Little Bushy South

This project was completed in July at the old house, but I had to keep it under wraps so it could be a surprise to someone.  My wife’s grandmother was a British war bride.  She met her American husband at Bushey Park outside of London where he taught air sea survival for the 8th Army Air Force.  When the war was over they moved to Michigan (his home) and eventually had a farm called “Little Bushey”, after the place they met.  We had talked about calling our new place “Little Bushey South” as a tribute to that.  I thought a sign was in order, and no wood could be better than the family wood.

These walnut beams were picked up by my mother’s parents when she was very young.  They spent a lot of time around boats and they were used as ballast by someone.  No clue how old they were then, but our family has had them for 50+ years.

One of the beams had been cut down a few times, so I cross cut it to about 42″, and then re-sawed it to make a 1 inch thick slab.  I left some of the worm eaten edging because it is so good looking.  A little work with my jack plane had it smooth and revealed a gorgeous piece of walnut.


In order to make the text for this project I am using my plunge router and custom printed 3D letter templates.  I wrote up all the text, then broke each segment up into a size that could be printed.  They are keyed to fit together to keep alignment and kerning proper.  Letters like “e” and “B” have to be done in multiple segments.  The “B” below shows how I tackled this.

The plunge routing went reasonably well, but something shifted part of the way through.  My cuts were shallower when I went back and redid certain segments.  Not sure what happened, but next time I will make everything double tight.  I went back with a chisel and cleaned up the issue areas.  The bottoms are still not smooth, but aren’t as uneven as before.  That left me with a few accidental chipout segments.  See near the top of the “O”.  Also, the “h” was in part of a knot.  My colorant will want to bleed into those cavities, so I have to fill them.

I used some dark woodworking epoxy to fill these problem areas.  First I went carefully with painters tape and dammed up all the problem areas.  Next I mixed the epoxy and used a syringe to put just the right amount into the voids.  A little light buffing and the epoxy filled the voids but is really hard to see.

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I was going to spray paint this, then just plane off the top layer to reveal colored letters.  The bottoms are still uneven, so I opted to try epoxy.  I bought a big batch of system three epoxy with white color resin.  It worked really well.  No progress pictures because you have very limited time once the mixing begins.

The places I blocked the chipouts didn’t bleed, and only a little snuck in under the knot around the lower case “h”.  A syringe helped me pipe it into each letter, and manipulate the results.  The epoxy clung up at the sides and dipped a little in the center.  The result is a really awesome shiny 3D lettering effect.  It looks quite good on our new mantle.  I don’t really understand fireplaces in Florida, but this one looks picturesque.

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Bookbinding Press

During a visit to my crafty mother, I came across a good build to support her habits.  She showed me a series of bookbinding finishing presses.  I am not super familiar with how they work, but they looked a lot like a moxon vise.  I am planning out a moxon vise build of my own, so this would be a good learning experience and make a great gift.

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Traditional books have a lot of layers of material that need gluing together.  This helps keep it all clamped for various operations.  The side wings let you clamp it to a table, and with it hanging over the edge, any length book can be held.  The jaws will open to accept a 3″ thick book, and there are 13 inches between the screws, allowing for a very tall book.  5/16″-18 hand screws should provide plenty of clamping force.  The hand screws come out, so it can be disassembled and packed into a smaller space.


I started with the backbone and dovetails.  If something was going to get screwed up, it was the dovetails.  I need to cut a lot for an upcoming project and I am beyond rusty.  Mark, saw edges, fret away waste and pare the rest.

My dovetail transfer jig has already come in handy.  The pins look pretty rotten, but they should be very structurally sound.  Sorry mom!


With that taken care of I glued up two pieces for the front, and added another to the backbone.  One piece was taller than the other which eventually got planed to an angle.  That gives your fingers easier access to the book spine.

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I assembled the dovetails and put on side wings that let you clamp this jig to any table or workbench.

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When all the glue was well cured I put on a few coats of polyurethane in the hopes that bookbinding glue wouldn’t stick to it.  Felt pads on the bottom should keep it from scuffing any tables.  I pounded in some threaded inserts meant for wood.  They should hold just fine, but to be sure I sank a few screws beside them.


To run the threaded rods in and out you are going to need a stout handle.  I chopped some maple dowels down to size, drilled out for a 5/16 threaded insert, reduced the entry shoulder for a brass sleeve, then flipped it around, threaded it onto a 5/16 mandril, and smoothed out the back side.

