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Forgot about these November/December projects

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - 7 hours 54 min ago

Back in the late fall, I worked on some commission work that I kept off the blog. Didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag…these things being presents. Then I forgot to show them once the holidays were over. A Shakespeare enthusiast asked me to make a joined chest and joined stool, to commemorate 25 years of he & his wife reading Shakespeare together. Thus, the “WS” carved on the muntins.

As I was making the front of this chest, I wrote about the mitered joints for Popular Woodworking Magazine. The current issue (April 2018) has the whole run-down on cutting the joint. I think I added it to the upcoming book too. Here’s the layout of the tenon.

It’s one really leaned-over sawcut to get that mitered shoulder.

A marking gauge defines the bevel on each edge of this muntin. Then plane it down.

The tenon partway home, make sure the grooves line up, then the mitered shoulder slides over the beveled edge of the stile. Whew.

Then, to make matters even more complicated, I undertook a painting on the inside of the lid. I haven’t really done any painting since about 1981…What was I thinking?

The finished painting. I felt like Alec Guinness in The Horse’s Mouth – It never comes out like it is in my head.

When that was done, I got to make my own wife a present. A much-needed book rack, for library books used in home-schooling. It looks so Arts & Crafts; quartersawn white oak, through mortise & tenon joints…Look at that wild medullary ray pattern on those uprights. Who could dislike that?

Me. I couldn’t leave it like that. Too blank. Horror vacui.

a little of this, and some of that......

Accidental Woodworker - 15 hours 23 min ago
I had no direction in the shop today. I had some thoughts on making an in/box from me to use at work but that idea died. Next was deciding what I was going to have for lunch in 5 hours. It was going to be chinese, but what kind of chinese was the dilemma. I tend to order the same thing every saturday but today I wanted something different. After the lunch selection was complete I decided to work on the tool cabinet. I should get that done before I do anything else.

the moment of truth
I put a clamp on this to keep the upright tight to the foot. It's time to remove the clamp and see if it will talk to me.

These don't take any abuse so I am optimistic that the dowel joint will hold up. I am entertaining the thought of making another pair but much higher - about 32-36 inches high.

the epoxy on this is still a little tacky
I had to wait a few more hours before I could epoxy the spacer on.

scraping the finish off the drawer front
this got a reprieve
Before I take this shelf and drawer off I will paint the tool cabinet first. I won't have any place to put all this crappola so I might as well let it eat it's last meal first.

epoxied the spacer on
The epoxy bled through from one side to the other overnight in a few spots. Maybe that is why it was  tacky for so long?  It wasn't tacky feeling anymore so I epoxied it and secured it with blue painters tape.

did some putty work before the epoxy
handle haircut time
I gave the 1/2" pigsticker and the 3/8" one I got for Miles a spokeshave job. Miles was the easier one of the two to do.

On Miles's handle I started the haircut down at the bottom where it ran wild and beyond the bolster edges.

1/2 done
I tried to keep the oval-ish shape as I did this. The heavy cuts were at the bottom tapering to nothing at the top.

my pigsticker
A lot of the size of this handle is because of this. I have already given this a shave and I'm still almost an 1/8" proud of the bolster edge.

got one side close to the bolster edge
top of Miles's pigsticker
The first I've seen of this style. It has a definite arc to the top and it shows signs of use so it must have worked.

Miles's chisel sanded and done
It just needs to be sharpened.

the other side of the 3/8" chisel
The handle is beech and most of the pigstickers I have are made of this. I have a couple made of what looks like ash or red oak but I can't be sure.

my chisel
It is feeling better in the grip but I still think it is too fat yet. I've taken a fair bit of wood off this handle but I still have a wee bit more to go. BTW, this one is beech too with birds eye figure which is a pain to shave without tearing out.

planing the facets out
I used this spokeshave to smooth out the facets left by the Stanley spokeshave. This one also shaved without tearing out as much as the Stanley did. This shave has a much tighter mouth than the Stanley and I use it for finer work.

I'm happy with the grip now
  don't feel like I'm holding a tree limb anymore. I understand there is fine line in the sand between having a handle large enough to absorb the mallet blows and one that is comfortable to grip. I am going more with the grip side of the equation.

the plastic pouch these came in is history
I want to make something similar like this
Scratched the bald spot for quite a while but the light in the brain bucket wouldn't even come on dim. I kind of know what I want but I couldn't think of a way to translate it into wood. Maybe after a good night's sleep something will come to me.

painted the tool cabinet and one drawer
I am not painting the top tray. I don't like the idea of my tools laying and rattling around on paint. The top edge and the inside will get a few coats of shellac.

painted the frog on the #5
I made a road trip to Lowes to get another quart of the paint I'm using on the tool cabinet. While I was there I saw a quart can of Rustoleum oil based clean metal primer. When I got back home I ordered a pint can from Walmart and supposedly I'll have it by thursday.

scraping the big front on the pull out tray
I had to sharpen and roll another burr on this. Using it on the drawer front previously dulled it to the point of being useless. It took both ends of the blade to do this.

