... documenting the exploits of my woodshop (and occasionally my life)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hi ate us...

Blogging hiatus over.
Just finishing up a set of benches to accompany the Stanley table I finished a few months ago. The base is attached by through tenons, and secured by wedges.I didn't have a good camera in the shop so I snapped some pictures with the phone to give some idea. In the next post, I'll get all in depth about the beautiful wedge and its mysterious powers. I hope you are all well. Big shout out to my man Ollie. I hope you get to come home soon, sit on these benches, and eat a feast!

You can see the tops of the tenons sticking out. They will get wedged and then cut flush.

they'll look cool.

Puffing my pine cone pipe, doing my best mountain man on a hike with Milo. He liked my fake pipe so I had to keep it in my mouth all day.
R.I.P. Beard. 'Til next winter... although, that grey chin may make me reconsider the whole beard thing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Delivered the Stanley Table to Chapel Hill last week but not before Doc P. stopped by to check everything out. That was a great visit to the shop! Although I am sure he was frightened by the state of things in my work space....
It was a lot of fun making the drive east with Milo and great to see the Stanley family! All went well and Chrissy was happy. What more could I ask for!!! Here are some pictures.... a lot of pictures.

It all begins with a trip to the lumber yard...

The table top after waxing and polishing.

Final assembly at the shop.

View from the bottom. The bottom was treated and finished exactly like the top.

Another bottom view. The top is pinned in the middle and has fasteners floating in recessed slots on the sides that I made with the Domino to allow for cross grain movement.

The edges of the breadboards are joined with butterfly keys. This orientation will again allow cross grain movement of the table top.

Unwrapping after the drive.

In its new home. This is such a great house. It should be in Dwell.



Happy family!

Now the benches!!!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Well. Stanley table is complete. 6 coats of special/secret/magical/oil/varnish mixture.
(not a secret, 50% gloss varnish, 25% Boiled Linseed oil, 15% Tung Oil???, 10% spirits... or 15 to 20% depending on how thin I wanted it. Probably don't need the tung oil but.. why not??? it smells good). 2 coats of wax on the top. Sparkle.

But... This post is not about the finished project. Next time my dears. This time we discuss the butterfly key and how (or the way I) put them in. Essentially an inlaid double dovetailed piece that resembles a bow-tie and joins or prevents a joint from opening by spanning the joint and connecting 2 pieces of wood . Commonly used to stabilize cracks in monolith slabs. I used it on this table to secure the breadboards. I only put one in the middle to allow for cross grain expansionand one on each side spanning the joint.... you'll see.
There are a billion ways to do it. Some use a template set for the router that is quicker, but this method is all hand baby. Here are the steps I use.

First I make the butterfly keys... which we will refer to as "the key" from here on out. I cut a 4"x 2 1/2" piece off of walnut scrap making sure... making double sure that the grain is all long grain at the end. If it is cross grain, the piece will snap within a month. (see pic) Then I glue it to the longer piece of scrap so I can make a stable cut on the table saw. Set the blade to 13/14 degrees and make 4 passes, 2 on each side.

Cut a few off ( 5/8" thick for this table), clean them up with a sharp chisel and I am ready to start putting them in. The first thingI do is find the center of the table, make some reference marks and number each key so I know which one goes into which hole in case things get mixed up.

Now I whip out my knife. Exacto to be exact. But..... first I put 2 little (seriously little) pieces of blue tape to help prevent slipping before I start cutting.

I use a knife here instead of a pencil because a knife is much more accurate plus it gives the chisel a reference point to fall in when cleaning everything up.... and we want a very tight fit. Lightly score around the key. After a light scoring, I go back and carefully make the lines a little deeper. Careful!!! For the next step I trace the lines with a pencil to make them more visible when routing.

Bust out my Bosch Colt router with a 1/8" straight bit. and remove the waste. With a steady hand, you can get extremely close to the edges. The closer the better for cleaning everything up.
I make multiple passes, adjusting the depth gradually. Makes controlling the router easier.

Sharp chisels make quick work of squaring up the sides.

Test fit, cut a little, test fit, cut a little. Repeat till it is a tight fit and your depth is right.

Glue it up with a little clamping pressure and wait. After the glue dries, I take the high parts down with a block plane then finish with a scraper until its flush.

When its finished, it looks badass. Try it.

Hope you are all well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Revelation 1: At 11:00 am, I turn on the Martha Stewart Show in the shop.

Well, baby girl room is near completion. I'll be sanding and refinishing the floors throughout the rest of the house in 2 weeks while Elise and Milo take a trip down east to Jacksonville (NC.) Man... that is a process. Its the fourth time I've tackled floors. It must be the closest I'll ever get to multiple pregnancies... after a certain amount of time passes you forget how bad it sucked to do that.... so you do it again. My arms are still vibrating.

Revelation 2: If it weren't for all the carcinogens and lightheadedness... I could smell spar varnish all day. Smells old and new at the same time. Genius!

