Friday, February 22, 2013

Fancy pants peepers

I had been recently informed by someone much smarter than myself that our new peepers needed a perch for to perch upon. So as she drove off to work, I headed to the work shop. (Actually, I headed out to prime the window frame, but it was much too cold so I opted to do this instead.)

The peepers are far from full grown and are still in their big box so I wanted to come up with a self supporting gang plank type set up for them.

Raiding the wood scraps once again I found a good length of pine with a little bark on the edges that would make a neat little detail. I decided chop it in half and join them together using dovetails. (Yup, dovetail...I had some time.)

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a pro dovetailer, but it's nice to practice from time to time. Not to mention, I would only be joining two boards together. I would rather practice a technique on that than on a dresser with a bunch of drawers.

I laid out the pins using a set of dividers and a bevel gauge, and cut them by hand. Some chisel whacking cleaned the waste out and I used the same chisel to part and clean the sides of the pins.

I realized that I cut them on the wrong side of the board, I wanted the bark up. Hmmm, maybe if I turn it over it would still work. Yup, I actually tried. That doesn't work, silly.

Oh well, I cut backwards off and cut them the correct way. Ah much better. The bark is on the bottom on one side, but the peepers don't seem to mind.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What a pane

If you have never reglazed a window before, you need to at least try it. Reglazing is an  art form that takes patience and experience. Perfection in glazing, as in many other aspects of woodworking, can be difficult to achieve, but is it truly that important that it should cause individuals not to try it at all?

I am way ahead of myself here. In order to reglaze, first one must deglaze. For the most part deglazing is a simple matter of flicking the old glazing from the muntins. Other times, you need a little help. I use my heat gun to soften it up and then flick it. A word of caution while using the heat gun. If you don't have an adapter to focus the heat on a certain area, you run the risk of breaking your glass as the heat causes a rapid change in the ambient temperature of the glass. Yes, guilty. The temperature in the shop was about 40 degrees, but I only broke a couple of them. Breaking a few pieces is also expected if you aren't that experienced at it...which I'm not.

After deglazing, I had to replace a total of 6 lights. A drive down to the big box store in Rocky Mount allowed me to get them cut to size. A second drive to the big box store allowed me to get 4 new ones cut 1/8 smaller. Here's some advice, the windows need a little spare room. I cut an 1/8 off of two of them using a Dremel tool. That wasn't fun, nor worth my time. (It amuses me the depths I will go to avoid spending another $5 on a project. Yes, it cost $5 to get 4 new pieces of glass cut.)

Once the windows were all installed and pointed, it was time to glaze. Nothing fancy here. Typical DAP 33 window glaze compound. You can add a little BLO to it if you need to and you can clean it up using mineral spirits. The application technique is simple.

Work the compound in your hands until it gets soft and malleable, the softer the better. Next you need to work it in to the gap and corner where the glass meets up with the muntin. The way I do it is to roll it into a snake and press it in with my thumbs. I then follow that up with the flat of the putty knife. Finally, I draw the knife at an angle to push it firmly into the corner and to cut off the excess. The corners suck, but don't work at them too much. At some point you have to let it go. Smooth out the rest with your finger if needed and move on the the next one. It's repetitive and takes time. (I'm still new at it, but it took me about 2 hours to do both sashes.)

I'm still waiting for the glaze to cure which is typical for the temperatures around here at the moment. I have them sitting in a heated closet for now, until I prime them.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Let's twist again

The window sash itself was also in need of repair from many years of water seeping into it from the sill and causing more rot. The damage was bad enough that a two part epoxy repair was out of the question due to missing sections of sash. But it still wasn't damaged enough to warrant replacing the entire rail and stile. That's when a couple of nice splices will do the trick .

To start with, I prodded the areas near the rot to access the extent of the damage and marked the areas to be removed. Using an oscillating cutter that I picked from Harbor Freight years ago, I cut out the sections to be removed and cleaned up the cuts using a sharp chisel.

Searching the scrap "corner" of the work shop, I pulled out a cutoff that was similar in species and in grain pattern. I then cut it down to size, planed to thickness, and adhered them using Gorilla Glue.

After the glue had dried sufficiently, I ran the sill over the table saw to trim the lower angle on the sash and sanded down the high spots. The real challenge was how to shape the inner trough of the stiles which were about and inch wide and rounded at the bottom.

Using a couple wooden round molding planes, I began the process of removing the extra material. After going as far down as that would let me, I shaved more off using a sharp chisel. This left a very rough and faceted surface that I wasnt' pleased with. I still needed some way to finish the rounded groove.
A little pondering and some ingenuity later I came up with something.

Using a piece of dowel that was the exact width of the groove, I stuck some 80 grit sand paper on it and twisted a trim screw onto the end of it. Using the drill, I rotated the sanding dowel into the groove and cleaned the trough to match. The screw was aluminum, so it didn't last forever, but it lasted long enough to get the job done.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The missing inch

The window restoration has been taking up a lot of my time lately. We have a cold front coming through today and I don't have any heat in the workshop so I finally have a moment to post a blog.

