Using the Hollow Square Punches

Before starting give the punch a good sharpening. The sharpening cones available at Lee Valley are the correct angle for the inside surface.

Layout the location for the square hole.
Using a small square, center the punch on the layout.

Now lightly tap it in place to registers its position. Often the punch will stay put when you remove your hand – if not it is easy to relocate.

Now, using a bit that is 3/64″ under the size of the square hole (3/8″ square hole – use 21/64″ bit), drill out the center. Use an ordinary twist bit for this and not a brad point. The leading sharp corners of the brad bit will catch on the inside of the chisel and damage themselves.

To finish off – strike the punch with the hammer to its final depth. Before removing the punch use the drill once again to remove most of the wood chips.

Remove the punch for a perfectly square crisp hole!

The Hollow Square Punches will be available from Lee Valley Tools very soon.
Use the product code 50K5920.
For more on the Hollow Square Punches see my previous blog.

A Week at William Ng’s School of Fine Woodworking

My visits to Anaheim to teach at William Ng’s school are always rewarding. It’s a time to make new friendships and renew old ones around a common theme of woodworking and Greene and Greene. The week started with the first commercial run of my new Details II class. I was more than a little delighted to see among the 18 students, several who I already knew from my Details I class. After the trial run at Port Townsend I had a good idea of how the material would flow – but I was a little nervous nonetheless –all went well though and if nothing else the students were polite enough to say they really
enjoyed the class.
Several students from the weekend stayed on for my 6-day Arched Aurora End Table class for a total of eight . Two guys from the Seattle area – Tom and Jim made it to Anaheim for both classes. Their tables will be shipped home in knock–down and will be assembled later in my shop in Seattle.

We were especially thrilled to have Marc Spagnuolo (better known as the Wood Whisperer) in attendance. Marc along with his good friend Brad Ferguson were my star students – always done first and eager for what’s next. Both Marc and Brad are very fine woodworkers and were with us mainly to add some Greene & Greene details to their bag of woodworking tricks. I would like to thank Marc for his blogging of the class on his website – my hits doubled and my book sales soared! And I would like to thank Brad for helping me with some of the slower students in the class. A video of Marc interviewing me will be available for download from thewoodwhisperer.com – stay tuned to Marc’s website for details.
When I found out that Marc and Brad were interested in building John Hall’s walnut mirror frame (1909), I called Gary Hall – Gary graciously brought the frame by for hands on look. This was an incredible treat and a rare close-up look at work by one of the Hall Brothers. You would have thought a rock star was in the room with all the cameras clicking.

All in all it was a very good eight days at William Ng’s. I am home now and still feeling a bit exhausted – but the exhaustion is from doing things I love to do – a good exhaustion indeed!

A Weekend at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking

This last weekend we (myself and the Port Townsend School of Woodworking) invited a few of our friends to attend a trail run of my new workshop – Greene and Greene Details II.
(With a Thanks to Tim Celeski – you can view 360-degree images of the class – here and another image again here ) In attendance were:George Knutson( who assists me), Gary Hall (grandson of Peter Hall) , Clay Curtiss, Bob Hadley, Bob Anderson, Tim Celeski (who took the 360-degree images), John Markworth (co-owner of the school), Tom Moore (alias Tom SoCal),Tom Casper (editor of American Woodworker and Woodwork magazines), Josh Green, Michael Hamilton and David Radkha. Jim Tolpin (author and co owner of the school) popped in and out and also joined several of us for dinner at the Sirens on Saturday night.
After setting up for the class on Friday, Gary Hall, Bob Hadley and I went on an Architectural history adventure – in the pursuit of a carved panel in the Jefferson County Courthouse (located in uptown Port Townsend). The carving in question may have been carved by John Hall (Gary’s great uncle) as mentioned in Randell Makinson’s book Greene and Greene: Furniture and Related Designs. I had tried several times in the past to locate any carving whatsoever, but to no avail. Apparently I was not the only person looking though – there is a carving now pictured in the courthouses’ pamphlet. It is located in one of the courtrooms directly behind and slightly above where the judge sits. Too bad we can’t have a look at the backside to see if it was signed!
Gary Hall continued his Architectural/ Family History adventure Saturday with a visit to a house that has a magnificent spiral stairway built at the time his grandfather, Peter Hall (known as a master stair builder), was in PT. Neither the carving nor the spiral stairway can be confirmed as being made by John or Peter Hall but it is entirely possible given the timeframe and that these were their specialties.
Getting back to the class: We all gathered Saturday morning with what was probably a bit slower start since there was a bit of catching up among friends. We finished up pretty much where I thought we would be at the end of Saturday. Sunday we took a break at noon for brunch at the Commons, which is only a very short distance from the school. We finished up the day around 3 o’clock and said goodbye to our old friends and some newly acquired friends as well.
Port Townsend is a wonderful and rare place. It is sort of an artist community that has not lost its identity. Franchises are not permitted in the downtown business district. The school itself is located in Fort Warden State Park on beautiful grounds near the water among many historic buildings. I enjoy teaching there not just because of the setting, but also because it’s an excuse to visit my Uncle Aubrey and Aunt Margot who live there.
I will be leaving Friday to teach the Details II workshop at William Ng’s School of Fine woodworking in Anaheim. The workshop is sold out but I believe there is still room in the 6-day arched aurora nightstand class.
I will return to PT in April and then again in July to teach both Details I and Details II. Both of these dates are sold out but we may add a couple of dates in the fall – stay tuned!

Greene and Greene Wood Finishing

The techniques and processes I use (in furniture making) evolve over time. Sometimes a better method is found and other times change is forced upon me.
When I wrote my book, “Greene and Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop” I listed an aniline dye, English Brown Mahogany #43, for coloring the wood . Little was I to know that said aniline dye was about to be “no longer available”. This precipitated numerous emails and phone calls from my readers asking for an alternative.

What started out as misfortune turned into good fortune! I have not only found an alternative – but an improved process as well.
General Finishes dye stains come in several colors and can be infinitely mixed to achieve the desired results. I found that mixing 7 parts of their Orange dye stain with 4 parts of their Medium Brown Dye Stain produces a beautiful brown with orange overtones.
The dye stain is more user friendly than traditional (water base) aniline dyes. Whereas the traditional water base aniline dye would streak easily – the General dye stain does not streak nearly as much.
You will still need to raise the grain and scuff sanding with 320- grit. Three applications should produce the desired results although I would test first on scrap wood.

For the top-coat, as in my book, I recommend the 3-5 coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal satin.
Instead of the Bri-wax I used in the book, I now prefer Renaissance Wax. Use this stuff sparingly, not only because it is pricey, but because not much is needed for each application. Follow the instructions on the tin. Only do small areas at a time – if it dries and streaks before you can wipe it clean – use a little 0000-steel wool.

A related side note: An original hand written recipe for finishing the Thorsen house bedroom furniture can be viewed at the G and G Virtual archives. The original finish calls for Bichromate of Potash (potassium dichromate) which is nasty stuff.