Winter is Coming (so back to the shop)

The past few months have been pretty light on shop time for a variety of reasons.  First I was sick, then there was a month long series of interviews for what would have been a major career change and move (didn’t work out), and then September and October were warm and sunny which was more conducive to yard work and family time.  But now the fog is officially back and the nights are getting longer so I am back in the shop.

There has been a lot of milling recently and the eucalyptuses seat blanks in particular have been wearing me out.  Between their weight and hardness combined with the weird way the dried (the middles of the boards collapsed so I lost a lot of thickness), I think it will be a long time before I work with Tasmanian Blue Gum again.


I did get a seat template made that will make layout easier and joinering more consistent.  I have been using this to make a first pass in polar and red oak.


This weekend I manned to rough mill leg and spindle blanks and made some tapering re-saws to straighten the grain for the crest rail blanks.  I’m hoping I end up with at least four good crest tails and seat blanks.

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Evening Steam

Well everything got clamped down and I didn’t hear any pops or cracks so maybe this will be the first successful bend of the Tasmanian Bluegum.  Find out on Friday.

While I waited for the steamer to heat up I I stacked the seat blanks that have been drying for the past year.  One of then had a split so I decided to froe it apart.  I can attest that once it drys, the interlocking grain is tough to split.

A bit of chair progress

It’s been pretty light on woodworking recently as time and energy have been in short supply.  That said, last weekend I made a bit of progress on the stick chairs including the first successful crest rail bend.

After looking at the bending form I decided to smooth out the curve a bit and used the band-saw and spindle sander to make the adjustment. After the sander, it was finally time to use the compass plane I purchased years ago (the rear handle broke off first time I tried to use it, unscrupulous dealer hid a JB Weld repair) and it smoothed out the high spots quite well.


While cleaning the garage I found a piece of ash left over from the bench build and decided to use it as a test bend.  It worked perfectly.  Hopfully I can get a successful bend in eucalyptus soon.

Ipe Fence

I had big plans; my wife and kids were going to be out of the house for the month of august and I was going to knock out a few projects around the house.  Unfortunately, shortly before 4th of July weekend I got sick and it took 2 months to figure out what it was (I’m 98% back to normal).  On the plus side I lost a bunch of weight that needed loosing but on the downside very little got done.

Sunday I finally got started on one of those projects.  When we moved into our house I had the old retaining walls inspected and was told they had decades of life left so rather than replace them we planned to hide them: the right one with a bamboo hedge and the left with a decorative fence.

I had originally planned on using cedar for the fence but 6 months ago I found some Ipe (Brazilian Walnut) on Craig’s list and have been storing it in my garage ever since.  I had sunk the support posts a while back (the retaining wall has no footing) so I mitered 7 boards to length using my circular saw and pre-drilled screw holes (I’m using self taping stainless screws so predrilling was more about maintaining spacing) which was followed by walnut tinted deck oil on all sides.


The oil was taking forever to dry so they were installed with the oil still wet.  Once all of the pieces are installed and dry I will put on another coat on the face.

Another 4 or 5 boards will be added along with a return on the right side.

Dining Table Bench – Finish is On

As I had hoped the fog cleared and the sun came out on Sunday afternoon.  Both the top and bottom spent a bit of time in the sun while I set up the new HVLP sprayer that I picked up on clearance from highland woodworking.


I’ve got to say the sprayer was a great addition to my garage, it makes finishing so much quicker and easier.  The top received around 7 or 8 coats of amber shellac (thinned from the can to 2 lb) and the base received 1 coat of amber (to use up what was in the sprayer and 6 or 7 coats of garner shellac (in an attempt to darken in a bit more.  I sprayed the parts separately and then reassembled.

All in all I am happy with the results so thanks to Mr. Plane for his staining advice last year.  I will let the finish harden this week and then finish it up next weekend.  I’m going to burnish it a bit and apply paste wax (clear on the top and darker on the base).


This lumber was riddled with was I assume was Ash  Borer damage that managed to heal.  It makes for some interesting figure.