A natural extension of my model building activities has been many woodworking projects - both building and refinishing. Without going into a lot of detail, here are some of the projects for which I happen to have photographic documentation.
My workshop currently consists of a 10" radial arm saw, a 12" drill press, 9" dia. / 6"x48" disc/belt sander, 14" band saw, and a router table - all Craftsman. A pretty good assortment of hand-held sanders, drills, and routers tops off the for power tools list. A pretty respectable assortment of clamps, hand tools, wood vise and metal vise, and good size wooden work benches help get the job done.
I'll post a few photos at some point ... just in case you might care ;-)
1941 Crosley Model 03CB Console Radio Restoration
After searching occasionally for many years for another Crosley 03CB radio in a location close enough to drive to, I finally saw one on Craigslist in Harrisburg, PA, about 300 miles from my home in Erie, PA. Melanie and I picked it up yesterday. It needs - and will receive - a total restoration for both the cabinet and the electronics, but it appears to be in better condition that my first pre-restored Crosley 03CB. This radio is Chassis #95. As of this writing (July 2013) all the parts have been disassembled and the woodwork on the cabinet is underway. Some joints needed gluing and the lamination had separated in a few areas. The metal faceplate components are ready to paint, and the mounting hardware has been re-plated with copper per the original. There is still a lot left to be accomplished, including a complete disassembly ...
During our frequent walks around the neighborhood here in Erie, PA, Melanie and I would see houses that had flower boxes installed beneath the windows and vowed that some days we would do the same for our house. Finally, as a present to Melanie for her birthday, I made measurements and drew up some plans for a set to put on the front of our house. After doing a search on the Internet for ideas, I decided on a fairly unique configuration where the boxes themselves sit on a shelf that is mounted to the house. That allows the boxes to be easily removed for servicing ...
Antique Clothes Chest - Before & After
Another of Melanie's family's relics is this pine clothes chest. After more than 100 years of use and abuse, this chest was in dire need of restoration. Construction is very low density pine, with dovetailed corners. Finish was a clear varnish with no stain. The bottom, back, and inside had no finish at all. Restoration consisted of knocking apart and re-gluing most joints, sanding, and filling in the multiple dings and scratches where they were really deep. Minor imperfections were kept for the sake of character. Minwax dark walnut stain was used inside and out, and allowed to dry for a week. Then, two coats of Deft satin clear were brushed on with ...
Antique Cobbler's Bench - Before & After
This cobbler's bench has been in Melanie's family for a couple generations. It was in pretty rough shape. I chose to sand the finish off rather than use chemical stripper. A leg had been broken and some drawer joints needed re-gluing. All of the square strips on the work surface were removed for sanding. The wood was very soft. Final finish was Minwax stain and Minwax Polyurethane. Although polyurethane is hard to work with because if runs so easily on vertical surface, I like too use it where there is likely to be wear and tear. Fall 2007.
Antique Regulator Clock - Before & After
This regulator wall clock was purchased on eBay for around $50 in early 2007. The mechanical pendulum-regulated, spring-driven escapement movement took a bit of cleaning, oiling and adjusting to get working; it can be seen in action online on YouTube. The finish as received was in really awful shape. It took a lot of chemical stripper to remove the finish. I removed as many parts as possible for sanding and the reinstalling. The design on the top plate was made of copper and was in very poor shape, with parts of it corroded away, I just disposed of it. The brass dial ring, hinges, and pendulum were wire-wheeled and lacquered. The glass is silkscreened on the back surface. Interestingly, the clock was made in China (circa 1899), and has what looks like a Star of David pattern on in the middle. My standard Minwax stain with Deft lacquer clear coat was applied. Summer 2007.
Antique Secretary Cabinet by Kirt
Here is an antique secretary cabinet that was given to us by Melanie's parents shortly after we were married. As received, it was in fairly good shape, but the finish was very tired and stained, and most of the joints were loose. There was no glass in the door, and the beveled mirror panel was missing most of its silver backing. We used it for many years after just buying a piece of glass for the door.
