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Kirt's Woodworking Projects

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, 9" dia. / 6"x48" disc/belt sander, 14" band saw, and a router table - all Craftsman. A pretty good assortment of hand-held sanders, drills, and routers tops off the for power tools list. A pretty respectable assortment of clamps, hand tools, wood vise and metal vise, and good size wooden work benches help get the job done.

I'll post a few photos at some point ... just in case you might care ;-)

Craftsman 7-Drawer Machinist's Toolbox

Craftsman 7-Drawer Machinist's Toolbox - Airplanes and RocketsEarly in 1982, fresh out of the USAF as an Air Traffic Control Radar Repairman, I was fortunate to land a job as an electronics technician at the Oceanic Division of Westinghouse in Annapolis, MD. It turned out being more of a high level electronics assembly job building printed circuit boards, chassis, wire harnesses, sonar transducers, and integrated systems, mostly for the U.S. Navy. A fairly extensive collection of high quality hand tools were required in order to get results which would pass rigorous Navy inspection standards. Snap-On was the supplier of choice because at the time they made extremely high quality (and expensive) small pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, wrenches, nuts drivers, etc. I don't know whether there are still roaming Snap-On tool trucks visiting businesses anymore, but at the time we got a weekly visit. Onboard was a tool refiguring workbench for sharpening cutters, repairing screwdriver tips, and other things. Restored components of the c1976 Craftsman 7−Drawer Machinist's Tool Chest. Craftsman 7−Drawer Machinist's Toolbox - top open. Cleaned and groomed felt surfaces...

Vintage South Bend 6−Player Croquet Set Restoration

Vintage South Bend Croquet Set Restoration - Airplanes and RocketsWhile visiting our daughter in North Carolina, we ran across someone who had a vintage 6-player croquet set for sale for just a few dollars. As the photos below show, it has been completely restored. All components (except the balls) were stripped down to bare wood or metal, sanded, primed, and then painted with four coats of enamel spray paint for color areas and three coats of polyurethane clear on the natural finish portions. The balls would have been too difficult to get to bare wood, so I sanded down to the point where the paint was stable and strongly adhered to the underlying wood. The two end pegs were fabricated from new wood because there was only one original and I wanted them to look alike ...

Maple Picture Frame with Crewel Needlework

Maple Picture Frame with Crewel Needlework - Airplanes and RocketsAfter just 33 years, this crewel picture that Melanie stitched is complete and has a custom frame. If memory serves correctly, we bought the crewel kit at a Ben Franklin store in Severna Park, Maryland, in 1985 while living in Arnold, Maryland. She started it shortly after getting it, and then it was put away until last year, 2017, when she decided to complete the project. Most, if not all, of the needlework pictures Melanie has done over the years have been placed in custom frames made by me. I've used pine, oak, teak, hickory, mahogany, and now maple for this frame. The maple wood ...

Greensboro Martial Arts Academy (GMAA) Diorama

Greensboro Martial Arts Academy Diorama - Airplanes and RocketsSometime around the year 2000, while we were living in Fairfield, Ohio, our daughter, Sally, made a diorama of a Tae Kwon Do martial arts dojo that was inspired by the school she was attending at the time. Unbeknownst to Sally, Melanie and I had kept the diorama in a cardboard box for lo these many years. We decided to make a nice wood and Plexiglas display case for it and present it to her for her birthday. The case is made from some scrap walnut given to me by a friend. Korean, Chinese, and Japanese versions of "Greensboro Martial Arts Academy" and a few decorative flourishes were ...

Farm Table Redesign & Renovation

Farm Table Redesign & Renovation - Airplanes and RocketsWe have had one of those ubiquitous 'farm tables' since sometime in the late 1980s, back when they were made of wood that is about 50% thicker than today's variety. Over the decades, it has been used variably as a school desk for our kids, as a sewing table, as a computer desk, and as a surface for building model airplanes. It has endured no fewer than ten household moves in that time (don't ask). After all that, it was understandably due for being repaired and refinished ...

