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Finishing Tips and Techniques

finishing woodFor new woodworkers, and even some of the more seasoned ones, finishing their woodworking project can be agony. It certainly was for me for many, many years. It seemed no matter what can of varnish I purchased, the projects that I worked so hard to make them as perfect as I could, ended up looking like crap after the finishing was done. I always read the directions but never really had much success, in fact sometimes woodworking got very discouraging when I seemed to be able to predict that the end project would look like.

Then I met someone who began to give me some finishing tips and techniques. I started to realize that my impatience with the finishing step was part of my problem. I could make a furniture piece in a few days, then it would take a few more days just for the finishing. Waiting for anything to dry ... for me ... is pure agony, but as I started to see some real changes in my finished, I began to have much more patience.

He taught me a number of steps that I still use today, steps that help me not only in the build, but also in finishing. Here are the steps that I learned

#1 - Think about what you want your project to look like when it is done and what will it be used for. Knowing what I want my project to look like was a big step for me. Often I would pick a species of wood at random and build something with it, then think about what I was going finish it with.

Building and Arts & Crafts Style End Table

 I have always loved Arts & Crafts (A&C) style furniture. I love the dark colors and the bold, simple designs. I am particularly fond of the Gustav Stickley furniture and especially like the designis of one of his workers who, sadly, left us at an all-to-young age of only 51, of heart disease, and that was Harvey Ellis. He only worked for Stickley for 7 months but during that time he was clearly in his element of design and produced some timeless furniture creations are are still being duplicated today.

The piece I am making is a more modern re-creation of what and Arts & Crafts piece in what the 21st century would create with the addition of the storage / magazine rack under the table, making it far more useful while still retaining the design elements of  A&C. I have had the good fortune to see a very few original pieces of the Stickley furniture and have been able to do some reading about their methods and have a bit more knowledge in how the factory made their furniture and what methods they used.

 

My version of this table is 21 inches high, by 14 inces wide and 20 inches long. The legs are 5.5" x 1.5" laminated boards for both strengh and stability. The storage area is 1" off the floor and is comprised of dado lwer of 2" x 3/4" and a dado upper of 1.5" x 3/4"  and pickets are 1" wide by 1/3" thick a,d 5" high.    Apron pieces are 3" x 3/4"

All About Hole Saws Including the Freud Quick Release System

Hole saws have a confusing name so I don't blame anyone for being unclear about them, I was too a one time. Holes saws are really nothing but another form of drill bit with saw teeth at the bottom for cutting nice, usually fairly clean, round holes.

The good thing about hole saws is you can often make nice holes in hard to get at places, or even places that are impossible with pretty much anything else. I thinking here about plumbing and electrical installs, but holes saws can be just as handy and effective on flat easy to get at places too. Have you ever hand to drill and nice round hole in a door for a door handle or lock? Hole saws make quick, easy work of things like this.

Like most things there is good quality versions and ... well, not so great quality versions, and like many things the price will often tell you which is which. Often the cheaper hole saws are more for one-time or very rare use and often don't have the depth for things like doors and floors, only the better quality saws have deeper cutting capabilities. The biggest bug bear with every hole saw is getting the plug out after the hole is cut.

The Ultimage Router Jig for Dados & Slots

When I look around at the jigs I have been amassing it's a bit frightening. So much so that I recently discovered that I have made 2 jigs that do exactly the same thing. One of them I made about 15 - 20 years ago, and for the life of me, I do not know where it went for most of it's life and I needed the same functionality about a year ago, so made that same jig again and soon after found the original ...

Maybe if I had made a dual purpose jig back then ... a jig that did more than one job I might got a bit more use from it and maybe used it a few time over the years instead of squirrliling it away in my wood storage room where is eventually got forgotten about. Well, time to make another jig, this time a dual purpose, and maybe I can even get it to do more?? Wouldn't that be nice, a multi purpose jig ... I must work on trying to make more of my jig do more kinds of things.

This router jig for cutting dados is something I have been meaning to make for a long time. I often need to cut one or two quick dados and setting up my dado blade on my table saw, making test cuts etc. Is a lot of time for what should be a short process. The other thing that I need that is along the same vein is a jig that I can use to cut slots ... in even more jigs I want to make, so why not make a jig that does both?

Make a Wooden Dog Bed

Sometimes things that seem simple, turn out to be more of a challenge that we expected, and such was the case with Dash's new bed. Dash is  an 8 week old beagle puppy who is growing up in an urban environment and his owners are doing their utmost to provide him with all the things a puppy needs to have and learn as they grow, and one important item is a bed, a place that a dog knows is secure. A place they can go and retreat to.

I checked out sizing for Beagles and settled on a size that looked suitable. I checked the internet for designs and was completely awestruck by the numbers and varieties of dog beds. Check it out for a moment, it's crazy. What I did not see was a design that I had in my head ... many similar but nothing the same, so this would be another "scratch build". It needed to have an upper frame to hold a cushion or some sort of bedding, and I wanted the whole bed to be off the floor to make it easier to clean around. It also needed to sturdy enough for an adult to sand on because I just know, someone ... somewhere well end up using it as step to get something out of reach, or change a light bulb, so it needs to be sturdy, strong and safe.

I started off making the base which is not unlike what you would have in your kitchen with a toe kick under the cabinets. The purpose of this was, to help make cleaning easier, but also to give the bed at least some elements of design without going overboard. I also wanted to have a place where the dog could enter and leave, like a doorway, but it would need to have rounded corners to help discourage any gnawing the puppies often do, and to make it a bit safer with no sharp upper corners.

Making and Using A Lumber Rule

Back in the day ... before mobile phones, tablets, computers and even hand calculators people invented amazing devices to aid in mathematics and calculations. In fact, many of these devices are still in use in some industries today because they are still as fast and as accurate and anything invented since then.
One of the items that fits this category is something called the Lumber Rule. They are still being manufactured today, though in much smaller quantities. The only real disadvantage of a lumber rule is that anyone who uses one is probably also carrying around a smart phone, which ... will do the same thing, kind-of, though often slower, and the smartphone still needs a tape measure to go with it.
I have seen these Lumber Rules listed on a different auction sites, for some pretty serious money, I guess anything that is perceived to be "old" must be expensive (???)  So I decided to make my own version of a lumber rule to help me quickly figure out the board feet contained in a board so that I can know how much that board is worth.

If you are at the lumber store and are only buying one of 2 boards, or some small quantity, who cares? ... a smartphone, or even just a tape measure will work fine. IF - however you are buying a quantity of boards, or you are wanting to compare prices of different species in the lumber store, and do it quickly - nothing will beat a Lumber Rule for accuracy and speed.