Monthly Archives: July 2014

Time to start on the details…

All the skirts, legs and stretchers are cooperating nicely. Next I will do the details on the skirts.

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Table Tenon Trimming

I got exactly half of my tenons trimmed.  Since both my band saw and my only carcass saw are DOA that made me stop and think about my options.  I have to saw away a little over half the width of the tenon, then tune it up with a plane so it fits properly.  I used my scroll saw on these, which worked OK.  Probably a good warmup for doing the piercing, but it’s like using a pair of tweezers to put your shoes away — it’s just not the right tool.  As I think about the other tools I could use to do this it makes me realize how easy it is to get locked into one way of doing a job.

Regardless, I got the tenons on two skirts and two stretchers trimmed up.  I’ll get the others today, and then move on to the details that make this table special.  Probably the piercing next, then the waterfall legs.  Need to start the top too.

I’m happy with the fit of the tenons.  They slide home with firm pressure and a light tap or two from the mallet, and the shoulders close up almost perfectly.  They do look a little plain at this stage, but that is about to change.

Two sides of the table dry-fit

Two sides of the table dry-fit

 

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Aww, Snap!

I was cutting my tenons down to size, and guess what fell off of the workbench?  Crud.

one step forward...six steps back.

one step forward…six steps back.

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Tiny progress on the tiny table

I managed to squeeze in a bit of shop time yesterday and got a the joinery on the Thorsen table mostly done.  I say mostly because there are some hand work details to finish up.  I finished making all of the mortises, the ones for the tenons were already done, I just had to finish off the ones for the ebony plugs.  There are 24 ebony plugs in the legs, and another 16 in the top, in three different sizes (3/8, 5/16 & 1/4).

Mortises and holes for the ebony plugs all done

Mortises and holes for the ebony plugs all done

I also roughed in the tenons on the stretchers and skirts.  On the skirts I need to cut the offsets – the tenons on one side are only at the top of the skirt, and on the adjacent sides at the bottom.  The tenons on the stretchers need to be trimmed at a 45 degree angle on the ends because they aren’t offset like the skirts.  I also cut all of the tenons about .020″ oversized so I can hand plane each to fit it’s mortise.  I want to have a nice snug fit everywhere.

Tenons on the stretchers, the recess for the lower shelf is also done.

Tenons on the stretchers, the recess for the lower shelf is also done.

Tenons on the skirts, these need to be shortened as the actual tenons are only 2.25" tall, and are offset between adjacent sides.

Tenons on the skirts, these need to be shortened as the actual tenons are only 2.25″ tall, and are offset between adjacent sides.

My next job is to do the handwork to fit the tenons properly and hand plane all of the surfaces smooth.  Then I need to see about all of the details — the waterfall step in the bottoms of the legs, the lift detail in the bottoms of the skirts and the piercing in the skirts.  I need to also glue up some stock for the top and the shelf.

Bandsaw Woes

In other news, you may remember last weekend that my bandsaw was giving me trouble.  The magnetic starter for the motor was cutting out after running for a short while.  I had this happen at higher speeds before when friction cutting steel on the saw.  My suspicion is that the breaker built into this is just getting old.  The saw is close to 75 years old, being made around 1940-45.  I’m not that old, and I feel like cutting out after running for a short while too.

Anyway, I found a used replacement part on ebay and bought it.  Hopefully this is the problem and it isn’t something actually drawing too much current (like the 7.5 hp 3 phase main motor boing out).

Suspect motor starter in my DoAll

Suspect motor starter in my DoAll

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Idea for (yet another) new project

The floor lamp in our living room is a stainless steel torchiere that has seen better days.  It was an expensive, modern light when it was new – but like a lot of things in our house (occupants included) it’s getting old.  A recent jostling left the lamp listing slightly to port, so I’ve been pondering what to do to replace it with something more in keeping with the overall Greene & Greene aesthetic I’m (slowing) working toward.

My first thought was to build something like this wonderful creation from Grainger Arts & Crafts Studio, which is a rendition of a table lamp  scaled up as a floor lamp.  It’s very nice, although I’m not confident in my ability to pull off the joinery and carving on the lampshade.  I saw an original table lamp with this same base at the Huntington last year.

Grainger Floor Lamp

Grainger Floor Lamp

In browsing though the Greene & Greene Virtual Archives yesterday I came across something interesting, a sketch for a light fixture that I don’t believe was actually built.  This was drawn for the Thorsen House living room, but when I was there I didn’t see it.  I also don’t see it in archival photographs ofd the living room.

