Everything is coming up roses

Yes, more marquetry.

I’m not going to get any shop time this weekend, but I wanted to set up for my next marquetry project.  “Set up” in this context means laminating newsprint onto the show face of the veneer with hot hide glue.  And sticky fingers.  My wife walked in the shop when I had a sheet of newsprint stuck to my hands and I was waving my arms to get it off.  That’s probably an image that won’t go away.

Here are the raw materials for the next marquetry project.  Backer (and "fronter") sheets, veneer for all the colors in the picture plus the background, and a reversed copy of the design.

Here are the raw materials for the next marquetry project. Backer (and “fronter”) sheets, veneer for all the colors in the picture plus the background, and a reversed copy of the design.

The design I’m going to do (note the positive attitude!) came from the UK marquetry society member’s library, it’s one of my favorites.  At least as a line drawing, I expect seeing it in color will be pretty good too.  I like that there is a lot of motion and detail, but that none of the parts are microscopic.

Here is the design, and the veneers I'm using.  Light, medium and dark green for the foliage and stems, bloodwood, bubinga and satinwood for the flowers.

Here is the design, and the veneers I’m using. Light, medium and dark green for the foliage and stems, bloodwood, bubinga and satinwood for the flowers.  The background will be swirled mahogany.  I’ll add a cross-banded border as I did on the last one too.

If you’ve followed my marquetry adventures the past few months you’ll recognize the main rose as one I did for a sand shading practice exercise.  The marquetry packet is 9″ x 12″, for scale.  Adding a border later will make this about 3″ wider and longer when completed.

The rose from this design

The rose from this design

Once I had all of the veneer sheets laminated with newsprint I shoved the whole gooey mess into the press to “cook”.  I’ll leave it like this overnight, then assemble the packet for cutting next week.

The clamping and drying parts aren't very entertaining.  Getting it into the press with it sticking your hands is jolly good fun though.

The clamping and drying parts aren’t very entertaining. Getting it into the press with it sticking your hands is jolly good fun though.

Meanwhile, I need to start something else.  I wonder what I could do with this?

I found this in my secret stash from a million years ago and smoothed it up.  I can think of one or two good uses for it...

I found this in my secret stash from a million years ago and smoothed it up. I can think of one or two good uses for it…

 

 

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Dutch Chest Lessons

Building the Dutch Tool Chest has had some important lessons for me.  Aside from the obvious “make sure the dovetails all face the same way”.

First, the one that bugs me most, is get decent lumber.  I got Common Pine (“whitewood”, a very soft pulpy wood-like material), which cupped after I got it home.  By the time I dressed it the “1 by 12″ (.749″ out the door) was closer to 5/8″ thin.  This doesn’t leave enough for nailing and dadoing in my view.  It also continued to move around after it was flattened, and is super soft.  I wanted Select Pine but the home center has been out for several weeks.

A consequence of the soft, thin boards is that the cut nails I’m using caused blow out in several spots as they went into the pre-drilled holes.

Wrought-head cut nails.  I like the look, the blowout on the endgrain, not so much.

Wrought-head cut nails. I like the look, the blowout on the endgrain, not so much.

Something else I’ll do differently is to put the back on after the drop-front is fitted so I can glue on the brackets for the sliding latch more easily.

Drop front ready for battens and some shaping on the catches for the latch bar.

Drop front ready for battens and some shaping on the catches for the latch bar.

I had a bit of a struggle with the boards on the back.  I decided to go with tongue and grooves instead of shiplap.  Problem #1 was my tongue and groove plane doesn’t make a joint that works right off the plane.  The tongue is too big (or the groove too small).  It’s problem with the cutter width, I’ll need to replace something there.  I also installed the boards from the top to bottom.  Bad call, I should have started at the bottom, and not cut the bevel on the top board until it was ready to go otherwise.  Live and learn.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this project was to dust off my hand tool skills and take a break from the crazy detail of marquetry.  I tuned up my coffin smoother, it leaves a super surface now.  That’s a great feeling, it works better than my metal smoother with a more carefully prepared blade.

Smoothing parts for the drop front latch.

Smoothing parts for the drop front latch.

This tool chest is going to get a coat of milk paint and go into service as storage in the house.  I’ll make another one to use when I go to woodworking classes.

