Cork is the
suberin-rich bark of the
cork oak (Quercus suber,
The entire bark can be harvested with hand tools at regular intervals (7 to 15 years)
in the summertime once the tree is mature (about 25 years, or 70 cm in circumference).
The first such harvest is called virgin cork or male cork.
The subsequent ones produce female cork.
A tree can be so harvested about a dozen times over its lifetime.
Phenolic plywood is a sheet product whose outer layers are impregnated with
phenolic resin (the stuff used in modern billiard balls).
That makes the surface very smooth, hard and water-resistant.
At ½'' thickness, phenolic plywood
is dimensionally stable and it's excellent for building woodworking tables, fences and jigs.
(2018-11-15) Properties and chemistry of glues used in woodworking:
Wood glue can make a joint stronger than the joined pieces.
With wood glue, the pieces to be glued must match almost perfectly and be clamped
against each other until the glue dries.
Clamping ensures that glue forms only a thin layer (a thick layer of dried glue would be a weak point).
The pieces to be glued must match perfectly and be clamped against each other
until the glue dries.
The clamping pressure forces the pieces against each other and ensures the glue
layer between them remains very thin (a thick layer of dried glue would
form a weak point).
(2018-11-24) Axe (French: hache) and Adze (French: herminette)
Two ancient tools, dating back to the Stone Age.
In an axe, the (curved) blade and the axis of the handle are in the
same plane. In an adze, they are in orthogonal planes.
An axe is primarily suited for cutting across the grain of the wood, or at a substantial angle,
as is required for felling trees (long-handle felling axes, for logging).
On the other hand,
An adze is intended to cut with the grain for finishing work.
Skilled worker can use it as a coarse substitute for a plane
when the smoothness of the finished surface is not critical.
As its French name implies (couteau à deux manches)
a draw knife is just a blade with two handles.
The French also call it une plane
(they use the name rabot for the more recent tool we call a
A spokeshave is the related tool where the two handle form
a single piece underneath which the blade is mounted.
It's a vastringue to the French.
A wooden spokeshave with a convex blade meant for pushing is called a travisher.
It's the ideal handtool for hollowing out a shallow bowl or the seat of a
(possibly to finish a job started with a rounded adze).
are now commonly made industrially with metal handles and detachable blades.
(2018-11-15) Hand planes. Jointers and Planers.
Absolute and relative planing.
Rabbet plane (rebate plane). Bullnose.
A jointer makes the bottom surface perfectly planar
(using the precision of its metallic table as a reference).
Running the piece through a thickness planer (or thicknesser)
will then make its thickness uniform, thus ensuring
that the top surface is planar as well.
The two operations must be performed in that order,
without flipping the piece over.
The specific advantage of a jointer is that it uses only a single face as a reference
(at first it touches the infeed table at two points, then it's in contact with the outfeed table
which is slightly higher). At soon as it's practical, push the board down on the
outfeed sidel; in most cases that's all what's needed to prevent unwanted rotation of the piece.
There is not practical limit to how tall a piece can be. Thus,
a jointer is all you need if you just want to join several boards end-to-end along perfectly
straighr edges (hence the name).
A jointer doesn't ensure that the finish edges of a board are parallel,
which doesn't matter in jointing.
By contrast, a thickness planer only ensures that the top face is parallel to
the bottom face (and it won't be straight if the bottom face isn't).
The thickness a planer can produce is typically limited to just a few inches.
You can use a planner as a makeshift jointer (for narrow boards only)
by making a jig to clamps them vertically onto a good flat horizontal board
(for details, see video by Mark Hanson in the footnotes below).
(2018-11-14) Portable Workbench
Most do-it-yourselfers use a sturdy foldable workbench.
The most basic and most affordable widely available unit is the Workmate 125
from Black & Decker.
I use a Workmate 425$92
which comes with a removable middle plank and the ability to clamp vertically larger pieces
(up to 1.56'' or 39 mm thick) by tilting the front plank 90°.
The slightly less expensive Workmate 225
doesn't do that.
Neither does the more expensive Workmate 1000
Alternatives from the competitors of Black & Decker include:
(2018-11-17) Power Saws and their Blades
Circular saw, jigsaw, scroll saw, reciprocating saw, table saw & bandsaw.
