Dining Table Bench – First Coat of Oil

Earlier this week I finally got a coat of oil on the bench and left it to cure.  I wish I had remembered Jack Plane’s post about adding lamp black to oil as the grain needs a bit more color.  Hopefully I’ll wet sand another coat of oil later this week.

In line with darkening the finish up a bit I did some more test work on the sample piece. I mixed up some warm and burnt Cyprus umber pigment with some water and wiped it on after taping off some areas (The golden strip has some spray shellac on it).

Based on this, I think I will mix up some oil with black epoxy colorant (which I have from a chair repair) and some the the same pigments and try to wet sand it into the test board.  I was hoping to shoot shellac this weekend but the summer fog has arrived so it will depend on the weather.

Raised planter – part 4

After a week at the Jersey Shore (south jersey so no Snookie – I hate the fact I know that reference) I tried to get caught up on the planter but between jet lag and what appears to be bug I’ve picked up progress in as slow.  Working with heavy timbers wears you out so test fitting joints is tough.  I have even more respect for timber framers.

Unfortunately, my circular saw blade is not large enough to cut all the way through so each cut requires followup hand work.  This is made even worse by the interlocking grain and curly figure in the wood so I can’t pop out large chucks with my large chisel.

Making matters even worse, my foot long 1/4″ drill bit snapped about half way through so the last screws had to be driven in without pilot holes.  Luckily I started adding paraffin wax so I only snapped one screw.

The goal was to get one tier installed so I could finish leveling the yard (this tier will be partially buried).  Since I have no idea when I will be installing the next two levels, I went ahead and applied deck stain to these to protect them from UV exposure.  I went with DEFY Extreme water based wood stain in color Cedar which is supposed to be the best deck stain that is legal in California.  Overall I like the color though it does muddy up the grain (something all semi transparent deck stains would do).  I will say the timber that spent the week outside getting wet and dirty looks the best so maybe the other boards will darken as they age.

I had trouble finding a sample online for how the DEFY Extreme Cedar would look on Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus aka Tanzanian Blue Gum) so hopefully if anyone else out there is curious this will help them out.

Raised Planter part 3

Well I’m sure I will regret this decision in a few years when it rots out but I decided to put a layer of pressure treated lumber between the base  timbers and the upper layers.  This will give me an extra inch and a half of height and it will provide support for the first step timber.

I probably should have ordered another set of timbers for the layer but I’m loosing the next two weekends so I don’t have the time for another sawmill trip.  Plus I had the lumber sitting around (it was used as border edging in the yard) and I don’t want to spend the extra money as we are already over budget.

The closest thing to woodworking I have done in quite a while – Raised Planter Part 1

I have moved my yard renovation project to its own dedicated blog since I doubt anyone interested in woodworking wants to see me move dirt around but my long dry spell for woodworking is getting a temporary reprieve with the construction of a timber raised planting bed.  During construction of the walls and leveling the yard I discovered that the difference in yard height between the two properties was higher than expected and I encountered a concrete footing that interfered with the wall’s foundation.  The solution to both of these problems was the addition of a raised planter bed made of timbers.


Last weekend I picked up 1,500lbs of eucalyptus landscaping timbers from my usual green waste saw mill.  They were a bit wetter than I was hoping but I hate the look of pressure treated lumber so this was the best option.  Those step pieces are 6″ x 12″ x 3′ and weigh ~100lbs each.


The surface saw marks were a bit rougher than I was hoping and the attempt to run them through my thickness planer was comedic at best.  Normally I would have just used by #6 plane to take down the rough bits but between my shot timeline and my physical limitations (I am doing heavy labor every weekend and every night after work) I decided to get an electric hand planer.  I picked up the Porter Cable one from Amazon and it arrived last night (the irony is I turned down a free Makita one that my dad offered me last year).

After moving dirt around until dark (around 8:30) I moved to the garage and fired up the new tool.  The planer made short work of the saw marks (green eucalyptus it soft stuff, not so much when dry) and I was able to “smooth” 4 of the three foot long timbers before stopping around 9.  All in all I think it was a good decision though I do wish I had time to let the timbers sit around for a few month before installing/staining them.

Trestle Table – finish for the top part 1

It was a surprisingly productive weekend; lots of stock prep for the next couple of projects and the table top received its first coat of finish.

The contractors finally finished their work so we were able to get the house put back together which meant I was able to dig out the table top and test how well it sits on the base in its final resting place.  The fit was good but there were a few minor gaps so I carried it down the stairs to the garage and spent some time with my number 8 and flattened the bottom.  I then squared up the ends with my low angle block plane and the edges received a chamfer to help minimize child damage.

To speed things up, we decided to drop the breadboard ends and I decided to do something I hate and pulled out the random orbit sander.  120 grit removed most of the tool marks and then I wiped it down with a damp cloth to ensure there were no glue spots.  220 followed and the top was smooth enough for oil. It lost the character but we need a new table.

The top received a nice soaking of BLO and then the residual was wiped away; this will sit for the rest of the week curing and next weekend it will receive a film finish (I’m off to New York City for work so it worked out well).

Friday and Saterday ended up being about stock prep.  All of the stock for my back stool is now S4S and I have the legs cut for my dining table bench.

The back piece (which will be steam bent) was fenangled out of one of the eucalyptus boards that self destructed.  One of the splits carried into the usable part of the board but luckily the planer took it out.  The plus side was that my hand plane revealed curly figure that should add some interest to the finished peice.

The other item was I finally broke down the last piece of the rotten tool box and found a few salvageable boards which will find their way into a project at some point.

This is the right hand board that was the bottom of the tool tote.  I’m assuming it’s redwood.

More wood for future project

Since my Eucalyptus is making good progress on the drying front and progress in the table is going well I decided it was time to get the lumber for the chair legs.  I have had zero luck finding suitable green lumber (my usual green waste contacts get very little oak except Coastal Live oak and no maple) so I made a trip to my usual hardwood supplier in the city.

I was hunting for red oak but after seeing ash is slightly cheaper so I picked up some 8/4 ash in addition to some 12/4 red oak (none of the 8/4 had arrow straight grain).  I also picked up some 12/4 yellow poplar since I have decided to make Chris Schwarz’s Staked Back Stool (from the Anarchist’s Design Book) as a learning project.

First step was to chop the red oak into 19 inch sections.

I attempted to use my froe to split off the legs but the 12/4 material is too thick.  Looks like I’ll need to set up the band saw.

While I had the planet out for the restless table I decided to run the poplar blanks through to get them to a consistent thickness.  I will slice them when I set up the band saw.

Live and learn

Well it’s always a good idea to get another opinion so after I block stacked my eucalyptus on sat I made a post on the Woodnet forum.  Luckily, someone pointed out that the block-stacking and the plastic wrap in the study were probably related to the Boron treatment and sure enough, some more google searching found that is indeed the case.  A summary of other studies suggested applying a plastic sheet over the racked lumber in the first few weeks would be a good idea.

I also discovered that I should have painted the end grain immediately after cross cutting to reduce checking.  So apparently tonight I am going to be painting end grain and re-stacking the boards with air gaps.  Hopefully I have not done too much damage.  I will still have the plastic sheeting over it for a few weeks to slow things down.

Update: luckily the hardware store in the financial district had some 1 by 2 pine and we drove to work today so when I got home I cut them down to size and used the band saw to rip them in half.  The. My shop assistant helped me to restack the lumber and  painted the end grain with some leftover latex paint.  The wratchet straps will keep the stack from getting knocked over and the plastic sheeting will slow the drying process and keep off the rain.