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About bois

  • Birthday 07/26/1972

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    Boston, MA
  • Woodworking Interests
    furniture design, marketing, finish techniques, blogging

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  1. Well, it is good to know people actually noticed when I was on hiatus. But I am in fact back in the shop shooting video. I spent some time making some upgrades to my video and audio setup too, so hopefully you'll start to see a higher quality in the production if not the output of my shop Next project is something I'm calling the Groove Project. But not for the reason you probably think. Stay tuned for a new series to launch in the next week or two!
  2. Also, don't sweat the layout too much. I start out by figuring out how many tails I want, and then use the ruler trick Canadian Bear mentioned to pick roughly the center of each tail. Then I just use my dovetail layout square to mark tails of the general width I want. I don't measure each tail or ensure each is perfectly centered, I just eyeball it. Part of what makes hand cut dovetails appealing is that they are imperfect and don't look like they were made with a machine.
  3. With a bigger humidor, you'll want to make sure you use joinery that will handle any expansion and contraction well. With 70% humidity inside the box, and potentially much less outside, you will want to make sure everything will stay snug and expand/contract without binding or breaking. With smaller boxes, typically all the grain goes in the same direction, and the parts aren't large enough to cause major issues but a bigger box, your tolerances need to be greater. I'd also suggest using a type II or even type III glue (waterproof) for the joinery to ensure the humidity doesn't cause problems over time.
  4. +1 on Boulter Plywood. They are only a few miles from me, so I buy most of my ply (especially bending ply) there. In general, buying online makes sense if you don't have a local dealer or sawyer, or if you're using a lot of exotics or the stock can be "commodity grade". But when I'm selecting lumber, I'm typically looking it over for a number of different characteristics that I just couldn't do online. Like how much rift versus flatsawn grain will I get, and how could I source my components out of it? Or could I work around a defect, or get away with resawing and slipmatching a board versus edge joining two? I rarely go to the yard with a shopping list rather than a finished product in mind. I also try to support local sawyers whenever possible. You can usually get air dried lumber in much wider and thicker sections, and you can often get flitch or sequential boards, which can be key for matching stock across a project. Not to say you can't get good stock online, but for projects that will require multiple boards where grain and color matching is critical, it may not be your best bet. But for smaller projects or where you need specialty exotics (I've bought rare sinker mahogany online) it may be your best or only bet. Just my 2 cents....
  5. Great work. And don't let anyone give you any crap about pin nails on a project like that
  6. bois

