Chip Sawdust

Stringing, Fluting, Beading and such

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While I really like the Greene and Greene look, and have now made several pieces in that style, I'm now quite intrigued by the Federal style of fourniture, with its stringing and inlays. While I think inlays are somewhat beyond my dexterity level, I think stringing and Fluting are right in my wheel well, so to speak. 

To that end, I started researching tools panda methods to accomplish this. Steve Latta is the renowned expert in the world of these things, and there are many others. Latta has gone in with Lie-Nielson and has a beautiful set of tools available for the better part of $400. As a beginner, hobbyist, where there's no money to be made I hesitate to spend that much on a lark. 

However, Lee Valley sells Fluting blades and you can get eight or so for $30, and LN sells stringing sizing blades, a set of two for $15 (possibly the cheapest thing on their site).  So I bought a set of each from each vendor, and proceeded to make my own holders.

Garrett Hack has some videos and articles in FWW about stringing, so I made one of his tools, and another article by an ther out for has a different holder, so I made some of those as well.

Anyone who has experience in this area I'd be glad to know a few things. I see holly used as stringing, but I have easy access to maple so plan to use that. Any problems there? Pitfalls? 

I've searched this site but found not much about the actual making and use of stringing. So here's my spot where I'll out a few things.

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This is supposed to look like Hack's holder, I need to make a custom blade for string grooves, which I can do with the LV blades, since they all have one end that's just straight.

 

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I tried a few bits in pine and white oak. I figured the soft pine would be a bugger, but it's just Fluting and it worked well for my first attempt. The oak was a small, thin pièce but it worked well enough after I had a few strokes in. This seems easy enough so far.

I forgot to take pics of the pine...

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I don't know very much about string inlay.  I have seen a demo once--a guy in our flatwork club does it.  He makes all his own tools including blades so you're in good company.  I think the reason holly is used is the lack of grain and the very light color.  There may be other properties?  But it does seem to be the go to wood.

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I have the LN beading tool and blades and I've used it for fluting a couple of times. It works well to establish the profile but once I've reached a certain depth, it became difficult to use or too slow. I ended up holding the tiny blade with my fingers for those final passes, playing with the angle, it worked fine.

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That’s great input Immortan, thanks. I found (so far) with the multitude of holders I have that I can experiment with pressure and angle, etc. Holding the blade by hand never occurred to me! So I’ll keep that in mind :) 

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You tools look like they should work fine.   I have never done any string inlay, but have replaced a lot of parts on reeded mantles in old houses I've worked on.  I have an old Stanley beading/reeding tool that the brass LN one is based on.  It didn't come with any cutters when I found it, so I ordered cutters from both LN, and LV.  I like the LV ones best.  I sharpen them flat on my water stones to a high polish.

The tool I ended up liking the best, and using the most is Lee Valley's, cheaper than their fancy tool, wooden beading tool.  It's light enough to feel what the cutter is doing.  You can vary the angle of the cutter any amount you want to, and you can bead farther from the edge than with the Stanley type.  

Here's a link to it.  The cutter I have used the most is the 3/16" multiple reeding cutter.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?cat=1&p=32679

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I made one of these a while back when it showed up in Wood or FWW or somewhere.... I made the cutter from a broken kitchen knife. It will work as a string cutter too :) 

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It has a pretty long "arm" on it so I can make cuts way deeper than I'll ever need to. But with a pin in the far end of the dowel it could be a pivot tool as well.

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5 hours ago, Tom King said:

I sharpen them flat on my water stones to a high polish.

Can you write more about that? When you say you "sharpen them flat" do you mean the edge is at 90 degrees to the face, with no burr? When you say you use water stones that suggests to me that you sharpen the flat face rather than the thin edge. Does the edge not need to be sharpened also?

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13 hours ago, Wood Basher said:

Can you write more about that? When you say you "sharpen them flat" do you mean the edge is at 90 degrees to the face, with no burr? When you say you use water stones that suggests to me that you sharpen the flat face rather than the thin edge. Does the edge not need to be sharpened also?

I’ll take a shot at an answer...

The idea there is to lay the blades flat on your stone and get a good polish on them. Having a smooth cutting surface on the profile is a bit of a challenge, but shiny flat faces help the cutting action. You can polish the profiles with shaped stones or a very fine Swiss file (I use both).

You also drag the edge, where you reasonably can, on the stone to get a squared-up cutting edge. They’re not so much like a scraper card where you burnish it after squaring it up. I tried this set right out of the bag and they worked fine; a little tune-up will make them better :) 

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20 hours ago, Chip Sawdust said:

I made one of these a while back when it showed up in Wood or FWW or somewhere....

FWW issue #261 May/June 2017 for anyone interested. I have the parts but haven't made mine yet, but its on the list ;)

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17 hours ago, Wood Basher said:

Can you write more about that? When you say you "sharpen them flat" do you mean the edge is at 90 degrees to the face, with no burr? When you say you use water stones that suggests to me that you sharpen the flat face rather than the thin edge. Does the edge not need to be sharpened also?

Yes, it's as simple as it sounds.  Just did both sides, the same as the back of a chisel, or plane iron.  I used number drill bit shanks, wrapped with some fine polishing film for inside the rounded part of the reeding cutter, but after I got into the job, just keeping the sides lapped was all that was needed.

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So I now have the LN radius cutter with extensions, a 4000 Dremel, a StewMac base, a cheap stringing cutter (one I found Latta talk about in a sheet of tool requirements for his students), a 3-10 Pfeil gouge for trimming and cleanup, some extra xacto blades, what else....? It was like a little Christmas shower of tools at my house! 

Now i just need time to get it all out there, do some practice, get the right bits for inlay work, make a string cutting fence, things like that. I also want to make the cutting blades for my hand-held tools (as opposed to using the Dremel). 

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I plan on building a curved front desk, which calls for a border inlay on the top. But now I want to go a little farther, even though I haven’t actually glued any stringing yet, and do some work on the stretchers. So I started this layout; we’ll see how this transfers to a scrap piece of alder. I think I’ll build the desk out of alder so what the heck...

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The actual product is on the white paper above my t-square; the desk won’t have triangles and other lines all over it :) 

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I ordered just the blades for a string sizing tool from LN but they’ve back-ordered them for three weeks (so far). I think if I ordered their tool I’d have it already, but I can make to fixture for them in 20 minutes, and I’m sure they know that. They sell the blades for $15 but the tool is a bunch more ($65) so I think the $50 is good wages for my hobby :) 

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Looking good so far!  I'm sure you'll figure out many little details that work for you.  The thing I like about doing this is that you have to strive for perfection at every step.

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That’s true Tom; planning takes as long as doing!

One thing Latta said was stringing gives the eye more form to follow, but in doing that it invites closer inspection. So yeah, there’s small error margin. That said, he also said there’s a bit of fudge factor in it as well, which I am finding is there, yet in small tolerances. 

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On 3/8/2019 at 6:52 AM, Immortan D said:

I'm looking at the LN-Latta stringing kit... man, that's pricey!

Yeah and while I can spend money on tools like a madman, I’m trying to go cheaper here. I only bought their radiusing tool and the extensions that go with it. That was about $100 shipped. 

But the rest I’m doing as much homemade as possible, including making a cutting blade out of an old kitchen knife. That’s what I made my marking blade out of and it seems to hold an edge. We shall see :) 

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