Something extremely disappointing happened to me last week that I didn’t mention on the blog. While prepping the wood for my plant stand I discovered that a good portion of it wasn’t usable. There was some rot, and bad checks, and worst of all twist. Rather than throw it all in the trash; it’s still Walnut; I salvaged everything I could and stacked it neatly on the small rack I have in my garage. In fact, I had planned on taking a photo of it for the blog and seeing if anybody could come up with a good project for it. But with the Walnut not an option I wasn’t too sure what to do about the plant stand that my wife has been asking me to make-I really don’t want to purchase any material at the moment, and at the same time I don’t usually keep much laying around. So I did some searching in my scrap pile and found that I had enough clear Fir to make the stand legs, and bottom stretchers, and I had enough clear Pine to make the top stretchers as well as the table top itself. I still need a board for the bottom shelf, but I will worry about that when the stand is ready to be assembled.
Today saw the most progress of any other during the project. I got all 16 mortises laid out, the tenons are all sawn, and the top is finished. The tenons were the most time consuming part of the day. I used the table saw to define the cheeks of the tenons, but I sawed them with a hand saw. I’m not sure exactly why I do it this way, because there really is no advantage one way or the other, but it’s always how I’ve done it, and it seems to work. For accuracy I saw the tenons two boards at a time, which seems to help make sawing easier, and it speeds things up a little. With all sixteen tenons sawn I started on the top.
To make the top I glued up two boards, using the jointer plane to make a tight glue joint. I don’t know why, but when I did the glue up last week I had some trouble getting a good joint. The iron was certainly sharp enough, but the board did not want to plane properly. In any event, I did eventually manage to get a tight joint, and today I used the smoothing plane to clean it up. Before I went any further, I used the table saw and cross cut sled to produce the finished size: 16×16. I then planed the edges clean and used the random orbit sander, 220 grit, for a final light pass on the top.
The last operation of the day was laying out the mortises. Before I started I marked both the legs and stretchers with a cabinet makers triangle just so I didn’t screw up royally. To mark the mortises I used the tenons of the stretchers to size them, and then used a marking gauge to lay them out. Because I don’t have a mortising machine, I will chop them out with a mortising chisel. I suppose I could use a router, but on a soft wood like Fir the chisel will do just fine. So by next weekend the joinery should all be ready to go. I will only need to at the beading and the stand will be ready for assembly.
At first I was a little worried about using Pine and Fir together, but I think they will do fine. Both are softwoods and the material is nice and clear with no warp or knots of any kind. I wish I could use all Fir but I just didn’t have enough. I had even considered buying a 2×8 and milling the material from that, but that could be hit or miss, and I doubt that I could find a piece that was clear enough to make furniture from, at least not without searching through hundreds of boards to find it. I may regret that choice when I stain this project. I’m hoping that the gel stain that I used for my end tables does a good job of evening out two slightly dissimilar woods. I will have to do a test run at first, and maybe use some conditioner on the wood. If I don’t post any photos, you all will know it turned out.
It is about 5/16" shorter than the standard size with a 1-1/2" blade and 5-13/16" long. Oh and the iron is bedded at 57.5˚.
My thinking behind the design was to have something that excelled at clean up in an area that had lots of reversing grain which limited different directions of attack you could take. Those big planes are frustrating in these situations. Heck a No.4 is way too big much less a No. 4 1/2.
I frankly was inspired by those really amazing infill planes that Sauer & Steiner make and of course Raney's (Daed Toolworks) infills as well. Maybe that's why I decided to make it out of solid persimmon. Get some all ebony going on.
Last week, after I professed that everyone should have a spindle sander, A few readers asked how I used a spindle sander as a thickness sander. It turns out that I have posted that technique, but it was inside another post. Here’s a link to that post; you’ll find the spindle sander being used to thin ebony string about halfway down the post.
On to the next topic: How to attach feet to your case. Of course, there are a few ways to get feet on your cases. There are three methods I generally use on most every case. The first is to attach the feet directly to the bottom of the case, a second method is to rout the top edge of the joined feet and install a plate through which screws affix the assembled unit to the case bottom and the third method is to attach feet to a frame then attach the frame to the case and use a transition molding to cover the through dovetails where the case bottom joins the sides. I mention other methods, because I’ve built a couple of chest – full-size and spice boxes – from Chester County where the feet were attached directly to stiles of the frame and panels sides. While this is not commonplace, it, along with other methods, is sometimes done.
