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Rooms are virtually never square, level, or plumb. Ceilings tend to sag toward the middle of their rooms; floors usually do the same. Plaster walls are rarely flat; drywall builds up at interior and exterior corners. You get the picture. Designing built-ins is an art that takes contextual imperfections into account and makes dealing with them as easy as possible. A common way of handling these points of intersection […]
The post Scribing, Part Two: Making Cabinets Fit Seamlessly into Irregular Surroundings appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
You can now register for the “Build a Traditionally Styled Fore Plane” class via this link.
Note: Registering for the class or the waiting list is free – they won’t ask you for a credit card to register. After the dust settles, Jim McConnell will invoice the six attendees.
If the six slots are filled, please consider signing up for the waiting list. That way, if someone is unable to make it, Jim will have a list of other interested parties – and we’ll know that if the wait list is robust, it might be good to offer the same class again at a later date.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
Check out the excellent use of a Japanese saw in the background. I can only imagine what the other guy is hammering.
|found my braces|
|nice piece of chrome|
|pretty looking but useless|
|metric ball driver|
|hex driver fits|
|hex adapter from LV fits|
|the phillips driver that came with the screwdriver|
|drawer glued up|
|diagonals re best|
|front internal corner|
|the other front corner|
|shined it a bit more|
|used this wheel|
|this wheel stalls the motor, why?|
|found the problem|
|thought I had only made one mistake|
|the first mistake|
|my second mistake is the pencil line is toast|
|I used the drawer slip to mark the pencil line|
|but the wrong way|
|stopped at home depot|
|2 points for Krud Kutter to 1 point for Zep|
|new drawer stock|
|I'll make this one wider|
|fitting the first drawer slip|
|back end fitted around the back|
|gluing them in with hide glue|
|1/4" brass set up bar|
|used one at the back too|
|slips glued and clamped|
|put it here|
|or underneath the drawer|
|drilled some pilot holes|
|road tested my new hex adapter|
|sweet action - better then using a drill|
|this is out|
|this is the winning spot|
|routed to depth|
|made a notch for the back brace|
Did you know that the Five Kingdoms of Living Things are Animals, Fungi, Monera, Plants, and Protists?
Returning from the regular Bible Study earlier this evening and reviewing the upcoming topics for the blog (I rarely do any work on Sunday, and generally aim for a couple dozen posts in the bullpen in varying states of development) I noticed that the blog had exceeded 800 posts last week without my even noticing. I guess I must have a lot of verbal effluent in me.
I used to host a regular monthly luncheon for think tank mavens and opinion columnists trying to influence the shenanigans in Mordor, and at one of these off-the-record soirees a columnist wailed about “writer’s block” and the impossibility of having to grind out 300-400 “interesting” words twice a week. I was unconvinced of the problem, and for the next year as an exercise I wrote that output just to show him it was not that tough. It really wasn’t.
Admittedly, I was assisted by the fact that was the year the nation’s Commander in Heat was hound-dogging his way through the intern pool and eventually committed perjury to escape accountability, with his political adversaries tripping over themselves like clowns. So, the 100 short essays almost wrote themselves.
I’m hoping that blogging continues the same easy path. If I could get the time to easily be at the laptop, I would probably post every day. When I don’t it just means that I am fully occupied with something, somewhere, or someone else.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my start in woodworking. Forty years ago I made my first “real” pieces of furniture; ladderback chairs from John (Jennie) Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree. The book came out in 1978, I remember when I first opened that package. The chairs I made then, from that book, would really make me cringe now – but that’s not the point. (thankfully, I have no idea where those chairs are, but I have this drawing of one saved in an old sketchbook. That chair was made before I met Alexander and Drew Langsner in 1980.)
For years, I made these chairs, and then Windsors – before I made any oak furniture. Then once I started on the oak joined furniture, those chairs sort of fell by the wayside. I made a couple kid-sized JA-style chairs when my children were small, but that was it.
Otherwise, large oak carved chairs or turned (also large) chairs – all that 17th-century stuff. We saw one of my wainscot chairs displayed in the Hingham Massachusetts Public Library the other day. I made it based on an original made in Hingham in the 17th century.
But I’ve been planning for a while to “re-learn” how to make JA ladderbacks. These chairs are more demanding than my wainscot chairs – the tolerances are much tighter, less forgiving. I made a couple attempts recently that I wasn’t happy enough with to finish – so today I took the day off from joinery and worked on one of these chairs. First thing I did was to review Jennie’s DVD about making the chair. If you are interested in these chairs, I highly recommend that video. http://www.greenwoodworking.com/MACFATVideo
(yes, Jennie & Lost Art Press are working towards a new edition of the book – but get the video in the meantime. It covers every detail of making this chair.)
The part I had to re-learn is how to orient the bent rear posts while boring the mortises. That’s what I went to the video for; the rest I still had. Included with the video are drawings for a couple helpful jigs to aid in those tricky bits. This morning I made several of those jigs – but didn’t photograph any of that. I didn’t get the camera out until I was boring mortises…
In this photo, I’m boring the mortises for the side rungs into the rear post. If you get this angle wrong, you might as well quit now. I forget now who came up with this horizontal boring method – but I learned it from Jennie & Drew Langsner. They worked together many summers teaching classes to make this chair. The photo is a bit cluttered (the bench is cluttered really) so it’s hard to see. But the bent rear post needs to be oriented carefully. But once you have it right, then it’s just a matter of keeping the bit extender level and square to the post. there’s a line level taped to the bit extender. Eyeball 90 degrees.
Alexander’s non-traditional assembly sequence is to make the side sections of the chair first. So after boring the rear & front posts for the side rungs, I shaved the tenons in the now-dried rungs. Mostly spokeshave work.
I bored several test holes with the same bit, to gauge the tenons’ size. Chamfer the end of the tenon, try to force it into the hole. Then shave it to just squeeze in there. No measurements.
Once the tenon starts in that hole, you get a burnished bit right at the end. That’s the guideline now. Shave down to it.
Yes, glue. I don’t often use it, but this is a case where I do. The chair would probably be fine without it, but it doesn’t hurt. Belt & suspenders. Knocking the side rungs into the rear post.
Make sure things line up, and the front post is not upside-down.
Then bang it together. Listen for the sound to change when the joints are all the way in.
Then time to bore the front & rear mortises. This little angle-jig has the unpleasant name of “potty seat” – I wish there was another name for it. But there’s a level down on the inside cutout – so I tilt the chair section back & forth until that reads level. Then bore it.
It’s hard to see from this angle, but that chair section is tilted away from me, creating the proper angle between the side and rear rungs.
Then re-set for the front mortises.
I was running out of daylight – and any other task, I’d just leave it til tomorrow. But with glue, and the wet/dry joints, I wanted to get this whole frame together this afternoon. Here I’m knocking the rear rungs in place. That’s a glue-spreader (oak shaving) in the front mortise.
Expect to hear a lot more from me this year about making these chairs; their relationship to historical chairs, and also about the people who taught me to make them. It’s been a heck of a trip these past 40 years.
If you design furniture or work a lot with curved parts, it’s difficult to function without a “drawing bow.” This simple jig – a stick and a string – allows you to lay out precise and large curves with only two hands. Before I could afford a commercial one (Lee Valley Tools makes an excellent one that I recommended in my 2017 Anarchist’s Gift Guide), I made my own. While […]
I don’t know of many woodworkers who set out to have their glued-up panels warp. Warped panels happen to most of us at one time or another. It is reason to question your procedure and if you did something not quite right. Were your pieces dry? Did you allow the wood to reach equilibrium in your shop before milling? Did the humidity in your shop change between the time you glued your panels to when you got back to working them?
|sometimes you get lucky|
|1/2" oak plywood|
The smallest one is delicate. It came with 3 flat blades and I got a hex adapter to increase it's versatility. I haven't any problems with driving screws with the flat blades. Go figure on that. I was sure that I would be doing the hop and bounce dance steps with it for sure. Nope. The only problem I have had with driving slotted screws is getting the blade in the slot.
|my driver collection|
|the 3 flat blades|
With a pilot hole, the two biggest ones work well driving them in but not so well driving them out. That I can understand was there is no pressure exerted on the screw backing them out with these. The small one worked with a pilot hole with #6 and #5 screws. It struggled without success trying a #8 spax screw.
I like using these because in spite of my arthritis, these don't hurt to use. Sometimes I get twinges in my wrist and fingers when I use my battery drills. They are good addition to my shop.
|I keep the two small ones in here|
|it's home for now|
|drawer stock prep|
|the one board with the squirrely grain|
|squared up one end|
|just fits between the slides|
|the two drawers are ready for dovetailing|
|the 4 1/2 spitting out even shavings R/M/L|
|they all look a wee bit better|
|#4 needs a home|
|marking the pins|
|this part still revs my motor - will it fit?|
|yes and no|
|a frog hair from being tight between the slides|
|setting the depth|
|stock for the drawer slips|
|a saturday UPS delivery|
I tried the adapter in my brace and got a big disappointment. None of my 1/4" hex stuff will fit in the brace adapter. I'll have to email Lee Valley about that one.
|3/4 inch washer and cup magnets|
Did you know that 6 wickets and one wooden stake are used in tournament croquet?
When I sell my spoons and spatulas at craft markets, people always ask me, “Where do you get the wood?” I often laugh because, truth be told, practically ever piece of wood has a story behind it. More often than not, I don’t really find the wood; the wood finds me. This is the story of one such wood-finding event, which happened just last month.
We were pulling up to the house when we spotted two old dressers that somebody had dropped off in the neighborhood trash pile across the street. (It’s the spot where we dump yard waste for weekly pickup by the trash truck.) They looked pretty rough from a distance, but we decided they might be worth a closer look.
Upon first inspection, the dressers were indeed trash. The veneer was peeling off of every visible surface, and some of the edges and feet were rotted–evidently from being exposed to standing water. The hardware was gone, too. If I were a furniture restoration guy, I probably would have passed these up as lost causes.
However, old furniture often contains good-quality hardwood that is excellent for spoon making, so I put on my work gloves, grabbed my crowbar and claw hammer, and started pulling them apart.
A number of the drawers were stuck, so I began by removing the plywood backs so I could push the drawers out from the back. What I saw was encouraging.
Although the insides smelled pretty musty, the construction was nearly all solid wood. The only plywood parts were the backs and the drawer bottoms. And all the drawer sides and backs were solid mahogany, much of it with very pretty figure. (More on that below!)
As I took the dressers apart, I began to get a sense of their age. The machine-cut dovetails and mahogany-veneered case indicates mid-twentieth century construction. They were nice dressers in their time–not the fanciest you could buy, but well built and attractive. It’s a shame that they were neglected and allowed to get to this state in the first place.
After about an hour, I had disassembled both dressers entirely, picked out the pieces that might yield useful lumber, and discarded the rest.
I carried home two dresser tops (both laminated oak), four dresser sides (all laminated poplar), a bunch of mahogany-veneered plywood (from the drawer bottoms), and quite a few drawer blades (the horizontal pieces that separate the drawers).
Not to mention a whole pile of pre-finished 1/2″ thick mahogany boards in various lengths and widths. I think I’ll be making some pencil boxes and jewelry boxes soon!
But I’m mainly here for spoon wood, so on to the less-superficially-attractive stuff! The sides and drawer blades had the best spoon wood: soft maple and poplar.
But before I could start cutting spoons and spatulas out of this wood, I had to work carefully to remove all the nails and screws I could find. I also pried off as much of the veneer as possible.
The next step was to bring out my templates and start deciding on the best uses for each piece. Ideally, I would get a good mix of spoons and spatulas out of this pile of wood, but the nature of the material often dictates what I can and can’t do with it. Looking at every piece from every side, I had to work around mortises, screw holes, and rot–all the while paying attention to grain direction.
In many cases, I found I could nest different utensils within the same board. It became a Tetris-like game of optimizing the placement of each utensil on each piece of wood. Often it took me working through several possible configurations to get the most out of each piece.
Once I had the shapes laid out, I sawed each workpiece to length with a hand saw. Then I sawed out the rough shape of each utensil on the bandsaw. With each cut, I was careful to watch for stray hardware like embedded nails and other mortal enemies of saw teeth.
Back at my workbench, I went to work on some of the poplar. This is tulip poplar, which has a light yellow sapwood but distinctively green heartwood. The wood was very dry, but poplar works quite easily with hand tools, and in short order I was able to make some spoons and spatulas.
The green color is entirely natural. I think the shavings look like that vegetable-pasta that we sometimes have for dinner–except this has extra fiber.
I did end up having to discard a few blanks because of flaws that only became apparent once I started carving, but much of the wood has turned out to be very useful. So while I was sad to witness the end of what was once some nice furniture, I am happy to give some of the wood a new lease on life.
Everything about this plane says that it is a Type 6 (1888-1892). The plane body, cap iron, plane iron, lateral adjusting lever, all have the proper dates and lettering on them to make this a Type 6 plane, but the brass adjusting nut is a right handed thread, not left handed, which was used on Type 5 planes.
Rosewood knob has typical tool box dings and wear, but is in good shape; rosewood tote is not original to plane, it was salvaged from a broken Stanley No. 7 jointer plane, Type 11. There is about 80-85% of the japanning left on the body.
This plane belonged to my grandfather, Rufus Wilson (1881-1955), who was a carpenter and old time logger, and my mother told me that he owned this plane when they moved to their house near Mineral, California in 1940. I was given this plane in 1978 when I was 16 years old. I tuned up the plane in the early 1990's, the typical work of flattening the sole, the back of the iron, etc. I used this plane to make my first musical instruments. I set it aside about 15 years ago to keep as a collectors item, but I have decided to let it go to someone else. It is a great user plane! Please ask questions! I will not ship out of the United States, no international sales!
We are in the final stages of editing two books and getting them ready for press by the end of February.
“Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding” is being indexed right now by Suzanne Ellison. Megan Fitzpatrick and Kara Gebhart Uhl are giving it a final edit for typographical problems.
This will be my first book with a dust jacket (see above). I hope this book justifies it. The gorgeous photos from Narayan Nayar and the paintings from the last 2,000 of human history make this book visually interesting – as well as educational (I hope). The book will be 172 pages, hardbound, on heavy and coated 8-1/2” x 11” paper. Full color throughout.
I don’t have any information on pricing, yet. My guess is it will be about $45 retail. This book was crazy expensive to write thanks to all the expense of acquiring permissions to reprint images from all over the world, trips to Italy and Germany to inspect artifacts and the professional illustrations. Heck, the wood to make the workbenches was the cheapest part of the endeavor.
The second book at the ready is “Cut & Dried: A Woodworker’s Guide to Timber Technology” by Richard Jones. I finished my edit of the book this week. Megan, Kara and Suzanne are now making a final sweep through the book for errors and consistency.
We spent a long time coming up with the title for this book and are quite pleased with it. While Richard’s text covers every aspect of how the world of trees and woodworkers intersect, just about every detail that is important to woodworkers is how the wood was cut and how it was dried. This influences its appearance, its stability, the defects and even whether it will be susceptible to attack by pests or mold.
I am working on the cover for this book right now, and it involves a little woodworking, a little fire and some hand-printing. I’ll be covering the process here on the blog in the coming week.
“Cut & Dried” will be a sizable hardbound book at 320 pages on heavy 9” x 12” paper. I suspect the price will be about $50 to $60. We are waiting on quotes from the printer.
We will open the ordering process later this month and both books should ship from the printer in early April. More details on pricing and who will be carrying these books will come soon.
Waiting in the Womb
Soon after the above books go to press, we’ll have two more almost immediately. It’s going to be a busy year. Joshua Klein’s book “With Hands Employed Aright” will be back from the designer shortly. And Jögge Sundqvist’s “Slöjd in Wood” is almost ready to go to press.
And shortly behind those two books are new titles from Christian Becksvoort and Marc Adams. Oh, and Peter Follansbee.
— Christopher Schwarz
Congrats to Ramsey L. from Grand Rapids! They won the set of Kreg in-line clamps and bench clamps from our last giveaway! 🎥 Modern Builds – https://youtu.be/gM3oCXcyxoA 🎥 wortheffort – https://youtu.be/VGQOKcZe9TM 🎥 RIDGID Tools – https://youtu.be/mKFj2SD1WLU 🎥 Wood and Shop – https://youtu.be/CMN8tJP0HGQ 🎥 Matthew Cremona – https://youtu.be/9IPkqEPuKpw 🎥 April Wilkerson – https://youtu.be/EGNuhyfyF6k Enter this week’s giveaway, two BORA roller stands! Popwood Playback – Bora Rolling Stand! ➕ More viewer submitted […]
The post PopWood Playback #6 | Top Woodworking Videos of the Week appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
|4 1/2 tote and knob|
Another point with the Tru-oil is it says to wipe it down between coats with 00 (double zero) steel wool. All I have in the shop is 4-0. That means a trip to Wally World but I don't remember seeing any steel wool my last time in there. Wally World just got done with their *^@((%@!$%&*# lets move and rearrange everything. People have gotten used to where things are so it's time to change stock locations. So I'm not even sure that Wally World still sells it. They don't sell shellac anymore, be it quarts or rattle cans. And they cut way back on the sandpaper they used to sell.
|don't like this wild grain|
|the drawer slides|
|my last time using drawer slides|
|the last time I used the Leigh Jig to make dovetails too|
|put a pencil drawer in the top one|
Did you know that the maximum circumference of a standard bowling can not exceed 27.002 inches?
We are not the Waltons.
My step-mother believes we are. Or, perhaps, she believes that if she acts like we are the Waltons, we will become the Waltons.
We know better.
We are scattered geographically (Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri X 2 and California) and by age, I am 8, 14 and 16 years older than my siblings. When I left for college in Pittsburgh my family moved Denver. And I never lived with the family again except for four to six days occasionally at Christmas and three weeks when my father died. How the sibs turned out is not my fault.
So, like many other families, I assume, we do a Christmas lottery. Every sibling and spouse participating is assigned another sibling or spouse in an allegedly random draw and given the opportunity to purchase said sibling or spouse a gift from a supplied list not to exceed $100 exclusive of shipping and tax although point has been so subject of some discussion and dispute. Over the years the proffered gift lists have gotten shorter to the point of being only for a gift card or cash.
Annually, I supply my list of 4 of 5 items that actually requires a fair amount or research. Making an Amazon wish list helps. What inevitably happens is that a sibling or spouse would “buy” something my wife had already purchased from the same list. Many of these items were tools. In recent past, there were many tools at the $99 price point. Now, not so much.
These tools have included:
Home Depot now only stocks a 6″ bench grinder for $45. I don’t use this grinder much anymore since like all good Kool-Aid® drinking woodworker, I have replaced it with a slow speed grinder.
This is not the actual grinder I was gifted. My sister gave me one like it the year the family was spending the holiday with her in Los Angeles. Driving to the airport, I was concerned how I was going to check it and how much it would cost for a third checked item. I found a Home Depot en route and returned that one for cash. I bought this one at a local Home Depot the next day.
Then there was:
Still used for the annual Toys for Tots build. This year I had three drill presses for the build. I could have used a fourth but space is not infinite.
In a break from Ryobi, there was this:
This is now the Rockler Heavy-Duty Tenoning Jig, Item #: 29840 for $129.
Moving away from woodworking:
The missing sockets and drive live in the bandsaw now.
Home Depot is now selling a Wen that looks a lot like a Rockwell that looks like a Triton that looks like a Grizzly that looks like a Scheppach. Then I stopped looking.
The last tool I mention in this walk down memory tool lane is this classic:
I did buy an additional template and use it to make box joints.
Discontinued by Porter+Cable, this machine next spent time as Woodcraft’s WoodRiver 12″ Half Blind Dovetail Jig. It is now the MLCS Dovetail Jig. Old tools never die, they just get new boxes.
I thought I would never use this dovetail jig because I don’t like the aesthetics of machine cut dovetails. Maybe if I had one of those $500 dovetail jigs I might feel differently but I don’t and I don’t. I’m not one of those dovetail purists/fetishist that rejects the existence of machine cut dovetails on philosophical grounds. They are a valid method of joinery. I just don’t like the look.
I never thought I would use the jig until I found this on eBay:
But this one is different:
I was bothered by this in that is not like the others in the collection:
The typical box has a bottom attached with a sliding dovetail creating feet to keep the contents away from damp mine floors.
I was also bothered by the fact that a design feature of the boxes was that the were assembled without any glue. The joinery hold the box together. No glue required. Half-blind dovetails cannot rely on friction to maintain joint integrity. What keeps the box together?
Having bought one, I had to build one:
Not pinned yet.
The family took a vote this year on the Christmas lottery. Some of us felt it had become functionally like taking $100 from the left pocket and putting it in the right pocket. Less tax and shipping. The vote was two to discontinue, one to continue and one abstention. Maybe not a principled abstention, more like disdain or disinterest. Only siblings were polled. We didn’t think it fair to get spouses involved in such an emotionally charged issue.
A white elephant exchange was suggested. (Everyone provides wrapped, low value gift. The first person selects a wrapped gift. The next person can either select a wrapped present or take the first person’s gift. If a gift is stolen, the victim can select a wrapped gift or a previously selected gift. You cannot immediately steal back a stolen gift. And so it goes.)
This did not happen because one sibling was very seriously concerned about ending up with a $25 tchotchke they didn’t want. Apparently they never heard of regifting…
We all just donated $100 to a charity of our choice.
When you don’t need an absolutely accurate line drawn on a piece (say for a shooting/nailing line or layout line) all you need is a wooden folding ruler, a pencil and your two hands. Lay the rule on your piece the proper distance in, then hold the rule in your left hand with your index finger against the edge of the piece. With your pencil against the tip of the […]
The post Tricks of the Trade: Testing the Finger-Guided Ruler appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
For those of you that have been despairingly watching our dwindling shirt inventory, we have good news: our new shirts just arrived from the printer yesterday.
For this new design, we commissioned an illustration from Jessica Roux, the same artist that drew Jonathan Fisher at work in his workshop for my upcoming book. Mike and I had Jessica draw the irons and wedges from my three bench planes in her whimsical folksy style. Jessica’s mentioned more than once that she loves drawing these old tools, working out the textures and layers of color.
Besides “MORTISE & TENON magazine”, the front of the shirt has “FORE” “TRYING” and “SMOOTHING” labeled beneath the irons. The shirt’s back says, “Cutting Edge Technology” with the M&T pyramidal logo beneath.
To print something this detailed, we turned to Triple Stamp Press in Atlanta, Georgia. Triple Stamp does incredibly fine water-based screen printing that captures the fine details of Jessica’s drawings.
These indigo-colored shirts are of the same premium 100% combed cotton jersey we’ve always used. We love these shirts and often get compliments on their soft, vintage feel.
You can purchase one of these shirts here. We do not print second runs of our shirts. If you know you want one, I would recommend getting one now.
We also have stickers with the fore plane iron and its wedge for $3 each. The stickers can be purchased here.
If you are in the market for live-edge slabs that are dry and ready to go, read on.
The tree service I use outside Cincinnati has seven beautiful walnut slabs available that they have cut, dried in a vacuum kiln and are stacked and ready to go. I got to inspect the slabs last week during a visit and they are sweet. I didn’t have my moisture meter with me, but they felt dry and ready to use.
Here are some details:
- They have two slabs that measure 3” thick and 12’2” long. These are 45” wide (!!) at the crotch end and 27” to 34” wide on the bole.
- They have four slabs that measure 3” thick and 12’2” long. These are 47” wide at the crotch end and 34” wide on the bole.
- They have one slab with bark on one face that is 136” long at the crotch end and 20” at the bole end. The thickness varies because of the bark surface, but the middle bit is almost 6” thick.
I’m listing these here as a favor to the seller and you. I don’t get a commission and have no interest in the deal.
This was one impressive walnut tree, and I’m happy these guys were able to save it from the chipper so it can live on.
For information on pricing and availability, contact Jay Butcher at 513-616-8873 (voice or text) or via email.
— Christopher Schwarz