Saturday, November 22, 2014

MWA Podcast Episode 64 - John Steffen





Show Notes:

Hello, everyone and welcome to this - the 64th edition of the Modern Woodworkers Association online discussion about all things woodworking. Today’s special guest is John Steffen of John Steffen Restoration. Before we get to him, let me introduce our usual panel. I'm Tom Iovino of Tom's Workbench dot com, and I'll be your host for this program.


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This episode of the Modern Woodworkers Association podcast is sponsored by The Gorilla Glue Company - for the toughest jobs on planet earth.


What’s in the shop?
  • Chris
    • Sold his shop to the man
    • Spooning in the shop with the man
    • Building a tablet stand that will display coins Chris received from the man
  • Dyami
    • The Cyclone Has Landed
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  • Tom
    • Planning a sleepy time bed build
    • Gotta start thinking about a hope chest for my niece Katie
      • Got a piece of wood from my trip up to Maryland a few weeks back from a tree she loved... going to inlay it into the lid
    • Did a video for the Gorilla glue sponsorship (does this belong here?)Frame it as an instructional video OK... I'll tell them to see it in the show notes?  Yes. We’ll have chris embed it.



Blog post that piqued our interest
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Goings on in the MWA
  • David’s a vibrant MWA member, so what the hell . . . we’ll put this wonderful news in this section
  • Today, November 19, 2014, is Todd Clippinger’s Birthday. He’s many years old.
    • http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com/


Main topic
  • John Steffen www.johnsteffen.com
  • You’re bio on your website mentions that your family’s been in the antique business for over 120 years. What is the history?
    • Grandfather had a store in England
    • Parents had stores in U.S.
    • Antique & New Furniture
    • The stores are not closed, but since 2000, they’re doing restoration
  • Describe your work at Steffen Restoration?
    • Start with pieces that are totally destroyed and falling apart.
    • Do re-finishing
  • Learned out of desperation
    • With the store, it was important to be able fix pieces
    • From there he learned woodworking
    • Went to England to learn finishes from a company that build and finished furniture professionally
  • Do you build new pieces, or just restore old pieces?
    • Mostly restoration due to customer demand
  • Is there detective work in figuring out how to restore a piece?
    • You have to be a furniture historian (conservator) in order to figure it out.
    • Start by studying furniture, then as you carefully take it apart, it will make more sense. Finally it will become habit.
  • Do about 500 to 1000 pieces per year
    • Works on about 5 pieces a day. As one piece is waiting (glue up, finish drying, etc), they move to another piece.
  • For shipping
    • They try to use their own trucks if possible
    • If a shipper is used, it is the customer’s responsibility
  • What’s your favorite type of piece to restore? What’s the most challenging?
    • Carving is the most challenging
    • His favorite are the simple pieces, shaker and craftsman
  • Using the RO 90. Sounds like your favorite sander. Do you like it?
    • I find it (and my RO 125) to be overly grippin in random orbit mode. Do you find that too?  Switched over to the Granat paper. It lasts the longest and doesn’t grab.
    • John uses the 6” Mirka RO sander. Does wet sanding with Bosch 6” Abralon sanders
  • John Steffen Restoration on Facebook


Community Conversation
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Where can they find us
If you’re missing us already, you can subscribe to the show on itunes. Just search for the Modern Woodworkers Association. Once you’re subscribed, you’ll be sure never to miss an exciting episode. While you’re in iTunes, please leave us a 5 star rating. It helps our rank so others can more easily find us.


If you want to find out more about the Modern Woodworkers Association, be sure to visit modernwoodworkersassociation.com, follow the MWA on twitter @MWA_National, like the MWA on Facebook or circle Modern Woodworkers Association on Google+. While you’re there, join the MWA Google+ community for project sharing, discussion and loads of woodworking banter.


I'm Chris Adkins of highrockwoodworking.com and @highrockww on twitter


I’m Dyami Plotke of penultimatewoodshop.com. I'm @dyamiplotke, that's @-D-Y-A-M-I-P-L-O-T-K-E on the twitters.

I'm Resident Shop Monkey, Tom Iovino of Tomsworkbench.com, and @tomsworkbench on twitter. We wish happy sawdust.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If it wasn't for the last minute...

