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Today's post is pic heavy so grab some popcorn and enjoy the slide show.
|Record 044 box almost done|
|leaving the saw till box as is|
|bought new latches|
|lightly clamped in the middle to keep it closed|
|spacers to position the keepers R/L|
|used my Stanley driver - worked great on these smaller screws|
|lid needs a chain fall|
|this was a pleasant surprise|
|guide for setting the handles|
|I'll get used to seeing the clean inside edges|
|same spacers used for the square till box|
|a handle isn't carved in stone yet|
|last step - making a finger recess to help pull this off the magnets|
|The home for his toolboxes for now (this is temporary)|
|chopping the pins on the 78 box|
|pretty good fit off the saw|
|X marks where the groove goes|
|Houston, I have a problem|
|the fix - glue in a patch and run the groove again|
|planing the patch to fit|
|good fit - glued it and set it by the furnace|
|no more blue shop towels|
|cheapest multi pack towels at Wally World|
|time to fix this|
|drill a 5/16" hole in the blind hole the left hole is a through one|
|tie off a short 5/16" dowel by the hole|
|had chinese for lunch and this has set up enough|
|the same thing happened again|
|I had two extra pieces the same width as this one|
|squared the ends and got the length|
|it is easier marking the tails off of the pins|
|I had to label my waste|
|good fit here off the saw|
|this one is a bit tight and I had to trim the pins|
|had the problem here again|
|haste makes waste|
|warming up the hide glue|
|glued up and it's square - didn't need a clamp on this|
|Record 044 box is done|
|making the roll around dolly for the chisel cabinet|
|stock shot to length and the ends squared|
|marked the half laps so damaged areas would be removed|
|everything laid out|
|trying to split out all the half laps|
|this turned out to be the wrong way to do this|
|the bottom one is the only good one|
|it seems I wasn't doing as good as I thought|
|switched to machines|
|a little too snug|
|good fit after some work with the tenon rasp and chisel|
|tenon is too thin|
… or “I never said I wanted to go surfing.”
Every so often something reminds you that serious injury is only a heartbeat away.
I had one of those experiences yesterday in the shop. The culprit: a scrap of plywood — well, that and a moment’s inattention as I walked across the floor after answering a phone call.
I’d been using the plywood scrap, an offcut of the prefinished maple I use for kitchen cabinet carcases, as a spacer to hold drawer slides at the requisite height while I screwed them in place. I had my camera and tripod set up nearby, to document the process for the book about kitchens that I’m working on for Lost Art Press. After installing the slides, I took the spacer out of the cabinet and set it on the floor without another thought.As I crossed the floor to return to work I inadvertently stepped on the piece of plywood, which happened to be lying with the finished side down. I might as well have stepped onto a sheet of ice. It was one of those slow-motion moments as my mind assessed the likely result: “My head is probably going to hit this concrete floor.” Fortunately, while my mind was analyzing the situation my body was taking action. I felt my torso jerk up and around, saving me from the fall.
But ouch: a sharp stab from left hip to right shoulder. No concussion, thankfully, but hello, my old friend Muscle Spasm. It’s off to the chiropractor Monday morning.
Lesson learned: Never leave prefinished plywood on the floor, especially with the shiny side down.–Nancy Hiller, author of Making Things Work
Filed under: Uncategorized
Even though the parts are quarter sawn I always take the precaution of allowing free air movement on both sides. The time taken to make this board is well worth it, particularly as it may be a few days before I work on this project again.
Here are the grooves cut for the base, drawer runners and rear panel. This looks simple enough but great care was needed and I made up a scrap board to check all the dimension before cutting. The grooves were cut in two passes with a 4 mm router bit.
The top, three drawers supports and base were all cut to identical size on the table saw. Then to ensure a very slight taper (wider at the back) I used three stopped cuts on the shooting board on each edge followed by one through shaving. I marked the boards very carefully as if I got one of the tapers the wrong way it would be disastrous.
