Scranton Historical Train website: http://www.nps.gov/stea/index.htm
I have built stiles and rails in the past for decorating bars and for kitchen cabinets, however this was by far one of the most challenging project I have had to make. But like all wood projects you learn something new each time and you get a little more creative with each undertaking.
These framing members are going to serve as windows for Scranton Pennsylvania’s historical trains. I have to say the parts I made were small compared to everything else it takes to keep these trains in full operation, however I do feel extremely proud that I have made a contribution to retaining a small piece of America’s history. What has inspired me about this project as I was recreating the parts using mainly machine shapers I began to realize that I am sure that the tools I have are significantly more advanced than those of the early 1900’s however I was still running into errors, which made me wonder how long did it takes the master craftsman back then to produce one window casing.
What made this project so difficult compared to other jobs in the past was because of the type of wood I was given to use. I believe the species of wood is a hardwood derived from Africa, which had the tendency to splinter and crack along the grain when running through shapers, routers or other bit type machinery. During this project I learned the importance of setting up machines for operation to have test pieces of the same materials. Unfortunately the first parts where all made from Poplar, and turned out perfect, which got my hopes up that this project would be done quickly. However, poplar is a very forgiving wood that allows me more flexibility as way of running my bits deeper than the African species did. So needless to say the original set ups were of no use and forced me to make several small passes on each step of the way. When making one it’s not a big deal, however making 20 of these get old quickly. But by doing so it prevented blowing out of the material, which in the long run made extra time and patience worth it. What I am quickly learning about wood working is that if you rush the job it will take you twice as long.
Once the parts have been installed on the trains I will try to update my blog with new photos.