I didn't go nutso on this
I wasn't trying to remove the old finish completely down to bare wood, just the shiny top layer.

painted the interior of the tray
I am only painting the interior of the tray. I did this to give a tooth so the boxes that will be on here won't slide off as the tray is opened or closed.

I may get the tool cabinet painted and ready for the tools tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki are the only two players in MLB who were Rookie of the year and MVP in the same year?

SketchUp Class – Spring 2018

Bob Lang's ReadWatchDo - Sat, 02/24/2018 - 6:25pm
Several people have contacted me lately, wondering when I will host a SketchUp class here in the Cincinnati area. I’m thinking this March or April will work, if I can round up enough students. If you’re thinking that now is Continue reading →
Categories: General Woodworking

Chris Becksvoort Router Bit

David Barron Furniture - Sat, 02/24/2018 - 9:50am

Here is the back panel to the walnut chest showing a nice even reveal. I've had this Becksvoort router bit for years and I use it on all my panels. It has a 22 degree angle instead of the usual 90 degrees which requires more care but the results are worth it.

They are available from Lee Valley.

Categories: Hand Tools

2018 Barn Workshops Reminder

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 02/24/2018 - 6:14am

The complete 2018 Barn workshop schedule, which I will post every couple of weeks to help folks remember the schedule.


Historic Finishing  April 26-28, $375

Making A Petite Dovetail Saw June 8-10, $400

Boullework Marquetry  July 13-15, $375

Knotwork Banding Inlay  August 10-12, $375

Build A Classic Workbench  September 3-7, $950

contact me here if you are interested in any of these workshops.

News: much is happening here & OSMO is arriving!

Tools For Working Wood - Sat, 02/24/2018 - 4:00am

If you wandered by our warehouse lately, you would be hard pressed not to notice that there are many changes afoot. We just purchased our first machining center and we had to basically move everything in the workshop at least once, sometimes twice, to make room. And since the electricans are coming anyway, we are adding big ceiling fans too. Also a compressor, and lots of miscellaneous things like a refractometer in order to tell us the condition of the machine coolant.

It's all very exciting!

But just to make it interesting, I am writing this after a week of staying home sick battling the flu. Other staff members are sick too. I feel okay today, other than feeling the effects of not having eaten a proper meal all week, but I thought it would be prudent to stay at home.

Being sick and short-staffed, especially with the machining center coming, is not only cruddy of itself, but also made us realize at the last minute that we were not in a position to do the New Jersey Woodworkers Show next weekend. We're disappointed - we always have a good time at the show, but we know it's important to know your limits. For example, in order to be ready for the show we have to set up show inventory for packing. Since I was out sick, I couldn't do this. And the person who sets up the booth for the show has also been under the weather. This sets up a whole cascade of events. So sadly it's not happening this year. :(

Meanwhile other things are chugging along at TFWW. Festool prices go up on March 1, so if you were planning a purchase anyway do it now ( Click here). The big change for Festool is that all the vacuums (except the Autoclean) will start coming with smooth hoses. And the hose garage has improved too. Cost have gone up, so getting the older versions might be your choice, but we will have new models to sell on March 1st.

If you are in the neighborhood feel, free to stop by the showroom on Friday the 2nd (8 AM -5 PM) or Saturday (11 AM -5 PM) we will have snacks and other treats.

Also finally, I'm delighted to announce that Osmo finishing supplies are arriving this week. We have been trying to carry this line of environmentally aware and durable hardwax oils for a while and now we have succeeded. Watch our site or stop by to check Osmo out!

ps - That's our new compressor and tank coming off a truck from our local compressor dealer, Murlynn Compressor. Gerry has been great putting together a deal for us that made sense.

PopWood Playback #8 | Top Woodworking Videos of the Week

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sat, 02/24/2018 - 2:09am

First, I’d like to say, I didn’t mean to pick all walnut build videos this week. It just sort of happened and we didn’t notice it until we were in post-production. Perhaps I have a pent-up walnut design that’s leaking out of the subconscious – I don’t know. Either way, I hope you enjoy this small collection of the best woodworking videos of the week on YouTube! The Top Woodworking Videos of the […]

The post PopWood Playback #8 | Top Woodworking Videos of the Week appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

braces set, leg fixed.......