I then marked the depth of the tenons on the 3 supports and the base with a wheel marking gauge and used the same setting to mark the baseline for the through dovetails on the top. This ensures that fit of all five horizontal components is perfect. The tenons were cut to a snug fit on the shaper, just shy of the line and this was finished off with a sharp chisel. This was extra work but yields very clean shoulders.
Obviously the tenons were too long and these were trimmed back to just under 4 mm to fit the grooves. Above is the finished tenon.
Next it was time to mark out and cut the dovetails, all 17 of them. I used my double saw blade (see recent post) against a small square to ensure the tails were both square and perfectly even. I'll be cutting these free hand, a job for another day.
I got up at 0500, edited the blog and posted it, and then headed outside to shovel. Yesterday I tried twice to shovel to stay ahead of it but the wind drove me back inside both times. This AM the wind was wimpy compared to the gusts yesterday. I also had two surprises when I went outside. Both the car and truck were almost bare and someone had plowed my driveway and part of the front walk. In spite of my good fortune, it still took me over two hours before I was done shoveling.
|that's all the snow that was on my wife's car|
|my truck had snow on the passenger windows only|
|front walk and the end of my driveway|
There is more snow forecasted for monday just in time for the morning commute. Which incidentally will be my first day back at work. I didn't get to the shop until after lunch. All that shoveling made my hands feel funny and I could barely hold my coffee cup. Arthritis sucks big time.
|it's the record 044 box|
|bottom had some twist|
|using Miles's 78 to make the rabbets|
|first rabbet isn't too good|
|the iron shifted on me|
|used this rabbet to run a knife line on the opposite side|
|shavings look nice but.....|
|I usually tilt outboard, not inboard|
|the other rabbet|
|iron moved again on me|
|Record 044 box|
|sawing out the 1/8" plywood bottom|
|lots of curly Qs'|
|glued the plywood bottom on|
|new lid stock being checked for twist|
|using the 10 1/2 to make the rabbets|
|flat, straight, and almost square|
|both rabbets are square end to end|
|plywood bottom flushed 360|
|lid fits and slides in and out easily|
|lid sawn to length|
|layout for the thumb catch|
|beveled the front edge|
|astragal didn't work|
|the rabbet isn't deep enough|
|LN beading plane|
|found a beading iron that may work|
|doesn't fit in the Lee Valley plow|
|You have to look close to see the boo-boo|
|thumb catch done|
|rounded the front edge of the lid groove|
|screw for the depth shoe|
|everything fits and the lid closes|
|came up with a different interior arrangement|
|the both of them will fit in Miles's toolbox|
This is not what I thought it would be. Three flat blade drivers so this was made before Henry Ford made phillips or cross point screws.
|the adapter fits it!|
|I thought it was a big as the one on the left|
|would not drive this #8 x 1 1/4 screw without a pilot hole|
|even the Craftsman didn't like doing it|
|road test #2|
|had to use the big driver to set the screw and to remove it|
|evolution of my box making|
|my attempt at a sliding lid box|
|two coats of shellac|
Did you know that the state song of Kansas is 'Home on the Range'?
Right after the conclusion of the Parquetry workshop at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking I dove in again with three days of Historic Finishing (reminder to self — DO NOT do this again. The logistics of changing horses mid-week is a headache you can do without). This class had more than a dozen students, and the enthusiastic feedback had led Marc to ask me to develop an expanded week-long workshop on the same topic, which we will do in 2019.
I’ve pretty much got this workshop dialed in, as I do with Parquetry, so there is a fairly fixed syllabus here. The emphasis is on processes and work habits rather than having a “completed” project at the end, concentrating on shellac spirit varnishes and beeswax applications.
The starting point is this 24×48 panel building up multiple brushed applications of 1-1/2 pound cut shellac to about 18 layers over the first day and a half. Getting this to “done” allows us to explore the detailing and polishing of the surface.
We used polissoirs for preparing surfaces and applying wax, and filled the grain with molten beeswax. Then we made and used polishing pads for applying spirit varnish.
