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Table Project 7 - Finishing and glue up

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I started the finishing process by sanding all the surfaces of the table. Sanding makes all the surfaces level and gives an even appearance. The surfaces were prepared with 220 grit paper, then wiped with a moist cloth to raise the grain, and once again sanded with 220. It is now ready to have the finish applied. I mixed super blonde shellac with Lee Valley shellac thinner, to about a one quarter pound cut, but I don’t go crazy measuring its just approximate. I usually mix the shellac in jars and shake them up every so often untill it is dissolved (right). I then started to wipe on some coats of shellac to build a nice surface for french polishing. After several coats were on the top, there was some small cracks in the surface the needed to be filled (right, after filling). I made a mixture of maple saw dust, shellac and some burnt umber, the mixture was mixed into a fairly thick paste. It was applied the cracks and worked in with my pallet knife. This mixture dries very fast so mix it in small amounts. The surface was then scraped and sanded, ready to apply more coats.  I would apply a few coats, sand, then more coats, sand, etc. I would switch applying coats between the top and bottom of the top, every so often. As the shellac builds, I used finer grits of sandpaper between the coats. I never counted how many coats were applied, but it’s a fair amount. After the coating of shellac was of sufficient thickness, it was time to move on to the french polishing. To accomplish the french polish, first a pad was needed (above right). Get some cheesecloth and cotton balls. Take a large hand full of cotton balls, place them in a piece of cheese cloth and tied them up into a tight ball. Next I took a lint free cloth, this is going to be the polishing pad surface, and dampened it in a mixture of my processed linseed oil and natural turpentine . I took the cheese cloth ball and dipped it into my shellac (you should remove the ball from the cloth each time you recharge it with shellac) and squeezed out the excess. I then placed the pad in the cloth and pulled the cloth tight. I squeed the ball to wet the cloth with shellac. With the pad I did a series of circular and figure eight motions moving across the entire surface (below). As the process goes on you will notice the pad starts to stick to the surface, this is when the polishing is starting. It takes a bit of time to complete the polishing, this took about thirty minutes, but just keep going. After it starts to dry you need to really start applying the pressure and keep moving quick. You will be able to feel and see when the polishing is complete. 

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As the top was being finished, the legs and stretchers were being finished as well. I wanted the legs to be a little darker then the walnut was so I mixed up an oil based stain. A mixture of my processed linseed oil, a bit of turpentine, and a bit of burnt umber was used. I then added black iron oxide until I got the desired tint. The stain was then applied to the surface (above, two left ones with stain, right two without), letting it sit for about an hour, then wiping the excess off. The oil was left to dry for a few days, then some orange shellac was used as a top coat, which was mixed to about a one quarter pound cut as well, by brushing it onto the surface. After several coats of shellac they were given a quick sand and then wiping on the remaining coats, leaving a smother finish. 

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After I was satisfied with the legs and stretchers (above), the dowels were prepared for the legs. The depths of the holes for the dowels and the gap between, for the ones that are exposed, was added to find the length of the dowels. They were then all cut to length. The exposed areas were then marked, and the glue areas were masked off (above right). They where then hung with masking tape and brushed with some super blonde shellac on the exposed areas. Now the table was ready for glue up.

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I started by glueing the long stretchers to the legs. Glue was applied to both the dowels and holes, then the parts were assembled. A few three quarter inch blocks were used for spacers to keep the open areas even. They didn’t require much clamping pressure, and I did not want to damage the finish with clamps, so I made clamp using some twine and a scrap dowel (top right). The twine was wrapped around the leg stretcher assembly several times, then tied. The dowel was inserted in the twine and started to twist. This tightened up the twine acting as a clamp. Once the glue was dry the ends were glued to the legs, and clamped (above). The base was checked diagonally for squareness, and it sat nice and level (below). 

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Now that the base was complete, I was ready to attach the top to the base. The top is going to be attached with screws and figure eight connectors. The connectors are placed to allow the top to move with seasonal expansion and contraction. Before attaching the connectors, gun blueing was used to darken them (above right) and the screws. This will remove the shine, allowing the connectors to be more discrete. Once the hardware was dry, it was time at attach them to the top if the legs. The connectors were placed on the legs, the holes are marked, then pilot holes were drilled using gimlets. The connectors were then screwed to the legs, leaving them not extremely tight, to allow the wood to move should it need to. The top was then placed upside down and the base positioned on the top, measuring to make it sit perfectly in place. Then the holes were marked and pilot holes drilled (above). The base was then screwed to the top. The Completed table is below.

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That leads to the end of the table project. It was a great project to build, using many skills, and making you think a bit different. I would like to thank you for reading along. In the next posting I will be starting a new large frame saw that will be used a lot on the workbench project. Stay tuned.



Foley Hand Saw

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I have been wanting to try the art of saw making for quite some time now. I have slowly been buying, cleaning and fixing some tools to become a saw maker. I have built a kerfing plane, frame saw, bow saw and want to try hand saws and backsaws. I have sharpened several saws, and have done that successfully on several occasions, so here is where the hand saw journey begins. I was able to procure a few new old stock Foley hand saw plates (above), saw nuts, and handles. I have two handle types, one drilled and one not drilled for replacement handles. I have recently cleaned my Foley Saw Filer, and have been wanting to test it. It has a part that was homemade by some previous owner, and I wanted to see how their repair was. My retoother is a bit dirty but can be used, so I decided to try to tooth a plate to make a crosscut saw. The plates are Foley Premium Professional 504, I measured it as being 26” long,  .042” thick at the toothlike, and being taper ground on the back, from .033” at the toe, .037 at the centre of the back, and .042” where the handle connects at the heel of the plate. I wasn’t sure before I checked them if the plates would be taper ground or not, as I was honestly unsure of the quality of the Foley plates. The plates came with a small amount of rust on them, which will easily clean off (above right).  

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To start I had to decide on the tooth profile. The pitch and rake angle must be decided upon first. I decided to go for a rake of twenty degrees and nine PPI. I first cut the teeth with my Foley Saw Retoother. I have used this machine several times and have worked the bugs out of using it. It just needs to be cleaned up a bit, but she works great. I put the saw into the carrier and attached the appropriate ratchet bar, then inserted the carrier into the machine (right), adjusted saw depth in carrier and set the feed pawl. Then you simply (its simpler then it sounds) turn the machine on. Mine presently is run by electric motor, but you can attach a hand crack and manually crank the retoother, which I plan on building a handle for. It punches the teeth fairly quick and they turn out quite nice (below left). The next step was to switch over to my saw filer (below right). I recently cleaned up my Foley saw filer, which a page is being added to the site here about it, and wanted to test it. I set the saw depth using the guides provided, and adjusted the machine as described in the manual. It seems a bit complicated at first, but it is not really that hard to use. I set the machine to first file straight across, to joint the blade using the machine. As it was running it would occasionally jam and not advance the saw to the next tooth for filing. I Found the problem to be a part that was replaced by a previous owner, and if I held the carrier, the jamming was reduced. I will be replacing the part with one that I will build similar to the factory part. 

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After trying out the filing machine, I attached the handle to the saw plate. I simply used the handle and hardware I purchased with the saw plate. I then went on to the final sharpening, which will be done by hand. I clamped the saw into my saw vise (left) and grabbed the appropriate files. I first started basic shaping of the teeth. I decided on a fleam angle of twenty degrees and set my file in my filing guide to the appropriate rake and fleam angles. I filed every second tooth and then turned the saw around and filed the remaining teeth. Once the shaping was complete I was ready to set my teeth. I wanted little set, as I mostly plan on using this saw in dry hardwoods. I set the teeth with a plunger type set very lightly, its easy to add set later, harder to remove it after though. I then lightly jointed the saw, to insure all the teeth are the same height, which they were, so I removed very little material from the teeth. Then I moved on to final sharpening of the teeth which is a similar process to shaping the teeth, but removing less material. I may do a more in depth saw sharpening page in the future, but there is a lot of information already available. 

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So now that the saw was sharpened, it was ready to test. I grabbed some ash scraps I had around and gave it a try. I found it cuts very well, just as well in fact as new higher end saws I have purchased. I have now used it on several items and am very happy with the results, though the handle is a bit clunky feeling for my hand. I cleaned the rust off the end with a rust eraser and it is ready for use. Well, that is it for this instalment, in the next posting I will be the finishing off  the table, which I am just doing the finishing touches on now. Till next time.  


© Shane Larson 2017