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MAY WOODWORKER OF THE MONTH MICHAEL OSHRY
I’d like to share with the club the last project I finished, a sewing/knitting/multipurpose table as a Christmas gift for my wife, Gail. By way of background, this table was a more advanced project for me. While giving careful consideration to good design, overall functionality and of course craftsmanship, a primary focus was upon matching grain-Michael
Frankly, I enjoyed working with this species of hardwood and it was fairly easy on the blades. In addition, Limba was a joy to work with because of the uniqueness of its grain, the endless variety of color and the variations of hue in its striping. Besides, I was drawn to the rich collection of small “irregularities” I found within the pieces I selected—worm and pin holes—which for me contributed significantly to its beauty, its uniqueness, it’s one-of-a kindness.
I decided upon a beautiful hardwood called Black Limba (also referred to as, “Korina"), for which I learned is a species native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the western coast of Africa. Limba (both black and white) is “not” a protected species, a concern I’m intentional to remain mindful of given the magnitude of deforestation occurring throughout the world, particularly in the Amazon. I felt good about working with it.
Once assembled and sanded, along with clean used cotton T-shirt sections, I applied finish beginning with a diluted boiled Linseed Oil to Mineral Spirit ratio of about 3:1 - just dark enough, but not too much so. As usual, the first application of penetrating oil really popped the grain. I never tire of this first impression. I then began to apply several coats of oil-based polyurethane. I used a “satin” resin finish knowing my wife tends to shy away from glossy, even semi-gloss finishes. After applying the first coat of polyurethane I began “leveling” the wet surface with 320 grit paper. Thereafter, each topcoat was thinly applied. After four or five coats and sufficient drying time, I applied Odie’s wax.
If I were to suggest my table has a “centerpiece” it would have to be the public library card-catalog units I repurposed. These drawers had been sitting in my workshop for some time before I realized just how fun it would be to retrofit the units to work within the sewing table. After all, I knew Gail needed small, but long drawers for storage—knitting needles and the like. It seemed to work perfectly. Considered a separate project, I began to remove the “fronts" to fashion new ones out of the African Black Limba hardwood taking care to match opposing grains and attention given to space clearances. I kept and used all the “thumb-pull” hardware too.
Perhaps the best lessons or awareness learned were:
Be patient when allowing each finishing coat to penetrate and settle. If it requires several days, so be it.
When I miss-cut a piece, such as one of the trip pieces around the openings below where the baskets go, “re-cut again from fresh stock” rather than to try to jimmy-rig the piece into place, sacrificing quality and just “settling,” unnecessarily.
Since this was a piece of furniture for my wife, I began consulting with her along the way on just about everything, so that in the end, there “were no surprises.”
When I was getting tired, or feeling achy, I mustered up the determination to just “stop.” The project took on a completely different feeling the next time I began to put on my apron to get back to work.
With this project I really learned what it’s like to “take one’s time,” and to allow the “low” of the project be what it will be. There were days I would stand in front of the unfinished table for what seemed like thirty minutes. It would become clear “today is not going to be a woodworking day.” So I would do something else, tidy-up, put some things away, maybe do some cross-cuts on the table-saw in anticipation of what was coming next.
MONTHLY MEETINGS WHEN: First Thursday of each month (September through June) WHERE: Hillcrest Baptist Church 205 Black Diamond Road Port Angeles, WA TIME: 7-9:00 pm