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 02/24/2018 - 12:05am
I tried to open my comments on my lunch break and it surprised the crap out of me by opening. But as soon as I moved the mouse, the comments went south. I didn't get to read the whole comment but I saw 'bridle joint' before it shut down on me. Now that is a joint I hadn't thought of doing. I liked that idea when better then my doweling it back together. I had the whole joint planned out in my head and I was going to try it when I got home.

working on the bridle joint idea
This would work. The upright would get the open mortise and the leg would get the dadoes.

the snag
If I do the bridle joint on the broken leg/upright, I will have to repeat on this side. Why? Using the bridle joint will shorten that side by the width of the leg.  It would definitely be a leading candidate if I break uprights in the future.

for Miles's toolbox
 I saw this brandy new looking #80 on Jim Bode's site so I bought it. The #80 I was going to give him is an older model and it is a bit finicky to use. I find the #80 I have that looks exactly like this one, is much easier to make shavings with. I also got him a 3/8" pigsticker. I'm wavering like a bride picking out a wedding dress about whether or not to get him a 5/16" one.

got a 1/2" one for me
This must have belonged to Paul Bunyan because this handle is massive. I have big hands and my fingers barely wrap around it.

Miles's 3/8" pigsticker on top and my 1/2" on the bottom
my 9/16" pigsticker
I think this got chipped from rattling around in the drawer I keep these in. I'll have to grind off a fairly large chunk of metal to remove this. The 1/2" pigsticker has a small chip on the bevel too. Not as large as this one.

what's up with boxes?
I don't see the attraction for boxes. Most every site says that this would be the 'original box' too. I bought this $49 and I'm sure some of those dollars went towards this ratty looking 'original box'.

dowel joinery
This is a General doweling jig I bought in the late 1970's. I never made even one single dowel joint with this. I can't remember the last time I used this and I don't have any fond memories of using it neither. But if I want to repair this leg and basically keep the same dimensions I will have to get this to work.

first mind fart
I was so intent on lining up the dowel jig with my layout lines going across the width that I didn't center it.

at least I repeated it on the upright
thinning the dowels
I used the slip joint pliers to make these depressions on the dowels for two reasons. The first was to give a place for the glue to ooze and seep into. The second reason was to compress it a little bit because the fit in the holes was too tight. According to the sticker on the dowels these came from China in june of 2016. I would bet the ranch that these are dry and acclimated to the shop.

It is flush on this side of the joint.

it's flush on this side - wow again
This is my first multiple dowel joint that I have made that came together. It is my first dowel joint that came out flush. I think the reason why this came out so well is because of all the hand work I've done over the past few years. When I first bought this I was a wanna be handtool woodworker but used power tools almost exclusively. Accurate layout was not a forte back then with me.

This doesn't change my opinion of dowel joints. I still don't have a high regard for them but I am happy with my technique and the resulting joint. This will stay a bottom of the pile for choosing joints but I won't hesitate to use again if I have to.

spacing the braces
I don't want the brace to be right up against the drawer slide. This 1/8" brass bar will give me plenty of room. I am mostly concerned with the epoxy getting on the slide.

huge improvement
The braces are picking up the force from the drawer being opened. The top stayed stiff and straight and I didn't feel like the bottom moved at all.

I have a warm and fuzzy with this
I don't think the drawer slide would have hit the brace if I hadn't put in the 1/8" space. I would rather err on the side of caution here.

UPS came
I took advantage of Lee Valley's free shipping and got Miles a 4" combo square and I got a set of imperial brad point bits. These are 1/8" up to 1/2" by 16ths. I find brad point bits to be more useful than twist bits in the shop. I find the point is much easier to set on a dot then a twist bit. I wanted to get the 28 brad point set but that is $199 and the toy fund is empty right now.

took it apart, spread the epoxy, and rescrewed it
no gap on the top drawer

remove the spacer
Since the top of the drawer is end grain, I will epoxy an end grain spacer on.

sized the two end grain surfaces
I meant to do this last night and I did go down to the shop to do it. I sawed out the spacer and that was it. I wish I had done it now because I'll have to wait another day before this is done.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that the average american watches about 4 hours of TV a day?

M&T Podcast 07 - “The Creation of Issue Four”

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 7:46pm


We recorded a new podcast episode this morning which can be listened to above. Because Mike and I just finished Issue Four, we dedicated this episode to discussing what it’s like to produce the magazine, what’s featured in this new issue, and what to expect in the coming weeks.

You can subscribe to our Podcast on iTunesStitcher, or Soundcloud.

