Swollen Chair Leg Tenons
This poster made a Windsor chair a few months ago. Now that he's had a chance to return to it, the tenons have swollen. What, he wonders, should he do? - Editor
"I carved the seat and turned the legs and stretchers for three Windsor sackback chairs in February and March, and then had to set the project aside after cutting the leg tenons and drilling the leg holes in the seats. It is now the end of July, and I've returned to the shop after dealing with a family health issue to discover that the tenons have swollen with the summer heat and humidity here in central Maryland. They no longer fit the holes I drilled, and I believe it is unwise to reduce them in size because they will certainly shrink when the winter low humidity arrives, and leave me with loose chair legs. I have considered building a small lightbulb-powered kiln to reduce the moisture in the tenons and hopefully shrink them back to where they comfortably fit into the previously drilled and fitted seat holes. However, I am not sure that this will work as intended, and I have no information on the size, wattage or configuration of a workshop-constructed kiln that would be appropriate for this purpose. I would appreciate any feedback the forum could give me on the matter." - Paul L.
He received a couple of suggestions on drying methods. - Editor
"The lightbox kiln will work. I usually wrap everything in foil except the tenon and put it in a hot box." - J.L.
"I built a kiln using 250-watt bulbs in three ceramic light holders. I use a thermostatic switch (chicken breeding supplies) to regulate the heat and a computer fan to move the air. However, all you need to do for this situation is fill a pan with sand and set it on a hotplate. Once it is hot, set the tenons in the sand and heat them until the tenons shrink back to size. Don't leave them in there long enough to turn them brown. Don't make your container airtight. Air movement across the object is important to drying. I put a hole in a bottom corner and another in the opposite top corner and use a tiny fan to pull the air at the top hole. It works without the fan, just slower." - Jack G.
A suggestion noting that he shouldn't let the tenons get too dry. - Editor
"My inclination would be to dry the tenons only enough to fit the mortises, checking the fit occasionally as the wood gets warmer. If the tenons are too dry, they may suck the moisture out of the glue too quickly for a strong glue joint. For the same reason, I'd let the tenons cool to room temp before gluing. Just my two cents." - Don S.
And a comment from a poster who was going for the easy method. - Editor
"Running your [air conditioner], and the house is dry? Move them inside for several days." - Pete
Marking Tools: Anti-Theft from WoodCentral.com
We always hope that a situation like this never happens to us -- but if it does, what steps can you take to deal with it? - Editor
"I mentioned in a previous post that the house we were working on was broken into and they got almost every tool that had a battery or cord. I am replacing them. I will take photos of [the new tools] and record the serial numbers, but my question is how to mark them for additional protection. Any ideas?" - Barry I.
A few suggestions came in for how to mark tools. - Editor
"I had a problem with theft of a gate located adjacent to the road. I got the paint store to mix a most feminine bright pink paint and painted the gate. It has never been molested. However, I can see the downside of moving your bright pink air compressor to the jobsite. - Bill T.
"A buddy gave me an electro engraver. Kind of like a real low-power arc welder. Alligator clips go to a 12v battery or battery charger. It's much easier to electro engrave than vibro engrave. I understand that the electro changes the metallurgy deeper than vibro. Even if the markings are ground off, the electro can be detected somehow." - Tom D.
"Engraving on the outside would make it easier to spot, but I would also open the tool up somehow and make an engraving somewhere inconspicuous. That way, the thief will likely miss it if they try to grind it off, and if you had to 'prove' that it was yours to someone, you could tell them how to open it and find the markings that you made." - Jason R.
Then this poster wondered just how effective markings would be. - Editor
"Around here flea markets, auctions, and house sales are common. I regularly see tools with markings on them -- paint, initials, engraving, add-ons of all types. No one seems to pay attention. Several years ago, I bought a metalworker's machinist tool box complete. Each tool has a name or initials on it – some not his. I believe I got mine legit, but I do not pay attention to the markings. Do you think that I asked if he owned the tools he was selling me? At the point of the sale ,I care only that it does the job. Like many, I favor old tools. If it’s good and in my price range, I purchase, and I’d venture to say that most of them are marked, I expect them to be marked, and I don’t care. I work out of my own area, I don’t loan tools, tools travel with me if I work away. I’m not leaving tools on-site. I have no need to do that.
"But anyone who would ever accuse me of stealing someone else’s property would be asked to leave and not ever come back. You absolutely need to record the information and purchase date for the insurance company, but don’t ever expect (except by luck) that you will recover the old (or new) tools or even notice them in the possession of someone else. If you should find one that is or looks like your tool, do you think the person will say he stole it or knew it was 'hot'? Chances are he or she will say they bought it from 'some guy' at some public event. You gonna challenge that? As to pawn shops or Craigslist, the seller is not going to help you as they don’t want to take the loss. I’m truly sympathetic to your loss, but photos and paperwork will be the only defense you have to protection -- and then only after the fact." - Gary S.
Others still thought that marking your tools did have value. - Editor
"Larger tools with serial numbers can be shown to belong to you if you have a record of the purchase and serial numbers. Engraving tools without serial numbers like wrenches could be useful if the tools are recovered in order to demonstrate they are yours and not somebody else's." - Bill H.
"I've only found marking tools to be handy around a large jobsite. If someone borrowed your screw gun, you could see it across the room if it were painted bug guts green Still wouldn't work with a determined thief though, they don't care what color it is if they're going to sell it for $20 at the pawn shop. If there were a foolproof method to prevent thievery, I think we'd all be doing it already." -John
And others had a few more suggestions for methods of markings and inventory. - Editor
"One place where I used to work had metal inventory tags and a spreadsheet. They affixed small metal tags with an inventory number to all equipment and tools as the equipment and tools came in. They had a spreadsheet that listed the tool (or piece of equipment), a description of the tool, serial number, the area or room where it could be found, etc. I made a similar spreadsheet for my tools for insurance purposes. You could probably find the adhesive-backed inventory tag online, with or without bar codes." - J.L.
"I got household inventory software for my phone. I take a pic, enter all the available info, including model, serial number, purchase location, price, date, barcode, etc. Then my phone backs itself up daily to the cloud and I am happy. The killer was getting the initial info in the phone, but now it is a non-event and [Love of My Life] will have a clue when she needs to clean out the shop in 20 years or so." - Merle
"Spend a little time with a phone video or video on a still cam. Open drawers rifle through them, churn up the stuff at the bottom. Save the vids to the cloud, external HD, flash drive...whatever. As time and ambition coincide, do the full-on spreadsheet/receipt capture route." - Tom D.