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 six 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.

GTL British Plane

Over the weekend, I received a box from The Fine Tool Journal with a couple of planes that I won in their latest auction. I’ve been disappointed with my winnings the past few auctions as I have only won one lot at each auction after sending them two pages of my bids, but apparently that’s my fault for not bidding high enough. Nevertheless, I was happy to get something from them. Inside was a Stanley No 104 Liberty Bell plane and this guy. An odd looking bronze plane with GTL stamped on the lever cap.

Searching online, I discovered that GTL stands for Guaranteed Tools Limited. It was a short lived plane maker in London, England from the 1920-1930’s who marketed to the DIY and amateur carpenter market. Apparently, the makers of these planes were trying to fill a gap between the Stanley Bailey planes that were taking the world by storm and the traditional Norris style planes that British craftsmen were accustomed to using at the time.

The lever cap and frog look rather crude which made me to believe at first, that it was user made. According to guys on UK woodworking forums, these planes were garbage to use. No one liked them as they thought they were too light and the “Norris” adjustment was a joke compared to real Norris style planes.

Intrigued by the plane, I decided to restore it and see how well it performed. I removed all the paint that the previous owner sprayed on the body and handle and sharpened the blade.

The plane cuts, but not very well. The biggest issue with it was because the Norris adjuster doesn’t have any lateral adjustment, I was unable to dial in the cut when the blade was cutting too heavy on one side and not enough on the other. I would have to either play with the setting of the frog or hone the edge at a slight angle for it to take a nice feather like shaving. Neither of which I was willing to waste my time doing.

Another big issue with the plane was the screw on the bottom of the bed that holds the tote in place stuck proud of the bed’s surface leaving gouge marks on the work piece when I used it.

Obviously, when I took the plane apart to clean it, I removed the screw so when I went back to install it, it wasn’t in the exact position it was before I removed it. This left a little nib of the screw head sticking proud of the surface which I had to file back down.

The oddest thing about the plane is that the frog is bent for some reason making the blade and cap iron not seat fully on it. I’m not sure if it was manufactured that way or if it got damaged some time during it’s life. No way would I try to bend it back straight. Knowing my luck, I’d end up cracking the frog in half.

All in all, it’s a fun to look at, but not the best to use. If the idea of a Norris style adjuster on a modern bench plane appeals to you, just buy a Veritas or even a new Stanley plane and avoid all this nonsense.

Venom Steel Nitrile Gloves

I normally don’t do product reviews. The reason is because often when someone writes one, they seek affirmation that they made the right decision with what they just bought. This is especially true with tool reviews. How many times do people buy a new tool, take it out of the box, use it, and then blog about how much of a piece of shit it is? Very rarely. It’s one of the reasons I don’t put much weight on reading tool reviews in woodworking magazines. The other reason I don’t write tool reviews is that often I don’t have anything to compare the new tool to. When I bought a new random orbital sander, my old sander was twenty years old and obsolete. I can’t compare my new one to the old. That wouldn’t make any sense. Also, when I bought my random orbital sander, I didn’t try out any of other sanders on the market to see how they stacked up to mine so, I just use it and move on with life.

This time it’s a little different. I found these heavy-duty nitrile industrial gloves at Lowe’s a few weeks ago and was intrigued. For awhile, I was looking for something to replace my old exam gloves that would constantly tear while I was working. I tried using industrial latex gloves, but didn’t like how I couldn’t “feel” what I was doing so, I went back to the old stand by. When I saw these at Lowe’s, I opened a box, took a glove out and tried it on. Then I pulled on the glove while it was on my hand trying to rip it. It was a tough glove so, I bought the box hoping for the best.

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These are the nitrile exam gloves I used for years. For the price I couldn’t complain. Two boxes of 100 ran about $15.00. The problem is that I would go through three to four pairs when I spent the day sharpening. Worse yet, when they did tear, they often tore at the thumb turning my thumb black from the sharpening slurry completely defeating the purpose of wearing gloves in the first place.

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Typical dirty thumb even after I washed my hand from sharpening slurry. If you sharpen without gloves or do any type of metal working, you’ve experienced this as well.