There's an expression that I use in my shop ... and my office... and, well, just about everywhere...

If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done.

Never is this more true that when it comes to building gifts for the holidays. Sure, like many of you, I get the vision in my head of that perfect holiday scenario - surrounded by the ones I love as they squeal with delight holding the presents I carefully crafted for each of them.

Then, reality sets in. There's work. Driving the kids everywhere. Housework. Stuff I have to fix. Before you know it, it's the last minute, and I'm wracking my brains, looking for an easy project to build that won't take a whole lot of material or a whole lot of time to finish.



That's why the Modern Woodworkers Association is partnering with our friends at the Gorilla Glue Company to run the second annual Last Minute Elf extravaganza.

The idea is simple... this group of mischievous elves:

We three dweebs...
Is looking for you to submit some creative ideas for easy to build projects for the holiday season.   We are looking for you to show off your absolutely awesome ideas for holiday gifts can can be built quickly, finished easily and shipped in time to make that special someone tickled to be the lucky recipient.

We are coming up with some special prize packages for the best ideas for some different categories, including:
  • Best Turned project
  • Greenest project (using recycled materials)
  • Best project that will fit inside a large USPS flat rate shipping box (12 inches x 12 inches x 5 1/2 inches)
  • Best gift for a child
  • Best gift for an adult
  • Coolest tip to build a holiday project on time
If you think you can build something to fit one of these categories, we want to hear from you. Be sure to submit your entry - photos included - to iggy@tomsworkbench.com with the subject line that reads:  Last Minute Elf Entry no later than December 28 (we figure that you will be rushing to get the project done by December 25 or 26, and will want to spend some time with your families instead of posting pics to us... thus, the extra days!). Once we get the entries, we will read the tea leaves and pick ourselves a few winners.



Remember, these elves are non-denominational, so ideas for things like winter themed decorations, awesome menorahs, fancy turned Kikombe cha Umoja for Kwanzaa, Christmas mangers - they are all welcome and part of the big Last Minute Elf festivities.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On Generating Comments

The Long Island Woodworkers ClubShow was this past weekend. This year I had four (4) pieces on display: Stephen’s Step Stool, The Funeral Chair in Blue, the Shaker End Table and Lill’s Quilt rack. The show was at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, as it has been for the past few years. They have a wonderful timber frame barn that make a perfect venue. There were some amazing pieces there. From case work to bowls, the Long Island Woodworkers Club members showed their skills. None of my pieces medaled and that’s just fine. The ones that did deserved to win.

Brian McKnight's Modern Hall Table

Tony Fuoco's Bench.

Mike Josiah's Large Endgrain Bowl

Mark Oriano's All Mixed Up.

While the show ran all day on Saturday and Sunday, I was only able to attend for about 20 minutes on Saturday afternoon and for about 3 hours on Sunday. During that time I received many comments and compliments on my work. I was pleased by this, but it wasn’t too unexpected.

What was unexpected was which piece received the comments and compliments. Other than one jack ass commenting that Lill’s Quilt Rack was a “great place to hang your towels” all of the comments were aimed at the Funeral Chair in Blue. This surprised me.

My Funeral Chair in Blue on display at the show.

Every comment was about how surprised people were by the look of the Timberstrand with many saying they liked the rich tone of the blue dye also. I heard through back channels that the only reason the chair didn't win a ribbon was that it received demerits for being a non-original design. This praise and interest was much appreciated.

What I didn't appreciate was why Lill’s Quilt Rack didn't receive equal praise.
Lill's Quilt Rack on display at the show.


In my opinion, Lill’s Quilt Rack remains the most impressive piece I've built, both in terms of concept and execution. While it’s not perfect and I didn't expect it to win best in show, I did expect to generate some interest. I certainly expected it to be better received than the Funeral Chair in Blue. Why it didn't, I can’t say I understand.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Chair Of Many Glue Ups

Working on my recently completed Funeral Chairs, the glue-up was both the most important phase of construction for keep the finished chair together and also the most delicate.

What petite joints the funeral chair has.

The importance of the glue up is clear. Not only must the joiner withstand the typical high stresses of a chair, they must also hold up to the rigors of repeated openings and closings.

