As we were working on the October 2014 issue (#213) of Popular Woodworking Magazine (which mails to subscribers in early August), Design Matters columnist George R. Walker stopped in the offices and shot a quick video that demonstrates the technique of drawing a volute freehand. Watch as George steps through the process to draw a classical form that can unlock your inner eye, and read more about it in our […]
In the October 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (which mails to subscribers in about a week), Bill Anderson has an article on common fixes for vintage wooden planes – in other words, we want to encourage you to get those wooden planes off the shelf, fix them up as needed and start using them! The article shows the five most commonly needed repairs, but here’s a sixth from Bill […]
The La Forge Royale miter jack drawing is just about done. I've spent the last couple weeks taking it apart piece by piece and accurately measuring every part, to the nearest 1/64". This vise was very carefully crafted, and even after about 100 years or so (that's a wild guess, but probably fairly close) the things functions sweetly.
We've decided we're going to make a short run of hardware for this vise. If you think you'd like one, post a comment below (please don't email us, use the comment form) It will help us gauge how many to make.
When we get the first batch of bits together, we'll build the first one and document our construction sequence. We won't produce measured 2d drawings for the vise, but simply post the Sketchup drawing when its ready, in a week or two. If you don't know how to pull dimensions and move things around in Sketchup yet, you might want to learn. It's easy. We recommend Bob Lang's Popular Woodworking video course. It's excellent.
Here's what will be included in the hardware kit:
- Hardwood screw and tapped nut block. The nut block will be milled to final thickness, but oversize in length and width. You'll take it to final size, and cut the joinery. We'll likely use hard maple since its widely available. But we might use beech too, like the original. Thick beech is available, you just have to look harder.
- Brass ferrule and garter, steel garter pin, cross pin. The ferrule, screw tenon and steel garter pin will be pre-drilled to accept the cross pin. We'll provide instruction on how to assemble it, since you'll have to assemble these parts after the entire vise is built. Once the garter is in place, the screw can't be removed from the nut block without driving the pin back out.
- Steel Hook. This is the part that engages the half miter block and allows it to move in tandem with the moving jaw.
- Screws. These will be flat head, slotted, and likely unplated to fit with original.
Our version will be slightly different than the original. Here's how.
- The original jaws are fingerjointed. We didn't include this in the drawing. If you want to fingerjoint them, nothing wrong with that. But it's probably not necessary. I think an excellently prepared and glued lamination will hold up just fine. In fact, both fingerjointed surfaces in the original are loose.
- The screw pitch in the original is 5tpi, 1-1/8" dia. We'll try and duplicate this. But to keep costs reasonable we're going to source stock brass tubing for the ferrule. This may dictate that we alter the size of the screw a bit. It won't matter to you, since all the threading and tapping will be done.
In Pete Dexter’s book Deadwood, Wild Bill Hickok’s partner, Charley Utter, is thinking to himself, “He liked having a drawer, it was a neatness you could see just sliding it open.”
Making drawers requires a precision and calm missing from some other jobs around the shop. Cleaning out the dust collector comes to mind. Or hand planing some misbegotten wood like a rowed grain khaya. Drawer building on the other hand needs careful measuring, straight parts, and clear thinking to do a good job. A job that you’ll notice and admire in its careful sliding, with the slight woosh of air emerging as the drawer enters and fills its opening almost completely.
You can of course do a fast job and get it done with some drawer glides or run the drawer on a center mount. But it’s not the same. It doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t act the same.
We’ll be busy at the end of this week in the Studio with a class on Drawer Work. We’ll be making a drawer box and filling it with one precision cut and fit drawer. When it’s right, you’ll be able to stand the drawer box on end and put the drawer in place and with a close piston fit the air will only let the drawer slowly descend into its resting place. Nice.
I was informed yet again by my wife over the weekend that I spend way too much time woodworking. I don’t see it, as I usually only spend a few hours per month “on the job”. But my perceptions doesn’t really matter all that much, as I am speaking about how my wife perceives my time spent in the garage. Couple that with my health, which hasn’t been all that great lately, and it makes a compelling case.
Now, this is hardly the first time I’ve heard this, but it was definitely the most venomous. In my defense, I do not drink, smoke, gamble, or do drugs of any kind. I have no vices to speak of unless you would count woodworking as a vice, which maybe it is. I do not play sports any more, even golf. I have one other leisure activity, which is reading, as well as writing this blog, and from what I gather my wife isn’t very happy that I do those things, either.
