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Drill Press for a Chair maker

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Funny how the addition of a piece of machinery or a new hand tool can get you all fired up to build furniture. For years I’ve looked for any kind of radial drill press to add to my woodworking shop. I’ve had a bench top Delta drill press for years that I bought used back in the mid 80′s, but it has limited capability for drilling holes due to the shallow distance of the spindle to the column/post. Recently, I had the opportunity to acquire a used radial drill press and after some extensive degreasing and replacing the start up capacitor, it is now ready for action. It is the Delta 11-090 model which has a bench top design. Admittedly, it took awhile to clean it up. The previous owner had left the original cosmoline on it(a vaseline type preservative used to prevent rust accumulation) because he stored it in an unheated garage. The cosmoline was really caked on the metal parts and it took some elbow grease and kerosene to remove it. To my surprise the paint and exposed steel surfaces looked like new. Once the cosmoline was gone it was also no problem to adjust the depth and angle of the spindle. To make it suitable for chair making I made a new plywood table that is 16 inches wide by 30 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. The whole purpose for this investment was to perform compound angle drilling in Shaker ladder back and Windsor chair construction.

While I am quite capable in drilling holes using sliding T bevels and sight lines based on my Windsor chair training, I believe that this machine will help me to be more productive as a chair maker. I say that because I have limited shop time and I want to develop some greater efficiency in boring seat, leg and stretcher holes. I will also use it to ream the tapered seat holes for joining the Windsor chair legs with locking tenons. It will also help me to drill all the angled holes required with Shaker ladder back chairs that feature many leg and rung joints that have to be precisely drilled. This will not lessen the accuracy and fit of any legs, spindles or stretchers. Another benefit will be that any jigs I make now for Shaker chairs can be simplified because the drill press has capability to drill angled holes.

A couple critiques of the 11-090 that is worth noting is that the design is lacking for making adjustments for drilling various distances away from the vertical post (throat). Newer radial drill presses feature smoother adjustments through gears for the position of the spindle and the angle of drilling. However, this will not be a problem for me as a chair maker because I won’t be changing the distance between the spindle to vertical post very often. What I will be changing frequently is the drilling angle and that is easy to do with this model.

Likewise the height of the table requires manual adjustment, but that also won’t be a problem for me. Newer models usually feature a cranked adjustment for the height of the table.

radial drill press 1
radial drill press 2

Homemade Frame Saw

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Colonial_at_school_006oppenheimI am a parish pastor whose occasional escape from ministry is working with hand tools.  I also enjoy teaching elementary school kids about 18th century woodworking and giving them a chance to see old tools in action.  In this first photo I was portraying a colonial artisan who told students about a frame saw (veneer saw) that was used to cut thin pieces of wood. Being a fan of Adam Cherubini, I had to make a big frame saw when he did a feature on them in Popular Woodworking several years ago. Being a scrounge and frugal, I also hesitate to buy things that I think I can make myself. Making tools is fun and even more so when I can experience the joy of using them. So here is my story, a parishioner helped me to get an antique frame saw while I lived in Upstate New York.  It was constructed with through mortise and tenon joints which were locked with wooden pegs.Jim's workshop stuff 002 I also studied Adam’s article in Popular Woodworking and the famous Roubo engraving showing frame saws. The result is that I built not one but two frame saws. The first frame saw employed blade holders made from cheap spade bits that I annealed and drilled to accept bolts for attaching the blades. Funny how those spade bits can be re-purposed for all sorts of tool applications. Jim's workshop stuff 012Jim's frame saw On the second saw, which was larger, I designed it to have the classic Roubo design which sported saw buckles as blade holders.  I used flat steel from a home improvement store to make homemade buckles to hold the blade. The buckles were made by forging them into a rough oval shape via my hand cranked track forge and then welding them together at overlap points using a Harbor Freight stick welder.Jim's workshop stuff 007 Once the buckles were welded, I cut slots to accept the blade. Securing the blade to the buckles was accomplished here by using steel cross pins that pierced each end of the saw blade/web and those pins were pulled against the buckle ends through the use of wedges at the intersection of the buckle and the arm.   On my first saw, I copied the original which sported a threaded blade holder which tightened against both of the saw arms. After I annealed the spade bits and shortened them, I cut threads on them to accept a washer and nut. For blades or webs, it wasn’t feasible to buy saw blades for my application at that time so I made a couple to my own specification. It wasn’t hard, I simply purchased some spring steel from McMaster Carr and then used triangular files. I found it enjoyable to make my first blade which sported a 24 inch blade and 4 tpi. The second blade wasn’t as much fun, and sported a 36 inch blade with 2 tpi. I made work for myself by breasting the blade to have 1/2 inch of curvature along the tooth line. You can assemble the saw frame in a lot of ways, my preference was to copy the original design I had which is mortise and tenon joints. By putting mortises in the arms and putting tenons on the ends of the stretchers. Tension on the blade automatically translated to compression on the stretchers. You may notice that the mortise and tenon construction is different between the two saws.  It doesn’t matter which way it is done, both methods of frame construction work.  I like the Roubo design, because the saw can be disassembled when necessary as the mortises are not pinned.  No need.  I appreciate the knowledge of our forebears and simply copied that construction technology.  For the Roubo saw, I made the arms of the frame by using 1.25 inch thick cherry and using 1.25 by 1.5 inch square pine for the stretchers. I am very pleased with the two frame saws that I made and I offer this an alternative to purchasing pre-made saw parts. photo 2 (1)   photo 1

Questions About My Foot Powered Grinder

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I was recently asked about my treadle grinding wheel that I posted on Youtube. There was interest in the substructure that supports the axle and bearings for the grinding wheel.  So before I give some details, I want to give a little introduction to my foot powered grinder.

Back in the late 80′s I had the opportunity to purchase the old grinding wheel at a flea market in Springfield, OH.  I was already 10 years into my passion for hand tools.  I was hooked on regularly watching Roy Underhill and the Woodwright’s Shop on PBS and often hunted for old woodworking and blacksmithing tools at flea markets as an escape from my environmental consulting work.  I still remember the look on my father-in-law’s face and Barb’s too when I tried to load the grinder into the back of their minivan.

The grinder features a big sandstone wheel that was a common item for any homestead in the 1800′s.  Most likely the grinding wheel was mined from the Berea sandstone, a 320 million year old geologic formation (Mississippian Age) that was famous for offering quality grinding stones. Settlers once mined the Berea sandstone in the Cayuhoga Valley for grinding wheels.  Here is a picture of the texture of the stone.

texture of grinding stone

Mine was originally a treadle grinder and it may have either been equipped with a water trough or a funnel above the stone for regular wetting to facilitate grinding edges on tools.  I don’t know.  Years ago I made a funnel and attached a vertical support rod so it would provide a steady drip of water. I have enjoyed using this treadle grinder and one day I might build a new carriage so the base is more stable. So far my modifications include the funnel, forging a connection link, and building a new treadle. I don’t do all my sharpening on it, but it is quite gratifying to grind a new bevel on one of my axes.

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Looking at the pictures you can tell that the front and the rear legs look different.  The legs near the tool rest are clearly the original ones and the other square shaped legs were added later by a previous owner.

grinding wheel bearings

If someone knows more about the company, McD, that made these  I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks.

My Carving Axe

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I’ve been admiring the work of Peter Follansbee lately, especially his carving of riven oak panels and spoons. My Christmas gifts this year included some instructional DVDs and a couple hook knives.  All of this has motivated me to find and restore an old axe so that it functions as a carving axe.

I took an old Blombach axe, made in Germany, and retrofitted it with a new handle in the style of the Granfors Bruks carving axes.

axe disassembledaxe head before restoration

Here is a picture of the axe right after I removed the handle which you can see featured a metal sleeve.   I believe that my axe was probably originally setup to be the carpenters model.

