Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pots in Process: Garlic Bulb Bud Vases by Mary Ober

A quick "inside the studio look" at one of my new projects; the garlic bulb bud vase:

Bud vase forms that have been thrown on the wheel and trimmed with a rounded bottom  
Each form is sectioned off and molded by hand by a series of adjustments to the form

A few roots are added, and the top is cut and adjusted....
The finished pieces are left to dry before firing.

See one of the first of these Garlic Bulb Bud Vases here:

And watch for their arrival on Main St. at Artistic Roots!

Posted By:
Mary Ober

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tiger Maple Chest of Drawers -- Part 3 of 3 -- Eric Johnson's Furniture

Hello again,

It is time to finish up this project.  This is the third part in the 7-drawer chest of drawer trilogy.
In part two, I described dovetailing the drawer dividers into the case sides.  I am going to skip over the dovetailing of the drawers because it will make a good subject for another blog.  So, I will begin with the molding.
 molding and joinery
A few years ago, I had this molding profile custom made by Custance Brothers Woodworking in Ashland, NH.  I brought them a molding design I wanted and they cut the knife for me.  Now it’s very simple.  I just bring them some wood and they run it through their shaper using my custom-made knife.  It comes back to me almost ready for a finish.  This is really saying something, because most of the time I use tiger maple and as you probably know, tiger maple can be very chippy.  I highly recommend them if you need molding, architectural millwork, or other related projects.  Check out their website.

Next comes the “best” part—sanding, sanding, sanding.  I have a drum sander that I run just about all my wood through as I am building.  However, at this stage there are scratches and dings that happened as the piece was being built.  Because I run 150 grit paper on the drum sander, I am able to start with 150 grit sand paper on my random orbital.  I start with my 6” sander and then I go to my 5” sander.  The reason I do this is because my Porter Cable 6” leaves very noticeable orbital scratches and my Dewalt 5” doesn’t.  The 6” sands very aggressively and fast, so it’s nice to use on large flat surfaces.  In the picture, I am sanding the molding.  I know I said it doesn’t need much but once I glue it onto the case, I need to make sure the corners look good and sand out wherever glue squeezed out.
Once I am sure I have all the scratches and glue squeeze out taken care of, I move on to the finishing steps.  This is kind of a scary step because it is difficult to recover from any mistakes.  I often will wipe the whole thing down with paint thinner to hopefully show any imperfections.  Once that is dry, I sometimes will wipe the whole thing down with water because I want to swell any long scratches that I may have overlooked.  If there are any, I will circle the scratch with pencil sand it out once it is dry.  Finally, if I can’t put it off any longer, I will mix up my dye mixture and spray it onto the piece.
 applying dye

I don’t worry about the quality of the spray; I am just flooding it onto the project.  I spray a section such as the top and then I will wipe off the excess.  I do this over the whole piece, inside and out.  I know this sounds like a lot, but it is easy and fairly forgiving. 

A few years ago I wrote a blog about my finishing procedure, so I won’t go into much detail here.  If you are interested you can read it here

Here are the steps I use.  Step one, I spray on the color and wait for it to dry.  Step two, once dry; I flood on a coat of boiled linseed oil.  I will let that dry overnight.  Step three; in the morning I will flood on a coat of thinned spar varnish. This seals the oil in and creates a barrier between oil and lacquer.  After about 20 minutes, I wipe off the excess finish.  I let this dry overnight as well.  Step four; I spray two coats of nitrocellulose lacquer then lightly sand with 400-grit sandpaper using water and soap as a lubricant.  Once this is done, I will wipe the whole thing down with mineral spirits again.  Step five; once the mineral spirits is dry, I spray another 3 or 4 coats of lacquer.  I let this dry for a couple of days, then I rub out the finish using the method I described in the other blog mentioned above.

