Author Topic: Spring 2 2012 Chapter Meeting Report  (Read 1200 times)

Bill Minnick

  • Forum Journeyman
  • **
  • Posts: 97
Spring 2 2012 Chapter Meeting Report
« on: November 06, 2012, 09:11:23 PM »
Society of American Period Furniture Makers
Ohio River Valley Chapter
2012 Second Spring Meeting
Brian Neeley's Farm, Lancaster, OH


The Ohio River Valley Chapter held a very enjoyable and informative 2-day meeting at Brian Neeley's Farm and Workshop in Lancaster, Ohio. Over 30 SAPFM members from OH, MI, WV, KY, IN, VA and PA attended. The chapter thanks Brian "Dude" Neeley and his family for hosting the meeting.

The Ohio River Valley Chapter was very fortunate that SAPFM members Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton from Winchester Virginia agreed to stop by to conduct the Saturday program. They were on their way home from the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indianapolis after teaching a weeklong class on building a Virginia 1798 slant front desk. For his presentation, Jeff demonstrated and explained the process of constructing a miniature highboy, which he brought to the meeting. The 29-inch high highboy, which can be taken apart and reassembled, was built using the same construction techniques as the original Shenandoah Valley period highboy. Jeff offered many helpful tips and proven techniques during his presentation. And Steve Hamilton added interesting explanations and suggestions.

While reassembling the miniature highboy, Jeff offered the following suggestions. When bringing lumber inside, don't stack the boards on top of each other. You need to sticker the boards, so air can reach all surfaces. When cutting boards to size, Jeff commented that you must take into consideration the time of the year when you're building your project and the local climate. If you're building a project in the winter and heating your house and shop, the wood will be at its driest. So it will eventually swell up. If you're building something in August and the humidity is high, components can be cut to fit even tighter because they will eventually shrink.

During the winter, if you bring in cold boards from the outside, you need to let the wood sit and get acclimated in your shop for about a week. In the winter, when taking a four-quarter board down to 3/4 inch, Jeff recommends first jointing one side and checking to see how the board moves after a day. Then joint the other side and wait a day to see, once again, how the board moves. Then take the board down to its final dimensions. If you take a four-quarter board down to 3/4 inch all at once, the board will move on you.

Although Jeff and Steve like to incorporate traditional joinery in the furniture they build, they still use machines to size their lumber and to speed up the construction process. They believe it's not how you make the joint that's important but how it fits. They get close with machines, then do the final trimming and fitting with hand tools. And because they don't like to leave machine marks, they remove the marks with a hand plane.

Jeff and Steve cut their dovetails on a band saw and use either a mortising machine or a drill press with a mortise attachment to remove the waste. They stay 1/16 inch away from the base line and use a chisel to remove the waste. A skewed carving tool beveled on both sides or a regular 1/8-inch chisel works well for getting into tight corners. Jeff believes you should saw right to the line, not close to the line. Ideally, you want two sawed surfaces to go together. Trimming to the line is extra work. Jeff noted that dovetails at the front of a drawer are general more refined than those at the back of the drawer, which tend to be much wider.

Using machines, they cut their tenons to fit the mortises and use hand planes for the final fitting. After cutting tenons, Jeff and Steve cut a bevel/chamfer on all four sides of the end. This keeps the piece with the mating mortise from splitting. Mortises should be 1/4 inch deeper than the tenon.

When making legs, they mortise the legs while they are still square. When cutting the leg on a band saw, they leave 1/16-inch wood bridges, which keep the waste and leg together. As a result, they don't have to tape the waste back on when they cut the opposite side. After both sides are sawn, they cut the bridges and remove any waste. Spokeshaves remove the saw marks on all four sides. After the case is assembled, the leg knee brackets are cut and glued to both the leg and panel and then carved to final shape.

When assembling the case, Jeff puts the front and the back together then adds the sides. During the assembly process, Jeff explained to the group why certain parts are glued and others are free to move. The top and bottom section on this miniature highboy and most full-size period highboys are not permanently attached. The top sits on the bottom section and is held in place by three pieces of molding.

Jeff sands all pieces with 120 grit, then 220 grit sandpaper. Since most of his customers mix authentic antiques with reproductions, they want the newly built piece to look old. To finish the drawers, Jeff and Steve apply a brown oil-based paint that is thinned to a wash with Naphtha. Then they spray on orange shellac. The inside of the case isn't finished except where it might show like within an inch of an edge.

They start the finishing process with a coloring agent. It's important, that all edges be rounded over slightly, or you'll sand off the applied color when sanding the finish. For a coloring agent, they prefer water-based aniline dyes, which leave the grain exposed. Using a rag, they wet the surface with water, and then after it dries, they sand the surface with worn 220-grit Garnet sandpaper or new 600-grit paper. Then they apply the aniline dye or another coloring agent. On cherry and mahogany, they use potassium dichromate. When using potassium dichromate, be sure to follow all safety recommendations such as wearing gloves, using a respirator and working outside. After applying the aniline dye, they use the worn 200-grit or new 600-grit sandpaper one more time to sand the surface. Then they brush on and wipe off immediately a solution of 2/3 boiled linseed oil mixed with 1/3 turpentine and a couple drops of Japan dryer. To ensure a smooth surface on mahogany and walnut, they apply a grain filler later that day. They rub the grain filler across the grain and use a piece of burlap to remove the excess filler. They fill around a carved surface but not the carved surface. After letting the filler dry for a day, they spray on a coat of orange shellac. After the shellac dries, the same worn 220-grit sandpaper or new 600-grit sandpaper is used to sand the surface. Then to protect the finish against liquid spills, they spray on two coats of Sherwin Williams nitrocellulose satin lacquer sanding between coats with the same sandpaper. After at least a week, they buff out the finish surface.

Concluding the presentation, Jeff described the process of using a scraper to cut and shape the quarter columns. The Ohio River Valley Chapter greatly appreciates and thanks Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton for taking the time to stop and presented an outstanding and informative program.

After Jeff and Steve's presentation, the chapter held its customary Show & Tell. During this session, everyone learned at least one new woodworking tip or technique.

On Sunday, David Wright, who has previously presented programs and held week-long classes for the chapter on how to make Windsor chairs, conducted a program on how to assemble a Windsor Chair.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 09:18:02 PM by Bill Minnick »