Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Brown Oak Burl Wall Installation Part III

Another day at the shop means another day working toward the completion of Brian's brown oak wall installation. Last time I wrote, the beautiful live edge slab had been routered, sanded, and the bark chiseled to perfection. Then it was flooded with boiled linseed oil and we saw the natural colors pop.

By today, the oil has dried which means only one thing: time to starting finishing! Now, I had been told myths of this spray finish room complete with bright overhead lighting and an exhaust fan but, until today, I had only know it as 'the back room where we put things we don't have a place for at the moment'. In most cases, we apply finish with a brush or rags but, on a piece with such rough and uneven detail, the spray method is best to ensure the finish covers every crevasse.As a result, this morning I was lucky enough to see the spray room and spray finish process in action!

Here you can see how the slab looked after the oil had had the week to dry completely. The colors are so much more vibrant already and we haven't even started the layers of finish yet. We brought in some horses to hold the slab as Jeff explained to me the settings on the air pressure spray gun.

Fully equipped with a gas mask and the massive exhaust fan to remove some of the particles and smell from the air (and our lungs), Jeff took to the edges of the slab first. He told me to always start with the edges and then cleanly and evenly spray the top.

In this case, Jeff is spraying a clear wood finish lacquer. He chose lacquer because it is rubbery enough that it will allow the wood to swell and contract with the weather and moisture without the finish cracking.

Earlier this morning, he requested that I keep the fire rolling extra hot. I learned quickly that this was in order to maintain some heat in the shop when we opened the windows and fan for ventilation. It's astonishing how quickly the bitter, cold Pennsylvania outdoors sucks the warmth from inside.
As you can see, the spray can is attached to an air compressor so the strength of the stream can be adjusted as well as how much finish liquid is pushed out. Jeff showed me how this particular spray can allows for a horizontal fan, vertical fan, or cone of finish to be sprayed from it.

Alternately, we have another can that allows for more of a mist to be sprayed. For this piece, because the surface is flat, the fan and/or cone can was preferred because there aren't any corners to have to sneak into (like there would be on a chair or table). Setting the nozzle on the can to spray a vertical fan allowed for easy coverage of the jagged edges as well as even and smooth coverage of the flat top surface.

And now the brown burl oak slab has it's first of three coats of lacquer. Later today, we'll move on to layer two!
Meanwhile in the shop, Rob stands on tables. Didn't you know that to qualify as a dedicated woodworker, you need to exhibit your balance and gymnastics skills at least once a month?

Rob is working on a bench to match a dining table he had built for a client. Here he is carefully drilling tapered holes into the bench that will eventually be the home to some legs. He told me about how the long extension on this drill allows for a clearer sight down to the hole so that he can match the angle he wants more precisely. That v-shaped piece of wood at his feet is serving as a guide for that angle so, he can sight the long arm to match that wooden guide piece.

I'll be sure to keep you readers posted on the progress of Rob's beautiful bench. You can come see his fine wood work in person at the Philadelphia Furniture Show in April.

I'm off to clear my lungs of lacquer and continue work on getting the lathe running. Photos of the inner workings of our vintage Powermatic lathe and my first attempts at working with metal to come!

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