Wednesday 15 October 2008

Thanks Don McConnell

I have started picking away at the sunroom... finally! We just celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend, and I was reminded of the fact that my friend Andy helped me install the windows last Thanksgiving. High time to finish this reno project.

The space below the windows is going to be paneled and one of the elements is a small 3/16" bead being used as a divider. This will be a lot clearer once I post photos of the finished panels - but I needed about 50 linear feet of beading. My honest reaction was to look for a 3/16" beading bit for my router. I had a few errands to run and stopped in at a few places to get one. Surprisingly - I could not find one anywhere. I debated on ordering one - but did not want to wait the few days for it to arrive. Then I remembered something... I had a 3/16" bead molding plane! The next thought was recalling Don McConnell’s marvelous DVD, “Traditional Molding techniques: the basics”.

I need to back up a bit.

I have been using molding planes off and on over the years - but I am by no means an experienced or expert user. Part of this is due the lack of information out there on buying (used ones), tuning them, and then using them. Don’s DVD is an excellent introduction to molding planes and how to use them as they were originally intended. It has excellent information and is broken down into very easy to follow, step by step instructions. For me, the biggest value was just to see someone using them (very successfully I might add!). Being shown “it could be done” was the eye opener I needed, and by the time I was home, I was feeling quite happy I did not find that router bit.

One of the topics that Don touched on was stock selection. He did not dwell on it - but as I was watching the DVD I knew this was something I had not paid enough attention to in the past. I had a few very long and thin quarter sawn pieces of cherry that might be suitable. There was one piece that was 1/2" thick, 5" wide and 7' long. It was already dressed and needed a quick pass through the thickness planer to clean it up and get it to the desired thickness. My hope was the quarter sawn stock would allow me to cut two beads sided by side, bandsaw off the 7/8" strip and then saw it in half to yield two individual beads. If it worked - it would be a very efficient use of stock and time not to mention the fact the color would be very consistent.

The quarter sawn stock worked perfectly, and I was able to take a pass on one side, flip the plane around and do another pass on the other side - essentially planing in circles. The quirks lined up perfectly and the grain was behaving. I took fairly light passes just to be safe, but within a few minutes - I had 2 wonderfully polished beads. I flipped the stock end for end and did the other edge which worked just as well.

Here is a shot of the quick and somewhat unconventional setup... but it worked great. I use my bench drawers as a deadman all the time - the thick piece of cherry is used to offer support and to get the work piece to an optimal working height.

A long view of the setup. Note the Halloween treat:)

A shot of the first 4 double beaded strips.

And a shot of the final eight, 7' strips.

I likely spent more time looking for the router bit than it took me to make these 8 pieces. This was a very pleasurable, quiet task and a wonderful reminder that sometimes old school is still faster and more efficient. Thanks again Don for reminding me of this fact.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I recently had a similar experience cutting a profile on some trim for our front entry project. I loved Don's DVD, as well as Larry William's DVD on making hollows and rounds.
Their new DVDs should be out soon. I can't wait.


17 October 2008 at 06:35  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Dan,

Those two are doing the woodworking community a tremendous service. I was not aware there was another DVD coming - Can't wait!


17 October 2008 at 07:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They look good, Konrad. Bet you're glad you couldn't find a router bit.

Cheers ;-)

Paul Chapman

17 October 2008 at 11:59  

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Monday 6 October 2008

Rhymes with Lapel

This past Friday was the first day of the Woodstock wood show. My friend Bill and I usually head down to check it out. One of the best things about this show is you can actually buy wood! I know - imagine that.... being able to buy wood at a woodworking show. The show in general was a little disappointing. There were fewer tool and woodworking vendors and more people selling orange Ubertowels and dipping sauces. But... there was a new wood seller... so all was not lost.

Bill and I walked into the booth to see what he had. Not a lot of wood - but he had some really killer stuff. Some huge wide pine boards (not that either of us could ever remember using pine...not that there's anything wrong with that), clear cherry boards, butternut, walnut, ash, and standing right in front of me was this;

It wasn’t a big piece, but it caught my attention. “Appel?” Hmm... what the.... and then I smiled.