Each student got to address the problems of finishing undulating surfaces,
applying pigmented wax grain filler,
and even making historic sandpaper.
The giant panels were polished out with a variety of period-appropriate abrasives,
and one quadrant was glazed with asphaltum.
All in all, it was a great time of fellowship and learning. How could it not be, we were finishing!
This is a violin top I made a couple years ago. It was on a Guarneri del Gesu inspired violin I was making, and in the spirit of Paganini's del Gesu, "il Cannone", I left the plates thick. An experiment.
As I was carving it, I uncovered a small branch in the lower bout, treble side. Very frustrating to find it at that point in the process. I did learn to look for the tell-tale sign, the cross-section of a branch on the outer edge.
Flustered but not defeated, I continued carving, being careful around the rapidly changing grain. I managed to get under it, without much distortion to the arching. The weird grain was still there, and I grew to like it somewhat. It did bother me, wondering what sort of sonic impact it would have.
So then I went on. Here it is at the point in time we'll call "X" with my Brothers Amati plate underneath. I like to build two at a time.
So I finished both of them, strung them up. The Brothers Amati I liked. The del Gesu I hated. Give it a couple weeks to stretch and compress. Still hated it. No volume, unpleasant tone. Ok, it was an experiment, heavy plates. And there was that weird branch grain. Maybe it was to blame. So I pulled the top and thinned it down. Put it back together. Now it was louder, but still an unpleasant tone. Matters were worse.
Took it to a show in Portland, Oregon. Folks played it. Other makers played it. Most didn't mind it too much, but generally a polite bunch. It didn't sell, but not many violins sell there in a good year.
Moved the soundpost around a bit. Made a new soundpost. Still hated it.
I pulled the top again. Thinned the top more. Thinned the back. Put it together and strung it up. Now it was even louder, still hated the tone. Nasal, maybe, though with a head cold or bad allergy. Bad diction. Like listening to someone with a loud, sloppy voice, telling boring, long-winded stories.
Was it the branch grain? Nothing I did seemed to help.
Took it to Weiser. Folks played it. Some were complimentary. It didn't sell. Not much did that year at Weiser, either. Still, I hated it.
Brad Holst, a fellow violin repairer from Medford, Oregon, was there, had put a few of his violins on the table at my temporary shop at the Weiser Fiddle Contest. He said: "What's the spacing between your upper eyes?" 42 mm, I answered. "Hmm, " he said. "I'd be curious to see what it measures to."
So I pulled out a tape measure, and it came out at 39 mm.
Back to "X" point in time. I laid-out the terminal holes incorrectly on that plate. Distracted by the branch, perhaps. Well, shoot. I kept the fiddle around for a couple months after that, then finally said "no" to myself. I wouldn't sell something like that. Pulled the top off, made a new one.
I still am not crazy about the tone with the new top, but I don't hate it now. I could even play it for a few weeks and maybe learn how to handle it.
I thought about keeping the old top, with its too-close eyes, in the shop as a reminder of my mistake. Then, I realized, I make new mistakes every day, so don't need some reminder hanging on the wall. I'd rather have something nice to look at.
Last night's contra band rehearsal was at my place, a cold night, snow on the ground, so we had a nice fire in the fireplace, and cleared out some old debris, including not just that top, but a top from an old factory fiddle that had been badly cracked and put back together with Gorilla (TM) Glue. That was not my repair. I tried to clean it up and put it back together, but it was too far gone, and frankly not that good of a top to begin with. So I made a new one for that old fiddle, strung it up, and it sold within a week.
Here's the old top, also on its way to the afterlife.
Life goes on. Things are created, exist for a while, then are gone, elements to be recycled into something else. Here's a photo of some bread I pulled out of the oven while writing this blog post.
Anyone who plays games involving dice there’s two things you always encounter; 1) they inevitably go flying off the tabletop, or 2) someone claims you threw them in a way that meant you were cheating. Aside from building a gaming table with raised sides like a craps table in Vegas your options can be limited on how to fix the problem.