Table Saw :
A table-saw consist of a powered circular saw permanently mounted under a table
(with a metallic or phenolic top, to reduce friction
with wood workpieces).
The saw blade is raised or lowered through a slot in the surface of the table
to control th depth of the cut.
It's often possible to tilt the blade to make oblique cuts.
A table saw in normally endowed with a smooth metallic fence
mounted vertically on top of the table, parallel to the slot of the blade.
The distance from the fence to the blade can be adjusted from a fraction of an inch to many inches.
The simplest way to use the saw is to slide a straight edge of the workpiece
against the fence to make a cut parallel to that edge.
The versatility of the tool is greatly enhanced by the presence of two grooves
called miter slots, miter tracks or miter channels
(the British spelling is mitre).
They're parallel to the blade on either side of it.
In the US, standard miter slots are 3/4'' wide and
3/8'' deep (the width is more critical than the exact depth).
This allows the use of a variety of jigs called sleds
which hold the workpiece and are guided by two miter bars
(also called runners) solidly attached to them and sliding
along the miter slots in the table.
The most common sled is the cross-cut sled,
which consists of a large board with the two runners on one side and
a tall fence fence on the other, permanently mounted perpedicularly to the runners.
(The board is typically split in two on the target table saw.
Both halves only connected by the main fence and usually a counterfence on the other side for solidity.)
The two runners can be made out of hardwood but. for permanent jigs,
it's much better to use miter blanks cobisting of HUMW plastic
(ultra-high molecular weight polypropylene) in spite of the added cost.
For top-precision sleds, commercial miter bars are available for standard tracks
with micro-adjustments for snugness.
Chop Saw, Miter Saw & Sliding Compound Miter Saw :
All three are circular saws mounted on a pivoting arm.
The axis of that pivot and the axis of the saw are parallel.
The sliding compound miter saw is the most flexible.
It allows the axis of the saw to be tilted, which is what
you need in mathematically-oriented projects like
the hollow buckyball.
General-purpuse twist bits are usable on wood
(a center punch or preliminary small-diameter hole is advised).
However, brad point bits are especially designed for wood
and are superior for drilling medium-sized holes into wood. They're also called
lip and spur bits, or doweling bits.
(2018-11-09) Staining and distressing wood with mordants.
One popular ebonizing solution is made from vinegar and steel wool.
Boxwood was used for white chess pieces and ebony
for black pieces. Both kinds of wood are denser than water with very fine grain which makes
them exceptionally well suited for turning and fine carving.
Because of recent restrictions on the harvest of ebony,
boxwood is now very often used for black pieces as well using
a process ebonization, which
can be done several different ways, possibly combined with
each other (the deepest black are achieved when stained
wood also undergoes a coloring surface treatment).
Black color is obtained when ferric acetate
reacts with wood tannin. This reaction uses the same basic principle
as iron-gall ink
(upon which Western civilization was arguably founded).
To make a good ebonizing solution at home,
first clean some steel wool thoroughly with soap and water
(to remove any trace of oil which would hinder the rest of the process).
Rinse it well.
Let it soak for several days at room temperature in a mixture of cleaning vinegar
(6% or 8% acetic acid) and hydrogen peroxide
(heating can speed up the process, if needed).
Ferric acetate will form:
(2018-11-14) Buffing, Sealing, Priming.
Smoothing, sealing and protecting the final surface.
Achieving a flat, satin, semi-gloss or glossy finish.
Shellac is the traditional finish of choice for natural wood,
with of without prior staining. The first coat seals the wood very well already.
It dries very quickly (one hour between coat is enough).
Sanding between coats is optional (it serves only to
make the surface smoother but it's not needed to make the
new coat bite into the previous one,
since that's done chemically by the solvent).
Do not even think to use foam brushes
to apply shellac or any other lacquer! (They'd melt.)
Shellac is not a good undercoat for polyurethane.
(2018-11-27) Dry or Wet Cooperage (French: tonnellerie)
Wooden containers for dry goods and liquids (buckets & barrels).
(French: merrains made
by merrandier) and fitting the heads (the flat parts of barrels,
or the bottom of a bucket).
Measurements for specific gallonage were secretly transmitted from one cooper to the next.