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Being a Chapter of Comment and Story, Sometimes Reminiscent, Concerning Men and Events in the Furniture Industry, Here, There, and Everywhere
Bu THE EDITOR
'HERE is reproduced elsewhere an article from the Hardwood Record which shows how, after all, it is the men who work either in the timber or in mills and factories who determine the names by which specific woods are known. The botanists and the scientific experts play but little part in matters of this sort. Our language is being constantly changed and vitalized by what is sometimes expressive slang and what more often is picturesque description. If you doubt this make a study of the old Webster or Worcester dictionary which belonged to your father or grandfather, and compare it with the latter day dictionaries which are now on the market. It is this very condition which is responsible for the wide difference of opinion among the manufacturers, and the users of gum lumber, upon the question of by what name it can be most profitably known to the consuming public. Long before the furniture makers of the country recognized that what is now commonly known as red gum was a suitable and workable cabinet wood, it was being freely used in Europe. We Americans had given it the name gum, because there is a resemblance to the pitch of pitch pine in its component parts. It suggested to the lumbermen the word gum, and gum it became. We never stopped to finish it as did the workers in this wood in European countries, and therefore did not discover the satiny qualities which are revealed when the wood is finished. Neither did we discover that the wood had any semblance to walnut, and if we did, walnut was then in the discard. But the users of this wood-native to this country-over on the other side of the water, did discover these characteristics and promptly called the wood satin walnut, by which name it is very generally known in European countries.
When the wood was first brought to the attention of the makers of furniture there was a very common objection to it, largely on account of its name. It was a despised wood, even in the portion of the country in which it grows. Gum sounded good to no one. The word itself was suggestive-it suggested that the stuff was soft and pliable, would mold in almost any shape-was essentially vulgar-plebeian and vulgar. People of taste have mighty little use for the users of gum of the chicle sort. So gum came into the market with a handicap. It is understood that the manufacturers of gum who have been responsible for the advertising campaign which has been so successfully conducted, debated long and seriously whether or not to exploit the wood under its commonly accepted name or to try to promote it under the name "satin walnut" or some other euphonious and less suggestive title.
But there is a lot of hard, common sense among the lumbermen of this country, and the result was that they concluded to batter down at the same time any prejudice which existed against both the name and wood itself. This they have succeeded fairly well in doing. It is a curious thing, however, that manufacturers who are making furniture out of gum lumber find it is almost impossible to sell it in the states in which the wood grows -the rather limited district of the lower Mississippi valley.
Henry Schuerman, of the Carrollton Furniture Co., feels very strongly on the use of the word "gum" by the
Gum Manufacturers' Association. His trade is naturally to a considerable extent in the south. For a good many years now he has been making furniture of real distinetion from quartered, or figured red gum. No other manufacturer in this country has produced chamber suites of the same merit both in design and quality as has the Carrollton Furniture Co., but it is sold under the name of Hazelwood. Mr. Schuerman is certain that had that name or some other been used early in the campaign, the wood would have met an even more cordial reception than has now been the case, and a line of less resistance would have been encountered.
But a two-day study of the offerings in the Grand Rapids market, with John M. Pritchard, the secretary of the Gum Manufacturers' Association, as a companion and fellow explorer, revealed an astonishingly large use of the wood in furniture making. The Sligh Furniture Co. commenced to use the wood long before the campaign of exploitation began, and has used it successfully in many ways. John Mowat, of the Grand Rapids Chair Co., confesses to have used it long before he came to Grand Rapids, and he regards it as the best material of which to make imitation mahogany yet offered. The Luce Furniture Co. is a large user of the wood for both inside and outside work, for gum apparently lends itself as readily to imitation mahogany as to the popular enamel which it takes especially well. It seems to be absolutely essential in the construction of furniture of Circassian walnut, which it can be made to resemble with wonderful fidelity. It is certain there would be fewer offerings of Circassian walnut if the manufacturers of furniture of this type were unable to buy, at a reasonable price, the material for posts, mirror frames and, in fact, the entire structure of all case goods from the red gum manufacturers. Only the prominent surfaces are now veneered with the expensive Circassian. Thus far red gum is posing very little in its own right, although a few lines were shown in which the wood in natural finish was disclosed. This is as true of chairs as of case goods. Even the Barnard & Simonds Co., of Rochester, N. Y., known as makers of a very high grade of chairs, until the present season almost exclusively period reproductions in mahogany, showed a number of patterns in gum and in its own right. The adaptability of gum was best illustrated in the line of the Luce-Redmond Chair Co., which showed many patterns all made exclusively of gum in four finishes imitation Circassian walnut, gum natural, imitation mahogany and enamel. Some of the so-called Circassian walnut chairs had panels veneered with Circassian; in other cases the art of the finisher had been employed to get the effect. Think of the advantage of making four kind of chairs from one cutting of one wood!
