Monthly Archives: February 2013

Blacker House Sconce 4

So, no woodworking this weekend, but I did re-draw the sconce in SolidWorks so I could print out a full size version.  I also drew out patterns for the stained glass and figured out the dimensions for the rest of the parts.

Front View

Front View

I think I’m confident enough of the dimensions now that I can start (again) making this.  There are some funny reflections in the glass, but my old Windows PC that has SolidWorks on it keeps overheating when I run a render…and shuts off completely.  Kinda frustrating.  I guess I need to replace it.  I’ll start dimensioning the stock for this and see if I can’t get the show on the road finally.

Blacker House Lamp Rendering

Blacker House Lamp Rendering

 

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A Batch of Studley Calipers for Lost Art Press

A while back Christopher Schwarz asked if I could make a batch of the Studley Calipers for Lost Art Press, it took me a while to get going on it with all the commotion at work but I finished them up this week.

Machined Caliper Blank

Machined Caliper Blank

I blogged about this before, I started with a picture and scaled it in SolidWorks, then essentially used that image as a guide to model the shape of the reproduction.  Visually it appears to be identical to the original, but of course I’ve never held the original in my hand.  Now if someone could just ship the whole Studley chest to me…  The original appeared to be stamped steel that was chrome or nickel plated, I made these in brass.

Machining the body of the caliper is pretty straightforward.  The real work was in the details.  Once the parts were machined they had to be cut free from the blank, the little retaining tabs sanded flush, the holes de-burred and re-tapped, and the faces hand sanded with 600, 1000 and 1500 grit sandpaper to make sure they look nice.  Then the real fussy work started.

Because of the small size of these, off-the shelf hardware is too big.  The pivots are small binding posts with #8-32 threads.  Both sides of the pivot and the base of the thumbscrew needed to be machined for clearance.  And of course clamping tiny brass screws in a collet tends to distort the threads, so I had to run a die over all the threads to clean them up.  Luckily Kolya was a willing participant.

Once all of the fasteners were machined, re-threaded and everything cleaned we turned up the music in the shop and assembled them.    If you want one the only way to get one is to attend the Handworks conference in Amana, Iowa on May 24-25 and buy one from Lost Art Press.  I’m planning to attend, hope to see you there!

Studley Caliper

Studley Caliper

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Blacker House Sconce 4 – Changed Dimensions

After making a prototype of the front of the sconce last weekend I decided it was a little too small.  After trying to print a scale drawing I decided that I don’t really care for Sketchup.  Even following the directions (page re-size off, model size=print size, etc) it still prints smaller than actual.  And there is some kind of a bug that when I try to print now it puts Sketchup into a weird state where I can’t see the model anymore and I have to exit and re-start.  Clearly, you get what you pay for.

I ordered a lamp and socket.  I decided to use a compact florescent bulb because I’m concerned about heat.  I found a 6500K color temperature (bright white) that should have the same brightness as a 75 watt bulb.  You can see that the lamp — which isn’t all that big — dwarfs the stile I made.

Lamp and Socket

Lamp and Socket

So I scaled up, about 1/4″ in stile length, and I went from 1/2″ square stiles to 5/8″ square stiles.  I adjusted the rails, and also made it slightly deeper (front-to-back).  This gives me a lot more clearance between the rebate for the glass and the mortises, and allows me to go from a 1/16″ shoulder on the tenons all the way up to a generous 1/8″.

Scaled Up Lamp

Scaled Up Lamp

I want to print out a full size version before I make this to ensure I get the scale and dimensions right.  Which means re-modeling it in SolidWorks, which is simple enough.  Since I can use that to make the patterns for the stained glass too it’s worth the little bit of extra effort to re-do the model.

Updated Stile

Updated Stile

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Blacker House Sconce 3

I have the sense that this project is going to take a while…  I’m not big on deferred gratification, and this is going to be fussy to make.

I sawed up some Mahogany scraps yesterday and started planing them square.  I’m measuring them with digital calipers, which is making me a little crazy.  I’m trying to get them square at exactly 1/2″.  They will be .512″ in the middle and .487″ at one end  and .478″ at the other.  Do I throw it away?  So far, no.

Stile Dimensions and Story Stick

Stile Dimensions and Story Stick

I made up a story stick with the dimensions for the the stiles and laid out four pieces.  The layout lines are knifed in, I went over them in pencil to make them show up a little better.  I also flattened the back on my 3/16 chisel.  I got a Lie-Nielsen set for Christmas and I’m tuning them up as I go.

