This reader’s project skillfully combines three different species without sacrificing the pieces’ cohesive looks.
This is a desk and chair I recently made for my granddaughter that now has a place to do her homework. It’s made from leftover oak, maple, and walnut. The top is made from walnut plywood left from a dining table project and quarter-sawn oak edging remaining from a rocking chair project. The front chair legs are made from a piece of 100-year-old oak beam salvaged from a barn demolition. Does this make it a “green” project?
- Paul Douglass; Centennial CO
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In September, I wrote that, while stain is often superfluous, especially on prime woods, it can be a lifesaver on plain or uneven woods. At the time, I promised I’d revisit the topic and offer a few tips on how to stain without making wood look muddy, fake, or painted. Well, today’s the day.
First, some basics. Stains can be colored with pigment, which is ground-up colored dirt, or with dye, which dissolves. Pigments are relatively large particles suspended in liquid, but dyes dissolve, becoming vastly smaller particles the size of a molecule. Here, size matters.
I’ve never been particularly adept at sharpening my edge tools (chisels, plane irons, etc.). It’s not that I couldn’t get them sharp enough to work, it’s just that I’ve always experienced inconsistent results. One time, I’d get a blade so sharp, it simply glided through hard oak and maple. The next time I sharpened that blade, I’d be lucky if it didn’t tear its way through soft pine. Freehand sharpening always seemed like something that would take decades to get right (an opinion no doubt influenced by the fact that the best tool sharpener I know has made nearly 95 trips around the sun). The trick seems to be locking your wrists and fingers as you pass the tool over the stone, to keep the honing bevel at the same angle during every pass. Fail this, and you end up with a rounded bevel face and an edge that’s none too sharp. Yes, hollow grinding helps, as the tip and heel of the bevel are easier to keep flat on the stone. But unless the tool has a wide bevel, like a big chisel or heavy plane iron, even hollow grinding is no guarantee.
We may not have posted many reader projects lately, but that doesn’t mean you’ve stopped making them! Some nice stock selection for the tops and eye-catching drawer joinery help make these tables stand out in any setting.
Here are a few pictures of some arts and crafts inspired end tables I built. All mortise and tenon joinery, with a sand cast bronze drawer pull. The finish consists of General’s Mission Oak Gel Stain, topped with two coats of amber shellac and wax.
Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in!
What should I use on my wood furniture? It’s a question I frequently get just after someone hears an ad promoting some spray polish that “works like magic.” Here’s the sad truth: if it is ridiculously easy to use, it’s probably not what you expect. Life’s just like that.
The problem with most spray furniture polishes is not that they are harmful to furniture finishes (they’re not), or that they don’t work (they do), but rather that they put you on a treadmill. No, not the kind your spouse has been trying to get you on since your weight began to inexplicably inch upward. The metaphorical kind.
Here’s how it works. Many furniture polishes add sheen or luster by coating the finish with an ultra-thin layer of some oily compound. It looks nice and shiny for a while, but the oily film soon attracts, and holds, airborne dust. Before long, it looks dusty again and cries out for more polish.
Where will you spend your vacation time this summer? Do your travel plans include something related to woodworking or woodworking education?
One of my responsibilities with our magazine is to interview woodworking organizations for the Industry Interview department of our biweekly eZine. Recently, I called the Great Lakes Boat Building School to learn more about their mission and programs. They’ve got a lot going on for woodworkers of all skill levels.
Rob Johnstone gives you a sneak peek at the March/April 2012 issue, which you’ll find on newsstands soon, including the following:
Downdraft Sanding Cart
Working from a series of mock-ups and prototypes, the Woodworker’s Journal staff has designed one of the handiest build-your-own downdraft tables you’ll find, with features to hold your wood steady and, of course, confine the dust.
Stickley Hall Table
A particularly stunning piece of wood and some simple pocket-hole joinery combine to create a classically Arts and Crafts styled table (which knocks down for transport).
Simple Knife Block
Done totally on the table saw, this weekend project will provide you with handy homemade kitchen storage.
Tool Review: 1/4″-Sheet Sanders
Sandor Nagyszalanczy takes palm sanders in hand to review what’s out there on the basis of factors like power and sanding performance, ergonomics and ease of paper change, plus dust collection.
Today’s Shop: Benchtop Router Tables
Benchtop router tables have grown up: Chris Marshall takes you through the features that put today’s tables on an even playing field with the big boys.
As print readers of the Woodworker’s Journal know, we design a good number of the projects that are featured in our pages. And that is especially true of our shop projects. For example, in the April 2012 issue of the Woodworker’s Journal (on newsstands soon), we present a downdraft sanding cart. If I must say so myself, it is a very nice and truly functional project. How do I know that? Well, because I’ve tried it, of course. But, you might ask, how did we know it would work properly before we built it? Good question. How can we be sure our projects, specifically ones like this, whose primary feature must be functionality, are all we want them to be? It is a short answer, really: we build prototypes. We test out the ideas that we have with knocked-together mock-ups made from MDF, plywood or whatever we have lying around the shop.
I mentioned yellow poplar last month in my post about the Southern yellow pines, so I thought it would be appropriate to follow up on that. Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipfera), or tulip poplar for most of us Southerners, is one of two trees in the genus Liriodendron. The other is a native of China. Neither are true poplars. True poplars are in the willow family of trees, which also contain the genus Populus (cottonwoods), and which is Latin for “people” and was also the Latin name for “tree.” (I could get confused, too, if I didn’t write all this stuff down.)
As they ponder whether new safety standards are needed for table saws, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has extended the time frame available for public comments on the issue. You now have until March 16, 2012 to share your opinion with the CPSC on “the risk of injury associated with table saw blade contact, regulatory alternatives, other possible means to address this risk, and other topics or issues.” (The extension of the public comments period comes at the request of the Power Tool Institute, Inc.)