There is little or no doubt that red gum has played a very important part in displacing birch, which grows almost entirely in Wisconsin, with tracts in the other white pine states. The makers of this wood have just begun to realize that this is the case. They have been exploiting it in a modest way for the past three years, chiefly for interior trim. But where so used it is generally given an imitation mahogany finish, and as mahogany
it is best known to the public. The manufacturers of birch lumber are anxious now that the material which they offer shall be recognized in its own right and are planning a campaign of education in its behalf. Present market prices for birch and gum show that gum is still the cheaper wood, although freight is a factor in making the final price to the consuming furniture manufacturer. R. S. Kellogg, the secretary of the Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Lumber Manufacturers Association, like Mr. Pritchard, was a visitor to Grand Rapids during his season, and an opportunity presented to the author of this to study the use of birch in his company. Mr. Kellogg's office is in Wausau, Wis., and Mr. Pritchard's in Memphis, Tennessee-in each case near the chief region of supply. Careful furniture manufacturers, like Wm. Widdicomb, of the Widdicomb Furniture Co., and the Berkey & Gay Furniture Co., are users of birch to the exclusion of gum entirely. While birch costs a little more, these makers of high grade furniture believe it is worth more-harder, more durable; that the grain of the wood more nearly simulates the best grades of mahogany, and is otherwise preferable.
Ten or fifteen years ago nearly all the manufacturers of dressers and other chamber furniture offered each pattern in four woods or finishes. These were bird'seye maple, curly birch, oak and mahogany, either genuine or imitation., with plain red or white birch as the basis for the imitation mahogany. Of course birch was used for the structural work in the curly yellow birch pieces. Selected birch veneer was used for the fronts, tops and sometimes the end. The various enamel finishes have well-nigh driven the bird'seye maple out of the field of supply, although some of it is still to be found. Less of the curly birch is being made. The Widdicomb Furniture Co. is almost the only one
and the best ones at the top and the bottom. The apple growers of the Pacific Northwest went at it in a different way. They studied their proposition and sought a market in the face of high freight rates. They graded their apples and packed the best ones with care, and then got a price for their goods. The manufacturers of birch lumber for a long time gave little attention to how their lumber was manufactured and less to how it was sorted. The manufacturer of furniture found it necessary to put into the discard sap strips, or so staining it as to get uniform color. This cost time and money. The impression prevailed that birch was a cheap wood, suited only to making cheap furniture, and the makers of this same cheap furniture were as careless about how they put their stuff together as the manufacturers of birch lumber were careless about sorting the stock they got during a winter's logging. Birch got a black eye in consequence. It is up to the men who have birch to sell to remedy these conditions. It is up to them to demonstrate to the consuming public how good and beautiful a lumber birch is, as
THE SELLING SMILE
When you pass the wide front door,
If you've ne'er been there before,
Hang the cheery signal out,
Fade the frown and smooth the pout;
If you've just been turned down hard,
The next man's on the selling card,
Greet him with a wide-lipped grin,
Trouble hangs close to the trail,
Waiting for your time to fail,
of the Grand Rapids manufacturers making a fairly representative line of chamber furniture in this wood. The finish given curly yellow birch from the first has been more golden than yellow, and the beauty of the wood so finished-and particularly as finished by the Widdicomb Co.-is unmistakable. Yet apparently public taste has in a large measure drifted away from it. Can birch come back?
