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Posts Tagged ‘custom woodworking’

10 Incredible Custom Wood Sitting Stools from Our Woodworking Contest

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

For five months, nearly 100 woodworkers have been working on custom hand-made wood stools to submit to our woodworking contest. It came due on November 8, and in the end 38 pulled through.

On Friday November 14, we held reception and awards ceremony at Practical Art in downtown Phoenix. The folks who came got to see the projects up close and personal, talk with the makers, sample the seats, and enjoy the experience. It’s not too often that furniture made out of wood gets treated like an art form that can draw the attention of the public. But we try.

Those who came got to cast their votes for the pieces they admired the most. Below are the winners. We boxed this event up as a contest, but if you’ve seen a room full of custom wood furniture before, you’ll know that it’s nearly impossible to compare one piece to another. How to you grade a sculpted bar stool with arms and a back and put it on the same scale as a short three-leg milking stool? It’s not easy, and that’s why we put the power in the public. A bigger pool of opinions helped us whittle it all down to these top ten projects. But everyone who participated should be proud because they built beautiful furniture with their bare hands.

Congratulations to these winners, and thanks to our fine sponsors who provided prizes

 

First Place: Contemporary Counter Stool
by Bill Barrand

Woods used: Quartered Amara Ebony, Quilted Sapele, Mahogany

Bill’s project appears to blossom like a flower, the bent ebony and sapele support legs rising from petal-like mahogany feet. His striking choice of woods, unusual design, and flawless clear finish rose to the top of the list by earning the most votes in this contest.

Prize: JET Benchtop Spindle Sander, Tenryu Gold Medal Table Saw Blade

More images, click to enlarge:

 

315-stool-030

Second Place: Puzzle Seat Bar Stool
by John Porter

Woods used: Walnut, Quilted Maple, Ebony

John’s stool uses a turned segmented ring for the foot rest and for the seat base. The seat is attached to barstool swivel hardware, and the seat itself is hard to miss. He scrolled a puzzle from a piece of highly figured quilted maple, glued it back together, and put a bead of ebony around it.

Prize: Fein MultiMaster, Imperial Blades 3pc Set, Tenryu Gold Medal Table Saw Blade

More images, click to enlarge:

 

308-stool-001

Third Place: Swivel Musician’s Stool
by Barry Richardson

Woods used: Cherry, Walnut

Look close. The the four forked legs come together perfectly at the segmented base that hides a seat swivel inside — and there’s no small amount of hours put into the shaping and sculpting of these perfect cherry legs with chocolate-dipped feet. The seat diameter is over 18″, and was gently scooped and turned on the lathe. Check out the foot rest, it’s another segmented turning with butterfly keys at four major joints.

Prize: Bora Track Clamp, Tenryu Gold Medal Table Saw Blade

More images, click to enlarge:

 

Fourth Place: Sculpted Walnut Barstool
by Eric Larsen

Woods used: Walnut

Making a few nods to the styles of chair makers Sam Maloof and Scott Morrison, Eric pulled no punches when he sculpted this barstool. All the joints blend and curve into the surrounding wood giving the illusion that this stool was whittled out of a single chunk of a walnut tree – but not so. Ebony plugs accent the strength of the joinery and endear the hidden screws. Untold hours and days of grinding, scraping and sanding went into this piece. In the end, the entire piece, complete with arm rests, invite the dusty craftsman to sit down and drink a well-deserved cold one.

Prize: Kreg Jig K5 with Screw Kit

More images, click to enlarge:

 

Fifth Place: Tractor Seat Short Stool
by Brett Eichmann

Materials used: Walnut, steel

The chunk of walnut Brett used in his seat came from, in his words, “A Craigslist find on my road trip across Nebraska. This guy had a couple of walnut logs his wife wanted gone. I offered him twenty bucks. He wanted more than that. He looked at his wife, he looked at the twenty bucks, and, well, the wood is mine!” Brett dimpled the seat to give it a tooled leather look, each dimple painstakingly placed with a rotary carver. One at a time.

Prize: Kreg Set UP Bars

More images, click to enlarge:

Sixth Place: Toadstool
by Paul Porter

Woods used: Ash

Surely this one earns the humor award, too: a toadstool shaped sitting stool? This stool is about 15″ tall, and turned from a solid chunk of ash – yes, it’s heavy. Paul bleached the entire piece, then dyed the top with fabric dye, then limed the open ash grain with white wax for a rather cunning representation of a toadstool. Paul snaked this wood from an ash tree that came down in a neighborhood near 7th Ave and Bethany Home Road in Phoenix.

Prize: Whiteside 3-pc Router Bit Set for undersized plywood

More images, click to enlarge:

Seventh Place: Wine Barrel Bar Stool
by Michael McKovich

Woods used: Wine barrel staves, quarter sawn white oak

Mike salvaged some oak barrel staves and added a bit of his own quarter sawn oak to complete this bar stool that will no doubt find a home in a wine-lover’s hangout. Lag bolts secure the joints and a steel band for a foot rest ensure this stool will get through the test of time.

