Frame Talk #4: Traditional Water Gilding 23k Gold Leaf

In this edition of Frame Talk I’d like to give a short explanation of the traditional water gilding process vs. oil gilding.  There is absolutely no comparison to the final results of these two processes.  Very difficult to photograph but this painting titled Drifting by Diane Eugster is framed with a floater frame of my design which has a 23k gold leafed edge.  My goal was to rub back the gold to expose the lay lines and also the red clay base to compliment the palette of the painting.  It’s on stretched canvas and measures 24″ x 30″.

Drifting by Diane Eugster

The work began by milling the frame from Basswood which is 3/4″ thick by 2″ wide.  The width is usually determined by the material I have on hand and how I can get the most from a given board, since I had an almost 9″ wide piece it was economical to rip it for 2″ wide molding.  Precious gold leaf comes in sheets just over 3″ square so again, to economize on that cutting, them into 1″ wide pieces would yield 3 strips per sheet.  To mount the canvas there is a dado cut into the inside of the molding which places the canvas about 1/8″ below the frame, 1/4″ plywood is glued into that.  Once the frame was mitered, glued, and clamped it was time to begin the water gilding process.

That process is quite involved and exacting.  Always feel as if I’m doing a science experiment!  It begins by making a 10% solution of rabbit skin glue and distilled water.  After soaking overnight this is heated to 120° then filtered into a clean container.  It will be used to initially coat the frame and then to make up the gesso and clay/bole required for the process.  Multiple coats of the gesso (distilled water and basically chalk) mixed with the rabbit skin glue are applied to the frame and then sanded.  This is followed up with more coats of the clay/bole mix which is also mixed with rabbit skin glue.  Both of these need to be kept within a specific temperature range which is why you see a yogurt maker!

Next is that gilding process which I hope to master before I leave this earth!  Genuine gold leaf comes in a book of 25 leaves and costs can range from $40.00 to $100.00 or more depending on the country of origin.  To prepare the frame to accept the gold leaf it must first be wetted with a solution of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol.  Remember all of that rabbit skin glue? This solution reactivates it so that the leaf will adhere to the frame.  You can’t touch the leaf but need to pick it up with what’s called a gilders tip and forget about breathing or running your a/c — this is fragile stuff!  I won’t bore you with the details but here’s a little montage.  The magic comes in when after the newly gilded frame is dry enough it can be burnished and it’s stunning!

The final steps are aging the gold leaf and adding patina by gently rubbing it back with rottenstone to expose those lay lines and the base coat.  For this frame the outer edges have been finished with black casein paint and a ruby shellac wash.  Mounting is through the back and directly into the stretcher bars of the canvas.  I drill oversized holes so that the painting can be positioned with an equal reveal all around.  So, the question is how much time to do this.  I tried to keep a record and from raw wood to finished piece is about 14 hours plus approximately $100.00 in materials.  Market value?, hard to say but for me it’s more about the challenge and satisfaction of the artist and their future buyer.

Posted in Diane Eugster art, Floater Frame, Frame Talk, Gilding, Picture Frames | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traditional Dovetailed Drawer: Hand Tool Tutorial

It’s not too uncommon for someone to ask me about dovetails and the process it takes to cut them.  I thought this would be a good time to document the steps I use, these are the same whether they’re for a small drawer or box or for a large piece of furniture like my armoire.  Before I start though there’s something Jamie from Wooditis said a long time ago that stuck with me, she said: “Ask 10 woodworkers the same question and you’ll get 12 different answers”!  That is so true, this method works for me and I’m open to any comments or questions you may have.

This drawer is about 2/34″ tall by 7 1/2″ wide and 6 3/4″ deep and will go into a small box.   The side and back are 5/16″ Cherry, the front is 1/2″ Australian Lacewood, and the bottom is 1/8″ Birch plywood.  My habit is to cut the pieces longer than needed, insurance in case things go bad!  Once the joinery is cut then I’ll cut to exact size.  I begin by cutting grooves in the sides and front with a small plow plane for the bottom.