Laying Out the Stiles

Laying Out the Stiles

So I started by chopping out the mortises.  I only did a couple, just enough so I could get a sense of the scale of the finished part.  And get a feel for working in this scale.

Little Tiny Mortises, 3/16" x 9/16"

Little Tiny Mortises, 3/16″ x 9/16″

I cut tenons for the rails and put it together.  The rails are set back nicely, but I’m concerned that it’s a little too small.  It’s too narrow, compared to the picture.  In fact, it’s too narrow compared to my model.  I made these rails 3 3/16″ between the tenons because that was what I had in my noted, but 4 3/16″ is what I have in the model.  I think the stock dimensions are a little small too.

Back to the drawing board.  At least I know I can cut little tiny mortises now.

Mockup for the Front

Mockup for the Front

 

 

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Blacker House Sconce 2

I spent some time last night working out the joinery and part sizes for the Blacker House Sconce.  Today I hope to try making a mockup of the lantern body.  I picked up come off-cuts of Mahogany at Global Wood on the way home last night, so fingers crossed…but first chisels sharpened.

My first concern around making this piece is the scale.  The parts are all relatively small, and the joinery is even smaller.  Maybe that will make it easier in the long run, but I suspect it will mean I have to hold tighter tolerances and be more accurate.  I have other concerns, but I’ll hold off on those for now or I’ll talk myself out of making this.  Sometimes it’s better to just assume I’ll figure it out as I go.

For the joinery on the lantern body I am using stepped tenons so that I can have them reasonably long.  The tenons are set back from the top, bottom and outside face of the rails by 1/16″.  I had to move them to the extreme front/outside of the rails so that I had space for a 1/8″ x 1/8″ rebate on the inside edge to hold the glass.

Stepped Tenons

Stepped Tenons

The first step will be to mill the stock to rough dimensions, then make the stiles.  See how close the mortises are to the rebate for the glass?  That worries me.  The fact that the top mortise is only 1/16″ from the end worries me too – I think I’ll leave it long until I’ve chopped the mortises, then trim it.  I’m not entirely sure how I’ll do the stopped rebate.  With power tools this would be a simple router job.  Right now I’m thinking that I’ll chop the ends with a chisel and then use a plow plane to remove the waste in between.

Stile Dimensions

Stile Dimensions

Time for one more cup of coffee, then I’ll head out to the shop and rough out the stock.  I’m having lunch with a buddy that does fabulous hot rod metalwork, I’ll post some pics from his shop later.

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Blacker House Sconce

I really like the Greene & Greene aesthetic, and have been wanting to fix up my house following in the same style.  I have grandiose visions of someday doing a kitchen remodel, but between work and family there is precious little time.  So, baby steps then.

I’ve been looking at lighting fixtures from different Greene & Greene houses, looking for one that I like and at the same time seems achievable within my budget, skills and tools.  I think the only thing that truly fits those criteria is a bare 60 watt bulb hanging from the ceiling, but I digress.

I’ve settled on a sconce that was made for the Blacker house.  I’ve never been to the Blacker house, so I’m taking a small leap of faith here, but I do like the design.  This particular light was made by Jeff Grainger (http://grainger-arts-and-crafts-studio.com).  Jeff’s rendition is great, the proportions look right to me, the parts are rounded appropriately, but it doesn’t look like someone took a router to it.

Blacker House Sconce

Blacker House Sconce

Blacker House Sconce, Side View

Blacker House Sconce, Side View

So, how can I make one of these?  I need to figure out the size of the parts, then figure out the joinery, light mounts and making stained glass.  Yikes.  The dimensions on Jeff’s web site say it’s 9″w x 7″d x 15″h.  I imported the front view picture into Sketchup and scaled it until the width of the widest part was about 9″.  Then I could use the tape measure tool to pick up approximate dimensions for the main elements.

Picking up Dimensions

Picking up Dimensions

The stiles seem to be about 1/2″ square by 6.5″ long.  The rails are wider, my first cut was 5/8″ wide and 7/16″  deep.  After I had the first version drawn in Sketchup it wasn’t quite right.  I had to widen the stiles slightly (to 11/16″) and thin out the lantern top and breadboard ends.  I think it’s close in this view, what do you think?  The rounding on the ends of the different parts makes it tough to be absolutely sure, but I think it’s close.

Current Model

Current Model

I think the depth is close too, maybe it should be a tiny bit shallower, maybe 1/8″?  I’m not sure about mounting the stained glass, for now I have a 1/8″ x 1/8″  rebate cut into the back edge of the openings.  I’ll play with this more and see if I can get a decent looking model, then add in joinery.  There just isn’t a lot of room for joinery, the parts are all pretty small.  This should be interesting.

