Mark ( on May 12th, 2009

Day 2 of the Hunt Board class was fairly productive.   This will be a fairly short post because I still have some sharpening to do to prepare for tomorrow and I am dead tired!

class-notesmachine-roomIn the pictures you can see the notes on the blackboard with yesterdays mortising assignment.  Notice the that Einstein’s Theory was part of the assignment!  The second shot is a partial view of the machine room that we are using – Marc Adams School has a bunch of SawStop table saws.  So, my experience with and impression of them is very positive.

We spent today preparing our sides, backs and front rails.  This included tenoning the rails and the sides on the table saw.  The tenons were cut with a shop made jig that straddled the fence. Pieces were clamped to the jig and run through the blade.  There were two stops clamped to the fence raik so that both cheeks of the tenons could be cut by sliding the fence from one stop to the other.  This worked reasonable well however, with a fair amount of people using the same setup, there is a possibility for things to move out of adjustment.  This happened and a few of the early tenons that were cut ended up being a bit over-sized.  So, those had to be re-cut.  I guess it was a good thing to be off using the 12″ jointer to prepare the two boards for the top of my hunt board!  I thought I was in great shape being able to use the fresh new setup.  However, in the fray of redoing tenons,  someone before me did not lock the fence down and my first tenon was cut too narrow!  We corrected the set up an the rest of my tenons were fine.  As a result of this I had the extra step to glue on a shim to my tenons on one end of one case side…I’ll re-cut that last tenon tomorrow.

scroll-templateday-2-hunt-board-resultsWith the tenons cut it was time to start fitting pieces on the front so that the top rail measurement could be determined.  This was necessary because of the potential accumulated error across the three scrolled font rails.  This involved fitting all of the tenons across the front and dry assembling the pieces.  Speaking of scrolling, we also traced scrolls on the three front rails and cut them at the band saw.  Tomorrow there will be a bit of clean-up on those as well.  In addition, today did a bit of work on the back and interior partitions.  Tomorrow, those will be taken down to final dimension. In the second picture you can see some of the results of today’s activities as well as the state of disarray on my bench.

Tomorrow will be another busy day.  With any luck we will be at the point of dry assembling the entire case.  Stop by for an update!

Tags: , ,

Mark ( on May 11th, 2009

The first day of the Hunt Board class  at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking with Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton was a busy one.

The day started with a welcome talk from Marc Adams.  Marc spoke about all of the programs going on this week and introduced his support staff.  Following this talk we sat down to some discussion from Jeff and Steve regarding what we were going to attempt to accomplish on the Hunt Board project today.  Today was about sizing, tapering and mortising the six legs on the piece as well as preparing the sides and rails for tenons tomorrow.

Before any work was done in the shop, we received a talk about safety on each of the machines in the shop by one of Marc’s senior assistants.  Safety is taken very seriously at the school and the talk was very well done concerning safe operation of all of the shop equipment, jigs and accessories.  Even though a lot of what was discussed was review for most, I definitely picked up several things regarding technique that I can employ to stay even safer in the shop.  Marc’s assistants are all very knowledgeable and will always point out helpful suggestions one tool use in order to give you better and safer results.

One thing I had wondered about in coming to a class like this was how things would be managed to keep everyone on pace and with somewhat predictable results.  The answer is that things were batched and several like machines were set up by Jeff ans Steve to do certain operations.  Then, groups of students would migrate through the each setup to complete the operations.  Of course we were also able to do other things in the shop but by batching things like this and assuring that pieces were machined usin common setups, a lot of the variability is minimized.

the-wood-stashcleaning-up-the-tapered-legsSo, today I started with a pile of stock that I pre-milled at home (I also did some glue-ups as necessary at home).  The focus for today was tapering the six legs.  Most of these cuts were done on the table saw with a slde that clamped the leg via toggle-clamps at an angle as it was fed through the saw.  However, the two center legs required tapers on three sides.  So, two of the three tapers for those were done on the band saw.  All of the tapered faces were cleaned up with a smoothing plane.

leg-mortisesNext up were the mortises – and let me tell you, that there were a lot of them to cut!  After some careful note taking and time laying out the joints on adjacent faces of the legs we moved to the mortisers.  I don’t own a mortiser so, I typically cut my mortises with a router.  The mortisers at the worked well but they do leave a bit of a rough surface that required a little paring with a sharp chisel.

We also spent some time cutting our sides and front rails to size to be ready for creating tenons tomorrow.  I have some nice curly Cherry stock for the drawer fronts and front rails so, I also took some extra time to orient these pieces for the best composition – painting with the grain if you will.  Hopefully, the extra time that I spent here will pay off in the finished piece.

headley-and-hamilton-hallbench-plaqueIn the picture you can see the sign posted over one of the doorways from the machine room going into our bench room.  The second shot is the laser engrave plaque that each student gets when the take a week long class at the school.  These are displayed on the front of your bench while at the class and are a nice memento of the week to bring home.

More to come tomorrow.  While I have a lot to do to build the piece, I’ll do my best to get some more detailed pictures of  things as I go.

Tags: , ,

Mark ( on May 10th, 2009

Day two of the embellishments class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking with Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton is now in the books. Today was a virtual potpourri of topics.

headley-and-hamiltonI started out by applying more cross-band veneer to my piece.  These were strips in between the semi-circular corner elements.  This process differed a bit from day 1 in that we were fitting pieces of veneer to a specific opening rather than scribing for the opening from an existing piece of veneer.  I did a thorough job of getting my dry joints nice and tight only to find out that veneer really stretches when it comes into contact with water-based glue!  This was not an issue, just another part of the process as I learned the technique for slicing the pieces of veneer to create an invisible joint.  The interesting part here is that it is actually best to do this in the middle of the srtip rather than at the ends.  This way you can overlay the long pieces and get a perfect scarf joint.

escutcheon-templateescutcheon-holes-drilledescutcheon-cut-outAfter this was completed and while the glue was drying, I moved on to creating a lock escutcheon.  This was done with a cardboard template much like the semi-circular corners were done.  Thin white cardboard makes a cheap and easily tooled template materials for these kinds of tasks.  I layed out the pattern on some thin stock and then drilled two holes and drew in the outline of the remainder of the escutcheon.  The escutcheon was cut out on a scroll saw and the bottom edges were undercut with a gouge and hand plane to provide a tight fit when inlayed into the piece.  The recess for the escutcheon was done with a small hand held router and a 1/16″ bit.  It will be installed slightly proud of the surface and scraped flush.

When the glue on the cross-banding was dry we moved on to edge banding.  The rebates for this were done with a sacrificial fenceon the table saw with part of the blade buried in the fence.  The top surface was first scribed with a marking guage and then the rebate was created on the table saw.  The scribe step eliminated and tear out as long as the cross-band venweer was glued to the surface well.  Mine worked out fine.  The edge banding was mitered at all four corners.  This was done one piece at a time mitering the dry banding with a chisel.  Of course the last corner took some additional fitting to obtain a tight joint.

day-2-resultsThroughout the day we broke for short lectures on various topics including: bell flower and fan inlay, escutcheon inlay, edge banding and even a couple of unexpected things like door assembly with coped inside corner molds, scratch-stock jigs for cutting flutes/reeds on columns…there was even a quick discussion about doing flared federal-style feet on case pieces.

The weekend went quick but I learned a lot. I’m really looking forward to starting on the Huntboard tomorrow.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Mark ( on May 9th, 2009

Well, the day finally arrived and after a 9.5 hour drive from New York yesterday, today I started my stint of classes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I am doing a weekend class in embellishments leading up to a week long class building the Virginia/Carolina Huntboard.  Today was day 1 of the embellishments class with Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton.

This class is an exploratory of different kinds of mainly Federal-style embellishments.  We are creating a mock-.up that ultimately might be a drawer front on a piece. However,  we are doing some other things with it that would also be appropriate for a table leg or top.  This is all in the spirit of learning and trying different techniques to be used later on our own pieces rather than creating a functional piece during class.

The base material for our piece is a poplar board.  Today we veneered one entire face with a light colored Mahogany.  Jeff and Steve use Elmers White glue for their veneering work due to the fact that it dries clear and is reversible with water and heat.  In fact, that reversibility enters into their technique for adding other features to the piece after the face veneer is applied.

veneered-facefan-bell-flowers-and-escutcheoncrossbandingIn the pictures (sorry for the blurry one) you can see a bit of what we did today. After the face veneer was clamped for about an hour we cleaned up the bleed-through of glue with a card scraper and scored around the edges in preparation for cross band veneers of a different species.  Then the scored areas were coated with water and covered with a wet cloth and a hot iron was used to loosen the veneer.  With a sharp chisel we lifted those areas and then re-clamped the piece to dry.  You also can see the rounded corners made from a darker Mahogony veneer.  These cross banded corners were made from two pieces cut at 45 degrees to keep the grain in a cross-wise orientation as you go around the corner.  More cross banding will be put in between the corners all around the piece.

