Thursday, March 26, 2015

Woodworking at the Claisebrook Carnivale.

Once again, we were invited to run a woodworking activity at the annual Claisebrook Carnivale. Run by the Rotary Club of Heirisson, this annual event is used as a fund raiser or the charity Telethon, particularly through the operation of the "Duck Derby". Last Sunday was a great day and our third year offering our woodworking activity there.
One of the quieter times in the Joy od Wood tent!
The organisers once again supplied us with a 9m x9m marquee, so we had plenty of room to offer our "Joy of Wood" woodworking activity to the public. With lots of kids benches and a few adult sized benches, there were a total of 29 hammers out. People of all ages had a great time, using a considerable volume of wood pieces to make a fantastic array of creations.
So many pieces of wood to choose from!

The Sawing Station in full swing... with all 6 saws on the go.
As normal, the wood recycling message is an important part of our mantra. All of the wood pieces have been cut up from wood rescued from the waste stream. All of the benches have been made from recycled wood too.
Thumbs up to wood!
Such concentration...
While there were hundreds of kids who participated through the day, there were also dozens of families who stuck around with everyone making stuff. It's great to see mums and dads, grandads and grannies all getting in there along with the kids. Multigenerational pleasure experienced by all! Some people soaked up the joy for hours...
Contented birdhouse builders.
 The Claisebrook Carnivale is a lovely family-friendly event in a really nice setting. It's always a pleasure to be there. For many kids it was the first time they had used a hammer and saw.
Yep, we always love to share the Joy of hand tool woodworking...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Back to basics - making Lund Stools.

One of the things I love about green woodworking is the sense of history behind it. We use ancient skills and techniques to make simple functional items from pieces of trees. Then there is the magic of making... sharing something with other craftspeople down through the ages.

 I have been enjoying following Christopher Schwarz ' posts about the "Furniture of Necessity" book he is writing. In one of the posts he referred to the Lund Stool, an 11th Century Viking Era stool.

The remains of the stool were found near Lund, Sweden. Hence the name. All that remains is the original Beech seat with the three holes for the legs. Similar stools have also been found, I understand, from northern parts of the UK, where the Vikings had ruled off and on for many centuries.

As a person who has always liked practical functional furniture, the Lund Stool really took my fancy. I appreciate the history behind it too.

A Lund Stool Made from London Plane.

A couple of months ago, I obtained a big chunk of London Plane tree. Fairly soon after, I shaped up a few legs for chairs and stools at my shaving horse. These and some chunks for seat tops have been sitting around through our very hot Perth summer, under observavation. So I am really pleased that the London Plane appears to be pretty stable, with minimal checking. I guess it's the interlocking grain which made the log such a challenge to break down - which is also helping to hold the material together! OK, so it was time to have serious play with the London Plane.

I put three of the legs, which I had pre-shaped on my shaving horse, into my spring pole lathe and turned a tenon on the top end of each leg.
A tenon is quickly turned on the top end of the leg, using my trusty spring pole lathe. 
The legs ready, it was time to make the top. From a nice slice of the London Plane, I drew the D-shape and cut out the shape on my bandsaw.
The D-shaped seat cut out on the bandsaw. Now to shape the edges.
OK, so this is not all pre-industrial green woodworking. It's a meeting of ancient and modern, because it is quicker when I have so many time pressures. While I used the bandsaw to cut out the shape, I did use a drawknife and spokeshave to clean up the edge and shape the profile. In this case, a wide chamfer on the underside, visually reducing the thickness of the edge.
Love that drawknife! Cutting the chamfer between the lines.
The top shaped, it was time to drill the holes for the legs. The first step was to determine the angle for the legs. With a Lund Stool, two of the legs originate from a line paralell to the flat front. The third leg originates from the rear of the seat. 
Planning the position of the leg mortices (holes).
In this case, a drill press was used for the holes.
Whether drilling on a drill press, using a brace and bit, or using a powered drill, the trick is to get the holes at the right angle - and a consistent angle. There is the "rake", the "splay", and the "resultant angle" is what you get when you add the two together. Getting this right (and consistent) takes some planning and jigs can help enable consistency.
A nice snug fit plus some glue. Nice. That's moisture from cleaning off surplus glue.
 To enable the legs to keep tightly housed in the seat, I made sure the legs were drier than the seat top. This way the top shrinks as it dries, locking up the joints further.
View of the nice chamfer underneath.
Unlike the original Lund stool, this variation would not have the legs passing right through the top - so the holes did not go all the way through the top. Once the legs were glued and driven into place, the stool was stood on a flat surface, the seat levelled with packers under the legs, the base of the legs drawn, and then cut with a tenon saw.
Marking off the legs before cutting them to level.
With the legs now cut and levelled, an nice chamfer was cut around the base of each leg to protect the edges of the feet from chipping or tearing. the construction done, a couple of coats of Linseed Oil were applied. Job done.
Not a bad lookin' stool...
See that black mark? Stain from nails embedded deep in the tree!
Killed my chainsaw. A nice reminder.
What a nice stool. I really like my Lund Stool, so I reckon I'll make some more.

