How To Care For and Clean Wooden Furniture

 Caring for and restoring furniture takes knowledge and a little tender loving care.  The most important thing in caring and restoring furniture is to understand the properties of wood and how finishes react with the wood and the atmosphere around the furniture. For expample as weather changes and the relative humidity (amount of moisture in the air) raises or lower, this affects the wood because wood is constantly absorbing or shedding small amount of moisture through it's pours. This shedding and absorbing process is what make wood shrink and expand, and in some cases even warp slightly but there are ways to minimize this effect.  Dealing with old and antiques takes even more care and understanding of wood and finishes. We recommend this book for those interested in restoring their furniture,

It is important to try and keep your home's temperature as close to a contstant as you can and at a temperature that is comfortable for you to live in. Wide swings in temperature are what play real havoic with furniture as the wood is constantly expanding and contracting. Relative humidity should be between50 and 65 percent. Specific levels, however, are not as important as avoiding radical swings in the temperature and the amount of moisture in the air.
Other tips to consider are ....

1. If furniture is going to be stored, unheated is often better as the relative humidity will fluctuate less. Air  holds more moisture at a high temperatures so this should be avoided as the furniture will then draw in that higher moisture content.

2. Wood handles temperature changes and relative humidity better if they are done slowlyy. Abrupt changes (closing or opening a vacation home, for example) can stress your furniture.

3. If you live in a part of the country with very cold winters, the air will be very dry so adding a humidifier or other wise adding moisture to the air will not only help you breath but also relieve your furniture from loosing too much moisture.

4. Use a dehumidifier in climates that are wet and rainy,  and in damp rooms to remove excess moisture from the air.
Dust regularly with a clean, cotton cloth slightly dampened as dust is an abrasive and will mar the finish and make it dull. --feather dusters only scatter dust, they seldom pick it up --Clean only when needed. Use all water and liquid cleansers with caution. --Do not place hot, cold or wet objects directly onto the finish.

Make sure all items displayed on your furniture have felt, not plastic, pads under them. --Limit exposure to sunlight with the use of shades, drapes, blinds, shrubs or window tinting. --Avoid placing furniture near air ducts or vents.

Avoid direct sunlight as the ultraviolet rays of the sun will damage the finish and bleach the wood. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the finish to crack, sometimes in a pattern resembling the skin of an alligator.

Copyright Colin Knecht

Make Crown Molding

Nothing dresses up a room or a cabinet like the regal presence of crown molding. This classical accent defines a project the way a frame embellishes an oil painting. And with such a wide array of profiles available, there's a crown molding made to fit every space. Smaller profiles are used on furniture, casework and cabinetry (like the dentil crown shown at right), while larger moldings are used as architectural trim.

So, why hasn't every do-it-yourselfer rushed to the lumberyard? Well, until now, installing crown molding really hasn't been a DIY project. Cutting compound angles and keeping track of inside and outside corners, all those splices and the molding's various orientations has been such a nightmare that most folks either call a pro, or balk at the cost of doing so.

The biggest problem has always been cutting the angles, rather than the actual installation. There are two reasons for this. Most crown moldings don't actually sit against the wall at 45 degrees, and the corners in your rooms are rarely a perfect 90 degrees.

Two new tools from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware combine to eliminate these problems and make an easy job of cutting and installing crown molding. The first of these, the TRUE ANGLE , is a large acrylic protractor which measures every corner and tells you the exact angle to set your miter saw. (More on this later.)

The biggest news in crown molding installation is the Rockler Compound Miter Jig . By holding the molding on your saw's bed at exactly the same angle that it will be installed on the wall, the jig eliminates all guesswork and confusing math.

Advantages of the Rockler Compound Miter Jig

1. It eliminates the need to cope inside corners. Until now, trim carpenters often installed one piece of crown molding with a 90 degree cut, then used a coping saw to cut the actual profile of the molding on the second piece so it would fit tightly against the first. Imagine having to make all those complicated cuts, and ruining a long piece of molding with the slightest slip-up. The jig lets you create a true miter in every inside corner: one cut on a power saw does the job.

2. Crown moldings come in so many profiles that few of them sit against the wall at a perfect 45 degree angle. The most common deviation is 52/38 (the top of the molding meets the ceiling at 52 degrees, while the back meets the wall at 38 degrees), but every manufacturer has their own specifications. This has always been one of the biggest headaches in dealing with crown moldings. The jig solves the problem with a single adjustment. Hold the molding in place, slide the fence and lock it. That's it. Do this once for each molding on the job (which usually means once per job) and you can throw away the calculator.  

3. The Rockler Compound Miter Jig lets you make compound cuts on a single plane saw (such as a radial arm saw or most older miter saws). You no longer need a compound miter saw to install crown molding.