Doing the groove first helps you identify the inside bottom of each piece and also helps when laying out your dovetails so the tail conceals the groove.  The Stanley 140 trick helps give the inside of the drawer a finished appearance.  In the past I would cut this with a rip blade on the table saw by holding the side vertically against the rip fence, the skewed rabbet plane makes this operation much safer!  Remember to do a left and right side.

I’m a “tails first” dovetailer and my preference is to cut both sides at the same time.  I clamp them together so they stay in the same position when I flip the boards around.  These are drawn on with pencil, it’s a good idea to flip the boards around so you can see the line when sawing.  After they’re cut I cut the outside shoulders first, just my habit.

Before making the cut for the shoulder a chisel is used to create a small notch directly on the scribed line, you’ll see that this makes it easier to start your saw.  When removing waste between the tails I  begin with a chiseled  notch right on the scribed line.  I only use chisels, no coping saw.  This notch removes some wood in the waste area.  Picture the bevel on the chisel — as the cut gets deeper the chisel will be pushed back by the wood in front of it.  My first cuts will be 90° and then it’s okay to slightly undercut which will make it easier to fit the joint.  Experiment with that and you’ll see what I mean.

Holding Fixture for transferring tail layout

Now comes the pin board or drawer front in this case.  I choose Australian Lacewood for this and honestly, it’s like cutting concrete!  The time proven method is to support the board on your plane, line up the pieces and scribe the lines.  It’s essentially an L-shaped piece with a fence on one side.  That fence aligns the side and front squarely.  Then the step cut at the front of the side locks tightly for scribing.  Always scribe rather then using a pencil, the scribed line gives you something to register your chisel into.   Cutting half blind  dovetails is process you need to practice and discover for yourself how to manipulate your chisels and saws.  Important of course to mark what needs to be removed and cut on the waste side.  Take your time and remember it’s hard to replace wood if you go too far!  It’s all a learning experience and I keep on learning for sure!

For a drawer this small I’m putting a straight dado in the sides for the back.  For larger drawers in a piece of furniture it’s better to cut a sliding dovetail to stabilize the back.  Decided to use a backsaw, chisels, and my old Stanley 271 Router.  I use the router to scribe the line for the depth on the edge.

For a traditional drawer with a solid wood bottom the grain should run from front to back and it should be fastened so that it can move with the seasons.  For this, with a 1/8″ Birch plywood bottom that’s not a concern.  Now that the drawer is together (Old Brown Glue) the fitting process begins.  That’s a trial and error process and way to involved to write up!

Have fun with the process, use any project as an excuse to hone your skills.  Spending time in your shop with your tools is a great way to take your mind away from the pandemic, politics, and the unrest in our world — John




Posted in Hand Cut Dovetails, Hand Tool Woodworking, Tutorial | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Count Your Blessings!

Not sure how things are where you live but here in Phoenix we’ve become a hotbed for the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s times like these when it’s sometimes a struggle to find the positives and not get discouraged.  If you’re an artist of any kind most of the work you do is solitary in nature, your opportunity to get out happens at your gallery and art shows and these have all been cancelled or are virtual.  Diane has such a positive outlook and suggests just keep on working, experimenting, and honing your skills.  That way when things return settle done we’ll have pieces that are ready.  The blessing comes from having something to do and a place to do it safely.  I’ve been fortunate in having a few frames to make and also making cradled panels for clients.  I’ll just share what’s been going on in the shop, let’s begin with this latest frame (actually 3) for Diane’s work.


Season of Hope
(20″x20″) Diane Eugster

This is one of her recent pieces titled Season of Hope, it is a contemporary interpretation of figurative painting.  The design of the frame it needed shouldn’t be curvy, the way the canvas is divided with that strong horizontal break dictated a simple profile.  For coloration, black or gilded 23kt gold leaf seemed to be too stark of a contrast to the palette.  Doing the entire frame in 12kt gold leaf would be too cold.  This frame consists of a flat panel with a cap going around the perimeter.  Knowing it would be oil gilded I used a gray Dux burnisher sealer and Mixol #14 Oxyd to achieve the desired color.  Once dry and burnished with 4/0 oil free steel wool the outer edge was taped off, slow set adhesive applied, and then gilded with 12kt gold leaf.  After the oil gilding was thoroughly cured the entire frame was waxed.