We think it can. The manufacturers of birch lumber have been sleeping at the switch. A small group of manufacturers of gum lumber have given thought to their proposition and have been aggressive in exploiting their wood. The birch manufacturers were until recently much like the apple growers of Michigan. A Michigan apple is the best flavored apple which grows. But little or no attention has been given, until recently, to the care of Michigan orchards and the apples which grew almost without care were picked and packed indifferently in barrels, with no attention given to this process unless it were to put the poor apples in the middle of the barrels
well as manufacturers of furniture the superior qualities of birch. Some of them have already discovered this more are likely to if the birch workers put a little study into their proposition and get busy.
Gum has been persistently criticized and feared, because it has a reputation for not staying in place. In its handling a different process is needed to be employed than in piling and drying other of our native cabinet woods. The first users of the woods had their troubles. But there are conspicuous examples where users have applied themselves to the solution of and these problems succeeded. Comparatively little complaint of this sort is heard now. The Lindner Interior Manufacturing Co., of Grand Rapids, for instance, has in recent years been called upon to furnish the trim on two of the big hotels in Chicago. The specifications called for mahogany doors, etc. The contracts were secured on the basis of the mahogany. But in planning and building big buildings economies have to be practiced, and refiguring is not infrequently undertaken. Mr. Lindner gave himself to the problem of handling gum, and has succeeded to the fullest extent. Leading architects like Holabird & Roche found that his system is all that is claimed for it, and therefore in several of the buildings which the Lindner Company has finished the wood which has all the appearance of mahogany is really gum, and even experts have difficulty in detecting the substitution. And if the effect is secured and the material is as good, what matters? Especially if from $15,000 to $25,000 is saved thereby to the people whose money goes into the structure.
The Gum Manufacturers Association is not unmindful of the things which have been said by the critics of their present product, and so one of the things which the newly
organized association has done is to appoint a scientific research committee. This committee has taken up the work of the committee from the original syndicate and there will be forthcoming in due time a bulletin giving the result of their investigation as related to piling, drying and working gum. This will be part of their educational propaganda. This bulletin will soon be forthcoming and, of course, it will find its way into the hands of every user of gum lumber and every possible user. This would seem to be a practical educational work, and it is likely to put many manufacturers of furniture, as well as of interior trim, in possession of information which will be useful. Meantime, gum natural is receiving a
very effective demonstration in the rooms of the Grand
ASK AND YE SHALL
TESTS OF GLUE
At the suggestion of the Advance Machinery Co., we are sending to Alexander T. Deinzer a pound and a half of glue which we would like to have tested. We have been using this glue for a long time and have had no difficulty with it until recently, when in gluing a lot of doors the veneer came loose in different places, causing considerable trouble. We believe the glue is at fault, although we are open to argument, and for that reason want to know whether or not the glue is of sufficient merit to use for high-class veneering purposes. cores of the doors were principally chestnut. veneers were mahogany. We buy No. 1 common, using the best out of it, the balance going principally into cores. This lumber, before being cut up into doors, is run through the kiln, and has given satisfaction, and is then cut into core stock, glued up and laid aside in the warehouse, where it remains until we get ready to use it. We keep an equable temperature in the room and the same men who have put up these doors have been putting up doors for us for a long time and always under the same conditions. We are not in position to state positively whether the lumber could have been too dry or not dry enough, although we invariably test the lumber as it comes through the dry kiln by cutting off the end of a board, marking and laying it on the steam pipes, and then afterwards comparing it with the end from which it was cut to see what variations, if any, develop. We might mention that we are using the instantaneous glue converter, made in Cincinnati. The man from whom we bought the glue claimed that we had burnt our glue by overheating, but the manufacturer of the converter states that it is impossible to overheat the glue in his machine. The doors were different from the ordinary door in that they were what is called a Pyrono, or fireproof door, with a layer of asbestos on both sides. This is glued on to the core and after being dried, is run through a machine with top and bottom rolls with projections one-sixteenth inch apart, which indent the asbestos into the wood. On this is laid the cross-banding and on top of this the veneer. In the manufacture of these doors we had placed the glue on by hand with brushes, but having a large enough glue spreader, we thought it better to run the doors through the same. After our trouble developed we thought possibly that in running the doors through the spreader they went through too fast and the glue did not get sufficient chance to enter the holes made by the teeth in the roller, but we took a door which showed signs of blistering apart and found that the fault was not caused by the method of
putting on the glue nor the fact that we were using asbestos. ALBERT STRUCK Co.