4. It's incredibly easy to set up and use, and requires no expert knowledge.

5. It adjusts in seconds. Once the jig is set up for your molding, there's no need to change it.

6. The old way of installing crown molding was to have two people each hold a piece of the molding in opposite corners, then snap chalk lines around the room. With the Rockler Compound Miter Jig and a short template that you make from your crown molding, all that work is eliminated.

Setting Up the Jig

1. Before you pick up the jig, make a simple crosscut on your saw to create a 2 foot long piece of your molding to be used as a template throughout the job.

2. To begin setting up the jig, place your template piece in the jig with the bottom edge up. This orientation is very important. Every single cut you make is done with the bottom of the molding closest to the blade. In English pubs, people drink toasts by saying "Bottoms up!", which means they tilt they glasses until the bottom is above the rim, and they drain their beer in one gulp. (Now that you've read that, it will be a lot easier to remember "Bottom's up!" every time you place a piece of crown molding in the jig.)

3. Adjust the fence so that the top and bottom edges of the molding are flush, as shown in the photo at right.. That is, the top of the molding (which meets the bottom of the jig) should form a 90 degree angle where it meets the sliding fence.

4. Tighten the two knobs on the jig to lock in your setting. That's it! You are now all set to make every compound cut required in a standard crown molding installation.

Making the Cuts

There are only five different cuts required in almost any crown molding job. You are either cutting a left or right inside or outside corner, or you are making a splice to join two lengths of molding on a long wall. As you stand in the center of a rectangular room and look into one of the four corners, the piece of molding which will be attached to the wall on the left of the corner is an "inside left". If your room has alcoves, or is L-shaped, you will have at least one outside corner.

Not all corners are exactly 90 degrees. By using the TRUE ANGLE protractor , you can check each angle. Divide the number by 2 (the result will invariably be within a degree or two of 45), and set your saw accordingly for a tight fitting joint every time. Let's make some cuts...

Take the 2 foot long template piece you cut earlier and write "Inside" on it. Now you need to cut an inside right on one end of the template, and an inside left on the other. Let's begin with the inside right.

Looking at the saw, swing the blade 45 degrees to your left. Place the molding in the jig ("Bottom's UP!) and place the jig on the bed of the saw. The bulk of the workpiece should be to the left of the blade. Slide the jig so that the cut will remove a minimum of waste. Make sure the jig is NOT IN THE PATH OF THE BLADE. Without turning on the saw, drop the blade to make sure it misses the jig. Adjust if required. Keep your left hand on the molding inside the confines of the jig (where it is safe), and make the cut.

To summarize: On a right inside corner, the blade is 45 degrees to the left, and the bulk of the workpiece is to the left of the blade.

What's really nice is that you don't have to remember that - it's printed right on the jig (along with the orientations for left inside corners and both outside corners).

Now, let's cut a left inside corner on the other end of the template. Looking at the saw, swing the blade 45 degrees to your right. Place the molding in the jig ("Bottom's UP!) and place the jig on the bed of the saw. The bulk of the workpiece should be to the right of the blade. Slide the jig so that the cut will remove a minimum of waste. Make sure the jig is NOT IN THE PATH OF THE BLADE. Without turning on the saw, drop the blade to make sure it misses the jig. Adjust if required. Keep your right hand on the molding inside the confines of the jig (where it is safe), and make the cut.

To summarize: On a left inside corner, the blade is 45 degrees to the right, and the bulk of the workpiece is to the right of the blade.

When you are cutting actual pieces (as opposed to the template), you may have to make a very slight adjustment to the 45 degrees, depending on how close to 90 degrees your room's corners are. But you'll be pleasantly surprised that almost all cuts will end up working quite well with the saw set to 45 degrees. You now know how to make all your inside and outside corner cuts. The only thing left to cover is splicing. In that case, you place the workpiece in the jig ("Bottom's up!"), set the blade at 45 degrees in either direction, and make a cut at one end of one piece of molding. Then, leave the setup exactly the same and make your second cut on the end of a second piece of molding. As long as the angle of the miter saw blade remains the same, you'll have a perfect splice every time.


In one hand, hold the end of the workpiece that fits in the corner. In the other hand, hold your template. With the bottoms down, slide them both into the corner and make minor adjustments until you have a perfect fit (no gaps). Nail the workpiece in place - a finish nailgun works wonderfully, and they're cheap to rent.

If the workpiece is more than a couple of feet long, you'll need a helper. If a live body isn't available, take a look at Rockler's Multi-Quick support. It's very inexpensive and it will hold a length of molding in position while you make minor adjustments and/or nail the piece in place.


You'll need to make up three templates - one for inside corners, one for outside corners, and one for splices. They are used as visual checks so you always make the right cut, and also to line up the molding on the wall during installation.

Note that the jig doesn't slide on the bed of your saw once you're set up, or that the molding doesn't slip in the jig. This is in part due to a non-slip material applied to both faces of the back (fixed) fence - a small detail but one you'll be delighted with in the course of the job.

The jig can handle moldings up to 4-7/8" wide (depending on the angles of the top and bottom edges).

