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General Woodworking

Dovetails: A Knife, a Jig & Expert Instruction

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 5:07am

After workbenches and finishing, the questions we get asked most often are about hand-cut dovetails. So, we’ve put together a kit that includes the Woodjoy Precision Dovetail Template (the brass and black oxide one you’ve perhaps seen me use in the magazine and on the blog), an inexpensive but excellent marking knife from Lee Valley, Rob Cosman’s step-by step guide to dovetails, Ian Kirby’s book “The Complete Dovetail,” a Roy […]

The post Dovetails: A Knife, a Jig & Expert Instruction appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

made a revision.....

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 1:16am
 Considering that this is do as I go, the phone cradle has gone well so far. Building the the prototype was a big help and that put the el grande mosaic in focus for me. I came across my first change tonight and it is something that I didn't see on the prototype. I consider this revision to be more of a cosmetic change than a design alteration.

hide glue banding is stuck on
ditto on the yellow glue one
I got a good bond on the both of these considering I just put the two pieces together. I can't pull the bandings off which is another plus. The banding is glued to mostly end grain on the dividers and the next time I do dividers I'll do them so there is long grain to glue to.

hide glue split off easily
yellow glue was marginally harder to split off
The hide glue took none of the dividers off nor left any of the bandings behind. The yellow glue took a few tiny slivers of the divider and left some bandings behind. In this respect neither of these was a good glue bond. I am still going to try and glue the bandings with hide glue. It's a trinket tray and it shouldn't be subjected to any abuse. I'm hoping that it'll be good enough for this.

the revision
This is actually the second change I made to the cradle. The first was putting the spreader at the bottom. The second one is filling the space beneath it.

 the back in place with the revision
without the revision and the back and bottom in place
This is the bottom of the sound chamber and it is sealed without the revision. This spot may be visible with no phone in the cradle. I like the look of it filled in and I also think it'll help with the sound. I have no basis for that other than it is giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

I glued the revision in with hide glue and set it to cook by the furnace. This little hiccup adds another day to the glue up sequence. All that is left is the sound hole board and the back/bottom. I am also thinking of applying the shellac to inside of the cradle before I glue the back and bottom on. That will add another day to glue up process.

sanding the tops
When I put the shellac on the dividers I put it on all 6 sides. I am not sure if hide glue will adhere to shellac and it is easy to do a quick sand and get to bare wood. I don't have to worry about that point anymore.

first side almost done
I had already cut and fitted these 3 pieces and I glued them in first. I had to use the tape to hold them down to the dividers. Even the short piece wasn't laying flat end to end.

I applied the hide glue with a small piece of scrap. I laid a thin even coat on the divider and the banding. I tired to be anal about how I spread it so when I taped it I would minimize any squeeze out. After I got it glued down I did a final check for square and set it aside to cook.

It took me a lot longer to do this one side than I thought it would take. I had planned on doing the other half too but I was a little frazzled after doing this one. Being careful eats up a lot minutes. I think tomorrow I'll be able to whack out a part of the second half.

I'll be able to assess how well the hide glue is doing it's job tomorrow too.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry?
answer - Lady Godiva

A Plane Review

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 5:24pm

Whenever I purchase used (pre-owned) tools, I go into the whole affair with a little reservation. Overall, I’ve been very lucky with my vintage tool purchasing, and I really only came across one clunker that was unworkable. Last week I ordered and received a E.C. Emmerich shoulder plane from Highland Woodworking. Though I had managed to pick up several tools over the past few months, this is the first new (as in not pre-owned) tool I’ve purchased in quite a while. I went with the Emmerich for several reasons, one being the company’s reputation, another being the cost was within my budget, and most importantly they offered the exact style of rabbet plane I was looking for. This was little bit of a gamble in the sense that there are several respected makers from whom I could have purchased a rabbet plane without reservation. E.C. Emmerich has a good reputation, but they are a bit of an enigma here in America. I had never seen one of their tools in person aside from a jointer plane which was in a case, and not touchable. Still, I took the chance, and I am extremely happy that I did.

E.C. Emmerich Rabbet plane. Note the large wedge.

E.C. Emmerich Rabbet plane. Note the large wedge.

When the plane arrived I inspected it and to the best of my judgment everything looked great at first look. The sole was flat and smooth, there were no dings or nicks, and the iron looked good. I planned on using the plane right out of the box, but at the last second I decided to give the iron the whole treatment. I flattened the back, starting with the “fine” grit on the diamond plate, then using the 1000/8000 waterstones. The back of the iron polished up nicely and very quickly, there is a very minor hollow which I left just as it was. I then honed the bevel using just the water stones. All in all it took less than 10 minutes, and it was an easy going 10 at that. I was impressed with the first honing, a good sign.

