Saturday, May 3, 2014

What I learned from Frank Klausz (bis)

I recently took a class from Frank Klausz at the Southwest Center for Craftsmanship here in Phoenix (it's new!)  The class was on building a Queen Anne chest of drawers reproduction.  The chest of drawers was the height of a night stand so ideally you'd go home and build a second one and slap them on either side of a guest bed.

The class started with a lecture on project design covering wood technology, joinery, and finishing. A lot of great take-aways from this first-day lecture as all these concepts kept getting revisited throughout the class. In a related side-note, a week after the class, I received Frank's latest DVD as a gift (oooh, signed!)  I started watching it this week.  It starts with this exact same lecture and over 7 hours of Frank content... absolutely worth the price.

Naturally, we got demos of dovetailing; I've seen these a hundred times (you, too), but still worth the watch. What's interesting about Frank is the lack of unnecessary marking; if you add saddle lines or Xs to mark waste, you're wasting time, although one of his employees has helped him ease the stance against waste Xs.

Frank prefers to layout dovetails by eye. The inconsistencies are what clients are looking for in hand-made furniture. That said, even gaps in dovetails (uh, within reason!) are desirable.

In making reproduction furniture, you can certainly use machines, but all machine marks must be removed by hand tools.  Surfaces jointed and/or planed need touch-up with a hand smoother to ensure there's the subtle feel of plane tracks and no remnants of that helical-head planer.

Further, hidden surfaces are rather coarsely processed leaving visible plane tracks. These surfaces would include the back slats, underside of the whole cabinet, back of the bracket feet, etc.  Since jointing and planing stock was much more work than tossing it into a machine, time was only spent on visible surfaces. This is also the case with finishing though we know now that balancing the finish front and back is essential to better stability.

When planing the underside to give tracks to the texture, he'll often give a swipe or two against the grain to get small amounts of tear out.

Show surfaces get planed smooth, scraped, then lightly sanded with P180.

Good tip: when attaching a mirror to furniture or jewelry box lid, be sure to use mirror mastic; if you use silicone, you'll see spots on the mirror after a few years. Yeah, I might have done that mistake.

Sadly, this is my resulting cabinet... organization and student issues meant we were 2 days behind on the build.  Frank's taught this class before and it fits, with work, in the allotted 4 days (first day was a lecture day).  However that assumes more offline stock prep and sticking to the "intermediate-advanced" student requirement.  It's a new school with growing pains and I think this will be the last time this fumble happens.

Here is a photo of Frank showing us where the drawer face is attached to one drawer whose dovetail demo was done after class on the last day.  The bracket feet add a lot of elegance; if you recall my No Comment #1 build, the bombé box's sides and mini-bracket feet are all made the same way as these feet.  Pretty easy to do (you can see the exact same process in action on a smaller scale in No Comment #1 for the feet here except those feet had the bombé profile applied with a router bit; for these feet, the bombé profile was done on the table saw like the No Comment #1 box sides).

What remains for me to do here at home? Glue up the bracket feet, cut the base the case sits on, plane a bead around the drawer fronts, half-blind dovetail the fronts to the drawer, glue up the drawer bottom panel and bevel appropriately, ship-lap the back boards and nail them in place, apply a round-over on the top, and attach the top with floating blocks (shown).

The remaining work isn't difficult, but I'd rather have Frank around for the color commentary on how I'm doing it and get his always insightful comments on "and this is how you really do it" (be sure to heavily roll that R if you are reading that in his voice!)

If more work was left to do, I'd certainly consider doing all the molding with the HP-6 mini multi-plane.  The ogee of the base molding and cove that goes under the table top are all easily done with that plane and more fun than a router.  Certainly, I'll use that plane to apply the bead on the drawer fronts since I have the plane profile, but don't have a router bit in that dimension.  Lastly, rather than buy a ³⁄₈" radius round-over bit, I'll use my crowning plane... not the same profile, but the crown to me looks much nicer than a full round-over.

The drawers will get two brass pulls each; likely these pulls.

Whew, yeah, I needed another unfinished project :)

One evening during the class, 4 of us stayed with Frank and the director until 9:30 at night prepping a lot of stock, running moldings, and running the cove on the table saw. This was to try getting us caught up.  Starving, we ordered out some pizza, but like most pizza delivery places, they don't cut the pieces completely.  Fortunately, we had a chisel and mallet to take care of that.  Pretty sure that chisel won't be rusting anytime soon!


  • Brian said...

    I was on the brink of emailing you the other day (for fear of your death) and now you've posted twice in less than a week... Hope all is well.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    I must have been at that cusp where people will write me. I was editing the Michael Fortune post off and on during the last week of class (with Paul Schürch) and received 3 emails and 2 forum PMs wondering where I was (and you'd be the 1 I-was-really-thinking-hard-about-it).

    Writing up the next class dump right now, but it won't be ready for a few days. I don't want to shock you and all that...

  • Ced said...

    A signed Frank Klausz DVD… I guess we know who his favorite was… all I got was a pencil that we found on the ground.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    haha, I took some pencils as we went along and I told him so :) It probably has more to do with me taking him to lunch twice and to dinner once so I could hang out with him more and learn by osmosis. Or it could be he knows you can finish the project as is and maybe he thinks I need the DVD to figure out what to do next :)

    Oh, his favorite, though was Lily

  • Mike C said...

    Great to see you posting again. I know all about the work getting in the way of woodworking thing.

    I took a class a few years ago from Michael at Marc Adams. He is fantastic. Great person, and some incredible insight, his slide show is mind blowing.

    Just think you will have even another unfinished project after the chair class.