Answer by Alex. T. Deinzer :-Your trouble is very likely in your core-stock, inasmuch as you state that you use all your cuttings, consisting of all kinds of woods, for core-stock. You state that the particular lot giving you so much trouble consisted of chestnut. I am certain that you will find that the chestnut stock was not dry enough or heart boards were used. I might suggest to you that you remove all heart boards from your chestnut and have this dried separately and you will find that this kind of material requires nearly again as much time for drying as the other stock. You can readily determine whether heart boards were used, but it is not likely that this was the case on all your doors. Chestnut requires quite a thick glue; in fact, on certain kinds of work, the writer has instructed our workmen to first gluesize chestnut core-stock. This, however, we do only when veneering sweeped work.
It is imperative that you determine the moisture in lumber before using same. This may be done by means of a chemist's balance, which can be purchased in any chemists' supply house. I do not advise removing the moisture of the test piece by placing on a steam pipe; instead, buy a small chemist's oven, which will cost but a few dollars, and an accurate thermometer. We usually dry the test pieces in an oven for two hours at 130 degrees C. Weigh the test piece from time to time and when the weight is constant, you may be certain that the moisture has been removed. Deduct the weight obtained from the weight originally obtained, divide, multiply by 100 and the answer is the percentage of moisture. Should this exceed 52 per cent., the stock should remain in the kiln.
The writer believes that your glue man was quite right when stating that you burn your glue. As you know, Mr. Struck, heat is glue's greatest enemy. Considerable heat is required to dissolve glue. When using an instantaneous glue converter (I care not whose make), it is necessary to dissolve the glue at a very high temperature. Efficiency is absolutely necessary in every modern plant, but this can be overdone in glue cooking. You may save considerable time by employing an instantaneous glue heater, but you are losing elsewhere.
I talked with a manufacturer of a glue cooker a short time ago. He said: "We also manufacture instantaneous glue heaters, but we will admit that they do not improve the quality of glues. We manufacture them because some of our trade demands them, but we do not misrepresent nor do we offer them unless the man asks for them." There are many points in favor of the instantaneous glue converter, but I would not have one in our factory. There is something in what you say regarding the use of the glue spreader. Of course, we all know that a first-class house painter works the paint well into the wood by means of his paint brush. Glue should also be well worked into the wood and this can best be done by means of a brush. Again, if glue is applied to hot wood, all the water of the glue solution will be absorbed by the wood, leaving a thin, inadhesive coating of glue at the surface of the joint, which, if made in this fashion, will hold only a short time.
Of course, glue spreaders are absolutely necessary. What would we furniture manufacturers do without them? However, we have certain high-grade jobs at our factory that do not go through a spreader for the reason above cited. As stated in my letter of the 15th, there is nothing wrong with the sample of glue you mailed to me for analysis, and if you are not paying any more than the commercial value I suggested, there is no reason why you should change glues. Your theory is wrong in testing glues by gluing test pieces and breaking them apart. The strength of the glue can be determined, but there are many factors which must be considered. This is an engineering proposition and cannot be made by the cabinet-maker nor glue-room foreman. The density of the wood must be considered, temperatures, pressure applied, amount of glue in the joint, the number of pounds required to pull apart the joint, which test must, of course, be made on a tensile machine.