A crisp, clean rabbet. Note the strike point on the back of the plane.

A crisp, clean rabbet. Note the strike point on the back of the plane.

To give the plane a test run I started with a piece of scrap pine. I scored across the grain and proceeded to make a 1 inch wide rabbet. In what seemed like a matter of seconds I had a smooth and even rabbet, easily the nicest I ever produced with a hand tool. The shavings were neat and full width even though I set the depth of the iron just by feel. I then used the plane on the long grain of some walnut. The walnut dado was already started, as it is a piece of scrap I want to make into a screwdriver rack, so I didn’t need to score it. Once again the plane produced a nice, smooth bottom. At this point I am very impressed.

Here are some initial findings: The wedge is much larger/wider than a traditional wedge, which I find to be a very pleasant surprise. I don’t have hands the size of the incredible hulk, but they aren’t small either (nor are they as nimble as they used to be). I’ve always had a bit of trouble with the wedges on vintage wood planes and could never seem to get a good grip on them. The shape and size of the wedge on the Emmerich plane make it very easy to handle for those of us whose hands aren’t as dainty as the average person. The iron is also heavier than a vintage iron, which is pretty much common place on most new planes, but the tang is rounded at the top, which to me is smart, as it should help limit mushrooming/deforming of the tang from setting it with a hammer. And one of the more impressive features is the round metal strike plate at the back of the plane. I have never, ever, been a fan of striking the back of a wood plane with a hammer or mallet to retract the iron/ loosen the wedge, nor will I ever be. No matter what, when you strike a wood plane with a mallet you are damaging it and there is no way to get around it. I understand that it has been done that way for hundreds of years, but I would be willing to bet that many planes were damaged or broken in the process. The metal strike plate appears to be a simple solution to an age old problem. I’m not sure if it has ever been done before, but this is the first I’ve seen of it. Lastly, the plane is made of hornbeam, the same wood used in many chisel handles. I love the feel, and though I don’t necessarily like to use the term “warm” to describe it, that is exactly what it is, warm and comfortable in the hand.

Though I am less experienced with rabbet planes than I am with other woodworking tools, I like to think that I know a good tool when I use one. This plane is easily the best rabbet, or shoulder style plane I’ve ever used. After using it for just a few hours I am hooked, and during that time I could not find one single complaint. The plane is well made, comfortable, easy to adjust, and it works very well; I couldn’t be happier that I purchased it. This is among the best money I’ve ever spent on a woodworking tool, and only $100 at that, including shipping. E.C. Emmerich may not be as well known in America as other tool makers, but they have a new fan in me.

Categories: General Woodworking

not oak, Buteo instead

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 1:03pm

I’m back from the first weekend of the chest class – and it went very well. Now I have to plane a slew of oak, like the students were doing all weekend.

But the family took a walk on bare earth today, and heard a bunch of loud crows – kept looking up to see what the trouble was…but it turned out to be right in front of us – this juvenile red tailed hawk, sitting on a fence post. We walked right near it, without spooking it. Here’s when I thought I was really close to it –

rt hawk first shot

then the hawk just wouldn’t be spooked. So we left, and when we turned for home – still there.


closer still. I’ve got close to juvies before – for some reason, there’s times when they don’t care about us.



Walnut Dining Trestle Table: Final Details

Nabil Abdo - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 12:00pm

              There are so many details to a finished piece that the process of readying a table for delivery almost becomes a subconscious march of affairs. As your hands become trained to spot the various stages each element of the piece present, you begin a dance to release it from the shop.

Categories: General Woodworking

Starting the Bath Vanity Joinery

I'm a OK guy - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 11:32am
Sometimes the work gods smile upon you, sometimes they piss on your head. This week they smiled. My clients canceled at the last minute so I ended up with three unexpected days off this week plus the one I had scheduled. With one phone call the sky turned blue and the birdies started to sing.

With the unexpected days off I've started the bath vanity joinery, It is pretty standard stuff, the front top stretcher will have a dovetail and the bottom stretcher double M/T. The sides and back will have split M/T joints which I expect will be pinned.

Here are few photos. The first is of one side of one of the dovetails. It needs the nasty bits cleaned but other than that is is ready to fit straight from the saw:

Ready to saw the other shoulder:

Marking the pins on the leg:

After finishing the dovetails I will saw the double tenons on the lower stretcher before moving to the sides and back. Once the basic joinery is finished I will clamp it together and mark the slats for the lower shelf. 