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When I sharpen, I use my water-cooled sharpener along with 1000, 5000, and 12,000 grit water stones so, my hands are constantly getting wet.

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These are some of the planes I sharpened within an afternoon. It took about two to three hours to do all of them wearing my new tough gloves.

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After a dozen plane blades sharpened, the gloves took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. No rips or tears and best yet, clean hands! If your Lowe’s doesn’t stock them, you can find them on Amazon.

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Reshaping a Magnolia Home Dough Bowl

Last week, my wife, Anita, and I were walking through Target buying some clearance Christmas crap when Anita spotted this dough bowl on the shelf. If you know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are from the HGTV show Fixer Upper, then you’re probably aware that they have their own line of home decor in Target called Magnolia Home. Originally this Magnolia Home bowl was $50.00, but it was on clearance for only $15.00. Anita asked me to make a dough bowl for her a couple of years ago, but the project never got finished even though I got a piece of wood for it at a local lumberyard. For $15.00, I figured I could reshape this thing to make it look like the expensive antique dough bowls found in antique stores.

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The first thing I did was cut the stupid handles off and try to deepen the inside of the bowl out with a Northwest adze. The bowl is made from paulownia wood, a native to east Asia that grows ridiculously fast. It’s easy to work, but your tools need to be sharp in order to cut the through the porous grain. I was using the adze for a few minutes, but didn’t feel I was getting anywhere so I turned to my angle grinder with a King Arthur grinding disc.

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The grinder worked better, but it threw up a tremendous amount of dust. After a few minutes of that, I said screw it and stopped. The next time I use my grinder with that disc wheel, I’ll do it outdoors. Way too much dust for a basement shop.

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I ended up finishing the inside using a simple gouge. I’m not sure of the sweep of the gouge I was using, but I’m sure it was the wrong one. I bought a carving set at Costco about ten years ago and they are the only carving tools I own. If I was going to make a lot of these dough bowls, I’d buy the right tools for the job.

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After I was satisfied with the depth of the inside, I drew around the edge to mark where I wanted perimeter of the bowl to be. I wasn’t designing this bowl using elements based on the golden ratio or from the proportions of vases from ancient Egypt. I simply wanted a bowl that looked organic in form and handmade.

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I took the bowl over to my band saw and cut the ends off. You can see the rings of the paulownia wood and how fast the tree grows.

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Chopping off the backside of the bowl was the toughest part. I used everything I could from axes, to chisels, to a drawknife. Whatever it took to get the job done I did as long as the tool was sharp as to not crush the end grain. The drawknife ended up working the best.

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After a few hours, this is how the bowl came out. Turned out to be more of a pain in the ass than I thought it would, but my Anita likes it which is all that really matters. I doubt I’ll ever do it again unless I have a piece of green wood to start with.

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Making Black Shellac

Several years ago I heard about making black shellac out of an old 78 record. At the time, I didn’t have an old 78 around so I never gave much thought about it, but a few weeks ago, my Dad gave me some old records he had lying around his garage. In the pile were some old 78’s that were broken. I thought this would be a good opportunity to try to make black shellac.

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The first thing I did was make sure that the 78, even while broke, wasn’t worth anything. I scanned eBay to see what a good condition Darktown Strutters Ball was going for. At $3.00 plus shipping, it wasn’t worth much, so I was willing to destroy the record. I would only try this with broken 78’s that aren’t worth anything. Doing this to a 78 that is in good shape is considered sacrilege to audiophiles. Plus, you can only do this with old 78’s. Any newer records are made of vinyl and won’t work at all.

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I broke the record apart like snapping a KitKat. I couldn’t believe how easily it snapped in half. I then stuck all the pieces into a plastic bag and crushed it more with a hammer.

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Next, I weighed the pieces into a mason jar and measured out 4 ounces of shellac since I was making a two pound cut with 16 ounces of denatured alcohol

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If you get confused on much shellac flakes you need for certain pound cut of shellac, here’s a simple chart I’ve been using for years. Since I make 2 cups of shellac, I double the amount of flakes I need for a two pound cut on the chart. Pretty simple.

