Tag Archives: inlay

Karen’s Inlaid Box

Karen_DogsWatching shellac dry is not much fun, so as things progress on the tall clocks I decided to knock out a promised-to-build, small box. It is close in design to the tea caddy I built for a magazine article a couple of years back. This box doesn’t use edge banding, so the work is a bit easier. The artist rendition (actually my drawing from SketchUp) looks too red; I’m building the box out of mahogany and using tiger maple for the trim pieces. I’m writing about this not so much for the value of the project, but more for the techniques I use as I build – there are methods used that can be employed on other projects.

The four horizontal parts of the box were milled to size and thickness. I made the pieces 1/2″ thick; width and length are your call if you’re building along. The first big step is to bevel the ends of each piece, and you know there are many different methods you can use. I choose the table saw for a couple of reasons: IMG_1656It’s easy to use, I can set up the miter gauge to be square and once the blade is set to 45°, I can use the same setup for two operations. The photo (at right) shows the setup used to bevel the ends. A sacrificial fence with a cut ran through it after the blade was beveled, makes it easy to locate the box parts to trim. I also added a stop-block to keep the parts from creeping away from the blade as the cut is made. One additional point you should glean from this image is my hand placement. My first inclination was to grab the gauge with my right hand and hold the part with my left. If that happened, my left arm would – at some point in the cut – completely block the blade from my view. That’s not good.

The next cut to make is for a spline to run up the corners. I learned a long time ago that making a 45° cut into a previously cut 45° bevel results in a cut that’s 90° to the bevel cut. (What did he say?) IMG_1657Using the same table-saw setup but placing the gauge on the opposite side of the saw blade, makes the next step cake. Once again, make a pass over the blade to establish where the cut hits the sacrificial fence to use to align the parts, then position one piece to that kerf. Make sure to dial back the blade height, then clamp a stop-block in position to use as a guide for each cut. Notice how I switched my hand placement for this round of cuts.

IMG_1658I’m going to set the box bottom inside the four horizontal parts, so I need a groove cut along the bottom edge. Many woodworkers would gravitate to a dado stack for this step, but to me, this is a waste of time. A couple of passes with the blade set to the correct height and the fence properly positioned and you’re done with the groove. Easy, peasy. And there’s no need to swap blades.

The action is picking up. Next step is the bottom. This I made from tiger maple. (Yes, I know you’re not going to see the bottom most of the time, but I have so much scrap tiger maple around my shop it’s a crime not to use the smaller cutoffs for something.) IMG_1661To rabbet the edges to fit into the roughly 1/4″-wide grooves, I use a two-step method at my table saw – what can’t you do with this machine? The process is straightforward. After you get the necessary measurements from the box parts – you can measure the width and length right in the grooves of the front and end – cut the bottom to size (you may want to go a bit less in width to accommodate for any seasonal movement if your box is on the wide side. The first pass is with the bottom face down against the table top – set the blade height to leave a 1/4″ of material after the cut. I make a 3/8″-wide rabbet to make sure the edge doesn’t interfere with the box as it goes together. The next step is to readjust the blade height to just tick the top edge of the previous cut (with the part standing on edge at the fence), and to set the fence to leave the tongue thick enough to slide into the groove. While it doesn’t make much of a difference here, it’s good practice to run the end-grain cuts first.

IMG_1662After you cut pieces to fit into the spline cuts, it’s time to assemble the box. Two points to make here: Your splines cannot run from top to bottom – you need to stop them at the groove or your bottom will not fit, and only assemble the box at two of the four corners at the beginning. If you do glue all four corners, make sure you install the bottom as you assemble the parts. I like to glue half the box, then slip in the bottom and finish the assembly later. Working all four corners and the bottom at the same time can get busy. Add a few clamps and set things aside.

After the glue dries, slip in the bottom, add glue to the remaining splines and corners, then put the clamps back in position and let it set.