Happy Birthday William Morris (& a Free Download)

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 5:56am

In honor of designer, poet, novelist and social activist William Morris, who was born on this day in 1834 (d. 1896), I give you this Shop of the Crafters Morris Chair article, by Christopher Schwarz. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris This chair is (clearly) far more in the Arts & Crafts vein than 1860s […]

The post Happy Birthday William Morris (& a Free Download) appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

I have proof spring is here......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 1:13am
Spring arrived a couple of days ago but you wouldn't know it around here. Temperatures are running 15-20 degrees lower than normal for this time of the year but at least there isn't any snow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that for a while yet. Meanwhile I'll be thinking happy thoughts and looking forward to the warming trend starting on wednesday.

this is an encouraging sign by my back door
Mother nature wouldn't be playing tricks on me. My crocus plants have always been my first sign that spring is here. After these sprout my daffodils will bloom and that will be a definite maybe that spring is here.

middle shelf has cooked
Step one of three in this glue up is done. I have the hat, the sound hole, and back/bottom left to glue up. I'll be patient and do them one at time.

The hole in the sound board is centered side to side but it's about a 1/4" higher than the center point. I don't think that this will have any influence on the sound but it looks better to my eye.  I centered the one on the prototype but I like this slight off center look.

router action upcoming
I thought today about how to do this by hand with chisels and I came up with a way to do it. That involved making a line with a compass around the top of the hole and then another on the interior of the hole. Then it would be a simple matter of chiseling to the lines.

chamfer done
Again, I don't think this chamfer will enhance or deflate the sound transmission at all. I did this chamfer purely for looks and to dress up the hole some. I doubt that I would have been able to make a chamfer this good looking with chisels.

groove for the plywood back
scrap piece of 1/8" plywood
I'll use this to ensure that I can slip the back into this groove while it's cooking.

clamping caul
I cut a piece of scrap 1/2" plywood to act as a caul for clamping the hat on.  I think I will get better uniform pressure to bear on the ribs as this cooks rather then using two clamps on the outside.

the banding surface is bugging me
This banding feels and looks like the lunar surface. It is bumpy and lumpy end to end. I don't think I would get a good glue bond between the banding and the dividers no matter what type of glue I used. I made a shallow groove in this piece of oak on my tablesaw. I was going to use my record 043 but the saw was quicker. The banding fits in it perfectly.

it's proud of the surface a wee bit
I made a couple of more grooves that were shallower than this one.  This first one was too deep and I needed one not as deep. I ended up making 4 total before I got one I was happy with.

planing the banding smooth with my violin plane
The object is to plane one side smooth but still have it proud of the groove. Flip and plane the other side to get a consistent thickness. This is I why I had to make more grooves.

see the difference
The one on the left has been planed smooth and the middle and right one haven't been done yet. This is worth the calorie count to do. It looks and feels 100% better and that will also look better on the trinket trays smoothed out.

experiment in gluing
I spent my lunch time searching the WWW for some alternate glue choices. I didn't get a warm and fuzzy with the choices there are (they were mostly CA glues). I spent too much time trying to find if contact cement would be a viable choice but I got nowhere with that. I'll be trying out two glues that I know will work.

samples are cooking
I glued two pieces of planed banding to two pieces of 1/8" plywood. I had spread a small amount of glue on both surfaces and rubbed the banding on the plywood and left it. I thought of taping these but I'm going to see how well they adhere with just being put in place.

hat and test banding cooking away
The furnace was running as I placed these here. I'll check on them tomorrow. I'm leaning in the direction of using hide glue on the banding now. I can apply a thin coat to the bandings and dividers without any major headaches. The big plus is that hide glue should be easier to clean up any squeeze out and not have it interfere with the shellac finish on the dividers. We'll see what shakes out tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is a funambulist?
answer - a tightrope walker

Sample Board Partying – Liming

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 6:11pm


One of the dominant aesthetics in the interior design world of my early days in the furniture trade in Palm Beach County, Florida, was the lightening or even whitening of wood furniture and paneling, presumably to reflect the bright sunniness that was numbingly constant outside, especially in the winter when those with the financial means escaped the cold, grim climes of (mostly) New England.  This was manifest in what decorators called “pickled” finishes for wood surfaces.  During my recent luncheon presentation in Palm Beach, one of the topics my hosts requested was to address this one.

Traditionally this was applied over either oak or cypress, and I recall finishing what seemed to be acres of it.  In fact the “whitening” of these woods was accomplished by two unrelated techniques.

One technique involves the deposition of white material into the grain of the wood, and the other requires the deposition of a thin uniform layer of white translucence over the entire surface.  Though I executed both techniques on both oak and cypress, you will see from the results that one technique worked well for one wood, and the other, the other.

“Liming” of wood requires the deposition of, well, lime onto the wood, or more precisely, into the wood.  In these samples I planed and scraped the panels, then lightly scrubbed them with a brass brush to wallow out the grain.  In the case of oak, it resulted in the emphasis of the ring-porous nature of the wood, while with the cypress it created a muddy, unremarkable effect.