I have been following, with much interest, the series of articles by Walter K. Schmidt, and experimenting with formulas given. Some of the ingredients mentioned, I find, are unknown in this city under the names he gives therein. I would like to find out where they can be obtained. Walnut brown, sap brown, oil red, oil black, oil brown, spirit black, spirit scarlet are some of the more important ingredients which I can not find. Also, is nigrosine always the same? What I have makes a blueblack instead of jet black. E. H. SMITH, Carnegie Institute of
Institute Manual Training.
Technology, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Answer by Walter K. Schmidt:-I am sending you a catalog which will give you the necessary information. Your question as to nigrosine brings up an important point and, therefore, I will explain that while there are hundreds of shades, they can, however, be classified for general purposes as jet black, blue black, violet black, green black, meaning that the black has a violet, blue or green tint and that when it dries down it has a general appearance of black which shows a hue of one of the other colors. Therefore, any color that you may be endeavoring to make may go wrong. If, for instance, you are using a violet black, a very green black is intended. It is safe, however, in wood-working, unless otherwise specified, to use jet black.
communication with anybody who makes a business of handling rush caning. As far as we can ascertain, rush caning is a local production. The manufacturers who use this material for the seating of chairs, harvest their own supply as far as possible in their immediate vicinity. The supply in this country is getting to be very short. The Michigan Seating Company, which operates the chair factory in the Jackson prison and makes a sort of rush fiber chair and full line of furniture, imports its material from Manila. We beg to suggest that you write the Manila Merchants Association, Manila, P. I., for information if you want to be assured of a steady supply of a rush fiber that will serve your purposes. Of course, there is no import duty and the material can be bought there undoubtedly for much less than you would be able to buy it in this country from any source. So far as we know there is no one who has written a work on the subject of handling it, but a small advertisement in THE FURNITURE MANUFACTURER AND ARTISAN would in all probability bring you some one who knows the process of twisting it and weaving into chair seats.
In filing hand-saws I usually get the teeth longer on one side than on the other. Please advise how to overcome this. J. R. S.
Answer by Alex. T. Deinzer:-Your trouble is in holding the file. It requires experience to determine just what shape or space, angle and bevel should be given to the teeth, as well as the amount of set best suited for certain classes of sawing. You do not state the kinds of wood you saw. The tooth best adapted for sawing soft woods is not at all suitable for cutting hard woods. Of course, the work could be done after a fashion, but the result would not be as good as that obtained by the use of a saw properly toothed for its particular purpose. You can take a hand rip-saw and cross cut with it, but note the difficulty. In line with this, it may be noted that even a saw blade made for cutting soft metals is not at all adapted for sawing the harder metals, nor will a saw made for sawing wood stand the work of cutting a combination of wood and metal without injury to the points of the teeth, thereby spoiling it for further use in making a clean, sweet cut in wood.
If you get the teeth longer on one side than on the other, it may be well if you purchase a filing guide and clamp from a hardware dealer. Another point I wish to bring out is this: How many wood-workers really test a saw before buying? An important point to be observed when buying a saw is to see that it "hangs" right. Grasp it by the handle and hold it in position for working. Then try if the handle fits the hand properly. A handle
20 dth **w bo* r.l. *. **** atutter e $1 $ over the ge toward with * ***. A far cutting band erose et waw *bond hate deep t**** 1, make them deep they must be $44 on as angle. H -3 the file horizontalls, at an angle of 20 degrees to te wich of black, which will give the proper besel File the ford and back of each alternate tooth the entire length of the blank, then turn the saw around and file the remaining txth in the same way.