A quick little project I built to help keep the dice in play is a “Dice Tower and Tray.” I made mine out of scrap poplar taking up space in the lumber rack and it only took a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.
Help support the show with purchases at online stores such as:
Megan Fitzpatrick does a great job with a list of what tools to start with for woodworking. But then there’s this:
My absolute favorites are a Japanese make that I can never remember (so I had a reminder on my computer at PW that I could look up. Oops.), but I also don’t think they are easily available. So among chisels you can actually get, I like the Lie-Nielsen Bevel-edge Socket Chisels.
*** single tear rolls down cheek ***
Sawing Straight is Getting Out of the Way
Learning to use a hand saw and sawing straight isn’t a thousand hours or practice thing. Honestly a well tuned saw really wants to saw straight and we have to really fight it to make it deviate. So rather than spending hour after hour making practice cuts, focus on aligning your body and getting out of the way. Focus on relaxing and actually working less and the saw will do its thing. Within a few minutes of this you will be getting straight and plumb saw cuts. It is the initial set up and alignment and relaxing that is so important. Going through that set up is what this video is all about and I address several different types of saw cuts and how to prepare and execute the straight saw cut.
More Sawing Tips
I referenced both of these videos during the session so make sure to check them out. Additionally I have a lot of sawing related content here on my site and do a little searching or looking under the techniques menu will find you some additional gems.
The unpleasant funny thing about visiting your family during the holidays is encountering your former woodworking self.
I’m in Charleston, S.C., with my dad this week and encountered my Late Willow Phase, a time during the 1990s when I was obsessed with rustic furniture. I had honestly forgotten about this phase (unlike my leather trousers phase).
For a couple years I drove around in my Volvo 240DL station wagon cutting willow switches out of ditches on the Westside of Cincinnati. I stored all these sticks in buckets in my shop, giving it an arboreal look. Using a drill and a tenon cutter, I made dozens of chairs, trellises, frames, anything you could fashion with sticks and tenons. It was my first pleasant encounter with bending green wood.
One Christmas we planned to visit my father in Arkansas. Lucy and I were broke, and my dad already owns everything he needs. So I took an afternoon to make this little footstool for him from a scrap of white pine and discarded willow switches from a chair project.
And here it sits today (I took it out on his porch for a photo). And for something that I threw together in a day, it’s not half-bad.
Phases can fade away or end abruptly. This one had its throat slit. One day I got a letter from a family that makes willow furniture with a bunch of photos of their beautiful pieces. The letter said: “We’ve seen your stuff. It sucks. This is what willow stuff should look like. Please quit.”
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized, Yellow Pine Journalism
Earlier this week, I was contacted by Serhat Köse from Ankara, Turkey. He had spotted a steel string guitar, which he thought had been made by me, for sale on the mobile classified app Letgo and he wanted to know more about it.
Although the guitar carried my label, it certainly wasn’t an instrument that I had made and I’m puzzled how the label got into it. The label was designed for me several years ago by Gill Robinson, an artist who is also a classical guitar player, and I had enough printed to last the rest of my guitar-making life. I’ve got a stack of them in my workshop but the only way in which they leave is when they’re glued inside a guitar.
I wrote about my new labels on this blog back in 2012, so perhaps whoever put it into the guitar for sale in Turkey obtained it from that post. It didn’t occur to me then that I needed to watermark the labels to prevent fraudulent use. But, of course, I have done so now.
Serhat sent me this photograph of the guitar. Anyone thinking of buying it should know that the label inside is a fake.
Last year I came across some 4 foot double LED shop lights for cheap ($15?). I bought enough of them to replace every single buzzing/humming fluorescent I had in the shop. I saved two fluorescents to put in the boneyard but I shitcanned them. Ocean State Job Lot is still selling these LED lights and I'll buy two more for the boneyard.
