The Woodworker|June 2020
I hope this series is providing you with a fascinating insight into some unusual and everyday words and phrases, along with learning how dung can be a useful identification tool!
Framed, ledged & braced doors
This technique for making exterior doors is very traditional. An outer frame is constructed with rebates to take a boarded facing. Behind this facing, and as an integral part of the door framework, there will be at least one ledge, a middle rail, and a couple of braces – the angled supports. The braces should be built into the frame so that they support the middle and top rails from the hinge side up. This brace arrangement helps to reduce any future ‘droop’ on the lock side of the door. Don’t make or buy doors that alternate the angle of brace; it may look interesting but, in reality, probably won’t function correctly.
If you want to make a feature of a joint or series of joints, instead of hiding them, these can be called a ‘frank’ joint or joints. Think of exposed dovetails running down the corners of a chest, for example.
Frass, or as I’m infamously known to call it, ‘beetle poo’, is the digested wood droppings left behind by the wood-boring beetle larvae and adult. It appears to be like fine or coarse sanding dust. Different sizes and shapes are produced by different species of beetle. This feature can be used to help identify what might be causing the infestation. Rubbing the frass between your fingers will help you to determine this if you are aware of what you need to feel and see. Use a hand lens to get a closer view. Experience will help but there are guides online to help with identification. If you want to check that the family heirloom you’ve just inherited or that expensive piece of antique furniture you bought has a current infestation, frass can give you an indication. Old furniture will often have surface ‘flight’ holes where the mature beetle has emerged. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if these are old or new. These adult beetles come out in the spring. Put a few sheets of newspaper under the suspect piece of furniture from, say, March until June, then check to see if any frass drops onto it. If it does, more than a little bit, then you will most likely have an active attack. Take action then and treat the piece accordingly.
This is a well-used, shellac-based polish, which has been extensively used on furniture, especially antiques. Applied correctly it will provide a deep, high gloss finish that today is not so sought after. The traditional way of preparing French polish, from the shell of the lac beetle, is tedious; however, you can buy ready-mixed stuff that, with care, can provide a very good finish. One of the major problems with French polish is that it is not resistant to watermarking: put a mug of coffee on it, with a damp base, and you’ll be heading for trouble!
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