Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

  


Chief's AW Blog
My American Woodworker Blog

Ads By Google


Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

Berkshire Woodworkers

Wood Use Site


Check out the March 9, 2013 issue and see if this is of interest to you. Sign up to receive Chiefwoodworker's Newsletter by entering your email address below. (Privacy Policy)

Next Page »


Completed StandI recently finished a four part post to my American Woodworker blog site titled The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers. This series of posts demonstrates how to create a 3D model based on 2D drawings from any woodworking book or drawings. The specific piece is a Shaker Round Stand pictured at right. If you wish to learn how this piece was modeled in SketchUp and shop drawings created you can follow the links below:

  1. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 1
  2. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 2
  3. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 3
  4. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 4

If you wish to build this stand you can go to my Free Plans page (menu), look in the spreadsheet under Tables for Shaker Round Stand. Click the smiley face in the SketchUp column to download the SketchUp model and shop drawings. You can print out a full scale drawing of the pedestal and leg used in this piece to create templates for the shop. If you have trouble printing to scale in SketchUp see my post Printing To Scale With SketchUp Make & SketchUp Pro 2013. The techniques used in this post also works for SketchUp version 7 & 8.


Frank Redmile Adjusting A Longcase Most woodworkers eventually find themselves building a case for a mechanical clock movement. I can tell you from painful personal experience that the choice of movement can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. In addition, finding design documentation and support, particularly finding answers to questions that will invariably arise, is almost impossible. Fortunately there are reputable suppliers if you know where to look. One such dealer is Oakside Classic Clocks.

Oakside Classic Clocks of England is a one person business. Frank Redmile, owner and sole proprietor, designs and creates longcase clocks that sell all around the globe. Frank also has the largest inventory of German made Kiesinger movements. In addition to his finished clocks, Frank sells Kieninger clock movement kits to hobbyist clockmakers and woodworkers. If you need Kieninger replacement parts, Oakside Classic Clocks is the place to look. Likewise, you can get movements, movement documentation, dials, pendulums or other accessories. Check out Frank’s website or contact him directly on his Contact page.


Shaker Tall Clock Crafted In Cherry

One of the most frequent requests I get is for a drawing set of the Shaker Tall Clock I crafted for my son to give his wife on their twelfth anniversary. I originally drew the model and plans in TurboCAD and printed drawings for anyone who wanted them. Later, I exported the model from TurboCAD to a .dxf file and imported the file into SketchUp. A lot was lost in the translation. Up to now that is all I had to supply anyone wanting to craft this clock. I recently looked at the translated files in detail and was embarrassed by the incompleteness.

Fortunately, I have completely updated the documentation, inserted missing information and cleaned up the model. You can download the new documentation from my Free Plans page. There you will find a complete SketchUp model with dimensions, a CutList Plus cut list file, an Excel cut list file, a .csv cut list file and a PDF file including both shop drawings and cut list. If you want a LayOut 2 file click here. You should have no problems crafting this clock if you so desire.

This  Shaker Tall Clock was inspired by a clock designed and built by Benjamin Youngs, Sr., circa 1809, of the Watervliet, New York Shaker Village. The original is held in a private collection. A photograph of the original can be seen in The Complete Book of Shaker Furniture by Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks, page 163.

Slightly larger than the original (81" H x 20" W x 9 7/8" D) this piece measures 85" H x 21 5/8" W x 12 5/16" D and is constructed from solid cherry hardwood.

Other changes from the original are the simple footed base, an arched waist door to complement the  arched hood and  arched side windows in the hood. The piece has been finished with 3 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil.

The hardware is polished brass consisting of drop pulls, one small pull for the hood door and a larger one for the waist door, a set of overlay hinges for the waist door, and a special pair of hinges designed specifically for tall clock hood doors which allow the door to clear the deep arched inset. The 8-day Kieninger clock movement is cable wound and weight driven with a top mounted bell that strikes on the hour and half hour. It was purchased from Green Lake Clock Company.

