These are pieces of screwed-together 2×12 (which start off at 1-1/2″ thick, and have been planed until pretty). If I recall correctly, there are three, maybe four, screws into the top and bottom of each upright, through the horizontal pieces, all sitting on a screwed-together base. The shelves are secured to the wall with many L-brackets that are bolted to the masonry wall. A lot of visitors bring their children to the storefront, so we wanted to make sure the unit could be safely scaled by a gorilla.
And while they looked ridiculously capacious when Brendan Gaffney finished constructing them from Christopher Schwarz’s drawing, they were full up with woodworking tomes in just an hour or so.
The drawing below – plus knowing that the pieces are from 2x12s – should provide enough detail for you to easily adapt such a system to your own library wall needs.
My daughter Katherine has cooked up another big batch of non-toxic Soft Wax 2.0, and it is now for sale in her etsy store.
As you can see, Shop Cat Bean is surprised/nonplussed/inscrutable in his reaction to the new batch of wax.
This Soft Wax is my favorite finish for chairs, and I use it on a lot of other projects when I was a low-luster finish that doesn’t create a film between me and the wood.
And yes, this stuff is safe enough that you can use it on your beard. More instructions below!
Instructions for Soft Wax 2.0
Soft Wax 2.0 is a non-toxic finish for bare wood that is incredibly easy to apply and imparts a beautiful low luster to the wood.
The finish is made by cooking raw, organic linseed oil (from the flax plant) and combining it with cosmetics-grade beeswax and a small amount of a citrus-based solvent. The result is that this finish can be applied without special safety equipment, such as a respirator. The only safety caution is to dry the rags out flat you used to apply before throwing them away. (All linseed oil generates heat as it cures, and there is a small but real chance of the rags catching fire if they are bunched up while wet.)
Soft Wax 2.0 is an ideal finish for pieces that will be touched a lot, such as chairs, turned objects and spoons. The finish does not build a film, so the wood feels like wood – not plastic. Because of this, the wax does not provide a strong barrier against water or alcohol. If you use it on countertops or a kitchen table, you will need to touch it up every once in a while. Simply add a little more Soft Wax to a deteriorated finish and the repair is done – no stripping or additional chemicals needed.
Soft Wax 2.0 is not intended to be used over a film finish (such as lacquer, shellac or varnish). It is best used on bare wood. However, you can apply it over a porous finish, such as milk paint.
APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS (VERY IMPORTANT): Applying Soft Wax 2.0 is so easy if you follow the simple instructions. On bare wood, apply a thin coat of soft wax using a rag, applicator pad, 3M gray pad or steel wool. Allow the finish to soak in about 15 minutes. Then, with a clean rag or towel, wipe the entire surface until it feels dry. Do not leave any excess finish on the surface. If you do leave some behind, the wood will get gummy and sticky.
The finish will be dry enough to use in a couple hours. After a couple weeks, the oil will be fully cured. After that, you can add a second coat (or not). A second coat will add more sheen and a little more protection to the wood.
Soft Wax 2.0 is made in small batches in Kentucky using a waterless process. Each glass jar contains 8 oz. of soft wax, enough for two chairs.
The first round of bandanas sold out in three hours, which is crazy I know. We are going to put this batch on sale in our store at noon (Eastern) on Saturday, July 3.
The good news is we have more bandanas in the works. And we are currently manufacturing Shop Pencil: Type 6 (maybe Type 7) and have figured out a nice way to sell five of them in a box as a standalone product. These pencils are not mere promotional items with cheap lead and rubbery wood. We have spent a lot of effort getting these right for woodworking (i.e. I have a whole cabinet filled with almost-right pencils. Guess what my sisters are getting for Christmas….)
In many of the picture of the Lost Art Press shop our “tool walls” show up. They’re hard to avoid, given that they’re in back of Christopher Schwarz’s workbench, and take up half of the back wall of the shop. And every time they show up, we get questions about them – so here are some answers.
The walls are actually heavy wooden sleeves that fit over three “boarded bookcases” (from Chris’s “The Anarchist’s Design Book“), made from pieces of not-great cherry that we’d had for at least a decade.
The walls are simply enough pieces of 3/4″-thick (or thereabouts) cherry butted together (with a small gap – about a dime’s width) to make up the width of the bookcases (which are about 36″ wide), long enough so that they leave a small gap at the bottom (of about 1″) to allow access underneath to lift.
Clinch-nailed across the bottom on each wall is a piece of 3/4″ cherry, with another flush to the top; these hold the vertical boards in place. Glued and screwed to the back edge of the top is a panel that spans the top of the bookcase plus 3/4″ (3/4″ x 14-1/2″ x 36), with another piece (about 4″ wide) glued and screwed to it that sleeves over the back.
