Whipping Up a Reclaimed Tray

Last week, Anita came home from Home Goods with a tray that she bought for $18.00. I took a look at it and thought to myself ” I coulda made that, but whatever”. Well, after she had it on our dining room table she decided that the sides of the tray were too high and asked me to make her one with shallower sides.

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I went into the basement and looked in a box that I filled with wood that came from an old pallet I tore apart. I know using pallet wood is frowned upon in the woodworking world, but it was free and has the character Anita was looking for.

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The first thing I did was grab a few pieces and planed them down only on one side to make them about 3/8″ thick. I then milled the boards to 3″ wide and glued them together. I used two old panel clamps that I bought last year at an antique show that excel at gluing thin boards together.

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The bars on each side prevent the boards from buckling up when clamping pressure is applied. I originally bought the clamps to sell them to make some quick cash, but I’m glad I never did. They work great!

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After the glue dried, I sanded the planed side on my Performax drum sander to make the bottom of the tray perfectly flat.

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Anita wasn’t thrilled with the gray color of the wood, so I used my Porter Cable Restorer and sanded the gray off the panel perpendicular to the grain. This allowed the wood to get cleaned up yet not lose its character.

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After the panel was sanded, Anita applied Weathered Oak stain to the pieces. You can see how the stain pops the grain, but still makes it look old.

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After the stain dried, I glued and nailed the sides to the bottom. The sides are 1 1/2″ wide x 1/2″ thick reclaimed pine.

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Anita installed some blacksmith made handles to the sides and placed it on our dining room table. A super quick and easy project that was made within just a few hours.

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10 Signs You Might be a Woodworking Snob

10. When your friend tells you about his awesome CNC machine, you walk away.

9. You think all the employees at Woodcraft are idiots.

8. You use liquid hide glue on everything.

7. You claim to be a hand tool only purist, yet you stream all your favorite TV shows on Netflix.

6. You think using Kreg pocket screws are beneath you.

5. You use the word “bespoke” because “custom” is too pedestrian.

4. You haven’t been inspired by an article in a woodworking magazine since 1996.

3. Your workbench is nicer than your dining room table.

2. You think smelling like walnut sawdust is a good thing.

1. You own every title from Lost Art Press even though you have no idea where Estonia is.

Cheers!

Happy Easter.

Mike

Restoring a Beading Plane

Beading planes are some of the most common molding planes you’ll run across while hunting for old tools at antique shows. I found this 3/16″ beading plane in Augusta, GA for just $14.00. Some people feel that it isn’t worth the time and effort to tune up old molding planes like this however, with a few simple steps, you can easily bring these guys back to life.

An important thing about buying an old molding plane that you want to use is to buy one that is in good shape. You need to make sure that the plane’s body is straight and the boxwood is in good shape (if there is any). If the body is curved or the boxwood is missing, then it’s best not to even bother with it as it will be too much work than it’s worth.

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When you decide that the plane is worth restoring, the first step is to clean off the dirt. With a little elbow grease and some steel wool, you can clean the body of the plane in no time flat. It took me about ten minutes to get rid of all the dirt and grime.

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After everything is clean, I coat the plane body with my homemade oil and beeswax. Now, if all I wanted to do is display this on my shelf and collect dust I’d be done, but I want to put this baby back to work so, I need to work on the blade.

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To start cleaning the blade, I soak it in a solution of water and a little bit of citric acid. After an hour, I took the blade out and scrubbed off all the rust with a fine sanding sponge.

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Once the rust is removed, I sharpen the blade by honing the back over a series of sand paper and water stones. I started with 400 grit sand paper then move to 1000 grit, to 4000 to 12000 grit water stones. Only takes a few minutes to go through the process.

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After the back is honed, I sharpen the bevel angle and the profile of the cutter with 800 grit sand paper. Chances are, the profile of the iron is still in good shape when compared to the profile of the bed of the molding plane. If the profile of the blade is out of whack with the plane bed, then you’ll have to re-grind the shape of the iron to match the bed which is a taunting task, but I doubt you’ll have to do that if you took the time to examine the plane well before you bought it.

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With the blade sharp and back in the plane, I tap the iron down until enough of the edge is popping out of the bed to make a nice cut.

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With a little effort, you’ll have a nice plane that’s a joy to use and much easier to make a bead on a piece of wood that using a router.

