Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What in the Wide World of Sports Is A Goin' On Here?

Those of you who know me, know that I can be a bit of a practical joker.  Well the last one bit me in the hind quarters.  Suffice it to say that a crank call to an old friend and colleague resulted in a job offer that I could not refuse.  So on May 6th I came out of retirement and went back to work, with a "very flexible" schedule.

In a previous post I mentioned I was able to get the dye stain on the king size bed before leaving town.  After being gone for two weeks I returned to the shop to apply the brown mahogany stain.  I applied said stain, allowed it to sit and then wipe off the excess, as per the instructions.  Much to my dismay it looked nothing like the sample board made with the exact same dye and stain.  It had a much redder appearance.  See post title for the family friendly version of my reaction.  I spent the next 2 1/2 hours with a maroon pad and water (water based stain) stripping off the newly applied stain.  

It was upon the completion of the aforementioned stripping I swore (and I mean I swore) off all woodworking except for building chairs.  It was obvious to my wonderful wife that I was in need of an intervention.  She quickly appeared at the shop door with an icy cold Land Shark and talked me off the the headboard ledge.  Two days later, an appropriate cooling off period and time to allow everything to dry completely, I was ready to attack staining again.

This time I stained a small area and immediately wiped off the excess.  The results were so close to the sample I deemed it a success.  After allowing the stain to dry for 24 hours, it has been quite humid here in Kentucky, I sealed it with wax free shellac.  Later today or tomorrow, I will go over the entire piece with a very fine pad and apply a thin coat of satin poly.  I did this with the sample board and the results were a semi-gloss sheen that Carol and I like.

I did say a few weeks back that the subjects of future posts might be a bit different.  Working out of town quite a bit will keep me away from my shop more than I would like.  After many a conversation with my brother-in-law Rick, I offered to help him finish setting up his shop in the evening after work.  As a result, I will have access to a "Satellite Shop" while I am away from home.  Rick is a very talented individual and artist who is not afraid to try anything.  I look forward to working in Rick's shop.  A hint of what the future may hold is pictured below.  By the way this is the result of one of those conversations.


~ Ray Schwanenberger

Friday, May 3, 2013

Method of Work

While I am away from the shop I have been thinking about the most efficient way of working when building case goods, beds, and things other than chairs. With Windsor chairs my process is pretty straight forward. Split the log, work the spindles to an octagon shape, shape the arm and bow (if building a Sack Back) and bend in the forms, then set to dry. Leg and stretcher billets are turned out of stock that was split and turned round to dry. While all parts dry, I carve the seat, and so on.

However, with things other than chairs, I usually put on paper my little sketch with some dimensions and into the shop I go. Man do I save time on the front end! I choose my material and I begin. I get the framework of the piece built and then build the details in accordance to what the newly constructed frame work calls for. Sounds fairly easy and straight forward does it not? Suffice it to say, things are not as they seem in my somewhat wonky mind.

With this method, I end up doing so many different machine set-ups it is unbelievable. As you can imagine this can result in minuscule discrepancies in measurement accuracy, which in turn leads to woodworker frustration, and results in me writing this blog post.

I have sought professional help for this malady and here is the advice I have received, as I heard it. Start with as accurate of a drawing as possible. Time to learn Sketch-Up! Develop a cut list, to prove the piece can be built and to purchase material. Take time and think about how to efficiently break down the material with minimal machine set-ups. THEN begin building! Build the carcass, dispose of the cut list, and finish with the remaining parts.

I hope I understand the advice I have been given but more importantly I must fight the urge to skip the prep work. I wonder if there is a support group out there?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Great Cause and Working At New Heights

Allow me tell you about a very good thing I was made aware of the other day.  It is a project being put together by woodworker and blogger Sam Cappo.  Sam is putting together a user set of tools, building a tool chest and then giving it all away to a deserving woodworker.  If you have any extra tools, please consider donating.  To view a list of sought after tools and all the details of this project go to Sam's blog,

Yes this is a first, building furniture from a ladder.  I needed to let in the bed rail hardware and this was the easiest way to accomplish said task.  These rails are 82 1/2" long and there was just no other good way, that I could think of, to balance my palm router. Thank goodness it is hidden.

Because the first coat of the stain is a water based dye stain and I had done some sanding, I needed to raise the grain prior to dying/staining.  After the wood had dried I discovered these little spots.  They looked like rust spots.  I can only assume they are the result of water mixing with some type of mineral in the wood.

After I knocked the fuzz off with 320 grit paper they disappeared, and did not reappear with the first coat of dye stain.


Here is a look after the first coat.  I used General Finishes Light Brown Dye Stain for the first coat.  I will follow that with GF Brown Mahogany pigment stain.  This will obscure the grain to some degree but it will allow me to even out the color and hide some of the mineral stains that are within the wood.

Due to my schedule it will be a couple of weeks before I will be able to apply the second coat and top coat to finish this project.  Before I move this monster into our bedroom I will get some studio pics taken of it along with the Continuous Arm Windsor.

My next project and blog subject is going to be a bit different so stay tuned.

~ Ray Schwanenberger