Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
Do you have a suggestion for a hand-tool woodworking blog you would like to see here? Tell me via the CONTACT page. Thanks!
Eine spezielle Säge, seit über einem Jahr die erste, bei der Klaus den Griff angefertigt hat. Und unsere erste mit einem Neusilber Rücken. Wir probiere gerade, ob das künftig eine Option sein kann.
An oak "mud foot" adjustable leg leveler.
To make the mud feet, I resawed and planed a length of 3" wide oak. I hollowed out the insides with a series of forstner bits (using a hand-held power drill), then epoxied in the feet of threaded leg levelers.
Once the expoxy had cured, I sawed them off into squares, sawed the corners off and rasped them to round, then applied finish. I attached the threaded sockets to the bottom of each leg.
I attached the locking hinges to the legs and then to the oak baseplates. I screwed in the mud-feet and closed down the hinges. This revealed my next mistake. Can I say how much I hate dealing with hinges?
This was another case of small problems adding up. First, slight alignment issues in the hinge installation meant that the legs bumped into each other instead of laying down flat alongside each other. Second, the sizing of the mud feet and width of the leg assemblies meant they wouldn't fit properly even without the alignment issue.
This was a more significant mistake than the others. Finally, I drew inspiration from my friend Freddy Roman, maker and restorer. He does a lot of repairs of failed joints, particularly on chairs. He doesn't waste a second of hesitation before cutting them off and remaking them.
Similarly, my wife is an orthopedic surgical nurse who does a lot of joint repairs. They go right in, cut off the old failed joint, bone or metal, and make a new one. Orthopedic surgeons probably make great woodworkers!
OK, so just do it. I could cut one side off each leg assembly, excavate the mortises, recut the tenons, touch up the finish, and the narrower assemblies would fit properly, with some margin for hinge alignment.
Ouch! Cutting off a leg stretcher.
The cutoff ready for remaking the joints. The rest of it went fine.
The next step was flocking the interior. I had never used this material before. The brand is DonJer. The instructions said it was easy, regularly used by junior high school students on their projects, and recommended consulting one in case of difficulty. Since I was fresh out of junior high school kids with mine off at college, I was left to flail on my own.
The setup consists of a bag of shredded flocking fibers, a can of glue in matching color, and a cardboard tube pump applicator. The glue is like a heavy paint. The fibers are very light and a bit dusty.
I taped off the finished edges of the case and painted the interior of the right side with the glue. I poured some fibers into the tube and pumped them uniformly across the wet glue. The process was just as easy as advertised.
The only problem was that I was a little light on glue application. The instructions said to spread it thickly with a brush or roller. I used a brush, but didn't use quite enough. This left slightly visible thin streaks in the flocking against the light colored wood.
I went ahead and did the left side. This time I applied glue generously in the naval fashion: if it moves, salute it, if doesn't, paint it. Thickly. The results were much better, a good uniform coating and flocking.
The instructions said to let it dry for 10-15 hours before reclaiming loose fibers, and allow 72 hours to a week for final curing. While I gave it time, I contemplated what to do about the streaks. I thought about trying to do a second coat, but wasn't sure how that would turn out.
In the end I decided to strip it down and redo it. I used a card scraper to remove it. I'm happy to say this was much more difficult than I expected. That glue and flocking are tough stuff. It certainly eased my mind about the surface getting torn up in use.
I still had enough glue and fibers left to do a thorough coating, and the end result was as good as the other side. After the glue has cured, it feels like velvet stretched tight on the wood.
Flocking applied to both side.
The setup: glue, pump applicator, and fibers.
Next step was installing the acrylic panels in the doors. You cut this stuff sort of like glass, scoring it repeatedly with a knife along a straightedge and then snapping it off.
I wasn't thrilled by the knife sold for this purpose, so I ended up using the chip carving knife that I use as a marking knife. I also ran a veneer saw along the straightedge to cut faster.
Probably tool abuse, but a block plane along the snapped-off edge does a great job cleaning it up and paring it down for precise fit. This still has the plastic wrap facing on it to protect against scratches.
Boring screw holes for the backing strips with a birdcase awl. I've already installed the piano hinge to the doors.
With the acrylic in place after pulling off the facing, screwing down the backing strips.
The final step was installing all the hardware. The piano hinge gave me almost as much heartburn as the leg hinges, but I eventually got it.
Rear view showing the handle, door latches, and screw eyes for securing to chains.
Side view showing a brass lid support.
Side view closed up.
Underside view with legs unfolded...
...and folded. The hinges latch in both positions. It does take a bit of coordination to unlock both hinges and move a leg assembly using only two hands.
Front view in folded-up tabletop mode.
This does mean several inches of interior capacity are lost to the legs storage underneath.