The restoration began with me purchasing some hickory from a local source. My selection criteria included finding stock that had curved grain not straight. I wanted curved grain so the grain pattern would run parallel to the handle curvature I wanted. I designed the handle to exaggerate the curvature of the Gransfors Bruks axe. I started with 1 3/8″ thick stock and worked it with a drawknife, coarse rasp, spokeshave, and then finally I used a cabinet scraper. After frequently testing the fit of the handle fit to axe head as I reduced down the stock, I got to a point where I was happy with the fit of the handle in the eye and could then invest more time in shaping the handle. The outcome is that I made a handle that nicely fits my hand. This is the first time that I’ve made my own handle and it was a good experience. I might eventually invest in a Gransfors Bruk carving axe, but right now I’m satisfied that this retrofitted axe has a good edge and will be suitable for attempting to carve a wooden spoon in the Swedish tradition.

hickory and axe handle

 

 

handle cutout

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axe with rough handle fit

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axe with new handle

Here is a picture of the completed axe restoration.  I ground and honed the bevel on one side and then oiled the handle with boiled linseed oil.

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Working the Spring Pole Lathe

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Last Saturday and Sunday, I was doing Windsor chair making demonstrations at the Historic Fort Meigs War of 1812 site located in Perrysburg, OH. Specifically, I was demonstrating how early chair makers would have used a lathe that was foot powered. I was there along with many other costumed re-enactors for the Early Life in Ohio event which is an annual event at the fort. I enjoy using the lathe and particularly the fascination folks have in seeing it and pondering how that technology supplied quality turnings. That wasn’t because my turnings were poor quality, but that it took a bit longer to remove unneeded wood. My lathe was a reproduction of the Hulot lathe of 1775 vintage that I built using Roy Underhill’s books. I was blessed to see several of my parishioners from St. Paul, to talk with visitors to the fort and to mingle with the rest of the re-enactors.

On Sunday morning the site was visited by Alexis Means of Channel 13 abcnews of Toledo. If you click on the “Living History on display at Fort Meigs” shown below you’ll see me on a news clip using a froe and a splitting maul to rive a chair leg part before using it on the lathe. It took more effort in the news clip to split the white oak because the wood was getting dry. Usually, with wet oak it splits much easier.

Living History on display at Fort Meigs
rough shaping a windsor leg

Windsor Chair at Colonial Fort Michilimackinac

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Did the British use this chair?

Did the British use this chair?

Recently, my wife and I got up to Mackinaw City, MI, and we visited Colonial Fort Michilimackinac. I hadn’t seen the fort since the 60′s when my parents stopped there as part of a camping trip. At that time the archaeological excavations had spanned several years (began in 1959), and they were reconstructing most of the buildings. The Fort has its origins with the French fur trade in 1715 and after the French and Indian War, the British occupied the fort from 1761-1781. Later the fort was torn down by the British, and the buildings moved to Mackinac Island where a new and more secure fort was built (Fort Mackinac). Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac has since revealed many artifacts due to the long period of occupation.

During my recent visit to Fort Michilimackinac, I was surprised to see a bow-back Windsor side chair among the furnishings depicted in the Officers Quarters building. Immediately, I started wondering if the British would have had such a chair in their officer’s quarters since they became popular in the 1780′s. If so, this would suppose that the British military acquired one of the earliest versions of the stylish bow-back Windsor chair, and one that was made by Colonial craftsman in the eastern U.S. According to Charles Santore, The Windsor Style in America, the origins of the bow-back chair is that it was first inspired by a oriental design that was popular in England and when it was introduced in Philadelphia in the 1780′s it featured bamboo turnings.

Being a Windsor Chair Maker who has studied with Mike Dunbar in New Hampshire, and someone who loves Windsor chairs, it isn’t a surprise that I wonder these things.

My blog has recently been added to Woodworking Blogs, which is part of one of the largest networks of blog directories on the Web. Please visit my blog’s personal page to vote for my blog and comment to other blog users.

Back to Windsor Chair Making

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Hi,
We moved our home and Windsor chair making shop in January 2013. I serve as a full-time pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bowling Green(Haskins), Ohio. I’m still setting up the Windsor chair making shop in Haskins, but here are a couple pictures of a Handmade Windsor chair that I just finished. This one is a gift to my Mom. It is a Philadelphia High Back Windsor chair. It reflects my training several years ago with Mike Dunbar at The Windsor Institute in Hampton, NH. The chair was finished by first applying a medium walnut dye, then coatings of red then black milk paint, distressing the milk paint to reveal the underlying red paint, sealing it with blonde dewaxed shellac, and finally applying a finish of Minwax wipe on polyurethane. I borrowed the idea of using shellac as a base coat before applying wipe on polyurethane from Peter Galbert another respected and well published Windsor chair maker. I had to rub out the finishes several times including the application of milk paint and the shellac base coat. Hope you enjoy the pictures of this black Windsor chair made in the Philadelphia style. I never cease to marvel at how nice these chairs look and the beauty of the design.

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My blog has recently been added to Woodworking Blogs, which is part of one of the largest networks of blog directories on the Web. Please visit my blog’s personal page to vote for my blog and comment to other blog users.

Rescue Me

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Recently, I stumbled into a real find at a garage sale. Barb and I were out looking at people’s junk and there it was a ugly painted saw that was done for the owner. I might like landscapes, but what I observed was a nice saw handle and saw plate with almost no wear. So for $3 I took it home and it sat on my drafting table as a painted saw for months.

A couple months later I had gotten sufficiently tired of the oil painting on it and it found itself in the garage being subjected to paint stripper. The stripper took off the painted scene and I soon noticed an etch from the manufacturer on the blade, HSB and Co. and it got more exciting. The painter had the blade sandblasted to remove rust, but the etch was still visible and the blade looked great. Some of the sandblasting work had damaged the handle too, but it wasn’t severe. I felt very fortunate here.

So here is the good news, I rescued from the painters brush a perfectly good saw that had very little use from its owner. The previous owner liked this premium Chicago made saw so much that his name H.M. Simpson was stamped all over the handle, but fortunately for me there is much life left in the saw plate.

After I removed the fall landscape scene and the flat black paint on the back side, I knew I was on the right track. I carefully removed the sandblasting texture from the plate with 220 sandpaper attached to a sanding block. The sanding block helped keep me above the etch and so I could preserve it for some future treatments to darken it. The apple handle was cleaned up of stray paint and then lightly sanded. To even out the color I applied a maple dye, gave it a good coat of boiled linseed oil, added 2 coats of garnet shellac, and then applied wax.

The saw nuts were originally nickel plated and most of that was lost in cleaning it up. I was able to preserve the nickel plating on the medalion.

I am thrilled with the condition of this handsaw, the way it cleaned up, and I can’t wait to sharpen this up and use it.

Thanks for looking!
Jim


New Life for a Stanley 8 Plane

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Sometime ago, I added a stanley bailey #8 plane to my arsenal of furniture making tools. I took a risk and purchased it on ebay and then I opted to do a total restoration of the plane. After checking the 24″ long sole with a straight edge, I discovered that the plane had unacceptable concavity between the toe and the heel. Once that was discovered I embarked on the tedious job of flattening a 24″ long sole. My friends, this is not for the faint of heart and it turned out to be a real pain. I used 6 inch wide 80 grit self adhesive backed sandpaper on a 3 foot long piece of float glass that is 3/8 inch thick. As suggested my others, I regularly changed the sandpaper whenever it lost the effective cutting capability. This helped to keep things manageable. Once the bottom of the plate reached sufficient flatness (within a couple thousands of an inch) I switched to the 120 and 220 grits. It probably cost me $40 in sandpaper alone, but heh when you compare the cost of purchasing a brand new one it was worth it. Before this I had flattened a #4 1/2 and a Bedrock 605 and found that to be a lot of work. Now I was a glutton for punishment.

The plane casting was in pretty good shape in terms of having only minor oxidation, but the original paint was beyond hope. Between someone having scratched a large initial and there being a lot of small bare and rusty spots all over, I decided to strip the paint and make it look like new. I applied several coats of satin black Rust-oleum to recreate the look of the original finish. This is not what collectors do because it reduces the value. I obviously did this for my own use and without concern about preserving original paint.

Here is the before and what the plane looks like afterward. I cut a few curls on it and it brought smiles after all the effort of repainting, cleaning the parts of rust, polishing the brass, and the equipping the plane with a new IBC A2 steel plane blade. Thanks for looking.


A Redo on My Shaving Horse

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Jim's customized shaving horse

Here is a picture of my customized shaving horse. This is what I now use to make long tapered spindles, initially hand split oak from logs, for the backs of Windsor chairs. This particular shaving horse was made in the early 80′s when I really started to get into traditional woodworking using mostly hand tooks. Believe it or not, I made this shaving horse out of glued up wood recovered from oak pallets and a couple 2″ pine boards I purchased from a local lumber supplier. Initially, this shaving horse design was utilized by coopers to shape barrel staves, and I ended up using it to make Shaker ladderback chair parts. One of the limitations I experienced was that I had to always apply a very firm amount of foot pressure to secure the stock while I was using a drawknife and spokeshave.

After making Windsor chairs for the last several years, I finally realized the need for enhanced holding capability in this shaving horse. It was either that or make another one. Since I don’t have room for more than one shaving horse, I opted to modify this one. An article in Fine Woodworking Magazine, #139, featured a shaving horse designed by chair maker Brian Boggs, it helped me see how this could be done. So I borrowed some design concepts from Brian Boggs. I modified the clamping head by removing the top member which was held originally together with a thru mortise and tenon joint. I replaced the original top member with a 2-1/2″ diameter cylinder with 7/8″ round tenon ends. The round tenons extend all the way through the side arms and this allows the top member, which is now covered with rawhide, to turn and provide fresh clamping surfaces. The pressure I now apply between the rough rawhide covered top clamping member and the rawhide covered grooved platform should provide a much better grip when I am using the drawknife and the spokeshave to work chair spindles.

Thanks for looking!

Jim's Customized Shaving Horse

Make it Square with Shooting Boards

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4 foot long shooting board


three shooting boards

Last year, I read an article by Mike Dunbar in Popular Woodworking and it featured the benefits of making and using shooting boards. As someone who takes chairmaking classes with Mike at the Windsor Institute in Hampton, New Hamsphire, I have grown to really appreciate his woodworking talents as well as his humor. Suffice it to say that Mike’s article gave me the jump start that I needed after being a woodworker for many years. I think it also coincided with me selling my chop saw when I moved and my decision to restore an old Stanley 360 Miter box with saw. You see I had been aware of the benefits of using shooting boards ever since I bought Charles Hayward’s book on cabinetmaking back in the early 80′s, but it took someone else to motivate me to make some shooting boards and to appreciate the difference that they can make in enhancing ones woodworking skill. So between Mike’s article and all the posts and threads on the Neander section of Sawmill Creek Woodworking Forum, it was about time that I got with the program and made some shooting boards. Well thank God that time has arrived!

I guess some background on my love of using hand tools is in order. While I have been into using wood planes for years, I don’t have a good answer for why I didn’t get into making or using shooting boards. Maybe I thought that using a plane the proper way and keeping good technique was enough to give me edges that were 90 degrees to the board surfaces. I don’t know. What I can say is that I bought my first stanley #4 plane, painted in blue and red, when I was mowing lawns back in the mid 60′s. But it was in the late 70′s and early 80′s that I watched the Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill and soon got fired up about buying and restoring old woodern planes. Since then I have been blessed to use a variety of wooden and metal planes and they are an integral part of how I build handmade furniture.

So last year I made three shooting boards and I have quickly discovered that they are awesome to use, both for trimming end grain and long grain. Since I don’t own a chop saw, I can cut a miter on a piece of trim on my Stanley 360 miter box and then plane it fit with the shooting board for mitered joints. Instead of struggling to get edges that are straight for say a drawer, I can also get them to be at 90 degrees to the board face. That is way cool and it helps make me a better woodworker/furniture maker.

Here is another thing, I followed Mike’s advice about the benefits of using a dedicated Bedrock 605 plane for shooting. They are hard to locate, but you can still find them if you are on Ebay or in antique stores. I bought one in an antique store and I spent some time cleaning it, draw filing out a high spot just behind the throat, and then flattening the sole on a 3 foot long piece of 3/8″ thick glass with 80 and 120 grit sandpaper on it. I soon realized the need to draw file the one side to get it at 90 degrees as well. It just took some unrushed time of filing, sanding and checking the edges with a precision straight edge and a couple machinist squares. I also upgraded the plane with a Hock Replacement iron in A2 steel and a thicker cap iron, which enhanced its capabilities too.

Lee Valley Low Angle Jack Plane

It gets better. Recently, Barb and I made it to the Woodworkers Show that was held in Columbus, Ohio at the Expo Center. I have been a fan of Lie-Nielsen planes for years, but heh the Lee Valley booth at the show gave me the opportunity to test drive a Low Angle Jack Plane (LV LA Jack) and boy was I ever impressed. Make no mistake, I think, like most neanders, that Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley make great tools. Yet this time I was taken by the heft and the feel of the Lee Valley Veritas plane and I love using it. It might be my favorite woodworking plane and now that I have shooting boards, it is mighty cool to use. Thanks for listening to me ramble, but heh woodworking is in my blood and it gives me a great escape from the pressures of caring for my flock. If you want to see me use the LV LA jack on a shooting board, I put together a quick video on Youtube and you can see it here

God bless you!

A Restored Stanley 360 Mitre Box

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Hi folks,

This was a fun project that I worked on for a couple months once I got the new workshop squared away. I used a mitre box like this back in my High School days in woodshop class. I bought this Stanley 360 mitre box with the saw on ebay before they got real expensive. After trying it out, I am mighty glad I sold my Craftsman Power Mitre box when we made our big move last Spring.

When I bought the mitre box and saw, they were rusty, but thankfully all the parts were pretty much there. After cleaning, putting on some new paint, adding a new poplar top and reconditioning the saw I can say that this is a sweet tool.

I promised Barb that I’d get back to building some Windsor chairs and other furniture now that this project is completed.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Take care,
Jim





Finished Campaign Table

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18th Century Campaign Style Folding Table

Top dyed antique cherry and sealed with polyurethane

Hi everyone. Here are some pictures of the 18th Century Campaign Table that I recently finished. It turned out quite well with the antique cherry stain, polyurethane coating on the top and the lexington green milk paint on the aprons and legs. I’ve learned a lot in making this project and hope to refine the leg profile design and the latching mechanism for securing the leg and apron assemblies. All in all, I am pleased that the design has the look of an 18th century piece, achieved the lightness sought by my client, and can be folded up easily for trips to reenactments.

Take care,
Jim

Side View of 18th Century Style Folding Table

Front view showing the apron design

Table is partially folded up to show the design.

Underside of the folding table showing the locking mechanism.

Spring Pole Lathe

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Hi. While at the Herkimer Homestead Day Celebration on October 4th, I used a spring pole lathe. My wife Barb was also there demonstrating scherenschnitte. I built the lathe several years ago and use it to demonstrate how Windsor chair legs could be turned using this primitive technology. It was fun to wear colonial garb and to teach children and adults about using a foot powered lathe. I’m wearing a red waistcoat (vest).

God Bless,
Jim


Handmade Campaign Style Table

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18th Century Campaign Table

18th Century Campaign Table


Hi. It has been a while since I’ve made a post. The summer came and went, and my wife and I were blessed with joyful moments. One exciting event was our son, Dan, getting married to Oksana in July. Their wedding was in Lviv, Ukraine, and truly awesome. We finally traveled out of the country.

Here is an 18th century campaign style table that I recently designed and built. I constructed it with cherry that was harvested in Upstate New York and utilized birch plywood for the top. I have always been fascinated with the 18th century campaign furniture style and a customed re-enactor asked me to make this for her. My wife has already put in her order and many people took a liking to it at Herkimer Home Historical Site where Barb and I did demonstrations on October 4th.

Here is some information on the project. I choose plywood for the top out a desire for stability, less weight, and ease of construction. With the exception of the plywood top which I dressed up with cherry edging, I sought to make the piece look 18th century as much as possible. I attached the cherry edging with hide glue and cut nails. I built the leg assemblies out of solid cherry and utilized mortise and tenon joinery. Tenons were then pegged. Keeping with the tradition of campaign furniture possessing portability yet remaining good looking, I added complimentary aprons with some decorative details on the long sides. To give the piece sufficient robustness, I attached the long aprons to the top with chiseled out screwing pockets. I utilized flathead screws in those pockets along with hide glue to fasten down the aprons. To anchor the ends of the long aprons, I utilized a combination of glue blocks and corner braces. Legs were turned on the lathe using cherry blanks that were 2 1/2″ square. After much searching, I choose this leg profile as being appropriate for an 18th century style campaign table.

Making the leg assemblies fold up was more effort than I had first realized. My design utilized a combination of 2″ barrel bolts at the points where the glue blocks are attached and 9/16″ diameter hardwood pins at the opposite leg ends. This was how I managed to lock the aprons. The table folds up nicely and yet has the stability that makes this an attractive and useful piece of furniture for 18th century re-enactors and homeowners.

I hope you enjoy the picture and please feel free to leave a comment if you also make British style campaign tables.

God bless,
Jim

New Website for J.D.Paulson Furnituremakers

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Photo by Dan Paulson

Photo by Dan Paulson

Hi,
Barb and I have an even nicer website now at www.chairsbypaulson.com. Not only do we have some extra cool photos that were taken by our son Dan, but we have added Paypal.

As a small shop, Paypal offers us a way to help people make a deposit on a Windsor chair so they can get on our chair making schedule. We are hoping that this will make it easier for our customers to put a handmade Windsor chair in their home. It is easy to love these chairs once you see them up close, admire the craftsmanship, remember the history of our country in the late 1700s, and most of all when you sit in one of them and just feel the quality.

We are hooked on making Windsor chairs, one at a time, and we hope that our joy in making a fine chair can be a blessing for you.

Handmade Windsor Chairmaker’s Bowsaw

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Handmade Windsor Chairmaker's Bowsaw

Handmade Windsor Chairmaker's Bowsaw

I have always enjoyed using hand tools and occasionally I’ll decide to try my hand at making my own tools. Here is my first Windsor chair maker’s bowsaw. My design reflects the work of J. Crate Larkin who was published in Fine Woodworking Magazine issue #151. However, I incorporated a number of modifications concerning saw size, handle and blade assembly aspects. This bowsaw project gave me an excuse to work with tiger maple, 3/8″ brass rod, copper end caps, and to salvage some maple scraps from turning Windsor chair legs. In contrast with Larkin’s saw, I scaled this design up for use in Windsor chair making work. My saw sports a 27 1/2 inch long blade which is narrow (3/8 inch wide). This is designed for cutting curves. Occasionally, Barb and I do demonstrations at the General Herkimer Home Historical site in Little Falls, NY, and this will be used to cut chair seats. Since this is my prototype, I’ll incorporate some refinements in any subsequent saws. Hopefully, I’ll offer some for sale in the near future for those who appreciate quality and beauty in a hand made woodworking tool. This saw works great in my hand and is a beautiful tool to hang on the wall until it is needed the next time.

bowsaw arm/handle detail

bowsaw arm/handle detail

bowsaw arm angle view

bowsaw arm angle view


Awesome Windsor Chair

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Nantucket Fan Back

Nantucket Fan Back


Hi friends,

When I am not being pastor for my congregation in Dolgeville,  I work on building Windsor chairs.  It is a labor of love and now a part-time business for my wife, Barb, and me.  Windsor chairmaking is a perfect fit for my woodworking and a woodcarving skills.   I am proud to be called a chairmaker, especially one that makes Windsor chairs!  Windsor chairmaking is a perfect fit for this person because I’ve always  loved to work with hand tools.  For me,  making a handmade American Windsor chair is the closest thing to making a handcrafted duck decoy.   I love duck decoys, especially the hand carved ones, but I love to make Windsor chairs more.  My dad got me started using hand tools as a kid, and like many woodworkers , I quickly learned that a sharp hand plane or spokeshave can offer far more control in the shaping of the wood.   Being good at using hand tools  also offers something else–tool marks as the telltale signs of quality–evidence of good ol’e fashion American craftsmanship.  To those who appreciate antiques from the 17th and 18th century, tool marks left behind by master chairmakers never go out of style when it comes to making reproductions.  Tool marks are evidence of an authentic Windsor chair reproduction.

So today, I want to show you a fine chair I just completed.  It is a Nantucket Fan Back chair and the most comfortable Windsor chair out there in my opinion.   It is a bigger chair and designed for a person to sit in it longer.  It has some awesome carving details that you can truly enjoy.  Being a woodcarving for over 27 years, I always look forward to carving the arms and crests on the Windsors.   This one I finished with a distressed black over red milk paint finish that I rubbed out carefully to mimic an aged surface.   I say distressed because I used the antique crackle product sold by the ™Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company and it leaves a distinctive antique appearing surface.  I hope you’ll enjoy looking at it.  I spent many hours rubbing it out, before sealing it with a gel polyurethane sealer.

I’ll be offering chairs like this Nantucket Fan Back on my website at www.chairsbypaulson.com.

Take care,
Rev. Jim aka “jim the chairmaker”

hand carved arm detail

hand carved arm detail

carved knuckle detail

carved knuckle detail



Pictures of Windsor chairs

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I recently finished two Windsor chairs; a sack back and a Philadelphia high back chair.  I thought I’d give you some idea of how I finish a chair in the more traditional way.  So here are some pictures of chairs in progress.  I included a picture of the sack back after I applied a medium walnut wood dye.  That gives the wood an aged look which is nice in the areas where the milk paint might wear and reveal the bare wood.  You’ll see pictures of the sack back and the Philadelphia high back which have been finished with hand rubbed milk paint.  To further protect the milk paint finish on the chairs I also applied a wipe-on sealer.   The sackback chair features the lexington green milk paint color which gives it a classic look for Windsor chairs.  I also like the look of the black over red milk which is another classic finish applied to Windsor chairs.  I applied this antique looking finish on the Philadelphia high back.   It is quite attractive in giving you  highlights of the red milk paint showing through along various edges.  It might be hard to believe, but the beauty of these chairs with the hand rubbed milk paint really gets enhanced by people using them.   Once you look at these hand made chairs and sit in one, it is easy to want one of them in your home.   

Sackback ready for finishing

Sack back ready for finishing

 

Sackback Windsor chair treated with medium walnut wood dye

Sack back Windsor chair after applying a medium walnut wood dye

Sackback Windsor chair with lexington green finish

Sack back Windsor chair with lexington green milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish


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Drill Press for a Chair maker

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Funny how the addition of a piece of machinery or a new hand tool can get you all fired up to build furniture. For years I’ve looked for any kind of radial drill press to add to my woodworking shop. I’ve had a bench top Delta drill press for years that I bought used back in the mid 80′s, but it has limited capability for drilling holes due to the shallow distance of the spindle to the column/post. Recently, I had the opportunity to acquire a used radial drill press and after some extensive degreasing and replacing the start up capacitor, it is now ready for action. It is the Delta 11-090 model which has a bench top design. Admittedly, it took awhile to clean it up. The previous owner had left the original cosmoline on it(a vaseline type preservative used to prevent rust accumulation) because he stored it in an unheated garage. The cosmoline was really caked on the metal parts and it took some elbow grease and kerosene to remove it. To my surprise the paint and exposed steel surfaces looked like new. Once the cosmoline was gone it was also no problem to adjust the depth and angle of the spindle. To make it suitable for chair making I made a new plywood table that is 16 inches wide by 30 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. The whole purpose for this investment was to perform compound angle drilling in Shaker ladder back and Windsor chair construction.

While I am quite capable in drilling holes using sliding T bevels and sight lines based on my Windsor chair training, I believe that this machine will help me to be more productive as a chair maker. I say that because I have limited shop time and I want to develop some greater efficiency in boring seat, leg and stretcher holes. I will also use it to ream the tapered seat holes for joining the Windsor chair legs with locking tenons. It will also help me to drill all the angled holes required with Shaker ladder back chairs that feature many leg and rung joints that have to be precisely drilled. This will not lessen the accuracy and fit of any legs, spindles or stretchers. Another benefit will be that any jigs I make now for Shaker chairs can be simplified because the drill press has capability to drill angled holes.

A couple critiques of the 11-090 that is worth noting is that the design is lacking for making adjustments for drilling various distances away from the vertical post (throat). Newer radial drill presses feature smoother adjustments through gears for the position of the spindle and the angle of drilling. However, this will not be a problem for me as a chair maker because I won’t be changing the distance between the spindle to vertical post very often. What I will be changing frequently is the drilling angle and that is easy to do with this model.

Likewise the height of the table requires manual adjustment, but that also won’t be a problem for me. Newer models usually feature a cranked adjustment for the height of the table.

radial drill press 1
radial drill press 2

Homemade Frame Saw

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Colonial_at_school_006oppenheimI am a parish pastor whose occasional escape from ministry is working with hand tools.  I also enjoy teaching elementary school kids about 18th century woodworking and giving them a chance to see old tools in action.  In this first photo I was portraying a colonial artisan who told students about a frame saw (veneer saw) that was used to cut thin pieces of wood. Being a fan of Adam Cherubini, I had to make a big frame saw when he did a feature on them in Popular Woodworking several years ago. Being a scrounge and frugal, I also hesitate to buy things that I think I can make myself. Making tools is fun and even more so when I can experience the joy of using them. So here is my story, a parishioner helped me to get an antique frame saw while I lived in Upstate New York.  It was constructed with through mortise and tenon joints which were locked with wooden pegs.Jim's workshop stuff 002 I also studied Adam’s article in Popular Woodworking and the famous Roubo engraving showing frame saws. The result is that I built not one but two frame saws. The first frame saw employed blade holders made from cheap spade bits that I annealed and drilled to accept bolts for attaching the blades. Funny how those spade bits can be re-purposed for all sorts of tool applications. Jim's workshop stuff 012Jim's frame saw On the second saw, which was larger, I designed it to have the classic Roubo design which sported saw buckles as blade holders.  I used flat steel from a home improvement store to make homemade buckles to hold the blade. The buckles were made by forging them into a rough oval shape via my hand cranked track forge and then welding them together at overlap points using a Harbor Freight stick welder.Jim's workshop stuff 007 Once the buckles were welded, I cut slots to accept the blade. Securing the blade to the buckles was accomplished here by using steel cross pins that pierced each end of the saw blade/web and those pins were pulled against the buckle ends through the use of wedges at the intersection of the buckle and the arm.   On my first saw, I copied the original which sported a threaded blade holder which tightened against both of the saw arms. After I annealed the spade bits and shortened them, I cut threads on them to accept a washer and nut. For blades or webs, it wasn’t feasible to buy saw blades for my application at that time so I made a couple to my own specification. It wasn’t hard, I simply purchased some spring steel from McMaster Carr and then used triangular files. I found it enjoyable to make my first blade which sported a 24 inch blade and 4 tpi. The second blade wasn’t as much fun, and sported a 36 inch blade with 2 tpi. I made work for myself by breasting the blade to have 1/2 inch of curvature along the tooth line. You can assemble the saw frame in a lot of ways, my preference was to copy the original design I had which is mortise and tenon joints. By putting mortises in the arms and putting tenons on the ends of the stretchers. Tension on the blade automatically translated to compression on the stretchers. You may notice that the mortise and tenon construction is different between the two saws.  It doesn’t matter which way it is done, both methods of frame construction work.  I like the Roubo design, because the saw can be disassembled when necessary as the mortises are not pinned.  No need.  I appreciate the knowledge of our forebears and simply copied that construction technology.  For the Roubo saw, I made the arms of the frame by using 1.25 inch thick cherry and using 1.25 by 1.5 inch square pine for the stretchers. I am very pleased with the two frame saws that I made and I offer this an alternative to purchasing pre-made saw parts. photo 2 (1)   photo 1

Questions About My Foot Powered Grinder

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I was recently asked about my treadle grinding wheel that I posted on Youtube. There was interest in the substructure that supports the axle and bearings for the grinding wheel.  So before I give some details, I want to give a little introduction to my foot powered grinder.

Back in the late 80′s I had the opportunity to purchase the old grinding wheel at a flea market in Springfield, OH.  I was already 10 years into my passion for hand tools.  I was hooked on regularly watching Roy Underhill and the Woodwright’s Shop on PBS and often hunted for old woodworking and blacksmithing tools at flea markets as an escape from my environmental consulting work.  I still remember the look on my father-in-law’s face and Barb’s too when I tried to load the grinder into the back of their minivan.

The grinder features a big sandstone wheel that was a common item for any homestead in the 1800′s.  Most likely the grinding wheel was mined from the Berea sandstone, a 320 million year old geologic formation (Mississippian Age) that was famous for offering quality grinding stones. Settlers once mined the Berea sandstone in the Cayuhoga Valley for grinding wheels.  Here is a picture of the texture of the stone.

texture of grinding stone

Mine was originally a treadle grinder and it may have either been equipped with a water trough or a funnel above the stone for regular wetting to facilitate grinding edges on tools.  I don’t know.  Years ago I made a funnel and attached a vertical support rod so it would provide a steady drip of water. I have enjoyed using this treadle grinder and one day I might build a new carriage so the base is more stable. So far my modifications include the funnel, forging a connection link, and building a new treadle. I don’t do all my sharpening on it, but it is quite gratifying to grind a new bevel on one of my axes.

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Looking at the pictures you can tell that the front and the rear legs look different.  The legs near the tool rest are clearly the original ones and the other square shaped legs were added later by a previous owner.

grinding wheel bearings

If someone knows more about the company, McD, that made these  I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks.

My Carving Axe

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I’ve been admiring the work of Peter Follansbee lately, especially his carving of riven oak panels and spoons. My Christmas gifts this year included some instructional DVDs and a couple hook knives.  All of this has motivated me to find and restore an old axe so that it functions as a carving axe.