One of the issues I ran into with the frame was that I rebuilt the sill too narrow. In my defense, the original had rotted off and I had nothing to grab a solid measurement on. The rest of the sills are all covered by vinyl trim, so I had to guestimate. Using the frame width and trim as a base, I added a quarter inch to make it match the other windows as closely as I could.

The rest of the build went great, the dados shown on the last post held everything tight and square. When I test fitted the trim, I noticed the sill was an inch too narrow. I had forgotten to account for the second piece of trim on the window. The trim that hides the window rails in this 1950 style window. I am used to building much earlier frames and hadn't thought about the second piece of trim. Unsure what to do, I packed it up and forces myself to ponder about it overnight.

I thought about taking the frame apart and reinstalling a newer, wider sill but I was worried about damaging the rest of the frame. I finally decided just to edge glue some left over stock to it with some Gorilla glue. The glue would be waterproof and with a coat of paint, the seam won't be at all noticeable.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Router to router plane

I was rebuilding a window yesterday and was able to experiment with my dado cutting techniques.

While working the sides of the window frame, I needed to cut some dados to join the top and the sill. It took me a few minutes to set up the plunge router and a jig in order to cut the dadoes for the top of the frame.

The dadoes for the sill were a little wider but the technique was the same. Due to slight irregularities in the work surface, I wasn't completely pleased with the bottom surface of any of dados, so I turned to my hand tools.

Using an old wooden skewed rabbit plane, I cut thin shavings out taking it to an approximate depth. After that I worked it to the final depth using the router plane.

It's one thing to know theory as to how a plane works, but it takes experience and time behind a tool to really understand how it works. With short, light, angled strokes, I quickly got all the dados to the same depth. I love using the hand tools when I can.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Parthenon Effect

We don't get company very often, so when we do it's a flurry of activity in the house. Like a mini spring cleaning, pretty hectic. We're not "messy", but with all the little critters running around, the place definitely has that "lived in" feel to it. (I promise we are not going to be featured on Hoarders.)

Armed with my list of things to do, I moved efficiently throughout the house getting things done and boldly crossing them off my checklist. Kitchen, check. Guest bathroom, check. Bedroom, check. As I whirled about things that have always been, began to annoy me, like the 6 foot tall and 2 foot 8 inch wide vertical hanging window sash with no glass standing in the hallway.

This sash has been standing here for months, I'm not even certain of how many months. March, maybe? That's a long time for an old, weathered, window sash to be anywhere, especially in the main hallway of the house. I would love to take the blame for it, but my beautiful wife collects window sashes. Don't ask me why, but it's a habit she has started ever since I began restoration. This is one of our "findings."

Standing in the hallway, seen yet forgotten, this sash stares at our daily routines. It even gets moved from wall to wall as we need to get behind it. Finally, I decided today was the day to move it or loose it. This sash was going up and I wouldn't have to avoid it in the hallway ever again.

There wasn't a whole lot of work to go into it, which is probably the main reason for procrastination. "Ah, it just needs this and this, about 5 minutes worth of work. I'll get to it later." This and this is proportionately equal to "pull four rusty nails out, clean it, and hang it on the wall." I told you it was easy. So I wade through the swamp to the shop and get the tools I need to get the job done.

With the nails pulled, I put it up on the wall and set it to be spot on level, not a hair off. As I stand back and look at my work, I realize that it "looks" crooked. What the heck? I put the level back on and confirm it is still dead flat. With a tape measure, I measure the edge of the sash to the crown molding and then to the door trim. Sure enough, not a matching distance on either edge. Well, that is one of the lovable quirks you have to contend with when living in a house which is over a hundred years old.

There is not one straight line on the Parthenon. It was completely built to "look" straight. So that would have to be the technique used here. Put away the level, force back the nagging quest for precision, and just eyeball it. After a few tweaks, I was happy because it "looked" right. The final distances are a 3/8 inch difference from the top to the crown molding and about a 1/8 inch difference on the side. Sometimes you just have to forget about logic and go with what "looks good."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Get over it and woodwork!

I've been wanting to write an article for Tom Iovino's "Get Woodworking Week," but I've been getting frustrated because I wasn't sure what to write about. I'm sure everything has been covered before, and much more articulately than I am capable.
(What's new, right?)

Instead of moping about that and comparing myself to others, I'm going to do what I want.

I still consider myself a beginner woodworker, I'm sure that will never change, so here is my advice to other beginner woodworkers. (To other bloggers, I advise to edit before you post.)

1) You don't need every tool. You will never own everything you think you need. Even if you can afford it, you will always think of something else you need before working on a project. This will cause a never ending paradox and destroy the space time continuum as we know it. Please don't let this happen. Take what you have and make it work for you. (For all of our sakes.)