Answer by the Editor: Steed tubing is made by the Pittsburgh Tubing Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. You undoubtedly get what you want made by addressing the Minneapolis Bedding Co., Minneapolis, Minn., or Salis bury & Hatterlee Co., Minneapolis, Minn. Both are large manufacturers and make springs with both kinds of frames. They are nearer to you than anybody else. might not be a bad idea to communicate with the DeWitt Seitz Co., Duluth, Minn., who are wholesalers of furniture, who are located so that they may get into communication readily with some of the steel corporations operating on the Range. We also beg leave to refer you to the Simmons Mfg. Co., Chicago, Ill., and Foster Bros. Mfg. Co., Ution, N. Y. Both of these concerns are situated so that they can ship you by water in the navigation senson if you have any considerable call for these articles.
NOME PROBLEMS IN FINISHING
What would you suggest to equalize the color of oak when sume is to be stained Early English? This stain, you know, is largely made up from nigrosine and pensol, then sized and filled, after which it is finished with shelle. But I have trouble in getting a selection of oak that will take the same color, and can not sap nor overstain without destroying the figure of the wood. This stain is applied with good strength and the surplus wiped off. The hard parts take light and soft parts take darker and saps take very dark. Now, there is one way, to my mind, that might help out, namely: sponge the hard parts with water, and sand, then proceed to stain. This is, however, a slow and uncertain process, and not all workmen are equal to this process. Can this stain be made as a water stain and get the correct shade? I am inclined to think not. But, however, you may know something different. I have yet to see a piece of furniture finished Early English that is of a uniform shade. If you can help me out with a correct solution of the troubles just mentioned, I certainly will appreciate your very kind W. H. SURBER. Wabash, Ind. Wabash Cabinet Co. Answer by Walter K. Schmidt:--The proposition that you have is one that confronts every finisher. If the wood working end of the factory would take more pains
Tof and is a
se a little 2.5. it is 3. Lave a rk, have the ~ft part with
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at a much richer
tait than with an oil
tiger that you have yet to see In Early Enzl that is uniform. the fact that they are oil The prom des not permit the amount of Kending tra Warr als des You might as well ILake : r mind trot as last that in order to uniform your work in den ring it will have to be done in the tni-hingerom and the firm will have to take this time into consideration in making the price on the finished product.
WHO MAKES A MACHINE LIKE THIS?
Can you give us any information in regard to a machine that will be a double cut off saw and cut a miter at each end? What we want is a machine in which a panel molding can be mitered at both ends with one operation, the saw being arranged so that they can be adjusted so that they will cut any angle within 90 degrees and so that it can be set to cut stock from 8 inches up to 6 feet in length. THE ROBERT MITCHELL FURN. Co. Cincinnati, Ohio. Per W. Ledyard Mitchell.
LAYING OUT A ROCKER
Will you please send me a plan for locating sweep point for laying out a rocker for all sizes of chairs? St. Louis, Mo. J. A. BRANDTS,
School of Mechanical Trades. Answer by Alex. T. Deinzer:-The radius of the circle, or what we term sweep of the standard rocker runner we have, is 3 feet 434 inches. I know of no rules that can be followed. The length of the sweep depends upon the height, weight and depth of the rocker. For instance, a heavy, deep rocker would require a long sweep. This is, after all, a simple matter, and, I believe, that if the radius above suggested is used, any ordinary rocker may be fitted with scoops. The rocker should, of course, be so adjusted that the back legs set on the floor. This, at least, is our way of doing and we have made many rockers in times past.
Answer by C. A. Zuppann:-There is no standard sweep for all rockers. If a quick-motion chair is desired, the rocker will be of less radius than for a slow motion, thus bringing the center of gravity of the occupant nearer the center of the arc. As these two centers approach each other, the chair becomes more unstable or of quicker motion. There are certain limits between which a good average rocker can be obtained. Length of rocker between 26 and 38 inches or extending about a foot or slightly more beyond the back leg. Radius of are from 33 to 35, or even 40 inches, for a very slow heavy chair. The back leg is made from 12 to 11⁄2 inches shorter than the front. To find the center of arc, connect the bottom of back leg and bottom of front leg, allowing for thickness of rocker, with a line which is a cord of the desired are. Erect a perpendicular from its middle and selecting a