Sometime around 1998, we decided to refinish it. At that point the decision was made to totally disassemble the entire secretary because all of the joints were so loose. It came apart like a puzzle with just a few whacks of a mallet. All the pieces were stacked in a neat, flat pile and ended up being moved twice until finally in Loveland, Colorado, in 2001, I got up the nerve to tackle the job of assembling and finishing it. After much chemical stripping and sanding, it was finally ready to be glued back together. Figuring out where some of the parts went was a bit challenging, since even the edge-joined long side panels had been pulled apart. After applying glue, squaring, clamping, and checking squareness again, the entire secretary was finally ready for finish to be applied. I used, for the first time, a water-based stain. I'll never do that again because it raised the painstakingly sanded wood grain terribly. A total re-sanding was done, and an oil-based Minwax stain was applied. Minwax clear polyurethane was used as a top coat. We found a 12" square beveled mirror tile at Home Depot that exactly fit in the original frame. All the original hardware was wire wheeled and lacquered. Is is now our prized furniture possession. Spring 2001.
Crewel Picture by Melanie
This is my second-favorite picture that Melanie has made. It is made using a form of embroidery called crewel. This is a fairly large picture that is mounted in an 18" x 22" oak frame. I did not make the frame.
Klockit Wall Clock PL-20
These two regulator clocks were built from plans by Klockit. The wood was from scrap that Melanie's father had torn off their old house in West Virginia. The pendulum movements are electronic. We gave one to my sister, Gayle and her husband, and the other to Melanie's sister, Melissa and her husband for Christmas 1983. <more>
Cross-Stitch Pictures by Melanie, Frames by Kirt
These two counted cross stitch pictures were done by Melanie sometime in the mid 1980s, when we lived in Arnold, Maryland. I made the octagonal frames out of mahogany sticks that we bought at Hechinger (a home store similar to Lowes and The Home Depot) that were being sold as stakes for tomato plants. The glass was cut from some old window panes that had been left in the basement of our house when we bought it. The frames are about 9½ inches from side to side.
Cross-Stitch Pictures by Melanie
Two other pictures in the country building series were complete in later years.
The rectangular oak frames for those two were purchased.
My 1st Basement Workshop!
Wow, talk about waxing nostalgic over a recently discovered photo! This was taken in the basement of our first home in Arnold, Maryland (just outside of Annapolis), sometime in 1985. Melanie is in maternity clothes, working on a cross-stitch picture, whilst awaiting the birth of our son, Philip. You can see my head to the left with the radial arm saw. The basement was damp and dank; I put a lot of effort into trying to keep it dry enough to not rust the tools. In that workshop I built the weather station and a lot of the picture frames shown on this page.
Radial Arm Saw Dust Collector
There are many videos on YouTube showing some pretty ingenious dust collectors for radial arm saws. Most use a fairly small enclosure located just behind the fence, with a shop vac attachment for forcefully inhaling the sawdust. They appear to work extremely well for cuts that are at 90° to the fence and to the table surface. Maybe my interpretation of the dust collectors is wrong and they adapt to any angle. Since I only have a small shop vac and do not like to have to turn it on every time I make a cut, my ...
Wooden Machinist's Toolbox
For decades, I have had my hobby workbench set up with collectible coffee mugs sitting around to hold all of my hand tools - pliers, picks, files, scissors, rulers, screwdrivers, etc. Over time the number of coffee mugs has grown considerably, so it seemed like the time had arrived to finally get a tool box to put everything in so as to have a tidier and more efficient work space. A search for a nice oak toolbox showed that anything worth getting would cost many hundreds of dollars if purchased new. There are a few el cheapo wood toolboxes out there, but the customer reviews are overwhelmingly bad. Lousy joints, easily scratched finish, and sticking drawers are a few of the most common complaints ...
Queen Anne Chair Repair
We found a nice antique Queen Anne style chair at the Erie City Mission. It had been reupholstered at some point based on a tag still attached. It was in excellent condition except the two front leg glue joints had broken away from the frame. Screws had been used, but the wood in the frame was chewed up and splintered from many prior attempts. I clamped the inside and outside edges, then saturated the wood with cyanoacrylate glue (Super Glue). In some place I drilled 1/16" holes in the wood to allow ...
In the picture to the right, I was trimming a short section of oak floor molding. The cut came out very nicely. You can see that I did not put the tape as far to the left as I should have in order to protect the cut edge, but it was nice and clean anyway, with no splintering. Maybe that was because 1) the blade was sharp, and 2) the oak piece had recently been finished with a couple coats of polyurethane, so the wood grain was thoroughly filled and the finish had not turned brittle.
Update: My Lorraine Grandmother Clock is now (as of August 2013) 100% complete!
I am built the grandmother clock from plans and mechanics purchased from Klockit. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to build a floor model clock, and this one will fit well in our 1,500 sq.ft. house. The wood chosen is hickory both because it has beautiful grain and color variation, and because then I can say that I have built a "Hickory Dickory Clock!" The hickory was bought from Summit Hardwoods, just a few miles south of ...
