Repairing an Accent Table

My wife bought an accent table at a local thrift store yesterday. She hesitated on buying it because it needed some work but I assured her that I could fix it quickly.

When we got it home, I examined how to repair the stretcher and make the legs not so wobbly. It seems that someone else tried to repair the stretcher in the past with no luck.

After popping off the glue blocks, I noticed that the only joinery on the legs was a dowel rod and some glue. It’s no wonder why they wobbled. I’m not sure how old the table is but it’s made from mahogany and the fasteners are straight slotted screws. My guess would be around the 1940’s but that’s just a guess.

If I was to restore this table properly, I’d used mahogany for the stretcher and make it similar to the original but I’m by no means a professional furniture restorer. If anything, I’m closer to the craftsmen you see on Flea Market Flip where people buy a $40 wheel barrow at an antique show, turn it into a coffee table and sell it at a New York City art show for $450. Except, I don’t do that dramatic transformation on pieces and don’t get anywhere close to those prices. (Personally, I think that show is fake). My wife will eventually paint the table so I just grabbed some scrap wood.

I grabbed some red oak and planed it down to 3/8″ then drew some arches on it with my french curve. Then it was onto my band saw and spindle sander to cut and sand the stretcher to shape. I just whipped this shape up in my head without much thought. I think it’ll do fine.

To break the edges of the stretcher and give it curves, I used my specialty scraper with various radius’s cut out and scraped the edges to shape using the 1/2″ radius.

Cutting the piece to proper length took a little trial and error, but I eventually got it to seat in the mortises with the legs being perpendicular to the top when the table was flipped over.

Then I grabbed some scrap pieces and glued and pinned hefty glue blocks onto the legs to hold them to the top better.

Here’s the table all glued up waiting for paint. My wife will paint the table either white, or black, or green, or duck egg, or whatever. I’ll have to wait and see which one she picks. I’ll throw a picture up when she’s done. Merry Christmas!

UPDATE 1-20-20; Anita painted it white with a stencil on top.

Porter Cable Restorer- Customer Service Excellence

A few days ago, I was working on this farmhouse table flattening the underside of the top with my Porter Cable Restorer sander. I wrote a post about the sander a couple of years ago saying how nice of a tool it is to use. Granted, I don’t use the tool all that much as I don’t work with reclaimed wood too often, but it works well as a quick belt sander.

I was sanding the top down when I noticed some black streaks on the wood. I stopped and turned the tool over when I saw the sandpaper drum moved to the right eating into the housing flap.

I thought to myself that I must have the drum in backwards so I flipped the sandpaper drum around and kept going. Then I noticed the sandpaper was now eating into the body of the sander.

I thought to myself “what the hell??” I looked at the sander to see if there was any way to tighten the sandpaper to the drum as I do with my oscillating drum sander, but there was nothing to tighten.

I had no idea what I did wrong as I’ve used the tool in the past with no problems. I follow the guy who invented the Restorer on Instagram, Robert Kundel Jr, and sent him a picture of the tool and asked him what I did wrong. He wrote back to me apologizing that there was an issue with some of the sandpaper drums not being made to spec and he would send me a new unit. Sure enough a few days later, a new unit arrived at my doorstep.

These are drums that were not made to spec. I bought them on clearance at Lowe’s. They are now going into the garbage. Lowe’s is now starting to carry the Craftsman Restorer which is more likely the same as the Porter Cable as they are both owned by Stanley Black & Decker. I’ll buy the Craftsman sanding drums for now on.

You can see the difference between the two drums. The used one is about an 1/8″ wider in diameter causing it to move while being used.

I always read about great customer service from Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley on woodworking forums. Robert at Inventor of the Restorer needs to be on the list as well. He went far and beyond what was appropriate. I would have been happy with just a new sleeve of correct drums as the sander still works.

The Console Table Build

My honey-do list usually starts out the same. My wife will ask if I can make something for her and then asks how much it will cost in wood. I told her it would probably run around $60 so we headed to Home Depot and bought some white pine boards.

I bought a few 1″ x 10″ x 6′ to use for the legs. One 1″ x 10″ cut in half and ripped into 2 1/2″ wide segments would yield me two legs. After I laminated three of the boards, I sized them to 2 1/4″ square and then turned them on the lathe. I looked at the picture she gave me but I turned the leg from feel of what I thought it looked liked. When I was done, we both decided the bottom part of the leg looked too “boxy” so I decided to turn another leg.

The second leg turned out better than the first. When I threw a picture of both legs onto instagram, one of my followers said that he liked the bottom of the leg on right but liked the top of the leg on the left. I agreed so I refined the leg so the ball of the leg looked more like a ball and not a fat lazy bead.

