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David Barron Furniture
Updated: 4 hours 47 min ago
Here is my set up for routing the 4 mm grooves for the drawer bottoms. My shop made fence has a couple of Mag Switches which lock it down and is fitted with the super accurate Flip Stop system. The two stops are to limit the travel for the left and right hand drawer sides. All the cuts were referenced from the bottom edge, as were the dovetails when the pins were marked.
The grooves all cleanly routed, you can see the stopped cuts. The back of the drawer (at bottom) has two light cuts each side which established the right height for the drawer bottom to slide in. I didn't cut this off as the bottom edge was used to mark out the tenons.
Here is my router table / spindle moulder which I used quite happily with a very small 4 mm cutter, despite the fact it only runs at 8,000 rpm instead of the 22,000 rpm recommended by manufacturers for small cutters. I find it grabs less, has never left a burn mark and I've never had a cutter break. I bought this a few years ago after using one at Andrew Crawford's workshop.
Here are the tiny through mortises and corresponding tenons for the back, cut and fitted.
Now it's time to reduce the backs to size and finish off on the shooting board.
The last thing to do before gluing up the drawers was cutting the wedge slots. As the tenons are just 5 mm square I used my finest Japanese saw to leave the smallest of kerfs. All I need now are 32 tiny walnut wedges!
When a spent a couple of days with box maker Andrew Crawford a few years ago he highly recommended the head mounted Optivisor for seeing more intricate work. He used the model 5 with a magnification of x 2.5 and a focal length of 8". After buying one I found I needed to go so close to the work it was difficult to use at the same time as working, so I went in a drawer. I finally decided to buy a different lens, the model 3 with a magnification of x 1 3/4 and a focal length of 14" and what a difference! It is ideal for dovetails and allows effortless accuracy.
It had a nicely designed adjustable headband and is very comfortable. It can be worn over existing glasses if needed.
Quality is not cheap, but for anyone struggling to see their baselines clearly or just wanting super accurate results, this is a great aid.
Some sharp tails, this board is just 2" wide.
I was looking through my tools cabinet today and saw these three Japanese chisels tucked away (I have far too many hand tools!). They have been well used but well looked after with a good patination and no rust.
I had polished up and flattened the backs which were in need of attention and they came up very well, particularly the one with multiple scoops (san mai).
I don't know who the makers are, although I know Oochi makes similar flat tang chisels to the one in the last picture. Can anyone help identify them?
I managed to garb a couple of hours this afternoon on the walnut chest. With the glue up gone well, it was time to start fitting the drawer parts. The sides were cut to length and then individually shot into their openings. The aim is for a fit that neither binds nor rattles.
Next the fronts were shot into their respective openings, this fit needs to be very tight.
Next the backs were knifed from the fronts and these were trimmed to exactly the same size.
I then planed up the inside surfaces with my favourite Bill carter plane and applied two coats of melamine Lacquer. Next time I'll be routing the drawer bottoms and cutting the dovetails and through tenons.
I've been getting by without a long plane, but the time has come to put that right. A lie Nielsen No 7 jointer arrived from Classic Hand Tools yesterday. This is going to be great for edge jointing longer pieces on my shooting board as well as flattening my work benches.
While I was at the Barnsley Workshops many years ago this was everyone's plane of choice but I remembered that only one of the planes they had up till point had a truly flat sole. It was going to be interesting to check mine.
Here it is against my 2' Starrett straight edge, with a light shining behind, showing a gap to the rear of the mouth opening.
Using my thinnest feeler gauge of .0015", it just slid under. Although this is a tiny amount and probably well within tolerance, I wanted a flatter sole.
I must point out that with the gap behind the mouth, the plane would have performed just fine without any fettling.
I checked the table of my Felder table saw and it was dead flat. I stuck down some 150 grit with spray adhesive and carefully rubbed the plane along in one direction only. I kept the paper clean and then lubricated with WD 40 and after about 5 minutes it was flattened.
Turning to the blade, some initial flattening of the back showed a slight hollow just back from the edge which made flattening much faster. It seemed too even to be just good luck and I'm guessing this was done deliberately to help preparation.
The blade is ground at 25 degrees, so the job of final honing at 30 degrees was easy and quick. You can see a slight curve on the blade which I prefer, even for edge jointing (I will delve into this another day!)
With the back prepared you can still see some of the grind scratches but they are back from the edge. Cleaning up the edge of some rippled sycamore produced a lovely surface and the blade really sang.
I think we are going to be friends.
Piotr sent me some pictures of some projects she has made, all by hand.
There are some interesting and skilful joints on this plant stand.
A nice jewellery box and below my favourite, a sushi plate in oak with sliding dovetails for the feet. Paired down simplicity but very pleasing on the eye.
Piotr is looking for an apprenticeship or similar, if anyone can help please let me know.
