Thursday, February 23, 2012

My "Someday Shop" Update

Back in August of 2010, I wrote a blog post entitled " My Someday Shop". Well, the Financial Department (AKA, my lovely wife Jen) told me that if we made out ok on our tax returns this year, I should build my shop. Obviously I was on pins and needles as we sat getting our taxes done, watching the refund total switch back and forth from shop to no shop with every entry our tax lady typed in. Finally, the end result. Good enough to get the final go ahead. WOO HOO!!!
So, since then I've been drawing, designing, getting prices on material and asking everyone I know if they have any old windows lying around. Pretty sure I'm gonna go with a 15' x 20' shop and try to make it look as much as possible like the shoemaker's shop from my earlier post. I checked with one of the local Amish saw mills on lumber prices. Really no cheaper on the framing lumber than the home centers, but I was pleased with their price for 1 x pine T&G flooring. At $.65 a board foot, it's actually a little cheaper than 3/4 T&G ply and is WAY cooler than plywood. About a two week lead time, so I think I'm going to order that this Saturday.
I also stopped by our local Habitat for Humanity Restore spot and found a deal on two window sashes that I think I can use. They are actually top sashes out of a double hung window, but at $35 for the two of them, I can make them work. They're really nice Pella sashes, vinyl mullions on the outside and unfinished pine inside. Turned sideways, one of them will make a perfect large window over my work bench on the front wall, where the casement window is on the front of the shoemaker shop. I'll get plenty of natural light from this 52" wide x 37" tall beast. I'll probably put the other one on the back wall, maybe put a lathe under that one. Still time to think about all that. Gonna shoot for a start time of late March or so. Not sure I'll have enough money to totally complete the inside, but I'll at least get her weather tight and then I can finish the inside as money permits. I'll be posting my progress as I go. Needless to say, I'm pretty psyched!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

There's a Desk in Here Somewhere

....I just have to find it.

My wife's job is very demanding. Most days she works nine hours or more at the office and then comes home, eats dinner, and works another hour or two from home until it's time for her to go to bed. This being said, she loves her job. What she doesn't love is having two monitors, a docking station, her work lap-top, keyboard and mouse sitting on a folding table in the living room serving as her home desk. She hates clutter and she likes to have the house looking nice at all times. Her present work station doesn't fit in with that. That's where I come in.

She has asked me to build her a desk. Somewhere she can work comfortably, but when she's done, be able to hide things behind closed doors for that neat, clean look she desires. So, after looking though a bunch of my furniture books and scouring the internet I came up with something we both like. It's a plantation desk, sized and modified to suit her specific needs. We decided on Walnut for the desk. I'm thinking 55 to 60 board feet of primary wood and just a few poplar boards as a secondary wood where I can get away with it. I had contacted a local hardware store/slash lumber company about the walnut and was told they just got in a fresh batch from Pennsylvania. When I got there and looked at the stack, I was pretty disappointed. Of all the 4/4 walnut, there was none that was over 6 inches wide. And they had no 8/4, which I was hoping to find to avoid a glue-up for the legs. That's when I spotted the mahogany. Beautifully clear, 15 foot long lengths, and none of it under 9 inches wide. I inquired about the price; same as the walnut. Surely there was a premium on the wide boards. Nope. Same price per board foot no matter how wide. There was even a piece 23 1/2 inches wide that I opted not to take. Needless to say, right then and there I switched from a walnut desk to a mahogany desk. All the wood I need is in five boards; four of them 4/4 x 15 feet long. The widths are; two 12 inch boards, one 9 inch, and one 13 1/2 inch. The fifth board is 8/4 for the legs. Almost 8 inches wide and 6 feet long. Enough for the legs for this desk and another table or desk down the road.

I've never worked mahogany before and I've never had the opportunity to work with such nice, wide stock. I'm very much looking forward to it. The only thing that I'll have to glue up on the whole piece it the desk top, and that will have only one glue joint. This is going to be strictly a hand tool only project and I can't wait to get started. I think I'll work out a cut list tonight to get the maximum yield and grain match out of my purchase. Much more on this desk to come as I get started on some actual woodworking.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Purty Tools Just Plain Work Better

Well, not really. But they are more enjoyable to use. At least for me. Inspired by the little restored Millers Falls #107 drill I picked up a few weeks ago at the RATS tool sale, I decided to take a shot at doing a little refurb on my Millers Falls No.2. I've had this drill for a while and use it quite a bit. They are very handy for smallish drilling jobs and I highly recommend that you pick one up if you don't have one. The MF No. 2 is one of the more easily found egg beaters, and I believe, one of the better ones.

I didn't do a full on, strip to the bare bones restoration on this one; mainly because I didn't quite know how everything came apart and I didn't want to screw up my perfectly functional drill. I removed the chuck, the main drive gear, and the handles. I stripped painted parts on a wire wheel and sanded the wood the best I could. Then I polished the chuck, the handle arm, and the parts of the main body that were nickel plated. Taped up the rim and teeth of the main gear, and all the parts on the body that didn't get painted and laid on a couple coats of Rustoleum gloss red and gloss black enamel. The finish on the wooden parts were so burnished and hardened from use that I really couldn't get them stripped down as much as I'd have liked so I'm not thrilled with the finish on those. Did the best I could, slapped on a little bit of stain and some clear poly and called it good. It's not on par with the $160 restored ones you find on eBay, but I'm happy with it, it didn't cost much, and it was a fun little project. And I could swear it drills just a little better with a fresh coat of paint.

Since I finished this drill, I came across a write-up that a fella did on one of the forums detailing a fully stripped restoration that he did on a No.2. After picking up a few pointers from him, I think I'll be on the lookout for another candidate to restore, taking the next one all the way. You know, because there's just not enough on my "to do" list now. :)

Anyway, the before and after pics:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book Review: Inspiration-Gene Landon and Seven Hearths

About a month ago, I saw a post on the SAPFM Forum by Tom Meiller about a memorial book he had written on Gene Landon. I didn't know a lot about Mr. Landon, other than that he had taught woodworking at Olde Mill Cabinet Shoppe in Pennsylvania, he was a very respected woodworker, and that he had passed in June of 2011.

I clicked on the link that took to the site where the book was for sale, a print on demand publishing company and saw the price. A bit steep for me at $79.95. I also saw that they had a preview button that you could click on. The 13 or so pages in the preview were enough to convince me that this book was worth taking a chance on. And boy am I glad I did.

I feel this book is worth the price just for the pictures alone. Over 300 by my count, most in color, all beautifully done. The pictures were taken in Gene's home, Seven Hearths, which he built in the 1970's but looks every bit like it was built 200 years earlier. The house is a fantastic backdrop for his amazing furniture. The text is not extensive, but it is well done and gives you a glimpse at what an amazing craftsman and an amazing PERSON that Gene Landon was. He was one of the premier builders of period reproduction furniture and has pieces that he built or restored in museums across the country and even in The White House. One piece he did that I found fascinating was a replica of the rising sun chair in which George Washington sat in during the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I'm sure it's one that I will reference again and again for inspiration and ideas. I came away with am immense respect and admiration for Mr. Landon's work and for who he was as a person. After reading this book, I am saddened that I never had the chance to take a class from this giant of woodworking and just as sad that I never had the opportunity to meet a man who was obviously a very special human being.

Congratulations and kudos to Tom Meiller for a fine job in putting this book together. I only wish that it was available in a leather bound edition, which would be fitting for a book containing these works of art.