Tomorrow, we”ll be inlaying a small fan and some bell flowers as well as the remainder of the cross-banding and also applying a another stringing/banding all around the edge of the piece.  In the interests of time, the fan and bell-flowers were pre-made at a veneer factory.  Today we cut them out of larger sheets with a knife.  An interesting fact that Jeff mentioned to us was that in the days when this kind of period furniture was being made, there were people who specialized in things like inlay, carving and turning, etc.  Furniture makers would often buy their banding, fans, bell-flowers and things like that from those makers for incorporation into their furniture pieces.

I’m having a great time so far and looking forward to more tomorrow.  The Marc Adams School is a great place with alot of talented and creative individuals and it certainly gets my woodworking juices flowing!  Oh, and did I mention the free ice cream machine in the cafeteria…

Tags: , , , , ,

Mark ( on May 4th, 2009

safetyweek09Another year has passed and once again it’s time for Woodworkers Safety Week. The idea for this week dedicated to woodworking safety came from Marc Spagnuolo of The Wood Whisperer fame.  Each year during this week, many of us who blog about woodworking take time out to share stories and methods highlighting safe practices in the workshop.

With my pending trip to the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, I thought that this year to do my part for Woodworkers Safety Week 2009 I would share a couple of basic safety principles that Marc Adams espouses and that I have followed in my shop for many years.

The 12″ and 3″ Rules

These rules are extremely simple in concept but following them in practice will do a tremendous amount to keep you safe in the shop.  Simply stated these rules are as follows:

  • The 12″ rule says that you should avoid machining any piece of stock that is that 12″ or less in length.
  • The 3″ rule says that you should always keep your hands at least 3″ from any guard on a piece of machinery when using it.

To me any piece that is 12″ or less in length is a potential accident waiting to happen.  Whether you want to joint, plane or rip it, if it’s that small you would be well served to find a non-powered way to do so. Here’s why:

  • On a jointer, a 12″ piece either on edge or on its face could easily tip into the cutting head and be kicked back.  If the piece is kicked back your hands can easily be directed into the cutters with disastrous results.
  • On a planer, kickback is rare.  However, depending on your planer type, the distance between the pinch rollers on the machine is about 12″.  As a result, problems can occur if a piece that is too short is fed into a planer and is in contact with the knives but not restrained by the rollers.  Unless you back up the shorter piece with a longer one of equal thickness, it’s best to bring it to desired thickness using another method.
  • On the table saw, a 12″ piece can be hard to control when ripping.  Because of its size, it may have the tendency to move away from the fence and into the rear of the spinning blade causing a significant potential for kickback.
  • Similarly, when crosscutting using the miter saw or table saw, a piece this small is very difficult to control (unless you are just trimming an end) and can put your hands too close to the spinning blade to be safe.

The best way to avoid contact with the blades and cutters on our machinery is to keep our hands at a safe distance.  Following the 3″ rule is actually very simple in practice.

  • On the jointer always use push blocks between your hands and the stock. Avoid placing your hands directly on the wood so that they will pass over the blades when using the machine.  When edge jointing, ride the rear (pushing) hand on top of the wood and along the top of the fence.  Move the other (clamping) hand around the blade guard to the outfeed side to maintain clamping pressure against the fence.
  • On the planer keep your hands more than 3″ away from the infeed and outfeed sides of the machine.
  • On the table saw always use a push stick to rip stock that would cause you to come closer than 3″ from the guard.  Similarly, when cross cutting never crosscut short stock that would cause you to violate this rule unless it is safely clamped to the miter guage or cross cut sled.
  • On the router table use push sticks or blocks to operate on narrow stock.  Feather boards and or auxiliary fences and guards are also helpful to keep your hands away from the spinning cutter.

While there may be rare exceptions when a 12″ piece of stock could be cut without issue (for example on the bandsaw) I rarely find the need to.   I can almost always plan my work so that I am working with larger stock.

Obeying these simple rules in the shop has kept me fairly safe and trouble free over many years.  So, when that voice in your head tells you that something you’re about to do isn’t safe, don’t do it because it probably ins’t…if you analyze the operation you’ll most likely find that it is probably violating one of these rules!

Tags: , , ,