Tour of Colonial Williamsburg

In Colonial Williamsburg, Bob visits a cabinetmakers’ shop, where traditional methods of building furniture are still in practice.

Factory Tour: Tremont Nail

Bob Vila tours the Tremont Nail mill in Wareham, Massachusetts, where steel cut restoration nails are manufactured.

Cut nails, a family business

Gary Franklin is a fifth-generation nailer at the Tremont nail factory in Mansfield, Mass. His great-great-grandfather started working there shortly before the Civil War, and he carries on the tradition to this day.

Nail and ox shoe smithing

Early 1920’s Swedish blacksmith

Blacksmithing – Forging a nail

Quick and simple blacksmithing demo. In this video I show how you can forge a nail using a nail header.

Blacksmithing for beginners: Forging nails

To get the hang of the drawing out technique and learn how steel moves without using a lot of stock, forging nails is a nice exercise. It teaches you how much material will flow if you isolate it and draw it out.

Forging a nail header and a few nails at the new forge

We decided to forge a few nails to help finish up our new blacksmith shop doors. First we needed a nail header, which was forged out of an old ATV axle. Then we made a few nails from 1/4″ round stock.

How to Sharpen an Axe (Its Easy)

After removing some tree stumps with my axe, the edge is in really bad shape and needs sharpening. I’m going to show you how to do it with a file and an inexpensive sharpening stone. To finish it off, I’ll use my homemade leather strop.

How to Replace a Battery Powered Movement

I’ve had this clock for a while that my daughter bought for my birthday some years ago. The movement died and since I have many movements left from my previous clock making days; I thought it would be a great opportunity to demonstrate on how to replace a battery powered movement.

Remove pin

This is the pin that holds the hands on the movement. Not all clocks have pins some are nuts (open and closed). Pull this out with your fingers to remove the hands.

Remove nut

This is the nut that holds the movement on the face. It is only finger tight. Unscrew the nut and pop the movement out.

Movement

The movement I’m replacing is a cheap Chinese-made movement. They cost around 0.30cents to buy in bulk from alibaba and only last about 3 years. They are good if you want to build a reputation for producing rubbish. For battery powered movements you need to buy the best there is, and Takane movements are it. They are made in the USA and come with a warranty of 10 years, even though they can last longer than that. They cost around $22 each, which is significantly higher than the Chinese model, but you get what you pay for.

Insert the shaft through the hole, replace the washer and screw on the nut using finger tight pressure only.

The plastic shaft on the movement which holds the hour hand isn’t the same diameter as the hole in the hour hand, I have to make some adjustments to reduce its diameter. I will hammer the outer walls of the hole inwards.

Hammer the outer wall of the hole inwards to reduce its diameter.

Reinsert the hands and screw on the nut. Discard the pin that came with the previous movement.

I discarded the metal hands altogether and make some new ones from wood I had left over from the jewellery box project I made for my niece.

Have you ever wondered why many clocks for sale read 1:50? It’s an old psychological trick that sellers still use to make their clocks seem more attractive. It’s a smile and meant to make you feel good when you look at the clock in the shop’s window. You’ll never see a clock reading 8:20 as that represents a frowning face.

Principles Essential to the Woodworker’s Success

There is an old saying that a worker is known by his chips. This old saying must have had its origin years ago when firewood was used almost exclusively and many woodchoppers were employed cutting wood for fuel. Some of these woodchoppers would greatly excel others in the amount of wood cut consequently a swift worker would make many chips in a day’s toil while an inferior chopper would make comparatively few, so we have the saying passed down to us, “The workman is known by his chips.” But in these days, it would be nearer correct to say a workman is known by his tools and slightly more to the point to say a worker is known by the use of his tools.

Oriental Workmanship

They say that workers in Japan use some of their tools in a way that seems awkward and somewhat ridiculous to those of us of the Western world. The Japanese when he uses a plane pulls it toward him instead of pushing it from him. The drawing knife he pushes from him instead of drawing it toward him as the name of the tool signifies. They have odd ways of using tools, that is, it appears so to us, and our ways of using tools no doubt appear queer to some foreign-born workmen. With us as woodworkers our ways of using tools are quite uniform. Occasionally a workman, however, is seen using a saw in his left hand. Some are able to use one hand quite as well as the other.

Character in the making of chips, getting a shop reputation, motion study and its worth as a factor in forming workmanlike habits

But passing along from one worker to another in a shop or factory it would appear that all do things in about the same way in reference to their respective trades. Yet frequently we notice much difference in the quality of work done and much difference in the time that one man takes to do the same work in amount and quality compared with some other men. What is the reason for this difference? Why are not all workmen equally good? Why is it also that one man can do so much more work than another and do it just as well? These are quite important questions for with but few exceptions the worker is paid according to his work and he is known in the office and on the pay rolls by the use he makes of his tools. Therefore, how may a workman improve his work and thereby add to his chances?

Fundamental Principles

If these questions were submitted to a company of workers it would be sure to create interest and many and varied would be the answers given. I as one among the great army of woodworker., will suggest a few fundamental principles. First of all the old saying that a workman is known by his chips is obsolete. Chips or shavings are no indications of a workman’s speed or skill. But a good workman as a rule has good tools. If any man can do good work with poor tools the same man could do better work with better tools. The first requisite, therefore, to good work is suitable tools.