The delicacy of the glue-up is not as obvious as the importance. Relative to their size, the leg to stretcher joints must be incredibly strong. Given the open assembly of the chairs, the joints are not only subject to normal weight stresses, they are also subject to major racking forces when the sitter's weight is shifted within the chair. In order to provide the strongest joints I could, I went for both a big glue surface and a strong glue.

The rear legs and stretchers are ready for glue up.

Using Dominoes for my joinery provided large, uniform and tight glue surfaces at each joint. Even the narrow stretcher to leg joints received deep Dominoes. The Gorilla Wood Glue I used to attach the Dominoes ensures that they say in and snug.

Between the Dominoes and Gorilla Wood Glue, the only tricky part was to ensure that I glued up the chairs in the correct order. After nearly gluing two (2) legs together without the seat between them, I did manage to follow the right steps for glue up. For those who are interested, those steps are:

  1. Glue the respective stretchers to one of the back legs and one of the front legs.
  2. Place the seat on the back legs with the stretchers and glue on the second leg, trapping the seat.
  3. Place the seat/back leg assembly on the front leg with stretchers and glue on the second leg, trapping the seat/leg assembly.
Through all the steps, remain focused on the glue up.

While it may seem like a lot of steps for a chair with relatively few joints, following this glue up strategy will ensure that the chair folds and holds you up.The funeral chairs, like most chairs, rely on some awfully small joints to hold together some awfully important joints.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

MWA Podcast Episode 63 - Vic Tesolin




Show Notes:

Hello, everyone and welcome to this - the 62nd edition of the Modern Woodworkers Association online discussion about all things woodworking. Today’s special guest is Vic Teslin. Before we get to him, let me introduce our usual panel. I'm Dyami Plotke of penultimatewoodshop.com, and I'll be your host for this program.


This episode of the Modern Woodworkers Association podcast is sponsored by The Gorilla Glue Company - for the toughest jobs on planet earth.


What’s in the shop?
  • Chris
    • working (a little bit)
  • Dyami
    • I’ve got finish on the chairs and table
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  • Tom
    • Sad Monkey
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Blog post that piqued our interest


Goings on in the MWA
  • The Long Island Woodworkers Club 18th Annual Woodworking Show
  • November 8th & 9th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Old Bethpage Village Fairgrounds
    • 1303 Round Swamp Rd, Exit 48 L.I.E.


Main topic
    • Working on photos and projects for his new book The Minimalist Woodworker
      • A book for people who would like to get into woodworking but can’t setup a traditional shop, mostly due to space and noise.
      • With Spring House Press
      • Release in Fall of 2015
    • The book has been exciting because it has forced Vic back into the shop.
    • Before the book, Vic looked around his shop and re-evaluated his tools.
      • The work flow he learned was to only use the table saw for cross cutting. When he became proficient with his crosscut saw, he found he didn’t use the table saw.
      • The same was true of his jointer.
      • For thicknessing, he keeps his planer.
    • Works as a technical advisor for Lee Valley / Veritas
    • Projects Vic wants to do:
      • a guitar
      • veneer on a solid piece
  • 5 questions
    • How did you get into woodworking
      • On the birth of his daughter, Vic Needed to build a night stand
    • Favorite Tool
      • Now, its the plow plane
    • Who has influenced you the most?
      • Every woodworker inspires Vic.
      • Garrett Hack
      • James Krenov
      • Michael Fortune
    • What was your biggest stumbling block & how could you have avoided it?
      • Vic still stumbles with new things
    • How has the influenced your work?
      • The instagram community is fantastic for woodworking
      • The broader internet and forums cut both ways, but woodworkers remain a generous group.


If you’re missing us already, you can subscribe to the show on itunes. Just search for the Modern Woodworkers Association. Once you’re subscribed, you’ll be sure never to miss an exciting episode. While you’re in iTunes, please leave us a 5 star rating. It helps our rank so others can more easily find us.

If you want to find out more about the Modern Woodworkers Association, be sure to visit modernwoodworkersassociation.com, follow the MWA on twitter @MWA_National, like the MWA on Facebook or circle Modern Woodworkers Association on Google+. While you’re there, join the MWA Google+ community for project sharing, discussion and loads of woodworking banter.