Model Side View

Model Side View

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Saw Bench Glamor Shot

I just looked at my new saw bench in the light of day. I like it. Milk paint rules.

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Sawbench Antidote

Holy cow.  Another week of work craziness.  I work at a big software company, and the product I work on has been under fire for the last several months.  We’re had lots of meetings with execs, lots of planning meetings and several emergency software updates.  Including one this past week.  Typically it takes at least three or four weeks to test and release a new version of the software, so doing it in two or three days is a nightmare.

The upshot of all of this is, and the tie-in to what I wanted to talk about (besides my silly little saw bench here) is it’s effect on my ability to do things outside of work.  After a week of high pressure activities it sounds like a wonderful thing to be able to go out in the shop and make something.  And in more typical times it is.  But in reality it’s hard.

I find that my mind isn’t at all focussed and I make really dumb mistakes.  Things I should (and do) know already trip me up.  Simple projects are the best for times like this, but even simple projects can be frustrating.  That the other part I guess, not only is my focus off on vacation somewhere, but it took my patience along for the ride.  Am I the only one that experiences this?  I’ve tried taking some time off (last Friday, in fact) but guess what?  Work emergency.

So yesterday I had to feed parts into the CNC mill for a side job, and decided to make a saw bench.  Christopher Schwarz has published, videographed and blogged about more varieties of saw bench than is probably healthy.  I used one of his bench designs as the starting point, although I left off the long stretcher.  The material came from a home center 2 x 8 that I cut up several months ago.

2 x 8 Previously Dissected

2 x 8 Previously Dissected

I dimensioned and trued the legs, then laid out the notches for the tops.  So far, things are going reasonable well.  I got a slight taper on the very end of one leg from careless plane work.  I also trashed one piece when I over did it removing a out of square edge and the part was too narrow.  That’s the kind of mistake I was talking about earlier.  I don’t claim to be a great hand tool woodworker, but with a clear mind I can dimension something like this without a lot of angst.

Bird's Mouth Notches Laid Out

Bird’s Mouth Notches Laid Out

Sawing the notches was frustrating, mostly because of my crappy workbench.  The vises on it don’t hold well at all, so the part is wiggling around while I’m trying to saw it.  I tighten the vise more, it holds just enough to convince me it will be stable, then shifts in the middle of a saw stroke.  I need to work on my workbench project, but I’m put off by dimensioning the stretchers for some reason.  Maybe I’ll bite the bullet today.

Anyway, I flattened the board top and cut notches for the legs.  The top had a huge cup and it took some work to get rid of that.  But I think I’d rather deal with a cup than a bow or twist.  Twists drive me crazy, and on a day like yesterday it would have been too much.  After I cut the notches I glued and nailed the legs in place.

Legs Installed

Legs Installed

One of the legs was angled slightly off.  I should have checked the bird mouth notches side by side to make sure they were consistent.  Sigh.  I marked out and cut the half-laps for the short stretchers, then glued and nailed them in place.  And of course one of the split even though I drilled pilot holes for the cut nails.  Sigh, again.  And yes, it would have been better to put the stretchers on the inside of the legs so there would be more clearance for the ripping notch.

Saw Bench Fabricated

Saw Bench Fabricated

So, it’s not terrible, right?  I’ll make a better one someday when my head is clearer, but it’s functional.  After I scribed and trimmed the legs it sits nice a flat and should be just great for crosscutting small boards.  I need to make another one so I can work with longer boards.  Since I had time I decided to try out some milk paint I bought on a whim a while back.  I gave the bench a coat of black as a base coat.

Black Milk Paint

Black Milk Paint

After the black had dried I sanded it with a 320 sanding sponge.  It sands really nicely.  I mixed up some Salem Red for a top coat.  I think I had it mixed a little thin as it didn’t cover quite as well as the black, but I wanted the black to show through anyway.

Salem Red Top Caot

Salem Red Top Caot

I sanded the red top coat after it dried, and then applied a coat of Tried & True Oil/Wax mix.  It really darkened the color nicely.  I like it.

Topcoated with Oil/Wax Mix

Topcoated with Oil/Wax Mix

My son came out and helped me clean up the shop last night.  I ran the last of the parts on the mill, and need to order the hardware before I can finish that job.  The sun is up and it’s a beautiful day.  Let’s see what kind of damage I can do today…

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