I took an old Blombach axe, made in Germany, and retrofitted it with a new handle in the style of the Granfors Bruks carving axes.

axe disassembledaxe head before restoration

Here is a picture of the axe right after I removed the handle which you can see featured a metal sleeve.   I believe that my axe was probably originally setup to be the carpenters model.

The restoration began with me purchasing some hickory from a local source. My selection criteria included finding stock that had curved grain not straight. I wanted curved grain so the grain pattern would run parallel to the handle curvature I wanted. I designed the handle to exaggerate the curvature of the Gransfors Bruks axe. I started with 1 3/8″ thick stock and worked it with a drawknife, coarse rasp, spokeshave, and then finally I used a cabinet scraper. After frequently testing the fit of the handle fit to axe head as I reduced down the stock, I got to a point where I was happy with the fit of the handle in the eye and could then invest more time in shaping the handle. The outcome is that I made a handle that nicely fits my hand. This is the first time that I’ve made my own handle and it was a good experience. I might eventually invest in a Gransfors Bruk carving axe, but right now I’m satisfied that this retrofitted axe has a good edge and will be suitable for attempting to carve a wooden spoon in the Swedish tradition.

hickory and axe handle

 

 

handle cutout

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axe with rough handle fit

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axe with new handle

Here is a picture of the completed axe restoration.  I ground and honed the bevel on one side and then oiled the handle with boiled linseed oil.

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Working the Spring Pole Lathe

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Last Saturday and Sunday, I was doing Windsor chair making demonstrations at the Historic Fort Meigs War of 1812 site located in Perrysburg, OH. Specifically, I was demonstrating how early chair makers would have used a lathe that was foot powered. I was there along with many other costumed re-enactors for the Early Life in Ohio event which is an annual event at the fort. I enjoy using the lathe and particularly the fascination folks have in seeing it and pondering how that technology supplied quality turnings. That wasn’t because my turnings were poor quality, but that it took a bit longer to remove unneeded wood. My lathe was a reproduction of the Hulot lathe of 1775 vintage that I built using Roy Underhill’s books. I was blessed to see several of my parishioners from St. Paul, to talk with visitors to the fort and to mingle with the rest of the re-enactors.

On Sunday morning the site was visited by Alexis Means of Channel 13 abcnews of Toledo. If you click on the “Living History on display at Fort Meigs” shown below you’ll see me on a news clip using a froe and a splitting maul to rive a chair leg part before using it on the lathe. It took more effort in the news clip to split the white oak because the wood was getting dry. Usually, with wet oak it splits much easier.

Living History on display at Fort Meigs
rough shaping a windsor leg

Windsor Chair at Colonial Fort Michilimackinac

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Did the British use this chair?

Did the British use this chair?

Recently, my wife and I got up to Mackinaw City, MI, and we visited Colonial Fort Michilimackinac. I hadn’t seen the fort since the 60′s when my parents stopped there as part of a camping trip. At that time the archaeological excavations had spanned several years (began in 1959), and they were reconstructing most of the buildings. The Fort has its origins with the French fur trade in 1715 and after the French and Indian War, the British occupied the fort from 1761-1781. Later the fort was torn down by the British, and the buildings moved to Mackinac Island where a new and more secure fort was built (Fort Mackinac). Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac has since revealed many artifacts due to the long period of occupation.

During my recent visit to Fort Michilimackinac, I was surprised to see a bow-back Windsor side chair among the furnishings depicted in the Officers Quarters building. Immediately, I started wondering if the British would have had such a chair in their officer’s quarters since they became popular in the 1780′s. If so, this would suppose that the British military acquired one of the earliest versions of the stylish bow-back Windsor chair, and one that was made by Colonial craftsman in the eastern U.S. According to Charles Santore, The Windsor Style in America, the origins of the bow-back chair is that it was first inspired by a oriental design that was popular in England and when it was introduced in Philadelphia in the 1780′s it featured bamboo turnings.

Being a Windsor Chair Maker who has studied with Mike Dunbar in New Hampshire, and someone who loves Windsor chairs, it isn’t a surprise that I wonder these things.

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Back to Windsor Chair Making

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Hi,
We moved our home and Windsor chair making shop in January 2013. I serve as a full-time pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bowling Green(Haskins), Ohio. I’m still setting up the Windsor chair making shop in Haskins, but here are a couple pictures of a Handmade Windsor chair that I just finished. This one is a gift to my Mom. It is a Philadelphia High Back Windsor chair. It reflects my training several years ago with Mike Dunbar at The Windsor Institute in Hampton, NH. The chair was finished by first applying a medium walnut dye, then coatings of red then black milk paint, distressing the milk paint to reveal the underlying red paint, sealing it with blonde dewaxed shellac, and finally applying a finish of Minwax wipe on polyurethane. I borrowed the idea of using shellac as a base coat before applying wipe on polyurethane from Peter Galbert another respected and well published Windsor chair maker. I had to rub out the finishes several times including the application of milk paint and the shellac base coat. Hope you enjoy the pictures of this black Windsor chair made in the Philadelphia style. I never cease to marvel at how nice these chairs look and the beauty of the design.

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My blog has recently been added to Woodworking Blogs, which is part of one of the largest networks of blog directories on the Web. Please visit my blog’s personal page to vote for my blog and comment to other blog users.

Rescue Me

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Recently, I stumbled into a real find at a garage sale. Barb and I were out looking at people’s junk and there it was a ugly painted saw that was done for the owner. I might like landscapes, but what I observed was a nice saw handle and saw plate with almost no wear. So for $3 I took it home and it sat on my drafting table as a painted saw for months.

A couple months later I had gotten sufficiently tired of the oil painting on it and it found itself in the garage being subjected to paint stripper. The stripper took off the painted scene and I soon noticed an etch from the manufacturer on the blade, HSB and Co. and it got more exciting. The painter had the blade sandblasted to remove rust, but the etch was still visible and the blade looked great. Some of the sandblasting work had damaged the handle too, but it wasn’t severe. I felt very fortunate here.

So here is the good news, I rescued from the painters brush a perfectly good saw that had very little use from its owner. The previous owner liked this premium Chicago made saw so much that his name H.M. Simpson was stamped all over the handle, but fortunately for me there is much life left in the saw plate.

After I removed the fall landscape scene and the flat black paint on the back side, I knew I was on the right track. I carefully removed the sandblasting texture from the plate with 220 sandpaper attached to a sanding block. The sanding block helped keep me above the etch and so I could preserve it for some future treatments to darken it. The apple handle was cleaned up of stray paint and then lightly sanded. To even out the color I applied a maple dye, gave it a good coat of boiled linseed oil, added 2 coats of garnet shellac, and then applied wax.

The saw nuts were originally nickel plated and most of that was lost in cleaning it up. I was able to preserve the nickel plating on the medalion.

I am thrilled with the condition of this handsaw, the way it cleaned up, and I can’t wait to sharpen this up and use it.

Thanks for looking!
Jim


New Life for a Stanley 8 Plane

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Sometime ago, I added a stanley bailey #8 plane to my arsenal of furniture making tools. I took a risk and purchased it on ebay and then I opted to do a total restoration of the plane. After checking the 24″ long sole with a straight edge, I discovered that the plane had unacceptable concavity between the toe and the heel. Once that was discovered I embarked on the tedious job of flattening a 24″ long sole. My friends, this is not for the faint of heart and it turned out to be a real pain. I used 6 inch wide 80 grit self adhesive backed sandpaper on a 3 foot long piece of float glass that is 3/8 inch thick. As suggested my others, I regularly changed the sandpaper whenever it lost the effective cutting capability. This helped to keep things manageable. Once the bottom of the plate reached sufficient flatness (within a couple thousands of an inch) I switched to the 120 and 220 grits. It probably cost me $40 in sandpaper alone, but heh when you compare the cost of purchasing a brand new one it was worth it. Before this I had flattened a #4 1/2 and a Bedrock 605 and found that to be a lot of work. Now I was a glutton for punishment.