While the locking hinges worked well, they had enough mechanical play in them to make the stand rattly. After all this effort I wasn't going to allow that. I made thin oak strips to act as leg braces. One strip on the near side of each assembly, secured with carriage bolts and wing nuts, was sufficient to make it rock solid.
The latch release on a hinge. The hinges are through-bolted to the legs and bottom as well as screwed, to prevent tearing them off if something crashes into the side.
An oak leg brace.
Securing the brace to a leg unit.
The brace secured to leg and case.
This was good starter project. It was big enough to help expose and sort out several issues, yet small enough that the downside was acceptable. Now I know better for future clients!
|The apartment finally is starting to fill up.|
The Frau and I bought this holiday apartment three or four years ago, and I decided I was going to fill it with furniture I built myself. I finally feel like I turned the corner and now am on the downhill side of that goal. We still have a few empty spaces here, and there are still a few "temporary" pieces needing replacement, but now I no longer feel totally underwater with projects.
|My contemporary Himmelbett.|
Using these pieces adds a dimension to my woodworking consisting of a layer of practicality of what works, not just the theory of what should work.
I still have a few pieces to go, including a couple of side chairs and a bench for the dining table, a coffee table, a telephone stand, and a bedside table. Better yet, I have a realistic plan for completing these pieces.
When I finish these projects, will I be "done" with the furnishing of this apartment?
I doubt it.
By then, I expect my taste and standards will have changed, and it will be time to start over, replacing these pieces one by one. I'm not sure that one can achieve perfection in woodworking, but the fun is all in the pursuit.
The next step was assembling the frames with drawbores.
Driving riven pegs through a dowel plate to size them.
Boring through the mortise for the peg.
Spinning the bit backward to mark the hole position in the tenon.
Marking the offset hole position just 1/32" or so closer to the shoulder.
Boring the tenon.
You can just make out the offset crescent of the tenon hole inside the mortise hole. The slight gap of the tenon shoulder will draw up tight once the peg has been driven in.
Driving in a peg.
Glued up and checked for square. Drawboring doesn't allow for much adjustment, so you need to do a good job squaring up the shoulders ahead of time.
Trimming the pegs before final flushing with a chisel.
Cutting the horn off a stile.
Planing the horn endgrain down flush with the adjacent rail edge.
Planing the joint face down flush.
The frames resting on the case.
This was where I realized my first construction mistake. I had sized the rails and stiles exactly before joining them, so that the widths and lengths all added up to the total case width, carefully squaring them up.
However, small errors in squareness conspired against me. The case was about 1/16" out of square to the left. The frames were about 1/16" out of square to the right. So they were two opposing parallelograms. Put together, the result was 1/8" out of square. After all that care, that would be too much of an error. Any adjustment in positioning just made it worse.
The problem was that I had sized everything to theoretical shapes, not to the actual shapes present. Had I left the rails a little wide, I could have trimmed them down exactly to match the case. But since I had already taken them down, there was no material left to do this. Lesson learned: leave the outer edge of the frame oversize, then plane down to the exact case shape.
To fix this, I glued narrow strips to the outside rail edges. Yes, I put wood back! Once it was dry, I flushed the strips down to the rail faces, then planed them down to exactly match the case as I should have done originally.
The next step was making the leg assemblies. These were essentially frames like the doors, with drawbored mortise and tenon joints.
The first leg unit after driving the drawbore pegs.
Closeup of a corner drawn up tight.
Completed legs after trimming and flushing the pegs.
Now I realized my next mistake. I wanted to have a small oak baseplate on each side underneath to attach the leg hinges. The plywood bottom was not sufficient to hold the screws. I had intended to house them in a partial groove in the sides along with the plywood. However, I had forgotten to do that when I glued up the case.
My solution was to add a stopped groove to the inside front and back after the fact. Instead of a full groove in the side, since I was using oak, I formed wide tenons to accept long grain tenons.
The next question is, how do you fit a piece wider than the inside dimension of the bottom into the stopped grooves? Answer: sliding wedges. You know, the magical stretching board!
I cut each baseplate on a long diagonal and carefully planed the cut edges so they would form a good edge joint. The diagonal meant that this was mostly a long-grain joint, so should glue up good and strong. That way I could fit one wedge in place, then slide the other one into place with glue applied.
Chiseling out the stopped groove in the back piece on the underside of the case. Yeah, this is as awkward as it looks.
An oak baseplate cut diagonally. You can see the long-grain tenons and matching mortise slots on the left. The upper end slides into the stopped groove. The opposing wedge slides into the matching stopped groove at the lower end.
With the upper wedge in place, the lower wedge loosely in place to show how it will slide in. With glue and clamps, that diagonal seam closes up invisibly.
From there, a variety of small detail steps.
Planing the top back edge to match the slope with a block plane.
Planing down the thin backer strips for holding the acrylic in the door frames.
Pre-drilling the screw holes in the strips.
With stain and two coats of satin polyurethane spar varnish applied, everything carefully stacked in place before installing any hardware. The clamps act as feet to hold the legs straight up.
(Continue to part 4)
Before assembling the case, the next steps were grooving it all around for the plywood bottom sheet, and fitting the center divider with sliding dovetails. You can see the detailed procedure for making a sliding dovetail on this page.
This was an important joint, because I wanted the divider to hold the back stiff when the case was carried hanging by the handle in back. A simple dado would not provide any mechanical support, the back would pull away from the divider.
Sharpening the 1/4" iron for my plow plane, using a DMT coarse diamond plate, 1,000 and 10,000 grit Ohishi ceramic waterstones, and a strop.
Plowing out the groove.
The front and back grooves are stopped, so the skate on the plow plane prevents reaching all the way to the end. Using the plow iron as a chisel to plow out the last couple inches.
Crosscutting the walls of the sliding dovetail, stopped at the groove.
Chiseling out the bulk of the waste.
Precisely leveling the floor with a small router plane.
The completed dovetail socket.
Using an angled guide piece to precisely pare the dovetail tongue.
The completed tongue.
Sliding the divider into the back.
Cutting the plywood bottom to size. Handsaws work just fine on plywood. The thin cross grain veneer layers are just a bit more finicky to deal with than solid wood.
Shooting the plywood edge straight and square. Handplanes also work just fine on plywood.
The glued up case.
The next step was making the door frames, using drawbored mortise and tenon joints. For details on how to make the basic mortise and tenon, see this page.
Drawboring is amazing. The resulting joint feels as solid and strong as if the wood had grown that way, like the branch attached to the tree.
Rather than a groove, the frames had a double rabbet to hold the clear acrylic. This was then held in place with thin oak backer strips screwed in. Should an acrylic piece need replacement, the backer strips can be unscrewed to remove it.
Ripping the frame rails and stiles.
The first frame dry fit, with horns still on, and all the tools required.
The stepped rabbet on the back of the frame.
Closeup of one of the joints.
Closeup of mortising the second frame.
Chopping a mortise.
Sawing the corners of a tenon cheek.
Sawing off the remaining tenon cheek waste.
First step forming the rabbet, the big fast tool is the moving fillister plane.
The second rabbet is stopped. Using a bull-nose shoulder plane to get up close to the end.
Using a better shoulder plane for the bulk of the rabbet.
Where I have room, using a wooden skew rabbet for fast stock removal.
With the bull-nose removed, using the shoulder plane as a chisel plane to get right up into the corner.
(Part 3 coming soon)
Cerusing, or glazing, is the technique whereby you apply a hyper-thin layer of pigmented medium on the surface of the wood in order to manipulate its coloration. “Glazing” is the more generic term for using the technique to change coloration is any direction, but “cerusing” is a term specific to the lightening or whitening of wood. Ceruse had been first used actually as a cosmetic known as Venetian Ceruse, a face “glaze” made from led white and oils to make the wearer look, well, pasty faced (think about the court of Queen Elizabeth I). Lead white was an especially prized pigment by the ancients in great part due to its translucency. Imagine how pasty-faced you could look after a lifetime of slathering lead white on your face!
Not surprisingly we do not use lead pigments widely despite their evident beneficial properties (oil paints made with lead pigments are nearly indestructible as the lead imparts tremendous durability) beyond very specialized application by fine artists making easel paintings. Instead we use a combination of titanium dioxide and calcium carbonate or similar benign pigments for our whites.
Like the earlier liming process, for cerusing the wood was planed and scraped but unlike liming it not scrubbed with a brass brush.
The key to this process is to prepare and apply a thin layer of essentially translucent paint evenly over the surface. In many instances of glazing the surface is first sealed to provide a barrier to the glaze soaking into the wood, but in this case the controlled “soaking in” is a critical component. If the surface is smoothly scraped this works fine. If the surface is sanded, the results can be more of a challenge as the comparatively rougher, more “open” sanded surface behaves differently vis-a-vie the glaze than the scraped surface.
For these sample boards I prepared a white glaze from one part oil-paint primer, one part tung oil, and one part mineral spirits, with about 2% japan drier.
I slathered a thin layer of the glaze over the surface distributing it as evenly as possible with the cheap disposable brush, then worked it back and forth with a fine bristle brush, going one direction, then perpendicular to it, then diagonal and perpendicular to that, then finishing up with the grain with a very light touch. Excess glaze is not helpful, just put on enough to cover the whole surface to the visual intensity and depth that you want, keeping in mind that your working the surface with a brush will pull some of the glaze off. As you smooth out the glaze and pull it off with the brush, make sure to clean the brush frequently by rubbing it against a rag, which you will throw away when finished (make sure to do it properly, as the oily rag is flammable).
With a light touch and a good brush you can leave a perfect translucent layer on top of the raw wood, with just enough soaking in to bring it to life.
Once the glaze is fully dry, I follow it with a wiping of paste wax, and call it done.
As you can see from the comparative samples of flat-sawn cypress and quarter sawn oak, a cerused pickling is well suited for bold grain.
The techniques of glazing will be mentioned regularly in this blog and upcoming presentations and writings, as it was both historically accurate, especially asphaltum and brick-dust glazes, and is an important tool in the kit to making new surfaces appear to be aged.
It’s always good to work with people who are smarter than you. It’s even better if you can marry them.
While John and I do most of the day-to-day grunt work at Lost Art Press, I’d be lost if I didn’t have my wife, Lucy May, to guide me and keep my head on straight. She’s a busy full-time journalist in her own right at WCPO-TV, but she still makes time every day to listen to a recitation of our operations and help us plan pricing, strategy and the editorial direction of this company.
Plus, while other people thought (and said) I was nuts when I stepped down as editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine in 2011, she had faith that we’d still eat and I wouldn’t end up writing marginalia for Waste Age magazine.
For a couple years I’ve been trying to think of a way to thank her that also serves as a reminder of the important role she plays in Lost Art Press. Eventually, it came to me: Ask Marco Terenzi to create a pair of working dividers – our logo – that she could wear around her neck.
Marco is the super-talented woodworker and metalworker who specializes in miniature tools, benches, tool chests and the like. You might remember this amazing miniature copy he made of the Anarchist’s Tool Chest last year. He also makes miniature working tools for sale; follow his Instagram feed if you want to be blown away.
On Thursday the dividers arrived. They are stunning and Lucy loves them (she wore them on TV yesterday). They look exactly like the dividers from Joseph Moxon’s “Mechanick Exercises” – no matter how closely you examine them. And they work. If I have to lay out some miniature dovetails, I’m going to hit up my wife’s jewelry box.
Marco is considering making a run of these that will be cast. So if you’d like a pair, be sure to follow his work.
Apologies for the personal note. Now back to woodworking.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
|this side is done|
|I'm pretty happy with this|
|gluing the sound board on|
|It would be a tragedy if I couldn't get them out|
|cooked and 3 coats of shellac on the interior (thurdsay night)|
|friday night look|
I'm leaning in the direction of making a new phone cradle. Bob from the Valley Woodworker found some plans for an i Phone speaker stand that I like. I am thinking of adapting what is in them into a new cradle for my wife's Samsung Galaxy phone. One thing I haven't been able to find is any other plans for a phone other than an i Phone.
My wife likes this idea of a passive phone speaker but she wants a 'stereo' one. ie she wants two speaker holes. I think that it is something that I can do but I can't make it true stereo. But I do want to do it with the sound channels that I have seen in the i Phone designs. She can use this one until I get the kinks with that ironed out.
|finishing up the other side|
|my major distraction|
This was the absolute best customer service representative and help I have ever gotten. She had a terrific attitude and was a real peach to work with. It is small things like this, dealing with a problem after you have been paid, that mean something to me. I will definitely bid again (only on one lot) knowing about the after sale care. Margret already called me back and left a message telling me they found the planes and they will be shipped out on Monday.
What is a bicorn?
answer - the crescent shaped hat worn by Napoleon
A few weeks ago, when I was in LA, I snuck out of work one day and drove down to take a tour of the Sam Maloof house.
I was very excited to be in California and to have the opportunity to go down and tour the house. I read up on the tour and it occurred to me that they mentioned nothing about the workshop. Hmmm. So I decided to email them and see what the deal was. I explained that I was a woodworker from NY and was very interested in taking a peak at the shop. I quickly received an email back from Kiristine who runs the tours at the Maloof house. She pointed out that there was one day a month where woodworkers could come for a day and get a tour of the shop. I explained that while I was still going to be in LA for the next opportunity, I was going to be working that day. To my amazement she emailed me back and said one of “the boys”, Larry, would be around that day and could show me the shop. How awesome is that?
I arrived and for the first tour at noon. I met Kristine and she told me to come find her after the tour ended. The grounds are pretty are amazing by themselves, but the tour of the house is really something else. You really get to walk around a true artist’s space. Nothing over the top or pretentious, just the setting of a very talented artist, with a keen attention to detail. It’s a pretty magical place.
After the tour Kristine took me back to meet Larry.
For those of you who don’t know Larry and John, affectionally known as “the boys” were the workhorses of the Maloof shop. They received the rough pieces from Sam and put all the finishing touches on them from shaping to sanding to finishing. Every piece went from Sam to the ‘boys’. While Sam was the visionary, the ‘boys’ were the craftsman. Together they created the most amazing American furniture at an outstanding rate.
Larry White met us at the door with welcome arms. He first showed me his space where he has begun to set up shop, he told me he recently retired from the shop, but that he was planning to use this space for his own work. He then took me into the shop. The shop where Sam and the boys had create decades worth of furniture. The shop isn’t huge or glamorous, or particularly tidy. It’s a working shop. But it’s not the shop that’s special, its the wood and the history. As we walked around Larry was kind enough to reminisce, telling me wonderful stories, as pieces in the shop would jar a memory. He’d stop and investigate a template on a table, still curious about what was being built. Great fun figuring out together what the other boys were creating. And the templates!!! Every piece has a template that hangs around the walls of the shop, all dated and labeled (in Sam’s writing) for the piece of furniture, as well as the particular part. What a unique thing, to have the original templates. Even after Sam’s passing, his legacy continues and grows as orders are still being filled. Few crafts offer that ability.
It’s hard for me to articulate the joy I got from my time Larry spent with me. Just being in Sam Maloof’s shop was an incredible experience, but to have someone like Larry take so much time to just share his time and stories with an aspiring woodworker such as myself is, well, humbling.
I had driven down from Hollywood where I spend my days working with the ‘hottest celebrities’ and most notable people in show business, and all I wanted to do was stay with Larry and learn more about the superstar Sam Maloof.
Woodworkers are the kindest folks.
Thank You Larry!
I just noticed that the daily views of this blog are way up. Over 30 so far today. Usually this means that Chris Schwarz has defamed me again. I checked his blogs and no mention of me there. Then I looked at the list of referrers and saw it was my friend Megan Fitzpatrick over at Popular Woodworking in her editor’s blog.
You might have heard that there is a schlub out there that has over 1,000 pictures of dovetails online. Well, that’s me and they are all in this blog and in my Flickr albums.
It all started with me taking pictures at every auction, show, museum and antiques shop I visited. And I visited a lot. I shared these with a select group until blackmailed into starting this blog. It’s all explained in my inaugural post, Chris Made Me Do It.
So I blogged. To date, this is my most popular picture:
The first set of 473 dovetails pictures are HERE.
The next 409 pictures are in the blog: Holiday Dovetail Extravaganza
And, a set of nothing but Thin Pins.
Moving away from dovetails, I covered pie safes in :
Boarded furniture in: Nailed It!
For painted chest fans, we have the seasonally appropriate:
If you are a fan of brass and other shiny things, check out:
And then there are museums, Russian museums, Galapagos animals, antique keyboard instruments, tools, feeble attempts at humor and an origin myth in:
And lots of antiques from auctions, shops and shows. Look around, there’s lots to see.
|The Fast Disappearing Sparrow|
|Cut list for nest|
28 March 2015
Front view of the completed display case, with legs folded down.
Rear view with the doors open.
What A Winter!
Wow, I hadn't meant to take a 3 and half month hiatus, but that's how it worked out. Between this project, holidays, and family activities, I was pretty busy.
By the time I got home every night, I felt like I had been clubbed over the head. Fortunately that wasn't the result of being hit by one of the body-sized chunks of ice falling off buildings in Boston and Cambridge.
First CustomMade Project
Ultimately, the price has to be acceptable to the client. I chose to charge all materials and hardware at cost, with budgeted time to buy them. I estimated the time for all the subassemblies, then for finishing and final assembly. I got supply, hardware, and shipping estimates online.
I charged all time at $20 per hour. That's a pretty modest rate for skilled work, but I'm still just a hobbyist, and I wanted to keep this affordable to make sure the client would want to do it. I was more interested in doing a project this way than trying to make a lot of money. I'll save that for subsequent customers now that I'm experienced in the ways of the world!
I selected the 50/50 payment option, where the client pays 50% prior to project start, and 50% prior to final shipment.
I sent the client a detailed quote, and he approved and made the initial payment. Then I went out and bought all the materials and hardware.
That's where my first mistakes showed up. I was pretty close on hardware except for a few small items I, but the materials were almost double my estimate. There were three reasons.
First, the clear acrylic sheeting I had priced online turned out to be much too thin when I looked at the real thing. It would sag in the frames. The appropriate thickness cost more than double.
Second, I hadn't realized that the flocking required special color-matched glue, along with an applicator tube.
Third, I had completely forgotten about finishing supplies on the quote.
The other thing I had forgotten about was the 10% CustomMade commission and 2.7% WePay fee.
In the grand scheme of things, the total overages were not huge, so I was prepared to eat them, but I informed the client and he approved the additional costs. I hated doing that, because it smacks of the classic bait-and-switch scam: get the project started, then say, "Oh, yeah, I need more money to finish it." But the reality is honest mistakes happen, and he was very understanding. It was easy to make the revision on CustomMade.
As I started working, the next planning mistake became very apparent. Can you guess what it is? Yeah, everything took longer than I had expected, three or four times longer. I had come up with my times based on overly-optimistic estimates about how long various operations took. "Sure, I can do that part in an hour..." Reality was very informative.
I kept a detailed time sheet, so now I have actual data that will allow me to make realistic estimates in the future. I can also track improvement as I get more efficient.
The next mistake was operations which I had overlooked, like molding the stepped double-rabbet for the acrylic in the door frames, and cutting and trimming the acrylic itself. I also didn't plan for the time or materials to package up the case for shipment and drop it off at a Staples/UPS shipping location.
Next were construction mistakes that required rework. Nothing major, but it all adds up.
The final mistake came when I dropped off the packaged case for shipping. I had priced shipping based on the size of the case, without accounting for inches added by protruding hardware and the packaging materials. Plus the packaged weight came in double the original estimate.
The extra size was the real factor. When I got back home I experimented with the UPS price estimation web page and found it had crossed a threshold that significantly increased the cost. It also fell into a higher weight class. As a result shipping cost was nearly three times what I had estimated.
In the end, the project took nearly 80 hours spread over 3 months, and I earned a net $200, or about $2.50 an hour. Clearly not a living wage, but a useful lesson. At least I didn't end up paying for the privilege of making something for someone else!
Even without rework, the project would have been prohibitively expensive had I charged the client $20 an hour for the actual time I took. So I need to increase my efficiency. I probably can't double it, but I can certainly improve it.
Meanwhile, I now have a checklist and actual time measurements for ensuring more accurate estimation. Then it's up to the customers to decide if the prices are acceptable. While we're all conditioned by prices driven down by mass production at scale, the clientele on CustomMade knows that custom work is more expensive.
The first phase of construction was building the box of the case. I glued up panels to get the required width, then dovetailed the corners.
Breaking down the raw lumber.
Jointing the edges for a good glue joint.
Checking the joint to make sure it will glue up as a flat panel.
Brushing on a smooth layer of glue.
Cleaning up the squeeze out with a moist sponge.
The glued up back and side panels.
Planing down the panel flat across.
Crosscutting the panel for the side pieces.
Precisely squaring up the end in preparation for dovetailing.
Checking for a square corner...
...and straight across.
Ripping a side piece to the slope.
Stepping out the dovetails on the back edge of the side.
With the side pieces ganged together, sawing the tails.
Sawing off the corner.
Chiseling out the bulk of the waste.
Final paring to the line on the end...
...and between the tails.
One way to hold the tail board against the pin board for marking. This worked, but I would only do it again if the pin board was too long to stand on end.
Sawing the pins.
Since I used a chisel for rough waste removal on the tails, using a coping saw for a change on the pins.
Chamfering the inner edges of the tails to help line up assembly.
Dry fit. Very satisfactory, with pin and tail end grain standing just proud of the surface so that it will plane down flush.
A better setup for transferring tails to pins.
Dry fit of all sides.
Good snug dovetails all around.
(Part 2 coming soon...)
A common bit of advice on building tool chests goes like this: “You should build the chest to fit your tools.”
I’d like to amend that melba-toast statement to this: “You should build the chest to fit our tools.”
Woodworking tools come in standard sizes, and the standard tool kit hasn’t changed much since Joseph Moxon laid it out in “Mechanick Exercises” in 1678. So if you are in the craft to build furniture, your tool kit probably looks a lot like mine. If you are in it for type studies and patented tools, ignore the rest of this blog entry.
When I started studying tool chests (several years before writing “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest”), I noticed that they were built in some fairly standard sizes. Most of the outliers were actually for other trades or specialists. In truth, there are more than three basic sizes of chests, but I’d like to discuss three sizes I have found most compelling.
The Floor Chest
This is the massive tool chest I built for “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” and have subsequently built more than 20 times for classes and customers. It is the Denali of tool chests. It’s bigger than it has to be, but it’s still not big enough.
It is roughly 24” x 24” x 40”. And if you can’t fit a tool in this chest, then you don’t need it. This chest will swallow full-size handsaws, over-sized jointer planes, 18th-century tenon saws, straightedges, a full set of hollows and rounds and all the other tools you need to build furniture.
The standard model usually has three sliding trays, though I have seen them with as many as eight.
During the five years since I built this chest I have modified small sections of it, but it is still basically the same design as when I drew it out in 2010.
What’s the downside to this chest? It is a floor hog, taking up as much square footage as a table saw. If you have a small shop, this chest might be too much for you. But after working out of a chest this size since 1997, I decline to downsize.
The Traveling Tool Chest
If you need to move your chest frequently, the full-size chest is a heavy burden. Moving that monster by yourself is difficult but doable – if you first remove the trays and heavy tools. If you need to be mobile for work or to attend classes, a scaled-down chest might be the answer.
I just finished building one of these chests for the August issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. I built the carcase and Jameel Abraham built the marquetry panel for the lid. This chest’s design is based on the length of a panel saw, one of the longer tools in a furniture-maker’s tool kit.
While full-size handsaws are more than 30” long from toe to tote, a panel saw takes up less space – 26” give or take. That’s not much longer than a standard jointer plane. This chest can be 20” x 20” x 30”. That might not seem much smaller than the full-size chest above, but I can tell you that the slightly smaller dimensions allow you to move the chest easily by yourself.
The downside? You can still pack a standard toolkit in the chest if you omit the moulding planes. (OK, that’s not entirely true; you can build a removable tray that holds moulders thereby squeezing every cubic inch of storage out of the chest. It’s just not convenient to work out of.)
These chests typically had two sliding trays for the small tools. And the tool well below held all the bench planes, saws and joinery planes.
The other advantage to this chest is it will fit in the back seat of most passenger cars. The full-size chest will not (unless you first remove the door).
The other curious chest I’ve been toying with is a mix of the full-size chest and the traveling chest. While I’m sure this chest was made all over the Western world, I’ve encountered most examples of it in North America.
It is generally a nailed-together carcase that is designed to hold full-size handsaws, a full set of bench planes, joinery planes and lots and lots of smaller tools. Like the traveling chest, moulding planes are rarely provided dedicated storage space in this variant. But they still can hold a handful of moulders if need be.
So the defining characteristics of these chests are they are long, shallow and tall. The one I’m building now for a series of classes in 2015 is 15” x 17” x 34”. This chest will easily fit into the back seat of a car. It will accommodate the (less expensive) full-size handsaws and is super simple to build. It’s all rabbets and nails.
All three forms have their charms. But their dimensions depend more on how you live than on what sort of stuff you build.
If you want to design your own chest from scratch and ignore the historical patterns, here’s how to do it:
- Measure your longest saw. That (plus 2”) is the interior length of your carcase.
- Group your bench and joinery planes together into a tight formation that is the same length as your longest saw. Measure the depth of that pile. That is the interior depth of your chest.
- If you have moulding planes, add 5” to that depth.
- Take the interior depth of your chest and make that the interior height. Most tool chests are square in profile view.
My guess is you will end up with one of the three sizes above.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest, The Art of Joinery, Woodworking Classes
On my last post, I tried to weather some southern yellow pine to make it look old. Well, this screen was the reason for my attempt. I made a couple of these screens for my wife as a backdrop for when she does shows. Building them was super simple. I took a 2 x 8 and ripped it to 3″ wide and ran a 3/4″ wide, 1/2″ deep rabbet down one side.
I then pinned and glued fence boards and wood from an old pallet to the rabbets with some 18 gauge pneumatic nails to create the slats. The assembly is so simple that the majority of my time was milling the wood to the proper thickness.
When making the second screen I decided to change the process just a little.
Instead of planing the 2 x material from 1 1/2″ down to 1″, I decided to re-saw the material to 1 1/8″ on my band saw instead. This saved a lot of time and a whole bunch of planer shavings. You can see the off-cuts that I had from building the second screen on top of my table saw. I’m sure my planer knives thank me for not having to plane off all this crap.
The day of the show, the screens did their trick. You can see one of them in the background, however, I think they would have looked better being toned down with a weathered stain. Maybe next time.
I even looked at a bunch of patent applications at OWM site. Every one I saw had a different type of spiral grooved tube for the North Bros drills. They weren't even a close approximation of the drill I have. Something wasn't looking right here to me. So I went back to the Hyperkitten site to see what drill I had bought. Turns out I had a major brain fart and I didn't rehab a North Bros Push Drill.
I rehabbed a Millers Falls 185A Push Drill. The actual rehab was done ok but the name of it was not correct. What finally clued me in was the top part with the bit storage. Mine has holes around the top of it that match the sizes of the 8 drill bits it stows. This isn't a feature that I saw on any of the hundreds of North Bros drill pics I looked at today.
Sorry about the mind fart on this but the actual rehab that I did would work with a North Bros push drill. The sequence and the function of the parts are very similar between the two drills.
I filed scrapers today, preparing for new work this coming week. I generally sharpen four at once because they get hot and I never liked anything but my fingers, thumbs and the heels of my hands on the steel. They get hot on large surfaces like tabletops so with 16 cutting edges to work with I can rotate them corner for corner and one for the next and my hands keep cool. Cabinet scrapers are different tools that work well but less sensitive and better suite to heavier work and for keeping closer tolerances of surface flatness. Mostly I like using the cabinet scraper for heavier cuts too, even though it works well for closer, refined work when newly sharpened. I like sensing the cutting edge in response to the grain changing beneath the turned edge. I shift to refine my movements second by second, and trace the side of my hand on the surface to guide me according to textures I feel. Here I lift and lower the angle in search of cuts that shift according to the grain. The cuts slice and resist by degrees and I flex with the sensing of change. How diverse this thing called grain but without the scraper I would always be lost because when bevel ups and bevel downs lose it the scraper surely cools it.
In case you are still searching for good flat files of quality I wanted to tell you about quality files I have used on and off for years now. Nope, don’t wind me up, their not Nicholson any more. They are pretty bad as files go—about the worst, and well past their sell-by date these days. I use Bahco files mostly because after Nicholson sold out on the US and stopped making files of lasting quality I went back to European Oberg files. Nicholson used to be almost as good until recent years. For scrapers I use files with 40-44 teeth per inch or there abouts, 10” and 12” long by Bahco Oberg. I think that they are wonderful. I sharpened hard scrapers and softer ones in the four I did today and the Bahco files I used never faltered one bit. I filed square across and then draw-filed and those spirals just peeled off like ribbons in long spirals, leaving almost no burr.Three strokes per edge and I peeled down to 16 pristine square corners in under a few minutes. I like Bahco files because they are made by a Portugese Company and certainly have proven one of the best file manufacturers in Europe. The files are hard and flat. Two good qualities needed for filing scrapers.
Yes, more marquetry.
I’m not going to get any shop time this weekend, but I wanted to set up for my next marquetry project. “Set up” in this context means laminating newsprint onto the show face of the veneer with hot hide glue. And sticky fingers. My wife walked in the shop when I had a sheet of newsprint stuck to my hands and I was waving my arms to get it off. That’s probably an image that won’t go away.
The design I’m going to do (note the positive attitude!) came from the UK marquetry society member’s library, it’s one of my favorites. At least as a line drawing, I expect seeing it in color will be pretty good too. I like that there is a lot of motion and detail, but that none of the parts are microscopic.
If you’ve followed my marquetry adventures the past few months you’ll recognize the main rose as one I did for a sand shading practice exercise. The marquetry packet is 9″ x 12″, for scale. Adding a border later will make this about 3″ wider and longer when completed.
Once I had all of the veneer sheets laminated with newsprint I shoved the whole gooey mess into the press to “cook”. I’ll leave it like this overnight, then assemble the packet for cutting next week.
Meanwhile, I need to start something else. I wonder what I could do with this?
but I do it with oak all the time. I have three active oak projects going right now. Active means I’m working on them all at once. A couple more are semi-active. Like the desk box, that got back-burner-ed for a video shoot this spring. I’ll save the final assembly for the cameras.
This chest has been around a long time, but it’s going forward now at a regular clip.
Its purpose is to illustrate in the joinery book how to make & fit drawers. Hence, “chest with drawers.” The front is mostly pinned, the sides are test-fitted, I have to finish cutting and fitting the till, and a little more work on the rear frame. Mortises are cut, need to cut the tenons; plow grooves, etc. I’d say this chest is about 8 or 10 hours’ work from final assembly, including the floor. Then comes the drawers. And lid.rear rails & stiles
A related chest with drawers is the model for the joined chest class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. I’ve cut the front frame, and started the carving the other day. It too will have 2 drawers, there are drawer rails not yet fitted in this photo…
I used to like to start the day with large movements, like planing. Then I’d save the carving for late in the day, when I wanted to take it easy. But here in the (walk-out) basement, the light is best early in the morning – so I carved yesterday AM. But it’s a lousy way to begin your day. Too tight a posture. So this carving got left for later. and today I planed and mortised the front rails for the NEXT joinery project!
A cupboard for Plimoth Plantation. This one will have a joined front fitted to a board carcass. No decoration to speak of, other than chamfers, etc. So the opening in the middle is for a door. Below are off-cuts from the panels in this cupboard; 10″ long, they have a limited use. Usually they would just get tossed, but these will get planed to 1/4″ thickness for drawer parts for the desk box. Good use for such wide, flat stuff that is otherwise firewood.
Next week I hope to move all of these over to the shop I’m doing my photography in, and get some good pictures going. Goal is to have the first chest with drawers and the cupboard all assembled this time next week. we’ll see.