Notable links from this podcast:
Categories: Hand Tools

From the Ground Up

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 4:56pm


I was in elementary school when my father hurt his back so badly while working on the farm that his doctor confined him to bed.

My bedroom was immediately down the hall from my parents’, and after school one day I heard disturbing noises – violent banging and rasping – coming from their room. The door was open a crack, and as I gently pushed my way in, I was surprised, relieved and completely enlightened about my own nature.

My father was lying flat in bed, as per the doctor’s orders. And he was building a small side table in this odd position, without a workbench or his machinery. (In fact, during this convalescence, he completely finished the table, which I still own. He painted a flower on each end and varnished the entire thing. All while on his back.)

Likewise, I’ve never been able to sit still. My dad once offered to give me $5 if I could sit motionless for five minutes. I have never collected on that bet. But after seeing him build a table in bed, at least I know – genetically – where I get my peculiar work habits.


My father, a doctor in a field hospital in Vietnam, administering an immunization.

My father’s urge to create was unstoppable. He transformed our house in Fort Smith, Ark., into a delightful English/Japanese garden, learning masonry, fence-building and landscaping on the way. He built a goldfish pond, tended a bamboo garden and installed dramatic lighting. All of this fueled by a remarkable eye for design and unspeakable energy.

When our house in town was perfect, he bought 84 acres outside Hackett, Ark., and proceeded to transform that with his hand and a vision. He bought a drafting table, read a bunch of books and took a class at the Shelter Institute in Maine with my mom. And then bang, we were building the first of two houses without the help of electricity or running water.


He plowed the bottomland and planted strawberries. Then he constructed a second house of his own design that was about 4,000 square feet. We were going to move there as soon as it was complete. I was promised a herd of goats. (Which I have never collected on.) And chickens.

I left for college in 1986, my parents divorced in 1989 and my dad lost heart in the farm.

This man who shaped an Arkansas wilderness of turkeys, rocky soil and armadillos was confined to a tiny apartment in one of those complexes that has a “singles nights” and keno. I thought my dad was done for and was broken in spirit. But I was wrong.

He bought a run-down farmhouse in town and transformed it into another gorgeous estate with a lap pool, workshop and guest cottage. No detail in his house was too small – he hand carved the heating registers with a geometric design I’ve never seen before. He built garden furniture that was so cunningly simple and beautiful that I blatantly ripped it off as a furniture maker. His kitchen was like something in Architectural Digest.


Meanwhile the farm sat dormant and unfinished. We’d go down there to fix walls or hang a new gate, but every visit was depressing.

During one visit, my father told me that the urge to create things every day had vanished. In some ways it seemed a relief to him. He didn’t have to judge himself on his daily labor. He began to take a deeper interest in music and singing (and piano and later cello).

Again, I thought he had reached the end of his creative life. Again I was wrong.

He sold the farm and bought an old house in the historic district of Charleston, S.C. And again, he set to work rebuilding the garage, workshop and guest cottage. He transformed the interior of the house, and once more he created a perfect human terrarium where he was surrounded by beautiful objects he had collected or made during his entire life, from his time during the Vietnam war to multiple trips to Europe and Mexico.


And here he lies tonight. Flat on his back and dying from cancer he was diagnosed with in 2003. He’s leaving us far too early.

This time, he doesn’t have the parts or tools to build another side table. This time I’m sure we’re at the end.

Or are we?

Without my father’s example, his unstoppable work ethic and his eye for beautiful objects, I’d be a sorry woodworker. Luckily, I grew up in a house where we unapologetically made things. And when dad found beautiful objects made by others, he bought them. He sat them next to his own work and saw how his measured up. Or if it didn’t. And when the next day came, he kept building.

That’s where I come from. I might tell people I come from Arkansas (where I grew up) or Missouri (where I was born). But I really came from a home where our job is to make the world a little more beautiful each day.

And when he leaves us, which could be any minute now, the world is going to be a little less beautiful without him.

— Christopher Schwarz

Categories: Hand Tools

Updates to the ‘Ingenious Mechanicks’ PDF

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 2:44pm

IM_dustjacket2Several customers have asked why they are receiving emails from our store notifying them that there is an updated pdf of “Ingenious Mechanics” ready for download.

Is this a scam? A mailserver error? Did chipmunks chew a CAT5 cable?

No. There’s a new pdf available for you to download.

When we make updates to the pdfs that we sell on our site, we ask our software to notify all existing customers that a new version is available. There have been two updates to the pdfs this week.

The first update was to increase the resolution of the photos (we doubled it).

The second change was to add the cover to the beginning of the pdf.

We’ll probably have another update or two in the coming months as readers point out corrections or typos.