Do you know what I hear now? Nothing but the radio. It is wonderful to go to the shop, turn the lights on, and not hear that fluorescent dance music anymore. Not only is the noise gone, the light output has increased a bazillion percent. When I first put them in I was amazed with the brilliance of the light.I wasn't sure that I would get accustomed to but I did in a very short time - less than 2-3 days. If you are on the fence with LED lights, hop off and trot off to the store and buy some.
Oh and I forgot to say that the LED lights are instant on. Fluorescent lights also tend to lag coming on and have a diminished output in cold weather.
|sharpened the 1/4" iron|
|a Eureka moment|
|the Lee Valley plow plane|
|finishing the big plumb bob|
|the up/down plumb is dead on|
|got this R/L plumb fixed|
|second coat on the back of the chamfer wings|
|the storm came|
|screwed the lids back on|
|the front of the saw till box|
|it is clean looking|
|same problem with the square till box|
|sawing tails on sliding lid box|
|this side is a wee bit tight|
|it still amazes me|
|no bottom groove|
|double, triple checked it with a bigger square - glued it with hide glue and put it by the furnace|
|the Record 044 iron box|
|board for the lid|
|banged the lid on the bench|
|had to remove some twist|
|reference edges and one square corner|
|sticker it here until tomorrow|
I use the nubers1 through 4 and I always label the bottom. I do the bottom because it won't readily be visible and if I glue the bottom on, I don't have to erase anything. Tip #2, don't forget to allow for the half pin that gets sawn off. On those corners the label has to be set from the end a bit or you'll saw it off.
|pay attention to the labels|
Once you get in the habit of doing dovetails the same way you'll be surprised that you'll pick up on mistakes quicker. Something will not appear to be right and it usually isn't. Most of my catches have to do with me sensing a mismatch of the tails and pins (labeling).
|the type of saw doesn't matter that much|
|tails done on box #2|
Did you know that USDA standards state that a gallon of ice cream must weigh a minimum of 4.5 pounds?
Some readers seemed confused by my description of assembling a benchtop with the help of a “loose tenon.”
The expression doesn’t mean that the tenon rattles loose in the mortise. Rather it means that the tenon is not integral to either piece being joined. It is like a Domino or a biscuit. It enters mortises in both pieces.
I drew up two illustrations to show how this works. The drawing at the top illustrates the joint when it is apart. The loose tenon is shown floating between the two components of the benchtop.
The second illustration is an “X-ray” view of the assembled joint with 1/2”-diameter pegs piercing the benchtop pieces and the loose tenon.
“Loose tenons” have many other names, including “slip tenons” or “floating tenons.” All these terms are accepted in woodworking journalism.
Hope this helps.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Workbenches
Not my idea, probably an old one at that, but simple and effective. An adjustable marking gauge you can make in a few moments. Good for putting that running dent in the wood, something to cut to. The little screwhead lets allows you to get into the curves, which is nice at this point in the making.
Handy little adjustment tool, too.
We think of loose tenons as a modern joint, but it is far from it. Early Greek and Roman boats were made with loose tenons that were pegged to keep the hulls together.
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Richard Maguire also used this same technology to glue up his benchtops (read all about that here). I’ll be honest, I’ve always relied on glue alone (when I didn’t have a monumental one-piece slab top).
But my view changed a couple years ago when we got a bad batch of epoxy and several benchtops delaminated. If I ever have to glue up a slab benchtop again, I’m adding loose tenons.
Interestingly, Maguire doesn’t drawbore the loose tenons in his tops. He states: “a draw bored peg here would have been much weaker than this straight through approach.” I do believe I will be experimenting with this joint – both drawbored and not – to see for myself.=
Maguire wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of loose tenons in a benchtop (though I heard it from him first). Recently I got to inspect an early 20th-century French workbench from La Forge Royale that used the technology.