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Making a Nesting Box

I had some reclaimed barn wood flooring lying around in my shop for a few months that I wanted to get rid of. I originally bought the lumber to use for a farm table, but I decided the wood was too thin to use for the top so, I decided to make a 3′ long nesting box out of it.

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I used my Stanley No 8 jointer to plane the edges square and straight so they could be glued together.

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After I planed the edges true, I glued the pieces together to make the nesting box wider. I didn’t bother planing or sanding the sides as I wanted the box to have a rustic look.

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I cut the top sides of the box to an angle of 14″ which is the total width of my leftover pieces. I then nailed the sides to the bottom with my 15 gauge pneumatic nail gun.

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Next I installed the front rails to the box simply nailing it on. I didn’t even use glue as I really don’t care.

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No fancy dados to fit the inside walls to the box. I simply toe nailed the wood to the bottom of the shelf.

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The finished nesting box came out well. Looks old and rustic which should appeal to the shabby chic crowd out there for design purposes.

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These things are so easy to build that I built another one an hour later. No real milling of lumber, no sanding, no gluing. Just cut and nail. Definitely an entry-level woodworking project. I’m just glad I have $50k in woodworking tools to build them. haha

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Repairing the Foot of a Walnut Table

A few weeks ago, my wife and I, were visiting thrift shops in Cincinnati when we ran across a round walnut table for $20.00 at Goodwill. There was nothing special about it. It had a dull flat finish and was missing the extension wings that go in the middle. It even had two feet that were broken. Anita asked me if I could remake them and I told her I could, so we took it home.

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In order to fix the feet, I grabbed some scrap walnut and glued pieces to them to re-sculpt the feet.

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Once the glue dried, I cut the arch of the foot with my band saw, then I sawed off the sides with a hand saw.

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Next, I stuck the leg on the lathe and turned the pad of the foot.

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I then brought the foot over to my workbench and carved the rest of the foot by hand using chisels and rasps.

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After shaping the foot was complete, I started to sand the leg with 80 grit sand paper working down to 220 grit.

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With the foot finished, I was happy with the way it turned out as it matched the other two. I then repeated the same steps for the other broken foot.

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Noticing the top was solid walnut, I decided to sand off the dull stained finish. You can see how bland the table was when we bought it.

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A few minutes of sanding, the table was really starting to shine again.

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After applying three coats of hemp oil, you can see how the table has been brought back to life having much more character between the sap and heart wood of the walnut. Looks much nicer than the boring spray toner stain that was on it before. This piece will be a nice addition in my wife’s booth as a display table.

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Whiskey Barrel Coffee Table

My cousin had been asking me to make a whiskey barrel coffee table for her for over a year. I put it off for months because I didn’t know where to buy a whiskey or wine barrel until I ran across a guy on Craigslist who sells them out of his house. Even better, he sells half barrels which was perfect for me as I really didn’t feel like cutting a barrel in half.

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When I got the barrel home, I let it acclimate in my shop for a few weeks. As the barrel dried out, the staves started to fall apart, so I clamped them together using band clamps until I was able to screw fasteners into each stave to hold it in place. While the band clamps were holding the whole barrel together, I laid it on top of white oak boards I bought at a sawmill to see how big I wanted to make the top of the coffee table.

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To keep the barrel together, I screwed hex bolts through the bands into the wood to hold each stave in place. I also leveled the top of the barrel by sanding the edges straight with my belt sander. The barrel came with a stand for it to be used as an outside planter which was helpful in holding it in place while I worked on it.

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My wife didn’t like the look of the hex bolts I used so, I replaced them with #14 stainless steel pan head screws. She was right, the pan head screws look much nicer.

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I designed the shape of the legs by using the stand that came with the barrel to shape the curves. Each leg had an angle to the top that fit the angle of the barrel as it laid flat. I chamfered the edges of the feet to mimic the chamfers on the top and bottom of the barrel.

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You can see how I used the compass to figure out the gap that I needed to shave off the other side of the leg in order for the barrel to fit tight.

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Once I was happy with the legs, I focused on the frame of the barrel. I traced the shape of the barrel onto a piece of wood and cut it out on my band saw. I then trimmed the end of the sides 90 degrees to the edge and double-stick taped it to the other side. This allowed me to clamp the whole frame while it was screwed and glued together.

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After carefully measuring all the pieces, I test fitted the frame together to make sure it would fit nicely on top of the barrel.

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I was more aggressive with the clamps when it came time for the actual glue up. I let this set in place for 24 hours.

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As the base was setting up, I turned my attention to the top. I glued up several white oak boards together and flattened them with my hand planes because the panel was too wide to fit through planer.

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I wanted the top to have a bread board edge so I plowed a groove into the ends that was the same width as my 3/8″ mortising chisel. I would later chop three mortises into the groove to fit tenons I would make.

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To make the tenons, I used both power and hand tools to get the job done. I routed most of the material away with my plunge router, then finalized the fit with my Stanley No 10 1/2 rabbet plane.

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I made sure the panel would fit into to the groove before I cut the tenons

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Cutting out the tenons, I drilled holes through the middle for pins. The middle hole I left round while the tenons on the outside I elongated for the expansion and contraction of the wood.

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Once the joints fit well, I drove pins into the holes and added a dab of glue so the pins wouldn’t fall out.

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I shaped the sides of the top to match the curve of the barrel and lightly rounded over the sides with my hollow molding plane.

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The final shape of the coffee table top came out nicely. Now I needed to find away to attach it to the frame.

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After days of pondering, I decided to attach hinges to the top so that the lid could open and close. The inside of the barrel was charred from the brewing of the whiskey so, it’s not very useful as it will leave ash on your finger if you touch it, but I thought it was cool enough to show off. I clamped my level to the middle of the frame to determine where in proximity the hinges would need to be installed.

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Because the lid overhangs the side by an inch, the barrel of the hinges lay underneath the top when closed. I had to rout out a recess on the underneath of the lid so the top could properly close.

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Even with all my calculating, I ran into a problem. The top would hit the middle of the barrel when I tried opening it. I had to route a recess in the middle of the lid so that there would be enough room for the lid to open. It took several hours of trial and error to make it work, but I finally made it work.

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Once everything worked, I sanded the entire coffee table to 220 grit sand paper and applied a weathered wood enhancer to blend the old barrel to the new white oak. This turned the coffee table a bit purplish gray.

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Next, I stained it Minwax Espresso stain and applied three coats of water based polyurethane for a protective finish. I think the coffee table turned out really nice. Luckily, my work has me going to Detroit next week, so I can deliver the coffee table to my cousin.

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Wood Movement

Over the past few months, I’ve been making these Ohio signs and selling them in my wife’s booth. They’re a simple thing to make. Just cut the wood in the shape of Ohio, then glue and staple the pieces to a plywood back. Originally I used old pallet wood to make the signs, but the past few batches I made them with old fence boards.

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Last week, when I was helping my wife move things around in her booth, she told me that some of the signs had warped. Worried, I grabbed a few of the signs to look at them. Because we had such a hard cold spell, the antique store was kicking up heat to stay warm. Apparently, the dry heat sucked all the moisture from the signs making them bend up. Even the top of an old bench my wife was selling warped.

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When examining the sign, I realized I made two rookie mistakes. The first mistake I made was that I painted the wrong side of the fence board. I should have fastened the wood crown-down so that the board wouldn’t warp upward. The second mistake I made was that when I fastened the boards on the plywood, I spread glue all over the plywood back making the wood unable to expand and contract. Embarrassing to admit I know. When I first made these signs, I made them from old pallet wood that was a lot narrower than the wide fence board I used here. I thought my wood was dry enough to make them in the same process, but I was sorely mistaken.

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Wanting to fix the sign, I ripped apart the plywood back and removed all the staples from the wood.

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After cleaning the back of the pieces, I saw how the widest board on the sign was warping in conjunction with the others.

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I decided to shave off the high spot in the middle with my scrub plane so the warping wouldn’t be as noticeable when I remade the sign.

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Then, instead of spreading glue all over the plywood back, I laid a bead of glue down the center of each piece of wood so the wood could move. I then attached the plywood back to the pieces with 1/4″ crown 5/8″ long staples.

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With everything back together, I was happy how the sign laid flat again. I really don’t mind if the boards warp a little bit. After all, the sign is supposed to look old and rustic. I just don’t want the whole thing to curl.

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