At the two front corners are two triangles (gussets?) screwed in place with (quelle horreur) Pozidriv (I think) screws. The ones on the sides are countersunk; the ones on the top are not. And I’m fairly certain the boards were used fresh out of the powered planer. In other words, these are pretty much slapped together out of available stock. And we finished them with two coats of shellac. But they hold a lot of tools and they look nice, as long as you don’t examine them too closely. We add a new nail or Shaker peg whenever a new tool needs a tool-wall home. Or we make a simple rack if that’s the best storage solution, and screw that to the wall.
Please note that only our non-personal tools live on these walls. If it’s hanging out in the open, it’s fair game for students, contractors, spouses… The stuff we don’t want people to use? Stashed in our tool chests.
I argued for some kind of hinged or sliding doors, so that the bookcases behind the tools would be easier to access, but I lost (so if I have to get into one of the bookcases, Chris has to help me – I can’t lift those myself…and Chris lifts them by himself only if absolutely necessary). For as often as we need to remove the walls, it was too much work/trouble. So, when we have an open house and need to access the bookcases (where we display the Lost Art Press books), we remove the tools from their various hooks, nails and pegs, lift the walls off the bookcases and stow them in the back, then hang the tools back on the walls until we’re ready to cover up the books again. Not only does this give us a place to store the shared tools, it protects the books from dust and workshop bruises.
And come Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, we’ll be lifting off all three walls for the first time since December 2019 if memory serves – from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. that day will be our first open house in more than a year, and we hope to see you here!
Richard Jones has spent his entire life as a professional woodworker and has dedicated himself to researching the technical details of wood in great depth, this material being the woodworker’s most important resource. The result is “Cut & Dried: A Woodworker’s Guide to Timber Technology” (from which the information below is an excerpt). In this book, Richard explores every aspect of the tree and its wood, from how it grows to how it is then cut, dried and delivered to your workshop.
In section 6.4 the drying and rewetting of wood was illustrated by using a sponge or towel to represent wood. An extension of this analogy serves as a preliminary introduction to terminology about the wood-seasoning process. Let’s say, for the sake of discussion, that you soak a very large and thick bath towel in a water bath. Lift up the sopping towel and wring it out as thoroughly as possible. Let us also assume you have the unlikely physical ability to wring out every drop of loose (free) water in the towel so the only water left is that bound within its fibres. This towel now stands for wood commonly and erroneously described as being at fibre saturation point (FSP), although the comments on FSP made in section 6.5 should be borne in mind. Fold the towel up three or four times into a long large sausage and hang it over a washing line. It’s a cool, dull, still, overcast day with, perhaps, intermittent, very light drizzle.
The towel will barely dry any further in the described weather conditions until either a breeze starts, the sun comes out or both changes happen together. It’s common knowledge that even if the sun doesn’t come out but a breeze starts the bundled-up towel will dry. Similarly, if there’s no breeze but the sun comes out the additional warmth causes water to evaporate from the towel’s fibres. In both cases described, the towel will eventually dry through. Put the two factors together, i.e., warmth and moving air, and the towel dries more rapidly than it will with either just a breeze or just extra warmth. Within the bundled-up drying towel there is a moisture gradient: As the towel dries it remains wetter in the middle of the bundle than near the surface. Assuming drying continues, the moisture content within the towel gradually evens out until it has an equal moisture content all through.
Without really knowing any science or terminology we know how to dry clothes quickly. Options include hanging them on a washing line on a warm, lightly breezy, sunny day, putting them out on a dull but dry and windy day, or hanging them over a warm radiator, and so on. Clothes fully opened and pegged on a line dry much quicker than clothes bunched up tightly.
What applies to drying clothes has similarities to the conditions that will dry wood. To dry wood quicker, heat air and move the hot air over it, although with wood, when it has dried to approximately 20 percent MC, the primary drivers for further drying are air temperature and humidity, not the speed at which the air passes over the wood. Thin boards dry faster than thick boards, which is analogous to opening clothes out to dry rather than leaving them bunched up. Fast drying of wood with very hot dry air will certainly accomplish the task, but it usually comes with an unacceptable price, i.e., degradation of one sort or another such as splitting, surface checking, case-hardening18, collapse (aka core collapse), honeycombing etc., making the wood unusable and unsellable. It’s imperative to control the speed at which wood dries in order to produce an acceptable end product.
The air’s RH must be low enough to absorb more water vapour. Air at 100 percent RH cannot absorb any more water vapour. Wet wood in RH conditions like this is comparable to my earlier description of hanging washing out to dry on a cool, damp, intermittently drizzly day – the clothes dry very slowly.