2) You don't need a shop. Yes, a shop is nice, but is it necessary to woodwork? Not at all! Find a space and "make" it work! My most memorable years in woodworking were when I traveled across the states in my RV repairing and building things for friends along the way. All by using basic tools and no wood shop. (With the price of gas going up, I couldn't afford any power tools.)

3) Woodworking takes time. I know, crazy right? You can't just wave a magic wand and get a project completed, it takes time. Once you figure this out, the better. The next step is to convince your spouse and customers. If I had to put a time on it, estimate it to take four times longer than you originally think it will. Also, get more done by breaking it into manageable chunks. Work a little when you can and before you realize it, you are pushing a project out the door.

4) Prepare to be frustrated. This is a warning, and a gaurantee. Things will go wrong. Things won't fit correctly. Things won't look as good as pretty as you thought they would. Get over it. Move on and try to do better on the next project. This stuff takes experience (and time...see #3). The more you do it the better you get. The goal is to have fun, not to drive yourself to an early grave.

5) Finally, get out there and do something! You can get ideas from reading book and watching videos, but you will never train yourself to become a better woodworker without getting out there and learning to do it for yourself. This is the absolute biggest hurdle to get over. Just do it, go have some fun in the workshop. Fun, nothing else. When it becomes a burden, it may be time to rethink your hobbies. Have you looked into knitting or Tai Chi?

There are many more excuses I could highlight, but the sun is finally coming out and I've got a window rebuild scheduled for this morning. (And my wife told me that I need to edit my blog before posting it.) It's wet and cold, plus a huge lake puddled up in front of the work shed, but I'll get over it. Why? Because I love woodworking.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A box o peeps!

My wife got it in her mind last year that she wanted chickens. I told her to give us a year to settle in and get things ready for them. Well, today was the day...and of course we weren't ready.

In eggs two days ago, 15 Orpington pullets were delivered to the local post office from Texas this morning. Since Shae had to be in class, I had to go pick them up.

I wore my best barbecue bib and got our little peepers home. One poor girl didn't make the trip, but we have 14 that seem active and healthy.

These birds are destined to be egg layers and we will ultimately adapt the dog pen to hold them and also build them a mobile tractor to bring them to various parts of the yard to feed. The dogs are old and we walk them normally, so reusing the dog pen won't bother them at all.

Until they are big enough to move outside, we have them living in a pine box I had made while living at the train station. It was originally meant to be a blanket chest, but I wasn't quite pleased with the look and size of it.

I made it all with hand tools. The panels are all edge glued and rabbits were my joint of choice. I'm not sure why now, but I used modern screws to cinch the rabbits tight.

It's been sitting in the corner of the workshop since we moved here, holding junk off the floor. When we were talking about getting something a little bigger than the plastic tote for the chicks, I knew I had finally found the reason for this box's existence.

Now I can plan to make a blanket chest that will please me.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pegs and tops

During a salvage run last Wednesday, I found an old farm table that could easily be about 150 years old.

It is made of first-growth, old heart pine, which can be seen on the unfinished underside of the top. The hand plane ridges can be felt and and the legs were worked with a drawknife.
The legs are joined to the apron using mortise and tenon joinery, which is expected. The surprise for me was to find that the top was fastened to the base using pegs from the top.
I almost missed it sitting in a pile of rubble and covered by a plastic sheet mailed on in the 70s. It weighs much more than it looks like it should, confirming the tightness of the grain.
Only downside, my wife doesn't like it. It may have to live in the workshop, but I'm hoping to fix it up enough to have it stay in the house. The challenge will be to fix it without hurting the original material.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What I'm reading- Colonial Living

A friend of mine found this in a used book store and let me borrow it.

Colonial Living was written by Edwin Tunis in 1957 and published by the World Publishing Company of New York and Cleveland.

In this book Tunis focuses on Colonial America, 1564 to 1770, providing a well-informed and well-written account of this time period. He also provides his own illustrations, which truly sets his work above many other books on the same topic. These illustrations often provide inspiration for me in my woodworking journey.

I've been fortunate to read other books written by Tunis and look forward to sitting down and enjoying this one as well.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Get in line...I nailed it

Got up nice and early on Wednesday morning, got Shae coffee'd up and out the door, fed the critters, did my chores and headed out to do some nailing on the workshop floor. I know, exciting!

Actually, got out side too early and didn't want to start pounding until 8 am, so I split logs for about 30 minutes. (Which was plenty, sheesh)

Since I only focused on putting in a single nail per joist while I was laying the floor down, I have to go back and hammer the rest of them in.

I could just eye ball where to put the nails but it's incredibly easy to miss a 2 inch stud for some reason. So I rigged up a string to guide me along.

Using the butted ends of the flooring, centered on the floor joists, I simply placed the line 1/4 inch off center of the joist I was nailing. The floor joists are 24 inches on center, so the math was easy, even for me.

It took me a little less than two hours to manually nail in five joists worth and then I ran out of nails. That was all I could accomplish as I was called out to a house being demolished to see if I could salvage anything...but that's a story for tomorrow.