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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Townsend Kneehole Bureau Carving Newport Shells Step 11

Now that the lower drawers are finished, it is time to work on the large center drawer.
This drawer has three shells on the front.  One shell is concave which is similar to the shell the we carved on the knee hole door. There are two convex shells to the left and right of the center shell.

I left the center drawer unassembled while I am carving the center concave shell.  I'll put it together after I carve the shell.


Here is the pattern for the center concave shell.  It is similar to the shell in the kneehole door but larger.  I blew up the shell pattern to full size and traced it on the drawer front.


Here I have partially carved the concave shell,  Since I have successfully carved the concave shell on the knee hole door, this shell does not seem that difficult.


I have the convex shell pattern from the drawings at full size.  I traced the shape on to a 1 inch thick mahogany blank with carbon paper and cut it out on the bandsaw.

I attached it to a pine board with screws from the back before cutting it out. This way the backer board was the same size as the shell blank.


I also have a plaster cast convex shell from Mary May for me to look at while I carve the convex shell. It is slightly different in size and the center is different but it is a good reference.


I cut a rebate in the front of shell a 1/4 inch deep.  This leaves 3/4 inch for the blocking that needs to match the blocking on the lower drawer fronts.



The plaster cast shows the blocking on the bottom of the shell carving.


I traced the curve of the drawer divider on to the bottom of the shell before mounting it to the board.
This gives me the shape to carve the shell blocking.


I made a cardboard template for the curve on the top of the shell, so I could measure when the round over was correct.


I use a spokeshave to round over the top of the shell using the cardboard template to measure the work.


I retraced the lines on to the shell which have been removed by the round over process.



Here is the result of the first shell that I carved.  It was not good enough to keep, so it made a good practise piece.  There where too many chip outs and the lobes of the shell where not flowing in the right way.  I had to start again.


This is the second shell that I carved. The lobes of the shell are about half done and the carving process is going much better.  So far so good.


Here I am working on an outward lobe of the shell.  I am rounding over the lobe with a 1/2 in #6, first working on the top part of the lobe.  This part is almost all end grain because of the round over.


 I work on each side of the lobe to round it over to the middle.


As I work back to the center, I have to watch the direction of the grain.  One side of the lobe I carve down toward the round over portion.


Depending on the grain, I carve the other side of the lobe upward from the round over. I repeat this until the lobe is completely rounded over


Now I am working on the inward ray right next to the rounded lobe we just did.  I am using a 1/2 #7 here to hollow out the ray. I will use smaller one as I work toward the center.  I also use #8 or #9 gouges to get the right depth in the ray.



Now all of the lobes and rays have been roughly carved.  It is time to flatten the very thin fin along the inward shell rays.


This is a very nervous process for me. These are very thin and can break off very easily which would ruin the shell.



You can see that they go from thin to flat but still at an angle to the round lobe next to it.


This completes the steps that are unique to the convex shell. The smaller inside of the shell uses smaller gouges but is straight forward carving.


I cleaned up the tool marks with files and a little 150 grit sand paper.  This shell is good enough to mount on the drawer front.  I will glue it on and put one screw in it from the back.


One more shell to carve and the drawer construction will be complete.

Next I will mount the hardware.

Here is today's video:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Townsend Kneehole Bureau Making the Drawers Step 10

Time to start working on the drawers.  I start by selecting the stock from the mahogany that I have been using for this piece. 
I want the grain to match on the drawer fronts, fortunately I have a board wide enough to accommodate the six small drawers and the one large center drawer.


All of the drawer fronts are 1 1/8 inch thick and have the same curved blocking pattern on the six drawers.  The large drawer has the concave shell carved in the center and the two convex shell applied.

The drawer sides will be poplar since I don't have any chestnut that Townsend used.
I used the bandsaw to rough out the blocking pattern on the drawer fronts.  Then I clamped them together and cleaned up the curves with a small plane.



I made a custom scraper from a putty knife, which I have done many time before.  This profile that I ground matches the curve that I need on the drawer fronts.  It does a good job of cleaning them up.