Time to cut the tails. Rather than holding the board horizontally, I angled it to 1:6 so that the cuts would be made vertically, there was no need to mark in the angles first. This was a tip from the Barnsley Workshops.
Angling the board the other way allowed me to cut the other side, again on the vertical.
I used my wonderfully made 'long stroke' dovetail saw made by Skelton saws. It cut so cleanly and quickly I didn't get a chance to wind it up and make some long strokes!
The fit and finish of the saw is faultless.
I dry fitted the shelves and cut the curves on the drawer supports, cleaning up with a flat soled HNT Gordon spoke shave, a wonderful tool. Each of the shelves was recessed from the carcass sides by 1 mm, note the scrap pieces standing in for the back which will be cut to a fit after the carcass has been glued up.
With all the dovetails cut and fitted, the final job for the day was to sand and finish all the internal surfaces ready for glue up. I used two coats of hand applied melamine lacquer, cut back with an Abralon 600 pad and finished with a coat of Gilly Stephenson's Cabinet Makers Wax with a high carnauba wax content. The final waxing will act as a resist, making glue squeeze out easy to pop off as well as giving a nice smooth surface for the drawers to run on.
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.
For anyone wondering what the finished chest will look like, here is a version I made a couple of years ago.
It's a nice touch to use a waney edged board for a shelf and the beautifully shaped handles below look very tactile.
I've started making a small walnut four drawer chest. In order to get continuous grain I'm making the top and sides from a pair of 1/2" thick book matched board, which are too long to edge joint on my shooting board. I'm planing both edges at once using my jointer plane with side fence. The two boards are 'hinged' to ensure a flat result.
Above you can see the two nicely rippled book matched boards and below the joint pushed together.
When I have such a nice close fit, I just use stretched masking tape on both sides to clamp the joint.
The lack of pressure doesn't introduce any stress into the joint and it should stay nice and flat.
I planed the shorter sections individually on the shooting board using my Veritas plane. You can see I've taken the rear handle off so that I can grip nearer the blade which gives me much more control and feel (thanks for the tip Bern).
Below are the two boards sitting one on top of the other, with no visible daylight between. You can see the 'up' and 'down' marks that remind me which way to face each board to ensure a flat panel results.
In my Christmas stocking was this fascinating book, it may be only A5 in size but is 700 pages long with beautifully shot photos. It is sectioned by each country, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland indicating the differences in style between them. Of course there is strong representation of furniture designers, chairs in particular, although I found it all really interesting. I've taken a few shots below to give an idea of the contents, it's a great little book and easy to dip in and out of.
Robert from Canada sent me these pictures of a fine looking toolbox he has just completed, a Christmas present for his son. It was made from an article by Mike Pekovich with protruding through tenons, bridle joints and dovetails on the drawers. The dovetails were cut as through dovetails and turned into half blinds with the addition of thin curly maple fronts, a great technique and one I've used many times before. The carcass is cherry, the hardware is from Lee Valley and the brass stay is from Brusso. I think that will be one happy son on Christmas day!!
I've seen woodworkers go to great lengths to ensure their dovetails are evenly spaced out, the Alan Peters method using callipers works very well. However I've always eyeballed my marking out as small differences in dovetail spacing are not picked up by the eye.
What I do find immediately noticeable is a variation in the width of the pins. I've been toying with the idea of making a double kerf starter which would make identical sets of kerfs to place the saw blade in, but then I remembered I had kept all my used Japanese saw blades over the last 20 years. So with two of these blades, a piece of thin veneer and some double sided tape, I made my own double bladed kerfing saw.
Run up against a square (or using my 90 degree magnetic guide) the test results were impressive, giving perfect pairs of cuts from which the tails could be cut. The technique would be equally well suited for cutting dovetails freehand or with one of my magnetic guides.
This spacing is suitable for finer dovetails leaving an overall gap (with the waste removed) of just 1.75 mm. This was achieved using two 372 saw blades with a 0.6 mm thick veneer stuck in-between.
Whilst I was at it, I made up a thicker version with an overall 2.5 mm spacing for larger carcass dovetails.
We had the pleasure of visiting the Sussex Guild Craft show at Midhurst over the weekend.
There was strong showing of furniture makers among the numerous exhibitors.
These nesting tables and lovely dining room table are by Edward Johnson.
The box below, made by Andrew Poder, caught my eye, the lid was made by embedding burr oak off cuts in polyester resin.
He used the same technique with these sculptures. I've ordered some of the polyester resin to have a little play.
These block prints are simply amazing! Cut in boxwood by Sue Scullard, the master block for the print below (Edinburgh castle) took two months of painstaking work.
James Mursell with his excellent Windsor chairs was at the show promoting his courses. If you've ever fancied having a go I can highly recommend them, very rewarding for all skill levels.
