Saturday, November 28, 2015

What I did this Saterday

Another day in the Blacksmith shop. We made some tongs this time. And mine came out way better then the ones I made some  months ago. Still not quite up to the standard of our Blacksmith teacher, but still, he was impressed by our efforts. I also bought a hammer from him, specially made for me. That must be a first in my career, usually I am not much of a special tool buyer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Last year I allready bought hinges for the cabinet. I thought that they were a perfect antique design, but now I know a little more about blacksmithing, I recognise what they really are, cheaply stamped out of piece of sheetsteel with a rather bland shape.

I watched several videos about making hinges. Some examples:

Well, that didn't look too difficult (famous last words...). The most difficult part seemed to be the forge welding, especially because I allready have some failed forge welding experience behind me. But in the end, the welding proved to be the easy part! Just heat it up very very hot, and then very very quickly get it to the anvil and smash it. Oh, and using some real borax this time.

The really difficult part was shaping the hinge pin area. Small parts, loosing heat quickly and fidley manouvering with tongs. I had to dress up the result quite a bit with the file, but this is the result after a long afternoon of experimenting and actually making two halfs of two hinges. To be continued.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Finally, finally, the carving is finished

All my readers have probably forgotten that I have a small cabinet in the works. But it is still underway. Today I finally finished the carving. And it didn't turn out too badly if I may say so.

A picture to prove that I actually do the carving myself and didn't buy a ready made panel from ebay.

As you can see I have the panel wedged between two dogs. This arrangement doesn't work too well, but I didn't want to nail it to my workbench. That was a method often used in the past and many carved panels have the nail holes in the corners to prove it.

Today I did the flower in the middle. The curves of the lobes are defined with gouges, the straight lines are made with a v-tool. Then the background is removed with shallow gouges, mostly #4's in my case. Mine have an edge with a nail profile which is very usefull for this kind of work because the corners can't damage the outlines.

Here with the background stippled with a punch. The rails and styles of the door still need a fair amount of work. I want to decorate them too and I must make a mortise for the lock.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

And the second blacksmithing lesson

Another day in Harderwijk at the blacksmithshop from Reinier Hoving. Here is my fellow trainee, Rob at one of the forge fires.

And here we are working as a team, using a hot chisel and a sledge for spliting a piece of iron. Watch those purdy pink aprons...

I feel like I made some major steps forward yesterday. Almost everything went a lot easier and more directly towards the right shape instead of faffing around, bending and rebending and overheating the iron in the mean time. Still plenty of beginners mistakes of course.

This is what I made. Some nails that still have an of center head. A hoisting hook and the big part is for a door. Not that I have a suitable door for this, but is a niece practice piece nonetheless.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Repair of the cabinet almost finished

The last week I tried to color the repair on the backleg to make it blend in as much as possible. And that quite displays my ineptitude at anything regarding finishing.

I started with oak stain, lots of it to make it darker. But it didn't want to, so I added some black stain. Then it became too yellowish, so I added some Mahogany stain. At the end I was fed up and put some oil on it, That colored the old wood way too dark. Oh wel, you can't be good at everything and this will be hiding in a dark corner, noone can see it. After drying I started to wax the entire cabinet.

This weekend I had my first blacksmith lessons. An entire Saterday banging on steel. This is the result. First lesson was making pointy ends in all kinds of variatiosn. There were leaves. S-hooks and a long window hook. A lot of fun, hard work and very much worth it.

And a picture of the shop. Next weekend again!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Repairing one of the back legs.

The lefthand rear leg has an old repair. A piece is spliced into the style and was fastened with a lot of nails. This is now very wobbly.

This pictures clearly shows the utility of nails in furniture restauration. They usually cause splits and more damage then they managed to repair.

I have removed this and cleaned up the crumbling remains of the wood around. As you can see, the tenon of the rail mostly dissapeared. I really hope there is still enough for a solid connection. I will put an extra block of wood behind this for extra stability.

And this is with the new leg attached, hide glue used this time and some extra bits of wood spliced in for extra stability. Everything clamped up.

An interesting detail. The carved deccoration on the panels is not integral with the panel itself. It is a second layer, applied to the surface of the panel. The detail is, they both have their own groove in the rails and styles, so those are double grooved.

The more I see from this cabinet, the more I think it is a forgery. I think the panels are original. They are made from very nice and very wide wainscot panels. That is truelly quartersawn wood with a nice ray fleck pattern. The carvings also look genuine. But they probably used these panels to make a new cabinet somewhere late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Until now I have only found one square nail, the rest is all wire nails, which came on the market in the late 19th century. First I thought these wire nails were only in the repaired sections, but they are everywhere, So, I rest my case...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Look, what landed in my shop?

Not much space left anymore!

This is a 17th century cabinet. It's called an "Utrechtse poorters kast". Translated into English that would be something like: a portal cabinet from Utrecht. The cabinet is from my mother in law who moved into an elderly home and had to downsize of course. It took quite a bit of  strugle to get it overhere, because these old pieces were certainly not designed to be moved around a lot. Add to that the tear and wear from the centuries and it becomes a vulnerable, heavy and large obstacle!

Here is how it looked like in its previous home.

It is an oak cabinet with carvings and some ebony veneered decorations. Very typical for that period, They came in various levels of trim, adapted to the wealth of the owner. This one is rather mudane (which fits me perfectly well). Stuff like this was often copied in the nineteenth century when all the neo styles were en vogue. So I could have landed my self a copy, just as well as the real thing, I am not enough of an expert to know for sure.

It needs a few repairs to the legs, mostly redoing older repairs. I am not going to do a lot though, keeping it original as much as possible.