Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Holy Utility

When I first drilled ¾” holdfast holes in my bench top, I had no idea how much I would use them. Besides the inevitable workholding revelation holdfasts were to me, I quickly found other purposes for these holes. In my conservation work, I am often holding small pieces like chair stretchers and need to pare scarfed grafts flush to the original surface. Among the various ways I hold/clamp these pieces for shaping, one of the most common is to place the end of the piece into the holdfast hole as a stop. I then can quickly rotate or tilt the piece in the blink of an eye. It’s so simple it’s almost obvious… or in the words of a friend of mine, “donkey dumb”.

I also use the ½” holes which the bench top bolts are countersink into. Having these two hole sizes as stops are great for filing round tenons to final thickness, beveling the ends of tenons, and paring grafts flush.


What other workholding methods do you use 
that aren't commonly talked about?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Harvest Days and Nesting

We have been blessed with a decent harvest this year. The past few years our gardening efforts have been combined with Julia’s parents. We try to grow enough for both families’ yearly vegetable needs. Typically her father does the early season tilling and planting and we end up with the harvesting and processing. This year has brought a lighter load than usual due to the pregnancy.


Our meatbirds are processed and resting in peace in the freezer now. I always feel so relieved when slaughter day comes. It’s the last week when I have trouble sleeping. Those last nights are filled with nightmares of coons or weasels breaking into the chicken house and annihilating our investment. Thankfully, we again had no problems with predators. 


On Saturday we dug potatoes. Eden swore he was a pirate digging for treasure. Five year olds seem to need work to be made into a game in order to get anything accomplished. We’ll take what we can get.






Julia's mother helped out too





In other news, Mama is bursting at the seams. Little guy is pretty active in there. (Go figure.) Even though we have until Thanksgiving until she’s due, we are keenly aware of the surprise we felt when Eden came five weeks early. We won’t be blindsided this time. We’re cleaning up the house and reorganizing things to accommodate for the new guy. One of the pressing things on my list is to finish up the co-sleeper cradle I started at Leonard’sMills a couple of weeks ago.


I adapted a number of period cradle designs to suit our purposes here. In the studio, I got the corners dovetailed and cut out the scroll work. My newly completed Gramercy turning saw worked wonderfully for this task. 






After clean up with chisels and a spokeshave, I popped the pieces together and brought it home to see it in place. I want to make sure it works out before I proceed with the bottom and the legs. I think we may have a success here because our cat, Garbanzo, bee lined for the mattress and settled right in. I hope the baby feels as at home in it as he does.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Restoration" - The Workbench Glossary




Restoration is a treatment process in which the stated objective is to return the piece back to a known or assumed former state. Any treatment that adds material to, removes material from, or modifies the object is technically performing a restorative function. These treatments are typically activities such as structural repair to wooden components, inpainting to compensate for areas of lost color, consolidation or reamalgamation of a degraded varnish, etc.

Removing bloom from varnish

Readhering loose marquetry

Aqueous cleaning to remove soiling

Structural repair of joinery

Friday, October 17, 2014

How Our Museum Got Screwed

The other day I was over at the Fisher House giving a tour and noticed something wooden shoved behind the door collecting dust. I pulled it out and found it was an early 19th century double screw vise. Astounded and alarmed I inquired about its story. They told me it just showed up one day on the doorstep along with a couple of bucksaws. No one ever left a note or called to tell us why they gave it to the museum. (This kind of stuff happens more than you’d think.) Was it Fisher’s double screw a local resident had? I guess it’s possible but we will never know until the donor fills us in. This was dropped off quite a while ago so the likelihood we’ll ever find out is slim I think.

Regardless, the vise is cool. 18” between screws. I think they are 1” screws. There are hand wrought nails that were driven through the back jaw for mounting  to a workbench presumably. I don’t know what the museum is going to do with it but I think it’s a cool find.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do You Feel What I Am Saying?

This is NOT what I do

Here's a quick tip:

When setting the depth of cut on your bench plane irons, a number of folks recommend sighting down the sole to eyeball the protruding edge. People especially like this with metal bodied planes with the adjusting knob. In my experience I have found this difficult to do with an degree of accuracy. The way I was trained (even on metal bodied planes) was to rely on touch rather than sight. I was taught to use the gentle brushing of two fingers to feel the set iron depth. You can even easily tell if the iron is skewed. I find this gives much more feedback than my eye. Quick, simple, and easy to do in the low lighting of period shops. Give it try.

THIS is what I do.

Let know what you think. Have you tried this method?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Welcome and Hello.

Every once in a while it’s good to say hello to new readers. Since the past few months I've noticed an increase in traffic here on the blog now’s as good a time as any. I often continue on in my posts as if everyone has been here since the beginning. Because this is obviously not the case I thought I should introduce myself again and tell about what I have going on here...

My name is Joshua Klein. I am a furniture conservator in private practice in the coastal town of Sedgwick, Maine. I got into this profession by first studying luthiery in Red Wing, MN. After that I attended The National Institute of Wood Finishing where I sat under the sagacity of Mitch Kohanek. Even though I knew I ultimately wanted to work on historic furniture, I took a job for a short stint in Nashville, TN at a custom guitar shop. I was the finisher for this small company. It was fun but as soon as my wife, Julia, and I had our first baby on the way, we decided to head back to where we wanted to plant our family: the Maine coast.

We moved up and had our first little boy, Eden. After we got our feet under us a bit, I started my furniture restoration business full time. Since the beginning my focus has been on developing a conservation methodology in practice. I use this blog to post quick how to’s, treatment reports, period woodworking methods, meditations on craft, etc. I also have been sharing about my research into Jonathan Fisher, an early 19th century cabinetmaker from Blue Hill, ME. Since I am currently working on the manuscript for a book about him fruit from that work appears on the blog every so often.

We live a homesteading lifestyle so I occasionally include snippets about our chickens, goats, building our outdoor mud oven, splitting firewood, etc.

You will see a “Search This Blog” bar on right hand side of the blog for your surfing convenience. Right below that, you can subscribe or follow by email. Sign up and you’ll get notices when I post something new. Lastly, you will notice the extensive blogroll in that right column. These are the numerous blogs I follow. The list is organized by most recent post. I have friends that come here to see what’s new on my blogroll. I check it everyday and have found it handy.  Feel free to stop in and check out what’s new in the handtool woodworking blogosphere.

Welcome to my blog, new friends. Feel free to leave comments. That just fuels the fire here. The more feedback I get, the more end up posting. Thanks for coming. Enjoy.

Klein Furniture Restoration from Mathias Reed Visuals on Vimeo.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Really Totally Finally Done

The tool chest is finally completely finished. Paint and all. I first padded shellac over the paint and leveled out some of the dust nibs and junk in the paint.  Then this weekend I laid out and painted all the banding. I decided to scratch the lines first and then fill it in with pigmented shellac. This made getting straight lines easy and also required less pigment than if I had to paint over all that burnt sienna and burnt umber. I used a piece of scrap wood as a straight edge and a small nail set to scratch the width of the line I needed.

After I painted all the yellow in my scratch lines, I proceed to layout 1/4" knife marks to alternate black and yellow. Then I filled in every other box with black pigmented shellac. An unintended benefit to scratching the banding in first is that once completed, the sheen of the grained portions differs from the banding. I think is looks a lot more convincing that way. It gives it a visual texture that paint alone can't achieve.

Remember the original 1814 chest of drawers I'm basing this paint scheme on?

Here's my take on that paint.

Well that was a fun one. Now what?