Thursday, October 7, 2010

Payday... in "pay for your mistakes" and "big payoffs."

I made it back to Carlton's before class today to pick up some ebony to correct that glue-up SNAFU discussed earlier. Now, I've dealt with teak before and I thought that was some pretty expensive stuff. If I recall correctly it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $9.00/bd ft. That's pretty high. I've dealt with mahogany as well and that was up there too. I figured I'd get about 1.5 bd ft. of ebony to be on the safe side for this inlay operation and maybe pay $15-20. So as Richard and I were sorting through different pieces--stunning stuff--he looked at me and said, "You know this stuff is $80/bd ft." "Eight?" "No, eighty." "Ooookay then. Got any good substitutes?"

So picture a piece of wood one foot by one foot and an inch thick...that's $80.

He showed me a close relative to the pure black ebony called mun ebony (diospyros mun). It's ink black with thick bands of white running through it and, like black ebony, is as heavy as lead. It's also half the price of the black ebony which still brings it to four times as expensive as the previous most-expensive-wood-I've-bought. Here's The Precious:
Yep, a $60 piece of wood. 

Fortunately I'm allowed to return what I don't use. Isn't woodworking a great little community? Except it takes all your money.

I had a thought as I was driving home: remember my jointer that came with the broken tote that I glued back together? Well, the glued joint isn't exactly seamless and doesn't suit me well. I recalled seeing that Lee Valley has produced free templates for making reproductions of Stanley totes. Interesting business move if you think about it:

Lee Valley: "So instead of buying our stuff, you go out and buy someone else's stuff and then you come to us looking for free help to repair their stuff. Oh, okay...we'll help you out." Does this not reinforce every Canadian stereotype you have, good and bad?

The thought formed: why don't I make my own tote out of ebony with white racing stripes? I think my workbench has a maiden project:

But let's not get ahead of ourselves here...there's a bench to finish. The first step in exotic wood prep is often to scrape the wax off:
They coat the edges of high-dollar hardwoods with wax to prevent moisture from escaping from the sides. But John, don't you want dry wood? Yes, but you want moisture to escape uniformly through the face of a board so that you don't get differential contraction which will put cracks in the piece. I then jointed an edge...
 Expensive shavings

...and cut some strips on the bandsaw:

Then I tapered the bottom of the strips with the blockplane so that they could be wedged into the groove:

Ebony dust is nasty stuff

I think that the effort was worth it:

That was good work for the day but I had some more time on my hands so I took out the router and rounded-over the tool tray edges:

If you look closely at the previous picture you can also see that I have removed the top half of the ends of  the tool tray. I did this so that I can use the workbench to hold sheet goods (plywood) while I cut it with a circular saw. I just line the cut up over the tool tray, set the saw depth to just barely go through the wood, and saw away. I removed those chucks from the ends so that my cuts wouldn't be confined to the length of the workbench. I think it's a slick idea.

I'd been thinking about finishes for a long time and finally settled on boiled linseed oil. Tonight was the night.


Wait for it...

Check out how the oil darkens the endgrain and emphasizes those ostrichtails. Pretty sweet. Makes me wanna clap my hands...

Nice chickens there.

1 comment:

  1. John ~ oh my this is really wonderful. I am amazed at how the ebony framed out the top. I didn't realize you were going around two sides with that - it is AWESOME! I think you'll really enjoy having the plane handle (whatever it is you call that thing) made from left over ebony. These are great posts - keep 'em coming!