Category Archives: Wood Creations

Cornucopia carving

The completed cornucopia carving

My on-line carving instructor, Mary May, created a cornucopia project prior to Thanksgiving, 2017. I did not finish my rendition in time for the annual feast, but enjoyed the process. 

Early stages as I define the outer edges. First with V-chisel and then variety of gouges.

Basswood was used for its workability. After the relief carving was completed I gave it a light spray of shellac and then “colorized” using diluted acrylic paints for a wash effect.

The result was interesting. Not sure if I prefer the natural look or the painted version. From a distance the painted version can almost look like a mere painting, whereas left natural it is more obviously carved.

This was a fun and relatively easy project.

Penny Collector Frame, finished

The Penny Collector poster nestled into its new home.

The Penny Collector poster is ready for hanging in my office. I carved a simple Buhl-diamond on the backside of the top rail with V-gouge. Then finished with multiple, thin coats of Tru-Oil finish. I may take the sheen down a bit after it is fully cured with light 0000 steel wool buffing  or I may leave it as is. Time will tell. I found out about Tru-Oil from the BenchCrafted blog []. Jameel’s blog and BenchCrafted are at the top of my list for insights and inspiration.

Cherry plywood for backer

I wanted to make the backer from material on hand. Made one using left-over teak plywood. Liked the look (not that it will matter facing the wall), but the board had severe cup which would stress the hardware holding it in place. Oh, btw, I used two figure-eight connectors for that task.

Next I dug out some cherry plywood left over from one earliest projects (before I swore off plywood). The figure is not particularly pleasing, but it will amuse the spiders as they spin their webs in the dark.

The glass was cut to size (12 x 18) at my local glass shop and placed along with the poster and backer into position. Then it was photo time.

If you missed part one of this short series, this letterpress poster was from Carrie Elkin [] as part of her Kickstarter campaign for THE PENNY COLLECTOR.

Penny Collector Frame, p2 – Glue up and repairs

Epoxy time

We left the last post with a destroyed lower rail. Before attempting a patch, I felt it necessary to stabilize that rail from the back side. Flowed lots of West Systems epoxy into the rotted areas, but did not attempt to level the surface. Once cured I sanded any epoxy above the rail’s plane.

Drawing rail shapes

I drew a curve for the upper rail as well as angled ends of each rail then blended those with rounded corners. Cut the angles and curves at the bandsaw and cleaned up with rasps and sanding. I also drilled a shallow hole which will have a shiny penny placed once everything is complete. 

Dry fit test. Shows hole for penny and the destruction to the right side of the lower rail.

Here you can see the consequence of the destruction. My material supply was pretty limited but I found a piece to create a full-width patch. After gluing the frame I routed a shallow rabbet to capture the patch. When gluing the patch in place I did not notice it had slipped away from the cavity. I used liquid hide glue so was able to apply water and prying to remove the patch.

Patch number two

However, the fragile patch did not survive. Next I made a patch of two separate pieces which matched each other pretty well, though not as well at the ledge as my first attempt. Glued those into place while paying better attention this time. The patch was sanded level with the ledge of original material and edges cleaned up. 

After a final sanding it was time to begin finishing. Jameel of BenchCrafted had blogged of Tru-Oil a while back. I tried it for one of my Esherick-style music stands and liked the look. No sure I would do a large piece that way. But this would be a good opportunity give it another look. 

Next up: Putting it all together

Sculpted Walnut Stool – Leg Joinery

Material for the legs

Material was selected for the legs and roughly cut  at the band saw. At this stage I am looking to create reference surfaces for the legs while leaving as much material as possible for future shaping. 

One of the front leg sticks had punky area at the bottom which I hoped would be outside of the finished area. However, my confidence diminished as I pondered the process, so I chose another stick to work with. It had its own issues, but I will not know the outcome until further along the process.

Hand plane a flat and perpendicular edge for joinery

I jointed the rear legs enough to have reference faces, then used a hand plane to create a flat and perpendicular area for the joinery. Dadoes were cut on the table saw to fit notches at the rear of S3.  When a tight fit was achieved, a round over was cut at the router table. The round over and dadoes match the notches and rabbets on S3.

Dry assembly (sans back support)

Front legs were similarly created other than this joint is less secure, being  only captured on two sides (rather than three on the rear legs). Cutting those dadoes and round overs only required one good corner. After test fitting, the entire stool was dry assembled for a photo op. Not so elegant at this stage, but the foundation has been laid.

Sculpted Walnut Stool – Seat Joinery

I cut the bevels the opposite of my intentions and the clear chalk marks. How does that happen? Life mysteries.

S3 and outer edge of S2 and S4 receive bevels to roughly create a deep saddle. Like any prudent craftsperson, I marked the bevel orientation with highly visible chalk marks and then proceeded to ignore those markets. Cutting the bevels opposite my intended orientation. A solution was to flip the underside to the topside. Besides the grain being different than I had chosen, the new top side has a large funky area that I had determined would be a non-issue on the underside. Hopefully, it does not go deeper than my planned sculpting. This is not the first time I’ve messed up bevels. I guess bevels at the table saw befuddle my brain.

Notches for leg joinery cut at rear of S3 with dado stack

S2 and S4 also receive the bevels on the outer edges. Those went as planned. Notches for the saddle joints at the rear of S3 and forward, outer corners of S1 and S5 were cut with the dado stack. The S3 notches required holding the workpiece vertical, however the generous flat combined with thick stock made this feel secure enough for my standards. The dado stack was set up for 3/8-inch bites so I nibbled to the layout lines.