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In a later-to-come post, I’ll add a top to the assembled box, split the lid off the base then add some trim pieces. After that, I’ll make the fan inlays to complete the box.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Joinery, Methods of Work, Power Tools

Dressing-up the Keystone

IMG_1394With the moulding installed around the arched opening for the dial, there’s one last detail on the hood before moving on to the goose-neck mouldings of the broken-arch pediment. The Egerton tall clock has a small keystone that separates the two pieces of the arched moulding. The keystone is made from solid mahogany, but the face of the piece is a small assembly of veneer. And by small I mean 5/8″ wide at the bottom, 1-1/4″ wide at the top and about 1-1/4″ from top to bottom. That’s not a lot of inlay, so I can easily get that from scrap pieces already on hand. (Check out the photo. You can see a picture of the original clock between the hoods of the two clocks I’m building.)

To get things started, I thought it best to lay out the design to better get a feel for the pieces and steps. That also made it easy to get the sizes of the maple veneer just right, IMG_1381and that made the work go much quicker. After I had the design, I snapped off pieces of the ebony stringing and cut the small pieces of maple from a leftover sheet of shop-made veneer – I’m tired of sanding through the 1/40″- or 1/64″-thick commercial veneer and vow to never purchase it again. To make sure things went as planned, I stuck the pieces to a piece of tape, then checked the size against the actual keystone.

I was now ready to stick the pieces to the keystone. With a thin layer of glue on the keystone, I positioned the veneer and stringing. IMG_1382(Again, I really like the Titebond No-Run, No-Drip Wood Glue.) A neat technique was to lock one leg of my spring clamp into my bench vise, leaving the other leg operable. This allowed me to easily move or reposition the keystone in any way necessary. At this time, I wasn’t concerned about the length of the pieces applied to the workpiece. I didn’t want them to run past the top and bottom, but I also didn’t need them to be perfectly aligned. After everything was placed and slide to its final position (moving the veneer pieces up or down influenced the overall width of the assembly so I could easily match the keystone face), I set the piece aside to allow the glue to dry.

The next step after the glue dried – about 10 minutes – was to saw the top and bottom edges to add the last pieces of ebony stringing. IMG_1384A marking gauge is perfect to scribe lines to which to saw, and I particularly like a Japanese saw for these types of cuts. With the assembly locked in the spring-clamp vise, I sawed the two lines then peeled the waste parts easily off the keystone. A little more glue was added before I position the two last parts to the face of the workpiece. After the glue dried I used a rasp to level and smooth the inlay, then sanded everything smooth with #180-grit Abranet.

The finished keystone is shown in the opening photo. It’s a small piece that adds significantly to the overall look of the clock. And that’s what inlay does, at least to my eye. Also, if you look at the opening photo you can see the first carved rosette that fits at the end of the goose-neck moulding. I ran through three alliterations before arriving at what I think will work. To get a quick look, I stuck the half-finished rosette in place, then stood back to make a decision. So far, so good. But there is more work to be done.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Design, Inlay, Tall Clock, Veneer

WIA Class on Inlay

The purpose of my Woodworking in America session on inlay, “Understanding Inlay: A Key Piece in Connoisseurship & Identification” wasn’t to provide rules of thumb to discover the orientation of antique furniture – the idea was to give a few general guidelines that A1_New York Card Tablewould help identify from where a particular antique piece of furniture may have been built. We focused on card tables from the Federal period due to the fact that each major city built card tables from the simplest designs to the most intricate, heavily-inlaid tables. I emphasized throughout the class that the information presented should be grouped with other gathered information so one could draw a conclusion. That stated again, I’ll pass along a few of my comments.

The first and easiest way to identify a card tables point of origin has nothing to do with the inlay, although you could also establish the same origin if you studied the banding and pictorial inlays on the table. Here, however, construction techniques are a dead give-away. The table pictured above is from New York. We know this because of the fifth leg. In almost all cases, if you have a fifth leg, you are looking at a card table built in New York.

ACD_Dunton_NH TableLet’s get back to inlay. The most fascinating of inlay banding, at least to me, is what is known as lunette inlay. There was a time in our furniture study that whenever this inlay was found on a piece of period furniture, that piece was immediately associated with the father and son team of John and Thomas Seymour. Later, a similar inlay was found on other signed furniture not built by the Seymours. That caused dealers and collectors to question the attribution of the Seymour work. The table shown above is a signed piece built in New Hampshire, and not a card table built by a Seymour.