Inspecting the New Man

We notice new men as they come into the shop. It is natural that we should size them up by the tools they display. When a man appears with a substantial tool chest or tool case and unpacks a tine assortment of well kept tools we have at once respect for him even before he does any work. We expect him to be a workman that “needeth not to be ashamed.” How different is our views of the man that comes shuffling in with tools in an old battered box devoid of handles or sometimes with a market basket with a few odds and ends, relics of tools that appear as though they may have come from a second-hand store or possibly a pawnshop. Such a man as this the foreman is sure to look upon with some anxiety and suspicion. He does not give such a man very particular work, for judging from the tools the man carries about with him he could not be trusted to do a neat and particular job. If we would become a good workman and command respect among our fellows we should get together a kit of good tools. A worker is not only judged by the tools he may display but by the way be uses his tools. This is the great test of the workman. Workmen, like the rest of mankind the world over, are creatures of habit and the skilful use of tools by which we may earn a good living is largely the result of habits we form as we take up our tools to use them day after day. Much, however, depends upon the kind of start we get while learning the trade. The skill of the pianist depends on his position at the instrument together with expression as conveyed by the touch of the fingers on the keys. Improper position at the piano, awkward movement of the fingers, or a wrong start in learning has made the development of the performer into a great musician impossible. In a measure it is so with the use of tools. Much depends on the kind of habits we form while learning the trade and our disposition to correct errors and improve as we grow older and more experienced in our work. A man is never too old to learn if he is so inclined. But here is the rub. As we grow older our habits, good or bad, have a tendency to crystallize, to become fixed. As woodworkers in the use of our tools we are apt to get into a rut. We may move along in a monotonous kind of a groove. We become a kind of a human machine that goes neither faster nor slower and grows neither better nor worse except like the machine we are imperceptibly but gradually wearing out. It appears that as workmen we may be divided into two classes, those who from the start manifest a desire to advance by improving every available opportunity to become more skilful and those who having learned the trade manifest no activity to learn more only as it comes to them naturally and ordinarily through the performance of their routine toil. I can illustrate my thought best in this way: There was a cabinetmaker in years past who had two sons. They worked on either side of their father learning the trade. The older one from the start appeared quick and handy with tools but was not careful about his work.

Comparisons of Craftsmanship

When in fitting a set of drawers into a bureau he had to be watched and his work inspected frequently as he would plane too much off from the ends of the drawer fronts leaving too much space or play for the drawers. When spoken to by his father about his work not coming up to the standard he would invariably reply, somewhat impatiently, “Oh, that’s good enough.” His bench was always littered from one end to the other. His tools were never sharp, and as for grinding a plane iron or a chisel it was almost impossible to get him to do it. He was a hard- working fellow and always went at things with a rush. But he never could take time seemingly to do anything well nor to keep his tools in good condition. He indulged careless habits. He had no ideal, nothing to look forward to in the way of improvement. Passing from his bench over to that of his brother, who was younger and serving his time with him, we notice a great difference, not so much in the movements of the young men for they both were quick and seemed to do things by the same method. But the younger brother did much better work and just as much of it. He was painstaking. He made no more motions than the older brother but each effort counted. There were no false motions. He kept his tools well sharpened and arranged in good order. He consulted with his father frequently about the best way to do certain things. It was not enough for him to get it done some- how, but availing himself of the experience of those that had been longer in the business he tried to do everything in the best way. And it is needless to state that this young man forged ahead. He was given the best work. This worker was known not by his chips or the shavings he made but by his well-kept tools and the very skilful use of them. The difference between these two brothers which so affected their work and wages is largely the difference between workers the world over.

Turbo Cut Japanese Bowsaw Blades

Turbo-Cut 400 Scweif No.712972

This is a Japanese blade made for a bowsaw. I bought the bowsaw some years back from woodjoytools whom isn’t in business anymore. I paid a hefty price for it but the saw is so well made that I knew if I didn’t buy it I would have regretted it. If you want to know more about the bowsaw and from which bowsaw Glen Livingstone copied it from, watch this video.

I haven’t used my bowsaw in a while and seem to have forgotten just how well the blade cuts. Well, yesterday I was reminded just how well the blade cuts. It cuts through like butter with no exaggeration, a 3/4″ pine. I was cutting up some curved stretches 18″ long, and it astounded me at the speed with which it cut. I looked at the blade and saw typically hardened Japanese teeth, and I just cannot explain what makes it cut so fast. The downside to these blades is their widths. They are too wide for tight radiuses and definitely cannot do scroll work as highland woodworking advertises on their website. The other downside for me is that I cannot purchase a 1/8″ blade from toolsforworkingwood because they do not fit my saw. Which is why, if you’ve ever wondered, you see in pictures of old workshops several hanging bowsaws. Well, that’s my theory, anyway.

I can’t help but wonder though how well would this blade design work in ripping a long board of say an inch or two inches thick. No western saw that I have ever used can saw through timber at the speed I experienced with this saw.

If you wonder where to purchase these blades I have provided the links below. They are not cheap.

Australia

The WoodWorks

The United States

Highland Woodworking

Influence of Glue on Modern Wood Work

 Glue has made possible much of the design both in furniture and in finish which is now in vogue. The fact that today we can obtain strong glue of uniform quality has an important bearing on all woodworking operations. Glue also has done much toward the economy of timber.

Seasoning the Stock

As shown in previous articles, the elder-day method of making accurate work was to air-season the stock through a period of years, until the internal stresses become equalized. Then, too, the cabinetmaker of two or three generations ago was in no particular hurry to put his product on the market and thus he gave ample time for the parts to thoroughly adjust themselves.

Today we rush the stuff from the log into the finished product in the shortest possible time. While the dry-kiln literally jerks the moisture out of the stock, the lumber remains full of strains and the moisture content in the various parts of the stock is an amount that is more or less irregular in disposition. To over- come these irregularities, it is necessary to cut the stock up into small pieces and then join them with glue in such a way that the strains in any one part will oppose the strains in another, thus neutralizing the warping tendency.

Built-up Material

Built-up stock is the order of the day, whether it be built up of heavy strips or of veneering. This has played an important part in the economy of material. The strips and blocks used for the larger constructions can be cut more closely than was possible in the past, and also the material for the body of a piece can be made from wood containing some worm-holes or other imperfections which would not be allowed to appear on the surface, the surface finish being produced by means of veneer.

