Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New Life to an Old Door. Part 3: Making and Fitting the Mouldings.

It was always expecting I would have to make some replacement Bolection Moulds for the beautiful old antique door which I had been restoring. The story continues to unfold...
The starting point... a century old door in need of some attention.
Firstly, in Part One, I assessed the door to work out what needed to be done.
Then in Part Two, I pulled the door's frame and panels apart and then re-built it.
Now, in this third part of the saga, the bolection moulds will be repaired and affixed to the face of the door as the top panels are prepared for the addition of leadlight windows, replacing the arched timber panels. Such a challenge and privilege to have the responsibility of breathing new life into this door!

Matching the profile to make more mouldings.
Below thick layers of old paint, the bolection moulds have a complicated profile. My task was to make new mouldings to replace the missing or damaged sections. The starting point was to work out the geometry of the original mouldings so that I could make new moulding sections as close a match as possible.

Under the paint lies some interesting geometry. I had to match it.
The best way to match these is with the old wooden moulding planes, Hollows and Rounds. I have a heap of these which I have been gathering up over the last 6 years. Many are waiting to be cleaned up and put back into service, but I tend to do this as I need them. Time to open up my 4 boxes of moulding planes...


Choose your weapons!
I was looking for the right radii on the hollows and rounds.

This "Half-Round" plane is a winner on this section.

This Hollow is a winner too.

Another pair of Hollows and Rounds are a good fit too.
With the right combination of moulding planes selected, it was time to tackle the making of the mouldings.
The essential thing to understand regarding the use of moulding planes is laying the foundations first - the rebates and chamfers. The best book on this subject that I have come across was published a couple of years ago, by Lost Art Press in the USA.
Matt Bickford, you are a legend. This book is brilliant.
Reading this book turned the lights on for me at the time. It made a lot of sense. The most important principle Bickford makes clear regards the laying down the foundational rebates and chamfers first. This facilitates consistency as well as saving the cutting edges of the moulding planes from unnecessary wear - they are tricky to sharpen!

I started by machining the timber to the required starting point - 76mm x 22mm (3" x 7/8").  I used a router cutter to cut one small Roman Ogee profile, and then machined a series of rebates and shoulders over the table saw.

Sure, it's nicer to do the rebates with a nice wooden rebate or moving filister plane, but I owe it to my customer to do it in the shortest time possible, as she was paying by the hour. Hence the table saw solution for much of the foundational work. Now it was time for the fun part...

Laying the foundations for the moulding planes.

The Half Round Plane cuts the nice rising curve against the vertical shoulder. 

Using the No78 Rebate Plane to complete a shoulder.

The Blockplane creates s chamfer ready to create an Ovolo. 

Using the right radius Hollow Plane to create the Ovolo with a quirk on each side.

Progress check thus far... looking good!

Rebate cut along the lower LH edge ready for the next profile. 
Combination of Hollow and Round to shape the lower Ogee.

Fitting the mouldings to the front side of the door.
 Done. Rough enough, eh?
With some sections of mouldings run, it was back to the door...  
Front side: new lower mouldings fitted. Now laying out the old top mouldings.
With the lower mouldings fitted on the front side, it was time to tackle the top mouldings. A couple of the long pieces were in very bad shape, so the better original sections from the lower mouldings were re-cut with scarf joints to replace these dodgy parts. 
Gluing down the mouldings to the shaped marine ply panel.

The missing centre piece replaced, and a glue/sawdust mix used to fill small holes around the arch.

Discrete scarf joints join various good sections together to create the long top sections.
So why the marine ply panel? The original Western Red Cedar panels were pretty cactus - especially the bottom panels. Badly weathered, split and damaged.  So the original two top panels were cut down to replace the original bottom panels, and new top panels were made from marine ply. With the top panels being modified to house leadlights now, and many of he original mouldings being damaged along the inside edges, a way had to be made to house the leadlights solidly in a rebate under the front bolection mould edges.
Checking all the pieces before gluing and nailing in place. 
Top mouldings fitted and complete on the front side of the door.
Opening flush with the inside edges of the bolection moulding. 
Making and fitting the mouldings on the back side of the door.
With the front side complete, it was time to turn the door over and contemplate the other side.
Back side of the door, without mouldings.
The decision was taken to duplicate the big bolection moulds onto the back side of the door, rather than the small original moulding. This would require the making of a heap more of the wide  mouldings. I just needed some Oregon or Western Red Cedar...
I learned years ago that old bed frames are a fantastic source of nice close-grained Oregon. I just happened to have the side rails from an ancient bed frame in my timber rack.
The old bed would be recycled to create the new bolection moulds for the back of the door.
Machining up the material from the bed frames. 
Here we go again!! Foundations laid...
Using the same sequence as before, a new batch of bolection moulding was made from the old bed frame for use on the back side of the door.

The back of the door looks as good as the front.

The straight sections were easy... but I needed to reproduce the two top curves also. Fortunately, these were each circles each. So I marked these out on two pieces of timber which I screwed together onto a piece of MDF which I then mounted onto a faceplate, which went on the lathe.

Turning the profile on the curved top mouldings.
Matching the profile with a profile gauge, section by section.
One of the two halves. Looking good.
 A pretty good fit!
Bring on the leadlight panels!
A 7mm deep x 12mm wide rebate was cut in the back to the marine ply panels to house the leadlights. This meant the leadlights would be housed between the two bolection moulds. Hence the back side mouldings would be screwed on, enabling temporary ply panels to be fitted awaiting the leadlight windows, which had yet to be made.   
Curved mouldings temporarily screwed on. Now the straight sections would be screwed on.
First undercoat painted on. Looking good. 
With the mouldings made and fitted, the final cleaning up was undertaken and the first coat or undercoat painted on.  Then the temporary 1/4" panels were fitted in where the leadlights would go once made, and another coat of undercoat applied to the door.

The door was then hung, and new lock fitted with much of the old hardware cleaned up and either re-fitted or awaiting the final completion of the door - leadlights, paintjob, etc.

The undercoated door, mostly revitalised, modified, and now hung.
Bring on the leadlight panels!    
The only original mouldings, in the top panels on the front side of the door, show signs of a century of use and abuse. So I had "distressed" the new lower front panel mouldings to match. This process involves inflicting deliberate surface damage to the mouldings so that they look like they belong! You have to be careful that you don't overdo it - and that you don't create patterning which is not found in the top section. With the old heavily painted mouldings visually different to the new lower mouldings, I would not know if I got it right until the application of the undercoat to the door. Fortunately, I got it right! That was a relief.

It's been a priviledge to give new life to this lovely old door. Making the mouldings and integrating this into the modification allowing the insertion of leadlight panels was a challenge and a delight. Along the way I often fell like I had met the tradesmen who originally made this door over a century ago. As I carefully pulled the door apart, the tool marks they left behind gave me an insight into their approach and thus their personalities and skills. Now I have left my marks on the door too.

Maybe in another century another tradesperson will be giving this same door new life again... who knows?  However I bet they'll never know the material from an old bedframe is now integral to this door! I love the fact that unless it rots or is eaten by insects, wood can be recycled indefinitely. For millenia. Fantastic, eh? This door is living proof of this reality, and stands in stark contrast to our current wasteful throwaway Western culture.

As I worked on this door, I'm sure I could feel the planet smiling... 

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.