The one thing that truly bothers me is the tool set. If I were to give up woodworking what should I do with it? While I don’t have a large set of tools, I do think it is a nice one. I thought that shrink wrapping the whole toolbox and storing it in the attic might be a good idea, but I don’t know how well they would hold up, as my attic hits 125 degrees in the summer and near freezing in the winter. Another idea I have, which I think is a good one, is donating them to a kid in high school who could use them. I would still keep any tools that I made myself, and the two wooden planes that I’ve purchased recently.
The power tools and workbench would be easy. I really only have one power tool that takes up any space, which is my table saw. Other than that I have a jigsaw and a router, both of which take up little room and are rarely used to begin with. My dad would take the table saw and workbench in a heartbeat, so they would definitely go to a good home.
Those of you who read this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis know that I’ve been through this before. You also probably know that enjoy woodworking and writing about it; I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t. But I don’t want to be in an unhappy marriage, and if woodworking is the cause of that unhappiness then I have to cut it out of my life. I’m not saying that I will never woodwork again. If and when I get older, I will theoretically get more free time to go along with my old age. So God willing, 20 years from now I may just be one of those old coots that I always talk about who attend all of the woodworking shows so happily. Who knows? It could happen.
Today I posted a page with a couple of hewn bowls, and what spoons I have ready to go. I have several spoons nearly ready; but those I’ll take with me to Roy’s place, & finish them down there. So what I have now is on the blog, then there’ll be more in mid-August. As usual, leave a comment if you’d like to order something. Any questions, send an email to Peter.Follansbee@verizon.net
Meanwhile, here’s some of what I did yesterday.
A day like this:
But I persevered and roughed out one of the last bowls from the stash of birch I have around here. Most of the ones I’ve been doing are upside-down. I start like this:
hew the broad inner face of the split bolt flat. This becomes the bottom of the bowl.
Then mark out the saddle-shaped interior of the bowl. Now the bowl is held down to a low bench with three pegs and a wedge. (well, take my word for it that there’s 3. You can only see 2 in this shot) Simple, but it works pretty well. If I end up doing these bowls regularly, then it might be time to look closely at Dave Fisher’s bowl horse…
I then make a few saw kerfs to help break stuff up when the next hewing begins.
I just begin chopping into the midst of these kerfs to remove the excess material. Now it’s a double-bevel hatchet, not the joiner’s hatchet I used to flatten the bottom.
Then comes adze work. Just like the hatchet, you want to keep the tool’s edge out of your leg.
I do some standing, then some seated. All in all, about 15-20 minutes of hewing ought to get me there.
Then it’s on to gouge & mallet work, then more hewing.
then it rained.
I made a chest of drawers for my new daughter’s room. It took a few months to complete and I thought I’d wait to see if it turned out well before blogging about it. It turned out better than I had expected…Design brief
I wanted the chest to be small, but not specifically a children’s piece. Turns out, a tall narrow chest of drawers is often called a “lingerie chest” and traditionally has 7 drawers, one for each day of the week. I found this design for a tall chest online by Popular Mechanics. It gave me general dimensions to work from and made me think about how to support the drawers.
One design idea I love is this chest of drawers that open in two directions by Nosigner. I don’t know how I’d get drawers to open in two directions, but I think simply having a set of drawers on the front and another on the side would be cool. Maybe one day I will try something like this. But not this time.
So I decided to make something a on the traditional end of the spectrum. It is a 4-board dovetailed carcass with 6 drawers – made out of soft maple with walnut drawer-fronts for contrast. It also has a walnut base and legs, almost like this design by Stickley.Assembly steps
I will post about each step of the build:
- Saw rough boards to length, laminate to width and plane flat.
- Dovetailing the carcass.
- Install the back.
- Making runners and rails for drawer support.
- Resawing boards for drawer fronts.
- Dovetailing and assembling the drawers.
- Making the base and legs.
I used my sketch (shown above) to work out roughly how much lumber to buy. The walnut wasn’t cheap, but it looks wonderful when oiled. I’ll post about the build over the next few weeks – a far quicker time frame than it took to build!
Filed under: Drawers & dressers, Projects Tagged: chest, design, drawers
The subject of the strength of dovetail joints came up in the Woodnet hand tool forum recently, and I realized that although I had always thought of a dovetail as being a very strong joint, I never had tried to work through why that might be the case.
