Another type of grain filling is when you’re finishing and have some small imperfections, either from tear-out or from pores in the wood. Ideally, you fix as many of these problems as possible before applying any finish, but sometimes things don’t work out perfectly. This is also basically the method used in French Polishing (though that uses rottenstone rather than sandpaper as the abrasive).

Note that all of the pictures here show about 1 square inch of surface (2.5 cm square), so you can get an idea of the scale of things.

Some minor tear out near the center of a bowl

In a Russian olive bowl I’m working on, I had a tiny bit of tear-out near the center of the bowl, as shown above. This wasn’t obvious until I got some shellac on the bowl. I’m going to fill this using shellac and a bit of sanding dust (which is probably going to be mostly shellac, as well, but will include some wood dust).

A circular scratch pattern with some dust

First I sand very lightly with 400 grit sandpaper. Finer will work, but will take longer. Coarser will leave visible scratches. I try to sand across the depressions, so sanding dust will be deposited in them, but I’ll also use a circular motion when I’m starting because it’s quicker and lets me see what direction will work best.

Then I put a drop of oil (I use tung oil, but linseed oil will work, too) and 4-5 drops of shellac on a piece of folded up cloth. Old t-shirts work great.

The shellac I use is roughly a one-and-a-half pound cut. That is, I dissolve about 2 oz of shellac flakes in 12 oz of alcohol. You can use a heavier cut, but don’t go any lighter.

T shirt with shellac and oil on it.

I rub this mixture onto the sanded area, also working across the tear-out. If you go with the direction of the tear-out, the cloth will tend to pull the dust back out, which is not what you want. You also don’t want to rub enough that the new shellac starts dissolving and removing previous layers of shellac. The idea is to build up the shellac, filling the voids. The oil is there mostly so that the partially cured shellac doesn’t “grab” your pad and get messed up as you’re adding a new layer on top of it (and partially dissolving the previous top layer). A little lubrication goes a long way towards making things work smoothly.

You can also see that the weave of the t-shirt has gotten filled with shellac. I typically use a fresh piece of t-shirt each session, because once the shellac is dried in the fabric, it won’t flex to follow the contours of the surface. You don’t want it dipping into every hollow, since you’re trying to fill those, but you don’t want it stiff as a board, either.

The wood after the first bit of grain filling

This is a fairly slow process. But each iteration you can see a little progress.

Sanding dust filling the voids again

And at some point, the dust is almost entirely filling the voids, and not sitting on the surface. That means you’re getting close. The dust will compact as it gets wet, leaving a smaller void, but the results can look pretty darned good.

Grain filled almost completely

My take is that this is almost good enough. I think I’m going to varnish this bowl, which will flatten out the finish a little more, so maybe one more bit of sanding will do the trick. But I’m going to let the shellac cure for a while and then look at it and see. That will also give time for the little bit of oil present to cure, which will make for a tougher finish.

#technique #woodworking

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Cholla and epoxy bedside lamp, unlit and lit

After the first bedside lamp with its wooden base, I wanted to try making one with a cholla and epoxy base. I started by pouring tinted epoxy into a 16 ounce cup from the dollar store, with some cholla pieces jammed into it. For smaller molds like this, I may need to start using partial pieces of cholla, as there ends up being a lot of empty space that needs to be filled with the epoxy. And pouring large amounts of epoxy can lead to a runaway exothermic reaction which causes the epoxy to foam and bubble and set very quickly, which generally isn’t usable.

Epoxy and cholla, fresh from the snowflake-adorned mold

With a successful pour, I pulled the blank from the mold and rough-turned it to a shape I thought would work. The only dimension I was really worried about was the top, which would have the top of the lamp meeting it.

Rough turning of cholla and epoxy

Looking at the rough blank, there wasn’t enough room for a battery, so I glued on a round piece of cherry, which I thought would look good, then I poured a small pour of epoxy to make sure the base and the lamp body were stuck together real good.

Wood round glued to bottom of cholla and epoxy blank

Next I turned the base, aiming to leave it as wide as possible, giving me the most flexibility with the battery.

Wooden base rough-turned

With the base turned, I bored a hole into the base of the lamp body. The largest diameter at the bottom was 2½ inches, but I stepped that down to an inch to make sure I didn’t make the inside of the lamp bigger than the outside.

Boring the hole in the bottom so I can assemble the parts and insert the battery

With the hole bored and the top of the lamp assembled, I carved out an opening for the battery and glued on some feet to give a little clearance for the battery, so the lamp wouldn’t rest on the battery.

