Tidewater Woodworking President: Fran Foster, Vice President: Greg Guertin, Treasurer: Chris Zuchristian, Secretary: Larry Larue
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Summer is almost half over and the weather continues to be conducive for working on projects. Not only personal ones, but also making gifts for Christmas. Our guild has been busy with a special project, building two chimney swift towers in a nature park in Portsmouth. With the efforts of many guild members, we were able to complete the project in two days. Oh, I failed to mention that there was a heat advisory on for both days
Our next guild meeting is coming up in a week and is one that will benefit everyone. Chris will be providing great tips and techniques that will help you with your craft. If you are not yet a member, come see us on Monday, July 25 at 7:00pm. You can check us out and if interested, the annual dues are only $20. If you join, you can get a 10% discount before our meetings at Woodcraft. Hope to see you there.
Tidewater Chimney Swift Project
In early 2022 Pat Scanlon, bird lover, approached the Tidewater Wood Workers Guild to see if they would be interested in building some “BIG bird houses”. Translated that means Chimney Swift Towers. It seems that the chimney swift bird population is declining rapidly for various reasons, one of which is that there are fewer and fewer fireplace chimneys for them to roost in during the evening. Many chimneys now have been capped off as it is easier to burn a gas fireplace than a wood fireplace. The guild agreed to build these nests if Pat could come up with the funding to purchase the building materials.
Enter now, Steve Living from the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). His job is urban wildlife habitat education. Since the swifts depend on us and our chimneys to build nests they are now considered urban birds by some. He found out about Pats project and supported it because it fulfills his mission, habitat education. Education is always tied to conservation efforts so that kids grow up learning about wildlife, especially threatened species. Steve was able to come up with the money in his budget to purchase building materials for the chimney swifts. This was no small project as these big bird nest cost upwards of $1,000.00 for construction materials. Because of supply chain issues the costs of building materials were going up weekly but Steve got it done. Then came the second challenging problem with the building materials, availability. Yes, the supply chain issues we all are experiencing were also effecting the building of the bird houses. Pat also contributed $375 out of her own pocket for building materials with Lowes and Home Depot contributing building materials.
In late June of 2022 the guild finally got all of the building materials to build two chimney swift towers. These are not your ordinary bird houses but 8’ tall towers built on metal legs. They stand 11 to 12 feet off the ground! Because the building materials came trickling in at a snail’s paces, guild president Fran Foster went ahead and constructed the concrete frame for housing the bird towers along with the first and second story boxes of the bird towers. Having this done ahead of time saved lots of on-site construction time. On construction day the base of the bird towers and the first and second story of the bird tower were trucked to the site in the back of a pickup truck.
TWWWG guild member Greg Guertin unloading the base of the towers plus the first and second stories next to 18 bags of concrete.
The site chosen for the two bird towers was in Portsmouth at the Paradise Creek Nature Park off of Victory Boulevard. This site was chosen by Pat is a 40 acre wetland area and is managed by the Elizabeth River Project. They’re all about environmental conservation and education. Pat approached Larry Lapell, the manager of the park, with her idea and he as well as the head of the Elizabeth River Project agreed and gave her permission to go forward. Pat then got permission with the help of Larry from the Director of Parks and Recreation as well as the head of the department of zoning and planning from the city of Portsmouth to build on two sites within the park.
Portsmouth Paradise Creek Nature Park
Construction of the bird towers was broken down in to two stages. Stage 1 occurred on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. It just so happened that on July 6 a heat advisory was in effect for the area and temperatures that day reached 97 degrees! The water, Gator Aid and lunch provided by Pat was very much appreciated. On that day the guild constructed two bird towers in the Paradise Creek Nature Park at different sites. Groups from the guild split up into two groups to get Stage 1 going as fast as possible because of the extreme heat. Stage 1 consisted of excavating the ground to house the base frame, placing the first story of the bird tower in the frame, installing the rebar and pouring the concrete foundation. Stage 1 was finished up around 1:00 PM that day without any deaths of guild members from extreme heat.
Base of the swift tower nestled into the ground (Left) & TWWWG. TWWG guild member Terry Nienaber next to the mixer along with Steve Living of the DWR (Right).
Guild member Gary Stephens trawling the concrete base (Left) Terry Nienaber pouring concrete mix into the base of the tower (Right)
Stage 2 of the bird tower building occurred on Saturday, July 9, 2022. This was to give the concrete platform that secures the bird towers to the ground time to dry. Each base of the bird tower is loaded with lots of steel rebar and about 15 sacks of 80 pound concrete mix. That equates to each base weighing over 1,200 pounds! On Stage 2 day the second story of the bird tower was placed upon the top of the first story box that was put into place earlier on Wednesday. Insulation was put around the wooden box, the corners were framed and the outside of the bird tower was covered with Hardie-Plank siding which is a cement based material. Vents were added at the top and the top cover was put into place.
