My Saturday’s Workshop Day

DSC_0004I had a mixed day yesterday trying to wrap my mind around a man I met at a car boot sale. I bought this table from him for £10 and took it into the castle to strip down, measure, draw up for records and to replicate and restore. He said that last week he had a nice big mahogany table and broke it up for firewood. Said he gets them all the time. I said I’d gladly buy them from him so he said he’d bring some next week. it’s a tragic thing to burn wood from our excesses but people have no knowledge in the seas of mass information and less so today than ever it seems. You see it’s not that the information isn’t there it’s that in the mass of information we can’t process it because we can’t pay attention to so much of it. John is using old mahogany for something he’s currently building and of course I can always use good wood like that.

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I made some coaster sets from off cuts of my last tabletop and that project came together well for me. Another Christmas gift for someone but also an upcoming short series for Woodworking Masterclass online broadcast shortly. We’re trying to get you ready and in the Christmassy mood. DSC_0106John made a lovely box for a wedding gift as you know but he also made a lovely sliding lid box for my wife’s birthday present.

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Currently he’s in the middle of building his tool chest from oak and mahogany to take back to Patagonia with him when he leaves.

DSC_0002At the car boot sale I saw this lovely old sandstone wheel and wondered if I could use it but I have no time to restore it right now.

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This week I ordered a new name mark (not really called stamps) to retire my old one after 50 years of stamp marking my personal tools. John, Phil and I restore old tools each week and of course we accumulate a lot that way. It becomes all the more necessary to have positive ID and  we want to make certain our tools are all stamped properly as we keep accumulating from different sources.

Working on the  coaster sets and other thin wood sections.

DSC_0029Clamping thin wood for wider sections or laminations of different woods for colour and texture often doesn’t work with large clamps because of pressures in the wrong places. Small, narrow, thin stock often posses the greatest problems and whereas there are several products ranging from elastic bands made from inner tubes to bungies and wedged string, there’s a certain confidence that comes when you see the joints close with something perhaps more obviously mechanical.

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These ‘clamps’ are quick and easy to make and use. In a matter of minutes you can have your wedges and cross beams made and be on your way. Flipflopping them from face to opposite face on longer lengths gives opposing counter pressures that stagger and distributes more even pressure in the overall glue up.

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With multiple strips like the one shown I found it best to true the edges square rather than using the normal edge jointing methods where you plane the jointed edges together so that out of squareness is compensated for when the two edges are brought together. That way then the parts are interchangeable, which gives the necessary versatility when choosing grain colour and orientation of grain etc.

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Eleanor and I are working on plans for a woodworking workshop aimed at behavioural change through craft work for next March here in North Wales. We feel that input from the craft world like woodworking can impact present cultural trends with an alternative that would give opportunity and provide a vehicle for change.

9 Comments

  1. Gary Blair on 2 November 2014 at 7:56 am

    What a wonderful way to spend a day! I too am saddened to think of all of the old wood that has been burned or gone to the landfill. Thankfully, due the efforts of people with interests similar to ours, more and more old boards and timbers are being recycled or upcycled. Now a quick question: I know Peter Ross makes forged stamps for tools here in the US. Would you mind telling all of us where you and your boys obtain yours from?
    Thanks as always for another interesting blog!
    Regards,
    Gary Blair



    • Paul Sellers on 2 November 2014 at 8:32 am

      I will after I have tested it out.



      • Joe Kaiser on 26 January 2015 at 7:56 pm

        Have you had a chance to sufficiently test out your new name mark?



  2. davidos on 2 November 2014 at 11:49 am

    nice post .i recently made a tissue box cover from thin stock .my word, the hoops i had to jump trough to surface plane and glue up .from the posted photos i think i have a grasp of how it was done, experience is a wonderful teacher



  3. Thomas Tieffenbacher/aka DocSavage45 on 2 November 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Paul,

    Will you be using electrolysis or cider vinegar to remove the rust on your wheel?



  4. MichaelP on 4 November 2014 at 9:11 am

    Paul,

    The old furniture trade is unusual as quite often the pieces of furniture cost less than the wood itself, even less that the equivalent volume of firewood. If a particular piece didn’t sell all summer, some traders do indeed break them down and use them as firewood in the winter. I’m still trying to work out a deal with some local traders to buy the wood from them instead, but it’s hard work to convince them. If we can’t sell a piece and it won’t fit in our interior, my wife paints it then sells it as “shabby chic”. It’s amazing to see a painted piece go for hundreds when you couldn’t sell it unpainted for a tenner weeks before.

    On the flip side, it also means that there are amazing deals out there because of the slow trade and people’s fascination with flat pack furniture. Last week I bought a late 19th century desk for 15 quids, somebody replaced the damaged leather upper with a plastic wood-grain imitation. I may spend more than 15 quids on the replacement leather, but it will give me another lifetime piece of furniture for a fraction of a “flat pack” desk price. In September, I found a set of antique woven cane chairs for free. One had a broken leg, some tenons were loose, some of the cane work had to be redone… but they were honest solid oak chairs. Last month, I had to pass up on a free pristine antique cabriole legs sofa because it wouldn’t fit in my car and was too heavy for the roof bars.

    The woodworking workshop does sound like a great idea! I am also confident that more people having a creative hobby, with tangible outcomes, would help with a lot of today’s society issues.

    Regards,
    Michael



  5. Ian Thomas on 4 November 2014 at 11:14 am

    My Brother in-law sometimes brings over some firewood he gets from a Recycling Centre. I have couple of mahogany door jambs, some odds and ends, all made from mahogany.
    When I worked for Boulton and Paul I remember one of the directors having a garage stacked floor to cieling, front to back, with mahogany sills to be cut up for firewood. Even as a metal masher it felt very wrong. 🙂



  6. Steve Massie on 4 November 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Paul another great Blog, this sure has opened up my eyes for looking out for discarded wood piece’s to recycle. I will be getting at the time of being new a very expensive hardwood Baby crib. It can not be sold as the slats do not meet required code’s now. The crib is in excellent shape and my Daughter will be giving it to me soon.

    Steve



  7. Brian on 4 November 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Paul you have mentioned before about certain products for stripping wood that can dicolour the wood. Can you breifly tell us some of the processes you have used that have proven successful, chemical based or otherwise? Ive tried citrus based in the past and have had varied success, Some products do not remove poly, (and likely not a problem with the pieces you have shown.) curious as to how you approach once you determine they are a candidate for refurbishing.