The plane casting was in pretty good shape in terms of having only minor oxidation, but the original paint was beyond hope. Between someone having scratched a large initial and there being a lot of small bare and rusty spots all over, I decided to strip the paint and make it look like new. I applied several coats of satin black Rust-oleum to recreate the look of the original finish. This is not what collectors do because it reduces the value. I obviously did this for my own use and without concern about preserving original paint.

Here is the before and what the plane looks like afterward. I cut a few curls on it and it brought smiles after all the effort of repainting, cleaning the parts of rust, polishing the brass, and the equipping the plane with a new IBC A2 steel plane blade. Thanks for looking.


A Redo on My Shaving Horse

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Jim's customized shaving horse

Here is a picture of my customized shaving horse. This is what I now use to make long tapered spindles, initially hand split oak from logs, for the backs of Windsor chairs. This particular shaving horse was made in the early 80′s when I really started to get into traditional woodworking using mostly hand tooks. Believe it or not, I made this shaving horse out of glued up wood recovered from oak pallets and a couple 2″ pine boards I purchased from a local lumber supplier. Initially, this shaving horse design was utilized by coopers to shape barrel staves, and I ended up using it to make Shaker ladderback chair parts. One of the limitations I experienced was that I had to always apply a very firm amount of foot pressure to secure the stock while I was using a drawknife and spokeshave.

After making Windsor chairs for the last several years, I finally realized the need for enhanced holding capability in this shaving horse. It was either that or make another one. Since I don’t have room for more than one shaving horse, I opted to modify this one. An article in Fine Woodworking Magazine, #139, featured a shaving horse designed by chair maker Brian Boggs, it helped me see how this could be done. So I borrowed some design concepts from Brian Boggs. I modified the clamping head by removing the top member which was held originally together with a thru mortise and tenon joint. I replaced the original top member with a 2-1/2″ diameter cylinder with 7/8″ round tenon ends. The round tenons extend all the way through the side arms and this allows the top member, which is now covered with rawhide, to turn and provide fresh clamping surfaces. The pressure I now apply between the rough rawhide covered top clamping member and the rawhide covered grooved platform should provide a much better grip when I am using the drawknife and the spokeshave to work chair spindles.

Thanks for looking!

Jim's Customized Shaving Horse

Make it Square with Shooting Boards

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4 foot long shooting board


three shooting boards

Last year, I read an article by Mike Dunbar in Popular Woodworking and it featured the benefits of making and using shooting boards. As someone who takes chairmaking classes with Mike at the Windsor Institute in Hampton, New Hamsphire, I have grown to really appreciate his woodworking talents as well as his humor. Suffice it to say that Mike’s article gave me the jump start that I needed after being a woodworker for many years. I think it also coincided with me selling my chop saw when I moved and my decision to restore an old Stanley 360 Miter box with saw. You see I had been aware of the benefits of using shooting boards ever since I bought Charles Hayward’s book on cabinetmaking back in the early 80′s, but it took someone else to motivate me to make some shooting boards and to appreciate the difference that they can make in enhancing ones woodworking skill. So between Mike’s article and all the posts and threads on the Neander section of Sawmill Creek Woodworking Forum, it was about time that I got with the program and made some shooting boards. Well thank God that time has arrived!

I guess some background on my love of using hand tools is in order. While I have been into using wood planes for years, I don’t have a good answer for why I didn’t get into making or using shooting boards. Maybe I thought that using a plane the proper way and keeping good technique was enough to give me edges that were 90 degrees to the board surfaces. I don’t know. What I can say is that I bought my first stanley #4 plane, painted in blue and red, when I was mowing lawns back in the mid 60′s. But it was in the late 70′s and early 80′s that I watched the Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill and soon got fired up about buying and restoring old woodern planes. Since then I have been blessed to use a variety of wooden and metal planes and they are an integral part of how I build handmade furniture.

So last year I made three shooting boards and I have quickly discovered that they are awesome to use, both for trimming end grain and long grain. Since I don’t own a chop saw, I can cut a miter on a piece of trim on my Stanley 360 miter box and then plane it fit with the shooting board for mitered joints. Instead of struggling to get edges that are straight for say a drawer, I can also get them to be at 90 degrees to the board face. That is way cool and it helps make me a better woodworker/furniture maker.

Here is another thing, I followed Mike’s advice about the benefits of using a dedicated Bedrock 605 plane for shooting. They are hard to locate, but you can still find them if you are on Ebay or in antique stores. I bought one in an antique store and I spent some time cleaning it, draw filing out a high spot just behind the throat, and then flattening the sole on a 3 foot long piece of 3/8″ thick glass with 80 and 120 grit sandpaper on it. I soon realized the need to draw file the one side to get it at 90 degrees as well. It just took some unrushed time of filing, sanding and checking the edges with a precision straight edge and a couple machinist squares. I also upgraded the plane with a Hock Replacement iron in A2 steel and a thicker cap iron, which enhanced its capabilities too.

Lee Valley Low Angle Jack Plane

It gets better. Recently, Barb and I made it to the Woodworkers Show that was held in Columbus, Ohio at the Expo Center. I have been a fan of Lie-Nielsen planes for years, but heh the Lee Valley booth at the show gave me the opportunity to test drive a Low Angle Jack Plane (LV LA Jack) and boy was I ever impressed. Make no mistake, I think, like most neanders, that Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley make great tools. Yet this time I was taken by the heft and the feel of the Lee Valley Veritas plane and I love using it. It might be my favorite woodworking plane and now that I have shooting boards, it is mighty cool to use. Thanks for listening to me ramble, but heh woodworking is in my blood and it gives me a great escape from the pressures of caring for my flock. If you want to see me use the LV LA jack on a shooting board, I put together a quick video on Youtube and you can see it here

God bless you!

A Restored Stanley 360 Mitre Box

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Hi folks,

This was a fun project that I worked on for a couple months once I got the new workshop squared away. I used a mitre box like this back in my High School days in woodshop class. I bought this Stanley 360 mitre box with the saw on ebay before they got real expensive. After trying it out, I am mighty glad I sold my Craftsman Power Mitre box when we made our big move last Spring.

When I bought the mitre box and saw, they were rusty, but thankfully all the parts were pretty much there. After cleaning, putting on some new paint, adding a new poplar top and reconditioning the saw I can say that this is a sweet tool.

I promised Barb that I’d get back to building some Windsor chairs and other furniture now that this project is completed.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Take care,
Jim





Finished Campaign Table

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18th Century Campaign Style Folding Table

Top dyed antique cherry and sealed with polyurethane

Hi everyone. Here are some pictures of the 18th Century Campaign Table that I recently finished. It turned out quite well with the antique cherry stain, polyurethane coating on the top and the lexington green milk paint on the aprons and legs. I’ve learned a lot in making this project and hope to refine the leg profile design and the latching mechanism for securing the leg and apron assemblies. All in all, I am pleased that the design has the look of an 18th century piece, achieved the lightness sought by my client, and can be folded up easily for trips to reenactments.

Take care,
Jim

Side View of 18th Century Style Folding Table

Front view showing the apron design

Table is partially folded up to show the design.

Underside of the folding table showing the locking mechanism.

Spring Pole Lathe

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Hi. While at the Herkimer Homestead Day Celebration on October 4th, I used a spring pole lathe. My wife Barb was also there demonstrating scherenschnitte. I built the lathe several years ago and use it to demonstrate how Windsor chair legs could be turned using this primitive technology. It was fun to wear colonial garb and to teach children and adults about using a foot powered lathe. I’m wearing a red waistcoat (vest).