Warm air transfers heat to the wood causing the moisture in it to evaporate into the air. Again, the RH of the air must be low enough to absorb the water vapour given off by the wood. Drying kilns add warm air to the drying chamber, which transfers heat energy to both the wood and the water within it. The difference in temperature between the introduced dry air and the wet wood is often, but not always, quite small at the beginning of the kilning process. Water in the wood converts to vapour and evaporates through the wood surface into the air introduced into the drying chamber. The air temperature within a kiln is high, e.g., at stages in the wood drying process temperatures of 65.5° C (150° F) or more are used. At this temperature if the air stays at 70 percent RH it will eventually dry wood to approximately 10.5 percent MC (see figure 8.2).
If the air becomes too humid to dry the wood effectively, one of two things must happen for the wood to continue drying. First, further raising the temperature of the air in the kiln reduces its RH. Hotter air is capable of holding additional moisture released from the wood. Second, moving the humid air out of the drying chamber and replacing it with drier air will continue the drying process. Raising the temperature of the air already in the chamber is the cheapest option, but too high a temperature may lead to faults in the wood, particularly in some species more than others, e.g., surface checking as described earlier.
As timber dries, a moisture gradient develops inside the wood much like the earlier-described folded-up towel hanging over a washing line. In a wood-drying kiln where air temperatures are artificially high, generally the greater the temperature of the air acting on the wood, the steeper the moisture gradient within it, and moisture moves out of the wood faster. This also leads to faster evaporation of moisture from the surface of wood. Conversely, when wood is air dried and therefore experiences normal weather conditions, or if the wood is in service in a typical environment found in habitable buildings, RH is the primary controller of the steepness of the wood’s moisture gradient – air temperature in these circumstances has only a small effect.
For green wet wood to dry, as freshly milled boards or planks, for example, air must be moving to carry moisture away from the wood’s surface; this creates a place for the water deeper in the wood to migrate to, where it will also be carried away by the flow of air. If only a small volume of stagnant dry air surrounds wet wood, that air quickly becomes fully saturated with evaporated water. At that point no further drying can occur until that pocket of air moves away and is replaced by drier air.
Moving air carries moisture away from the wood’s exterior, thus drying the wood. But the air molecules adjacent to the wood surface stick to it. Air molecules just above the surface collide with the stuck air molecules and their movement is disrupted and slowed down. In turn, these air molecules impede the flow of air molecules just above them. As distance from the wood surface increases, the collisions diminish until air movement is unimpeded and becomes free flowing. In effect there is a thin layer of viscous “fluid” near the surface where velocity changes from zero at the surface to free flowing some distance away from it. “Engineers call this layer the boundary layer because it occurs on the boundary of the fluid.”19 (Benson, 2009, p 1) Within the boundary layer next to the wood the air is wetter (because it’s picked up moisture from the wood) and travels slower than the air above the boundary layer – it tends to hold the moisture taken from the wood close to the wood’s surface. A faster-moving air stream reduces the effect of the boundary layer and it sweeps away the damp air with its high-vapour pressure. The damp air is replaced with new drier air, i.e. air with a lower vapour pressure better able to absorb further moisture from the wood.
Whether wood is air dried or kiln dried the air entering the wood stack from one end has a lower RH than the air leaving the stack at the far end. Moving air leaving a stack of drying wood is cooler than the air entering it. The air cools as it transfers heat to the wood, thus enabling the drying process. If the air continuously passes through a stack of wood in one direction, the wood at the “upwind” end of the stack always dries faster than the wood at the “downwind” end. This results in unevenly dried planks of wood where the downwind end of a stack might be 3 percent or 4 percent wetter than the upwind side. In more extreme cases, the difference in moisture content between the upwind and downwind side of a stack may be 8 percent to 10 percent MC if the wood is very wet at the start of the drying process – in this case one possible result is the stack of wood may lean toward the drier side. This effect is more evident in wide stacks of wood, e.g., greater than about 2 metres (~6′), than in narrow stacks. Natural changes in wind direction and speed cancel out this effect in stacks of air-dried wood. It is only if a kiln operator is drying a wide stack of wood, or some particularly difficult to dry woods, that there is a real need to regularly alternate the air flow direction within the chamber. To achieve this, the fan blade rotation is reversed at evenly spaced intervals, e.g., every two hours, four hours, 12 hours etc. This upwind and downwind disparity in the drying ability of moving air in a stack of wood limits the size of a stickered pile of planks. This is especially the case with air drying where the yard owner really has less control over temperature, wind speed or wind direction. However, it should be noted that air velocity in either a kiln or in an air-drying wood pile is most important at the initial drying stage of wet wood because of its role in carrying away moisture from the wood surface. As the wood dries the significance of air movement gradually diminishes until the wood reaches about 20 percent MC. At this MC the primary critical factors for further drying are humidity and temperature, with the importance of air movement reducing significantly the drier the wood becomes.