Although the design is traditional and simple keeping with the Shaker influence, the construction, on the other hand, is not. This piece is constructed using hand cut dovetails and mortise & tenon  joinery which will last for hundreds of years to come. To see the various stages of construction, details of joinery and explanation of technique, click here.


Shaker Style Chain Driven Wall ClockShaker Style Chain Driven Wall Clock - Side ViewI promised my daughter that upon her graduation from law school I would give her a wall hanging Shaker style clock. She graduated in the spring of 2008. I completed this clock in October of 2009. A little late; but to keep anyone from finding out I printed 2008 on the clock dial. Pretty clever huh?

The clock carcass is cherry and though not visible is constructed with hand cut dovetail joinery. The back of the pendulum compartment is spalted maple which gives this relatively large area some interesting figure for eye appeal. To provide contrast the doors are made of walnut.

In keeping with the Shaker theme the trim is simple bull nose and quarter round. Door pulls are turned "mushrooms" typical of what the Shakers would use.

Clock Dial And Serpentine Hands The clock dial was drawn using Google SketchUp. The four I’s to represent the numeral four is not a mistake. Though four is correctly represented as IV it is traditional in clocks to represent it as IIII.

After drawing the clock dial in SketchUp I applied an antique texture behind the numerals to add a little "age". Next I printed the dial full scale on 13" X 19" premium card stock. To protect the dial I applied seven coats of Spray-On MinWax Satin Polyurethane with the added benefit of still more aging (it dries slightly yellow). Finally the card stock is glued to a plywood backing. – Did he say plywood? Yes, an extremely rare occasion when I use anything but hardwood in my projects.

Spalted Maple Backing, Brass Chains, Bob & Weights Add Eye Appeal The mechanical clock movement is a German made Hermle model 241-080. It is an 8-day movement with a gong that strikes once on the half hour and counts out the hours. The serpentine hands are not in keeping with the Shaker style. Mother Ann would definitely not approve, but hey, my daughter likes them. The chains, bob and weights are brass plated. If you look closely at the bob you can tell these pictures were taken in my shop. The bob shows a reflection of me and my 15" planer.

To complete this project I used non-mortising hinges and rare earth magnetic catches. The hinges have an antique brass finish. To keep the clock level in the vertical direction I used two adjusting pins that have sharp points which dig slightly into the wall and can also be adjusted for level in the orthogonal vertical plane. These pins are made especially for this purpose and are a traditional piece of clock hardware. I finished this piece with seven coats of hand rubbed MinWax Wipe-On Polyurethane Satin Finish.


The Backs And Doors Are Custom Fitted Spalted Soft Maple With Its Black Lines, Tan and Greenish ColoringThe backs of a custom piece serve a number of functions and they are far from simple pieces of wood. The upper back in this piece provides a mechanism for hanging the clock while it also serves to keep dust out of the clock’s works. The upper back is not, however, visible since it is hidden by the clock dial.

The bottom back is visible, just behind the weights and pendulum that drive the clock. It also serves to keep dust out of the case. However, because the swinging pendulum will draw all eyes to itself and the back, it is important that the back not look like a plain piece of wood, but rather adds to the beauty of the clock. For this clock spalted maple serves that purpose. The random black lines of the early fungus and the tan and greenish color of the wood provides the viewer with an artistic drawing that only nature could render.

Elongated Open Holes, Washer And Screw Allow Seasonal Movement The Backs Are Centered With Gaps On Either Side For Expansion Backs almost always require special treatment to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction. In large pieces I often use ship lapped boards that are spaced one from the other to allow for seasonal movement. Theses backs are not wide enough to accommodate this approach. Instead, after calculating the expected movement, I cut the backs narrow by 1/4” and fastened them with slotted open holes, washer and screws. I cut them narrow because expansion season has only barely begun, and at its peak, the backs will expand to close the gap. If this were peak expansion season I would have cut them to fit and let them shrink to their minimum size. The washer and screws hold the back flat but also lets it move under the washer. I am careful not to tighten too much. Notice that I center the backs so that the gap for expansion is equal on each side.

The hardware and glass are on order and as soon as they arrive I will attach them. Then it is a simple matter of applying finish. For this clock I am going to use Min-Wax Wipe-On Poly Satin Finish.


