Refinishing Fine Woodworking

Refinishing fine woodworking pieces that I find at garage sales and thrift shops is something that I enjoy.  My approach to doing this is not scientific and probably not what an experienced woodworker would do but so far it has worked for me.

First I clean the piece; using whatever cleanser I have on hand (usually soap and water) and on old rag.  Then I enlist my husband’s help in making any necessary repairs.  Actually he makes the repairs, he has the power tools, and I try to help by offering suggestions.  This is the time changes are made, if any.  After removing any hardware and stripping the old finish from the wood using liquid or gel stripper or sandpaper, and sometimes steel wool; it’s time to sand the surface smooth.  All the sawdust must then be removed with a tack cloth so the paint will go on smooth and even.  I can see some woodworkers cringe at the thought of painting wood projects, my husband does, but honestly some wood pieces just need to be painted.  And that is my favorite part.  Choosing the paint and design, then completing the project.  Now that’s exciting.  Once the painting is done, deciding what to do with it begins.  Do I give it away, sell it at a garage sale, donate it to a worthy cause or keep it?  So far, I’ve done everything except sell them.

No conversation about woodworking projects would be complete without discussing safety.  I know…women worry about being safe but men are made of tougher stuff and can’t get hurt.  Oh, yes you can!  So, think first of all the hazards involved in your project then take measures to prevent them.  Proper tools for the job and good ventilation in the work area are essential.  Proper gloves, safety goggles, ear protection, long sleeves, and proper respirator, especially when dealing with lead paint, are all important items in your arsenal of safety equipment.  This is a safety tip I read recently for properly disposing of rags and newspapers used in stripping: allow the solvent, mineral spirits or whatever to completely evaporate before discarding them.

I would say that in creating fine woodworking projects, repairing and refinishing fine woodworking pieces are the ultimate “green” in recycling.  What fun.

Refinishing Fine Woodworking



Practicing Safety in Creating Fine Woodworking

I have found in my desire to create fine woodworking I grow impatient to complete a new project too quickley.  The effect quite often is sloppy workmanship and more often than not some sort of injury.  I will admit when I was younger I managed to escape a lot of injuries, but as I grow older I find I’m not as fortunate.

I like the new tablesaws that have all the safety features to keep us whole while creating fine  woodworking projects.  My own experience is to some times take shortcuts that can cause injury.  It can be a frightening thing to watch your thumb and that rapidly spinning blade make contact.  I think of many times I’ve had a piece of wood fly by my head because I was in too much of a hurry to install the guard.  My father-in-law watched me cut up a two by four with a skill saw and warned me that I would injure myself.  He was right because witin 15 minutes I was in need of bandages.  He, in earlier days, had worked in a saw mill where he had lost a finger.  I worked with a man that lost most of a thumb in a router and another man lost fingers twice in a shopsmith.  None of these accidents were the fault of the tools, only the operators.

My wife and I decided to remodel a bathroom.  One of the fixtures was a castiron bathtub.  The tub was too heavy for the two of us to carry out and once again, being impatient to get it out, I decided to break it up with a sledgehammer.  Swinging a 16 pound sledge against that tub and watching it break up can sure make you feel manly until a two pound piece of porcelin covered iron whacks you on the ankle.

I enjoy watching HGTV and DIY programs where remodeling and creating fine woodworking projects are shown and even there you can see the possibility of accidents happening.

As I look at my own family and friends and casual aquaintences, I realize this is a bigger subject than I first thought.  Much pain can be avoided with patience, caution and poper safety equipment.  Woodworking and the use of woodworking tools can be very rewarding but ignoring the safety devices recommendations can be very costly.

Restoring Fine Woodworking

Plant Stands and Foot Stool

There are different ways of creating fine woodworking projects.  My husband prefers to build new woodworking projects.  He does very well and generally works without a woodworking pattern or plan.  His accomplishments include a desk, book shelf, toy box, foot stool, dresser, scenery for church play, tool box, jewelry boxes, and some things to aid working with power tools, just to name a few.  My preference is restoring old, ugly and beat up pieces, not to their former beauty, but to a newer modern look.