— Christopher Schwarz

Categories: Hand Tools

News: It is Time to Buy Hardware

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 1:22pm

After the death of Nancy Cogger of Londonderry Brasses, Horton Brasses acquired the company’s stock and is selling many existing pieces at 50 percent off. Orion Henderson estimated there are more than 23,000 pieces of Londonderry hardware now for sale on the Horton site. If this is all the information you need, get your credit card out and load up. Here’s the link. I swooped in and bought about 50 […]

The post News: It is Time to Buy Hardware appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

News: It is Time to Buy Hardware

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 1:20pm


After the death of Nancy Cogger of Londonderry Brasses, Horton Brasses acquired the company’s stock and is selling many existing pieces at 50 percent off.

Orion Henderson estimated there are more than 23,000 pieces of Londonderry hardware now for sale on the Horton site.

If this is all the information you need, get your credit card out and load up. Here’s the link.

I swooped in and bought about 50 pieces of campaign hardware for future commissions and a follow-up to “Campaign Furniture.” I was shocked at how much money I saved. Here’s the link to the campaign hardware section.

Londonderry is fantastic stuff, made using a lost wax casting process to copy original pieces. The good news is that the hardware looks bang-on original. The bad news is that it usually requires more finessing to install than modern hardware that is completely consistent in every single way.

Orion says that Horton will continue to carry some of the Londonderry pieces and bring them in as a special order. But you’ll never see these prices again.

If you aren’t familiar with Horton, it’s time to fix that situation. I’ve been a happy customer since 1997.

— Christopher Schwarz

Categories: Hand Tools

The Workbench Success Story

Paul Sellers - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 1:15pm

In the last 10 hours 8,900 woodworkers have watched part 8 of making my workbench on YouTube alone. That of course does not include how many have watched the other 7 parts in the series. On woodworkingmasterclasses.com the series has been going out two weeks earlier. I am not sure how many have seen it […]

Read the full post The Workbench Success Story on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Episode 2: Live To Sk8, Sk8 To Lives

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 8:03am

Skateboarding is a childhood obsession of a few members of the PW team. In this episode of Afterlife of Trees, we talk to a Cincinnati-based custom longboard builders, Jeff Risinger and Val Woodham, whose stunning skateboards are also works of art. We then speak to Martinus Pool of Adrian Martinus Custom Woodworking – artists who create furniture and new objects from old skateboards.   The Afterlife of Trees is Popular […]

The post Episode 2: Live To Sk8, Sk8 To Lives appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

A Kitchen Essential: The “Staked” Stool

The Literary Workshop Blog - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 7:52am

I don’t remember much of the furniture I grew up with, but one small piece stands out in my memory.  It was a small, oak footstool, which was kicked around my parents’ kitchen for years (sometimes literally).  I believe that it was made by some friends who were into woodworking at the time.  They made a batch of them to sell, and my parents bought one.  It’s survived several decades of heavy use in their house, so when I first began working wood, one of my first projects was a similar kitchen stool.

My resources were limited, and so was my skill set.  The original stool, which I built 10 years ago, was made entirely from pine.  I was not at all confident in my mortise-and-tenon joints, so I ended up just dovetailing the legs into the sides.

Dovetailed Footstool Texas

That stool stood up for five years, but eventually the legs all came loose.  By that time I had the tools to make tapered tenons, so I ended up cutting the stool’s top shorter, boring angled mortises, and installing new legs, also made from pine.

That version of the stool lasted five more years.  But even though I had reinforced the pine top with battens underneath, the whole thing finally split in half.  It was clearly time to replace this old stool with something more substantial.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

This is the rebuilt and re-broken stool, standing atop the pieces that will become its replacement.

In theory, there was nothing wrong with the rebuilt stool’s construction.  The only problem is that construction-grade pine is not a good material for the seat.  The open grain in the mortises doesn’t take glue well, and the wood is too easy to split.

An ideal replacement would have a hardwood top, preferably made from a close-grained hardwood, and legs made of a tough hardwood appropriate to the task.  I had no wood thick and wide enough for the top, though.  After considering the wood I did have on hand, I opted for a laminated cherry top and red oak legs.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

The cherry wood is a story in itself.  I had several boards that I had gotten for free out of a pile of junk lumber.  They had a lot of bug holes, and the ends were rotted–which is why they were free!  But each one had a little sound wood inside.  It took all the good wood from two of these 6′ boards to make one top for a stool.

As I cut into the cherry, I had a minimum length in mind (11″), but I was able to cut a few pieces longer (up to 12″), just in case I needed to cut around defects later on.  As I looked at my collection of wood strips, though, I found that I could place the longest ones in the middle and the shortest at the end, which would allow the ends of the top to be curved instead of straight.  There’s no functional advantage to curved ends, but they will look nicer.