There is a second frame finished identically to this one, the third is unfinished at this time waiting for its’ painting.

Two other projects gave me an opportunity to maintain/hone my hand tool woodworking skills.  I view anything I make as an opportunity to work with the tools and hopefully improve my skill level.  This first one, a box to hold tea bags has gotten amazing response on Facebook and Instagram.  It started out because I wanted to experiment with a method of putting dividers into boxes and/or trays.  The joint begins with a 45° v-shaped cut in the tray sides, which was done with a router.  I cut the ‘V’ first in a piece that was oversized. It was then ripped to the required size to ensure the V’s  lined up perfectly when assembling the tray.  The tray was assembled using miter joints and packing tape.  The inner dividers were cut to approximate length and then the ends were mitered using a shooting board and block plane.  Besides chisels and saws for the dovetails it was an opportunity to use skewed rabbet, small plow, and smoothing

One final project is this small box made of Home Depot Pine and a piece of Walnut.  The challenge was cutting small dovetails in that soft Pine!  The lid is a different design, just wanted to experiment with the handle, you can see there is a hole in the center for “finger clearance” and then the piece inset into the groove is angled to match the ends of the lid.

It’ll make for an interesting little keepsake box for the Mesa Art Center co-op I’m in.  Like everything else, it’s been closed down since the pandemic started which gives me time to experiment and keep on keeping’ on!!  Stay safe and healthy.

Posted in Artist, custom profile, custom profile, Design Process, Diane Eugster art, Gilding, Hand Cut Dovetails, Hand Planes, Hand Tool Woodworking, Mesa Arts Center Store, Picture Frames, Types of Boxes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walnut Picture Frame #201

As a furniture maker for me it’s all about the wood so when I get an artist client that needs a frame and wants it made of wood in all its natural beauty I get excited!  I just completed this 16″ x 20″ frame for Scottsdale artist Devon Meyer.

The majority of frames tend to be either gilded or painted black.  Being able to showcase the beauty of the wood is a treat.  The profile is just under 3″ in width and it is 6/4 Black Walnut from Woodworkers Source here in Phoenix.  After going through their entire stock I found a piece without any sapwood but now, looking at the finished frame it was well worth it. Frames in the Mission style constructed of solid wood with exposed joinery are beautiful and I love creating them.

The first step was to use my Powermatic planer to make the board a uniform thickness, there will always be a slight variation in wood so this step is important if you want nice, tight joinery.  After that it’s time to hand plane the edge to prepare it for ripping which is done with my corrugated sole, #7 Stanley plane that dates to the late 1800’s!  The tablesaw is used to cut the rabbet for the painting and also the 20° bevel on the sight edge.  Once all of the tablesaw work is done, all surface are gone over with a #4 Bronze Smooth plane.  As good as the helix head on the Powermatic is you can’t compare it to the finish a smooth plane will give you.

The final step to creating this profile was to cut a single bead on the outer edge.  For this I used a router bit and cleaned up any chatter with a tadpole sander.  Now that the profile is complete it’s time to miter the ends and then assemble the frame with glue and #20 biscuits.  It’s not too unusual for me to get questions about how I miter my frames so this is a good opportunity to share the jig I built for my tablesaw, I use it in conjunction with a Tenyru 72 tooth blade to get super smooth cuts.

The finish used is Osmo Polyx oil which has become my “go to” finish ever since Watco changed their formulation many years ago. My client picked up the frame this afternoon and I installed her painting for her.  The painting was commissioned to her by the owner of the compound, she really captured the beautiful desert scenery and sky of area around Payson Arizona.


Posted in Artist, custom profile, custom profile, Hand Planes, Picture Frames | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tablesaw Push Stick — Here’s Mine!

