Blog

  • Featherston chair

    I'm very happy to have been able to work on this one. Although this is a later model Featherston, they really are an icon of mid-century Australian design.

    First up, turning the legs

    Oops, ah yes the joinery... the tenon was cut on the panel saw, then a small piece with the same angle was glued back into the top for turning. I thought it the quickest way for the angles on the back legs especially, as the legs are a bridle joint onto frame, this glued in piece will be cut out later on.

    Paring the inside of the sawn mortise / bridle to the correct, flat angle... back onto the lathe

    Rough spindle turned and ready for shaping.

    Using a parting tool I cut down to the required diameter for the base of the leg, this helps to define the overall taper.

    With the rear leg finished time for a test fit on the rail, looks pretty good.

    This is the half lap frame for the base. The cross half joint was cut by hand with a Japanese saw and fitted together with minimal need for paring with a chisel.

    Close up of the frame joinery.

    Sorry, no pics of the glue up, here it is all together.

    With the glue up complete, I fitted some period-correct corner blocks to help support the cross half joint.

    The base was sanded and stained to match that used on the original. A coat of danish oil and then a coat of hardwax oil was applied, much nicer than a lacquer in my opinion.

    Fitting the base to the seat, as you can see the next stage of restoration for this particular chair is some new upholstery.

    Finished! Another happy customer

  • Saw horses

    A couple of new items I made for the workshop, a pair of saw horses. Made from some leftover Victorian Ash (trade name for a couple of mountain eucalypt species) they are light yet very sturdy. The joinery is a mixture of half lap for the feet/uprights (cut quickly and accurately on the panel saw) and twin loose tenons for each of the remaining joints.

    Some people call this a Krenov style saw horse, named after the pair shown in James Krenov's book, The Fine Art of Cabinet Making.

    This style of saw horse allows for them to sit neatly together to save space, essential for smaller workshops.

  • Veneer sampling

    A client is interested in having some beside drawers made for them. They have several vintage pieces by local mid-century maker Gerald Easden and are looking for some drawers in a similar style to the the Easden pieces. Making the drawers is fairly straightforward, the challenge is in finding the right veneer, more specifically teak (Tectona grandis).

    Whilst teak comes from a few different asian countries, the teak associated with mid-century furniture was sourced mostly from Burma (now Myanmar). The problem with using Teak veneer and timber today is that from being excessively logged in the past it is now rather expensive, coupled with the amount of illegal logging today, the provenance of some timber/veneer can be a little iffy. I know some local sources of Teak will claim FSC certification however I'm a little skeptical of this, being told by one supplier that they could source any timber with ceritification, whether it was actually certified or not.

    So what options are there? There has been some interesting development of manufactured veneer, although its been around for some time its only recently been a viable alternative, both from a visual and price perspective.

    On to the sampling then...

    Real teak veneer, quarter sawn on the left... Finewood Ventech manufactured teak on the right

    Some makeshift veneer cauls, lined with clear tape to prevent the veneer from sticking.

    Glue on the mdf substrate, awaiting veneer and clamps

    Sample all clamped up

    Sample now out of clamps, cut down the middle and flipped so you can compare the two, manufactured teak on the left, real teak on the right

    ... sanded and oiled

    Not bad but might do a little more investigating into manufactured teak veneer options.

    To be continued.

  • Getting ready to turn Pt. 2

    About to turn some longer spindles / legs for a prototype, going to need a little something called a lathe steady. This useful lathe accessory helps support longer lengths on the lathe, so they don't vibrate or chatter. There are many designs for lathe steadys out there, most are borrowed from metal working and seem a bit of overkill for woodwork, here is a much simpler version that works just as well:

    The inner edge that supports the turned piece is lined with some leather offcuts I had lying around. Works like a charm

  • Getting ready to turn Pt. 1

    A day spent sharpening tools for the lathe, which meant making an new, simple grinding jig for my water-cooled grinder

    It looks simple and it is, but it does the job;

    Skew chisel, reground on the grinder and honed on 6000 grit sigma waterstone

    Roughing gouge reground, then honed with honing compound on a leather strop

    Sharp tools really do make all the difference.

  • Standing tall... again

    A Wegner Plank chair arrived from Denmark, with a badly damaged front leg poorly repaired it didn't take long for it to completely fall apart. Medium Rare was called upon by local mid-century dealers, Grandfathers Axe to make a new one, here are the results.

  • Veneer repair

    Veneer repair

    Finding some decent teak veneer for this repair was no easy task, but a little oil and some years in the sun and this veneer graph will warm up perfectly. 

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    A steady hand aways help when taking a scalpel to a piece like this.

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    Chipped veneer on corners, a commons sight on mid-century pieces

  • 7c9bf8c9e68b71fa-2013-09-09194115.jpg

    This Lovely Gerald Easden sideboard was lucky to be our first job in the new shop. Removing some stubburn water marks and sloppy veneer damage repair is just what the doctor ordered!