Woodworking Questions

My email address is not secret. Many of you send questions to me once in a while. Most ask for information or help. Others wonder what the hell I’m doing. I like the questions, so if you need information or have a question about a project I’ve built, please contact me. Below are questions and answers that I thought were good information that should be passed along.

That Tricky Rabbet
Glen,
I have started on a slant front desk based on the New England Secretary in one of your books. I have one question as I prepare the sides; what is the distance from the top of the writing surface to the start of the slant? It looks to be somewhere between 3/4″ and 1″, but I am not sure and it is not shown in the book.

Thanks
John S

John,
That’s a question I get a lot. The answer depends on the thickness of your lid – more exactly, on the thickness of its rabbeted edge.

Take a look at the photo. You need to start with your writing surface laid in, then determine the rabbeted area of your lid which would be 1/2″ on a 3/4″-thick lid if you are using a 1/4″ lip. Create a setup similar to the one shown in the photo to determine your length. My longer rule is attached at the edge of the desk top. The two rules are set to form a 90 degree corner with the 6″ rule measuring the thickness of my rabbet. (You can see how this figure could change based on your rabbet, lid and lip dimensions.)

Another method is to figure the distance algebraically using A squared + B squared = C squared where the measurement you’re searching for is C and the rabbet of your lid is both A and B. Using 1/2″ as the rabbet thickness results in a slightly under 3/4″ measurement. (Again,  you can see how the size shifts given the thickness of your rabbet.)

Build Something Great!
Glen

 
Tall Clock Dial Size
Hi Glen,

I have a year old copy of your “Building Period Furniture” that now looks like 10 year old copy (well used). I have two block fronts about 90% complete, two secretary bottoms about 50% complete. I like to build two at a time. While I am waiting for some more mahogany I am drawing the bench rod for the Pennsylvania tall case clock.

To keep proportions as perfect as they look, I am wondering what is the dial size you used in this clock and who is the supplier. Looking at suppliers here in the UK the the largest dial seems to be 280mm x 395mm. which seems too small. I bought your “Finishes that Pop” DVD just before Christmas. Great informative DVD.

Thank You,
Alan
Northern Ireland

Greetings Alan,

I’m glad to see your book getting such use. You are taking on very nice projects. I enjoyed building them, as well.

You are correct on your assessment of the dial sizes. Your dials are undersized as to what I use and what is a common size here in the States. The dial for my clock was 12.5″ wide (317.5mm, if my conversion is correct) by 17.625″ tall (447.675mm).

The movement  I used for the clock in the book was produced by David Lindow (Click here to visit his web site). You can get more information, movements and dials  from Mike Siemsen’s web site (Click  here).

Best of luck on your projects and …

Build Something Great!
Glen D. Huey

What is That Finish?
Hi Glen,

I am familiar with your aniline dye/shellac finish for a deeper tiger maple finish.  I always seem to get  a finish that is too shiny. I noticed that you recommend a ” dull-rubbed” lacquer. Is that the name of the kind of lacquer, a rubbed out lacquer or what?

Thanks,
Bob

Hey Bob,

When using shellac, I generally use either of two options to knock down the sheen. I either rub-out the finish using #0000 steel wool (sometimes I use wool lube to make the work a little easier), or I topcoat my project with a pre-cat lacquer from Sherwin Williams with a dull-rubbed effect sheen. The low sheen finish is made so by adding flattening agents to the lacquer. Sherwin Williams sells this product through its commercial divisions, not in the regular paint stores.

Another option that I am just beginning to explore is to use a water-based urethane in a satin finish, such as General Finishes Enduro-Var Satin. With this product, you apply a single coat, then after it’s dry lightly rub with steel wool.

Build Something Great!
Glen

Small Diameter Router Bits
Glen,

I am a home shop woodworker who makes reproductions of American Colonial furniture.  I am having trouble finding a way to make 1/16” vein line for string inlay.  Is there a 1/16″ router bit available or how else does one prepare for a 1/16” string inlay.  I have previously used a 1/8” bit to inlay 1/8” string inlay and that worked very well, but in some pieces a 1/8” string inlay is too thick for the piece at hand.