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Like any other shellac, I let the solution set for a day or two stirring the mix every few hours to help break it down. With the black carbon in the old 78 record, there will always be a sludge at the bottom of the jar. I shake and stir the black shellac before I use it to make sure the black dye is mixed well in the solution.

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Below is a sample of three coats of black shellac on four different species of wood. You can see how the soft maple and red oak look a bit muddy however, the southern yellow pine and poplar highlight the early wood and late wood of the grain. As of right now, I’m just playing around with the shellac. I need to see how it performs on a project I make. What I like about the shellac so far is that it’s very quick to add more coats not having to wait very long between coats as the shellac dries very fast.

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This is one side of an old rosewood tote from a Stanley plane with normal blonde shellac applied to it. Below is the other side of the tote with a coat of black shellac. Even though, the blonde shellac pops the grain, you can see how the grain on the black shellac is much more subdue and looks more natural. It’s all in what your intentions are.

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Have you ever played around with black shellac? Let me know what you think about it.

 

Popular Woodworking’s New Look

I received the latest issue of Popular Woodworking today. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew things had changed big time with the magazine. I read on Lost Art Press blog a few weeks ago that Chris Schwarz will no longer write articles for them. That, and the fact that since a lot of the old contributors like Megan Fitzpatrick, Bob Lang, and Glen Huey are long gone, the magazine is a complete a new rag.

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The new look just looks like a typical run of the mill woodworking magazine that appeals to the masses. Something like a Woodworker’s Journal or American Woodworker. It definitely lost its old hand tool feel charm. As far as the projects inside, don’t get me started. I asked my wife about the projects in it (basically two of them) and she said “who builds this shit? Why don’t they put furniture in there that people want to make?” It’s been an ongoing conversation with us for years about why I subscribe to woodworking magazines with uninspiring projects in it.

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The new look has a lot of photo boxes where they describe what’s going on in the picture. Not a bad idea as it’s kind of the same idea of how I write this blog, but the layout seems a bit impersonal. On the plus side, they did have an article about welding. I’ve always thought that woodworking magazines should focus more on mixed mediums. Plus, Peter Follansbee’s Arts and Mysteries and George Walker’s Design Matters are still there.

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I also noticed there are a lot of ads in the magazine for people who are old. From hearing aids, to walk in tubs, to a plethora of ads for medications. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t mind ads. If anything I learn from the good ones, but damn, don’t make me feel like I need to go get my dentures fitted.

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Did you get your copy? If so, what do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are the days of the old Popular Woodworking concentrating on hand tools techniques long gone? It’s frustrating because Popular Woodworking was my favorite magazine. I guess I’ll have to start subscribing to Mortise and Tenon instead.

Fixin’ Up a Buffet

If you follow my blog, then you know that my wife and I have a couple of booths in antique malls where we buy and sell antiques. Occasionally we’ll buy old furniture and fix it up. This is a buffet we found at a yard sale for dirt cheap. It had some issues, but the price was too good to pass up, plus I knew I could make it usable again.

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The first issue I had to take care of was the stretcher on the bottom looked like a dog gnawed on it.

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The easiest thing to do was simply cut it off. Since Anita was going to paint the piece, I wasn’t too concerned about the dowel cut offs showing. Removing the stretcher didn’t cause the buffet to lose any stability.

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The biggest issue the buffet had was the runner on the large drawer on top was  completely broken off. There was no way  to properly repair it so I decide to make a new one out of some scrap wood.

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I milled a new piece to size and then used my Stanley No 45 plane to plow a 1/4″ groove down the middle on both edges.

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I then cut a wide groove down the face of the piece with my table saw and cleaned it up with my router plane.

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With a tenon cut on the end of the piece and a rabbet cut on the other end, the new piece worked perfectly in the old drawer. I tacked down the runner to the back of the drawer with a couple of small nails.

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After the drawer was fixed, I shaved down the edges of the doors with a block plane so that they would close better. Once the buffet was functional again, Anita painted the piece with milk paint.

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You can see how the milk paint gives the buffet old world character. This piece should sell quick in the booth.

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