God Bless,
Jim


Handmade Campaign Style Table

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18th Century Campaign Table

18th Century Campaign Table


Hi. It has been a while since I’ve made a post. The summer came and went, and my wife and I were blessed with joyful moments. One exciting event was our son, Dan, getting married to Oksana in July. Their wedding was in Lviv, Ukraine, and truly awesome. We finally traveled out of the country.

Here is an 18th century campaign style table that I recently designed and built. I constructed it with cherry that was harvested in Upstate New York and utilized birch plywood for the top. I have always been fascinated with the 18th century campaign furniture style and a customed re-enactor asked me to make this for her. My wife has already put in her order and many people took a liking to it at Herkimer Home Historical Site where Barb and I did demonstrations on October 4th.

Here is some information on the project. I choose plywood for the top out a desire for stability, less weight, and ease of construction. With the exception of the plywood top which I dressed up with cherry edging, I sought to make the piece look 18th century as much as possible. I attached the cherry edging with hide glue and cut nails. I built the leg assemblies out of solid cherry and utilized mortise and tenon joinery. Tenons were then pegged. Keeping with the tradition of campaign furniture possessing portability yet remaining good looking, I added complimentary aprons with some decorative details on the long sides. To give the piece sufficient robustness, I attached the long aprons to the top with chiseled out screwing pockets. I utilized flathead screws in those pockets along with hide glue to fasten down the aprons. To anchor the ends of the long aprons, I utilized a combination of glue blocks and corner braces. Legs were turned on the lathe using cherry blanks that were 2 1/2″ square. After much searching, I choose this leg profile as being appropriate for an 18th century style campaign table.

Making the leg assemblies fold up was more effort than I had first realized. My design utilized a combination of 2″ barrel bolts at the points where the glue blocks are attached and 9/16″ diameter hardwood pins at the opposite leg ends. This was how I managed to lock the aprons. The table folds up nicely and yet has the stability that makes this an attractive and useful piece of furniture for 18th century re-enactors and homeowners.

I hope you enjoy the picture and please feel free to leave a comment if you also make British style campaign tables.

God bless,
Jim

New Website for J.D.Paulson Furnituremakers

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Photo by Dan Paulson

Photo by Dan Paulson

Hi,
Barb and I have an even nicer website now at www.chairsbypaulson.com. Not only do we have some extra cool photos that were taken by our son Dan, but we have added Paypal.

As a small shop, Paypal offers us a way to help people make a deposit on a Windsor chair so they can get on our chair making schedule. We are hoping that this will make it easier for our customers to put a handmade Windsor chair in their home. It is easy to love these chairs once you see them up close, admire the craftsmanship, remember the history of our country in the late 1700s, and most of all when you sit in one of them and just feel the quality.

We are hooked on making Windsor chairs, one at a time, and we hope that our joy in making a fine chair can be a blessing for you.

Handmade Windsor Chairmaker’s Bowsaw

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Handmade Windsor Chairmaker's Bowsaw

Handmade Windsor Chairmaker's Bowsaw

I have always enjoyed using hand tools and occasionally I’ll decide to try my hand at making my own tools. Here is my first Windsor chair maker’s bowsaw. My design reflects the work of J. Crate Larkin who was published in Fine Woodworking Magazine issue #151. However, I incorporated a number of modifications concerning saw size, handle and blade assembly aspects. This bowsaw project gave me an excuse to work with tiger maple, 3/8″ brass rod, copper end caps, and to salvage some maple scraps from turning Windsor chair legs. In contrast with Larkin’s saw, I scaled this design up for use in Windsor chair making work. My saw sports a 27 1/2 inch long blade which is narrow (3/8 inch wide). This is designed for cutting curves. Occasionally, Barb and I do demonstrations at the General Herkimer Home Historical site in Little Falls, NY, and this will be used to cut chair seats. Since this is my prototype, I’ll incorporate some refinements in any subsequent saws. Hopefully, I’ll offer some for sale in the near future for those who appreciate quality and beauty in a hand made woodworking tool. This saw works great in my hand and is a beautiful tool to hang on the wall until it is needed the next time.

bowsaw arm/handle detail

bowsaw arm/handle detail

bowsaw arm angle view

bowsaw arm angle view


Awesome Windsor Chair

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Nantucket Fan Back

Nantucket Fan Back


Hi friends,

When I am not being pastor for my congregation in Dolgeville,  I work on building Windsor chairs.  It is a labor of love and now a part-time business for my wife, Barb, and me.  Windsor chairmaking is a perfect fit for my woodworking and a woodcarving skills.   I am proud to be called a chairmaker, especially one that makes Windsor chairs!  Windsor chairmaking is a perfect fit for this person because I’ve always  loved to work with hand tools.  For me,  making a handmade American Windsor chair is the closest thing to making a handcrafted duck decoy.   I love duck decoys, especially the hand carved ones, but I love to make Windsor chairs more.  My dad got me started using hand tools as a kid, and like many woodworkers , I quickly learned that a sharp hand plane or spokeshave can offer far more control in the shaping of the wood.   Being good at using hand tools  also offers something else–tool marks as the telltale signs of quality–evidence of good ol’e fashion American craftsmanship.  To those who appreciate antiques from the 17th and 18th century, tool marks left behind by master chairmakers never go out of style when it comes to making reproductions.  Tool marks are evidence of an authentic Windsor chair reproduction.

So today, I want to show you a fine chair I just completed.  It is a Nantucket Fan Back chair and the most comfortable Windsor chair out there in my opinion.   It is a bigger chair and designed for a person to sit in it longer.  It has some awesome carving details that you can truly enjoy.  Being a woodcarving for over 27 years, I always look forward to carving the arms and crests on the Windsors.   This one I finished with a distressed black over red milk paint finish that I rubbed out carefully to mimic an aged surface.   I say distressed because I used the antique crackle product sold by the ™Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company and it leaves a distinctive antique appearing surface.  I hope you’ll enjoy looking at it.  I spent many hours rubbing it out, before sealing it with a gel polyurethane sealer.

I’ll be offering chairs like this Nantucket Fan Back on my website at www.chairsbypaulson.com.

Take care,
Rev. Jim aka “jim the chairmaker”

hand carved arm detail

hand carved arm detail

carved knuckle detail

carved knuckle detail



Pictures of Windsor chairs

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I recently finished two Windsor chairs; a sack back and a Philadelphia high back chair.  I thought I’d give you some idea of how I finish a chair in the more traditional way.  So here are some pictures of chairs in progress.  I included a picture of the sack back after I applied a medium walnut wood dye.  That gives the wood an aged look which is nice in the areas where the milk paint might wear and reveal the bare wood.  You’ll see pictures of the sack back and the Philadelphia high back which have been finished with hand rubbed milk paint.  To further protect the milk paint finish on the chairs I also applied a wipe-on sealer.   The sackback chair features the lexington green milk paint color which gives it a classic look for Windsor chairs.  I also like the look of the black over red milk which is another classic finish applied to Windsor chairs.  I applied this antique looking finish on the Philadelphia high back.   It is quite attractive in giving you  highlights of the red milk paint showing through along various edges.  It might be hard to believe, but the beauty of these chairs with the hand rubbed milk paint really gets enhanced by people using them.   Once you look at these hand made chairs and sit in one, it is easy to want one of them in your home.   

Sackback ready for finishing

Sack back ready for finishing

 

Sackback Windsor chair treated with medium walnut wood dye

Sack back Windsor chair after applying a medium walnut wood dye

Sackback Windsor chair with lexington green finish

Sack back Windsor chair with lexington green milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish

Philadelphia High Back Windsor with a black over red milk paint finish


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