    stinky saw dust

    My favorite is ash. To me, it smells like fresh baked cookies when it's milled. Hard maple smells like pancakes, and white oak reminds me of a good chardonnay.
  7. The truth of the matter is that far too many woodworkers remove their blade guards and leave them off. They feel they get in the way, or it's too difficult to take it off or put it back on when switching back and forth from through and non-through cuts. The reality is, if you want to operate your table saw safely, you should have the guard and ideally a riving knife / splitter on for every cut that you can. The only reason to remove a guard "by necessity" is for non-through cuts like dados and rabbets, but these are typically safer cuts since there is less chance of kickback and there is less blade exposure. I make it a habit to always put the guard right back on my saw after making any of these cuts. If you get in the habit, you don't even have to think about it any more, it's just a natural thing to do. It helps to find a saw that makes it easier to put on and take off the guard but I'd suggest the trouble it takes to put on and take off any guard is nothing compared to the trouble of dealing with less than 10 digits.
  8. Man, I'm so glad I never posted any pics of my first woodworking project, definitely not in this same league. Very nice job on this, you should be proud. It looks like you ripped a single piece of maple to make up the two sides of the top "sandwich"? If so, that's a great detail that a lot of first time makers would have totally missed on. I might have looked for some straighter grain on the front apron, but that's a pretty small nit picky thing. I'd be curious how the front and sides of the bench are joined together. Are those dowels, or plugged screws? I'm thinking that would be the only way to do that joint, since M&T would not be an option in this configuration.
  9. The challenge I think, is that too often we have people come to us and say "hey, can you build something just like this" (pointing to page 37 of the latest Pottery Barn catalog). Nope, sorry. I'm all out of brown paint.
  10. This is a little bit of that age-old question of form versus function, no? I think the real answer lies in what your end-goal is. If you are building something for your own use, you can make that decision based on the use case. For instance, if you're building a child's toy box, you probably want to focus on a more utilitarian but bullet-proof design. But if the goal is to create something distinguished, and not purely utilitarian, my own philosophy is that design should always come first. It's easy to start constraining your design due to your design tools, your shop, techniques you're comfortable with, or familiarity with a style or form. I really enjoy the process of sketching up an original design, and then trying to figure out how to build it using sound joinery, materials, and methods. It does often force me to invest in a new tool or learn a new technique, but that's what keeps woodworking fun for me. And the end-result is a design without any compromises.
  11. I don't know about your part of the country, but anything around $9/BF for wide 8/4 walnut like that is a steal. If this stuff is air dried (which is appears to be) then it's even better. I'd be looking at closer to $20/BF in my area for something similar. Also, I wouldn't bother going out and getting a buscuit joiner for this. I've always found I get a better glue-up just by edge gluing and then using feel while clamping from one end to the next. My last project I did use dominos, and I found I didn't get any better results than when I glue up without an alignment aid.
  12. Using a film finish to fill the pores in walnut will work, but the downside to that approach is that it's extremely slow and labor intensive. You have to wait for the finish to fully cure (not just dry) before sanding. Then you would have to repeat the finish & sand cycle at least five or more times until you would really fill in the pores. Again, unless you are going for a satin or glossier sheen, that's not really necessary. But I've tried filling pores even with many many coats of shellac and it's simply a lot more work than it's worth. A good pore filler dries very quickly and doesn't shrink as it dries, making it a much faster and effective way of filling pores.
  13. Yep, the problem you're having is that you can't seal pores without a good film finish. Danish oil just won't do the trick, since it really won't build up and fill the pores. Secondly, a Danish Oil finish is typically used when you're looking for more of a "close to the wood" finish, rather than a thicker, higher polish result. Typically it's much more important to fill those pores with a film finish, since that's where it really looks odd. However, don't sweat the pore filling too much if you are going with a simpler oil or oil and varnish mix since the lower sheen won't expose the pores nearly as much. That being said, my personal treatment for walnut (with more of a film finish) is as follows: I start with several coats of BLO, allowing about a day or so between coats (wiping on with a rag and then wiping off the excess an hour or so later - no sanding needed). I'll then hit it with a wash coat of 1 lb. cut shellac. Then, to fill the pores I've had good success with a product called CrystaLac. This is a pore filler that dries completely clear, so it's useful for both a natural or dyed finish. I've found that three to four applications will fill even the deepest pores. It's a simple process of brushing the product on, squeegeeing off the excess, letting it dry, and then sanding (I think I used 400 grit). I then finish the piece off with several good coats of 2 lb. cut shellac, and then hand rub the finish up to whatever sheen I want (I usually go through two grits of pumice stone but stop short of rottenstone). This technique will get you a good grain-filled surface, and allows you to fine-tune the luster of your final finish. I personally think walnut looks a lot better with a film finish than an oil finish due to the pores (conversely I almost always use just oil on closed-pore species like cherry and maple). I did record a video on my blog not too long ago demonstrating some of this finish process on butternut (which has almost identical grain characteristics to walnut). You can check that out here: To see an example of my finish process on walnut, you can view my walnut writing desk.
  14. I sometimes string out caulk onto pieces of wax paper and let the strings dry. They peel right off the wax paper, and then can be put in the panel grooves and act much in the way space balls do (just a lot cheaper). Plus you can adjust the thickness of the caulk bead to suit the application. I too always pre-finish my panels, but if you're using something like cherry that darkens over time, you will still have a light/dark line to contend with if the panel does shift.
  15. This sounds like a pretty fun and interesting project. As long as the table top is thick enough (which is sounds like it is) and the legs are stout enough that there is a decent shoulder underneath, this should be a very solid and stable design. The key will be keeping the leg mortises far enough away from the edge of the top (especially on the end-grain side) to avoid having that wall blow out on you. I'd also argue against wedging the tenons, since no matter which way you orient the wedges they will either be pushing the grain apart (which is bad) or pushing against that thin wall of stock between the mortise and the end of the table. If you use rift-sawn stock for the legs, you won't have enough expansion or contraction (in relation to the top) to compromise the integrity of the joint. I wouldn't use this design for a taller table, since it definitely won't resist racking as much as a standard apron joint, but for a coffee table it should work just fine. I'm going to be experimenting a lot more with an apron-less table design in some upcoming projects so I look forward to seeing the finished piece!