Friday, April 3, 2020

Rock Buh-bye glue joint

Chairs are one of the most abused furniture pieces in your household. Constant strain is placed on the joinery and glues can breakdown and fail over time. It doesn't help when large companies mass-produce chairs and starve the joinery in order to save a few pennies per chair.  

As an example, I have a rocking chair that dates to the 1970's. It's not fancy but I like it, it's "my" chair. Naturally, my 200 pound frame will test the joinery to it's limits and it's a good example of a glue-starved joint. 

Taking it to the chair to the shop, I test all the joinery and glue-up the ones that have failed. 

I personally only use hide glue on my indoor projects. I like the ability of it sticking to itself in later repairs, the fact it is non-toxic, and easy clean-up with water. 

To hold the joint closed to allow the glue to set, I grab a length rope kept in the shop for this reason. Add a small peg made from a length of pine I shaped on the shaving horse and you have a home-made tourniquet clamp. This is an old-timey method that is unbeatable for clamping odd shapes and rounds. 

The technique is simple; twist the rope as much as you can pinning the peg so that the rope remains taut while the glue dries. 

I normally allow at least 24 hours when using hide glue. 

Of course, after finishing one repair, I had another location that needed a glue up. 

If this was a piece I had to repair for a customer, I would had given all the joints a solid whacking with a rubber mallet the first time to ensure everything was good before returning it to them. Not something I always do for myself. 

When all is finished, the chair goes back to it's spot in the common room, ready for more Dan rocking. 


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Cornering the Stained Glass Lamp

There is a requirement for some people to consistently move things around in their lives. There are theories that this is a sign that something is not quite right, maybe they are unhappy with things. I think some people just enjoy to change things up a little bit from time to time. It also allows them to dust under and around things which I obviously do not do.

I tend to leave things as they are until I trip over the fully-formed and now sentient dust bunny. My wife is thankfully a "move things around" individual. She is mostly unhappy that I do not dust (or vacuum) under things. Obviously, when she wants things moved I help as much as I can. Let's face it, I owe her.

Recently, she wanted a small lamp with a stained-glass shade moved to the lower shelf of our corner cabinet. Unfortunately, it was about 1/8 inch taller than the space allowed, and these shelves are not adjustable. Honestly, I can't think of any shelves in our house that are adjustable.

Back to the lamp. First, I checked my peanut butter jar full of spare nuts, nothing there. 

Then I checked the other lamps in the house, only one lamp had the same retaining nut threading, but it was as tall as the one I was replacing. 

Hey, this coaxial cable nut seems to be the same size! So, I snipped the connector off and sawed the nut from it. Who uses coax anymore? Turns out the size was right but the threading was wonky, or "not-the-same".

Finally, I decided to shorten a retaining nut from one of the lamps. I choose the less decorative of the two, it also had a small lip on the bottom that would hide the alteration nicely.

I had to find some way to hold the small nut securely to work on it, it wouldn't do to have it rolling everywhere while trying to work on it. In short order, I quickly notched a 'V' into the jaws of a small hand screw. I've got two of these that I don't use very often and can easily make another if I feel I can't live without. 

The notches allow the nut to have four points of contact with the holding device. I then filed down the soft brass retaining nut past the lip.  

Ah, after all that, the lamp fits!

Of course, other alterations to the cabinet have to be made to accommodate the new immigrant. I made a second hole to put a Scentsy warmer on the middle shelf.

This is how it looks this morning as I write the blog.

So things are dusted
     and Easter has moved in.
Everyone is happy,
     until we have to dust again.


Monday, March 30, 2020

A Clean Tool is a Happy Tool

Keeping your tools sharp and clean is very important in any shop, but even more so for the green woodworker. My task of modifying the birthing pen for the goat moms-to-be left me with some very sticky tools!

If you have dealt with pine pitch, which would even include anyone who has had to adjust the Christmas tree in the stand. You are familiar with the fact that it sticks to everything and even soap and water did little to clean it off. Simply put, pine pitch isn't soluble in water. 

To dissolve pine pitch you can use either alcohol or spirits (mineral or turpentine), either one does the job. I currently have about 2 gallons of denatured alcohol on that needs to be used, so that's what I grabbed. 

I also keep a can of used mineral spirits for paint clean-up that I would probably use normally. I do my clean-up and recycle it back into the can.

If you want to go "au natural", I suggest using spirits of turpentine or ether. Neither of these are not mechanically process and 100% safe to use. 

Finally, if you wish to learn more about the solubility of different gums and resins, I suggest picking up a copy of Shellac, Linseed Oil, and Paint; Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes by Stephen A. Shephard. This was one of the books I used as a text during my years of teaching preservation. 

Cleaning with alcohol is a simple process; simply wet it down and brush it a little to help the alcohol dissolve the resins. 

After a few minutes, the resin will be completely dissolved and the alcohol will quickly evaporate, harmless to the finish of the tool. 

Another tool I had to clean was a drawknife I had used during a recent shaving horse build. I had planned to use green pine for the leg and pegs, but ultimately only used the pegs. I was sucessful, however, in making the drawknife all icky-sticky in the process. 

This is the auger bit I used during the goat pen chore. In the end, I switched to using wire nails, but if you read my earlier post, you already knew that. But as little as I used it, this auger still needed a cleaning. 

This is my number 7 bit that I always leave on one of my braces. I use it every spring to bore holes for my maple taps and also for any for drawbore holes at the bench. The old auger bits were numbered according to size, each to the sixteenth of an inch, thus this auger bit is equal to 7/16 inches 

After cleaning I like to give the tools a quick rub down with a linseed oil and beeswax mixture. There are many different mixture recipes out there, but there is really no wrong way to do it. I toss them in an old crockpot and cover the beeswax chuncks with lindseed oil. I like the mixture to be a little on the softer side, more oil than wax, so when it cools I will add more of one or the other to my liking. 

Clean-up is also when I give the tools a quick sharpening. Do yourself a favor and stop freaking out about how to sharpen. There is no secret to it, just learn a quick repeatable method and do it often. 

This is the hatchet after cleaning with the alcohol. 

And this is the hatchet after honing and oiling. I even oiled the leather cover this time. NICE!

You may not always have the opportunity to keep your tools in flawless condition. I sometimes have to leave to get things done ans saddly the tools have to wait on the bench until I get back. Do what you can, respect them, and they will last you many years,