Both in built-up stock made from strips and in the built-up veneer stock, the resulting compound piece is stronger than a piece of equal thickness made from a single board. This has brought about the use of thinner material for many purposes.

Veneering

The compound veneered board made up of a body of three or more pieces of rotary-cut veneer with a face of hardwood veneer is another factor which economises timber to a great extent. A log made into rotary-cut stock occasions no loss in sawdust. When this rotary-cut stock is dried under pressure so as to straighten it and then built up into compound veneer boards, the resulting pieces are remarkably straight.

Manufacturers realized this long ago the extent to which stock of this kind can be used and the saving which can be affected through it. Today the backs of bookcases, and numerous other pieces of furniture are made from compound veneered boards from 1/4 to 5/16 inch thick. These being continuous are therefore dust-proof.

The old method of using tongue-and- groove stock took care of the shrinkage, but if an attempt was made to glue the tongues and grooves to keep out the dust the stock was sure to crack or buckle.

Glue for Compound Board

 The glue employed in making up this compound stock must be strong enough so that it can resist the tendency of the wood to expand or contract. In other words, the glue must be at the same time strong, tenacious, and flexible.

Rotary-cut stock generally presents a very good surface for gluing. Some woods when finished with a smoother present such a smooth surface that the glue does not adhere well. In certain instances the wood requires scoring or scratching to make a good glued joint possible.

Panels and Their Place

The compound board has not only revolutionized the practice in constructing backs for furniture but it is also used for drawer bottoms and is now even appearing in the finished surfaces of furniture. The panel-less desk or door would be a manufacturing impossibility were it not for the introduction of compound boards. At best the panel is an excuse introduced into construction practice by the woodworker as an acknowledgment of the fact that it was impossible for him to control shrinkage in any other way. Hence, we have the panel in order to allow the material to come and go without destroying the harmony of the whole or permitting the possibility of actually producing cracks through the wooden structure. We have become so accustomed to panels that at first sight the appearance of a door without them does not suit our sense of fitness. In much the same manner the first automobiles and trolley cars appeared unfinished and in no condition to start without a horse in front of them.

Chalk Paint

I made a shoe rack for my daughter’s endless supply of shoes. I know this shoe rack or stand however you want to call it won’t be high enough nor long enough. It’s a simple enough project to do by hand, but it was very repetitive and tedious. There were 44 slats that needed to be cut, resawn to thickness and then plane.

I want to make mention a little something on the topic at hand, and that is chalk paint. Annie Sloan invented this incredible decorative paint over 20 years ago. It’s latex paint with some unknown propriety additives that gives that matt, dull chalky appearance. It’s been very popular amongst DIYer’s who like to paint second hand furniture and create the distressed look. The pictures below show you furniture distressed and one that isn’t. Personally, I prefer the picture without the distressed appearance.

Distressed
Not Distressed

Off the shelf this paint is cost prohibitive. However, I will teach you how to make a home brewed version even though I do not know what ingredients Annie Sloan uses in her version. You will find on the web many different ingredients used to make chalk paint and the one version ingredients I use is just one of many. I’ve never used the store bought version off the shelf so I cannot make a side-by-side comparison which paint is better. I am though thrilled with this version and I’m sure you will be too if you follow these simple instructions.

  1. One cup of latex paint
  2. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of cool water
  3. Mix 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Plaster of Paris
  4. Stir briskly with a fork or egg beater until all the lumps are out.

I have already used this paint I didn’t take a picture of a freshly made batch.

Use a good quality water based brush and always aim for brush free marks. You will never achieve a sprayed look, but you can have minimal marks like the picture below and that looks better than sprayed. The first coat will be thin, see through and very rough to the touch. Within half hour you can lightly give it a sand, but it’s best to let it sit overnight to be on the safe side. The second coat can be your final coat, although it will again be very rough to the touch. The roughness cannot be avoided irrespective of how many coats are applied. It’s the plaster of Paris that gives it the chalky rough feel. I’ve discovered that three coats are the perfect number of coats. I also allow each coat to dry overnight, as I like to be safe than sorry. The finished look will be chalky, dull or matt and rough to the touch. After a light sand, you will need to apply a coat of paste wax. The wax once buffed out will give it a lustrous appearance. You don’t have to apply it if you prefer the matt look. I found the Renaissance paste wax buffed with a horse hair shoe brush and cotton rag works really well.

The difference between milk paint and chalk paint is that milk paint is a 100% natural finish that doesn’t obscure the grain, while chalk paint isn’t a natural finish and will cover the grain of the wood. However, in both finishes a paste wax is applied. There you have it, one more finishing arsenal under your belt.