ACC_Bradlys Seymour SimpleAs a woodworker, I wonder how this inlay was made in the period. (The left-hand photo is a close-up look at lunette inlay.) Was it laid up in a pack then sliced as was other inlay? Some woodworker think so. Or was it laid up a stick at a time? There is a camp of today’s woodworkers who think that was how it was done in the late 1700s. Regardless of how you may think it was made, it is a great piece of work and worthy of the amount of study it has received.

DE_Eagle PateraAnother area that I find interesting is to look at the use of eagles in pictorial inlay. The image at the right is a grouping of eagle patera  I pulled together from “American Furniture The Federal Period” by Charles F. Montgomery. (I highly recommend this Winterthur book if you are at all interested in inlay.) If you study the eagles, you’ll notice a few interesting things. First of all, Connecticut inlay – not just the eagles, but most of the inlay work found in this area – is very artistic and quite different from work found elsewhere. Pinpointing period work from the Connecticut River Valley and from Connecticut is rather simple.

Of the remaining eagles, take a close look at the inlay from New York. Notice how lifelike the eagle appears. This eagle looks bold, strong and very patriotic. The Federal period in which we’re looking is right after the Revolutionary war when New York was the nation’s capital, until 1791 when it was moved to Philadelphia before moving to Washington DC. Patriotism had to be extremely strong at the time. Was this strength reflected in the inlay produced at the time?

DEA_Bradlys_Eagle on ClockOne last thought on eagle inlay: If you study the eagles shown in Pennsylvania, Maryland and the South, you’ll see that each of the eagles have something in the mouth, a streaming banner. This could be a telltale of furniture from these areas. Shown at the right is a door from an antique clock. The clock is known to be from Pennsylvania. And the eagle has the banner held in its mouth.

This is just a taste of the what can be discovered when studying inlay. Over the next couple of months, I’ll present another post on what I’ve discovered about inlay. If you have some interesting information to share, please do so in the comment section below.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

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Filed under Antique Pieces, Design, Inlay

My Night Cap

#5024-01There are times when I need to get into the shop just to have fun. That time generally rejuvenates me so I can get back to my projects with a renewed vigor. If that fun time also happens to be something I need for one of my projects, I consider that a bonus. This week was a bonus. I needed to make a piece of inlay for the tall clocks. In the photo you can see, on the original Egerton clock, the piece of inlay I needed to make, the Night Cap perched on the post. This post is more pictorial that text filled, but you know what is said about a photo.

Step one was to develop a pattern for the inlay. I could have drawn the design free-hand, but it’s easier to pull the image into SketchUp and trace over the lines. After I had the plan, I spray-glued the images onto a piece of scrap holly and cut the pieces at my band saw.

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When I had the pieces cut out, I smoothed the edges as best I could using a disc sander and fine rasp before moving on. I also made sure the two pieces fit together nicely. I wasn’t worried about a super-tight fit because the separation would better show the delineation between the two pieces.

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Using a bench hook, I sawed the pieces into thin, usable slices. I like my Japanese saw for this cut. It’s thinner kerf saves material, and the small, finer teeth make the task easier.

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Sand-shading is great. There are few techniques as simple as this. And the results add a crap-load to the overall look of your work. The only pieces in this design that get shading are the small ovals.

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To inlay the pieces into my stock, I have to excavate the waste. This is really where a router becomes valuable. I positioned the pieces to my backer, then carefully traced around each piece with a sharp pencil. With a 1/16″ straight bit loaded into the tool, I set the depth of cut then hogged out as close to the lines as possible.

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Afterward, I used a small carving gouge to tweak the inlay area to my layout lines. I tested the fit of my inlay to the excavated hole, then trimmed any needed spots. (I want a tight fit, but not so tight as to break my inlay.)

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With the areas cut away and trimmed to an exacting fit, I added glue into the recess and hammered the inlay pieces into place.

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The rod for the Night Cap holder couldn’t be easier. I used the same 1/16″-diameter bit, set the workpiece flush with the edge of my bench then used a guide fence on the router to cut the line. The rounded ends from the router bit worked great against the small ovals to complete the design. A piece of string was cut to fit, a small amount of glue was injected then I hammered into the recess.

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At my table saw, I set the fence and raised the blade to trim the edges for more string banding. The pieces were cut to size and I mitered the corners using the reflection in the back of my chisel to set the angle – too easy. Glue to hold and blue tape as a clamp, then let it dry.