After refining the leg, I made five more freehand. I’m by no means a master wood turner. In fact, my wood turning is passable at best. The only lesson I’ve ever taken on wood turning is watching The Woodwright’s Shop over the years. I take a ruler, a parting tool, and some calipers and try to make the sixth one to look like the first. In the end, I think the legs came out pretty good.

My wife wanted table to be fourteen inches wide by five feet long so I laid the legs on the top and decided the dimensions of each part of the frame.

After cutting out all the parts of the frame, I attached them to the legs with pocket hole joinery. This is a simple table made from construction grade material so I wasn’t in the mood to start cutting a bunch of mortises for mortise and tenon joinery. Sorry.

I sized and glued the bottom shelf to the lower frame. Ideally this would be best suited for plywood due to the expansion and contraction of the wood however, after studying the original picture, this is how the table my wife wanted was built so I went ahead and made it the same way. Eventually there will be a nice crack in the middle of the shelf, but that will just add to the farmhouse look.

I made the drawers as simple as possible as well. I planed down some of the pine to 1/2″ thick and made the sides with rabbeted joinery and a 1/4″ plywood bottom. I then simply glued and nailed a drawer front to the box.

In the end, this is how the table came out. Not bad for a weekend build. My wife will finish the table with some sort of weathered look stain. I’m happy with it and it’s one less thing off of my honey-do list.

Here’s the table completed with a stain Anita put on. It’s for sale at a design show. It originally wasn’t meant to be for sale, but we had such a good show, we needed more inventory to sell.

My Presentation

This past Saturday I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Cincinnati Woodworking Club. I arrived at the church around 9:00 am and Bill, the gentlemen who originally contacted me, told me I’d be the last speaker around 10:45 am. I thought to myself “Oh God, I’m the headliner. I hope I live up to their expectations.” There was about 50-60 people at the meeting which was way more than I thought would be there. I kind of hoped I would only be speaking to around twenty to calm my nerves.

Like any club, the meeting started off with some administrative stuff and talking about building toys for a toy drive. A few members spoke before me demonstrating projects they built or woodworking classes they took. There were a few really nice pieces that members brought in to show off.

I started off talking about how my Grandpa got me into collecting old tools as a kid when he gave me his jewelers drill press. Then I talked about my tool cabinet and how it came to be. I’ve been collecting antique tools since I was a kid and the tool cabinet was born out of necessity as a place where I could store all the old tools I used. When I was young, living at my parents place, my tool collection was on the other side of the basement being displayed on book shelves. I had to walk outside the shop to the other side of the basement in order to pick up a tool I wanted to use. My idea was the tool cabinet would separate my “good” antique tools from my users. I told the audience that my cabinet looks a lot nicer in pictures than it does in person because every time I reorganized the inside, I tore the veneer from the oak plywood where a tool holder was attached to the wood. If you examine the cabinet in person, you’ll see a bunch of tears and mismatched stain where I couldn’t remember which stain color I used the last time.

I then went on and talked a little bit about my work bench and described how it’s based on Chris Schwarz’s benches in the Workbench Book and Roy Underhill’s Roubo bench he built on his show. My bench is a user and is dirty from years of use. Once in awhile, I’ll clean the top off with a hand plane or belt sander just to give me a fresh surface.

Then I started to discuss how I restore old planes. This is a Diamond Edge Jointer I picked up on The World’s Longest Yard Sale this summer. The plane was a good candidate since it was made by the Sargent Tool Company a competitor of Stanley Tools.

Anytime I buy and old tool, I roll the dice that I’ll be able to restore it. Most times I win, but once in a while I’ll buy something that needs additional work. I didn’t notice at the time, but this plane’s yolk broke off the frog and needed to be replace.

Luckily, I had the proper replacement parts in stock from other planes I couldn’t restore. The yolk and the brass adjustment knob from an old Stanley plane worked as replacements.

To fix the frog, I simply punched out the pin that holds the yolk in place and inserted the new yolk, punching the pin back in place to repair the tote. It took literally five minutes. Once the brass adjustment knob was screwed back on, the frog was as good as new.

Once I determined the plane could be restored, I told them I dip all the plane parts in a citric acid bath. I allow the parts to sit in the bath for a couple of hours making sure that they don’t sit too long or I’ll get acid burns on the metal.

Wiping the rust off the metal with a drywall sanding sponge, the plane was looking in good shape and ready to be buffed.

I took the parts outside to use my wire wheel to buff out the metal. I told the audience I have this machine outside because the little wires fly off the wheel. If I use the machine in my shop and this happens, I’ll walk around at night and get a nice little wire stuck to the bottom of my foot. So, outside this thing stays.