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I read somewhere that Mr. Thorsen wasn’t a fan of lights hanging from leather straps, although there are certainly two light fixtures on leather straps in the entryway of his house.  This fixture looks like it would have been intended to hang from leather straps too.  In the actual living room in the Thorsen house there are recessed light fixtures in the ceiling.

Recent photograph of Thorsen living room ceiling fixtures

Recent photograph of Thorsen living room ceiling fixtures

I’m not “sold” on these recessed fixtures.  Assuming the drawing below was used to make a pair or more hanging fixtures for the room I think it would have been more elegant.

I can imagine this fixture hanging from leather straps, but also used as a lamp shade in either this configuration (as a torchiere) or flipped over in the more traditional orientation.  I’ll put this on the list to draw up soon.  I’d hate to run out of projects…

Sketch for a light fixture for the Thorsen House

Sketch for a light fixture for the Thorsen House

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Thorsen Table with Waterfall Legs

I was curious how the Thorsen table (ok, plant stand) would look with the waterfall legs.  I haven’t researched this extensively, but in one of Darrell Peart’s books he mentions that this was a detail first used on the Gamble furniture.  Each step in the waterfall is 1/8″, so I’m stepping from 1 1/4″ down to 1″ in total.  I like it, I’m going to build it this way.

I ran into a weird problem with SolidWorks where the high resolution render will use a different material than what I have in the model — in this case it ends up with this weird, blotchy, swirly grain.  I’ve run into this before and the only way to fix it is to remove all of the materials from the model and then replace them.  So I just grabbed a screen shot of the model instead.

CAD model updated with waterfall legs

CAD model updated with waterfall legs

I also updated the plans with the leg detail, and added in the ebony pegs on the legs where the stretchers meet that I had missed.  I noticed that I omitted the overall length for the leg, I’ll have to correct that later, but it’s 21.5″ long.

Updated Plans

Updated Plans

I didn’t model every detail, in the original pieces I’ve seen all of the edges are eased — rounded or softened in some way.  In the photograph of the original table that John provided a link to take a look at the ends of the breadboard caps on the top.  They are almost “pillowed”.  The edges of the piercings on the skirts are subtly rounded too.  In a lot of G&G reproductions I see on the web this kind of detail is missing, and it’s pretty simple to do.  Another thing that’s interesting about the original is that the color of the lower shelf is significantly different from the rest of the piece.  I don’t know if that’s original or intentional.  The caption on the archive site says that the table is “Teak and Mahogany”, so I’m guessing it’s a difference in woods and it’s intentional, and the table itself is teak while the shelf is Mahogany.  Anyone know for sure?

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

 

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Made a good start…

On the new Thorsen side table, that is.  Nothing particularly clever here, just straightforward machine work.

I rough cut the Sapele for the skirts, stretchers and legs.  It’s all oversized at this point of course, I was just breaking it down.  I cut an extra leg, extra skirt and several extra stretchers in case I screw something up.  And I immediately screwed up one of the legs.  *score*

Wood for the legs, stretchers and skirts rough cut.

Wood for the legs, stretchers and skirts rough cut.

I processed everything, and got all the parts cut to size.  It’s good to know I could do the dimensioning by hand, but I have to say it would take me days to get this stuff ready by hand.  Plus it gets really hot in the shop, at least 15 degrees hotter than outside, even with the doors open and a fan running.  I’ll use my #4 LN to smooth all of these before I sand and assemble the table.

Parts milled to final size and length.

Parts milled to final size and length.  In the background is a stained glass “peacock feather” sun catchermy son is doing.

I should have gotten a little further along, but I was hot and took a break for a couple of hours to finish a novel I was reading.  I went back out and did the mortises and started making the holes for the ebony plugs.  I’ll do the tenons on the skirts and stretchers next, then work out the details on the cloud lifts and piercing on the skirts, waterfall steps on the legs and various other things that chew up time.

Mortises done

Mortises done

This should be a fun project, and I can probably finish it and the cabinet at the same time.  I’m asking around for someone who can make a house call on my DoAll bandsaw, I need to get that repaired — I can’t stand tools that don’t work.

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New Project: Thorsen Side Table

Yesterday I planned to make the metal framework to hold the stained glass for the little Greene & Greene styled cabinet I’m making.  I got the strops of copper fit into the door opening, and scribed the trim lines, but when I went to cut them my trusty Do All bandsaw died.  I think it’s the magnetic starter overheating, but it’s just a guess.  I’m not looking forward to having a 70 year old bandsaw that weighs 3,500 pounds repaired.  Crud.