Thickness Planing With A Drum Sander - The Top Is Open For VisibilityThe doors of this clock are made of black walnut (aka American walnut) chosen to provide contrast to the lighter, and more red shade of cherry. Walnut, while an excellent furniture wood, is not one I like working with much. There are very few adverse health effects related to walnut though there have been documented reports of skin irritation, rhinitis and asthma. But the saw dust generated by walnut is very fine and highly noticeable even with the use of dust masks. I find its taste bitter and unpleasant. So, while it is a beautiful furniture wood I tend to use if for contrasting trim and doors and seldom build an entire piece out of it.

Tapering Legs With A Drum SanderMost of the walnut pieces in this clock are short, about 12”. So I have chosen to thickness plane them with my drum sander and avoid the problem of sniping. I load the drum sander with 80 grit paper. After joining and planing three sides with a power jointer followed by a hand jointer and smooth planes, I cut them to near length and thickness them on the drum sander.

I Use The Table Saw To Cut The Rabbets And Save The Off Cuts For Securing The GlassAfter bringing the pieces to within 1/16” of final thickness using 80 grit paper I switch to 220 grit for final thicknessing. I don’t have to run through all the grits in between because I am taking off more with the 220 grit paper than the depth of the groves left by the 80 grit paper. I would not suggest trying this with a random orbital sander though.

The drum sander has many uses not immediately obvious. For example, power planing a tiger or blistered maple board will often leave tear out because of the rapid grain changes. The drum sander is an excellent choice for final thicknessing in this case. Also, the safest way to taper legs is a drum sander. You might first rough cut the taper close to the line with a band saw and follow it up with a drum sander, or skip the drum sander altogether. Either way you avoid the dangerous step of either a table saw or a jointer.

The Tenoning Jig Makes Cutting The Open Mortises And Tenons Easy And SafeWhen thicknessing is complete I cut a 3/8” wide by 1/2” deep rabbet in all pieces. Normally I would do this with a set of dado blades. But if I do this on the table saw instead, the off cut pieces are exactly the size I need to secure the glass in the door.

For this Shaker wall clock I have chosen simple doors constructed with slip joints. This is consistent with many Shaker clocks in existence. More importantly, for a given rail and stile size, slip joints provide more glue area and are stronger. The rails and stiles on this clock are only 1 1/8”, so this added benefit is quite important.

Final Slip Joint Fitting Is Done With A Shooting Board And Shoulder PlaneSlip joints are basically a mortise and tenon with the mortises being open. The table saw and tenoning jig make cutting the open mortises and tenons easy and safe. I cut the open mortises first and then cut the tenons to fit. The jig has a fine vernier so that I can creep up on the correct tenon thickness.

Two of the stiles for the long door are 37” long, not a piece I would want to hold manually while guiding it through the table saw. This jig is designed to hold them secure, at perfect right angles, and hands safely clear of the blade. It is heavy and tightly fits the table saw groves so the cuts can be smooth and slow avoiding tear out.

Completed Doors - Notice That One Side Has A Rabbet To Provide For Securing The Glass I cut the tenons so they fit a little too tight in the open mortises. Then I final fit them with a shooting board and shoulder plane. This gives me a perfect fitting slip joint. The doors are crafted over sized, one quarter in wider on all sides. This leave me the ability to custom trim them to the carcass. A quarter inch may seem a little overkill, but it also allows for a little tear out on the ends of the stiles and mortises which will not remain after trimming.

The doors, after glue up but before custom fitting, are shown above right. Notice the rabbet shown on the back side of the long door. This rabbet provides and inset for the glass. Tuesday of this week I will be out to the wood yards picking out the figured wood for the back. After that only mounting hardware and applying the finish remains.


Dry Fitting Trim While Shaving The Front Piece To Exact LengthTrimming a piece requires careful attention to the joints. Even simple forty five degree miters can be tricky, sometimes requiring hand fitting with a block plane. But the most difficult part is cutting trim to the correct length; too long it doesn’t sit tightly against the backing and too short it leaves unsightly gaps.

