Saturday, 18 November 2017

Red Gum Slab Table Build Part 3

The next step is to dovetail in the lower and upper stretchers. This is the lower stretcher detail with the entire frame turned upside down.

I used 12mm birch ply, which is permanently fixed to the lower stretcher and the dovetailed section will just be dry screwed. This joint will again not be visible but I stained it black to match the frame when it is ebonised.
The upper stretcher is also dovetailed, but not glued, so the entire frame can be dismantled when needed. I used 19mm thick material so it not visible under the top.

Dovetail ready to be planed flush. This dovetail was also cut by hand.

Everything is finished and disassembled. The next morning I give everything a final smooth and begin the ebonising.

The ebonising solution is made by dissolving fine steel wool in household vinegar.

After dissolving for a couple of weeks, I just strained the solution through some fine cloth and then a coffee filter. The Victorian Ash is a good wood for ebonising because it has a high level of natural tannins. Of course I experimented with several off-cuts before doing the entire frame. I wanted the frame to be a very dark black to match the pitch pockets in the slab. The results were great and better yet the process was non-toxic.

The frame is top coated with five coats of Danish Oil and ready for the slab top.

I shot some video on the day I did some final smoothing before ebonising. I am using the low slung smoothers that I make. This one is 6 & 5/8” long with an 1 & 1/2” wide blade. I find it easier and more enjoyable to push a smaller smoother. The narrower blade means that you make more passes however, with a little camber even this Ring-Porous, Victorian Ash comes up glassy smooth.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Red Gum Slab Table Build Part 2

Here is a beautiful Red Gum slab that I purchased last year. (Click on any photo to enlarge)

It’s a monster! 2.4 meters long by 1.2 meters wide and 50 mm thick. It weighs approximately 150 kgs. First order of business was to fill all of the pitch pockets and checks with clear epoxy.

The more meticulous you are with the filling process, the better the finish you will get. Here is the top after a good polish and eight coats of Danish Oil.

The lower frame was a good challenge and pretty labour intensive. It involved cutting some big, half blind dovetails. Even though this joint will be hidden, perfect accuracy was important because of the massive weight of the top. Sloppy joinery would not hold up. The added challenge was that the frame was angled at 5 ½ degrees. I have cut many dovetails but it was surprising how this angle made it tricky to sight my lines when cutting. Also the Victorian Ash is 44 mm thick. After cutting all of the tails with my dovetail saw, I carefully lay out the pins.

You can see from the photo how I used an off-cut to register the 5 ½ degree angle to lay out the pins. Then I used my Lie Neilson dovetail saw to cut the pins.

A series of relief cuts are made and then the first section of waste can be removed with a Jeweller’s saw.

Then I switched to a more aggressive Coping saw to remove the remaining waste.

Removing the rest of the waste involves many hours of chiselling. You know the quote “To understand you must do”.
A glue up of this scale is always stressful but, my careful layout and accurate sawing and chiselling paid off.

In my next blog, I will finish up with the build of the base by showing the dovetailing of the the upper and lower stretchers. Then I will show ebonising and applying the Danish Oil finish.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Red Gum Slab Table

Sorry it’s been a while! Got the kitchen and laundry finished. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

We also have had our en-suite bathroom renovated over the last few months and I decided to make the vanity. The drawers are made from Birch ply and the solid wood is Victorian Ash.

The drawers are finished with my own homemade beeswax finish, which smells beautiful. The Vic Ash is finished with Danish oil. Re-sawing the Vic Ash was a good effort for my 14” bandsaw.

I only have a small thicknesser, so once the panels were jointed and glued I worked them to finished dimension with handplanes. It is always nice to find a reason to use my beautiful, Lie-Nielson #8.

I was just about to get back into some plane making, when this Red Gum slab caught my eye.

Here is a sneak peak photo of the progress. I will go through the building process in detail in my next blog.