Dovetails fit nicely (picture is after rough planing them level, cleanup still to do)

Dovetails fit nicely (picture is after rough planing them level, cleanup still to do)

Without grading on a curve, this will be a B-minus project when it’s done.  Everything will be functional and square, but the details aren’t quite a nice as I’d like.  I’ll do another with either select Pine, or maybe some VG Fir I saw at the wood store.

Just need to trim the lid and get some hinges to complete this one.

Just need to trim the lid and get some hinges to complete this one.

 

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MC Escher Tool Chest

Yesterday I posted a picture of a Dutch Tool Chest I’m making.  It’s just a busywork project, something to do for fun.  It was decidedly less fun when I discovered that I’d done the joinery for one end bass-ackwards.  Not really the end of the world, this is the cheap common pine.  It’s also slightly cupped, even after flattening it, it cupped again.

And it’s not like I need a tool chest.  Having said that, I’ll probably end up building two or three of these.

Kudos to Greg Merrit for nicknaming this the "MC Escher Chest".  I'm *never* buying plans from that Dutch Dude again...

Kudos to Greg Merrit for nicknaming this the “MC Escher Chest”. I’m *never* buying plans from that Dutch Dude again…

So, I cut one set of pins off, and re-cut them. No biggie.  The sawing went much better, it helped that I put up more shop lights in the intervening time.

Dutch chest after coming down from a bad sugar high. (the chest, not me)

Dutch chest after coming down from a bad sugar high. (the chest, not me)

 

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Dutch Tool Chest F A I L

I had some 1 x 12 pine boards, and a recently completed Moxon vise, so I thought “why not build a Dutch Tool Chest”?  As I’m putting it together, I am starting to question the usefulness of this chest…

I don't think this is going to work out like I thought.

I don’t think this is going to work out like I thought.

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Moxon 4, Mostly Done

I’m eager to wrap up the Moxon vise project and put it to work.  Remember, this is an enabling step toward the next marquetry project.  And if you followed that logic, you’re in the right place here.

Here is the high level view on this progress report.  I’d done the woodworking bits already.  Chopped hexagonal mortises for the front nuts, glued on the brace for the back, cut the decorative details on the ends and drilled holes for the acme rod.  Check the comments on the last post for a great tip for inexpensive Acme rods and nuts.

Hardware for the vise.  I'm using 1"-5 acme rod, cut 11" long.  That's one size larger than what most folks seem to use, but I wanted the visual scale just for aesthetics.

Hardware for the vise. I’m using 1″-5 acme rod, cut 11″ long. That’s one size larger than what most folks seem to use, but I wanted the visual scale just for aesthetics.

There are two nuts for each acme rod to hold them in place.  One mortised into the front of the rear jaw...

There are two nuts for each acme rod to hold them in place. One mortised into the front of the rear jaw…

...and one the clamps against the back of the read jaw.  This is a very sturdy setup.  For reference, the nuts are 1" thick and 1.625" across the flats.  That's a 2" diamater x .300" washer.

…and one the clamps against the back of the read jaw. This is a very sturdy setup. For reference, the nuts are 1″ thick and 1.625″ across the flats. That’s a 2″ diamater x .300″ washer.  I love nice hardware.

So the next steps were really about final fit up, sanding (because that makes a great blog post) and doing the little bit of metalwork.  My first step was to fix my TIG welder.  It’s been down for probably 8 months, and I haven’t welded in probably a year or more.  A far cry from when I had a small manufacturing business and welded nearly every day.  That’s a lot of words to say “I’m out of practice”.

TIG torch repaired.  The problem was the coolant return line was leaking.  No one wants to weld while standing in a spray of antifreeze, trust me on that one.

TIG torch repaired. The problem was the coolant return line was leaking. No one wants to weld while standing in a spray of antifreeze, trust me on that one.

I’ll need to do some more metalwork projects to get back in practice.  I’m sure I need some welded brackets and what-not for the shop.

Once the welder was repaired I made up the wing nuts as I had them in the plans.  One large nut with two 1.5″ long pieces of 1/3″ round bar tipped up 30 degrees, and two 1″ steel balls.  My welding on the was a little sloppy and inconsistent, but by the last bit I was starting to get into the swing again.