Bottom of the lamp, showing the carved space for the battery, feet, and signature

After signing the lamp, I finished it. The epoxy portion is polished with a plastic polish. The wooden base was finished with multiple coats of Tried and True Danish Oil. After the finishes have had a chance to cure, I’ll probably add a coat of furniture wax to make it easier to dust.

Completed cholla and epoxy lamp, unlit

Completed cholla and epoxy lamp, lit

#woodworking #project #lamp

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Unlit lamp

A while back, my sweetie expressed a desire to have a bedside lamp and a night light. I worked with a few different ideas for the lighting part of it before finding the Lanterna 3-Stage Battery Powered Lamp at Lee Valley. It’s just about exactly what I want, except it takes 3 C-cells. More on that later.

So I started by making a twisted tangential turning roughly the shape I wanted for the lamp base.

Taped-together wedges which will form a twisted tangential turning

I also went searching for a rechargeable battery for the lamp. Turns out our door cameras have a battery which is just about perfect. The battery has charging circuitry built-in, and the terminals are on one end of the battery, and the charging jack on the other, so I ordered a spare battery. The only question was whether the 3.7 volt battery would drive the light circuit which was expecting 4.5 volts (yes, yes it does).

Then I disassembled the Lanterna and figured out what I could use. It was pretty easy, as there is a ⅜ inch threaded rod down the middle of the lamp holding everything together and carrying the wires from the head to the base. All I needed to do was cut off the battery holder, shorten the rod to fit my base, and then solder the wires onto the rechargeable battery terminals.

Lit lamp

Then because my base was a little short, I cut a piece of walnut and carved out a battery-shaped hole in it, leaving the hole just large enough to slide the battery through, but tight enough that the battery won’t fall out when you pick up the lamp.

Lamp base, showing micro-usb charging port

With the walnut base glued to the twisted base, finishing was just a matter of a few coats of danish oil, a coat of shellac, followed by two coats of violin varnish, and then a thin layer of carnauba wax so the lamp should be easier to dust.

My sweetie thinks it’s wonderful.

Technical notes: the battery charging circuit may not support operation of the lamp while charging. I don’t think this is a big problem, but that’s part of why the charging jack is on the bottom of the lamp. It’s less tempting to try and use the lamp while it’s charging this way. Also, Ring doorbell batteries are about half the price of the TP-Link batteries, but the charging jack and battery terminals are on the same end of the battery. Depending on your design, this may be good or bad.

Finally, the three stages of the lamp were chosen fairly well. The dimmest is slightly too-bright for a night-light, but putting a colored lens in front of the LEDs would solve that. And would be easy given the way the lamp screws together. And the current draw is low enough that the lamp should last 10-20 hours at full power, and almost a full week in nightlight mode. I think that’s a pretty decent life.

#project #lamp #woodworking #woodturning

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I recently had our HVAC guy out to clean my shop mini-split. He commented that it really needed the cleaning, and he was surprised it was still working well. And that I really ought to keep it cleaner. So I decided I would built a box to hold some filters to clean the air going into the split, so it would be happier in the future.

First step was building a frame to hold two of the filters I’m going to use. These are the filters I already use in my Rikon 62-450 air cleaner, so I generally have them on hand.

Frame to hold two filters

With the frame built, I measured the mini-split and the space between it and the ceiling. My goal was to put the filters sitting vertically, rather than the horizontal filters built into the mini-split, which sit horizontally at the top of the split, and catch dust even when the split isn’t running. I figure the filters will last longer if they’re only collecting dust when the split is running.

Everything looked as though it would fit, so I built two frames for the box. The one in the left had to work around the mounting system for the post for my post drill, which I needed because it was impossible to buy a straight 6x6 during the early COVID days, so I got a twisted one and figured a way to make it work.

Two side frames for the filter box

With the side frames built, I cut panels to fit on them from a scrap of MDF I had. Then I used more scraps to connect the two side frames together and provide an opening for the filter holder.

Completed frame for the filters

Next up was to seal up the large gap between the mini-split and the filter box. But I couldn’t build anything rigid here, since the front of the split pivots up when it opens so you can clean the filter. My solution was to tape in a piece of ¼ inch MDF. Hopefully the tape will remain flexible enough that I don’t need to remove it, but can simply flex the piece out of the way.

Taped-in insert between the filter box and the mini-split

With that, it was time to put the filter carrier in place. I had hoped that it would stay with no attachment, bu it wanted to tip forward, so I put a single screw in to hold the top of it in place.

Filter carrier placed in the front of the filter box, secured by a single screw at the top

And with that, everything was done except inserting the filters. With them in place, it’s done. The filters don’t seem to hurt the airflow from the split when they’re clean, but I’ll need to keep an eye on things as they get dirtier. It wouldn’t do to burn out the fan in the split.