Once the surface was ready I took some hydrated lime from the hardware store and prepared some very lean gesso from the lime, water, and about 2-3% 315 gws glue.  I first soaked overnight and cooked the glue in the water, then added powdered lime to the desired consistency.


This was brushed onto the surface, making sure to work it down into the grain, and allowed to dry completely.


Since the gesso was very lean, I was able to remove the excess gesso, that is the gesso not down in the grain, with an abrasive pad rather than the coarse burlap of days gone by.


Following that I applied a single coating of paste wax, and when that was hard I buffed it with a piece of clean cloth.  This is a nerve wracking step the first time you do it as the paste wax saturates the lime deposit, making it disappear.  Never fear, as the solvent in the paste wax flashes off, the white will slowly emerge again.  The effect in oak is dramatic.


For cypress, the presentation is fairly undistinguished.


Fortunately, there is a technique that works wonderfully on cypress.

Stay tuned.



MC Escher Tool Chest

McGlynn On Making - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 2:26pm

Yesterday I posted a picture of a Dutch Tool Chest I’m making.  It’s just a busywork project, something to do for fun.  It was decidedly less fun when I discovered that I’d done the joinery for one end bass-ackwards.  Not really the end of the world, this is the cheap common pine.  It’s also slightly cupped, even after flattening it, it cupped again.

And it’s not like I need a tool chest.  Having said that, I’ll probably end up building two or three of these.

Kudos to Greg Merrit for nicknaming this the "MC Escher Chest".  I'm *never* buying plans from that Dutch Dude again...

Kudos to Greg Merrit for nicknaming this the “MC Escher Chest”. I’m *never* buying plans from that Dutch Dude again…

So, I cut one set of pins off, and re-cut them. No biggie.  The sawing went much better, it helped that I put up more shop lights in the intervening time.

Dutch chest after coming down from a bad sugar high. (the chest, not me)

Dutch chest after coming down from a bad sugar high. (the chest, not me)


Categories: General Woodworking

Traveling Tool Chest: Simply Stunning

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 11:43am

Last week, we shot the cover photo for the August issue. It’s a classic English tool chest sized for travel (though it holds almost a full complement of furniture making tools, sans moulding planes). The build was a collaboration between Christopher Schwarz, who designed and built the chest, and Jameel Abraham, who made the 3D marquetry panel for the lid’s interior (and Peter Ross, who made the hand-forged hardware.) Last […]

The post Traveling Tool Chest: Simply Stunning appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

In the hand of the beholder

James Watriss - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 10:30am

This post hit me while I was filing and sanding the handles on a pair of kettlebells today. That's good news for me, because it means the urge to write is coming back.

For the unaware, kettlebells are basically cannonballs with handles on them, used for weight lifting exercises. Some of the core exercises in kettlebell work involve grabbing the handle, and swinging the weights in a specific way, in some cases for up to 10 minutes or longer. (I'll get there someday.) It is thus of paramount importance that the handles are in good condition, lest you get blisters, or tear up your calluses. Rough spots in the castings are the primary culprits, as is the seam in the handle where the halves are joined on some of the cast iron models... like these ones. So, those rough or high spots need to be filed away, and sanded down. And as I was filing and sanding my merry way along this morning, it hit me, that it reminded me very much of some of my favorite tools... almost all of which are older.

I have an old, round-side Bedrock plane that has a hang hole drilled in it, the japanning is a mess, it doesn't have the original lever cap, and there's a broken spot on the back of the sidewall on one side. I tuned it up and tweaked it, and in general, it's one of the smoothest operating planes I own. And the broken spot is actually a plus: On most of my other planes, that's the part that digs into the side of my hand while I'm working, inevitably resulting in a blister if I have a lot of planing to do that day.

That's why this plane gets plenty of attention, and my customized Lie-Nielsen (Blade alignment screws machined into the sidewalls down by the sole, a Holtey S53 iron, as well as other more minor tweaks) sat on the shelf. The L-N is a very sexy tool, and I love the way it handles. But because it doesn't handle quite as well as that beaten up old Bedrock, it's now up on eBay.

Some of my other old tools are treasures, because of the patterns in the patination. I have an old, borderline usable wooden jack plane, that has light spots in the patina from where the plane had clearly been gripped and worked with, for many, many board feet. And it shows me where the pressure was landing, and just how the grip was aligning on the plane. That tells me how the previous owner... whose long experience was documented on this tool... had been holding the thing, and whether or not I'm doing it like he did. That's a lot of information.