To attach feet directly to the case, I begin by installing a molding to which the feet are glued. You wouldn’t think that you could assemble feet to a molding and that would be strong enough to hold everything for 200 years. Of course, you would be correct. What really holds the feet to the case are glue blocks. These blocks also carry the bulk of the load of your chest. On the case I’m currently at work on, the thickness of the feet allows about an 1/8″ of the feet to lap onto the case itself. Then, with the glue blocks in place, the weight of the case is divided on the actual feet and on the glue blocks – the vertical block holds the weigh while the two horizontal blocks keep the assembled foot attached.
The next method is a bit more work. And the added plate makes the connection easier, but not necessarily any stronger. After the two foot pieces are joined via miters, I rout a small lip on the inside of the feet using a rabbeting router bit to which I attach a thin plate. The SketchUp drawing at the left shows how the plate fits to the feet; a thin bead of glue and brads secure the plate to the feet. The assembled unit is then screwed directly to the case bottom with the unit sticking out in front of the case. The look is completed by wrapping a molding around the case. An example of this type of connection is seen in the opening photo, although you cannot see the plate. That’s by design. As you see in the drawing, the cutout for the plate does not blow through the end of the foot.
The last method – the option that I find the most used as I look back at furniture I’ve built throughout the years – is to attach the feet to a base frame which is then attached to the case. I used this method on the Pennsylvania blanket chests in the August 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (#177) and the Serpentine chest from issue #195 (February 2012). As you can see in the right-hand photo, the same idea of glue blocks is used – mainly for reinforcement in this case. The frame is attached to the front of the chest with screws, but the remaining frame is nailed to the case bottom to allow for seasonal adjustments. The look is then completed with a transition molding.
These are three good methods used to attach feet to cases. There are pros and cons to each, as there is with any technique used in woodworking. Whenever you here, “This is the only way to do it, run in the opposite direction. You have choices.
Build Something Great!
If we walk on two legs and think to resolve puzzles, problems and concepts of design and we build and negotiate solutions, making and creating is intrinsic to us. Whether we will evolve into unconstructive beings remains to be seen, but I look at blocks of wood used for building walls and can’t help but shape them with my hands and a few tools to make a scoop or a spoon or a spatula.
When I choose my tools I look at different parts of them. Usually I find myself looking at something old, something from the past, and I respect the quality hidden beneath the superficial and neglect to its inner character. I don’t really look so much for sets or even ones from the same maker now. These are not really the ones I reach for. Yes, I admit I do look at tools, a chisel, for character I don’t find in new tools. I like interesting tools I suppose. You know, the ones that have different woods and even steel blades that take and hold their edges differently too, but let me sharpen them. I had a set of chisels where the bevelled edges came to a sharp edge on the long side edge bevels. When I pressed them to the stones they felt sharp enough to cut into my fingers so I couldn’t sharpen them properly. I called the makers and told them of the safety issue and they said to sand the corners. That didn’t seem quite right to me somehow and especially as they were one of the most expensive on the market. Another maker I bought chisels from supplied chisels where the cutting edges kept fracturing when I chopped with them. Again I brought this to the attention of the makers and they did nothing about it. Of the 100 old chisels I have bought I never had one where the edge crumpled, fractured, didn’t take or didn’t hold a good edge. These three chisels cost £7 for the three plus shipping. They will last me about 50 years if use them throughout every day. It will take me 20 minutes each to get them how I want them. I think that’s good value for money. I buy character because it textures my life. I like texture like this. There’s a history in them and they have history yet to make. I like tools to have personality before they lie on my bench.
This Saturday I taught my first woodworking class.
I’m just going to take a moment to dwell on that last sentence. It’s a big one for me. A sort of “Level Up” moment in my life. I’ve always been a guy who makes stuff, or fixes things, or takes things apart (sorry mom) and sometimes puts them back together. But being a “teacher” of woodworking is brain-stretcher for me.
This journey down the woodworking rabbit hole has been pretty interesting, and I look at people like Chris Schwarz and Peter Follansbee as teachers, guides, and generally cool people. (and sorry Chris, but I did model my teaching style on yours a little bit, I know that probably gives you a little heartburn but it fits well with my style.)
Saturday I did the first part of the class as it is a two parter, and we covered the basics while carving a single panel.
First we covered the gouge cut decoration along the top and bottom edge of a piece of oak. This showed how to hold the chisel, dividers, carving mallet. The repetition allowed them to build some muscle memory and get a feel for the motions and for the materials.
Then we did a simple repeated arc pattern in the center area. This showed them layout with dividers, and lots of practice with the V tool. As well as some design at the point of the tool for the floral decoration, and some punch work with the accents. One student finished, the other got at least the core design down. All in all it was successful for me as a teacher in that I got through what I wanted in somewhat the order I wanted to. I had gauged the right amount of work and discussion. They both felt more comfortable with the tools by the end, and their work was improving each step.
Things that I learned.
- Cover more about sharpening, and bring my sharpening equipment so I can fix a battered chisel.
- Get better wood than the Oak we used. It was case hardened, and had some wiggly grain which was a frustration.
- Make sure I have a anti-fatigue mat at my bench to ease my aching knees.
- The class itself was little too advanced for a first time class at this venue. I’m thinking of doing a simpler class on letter carving (which I already have one student signed up for if I do it.)
The students were very interesting. One lady brought her fathers tools, and a great story about how he used them and passed them to her. It was a beautiful set, I mean LOOK at these.
It was a great experience, and I’m glad I was able to help her connect with her past a little.
The other student was from Nepal and his home village there had a tradition of woodcarving. He wanted to learn some of it and he took my class to see if it was something that he could do. Both students seemed to enjoy the class, and I got a good compliment at the end saying I was a great teacher. I’m not great at taking praise, but I’m glad it went well for everyone.
In two weeks we’ll pick up where we left off (hopefully with better wood) and tackle some S Scroll carving.
I have several beginning carving classes coming up that still have spaces available. Come join us!
May 2 – 4, Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking I will be teaching a class on the Fundamentals of Furniture Carving. This is a beginning class where I will go over the basics of relief carving – acanthus leaf, shell & linenfold in shallow relief. Check out the full description by clicking the link to the school above.
I am also going to be teaching a beginning carving class in Germany! Yeah! I really want to make sure that it fills, so PLEASE, PLEASE if you are in the Berlin, Germany area June 19 – 21, please join us! It will be at the Dictum School.
Another class that still has spaces available is the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. This is a full week class on basic carving techniques.
There are still some spaces available in classes later in the year also and you can see them on my class schedule.
Maybe my online video school isn’t helping my class enrollment? I wonder… maybe I’m creating my own competition! I guess that’s not a bad thing…
A good customer sent me some pictures of his chisel box and he's really gone to town!
The curved openings give the lid a three dimensional feel and the subtle burrs look very nice on the top.
The hinges look like Andrew Crawford's fine stop hinges, they are very discreet and easy to instal.
The Japanese chisels look good quality, I hope so with such a nice box to live in!
While touring the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati last week we encountered, well I encountered, “machine lust.” The staff was constructing a new exhibit in one of the conservatory halls, and there was a young fellow using this machine. Given the tasks awaiting me at the homestead over the coming years of morphing fully into my emergent status as an Appalachian American, where the main crop is rocks, it seems a perfect fit. That, and a bush hog. Yep, I think one of these is nearly obligatory.
Now if I can persuade the CFO…
VIDEO 6/15 of Joshua Farnsworth’s free hand cut dovetail video series shows how to mark the angles of the tails on the board faces.
This is a very detailed tutorial designed to teach beginners how to become expert at dovetailing by hand. It is offered as a free resource to encourage the revival of traditional woodworking.
This detailed video series was inspired by a 5 day class that I took from Roy Underhill and Bill Anderson: world-renowned experts on traditional woodworking with hand tools.
Which traditional hand tools should you buy?
If you need advice on which hand tools to buy (and not buy), then definitely read my 13 category buying guide article: “Which Hand Tools Do You need for Traditional Woodworking?”
Shortcuts to Dovetail Videos 1-15:
- Part 1: “Arrange the Boards & Mark the Reference Faces”
- Part 2: “Square the Board Ends”
- Part 3: “Prepare the Layout”
- Part 4: “Lay out the Half Pins”
- Part 5: “Layout the Tails”
- Part 6: “Mark the Tail Angles”
- Part 7: “Cut the Tails”
- Part 8: “Remove the Tail Waste”
- Part 9: “Clean the Tails”
- Part 10: “Layout the Pins”
- Part 11: “Cut the Pins”
- Part 12: “Remove the Pin Waste”
- Part 13: “Clean the Pins”
- Part 14: “Join the Pins & Tails”
- Part 15: “Glue & Clamp the Dovetails”
Senco, pizza and Popular Woodworking Magazine. All I can add, at the moment, is May 7th, 2014. Stay tuned; details to come. You might want to check out this little video. —Chuck Bender
They called it a 19th century Yellow Pine Lidded Storage Box. Accurate but not the whole story.
The local auction a few days back was a bit of a disappointment. I had high hopes for the other auction house at their Friday night auction. Unfortunately, this week, theirs wasn’t much better. At least from my perspective. Some might be thrilled.
Only a few things of interest. There is this one piece that defied an easy explanation. It is a yellow pine lidded storage box. But why does it take this form? I want to know the rest of the story. Let’s start with a look at the box in question.
Note the staple(?) on the side near the bottom. There is one on the other side as well. Was this an attachment point?
Here is the lidded part.
With a forged hasp.
This view let’s you see the kerfed and rounded end. (Kerfing is placing a series of parallel saw cuts on the back of a board to allow it to bend.
This interior view really shows the kerf cuts.
And we need the top view.
Let me throw in this bonus tilt-top table. It is a full table and not a candle stand.
What makes this one interesting is the feet.
And the obligatory dovetail shot.
Not my favorite ever.
Last week, I had roughed out some spoons from cherry and then set them aside to dry a little bit. Last night, I finished shaping them with a spokeshave and smoothed them out with a card scraper. This afternoon, I sanded and finished them.
The wood did twist a little as it dried, so I’m glad I left the handles thick enough to make adjustments to the handles. There was no checking or cracking to speak of, which was a relief. I’m also glad I was able to capture some of the natural curves of the wood in the handles.
I should point out that the three oddly-shaped spoons on the left represent my latest attempts to carve spoons Sloyd-style from some mystery wood. It looks a bit like soft maple, but I don’t think it is, as the wood came from across the street, and maples don’t grow widely here. It’s also significantly softer than soft maple.
Not counting the wait-time between coats of finish, those eight cherry spoons probably took about 5-6 hours from start to finish. I’m pleased with how they turned out.
Tagged: cherry, wood spoon, wooden spoons
The principles behind the Roorkee chair can be easily adapted to other forms of furniture besides chairs. Its loose-tenon joinery has been used to make beds and even tables on occasion.
Today, however, I saw my first Roorkee footstool.
This weekend I visited the new Lee Valley store in Vaughan, Ontario, to deliver a couple talks on workbench design and campaign furniture. For my talk on campaign furniture, I brought along five campaign pieces (Me to border guard: “No, I am not invading your country”). But I didn’t have a Roorkee chair with me – my last one sold to a customer.
So I was happy when local woodworker Vincent brought along two Roorkee chairs he had made – plus a Roorkee footstool that was built using the same principles.
Made using purpleheart, the stool had a thigh strap and a slanted seat cover, just like a Roorkee chair. The rest of the attendees were gaga over it, taking photos and trying it out.
Vincent also made some nice modifications to the original Roorkee plan. Instead of turning round stretchers, he made his stretchers octagonal and terminated with a tapered tenon. They looked very nice – I’ll have to try that on a future chair.
Also, the “grip” turning at the top of the chair bowed out slightly in the middle instead of being straight. It looked nice and felt nice in the hand as well.
All in all, the new Lee Valley store is quite nice. The company is trying out some new things with this store. So if you are ever driving north of Toronto on the 400, be sure to stop and chck it out.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Books in Print, Campaign Furniture
I have many such chisels that I’ve picked up here and there, I’m a passable turner and fancy turning my own handles but tang fitting and step drilling are arcane mysteries to me. Where would one learn such practices?
Right here. I am often asked how to fit a chisel handle to tanged chisel but the problem now is that not all tangs are at all traditional. With the Ashley Iles gouge John just repaired the split handle of, the tang was parallel and square and was centred in a round, slightly undersized hole in the wood. That being so, the four corners of the tang bite onto the wall of the hole and forcing the chisel handle down onto the tang meant that the tang was force-driven into the walls. It’s a bit crude but it works fine. You can see the different tang type above here. This has become common in more modern makers but most of the chisel handles that need replacing will be the older abused types from the ages when skill and craftsmanship were respected.
Traditional tangs will need new handles because of age and abuse in more modern times when people know no different. In times past the blacksmith heated the tang and burned the tapered, tang-shaped hole square into the handle but left the tang 1/4” from the shoulder of the chisel. With the tang slowly quenched and cooled so as not to be too hard, he then drove it onto the tang so the pointed tang was effectively ‘nailed’ into the end of the hole. Now this process is a bit awkward in a woodshop with wood, chips and fluffy shavings and my insurers might find a case for arson in there somewhere. Step drilling on the other hand works differently than both of these methods methods but we end up with a well fitting tang. The important thing here is to get the hole centred in the handle so that the chisel or gouge aligns perfectly from side to side and front to back. Here are the steps we used to replace Johns handle.
First off we reground the square tang shown above to a more traditionally shaped tapered one. Not conventional but it worked fine.
It’s hard to drill holes freehand but it can be done. Sometimes I drill freehand and sometimes I take out the risk by jigging up for it. In this case it’s easy. When one of my Dewalt cordless drills stands on its base the bit aligns parallel to the bench top. That means that when I push the drill forward it is drilling perfectly straight. The difficulty in free handing is aligning both vertically and horizontal. Using the bench and the drill means I only have to align one way. Aligning myself from the back of the drill makes it easy to centre the drill into the handle and keep it equal as I enter more deeply. A piece of one-by in the vise simplifies the job. Anchor it in the vise so that the end of the board is a couple of inches above the centre of the drill chuck and drill a 1/16th inch hole an inch or so in from one of the outer edges. Now use a brace and bit the diameter of the ferrule or near to using the hole you drilled as a pilot hole to draw the bit into the hole. Drill from both sides for a clean cut to both sides. Now, down from the top end of the board, saw a kerf into the centre of the hole. This kerf allows a screw through the side to tighten the hole onto the ferrule and the handle being drilled. Drill a 3/16” hole through the side to the saw kerf. Pass a screw into the hole, locate the handle in the hole the full width of the ferule and cinch up the screw. You can see the screw head in each of the images. This should align the handle nicely but check yourself as you cinch the screw. John found it best to pull the drill toward him because he felt he could see the handle more fully. If you can align more from behind the drill and slightly above it so you can see over it you will get perfect alignment.
Now the drill alignment height is perfect we are ready for step drilling a series of diminishing sized holes. The main tang of the chisel at the base and by the bolster will likely be somewhere around 1/4” square or something like that. If that were the case, drilling a 1/4” hole means the corners will bite into the wall of the hole. You must vary these sizes according to the tang you have on a specific chisel. The first hole I suggest you drill is the one that goes the length of the tang minus say a 1/4”. So if the tang is 2″ long drill 1 3/4” .
The first hole is 1/8”. The next hole is a little bigger, 5/32” usually works. This hole goes somewhere around 3/4 of the depth to 1 5/8”; not hard and fast. The next hole is 3/16” and goes half way at 7/8” and the last one is the size best suited to the thickness of the square of the tang at the base and in my case is 1/4”. This hole goes to a depth commensurate to the length of the thick section of start of the square; usually this will vary but 1/2” should work.
Offer the tang into the hole and tap it into place gently to see and feel how it seems to seat in the hole. You may need to adjust the holes in the stepped diameters if the bolster is a long way from seating to the end of the handle inside the ferrule. I like the bolster to be about 1/4”. This then means that the pointed end will ‘nail’ into the bottom of the small dia hole and the square section at the base will bite into the walls. This stops the chisel or gouge from turning in the hole when being worked as a finished tool.
