Friday, March 20, 2009

Native American Flute Project

Every time I make a flute for myself I end giving it away. I will enjoy them for a while then someone always seems to talk me out it. In this case it was my son, he wanted to give a way as a gift to a friend in Oregon who's house he was staying at while he worked. I have been without a flute now for a couple of month and I figured it was time to make myself a new one. The flute in the picture is one I managed to hang on too for a couple years.

I plan on posting instruction and pic's of the process. I use mostly hand tools for the work, but I will show how to use a router and router jig that I made to increase production when I need to build more than one.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Woodworking Tip

Most people have a dull belt sander belt laying around the shop. I use them to make sanding blocks. For a 3 x 21 belt cut a piece of wood 3" x 19 7/8", I like MDF, because it is hard and stable, plywood works good also. I round the corners on the ends of mine, but I have some that I use a 22* angle on one end. after you get the wood cut just slip the belt over the wood and presto instanced sanding block. The dull belts last a long time and work great for hand work even though there to dull for the belt sander.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm Learning to be a Better Furniture Designer (Intro)

This year I plan to learn more about the designers of the antique furniture that is so coveted by everyone, and try to figure what it is about their pieces beside there fine workmanship that draws people to them, and if they can help me learn to design better myself, I know this has been done by many people before me, but it has to be a personal journey for me to learn and not something that I read on a website. I hope that by studying the history of furniture designers it will give me a more refined eye for details, proportions, and balance. I also want to learn how to use material better as a feature in my designs, like more exposed joinery, veneers, and making it all flow together better. By taking this little trip through time I hope to get to a better understanding of their designs and a better appreciation for them.

Designing for me has never been the easiest or most enjoyable part of woodworking. That’s why I became a tradesman instead of a designer. I get ideas all the time for furniture, but I struggle to get them from the brain bucket to the bench. Honestly ideas always seem to come easier to me when the wood is in my hand and I am in the thick of the project, rather than when I am sitting at my desk trying to rack out the detail of the piece. A friend of mine who is an interior designer says I’m putting the cart in front of the horse, and if I take the time to improve my own designing abilities, and knowledge I will notice a huge improvement in my work. I really can’t argue with him, but I think for many of the craftsmen I know it is the natural process to design on the fly. The problem I think comes from the fact that design was not something that I was taught during my woodworking education.

To improve, I think I need to understand how I design. First I’ll need to pick the process apart into its elements, then pick each element apart to see what I can improve on, seek out the knowledge that will help me improve, implement what I am learning, test the new skills to see if they produce results, and then do the whole thing all over again until I am satisfied with my designing skills.

Right now this is how I would design a normal small piece of furniture

1, Get an idea
2, Draw many sketches until I have something I like (brainstorming)
3, Make a shop drawing (without details) 3 view, and prospective
4, Make a cut list
5, Make a story stick and full size patterns if it is a piece that I plan on reproducing.

I always fine that I will start getting ideas about the details as the piece starts going together, but this sometimes make me wish that I would have done one or more things different at the start like used a different style of leg or wood type, an by doing so would of taken a nice piece to great piece.

So let the journey begin, first stop England, to get to know Thomas Chippendale, which I will talk about in my next design blog


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finshed Scraper Plane

Scrap maple Curve in the front block Layout before the glue up

Glued and rough shaped with the wedge and scraper

It makes fine shavings. Water damage on some Walnut burl veneer just perfect for this scraper

Few passes and it's all cleaned up, and @ $63 for 4 sq ft you don't want to sand or plane through it.

Scraper plane all finished shaped and sanded and ready for use

I just put the first coat of an oil finish on it, and it looks great. it make fine shaving with very little effort. I think I will make another one maybe a cove scraper I really hate scraping cove rail.

Peace Everyone

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Woodworking Goals for 2009

I decided to set some personal goals for myself this year, and I want to put them down on the recorder for future references.
So here they are.
1, Is to learn more about the history of the furniture designers that have influenced how we think about furniture today.
2, Develop more of my hand tool skills, not that I will ever be a total galoot, but I do enjoy working that way at times.
3, To improve my furniture finishing skills. I would like to learn more on furniture finishes techniques from fuming to french polishing.
4, I want to build a nice tool cabinet or tool containment system as I am now calling it.
5, last I want to build a bench I can use personally at home to do hand tool work and craving on .

This don't sound to daunting, but on top of this I am still trying to open my own shop. and go back to school. All this and trying not to end up living in a tent city with all the other out of work carpenters out there.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Homemade Wooden Scraper Plane

Winters been long and without a shop, or a job to keep me busy I have had a lot of time to revisit all the woodworking magazine and books that I own. not to long ago on one of my sleepless night I ran across a article in a Fine Woodworking book on Proven Shop Tips by Jim Richey based on their methods of work section of their magazine. It was an article on a home made wooden scraper plane by Brady C Blake from Redwood Miss, and based on his ideas I came up with a version of my own,

I plan on using one of my old scrapers on its side, so the plane body will need be 3" wide to accommodate the 2 1/2 " scraper blade. I laminated it out of two pieces of 1 3/4" maple scrap that I have been saving just for such an occasion. I first cut two chunks wood to 3" by 12" and cleaned them up with my favorite #4 plane, and then glued them up in to a blank, then I sliced two 3/8" pieces off of each side.

The front of the throat needs to be cut at a 45 degree angle with a small 45 cut at the bottom, this is a exit for shavings. then a conclave that is about 1/32 for the 2 1/2" width, needs to rasped into the block, the wedge needs to match this conclave. this will bow the scraper blade and that is what makes it cut. the rear section of the throat is cut at 30 degree.

The blade needs to ground on a 45 degree, and honed as you would a plane iron.

The rest is just shaping the plane so it is comfortable to use and pleasant to look at, I thought about putting a handle on it, but I really think just a rounding it over will be comfortable to use. if not I can upgrade on my next one.

I use a scraper a lot and I am really looking forward to finishing and using this plane. I have been looking for a scraper plane for some time at the flea markets, not wanting to pay the $200 for one of the high end ones on the market, although it would be the one plane I think I would get my money out of.