NBSS Week 32 – Applying finish to complete the scales and basket weave table, completing the candle box and more work on the key cabinet

This week began on Saturday with a little spray finishing. The spray booth was available and both the scales and basket weave tables were ready to go so I put on some music and spent the day spraying. After a few days drying I finished the finish with a little light sanding and some wax.

Up first here’s the finished basket weave table:

And here’s my table “Scales”,  inspired by the HBO show Game of Thrones:

Now “Scales” is all ready for the NBSS “Annual Celebration of Craft” student and alumni show which starts on May 16th.

Up next this week was continued work on the candle box project. I laid out and cut the dovetails, but instead of dovetails I actually cut ducktails (these are backward dovetails). This small error put me up for the Jeff Scotto Centaur Award for excellence in craftsmanship. (This is an award you really don’t want. It’s an informal award given on a rotating basis to any student who makes a significant stupid error while building a project. Past award winners have done things like gluing on table or chair legs backwards, gluing up frame and panel doors without the panels, gluing in the wrong stretchers on Windsor chairs, etc.)

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With the statue on display at my bench I tried to salvage the mistake and was successful in correcting my ducktails back into useable dovetails, although the pins are now a wee bit smaller. I then beveled the bottom panel to fit. With these parts assembled I beveled the top panel and fit it so that it effortlessly opens and closes by sliding in its grooves.

(Interesting to note here how much the weather effects this opening and closing. When I fit the lid it was a normal humidity day for spring. It then rained for 4 days and guess what? The lid got very tight within its opening. Then the temperature and humidity dropped and lo and behold the panel loosened right up, sliding out just by tilting the box. Applying finish will help alleviate to a small degree these wild extremes.) With the top lid working properly I carved the required finger pull into the top of the lid.

With that, the test was done. It took me 13 hours of handwork, but I did have to mill a new panel and correct my award-winning mistakes!

On the key cabinet this week I began by final milling the case sides and tops and preparing them for veneer. I then spent some time laying out the walnut veneer for the outside so that it wraps around the whole case, then did the same for the contrasting red birch veneer for the inside.

I applied some glue and put them all in the veneer press. Next up was cutting the staves for the coopered door. I took the coopering form jig into the machine room and set up shop at the table saw. I had Dan show me the process and we cut some sample pieces until we got the angle just right for the staves to sit in the jig correctly. Then it was just a bunch of repetitive cuts to create enough staves to make a 14” door.

With the staves cut, I returned to my workbench and proceeded to glue them up.

Our Lance lecture this week was actually given by Dan. He brought in some templates, tracings, and sample carvings for a chair he built for the State House a few years back. The original was at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston and he explained the process and what details to document when you’re “tracing” a museum artifact. He then showed us his process of completing the chair and all of its carvings from start to finish.

Up next week, shaping the coopered door on the key cabinet, some design work on the key grid for the key cabinet, and veneering the front door. Until then…

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