The bare wood got multiple coats of spray polyurethane, then when cured, I epoxied the brass sleeve on the handles, and the threaded rod in place.  DSC_1276.JPG

Jacked Up PushUp Bars

I built a set of pushup bars to go with my pullup bar from early last.  You grip them while doing a push up and it lets you dip down further than when using your hands on the ground.  That stretches your chest and gives a harder workout.  The only problem with them is that now I am flexible enough that my chest can touch the ground.  Time to jack them up a bit!  I started with the same 2×12 that they came from.

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It turns out old ratty 2x12s can be quite beautiful if you just give them a bit of planing.  Hand planing construction grade pine to make a piece of exercise equipment is probably some kind of sacrilege, but I like using hand tools when I can.  Besides, sanding is just the worst!

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I chopped this piece up to give two layers of material beneath each bar and glued.

All the load will be pushing down on these, so only a minimal joint is needed.  1/2″ dowels will be more than enough.  You drill in one side, insert these metal plugs with a sharp point in the center, align the other part and give it a wack.  The sharp points all transfer over the exact center of where you should drill to the mating part.

Some drilling, gluing, drying, and a fresh coat of boiled linseed oil later they looked smart.  Well not really smart, kind of chunky really.  If it were architecture I would call it brutalism.  Probably fitting for a room full of kettlebells.

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My beard touches easily, but my chest still has inches.  This is hopefully the last raise these will need for a long while.

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Pullup Bar

I have been doing kettlebell and bodyweight exercises consistently for over 6 months.  I love the speed at which it kicks my butt and have been getting progressively stronger at all the exercises.  Aside from a variety of bells none of it requires anything more than a small bit of space.  The two exceptions are pull-ups and Turkish get ups.  Pull-ups obviously require some kind of bar, and Turkish get ups involve large series of steps to take you from lying flat on your back to standing up straight with a kettlebell overhead.  It takes a bit of room.

The plan is to kick out my treadmill and build a dedicated kettlebell workout area.  I have a doorframe pull-up bar, but want to build a freestanding piece of equipment.  Might as well use this as a chance to do some woodworking.  Start with some nice (Super rough!) untreated 4x4s and get cutting.  Even though they were supposed to be kiln dried they were wet enough that my normal tenon saw bound up an inch or two in.  Had to break out a panel rip saw!

With guns that big my joints weren’t exactly surgically precise.  Along those lines I didn’t really have the right chisels for the job.  An old 2″ framing chisel helped, but my only other option was a 1″ bench chisel for chopping the waste out.  Still I was able to bang out some bridle joints to attach the upgrights to the feet.  Things were going swimingly enough I was able to shoot a little assembly vid!

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Timber time!

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Before doing any glueups or serious trimming I assembled the uprights with the pull up bar at the height I thought appropriate.  This let me do some basic testing to see if I was on the right track.  It was shaky, but even without glue or fasteners it held me!  Last but not least it let me play with different widths to figure out what was right for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I started trimming excess and planning out the rest of my parts.  A shelf across the back holds kettlebells when not in use.  The shelf is dovetailed so it helps keep the assembly square.  All that weight comes in a lot of handy!  The right angle joints between the uprights and the feet got glued and pinned for good measure.  Everything else is going to stay friction only so it can be disassembled.

I tried trimming everything down as much as possible so it wouldn’t take up any extra space inside.  It looks compact, but beefy.

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I made one critical flaw though.  Those pins on the backside are pretty thin, and any force on them by the tails puts a lot of shear force along the grain.  It is a recipe for splitsville.

Yup, I was doing some assembly and it popped off.  I tried gluing and pinning it back in, but only managed to destroy the piece.  If I had made the foot extend a few more inches past the tail it would have been strong enough to survive.  Lesson for next time.

I installed some angled pegs along the back of the uprights to give myself storage hooks for grip trainers and other items.  The whole thing goes into the house easily, and assembles in a few minutes.  The pull up bar itself was pinned with some 1/2″ dowels though the upright from front to back.  That will keep it from rolling or working its way out.  The shelf and those pins are just held in with friction and gravity.  Assembled the device is too big to get through any doors, but by using carefully planned joints, I can take it apart to get it in and out of the house.  A coat of boiled linseed oil offers some protection and adds color to the pine.

All the wooden joints creak and groan and shift a bit when doing pullups, but it is super sturdy.  I might drill out the pull up bar and upgrade from a 1-1/4″ to a 1-1/2″ bar at some point, but for now this works well.  Those pegs along the back hold my chalk, a towel, and grip trainers.

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Rule To Sector Conversion

I have been reading a set of books that are directed at teaching the old methods of design using simple tools and ratios.  How did people build so many things and design such gorgeous furniture before industrial era tools and production?  A lot of it had to do with ratios.  They noticed basic ratios and proportions of the body, and used them to create furniture that fit our proportions and was decorated with ratios that are pleasing to the eye.