Antique Mantel Clock - Before & After
This mantel clock is a multi-generational heirloom. It was not expensive, but had emotional value. Melanie's family hearkens from the York, Pennsylvania, region and this clock, I discovered, was manufactured by the Ansonia company and sold by Will K. Rebert, Watchmaker and Jeweler, in York. Her parents gave it to me for Christmas of 2006, and I decided to refinish it and return it to them the next Christmas. Unfortunately, Melanie's father passed away from cancer last summer, but we were able to present it to her mother. I used chemical stripper to avoid sanding to preserve the intricate and shallow engravings. As it turned out there was a milk paint coating underneath the black paint that was hard as a rock. The case insides and back cover ...
Banjo Weather Station
This banjo style weather station is an original design that I designed and built waaaaay back around 1984, shortly after Melanie and I were married. The wood is laminated from three layers of wood that came from the side of an old farm house that Melanie's father tore down in West Virginia. The basic pattern was cut with a handheld saber saw, and the the final shape was formed with files and sandpaper - a lot of work. A router was used along the top edge for decoration. The hygrometer (top), thermometer (middle), and barometer (bottom), along with the finial at the very top, were ordered from Klockit (they've been around for a long time - like me). All the instruments are of very high quality. 1984ish.
Antique Night Stand
This antique nightstand was given to us by my Aunt Bernice, who lived in Mayo, Maryland. Like most of our other furniture, this was used as provided for a long time before undertaking a refinishing project. It was a pretty straightforward job. Chemical stripper followed by sandpaper followed by stain followed by a Deft lacquer top coat. I don't recall why I chose to use lacquer rather than polyurethane here. The drawer handle was sprayed hunter green, which looks good against the reddish stain.
Counted Cross Stitch in Teak Frame
Back when Melanie had more time (around 1984), she made a lot of counted cross stitch pictures. This one remains her most ambitious project ever - a large nautical map of the ancient world, fashioned after the works of famed cartographer Gerard Mercator and titled with "Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio," which is, loosely translated, Latin for "A Comprehensive Description of the World." Melanie's work was done on 22-count fabric, and measures approximately 13" by 8" (not including white border). Such a fine effort needed a special frame, so I set about making a custom 23" by 17" frame out of teak wood bought at World of Hardwoods in Baltimore. The fancy fluting was done on my Craftsman radial arm saw with the molding head. It was a scary operation with the sharp teeth flying while feeding that teak through it. Teak, as you might know, is used extensively on boats because it weathers well. It is an oily type wood that starts out life with a <more>
Cross-Sticth Pictures by Melanie, Frames by Kirt
Melanie made the picture on the top for me before we were married. Before life robbed me of my time and willingness to do such things, I used to run a couple miles every day. I never had a dog, but the picture was a standard one from the Precious Moments collection. She did change the hair color from the original sandy brown to black, to match mine.
The picture at the bottom was made by Melanie after were were married (May 22, 1983). Both are counted cross stitch on 22-count fabric. I made the frames using my Craftsman table saw with a shape cutter head. If I recall correctly, the wood was standard framing 2x4 pine.
Cross-Sticth Picture by Melanie, Frame by Kirt
Cross-Sticth Picture by Melanie
Melanie loves the seashore and sailboats, as you might have inferred from her selection of topics for pictures and from her having had a radio controlled Victoria sailboat at one time. This was her first cross-stitch project in over a decade. It is in a 16" x 20" oak frame (purchased).
Cross-Sticth Pictures by Melanie
Cross-Stitch Picture by Melanie, Design by Kirt
Here is a custom design that I came up with that plots the day of the year versus the length of the day (daylight), for the latitude of Annapolis, Maryland. Numbers were derived from table in the Old farmer's Almanac.
Cross-Stitch Picture by Melanie, Frame by Kirt
Melanie made this picture for her grandmother (mother's mother), who actually sat in a rocking chair and did needlework and sewing. It is also one of the Precious Moments series. The frame is made in the same manner as the other pine models cut on my Craftsman table was.
Log Cabin Doll House
Sometime around 1999, we gave Sally a log cabin doll house kit for Christmas. It was a bit of a challenge to put together properly, but it came out very nicely. The simulated stone on the chimney was the most difficult part of the job.
Much more to come...
Here are a few links to pages I have regarding my days of yore:
- My Southern Senior High School Yearbook (Harwood, Maryland)
- My neighborhood, Holly Hill Harbor
- My photos of earlier times
- Parole Plaza in Annapolis, Maryland