Our sense of smell is a powerful thing. Pleasant smells have the power to alter our mood. Some smells bring back memories. I’ve even read that the smell of fresh baked cookies can help to sell a house. Unpleasant odors can be just as powerful. I’ll not go into examples, I’m sure you know what I mean.
Just about every culture and religion has made use of this powerful connection to smells. Usually in the form of incense made from natural ingredients and burnt to release the odor. Some of these ingredients were and are so valued that they are valued more than their weight in gold. It wasn’t until I understood that last fact that the biblical story of the Gifts of the Magi actually made sense to me.
In the last generation or two we have abandoned the natural for the synthetic. Adding fragrance to just about everything has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Even my plastic garbage bags have a scent added to them. However, artificial is no substitute for natural fragrances.
Management is into essential oils, but I’m old school and prefer skillfully blended incense made from natural ingredients. I don’t assign any religious or healing significance to burning incense. I simply know that the aroma makes my home a much more pleasurable place to be. OK, that’s enough background.
The project at hand is to transform my recent “art” panel into a simple stand/platform. In this case for my porcelain incense burner. I made a quick sketch to get me started.
So I dug around in the scrap pile and pulled out enough bits of mahogany to create a simple frame around my plywood panel. The first step was to dimension and surface the pieces. Then I plowed a groove into each piece.
With that complete, I cut and mitered the four pieces for the frame. Cleaning up the miters on the shooting board. I also added a chamfer to all of the inside edges of the frame pieces before tackling the glue up.
This is my first chance to use hot hide glue and my new toy that I’ve had for a while now. When I built my first Hillbilly Tansu I started using liquid hide glue for the extended working time and became an instant fan. One of my issues however is that liquid hide glue has a shelf life. For most people this isn’t a problem, but I don’t use that much glue in my projects. Heck some of them don’t require any glue at all (Chinese Gate Bench). So some glue expires before I have a chance to use it. This plays havoc on my practical nature. The extended working time of liquid hide glue isn’t always a benefit. Sometimes a much faster set time is a good thing. Drawers, boxes and mitered frames, being examples.
Granular hide glue has an indefinite shelf life. When mixed and heated, hot hide glue will tack much faster than other glues. So it was time for me to find out for myself. A few months ago I ordered the small hide glue and hot plate package from Lee Valley. It’s small, but holds more than enough glue for the majority of my projects. I also have a bag of 192grm strength hide glue granules. So I mixed up a tablespoon of dry granules and set up the little pot per the instructions. In about 30min I was ready to glue the frame together.
The hot hide glue performed as advertised and made gluing the mitered frame and panel together much easier. Add glue to each part, rub them together and when they grab move to the next corner. I wrapped the assembly to add a little clamping pressure and set the whole thing aside to set up.
The stand design that I sketched calls for an inset foot. Raising the frame and insetting the feet should give the stand a floating effect. To make the pieces for the feet I fished out another scrap, poplar this time. Then I sized, surfaced, mitered and chamfered all eight pieces. The feet will also serve as glue blocks and help to keep this stand together.
After a couple of hours the frame was solid enough for finish planing…
…and chamfering the outer edges.
Then I added the feet.
The floating effect.
The hot hide glue experiment was a rousing success. Not only did it make the assembly easier with its fast tack, it shaved a full day off of my build time. With other glue options I would have need to wait 24hrs before moving on to the next step. I’ll be able to start the finishing process on this little stand tomorrow thanks to hot hide glue.
Greg Merritt Part 2