Archive for June, 2010

Transforming a Chair into a Rocker

Rocking chairs are great pieces of furniture to have around. Many parents cherish the memories of rocking their children to sleep at night. Rockers have been treasured and passed down from generation to generation. Building your own rocking chair is worth the effort. When you’re successful, you’ll have a piece that you and your family is sure to enjoy for years to come. Transforming an existing chair into a rocking chair is an easy way to get your feet wet and test the waters of rocking chair construction before you attempt to build the entire chair on your own.

First, choose the chair that you want to transform. It will need to be in fairly good condition and should be made of hardwood. If you are planning on using the rocker outside, cedar, cypress, or redwood is recommended. Pine, oak, mahogany, and maple are fine for indoor use. Pine is cheapest, but if you plan on passing your rocker down for generations, it may not be the best choice. It is softer and could have more problems as it ages.

First you will need to measure how long you want your rockers to be. You may want to look at some existing rocking chairs and compare them to your chair before you decide. Most rockers are over two feet long. Use a gentle curve and draw them however you’d like. Cut out your template using a jig saw.

Trace your template over the wood that you will use to form your rockers. The finished product should be at least two inches thick and wide to support the weight. After you cut out two identical rockers, you will need to determine where the holes for the legs will be. Use chalk on the chair leg bottoms to mark your spots.

You may need to remove the legs of the chair at this point. Using a lathe, shave down the feet of the legs so that they come to a round point. The diameter of the legs should gradually decrease from a few inches up down to the tip. Measure so that you don’t take off too much. You want your legs to almost equal the diameter of the circle that you will drill into the rockers.

To attach your chair legs to the rockers, you may only need wood glue. However, most people choose to use screws inside of inset holes from underneath the rockers to secure the legs. Make sure that your chair legs are braced together using slats or dowels. You can buy a wood dowel of any diameter, even custom diameters, and made of any type of wood. Use the lathe and then attach each dowel to each chair leg, much like you did the legs to the rockers.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio. Good Wood, Inc. makes dowels and dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import wood dowel products from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.

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The Basics of Woodcarving

There is nothing quite like creating something with your own hands. Woodcarving is a great way to express yourself. You can create ornaments, figurines, decorations, toys, puzzles, and sculptures from a piece of wood, using your own personal interpretation of how the finished product should look. Many people love this hobby because they love to work with their hands. Most woodcarvers use only a piece of wood and a few hand tools. Hand rubbed finishes help to bring out the wood grain and detail of the piece.

The wood that you choose can have a bearing on what you are able to carve. Wood is stronger when you work with the grain. Working across the grain will result in a more brittle piece. Many woodworkers plan their most intricate pieces before deciding where to start carving. Whichever piece will be the thinnest or most delicate should be carved with the grain.

For very detailed or fine pieces, consider hardwoods that are sturdy when taken down to a tiny degree. Sycamore, maple, plum, apple, pear, and Italian walnut are common. For all other work, choose the hardwood that is easiest to work with for you. Basswood, Tupelo, mahogany, teak, chestnut, and American walnut are most popular. Softwoods are easier to carve, but they don’t have the longevity that hardwoods do. In general, you want a tight grain for detail work and a fuller grain for larger tasks.

Once you’ve chosen your wood and picked out the best areas for your details, you can start shaping your wood. If the wood is very hard and you have a lot to take away, you may want to use a chisel and a mallet to start. If it’s not too hard, you can start with a gouge and smoothly peel away layer after layer. Knives can be used on smaller projects while saws and power tools can be used on larger projects. Never cut or gouge against the grain. Always go with the grain or against it.

Tools used for finishing vary widely. Your artistic impression of what the piece should look like will have a bearing on what you end up using. Some like the sharp lines left by chisels and gouges. Smoothing can be performed with a rasp, which is like a rough version of a file. Smaller rasps and files can be used to smooth out fine details.

You can carve from a solid block of wood, a board, a dowel, a stump, or an entire tree. For small projects, like chess pieces, are easily carved from dowels. You can purchase dowel rods in varying diameters and types of wood. Some people will combine different types of wood to create unique pieces. No matter what you make, you will surely enjoy the process of woodcarving.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio. Good Wood, Inc. makes dowels and dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import dowels from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.

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Types of Chisels

Your chisel can be one of your simplest, yet most useful woodworking tools. Its simplistic design makes it easy to handle and can help you to quickly solve a variety of problems. It can be used to remove big chunks of wood, metal or stone. Or, it can be used in finishing and to create intricate details. There are many types of chisels and each has a variety of functions.

In general, there are two types, ones that you hit with a mallet and ones that are intended for paring or shaving. Most modern chisels will have a larger flat head on the handle if they are intended for pounding with a mallet, or they’ll have instructions imprinted on the handle or on the package. Older mallets can be a little harder to tell. Most will have a metal ring around the handle near the butt of the chisel.

A slick is never intended for pounding. A slick is a chisel that has a blade wider than most, two to four inches wide, and is intended for pushing, not pounding. The handle will be more slender. The blade and the handle will not be perfectly straight, but should have a slight angle so that when you’re pushing the blade, it will be flat against your work while the handle is high enough for you to fit your hand. A slick can be really long, around two feet, and can be steadied against the forearm or shoulder. These are mostly used by timber framers and ship builders.

Japanese chisels are very popular because of their strength. The blades have layers of two kinds of steel hand pounded together. They may even be laminated by hand over a charcoal fire. Chisel makers are respected artists and sometimes the descendants of sword makers. They often use ebony or other hardwoods that have a unique color or wood grain, and they often sign their work. Japanese chisels are known for maintaining their sharpness. They can easily be identified by the hollow back on the blade.

Japanese chisel makers hollow out the back side so that it is easier for the owner to maintain the flatness of the back. The back side of a chisel needs to be completely flat so that it can slide over surfaces. A high gloss shine is preferable. Any convex, or high points, will cause the chisel to rock and give uneven results. By carving out a concave section in the back center of the blade, there is less metal to keep flattened and less surface area to push against your work.

Chisels can be many feet long or look a lot like a nail. Some are so delicate that they can carve on something as small as a toothpick or tiny dowel. Smaller dowels can be put on a lathe and carved out with a tiny chisel to create wooden toy parts, such as doll house spindles or other decorative pieces. If you’re not sure which type of chisel to use for your woodworking project, consult a professional or search instructions for clues. With a little trial and error, you can improve your chisel skills and create beautiful wooden furniture, wooden toys, and more.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio. Good Wood, Inc. makes dowels and dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import dowels from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.

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