Planning ahead for a major project

I still have a lot of work left on the dining table but with the recent release of theAnarchist’s  Design Book I decided to get a head start on the dinning room chairs to go with it.  The long term plan is a set of windsors but in the mean time Chris Schwartz’s stick chairs look like a great option.  When describing wood choices for seats Chris mentioned Eucalyptus makes a good seat matrial because of its interlocking grain and since I live in Northern California, Eucalyptus is readily available.

After a Saturday trip to the green waste saw mill I am now the owner of 425 lbs of green Tasmanian Blue Gum (eucalyptus globulus) which is by the most common species in the USA.  I picked up 22 linear feet of 10 inch wide 10/4 for the seats and 11 linear feet of 5/4 for the backs; enough for 6 seats and 12 backs.


the guys at the mill are always amazed when I show up in the Outback

This stuff is wet (it was milled last week) so after a post on the Lost Art Press forum, some internet research, and the board lengths I decided to cut the wood into 22 inch blanks before drying.  While Blue Gum is super hard when dry, right now my circular saw cut through it like butter.

Unfortunately, while cutting up the boards I discovered an end crack in one of the thick boards that I had not noticed at the mill.  The grain I that board had a twist at the end that I missed so one end was quartersawn and the other transitioned from flat to quartersawn over the width of the board, introducing tension that resulted in a crack.

Blue Gum is notorious for warping, splitting, and collapsing during the drying process so I did some research before deciding to buy green.  The mill said only about 1 out of every 10 trees that come in are suitable for furniture (the rest becomes mulch and landscaping timbers) and I tried to only pick quarter and rift sawn boards.  Some researchers found that periodic wetting of the wood surface helps to minimize checking/collapse and then I found this research that explained the standard drying process used by industry.


Who wants to play dominos?

First the boards were washed to remove the mud and saw dust then set in the shade for an hour before being block stacked and wrapped in plastic.  

The boards will sit wrapped in plastic for the next few weeks before they are racked out on stickers in the traditional manner.  I will likely rip the boards down to remove defects at that stage and I will update posts as the air drying progresses.

Finally Recoverd from the Flu

This weekend I finally felt well enough to get back into the shop so progress has been made.  Before the flu hit, I had rough cut the 2x4s for the table’s frame.  Since I’m using Douglas Fir, I decided to minimize the splintering and scored both sides of the cut.


As I mentioned previously, I decided to move a bit to the dark side and invest in a power thickness planer.  My Sunday trip to Home Depot became a bit of a comedy of errors; I had checked online that it was in stock but when I arrived at the store the shelves were empty.  A quick check with the sales associate located the extra stock at the top of a self and the next hour and a half involved 7 people, a ladder, and two different powered lifters.  Purchasing the darn thing took almost all of nap time so I was was not able to do much more than setup/adjust the machine before I had had to call it an afternoon.

My shop assistant helping to adjust the feed tables

The few test boards I ran through this evening came out with an almost mirror finish so overall I am impressed with the results.  My one complaint is that the dust collector interferes with the rear feed table folding up to setting up and putting away requires a screw driver and takes longer than I would like but the impressive effective dust collection more than makes up for it.

A rough start to the year.

So far it has been a rough 2016 for the Woodworking Consultant household; we found out our son needs a second surgery, my wife had a miscarriage, and a flu virus worked its way through the entire family (I was the final victim, it took me down for nearly a week and yes, we all had flu shots).

Between all of the above, my time in the shop has been very limited and I am far behind schedule on the new dinning table.  I dislike milling lumber, and the large pile of milling that needs to be done for the legs has been discouraging so in an attempt to get back on schedule I have decided to buy an electric planer sooner than I had intended. My original plan had been to wait until I was confident in my ability to mill by hand but alas, progress must be made.  This is especially true since the Anarchist Design Book has finally been released and I am itching to get started build some staked chairs.

I had always planned on getting a small lunch box planer and after a bit of research I decided on the DeWalt DW734.  Its cheaper than its newer cousin and since I use hand planes for the final surface I really don’t need two feed speeds.

Building a new workbench :-)

Friday after getting home from work and having dinner I decided to build a new workbench.  I know I just finished my Roubo workbench but it was time for a second bench.  Surprisingly this one it power tool focused.

The Black & Decker Junior Carpenters Workbench was a gift for our son a while back but he was still a bit young.  His recent obsession with tools in my workshop meant it was time to put it together.  Amazingly it assembles using the toy screwdriver and wrench.

At the moment it will live in the dinning room but eventually we will move it to the garage so he has a place to work when I’m in the shop.

Leg Vise Costs (and some table work)

Last night, on the bus ride home from work, I was reading Bill’s recent post on his Slightly Confused Woodworker blog regarding the virtues of leg vises.  I agree with him they, are awesome.  One point he mentioned was how cheap they are to build so I decided to calculate the hardware costs for the one I built; and because I purchased some of the Moxon Vise hardware at the same time I calculated its cost as well.

Acme Hex Nuts $   10.50
3′ Acme Rod $ 16.00
Total Hardware $ 26.50
Acme Cost Per Vise(2) $ 13.25
Leg Vise Acme $ 13.25
Bronze Bearing $   5.44
Total Leg Vise Hardware Cost $ 18.69
Moxon Vise Acme $ 13.25
Bronze Bushings (2) $ 10.40
Total Moxon Hardware Cost $ 23.65

As you can see the cost is pretty darn reasonable.I purchased my parts online (Amazon and eBay) so I’m sure the cost would have been lower from a metal working shop and you could really do without the bronze bearings.  I don’t remember what the maple cost (the rest of the wood was scrap in my shop) and you would need to include the cost of the 5 minute epoxy used to attach the acme rod to the hubs but overall they are very reasonable.

Try doing that with a metal vise.

Last night I ended up using my leg vise to true up one of the table edges and then cross cut the ends to be perpendicular to that side.  The ends will need some block plane work before I start cutting the breadboard tenons and the opposite side needs some adjustment but that will wait until the stand is farther along.  Now that I know the width is 34.5 inches, I can start work on the legs.

Table Progress and a Diversion

After looking at the options we decided to ignore the board widths and go with the original show faces.  After a bit of smoothing and edge jointing I had a serviceable spring joint.


After a moderately annoying glue-up I have a table top.


Maybe I finally have enough clamps.

Unfortunately, the table work was interrupted by household work.  While I was making lunch during nap time, my oldest suddenly came walking out of his room and into the kitchen as he has now apparently learned how to climb out of his crib.  Two more escapes made it clear that we needed to convert the crib into its bed format however the piece needed to make the conversion apparently did not make the move so off to Home Depot for a piece of walnut.

After cutting it to length and jointing the edges a few passes with the cabinet scraper we were good to go.


Some garnet shellac and some pocket screws and we were good to go.


Starting 2016 with some Table Progress

Well it looks like I spoke to soon when I said last months glue up occured without any problems; the boards ended up in reverse order from what I intended.  I guess that is more of a planning error than a glue up error but the net effect is the same.

I’m using boards of variable width so the plan had been to make the outside edges of the table the wide boards and the narrow boards in the middle.  Unfortunately this is how it currently is.
My first thought to correct it was to level the backside and flip one of them over, unfortunately this results in a book matched look that emphisies the color variation in the boards.
All of my careful layout work for naught.  This could have been avoided if I had glued the top up as one piece or if I had a larger shop space or if I had killed all of the boards and re-done the layout.  Live and learn.

Tomorrow I’ll set up some saw horses in the sun and we shall see which looks better.