Post holidays, house renovations, sick boy, daddy, and mama... furniture making ramped back up last week. Over Christmas, I noticed that the top of the Stanley table had cupped just a bit. After lots and lots of brainstorming I decided breadboarding the ends may be the best solution. Breadboard ends are an extremely practical approach for keeping a panel flat and they are also synonymous with rustic.We're building the modern farm table!!! Bymaking them slightly larger than what is normally seen, I thought it would add super cool, functional dimension to the top. Chrissy gave me the tentative go ahead and I promised that if she didn't like it, I would completely rebuild a new top. Now that they are on... I think they look perfect!!! Modern update of a classic detail. That'sjust me though.

This was the first time I have ever made breadboard ends. I scoured old Fine Woodworkings to make sure what I had in mind was not crazy. There are many methods, as is always the case... here's mine.

Started by routing a massive tenon on each end. Took great care to make sure everything was repeatable so everything would remain flush.

Revelation 3: One of the greatest gift I have ever received was the entire back catalog of FW's. Not the disc. The real deals. What a resource!!! There's so much in there. If you are new to woodworking, it would be one of my first suggestions. They now offer every issue on disc... but I prefer the hard stuff, the visceral, the tangible.

Here's the tenon after the shoulders were cut with a tenon saw. A little work with a sharp chisel and everything was nice and clean. Many articles I read showed multiple, smaller tenons. I decided to use one large tenon with a little extra space on the sides to allow for movement. I was worried that this approach might remove too much material and compromise the strength, but after putting them on... they are super solid.

Cut the mortises very very very carefully with the dado blade and squared the ends up with a chisel.

Traditionally, breadboards are only glued in the center of the mortise and pegged to allow for the cross grain movement of the panels. I don't like the look of pegged anything so I decided to inlay a single butterfly key in the center so the top can expand,and do the same on each outside edge of the end grain. They will be flush when installed but this picture gives you an idea. The result is elegant. Hitting the home stretch on this table and I'm getting excited about the finished product!

Here's a video my pops took of Milo during the East Coast snow dump a few weeks ago.
The craziest snow angel you've ever seen. Watch till the end. He wasn't happy with the end product.

Hope you are all well and having a great 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

All Brass

Nothing but brass. And little sass.
With the reality of a new family member joining us soon, "fix up" mode kicked into high gear over the holidays. Crown mouldings, pink rooms, refinished floors, re-hang doors...

By far the best task over the coursewas stripping the mid-century brass plated door hinges throughout the house.
A: its a relatively easy job, albeit messy
B: the payoff is quick and worth it.... for real.

(these had very little paint. they were the last to go in and I forgot to take a picture of the others... my bad... but you can get the idea)

Painted hinges are a little pet peeve of mine. Nothing I lose sleep over, but something so easily avoided. So here is the deal. Take said painted hinges and submerge in stripper.... paint stripper people... After they soak for an hour or so, I dump the hinges and goop that is left over into a 5 gallon bucket over chicken wire. This gets rid of most of the grossness and catches the hinges in the wire saving you from fishing them out with rubber gloves.... oh yeah... wear some serious rubber gloves and eye protection.... paint stripper is serious...

Next I soak in mineral spirits to neutralize the goop and begin scrubbing with a light steel brush to remove any stubborn pieces of paint. That being said, the paint usually falls off without any effort.

Now I soak the hinges in steaming hot, soapy water,,, rinse and dry. Now I am not a fan of shiny brass hardware unless it is very specific to a period piece.... However, what you have now is a beautiful patina on brass hinges that you can't go out and pick up at the local hardware store..... It will change your doors!!! Serious character.Makes me happy.

More Brass:

When one of these boxes shows up in the mail, you may strip your clothes off and run through the streets screaming.... it is that exciting.... beware....

Finally, my new Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw. Chamfered brass back... told you there was more brass.
Make 'em say uhhhh!!!

Hope you are all having a great start to the new year!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let's Embark...

365 days. Its been full. Full of ups, downs, completions, beginnings.
I finished a project decades in the making, watched my best friend marry his dream girl,
suffered through some tough heartbreaks with Elise, watched my boy grow even more
sweeter, cuter, smarter, beautiful every day, Finally got the good news we had been waiting for (baby girl in the womb), saw my bike shop go away, watched my friends form an even tighter group, started this blog.

So... 2010 holds some promise, excitement, and a little sadness. Gonna miss some friends who are moving on, but I am glad its to bigger better things. Can't wait for my baby girl. Look forward to growing closer to Milo and Elise. Spending time with family and friends. Whatever I did to be surrounded by such good people... It was probably not warranted. I am lucky.

I hope all of you have a 2010 filled with happiness and love. Damn that's sappy... but sooo true.
Best wishes.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Warmest Place on Earth.

A Christmas Miracle!
Happy Holidays Folks.
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