I then discussed my tool solution I make to coat my tools. It’s made up of a slice off of a beeswax candle, one part orange oil, and one part mineral oil. I take the slice of beeswax and melt it in a pot on a hot plate. Once the wax is melted I add equal parts of mineral and orange oil and stir it up. The solution works great and works just as well as Kramers Antique Improver for pennies of the price.

This is the plane put back together. If I wanted to just put this thing on my shelf, I would be done but I want to see if I can get this guy to work again.

Here’s the plane blade when I bought it. Many people think that when you buy an old plane, you have to buy a new blade because the old one won’t work anymore. I always try to see if I can get the original one sharp first.

Using my slow speed grinder, I flatten the back of the blade to remove as much of the pitting as I can. I only care about cleaning up 1/4″ of the bottom of the blade as this will be the only part of the blade that needs to be tuned.

Then I use the plane jig and grind a 25 degree bevel to the edge using my Tormek slow speed grinder.

After that, I’ll hone the edge of the blade using 4000 and 12000 grit water stones. At this point, it’s sharp enough to shave the hairs off of my arm.

Setting the cap iron back on the blade about 1/8″ behind the cutter, I stick both back on the plane to see how it cuts. With a little bit of work, I was able to get whisper like shavings from the plane without buying a new blade or even worrying about flattening the bed with sandpaper. I brought the plane with me to the meeting and used it on a scrap piece of poplar to show how the plane performs. I then passed the scrap wood around the audience so that they can see how smooth the plane made the wood.

I told the audience that it basically took me an afternoon to transform the plane to make it work again as it will make a nice user for the next 100 years.

Hopefully, I inspired a few of the them to hunt for old planes to see if they can tune them up themselves. All I know is that I really enjoyed giving my presentation and a few of the members came up to me after the meeting to tell me how much they enjoyed me speak. And no one threw tomatoes at me.

My First Speaking Gig

After working with wood for the past 30 years, I have my first speaking engagement this month. I was contacted by a member of the Cincinnati Working Club a few weeks ago who asked if I would be interested in speaking in front of the group. At first, I was shocked and confused. I didn’t understand why he would want me to be a guest speaker, but after reading further into the email, he saw that I restore planes and have a nice tool cabinet full of antique tools. Apparently, he wants me to talk about my journey into antique tool collecting and describe the process of how I clean my tools.

I’m going to start off talking about my tool cabinet and how it came to be. I started building it in 1999 but didn’t finish it until 2001 as it sat in my parent’s basement unfinished. It’s undergone a few transformations over the years as I added and deleted tools from the doors and back. It actually looks nicer in pictures than it does in person as the oak veneer plywood tore off in places where I removed the tool holders.

From there, I’ll describe the process of restoring this Diamond Edge Jointer. I took a bunch of pictures of the process and will upload them to a thumb drive so I can plug it into their laptop. The group meets in a church basement so I’m not sure if there is a workbench down there for people to work on. The idea of actually doing the restoration while I’m there doesn’t make much sense so pictures it will be.

Bill told me that each meeting has between 65-75 people attendees so this presentation is going to be as big as a session at the Woodworking in America events.

If you’re a member of the Cincinnati Woodworking Club, stop by on Saturday Sept, 14th at Northminster Presbyterian Church 703 Compton Road in Cincinnati, Ohio around 9:00 and watch me be nervous as hell. Just please don’t bring tomatoes to throw at me.

L W Jacobs West Miter Box

Six months ago I ran across this miter box lying on the floor in an antique store. Intrigued by it, I took a look at the price but decided not to buy it. I went back a few weeks ago and the seller lowered the price by 50% so I took it home with me.

I’ve been using a Stanley No 150 miter box for years. In fact, it’s the only hand powered miter box I ever use now since I sold my larger Stanley No 60 1/2 miter box as it was just sitting around collecting dust. What I love about the 150 is its small footprint and ability to cut small moldings safely as opposed of using my Delta powered miter saw.

You can see the difference between the Jacobs and Stanley No 150 Miter Box. The Jacobs looks like Stanley’s bigger brother. The Jacobs actually predates the Stanley by several decades as it was patented in 1889 while Stanley didn’t produce the 150 until 1923. More likely, Stanley simply bought the design from Jacobs or waited for the patent to run out and redesigned it into a smaller version.

I always use a Disston back saw when I use my Stanley No 150 but, apparently this miter box was meant to be used with a panel saw which is why the throat is so deep. Even the patent documents show it being used with a panel saw.

The cut from the miter box is pretty accurate considering it’s age. Both 45 degree positive stops produced a decent cut however, I would still finalize the cut by using a shooting board or miter trimmer as I always use my miter trimmer to clean up the miter when I use my Stanley No 150. This is a neat box to own and I’m glad I found it.