Old push stick ready for replacement

In Junior High School woodshop, back in 1963 a push stick was a simple piece of plywood with a classic shape — no frills or fancy gadgets!  It had a hole and hung on a peg near the saw and that was it.  Now if you do a google search you’ll see so many different styles it’ll make your head spin!  Quite honestly, I’ve seen some of these in use and they are dangerous in my opinion.  I needed to redo my own push stick so thought I’d share it with you.  Think about it, the purpose is to keep your hand from contacting the blade and also control the piece of wood being cut.  Many push sticks I’ve seen are a fairly thin piece of slippery plastic angled in a way that really isn’t very secure to hold.  As you can see, mine is fashioned from a piece of wood and a re-purposed handsaw handle.

Mortise Laid Out

Any utilitarian project that comes up is a chance to hone your woodworking skills.  In this case the saw handle has been trimmed to have an approximate 5/16″ tenon so the push stick part needs to have a mortise.  It’s secured with a 3/8″ dowel and at the back of the push stick is another dowel that hooks onto the wood being ripped.  Here I use a spiral dowel and it’s left loose.  This makes it simple to replace and also allows for different thicknesses of wood being ripped.  After locating the hole for the handle the next step is to lay-out the mortise.  The only mortise chisel I have is a 1/4″ so after using the mortising gauge I use another chisel to outline the mortise.  Then came the chopping, not pretty but it’s utilitarian!

You can see on the handle that the hole for the dowel is getting kind of oval shaped so I use a “draw bore” procedure to have the dowel pull the handle tight against the wood.  In time the push stick will get many kerfs in it but it’s thick enough to re-face several times.  Since I have the habit of setting the blade about the height of a tooth above the wood the push stick isn’t cut that deep.    So, if you want to do a hand-cut mortise, have a piece of wood and an old saw handle this may be a quick project for you!

Be curious to hear if anyone that sees this blog gives it a try!


Posted in Hand Tool Woodworking Class, Hybrid Woodworking, Mortise and Tenon Joint, Tutorial | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mitered Birch Mantle — aka Packing Tape Assembly!

As any home owner knows, there’s always an improvement or remodel that can be done to enhance your home and customize it to your sense of style.  That was the case with our home here in Phoenix.  Diane has such a great eye for design, between us our home has become our sanctuary, great place to live and work.  Anyway, let’s get into this project with a before and after:

Original Mantle

New Mantle

Quite a change eh?  The original mantle appears to have been made with some left over sections of the ceiling beams and really seemed puny — like Diane said the mantle needs to be a focal point of the room, needs importance and IMHO we’ve achieved that!

The material used is 3/4″, clear coat Baltic Birch plywood from Peterman Lumber here in Phoenix.  This was chosen because of the stability and appearance but primarily because it’s pre-finished and is extremely durable.  I’ve used it for artists furniture and shop table and nothing sticks to it.  The joinery is all spline mitered and assembled with packing tape.  The corners are very sharp and a burnisher (for a cabinet scraper) was used to blunt that sharpness.  Here’s a pictorial tutorial for you, contact me if you want to tackle something like this and have questions.  The mantle is approximately 9 1/2″ wide by 8 1/2″ thick and 6′ long.  The legs are 5 1/2″ square and the construction of it all is essentially how you’d make a box beam.

Work started by removing what I’ll call the “horns” of the original mantle, this needed to be done so that the new mantle would fit.  Used a bow saw and chisel to avoid any damage to the tile.

Next step was cutting and mitering the edges of the Birch plywood.   1/8″  masonite is used for the splines.  The ends will have a cap inserted into a rabbet, this was tricky; 6′ is a long piece to support on the sliding table!  The goal was to leave about an 1/8″ to insert the cap into.  Clamped a hold down on rip fence and the rabbet was cut in two passes.

Assembly was next and done in two steps.  Important thing with a spline miter is to not have too much glue which can keep the spline from seating fully.  Great thing about this clear coat — dried glue just pops right off!

The end caps were fitted and taped in place, a bit out of square on one side but scribed and block planed to fit.

