Friday, May 31, 2013

Poliss-what Redux

As a way to fuel my obsession with woodworking, and in an attempt to offset my tool budget, I make and sell laminated cutting boards. Generally I just wipe on and wipe off my homemade super secret (not really) oil/wax finish. This produces a velvety surface that is very impressive when clients receive their cutting boards, but I find the finish generally lacking in the longevity department. I always provide a can of the wax paste for routine maintenance, but I am continually looking for ways to improve the quality and utility of my products. A while back I purchased several Polissoirs from Don Williams to try my hand at some traditional wax finishing techniques. After months of procrastinating, I finally put 'em to work.

To start out I melted down the oil and wax, lathered on a nice thick coat, and let it absorb into the wood for ten to fifteen minutes. Next, I dipped the Polissoir into the liquid wax, allowing the end of the straw to absorb the finish.

Marinating the Polissoir...I am not sure this was necessary.

I began burnishing the surface of the cutting boards using broad, quick strokes along the long grain of the wood. The wax had partially solidified on the surface of the wood, which provided a great...slurry?...with which to work into the pores of the wood. It was amazing how much wax I could burnish into the cutting boards.

Starting with a forwards-backwards stroke, speed and pressure seem to be important.

After the initial burnishing, the thin layer of wax had been completely absorbed. As a result I added some more wax, and burnished the surface again until it seemed that the surface was slick and the wax was no longer being absorbed. Notice I switched hands on the second round, this technique is tiring!

Half way through I switched to a side to side motion, still going along the long grain.

When my arm finally gave out I wiped the excess wax off and buffed the cutting board with a soft cotton rag. The finish was absolutely amazing. Instead of a velvety, delicate feel the cutting board was hard, shiny, and felt incredibly solid. Even The Boss said that it gave the boards a solid professional feel that they were lacking originally (kind of a back handed compliment if you ask me). I am hopeful that this finish will be much more robust in use, and I have made myself yet another cutting board to compare to my original finishing technique.

All in all I am incredibly impressed with the Polissoir, and I can't wait to try out various other techniques on more intricate works. Plus I always like to add another technique into my bag of tricks!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Curse You Internet!

The casting is clean, and Hock Tools has teamed up to make an Iron for the kit.

I was perusing Joel's blog over at Tools for Working Wood and he had a post about a great little smoothing plane kit that is based off an old Work magazine reprint. The kit comes from Sturnella Toolworks and seems to be a unique project that is hard to come by these days. I have always wanted to do an infill smoother (with compound dovetailed sides and sole), but this kit seems to offer a similar end result while actually having the prospect of getting finished, plus the price is right. Now all I have to do is convince The Boss that I need yet another tool kit...wish me luck.

PS. I am starting to think I should rename my blog to "The Clueless Iron Monger"...but it just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Too Many Tools, Too Little Time

For my birthday I received several awesome gifts from my very supportive friends and family. I asked for a set of joinery backsaws (dovetail and sash) and they delivered.

Looks like I will be practicing my saw wright skills in the future.

The only problem is that none of them have handles!!! Luckily my in-laws also got me a handle maker's rasp (I must talk way too much about my hobby at parties). Unfortunately I am starting my new job as a Plimoth Plantation Artisan, so I am extremely limited in time. This means that I will have to put off handle making for some time, or use the saws handleless getting my greasy mitts all over the nice bright blades.

Hand Stitched rasp made specially for shaping totes. It is toothed on the curved side and smooth on the back.

PS. I am very lucky that my job as a hand tool carpenter is getting in the way of my hobby of hand tool furniture construction, I guess I can't really complain.

PPS. As you can see from the photographs these tools came from Tools for Working Wood and their Gramercy Tool Line. This is my favorite hand tool company and I can't recommend them enough."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bitter Sweet

Today was the last day at my current job as a carpenter. It was a bitter sweet day, I am not leaving because I hated my job, or it wasn't paying enough, but rather to follow my passion of hand tool woodworking. Starting on Monday I will be an Historic Arts and Trades Artisan at Plimoth Plantation. This is truly an amazing opportunity, but it does mean that I had to leave my current position at a company that I truly enjoyed.

As a going away present, one of my coworkers gave me an old wooden fore plane. He hoped that I might be able to use it at my new position. It is truly a beautiful tool, and it seems to be a fine worker (once the iron gets a good honing).  I am anxious to put it to wood...but unfortunately I am starting the new job, commuting much farther than normal, fixing up the house to put on the market, and doing all the other normal stuff that goes with life, so I am very short on time. In the meantime it will serve as a badass knick knack, and a reminder of the great company and group of guys that I used to work for.