A Lund Stool for Jasper, made from Cape Lilac.
My 4 year old grandson Jasper really liked the taller Lund stool made from London Plane. So I said I would make him one - only it will be a little lower in height. This time I would do in the traidtional style, with the legs coming up through the top. I would also use Cape Lilac for this stool.
I had a set of three legs I'd previously whipped up in my spring pole lathe, so I finish-turned the tenons on the tops of the legs, and made up the top.
Wedged ends of the protruding legs. Glue drying.
The wedging is a great process. A kerf is cut in the tenon, to take the wedge. Wedges are prepared, and the legs inserted from below with a nice snug fit. Glue is wiped on both surfaces of the joint. Being careful to get the grain orientation right, glue is wiped on the faces of the wedges and the are driven into the ends of the tenons. You can often feel it when the wedges are driven far enough, but usually you will hear the sound change when you are hammering. Stop there. When the glue is dry, the protruding legs tops are cut off and planed flush with a block plane. After levelling the feet,
I carved Jasper's name on the underside of the seat.
Name carved, it was time to clean up and polish the stool.
The stools was finished just with a liberal application of Orange Oil, and the surplus wiped off after about half and hour. It's a very nice and simple finish, which suits such a simple stool.
Slightly more angled legs, to make it more stable for the little fella.
 I really do like working with Cape Lilac making this kind of stuff!
Nice stool, nice wood. A pleasure to make.
What a lovely way to utilise trees removed from suburban backyards. Instead of just going into the chipper or into landfill, these small portions of trees have become functional everyday furniture items and family heirlooms. Given that about 50% of wood is carbon, that's a small amount of carbon sequestered in these small pieces of furniture. Every little bit helps!
I seem to be making stools for all of my grandkids. Two down, five to go!

Jasper checks out the seat. 
I really like the Lund Stool style - but what is it about this D shape top? Why that shape? I reckon I might have a clue to this style of seat top. It may have come about because it is easier to obtain the piece from a tree - especially if you want the wood's grain "on the quarter". A smaller tree is required than for a full circle stool or chair seat. Less effort, less energy, more trees to choose from. I might be wrong, but having made a couple and a few more extra seats for future stools, so I reckon the Vikings were pretty smart. I take my hat off to them. Love these Lund stools!

Jasper likes the Lund stool too.
 If you live in Perth, Western Australia, and want to share in the pleasure of making a Lund Stool, I am running a 2 day workshop on the weekend of the 9th and 10th May 2015. Check out the "Upcoming Workshops" link to learn more.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Don't miss out! Come join in the coming Workshops.

At last, the next round of Public Workshops have been organised for the first half of 2015.

This round of the Joy of Wood public Workshops will be run at the Vic Park Community Arts Centre, 12 Kent Street, East Victoria Park, in Perth Western Australia.

The kids workshops are in the school holidays, for people aged 6-14.
The rest of the workshops are for people aged 15-105!
You'll need to book to participate. Places are limited.
... So don't miss out on these great opportunities!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Jacaranda Stool for Paree.