So I retreated to my computer.  I’ve wanted to make this little Thorsen House side table for a while, and I might actually have enough wood to pull it off.  Maybe.  If I could re-saw some of the 8/4 stock I’m sure I have enough, but my bandsaw is down.  Grumble, grumble.

Anyway, the table.  As I understand it, this was actually designed to be a plant stand and the SketchUp model from Bob Lang shows the major dimensions to be about 21″ tall with a top about 14″ square.  There were plans in Popular Woodworking that were slightly scaled up, about an inch taller and a top that was 17″ square.  I like the larger size for where I’m going to put this, but I didn’t like the details in the Popular Woodworking version.  I decided to model my take on it, mostly because I wanted patterns for those weird cutouts in the aprons.

CAD Model for the new project

CAD Model for the new project

I picked up most of the major dimensions form the Popular Woodworking version, but interpolated the details from Bob Lang’s model.  His, I believe, is closer to the original both in details and scale.  I’m tempted to try using the “waterfall step” leg detail instead of the more-correct taper on the legs.  I should probably add ebony pegs at the joint with the stretcher too.

Waterfall Leg Detail

Waterfall Leg Detail – should I use this instead?

The construction follows Bob’s design, with offset tenons.  I’m a little concerned about the skirts staying flat, but the single wide tenons on the Pop Wood version seem like it would badly weaken the legs and cause cross-grain wood movement problems.  Who knows?  The big concern in building this is the fit of the lower shelf around the legs.  I’m a little concerned about the breadboard ends too.  The layout of the ebony pegs doesn’t lend itself to hiding screws in slotted holed to allow for movement, so I’m limited to glueing in the middle and hoping it all stays together.  One step at a time though.

Exploded view to chow construction

Exploded view to chow construction

The main point of modeling this myself was to end up with a set of full scale templates for the cut outs that I can use to make patterns.  A secondary benefit was to get a good feel for the construction of the table and get my thoughts organized to build it.  I made a set of plans that you can download if you want to build it — or if you are looking for full scale templates like me.  There should be enough details here to build the table if you’re so inclined.  I didn’t put as many details into these as I might otherwise, but all of the parts and critical measurements are there.

Things to pay attention to if you do build this:  The legs aren’t all the same due to the asymmetrical mortises and ebony plugs.  The dimensions cover where everything goes, plan on being careful with this part of the layout.  The taper on the bottom of the legs is laid out to taper from 1/4″ at the bottom to zero at 5 3/16″ up.  The legs are milled 1 1/4″ square, so I’d lay out by striking a mark 1″ from the outside faces, another 5.1875″ from the bottom on the inside faces, and then connect those.  Once the taper is cut, go ahera and round over the end of the leg and sides.

My next step is to make a cup of coffee and go measure up my wood stock to see if I have enough to at least make a good start on this project.  If I have enough wood to make this it will end up in the same room as the cabinet, which is the next room in the house I want to “make over” anyway.  I’ll probably be in Big Trouble for starting another project before the bookcase for my wife though.

Download plans for the Thorsen House Table

Download plans for the Thorsen House Table

 

 

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Thorsen Cabinet Update

I’m slowly chipping away at this cabinet I’m making.  I really wish I had more time to work on it, it’s really inefficient to get an hour or two in the shop once a week.  By the time I “get in the groove” and have my brain engaged I have to stop.  Oh well, welcome to “McGlynn on Complaining”.

Here’s where I am:  The major woodwork on the cabinet is finished.  The cabinet carcass is finished, sanded and has been sprayed with water to raise the grain (in preparation for the water based dye I’m planning to use).  I have to round over the inside edge of the cabinet opening and re-sand that and a few details that got marked from gluing on the top of the cabinet.  The door is done, it just needs the mortises for the ebony plugs and some small details.

(Nearly) Finished Carcass

(Nearly) Finished Carcass

Finished Door

(Nearly) Finished Door

My next step was to finish the back and hang the door.  So, the back first.  I measured the inside width of the cabinet, and put my math skills to the test.  I wanted four slats in the back, with about a 1/8″ gap between them, so I subtracted 3/8″ from this total.  I divided this by four, to give the visible width of the slate, then added an extra allowance to each slat for the overlap (3/4″) and the depth of the rabbet on the sides.  From there is was just work to mill the stock to 1/2″ thick, rip it to width and cut the rabbets for the shiplap.

