Inexpensive Window Trim

The windows in our house aren’t much to talk about. Just 36″ square vinyl windows in a typical ranch. I’m not sure how old they are as I know they aren’t original to the house, but were here when I bought it fifteen years ago. My wife, Anita, wanted to jazz them up a bit and give them some character, so she asked me to make trim to go around them.

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The first thing we did, was to take out the marble sill, which was the hardest part. Sometimes they get stuck inside the frame, so I had brake them apart in order for them to come loose. If I was lucky, I could cut the sealant around the sill and jimmy it loose.

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I made a new sill out of 7/8″ thick maple. I tried to get rift sawn material so it wouldn’t warp too bad. I cut notches on both sides of the sill so it would stick out on the wall so the 1×4’s could lay on top of it.

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We wanted the header to have character so we took a 1×6 of pine and attached a 1×2 on the top. We then laid a cove molding on the 1×6.

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Using my small miter box, I was able to cut the tiny pieces of cove for the ends.

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I then took a piece of pine 1/2″ thick and used my block plane to shape the corners and ends to create a bullnose. I pinned everything together  with my 18 gauge pneumatic nailer to complete the header.

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Back at the window, I measured, cut, and nailed the rest of the pieces to the wall using a 15 gauge finish nailer. I trimmed the maple sill so that there would be a 3/4″ overhang to sides on both ends.

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Here’s the close up of the header nailed to the wall. The 1/2″ thick bullnose hangs over 1/2″ on both sides of the frame.

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After filling the nail holes with putty, Anita caulked, primed, and painted the window trim. We did both windows in our bedroom the same way. The next step is to frame around the closet, paint the room, get a new headboard, new blinds, ceiling fan, rug, etc… I don’t know, ask Anita, she’s the designer. haha

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Building a Shed Part XI

We’ve been building this shed for over a year now. Between the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer, this has been the biggest project I have ever taken on. The past few weeks, we’ve been preparing the shed for paint.

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I sanded the body of the shed with 80 grit sand paper with my random orbital sander. This allowed me to take off the glaze from the mill when the wood was being processed.

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The doors and corbels were sanded to 150 grit because we were planning on staining these elements. I filled the nail holes with some outdoor wood putty as I wanted the doors to have a finished look without a bunch of nails holes in them.

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My wife, Anita, went to Ace Hardware and bought Aura paint and primer by Benjamin Moore. This paint isn’t cheap at $70 a gallon, but we wanted to make sure the shed had the best finish on it so we wouldn’t have to repaint it every other year.

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With two coats of primer on it, we let the shed sit for a few days before we applied the top coats.

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The body was painted with two coats of Galveston Gray.

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The shed was starting to look really nice. The top trim and the windows would be painted with Iron Mountain.

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We picked Cedar Bark stain from Sherwin Williams for the doors and corbels. The shed is nearly done, but I still need to make a trellis over the side window and build a small deck underneath the doors. Getting real close.

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Revamping Ugly Dining Chairs

The remodeling of our dining room continues. This time with new chairs. My wife was never that fond of the Windsor chairs I made about twelve years ago, so she bought four french style caned back chairs at a local thrift store for $10.00 each. They were in good shape, the only issue with them was that they had an ugly ass imitation claw bubble design thing on the front legs. Honestly, I have no idea what they were suppose to be or how they made the chair look more formal, but they were ugly.

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My wife Anita and I both agreed they had to go so I took out my low angle block plane and some files and I shaved away the bubbles on all four sides of the front legs. Since Anita was going to paint the chairs, it wasn’t a big deal that the original finish was removed exposing the bare wood.

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After Anita painted the chairs white, I made a template for the seats with 1/4″ hard board. I simply traced around the chair with the hard board on top and cut it out on my band saw. I had to pay attention to the two notches in the back of the chair seat so that when Anita put fabric on the seat, they would still fit.

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I didn’t have scrap 3/4″ plywood lying around in my shop, but I did have the original oak plywood top from my dining table I revamped last month. I removed some of the extra plywood around the edges where it thickened up the top and laid out my seat pattern on the board. I then used my jig saw to cut the seats out.

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After a little fiddling, the seats fit well to the chair frames.

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The rest of the work was in Anita’s hands. She used the seat bottom to trace around the batting for the chair and cut it using a pair of sharp scissors.