I'm just testing my favourite of his chairs, a beautiful rocker.
Another very skilled artist was Simon Groves with these wonderful carvings.
......and yes they were all done with this chainsaw!
Lastly this large vessel was turned by John Plater from a huge walnut root ball, he must be stronger than he looks!
Kevin, a good customer, sent me these pictures of his magnetic storage guide. He has drilled out some steel and faced it with some self adhesive cork tile. Now his guides are within easy reach and don't stick together!
Self adhesive Cork tile is cheap and has many other uses around the shop, I've used it to line clamps as well as the jaws of my vice.
This is my first visit to this large show, the scale of it reminded me of the Axminster shows of 15 - 20 years ago. It was a bit of a trek from the South coast and took me 5 1/2 hours.
I'm set up in a nice corner of the Classic Hand Tool stand and looking forward to cutting some dovetails over the next 3 days.
I had a wander round and although many of the stands were covered up this one took my eye with some lovely English timber, walnut yew and some great burr elm.
Nice pippy oak boards.
I came across the Vic Tesolin stand, he's getting to be quite a star!
Powermatic is a new brand over here and the machines looked very solid and well built, a bit like the British machines of 50 years ago.
This band saw really took my eye but at £3,500 it is clearly a victim of the current poor exchange rate.
Scheppach make some nice accurate made hobby machines, but they are aiming pretty low with this one. It stands just 27" high and has a cut height of 4"! Still at under £200 I suppose there is a market.
At the other end of the scale this Felder combination machine is a beauty.
The show is huge and there are hand tools and machines to suit every pocket, well worth a day (or two) visit.
I was surprised to learn that James's travisher was his best selling tool, I had naively assumed that his spokeshaves would be more popular. That was until I used one! It worked superbly both across and with the grain. He sells them as a complete tool or in kit form for about 2/3rds of the price. As I noticed one or two of his well used travishers had a worn nose I decided to buy the kit and inlay a lignum Vitae block.
Here's a couple of shots after initial shaping of the block on the band saw.
The nose needs to be relieved so that the blade can make contact in the hollowed seat and this was done with a medium rasp ( below).
Here are some shots of the finished shave which took about 1 1/2 hours in all to complete.
The instructions say that the shaving exit can be through the top (as recommended) or via the rear. James says the advantage of the top is you can place your thumbs behind the blade for the best control which is certainly the case. I also found that you could see exactly where the shaving was being taken which was very helpful when I came close to the lines. This is a wonderful tool to use and I will be using it on a work shop stool in the near future.
One of James's suggestions for finishing the underside of the seat on the Windsor chairs was using a scrub plane. The idea was to leave a textured surface which would be felt when the chair was moved or picked up, I was impressed and chose to use this on my chair. Sad to say I've never used a scrub plane, it was remarkably easy and good fun.
Instead of buying a new one (even Lie Nielsen and Veritas versions are reasonable) I decided to adapt a plane I already had, this little ECE block plane. It is very comfortable to hold but has a gaping mouth, which while not great for smoothing, is ideal as a scrub plane.
Ten careful minutes on the grinder and the blade was reshaped, now I just need a project to use it on!
I managed to find time to clean up the glue and do the final scraping and sanding. Having pondered a number of finishes I used a penetrating oil (details at the end) which will need many coats.
The continuous arm Windsor designed by James Mursell looks great from any angle.
I simplified the seat shape from the more traditional design and managed to find a board with some nice olive colour running the middle (sorry Simon, you'll have to be quicker next time!)
I managed to find some olive ash legs as well.
Contrasting wedges were used for the arm spindles and it's worth taking a little time to make sure these are centred and the correct width.
The finished I used was Devon Wood Oil as warranted by the Royal Household, if it's good enough for the queen.....
During the 5 day course James shared many little tips, here we have taped up the prior to drilling to minimise the risk of tearout. The blue string gave something to run a sharp knife against making removal much easier.
Banging in the wedges for the legs, tilting the stool so the leg is vertical to the bench.
The chair was then levelled from side to side and then shimmed for a backwards lean of 1/2" (I think). When all this was done without any wobble left, the legs were marked with the gauge shown and then cut to the lines.
In order to arrive at a design he is happy with for each chair he has made up to 6 versions. Many of these can be found handing on the wall of one of his barns, including the first chair he ever made.
James's farmhouse was the setting for morning and afternoon tea as well as a lovely lunch.
I had been admiring the oak dining table we used for a few days and it turned out that it had been made by Edward Barnsley for James father back in 1958.
And here we all are at the end of the course complete with the shop dog. It was a great course with lovely people and can highly recommend the experience to anyone. All our chairs needed final cleaning up and finishing which will be done in our own shops. Mine needs to wait as I've got preparation to do for the North of England Woodworking show next week.