A challenge was to create the area for the mosaic tiles. This is a large and heavy piece!  After waxing the saw table and rip fence more packing tape was applied to the front and sides to protect the mantle and hopefully make controlling it easier.  The ends were taped in place for the first passes then removed and finished after.  The process was to make one pass then flip the piece around to cut the other side.  The fence and feather board were readjusted for each pass until the entire space was removed.

Tight space to work, but gimlet and stubby screwdriver made it possible

Lastly, the end pieces were installed with glue and brackets from the inside. As far as installation work went the mantle piece was set in place on the existing mantle and marked to notch out for the legs.  Next up was tile installation.  We used 12″ square mosaic tile cut in half, the ends were tricky but it turned out that one of the sections was 6″ long and was perfect for caping off the ends of the front.

New Fireplace Screen

Once installed, it was obvious that the fireplace screen we had was no longer a good match.  Diane found this sleek, much more contemporary screen which seems to add that finishing touch — agree?

Posted in custom furniture, Design Process, Home Remodel, Tutorial | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

April + May + Covid-19 = Shop Changes

I’m certain that this blogs title isn’t a shocking revelation to anyone, this pandemic has changed us and the world we live in tremendously.  If you too are an artistic type you’re probably somewhat accustomed to working in isolation but now we can’t even leave our space to get a quick cup of coffee, bite to eat, or visit another artist!  The two places I show my work  are currently closed. My frame clients tell me the gallery they show their work in is closed and/or the show they’ve been accepted into has been postponed so the need for my work has dwindled.  Rather than dwell on those negatives I’ve tried to find different outlets for my creative juices and now have the time to pursue them and either fail trying or find some new venues for success.  Allow me to share what I’ve been doing.

House Projects:  Anyone of you that are homeowners know there is always something that you can modify, improve, or repair around your home.  We had a spot on our patio that the previous owner had designated as a planter but the sun never shone so nothing ever lived!  It became a great little spot of dirt to gather leaves and an occasional weed.  Decided to dig it out and add cement so now the bbq can be closer to the patio and out of the sun.  Another house project is redoing the fireplace mantle to fit our sense of style more than what’s there now.  Combination of Baltic Birch and mosaic tile; full blog to follow on that one.

Frame Projects: The more unusual project here was to create a frame with different layers of wood which were then gessoed and painted.  You can read about it in this blog.  As usual, corner sample was made first to make sure that what I envisioned in my mind could become a reality.

Boxes: This was a hard area for me to be enthused about.  The two places that carry them are currently closed.  One is the Mesa Art Center Store and the other is the Anticus gallery which is also in the process of moving to old town Scottsdale.  I’ve been wanting to experiment with a mid-century or art deco style box with a drawer so used this “no pressure” opportunity to do that.  Came up with these two from wood I had in stock, one is Pine with Walnut the other Big Leaf Maple with Sapele.  You’ll need to click on each image to get the full view, not sure why!

Triton Belt/Spindle Sander

The legs added a new, creative element to the design and the free form handles were fun to create.  To my eye, there is a sense of motion to them; some playfulness rather than the typical static box.  The drawers feature half blind dovetails, any project I can use to maintain/improve hand tool woodworking skills is a good one.  After making the template for the legs they were cut out on the bandsaw.  The technique I use when doing curved shapes on furniture is to use a spokeshave to refine the shape which wasn’t successful here.  I ended up buying a Triton combination belt/spindle sander and it works great for this application.


Grandsons Initial Plaques

Carving Work:  Carving tends to be an activity that I get into and before you know it the day is gone!!  One project was carving these initial plaques for my grandsons to paint and decorate for their room as an art project while being home schooled.




Two other plaques were these, the cat was copied from a ceramic tile while the dachshund is from a photograph — anything to stay off of the couch!

Well, that takes care of the past few months since the pandemic hit.  Hope all of you are doing well in spite of it — know that “this too will change”!

