So I have a granddaughter who will be experiencing her first Christmas this year. She will be just over six months old on Christmas day. I decided I would like to make a tradition with her that I will give a Christmas present every year that is something I make for her. For her first Christmas, I am going to make her a keepsake box. Obviously she is too young to enjoy this for now, but it will give her parents something to keep little items in until she starts to accumulate items of her own that she wants to store in this box.
Last week, I found a guy on Craigslist who has some reclaimed chestnut from a barn built in 1856. Of course chestnut is a rare wood now, due to the devastation by a fungus in the early part of the 20th century. The boards were in fair condition. They are about seven inches wide by 7/8” thick and about seven feet long (approx). There are nails in them (old school cut nails) and several layers of paint. When I went to look at the wood when I bought these boards, I was a little discouraged as the CL ad showed a nicely surfaced piece of wood and I guess I misread the ad as I thought the wood was S4S. Not to be. But before I turned my back on this wood, I asked the seller if he could surface a piece so I could get a good idea of what I would be working with (seller worked in a very large wood shop which specializes in reclaimed lumber and timber framing). He obliged and I was pretty impressed with the results. So I purchased four boards all sized at about what I wrote above for a total of 20 dollars.
Today, I took two of those boards and started getting them cleaned up. Here is what one of them looked like when I started. As you can see, lots of paint and not looking good.
I used a chemical paint remover to strip the paint off the two boards. Given the age of these boards, I think it is a safe bet that there is lead paint on these boards. Here is the initial coat of paint stripper applied on one of the boards.
It took three separate applications of the paint stripper to get about 99% of the paint off. The coats closest to the wood were very tenacious and didn’t want to let go. But I got it out of there so I could begin prepping the wood. It was looking pretty ugly at this point.
First thing I did was joint one of the edges. The wood is jointed (roughly) on both edges and pretty smooth on one face and rough on the other. So I jointed one edge because I needed to trim down the opposite edge due to mortices for hinges that needed to be removed. Here is the jointing process.
I started jointing the edges with my #7 (with a blade that is sharpened straight, no camber) and found that the edge needed a little help to get square in a couple of locations. It is also a pretty lengthy board and I switched over to my #8 for some additional length plus I have the #8’s blade cambered to help get problem areas cleared up to ensure the edge is at 90 degrees square to the face. I am a big fan of a cambered blade on a jointer when there is a need to get edges squared up. Once the edge was square, I used my panel marking gauge to mark off the edge where I wanted to make a rip cut.
Here you can see the mark made by the marking gauge.
Here is how I rip a board in my shop! Two saw benches, two bench hooks. It is a good system with the board held solidly and plenty of room for me to manipulate the saw.
Now look closely at the picture above. This wood does not look too hot. But look below and see how this turned out.
This wood looks very nice. It planes easily and has a really warm look to it. There are nail holes and you can see some paint in some inclusions on the surface. The paint will come out easily enough with a dental pick. The nail hole I may leave or use dutchmans to fill in the bigger ones. I think this wood is going to yield some pretty nice projects. Next step will be finishing surfacing and sizing the pieces.