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With the glue dry, I sanded each face – I built two of the pieces – then cleaned up the edges with my block plane. Before I install these on the clock hood, I’ll thin the assembly somewhat. The two pieces are a bit different. So, are the results perfect? No way, I wouldn’t expect that. Was it fun to do? Hell yes. Every once in  while you need to get into the shop to just have fun.

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Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Design, Hand Tools, Inlay, Methods of Work, Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

GDH at WIA

This week, I want to mention Woodworking in America (WIA). With my return as managing editor with Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM), you know that I’ll be and teach at WIA. If you are a woodworker in search of basic skills, you should plan to attend. If you are experienced at woodworking, but are looking to up your game, you should plan to attend. My bet is that if you look at the woodworkers PWM has presenting this year, you’ll want to be there, too. (Registration is open, so now is the time to make the call. Pull the trigger and click here to sign-up.)

This year my classes are all over the map. I open the conference teaching a seminar titled, “Better Woodworking Through Proper Wood Prep.” MIllingThe most basic observation I can give you is that if you begin a project with warped wood, you will fight it throughout the entire project. You need to make sure you know the basics, so of course we’ll cover the basics and you can bet there is way more. I’ve spent 20 years milling wood for projects. I’ve learned a crap-load of tricks and techniques to make the work easier and to mill lumber that is bent, twisted and just plain gnarly. In addition to the basics, I’ll share how to read your stock, what corner to press and when to straighten twisted stock, cup up or cup down and what to do if your board sticks at the jointer. This one class can make your time in the shop better.

Another class I’m teaching is “Precision Joinery: In a Hurry.” In this area alone, you discover why you need to be a blended woodworker. 9The class description from WIA says it best, “No single hand tool, power tool or machine is best to produce all the requisite joints. To make parts as quickly and accurately as possible, you need to know what tool to use when.” I’ve got jigs that make my life in the shop easy and highly productive, but I also know when to turn to my hand tools. During the class we’ll look at a number of furniture joints and I’ll share my best techniques.

On Sunday at WIA, I have a three hour class on inlay based around Federal-style inlay. Be sure to attend “Understanding Inlay: A Key Piece in Connoisseurship & Identification.” InlayIf you study inlay you’ll discover that each major city center had its own distinct inlay designs. One of the most famous (and often miscategorized) banding is the lunette inlay often associated with John and Thomas Seymour in Massachusetts. Every banding, inlay and patera is a clue to where the piece was built. Not only will we learn about different inlay and bandings, but I’ll demonstrate how many of these bandings are assembled. And before the class is over, you’ll be given the opportunity to make a sand-shaded fan that you can inlay into your project. So come ready to learn and ready to work, too.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Inlay, Jigs, Joinery, Routers, Uncategorized

Simple Fix for a Blown-out Banding

A_BasePhotoEdge banding  is a simple, low-cost addition to make doors and panels stand out, especially in pieces from the Federal period. Last week I showed how I added edge banding to my tall clock. As I trimmed banding flush to the panel and door, I flipped a corner area out which called for a repair. This week I’ll show a simple fix, then give you a couple ways to rout in string grooves to hide where the banding and veneer meet.

To trim banding flush, as you may expect, I use a router and flush-cut router bit with a bottom-mount bearing. I learned years ago that if you expect edge banding –  short pieces positioned so the grain runs perpendicular to edges – to keep from massive destruction, you better climb cut as you trim – you are trimming end grain.

IMG_0584As I worked on my tall clocks, I learned another valuable lesson; Cut straight in at your corners. I made a climb cut along the bottom edge of my door panel, and as I began the cut the bit flipped out part of the corner. If you push directly in at the corner – follow the mitered line formed at the corners – the pressure of the cut is such that your banding stays intact.

If you look at the photo above you may think that little bit of missing banding is not a big deal. In fact, there is a small piece gone from both mitered corner pieces. The left-hand missing piece is small enough to be hidden by a piece of stringing yet to come, but with the right-hand piece I was not so fortunate. Thus the repair.

IMG_0585I know I’m not providing any earth-shattering technique never seen before as I demonstrate this fix, but that is the point. Edge banding is easy to do, and edge banding repair is simple. (We are woodworkers, if it was difficult or hard we would not do it.) To fix this defect, draw a line with your pencil of marking knife then cut away a small piece of banding. If possible, undercut the edge as you work to make sure you get a tight fit with your patch.