Posted in Artist, Carving, custom profile, custom profile, Hand Tool Woodworking, Mesa Arts Center Store, Picture Frames | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Color of Asphalt – Frame #197

An advantage I have when it comes to doing frames for my wife, Diane Eugster is that I get a sneak preview of her work when I go into her studio.  Many times what I see inspires a frame design and that was the case with this painting of hers titled  The Color of Asphalt.

The painting is of a photograph she took on a trip to New York City.  The architecture of the building and then the lines of the crosswalk made me think that the frame for this should feature a linear design, draw the viewer in, and compliment the palette.  The painting is 16″x20″ and the frame is about 3  1/2″ wide.

Resawing pieces for the steps — surfaced to 3/16″

Work started with 1  1/18″ Basswood which I get locally from Peterman Lumber, I really like this material.  After ripping it to width a slight chamfer was cut on the tablesaw.  I wanted the “steps” to be even and found the easiest way to accomplish that was to use metrics.  I know;  as a woodshop teacher who fought the metric phase during the 80’s and 90’s this is shocking!!  However, I must admit now that it’s so much easier and the rip fence on my SawStop shows Imperial and Metric measurements so there was no need to do any conversions.  The first layer only needed a rabbet and the chamfer on the sight edge.  The other pieces were chamfered on all four edges, the plan was to resaw them and rip to the required width to make the steps.

After the frame was assembled (biscuits, glue, overnight clamp) each step was attached one at time.  They were initially cut with a miter saw then I used a shooting board for the final fitting. Lines were drawn to make sure the 23gauge pins would be concealed by the next level.  I don’t feel there’s enough holding power with pins so each step was glued, pinned and then clamped overnight.  I had to use parallel clamps for the last step due to the thickness of the frame, they gave me a little bit of movement.

There are three layers/steps on the frame and I anticipated that glueing them up and keeping the edges perfectly aligned would be a challenge — I was right.  To handle that the first step was to scrap off the glue and then use a Jack Plane to even them.  There was still a visible joint in a few spots that needed to be taken care of so Durhams Rock Hard Water Putty came to the rescue.  I mentioned this on a picture framers group on Facebook and was asked why this product.  If you’ve never used it, it’s my goto for any nail holes or repairs.  Harder than any pre-mixed product plus it will never dry out since you mix up a fresh batch whenever it’s needed.  Nothing more annoying than having to patch something and you open that can or tube of putty only to find it’s hard as a rock!

After all of that work it was time to figure out the finish.  Here’s where all of the work making the frame can be ruined.  Using gold leaf didn’t seem like a good choice for this contemporary painting so the next option is usually black.  It’s my habit to make sample pieces and on one full corner piece I made I tried a semi-gloss black over primed wood.  It was too shiny and the Basswood grain and miters telegraphed through — not acceptable.  Each  layer was sanded after attaching it to the frame and before applying the next layer/step to get them as smooth as possible.  The finish started with 6 coats of hard traditional gesso.  Brushing would have  been a nightmare so flat black spray was my choice.  After doing some sample pieces and liking it the entire frame was done.  Usually I prefer to either wax or use shellac over painted surfaces but for this frame that didn’t look right.  It needs (IMHO) that flat look that is “just like asphalt”!  By the way, Diane decided that would be a good title for her work.




Posted in Artist, custom profile, custom profile, Design Process, Diane Eugster art, Hand Planes, Picture Frames | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Frame Talk #3: Ebonizing Basswood

Earlier this year I did a blog post on ebonizing Red Oak for a picture frame.  It brought a lot of responses and comments and while I was doing the process I also tried the solution on a piece of basswood.  Much to my surprise, the Basswood turned shades of grey with a slight greenish/brownish hue!  Keep in mind that the ebonizing process isn’t totally predictable.  I’ve had some Oak turn out black and others a deep shade of brown.  Here’s the results, the painting is by Diane Eugster and it has been accepted into the Oil Painters of America National Show which will be held in Fredericksburg, TX.