Getting ratios can be tough, but one tool helps a lot.  The sector.  I will start with a sector demonstration, then go through converting a ubiquitous folding ruler into a ratio tool.

SO!  Say you have this nice block of wood, and want to divide it into 3rds for some reason.  Instead of reaching for the fine ruler and calculator, take this pivoting stick with equal divisions on it and line both edges up on the 9s.

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Now you take your divider, (it looks like a compass, but only has points, no pencil) and line it up with the 3 marks.  The 3 to 9 ratio is also a 1:3 ratio.  The dividers are now set at 1/3rd of the width of that piece of wood.

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Line up one leg of the dividers with an edge of the wood and step in twice.  You leave a little pin prick in the wood as you step over.  Put a sharp pencil or marking knife in those divots left by the divider and use a square to transfer across the piece.

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Bam!  Divided into 3rds in no time.  Find the center point of something in a snap, set drawer pulls up 4/7ths from the bottom of a drawer face, or divide an area up to figure out how wide a mitered framing should be.  The possibilities are endless and require almost no math skills.  Now you know how an early 18th century woodworker could divide something up with extreme precision even if their ruler had nothing finer than 1/4″ marks.


Sector Construction

You can build a sector out of any two straight pieces of wood or other material, and a tight hinge.  I opted to start with a folding rule.  There are plenty to be had on ebay for ~10 bucks, and they look really nice when cleaned up a bit.  This one started with a lot of years of use, and a brass edge that was coming undone.

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I sanded a mountain of nasty finish and imprinted lettering off before getting to clean bare wood.  I fixed the splayed brass edge with epoxy and put a nice set of markings down.  The divisions I used are arbitrary, but they must come from the center of the pivot point, and must be consistent across the sector.

All that hard work didn’t really matter though, because a coat of spray lacquer lifted the sharpie text and bled it everywhere.  Now my lines are blurred beyond use.

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Pro tip: Don't use spray lacquer over sharpie!

Rule #2 Conversion

Luckily I am addicted to buying old tools on ebay and purchased not one, but two folding rules!  While the first one sits in time out, take another rule you haven’t ruined, sand it down, put equal marks on both sides, and use BOILED LINSEED OIL to finish it.  It will look great.

I left the backside unchanged so I could have a basic ruler handy when using my sector.

 

 

Half Lap Canning Crates

The pile of half-pint jars is starting to pile up in our home, so it is time for half-pint crates.  A while back I built some pint crates with dovetails.  They were good looking, but rather time consuming to build.  This time around I decided to break out my old No 78 rabbet plane and do all half laps.  First, the wood!

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I used 1/4″ plywood for the bottom, and was able to hide that plywood by using the right sized rabbet on the bottom.

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Rabbets with the grain are an absolute joy.  Simply clamp the wood in a front vice, start at the far end, and shave away.  The half laps were another story all together.  Even with a spur and a relatively sharp blade, there was a lot of chatter, tear out and fence wander.

DSC_0047The fences of my old plane did not want to stay put.  I tightened everything as much as I dared, but feared damaging old cast iron threads.  The result is that a lot of the half laps are gaped.  It might be worth carefully making a master part, in the future, so I can go back and reset my fences as needed.  Until then, here are some bottomless boxes!

DSC_0048I went nuts recently and bought a pile of old style cut nails from lee valley.  I put these crates together with “fine finish” cut nails.  They performed well and did not cause splitting even though they were close to the edges.

After a good coat of boiled linseed oil I cut some vinyl blackboard stickers out and put them on the fronts.  It makes finding your desired jam easier.  They aren’t as nice looking as the dovetailed crates, but they are very functional.  Besides, crates aren’t supposed to be super fancy!

These canning crates were brought to you by my Stanley No. 78!  80ish years old and still kicking some butt!

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Wedding Present Table

Some good friends of mine are getting married and I couldn’t be happier for them.  I am trying to start a tradition where I make a nice wedding present for friends that get married.  A majority of my friends are already married, but better to start late than never!

I asked them what they wanted and got 3 answers:  A table to put keys and stuff on near their front door, a shoe rack, or a wine rack.  I chose to combine the first two and drop the 3rd.  My initial plan was done in sketch-up.  Other than a shortening of the legs due to an unfortunate accident I went with all my original dimensions.

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I don’t model every mortise and round over in sketch-up, instead using it as a way to get the general look and feel of the project and to get a rough cut list.  A trip to the local cabinet store turned up some nice looking red oak, but only 4/4 thick.  It was enough to get started with, but I eventually had to go to Orlando to get the 8/4 (thats 2 inches).  Luckily it was combined with a trip to do a suit fitting for said couple’s wedding!