Proprioception is defined as the sense of relative position of neighboring parts of the body, and strength of effort being employed in movement. In sports, and in some other skilled endeavors, learning the 'right' motions is facilitated by having your coach stand behind you, grab your elbows, or arms, or whatever, and then guide you through the motions. Proprioception cuts through the chatter, and you learn how the motion is supposed to feel, without being distracted by the horribly botched attempt to explain it in words.

This old plane is basically the next best thing. Lining my hands up with the markings in the patina, I can feel how the plane is 'supposed' to be used.

And that circles around to the issue of what something looks like, how valuable it is, and how valuable it's perceived to be. Having worked for chain retailers for 3 years, I saw a lot of tools in our catalogs, and in our stores. In the catalog, many of them looked very sexy. In person, in the store, when I compared them mentally to my own favorite tools, it was different. Lacking studio lighting and makeup, they looked slightly less sexy than they did in the catalog. And in the hand, not all of them felt the way that they should. They still looked pretty good on the shelf. But they didn't feel right. By comparison, some of my older tools... like that old Jack plane... look ugly in a way that my Army Drill Sergeant would probably have described as "Uglier than a bag full of smashed A-holes."

(Apologies to my more delicate readers. Basic training is a rarified experience.)

But all of that ugly aside, the tools in question just feel  right. And they work well. They'd never sell in a catalog, and they'll fetch a fraction of a pittance on eBay... But the real value of a tool for the end user doesn't derive from how good it looks. The tool's value is in how well it works.

(That said, the tool's value for the online or catalog retailer does derive from how good it looks, because that correlates directly with sales. Lacking any other input than a picture, a pretty tool will sell better than an ugly tool.)

And this extends to the furniture I love to make. (I'm down these days, but not out.) I love big, heavy stuff, made of solid wood, that feels SOLID. Furniture that doesn't have the vibration and wobble that brand new Ikea products exhibit. Furniture that's heavy when it should be heavy, like a hayrake table, or light when it should be light... like a ladderback chair. I LOVE the feel of a finish that's topped with a film of (properly applied) paste wax. French polish is sexy and all, but when my fingers glide on the surface, and it just feels right... That's not something that can be faked. Properly broken edges aren't as crisp looking as a lot of the edges on the tables that I've used before, but they feel right.

I suppose from here I could devolve the conversation into a talk on the problems inherent in an internet catalog economy, the lack of personal, or at least personalized treatment, 'real' craftsmanship, or any of the other mantras that come up in woodworking circles.

Instead I'm going to close up, grab those 'bag of ugly' kettlebells (that feel much better, now) and get back to work.

Categories: General Woodworking

Maybe Red Oak Ain’t So Bad

360 WoodWorking - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 7:27am
In our 360 with 360 podcast #36 (listen to it here), Chuck, our podcast guest Ron Herman and I all agreed that red oak was our least favorite wood. We each gave reasons for our dislike of this wood. But during a recent trip to Tampa for the final Woodworking Show of the year, I […]

Ross Poldark Scything

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 7:20am
What is Ross Poldark doing with his scythe? Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Worked on the Bath Vanity

I'm a OK guy - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:06am
I had a couple of free early morning hours to work on the bath vanity this weekend. I was able to finish chopping the mortices and have marked the stretchers.

Sometimes I will use a guide to chop, sometimes not. This was one of the times I've used a guide, mostly because I had one of the correct size. I could be wrong but I think it may be a little quicker to use a guide than not because once set up you can pretty much chop on autopilot.

Here is a photo of setting the guide up and checking for square:

Chopping the mortice:

Finished mortice:

closing in on two more......

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 1:28am
I had pleasant interlude in my sunday routine today. Daughter #2 stopped by with her husband and the four of us went out to lunch. We went to her favorite pizzeria which she usually picks when she comes south to RI. The wife and I got an invite to her house for Easter dinner and of course we said yes. I am not so old and feeble yet that I'll turn down a free meal. Something to look forward to in the coming weeks.

trinket tray divider
I started applying shellac to this divider last night. I now have 6 coats on it and that part is done. The dividers aren't as tight fitting as I would like and I'm using the shellac to help keep them together by acting like a glue.

the other half dividers
I'm dong the shellac on these today. I put the first two coats on with the pieces loose. I put the divider together after this and I put on 4 more coats.

quick peek at the cradle
The dry fit is looking ok. I have the original hat in place with the bevel done on the wrong edge. It's the same width as the other two pieces and will allow me to get a look at this.

cut a new hat for the cradle
knifing the bevel on the middle shelf
I have a smaller bevel gauge but the wing nut gets in the way. With this larger gauge, I can lay out both sides and nothing gets in the way.

start with the #4
Once I get close to my knife lines I like using my block plane to finish the bevel. I can see what I am doing and I can keep a better eye on where my knife lines are. On something this small I also feel like I have better control on the planing.

ready to check it out
off a bit

I'm happy with this
It only took a few swipes of the plane to correct the bevel. It took 3 checks before I got this fit. I wasn't to concerned about the bevel eating up the shelf length because I purposely left it long.

layout for the middle shelf
I have to notch the middle shelf around the walnut ledger strips. The layout has been knifed on both sides and the edges. I'll saw it out with my Zona saw.