The colors Diane used for this painting is why I chose to attempt this technique for the frame.  I feel the frame fulfills its intended function; compliment the art and put it into its own world.  There was one black streak in the frame which I put in the lower left corner, I felt that here it’s minimized by the dark of the painting.  Had it been on the upper corner it would have stuck out like that proverbial sore thumb!

Once the frame was built it was time to do the ebonizing.  To give you a visual I made this video ….. I’ll say in advance that it’s the best I could do! You can actually see in real time how this process works in this  short video.  This is the first coat, I ended up doing three coats several hours apart.  Interesting that when doing a new coat the solution beaded up at first and then began to soak in.

3 Coats, even the plywood took some color!

After the final coat the finish was quite flat and dull.  After experimenting on my test pieces I discovered that spraying a couple of coats of Platinum Shellac gives the nicest finish.  This is done with an airbrush then rubbed out with wax and a white scrubby. This picture shows the frame after 3 coats or so of the vinegar/steel wool solution had been applied.  The dark piece in the middle is Sapele I wanted to try!

This painting was on a panel so the first thing needed was to glue 1/4″ plywood to the back of the frame so it could be attached to the frame with screws.  On a smaller piece a simple rub joint would be sufficient but this is 20″ x 24″ so decided to play it safe and clamp them in place.  There are oversized holes in the frame so the painting can be centered, I use #6 screws for this process.  I’m a big fan of gimlets to pre-drill the hole in the back of the painting — very little chance of going through to the artwork!

So that’s it, although the process is a  time extensive process it’s not a frame you’ll find on every painting in a gallery or someones home.  That’s the thrill, creating a one of a kind frame to showcase someones art.

Posted in Diane Eugster art, Floater Frame, Frame Talk, Picture Frames, Tutorial, YouTubeVideo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun with Chisels and a Stanley 271 Router Plane

In my last blog I went thought the process of making a small, dovetailed box from Red Oak and Chechem — some small pieces of wood from my shop.  I’ve never had a large supply of wood on hand and with the Covid-19 crisis of course I can’t just run down to Woodworkers Source to get more.  The dovetails turned out okay and the box will be added to my inventory at the Store at Mesa Art Center.  Here’s how it looks, the lid design is based on a series of boxes I did quite some time ago and called the A River Runs Through It:

Red Oak has never been one of my favorite to work with, seems as if in the 80’s and 90’s every cabinet job I had was out of that material.  Although good for cabinetry I’ve always found it difficult to work with hand chisels since it tends to be grainy even with the sharpest of tools.  For this little box I could have easily had a lift off lid but decided it would be a great time (socially distanced as we are) to spend the time to install stop hinges from Rockler.  Could have been done rather quickly by making a jig and using a router but enjoy hand tools and the challenge much more.

Scribing on the Masking Tape

Lay out was difficult because of the graininess of the Oak. Scribed lines quickly disappear, especially with older eyes!  I remembered a trick way to lay out dovetails using masking tape and decided to give that a try — it worked so thought I’d share it with you.  It starts by putting down a piece of tape and then locating and scribing the hinge locations directly onto the tape.

Beginning Chisel Cuts


Once they’re on, simply peel back the tape outlining the hinge location and chop it out with your chisel.  I use the same technique here as you read about in the dovetail blog, after severing the fibers of the wood across the grain I take a sliver of wood from the back edge to get a sharp edge for the hinge to reference to.  If you’ve chiseled hinge mortises before you’re probably wondering how did I set the depth?  My technique for this is to use a small router plane, in my case an old Stanley 271.  I set the depth off of the thickness of the hinge and use the edge of the blade to score the depth. Just like cutting a larger mortise, the ends are squared off and a series of shallow chisel cuts are made along the length. First pass is with a chisel to about half the depth. After another series of chisel cuts the router plane is used to remove the waste and the hinge is ready for installation.  The same technique is used on the box.

The lid lift was installed the same way, you can see the mortise for it on the picture above.  Anyway, that’s my trick for the day and hopefully you’ll find it useful in your own work.



Posted in Hand Cut Dovetails, Hand Planes, Hand Tool Woodworking, Mesa Arts Center Store, Tutorial | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments