Archive: » 2019 » October

First 30-60-90 Brass Triangle Finished

Given the prominence of 60-degree angles in the worlds of parquetry and Roubo benches, during the “Making Roubo Squares” workshop earlier this summer I made a couple of 30-60-90 brass triangles, as did the participants after I demonstrated the lesson they learned in seventh grade Geometry class: the hypotenuse is exactly twice the length of the base of this right triangle.

I finally got my first one ready for battle, albeit without the decorative flourishes I had been wanting.  I simply did not have the time at present but car return to add them when I do get the time.

I soldered on the lip for the base, then just cleaned up all the edges and surface and it was ready for action.

Get to work, you triangle you!

Painting the Gragg Chair

With the sanding putty smoothed I concocted the top coat of paint and applied three coats of it.  The base for this paint was 2 parts Zinsser oil-based primer and one part gloss Pratt and Lambert 38 varnish, tinted with yellow ochre powder pigments to match the color I wanted.  The remaining historic Gragg chairs have a range of base coloration somewhere in the same zip code, and it is pretty much the chromatic neighborhood where my chairs will reside as long as I make them.

The combination of flat primer and gloss varnish yielded a nice satin surface, smooth enough for further work but with just enough tooth to hold the pinstriping and peacock feather decoration yet to come.

Stay tuned.

Cockroach’s Cousins

The regular(?) routine of life in Shangri-La has been disrupted in recent weeks after we received theses pictures and note from our daughter in Maryland just as we were heading out for a week in the Midwest.

There is this strange dust on the sill of a [35-year-old] window the living room…

My heart sank as even then I knew what I would find on our return.

Interestingly it seems as though the entrée for this window section was through the lock unit.

(The irony is that my demo at Groopshop was “Dealing with insect infestation in furniture.”)

I immediately ripped off the outer trim and saw this.  Oiy.  I could actually see a vigorous livestock community moving around.  I immediately doused all available surfaces with a decaborate/glycol solution to excess, headed for home to load up the necessary tools and order the needed supplies.

I did not have this month’s worth of work factored into my calendar, but it needs to be done.   I’m already about halfway through.  We already knew the cedar shingle panel siding needed replacement, it was almost 35 years old after all, but not necessarily this year.  Well, it turns out this year is it.

Veneer Repair Video – 8

The eighth of the series we filmed a year ago, in which I trim and fit the infill precisely to make the patch nearly invisible.

Hang in there. I think there are only a handful of episodes yet to go!




Priming The Gragg Chair

Finally comes the time for priming the Gragg chairs, the foundation for the decoration to come.  In my earlier Gragg exercises I used a gesso base followed by pigmented shellac, but that was before the technical analysis of the original Gragg paint was conducted.  This analysis revealed his work to be almost entirely executed in oil paint.  I have revised my current procedures to reflect that newer knowledge.

My scheme for the early finishing schedule is roughly as follows:

Fill the most egregious voids with putty. I made my own putty my mixing some of the oil primer with additional whiting until I got a thick paste.

After sanding off any excess putty, prime the surface with a solid coat of Zinsser shellac-based white primer.

Once that primer coat is dry, apply two coats of Brushing Putty from Fine Paints of Europe.  I tinted this with a little yellow ochre.

Once these two coats are fully dried, sand the surface completely with 120 sandpaper.

Finally, apply two coats of flat white oil paint strongly tinted with dry yellow ochre pigment.  Somehow I failed to get a picture of this final prep, or it is on my other camera.

Unfortunately, due to the competition between my calendar and Chris’ calendar we did not get these steps on video camera.  We will have to film it on the next chair.

Ironic Tyranny of Time(liness)

Last year when we were having the driveway rebuilt up to and slightly past the barn, I indicated a desire to have a small parking pad next to the barn for students and visitors.  “No hurry”, I says, “just fit it in whenever you get a free day.”  Then, after months of consideration a couple weeks ago I announced my contemplation to reduce or even eliminate workshops at the barn.

So of course yesterday was that “free day” for the contractor and they showed up with a truckload of gravel and the equipment to move it around.  Whether I need it or not, now I have visitor parking at the barn.

Actually even if I do not have students it will make a splendid staging area for cutting and splitting firewood.

Groopshop 2019

I recently attended and spoke at Groopshop 2019, about 25 miles southeast of Minneapolis on our friend Matt’s farm.  I do not recall the finally tally of attendees but I’m estimating about 60 folks convened for three days of intense fellowship and exchanging of knowledge and ideas related to the furniture restoration enterprise.

My talks were on the topics of insect eradication in infested wooden objects (video recorded en toto and certainly to make it to the interwebz at some point) and toolmaking, especially low tech tool making as part of the restorer’s art.

Topics for the other presentations and demonstrations included the far-flung topics of Wood Finishing Terminology, Custom/Production guitar Finishing, Repairing Metal Hardware, Leather Repair, Museum Upholstery, Polishing Out Finishes, Reactive Colorants In/On Wood, History and Technology Of Aerosols, Government Regulations for Refinishing Shops, and many more.

The sessions were interspersed with eating and small groups congregating, and I look forward to our next gathering.  A truly grand time was had by all.

Since its beginning Groop has been a moderated email forum but we learned that on Jan 1 it transitions into a private Facebook discussion group.

 

The Gragg Chair Challenge

Now that the construction of the first Gragg chair is finished and the second one close behind, I got to thinking again, “Could I offer a workshop in building one of these?”  Since I have never built one start-to-finish uninterrupted I simply do not know.  Up to this point when working on these chairs I was constrained by the realities of video recording as I had to make sure my work was presented to the camera and my running commentary was comprehensible to a viewer.  So, how quickly could I work without consideration of the camera nor pretending to be a friendly soliloquist?

Some time over the next couple months I am likely to find out as I undertake the making of one while “on the clock,”  talking only to myself with an endless stream of criticism.

I believe that the only way to get one built in six days would be for students to start with all the necessary parts and with  complete set of jigs.  That is where I shall begin on some upcoming Monday morning.  Then, with a time lapse camera running, I will see if I can get one constructed in five days.  If I can, I would think a student could do it in six.

The workshop could not begin with a tree, as I do with the chairs I’m building, and not even with the raw riven material.  Nor could it begin with steam bending all the parts, although that would be covered and demonstrated one-on-one with each student in a staggered schedule.  The raw stock takes too much time to prepare for this context and the bent pieces need too much time settling down ex poste for this to be a realistic starting point so I would by necessity have all the stock prep and bending done in advance.  However if it goes much faster than I am estimating I could enfold some of that by-passed content into a real syllabus.

I’m thinking my exercise will take place in late November or early December of this year.  Wish me luck.  If I do get the chair built in five days, working 9-6 with a lunch break, I will feel more confident in offering a six-day workshop in autumn 2020 for four students to come and build their own.

Wish me luck.  I will be providing a daily update on the progress as the challenge unfolds.