Speaking of home brewed finishes, Rich Flynn wrote in with a recipe for an oak ebonizing stain. The basic ingredients are rusty iron and vinegar. Get the rusty iron by washing steel wool with dishwashing liquid, rinsing, and leaving the washed steel wool in small tub (Kool-Whip size) of water to rust. (He suggests oxygenating the steel wool with an old aquarium pump for faster results.) When nicely rusted, the steel wool is placed in a covered container with distilled vinegar and left to brew for four to six weeks. Strain the result to remove particles. Rubbing or brushing into oak (red or otherwise) will provide a very dark stain, usually within 20 to 30 minutes … but you can speed pore penetration by adding a drop of dishwashing liquid to the stain. He got professional-looking results on the handle of a try square. Now he’d like to hear about other home recipes. Send ’em in!
And according to Umberto Arceduro, a recipe for the gunstock stain can be found on pages 116-117 of Jim Richey’s book “The Best Tips from 25 Years of Fine Woodworking.” Though it’s a bit involved, he’s seen it work like magic on figured maple.
On Becoming a Master Furniture Maker
Bob and Cathy Brody declared the term “master furniture maker” an oxymoron and the entire discussion moot anyway, since Norm Abram, is in fact, a self-anointed “Master Carpenter.”
To prevent glue spots from showing up after staining (or clear finishing), Donald Weimer suggests wiping the project with a rag dampened with a thinner compatible with the planned finish (e.g., mineral spirits for oil stain or varnish). This removes dust and points out any glue spots that should be scraped or sanded before the piece is finished.
Uneven Dado Cuts
Umberto Arceduro also wrote that threaded sections on the arbors of most common saws are slightly under-sized — a hair less than 5/8″ diameter — and that’s what causes many uneven dadoes. A single blade will center properly, since the unthreaded shoulder of the arbor is usually a true 5/8″. Multiple blades, however, (especially those stacked last) will be off-center and cause scoring. Other than buying a higher quality saw, he offered two solutions:
1. Have the arbor machined to a consistent diameter, and stack the blades onto a thin bushing. Though the concave side of the arbor washer offers some tolerance, different lengths of bushing will be needed to match the thickness of the stack.
2. Use a wobble dado blade (his preferred solution). They are engineered to cut flat-bottomed dadoes at 3/4″ width … the most common dado dimension. Slight rises and drops caused by uneven arbors are hardly noticeable.