After the notches were cut I used a rabbeting bit at the router table to create shoulders matching leg dimensions. The seat segments were oriented and marked for floating tenons. Those tenons are made from 3/8 x 1 x 2 inches Baltic Birch plywood. [Note: 3/8-inch plywood is less than 3/8 inch thick, so I used 1/2-inch thick ply and reduced to 3/8 inches using the power planer.] 

Mortises for floating tenons on seat segments

Mortises were cut with a 3/8-inch spiral uncut bit. A jig would be appropriate, but I chose to balance the router on the workpieces as best I could. Those on perpendicular edges were captured flush on the Moxon vise for solid support. The bevel edges were trickier. I did the first ones using the end vise and battens. Subsequent ones were placed proud in the Moxon which felt more secure and at a better work height for the task. The mortises were squared up with a chisel and the seat dry assembled with floating tenons and a rough shape was drawn with black marker.

Next up are the legs.


Sculpted Walnut Stool – Beginnings

Walnut slab broken down for easier hauling and handling

In 2013 I built a sculpted stool based on Charles Brock’s Bow Tie plans. It has received many positive comments over the years. Now I am revisiting that project as a gift for a friend. I found a large slab of walnut at Santa Barbara’s Rob Bjorklund operates this business high in the Santa Ynez foothills along the old pass road. You may wish to use the link to learn more about his operation.

I was able to find the components in the longer/narrower sub-slab. The many artifacts including extensive worm holes may cause me to change the selections as I cut into the material. We shall see. Worm holes can be small on the surface and lead to major cavities as you dig further.

Stool with lumbar support, 2013

This “simple” stool [photo on left is the first version] consists of four legs, a seat and a back rest. Easy. But the joinery is more complex than traditional mortise and tenons or dovetails. Then the fun part is sculpting. I will finally be able to use my Claire Minihan travisher that has patiently awaited its first serious mission.

I marked the components then used a jig saw for rough cuts. When possible they are well over-sized to allow adjustments. These elements were further cleaned up at the band saw. 

First up is the seat consisting of five elements. One face and one edge were jointed. The center seat section (S3) was too wide for my six-inch jointer so I jointed it with some overhang. That proud material was brought to jointed face level with hand plane. A power planer let me create flat reference faces and the table saw used to rip the opposing edges. To save material I did not make the faces perfect, just clean enough to work on the joinery. There is no need for super clean surfaces with all the shaping to follow.

After this milling I restaged the seat components and identified orientations for subsequent steps.

Chestnut Stool – Stretchers

mark draw bore hole location
mark draw bore hole location

The stretchers will be draw bored into the leg mortises. The legs and stretchers are clamped into position (dry fit), then a drill bit is tapped through the leg holes to mark location of tenon hole. The stretcher tenons have holes for draw bore pegs drilled 1/16 inch closer to the shoulder than the mark made with drill bit earlier. This allows the pegs to create a tight fit.

Next the face of the stretcher is beveled using the band saw with the table tilted. The edges are then rounded over using rasps and sandpaper.

Next up: shaping the legs

Chestnut Stool – Stretchers

The stretchers are dry fit to legs.
The stretchers are dry fit to legs.

Stretchers were resawn from the two inch thick Chestnut at the band saw then ripped to rough width at the table saw. Tenon shoulders were cut at the table saw using angles to fit the dry assembled legs. Not all were identical. In hindsight, it would have been better to cut uniform angles and make them work, by tweaking the leg to seat tenons. Wedging the leg to seat tenons would take care of any required “adjustment.”

Initial tenon cheek cuts were made at the band saw, then completed (angled) by hand. Tenons were further refined with shoulder plane to fit leg mortises and dry assembled.

Next up: draw bore holes for stretcher tenons.

Chestnut Stool – Leg Tenons & Seat Mortises

Final tenon cheek cuts are made to the layout lines.
Final tenon cheek cuts are made to the layout lines.

Legs are kept generously long after milling for them to be proud of the seat surface. This also allows the final bottom cuts to be delayed until final test fitting. Tenons are marked on all sides indicating the compound angles.

Initial tenon cheek cuts are made at the band saw, then completed by hand to the layout lines. Shoulder cuts are made shy of the lines, then completed with a chisel. The tenons were then trimmed to rough length. After the test fit to the seat with sculpting completed, they will be marked for further trimming to 1/8 inch proud.  After wedging the tenons will be taken flush.

Seat mortises are marked on the surface as well as the near edges to guide chisel work. Initial material removal is made at drill press. A test fit will guide any necessary chisel finessing.

Chestnut Stool – 2015

The seat blank is standing on the workbench. In foreground are blanks for legs.
The seat blank is standing on the workbench. In foreground are blanks for legs.

Several years ago I bought a plank of Chestnut from a Maryland lumber dealer.  Several of these beauties were buried deep in their warehouse for many, many years. My friend, Jonathan, found them and shared a photo on FB. How could I resist? My intention was to make something using the full plank. Several years went by with zero detectable action, Finally, I decided this material needed to be put to use rather than languishing deep in our garage awaiting the perfect application.

Stools and small tables are among my favorite woodworking forms as they present opportunities to work on joinery and design without taking too much room in our small home.

This plank yielded enough material for the seat, legs and stretchers. Cool. I cut out rough blanks with the jig saw followed by trimming at the band saw. Seat blank glued up from two pieces and legs cut to initial dimensions.