The wood strips were pretty rough when I brought them into the shop.  I oriented all the worst edges in one direction (see photo above), which would be the bottom.  Then I planed the other three sides.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Even nasty looking lumber can clean up nicely.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Lots of glue and an overnight clamp-up later, I had a top.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

While top was in the clamps, I turned my attention to the legs.  I selected some straight-grained red oak I had stashed away for just such an occasion.  The oak came from a neighbor’s tree, which was taken down a while ago.  I had sawn up a few pieces to about 1 1/2″ square, expecting to eventually build some kind of a stool or chair.  I cut four billets to about 12″ long.  That allowed me plenty of leeway to eventually trim either end to final length.  The stool itself will end up 10 1/2″ tall.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

I planed them roughly square, but there was no reason to obsess over making them identical in thickness.  What’s the final thickness of the legs?  I have no idea.  Somewhere a little under the 1 1/2″ they started out as.  But it really doesn’t matter.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

I set them in cradles to plane the square pieces down to octagons.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

I love how the oak shavings pile up on the windowsill beside my bench.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

I marked the approximate center of each leg with a Forstner bit the same width as the small end of the tapered tenon cutter–in this case 1/2″.  I have a tapered tenon cutter (essentially a giant pencil sharpener) that allows me to shave down a perfect tenon.  First, however, it is necessary to roughly shape a taper on the end of the leg before cutting it to final shape with the tenon cutter.

For one insane moment I considered sawing the taper down–eight cuts on four legs.  Then I came to my senses and reached for my drawknife.  I marked 1″ below the tenon cutter’s length and started with the drawknife.  Although the tenon cutter makes an accurate cut, it can be slow going.  If the workpiece is just a little too thick, the tenon cutter stops cutting, and then it’s necessary to remove more stock with spokeshave before continuing with the tenon cutter.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Eventually I got them all cut.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

The next day, I turned my attention back to the top.  The glue was dry, and the top was ready to be planed.  This is the “good” side, which will be the visible top.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Planing across the grain with a jack plane quickly leveled out the slab.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

A smoothing plane with the grain leaves everything flat and silky smooth.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Viewing a planed surface with raking light helps identify any irregularities.  I know I’m going overboard here, though.  This surface is going to be stood on regularly, so it’s not necessary to make everything precisely flat and smooth.  But a smooth surface is less likely to collect grime and easier to clean than a rough surface.

Plus, cherry is fun to plane.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Next I cut a gentle curve on each end.  Marking out the curve was easy.  To mark this kind of curve, I’ve seen woodworkers rig up some kind of trammel or pencil-and-string apparatus.  But it’s not necessary to draw a geometrically-precise curve.  Your arm will do nicely.  Your elbow is the pivot point.  Place it in line with the center of the workpiece.  Then hold the pencil and swing your arm from side to side.  The result is as fair a curve as you could want on a stool.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

The only really tricky part of this whole build is boring the holes at the correct angle.  Set a bevel gauge to a pleasing angle (I used one of the legs on the original stool) and eyeball the rest. If I do this much more, I’ll make myself an angle-gauge that will stand up easier.  I kept knocking the bevel gauge over.

I did have to double-check that I was boring the correct angle on the correct side.  The last time I did this, I bored the holes backwards, and the bottom instantly became the top.

Actually, boring at the correct angle isn’t the hard part.  It’s reaming the holes at the correct angle that is difficult.  At least with the auger bit, once you’ve established the correct angle with a few turns of the brace, the bit will keep going at pretty much the same angle you started with.  The reamer, however, can be tilted in many different directions at any time, so you have to repeatedly check your angle every few turns.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Even with repeated checking, the angles are visibly different from each other.  Oh well.  They’re not far enough off to affect the stool in use.

Also, as you approach the final depth with the reamer, test-fit the leg frequently.  Once the top of the leg pokes up through the top, it’s time to stop reaming.  Mark the hole and the leg so you make sure you don’t get them mixed up later.

Now, as tempting as it would be to just glue up the legs now, it is best to do all the shaping and trimming work on the top before inserting the legs.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

First, I eased the edges just a little all around the underside of the top.  It gives the whole piece a lighter look.  I used a plane and spokeshave to relieve all the sharp edges.  You don’t want a sharp corner when you inevitably bash your shin against it while carrying dishes through the kitchen.