I also finish the drawers.  I know some very good woodworkers who don’t, but I have never heard a good argument to support their viewpoint.  I use shellac and I apply it with a foam brush.  I use just two coats and then rub it out with 400-grit sandpaper.  I wax the sides so that the drawer slides nicely.
After the piece is all done I now add all the runners and back stretchers.  By waiting until now to assemble the interior, I am able to make the inside look as good as the outside.  To me this is important and a source of pride.  I really like the clean look of the interior and the contrast of the primary wood and secondary wood.

chest of drawers interior 

Well, that is it.  I hope this has been informative.  I know many of you are not furniture makers and won’t be building anything this involved.  I also know that many of you enjoy custom, reproduction and antique furniture.  I write this in hopes that you will come away with an appreciation of what goes into building a piece like this.  Some custom furniture makers out there have a feeling that I am giving away trade secrets and that’s hurting our cause.  I don’t believe this to be true at all.  I believe the more information that is out there about hand made anything; the more people will be interested in what we do.   I believe Norm Abrams has done a lot for custom woodworkers in getting people interested and somewhat knowledgeable about what is involved with woodworking and with that knowledge, folks can better appreciate fine craftsmanship. 

tiger maple chest of drawers
Thanks again for stopping by.  As always, if you have any questions or comments leave them in the comment section and I will do my best to address them.
Until next time,
Campton, NH

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Eric Johnsons furniture now on facebook / contest

Well, we have finally done it!  We have ventured into the world of Facebook.  It isn't that we think there is anything wrong with Facebook.  In fact, it is a GREAT way to find out just how you are going to look at your high school reunion compared to everyone else!  However, to some of us, it is just so doggone confusing!  So if you will bear with us as we figure out how to use it, we will reward you with a chance to win something! 
For the summer months (June through August) if you "Like" us on Facebook we will enter your name to win an 8" shelf clock similar to the one shown below:
Eam clock 1

Until next week,
Eric and Debbie Johnson
Campton, NH  03223

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cherry Trestle Table by Eric Johnson's Furniture

Hello again, Here is a picture of a trestle table that I recently completed.  I really enjoyed this project because it allowed me an opportunity to do some things I don't do very often such as through wedge tenons.  This project was also a bit different because I didn't have to supply the wood.  The customers had some cherry that was cut from their property and had milled up a few years ago.  They had been storing the wood up in the loft of the workshop and it was plenty dry for this a table.

This next picture shows the wedge mortise and tenon joint that I used for the trestle-to-post joint.  The key to this type of joinery is that you have to angle the mortise at the top and bottom from the outside to the inside.  (If I get anybody posting a comment who doesn't understand what I am saying here, I will post a drawing of what I mean.)  On the through tenon I needed to cut a kerf on the band saw before I put the joint together.  Once the joint is glued and slipped into place I tap in some wedges with glue until the joint is locked into place.  A word of caution here.  You need to have this joint just the way you want it and really be ready to have this part glued together because once this joint is done there is no way you are taking it apart.  That's the beauty of this joint--once done, it won't ever give out or fall apart.  It is completely locked in.
 .    IMG_1064
Below shows the breadboard end.  This is a pretty important part of the table in that the breadboard will help to keep the table end flat.  Being that the overhang is about 12 inches, the top may have a tendency to cup.  The joinery that I use is a pegged mortise and tenon joint.  You can see the pegs that I used in the picture.  When you do this joint, there is one very important step you have to keep in mind because if you don't, your table top will develop a couple of huge cracks down the length of the top.  You have to let the top expand and contract with the different seasons.  The way you do this is not glue the mortise and tenon together.  How will it hold together you say?  Well that is what the pegs are for.  Your mortises have to be oversize and the peg holes through the tenon have to be elongated so the table will move within the joinery.  One additional step I use is a draw-bore peg.  This is an off-center hole in the tenon that, when I drive in the peg, it actually draws the breadboard tighter to the table.  This ensures that the joint won't open up at some point in the future.


 Here is a picture of the legs.  You will notice that it is laminated together.  This isn't because I didn't have thick wood to use.  I did this because it is stronger.  If you look at the grain in the legs, you will notice that with this design there is an awful lot of short grain that could snap fairly easily if some one was to jump on the table.  By laminating, the grain from one board actually strengthens the other one.  I would bet that two people could tap dance over the legs and it would hold just fine. 


Here is a picture of the underside.  You can see the design of the stretcher that is attached to the top, as well as the pegged mortise and tenon joints where the post attaches to the feet.

It was a great project and I appreciated the opportunity to do it!  This table is a great example of custom furniture fulfilling the needs of a customer better than something from a traditional furniture store.  Not only is the table full of hand work and traditional joinery that will insure that the table can last generation, the customers got to have a table made using their own wood--wood that came from their property.  When the day comes that their kids inherit the table, it will be just that much more special.
Again, if you have any suggestions for a blog topic or have any questions regarding this blog, please feel free to post it in the comment section.  Also, please email me if you have a special project in mind that you would like to work together on.
Until next time
Eric Johnson's Furniture