I decided to hang this using keyhole hangers mortised into the back.  In the past I’ve used some stamped ones from the hardware store, but for this project I wanted to use the ons from Sanderson Hardware.  What I liked about them is that the screw holes are offset so they end up going into the sides of the case, not just the back slats.  I ordered them on-line and three days later they were in my mailbox.  Look at what I found when I opened the package:

Inside the package from Sanderson Hardware

Inside the package from Sanderson Hardware

That’s nice, so I opened this package and finally got the goods.  The packaging is really nice, the parts are beautiful, and I love that it includes an extra mounting screw and also screws to hang it on the wall.

Hangers from Sanderson Hardware

Hangers from Sanderson Hardware

Installing them was pretty straightforward, and a great opportunity to do some simple handwork.  I laid out the long side of the mortise with my marking gauge, and knifed in both ends of the mortise.  I used the marking gauge to scribe the depth baseline on the edge, then I used a chisel to cut a bevel around all three edges — being careful not to split out the back side.  I’ve done that before, it’s too easy to splinter the back wall.

Cut a bevel on three sides to the baseline

Cut a bevel on three sides to the baseline

Once I had the relief cuts in, I used the chisel to chop the mortise almost to depth, and then pare it as close to final depth as I dared.  I finished the bottom of the mortise with a router plane, taking really light cuts.  I used an awl to make the screw holes, and the centers of the keyhole which I drilled and chopped to clear the head of the mounting screw.

Finish the bottom of the recess with a router plane

Finish the bottom of the recess with a router plane

Hanger fits perfectly, screw holes and a tiny mortise to clear the hanger screw and this is finished.

Hanger fits perfectly, screw holes and a tiny mortise to clear the hanger screw and this is finished.

Hanging a door in a cabinet makes me nervous.  I had problems with this one, the rails on the door ended up slightly inset from the ends of the stiles (having made that mistake I know how to avoid it next time), so my door gap is a little too wide at the top/bottom.  I got the sides fit nicely and the door hung and functional, but I’m not 100% satisfied with it.  Next time I’ll engineer the door to be just oversized so I have to shave it frown to fit.

I’m not thrilled with how the door is designed to hang in the cabinet in the first place.  It requires that the door have a double-depth mortise so that when it’s closed both hinge leaves fit (less whatever the door gap is).  But it should work OK, and look fine — it just doesn’t feel like an elegant solution.

By the way, I’ll strip the clear finish off of the hinges and apply a dark brown patina before I install them in the finished cabinet.

Hinges fit into a double-depth mortise

Hinges fit into a double-depth mortise

One trick I picked up form the video is worth repeating here.  Getting the hinges located in the carcass could be a problem.  I used a marking gauge set to the distance from the hinge barrel to the center of the mounting screw.

Marking gauge set to the distance the mounting screw needs to be from the front edge of the cabinet

Marking gauge set to the distance the mounting screw needs to be from the front edge of the cabinet

Then I made a wood spacer that represented the distance from the screw to the bottom of the cabinet — including the gap at the bottom of the door.

Spacer for screw height, including the door gap

Spacer for screw height, including the door gap

Then I used the morning gauge to scribe the inset line, and knifed in one screw location.  With that done I could locate a screw in the top hinge and then deal with any remaining gap and alignment issues.

Marking the screw height

Marking the screw height

I had to futz with the screw locations a bit, cut the hinge mortises deeper and ended up needing a .020″ shim in the bottom hinge to get the door to hang square.  And I still have too big of a gap at the top.  The other three sides are even at .040″, the top is at least twice that.  Grumble, grumble.  When the cabinet is assembled and finished I’m hoping it won’t be too noticeable.  It’s obvious in this picture because it’s backlit.

Door hung

Door hung

Installing the catch and handle were the last of it.  Unfortunately, after waiting two weeks for the handle it arrived on Thursday but because our mailbox is a half mile from the house, there wasn’t anyone there to sign for it.  I’ll have to go pick it up on Monday.  I did get the latch installed, and with the back off of the cabinet it was pretty simple to get it properly aligned.  These double-ball catches have no allowance for misalignment.  I installed the catch on the door first, then clamped a stop block to the cabinet and closed the door against that.  With the cabinet-side of the catch clipped to it’s mate I could accurately mark the location on the cabinet side and mount it.  I’ll patina this too, and install it with brass screws in the finished cabinet.

Door catch installed

Door catch installed

Before I do the ebony plugs in the door I want to make a metal frame to hold the stained glass.  For it to look right there needs to be a solder seam visible all around the door.  You could do this a number of ways, my idea is to make it out of 1/8″ copper flat bars welded together.  I’m just starting on this part of the job now.  All of the bars will get scribed and cut to follow the cloud lift design in the door.

Beginning to build the copper framework for the glass

Beginning to build the copper framework for the glass

 

 

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