While I was working on making the handles I also sanded the vise and started applying finish.  I’m experimenting with Tru-Oil after reading about it on the Benchcrafted blog.  I’m always suspicious of finishes, after reading Flexner testing finishes it seems a lot of finishes are snake oil.  I bought a bottle of Tru-Oil, and I really like it.  This is probably my new favorite wiping varnish finish.  It build fast and dries really quickly.

Since this is a shop appliance, not furniture or a musical instrument like Jameel makes, I sanded to 220 just to remove tool marks.  Then I wiped on two thin coats, and let that dry.  I sanded with 320, then wiped on two more thin coats.  I rubbed with 0000 steel wool, and wiped on one last coat.  More than enough gloss, and with finer grits this would be even nicer.  The thin coats seem to tack up very quickly — in 5 or 10 minutes — and dry to the touch within an hour.

Then I installed the brass escutcheon plates I’d made.  I’m liking it.  You’ll notice I did add a mild stopped chamfer for saw clearance whencutting half blind dovetails.  I also cold-blued the wing nuts, I like the finish.

Brass plates installed, I like it!

Brass plates installed, I like it!

Then I reinstalled the screws and the wing nuts I made, it seems to work pretty well.  I need to glue some leather to the front jaw to help with clamping and then try this out — I wanted to give the finish overnight to fully cure.

Nearly finished with the Moxon vise, just need to add the leather to the jaws

Nearly finished with the Moxon vise, just need to add the leather to the jaws

It’s not a perfect piece, I got some small chip out where I was rasping the cyma recta detail (backer board next time Joe!), and there are a few other details that could have been better, but for a shop appliance I’m really pleased with it.

Glamor shots in use to come.

 

 

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Marquetry Tray

Simple project, just a felt-lined tray to hold marquetry pieces as I cut them out.  Modeled after the trays at ASFM.  Made out of off-cuts of VG/OG Fir from the press and scraps of 1/4″ ply.  Doesn’t everyone have turquoise felt laying around the shop?

Marquetry work tray

Marquetry work tray

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Moxon 3, Slight Detour

I was thinking…  Three words that have lead to no end of trouble for me.

I was thinking about adding some embellishment to the Moxon vise.  After thinking through a range of options from doing nothing to something approaching the tattooed lady I decided to add a pair of brass escutcheon plates.  I may or may not actually inlay them, I don’t really see a point as they are only about 1/16″ thick.

I drew up a simple shape that worked with the scale of the nuts and front jaw, and cut them out of some 16 gauge brass stock I had on hand.  Simple stuff.

Brass escutcheon plates for my Moxon vise

Brass escutcheon plates for my Moxon vise

I updated my plans, mostly to add full scale templates for the escutcheon plates.  I like that word, I’m going to use it more often. Escutcheon. There, mission accomplished.

Moxon Vise Plans

Moxon Vise Plans

Rendering with brass plates

Rendering with brass plates

 

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Finished Flower

Not much to write about this, just a picture of the finished marquetry picture.

After taking the finished part out of the press it’s pretty uninspiring.  All of the work to date has been on the glue face.  The marquetry was assembled face-down onto a kraft paper covered board.  I actually made a mistake when assembling it and covered the paper face with hot hide glue, and nearly glued it upside down.

Not much to look at, is it?

Not much to look at, is it?

I used plastic cauls to face this in the press, so it didn’t stick.  So the clean up routine was to first sand it with 120 grit to remove the glue and then spray it with water and start scraping the paper off.  Not my favorite job, you end up with a sticky mess.  I was careful about how I applied water so it wouldn’t get under the veneer or soak into the MDF core.

After the cleanup I gave it two coats of shellac, sanded with 180, then repeated the shellac and sanding with 220.  At that point the surface was smooth and I shot it with two coats of lacquer.  Fin.

In the final grading, I’d give it a “B”.  There are a couple of technical mistakes, and some compositional problems with shading and color, and there are some details of the sawing that I don’t like, where the contours are not right for the part.  But it’s also the largest panel I’ve done, and the first time I’ve done a border like this.  I’m going to set up another packet for a different design while I’m working on the Moxon vise and see where that goes.  Then maybe, the Griffin.  Maybe.

Completed marquetry picture

Completed marquetry picture

IMG_2617a

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Moxon Vise 2, The Woodwork

This is a pretty simple project, even for me.  I cut and milled two 8/4 rough Eastern Walnut boards to exactly 2″ thick.  One is cross cut at 38″ the other at 32″.  These make up the rear and front vise jaws respectively.  The rear jaw is 5.5″ wide, and the front is 5.75″ wide to allow it to register with the bench front.  I also prepared a piece at 1.75″ thick x 3″ wide x 32″ long for the rear support.  The rear support has to be thinner to allow the giant nut to turn on the back when assembling the vise.