Prize: Taunton Press Book: Furniture and Cabinet Construction

More images, click to enlarge:

Eighth Place: Milking Stool
by Ryan Nelson

Woods used: Walnut, olive

The photos might deceive your eyes, but this stool just a about 14″ tall. In size and style it draws on the type of stool you might use when you’re milking a cow. Classic through-tenons join the legs to the seat, and a series of lap joints connect the lower rails. Ryan found a piece of locally cut olive to use as the center of the seat.

Prize: Taunton Press DVD, Small Tool Cabinet with Garrett Hack

More images, click to enlarge:

 

Ninth Place: Three-Legged Stool
by Brianna Voron

Woods used: Pecan

The symmetry in Brianna’s project makes it shine. The seat is a perfect round with squared edges, the legs turned dead-straight without embellishment. She also applied a Danish oil to the lower half of the legs to set them apart. The proportions, gentle raked and splayed legs, and the mineral-streaked piece of pecan all come together for a strong impression and a great looking piece of furniture.

Prize: Taunton Press Plans: Arts & Crafts Coffee Table Plans

More images, click to enlarge:

Tenth Place: Arts & Crafts Dressing Stool
by Robert Zicafoose

Woods used: Quarter sawn white oak

It takes a certain amount of courage to submit a wood stool with a leather-cushioned seat to a woodworking contest, but if you do take a leaf from Bob’s book. The Arts & Crafts style of the late 1800’s stands the test of time and furniture made in the genre leans on the craftsman’s touch to end up with a beautiful and well-executed piece of furniture. Bob pulled it off with just-right proportions (e.g., thinner vertical slats, nice rail heights, and squared legs), minor details (e.g., chamfered exposed tenons, beveled tops of the legs), and a classic dark mission finish.

Prize: Taunton Press Books: Handmade Furniture; Designing Furniture

More images, click to enlarge:

Here’s One Way to Make a Cutting Board with Ipe

Friday, September 12th, 2014

basic cutting board built out of ipe decking

Sometimes, an idea for a project just jumps out at you when you see a piece of wood. That’s what happened when we brought in a small load of dimensioned ipe (ee-pay) lumber that was cut into uniform sizes of 3/4″ x 5.5″ x 72″.  I made a small bet with myself that I could make a reasonably size cutting board out of one piece of ipe. So I grabbed a piece, gave it a shot, and succeeded.

Ipe is a handsomely dark wood, especially when it’s sanded and oiled. Because the wood is so dense, hard, and resistant to weathering, the primary use of ipe is in outdoor decking. That’s also what makes it such a fine furniture wood – and it’ll make a good looking chopping block, too. When it’s sanded and oiled, the color turns to a bold brown-saturated color with hints of red and green. And the color stays dark for a long, long time. If you like dark woods, you should explore ipe.

Using our 3/4″x 5.5″ x 6′ dimensioned ipe boards, here’s how you could make a cutting board:

Step 1

Starting with a piece of 3/4″ x 5.5″ x 6′ ipe, send the 6-foot length through a thickness planer or drum sander, just graze the surface to clean it up.

Cut the board into 3 equal lengths, approximately 18″. Working with these shorter lengths is a little easier to control in the next step.

ipe-decking-boards

Step 2

Rip each of the three pieces into strips 1-1/8″ wide. You’ll get four pieces from each length of ipe.

Table Saw Tip: Be aware that ipe is very hard, but with a decent carbide-tooth table saw blade that’s designed for ripping, ipe cuts smoothly and with very little resistance. A 10″ ripping blade most often has between 24 and 30 teeth, deep gullets, and the carbide teeth will have a flat top grind and be raked at 20 to 22 degrees. 

 

 ipe-decking-strips

Step 3

Prepare to glue up the strips into a panel. Rotate the strips onto their edge. This forces the rings of annual growth to run more or less perpendicular to the face and back of the cutting board, resulting in a more stable product.

If the strips were recently planed or sanded, ipe will accept wood glue. Use Titebond III to take advantage of the longer working time the glue offers.

 ipe-decking-strips2

Step 4

Clamp the strips.

Once the panel is dry, use a planer or a drum sander to flatten the face and the back. This will determine the final thickness, but a precise final thickness is not important. It may finish out to 7/8″ or thicker.

Glue-up Tip: When the glue sets up, but before it’s dry, use a glue scraper to clean off the squeeze-out. For the most part, the glue will peel off in long strips. It’s easier in the long run to clean up the squeezed-out glue before it’s hardened.

 ipe-cutting-board-glued

Step 5

Trim to length. On the table saw or with a track saw, crosscut the ends of the block so they’re square to the edges and so that the board is sized to a length you like. In this case, the cutting board ended up a little over 17″ long.

 ipe-cutting-boards-trim

Step 6

Optional. Soften the corners with a radius. The bottom of an aerosol can makes the perfect radius. Trace it onto the cutting board, then cut it on the bandsaw and sand it smooth on the disc sander.

 ipe-cutting-boards-radius

Step 7

Add a 3/8″ round over along the top edge.