A Talk About Shellacs, Gums and Varnishes

Shellac Solution Without Wax

To the shellac solution separated from the vegetable wax, a medium is added which fully takes the place of the wax as regards pliancy and polishing qualities, without exhibiting its undesirable after effects. Such a medium has been found in the essential oils, especially in oil of rosemary. The production of the new polish is, for instance, as follows: Dissolve 20 kilos of shellac and 4 kilos of gum benzoin in as little 95 or 96 per cent spirit as possible, with the addition of 1 kilo of oil of rosemary. The concentrated solution is now repeatedly filtered over fresh stick lac until the vegetable wax contained in the solution is completely abstracted and the solution has become perfectly clear. A description of lac may not be amiss in this connection. “Stick lac” is one of the five grades that are known to commerce, the others being seed lac, shellac, button lac, and garnet lac. Stick lac is the crude product as it comes from the trees. By this it is not meant that it is a product of any tree, although the tree or trees upon which it is found does give a gummy or resinous sap. An insect, scientifically called the Coccus lacca, and the female only, punctures the bark of the tree, and the sap is utilized by the insect to form cells with and in which it lays eggs and itself becomes embedded, breathing by means of fine filaments which are sent to the surface for the purpose, because the insect becomes buried in the gum, head and all. After having laid its eggs the insect dies. In due course the eggs hatch out and the young insects swarm out and over the neighbouring twigs, and repeat the round of egg laying and dying, until finally an end comes to the race on that particular tree when its vitality has been drained and it succumbs. As with the San Josescale, the lac insects are transported from place to place by birds and other agencies. The twigs covered with lac are gathered and broken into bits about two inches long, and are carried from the jungles to the nearby towns, where the gum is removed from the wood in a crude manner by the natives. The lac is very brittle; hence it is easily removed from the sticks by passing a roller over it, crushing the gum and leaving the twigs clean of it. Then the lac is thrown into tubs of water and natives get in and tread the gum into a mass, the water being warm. After a time, the water becomes quite clear, the colouring matter having been removed. This gives us “seed lac.” The liquor is boiled down dry, and the resulting mass, solid, is made into cakes and sold as lac dye. Formerly this was used for dyeing purposes but with the advent of the aniline dyes it fell into disuse. Seed lac is mostly made into the other lac products.

Seed Lac and Shellac

Shellac (shell lac, being in the form of scales or shells) is the principal lac product and the variety used in making the commonly known shellac varnish. Shellac is made from seed lac in this way: The seed lac is dried and placed in bags made of cotton cloth of medium texture. Two men take hold of the bag of seed lac, one at each end, and hold it in front of a charcoal fire; the heat soon melts the lac, and it flows out of the bag, the men assisting the operation by twisting the bag so as to squeeze out the liquid lac. The lac drops out into a trough placed in front of the fire, a cylinder of wood or other material, with the upper half covered with brass, or it is made of porcelain, or perhaps of the finely polished stem of the plantain. This cylinder is placed in a somewhat inclined position, and the operator, taking up a ladle full of the molten shellac from the trough, pours it on the upper surface of the cylinder, while an assistant by means of a leaf of plantain spreads the melted material over the surface of the cylinder. It soon cools there, after which it is stripped off with a knife and is ready for sale as shellac gum. Button shellac differs from shellac only in form. Garnet lac is similar to button lac. Neither is as good a quality as the shellac variety. Either of the lacs may be used for shellac varnish making but the orange shellac is best. The best quality of shellac has a pale and bright orange colour, being known as orange shellac. Crude stick lac contains 66 per cent resin, 6 per cent of wax, 6 per cent of gluten, and 10.8 per cent of colouring matter after being freed from the wood. Five distinct resins have been separated from shellac: resin soluble in alcohol and ether; resin soluble in alcohol, but insoluble in ether; resin slightly soluble in alcohol; a crystallizable resin, and an uncrystallisable resin. These constitute about 80 per cent of the shellac There are in addition fatty matter, wax, gum and colouring elements. Bleached shellac, or white, may be made in two or three ways. One method is to boil orange shellac in a weak solution of carbonate of potash, and when dissolution is affected to collect the shellac, melt it under water, and while soft to pull it until it assumes a satiny appearance. Another way is to boil the shellac in a weak solution of potash and while it is in a melted state pull and work it like you would taffy candy until the desired degree of whiteness is obtained. Then remelt the shellac and repull it in clean warm water. White shellac always contains more or less water, hence for many purposes is not as good as the orange. Always dry bleached shellac before using. Another thing is not generally known and that is, bleached shellac deteriorates with age, becoming insoluble in alcohol or borax. A good recipe for making a colourless shellac solution for varnishing paintings and prints is as follows: Dissolve 150 grams of shellac in a litre of alcohol by the aid of gentle heat in a water bath. Stir in about 150 grams freshly burned animal charcoal and bring the mixture to a boil, maintaining it at the boiling temperature about ten minutes. Filter a small portion and, if not absolutely colourless, add a little more charcoal and boil again. After again testing, if found to be quite free from colour, first strain through silk and subsequently filter through paper, and add a little castor oil, to insure elasticity. While the process for bleaching shellac is easily described and for individual uses easily accomplished, yet on a commercial scale it is rather more difficult. There are at least twelve operations essential in shellac bleaching, namely:

Crushing the raw material to a powder, so that it will become more readily soluble in the alkaline solution.

Separation of the colouring principle from the gum resin. Preparation of the bleaching agent, or hypochlorite of potash or soda. Treatment of the liquefied shellac by the bleaching agent.

Diluting the bleached shellac alkaline solution in water. Preparing the sulphuric acid for neutralizing the alkaline solution of shellac.

Neutralizing the shellac alkaline solution by the use of diluted sulphuric acid, which coincidently precipitates the bleached shellac.

Filtering the precipitate, or pulp, of bleached shellac. Malaxing the neutral pulp of bleached shellac to develop whiteness and elasticity.

Hardening and whitening process of the sulphuric acid bath, which prevents to a very great extent the white shellac turning yellow when exposed to the light.

Drying the bleached shellac.

Crushing the bleached shellac.

Thus, it may be seen that to make a good quality of bleached or white shellac on a commercial scale requires something more than a taffy-pulling match. Of course, you will know that when bleached or white shellac is bought it comes in a granulated form. Recent years saw much adulteration of shellac varnish in which rosin, the common North Carolina copal, so called, played a leading part, while the use of wood alcohol added insult to injury. One of the severest tests of a shellac varnish is made in the hands of the common house painter, on sap and knots. In by gone days the painter could carry the bottle of shellac with him and shellac or “kill,” as he called it, the knots and at once apply the priming coat of paint, and the knots would be killed. It was not the best way, for it gave the shellac no time to get dry hard. Apparently, the shellac is dry in a few moments but really it is not. Now when he tries such a trick the knots show through any number of coats of paint that he may apply. I had such a thing occur with me last summer. I shellacked some white pine knots of large size, using white shellac varnish that had been on hand for some time, though well stoppered. The knots all showed through the pure white paint, it being a parlour job.

