Moderators: Random Orbital Bob, nev, CHJ, Noel, Charley

 Reply
User avatar
By nabs
#1178077
the time has come to try and make an actual bit of furniture using hand tools. I am attempting a suitably straightforward piece given my inexperience (a side table) and will be ably assisted by Richard Maquire, albeit virtually:

http://www.theenglishwoodworker.com/the ... le-guides/

I cheated and got a bit of sawn elm from St Albans Wood Recycling - a far less intimidating place to rifle through bits of wood than a proper timber yard, but not a cheap place for non-reclaimed stuff. There are two large knots about a 1/3rd of the way down, but I was just able to get enough for the bits I need from it. I *nearly* managed to avoid the sap wood for the top, but there is a small amount on one edge which I hope will be removed when I finish the top.

Image

I did use sap wood for two of the legs, but there is not a lot of difference in colour between it and the heartwood and they will be stained black anyhow, so I hope this won't be a problem. Not a lot to report about prepping the wood other than remembering what I had learned (and subsequently forgotten) when making my bench, which is when 'being careful' starts to become 'being tentative' then things tend to work out badly. But after doing the top (slowly!) my confidence was restored somewhat and I did a more efficient job of the other bits.

Image

This was my first attempt at jointing and gluing two boards - I added a bit of 'spring' as instructed and held it together with one clamp. I think the resulting glue line is ok but I should probably reserve judgment until I finish the top :). Having looked in the morning the glued board now has a fairly noticeable cup in it - I hope this is just the wood moving after I planed it (the boards were flat originally, honestt!) rather than incompetent jointing, but tbh I am not sure.

Image

The joinery is going to be with bridle joints, which are a bit a mortice and tennon but with the top of the mortice lopped off. This is quite exciting as I have never done a m&t joint, and if I can pull off some of these I think I will be about 2/3rds of the way to the real thing!

Image

Apparently bridle joints can be time consuming because you need to get an accurate fit to avoid it looking tatty and can't rely so much on compressing the wood fibres as you might with a m&t (too tight fit will cause the sides of the mortice to push apart).

To simply matters Mr Maquire has devised some simple guides to cut these joints with, so the next job is to make those. If you want more details on the guides, plans etc they can be found in the excellent video series above, which can be downloaded for a modest fee of £26.
User avatar
By Bm101
#1178087
Subbed Nabs. Never a chore to read of your efforts. ;)
User avatar
By custard
#1178217
Full credit to you Nabs for giving this project a shot. I've just glanced at the finished product and you've picked a winner, that's a very nice design and I'm sure you'll get a lot of lot of compliments and probably quite a few "repeat orders"!

You say the legs are stained black, looking at the extreme depth of black achieved I'm wondering if they're done with a tannic acid/steel wool/white vinegar stain? If not that's something you might want to consider, nothing else quite delivers the same inky blackness.

Good luck, I'm sure you'll be as pleased as punch with the finished result!
User avatar
By nabs
#1178433
custard wrote: I'm wondering if they're done with a tannic acid/steel wool/white vinegar stain? If not that's something you might want to consider, nothing else quite delivers the same inky blackness.



yes that is exactly how he does it - in the videos he has some close ups of the finished stained legs and it is remarkable just how deep black they are (as Maquire says, 'almost like plastic)'. I am looking forward to seeing how mine turn out :D
User avatar
By custard
#1178491
Looking at the photo on RM's website it appears he made his legs from a close grained wood like Maple or Beech. You however are using open grained Elm. So one thing you'll need to do when you stain, that RM didn't necessarily have to do, is to add one single drop of washing up liquid to both your tannin solution and to your acetic acid solution. If you don't then surface tension will prevent you getting the solutions deep into the pores and so you'll be left with little pale spots all over the job. Somewhere on the forum I did a WIP on how I scorched then wire wool/venegar stained the Oak legs on this desk,

Bubinga-Desk-3.jpg


I'm sure RM will cover the process, but he may omit the washing up liquid tip if he's assuming close grained stock, where as for Elm (or Oak) it's important.