Completed filter box with filters

#project #woodworking #airFilter

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Carving skew

While working on the Altai Project Logo carving, I discovered I needed a narrow skew in order to get down into some of the corners. I have a handful of ½ inch wide unground blanks I got from the Mountain Woodcarvers clearance page, so I got busy.

Carving blade blank

Carving blade blank

First step was grinding it down to 2-3mm wide. Then I skewed the tip, and put a rough edge on with the grinder. That’s the rough outline of the tip made.

Then I had to re-harden the steel, as the grinding had wrecked the temper. I heated it bright glowing red with a MAP gas torch, and plunged it into a jar of canola oil I keep for hardening tools. Then the blade went into the toaster oven to temper it. I’m aiming for a hardness of 60 or so, which will work well for a carving tool.

With the blade in the oven, I turned to the lathe, and converted a small piece of granadillo into a handle. I also drilled a 3/16 hole for the tang. Because it’s a tapered tang, I drilled a short bit wider with 7/32 and ¼ inch bits. Then I added a ferrule from some ½ OD brass, and filed it smooth.

By this time, the blade was done cooking, so I pulled it out and let it cool, then pounded the handle onto the blade. A bit of hand sanding and a couple coats of tung oil, and it’s ready to go.

Carving skew

#woodworking #tool #project

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I’ve been needing a single place to store my files, rasps, and floats for a while now. They were stored in two older tills, one of which had been repurposed from a saw till, and another which used to be something else that I don’t remember. Plus I had a number of files laying loose on various flat surfaces around the shop.

File, rasp, and float till, filled.

I started by building three racks to hold the files of various lengths. The largest holds 12 files, the middle holds 15, and the shortest rack can hold 20 files, though only the shortest in length will fit.

The racks are made of ⅜ inch thick oak, either 1 or 2 inches wide. Each rack has a bottom piece with indentations drilled in it, and a cross piece with magnets embedded to hold the files in place. They all pivot on the dowels that mount them (though this isn’t an especially useful feature) so they can be tipped forward or backward to access the files without knocking the ones in the rows in front. The racks were treated with iron acetate to ebonite them, though the solution was a couple weeks old, which is, I suspect, why I got a dark brown rather than a black finish.

Empty file till

The carcasse is built of ¾ inch thick pine, and dovetailed together, with the shelf above the drawer resting in a pair of ¼ inch deep dadoes. The drawer is also dovetailed, with half-blind dovetails holding the drawer front in place. This is the first time I’ve built half-blind dovetails, so it was good practice. The drawer-front is also carved with a design I made up over a few days of carving.

Carved pine drawer front

The pine is all finished with a coat of kakishibu. It’ll get a few coats of tung oil once it has had a little time to darken, unless I decide it needs a second coat of kakishibu first.

The drawer hold spare file handles, file cards, and needle files. A couple weeks of construction, the added carving on the front of the till makes it feel a little special and I also got to practice barrel and bead moulding which came out nice.

#woodworking #project #woodCarving #shopFurniture

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This is a moulding for the edge of a piece of wood that livens it up, and is fairly quick and easy to do. Working in pine, I can create a linear foot of beading in about ten minutes, including time for stropping my gouge.

For reference, here’s what I’m referring to as barrel moulding.

Barrel moulding

The barrels in this case are three times as long as they are wide. Beaded moulding is typically the same length as width, and bead and barrel moulding alternates the two, but the technique is the same for all of them.

First you need to make a bead on the edge of a board. I generally do three beads, and then cut the interruptions in the middle one to make barrels, which I think looks pretty good. I make these using a Lie-Nielsen #66 beading tool with an appropriate blade, which in my case is a double reed profile, set up so one of the reeds is right on the edge of a ¾ inch board. I repeat the profile going both directions on the board to make a total of three reeds, with one in the center of the board. Note that multiple manufacturers make beading tools, but you can also make a scratch stock that will do the job.

Beaded boards

With the beads or reeds on the edge of the board, mark off the length of your barrels. As I said earlier, I like a 3:1 ratio if I’m going to make them uniform length, but other ratios work. Just set up your dividers and make marks a consistent distance apart down the length of the board.

With your marks made, you’ll need a #11 gouge the same width as the beads or reeds you’ve made in the board. This is also known as a veiner and has a u-shaped profile. My ¼ inch veiner that I use for making these beads has been modified with rounded wings or edges so that it doesn’t cut as far into the wood as it would with square edges.

Modified veiner

I start with the gouge almost flat on the bead, with the cutting edge about a sixteenth of an inch (or a millimeter) back from the mark for the edge of a barrel.