Success in Varnishing

There is another fact that wood finishers as well as painters should be cognizant of when using shellac varnish. It is this, that unless the lumber is decidedly dry there will be bad work. It is bad enough to finish or work right over freshly applied shellac varnish, but the trouble is greatly increased if the wood is not dry. And when undry lumber is placed where heat can work on it, then the dampness will work to the surface and woe then unto the shellac or any other varnish. This is the cause of many a trouble in the finishing room. An article is finished and placed in a warm room. The heat brings to the surface the moisture in the wood and there is a dimming of the finish. Pure shellac varnish gives a harder surface than one that is adulterated with rosin. The amount of rosin in a doctored shellac may be anywhere from one-fourth to one-half the quantity of gum shellac. The rosin is finely pulverized, say five pounds of orange shellac gum and five pounds of pulverized rosin of good quality, dissolved in two gallons of wood alcohol. Better still, of course, for it is cheap enough now, use denatured alcohol. Such a varnish must be used as soon as possible after being made. Otherwise the alcohol evaporates and the gums fall to the bottom like a mass of rubber and this mass never can be redissolved. Any good shellac may become very dark with age. Certainly, it will if kept in a metallic vessel for a time. In such a case the original colour may be restored by dissolving one quarter ounce of oxalic acid in ten parts of water and adding this to one gallon of dark shellac. Nor will this treatment in any manner injure the shellac. Water shellac is useful for some kinds of work, and may be made thus: Take powdered white shellac, one pound, and powdered borax, one-half pound. Place in one gallon of soft rainwater and boil in a porcelain kettle until the shellac has nearly all dissolved. There will be a residue which cannot be dissolved. Strain through a cheese-cloth, then boil down to the desired consistency. The addition of a little alcohol will not be amiss, though it is not necessary. Eight ounces of alcohol to the gallon of varnish will give it the usual odour and help it in other ways.

Water Shellac You may mix, if you like, equal parts of the water shellac with orange alcohol shellac. This water shellac dries much slower than the pure alcohol shellac, but when dry it may be rubbed easily and save lots of sandpapering as compared with the real thing. And another matter worth considering—it will not raise the grain of wood as badly as the alcohol shellac will. For cheap work it will make a very satisfactory coating under the varnish coats. Not setting quickly like alcohol shellac; it may be brushed out smoother and hence will take less rubbing. Mixed with a strong solution of brown or white glue, according to the nature of the work in view, half and half, water shellac gives a good filler on cheap work, bearing out the varnish nicely and giving a good clean job with one coat of filler and one of cheap varnish. For finer effects, use two or more coats of varnish.

Success in Varnishing

There is another fact that wood finishers as well as painters should be cognizant of when using shellac varnish. It is this, that unless the lumber is decidedly dry there will be bad work. It is bad enough to finish or work right over freshly applied shellac varnish, but the trouble is greatly increased if the wood is not dry. And when undry lumber is placed where heat can work on it, then the dampness will work to the surface and woe then unto the shellac or any other varnish. This is the cause of many a trouble in the finishing room. An article is finished and placed in a warm room. The heat brings to the surface the moisture in the wood and there is a dimming of the finish. Pure shellac varnish gives a harder surface than one that is adulterated with rosin. The amount of rosin in a doctored shellac may be anywhere from one-fourth to one-half the quantity of gum shellac. The rosin is finely pulverized, say five pounds of orange shellac gum and five pounds of pulverized rosin of good quality, dissolved in two gallons of wood alcohol. Better still, of course, for it is cheap enough now, use denatured alcohol. Such a varnish must be used as soon as possible after being made. Otherwise the alcohol evaporates and the gums fall to the bottom like a mass of rubber and this mass never can be redissolved. Any good shellac may become very dark with age. Certainly, it will if kept in a metallic vessel for a time. In such a case the original colour may be restored by dissolving one quarter ounce of oxalic acid in ten parts of water and adding this to one gallon of dark shellac. Nor will this treatment in any manner injure the shellac. Water shellac is useful for some kinds of work, and may be made thus: Take powdered white shellac, one pound, and powdered borax, one-half pound. Place in one gallon of soft rainwater and boil in a porcelain kettle until the shellac has nearly all dissolved. There will be a residue which cannot be dissolved. Strain through a cheese-cloth, then boil down to the desired consistency. The addition of a little alcohol will not be amiss, though it is not necessary. Eight ounces of alcohol to the gallon of varnish will give it the usual odour and help it in other ways.

Water Shellac

You may mix, if you like, equal parts of the water shellac with orange alcohol shellac. This water shellac dries much slower than the pure alcohol shellac, but when dry it may be rubbed easily and save lots of sandpapering as compared with the real thing. And another matter worth considering—it will not raise the grain of wood as badly as the alcohol shellac will. For cheap work it will make a very satisfactory coating under the varnish coats. Not setting quickly like alcohol shellac; it may be brushed out smoother and hence will take less rubbing. Mixed with a strong solution of brown or white glue, according to the nature of the work in view, half and half, water shellac gives a good filler on cheap work, bearing out the varnish nicely and giving a good clean job with one coat of filler and one of cheap varnish. For finer effects, use two or more coats of varnish.

The Mortise and Tenon Joint in Woodworking

Of the various joints used by woodworkers in the several branches of the craft, none is more important than the mortise and tenon. Indeed, it may be classed as fundamental, for it enters into every sort of wooden construction from a Howe

truss or a trestle bridge to a Chippendale chair or a fancy cabinet.