I have some trimming to do
The vertical cross cut I tried to saw on the line as best I could. The saw cut coming in from the side I purposely sawed off at a slight angle. This I chiseled to the line and tweaked the fit in the cradle.

dry fit is good

bevel for the hat
The initial bevel for the hat I did most of the waste removal with a chisel. This was quicker but the bevel was rougher then what I had with a plane. A plane takes longer to do but I had better control of the removal of the waste with a plane vice a chisel.

This phone cradle revved up my desire to see if this could fly. The top, middle, and bottom are in position and dry fitted. But it's cocked and I can get two of them to fit but not all 3.  My first thoughts were something isn't square. I checked the three pieces and all were square so that idea was squashed.
Then I thought maybe one is wider then the others. That idea was tossed aside because I sawed all three on the tablesaw at the same time.

I then went out into La-La land checking the cradle for square in every possible position I could. From the back I could see that the cradle was cocked without the need of verifying it with a square. So I thought maybe the 3 pieces are all square but edges aren't. Maybe opposite edges are slanted and cocking the sides out of square. Nope, all edges were square too. On a bright note, I was able to use a clamp to pull the back of the cradle into square.

went back to square one and I checked all 3
The width is all that matters on these pieces. I can't feel a difference on any of these 3 with my finger tips. They are all flush.

I can get two clamped but not all three
Maybe the notches are a bit off and that is pushing the sides out and not allowing the other two to clamp up because they are now too short side to side.

measured the same at top, middle, and bottom
this one and the hat are a 1/16 shy
spreader at the bottom
With the middle clamped, it cocks the sides inward at the bottom. I put this offcut in here until I had it square on the outside edges. I did this to check the measurements on the front were the same top to bottom.

new hat and new sound hole board
The notches on the middle shelf are off just a hair on both sides. Rather the chisel the notches larger and screw up the fit I now have with them, I elected to make new pieces that fit the existing conditions. The cocking and other problems have disappeared now with the new pieces dry fitted.

I lied
The front looked good with the dry fit. There weren't any gaps and the joints looked fairly tight and well fitting. On the back the bottom was cocked inward and the top hat wasn't square to the sides. I cut a piece of stock from the offcut from the hat to use as a spreader.

This works out doubly for me. First it will keep the bottom at the same distance as the top hat is. And secondly, it will give me a place to glue the bottom of the back to.

glue up time
I spent over a half an hour trying to figure out how to best glue this up. It's going to be a royal PITA and I won't be doing it all in one session. There is no way that I could see where I could have gotten glue spread, clamps applied, and checked it for square. And still be sane when done. And not succumb to beating the snot out of this with a 3lb sledge hammer.

What I did was accept that this is going to be a multiple day glue up. Period, and there was no getting around it. The first step I did was to glue the middle shelf. I left the sound board and hat in place dry to hold the cradle square while the middle shelf cooked. After the middle shelf had cooked for an hour, I glued the bottom spreader. tomorrow I should be able to glue the sound hole board and the hat. After that it'll be the back and bottom.

test piece for the bottom
I planed a bevel on the front of this piece of 1/8" plywood. This is the bottom and the bevel will meet the bottom of the back of the sound hole board.

pretty good for just an eyeball
I wanted to run the bottom ply into a 1/8" groove on the back of the sound hole board. After looking at the positions of the two players I nixed the idea. I would have to make the 1/8" groove angled and the tablesaw would have been the best choice for making it. I tried to think of way to do it by hand and stopped. There wouldn't be that much meat for a groove and the best I could do there was to make a rabbet. The plan now is to glue the bevel end of the bottom to the back of the sound hole board. That may change between now and then though.

sharpened two more molding irons
Both of these planes are the same profile but they are made by different makers. Both planes are sash molders and the top one is a #1 and the bottom one is a #2. In use they came in pairs with #1 hogging the profile and the #2 finessing and refining it. I got these to make a profile on the edge of shelves or for bookcases.

one is a bit larger then the other - but the profiles are similar
I do like shiny
The two outboard facets I did on my stones. The middle concave portion I did with sandpaper and my ceramic stones.

different size but both are sharp and shiny now
6 coats of shellac
The shellac is acting like a glue and holding the divider together. Now that the finish is on, I can start on covering up the top end grain of the plywood.

