Tag Archives: string inlay

Always Something to Learn

IMG_1944In woodworking, one of the most satisfying things is that you never know it all. Everyday there is something knew to learn. That’s one of the things that keeps me looking and listening and trying new ideas. In the left-hand photo, you see how I’ve set up to bend stringing since I first began working with the material. I grabbed a length of pipe in Vise-grips, clamped it into my bench vise, heated the pipe and bent the stringing over the pipe using a metal-strap backer. If you look close, you see a nail set slipped between the grips and vise. I sometimes found that downward pressure as the bend was taking place could cause the setup to move in the vise, and that’s not a good thing to have happen. The nail set stopped that.

As I’ve demonstrated this technique to different woodworking groups, I’ve had occasion to see a few interesting string-bending setups, including  a massive three-pipe selection that bolted to a workbench and allowed a constant flame to keep the pipe at the correct temperature for bending – whatever that is. I’ve also been asked so many times about using a heating iron as does Steve Latta; sorry Steve, that’s way too slow.

I did, however, learn a new setup while teaching my session at Woodworking in America this past weekend (the reason there was no post on this blog last Sunday). I traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C. without my Vise-grips and nail set. When it came time to demonstrate the technique, I was at a loss. Until, that is, I grabbed the F-style clamp I tossed in the conglomerate of stuff I’d taken along. With the length of pipe secure in the clamp, I set it into the bench vise with the handle resting against the top of the vise. No amount of downward force would cause the setup to move. And as long as you remove any plastic fittings from the clamp, heat from my torch was not a worry. It worked great.

IMG_1943There’s always something new to learn in woodworking.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Back to Basics, Inlay, Jigs, Methods of Work, Shop Tips

Federal Card Tables

Baltimore Card TableI’m pulling together the information for one of my presentations at the 2013 edition of Woodworking in America. On Sunday, I’ll talk on the use of inlay to help identify from what regions Federal-period furniture was built. Also in this class, I’ll demonstrate how a few pieces of banding are constructed. Near the end of the class, out come the hot plates, iron skillets and sand because each person in the class – at least those willing to give it a shot – will shade and assemble a sand-shaded fan. It’s not too late to register for the conference, or to pick up a one-day pass, if you’re in the area.

During the period, string inlay – generally categorized as light and dark (no species given) – was found in all regions. So how do you differentiate between Massachusetts and Maryland? The answer is simple; you evaluate how the stringing was used. Another area where you begin to see differences between regions is as you study banding. And of course, pictorial inlay also helps identify regions.

One of the best ways to study and learn how stringing, banding and inlay can tell the story of where a piece was originally built is to study card tables. When these tables were built, the choices furnituremakers had available were limited to what they produced in the shop, but more often than not, they chose from what specialist had to sell – each region had its own banding and pictorial inlays. Sanderson Card TableYou should, however, be warned that you have to study antique or period card tables and not reproduced tables unless the maker was careful in his or her selection of material.

Today, we can have inlay shipped from all over the country, so it would be difficult to nail down where the pieces were built based upon the decoration. In the opening photo, for example, I reproduced a Baltimore card table and while I added the light string around the top’s edges, which is very characteristic of tables from Maryland and Baltimore, I didn’t pay particular attention to the diamond banding at the lower edge of the apron, or to the oval inlays at the top of each leg.

In the second photo, you also see light stringing used on the top. In this example, though, you’ll notice that the stringing is not at the edges of the top, but set a bit off the edges. A simple call to make – and please keep in mind that these rules are not always adhered to – is that this card table was not built in the Maryland or Baltimore area. In fact, this table is from Massachusetts. You need to look at other features to make that call.

The legs on card tables also provide a good indication as to where a table was built. Card Table UnknownPatterns and designs of bellflowers are distinct from region to region, as are the added inlay at the top of the legs. On the leg shown at the left, the icicle drop (segmented triangles of shaded light-colored inlay) is a good indication that the table was originally built in Connecticut, as that design is often found in the area.

Conversely, the photo at the right is more often found on tables from New York, especially if you study the design of the bellflower drops. The intersecting ovals that surround the bellflowers are found on other pieces from the same region. New York Card LegAnd while it’s possible to identify the origin of card tables and other furniture through the study of inlay, it’s always best to use additional information before making the call. If, for example, I showed you a picture of this last table, and you could see that there were five legs – the extra being the swing leg that supports the opened table top – you would be better informed and could more easily place this table in the New York area.