I like to start by cutting the front trim to length first. To do that I cut the miter on the side pieces leaving them long. I clamp then in place and then cut both miters on the front trim, intentionally leaving it about 1/8” too long. I then sneak up on the correct length with a series of very fine cuts. As I approach the correct length I observe how the miters are coming together, and, if they need hand fitting I take thin shavings with a block plane and a shooting board. This is the equivalent of the dry fitting process that precedes all glue ups.

Trimming An White Oak Hutch Once I have the front piece cut to exact length I glue it in place and clamp it. I let it sit for about an hour and then go back and apply the side pieces. The side pieces require special attachment because this is a cross grain situation. Normally I would glue the first two inches of the end that connects to the front trim, and use a sliding dovetail joint to hold the other end in place to allow for seasonal expansion. See picture above right.

With A Software Tool, Movement master, I Check For Expected Seasonal Change However, this piece has relatively narrow sides, only 7 3/8” wide. Using a software tool to calculate the expected seasonal change for the Western MA area and cherry wood, I need only allow for about 1/8” expansion/contraction. Enlarge the picture at left by clicking on it and you will notice that this calculation is a function of stock type (flat sawn verses quarter sawn), area of the country where the piece will reside, current moisture content and species of wood.

An Elongated Slot Allows For Seasonal Expansion/Contraction Since the amount of movement is small, and the side narrow, I can use a simple elongated slot, screw and washer to allow for seasonal expansion. See the picture at right. Notice that I placed the screw toward the right end of the slot because most of the hot humid season is still ahead of us. I tighten the screw just enough to hold the trim in place, but not too tight, allowing the screw and washer to easily slide within the slot.

Wiping The Surface With Mineral Spirits Provides An Easy Check For Glue Stains After the glue dries I like to inspect for glue spots that may have been left during the glue up process. The easy way to do this is to wet the surface down with mineral spirits. Mineral spirits does not raise the grain like water does and dries quite quickly. Completed Carcass With TrimThis procedure also gives me a preview of what the wood will look like once the finish is applied. I’ll again inspect the entire piece this way toward the end of finish sanding.

The completed and trimmed carcass can be seen at right. The trim seems a little weird without the doors in place but that will be resolved shortly. The slots you see in the clockworks compartment is for a 1/4” panel that will slide into place, and on which the clock dial will be mounted. Both the clockworks and pendulum compartments will have backs. I am in search of a highly figured wood for the pendulum compartment back, perhaps spalted maple, because it will be visible through the glass door. The doors will be contrasting black walnut.


My Daughter, Summer My daughter and I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a Father/Daughter mini-vacation over the Memorial Day weekend. Both halls, much to our surprise, took only a half day to see. We had planned a day apiece. So with the extra time available we decide to add one more stop on our way home; Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts. I had been there three times prior, but my daughter had never visited a Shaker village and both she and I wanted her to see it.

basketmakingshop The Shakers are a significant part of my life. I was born at home, on Albany Shaker Road in Colonie, New York, approximately one mile from Mother Ann Lee’s grave and the site of the founding village in Niskayuna, New York. I spent my childhood ice skating on the Shaker Pond where the Shakers cut ice in the winter. I worked on a farm owned by the Engel family who were very close friends of our family, and to this day attend our family reunion each year. The family elder, Walt Engel, worked for the Shakers cutting ice during the winter when farm activity was slow. Working next to him in the fields he would regale my brothers and me with Shaker stories. I graduated from Shaker High School in 1963. Throughout my life I have always been attracted to simple Early American furniture with a special liking of Shaker pieces. To this day my own furniture designs are guided by my early Shaker influence. Some of you may not know, or heard of the Shakers. The following is a digest history.

A Family Dwelling With Kitchen, Dining Rooms, Meeting Rooms & Bedrooms Ann Lee, born February 29, 1736, was a member of a group derisively referred to as Shaking Quakers due to their spontaneous dancing that accompanied their worship. The group resided in Manchester, England where they were often persecuted, beaten and imprisoned. From early youth Ann believed she experienced “divine manifestations” and believed that intercourse and its sexual pleasures were sinful. However her parents convinced her to marry a blacksmith with whom she had four children. All died in infancy. This experience and her religious beliefs later led to her strong belief in celibacy, void of marital family structure.