IMG_0586Find a piece of leftover banding that has a similar grain match – this should be easy to do because all your banding pieces are cut from one or two pieces of scrap as shown in the previous post – then glue the patch in place. After the glue dries, trim the patch flush with your edge. Simple, huh?

Where your banding and veneer meet is where you plow the groove for stringing. I suggest a couple different setups depending on what tools you have available. If you have a guide fence to fit your router, install a 1/16″ straight bit in your router, position the bit so your groove splits the banding/veneer intersection then make your cut, as shown in the top photo below. If you do not have a fence that fits your router, then you need a guide bushing and a shop-made straight edge, as shown in the lower photo. For this operation, you need to calculate the measurement from the edge of your guide bushing to the center of your router bit, or how far from the intended groove you need to affix your straightedge in order to cut the groove at the banding/veneer intersection – off course, this depends of your bushing.

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This is easy-to-do woodworking with spectacular results. Give it a try. It works just as great on small boxes, too.

Build Something Great!
Glen

 

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Filed under Inlay, Jigs, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

From Veneer To Edge Banding

IMG_0350(A few weeks ago, I posted about veneer and how I purchased 2-ply crotch mahogany for my Egerton tall clock. This week, I’ll pick up from there as I begin tinkering with the base panel and door. If you want to better see the end results, click on the left-hand photo to open the image.)

My next step in building the panels is edge banding. To straighten the veneer edges and to expose areas to which my edge banding is glued, I turn to one of my router jig workhorses. IMG_0520There is nothing easier to use than a simple straightedge jig and a pattern router bit to get a dead-straight edge; Yes, the edge is only as straight as your jig. My jig is a 6″-wide piece of plywood with a 4″-wide piece applied on top – this particular rendition has pine on the top, but any wood or plywood works. After I build the jig, it gets a pass over my jointer to achieve that straight edge. From there I’m ready to work.

I marked my panel at 7/8″ from the edge, IMG_0521positioned the jig at the marks then clamped it in place. The extra 2″ of width allows easy clamping and any clamps are out of the way of my router base. I set my depth of cut to 1/16″, then routed the edge. After working all four edges – the bottom edge being 1-1/4″ to allow a matching 7/8″ after a moulding is attached – I was ready for banding.

Shop-made edge banding is way easier to work than commercially available paper-thin veneers, IMG_0573it’s easy to make and it is from scrap. These are all pluses when woodworking. After cross-cutting 6″-wide pieces to 1″ in length, I set up my table saw to rip 1/16″-thin strips. Make sure you do this using a zero-clearance table saw insert and a push stick of some kind. I also like a super thin blade for this, so I bought a 7-1/4″ saw blade that is dedicated to light work at my saw. Enough pieces were cut to wrap the door and base panel, along with a few extra.

Edge banding is wrapped around the field, IMG_0575but I also needed a few pieces for the top edge of the door that were longer due to the curved edge. I only need a few pieces, so I repeated the same steps with another piece of scrap. Those top-edge pieces require a bit of shaping to meet the profile. That meant many trips between the door and my sanders, spindle and disc. Spring clamps are great at holding profiled pieces as you fit additional pieces along the edge.

After the top-edge pieces are fit and the corners are trimmed, IMG_0581it’s time to glue the edge banding to the door. I contemplated hide glue for this, but my glue pot was  not hot and any hide glue I had was outdated or moldy. Not going to use it. I did have yellow glue, but I also had a bottle of Titebond “No Run, No Drip” glue. A shorter set time was good, so I gave the glue a try. I was surprised at how easy this glue is to use and how quickly it sets. I am very happy with the results. If you need a shorter setup time when gluing, I would try this product.

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Remaining edges are covered with the pieces ripped at the saw. Straight runs are too easy. Smear glue along the edge, slip a piece in place then add clamps. The glue sets up fast enough that I easily transferred spring clamps along the way. If you do not have a large supply of spring clamps, use blue tape. It works, too.

(Next week I’ll repair a damaged edge-banding corner, share a trick for perfectly matched mitered corners and install stringing in the door.)

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Design, Inlay, Jigs, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock, Veneer