The flowering season for Jacaranda Trees is a lovely show of purple blossum all around us each year. These South American trees grow so well here in Perth, Western Australia.
Jacaranda mimosifolia. These flower across Perth in late Spring each year.
Twelve months ago, I had scored some log sections from a Jacaranda Tree which was being removed during a house demolition and block clearing just around the corner from my home.
The last part of the Jacaranda being pulled down by the excavator.
Jacaranda is an interesting timber, very plain - almost bland - but quite stable. There is very little checking (end splitting) in the log sections as the wood dries out. Months ago I had made some leg blanks and top blanks for small three legged stools, commonly called Milking Stools. These components had been waiting for me to do the next stage. This came when I was recovering from a couple of broken ribs. I found I could still use my spring pole lathe, so this provided me with a great opportunity to practice using it. I made a set of three turned legs from the Jacaranda.
The three turned Jacaranda legs, awaiting the stool top.
When I made a stool last year for little Annabelle from her Cape Lilac tree, my grand daughter Paree requested a stool too. She liked the turned Jacaranda legs which I had hanging around, and announced that they should be part of her stool. I agreed and promised to make her a Jacaranda stool. Paree really likes the colour of the flowers on the Jacaranda trees.
Bevelling the underside of the seat with a spokeshave to reduce the thickness of the edge.
When making stools like this, I try as much as possible to use timber in the seat top which is cut on the quarter. With the grain running perpendicular to the seat top, this ensures the top is more stable and less likely to cup. If the piece of timber was back sawn, it would be more inclined to bend and cup as it dried. In the picture above you can see the end grain running perpendicular to the broad surface. Perfect.

Paree eagerly awaiting the completion of her stool. 
 With the top's edge and underside shaped, I carved Paree's name on the underside of the seat and then set out the leg positions.
Working out the angle of the legs...
The angle found, (about 12 degrees) I set up the drill press to bore the three holes.
The angled holes were drilled with a drill-press.
Funnily enough, I made the legs back in October, made the top in November, and completed the stool in February! Just as well Paree was patient ... though she did often remind me about her stool and ask me about progress! 
The tenons were finish-turned to size on the spring pole lathe.
 The holes were drilled to 25mm with a spade bit, right through the top. The tenons on the legs were turned to about 25.5mm, and a tenon saw used to cut a kerf down into the end or each leg's tenon. These would take the wedges I prepared from some pieces of Cape Lilac. 

Three Cape Lilac wedges were made for the tops of the legs.
 Good old Titebond III was used for the glue-up. The tenon surfaces and the inside of the holes were coated with glue, and the legs driven into the top. The wedges were then driven into the tops of the legs, to lock them in.   
Legs driven into the seat, and wedges driven into the top ends of the legs.
Lookin' good... the glue drying...
 When the glue had dried, I used a tenon saw to cut off the protrusions. A block plane was then used to plane the ends of the legs off flush. and clean up the seat top. Yes, I did then sand the top - not very traditional, like the drill press, but it all comes down to the limited time available! A trade-off.
Well, the top and legs were made in 2014 ... but it was February 2015 when I finally completed the stool!
 The next step was to level it up. The stool was stood on a flat surface, and the legs packed up until the measurement from the top to the flat surface was consistent (the top now parallel to the flat surface), and a pencil used to mark lines parallel to the flat surface, on the lowest common denominator principle. The legs were then cut to the pencil lines. The result? a level stool top with feet which sit nicely flat on the ground. Nice.
I then applied a couple of coats of Orange Oil. The following day I applied a couple of coats of a nice product consisting of Orange Oil, Beeswax, and Carbauba Wax. Lovely stuff. 
Seat levelled, legs trimmed, and first coat of oil applied.
 In the pic above you can see the legs nicely flat and parallel to the seat.
Not a bad looking stool.
 There it is... the completed stool. It took a few months, but I was determined to deliver on my promise to my Granddaughter.  I also had a lot of fun along the way.

 Paree, the proud owner of her much awaited stool. Love you, Chook!
Considering the original size of the Jacaranda Tree, which was being demolished along with the house as the block was cleared, it is a shame I obtained so little of that tree. Imagine how many things could be made from such a tree. Every day dozens of huge trees in backyards all over Perth are being cut down and chipped up or carted off to land fill. Green woodworking provides a simple way of value adding this wonderful resource wihch we are wasting, with minimal gear.
Simple steps towards more sustainable living. Viva la revolution!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Life to an Old Door. Part Two - Rebuilding the body of the door.

What a privledge to breath new life into this beautiful antique entry door...

Having worked out the obvious repairs and issues in part one of this saga, it was time to pull the old girl apart in order to repair each of the structural joints and ensure the panels would be up to the task.

This door will be re-built and modified to replace the top timber panels with leadlight panels.
Step One: Getting started - removing the mouldings.
With the door laying on a pair of ever-handy tall saw horses, the first thing to do was to remove the  mouldings. A lot of it was in poor condition though this was sometimes disguised under multiple layers of thick paint. Carefully prising off the mouldings with a flat pry-bar and a couple of chisels, each section was removed, marked for identification, the nails removed, and put aside.
Moulding removal - starting on the back of the door. The easy ones...
The front side of the door was more challenging than the back.
Removing the front bolection mould showed the poor condition of the bottom panels.
Pulling the door apart carefully can tell you much. The original nails used were cut nails. I understand these were no longer being used here in Australia by about the First World War. The original nails used to fit the 3" wide bolection mould to the door and panels were cut nails : tapered, rectangular in section, small heads, and mostly two different sizes. An indication that the door is over a century old.

