Saturday, November 21, 2015


Finally getting back to some work in the shop, although I have also been spending some time in the wood vault cleaning up some of my slabs and cutting the crappy sections out of others in an effort to free up storage space. Storage space for more slabs of course!

I have decided to focus on finishing up a bench made of oak that I started ages ago. I have a couple other projects that are also partially done, but this is one that I think I can complete  relatively quickly (for me!). I intend to use it to replace my chair while I am sitting at my desk, I want to be able to kneel on it while I am typing/surfing/etc. I am hoping it will improve my flexibility and alleviate some related symptoms.

The top is a slab that I finished with several coats of Enduro Var water based finish months and months ago. It was pretty easy to apply and also not stinky at all. It darkened the wood a bit which was not too serious, but the foam brush which was the recommended application method left small ridges. They are quite small, probably not noticeable by anyone but me, but will  have to be resolved before I apply it to the legs and skirt.

I had also cut out the material for the legs and the skirts ages ago. I took care to cut out the legs such that I have all four sides with vertical rift sawn grain. I think they turned out quite well.

For the skirts I wanted to use some oak that had a bolder grain pattern. Unfortunately one of the longer pieces warped quite badly when I cut it out of a larger blank. I really liked the grain so I was loath to discard it.

I sat on that problem for months, and finally decided to resaw the piece into a couple of veneers and glue them to a nice straight piece of mahogany. That actually seemed to work pretty well, although my gluing and clamping techniques could stand a bit of improvement!

Here is a rough idea of what the table will look like upside down.

Side note -The oak for the skirts was from a tree a couple miles from my house. It was on a boulevard in front of a 1950s-ish 3 story walk up apartment building which were once common here in Vancouver. The tree had been blown over in a storm and the city crew had left a nice piece of the trunk there after cutting up the branches for firewood. It was one of the rare logs that I milled on the street rather than at the log dump our in the sticks somewhere. It took me several hours and as I was almost done a guy in a tatty white Jaguar who looked like a pimp with a very suspect looking woman in the passenger seat stopped and proceeded to harangue me for chainsawing in front of his suite for more or less the whole morning. Despite his scruffy demeanor, I felt he was probably correct so I have avoided milling in front of houses/apartments since that time. I did get some beautiful slabs from that log, but unfortunately they cracked terribly as they dried and I was left with just a few bolts of usable material. That is another reason I was so keen to save the little bit of the material I did have. It's nice to mill your own wood, you get lots of stories to go along with it!

Next I mortised the four legs freehand on my horizontal mortiser. I am starting to think that a nice X-Y table might be a good addition to the shop. I find freehand milling just a bit too grabby and hence stressful for my liking.

Next will be to finish the tenons and then I may do a bit of shaping on the legs just so the thing doesn't look so darn 'blocky'.

In the setback department, in addition to the warped piece mentioned above, I have discovered that I cut all the mortises a bit long. As I have already roughed out the tenons, I will not be able to compensate by lengthening them, so I have decided to plug the tenons at one end. Fortunately the amount is fairly small and 1/4" dowels look like they will do the trick. Just pure carelessness on my part, dropped my concentration for a moment and BOOM!

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