Once again, despite ipe’s hardness, it actually routs quite easily.

 ipe-cutting-boards-routing

Step 8

Sand the cutting board. No need to sand any finer than 120 grit.

Coat it in a block oil, a simple wipe on and off procedure.

 ipe-cutting-boards-001

Other Ideas

You can also get more creative. As an example, a couple of thin strips of hard white maple added to the ipe makes the cutting board a little wider while giving it a new look.

ipe-cutting-boards

3 Great Ways to Hide Sapwood in Walnut

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Even colored walnut lumber

Look close. This piece of walnut is not only finished with a clear lacquer but the light colored sapwood has been evened out to nearly match the heartwood. Woodworking with walnut today means dealing with the sapwood. Here are 3 ways.

Few people approve of pale sapwood in their walnut lumber,  but in the words of  Jim, a salesman at one of our faithful walnut suppliers back east, “When people ask me for a 100% heartwood face in walnut, I just tell them they’re dreaming.” You may be tired of hearing that sapwood isn’t considered a defect when it comes to grading lumber, however it is an industry fact. Lumber grade is a mathematical computation of the amount of clear wood in a board – so says the National Hardwood Lumber Association, the organization responsible for defining the rules of the lumber trade.

“But it’s a defect to me,” says the woodworker.

So what’s a woodworker to do? Fortunately, lumber producers separate their walnut inventory not just by grade but also by color. The good news is 100% heartwood walnut can be had; the bad news is few can afford it. For the most part, about the best balance between color, cost, availability is called 90/70 heart: that means 90% heartwood on the face, 70% heartwood on the back. Remember, lumber has two broad sides, a face and a back, and when building furniture and cabinetry, only one side is displayed in the final product.

Sure, it’s possible to find some 100% heartwood boards from time to time, but on a consistent basis and in large quantities? Not really. And therefore, when you visit your nearest lumber supplier, you’ll never have a perfect pile of full brown walnut to select from. Full heartwood boards are the exception to the rule, so it’s time to look at how woodworkers are using walnut in today’s woodworking.

You’ll find a number of discussions and blogs about this topic, and a good one in particular is this found at Lumber Jocks, www.lumberjocks.com/topics/10565, which discusses three ways woodworkers overcome sapwood.

3 Ways to Deal with Sapwood in Walnut:

  1. Cut sapwood off, and/or hide the sapwood on parts that will not be seen frequently
  2. Live with sapwood in your finished project
  3. Use a dyeing and staining process to make the color even

Those first two are straightforward.

Dyeing and staining needs some explanation, though. Since you’re not going to be able to go the woodworking store and buy a bottle of Sapwood Hider right off the shelf – alas, no such miracle exists – there are a couple of steps involved, but they’re easy.

Walnut board

Walnut board clearly shows a sapwood edge until the piece is dyed, sealed, stained, and finished. A saw kerf line separates the two sections.

For this method, we’re specifically talking about dye and there are a number of dyes on the market, usually mixed with water or denatured alcohol. Dye is different from stain, as dye doesn’t obscure the grain, which is pretty important when using walnut.

The basics:

1. Apply a very diluted dye in a color of your choice to the entire piece, heartwood and sapwood. The dye used in the pictures here is Behlen Solar-Lux™ medium brown walnut color. Solar-Lux™ is UV resistant and fade resistant, which is great because when walnut is left natural, it eventually turns very tan. Walnut ought to be dyed or stained anyway to retain a pleasing color. Note: Medium brown walnut Solar-Lux™ dye will appear orange when you apply it, but that’s okay. The next steps will bring the color back to dark brown.

2. Seal the wood with a light coat of sanding sealer or shellac. This needs to be thin to allow for the next step to have some effect.

3. Apply an oil-based stain on top of the sealer. Wipe it on, wipe it off. This adds a touch of pigment to the pores equally to you get a consistent color across the board.

4. Apply your clear finish of choice. Varnish, lacquer, etc.

It should go without saying that you should always test your dye process on a few test pieces before committing the dye to your final product. You’ll need to test different dilution ratios of your dye before you get the color you want.

Dyeing walnut is not very difficult, but it will take some time. However, you’ll greatly increase your yield of wood and you’ll make the beautiful walnut color last much, much longer than you would if if were to leave the wood natural.

Sapwood stripe along the edge of a walnut board

This part of the board is finished with just a clear coat of Zinsser Sealcoat and lacquer. The sapwood strip stands out. Eventually the color of this board will lighten.

Closer, showing the change in sapwood color

Closer, you can make out where the sapwood is nicely colored and very nearly matches the heartwood color thanks to the dye process

Even colored walnut lumber

The end result is a pleasing walnut color that will last a lifetime.