtually impossible to do.  In fact, with enough clamping pressure, a hydraulic event can occur that will literally blow the joint apart.  By the way, Les is using a Record 073, one of the best planes ever manufactured for this type of work.  If you ever see an 074, buy it, on the spot.

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The longitudinal stretcher tenons have a slip fit, as these joints will be made fast using bed bolts.  This will not be a bench that will be easily broken down, due to its weight.  But we decided that we should have the ability to dissemble it, if necessary.

Here is the undercarriage (base, frame) dry fitted.  At 6′ 6″ long, it is substantial.  So much so, that we may shorten it up a bit.  Reducing the base length might give us a little more latitude, should we decide to mount some type of end vise.  However, we’re not sure if there is a need for that type of device, just yet.

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Next will be dry fitting the aprons and lay out and making of the center cross members.  After that will be the installation of the main vise, attachment of the top and crochet.  Then, of course, boring holes (lots of holes) and finishing.  Should be ready for Spring, so to say.

Skottbenk equals sticking board – Big sticking board

February 28, 2014

This is a typical situation with a "skottbenk" used with at "skottokse" (the handplane) for shooting the edgde of a long board. Photo: Roald Renmælmo

Roald Renmælmo posted this photo today on Norsk Skottbenk Union, and graciously allowed me to re-use it.  Roald and his associates are doing great research into traditional work methods from Northern Europe, especially Norway.  His post describes the skottbenk as a Jointing Bench, Shooting Bench or Sticking Board.  Ah!  The light went off in my head – Sticking board!  That immediately explains it’s use to anyone coming from the English-American tradition.  It is one big sticking board.  I’m surprised that these benches were not commonly used in the U.S., especially in the Upper Midwest, in the large Scandinavian American Communities.  Maybe they were and there simply isn’t much about them in current woodworking literature.  If anyone can enlighten me, I’d appreciate it.

Roald and his associates also provide more general information about workholding methods at Hyvelbenk.Wordpress.com.  I’m looking forward to following their research.  And I’ll try to get Roald to share more information about the specialized “two man” planes used in his part of the world.  Thanks for the Internet, so we can learn more about the past.  How ironic.

The Menuisier’s Workbench

March 17, 2013

I haven’t been writing much as of late.  But I have used my spare time to do a little investigating into the realm of traditional French carpentry and joinery.  It seems like U.S. woodworkers are very much oriented to the woodworking traditions of England, Germany and (to some extent) Sweden.  But for some reason, most of us have seemed to overlook the French tradition.  During our Colonial period, we opted for styles that were more straightforward than their highly decorated European counterparts and the fact that French Settlement in North America happened in Canada may have decreased the opportunity for sharing “secrets du metier” between U.S. and French practitioners.  Whatever the reason, most of us have missed out on a substantial legacy of history and knowledge.

One notable exception is Roy Underhill.  He has demonstrated an interest in the French tradition for many years and most of us can thank Roy for introducing us to what has become known as the Roubo workbench.  It’s name derives from being featured in the work of Andre Jacob Roubo, an eighteenth century French furniture maker (Menuisier or Ebeniste) of renown.

roubo bench

I was somewhat surprised to find that this particular style has been the standard design for centuries in France and that it has continued in use to today.  It is a strong design, without frills or unnecessary ornament – a bench with effective work-holding devices.  In short, the traditional French menuisier’s bench is built for work.

While staying true to the design, the French bench can be seen in many sizes from the diminutive benches of the primary training schools in the early twentieth century to the very large benches seen in the work of French Encyclopedists, Diderot and D’Alembert.

The schoolboy's "Roubo"

The schoolboy’s “Roubo”

A menuisiere from Diderot and D'Alembert

A menuisiere from Diderot and D’Alembert

It’s with good reason that this French style workbench has been gaining popularity in the U.S.  It can built quickly, inexpensively and can be made to be very portable while providing a stable work platform.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

I’m going to continue with my exploration of the French woodworking tradition.  There’s a lot more there than good wine and pomme frites.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Walnut Pattern Makers Workbench Gallery

December 15, 2012

Raked leg Roubo workbench redux

December 14, 2012

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