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Then she started to staple the fabric on with upholstery staples. She used a Senco pneumatic stapler to make the job go much quicker.

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Here is one of the chairs finished. I have to admit, it looks a lot better than the Windsor chairs I made a few years ago. Once she finishes all four chairs, I’ll post some pictures that show the revamped chairs along with the revamped table together as a set.

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Updating a Hallway

The past few days, Anita and I have been working on finishing up the dining room and hallway. After I struggled to throw up the crown molding, attaching chair rail felt like childs play. The trickiest part was coping both ends at the end of the hallway.

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After the chair rail was nailed up, I attached the rectangular boxes I made with my molding planes. Then Anita caulked and painted everything white on the bottom, and a light grey on top. She bought a custom rug from Pottery Barn that fits the hallway nicely. Now she plans on hanging some pictures on the wall and get a new light fixture to spruce things up. This was a cheap and easy way to make a hallway look more elegant.

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Here is a close up of the faux wainscoting boxes I made. They add quite a bit of detail to the walls.

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Empire Wine Bar

 A few months ago my wife bought a dresser from a local auction company. When we picked it up, we noticed that the bottom drawer was so badly damaged that is was not worth repairing. Plus the drawers were only 10″ deep which doesn’t really fit with today’s needs. So, we decided that we would turn it into a wine cabinet.

The first thing I needed to do was take out the drawers and remove the frame that held them. It was a pretty easy process as the drawer runners were simply screwed in place.

I knew the part that held the wine bottles would need a cabinet of some sort so I glued 1/4″ panels to the inside to create a box. I also had to add boards to the bottom of the cabinet to support the bottom of the interior.

After much thought about how many wine bottles I wanted the cabinet to hold, I drew numerous options of the interior. I wanted the grids to go at 45 degrees and hold the maximum amount of bottles yet fit the opening of the cabinet. At first I designed the cabinet opening to hold nothing but wine bottles but after several drawings, I finally decided to make one half hold wine bottles with 4 1/2″ openings and the other half a shelf.

I built a divider down the middle and attached it with pocket hole screws. I installed plugs in the pocket holes and sanded them flush.

The fun part was making the grids. I made them from 3/4″ poplar and custom fitted each piece inside the box. The grids are attached together with dado’s and were painted brown before they were glued in.

I kept the girds shy of the face of the cabinet so that I could glue sapele on top of the poplar. Sapele is a poor mans mahogany which is what the dresser was made from. When stained, the sapele, mahogany and the painted poplar will blend together nicely.

After the interior was done, my wife painted the outside with chalk paint. She took the time to tape off the area that is stained and applied two coats of paint. After the paint dried, she rubbed some of it off to distress it, then added a dark brown glaze over the details of the piece to get in the cracks and appear old.

I applied four coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal oil & urathane topcoat to the top, the front of the drawers, and the grids to give the cabinet a nice sheen. We dragged it upstairs from the basement which was a big pain in the ass as it weighs nearly 200 lbs and decorated it in our dining room.

You can see how the distressing looks. The idea is to make the cabinet look old which is exactly what it is. After the glaze dries, Anita applied a light wax over the piece to protect the paint.

The design of the inside of the cabinet came out well. The grids hold eight bottles of wine and all of our various glasses. So far one of the drawers stores our wine bottle opener. Unfortunately, the other drawer will probably end up as a junk drawer.

The Empire dresser spent its first 150 years as a dresser. Now it will spend the next 150 years as a wine cabinet. Not a bad 300 year life if you ask me.

French Style Bookcase

My French style bookcase is painted and done. It turned out really well. My wife loves it which is all that really matters. I decided that I will build a few more and have my wife paint them with different colors to see if we can sell them on Craigslist. I posted these pictures on Facebook with a little bit of a description and an asking price of $450.00 which is cheap considering hand-made bookcases sell for over a $1000 in furniture stores. I’ll see if I get any offers on Facebook but even if I don’t, I won’t let it be a deterrent from building more because I feel that people will really like these bookcases.

The bookcase measures 59″ Long x 16″ Wide x 34 1/2″ High and is made from poplar. My wife did an excellent job painting it with two coats of semi-gloss black latex paint and a primer underneath. It’s turned out really well but I’m considering painting the next ones with a lacquer paint for durability. I’ll have one black, one white and one black with white stencil, or vice versa, whatever my wife decides to do.