I got two pieces dry laid
This banding isn't all that smooth. It is rough and bumpy on both sides and I'm not sure how to fix it or if I should just leave it as is.

easy to cut to length with a sharp rap of the chisel
stopped here
See the two pieces on the other side? They were for the center piece on the bottom one. Doing a dry fit and cutting wasn't working. The pieces are moving and it makes layout and cutting iffy at best. I think the best way to do this is to glue the two long pieces down and then cut and fit the 3 short ones.

I still have to pick out a glue to use for this. I haven't had good luck with instant glue so I'm reluctant to use it. This is a very thin edge to glue with hide or yellow glue and I don't what to deal with drips and runs. The dividers are already finished and I also have to contend with the blue velvet bottoms.

The front runner at this point is contact cement. I am not a fan of this stuff and I have used before so I have some experience with it.  But I haven't used it for anything this small. I have some time left to think about this and see if any other choices pop up. I still have all the fun to come with sanding and scraping the top lid.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was the only actor to win an Oscar for playing Santa Claus?
answer - Edmund Gwenn - Best supporting actor in Miracle on 34th Street in 1947

Dutch Tool Chest F A I L

McGlynn On Making - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 5:01pm

I had some 1 x 12 pine boards, and a recently completed Moxon vise, so I thought “why not build a Dutch Tool Chest”?  As I’m putting it together, I am starting to question the usefulness of this chest…

I don't think this is going to work out like I thought.

I don’t think this is going to work out like I thought.

Categories: General Woodworking

Conserving a c.1720 Italian Tortoiseshell Mirror – Cleaning

The Barn on White Run - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 2:57pm


Once I finished with documenting and photographing the mirror frame, with special attention given to the areas of fracture and delaminated tortoiseshell, I began the process of cleaning it.


Like a legion of its brethren, this mirror had undergone a longstanding and typical process of being oiled periodically in order to spruce-up the appearance. In this particular instance, I believe the oil used was olive oil. Unfortunately, this process also contaminates every presentation surface, and if there are any cracks through which the oil can wick, the gluing margins as well. Equally unfortunate is that oiling tortoiseshell provides at best a temporary luster, while producing a long-lasting gooey residue that adheres airborne particles to the surface.


To address this I cleaned the entire surface of the mirror frame three times with naphtha on soft disposable shop towel pieces, until I was satisfied that the surfaces were clean. Somewhat more challenging was the incursion of the oil underneath the areas of lifted tortoiseshell. For these I not only needed to dissolve the oil but the transfer it to a spongy material in order to imbibe the oil into the sponge.



Once again I used the blue paper shop towels, cutting small pieces to gently slide into the openings of the fractured and lifted tortoiseshell with a thin spatula. Once in place, I used a dropper to wick naphtha into the paper sponge and let that wick up to the end, underneath the delaminated tortoiseshell, contacting, dissolving, and transferring the oil into the disposable sponge.


After a couple iterations of this, with two or three hours of contact each time, I let it dry thoroughly and tested one area and found it to be adequately cleaned in order to proceed.

Moxon 4, Mostly Done

McGlynn On Making - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 6:52am

I’m eager to wrap up the Moxon vise project and put it to work.  Remember, this is an enabling step toward the next marquetry project.  And if you followed that logic, you’re in the right place here.

Here is the high level view on this progress report.  I’d done the woodworking bits already.  Chopped hexagonal mortises for the front nuts, glued on the brace for the back, cut the decorative details on the ends and drilled holes for the acme rod.  Check the comments on the last post for a great tip for inexpensive Acme rods and nuts.

Hardware for the vise.  I'm using 1"-5 acme rod, cut 11" long.  That's one size larger than what most folks seem to use, but I wanted the visual scale just for aesthetics.

Hardware for the vise. I’m using 1″-5 acme rod, cut 11″ long. That’s one size larger than what most folks seem to use, but I wanted the visual scale just for aesthetics.

There are two nuts for each acme rod to hold them in place.  One mortised into the front of the rear jaw...

There are two nuts for each acme rod to hold them in place. One mortised into the front of the rear jaw…

...and one the clamps against the back of the read jaw.  This is a very sturdy setup.  For reference, the nuts are 1" thick and 1.625" across the flats.  That's a 2" diamater x .300" washer.

…and one the clamps against the back of the read jaw. This is a very sturdy setup. For reference, the nuts are 1″ thick and 1.625″ across the flats. That’s a 2″ diamater x .300″ washer.  I love nice hardware.

So the next steps were really about final fit up, sanding (because that makes a great blog post) and doing the little bit of metalwork.  My first step was to fix my TIG welder.  It’s been down for probably 8 months, and I haven’t welded in probably a year or more.  A far cry from when I had a small manufacturing business and welded nearly every day.  That’s a lot of words to say “I’m out of practice”.