TWWWG guild member Chris Zuchristian installing corner braces (Left) Guild members Fran Foster and Scott Paris installing a corner brace (Right)
Installation of the vents and Hardie-Plank siding (Left) Finished product (Right)
The Tidewater Woodworkers Guild was the only organization that Pat approached that was willing to take on the project!
It is interesting to note that only one pair of birds will nest in each bird tower but many hundreds of birds will roost in the bird tower at night. These birds “sleep” hanging to the wall.
For more information on chimney swifts check out the web or go to www.chimneyswifts.org
Special thanks to Pat Scanlon, bird lover for spear heading the project along with Steve Living of the Department Wildlife Resources and Larry Lapell, Park Manager.
Tidewater Wood Worker Guild members building the towers: Fran Foster, Jim Francis, Greg Guertin, Terry Nienaber, Gary Stephens, Scott Paris and Chris Zuchristian.
Building a Sam Maloof Inspired Rocking Chair By Scott Paris
I have always been an admirer of Sam Maloof and his furniture. As some of you that have been members for a number of years may recall, I visited Sam back in 2009 just a month or two before he passed away. After spending some time talking with him, I got a tour of his house, workshop, and incredible stash of wood housed in the many huge outbuildings on the property. It is a memory I will always treasure. Anyway, not to dwell too much on that, building one of his famous rocking chairs, or at least a reasonable facsimile, has always been something I wanted to do. I have to imagine many woodworkers also have this on their bucket list of projects to do. So that is what I am going to do between now and Christmas as I hope to have this completed as a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law.
So over the next several months I will publish an article for Gary to include in the newsletter on the progress, or lack thereof. So you can follow along if you want.
Sam Maloof Rocker
There are a lot of YouTubers who have videos of making a Sam Maloof inspired video, some of them even offer plans etc. For me, I decided to turn to Charles Brock. Many of you may know him from the Highland Woodworking videos series where he interviews master woodworkers. He is also known for his Sam Maloof inspired rocking chairs which he has made dozens of. He teaches a one week class, has videos and patterns you can buy to build his version of the Sam’s rocking chair. Below is a picture of one his chairs that he built. His design is slightly different, but it definitely has inspiration from Sam’s rocker.
I am building the rocker out of black walnut. To build this rocker you will need about 50 board feet virtually all 8/4 which you will lose about half of that in cutting, trimming, and sculpting. So it isn’t a cheap date.
Rocker By Charles Brock
Of course prices vary, but if you assume $15 per board feet, that is roughly $750. But you can figure your cost based on what material you use. Maple and cherry are also good alternatives and may be cheaper.
One of the first things you do when building a chair or rocker is build the seat as it is the center piece of the chair and your arms and legs will likely attach to it somehow. In this case the seat is built from 5 pieces of wood about 4” or so wide to give a width of roughly 20” and a length of about 21”. The reason for the 5 individual boards is so that the seat can be coopered to be more form fitting. The center board is cut with a 3 degree bevel as is the outside of the 2nd and 4th board.
Below is a picture of the seat glued and clamped up. You may also be able to tell that portions of each of the 5 boards of the seat have already been timed at the bandsaw to save time sculpting, as there is a lot of sculpting to be done with the seat. The bandsaw can take cut out a lot more wood a lot quicker than a grinder or whatever you plan to use to sculpt the seat. You will also notice that I have notched out where the front and rear legs will be attached. This was done on the table saw before being glued up. Then each notch is routed to essentially make a tenon that the legs will slide onto. 15 dominos where used to assemble the seat.
Rocking Chari Seat Construction
So that is where we are right now. Next job is getting the legs to fit the chair and then begin cutting the spindles, 7 of them to be exact. There is a lot of work that goes into these spindles, but more on that later.
Our First project comes from Scott Fell.
Scott recently finished attending a hand plane class at the Woodwright School. These are pictures of the hand plane he completed.
The wood is beech. Profile is Ogee. Normal Ogee has filet at top of cut profile. Reverse Ogee has filet cut into bottom of profile.
Completed Hand Plane By Scott
Our next project comes from Chris Zuchristian.
This is the most beautiful, highly decorated Corn Hole board that you will ever see.
I made frame out of 2x4s, and 1/2" plywood for the top. First is a picture (Left) is a decal wrap. Second picture I used latex paint and green tape for design.
Chris also sent us pictures of a shadow box that he made for a military member.
Pictures Of The Outside Of The Case
View Of The Unfinished Case And The Final Product
Our last project comes from Greg Guertin.
Greg's Poured River Table