It is here that I must call on my husband for help (I don’t do power tools, etc.) which he freely and patiently gives.  I look for treasures at garage sales and in thrift stores.  He comes along to offer advice on whether an item can be fixed and is worh the money and effort it will take to do this.  Then he painstakingly puts the pieces back together as sturdy, usable items.  Actually, my only contribution is to strip and paint the piece and upholstery if needed.  Some of our successes are four dining chairs with rounded and spindled back (cost $5) the seats were split, legs were falling off, very unstable; several plant stands in stages of disrepair ($2-$15 each), oak dining table weathered and worn ($20), and other items I can’t recall.  This was done with the thought of selling them at a garage sale.  The dining table was donated to the church, the four chairs were given to a needy family and the rest are scattered about our house because I can’t bring myself to let them go yet.

There is a restful sense of accomplishment about taking something old, broken down and ugly  and making it useful and attractive again.  So, although my contribution to creating fine woodworking is small, it gives me joy in each new woorworking project I complete.


Public Domain Woodworking Patterns and Plans

Unless you design your own woodworking patterns and plans, one of the first things you will need when starting a new woodworking project is a pattern or plan to follow.  In today’s economy we look for ways to cut costs when we can and a free pattern or plan is a great way to do that while creating fine woodworking projects.  And thankfully there are thousands of free woodworking patterns and plans in public domain.

“Public domain” woodworking patterns and plans are those which are no longer protected by copyrights because the copyright has expired. They have no restrictions attached.   Any plan that requires payment is not in the public domain and cannot be redistributed.  Commercial use of copyrighted plans is considered to be an actionable offense.  So before using free patterns and plans be sure to check the status of the copyright.

Detailed diagram from Woodworking pattern

Anyone can use the woodworking patterns and plans from the public domain in any way they choose.  Some believe the best plans can be found in the public domain while others think they have more errors and are more difficult to understand than the ones you buy.  Therefore when using woodworking patterns or plans from the public domain, it is important that you carefully check them over before you start.  It’s a good idea to read the whole plan for step by step instructions, diagrams and drawings, making sure you understand everything first.  Remember the saying “measure twice, cut once”.  That’s good advice.

The good things about woodworking public domain are that there are so many woodworking patterns and plans available, endless different types and styles and best of all they’re free.  So gather as many plans from the public domain as you can and go forth creating fine woodworking projects and spreading happiness along the way.

Woodworking ,Getting Down to Basics

I have never considered myself possessing the natural ability of creating fine woodworking projects.  I have learned that, with the help of a proper set of tools and some professionally drawn plans plus patience, a person can usually turn out an acceptable product.
The tools part has a special place with me and I have purchased fair amount of tools over the years.  I have not as yet purchased one of the newer drill drivers and I have never had a radial arm saw.  I have never needed either of these items but would like to have them.  I have a neighbor who is moving after spending many years here.  Because he couldn’t take everything with him, he shared some woodworking tools with me.  Among them was a DeWalt 740 radial

After cleaning and lubricating

arm saw, one of two that he had.  It was taken out of use many years ago years ago because of a defective electrical switch.  Consequently, all metal to metal surfaces were starved for lubrication and so I began by lubricating as much as I could.  This was the beginning of the work to return the saw to service.

I realized that if the motor didn’t run, I would be wasting my time as I don’t have the ability or the extra money to fix or replace it.  So I waited a
day or so to jump the switch and test the motor.  The motor ran and I took great joy in the fact that I am going to be able to make this saw work.  After this I did a lot of cleaning and adjusting. I am not finished with it yet, still need to replace the switch, but I have a radial  arm  saw for creating fine woodworking projects.

My neighbor also gave me a large piece of walnut wood about two inches thick and thee feet be three feet and now all I need is an idea and a good set of plans and I can consider creating more fine woodworking projects.  I guess what I enjoy most is taking something that was probably kept around for parts and putting it back to it’s original purpose.