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  • Thinking "outside the box"

    No, this doesn't have anything to do with boxes. It's about going beyond conventional tools and techniques when deciding how to do a woodworking job. Joe makes frame-and-panel leather-topped desks, and my job is to apply the leather. Although we've read many accounts of how to do this, we've had a lot of success with our own "hybrid" technique. This is desk number five, for Joe's daughter, and uses up the last of the "cow" we bought on ebay.

    First, instead of glue, we use wallpaper paste, mixed double strength. The leather is moistened, and the paste brushed onto the substrate. Then, I unroll the leather and press out air bubbles using my fondant smoother. (That's from my cake decorating tool assortment.) It works beautifully, and lets me get right up against the frame.

    Once the leather is firmly attached and bubbles removed, I trim the leather the way I used to trim wallpaper, with a razor knife (here an Xacto knife) and a wide putty knife. For places where I can't use the blade, I use my very sharp embroidery scissors.

    This particular desk was really tough. Since it was the last of the leather, it had thicker and thinner places, and some very "natural" looking spots that were tricky to flatten out. Also, Joe was able to position the substrate so that the leather came right to the top of the panel. While this was what we wanted, it made it hard to figure out where to do the trimming so that the leather was not cut too small, while not cutting into the frame.

    leather 1.jpgleather 3.jpg
    leather 2.jpg

    When everything was trimmed nicely, I applied more paste to the areas where I had lifted the leather, and gave it a final going over.

    The fondant smoother went back into the kitchen drawer, the scissors into my sewing box, the putty knife with the paint supplies, and the Xacto knife into my tool drawer.

    And tomorrow we can reclaim the TV room, which was doing double duty as a shop annex.
    Carole

    Follow me on my blog: www.scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com

  • #2
    That is really working outside the box Carole...wall paper glue can be used in so many ways. Do you have to thin it a bit to make sure there are no chunks or do you push them out with your tools? Tell Joe that is a very nice looking desk he built...always liked them
    Hawaiilad
    Larry

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    • #3
      Larry, Joe mixed the glue up well, and let it stand. By the time we were ready for it, it had stood for about an hour. I did not come across much by way of lumps, and it brushed on pretty smoothly. I'll pass on your compliment to Joe--he's really gotten the hang of this stuff.
      Carole

      Follow me on my blog: www.scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com

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      • #4
        YOU ARE JUST ONE TALENTED LADY GIRLFRIEND!!!!! I was going to say "broad" but didn't want you to take offense. Not that I think you would!!! LOL
        Betty

        "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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        • #5
          Hey, Betty. "Broad" will do. The other "b" word might be a problem, but by now, I've probably been called that, and worse. I was never your typical crowd pleaser.

          I just like doing stuff. Always have, always will. When I found Joe, I found someone who really understands me, and accepts me for who I am. And for that, I'd gladly trim the leather for 1,000 desks!
          Carole

          Follow me on my blog: www.scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com

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          • #6
            Well done Carole! and Joe too!

            Of course thinking outside of the box is something I never do. Neither do I spin long winded tales

            One advantage of working in the ceramics business is that you can pick up lots of useful ideas from the things we use around the factory. I once had to repair a leather table top and rather like you I used a type of wallpaper paste glue - what we call CMC (carbomethylcelulose). We are fortunate in that we use exceptionally strong versions of this glue which aren't normally available to the public and boy do they stick stuff together, plus they are easy to use and no solvents involved. A squeegee and a rubber printing roller from our decal department is great for spreading the glue and ironing out creases. For sharp cutters I take worn out special hardened steel trimmers from our plate forming machines and hone a cutting edge on them, mount them in a wooden handle and they make a good strong knife which keeps its edge a lot longer than most commercial cutters. Naturally, a big incentive here is that most of these can be borrowed or begged free of charge

            I take my hat off to anyone who can use 'found' objects for purposes they are not originally intended for. Joe and yourself are certainly in this category. Thanks for sharing your tips.
            Jim in Mexico

            Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
            - Albert Einstein

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            • #7
              The two of you never cease to amaze me! I had no idea Joe was so talented.
              What did you do with the rest of the cow?
              Rolf
              RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
              Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
              Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
              And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

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              • #8
                Beautiful work! And I like how you and Joe work as a team. That's great.

