Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Everything's a Nail

The old phrase "when you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail" ran through my head all day today in the shop. I was doing the finish assembly on a Birdcage armchair and at every turn, my shipment of felt from Duro-Felt kept coming into play. (No, I don't own stock in the company!)

I purchased the hard felt in 1 inch and 1/2 inch thickness to see what applications it might have beyond the clamping that I showed before. When working with near finished parts, especially round ones, I am constantly fighting little dents, flats spots and dings from the vise or shave horse. So I took the 1/2 inch stock and cut some off on the bandsaw (probably a sin) and used it in the shavehorse to buffer the parts. 
When I release the pressure on the horse, the felt opens as well and I didn't even notice it, except that I didn't have to go back and fix any dings!

Round pieces are a pain to bend, work and hold without creating flats, but in the vise, the felt worked great. The hold is just as firm.

And of course, the stuff is perfect for sanding pads. I could tell that the amount of time that it took to sand a faceted crest was cut down substantially and the pieces came out more even. From what I've read, it also helps the paper last longer.  The only question on my mind is where will it come in handy next.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Clamping Strategy

One of my favorite parts of making chairs the way that I do is that there is almost no clamping involved in the assembly. I always disliked the scrambling to set clamps during complex glue ups. But one place where I have expanded my use of clamps is during bending.

When the wood comes out of the steamer it's soft and quick to take impressions of the form, and more detrimentally, the clamp itself.  In most applications where the workpiece presents a flat surface to the form and the clamp, the soft clamp pads that come on my Irwin clamps protect the workpiece from clamp dinging just fine. 
But lately, I have been bending turned pieces and the round surface loves to flatten from the pressure. I solved the form side of the problem by cutting a v notch that houses the bend. To protect the clamp side, I've started playing with hard felt pads.

In the image above, you can see that the workpiece has left it's impression in the felt, rather than the other way around. Much better!!

On simpler portions of the workpiece, I've found that I can reduce distortion by simply cutting a v notch in a clamp block.

These days, I find myself wanting to bend turned pieces more and more, and these simple techniques nearly eliminate hassle of reworking them to remove clamp damage. I have ordered some larger (and cheaper) pads from Duro-Felt in Arkansas that I plan to cut up and use. I ordered some 1" thick stuff and some 1/2" thick, thinking that I might also line some of my forms.

The block should be harder felt than you might think would work ( I ordered the stock with the H notation), but remember, the steam and moisture coming from the wood acts on the felt to soften and mold it to the shape. I'll post more results as they happen.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Drawknife Grinding (Video)

Here is the video demonstration of the jig that I showed a couple of days ago. If you are going to attempt this, please take great care and follow all safety procedures. Grinders seem relatively benign, but they are moving fast and can do damage before you know it!!!

Josh, I hope this helps and thanks for writing in,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Shot Heard 'round the World

I got an email from Glen Rundel from the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking in Australia with this image of their fleet of lasers ready to do battle! I love the Star Wars quality of their holding jigs.

I guess that once Greg Pennington's great laser idea got out into the ether, there was no stopping it from becoming a new standard. This photo even inspired me to get a couple myself, especially because I'll be teaching there later this year and don't want to look like a newbie!

This image really shows the benefit of using the laser for reaming. While you can do just a well with bevel squares and sightlines, let's face it, reaming a seat for the first time is challenging enough, and if this helps, great!

Glen, thanks for the pics