Parts machined to size for the vise

Parts machined to size for the vise

Next I wanted to add a little detail to the ends of the rear vise as shown in the plans I posted yesterday.  You can lay this out with a compass – and in fact I did at first, but I liked the proportions in the full scale template I drew up better.  I did the usual trick of gluing it to 1/4″ MDF with Super 77, and cutting it out.  Then I transferred it to the rear vise jaw and cut and shaped the ends.

Full scale pattern for the cyma recta detail

Full scale pattern for the cyma recta detail

Next I drilled the 1″ holes for the threaded rod, then strived the outline of the nut to the inside face of the rear jaw.  The threaded rod is held in place on the rear jaw by two nuts, one recessed into the face of the rear jaw, and one tightened against the back.  Same construction approach as the Benchcrafted vise.

Transferring the outline of the nut to the inside face of the vise.

Transferring the outline of the nut to the inside face of the vise.

I used a 1.5″ Forstner bit to remove the bulk of the waste.  The nuts are 1.625″ wide across the flats and 1″ thick, so I drilled to a depth of 1″.

Excavating the waste

Excavating the waste

Then I used a chisel to chop out the rear of the waste until the nut just slid into the cavity.  This worked out really well, it’s a nice fit.

Nuts recessed into the vise face.

Nuts recessed into the vise face.

I double checked the clearance for the nut on the back — I figured out that it should clear in CAD, but wanted to be sure before I glued the brace on.  With that done, I’m pretty much done with the woodwork for the vise.  Just a little detailing after the glue dries,  I need to make the big wing nuts for the handles once I get my welder fixed, and put some finish on it.  This should be a useful tool one completed.

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Moxon Vise 1 (or, LA via Omaha)

My brain works in funny ways.  Adult ADHD perhaps.

I’ve been fooling around with marquetry for maybe two months, since I finished building a Marquetry Chevalet, which I had to build after taking a marquetry class at the American School of French Marquetry.  That in itself was supposed to be a lark, a fun thing to do to distract myself from work pressures.  Little did I know I’d get sucked in and end up tooling up to make jigsaw puzzles out of paper thin wood.

OK, to be fair, everyone who knows me would have made that prediction.

So I’ve done a few practice marquetry projects, and I want to do a simple vanilla woodworking build to loosen up.  Maybe build a small tool chest?  In fact, A Dutch chest would be a reasonable project.  Not too big of an undertaking.  But wait, I need to incorporate some marquetry into it right?

How about a Griffin attacking a Lizard, surrounded by scrolls for a tool chest?

How about a Griffin attacking a Lizard, surrounded by scrolls for a tool chest?

Yeaaaah, that’ll work.  Maybe.  We’ll see.

But first I need to build the carcase.  But before I do that I should probably knock out that Moxon vise I’ve been planning.  I know I can cut dovetails on a wide board without it, but I want one.

This should be a simple thing, even for me. (Fingers crossed).  A couple of bits of threaded rod, nuts, wood.  I found some 1″-5tpi Acme rod and nuts on eBay to get started.  It was fairly inexpensive, about $60 plus shipping for 36″ of rod and six nuts.  It’s awesome stuff, beautifully smooth threads.

1" Acme thread, this is really nice smooth running stuff.

1″ Acme thread, this is really nice smooth running stuff.

Then wood.  I have some 8/4 Eastern Walnut that should be good for this.  If I can would around the knot and waney edges.

Then I need a plan.  Two boards, two holes in each.  Easy Peasy.  Well, maybe I should draw up some simple plans.  This should be good.  I can clamp up to 24″ wide boards in this, and I allowed for 4″ of clamping width – which should be more than enough.  Maybe too much, the tradeoff is the screws stick out on the front of the vise.  I’ll have to see what it looks like in real life.

Click to download the plans

Click to download the plans

I milled up the lumber from rough stock this afternoon, and should be able to build the wood part tomorrow.  I need my welder to make the handles, and it’s DOA – but parts are on order and I’ll have it up next week I expect.

CAD Moxon Model

CAD Moxon Model

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