I also found just a few old bug holes and one little soft spot on the end that needed attention.  I saturated the soft spot with thin superglue, which will stabilize the wood.  I filled the bug holes with sawdust and dripped superglue onto them, too.  After drying the superglue with a hairdryer, I used a card scraper to remove the excess glue, leaving a perfectly smooth, filled void.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Once the top is shaped, trimmed, and smoothed, it’s time to get ready to install the legs.  I find that legs like this will tend to work loose if they aren’t secured somehow, so I decided to wedge the tenons.  Here’s how:

  1. Make the wedges the same width as the top of the mortise. Give them an aggressive taper–not too low an angle!  Use a tough, seasoned wood like oak or hickory.  These are pecan, also a tough wood.
  2. Insert the legs and mark a line across the grain of the top.  With the tenon saw, cut a kerf in the top of each leg to a depth of about 1″.  You just need the kerfs deep enough to allow the very top of the tenon to expand and lock the leg into the mortise.
  3. Use a half-round file or a knife to relieve the tops of the mortises, just on the end-grain.  That way, when you drive the wedges in, the tops of the tenons will have space to expand, creating a reversed taper and locking the legs in place.
  4. Place clamps across the top to prevent the top from splitting as you drive the tenons in.  This is a nice time to call in a little shop assistant to help.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Dinner was almost ready.  Once the smaller kids were done setting the table, they each came over to help insert the legs into the mortises.  We slathered the tenons with lots of wood glue, rotated them in the mortises until the whole surface was coated, and then pressed them in.  I had marked the inside of each leg so I got the best grain oriented to the outside.  Finally, we tapped each leg home with a mallet.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Before sitting down to dinner, we flipped the stool over and drove in the wedges.  Wedging tenons is a tricky thing.  If you don’t drive the wedges in deep enough, the wedging action won’t happen.  But drive a wedge in too hard, and you risk breaking it off inside the slot.  (If that does happen, about the only thing to do is to quickly cut another wedge with a blunt tip and try to drive it in on top of the broken one.  Sometimes it works.)  Just tap the wedge firmly until it stops.  If you’re paying attention, you’ll feel it stop.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

I let the glue dry overnight, then sawed off the tops of the wedges and planed everything flush.

On a stool like this, there are two potentially weak places, so it pays to reinforce each one.  The first is the joints, which can work loose over time.  Which is why I wedged the tenons.  The other potential weak spot is the top itself.  The long grain between the legs is unsupported and could possibly split in half if, say, somebody jumped and landed hard on the middle of the stool.  So as one final piece of insurance, I nailed two battens underneath the top.  For the battens, I selected a wood that is strong along the grain but fairly lightweight: southern yellow pine.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Although these battens will be mostly unseen, I still took the time to plane them smooth and chamfer the edges.  Not only will this make picking up the stool easier on the fingers, but it lends just a little bit of grace to what is otherwise a very plain design.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

What are the dimensions of the battens?  I don’t know, really.  Probably about 3/8″ thick and 1 1/2″ wide, more or less.  What is more important is that they are flat sawn or rift sawn, not quartersawn.  When nailing battens like this in place, the nails will hold better (and be less likely to split to wood) if they punch through the growth rings rather than between them.

I used cut nails, which require a pilot hole but hold very firmly.  With a good pilot hole, you can pound in these nails perilously close to the ends of the battens without splitting them.  I placed the battens as far apart as I could, which ended up being right up against the legs.

The last major step is to cut off the bottoms of the legs so the stool won’t wobble.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

The easiest way is to place the stool on a relatively flat surface (such as the top of your workbench) and use something of the right thickness as a gauge to mark around each leg with a pencil.  The end of my bevel gauge happened to be just right.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

The only difficult part of this operation is holding the work steady as you cut the legs to length.  It seems that however you hold them, the other legs are in the way of your handsaw.  Well, so be it.  Saw carefully, and try not to hit the other legs as you do so.

Just saw to your pencil lines, and don’t worry about being any more accurate than that.  You could try to get the bottom of each leg precisely co-planar so the stool will sit perfectly on a perfectly flat surface.  But that’s pointless because your floors aren’t that flat.  As long as you get everything close enough, the stool’s top and legs will flex a little as you stand on it, and it won’t wobble in use.

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

The last shaping job to do is to relieve the sharp edges around the bottoms of the legs.  Chamfering those edges will make the legs less likely to splinter on the ends.  I used a spokeshave, but you could use a sanding block and sandpaper just as easily.

And now, here it is, the finished product:

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

The final dimensions are 10 1/2″ tall, 11 1/2″ wide, and 9 1/2″ deep.

Now to apply a quick finish to bring out the colors and make the inevitable dirt a little easier to clean off.