This commercial workbench was surprisingly rough in manufacture. Joints were deliberately overcut throughout to make the bench easy to assemble. The “breadboard” ends were merely nailed or screwed on. No tongue. I could go on and on. It’s still a great workbench (and still standing after 100 years), so I’m not knocking it. But I was surprised.
Despite the rough construction, the builders took the extra time to add loose tenons in the benchtop’s joint. That fact says a lot to me as to how important a detail they thought it was.
So it’s worth a thought for your next workbench.
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
I have never been so happy to hear from a roofer.
After 10 weeks of waiting for my number to come up, Brian the Roofer called to say his crew will begin the job Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.
Barring rain or a visit from the Angel of Death, I’ll have a new roof by the end of the week and will then set up my machines. That should take a day at most. I don’t have a lot of machines, and they (with one exception) are easy to move.
The only thing left to do is install the mini-split to control the climate in the workshop. The wiring for it is ready – so it’s a one-day job. (And until the mini-split gets installed, I’ll simply freeze my butt off when I work.)
Ever since moving my workbench to the storefront almost two years ago, I’ve been slowed down by having two shops. Though I don’t do a lot of machine work, there were times that I had to drive home to use the drill press for a very particular hole and then had to drive right back to the storefront to continue working.
Though I don’t live far from the storefront (4.2 miles), the route always has a chance of jackknifed semis or cornholed motorists on the stretch that locals call “Death Hill.”
When I was planning out my new shop, I half-considered writing a series of articles about the process. Then I realized that I think most people make it a lot more difficult than necessary. And by putting a lot of effort into the shop, they actually make it more of a pain to use in the long-term.
If you’d like to read my brief thoughts on setting up shop, check out my entry at my other blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine. Here’s the link. (Side note: I’d like to offer a huge thank-you to all the people who read my blog there – the monthly pay I receive is an important part of our family budget. And according to the traffic numbers, 2017 was a good one for my blog there.)
Now back to dreaming of my membrane roof.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
It's a nice touch to use a waney edged board for a shelf and the beautifully shaped handles below look very tactile.
Last year – that seems so long ago – when I posted about the five facts of fretwork mirrors, I received a few emails asking about the different observations. The most asked about was observation #4, grain direction of the cresting.
If you were left wondering about that particular observation, here’s the scoop. There is a better glue connection when matching long-grain to long-grain, and an end-grain to long-grain connection lacks a significant hold.
The temps we have seen in the past week for december are about the lowest I can remember. Forget having positive single digit temps, we are heading for negative single digit temps. This weather forced my wife to leave a day early for her annual business trip. She is headed for San Diego this year and I doubt that it has ever snowed there.
I had my truck winterized and I had to pony up almost a grand to do that. I had the coolant flushed and replaced and the heat in the truck is working better now. Before the coolant change, the heat output was tepid at best. The heat coming out of the vents now is hot enough to make jiffy popcorn pop. I'm glad that I got it done before the storm hit.
An oil change and four new sneakers rounded out the winterization. I should be good for a couple more winters now. Especially so with new brakes 5K ago and a new battery a few months back.
|walnut should be set|
|it's a snug fit|
|dialing in the fit|
|irons out of the EvapoRust, rinsed, and blown dry|
|EvapoRust darken the irons|
|will it fit now?|
|not so good taking the lid of|
|sanding stick to the rescue|
|this iron won't go down|
|the smallest, last iron, won't fit|
|sanded the lid but needs more work|
|you can see which irons were used the most|
|still grabbing irons|
|a problem iron|
|made a new sanding stick with 60 grit|
|put a piece on the other end, opposite side|
|the iron adjuster knobs fit the other screw stems|
|#0, #1, and #2 Grace square drive set|
|got a drill index too|
|ratcheting screwdriver square drive adapter|
|this doesn't look good sports fans|
|seems to fit and lock in place|
|it fell out|
|ready for paint|
|dovetail layout for the 78 & 044 boxes|
Did you know that Rafer Johnson was the first black athlete to carry the American flag in the opening procession of the Olympics? (Rome,1960)