A Universal Joint

Properly proportioned, it forms one of the strongest methods, and certainly the most all round effective one, for joining framing of almost every description. Some

Suggestions for the design and application of a universal joint familiar to all workers in wood

consideration of the various forms of this universal joint and of the rules for its design under varying conditions are therefore here presented, chiefly for the benefit of the beginner readers of this magazine.

Simple Forms

The simplest form of mortise and tenon joint is to be found in the case of rough constructive framing where two pieces of timber are to be joined at right angles, uncomplicated by panels or other considerations which affect the form of the joint in almost all the finer work of joinery or cabinetmaking. In such a case, the rule is to make the tenon one-third of the thickness of the material as shown in Fig. 1

Perfect Proportions

 In passing it should be noted that this proportion ought never to be exceeded, for while the tenon is often made less than one-third the thickness of the material without detriment, a tenon greater than one third the thickness of the material leaves the “cheeks” of the mortise weak in proportion to the strength of the tenon.

Fig. 2 is one of the first modifications of the simple mortise and tenon joint found necessary in framing and is used where the mortise is at the end of a piece. Such a tenon is said to be “haunched” or “relished,” the idea being to leave a solid portion at the end of the mortised piece. It will be noted that a small piece of that part of the tenon which is cut away to form the “haunch” or “relish” is left on and fitted into a corresponding groove in the mortised piece. This small part is not always left parallel but is often cut back to nothing at the outer end, as shown in the case of the table leg and rail in Fig. 3.

Width of Tenons The width of tenons in joinery and cabinetmaking is another factor which must receive consideration, for it is bad construction to make a tenon too wide in proportion to its thickness. The effect on such a tenon when its wedges are driven in is shown in Fig. 4,

where the tenon is buckled by the pressure of the wedges and the cheeks of the mortise forced out. The rule for the width of a tenon is that it should not exceed five or six times its thickness. A familiar application of this rule is in the case of wide rails of framing where the tenons are formed at each edge of the rail, leaving a relished portion in the centre, as in Fig. 5.

For the bottom rail of an ordinary panel door a combination of Figs. 2 and 5 is necessary and is shown at Fig.6

Warning as to Wedges

To save complications in the drawings, no wedges, or provision for them, have been shown, but in joinery work at all events most mortise and tenon joints are well wedged. In this connection a word of warning as to the form of wedges may not be out of place, for it is a common fault with beginners to make their wedges of too great an angle. To be most effective a wedge should have an angle of not more than 5 or 6 degrees, as is shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 2 was spoken of as the joint for the angle or end of a piece of framing but where the framing is oblique a special “open,” “slip” or “slot” mortise and tenon joint is used. This is shown in Fig. 8 and is used by joiners in framing the triangular panelling in the spandrel or “drag” often placed underneath a flight of stairs to form a closet or enclose a lower flight.

Through Tenons

In cabinetmaking the through tenon is seldom used because of the unsightly appearance of its end grain on the edge of the framing. Given that the tenon fits properly so as to fill the mortise completely, there is no doubt that the short tenon is perfectly satisfactory for indoor work. If, however, the door or framing is to be exposed to the weather, the old-fashioned method of concealed wedging, known as “blind” or “fox” wedging, is to be recommended.

Fig. 9 is a sectional view of a fox- wedged tenon and shows several slim wedges inserted in saw kerfs in the end of the tenon, ready to be driven home as the tenon enters the mortise. The mortise is of course made slightly larger on the inside to allow of the consequent spreading of the end of the tenon, the whole arrangement forming a very effective joint.

Double Tenons of Doors A common requirement in architects’ specifications for first-class doors is that the lock or middle rail shall be double tenoned on the outer stile. Such an arrangement is

shown in Fig. 10, the idea being to allow of the insertion of a mortise lock without destroying the tenon, which would occur if the usual single tenons in the centre were provided. A very effective form of mortise and tenon formerly common in constructive work is

shown in section in Fig. 11 where one side of the mortise is formed to fit the dovetail shape of the edge of the tenon. Its chief use was in attaching to the backs of solid door frames the blocks which are built into the walls by the masons to hold the frame in its position.

Another joint familiar to everyone before the days of wire nails and “balloon” framing was the “stub” mortise and tenon used at the junction of the corner post with the sills of a building and shown in Fig. 12.

Tusk Tenons

No account of the various mortise and tenon joints would be complete without a description of that much beloved one of the old carpenters, the tusk tenon joint. In fact, wherever floor timbers are properly framed today the joint is still used and is a most effective one.

Fig. 13 shows the joint and it will be seen that it is quite scientific, inasmuch as the wood in the mortised or bearing piece is cut away chiefly on the neutral axis, that is, in the centre of its depth where its fibres are theoretically neither in compression nor tension when the beam or joist is loaded.

Two or three methods of laying out the joint are used, probably the best being that shown in Fig. 13a.

The depth of the timber is divided into six equal parts and the tenon made equal to one of them and laid out in centre. The notch or step below is made a half of the remaining depth and the upper shoulder is sloped off from a point immediately above the line of the notch. The complications of the simple mortise and tenon joint arising out of the use of mouldings, panels, rebates, etc., are very numerous, but speaking broadly, the main things to be observed in designing this joint are the proper proportions of the thickness and width referred to in the early part of this article.

A Brief Practical Treatise on Hardwood Finishing

Of all the woods employed in architectural finishing and furniture making oak is the most popular, possessing as it does all the virtues looked for in a wood desired for those purposes. The kinds commonly used are the white, the red, and the black oak. Straight sawed and quarter-sawed oaks give us a great range of choice as to appearance and adaptability for finishing.

Birch, Mahogany and Ash

Birch comes straight and curly, and may be finished natural or stained to look like mahogany.