I applied some homemade Danish oil (equal parts polyurethane, safflower oil, and mineral spirits), using a couple heavy coats on the top especially.  After letting it dry for a day in front of a fan, it was ready to use.

Here’s a shot of the underside now that everything is finished:

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

And the completed stool:

Staked Kitchen Footstool 2-2018

Now that it’s done, I’m thinking it’s almost too pretty to use.


Lost And FOUND!

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 5:36am

While unpacking my “Gilding” tub for setting up my presentation at the CW WW18thC conference I removed all the stuff I needed for the show.  Getting to the bottom of the tub I was dumbstruck.  There, underneath all the gilding supplies — where it was not supposed to be — sat as my long-missing box of mostly mega-dollar (mostly) sable detailing brushes.  I had turned the shop upside down several times in the past three years looking for this little box of treasures to no avail.

Recreating history is easier when you know all the secrets.  Apparently (well, actually more than apparently) at a gilding demo many moons ago some idiot had packed this box of treasured brushes in the wrong tub of supplies.

Protection against self-incrimination prevents me from identifying the idiot.

As if WW18thC 2018 was not already wonderful enough!

more tool cabinet stuff.......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 12:33am
It is that time of the year where I don't know what to wear when I leave for work. This morning when I left for work the porch temp said 58°F (14.4°C). The weather prediction said the overnight temps would be in the 20's (obviously they weren't) and the 40's during day. What to do, what to do? I wore a light jacket and I survived. The temps dipped to 42°F (5.5°C) and that is the low limit for this jacket. Maybe I should buy an intermediate jacket?

fixing the broken saw horse
My first thought was to make a loose tenon but chiseling a mortise in end grain I think is futile.  Making a new upright is out of the question too. I would have to break a blind and a through mortise connection in order to remove it. I think doweling this, although not a favorite of mine, is the best option to get this back in service.

I sawed and planed what was left of the tenon at the bottom of this upright. Filling in the mortise is next.

drilled out some waste
I drilled 1/3 of the way down because that is about where the dowels were.

had to try it
I think I'm going to like working out of this tool cabinet. I might work out of the existing boxes for my chisels too. That will save me from having to find a new use for the boxes I have now. And I won't have to make special holders for them in the drawers.

patch fitted
This is a nice (dry) snug fit. Now that that is done I can glue it and let it cook overnight. Tomorrow I'll do one of my least favorite joints - dowels.

I didn't reuse the first two screw holes
I didn't want to chance the screws not going into these holes so I didn't reuse them. I got four screws along the bottom here and I'll fill these two with miller dowels.

small miller dowel
This filled the bottom portion of the screw hole but not the counter bore at the top. I will fill in what the miller didn't with Dunham's putty. I glued in bungs in the four screw holes after I did the miller dowel cha-cha-cha.

what I'm going with
Step one is to epoxy the braces. A couple of days ago my thoughts were to half lap these but I can't do that. I can on the tray but not on the front. That will need a mortise. The tray is only a 1/2" thick (slightly less than 1/2") and I don't like screwing into the ends of plywood. So the half lap and blind mortise are out.

step two has room for two screws
I feel ok that the epoxy, and two screws put in both ends, will be provide sufficient stiffness for the front.

shut the lights after this
Since the 45 isn't all end grain or long grain, I am sizing it first. I got a sizing tip when I tried to epoxy end grain to long grain when I made my cell phone holders last xmas. I'll do the gluing and screwing of these tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that an average adult elephant has a trunk that is 8 feet long (2.4 meters)?

More on working white oak

Oregon Woodworker - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 7:44pm
Bob Rozaieski has now followed up on his podcast response to my question with a detailed written post on techniques for working white oak with hand tools that I find very informative and useful.  Highly recommended.

I don't have a lot to add to his suggestions.  In addition to keeping your planes very sharp, I have found a cabinet scraper to be particularly useful on white oak as a way of avoiding tearout.  I find that even a sharp plane will tear white oak out sometimes.

One of the point he makes is absolutely true.  Quartersawn white oak is much much easier to work than flatsawn white oak, to the point that I consider the latter unworkable with hand tools.

Another reaction I had to his post is if I ever run across one of those machines he pictures I am going to buy it.  Not sure what I will do with them, but I would definitely like to have one of each.  I think I recall Roy Underhill using something like this on one of his shows and it looked fun.

Given all of the challenges in working with white oak, why bother?  It really is a very nice species with many desirable qualities.  It's strong and durable, finishes well and looks really nice.

As I'll describe later, I am currently working with sapele for the first time.  It has approximately the same harness as white oak and yet it is much easier to work.  I don't understand this so, if you do, please explain in the comments.
Categories: Hand Tools


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