TIG torch repaired.  The problem was the coolant return line was leaking.  No one wants to weld while standing in a spray of antifreeze, trust me on that one.

TIG torch repaired. The problem was the coolant return line was leaking. No one wants to weld while standing in a spray of antifreeze, trust me on that one.

I’ll need to do some more metalwork projects to get back in practice.  I’m sure I need some welded brackets and what-not for the shop.

Once the welder was repaired I made up the wing nuts as I had them in the plans.  One large nut with two 1.5″ long pieces of 1/3″ round bar tipped up 30 degrees, and two 1″ steel balls.  My welding on the was a little sloppy and inconsistent, but by the last bit I was starting to get into the swing again.

While I was working on making the handles I also sanded the vise and started applying finish.  I’m experimenting with Tru-Oil after reading about it on the Benchcrafted blog.  I’m always suspicious of finishes, after reading Flexner testing finishes it seems a lot of finishes are snake oil.  I bought a bottle of Tru-Oil, and I really like it.  This is probably my new favorite wiping varnish finish.  It build fast and dries really quickly.

Since this is a shop appliance, not furniture or a musical instrument like Jameel makes, I sanded to 220 just to remove tool marks.  Then I wiped on two thin coats, and let that dry.  I sanded with 320, then wiped on two more thin coats.  I rubbed with 0000 steel wool, and wiped on one last coat.  More than enough gloss, and with finer grits this would be even nicer.  The thin coats seem to tack up very quickly — in 5 or 10 minutes — and dry to the touch within an hour.

Then I installed the brass escutcheon plates I’d made.  I’m liking it.  You’ll notice I did add a mild stopped chamfer for saw clearance whencutting half blind dovetails.  I also cold-blued the wing nuts, I like the finish.

Brass plates installed, I like it!

Brass plates installed, I like it!

Then I reinstalled the screws and the wing nuts I made, it seems to work pretty well.  I need to glue some leather to the front jaw to help with clamping and then try this out — I wanted to give the finish overnight to fully cure.

Nearly finished with the Moxon vise, just need to add the leather to the jaws

Nearly finished with the Moxon vise, just need to add the leather to the jaws

It’s not a perfect piece, I got some small chip out where I was rasping the cyma recta detail (backer board next time Joe!), and there are a few other details that could have been better, but for a shop appliance I’m really pleased with it.

Glamor shots in use to come.



Categories: General Woodworking

Coney Plane

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 6:45am

For the past few months I’ve been in the market for a rabbet plane, partially because I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, but mostly because I need one to do some of the things I am planning for the future. The problem was I couldn’t seem to find a decent one on the used market, and when I did somebody always beat me to the punch. While I’ve always wanted to purchase the Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane (essentially a metal moving fillister), I also wanted a “traditional” wood version just because I like how they look and feel. There still are some makers of these planes: TIme Warp Tool Works, Matt Bickford, and Philly Planes to name a few, but my funds were limited to around $100, and this led me to the E.C. Emmerich web page.

E.C. Emmerich Rabbet plane

E.C. Emmerich Rabbet plane


View of the sole

View of the sole

I’ve known about E.C. Emmerich for some time. For those of you who do not, they are a German company that still makes many traditional woodworking tools. They have a good reputation, but the problem was I couldn’t find a distributor here in America that carried their full line; most seemed to carry their Primus Planes, but I was look for something more traditional. Eventually, I found that Highland Woodworking offered the Rabbet Plane I was looking for, so I used up the last of my gift card and purchased it this week. The plane arrived in just two days (way to go USPS!) And though I haven’t used it as of yet, I can say that it is a beautifully made plane. The sole is Lignum Vitae and the body hornbeam. The iron is flat and razor sharp, and appears to be ready to use out of the box though I will hone it. The plane has a solid feel to it that I like. The only thing that has bothered me thus far is the lack of instructions for the care of the plane. Their is an oil finish on the body, but I have no idea what that finish is. Generally, I would use linseed oil to clean and maintain a wood plane, and I’m under the assumption that this plane would be no different, but I would like to be sure. I will check out the ECE web page later to see what they recommend.

This past Winter, which finally ended on Friday (with 6 inches of snow falling for one last sucker-punch) has been a strange one for me in the woodworking sense. I didn’t build much furniture, but I managed to pick up some new tools, which I hadn’t planned on doing, as well as breathe some new life into tools I already had. I can say in all honesty that my plane collection is nearing completion. I would say that a plough plane and a set of #6 hollow/rounds will finish it off and leave me with every tool I need to do anything I need. Now, I just need a little bit of nice weather so I can get those tools working.

Categories: General Woodworking


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by Dr. Radut