Friday, July 29, 2011


Well, I left by saying that I had made an appointment to go to Shaker Roads to see about some maple. As it turned out, I had taken that Tuesday off to deal with some personal business in the morning which left the afternoon free. Since my wife was with me in the morning she accompanied me to Shaker Roads. we followed a circuitous route getting to Shaker Roads which did not give us a clear since of where it is actually located. In the end, we found it. Shaker Roads is situated on the farm owned by Maurice Desnoyer. I found him at work in his shop. He was working with a helper to get ready for a course that he teaches in the summer. He teaches a small group of student woodworkers how to build their own work bench. Basically, it is the same kind of work bench that you would buy from Lee Valley.

Maurice took me to a loft in the barn next to his workshop and we worked our way through a pile of maple that had been air drying for the past year. All of the wood had been rough sawn 4/4 which means that it is roughly slightly larger than one inch in thickness. The lengths and widths varied but roughly the boards were eight feet long and six to ten feet long. I wanted good, straight wood but not necessarily the clearest wood. After all, Most of it is going to be cut into spindles that are 1 1/2 inches by 3/4 of an inch. cutting up beautiful clear boards of maple into spindles would border on the criminal.

Maurice pulled the boards. we looked at them together then I placed them in three stacks; acceptable, not acceptable and too good to use. It did not take that long to stack 60 board feet of maple. Although it was not that hot that day I was sweating. It was pretty stuffy up in the loft of Maurice's barn.

Since we had taken my wife's Honda Fit we had to cut the boards down so that they would into the car. My wife was dubious about getting all the wood into the car but in the end there was actually room to spare. Honda Fits are great little cars for hauling around almost anything that you can think of that can fit into the back of a Honda Fit.

after cutting the boards to three and five foot lengths and filling up the Fit with rough sawn maple I paid Maurice for the wood. It cost me $181.00 for over 60 board feet of wood. It would have cost me a lot more than that at Rona or Home Depot for inferior wood. We said good bye to Maurice and Janice. He said I would probably be back and he is right, I probably will.

The second part of this story is how do I plane the wood since I do not have a planer. I used to use one in school but I have not had access to a planer for some years. The husband of a friend of my wife used to do woodworking. I asked her to ask her friend if her husband would consider selling his planer to me. He sound he would not sell it to me but he would lend it to me for as long as I need it to build the crib. My wife and I went over to visit her friend one evening. My wife had made a wonderful tart for them. We stayed and socialized for a while then we left with a Delta planer in the back of my wife's Fit. I had to replace the blades with new blades but that only set me back about fifty dollars.

Because of everything else that has been going on for the last few weeks I have not had much time for planing wood. However for the past several evenings I have been planing my maple boards outside. I carried the planer outside with my wife's help because the planer would make too much of a mess inside the house.

This what the boards look like after one pass.
This is what the boards look like before planing. Notice how one of the boards is spalted.

Here is the beast itself. It was not that complicated or difficult to change the blades but it does make a world of difference in the new product. You can see the recycle bin in the background that I used to collect the shavings. It did not take long to fill up the bin.

The spalting and the coloring of this book will make these pieces beautiful and interesting. I will have to make sure that I give the spalted areas a prominent display area.
Two beautiful boards
You can see the difference between the rough sawn boards and the finished board after planing.
This is a close up of the spalted board

I planed four boards last night and four boards tonight. That should be enough material to make the four corner posts. It always amazes me how a rough cut board cam be turned into a thing of beauty. All the boards that I planed has wonderful color and figuration. Take a look at the pictures.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Now that the Chloe's baby shower has been successfully completed I can get on with the business of building the crib. One of the most important questions that I had to answer was, what kind of wood do I use to build the crib. That is the most fundamental question because everything else follows from that, design, dimensions, size, weight and ultimately safety. Pine is an easy and inexpensive material to work with. that's why most construction framing is made out of pine or spruce. However, Pine does not have a lot of strength per square foot and it has a tendency to split and splinter even after it has been finished. I did not want to make a bulky crib and I certainly do not want to risk my granddaughter being injured by splinters from the wood rails.

The only real choice is hardwood. Based on what I know of hardwoods i felt that the best wood to construct a baby crib was maple. maple is hard, strong and works well with power tools; planer, table saw, and router. My initial thought was to go to Home Depot or Rona and buy finished pieces of maple to use in making the baby crib. I was disappointed on both counts. Both Home Depot and Rona had pieces of maple but everything I looked was unsuitable. All the wood that I looked at was warped to some degree, some severely. I was not going to try and make a baby crib out of warped wood it would never stand up.

There was no choice, I had to buy rough cut wood and plane it myself. There were two problems. I did not have a planer and I did not know where there was a local supply of rough cut wood. Well that is not entirely true. Exotic Woods has rough cut wood. That is where I go to buy wood for carving when I am not using reclaimed wood. There is a big difference between buying a block of Basswood for $20 for carving and buying 60 board feet of maple for a baby's crib. When I priced out rough cut maple at Exotic Woods it would have cost over $300! As much as I love my granddaughter that seemed a little pricey, so I shopped around.

There are a few mills in Cambridge, and Smith Falls and other places that are at least an hour away. I wanted someplace a little closer. Then I remembered the seminar that I attended at the Hamilton Woodworking Show in the spring( see my post on the Hamilton Woodworking Show). I attended a seminar from the owner of Shaker Roads. I had really like it. He spoke about how to dry wood so that it doesn't warp and how to select wood that has been properly dried. I thought that it would be a good place to start.

I called Shaker Roads, Maurice Desnoyer and Janice Currie. After a short conversation I realized that I had found my source. Shaker roads specializes in cherry wood but Maurice also has an ample supple of maple that has been air drying for at least a year. I made an appointment to go and see Maurice the following week.

There still remained the second problem, how to plane the rough sawn wood. In my next post I will explain how I addressed the second problem.