A selection of the old nails - the original cut nails plus some more "recent" ones.
However, over the years the mouldings had been re-attached (rather, further attached) several times. One of these was a "bush carpenter". A rough job with some of the nails protruding through the panels and out the other side! Nothing that huge globs of paint won't hide apparently.
The serious amount of nails (attempts to pin down the cupping wide mouldings) and the split lower panels with the starting signs of rot both would indicate that the door spent some of its life in the weather - or at least with the bottom half of the door getting wet. The upshot of all this is the damage done to some of the mouldings - both from deterioration and despite the careful removal process of the fragile mouldings.

Step 2: Pulling the door apart.
With the mouldings removed from both sides of the door, the next step was to pull the door apart at the joints. Many of the remaining wedges were loose, so the mortice and tenon joints could be carefully pulled apart. The joints which resisted were assisted by the reverse use of a sash cramp, to spread the stiles apart. It worked a treat.
Gently does it... Sash cramp in reverse pushing apart the two stiles at the joints. 
The door came apart into its component parts: the two stiles, the three rails, the two mullion sections, and the four panels. It was pretty easy. I reckon the only thing holding the door together was a century of dirt, several ancient coats of very thick paint on the front side, and all the nails in the front bolection mouldings!
One of the separated joints.
Step 3: Cleaning up the joints ready for re-gluing.
In order to re-glue and re-wedge the joints, they would need cleaning up to help the glue to key in to the wood, and a wire brush would help to do this.
Amazing how much dirt had penetrated the joints! Getting started on this one.

A clean face on the tenons and the shoulder. This was done each side of the rail.
To help with the glue-up, I also ran the grooved edges of the components over the buzzer, removing about 2mm (1/8"), to assist with clean shoulder joints on the glue-up. While this would reduce the height of the door by 8mm (5/16") and the width of the door by 4mm (3/16"), this was OK, as to fit the new opening the door would eventually be cut a little shorter and built-up a little wider. 
Before and after. The planed edge will better take the glue and give a "sharper" joint and edge.
Of course, the machining of the edges means the mortices needed to be adjusted to accommodate the small movement inwards of the end rails. These were chiselled to allow for the small shift of the rails in relation to the stiles.

Step 4: Sorting out the panels.
The panels are housed in the grooves all round, so the panels have to be prepared and ready for the glue-up. The original Western Red Cedar panels are 7/16" thick, to match the grooves. The primary modification to the door I'm required to do is to replace the top panels with leadlights. Given that the bolection moulds are 3 inches wide, it means the glass will be housed within the panel. The fragile nature of the old bolection moulding meant that I needed a more solid panel to affix the moulding to. This panel would also need to be rebated behind the moulding and panel, so that the glass can be housed.

My solution? To use marine ply panels at the tops of the door. The bolection moulds would be glued to these and the ply cut out in the matching shapes. I machined down some 1/2" marine ply to 7/16", so it would be a nice snug fit in the panel grooves, and cut the panels to fit in the housing. The better of the two original top panels I then cut into two to make new lower panels. Nice.
The two best sections of the best original top panel provided new bottom panels for the door. 
Step 5: The glue-up.
A test assembly was undertaken to make sure everything was good, and then taken apart again ready for gluing. New wedges were made in readiness, from some bits of oregon I had lying around.
The test fit - a dry run. All good. Time to do the glue-up!
The glue-up was undertaken as early as possible in the day, as it was forecast to be 38 degrees (100F) that day! Ya can't have the glue going off mid-way through a complex glue-up! While the lower timber panels would be floating, the top ply panels would be glued into their housings for rigidity and maximum strength for housing the glass. Two sash cramps were joined end to end, to run top to bottom on the door, closing up the centre mullions against the three rails. Six other sash cramps were laid across the door to pull up the joints were the rails met the stiles. 
New wedges and nice tight shoulders...
 The glue-up went well. It was like a new door, solid as a rock...
Glue dry, the protruding tenons and wedges were sawn off and the edges shot flush with a plane. 
With the body of the door rebuilt, it was time to deal with the front bolection moulds.
Good progress thus far!