Choosing a Crown Molding
To see pictures of various crown molding which can be used in applications such as walls, cabinets and furniture, visit the following links:

Beadlock Starter kit for Furniture Joints

 The most popular furniture joint - the tenon - just got a whole lot easier. The BeadLock System is a dream to work with and delivers perfect mortise and tenon joints every time.

Aside from their (patented) jig, the only tool required is a drill. You can now dispense with those chisels, mortising machines, table saw jigs and other endless supply or possible jigs and ideast. All that is needed is clamp the jig in place and drill a few holes, then insert a length of the specially designed , pre-milled tenon stock . It  is that easy !!

Why a loose tenon you ask? Well ... they are easy make, at least as strong as traditional mortiss and tenon joints just a whole lot easier to make. The only real drawback to them is that, depending on the situation, they don't look as good, or at least they don't "look traditional". Most woodworkers are concerned about their strength, but that can be answered best this way, the strenght of the wood, whether it be a traditional tenon or a loose tenon is the strength of the wood it is made from - nothing more, nothing less. the actual joint binding, i.e. the joints a glued into place - these parts of the joints will be as strong as the glue you use and if you have ever tried to break away woods that have been glued togother with any of the mordern glues, you will know these are VERY STRONG GLUES.


All loose tenons floats in the space formed by two opposing mortises, but bead lock version has a number of advantages over a standard squared tenon. The multiple flutes are, in effect, the equivalent of joining either three 1/2" dowels or five 3/8" dowels together. The innovative shape offers a large amount of side-grain gluing surface makes for an extremely strong joint because of all the glue surface.

The design also helps to  prevents the joint from wiggling from side to side and therefore working loose over time. The Beadlock System is quick, easy and strong .... a great new invention.

Copyright Colin Knecht

How to Save Money Buying Wood

 Buying wood is an expensive proposition. Once wood is used in a project it is gone forever so making smart purchases is very wise. Lumber is always expensive no matter what type or cut you are using. It is important to get the best value from wood because it is the "Woodworker's Consumable Product" and there are many ways of buying and using wood that can save you money and look good as well.

Buying Shorter Boards ... is a great start. Very often lumber suppliers end up with boards that are too short for "commercial" use and will discount shorter boards and boards with defects in them. And don't be afraid to ask if there is a discount for boards with defects, sometimes these are overlooked. This may be a time to look into buying a good router and a "finger splicing" bit like the Freud Variable Height Finger Joint bit.

Build parts that are less visible with lower grade lumber ... or use veneer strips where you can. Less expensive woods like plywood and composite boards are stable and adapt well glueing and veneering techniques.

Form a Buying Group ... this is much easier than it appears. Why not get together with other woodworkers and make a bulk buy. If you are not a member of a woodworkers club, this alone could save you huge amounts of money buying wood by meeting other woodworkers and sharing in bulk buys.

Watch for Sales ... lumber stores like all other stores have sales from time to time and the best time to stalk up on lumber is during these sales. Also, watch for "Woodworking Shows" or other similar events in your area. There are always good deals on lumber at woodworking shows, go their with that in mind and you will get some great deals.

Look For a Sawmill ... there are large and small sawmills (like Wood-mizer) all over the planet. Sometimes looking in the classified section of your local newspaper will help. Many of the smaller mills will sell rough cut lumber at very attractive rates. This is an excellent way to purchase wood, although if it is green you may have to wait a year or so for it to dry out.

Don't Forget Local Trees ... this goes along with the tip above. Urban areas always have trees that are blown down of cut down for various reasons. Sometimes people are looking for people to get rid of trees for them. Here is an excellent opportunity to purchase a raw log, take it to your local small wood mill and have it milled the way you want.

Become a Faker ... there is no reason that you can't stain less expensive woods too look like exotic woods. There is a plethora of different wood treatments and stains available and it's quite easy to make birch and alder look like cherry or ash look like oak. Check out some of the wood treatment options from Minwax and Deft. Browse the Internet ... there are lots of small wood-lots and mill operators who sell wood over the Internet. There are often some very good deals, just beware of shipping costs, of maybe you can find someone in your area.

Get The Most ... out of every board. This will mean you may have to plan you work before you start cutting. There are even some very computer software programs that can help you plan your projects.

So to get the most value for your dollar, try some of these options ... they can only help enhance your buying power.

Click here to securely order this book - "How to Season and Dry Your Own Wood" ...

Copyright - Colin Knecht

Using Antiques to Make NEW Projects

 The television series the "Antiques Road Show" has certainly captivated the imagination of a large audience, including myself. If nothing else, it has made me much more aware of different styles of furniture and variety of items, and creativity that woodworkers in by-gone years have developed. When this picture arrived in my email box, it definitely caught my attention. A writing desk, seldom seen these days, but much used many decades ago. I knew the writing desk was a new woodworking creation and not an antique, but I wanted to find out more so I emailed the woodworker back and here's what I found out ....

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