A Unique Circular Cow Barn Improved Efficiency And Fire SafetyAnn herself was imprisoned in 1770 at the age of 34. While in prison she experienced Christ more strongly than ever. After being released from prison Ann Lee, with her strong belief in the second coming of Christ and a vision of what living a Christ like life must be, eventually became the leader of the Shakers, now formally called the United Society of Believers in Christ’s First and Second Appearing. The group bestowed on her the title of Mother and she was from then on known as Mother Ann. Members of the Shakers were called Sister or Brother.

An Adult Cradle Used In The InfirmaryDue to continued persecution, in 1774 Ann Lee led seven of her followers, including her husband, brother, niece and a wealthy financier to America arriving in New York City on August 6, 1774. Her husband abandoned the group shortly thereafter. Upon arriving they split up to find work but two years later bought 200 acres in Niskayuna located in the township of Watervliet, NY.

Crutches, Walker And Hearing Aid The Shakers practiced their religion quietly and without much notice. As a communal sect they farmed, made their own furniture, tools, equipment and built buildings. Because of their beliefs they opened their own schools. They remained under the radar until a period in colonial life when many people feared religion was being lost in American society. The Shakers offered what was considered a pure religion and was soon discovered by those seeking a deeper dedication. Mother Ann recognized this and from 1781 to 1783 traveled throughout Eastern New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut as a missionary seeking converts, who once converted opened new villages.

One Half Of A Symmetrical Dining Hall Shaker orthodoxy included celibacy, equality of the sexes and races, pacifism, communal living and property ownership, strict Christian worship and confession of sins. In support of these beliefs there were no marriages or children born into the Believers. Their numbers grew by converts and adoption, particularly of orphaned children. Upon entering the Shaker community converts offered all their property and belongings to the community. Shaker communities were governed by four elders, two women and two men, which served to support their belief in equality. Indeed after Mother Ann’s passing on September 8, 1784 the Shakers as a whole were led by Mother Lucy Wright and Father Joseph Meacham.

Built-ins Were Functional, Efficient And Often ColorfulMother Ann died from frailty largely as a result of her missionary work from 1781 through 1783, where she often met with violence and beatings from those who viewed Shakers as troublesome. This was particularly true in Shirley, Massachusetts. But Mother Ann almost always succeeded in her mission. The Shakers survived and thrived well beyond her life to become the America’s most successful communal sect. At their peak there was 19 major communities with a population between 4 – 5 thousand members and stretched from Kentucky to Maine. A community sprung up even in Shirley, MA, where Mother Ann was tormented and beaten. Mother Ann never lived to see the completion of a village but her convictions and guidance remained the focus of Shaker life.

One Half Of A Symmetrical Meeting Room The Shaker contribution to American society went well beyond beautiful and simple furniture to the creation of the circular saw (table saw), the flat broom, packaged seeds, clothes pins and many other inventions.

Wooden Hand Planes Of All Shapes & Sizes - Notice The Long Jointer The Shakers were good neighbors, they paid taxes, obeyed the laws, sold their wares to the community and purchased goods and services from the community. They took in workers who were unemployed and gave them jobs, took in abandoned and orphaned children and gave them homes and love, and yes, most importantly to a woodworker gave us a clean, beautiful in its simplicity, furniture style.

A Shaker Version Of A High Boy The Shaker orthodoxy, their beliefs and Mother Ann’s strong guidance shaped their furniture with a simple principle, simplicity of purpose, that is, form follows function and nothing more. Mother Ann instructed her followers to “do all your work as though you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you would die tomorrow.” To the woodworker this meant build it to last and don’t procrastinate. Father Joseph Meacham wrote “All work done, or things made in the Church for their own use ought to be faithfully and well done, but plain and without superfluity.” To the woodworker this meant well joined, simple trim and no ornate pieces or carvings. It is stated in the Millennial Laws that guided the Church that “Members of the church of God…are forbidden to make anything for Believers that will have a tendency to feed…pride and vanity”. Indeed, signing a piece was not allowed early on, although in the 19th century many Shaker woodworkers did sign their work but always hidden from plain sight.