Mahogany may be had in several varieties, the finest coming from South America, but very much, some say 75 per cent, of what passes for mahogany here is “bastard” mahogany or baywood. Still, when the two are used together and finished together as in furniture, it is very difficult to tell them apart. Then there is a mahogany from Mexico and some that grows in this country. Also there comes from Africa mahogany, a very beautiful specimen being known as “crotch” mahogany. A fault of African crotch mahogany is checking in fine hair lines after the finishing. My attention was lately called to an advertisement of some pianos, which said: “These have just been received and are among the last lot that we shall get,” because of the checking here mentioned. The wood was beautiful, but frail.

American ash is a coarse-grained wood, useful either by itself for low priced sets of bedroom furniture, or in union with oak for the same purpose. Stained and filled antique, it makes a very good substitute for oak in furniture. Hungarian ash is of course in another class as regards beauty. It is beautifully marked.

Maple, Walnut and Redwood

Maple comes straight and curly grained. From time far back it has been a favourite on account of its beauty, its hardness and durability, and its abundance. There are many varieties of this wood, one from Oregon being very fine, but our Eastern maples leave nothing to be desired in the way of what the wood finisher requires of it. It is very light in colour, and takes a first-class finish.

American walnut, or more commonly called “black” walnut, one of the very best of native woods, is susceptible of the highest finish in several ways and when properly finished produces the handsomest effects known to the art. It is easily grown so there seems no reason why it should be so scarce.

Several woods and their scope for the finisher, the line between the hard and soft woods, preparing the surface prior to the finishing process, the methods of treating oak, matching the new and old oak, bleaching of wood

Redwood from California is thought by some to be the very finest wood in the world for interior finish and certain other purposes. In some respects, it is not much unlike mahogany. It should not be confounded with red cedar which is quite another species of wood.

Sycamore, Cypress and Pine

Sycamore or buttonwood is a hard wood of good grain. When quarter-sawed it is one of the handsomest woods the finisher has ever applied his skill to adorn. Cypress is a wood of great durability under exposure. It has a good colour but it is very hard to work and to finish, hence will prove useful only for the construction rather than the finish and adornment of homes. It is also difficult to paint, owing to its uneven and often spongy texture. Cypress is a member of the cedar family and is durable. Select specimens of this wood are very handsome and make very fine doors, etc.

Yellow pine comes from North Carolina and Georgia, mainly, and they are unlike one another. The former variety is known by its curly figurings, being very handsome; the other is of straight grain, making a very good flooring, especially when quarter-sawed.

White pine has become practically extinct in the East, but there are some very good specimens of it left in the great forests of the far Northwest. It is the most satisfactory wood for house finishing the world has ever known.

Poplar, Rosewood and Beech

Poplar or white wood is a fairly good substitute for white pine, having close texture and straight grain making it easy to work. Yellow poplar is the best, not being inclined to warp as is the other variety.

Rosewood, once so popular, has now nearly ceased to be used in furniture and cabinetmaking. It has its weak points, yet there is no denying its beauty under the finishing process.

Beech is one of the later introductions in the furniture factory and with it might be named several others also.

What are Hard and Soft Woods?

As another finisher has put it, it is difficult to draw the line between the hard and soft woods, so called, and really there is no need for making the distinction at all, it serving no practical purpose. It is well, therefore, to call them all by the name of hardwood, by that term meaning just woods that the finisher has to deal with.

When we come to the filling or surfacing of woods, we find that the lines overlap, so that on some so-called hardwoods, say oak, we have to both fill and surface to get a result. Any wood having a very open structure will of course require a paste filling, and often over this a surfacer or liquid filler, the same thing. In some cases, it will be necessary to apply two coats of paste, or one coat of paste filler and one of liquid filler. The paste is to fill or level up with, the liquid: surfacer is to saturate the cellulose matter with oil so that it will not rob the varnish when it goes on.

Preliminary Work

The first thing to do is to see that the work that is to be finished is smooth and clean, free of dust and grease. If we start the work smooth, it is easy to get the next coating smooth, and so on to the finish. It is a mistake to leave the smoothing until the last for it will save time and labour to make each progressive stage of the job smooth. Besides which; it is very difficult to make it smooth at the last if it has been rough up to that time.

Finishing the Oaks

Finishers know many ways for finishing oaks, and also there are ways that they ought not to know. Many of the sins of oak finishing may not be laid at the door of the finisher, however, for public taste, so called, is to blame.

Golden oak leads, of course. The very best effect is obtained with asphaltum stain, using the best that can be had. What a pity that asphaltum is not perfect, that it does not dry, or that it softens the varnish or sweats up under it. In colour it is perfect. It gives the best known golden oak finish. Its brown tint over the flakes is a true golden tone.

First the wood must be filled with a paste filler, which to darken with burnt umber. After this has dried and the surface has been prepared apply a stain, asphaltum if you will, or with Vandyke brown, a very transparent pigment, the most transparent of all the painter’s pigments, indeed, being also a very rich brown. The stain is applied liberally, then at once it is wiped off clean. This fills the pores of the wood, but removes all stain from the surface. When dry, sandpaper with 00 paper, getting the flakes bright.

Another method calls for staining the wood before the filling. Let it stand overnight, say, then sandpaper with 00 paper and fill with a filler made by thinning ten pounds of paste with one gallon of thinner, turpentine or benzine; the latter will do very well. Colour the filler with drop black in oil, making the filler only slightly dark. The stain is to be made quite thin and is not to be wiped off but allowed to remain on the wood overnight.

It is well for me to say here that pigment or colouring matter is not a filler, hence the less you put in the more paste filler can get in. The filler is to be rubbed well into the grain of the wood, which will make the wood very dark in its pores but the flakes will remain bright. After the staining and filling the work is ready for the varnish and finishing. Vandyke brown and burnt umber may be mixed together to get a certain shade of brown, or be mixed with asphaltum. In fact, many shades can be made by various admixtures of the colours, including drop black.