My assumption had been that a dovetail was strong because of mechanical strength. The dovetail joint does provide some long grain-to-long grain glue surfaces, but I had always thought that this was a relatively minor factor, with the mechanical interlocking nature of the joint being the real hero in this story.
So let’s make a dovetail joint with two 3/4” thick boards. Here’s one of them, seen from the end.
And let’s lay out some dovetails. These are going to be utilitarian dovetails, such as you might do for a crate. No thought is going to be put into trying to emulate fancy London pattern dovetails, with their skinny pins. Just plain old dovetails, laid out fairly evenly.
The darker brown lines are the surfaces that you would paint with glue, and provide the long grain-to-long grain glue bond. Remember that these surfaces are 3/4” deep, since we are dovetailing together two boards, 3/4” thick. Thanks to the miracle of Pixelmator, I can rotate these lines and lay them end-to-end.
This surprised me. As it turns out, the long grain-to-long grain surfaces add up to an area that’s larger than the area of the end of the board itself. Most woodworkers, when they think of strong glue joints, think of a long grain edge-to-edge joint such as you would use to glue up a panel. This shows that a dovetail joint can provide more glue surface than an edge-to-edge joint over the same area.
So what if you happen to be a fan of fancy London pattern dovetail joints? We can redo the layout like this.
And layout the glue surfaces like in the first example.
And we find that the glue surfaces provided by this dovetail joint work out to be just about the same surface area as the end of the board.
Of course, if you have a wide enough board and wide enough tails, you’ll get to a point where the glue surface is going to be significantly smaller than the area covered by the end of the board. After playing around with some layouts, I found that you had to get to a point where the width of the tails were about three times the thickness of the board before this would be a factor. And at that point, the joint itself just starts looking weird to my eyes. I don’t think I’m alone in this. An image search of London pattern dovetails did not turn up many examples of this joint with very wide tails.
This Blog Post is About Scrub Planes.
Had I said roughing planes, only a few would have understood. Even in the 1960s old wooden planes, the Stanley scrub plane and even the Stanley furring plane would have been referred to as roughing planes because, in typical fashion, the plane derived its name from its function.
In my dim and distant past (yes this is me 25 years ago or so) I worked with many men 40 years older than myself and all the way up to being 80+ years old. My personal tools then were all squeaky new of course, but the tools in the tool chests and joiner’s boxes these men treasured were all very, very old. Older even than them. I don’t think I was even remotely capable of seeing then that the value in these tools could not be appraised in monetary value but by the provision they were to the men from two world wars in making everything from children’s toys to fine furniture and door frames to coffins. Today, 50 years later, I understand their real worth.
I Keep Old Tools to Work With Because They Work; Not Because They Look Nice
Today many planes from the past are somewhere near to my bench and the throats vary according to use. It’s here that I want to share something i think has value to us as woodworkers. It’s a little bit about the history of planes that may offer insight. In time past I have shared that old wooden planes were never abandoned because they didn’t work or indeed work well. They were abandoned because they didn’t keep pace with the industrialising of craft and the art of work. The whole process of plane making was an art that required great skills in both woodworking and metal working to make the tools of the plane maker. The wood too required specific parameters to produce tools that would remain stable. Though wood was dried in large quantities, distilling this down, a plane blank for your average bench plane, regardless of length, would at very minimum be 5 years before the plane would come from the hands of its maker.
For Centuries Woodworking Craftsmen in Different Trades Made Their Own Planes and Tools
Though wooden plane making ultimately became a specialist woodworking trade within the realms of carpentry and joinery, this only happened after centuries of craftsmen making their own planes according to their given trade. Coopers and wheelwrights, joiners, carpenters, boat builders and 50 others all developed their own specialist planes and tools. Making a plane was a 3-4 hour process and from new the plane served its maker for many decades.
The Evolution of the Roughing Plane
In the beginning the plane started life as a plane with tight tolerances. Cutting edges were bedded only 1-2mm from the front aspect of the sole , which created the closed throat needed for fine shaving work. Such a plane brought into service for close and fine work would work for a decade or so before wear began to take its toll. It made sense to create a new plane alongside the more used one as the wear became apparent but before too much wear took place. That being so, the new plane would run alongside the older in tandem in the same way a shepherd runs a new dog alongside the old so that he’s never without a dog. As the original plane sole became worn and needed truing because of wear and unevenness, the mouth opening became marginally wider and more open. Another decade and the mouth would be too wide for fine work and so the second plane began to replace the first. It’s at this point that the craftsman transfers the original plane to its new work working the distorted surfaces resulting from air drying wood and saving his finer plane for finer work. The cycling continued and three or four small smoothing planes would see a craftsman through his decades as a working craftsman.
