A natural extension of my model building activities has been many woodworking projects - both building and refinishing. Without going into a lot of detail, here are some of the projects for which I happen to have photographic documentation.
My workshop currently consists of a 10" radial arm saw, a 12" drill press, 6"x48" belt/disc sander, 12" band saw, 4-1/4" jointer, router table, and a 10" table saw - all Craftsman. A pretty good assortment of hand-held sanders, drills, and routers tops off the list. I'll post a few photos at some point.
After more than 100 years of use and abuse, this clothes chest was in dire need of restoration. Construction is very low density pine, with dovetailed corners. Finish was a clear varnish with no stain. The bottom, back, and inside had no finish at all. Restoration consisted of knocking apart and re-gluing most joints, sanding, and filling. Minwax dark walnut stain was used everywhere, and allowed to dry for a week. Then two coats of Deft satin clear were brushed on with 320 sanding and 0000 steel wool between coats, then three coats of Deft spray clear satin were applied, with 0000 steel wool between coats. Finally, 1/4" cedar was installed in the bottom and on the underside of the lid. A heavy brass piano hinge replaced the two door hinges on the original, and a length of black chain keeps the lid from opening too far. Time: 3 months.
Antique Cobbler's Bench - Before & After
This cobbler's bench has been in Melanie's family for a couple generations. It was in pretty rough shape. I chose to sand the finish off rather than use chemical stripper. A leg had been broken and some drawer joints needed re-gluing. All of the square strips on the work surface were removed for sanding. The wood was very soft. Final finish was Minwax stain and Minwax Polyurethane. Although polyurethane is hard to work with because if runs so easily on vertical surface, I like too use it where there is likely to be wear and tear. Fall 2007.
Antique Regulator Clock - Before & After
This regulator wall clock was purchased on eBay for around $50 in early 2007. The mechanical pendulum-regulated, spring-driven escapement movement took a bit of cleaning, oiling and adjusting to get working; it can be seen in action online on YouTube. The finish as received was in really awful shape. It took a lot of chemical stripper to remove the finish. I removed as many parts as possible for sanding and the reinstalling. The design on the top plate was made of copper and was in very poor shape, with parts of it corroded away, I just disposed of it. The brass dial ring, hinges, and pendulum were wire-wheeled and lacquered. The glass is silkscreened on the back surface. Interestingly, the clock was made in China (circa 1899), and has what looks like a Star of David pattern on in the middle. My standard Minwax stain with Deft lacquer clear coat was applied. Summer 2007.
Antique Secretary Cabinet
Here is an antique secretary cabinet that was given to us by Melanie's parents shortly after we were married. As received, it was in fairly good shape, but the finish was very tired and stained, and most of the joints were loose. There was no glass in the door, and the beveled mirror panel was missing most of its silver backing. We used it for many years after just buying a piece of glass for the door.
Sometime around 1998, we decided to refinish it. At that point the decision was made to totally disassemble the entire secretary because all of the joints were so loose. It came apart like a puzzle with just a few whacks of a mallet. All the pieces were stacked in a neat, flat pile and ended up being moved twice until finally in Loveland, Colorado, in 2001, I got up the nerve to tackle the job of assembling and finishing it. After much chemical stripping and sanding, it was finally ready to be glued back together. Figuring out where some of the parts went was a bit challenging, since even the edge-joined long side panels had been pulled apart. After applying glue, squaring, clamping, and checking squareness again, the entire secretary was finally ready for finish to be applied. I used, for the first time, a water-based stain. I'll never do that again because it raised the painstakingly sanded wood grain terribly. A total re-sanding was done, and an oil-based Minwax stain was applied. Minwax clear polyurethane was used as a top coat. We found a 12" square beveled mirror tile at Home Depot that exactly fit in the original frame. All the original hardware was wire wheeled and lacquered. Is is now our prized furniture possession. Spring 2001.
|This is my second-favorite picture that Melanie has made. It is made using a form of embroidery called crewel. This is a fairly large picture that is mounted in an 18" x 22" oak frame. I did not make the frame.|
|These two regulator clocks were built from plans by Klockit. The wood was from scrap that Melanie's father had torn off their old house in West Virginia. The pendulum movements are electronic. We gave one to my sister, Gayle and her husband, and the other to Melanie's sister, Melissa and her husband for Christmas 1984.|
|These two counted cross stitch pictures were done by Melanie sometime in the mid 1980s, when we lived in Arnold, Maryland. I made the octagonal frames out of mahogany sticks that we bought at Hechinger (a home store similar to Lowes and The Home Depot) that were being sold as stakes for tomato plants. The glass was cut from some old window panes that had been left in the basement of our house when we bought it. The frames are about 9½ inches from side to side.|
|Two other pictures in the country building series were complete in later years.|
The rectangular oak frames for those two were purchased.
Queen Anne Chair Repair
We found a nice antique Queen Anne style chair at the Erie City Mission. It had been reupholstered at some point based on a tag still attached. It was in excellent condition except the two front leg glue joints had broken away from the frame. Screws had been used, but the wood in the frame was chewed up and splintered from many prior attempts. I clamped the inside and outside edges, then saturated the wood with cyanoacrylate glue (Super Glue). In some place I drilled 1/16" holes in the wood to allow ...
In the picture below, I was trimming a short section of oak floor molding. The cut came out very nicely. You can see that I did not put the tape as far to the left as I should have in order to protect the cut edge, but it was nice and clean anyway, with no splintering. Maybe that was because 1) the blade was sharp, and 2) the oak piece had recently been finished with a couple coats of polyurethane, so the wood grain was thoroughly filled and the finish was had not turned brittle.
Lorraine Grandmother ClockI am in the process of building a Lorraine grandmother clock from plans and mechanics purchased from Klockit. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to build a floor model clock, and this one will fit well in our 1,500 sq.ft. house. The wood chosen is hickory both because it has beautiful grain and color variation, and because then I can say that I have built a "Hickory Dickory Clock!"
The hickory was bought from Summit Hardwoods, just a few miles south of Erie, PA. Thus far I have cut out most of the rectangular blanks. I'm in the process of squaring everything and exacting the dimensions, then the detailed shaping, drilling, routing, sanding, etc., will begin.
Although I enjoy the building and finishing process, I can't wait to hear the tick-tock of the weight-driven clockworks, and the hourly chimes. My obsession with the passage of time is pacified for the time being with a refinished antique wall regulator, but this will be my piece pièce de résistance.
The grandmother clock now has a dedicated page to track the progress.
Antique Mantel Clock - Before & After
This mantel clock also is a multi-generational heirloom. It was not expensive, but had emotional value. Melanie's parents gave it to me for Christmas of 2006, and I decided to refinish it and return it to them the next Christmas. Unfortunately, Melanie's father passed away from cancer last summer, but we were able to present it to her mother. I used chemical stripper to avoid sanding to preserve the intricate and shallow engravings. As it turned out there was a milk paint coating underneath the black paint that was hard as a rock. The case insides and back cover are stained with a Deft lacquer topcoat. The case outside and door are black lacquer paint. All the metal hardware was wire wheeled and clear lacquered. The dial was replaced with on from another old wind-up clock I had, and the broken pendulum-driven mechanism was replaced with a nice electronic one from Klockit. Fall 2007.
Banjo Weather Station
This banjo style weather station is an original design that I designed and built waaaaay back around 1984, shortly after Melanie and I were married. The wood is laminated from three layers of wood that came from the side of an old farm house that Melanie's father tore down in West Virginia. The basic pattern was cut with a handheld saber saw, and the the final shape was formed with files and sandpaper - a lot of work. A router was used along the top edge for decoration. The hygrometer (top), thermometer (middle), and barometer (bottom), along with the finial at the very top, were ordered from Klockit (they've been around for a long time - like me). All the instruments are of very high quality. 1984ish.
Antique Night Stand
This antique nightstand was given to us by my Aunt Bernice, who lived in Mayo, Maryland. Like most of our other furniture, this was used as provided for a long time before undertaking a refinishing project. It was a pretty straightforward job. Chemical stripper followed by sandpaper followed by stain followed by a Deft lacquer top coat. I don't recall why I chose to use lacquer rather than polyurethane here. The drawer handle was sprayed hunter green, which looks good against the reddish stain.
Counted Cross Stitch in Teak Frame
Back when Melanie had more time (and better eyesight), she made a lot of counted cross stitch pictures. This one remains her most ambitious project ever - a large nautical map of the ancient world, fashioned after the works of famed cartographer Gerard Mercator and titled with "Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio," which is, loosely translated, Latin for "A Comprehensive Description of the World." Melanie's work was done on 22-count fabric, and measures approximately 13" by 8" (not including white border). Such a fine effort needed a special frame, so I set about making a custom 23" by 17" frame out of teak wood bought at World of Hardwoods in Baltimore. The fancy fluting was done on my Craftsman radial arm saw with the molding head. It was a scary operation with the sharp teeth flying while feeding that teak through it. Teak, as you might know, is used extensively on boats because it weathers well. It is an oily type wood that starts out life with a shiny golden patina, but turns to the familiar gray if left unprotected in the sun. The oiliness of the wood make it extremely difficult to glue. After numerous regluing attempts over the years, I finally mixed up some epoxy and that has lasted the longest. No finish was applied to the wood, and more than 20 years later it still looks fine. 1984.
|Melanie made the picture on the top for me before we were married. Before life robbed me of my time and willingness to do such things, I used to run a couple miles every day. I never had a dog, but the picture was a standard one from the Precious Moments collection. She did change the hair color from the original sandy brown to black, to match mine.|
The picture at the bottom was made by Melanie after were were married (May 22, 1983). Both are counted cross stitch on 22-count fabric. I made the frames using my Craftsman table saw with a shape cutter head. If I recall correctly, the wood was standard framing 2x4 pine.
|This counted cross stitch picture with a Christmas theme was also done by Melanie sometime in the mid 1980s. It sports the same type of custom built mahogany frame.|
| Melanie loves the seashore and sailboats, as you might have inferred from her selection of topics for pictures and from her having had a radio controlled Victoria sailboat at one time. This was her first cross-stitch project in over a decade. It is in a 16" x 20" oak frame (purchased).|
|These sailboats are approximately 5" by 8".|
|Here is a custom design that I came up with that plots the day of the year versus the length of the day (daylight), for the latitude of Annapolis, Maryland. Numbers were derived from table in the Old farmer's Almanac.|
|Melanie made this picture for her grandmother (mother's mother), who actually sat in a rocking chair and did needlework and sewing. It is also one of the Precious Moments series. The frame is made in the same manner as the other pine models cut on my Craftsman table was.|
Log Cabin Doll HouseSometime around 1999, we gave Sally a log cabin doll house kit for Christmas. It was a bit of a challenge to put together properly, but it came out very nicely. The simulated stone on the chimney was the most difficult part of the job.
Much more to come...