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I cut everything out and ripped it to rough width using my table and chop saw.  Other than a router for the top edging, and a CNC mill for the “G” everything was done by hand.  I started this project in early January and managed to lose a number of pictures in that time.  I am missing quite a bit of my mortise and tenon work and the beading process.  Still, there are enough pictures to get the idea of how it all went together.


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I got to use my shiny new Woodriver number 7 my parents got me for Christmas.  It did a fantastic job of jointing the edges for glue up.  The rubbed glue joint held really well and is completely invisible except for grain changes.  Power jointer eat your heart out!  A run with the router gave a really nice multi-curve edge.  I don’t have enough molding planes or experience to try this part out by hand


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I was quite proud of the bead along the bottom apron edges.  It was done with a beading iron in my No 45 combo plane.  Planing off the bottom flat bit makes it look better.  One shot has two beads, one before and one after planing off the flat.


Mortise and Tenon

I am missing a lot of the photos of cutting the mortises, but I made a lot of mistakes and they are rather rough.  I used a rabbet plane and cleaned them up from the picture, but they still weren’t great.  My little rip dovetail saw wasn’t quite up to the task of cutting those cheeks.  Hopefully a full tenon saw is in my future.

I squared the legs up well enough that they could be mortised.  I initially tried using pencil mark my parts to keep the organized, but ran across a really good idea by John over at Woodworks by John.  Mark the joining parts with letter stamps.  After much trimming and swearing the table stands!


Legs

I had already cut out the legs and squared them to do the mortises.  Next I cut them to length and did a taper on the outer two surfaces.  It starts about 24″ up and drops down to make the bottom of the foot about 1″ square.  Tapering is a lot of work!

Once I got the tapering complete I was able to cut the grooves for the bottom shelves.  I assembled each side with apron and laid out each cut with a long ruler so I could get both legs.  The sides were cut down with a saw, then removed most of the waste with a chisel.  The final depth was handled with a router plane.  What a great looking job, I did something like this over a year ago before I had a router and this turned out 10 times better!  Next time I will taper last.  Everything had to be shimmed up to hold still because of the leg taper.

This is where a huge issue came in.  I cut the left side and it turned out pretty well.  Next I moved on to the right half and cut the left half again.  Lighting makes the grooves a bit hard to see.

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Two left sides… crap.  I set down my tools and went inside to do something else.  I had invested hours into each leg.  I was able to turn lemons into lemonade though.  The table was set to be just over 40″ tall, which after assembling feels too tall.  Two sets of shoe shelves would be useful, but looked a bit more cluttered than one.  I decided to cut the bottom set of shelf grooves off, and re-taper the legs.  Work work.  Here is the new shortened version along with one of a few piles I had to sweep up while making this thing.

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Bottom Shelf

I assembled the bottom shelf along with the top in a similar manor.  I really wanted to bring in some decorative accents here.  Carving is out of my skill set, but the mill can do wonders.  How about a nice scripty G in the center of the shelf?  Done!  Their last name starts with G.

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Assembly

With all the parts cutout and shaped properly I went about finish planing every surface smooth and clean.  Some of the oak got squrley and left me with tear out.  I don’t have a high angle plane, and I am crap with a cabinet scraper so they will have to remain as a finishing “feature”.

To keep the top on I am using small clips that fit into slots on the apron and screw into the top.  They will allow the large top to have moisture movement without trying to pull the base apart.

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There are a lot of surfaces that needed gluing and seconds matter when glue is drying.  I did a number of test fits and got all my clamps at the ready.  The glue up went smoothly!  A short rounded over piece glued to the bottom shelf will keep shoes from sliding off.


Doweled Shelf

The bottom shelf sits in a groove.  The weight will be held well by the groove, but few glue surfaces means it could break free.  I went ahead and drilled out the legs/shelf and glued a 3/8″ dowel in to help improve the hold.  A small block plane got the dowels down as smooth as a baby’s bottom!


Finish

A dark finish was requested and I have had some great results with minwax’s stain on oak.  I think the grain pops really well, and I had a lot of the stain around.  Once completely dry I sprayed the top and base with multiple coats of general finish’s high performance water based coating.  What a great product.  That stuff goes on like silk and dries smooth.  Spraying can be a pain, but the results are worth it.

Over all, there were mistakes made, lessons learned, and a lot of sweat.  I was able to finish a few days before the wedding and delivered it to the happy couple.  May the table last for a century, and may your love last longer.

Did I mention it comes with a lifetime repair warrantee?