Wednesday, April 01, 2020

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frontpage “My Favorite Wood” Cherry Over Time.

For the last couple of years, I’ve worked primarily with hickory and walnut because those are the woods I’ve chosen for furnishing my cabin, but I truly love cherry. About four years ago I built a pub-style table and chairs. After just a few years it has turned a beautiful deep red color, and it gets prettier every day.

The cherry trees used to build furniture are actually black cherry trees (Prunus serotine). They produce fruit, but it’s pretty bitter. They grow pretty tall (70 feet) compared to the flowering cherry trees that only grow to about 35 feet. The black cherry tree has fine grain with closed pores making it easy to work with (Woodsmith 8). For a hardwood, it is actually pretty soft—it cuts easily. It is second only to oak as the most popular wood furniture manufacturing in the U.S. (Arno “Cherry” 64). It is much easier to work with than oak.

Read more: 7 May 2018 My Favorite Wood

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frontpage “Making a Crosscut” Miter Saw or Tablesaw.

Many of the Youtube makers I watch use a miter saw to make most of their crosscuts. I actually recently purchased a Jet compound sliding miter saw, but I use it primarily for cutting down rough stock. I use my tablesaw for most crosscuts. I feel like I get a more accurate cut that is easily repeatable with a stop block.

I usually use an aftermarket miter gauge from Inca. It is an excellent choice, but I also use a crosscut sled I built after watching Marc Adams’s “Tablesaw Techniques” posted on It is an excellent series, and he has a simple way to square up the sled.

Read more: 23 Apr 2018 Making a Crosscut

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frontpage “A New Look at An Old Finishing Technique” Shellac as an Alternative to Oil Based Finishes.

Up until a few months ago, I had one go-to finish. In a previous blog, I wrote about using a three even-part blend of polyurethane, mineral spirits, and boiled linseed oil. I apply it as a wiping varnish increasing the ratio of polyurethane with each additional coat. This is a great solution, and I’ll likely still rely on it for many projects, but I’m adding another option to my finishing solutions—shellac—primarily because it is fast, easy and reasonably priced. Waiting for each coat of my oil blend to dry takes days, so I started using shellac to speed up the process.  

According to Mario Rodriguez, “Shellac gets a bad rap for durability…” (Rodriguez 38). However, the great thing about shellac is it can act as a seal coat (dewaxed only) for any finish. Therefore, I can put an oil-based finish on top. Use only DEWAXED shellac as a seal coat. “Since dewaxed shellac bonds beautifully with every other finish, you can always follow it up with a wipe-on varnish to protect vulnerable surfaces” (Rodriguez 38).

Read more: 8 Apr 2018 Old Finishing Technique

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frontpage “Loose Tenon Joinery"

Vs Traditional Mortise & Tenon.

Loose Tenons, a joint that uses a separate piece of wood as the tenon inserted into mortises cut into both pieces of wood to be joined, have gotten a lot of attention over the past several years particularly after Festool came out with the Domino in 2006, a tool that creates both mortises to receive a factory-made tenon known as a Domino. There are certainly a lot of opinions on the topic in the woodworking community. I guess it must be time for mine.

Many purists insist on sticking with the traditional mortise and tenon. It has been one of the most popular joints in furniture building since—well, pretty much since the beginning of furniture building. I’m clearly not a purist because I love loose tenon joinery. I first fell in love with it after I saved up enough money to buy a Festool Domino (yes, I saved for a long time). I couldn’t justify buying both the regular one and the XL, so I bought only the small one (it was cheaper).  With my largest tenon/Domino only being, 10x50x24mm (~3/8”x2”x1”), I often found myself in situations where the little Dominos weren’t going to provide the strength, necessary and safe for the piece of furniture I was building. But I wanted the ease and speed of the loose tenon joinery.

Read more: 15 March 2018 Loose Tenon Joinery

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