Wooden Planes Performed Exceptionally and Were Never Replaced By Anything Better
Now then, try to remember that these wooden planes were not simply old fashioned models being replaced by something better and newer. That wasn’t the case at all. Also try to remember that they weren’t called scrub planes as we know the term either. They did however perform the same task. It’s important to know that woodworkers were using wooden planes for these different tasks for centuries and that they were in no way inferior to anything produced with modern-day all-metal planes. These crafting artisans in wood resisted the introduction of the all-metal cast iron and steel planes with legitimate cause. The reason they resisted the new planes was not that they shunned change for the sake of it or were merely nostalgic, but that their wooden planes were, in their hands, flawless designs in functionality in every way and actually worked better than the new all-metal ones. They were much lighter in use, almost frictionless in motion wood on wood, were more stable and they could be refined whenever or if needed. Cycling through three or four planes made from the off cuts of a beech table or bed leg was simply the practice of the day. Running planes side by side meant staggered stages of wear levels in the throat and so planes were adapted and adopted to different levels of roughness for the removal of undulation and twist to rough prep boards for the jack and jointer planes. The shorter the sole the kore localised the ability to rough-down highs and of course the easier to turn the plane to task in tackling grain variance of direction and so on.
Ultimately, planes with large and open throats could scrub off masses of wood.
The Scrub Plane Emerges
So, as you can see, when the wooden planes were ousted by the cheaper alternative all-metal ones that required only assembly-line production, it became only a matter of time before one replaced the other. Add into that the demands of a world war on timber resources for every aspect of industrialism and you suddenly begin to see how the demise of the wooden bodied planes took place. Machining in woodworking lessened the demand on hand methods too, to the point that one, by one, the wooden planemakers of Britain and Western Europe began dropping like flys. In tandem with the demise the need for a roughing plane made from metal was needed to replace the wooden versions. Remember there was no secondhand market for planes as we might know it now in the sense of family members selling off their great grandfather’s old stuff and certainly no world wide web. The term scrub was most likely in use long before Stanley came developed their version in the all-metal scrub. There can be no doubt that Stanley adopted the descriptive name and so created a special plane in a category all of its own. Though still a crude looking plane compared to all others, the Stanley scrub could initially be mistaken for a very unique and different plane altogether which is the much rarer Stanley #340 furring plane. I only ever saw and owned one of these planes, primarily because it was a US development in planes and made only in the US. I bought mine for peanuts in 1985 as part of a collection of tools and planes owned previously by a working craftsman. Just like the the term used for the scrub plane, furring plane to me implies it was used to remove furry and rough surfaces left by the sawyers after sawing, hence the minimalist surface area of the sole with only four square inches of sole in contact with the wood at any given time as apposed to 11 square inches with the scrub plane and 20 square inches with a regular smoothing plane. frictionless humped area around the mouth and the hollows either side to the toe and heel.
Those operating the machines would use the plane to take off furring from the ripped wood before second and subsequent passes on the saw if the wood had deviated slightly or left too much furring on the surface. The plane would be used both with (along) the grain and at a tangent to the grain equally. This plane will most likely never be replicated because its use is so very limited.
We Lose the Art and Craft of Plane Making
In all of this we saw a close to an era; a tradition of craftsmanship destined to die, save for one or two lingering makers who continued into the early 1960s. For a few decades wooden plane making died and became extinct and to a great extent that has remained the same. Two or three individuals in the USA and the UK have become independent planemakers intent to develop their own niche market for making and selling wooden planes made by hand. There are enough collector users to keep them in business.
The post Old Men, Old Planes, Old Ways Now Gone – The Origin of Scrub Planes appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.
Apologies for the delay in posting this; I took a few days’ vacation in Maine after the Lie-Nielsen Open House, then the last 10 days or so to catch up (well, to try to catch up…I’m not quite yet there). A lot of folks have e-mailed with questions about new tools on the horizon from Lie-Nielsen (I know most of you know what I’m talking about…); While Thomas Lie-Nielsen is […]
My goal for today was to get the Thorsen side table more or less constructed today, leaving the finishing to do at the same time as the “Thorsen Cabinet” I’m making. I think I’m at that point, although I may need to re-make the lower shelf. More about that in a bit.
Yesterday I got the joinery finished on the breadboard ends for the top. Picking up from there, the next job was to make all of the “mortises” for the ebony pegs. I picked up a set of the square punches the Lee Valley sells. Well, it was a father’s day gift from my wife. OK, actually my wife forgot to get me anything, so I got them for myself. So she wouldn’t feel bad. Right?
Anyway, these are very handy. They made short work of the Sapele. When I used them the first time on White Oak they didn’t bite as week as I thought they should, but on Sapele they did the trick without any hesitation. Not that they didn’t work well on the Oak, it just took a few more hits with the hammer than I expected. I’m using a pretty light hammer though.
I laid out all of the locations using a story stick to get the spacing even. I used a marking gauge to find the center of the edges (the breadboard ends are about 1/8″ thicker than the top), and then marked the location with an awl.
Then I drilled each pilot hole. Each punch uses a drill bit that is 3.32″ smaller than the punch size. With a brad point bit it was simple to drop it in the awl mark and drill about 3/8″ to 1/2″ deep.
Then I used the drill to locate the square chisel over the hole. I used a small square to get the chisel straight, then removed the drill bit and hammered the chisel in.
After pulling the square punch out of the hole I use a smaller chisel to break up the waste and clean the bottom of the hole. It only takes a minute to do one hole – it took longer to write this than to do the holes I think.
The other thing I had to do — which took way longer than the horses — was to shape the ends of the breadboard caps and sand everything smooth. I started with a 1/8″ round over bit, then 150 grit shop roll and a single cut file. Then lots of hand sanding to try to get organic-looking contours and make everything feel nice to the touch. Finally I wet the parts to raise the grain.
I used a little glue in the middle, and screwed through the breadboard end (in the square holes) to hold these together. I made the screw holes slightly oversized, hopefully enough to allow the wood to move.
I also notched the corners for the lower shelf and cut a rabbet on the back. Unfortunately, the lower shelf cupped pretty badly since I made it last weekend. With the middle sitting flat the ends are at least 3/16″ up off the bench. I’m hoping it will straighten itself out by laying it on the garage floor overnight. If not, I’ll have to make another part.
I like how the table looks at this stage, once I get the ebony plugs in and build up some color it should be a nice piece.
I have a boatload of ebony pegs to make, maybe one night this week I can get out in the shop can do that. Then the stained glass for the Thorsen cabinet, and finish.
Just finished this rare set of Anton Berg socket chisels. The original handles were removed and the steel de-rusted in my electrolysis tank. Then they were put through a process I call “brightening”. This is a light polish where no measureable amount of metal is removed. Then I made new handles, replicating the originals, from hickory. These chisel are ready for another generation of service.
As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.
Over the weekend we went to a family friends 50th birthday party.
It was also my birthday but I don't like lots of fuss and attention and just as I thought I'd got away with it, I was presented with this beautifully made (and tasting!) cake. The four candles represented the difference in our ages, unfortunately I'm older than her.
The miniature chisels and planes were very well done and a lovely touch, thanks very much Theresa.
I keep plugging away. Yesterday I got to use some planes!
What a blast - the spoons and bowls are great fun, challenging, etc…but no planes. I need to make a molding to run around my most recent frame & panel – it’s one like this, all I have left is to make the molding & cut & glue it in.
I keep a stash of riven Atlantic White Cedar, just for this purpose. First, I planed the stock to the proper thickness, in this case 1/2″
Then I dig out one of those special wheelie gauges to mark out the rabbets, a la Matt Bickford. You already know I’m a fan; his book & video show you how to tackle this work easily. http://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/mouldings-in-practice & http://www.lie-nielsen.com/dvds/moldings-in-practice/
The gauge I got from the Alexander collection – thanks once again JA.
and bevels, then hollows and rounds.
Then it was time to pack it away & off to the Cape Cod League Baseball – we went to Wareham to see the Gatemen take on the Falmouth Commodores. We were there early, so Daniel watched batting practice – I carved spoons. Then we watched the game. Gatemen blew the lead in the ninth – took it on the chin.
One of many great things about working at home is that I get to see stuff I only used to hear about. Here’s a marble game from yesterday:
That then turned into a painting by Daniel, who was learning about shadows and light sources this week.
This one’s just thrown in there – it’s part of an ongoing series of raking light shots.
In this weeks show we talk with Josh Mcvety, Josh is an artist working in multiple materials to find the balance between form and function. In this episode Josh we talk about crafts education, attending blacksmithing school, getting your work into galleries, and the art community.