                As a general rule, it has to be a very small box for me to be able to think outside of it. I admire those who can & do. I love the fact that you are making use of items not necessarily intended for that purpose. Brilliant!
                Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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                • #9
                  Jim, you are the master of creative thinking! I always enjoy reading about your exploits of various kinds, and your range of skill and knowledge is awe-inspiring. (But I still don't believe that the mods let you get away with that line about having trouble getting into your own pants. )

                  Rolf, the rest of the cow was delicious. We bought leather for the first desk from an upholsterer, and it ran about $140. To cut costs, we went to the ebay, and found a good source of hides of all kinds. I think the whole hide was about $125, and they replaced the first one they sent, which had defects in bad places. We were able to get 4 tops out of it, without any of them having really bad spots. Joe still regards himself as a hack, having come into woodworking about 7 years ago, and I can't convince him otherwise, despite the hand cut dovetails and mortises and tenons, and complete absence of purchased jigs.

                  Bill, Joe and I met on a joint project, about 15 years ago, so we're used to working together. We learned how to tame our competitiveness with years of giving joint presentations on caregiving. Fortunately, we do completely different types of woodworking, so there's no chance of competition there. It's a real treat when your "partner" is really a partner!
                  Carole

                  Follow me on my blog: www.scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com

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                  • #10
                    Beautiful desk, beautiful top, beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.

                    george
                    A day without sawdust is a day without sunshine.
                    George

                    delta 650, hawk G426

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                    • #11
                      So that's where Elsie the cow went......sure is nice to have a partner to work with. I also just love to use tools for other purposes from which they were intended. Guess most of us around here do that. Would love to see a finished pix of Joe's desk, looks like he too is an accomplished woodworker. Do you let him play in your shop?
                      Gloria ............... Two memorable things to say in life, "Hello" for the first time, and "Good-bye" for the last.

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                      • #12
                        Glad you like it, George. I use mine every day--it's a very comfortable desk to work at.

                        Gloria, it is great to have a partner to work with. I consult with him regularly whenever I'm not sure that something "works", and he has read and re-read every article that goes out under my name. He is not a scroller, per se, but uses the scroll saw for his dovetails and tenons. We share the camera and tripod, and as long as he remembers to return my saw table to level, speed to high, and de-tensions the blade, he can play in "my" shop. Actually, we've configured the space to make two separate work areas--his has the band saw. Not bad for a one car garage that has to house a car.

                        I'm including some shots of the last desk, which was the same design, but a little larger. I think it's pretty impressive, especially for someone who started woodworking after 60, with very few people to guide him. In the new book, I put a picture of us on top of the "bookcase box"--seemed fitting!
                        Attached Files
                        Carole

                        Follow me on my blog: www.scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com

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                        • #13
                          Sweeeeet to the max, tell Joe he sure does nice work. What a great place to display your work too. Thanks for posting pictures.
                          Gloria ............... Two memorable things to say in life, "Hello" for the first time, and "Good-bye" for the last.

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                          • #14
                            I still don't believe that the mods let you get away with that line about having trouble getting into your own pants
                            Ok Carole - you pricked my conscience and seeing as I'm such a sensitive soul I decided to moderate myself - hehehe!

                            Love the photos of the finished table. Beautiful work!
                            Jim in Mexico

                            Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
                            - Albert Einstein

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                            • #15
                              Jim, glad you like the desk. For a couple of academics, Joe and I have become pretty decent woodworkers.

                              And, my friend with the sensitive soul, it sounds like you need to get home--soon!
                              Carole

                              Follow me on my blog: www.scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com

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