Good luck!
User avatar
By nabs
#1178524
many thanks - I don't recall him mentioning that, although I may have missed it. You may have to remind me again nearer the time!
User avatar
By nabs
#1178534
The bridle joint guides are obviously optional, but are simple to make. Despite that I managed to balls up the first set - the errors at least meant I learned how they worked and the second set were done much quicker as a result.

There are plenty of details on the guides in the video series (which I'd encourage you to buy, the guides are worth the entrance fee alone!) and a quick overview in the introduction here: http://www.theenglishwoodworker.com/new ... le-guides/.

The saw needs to run against the side of the guide + the depth of the joint so you may find your back-saws are not deep enough. I was left between a choice between my two panel saws - the first (S&J) would probably have worked tbh, but I concluded it was a bit rough for the job, the second (Thomas Taylor) should have been perfect, but unfortunately it still has the last vestiges of a bend + a kink which despite my best efforts I have never been able to completely remove, and this makes it no good for doing anything very precise. A pity as it is a beautifully made saw.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though, and this was a great excuse to get a new saw. RM happened to have been experimenting with japanese saws when doing the side-table vids, so I copied him and got myself a cheapo (20 quid) one to try out.

It is perfect for the job and I really like using it - it seems to work best if you adopt the stance of an elderly butler prodding a sausage on a BBQ (arms length and with one hand behind your back) - great fun. The saw probably has a proper Japanese name but I am afraid I do not know what it is.

Image

Japanese saws seem to be a vast undiscovered (for me) tool-fidding rabbit hole, so I have decided not to research the topic any further :)

Here is a test joint - admittedly with softwood so I had a bit more margin for error than when I do the real thing, but not a bad effort for a beginner I think (the worst bit is my skew-whiff attempt to square the bottom of the mortice with a chisel).

As I have just proved the guides are idiot proof - you just mark the depth of the joints, saw against each guide and finally chop out the center bit from the mortice and bingo it all fits. An ingenious idea from RM!

Image
By rafezetter
#1178907
nabs wrote:
custard wrote: I'm wondering if they're done with a tannic acid/steel wool/white vinegar stain? If not that's something you might want to consider, nothing else quite delivers the same inky blackness.



yes that is exactly how he does it - in the videos he has some close ups of the finished stained legs and it is remarkable just how deep black they are (as Maquire says, 'almost like plastic)'. I am looking forward to seeing how mine turn out :D


Can I add my small experience with oak and homemade eboniser - below pic is a fairly strong mix that was left for quite some time - about a month and adding more steel wool after 2 weeks, and the wood was freshly sanded (if the wood has been stored a while I'm led to beleive the exposed bare surface can oxidise reducing the effectiveness of this method) and 1 application.

I've read if you are going for truly inky black if it's not enough after first application to wash with a solution of "elm bark powder" which is very high in tannins and reapply the eboniser.

Ebonised door.jpg
User avatar
By nabs
#1179876
thanks for the tip Rafezetter! RM also has his own special recipe so I'll let you know how I get on.

I did the joinery at the weekend - made a couple of mistakes: overshot when cutting one shoulder and accidentally pushed out a chunk of the bottom edge of a mortice when 'tidying it up' with a chisel (luckily not on the show face).

I am not too dispirited by what seems like a constant stream of blunders as I think I am slowly improving, and feel pretty sure if I do another one the it would be better.

The guides were a big help - the joints were a little tight compared to the tests in pine but a couple of passes with a block plane on the tenons sorted it out quickly.

Image


blunder

Image
By sundaytrucker
#1180307
I am looking forward to seeing this come together. If your bench build is anything to go by then the side table will be a success.
User avatar
By nabs
#1181498
finally got round to doing a bit more on the table:

the two cross rails are held by a halving joint, which luckily does not have to be super precise since a small amount of wiggle room is needed to allow the top to expand and contract (one of my saw cuts was a bit wonky, which should cover it!)

The other job was to taper the inside edge of the legs to make them look a bit more dainty - a simple job with a bench plane.

That's all the joinery done so hopefully nothing really serious can go awry from this point onwards. Quite probably I will come to regret making that remark :)

Image