Veiner at the beginning of a cut

Then I rock the gouge forward and into the wood, ending with it fully vertical.

Veiner partway through a cut

Repeat this down the board, and you’ll have something that looks like the following.

Cuts completed in one direction

Now go back and do the same in the other direction. As you rotate the gouge up, you’ll get a small amount of wood pushing to the sides. If it’s too much, start a little closer together for the two cuts. After you’ve gone both directions, use a #1s or #2 gouge (also known as a skew) to clean out the waste.

Here’s a photo showing all the stages from start to finish of making the barrels.

Steps of cutting barrels

From left to right, that shows: cut one direction; cut both directions; cleaned out the corners with a #2 (skew) gouge; cut the second time from the left and right; and finally, cleaned out the second time.

I find that I have to go along the length of the board twice. If I try to do it all in one pass, the edges will be rougher because I was taking “too big a bite” at once.

Once I’ve been up and down the length of the board twice and cleaned out the waste with a skew, I use a chip brush I chopped shorter so the bristles are fairly stiff. This one has also been used for applying kakishibu, which further stiffens the bristles and gives them a reddish tint.

Shortened chip brush for cleaning beads

Once all the waste is brushed out, you’re ready to finish. Thanks for looking!

#woodworking #techniques

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A friend wanted the dimensions of handscrews of various sizes. I took measurements of the four I have, and photos to show what the dimensions measure.

The dimensions are the following measurements:

Handscrew with labels for dimensions

And the four handscrews are shown together:

Picture of four handscrews

Beginning in the top left, an unknown Chinese handscrew, all measurements in inches.

Tall: 1¾ Thick: 1⅝ Long: 10 Jaw: 5 Screw: 9½

Top Right, a large Miro Moose handscrew

Tall: 2¼ Thick: 2⅛ Long: 14 Jaw: 7 Screw: 14½

Lower Left, a medium Rockler handscrew

Tall: 1¾ Thick: 1½ Long: 8 Jaw: 4 Screw: 8

Lower right, my smallest Miro Moose

Tall: 1⅜ Thick: 1¼ Long: 6 Jaw: 3 Screw: 5½

The free jaw measurement is, in every case, half of the total jaw length. The height and width of the jaw are nearly equal, but the measurement I have labeled “Tall” is always slightly larger than the jaw width (or thickness). And the free length of the screw is typically about the same as the total length of the jaw.

The Miro Moose clamps are a brand of Dubuque Clamps, and are made in Iowa.

#woodworking #tools

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I’ve been needing a strop that I can use to touch up my gouges for a while, and have been mostly getting by with a flat strop. Last week, I grabbed a piece of ash from the scrap pile, and shaped it with the bandsaw, gouges, and spokeshaves. Yesterday I formed a piece of leather to it (but forgot about the clamps marking the leather). Today I contact-cemented the leather in place. It works pretty well for sweeps up to a seven.

concave face of the strop

flat fed of the strop

curved edge of the strop

end-view of the strop profile

I’ll probably wet the leather again and see if I can get the clamp impressions out of the leather, but it’s working well enough that I may not bother.

#HandyTools #woodworking #leatherworking

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A while ago I read about kakishibu, a traditional Japanese finish mostly used on softwoods.

Since the one English-language book on kakishibu is out of print, and the author doesn't have any more copies, I decided to order a bit of the fermented persimmon juice and see what I could see.

I had a small box I had built to hold some clamps. The box was made with poplar sides and a birch top, and the poplar had an unappealing shade of green that I wanted to modify. I left the bottom of the box untreated, so I could look back to compare that with the sides that I treated.

untreated poplar bottom of the box, showing the greenish cast of the poplar

Immediately after painting the box with a layer of the kakishibu, I noticed two things. One was that the reddish tint did a great job of modifying the greenish cast. I like it! The other thing is that, being water-based, it raised the grain of the box.

box immediately after treatment with kakishibu

So I sanded the box lightly with 400 grit sandpaper, then applied another coat of the kakishibu, and set the box outside in the New Mexico sun for a couple mornings while I worked on other things in the shop.

box after two mornings of sunshine

That was quite a difference! They say that kakishibu will continue to darken for a month, but after just two mornings (about 6 hours) it looks a lot more appealing than the plain poplar (scroll back to that first image...)

box after four mornings of sunshine

And after two more mornings of sunshine, the color of the box has darkened a bit more, but it seems to be slowing down. I'll keep an eye on it for a couple more weeks, and maybe add another photo, but I'm sold on kakishibu, at least for covering up the green that poplar shows. And it looks pretty good on the birch top of the box, as well.

#woodworking #finishing #techniques

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