Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Woodworking to the rescue

Some background is in order.  My wife grew up in Yuma, Arizona.  Her father was an avid trader and accumulated a collection of Navajo rugs and jewelry.  We inherited the rugs and had them on the floor in our living room.  I also purchased a beautiful Navajo tapestry from the maker in Santa Fe many years ago, which we had draped over a small table.  Unfortunately I learned a painful lesson:  dogs like the taste of the natural yarns and dyes of Navajo rugs.  Two of the rugs and the tapestry got chewed on one or more edges before we realized what was happening.  After a stony silence, my wife put the rugs away where they have remained for some time.

Last week I decided that these rugs would look great as wall hangings in the entry of our new home if I could come up with a way to simultaneously hang them and hide the damage.  That meant I had to do something different with each one in order to hide the damage and leave as much of the rug as possible on display.  I also didn't want to damage them further in coming up with a way to hang them.

I went to my hardwood supplier and found some maple with nice figure on closeout that I thought would look good.  Things turned out well and my wife is happy, so that's a relief.  I thought I would share a bit about the frame I made for the tapestry.

I was hesitant to make a mitered frame because I don't have a shooting board set up for miters.  Somewhat pessimistically, I decided to take a chance, cut the miters on my Millers Falls miter box and then try to free-hand plane them to a perfect fit.  To my great surprise, three of the corners came out tight off the saw and the fourth was off only a degree or so.  I very gingerly planed it and, whadayaknow, it closed up.

  I used floating tenons, OK biscuits  :(, and the frame came out flat and square.  I never cease to be amazed by the versatility and precision of the Langdon Acme miter box.  It is a marvel of industrial engineering.

The next issue was how to fasten the tapestry to the frame without damaging it and I hit on an idea.  Why not use thin battens held in place with the metal clips intended to fasten table tops to their bases?  This worked well although it was a bit fussy.

Hand made Navajo tapestries aren't perfectly straight and square so It took some fiddling to make it look right.  I almost made rabbets in the back of the frame for the tapestry to sit in but I am glad I didn't because this fiddling would have been near impossible if I had.

So, sometimes the easiest projects are the best projects, at least for domestic tranquility.

I have several more to go but I need more maple.  Since they aren't damaged, it will be easy to hang them from the top like the one on the fireplace.

By the way, I cannot stand this stair railing, which is totally inappropriate for the style of house.  Someday this will be a log staircase, but I have to find a source for the logs.

1 comment:

  1. Nice solution to the problem. I use biscuits on miters, which I dislike doing and avoid unless I have no other choice. A frame made with mortise and tenons on the corners would work too.