“Hey Bill - come check out this piece of Appel” (pronounced in a way that rhymes with lapel)

Bill walked over with the same inquisitive furrowed brow that I had. He looked at it... and faster than you can say “Red delicious” we both started chuckling.

I saw the guy in the overalls and plaid shirt and asked him how much his “Appel” was. He walked over half smiling and just said;

“Yeah - I know... but how often do you have to spell apple anymore?”

“$3 a board foot” was his next answer - which I am sure he low-balled just to try and make up for it. Still giggling, Bill and I sorted through the small stack and I ended up with 6 pretty sweet smelling boards. And even if he said $10 bd/ft, I would have bought the board with Appel on it just to have it. In his defense, he was a really nice guy and did have some spectacular stock.

It is not very often I run into apple in any form, let alone the rare appel variety, as sawn lumber. And it is quite wonderful stuff - 5/4 thick, 6"-7" wide and 6' long. Here is the little pile on the balcony.

And a close up shot of some of the grain. Thankfully - it has not been kiln dried. I should also confess that I have no idea what I will do with this little pile of wood - it seems to be a terminal affliction I have - collecting wood.

Actually - 30 seconds before Bill pulled up that morning - another friend stopped in with truckload of temptation. Not that I “needed” any of this either - but how can you refuse veneer grade, quarter sawn Douglas fir?

27 boards later...

This stuff is pretty amazing. It is 5/8' to 3/4" thick, 10" - 16" wide and about 6' long.

And while I am confessing... may as well mention this too...

Our neighbours have been doing some extensive renovations to their house, and one of the casualties was a very large pear tree. There were four 3' to 5' logs from the tree. I took them to a local sawmill and was able to get a pretty decent little pile of wood from it.

The color and texture is amazing. There are a few fantastic wide boards in the 12" range, some 8/4 stock and the rest is 4/4. And yeah - no idea what this will be used for either.

My Dad always joked with me - “you should have built a bigger shop!” Given the Sauer genetics of hoarding and pack-rat tendencies - I am starting to think he might be right.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the feeling Konrad. For I too am a member of the Wood Hoarder Club. Mind you I don't have any super rare old stuff like you but I have my fair share. Apple is a wonderful wood to work by the way.

7 October 2008 at 20:35  
Blogger Konrad said...

I am looking forward to eventually using the apple. Not sure how and where yet...

and Paul - I know - just be happy I didn't post photos of the 50bd/ft of veneer grade 4/4 birds eye maple:)


7 October 2008 at 22:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps a collection of fruit inspired planes is in the work hmmm. apple, pear, cherry...could be interesting-perhaps shoulder planes in various sizes:)

10 October 2008 at 10:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never feel guilty about collecting wood. You get it as it comes. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Just remember, you're being a good steward of this stuff and using it for what the good Lord intended, that being woodworking projects and not all firewood. Jon Fiant

10 October 2008 at 15:09  
Blogger Mike said...

I pulled a gnarled and ugly apple log out of a ditch quite a few years ago. A friend who's pretty handy with a chainsaw sliced it up for me and it sat in my shop, then my next shop, for a number of years. When I finally got into it I was amazed and the colour and beauty. I turned the planks into a series of boxes and turned some more into very spalted bowls. Where I live apple tends to grow short and ugly but it's a beaut to work!

17 October 2008 at 16:31  
Blogger Mike said...

I pulled a gnarled and ugly apple log out of a ditch quite a few years ago. A friend who's pretty handy with a chainsaw sliced it up for me and it sat in my shop, then my next shop, for a number of years. When I finally got into it I was amazed and the colour and beauty. I turned the planks into a series of boxes and turned some more into very spalted bowls. Where I live apple tends to grow short and ugly but it's a beaut to work!

17 October 2008 at 16:32  
Blogger James M. said...

You failed to mention who the wood vendor was Konrad. It wasn't the guy from Smithville area was it? He had some real nice African Mahogony last year at the Kitchener wood show.

Interested people want to know.

27 October 2008 at 07:18  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi James,

I don't know who the guy is - but he was not from Smithville. He was south of Woodstock about 45 min. he said.


27 October 2008 at 07:51  

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