Antique Coat Tree Restoration

Antique Coat Tree Restoration - Airplanes and RocketsFor as long as both Melanie and I can remember this old coat tree has been standing in her parent's house - first in Hagerstown, Maryland, then in two locations in West Virginia, and finally back in Hagerstown, Maryland. After her mother moved into a senior care home, we 'inherited' it, which was great for me because, being obviously old, I really liked it. As you can see from the 'before' picture, it was in pretty rough shape and having been heavily used for who knows how many decades? Any glue that might have been used had long since disintegrated, and the finish was heavily worn. A few small nails held everything together in a very wobbly manner. It probably started out life in York, Pennsylvania. from whence her parents both harkened ...


1941 Crosley Model 03CB Console Radio Restoration

1941 Crosley Model 03CB Console Radio Restoration - Airplanes and RocketsAfter searching occasionally for many years for another Crosley 03CB radio in a location close enough to drive to, I finally saw one on Craigslist in Harrisburg, PA, about 300 miles from my home in Erie, PA. Melanie and I picked it up yesterday. It needs - and will receive - a total restoration for both the cabinet and the electronics, but it appears to be in better condition that my first pre-restored Crosley 03CB. This radio is Chassis #95. As of this writing (July 2013) all the parts have been disassembled and the woodwork on the cabinet is underway. Some joints needed gluing and the lamination had separated in a few areas. The metal faceplate components are ready to paint, and the mounting hardware has been re-plated with copper per the original. There is still a lot left to be accomplished, including a complete disassembly ...

Window Flower Boxes

Window Flower Boxes (hand-built) Installed - Airplanes and RocketsWindow Flower Boxes (hand-built) primed - Airplanes and RocketsWindow Flower Box Shelves (hand-built) Installed - Airplanes and RocketsWindow Flower Hanging Brackets (hand-built) Installed - Airplanes and RocketsDuring our frequent walks around the neighborhood here in Erie, PA, Melanie and I would see houses that had flower boxes installed beneath the windows and vowed that some days we would do the same for our house. Finally, as a present to Melanie for her birthday, I made measurements and drew up some plans for a set to put on the front of our house. After doing a search on the Internet for ideas, I decided on a fairly unique configuration where the boxes themselves sit on a shelf that is mounted to the house. That allows the boxes to be easily removed for servicing ...

Antique Clothes Chest - Before & After

Antique clothes chest restoration project by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsAntique clothes chest restoration project by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsAnother of Melanie's family's relics is this pine clothes chest. After more than 100 years of use and abuse, this 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 in the multiple dings and scratches where they were really deep. Minor imperfections were kept for the sake of character. Minwax dark walnut stain was used inside and out, and allowed to dry for a week. Then, two coats of Deft satin clear were brushed on with ...

Antique Cobbler's Bench - Before & After

Cobbler's Bench - Before  by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsCobbler's Bench - After (supermodel Melanie Blattenberger posing) by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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 because it was fairly brittle and came off easily. 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 is very soft pine. Final finish was Minwax stain and Minwax Polyurethane. Although polyurethane is hard to work with because if runs so easily ...

Antique Regulator Clock - Before & After

Antique regulator wall clock (before)   by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsAntique regulator wall clock (after)   by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsAntique regulator wall clock (after) - back cover offMechanical clock movement, escapement with pendulumThis 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 by Kirt

Secretary (supermodel Melanie poses)   by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsHere 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 I 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 ...


Crewel Picture by Melanie

Crewel by supermode Melanie Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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.





Klockit Wall Clock PL-20

Two clock built from Klockit plans - Airplanes and Rockets

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 1983. <more>




Cross-Stitch Pictures by Melanie, Frames by Kirt

Counted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger, Frame by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsCounted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger, Frame by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsThese 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. 


Cross-Stitch Pictures by Melanie

Two other pictures in the country building series were complete in later years.

The rectangular oak frames for those two were purchased.

Counted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsCounted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger - Airplanes and Rockets

My 1st Basement Workshop!

Kirt & Melanie Blattenberger in basement workshop, Arnold, MD, cicra 1985 - Airplanes and RocketsWow, talk about waxing nostalgic over a recently discovered photo! This was taken in the basement of our first home in Arnold, Maryland (just outside of Annapolis), sometime in 1985. Melanie is in maternity clothes, working on a cross-stitch picture, whilst awaiting the birth of our son, Philip. You can see my head to the left with the radial arm saw. The basement was damp and dank; I put a lot of effort into trying to keep it dry enough to not rust the tools. In that workshop I built the weather station and a lot of the picture frames shown on this page.