Some time ago I got and infill from an LJ friend Jamie asking me if I wanted an infill plane that needed some love. Of course I couldn’t resist and a short time later I received the package in the mail.
Now it is true he told me it needed some love, and he made it a special note to add a lot of love, but I didn’t think he meant this:
But OK, challenge excepted.
It turned out the infill was held in with ground off screws. A bit of a challenge to remove.
The infill seems to be English Beech covered with some kind of plastic. A quick interent search on the G. Davies stamped on it brought me to a plane maker in Birmingham England some were around 1821-1876. I also read he sold out to Marples.
W. Marples marked on the chip breaker.
Thankfully my son-in-law is a welder, and with some prodding, I convinced him he could weld cast. He did a little research, learned to pre-heat and slow down the cooling, and what a great job he did.
I replaced the screws with some brass pins. And here is the results on some Ash.
So I ordered up some epoxy and put the pins in permanent.
If I find more information on the maker (G. Davies) I will post it here. Also Any information on what the plastic like substance might be would be much appreciated.
Lars Hedelius-Strikkertsen is a Danish guitarist, who plays a 19th century guitar and specialises in the music of that time. Here he is playing a piece by Fernando Sor.
If you go to his website, you’ll see that he sometimes takes the trouble to dress the part when he gives concerts. Not surprisingly, in view of this attention to authentic period detail, he didn’t like the idea of using an anachronistic metal contraption as a capo d’astro and asked me to make him a cejilla.
I’ve written about these devices before so I won’t repeat myself. But the commission reminded me of what delightful instruments these early romantic guitars are. Anyone interested in finding out more about them might like to take a a look at this excellent online gallery.
A few years ago, I made one of these guitars, which is now owned by the artist, Gill Robinson. The instrument that I copied was made by Louis Panormo around 1840, and it’s now in the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments.
There’s a photograph of my guitar above, and a video of Rob MacKillop playing the original instrument below.
I like moulding planes-I even used the British English spelling. Believe it or not I have two, both beading planes, neither of them work all that well. One of those planes I picked up at a flea market, the other was given to me years ago before I started woodworking. At the moment, they are both sitting in a cabinet in my garage. Both are beyond my skill to repair (and maybe beyond repair, period), but that doesn’t stop me from keeping them around.
So if and when I need to add decorative details to furniture, I generally use an electric router. I’ve said before that the router is my least favorite power tool. They are loud, very messy, and quite frankly they can be dangerous. BUT, I can pick up a high quality profile router bit for less than a fifth of the cost of a moulding plane. Am I making this a power tool vs hand tool post? Not at all. I am making this a cost of tools post, because a set of moulding planes costs about as much as decent used car. A woodworker can purchase a good router and a smattering of common profiles for under $500.
What is my point? Good question. I think you should use whichever tool you like. If you like moulding planes and you can afford a set then more power to you. I would love to own a set, myself. In fact, I was just about to purchase a book on them just because I’m the type of guy that enjoys being filled with somewhat useless general knowledge. But for the foreseeable future I will continue using an electric router, which is why I went out of my way to refurbish my old router table. Yet, I’m still disappointed with a few things I read just last night as I was looking to order my book. It seems that using an electric router rather than moulding planes is detrimental to fine woodworking according to more than a few influential people.
I’m not angry; I’m not raving mad; I’m not ready to go on a tirade; I don’t need to pound my heavy bag for twenty minutes to release my aggression. I’m just disappointed. I’m not disappointed in the opinion, as it were, but in that some people don’t get what I’ve been saying for the past two years. These people continue to wonder why I write what I do even after writing an article or post that excludes the vast majority of woodworkers. I’ll be the first to admit that maybe the vast majority of woodworkers don’t even care, but I do. At the same time, I’m not trying to censor anybody-write whatever you like, that’s why the internet exists. But I am going to offer a rebuttal, because I think that what you think is wrong, and I think that your opinions are what is “detrimental to woodworking” and not the fact that woodworkers are using electric routers.