Furniture and chair building notes

Monday, June 15, 2020

Sharpening Carving Gouges

She started up her walk. Then she seemed to remember something and came back to look at him with wonder and curiosity. “Are you happy?” she said. “Am I what?” he cried. But she was gone—running in the moonlight. Her front door shut gently.

Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451

So confession time. I'm not a great carver and its not something I particularly enjoy.  I also have to admit to using rasps more than I care to admit. And while I'm not very good at carving I am, or rather was, not very good at sharpening carving gouges. As I have stated before my goal in sharpening is speed and repeatability.  I sharpen to get back to work. Unlike Abe Lincoln I derive no pleasure from sharpening.  That having been said it's important to not sharpen because you don't like to.

So I don't even know what rabbit hole I was down when I saw how you can use the little Tormek holder to sharpen carving gouges using their tool. Which is great but it is spendy and I'm pretty happy with my methods but it did plant the seed of how to adapt my Veritas strip sander to their guide bar.

I bought the guide bar from Tormek (actually sharpeningsupplies.com) and after some head scratching and hole drilling it works amazingly well. This is the position of the gouge and the best part is the belt is running away from the edge so you can't tear the strip. I run the tool all the way from 15? (about 800 grit) to 5? (about 2000 grit and they are scary scary sharp. Just amazingly sharp. It's super simple too. Just put the gouge in the holder up to the ferrule and use a magic marker to color the bevel and check the point of contact. Once it's good lock the bar in place and run thru the grit. Super simple and repeatable.

Here's my latest chair, a Contemporary rocker, waiting for paint. Really happy the way this one came out.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Rolling Pins

The only travelling I've ever done is going around the coffeepot looking for the handle.

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

If you've never read any Proulx I highly recommend Close Range and The Shipping News.

In these strange days due to a layoff at work I decided to build a shop and start with chairs again.

In the spirit of giving back (and in an attempt to get the dust off my very dusty turning skills) I am making some French rolling pins.

The giving part is as follows.  You contact me that you want a pin or two and upon receiving the pin you then send a donation to a local charity. I think in these crazy days I think its important to give back.

I normally use Maple planks that I  bandsaw to size but in the process of my gypsy caravan the last 5 years I could only get logs.

This is basically turning firewood hence the chainsaw helmet and gloves. I have a clear face shield but I prefer the helmet. I find the clear shield gets dusty too easily. 

Feel free to contact me thru my email at cterrancekelly@gmail.com if you want a pin.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Shop Progress

I painted my room a shade called haint blue. Blue kept unwanted spirits away; ghosts and demons could not cross over water, nor could they enter a room that was the color of the sea.

Alice Hoffman, The Marriage of Opposites 

( aside...the porch ceilings of porches in old houses were usually painted sky blue as the belief was that spirits and demons would look up and see the blue sky and think that it was still day time and thus they couldn't enter the house )

On the roof is Frank who has been beyond helpful in helping my build the shop. Beyond grateful. 

Some windows are in.

view of the loft 

sky light

So far. The shop is maybe a month away from being able to build chairs. Can't wait.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


He hoped it would snow recklessly and bring to the island the impossible winter purity; so rare and precious, he remembered fondly from his youth.

David Guterson, Snow Falling On Cedars 

I don't use an ax everyday in my shop. I do use a small hatchet, actually it's a shingle hatchet. But I did want to have a decent ax so I bought this one.  It's has very good balance and heft.

Here you can see what I use to sharpen my axes. I don't use stones; instead I prefer using a Nicholson single cut bastard file. I don't use stones because lately I've become keenly aware that I spent a lot of time over sharpening things.  I also find that things like draw knives and axes can really wear out stones and thus I have to spend a lot of time flattening the stones.  

I also wanted a nice sheath for the ax so I got some leather and used some paper to make a pattern and then cut the leather and riveted it together. A small strap holds it on.  I also put some snow seal wax to deepen the color and protect it from the elements. 

  I also put some snow seal wax to deepen the color and protect it from the elements. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Old Pictures

She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes. 

Frank Deford, Everyone's All American

So in the process of sprucing up my blog, I've been looking thru a lot of old pictures and these are some random ones that caught my eye.  It's been a long trip with lots of ups and downs. Yeah. Long trip so far.

Mr Dog...Forrest

Huge moose me and the girls saw coming back from daycare. Not 2 miles from my house in Presque Isle.

A couple Philadelphia Rockers and a contemporary rocker in yellow. Think I painted the contemporary rocker final coat black milk paint mixed with green...which would explain the yellow.

Top view of my Contemporary rocker

Back view of my Rod Back Contemporary rocker

Fan Back arm post showing how they are all wedged. White glue. Before I discovered hide glue

Rod back arm chair I built for my father. This chair was chosen out of a field of 12 to reside at The Connecticut Museum in Hartford. I told my dad about it and he asked, did they pay you for it? 

Sack Back, shadows

Corner of a cherry dresser I built for my daughter. Gorgeous cherry color. If you look closely you can see the divider is dovetailed in to the side of the carcass.

Sack Back bench I built for my old neighbor. If memory serves this is the first piece I used my own turnings on...vase and tulip turnings. Beautiful;l cherry seat.  Maple turnings and white ash spindles and arm and crest.  The legs don't have much splay...not sure why.  Oh I remember...it was going in a tight space a transition between the foyer and kitchen. 

A gorgeous hand smithed hold down from Alaska. He doesn't make them anymore.