I bought two of your books and have enjoyed studying them and using some of the demonstrated techniques on the pieces I have reproduced.

Several of the pieces I have made were from Lester Margon’s 1949 book “Construction of American Furniture Treasures”.  It’s a great hobby!!

Henry
Montgomery, AL

Hey Henry,

I’m glad that you found a few ideas in my books to make woodworking better for you. I, too, have spent many hours looking through Mr. Margon’s book – it’s a great woodworking book.

There are 1/16″ router bits to be found. If you visit inlaybandings.com there is a section that has router bits used for inlay work. The site also sells inlay and banding in many different configurations. I especially like the router bits because they are longer than many other 1/16″ bits available – as such, they reach past patterns and get to the workpiece. These bits have an 1/8”-diameter shank, so you would also need to purchase a  sleeve (shown in the middle) unless you have an appropriate collet for your router or are working with a hand-held rotary tool such as a Dremel.

Bosch has 1/16″ bits, too. These bits have shorter cutting lengths which could require that you set-up differently in order to use them for inlay as it is more difficult to reach past patterns.  The Bosch bit has a  1/4”- diameter shank.

I would suggest that you pick up a couple bits when and if you order. Bits this small tend to break more easily than larger diameter bits.

If you have additional questions, please contact me again.

Build Something Great !
Glen Huey

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9 thoughts on “Woodworking Questions

  1. Glen,
    I, as many others, have used you as a source for so much of our work. How can we repay your kindness to us. Your work and your help are invaluable.
    Derek

  2. Glen,

    You should add a category to menu at the top of your blog called “FAQ” & as you answer these questions from readers, post the most common ones there as well.

    Just a thought.
    Dave

    1. Great idea, Dave. Folks, please continue to send me your questions or other information and I’ll continually post them to a FAQ page.
      Glen

      1. I just re-read your finishing article from April 2007 and you mention using pre-cat lacquer over shellac. What is your feeling about using SW CAB Acrylic Lacquer over shellac? (I really like the clarity and fast dry of this product.)

        As always, thanks for your help.
        Bob

  3. Bob, that is the great thing about using shellac. Everything goes over shellac and it is great at adhesion to most other finishes. In all the years I’ve sprayed or used shellac, I have only once found a problem with another finish adhering to shellac. I think there was a concentration of wax in that single spot and that’s where I had the problem. I would think you would have great results, but as always you should try it on scraps.

    Glen

  4. Glen, I found your blog and I’m hoping you can help me. I just bought a Paula Deen round pedestal dining table in a linen finish. It has a slight weathered look (imperfect) with a matte/dull type finish. My kids got marker on it and I used rubbing alcohol to get the marker off and in turn it has left big shiny areas where the marker was and now the matte/dull top coat is gone. Will using steel wool very gently on the glossy areas help them to blend with the matte finish? I’m beside myself. I like the matte finish, but if I can’t achieve that, maybe there is a way to make the rest of table blend with the glossy areas? Any advice is greatly appreciated.
    Tori

    1. Tori,

      Great to have stop by. You are exactly on point. High sheen reflects light best. If you abrade the surface using steel wool, you should knock down the shine. Use #0000 steel wool and lightly rub an out-of-the-way area to see how your finish reacts.

      Glen

      1. Glen, Thank you!!! So appreciative to have advice from a pro. :o)

  5. Glen,
    I am building a tri-fold poster display board for a no-profit. I want it to fold into itself to protect the posters during transport. I’m visualizing a u shaped hinge mounted on top and bottom to accomplish this. I have looked at numerous hardware sites but can’t find what I am looking for. Do you or any of your followers know where I can find a hinge to accomplish what I’m trying to do or is there a better way? Thank you. Jim

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