The side shot shows the detail of the crown molding that I cut with an old molding plane and the cross bars that hold the case together. The crossbars are strong but make the whole bookcase light. The crossbars also imitate the sides of the Eiffel Tower which puts it in the French Style.

This morning my wife and I decided to fancy up bookcase by decorating it. We searched all over our home for trinkets and stuff to stick on the shelves. I used a picture of a bookcase from a furniture catalog to act as a guide on how to decorate it. After we were done, my wife didn’t want to put the stuff back from where we got them since the bookcase looked so nice.

Hopefully I’ll get good feedback from my friends on Facebook. Maybe I’ll even get an order or two.

Restoring a Stanley No 7 Jointer Plane

Every time I see an article in a woodworking magazine about restoring an old plane, it’s usually a Stanley No 4 smooth plane. While a smooth plane is probably one of the most important planes to own, it certainly shouldn’t be the only plane you have in your arsenal of tools. A jointer plane is extremely handy for jointing the edges of boards straight as well as leveling the tops of wide panels flat. In fact I probably use my jointer just as much as I use a smoother.  So I decided to write a blog and show how easy it is to refurbish an old jointer and put it back to use.

The first thing I do when cleaning a plane is take it completely apart. Remove every single bolt and screw you can and lay them on the bench so you won’t lose them. Don’t worry about not knowing where each screw will go as the guts of a plane are quite simple and easy to put back together.

Next you need to get yourself a product called Evap-O-Rust. I buy it in a five gallon bucket as I clean a lot of tools but a couple of gallons at your local auto parts store should do you just fine. Fill a container with the Evap-O-Rust and submerge the parts in so that they are completely covered in the solution. If you don’t have the part completely covered, you will end up with an oxidized line on the part where the air and the solution meet. It’s also important to make sure that the parts of the plane are not lying on top of one another in the solution. You want to make sure that the Evap-O-Rust has the ability to penetrate the entire part. Let the parts sit in the solution overnight.

Once the parts have soaked overnight, take them out and wash them under the tap to remove any residue from the part. You’ll notice that the parts will be completely clean from rust but will have a dull finish to them. I like to take them over to a flap wheel sander and buff them to a nice satin shine.

After buffing the parts, wipe them with an oil protector called Kramer’s Antique Improver. I have been using this stuff for twenty years and have never come across anything that works better or is simpler to use than Kramers. It simply brings the metal and wood back to life. After wiping all the parts with Kramers, put the majority of the plane back together.

Now that the plane is clean, you’ll need to make it work. The first thing to do is grab something that is perfectly flat and place soaking wet 220, 320, 400, and 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper on top of it. I use an old marble window sill but the top of your table saw will probably work just fine. You will need to flatten the bottom of the plane so that it will be able to cut crisp clean shaving off. Start with 220 grit and work it over until you have uniform scratches upon the entire body. You actually don’t need to have the entire bed perfectly flat. Only the front of the bed, the front and back of the mouth and the back of the bed need to be co-planer with each other. If you happen to have a hollow area between the back of the mouth and the back of the bed, it’s perfectly fine. Once you have uniform scratch marks with 220 grit paper, switch to 320, then 400 and so forth until you have a nice clean bed with the 600 grit paper.

   

Next and most importantly, you need to sharpen the blade. I own a Tormek sharpener so I use my Tormek to grind a 25 degree bevel on my irons. After I sharpen and flatten the back of the iron with the fine grit of stone I switch over to my 4000 grit water stone and continue to sharpen the burr off. I then finalize the edge with my 8000 water stone. Sharpening to this magnification gives me an edge that stays sharper than simply using my Tormek alone.

  

Now it’s time to see the results of your work. Take a piece a wood and start planing it. You will need to adjust the position of the frog and depth of the blade in order to achieve a clean cut. Since you’re using a jointer plane the tolerances of mouth opening isn’t as critical as it would be for a smoother. You’re not trying to achieve .002″ thick shavings with a jointer. A jointer is a medium cut plane that is used to clean up joints and panels so that other planes can finish the job. A shaving of .005 to .010″ should work just fine.

With about an hours worth of work, you can a have a perfectly usable plane and save hundreds of dollars as opposed to going out and buying a brand new plane off the shelf.

**** Word to the wise: If you’re a beginning woodworker and are considering spending a few hundred bucks on a 6″ motorized jointer, pick up one of these hand jointers for $30.00 and learn to use it. I no longer even use my 6″ motorized jointer anymore.

UPDATE 4/17/17 — Forget about buying a Stanley No 7 for $30.00. Prices have gone way up since I wrote this post in 2011. If you buy one on eBay, you’ll pay $100 or more. If you’re lucky, you may find one at a flea market or antique show for less, but don’t count on it.

Japanning a plane

Ah, is there any more controversial topic in antique tool collecting than whether or not a tool should be re-japanned? Well I really don’t care, because I’m not really a tool collector for tool collecting sake, I’m more of a woodworker who buys old tools to put them back to work. Plus I consider it an honor to bring an old tool from the graveyard of Grandpa’s garage into my shop. So the last thing I want is to have a perfectly usable tool with only 5 -10% japanning remaining on it. It simply looks like crap. So I’m going to show you how to properly re-japan a tool.

I bought an old No 7 off Ebay for about $30.00 a few weeks ago. While the plane was in good condition, most of the japanning had flaked off. I really didn’t want to keep the plane looking like that so I decided to japan it. The first I did was to take the bed and scrape away as much of the original paint as possible with dental picks. In order to have a nice finish with japan paint, you need to have the surface as clean as possible.

Next I take advantage of the summer months and place the bed and frog in the sun to bake for a few hours. Back in the day, old black japan paint was baked on in an oven to seal the surface. There’s no way I’m sticking tools in my wife’s oven so I let mother nature heat the tool up for me.

I buy Pontypool black japan asphaltum paint from a company called Liberty of the Hudson and use artist brushes to apply a very thin coat on the bed. Apply the paint as thin as possible and don’t try to use glue brushes as their bristles are too thick. If you do, you’ll have thick brush strokes all over the plane’s surface and it’ll look terrible. I apply four coats while the bed is in the sun, waiting about two hours between coats. The japan paint will go on really oily and it will look strange, but it levels out as it dries. It’s important not to apply the paint too thick. Four thin coats is much better than two thick ones.

If you plan on japanning a plane bed, japan the frog as well so that the colors match.

After the paint dries I let it sit for two weeks to cure. You have to make sure that the japanning is completely cured before you attempt to finalize it, otherwise you will rub off the paint. Once the paint is cured, I rub 0000 steel wool on the body to knock off the glossy sheen. I also rub off some of the paint from the high spots of the bed like the plane number and patent dates. It just makes the tool look more authentic. Then I use a product called Kramers Antique Improver and wipe it all over the plane to bring out a satin shine and protect it from rust.

  

You may ask, why not just use engine enamel spray paint? Well I have seen tools that have repainted but they never look like real japanning. Japanning gives you the texture of a thick coating that can not be duplicated by simply grabbing a can of Krylon and spraying it with several coats of spray paint.

When the plane is done it looks fantastic. So much so that some people may never be able to tell that the tools has been re-japanned. That’s where it gets hairy. If you re-japan a tool and plan on selling it, you need to disclose the fact that the tool has been enhanced, otherwise that’s a form of fraud. The value of an old tool often depends on how much of the original japanning remains and some tool collectors will pay big bucks for tools that are in mint condition. So bare in mind, it’s your tool, do with what you want with it, but if your knowingly misrepresent the conditions of the tools you sell, then you will be considered a fraud.

Saw bench design

I designed this thing primarily to be used outside. I own a band saw and table saw and normally would rip any wood with those tools so, I figured if I ever needed a saw bench I would be outside away from electrical outlets.

Its three legged design allows the bench to sit still and not rack on an uneven floor or the ground. The front legs splay apart in both the X and Y axis. The joinery was tough to cut because of the splay. The sides of the legs were it met the top weren’t 90 degrees because of the angle of the splay. The back leg is a simple through tenon.

I kicked the stretcher over to the left so the saw wouldn’t hit it on the down stroke.

The overall dimensions are 28″ long x 19 1/2″ high x 19″ wide. The height of the bench is knee high as all saw benches are suppose to be.