I put the drawer runners in the dados in the sides and used three nails to hold them in place.


Townsend's drawer construction was unique but since I am trying to be accurate in the construction I am going to build them as he did.  He beveled the drawer bottoms to 1/8 inch and nailed them to the bottom.  Then added running strips to the edges for the drawer to slide on.  This results in the bottoms being seen on the sides.


I counted the tails from the picture and fitted them to the space on each drawer to match what Townsend had done.  The half blind dovetails are only 1/4 inch wide because the drawer front is only 3/8 of an inch thick at the edge.


The sides are 3/8 of an inch short of the front on the bottom to allow for the drawer bottom and runner.

The bottoms are 5/16 thick and I uses the table saw with a 6 degree tilt to create the bevel on the bottom. The bevel is 1 7/8 wide tapered to 1/8 inch.


The drawer runner is 5/8 wide with the same bevel as the drawer bottom.  The wide end is 1/4 inch with the 1/8 inch bottom this make the 3/8 inch that is needed.



Drawer sides are 3/8 of an inch and rounded over on the top. 


Sawing the pins on the drawer fronts, like classic 18th century dovetails my saw cut goes past the thickness of the side and can be seen after the drawer is assembled from the inside.


Dry fitting the dovetails, I want a nice tight fit.


I am applying hide glue to the drawer runners before nailing them on.


Using my 18th century pin nailer I nail on the drawer runners.  I will cut them off in the back flush with the bottoms.


That is it, all assembled.  I may have to hand plane the sides or bottoms for a perfect fit in the drawer opening.


I need to repeat the process six more times for the rest of the drawers.

That's it for today.  Next I'll carve the large concave shell in the top drawer.

Here is today's video:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Townsend Kneehole Bureau Kneehole Door & Shell Step 9

Time to start on the kneehole door.  This is one of the more challenging steps in the construction of the Townsend Bureau.
The concave shell and the large recess that is in the door makes it a lot of work to remove all that material.

I took a portion of the plans and cut out the shell and door pattern. 


I milled a piece of mahogany 1 inch thick and fitted it to the opening.  Then I traced the pattern on to the door with carbon paper.


The bottom pattern shows how much material that I have to remove to make th recess.


I carved a practise shell in a scrap piece of mahogany.  A little practise never hurt anyone.


The first thing I needed to do was remove a large portion of the recess with my dado set mounted in my radial arm saw.  I moved it over 3/4 inch each pass.


Now I need to remove the steps created by the dado set and carve the cove on the sides.  I am using a #5 1 inch carving gouge. 


I picked this piece of mahogany because of the straight grain, only to find out that the grain changes direction right in the middle. Oh well have to carve in a different direction


I have the recess carved out now and lightly sanded. Now I have to carve a dish at the top for the shell.



Carving the dish 1/4 inch deep for the shell.


Now that the dish is created, I copied the shell pattern on using carbon paper.  I marked out which of the shell rays are to be lower and which would be upper.


I carved the shell rays by lowering the two from each side of a raised one and then rounding it over.
Here I am carving the lower one next to the raised ray.



After carving the shell, I cleaned up the tool marks using a little ultra flexible sand paper from 3M.  This is the first time that I have used it and I think it is great.



All cleaned up ready for the lock.


I marked out where I wanted it positioned and then traced around it for the pattern.


Then using a chisel and hand router plane I created the lock mortise



 I placed the escutcheon over the hole for the key and traced the keyhole shape on to the door


I used a jig saw to cut out the material in the shape of a key hole.


I temporally mounted the escutcheon and made sure the lock was working smoothly.


I mounted the hinges on the door in mortises created with the router plane. The hinges are 2 inch brass.


Putting the hinge mortises in the kneehole with the router plane was a real pain because of the narrow opening. I cut a mortise for the lock in the left side of the knee hole with a short chisel.  The kneehole is only 10 inches wide. There is not a lot of room to work.


The door closes and locks correctly, so that step is complete.. 


Now I think I'll go back to working on the drawers.



Here is today's video: