I’ve never been accused of being a tease, but I’ve tried! The first ever Weekend with WOOD is currently underway and I’m about to head out the door to day 2.
I was able to get some great clips of Jim Heavey talking about spray finishing, finishing your finish (making it look even better when you think you’re done) and then also on choosing a topcoat.
I’ll post more about these much later, but in the meantime here’s a short snippet of Jim explaining the difference between HVLP sprayers and Turbine sprayers…
I am beyond delighted to announce that Charles “Chuck” Bender is Popular Woodworking Magazine’s new senior editor…Chuck joins PWM June 3, and will be working from his Pennsylvania-based shop through the summer as he wraps up classes at his school, Acanthus Workshop, before moving to Cincinnati with his wife, Lorraine, this fall.
Congratulations to Chuck on his new position, and to Popular Woodworking Magazine for the new hire. I’m going to miss having him so close to New Jersey.
I’m also sure one of the things that attracted Chuck to his new gig is that the greater Cincinnati area has two locations of his favorite restaurant.
I finished the walnut cabinet on a stand a while ago and positioned in the lounge. To begin with, it looked great and I couldn't see anything that looked out of place. The cabinet itself was fairly chunky...as it was intended to be and the doors lined up perfectly.
Happy bunny so far...but the more I glanced at the stand, the less enthusiastic I became about it...it just didn't look right. The colour contrast was too great, but the most annoying thing is that the legs (at 32mm square) are just a mite too chunky.
The more I glanced at it, the more certain I became that something had to be done.
So last Saturday, some more legs and rails in English Walnut were cut (well over size) and are now quietly conditioning in the 'shop. With any luck and a following wind, the new stand will be a nice little project for next winter.
In the meantime, I have to finish off the current Japanese lamp by making the shoji panels (frames are already made) then repeat the performance by re-making the panels on another lamp (this time in English Oak), then make a curved door, wall hung cabinet in Oak...
Wish I had a Kit Kat.
Although this blog’s focus is mainly on late seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century English and Irish furniture, I do have a number of North American readers, who, on occasion, struggle to keep up. In their defence, attempting to decipher North American dates, periods and styles is notoriously fraught with perils.
Luckily enough then, several notable New England institutions have collaborated in an interactive on-line venture, Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, heralded as “A celebration of craft and industry, tradition and innovation”.
If, like me, the end-grain-rich mouldings of the William and Mary, Queen Anne and early Georgian periods are your thing, then you might want to begin at From Joiner to Cabinetmaker: The Early Baroque Style, 1690-1730.
Filed under: Distractions Tagged: baroque, Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, Georgian, Queen Anne, rococo, William and Mary
By James Francis
A GREAT MANY men who use as common a tool as a plane cannot do a good job in keeping the tool in order. It is quite a knack to sharpen a plane in good shape, especially to set an edge on the plane iron with an oil stone. Figs. 1 and 2 show how to do it, and how not to do it. Supposing the plane iron has just been ground: it is placed upon the oil stone in the position shown in Fig. 1. The bevel of the tool is brought to bear flat upon top of the stone, then the back of the bevel is slightly raised, perhaps two or three one-hundredths of an inch, and while in that position the plane iron is carefully moved along the stone from end to end. The required pressure is applied by the finger, care being taken not to give the plane iron too rocking a motion.
Some mechanics fall into the habit of moving the tool as shown in Fig. 3. This motion is fatal to good work, and makes the bevel of the tool as shown in Fig. 4. The bevel is supposed to commence at a and should run nearly flat to b. Instead of this it is rounded, and as a good mechanic would term it, “is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.” Fig. 5 shows a tool that has been whetted many times upon an oil stone and is ready for grinding. The bevel proper extends from a to c. The effect of the oil stone is shown from b to c, where the secondary bevel has been formed. This is the correct way to whet a plane iron. It should not be done as shown in Fig. 6, which represents the type of plane iron known too commonly among careless workmen.
Fig. 7 shows a plane iron that has just been ground, the bevel being sharp and clean from c to d. When the tool is placed on an oil stone it should be held in the position shown in Fig. 1, and in larger view in Fig 8. In the latter cut a represents the plane iron and b the stone. It will be seen that there is very little difference between the heel of the plane iron c and the stone. As the tool is used and the sharpening must be repeated it is necessary to raise the heel of the bevel more and more each time the whetting is repeated. After the tool has been sharpened a dozen times it will occupy a position on the stone shown in Fig. 9. Here it is seen the actual cutting bevel of the tool has become more stunt and the heel e is raised considerably further from the stone. When a tool gets whetted down as stunt as shown in Fig. 9, it should be taken to the grindstone and given a dose. Fig. 10 gives a view of a plane iron that needs grinding. It will be seen that the oil stone has extended only one-third of the way up the grinding bevel. Trying to whet a tool like this on an oil stone is a mere waste of time and elbow grease. A tool should be ground until it looks like Fig. 11. It will be seen that there is the least possible bevel to be distinguished. In fact it is impossible to draw a picture of the slight bevel left after the tool is ground; it is less than the width of one of the lines used in the drawing. When looked at with the eye it appears to be a mere line extending along the edge of the tool. It is so narrow that one or two rubs on the oil stone will remove it entirely and give a keen edge to the tool. The careless grinder is apt to grind a tool more than this, and raise what is called feather edge. This is somewhat imperfectly represented by Fig. 12, where what should be the cutting edge of the tool looks like a mess of iron filings stuck in a row on the cutting edge. It is to avoid such an occurrence that the slight bevel shown in Fig. 11 is left after grinding.
When the edge shown in Fig. 12 appears, either from carelessness—and that is the cause nine times out of ten—or otherwise, the edge of the tool should be drawn over one corner of a board. Usually the grindstone suffers from this business, and the writer has seen several frames which looked as if the rats had gnawed them. Fig. 13 shows how a feather edge is removed; indeed, it is about as well when such an edge appears to touch the tool square upon the face of the stone for an instant, as shown in Fig. 14, thus removing the edge entirely and leaving the end of the tool blunt, as shown in Fig. 15.
The bevel must now be carried up to the dotted lines a b, making it necessary to remove enough of the metal to have lasted many weeks with careful use. This shows how careless grinding will wear out a tool much more than ordinary use. Sometimes the apprentice boy has had luck with a plane, running it on to a bench hook or a nail, and giving the tool the appearance shown in Fig. 16. This means a grind right off. If a tool in this condition is to be ground the metal must be removed to the letters c d of Fig. 17. In doing this nine times out of ten the man who grinds will place the tool on the stone in the usual way, and the first thing he knows one corner of the iron is ground off too much, as shown in Fig. 18 at c. The only remedy is to keep grinding, but it is much better before attempting to carry the bevel up to the line c d in Fig. 17 to square off the front end of the plane iron, as shown in Fig. 14. Grind boldly the whole edge of the tool up the line a of Fig. 19, which will remove all the nicks and broken places, and goes about up to the line c x, shown in Fig. 16.
With the tool in the condition shown by Fig. 20 it can be ground to an edge very quickly without the possibility of grinding off the corners, as shown in Fig. 18. A man who uses planes a great deal finds that he must grind them differently for different kinds of wood. For pine he will grind them about as shown in Fig. 21, leaving a long, thin bevel. If oak or walnut is to be cut the bevel is more like Fig. 22. The latter would not cut pine worth a cent. The one shown in Fig. 21 would cut hard wood all right as long as it remained sharp, but the edge would be gone by the time the first shaving had been made. For soft straight-grained wood the plane iron may lay very flat, as shown in Fig. 23; but for cross-grained and hard wood it should stand at a greater angle, as shown in Fig. 24, and also have a cap fastened to the upper side of the plane iron, as represented by a in this cut. The action of the cap is to break off the chip and prevent slivering up the wood that is being planed. For finishing curly maple and other very cross grained wood the iron should be very stunt, as shown in Fig. 25; while for planing the ends of wood for fitting the ends of clapboards, for example, the iron lays very flat and is turned upside down, as shown in Fig. 26.
These last few engravings will be a useful guide to the man who has planes to grind. He will in all cases adjust the angle of bevel so that it will just clear the work after the tool has been whetted several times. This is shown more particularly in Figs. 28 and 24. They also show that if he whets a plane too stunt or lets it get too round, the false bevel given by the oil stone will strike the work before the edge of the tool touches it, and the poor planer man will make more “cuss words ” than shavings.
There is one thing that should not be done when whetting the plane iron, and that is rubbing the face of the iron over the stone as shown in Fig. 27. This is often done by mechanics and some good ones at that, but if a good mechanic will do it, he is sure to lay the iron perfectly flat upon the stone, not raising the back end a particle. By doing this he brightens up the edge close to the end and greatly assists in sharpening the tool. A plane iron, however, can be sharpened without it, but it is a great test of proficiency in setting an edge on a plane iron to be able to whet up a cap plane iron in the manner shown in Fig. 28, and to stop whetting when an edge has been brought up sharp, so that it will not be necessary to remove the cap and rub the feather edge off the plane iron.
This trick is done by a number of first-class mechanics of the writer’s acquaintance, but there are not more than three in a hundred carpenters who can do it. It requires an accurate eye and a steady hand, and the man who can successfully perform the operation is a first-class mechanic.
Carpentry and Building – August 1891
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Handplanes, Historical Images
By A.S. Atkinson
A combination mushroom cellar and workshop is a most useful adjunct to the farm or rural home where it is necessary and desirable to economize in space and material. The growing of mushrooms is quite common today on thousands of small county places, and those very fond of these edibles resort to all sorts of methods to raise sufficient for the home table. The cellar of the ordinary house is not a good place for mushroom culture, and very few barns are provided with a good cellar suitable for the work.
A country resident who wished to raise his own mushrooms decided that he would build a cellar for this purpose back of his house, but as there would necessarily be a great amount of waste space in such a structure he built the combination house here shown. He wanted a mushroom cellar at least 14 x14 ft., but in the plans submitted the cellar was made 18 x 20. An excavation was dug 6 ft. below the soil line, and the bottom cemented in 2 in. of good concrete. An opening was left in the middle to serve as a drain. The walls of the cellar were made a foot thick and composed of field stones laid in cement. These stones were of all sizes and shapes, and no attempt was made to secure a particularly even surface except on the inside. Some of the stones projected several inches beyond the line into the soil, as it was easier to do this than to break them off even. The work of building the walls below the soil line was, therefore, so simple that anyone could do it.
A foot above the soil line 2×6 beams were carried across to furnish a foundation for the floor above. Space was left in the walls for two shallow windows on opposite sides of the cellar. The tops of these windows projected above the soil line, but the lower half was below it. The dirt was scooped out to a level of the stone sills so as to admit light. This made it simple to exclude the light and cold from the cellar if necessary by piling straw or litter into the holes. When open the windows admitted sufficient light to make the cellar suitable for mushroom culture.
Above the cellar a ventilation pipe was carried to the upper part of the building. A trap door at the other end when left open produced a circulation in the cellar. It was possible in this way to secure just the atmosphere desired, and also any degree of moisture necessary. The heating of a mushroom cellar is chiefly by the manure piled in the bed, but an oil stove was used for increasing this if needed. Any fumes from the oil stove escaped up the ventilation tube, and any excess of moisture dripped away through the drain in the middle of the floor.
The workshop above the cellar was enclosed by ordinary joists and sidings, with a shingle roof to produce an artistic effect. The upper part of the building had sufficient room to keep the tools and implement of carpentering and gardening, and also gave space for the owner to work at little odd jobs. Two windows were placed in this workshop, so that ample light was obtained. A door at one end led directly into the workshop, and a trap door with a pair of steps admitted one to the mushroom cellar.
The whole structure cost less that $75, including the labor and lumber. From this mushroom cellar the owner raised all the mushrooms his family used in one year, and besides he sold nearly $25 worth at good market rates. He estimates that he could pay for the building in one season if he sold all of his mushrooms, and after that could secure big interest on his investment. But the design is intended for a private home and is not a commercial affair, although one on a large scale could be built for this purpose.
Carpentry and Building – Oct. 1909
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Historical Images
I got an email today from Brock Jobe at Winterthur about the website for a very involved project that is a collaboration between several museums. It’s called “Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture”. Here’s the link: http://www.fourcenturies.org/
The Winterthur Forum that I was part of in March was the inaugural event – but there will be more exhibitions, lots of web content and more.
It’s very much worth the time to explore the website, and come back to it for additional content as it expands.
If you’re at all into hand tools, the place to be next Friday and Saturday (May 24th – 26h) is HandWorks, taking place in Amana, Iowa. Many of the country’s major hand tool makers will be there, along with some prominent teachers, writers, and hand tool authorities. Check out the schedule on the Handworks web site!
Me? I’m along for the ride to promote my school and my books, and to demo some cool hand-tool techniques. Mostly, I’m looking forward to great interactions you all, and with some of the finest proponents of hand tool woodworking anywhere.
I hope to see you there!
A hearty congratulations goes out to James McGlothlin of Willow City, Texas, for winning our JET Lathe Sweepstakes – he’s taking home the JET 1221VS variable-speed lathe. McGlothlin is a retired Baptist pastor who now spends a good deal of his time woodworking. He starting making wooden toys when his children were small, but has … Read more
I loved them before I put them on, actually when I put them on at first I wasn't sure because they are very stiff, like jeans used to be, very tough, hard wearing and made to last. I am sure most folk would be horrified at the price but it is possible to pay more for naff designer label jeans. My last jeans were made by howies from tough thick organic cotton. They lasted 5 years. If these jeans do the same and I am sure they will they will cost less than £25 a year so they are good value. Why not treat yourself and wear your clothing with an easy conscience. see the story here http://hiutdenim.co.uk/
I can't wait for my boots to be ready they will go so well with my new jeans.
On today’s Follow Friday we have the work of Denis Hermecz, a woodworker from Silverhill, AL, who we featured in our Show Us Your Woodcarving column in the May 2013 Issue of Wood News. Throughout his woodworking years, Denis has created a variety of pieces including cabinets, nightstands, and bookshelves, and lately he has been focusing on woodcarving.
In an interview he did with Woodworking Network, Denis discussed how he started his career in woodworking. In order to earn money for school, he worked as an apprentice boat builder, where he was able to find a passion for the craft. In college, he majored in English and like a lot of people do when they graduate, he focused in getting a career where he could use his major whether it be as a Writer or English Teacher. He didn’t realize it right away, but once he figured out he could make woodworking into his career, he was set on his path.
My favorite piece that Denis shared with us is the mirror frame that he custom made for a client who had already installed the mirror that she wanted the frame to fit. The process that Denis used to carve this piece is also very interesting:
“I drew the vines directly on the assembled rectangular frame. I cut out the shapes with a Bosch sabre saw and I carved most of the shapes with a Bosch 12000 rpm side grinder–an extremely versatile tool. There is some carving done with hand held chisels out of my mixed bag of old chisels, but I try to design a big piece like this one so that hand carving is minimized. I sand a lot of the pieces like this one with Festool random orbit sanders and some with a Fein multitool sander.”
The frame takes up an entire wall at 54″x103″, and a lot of the vine work that Denis put into this piece was freestyle form, which is what I think makes this piece stand out to me.
Below are a few more pieces that Denis has made. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website HERE.
Fridays on the Highland Woodworking Blog are dedicated to #Follow Friday, where we use this space to further highlight a woodworker or turner who we have featured in our monthly e-publications Wood News or The Highland Woodturner. Would you like for your shop to appear in our publications? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your woodworking shop along with captions and a brief history and description of your woodworking. (Email photos at 800×600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store credit redeemable towards merchandise if we show your shop in a future issue.
I am beyond delighted to announce that Charles “Chuck” Bender is Popular Woodworking Magazine’s new senior editor. He’ll be writing project and technique articles (lots of articles) for the magazine and web site, serving as one of our a technical editors, handling tool reviews and Tricks of the Trade, answering e-mails from you on all … Read more
The post Chuck Bender, Senior Editor, Popular Woodworking Magazine appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Yesterday I had to make a tool run up to my backyard antique tool shop. Since Eden had plans to be watched, we decided that Julia and I would make a date out of it. I don’t know if it’s because we haven’t had an official date for months now or if she really is coming around to be a tool lover, but she remarked several times during the shopping trip, “This place is awesome!” Oh my. I am a blessed man. I never thought I would hear my wife sing the praise of antique tool shopping!
But she’s right. This place is awesome. Owned by the same owner of the legendary Liberty Tool Company, the Hull’s Cove Tool Barn is not to be missed. I’ve been coming here for the past years to purchase most all of my tools. The condition of the tools varies but most are usable after a quick sharpening. The prices are amazing and the inventory turnover is regular. This shop is smaller than the three story 19th century Liberty Tool company building, but the items in stock in Hull’s Cove are all high quality.
Julia and I really scored this time. We got some great garden tools and a load of woodworking tools for a few dollars apiece. To cap off the morning date, Julia and I continued down the road a few minutes into downtown Bar Harbor and got lunch at Geddy’s, always a good stop.
In homestead news, we have been hard at work on seed planting, mud oven and beehive constructing, and we have been working out the kinks in our sourdough baking. We spent the other day over at our friends’ place, Tinder Hearth Bakery. Tim and Lydia were gracious to help us fine tune our recipe for our soon-to-be-built mud oven.
Finally, we planted a Winter Gravenstein apple tree from Five Star Nursery this week. We had been planning to plant a fruit tree in commemoration God’s faithfulness and goodness to us during that rollercoaster of a pregnancy four and a half years ago.
We dug the hole, filled in the fish emulsion and compost and followed the planting recommendations from Five Star. We also were happy to thaw the placenta from Eden’s birth, patiently waiting in the freezer for four years. Many cultures have used the placenta rather than discard it: everything from planting it under a fruit tree to indigenous peoples eating it. Since we are weak-stomached westerners, we left the place settings in the cupboard and opted for the spade shovel.
Okay… so maybe you suspected we were hippies. Consider your suspicions confirmed.
well. I’ve been swamped lately. Just back last Sunday night from a week in Maine at Lie-Nielsen,
Here’s their tiny blurb about it:
“Just finished shooting our fourth DVD with Peter Follansbee, “17th Century Great Chair.” Details coming soon…”
Because it is May, I got some osprey shots in Damariscotta.
Then finished up there with a two-day class in riving, planing & carving. First thing Monday morning it was off to work, trying to get the shop organized, then jumped right into prepping for a talk I gave today to EAIA whose annual meeting was at Plimoth. It was simple enough to do the lecture; but then all day in the shop there were toolies who stuck around and asked questions that were more in-depth than some of my usual fare. It was great, but now the lawn needs mowing, we’re trying to fence out some groundhogs; the kids’ weekend activities – (horse-back riding & baseball) are coming up and the ordinary dump run, etc.
Oh, and it’s been still almost sweater weather at some recent points, but now it’s hot. so out with the woolens, find the window screens, etc.
so that’s why no blog lately. I hope to get back to it pronto.
here’s photos from the class at Lie-Nielsen, it was a great group of people – I always have a good time there. Also a link to their facebook page about it. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151424181563016.1073741844.100708343015&type=1
New-York, February 12th, 1842.
Sir – I have the honor of being in the receipt of your circular requesting information in relation to the effect which the introduction of the manufacturing of planes, in the prisons at Auburn and Sing-Sing, has had upon our business. In reply to which, it may not be deemed improper to state something of the rise and progress of this branch of business in this country.
At the close of the last war, the manufacture of planes was carried on to a very trifling extent in this country, we being chiefly supplied by those of foreign importation; about which time my father (our predecessor,) established this branch of business in the city of Albany; but the strong prejudice in favor of imported planes rendered it necessary to make very considerable sacrifices, to sustain the establishment of the business during its infancy; and for several years it was carried on with scarcely sufficient profit to cover expenses, and afford a livelihood. But, by patient perseverance, he was at last enabled to compete with planes from abroad, both in price and quality; and having gained an enviable reputation for his American planes, for a few years he was enabled to do a very good business, and gave employment to 20 or 30 hands, at good wages; and he looked forward to a reward for the toil and anxiety he had undergone, in aiding to establish a home manufacture for this important article of merchandise.
This business, however, having become known, and from its being in but few hands, considered as somewhat better than the ordinary occupation by which mechanics and manufacturers obtained a livelihood; I presume it excited the attention of that class of grasping, avaricious men, who are even now constantly on the watch to find victims to the system of State prison labor, or to procure a knowledge of some business upon which the cheap labor of prison convicts, can be most profitably employed; utterly regardless of the ruinous consequences which may result to those who may have their all invested in the same branch of business; who have depended upon it for a support to themselves and families, as well as those in their employment; and, perhaps from the very fact of the ease with which it was supposed that the few engaged in manufacturing planes, could be prostrated by this unfair but powerful competition, it was largely introduced in the State Prison at Auburn, as I have been informed, under the superintendence of a foreigner.
During the infancy of this establishment, while the convict journeymen were but raw hands, and of course the work of but a very inferior quality, we did not at once feel any very serious inconvenience from this competition although they soon began to supply orders for the coarse and leading articles in our line; but, after a few years, when the “felons” had acquired a knowledge of the trade, and the prison factory became better established, we found the heaviest and most profitable portion of our business leaving us, on account of the ability of our customers to furnish themselves at a less rate than we could possibly afford, we were therefore under the necessity of lessening the cost of our planes, by a heavy reduction of wages; this being followed by a corresponding reduction of the prison planes, we were compelled still further to reduce the wages of our journeymen to such rates as to afford the most of them barely a comfortable subsistence, and to commence the introduction of machinery in our factory as far as practicable; these advantages, and the acknowledged superiority of our goods, enabled us for a time, while all kinds of business were good, to progress in our operations, and to make a living, giving employment to 40 hands, including 16 apprentices.
However, our ruin appears to have been determined upon, and machinery was introduced into the prison, to assist and facilitate labor at from 30 to 37 ½ cents per day, and a branch of the prison plane-factory was established at Sing-Sing, to give them at all seasons a better command of this market. This made a corresponding move necessary on our part; the high price of living, in New-York rendered it impossible for us to continue our entire establishment in this city, oppressed by such a competition; and we were driven to the necessity to removing a portion of our hands to the country, where we should be enabled to take advantage of water power, and the cheaper subsistence of a country life, by which means we hoped to be able to produce the leading articles in our trade, at such a rate as would enable us to compete with the products of the State prisons; but, being convinced that no reduction which we can make would not meet with a corresponding reduction on the part of the prison contractors, we have discharged the principal portion of our hands, the most of whom have been driven from their legitimate pursuits, to some other for a living; some having enlisted, some driving carts, others attempting to earn their bread in occupations foreign to their own, are considered as unwelcome intruders in the branches they have adopted. Our entire concern both in and out of the city, being now reduced to 11 journeymen, and one apprentice; we have from year to year been dragging our business along, looking forward with the greatest anxiety to the Legislature, for relief from this unjust and ruinous competition.
We feel that there is a peculiar hardship in our case, inasmuch as if any thing is due to the untiring perseverance and great sacrifices, with which our business has been established in this country, and the growth of our soil converted into valuable merchandise, giving labor to the mechanics of our own country, and rendering us independent for a supply of articles so necessary in an increasing country like ours; that we, as among the foremost pioneers in the establishment of this business, should be protected from certain destruction by the reckless course pursued by the contractors for felon labor. We ask Legislative interference not only for ourselves as manufacturers, but for those whose trades, for which they have sacrificed the term of an apprenticeship, have been rendered worthless by the employment of the prisoners in the performance of that labor to which they have a right to look upon as affording the means of a subsistence.
We are of an opinion that the last contract for plane-makers in the prison, was made in direct violation of the law (passed, I think, in 1834,) and, that a strict construction of that law, would at once put a stop to our business, in both prisons; also that the agents receiving $10,000 worth of planes for the State, to pay the debts of the contractors at Auburn, was an exceedingly liberal construction of his powers, and we know that the thrusting them at once upon the market, has been disastrous to us.
As chairman of the committee upon State prisons, we would most earnestly commend our business to your especial attention; and for any further information you may desire, I would refer you to my brother, (your colleague,) who is abundantly capable of stating the effect upon our business for many years past, of this detestable competition. I feel well assured that you are desirous of advancing the interests of the mechanics and laboring men, and as far as lies in your power, to protect the honest man from the effects of this unrighteous system of converting our State prisons into manufacturing establishments, and bringing his labor to a level with that of the very refuse of society. I therefore, flatter myself that the subject may be brought at this session before the Legislature of our State, in such manner as to be productive to us, who have severely suffered for many years, of the most beneficial results.
I have the honor to be,
Yours very respectfully,
Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York – 1842
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Handplanes, Historical Images
You can see more of Sharif's work on his blog here
I have amused myself thinking about how I want to make the drawers for my tool chest. Books have been written on the subject and I have little to add save my own preferences and some practical considerations.
As I've written, somehow the traditional half-blind dovetails on the drawers for a tool chest don't feel right to me, sort of like wearing a tuxedo into the shop. I am not arguing that this makes sense, only that it's my feeling.
A comment suggests through dovetails which would obviously show through the front of the drawer and this appeals to me. There is a complication in that the dovetails would have to be laid out very carefully or the dados for the runners in the sides would have to be stopped. I decided to pass.
I could of course make the drawers in the modern fashion--a box with butt joints and a false front. Based on experience with the custom cabinets in our house, they hold up better than you might expect and I could pin them for strength. Don't like them.
I went on in this vein for some time and finally came back to where I started with a twist. What if I used half-blind dovetails with a single tail and pinned the tails in addition? For whatever reason, this just seems more like what I want to see on a tool chest. The extreme case is the 3" drawers which, with 1/2" pins will have a tail 2" wide, so I decided to see what they would look like:
These look right to me and I think a couple of 1/8" pins in the tail will look fine, so this is what I am going with. I think they will have sufficient strength for shallow drawers like this. A 1/4" dado will run down the middle of the tail. You may also notice that I am using oak rather than a secondary wood. I have a lot of alder but I am not sure how it would wear on the runners. I also intend to take these drawers out a lot and put them on my bench, so they will look nice completed in oak. There just isn't the cost saving there would be on a large piece.
I happened to stumble across some 24"x30" baltic birch plywood panels on sale so that is what I am going to use for the bottoms, glued solid in slips (Surprisingly, the plywood is actually 1/4" thick, so I can make the groove with my plow plane.). I know that many of you don't like this, but I think plywood has substantial advantages in this application--these drawers will be very solid.