Radial Arm Saw Dust Collector

Radial Arm Saw Dust Collector - Airplanes and RocketsThere are many videos on YouTube showing some pretty ingenious dust collectors for radial arm saws. Most use a fairly small enclosure located just behind the fence, with a shop vac attachment for forcefully inhaling the sawdust. They appear to work extremely well for cuts that are at 90° to the fence and to the table surface. Maybe my interpretation of the dust collectors is wrong and they adapt to any angle. Since I only have a small shop vac and do not like to have to turn it on every time I make a cut, my ...

Wooden Machinist's Toolbox

Antique Oak Tool Chest Restoration - Airplanes and RocketsFor decades, I have had my hobby workbench set up with collectible coffee mugs sitting around to hold all of my hand tools - pliers, picks, files, scissors, rulers, screwdrivers, etc. Over time the number of coffee mugs has grown considerably, so it seemed like the time had arrived to finally get a tool box to put everything in so as to have a tidier and more efficient work space. A search for a nice oak toolbox showed that anything worth getting would cost many hundreds of dollars if purchased new. There are a few el cheapo wood toolboxes out there, but the customer reviews are overwhelmingly bad. Lousy joints, easily scratched finish, and sticking drawers are a few of the most common complaints ...

Queen Anne Chair Repair

Queen Anne Chair Leg Repair - Airplanes and RocketsWe 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 ...


Woodworking Tips

 - Airplanes and RocketsIn the picture to the right, 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 had not turned brittle.


Lorraine Grandmother Clock

Supermodel Melanie with my Lorraine Grandmother Clock built from Clockit plans, August 2013 - Airplanes and RocketsLorraine Grandmother Clock Hickory Blanks Cut - Airplanes and RocketsUpdate: My Lorraine Grandmother Clock  is now (as of August 2013) 100% complete!

I am built the 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 ...


Antique Mantel Clock - Before & After

Ansonia Mantel Clock form York, PA (before) by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsAnsonia Mantel Clock form York, PA (after) by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsThis mantel clock is a multi-generational heirloom. It was not expensive, but had emotional value. Melanie's family hearkens from the York, Pennsylvania, region and this clock, I discovered, was manufactured by the Ansonia company and sold by Will K. Rebert, Watchmaker and Jeweler, in York. Her 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 ...


Banjo Weather Station

Banjo Weather Station   by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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

Antique Nightstand (refinished) - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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

Nautical counted cross stitch picture by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger, mounted in custom teak frame by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsBack when Melanie had more time (around 1984), 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 <more>

Cross-Sticth Pictures by Melanie, Frames by Kirt

Counted Cross Stitch by supermode Melanie Blattenberger, Frame by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsCounted Cross Stitch by supermode Melanie Blattenberger, Frame by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsMelanie 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.

Cross-Sticth Picture by Melanie, Frame by Kirt

Counted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger, Frame by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsThis 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.





Cross-Sticth Picture by Melanie

Counted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsMelanie 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).




Cross-Sticth Pictures by Melanie

Counted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsCounted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie BlattenbergerThese sailboats are approximately 5" by 8".






Cross-Stitch Picture by Melanie, Design by Kirt

Counted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger, pattern designed by Kirt BlattenbergerHere 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.



Cross-Stitch Picture by Melanie, Frame by Kirt

Counted Cross Stitch by supermodel Melanie Blattenberger, frame by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsMelanie 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 House

Log Cabin Doll House Kit - Airplanes and RocketsSometime 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...

Other Woodworking Tips & Projects:

Here are a few links to pages I have regarding my days of yore:

- Holly Hill Harbor

- Model airplanes

- Model boats

- Electrical / electronics projects

- Model helicopters

- Model rockets

- My model train

- Woodworking projects

- Photos of earlier times

- 1969 Camaro SS

- Southern Senior High School Yearbook (Harwood, Maryland)

  • Senior Class "Official" Photos

  • Senior Class Childhood Photos

- Parole Plaza, Annapolis, Maryland

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Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and RocketsKirt Blattenberger

Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

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