Antique, Flemish and Mission Oaks

Antique oak is simply plain oak made as dark as the fancy may dictate, using burnt umber, Vandyke brown, asphaltum or drop-black.

Flemish oak is a very dark effect, almost black, and is first stained with a chemical, as follows: Dissolve one-half pound of bichromate of potash in one gallon of water; strain, then apply with a bristle brush. Let it dry, then sandpaper with 00 paper. Now mix up some japan drop black to a thin stain with turpentine and apply it to the work. In a few minutes you may wipe off the stain, let it dry, then give a coat of thin shellac which is allow to dry perfectly. Shellac seems to be dry as soon as applied, really it is not as it requires some hours to get hard dry. Then smooth with fine paper. Finish with wax, made by mixing bees wax one pound to one gallon of turpentine, and adding four ounces of best ivory drop black. After waxing rub with cheese cloth, wiping off clean.

Another method calls for a paste filler made from equal parts of burnt umber and Vandyke brown, with a small quantity of lampblack. This is hardly a paste filler, however, though it will give a very dark effect. Any degree of darkness may be obtained by the increased use of drop black in the filling and staining.

Mission oak has many different colour effects so that no standard can be made. As a rule, it should show a dull grey effect, the flakes being a reddish cast, but the grain is a dull or almost dead black. To make the stain take one pound of drop black in oil and one-half ounce of rose pink in oil, add one gill (unit of volume in British imperial) of japan and thin with three half pints of turpentine. This will give you about a quart of stain. By using japan colours in place of the oil colours, you may omit the japan. Strain through cheese cloth. Finish with wax. Always when using japan colour add a little varnish as a binder.

Green and Primrose Oaks

Malachite or green oak may be produced with a green oil stain. Green paint will not do because it will obscure the grain. Dissolve aniline green crystals in boiling water, about an ounce to the gallon or stronger, and reduced according to depth of colour wanted. When the staining is dry, coat it over with white shellac to which add a little of the stain to tinge it green. Give one or two coats, according to body desired, and then wax it.

Forest green oak

Make and apply this stain: Mix together one pound of chrome green and one-half pound of chrome yellow, both medium shades. Now add together in another vessel three pints of turpentine, one pint of raw linseed oil, and a little white japan. Thin the colours with this and give the wood one coat of the resultant stain. Now colour some white shellac with a little turmeric and a few crystals of green aniline, then you may finish it with wax.

Plain green oak is an effect that may be produced by giving the wood a coat of the stain used for golden oak. When this has become dry coat with orange shellac to which has been added some aniline green crystals.

Finish with wax. Primrose oak is about the same as the green oak, only it has a more yellow cast. Bog oak is very much the same as Flemish, being a very dark, almost black, effect. Royal oak is produced by a staining with ammonia, bichromate of potash, and Vandyke brown. This will antique oak to a beautiful brown, and may be described as follows: Soak some dry Vandyke brown in liquid ammonia to form a paste. Thin this with a saturated solution of bichromate of potash. Apply as a stain in the usual way. Diluted to a certain degree, this solution makes a good walnut stain on any suitable wood.

Matching Dark Oak

If called upon to make a new piece of oak match the old, try a weak solution of bichromate of potash, say an ounce to five pints of water. Use a sponge preferably, though a brush will do. In this sort of work, as indeed in all staining, it is well to avoid allowing any part of the staining to become dry before all is done for there would be the danger of double coating and darker colouring. When doing say a chair, or any piece that has several small parts, to avoid getting some stain, as from running down, from getting on to the part already stained is difficult. The best thing to do is to go over all with a weak stain, apply liberally and work fast, until every part is wet before any part is dry; then wipe off with a cloth or rag.

It may be noted here, while I think of it, that when a surface has been wetted first with clear water it will not only take the stain more readily but will show up darker also. This latter result is doubtless due to the stain not getting so far away from the surface, owing to the fact that the wood has been well saturated with the water. Carved work and mouldings may be rubbed with a stiff brush after staining, as sandpaper cannot so well be used; for very small parts a tooth brush does very well. Sandpaper should not be used on mouldings and carved parts, on account of danger of cutting through the stain and also injuring the fine lines of the work.

Bleaching Dark Wood

Some time ago someone asked for a method of treating the black parts of gum, and making them less conspicuous. I then told him about the bleaching qualities of oxalic acid, dissolved in water and applied by a brush. This is sufficient to bleach oak and some other woods, and is a standby for the wood finisher. But whether it will bleach out the black heart of gum I do not know, but would like to learn from our inquiring friend.

Furthermore, right here it may be well to suggest that where such inquiries receive attention it would be useful to the readers generally to learn something of the matter afterwards and hence if the inquirer would be kind enough to tell us about it after he had made some experiments, with results gained, he would certainly confer a favour.

When using oxalic acid for bleaching out wood, add a little spirit of niter (ethyl nitrate) also called “sweet spirit of niter.” After the acid has become dry, wash off thoroughly with clear water. Apply the acid hot. Chloride of lime is another good bleacher for wood, and you might try this recipe, though it is intended for objects that can be immersed in the solution, yet its application to the surface of wood may also be efficient. It is worth trying. Dissolve 17 ¼ ounces of chloride of lime and 2 ounces of soda crystals in 10 1/2 pints of water. Wet the wood with this and see that it remains wet for at least thirty minutes. Wash off and neutralize with a solution of sulphuric acid, then wash again, and let dry. This we find in the “Scientific American Encyclopaedia.” Chloride of lime is a well-known and much used bleaching agent for other materials, and I see no reason why it should not bleach the black heart of gum, or any discoloration, whereby the beauty and intrinsic value of the wood may be enhanced.