It should be a fun class. I hope you can make it.

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

A Router Jig, or a Ingenious Method of Work?

A_BasePhotoThose of you who read this blog know my penchant for routers. My router, and a circle-cutting jig, made easy work of the inlay on my clock base, as shown at the left. Circle jigs are not used on every project. In fact, they are not used on most projects, but when you need one, it’s nice to have options.

Recently, I teamed up with Popular Woodworking Magazine for a new router-based DVD. “Router Joinery & Techniques with Glen D. Huey” is available as a DVD or a digital download. Click here to pick up a copy.

A_Router DVD CoverIn the DVD I talk about and demonstrate using circle-cutting jigs. There are jigs that replace a router base-plate and those that work with router bushings. These jig designs work in different ways so it’s good to have both in your shop. But there is a circle-cutting jig in your shop already and you may not realize it’s there.

Obviously, I used a circle jig to cut the groove at the center of the base for my white/black/while banding. (Not wanting to ruin my veneered panel meant no pin at the center on which to pivot my jig, so I made a plywood pattern of the circle, a large hole if you will, then ran my router – guided by a bushing – around the inside of my pattern to cut the inlay groove.)

I also used my router to cut the quarter circles for my fan inlay. At a 1 1/2″ radius, I could not use circle-cutting jigs as they are normally used. To make these cuts I drilled a hole in my router base then swung my router in an arc.

A_Veneer PanelI began with a veneered panel attached to front of my clock base. (I had my veneer bonded to a backer to make life easier. Bonding to a cross-grained back allows veneer to be worked and stored more like boards – no veneer softeners, newspaper layering or time lost waiting.) Before moving on, I used a straightedge and a pattern bit to create an area for edge banding.

A_PinPin placement was a snap. I used a Czeck Edge Birdcage awl to start my hole – really like this tool – then drilled for my pin. Measured 1 1/2″ from a 1/16″ inlay router bit toward the outside of my router plate, then drilled a hole the same diameter as my pin.

A_QuarterCutThe router slips right over the pin and because I was cutting in from the edge-band area, there was no need to plunge my cut. All I had to do was flip the router switch to the “on” position and rotate my router through the cut. A perfect 1/16″-wide, quarter-circle groove was made.

A_CutCompleteWith the grooves complete, I cut and installed my edge banding, installed stringing that straddled the veneer and edge banding to cover my seam and to define my fan area, then used my router again to waste away the fan area before installing the sand-shaded fans.

Is using the router plate as I did considered a jig? Is it an example of “out of the box” thinking? Or, is it a standard router technique?

Build Something Great!
Glen

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Filed under Inlay, Jigs, Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips

Inlay Tools With A Twist

IMG_0012 copyLast week I shared the two oval designs, one of which I planned to use on my tall clock. Which did I choose? I selected the oval drawn using Freddy Roman’s method from the Popular Woodworking Magazine article. The other oval looked almost pointed when routed. But with choosing Roman’s method, there was, of course, a problem.

If you have followed any of the work I’ve done with string inlay, you know that I prefer to use a heated pipe section to bend my string – I have tried to use a solder iron, but have found it much more difficult.

Take a look at the finished oval shown the photo above. Look closely at the round ends. Those ends are way smaller than any pipe section I have in stock. I shot over to my favorite hardware store for a new section, but found nothing acceptable. Was I resolved to use a solder iron and power through? Don’t think so. This is when they say you should think outside the box, so I did.

IMG_0009I went to my shop drill bit drawer and found a new method to bend small rounded sections of inlay. Could an old twist drill bit do the trick. I had to give it a try, so I locked the bit in a pair of vise-grips and heated away. Cool thing is that the bit – due to its size or to its solid body – was quicker to heat. That made the task that much faster.

I went about the bend just as I would using anyone of the steel pipes: wet my string pieces slightly, backed the bend using a piece of metal strapping salvaged from a lumber shipment that came to the shop, heated the bit then bent my string. Everything worked perfect. In fact, four bends later my inlay was ready to install. All I had left was to taper and fit the ends to try and hide the joint.

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If you have string work in front of you that has small tight bends, give this technique a try. It works.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools, Inlay, Jigs, Shop Tips