Thursday, May 30, 2013

Refinishing the dining room mortem.

The before picture...we are obviously in need of some new finish on the dining room table.  What was left of the old finish was awfully sticky.

I started with a card scraper and that quickly escalated to several hand planes.  The table top needed to be flattened a bit so I wasn't too worried about removing material.  Unfortunately the top is made from a variety of small boards that were glued up with the grain going every which way. I got some pretty bad tear-out in a few pieces and had to resort to the belt sander to get the remainder of the finish and clean up the tear-out.

After the belt sander I broke out the new ROS.  Luckily I used a higher grit belt than I started with on the ROS...not out of any brilliant planning, I was just too lazy to change it.  The ROS is a lot less agressive than the belt sander so being able to step down to an even lower grit (60 I think, had an 80 on the belt sander) for the first couple passes helped speed things up.

Once the belt sander marks were gone I started working on the edge.  A goose-neck scraper got the bulk of the old finish off.  I found that the ROS pads worked really well for sanding the curved edge as the thickness helped spread out the pressure a bit.  Getting the edge all cleaned up was a bit tedious but once that was done it was back to the ROS to take the top up to 320.

A raking light helped identify areas that needed a bit more attention, but a final wipe down with mineral spirits still found a few more scratches that I had to go back and deal with. I have taken to making a light pencil mark on the scratch while it is wetted so I can find it once the surface dries, usually once the pencil mark is gone I'm good to go.

Then on to finishing.  I was originally planning on filling the pores in the top to get a nice smooth surface. After sanding two coats of oil/varnish blend into the top and still having a long way to go I bagged that idea and decided to just not go for as much of a build with the final coats of poly.  Once the oil/varnish mess dried (This took several days before the oil stopped seeping out of the pores) I started wipping on coats of thinned poly..5 in total I think.

I sanded between every other coat with 400 grit silicon carbide paper lubed up with mineral spirits. After the last coat dried I went over it with some 1000 grit (I think) paper, aslo lubricated.

All in all I am pleased with the results. I have decided that I really don't enjoy working with red oak very much.  

Things I learned:
  1. I really don't like red oak.. dont like cutting it, dont like planing it, dont like sanding it and dont like finishing it.
  2. A belt sander can cure many sins with a hand plane...but it can also take quite a bite out of a surface if you aren't careful.
  3. Pore filling by sanding oil/varnish blend into the surface takes way more time than I am willing to give it, at least for red oak.
What I would do differently:
  1. Start with the belt sander and work up through a couple grits to something pretty fine. I think this would be a lot faster than trying to sand out the scratches from an 80 grit belt with a 60 grit ROS pad.
  2. Work someplace with more space so I can get more than a foot away from the piece to looks for defects on the top.
  3. Skip the oil/varnish and go straight for wiping poly.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shaker Step Stool...Complete

The step stool is complete.  It was finished with danish oil and wipe on poly.

A few extra coats of poly on the steps for added protection. The birds-eye figure really shines with a bit of depth to the finish.

I am pleased with the results of my dovetailing efforts.  

The few minor gaps I ended up with were easily filled and almost invisible.

Next up...refinishing the dining room table.

Then maybe a side table for the downstairs living room.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Productive weekends are great.

After some nice spring skiing I tackled the ceiling in our bedroom yesterday and got a nice coat of white ceiling paint on...ugh.

Today was biking and then shop projects and cleanup.  I have been accumulating lumber lately and have found that the bottom of the larger miter saw bench isn't very convenient for storing it.  Finally picked up some construction lumber and spent the afternoon getting a decent lumber rack built on the wall above that bench.

I ripped pressure treated 2x4s in half and nailed them to the cement walls with the 22cal nailer.  

The supports themselves are just 2x3 studs with OSB brackets.  Simple and cheap, yet effective.

Also figured out a decent way to store the big clamps.  Attached a piece of scrap across the end of one of the shelving units.

I have been sketching some designs for a small side table which would use part of the wide Mahogany board that I've got.  The top will be 12" x roughly 3ft.  I want to have the top floating above the side skirts.  I've drawn it with both a breadboard end...

..and with an underside taper on the end s of the top.  I think that the bread-board end works a bit better.

I think that since the table is relatively small I could get away without any lower stretchers.  Adding them would allow for a lower shelf that might be nice.

Would love to hear any feedback on the design...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Three of my favorite things...

Last weekend Natalie headed off on a trip for work leaving me home to my own devices.... I made the most of the situation.

I started the day off with a couple hours on the mtn bike down the road at the Centennial Cone open space park.  18 miles of sweet, sweet single-track that was perfectly tacky from the recent snow.

On my way back to the house I stopped by the store and picked up a rack of ribs. After cleaning out the's been overdue for awhile.. I got some applewood smoke rolling and loaded up the ribs.  I spent the afternoon cutting the rest of the dovetails for the shaker step stool that I am working on while checking the ribs every half hour to apply the bourbon mop.

Just in time for dinner I finished up the dovetails and got the two sides glued up and in the clamps. After two hours of smoke the ribs spent another hour wrapped in foil and then onto the plate with some smoked sweet potato mash and leftover Thai past salad.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shaker Step Stool...part III

Over this past weekend I was able to get the rest of the dovetails cut for the shaker step stool.  Here it is, dry fit to check alignment.  So far so good.

On Sunday, Nick and I took a trip down the hill to run some errands.  One of the things I picked up was some Old Brown Glue.  I have been thinking about trying liquid hide glue for awhile and thoughts this would be a great opportunity as I was sure that glueing the dovetails would result in a lot of squeeze out. Some quick feedback from the guys on the MWA G+ community while we were driving convinced me that the OBG was the way to go for liquid hide glue.

When it came time to glue the steps in place...I learned a few things.  You do get a lot of squeeze out glueing dovetails, liquid hide glue makes things nice and slippery for assembly.....and I need some shorter clamps.

Did I mention that I need some shorter clamps?  or just more clamps in general.  I should have glued each of the front stretchers separately or at least used a caul across the front of them.

Out of the clamps, not too bad.  Still needs some cleanup.  Hardest part about cleaning up the endgrain of the tails was clamping the stool well enough to keep the plane from just chattering across. I was glad I spent the time sharping all the plane irons as birdseye maple end grain is tough stuff, even with a sharp blade.

The other thing that I bought while out and about on sunday was a Bosch random orbit sander and a stack of sanding disks.  The disks were on clearance at Rockler, I'm guessing because they are 5 hole disks.  Luckily they seem to work just fine with the 8 hole sander.  Attaching the shop vac was not terribly successful as the hose I have is pretty stiff and I felt that there was too much suction to allow the sander to really work properly.  After working with the sander for a couple days I can say that the built in dust collection is so good I may not even mess with trying to get a better setup for the shop vac.  I've still been wearing a respirator, but I can sand without getting covered in dust. 

Here it is, all cleaned up and rough sanded.  I still have a few more areas to touch up and then its time to do the finish sanding and get some finish on it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Shaker step stool..part II

Some progress and some questions.  I put some finish on a few offcuts and I am pleased with how the wood looks.

The dovetails for the lower step are also done and came out pretty decent for my first attempt in thicker stock.  Tried a few different techniques but found that the hand saw worked best for cutting to my marks and then using the band saw to hog out most of the waste before cleaning them up with the chisels.

Not to bad, definitely room for improvement though.

Lower step dry fit.  I am thinking about cutting about an inch off the height.  It is currently 10 inches with the stop step at 20.  I think 8 or 9 inches might be perfect.