Friday, May 27, 2011

Homemade Hide Glue Pot

One of the primary reasons I think most contemporary woodworkers are a bit leery of animal hide glue is that it requires a bit more attention than other glues. The glue is applied hot (around 140 degrees). This requires a double boiling. There are specialty hot hide glue pots one could purchase for up over $100.00. They work well and some people use them. Many however, see that the need for a constant 140 degree water really isn't that hard to supply. People have used everything from crockpots, to "hot pot expresses", and even baby bottle warmers. (Can you believe there is such a thing!?) When a small glass jar is placed inside, you have an instant double-boiler. Simple and effective! (This is a perfect size for the furniture restorer anyway.)

My journey began at the thrift store. I picked up a small $5.00 Rival Crock Pot. When I got home, I did some experimenting to see whether the "high" or "low" heat setting would give me my desired temperature. (A range from 120 - 150 is acceptable.) I found when the lid is on, it maintains about 140 on "high". Perfect.

Because I need the lid on to keep heat in, to slow evaporation of water, and to prevent glue from dripping into the water, I cut a hole in lid the diameter of the jar. Using the lid from my glass jar I traced out the shape.

I drilled a starter hole for my coping saw blade to slip through and then proceeded to cut it out.

I use the lid inverted so that the top of the jar sits up a bit proud for easy access. When heating, the jar lid rests on top.

To mix up the glue, mix equal proportions by volume hide glue granules and water. I ordered my glue from Jeff Jewitt at Homestead Finishing.

After about an hour or so, the granules should have soaked up most of the water and should look gelatinous.

It is at this point that you can place the jar in the crock pot with just enough water to match the level of glue and begin heating. (Make sure you don't put the jar directly on the bottom of the crockpot as it may crack the glass. I use a retired dish cloth for insulation.)

Once up to temperature, the glue should be the consistency of thick maple syrup. (Not the generic brand, I mean the real stuff.)

Plan out your glue-up and work quickly because you only have a few minutes of working time. Have fun!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Convincing Rush Seat Alternative

I was recently hired to re-rush a delightful little folding chair. The main issue with rush seating today is that almost everyone that does it only uses what is called "fibre rush". Fibre rush is a twisted paper product. It is extremely uniform in twist and comes in many different colors. It is the opinion of most antiquarians that this product does not belong on genuine antiques, seeing as it is too uniform and not... well... real rush. With these folks I am in hearty agreement.

Upon researching available materials, I discovered that no one supplies natural dried cattail for traditional rush seating anymore. I was told to buy rubber waders and crawl into the swamp myself. But... before I went that far, I found an alternative: pre-twisted seagrass. This seagrass is compellingly similar to the old cattail seats. (Naturally, since both are seagrasses) It comes pre-twisted onto two and a quarter pound coils. In a conversation with Mike Frank from Frank's Caning, he highly recommended this product to me. Intrigued, I ordered some.

I was quite pleased with the material when it arrived. It looks good. Much, much more convincing than paper. The project went together well and I really enjoyed working with it. I am excited about trying out different size twists of this material. (I used 7/32" on this chair.)

What do you think? Does it satisfy any other persnickety antiquarians out there? For ordering info, visit here > Frank's Caning. I think it might be worth your trying it out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How the Seed of “Craft” is Sown

Upon contemplating the origin of my love for craft, I recently came to some significant realizations: I think it all began before I was even born. My father grew up working hard. There always was work to be done. Whether it was chopping wood, delivering newspapers, or even building onto the house. The diversity of skills that are acquired in such an upbringing is innumerable. Even more, he learned to try: to first learn how to do it and then just plain try.
Consequently, my dad is not afraid of anything. I grew up believing no task was out of grasp to the one who makes an earnest attempt. This, I believe, is how the seed of “craft” is sown in the heart of a young one. Whether or not I was actively engaged in each adventure with my father is of lesser import. What stands still tall to this day is a bequeathed boldness to try.
I don’t know if my father even knows I was listening and watching all those years. But I was. And it made me who I am. Thanks, Dad.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Replacing a Leather Seat

I recently replaced some leather seats on a few old mission style chairs. This is how it was done...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stickley Dining Table: Delivered!

Remnants of labels.

Deteriorated finish.

Masking off apron.

Chemical removing of failed coating.

Lacquer Thinner wash down.

Beautiful bare wood.

Color matching.

Dyeing and shellacking.

Top coating of Enduro-Var waterborne coating.

Top coated.

Final sanding for Rub-out.

Mirka Mirlon Gray synthetic Steel Wool on Felt block for "leveling".

Liberon #0000 Steel Wool and Wool Lube for final rub.

Open-pore finish in true Mission fashion.

Cleaning of apron.

Dental pick removing paint in pores.

Apron shellacked and rubbed.

Delivered and installed back onto base.