A Shaker Built Shoulder Vise - Note The Dovetails Despite the avoidance of “superfluity” and simplicity of purpose, Shaker furniture is beautiful, it is elegant in its simplicity, and it is nothing else if not well constructed. Thumbnailed drawer edges, mushroom shaped pulls, dovetailed drawers and carcasses, brilliantly arranged and proportioned doors and drawers, functionally configured desks, sewing benches and tables all combine to give us this unique and beautiful style. Perhaps never again will there be such a distinctive style tied so closely to so few a people as Shaker furniture is to the Shakers – and their beliefs.

A Shaker Woodworking Bench To anyone who wants to know more about the Shakers and their works I highly recommend a book titled “The Complete Book Of Shaker Furniture” by Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks. I also suggest you visit the websites of Hancock Shaker Village, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village or Shaker Villages And Museums.


The Bits And Stages Used In Milling The Clock's Carcass Trim The clock carcass is trimmed with a sandwich of quarter round and bull nose pieces. This requires two bits: I used a CMT Cove Bit #837.951.11 to form the 3/4” radius quarter round, and a CarbTech Triple Beading Bit #02-03 for the 1/8” radius bull nose. The Cove Bit has a bearing which controls the cut into the side of the stock.  The depth into the face of the stock the woodworker must set. With a bit this large I like to make a few passes, increasing the depth on each pass until I reach the 3/4” depth.

The Triple Bead Stock Is Split Down The Middle With The Band SawThe CarbTech bit cuts three adjacent bull noses, each 1/8” radius. It does not have a bearing so you need to account for its depth of cut into the stock’s side with the outgoing router fence. I sacrifice the middle bead, cutting the stock in two right down the middle; an easy and safe task with a band saw. Next I use the drum sander, loaded with 220 grit sandpaper, as a thickness planer to finish the bull nose. A little glue and a few clamps and we have our trim.

Since I planed all the stock before milling, used 220 grit paper in the drum sander, and used sharp router bits, little or no sanding is necessary. If I do any sanding it is with a 320 grit paper to remove the raised grain resulting from the glue clean up. I am very careful not to destroy the edges that define the trim, and I perform this sanding only after the trim has been applied to the carcass.

Next I will apply the trim and build the doors. We are close to completion.


At this stage in the clock construction it is time to test the clock, pendulum and gong assembly to be sure no adjustments are needed to the seatboard or gong block. Making any adjustments later will be much more difficult. Also, I have been waiting for some time to hear the gong, not at all sure I would like what I heard once I heard it.

Maiden Clock Assembly Including Clockworks, Pendulum And Gong My clockworks are a Hermle 241-080. The instructions for assembly and adjustment received with the clock are for a different model that looks nothing like the works staring me in the face. I called the supplier and left a message requesting the correct instructions. No return call. I sent an email with the same message. I received an email with a PDF file of the same instructions I already had. So I read the instructions carefully and armed with that knowledge attempted mapping it onto my clockworks.

After a day of fiddling I managed to get the clock working. The main problem was that the clock would stop after five to ten minutes. The solution is what clock masters call “putting the clock in beat”. This is a process of adjusting the slip clutch on a crutch arbor until the tick tock sound is balanced. The instructions call out components such as verge, crutch, clutch, leader, escapement and suspension spring. Being a woodworker I have never noticed any of these components in the shop. It was all new to me. But with some perseverance I prevailed and the clock has run for more than a day now.

The Positioning Of The Gong Block Is Critical To Desired Sound The gong sounds great, though it is awfully sensitive to adjustment. A tiny bit left, right, up or down and the sound is totally different. So I have decide not to glue the gong block in place until the clock is ready for finish. I may even devise an attachment method that allows position adjustments instead of gluing it permanently in place.

Next I will trim out the clock, add the pendulum and clockwork backs and build the doors. Stay tuned.

Next Page »


Back Issues of Chiefwoodworker's Newsletter