Two Projects Running and What Do I Do?

January 25, 2016 3 comments

Not work on either project of course! I wanted to work on them but I ended up spending some of my weekend with family instead. Had I not done so, I wouldn’t have witnessed the “Florida Blizzard of 2016”. That’s right we had some snow flurrying around about mid-day in Gainesville. By the time I got home in the afternoon and with my shop a bit of a mess, I couldn’t get serious about the next steps of my build. So…. I decided to piddle around instead.

Sunday was a bit of a repeat of Saturday and after taking a 4 mile walk with my wife, I still felt like the shop was disarranged. So….I distracted myself again. I refer you to my post from almost one year ago, “Christmas in Georgia“.

 

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On that trip I brought back some tools with which I have done nothing, until Sunday.

Last Friday I stumbled upon a Paul Seller’s video entitled “Restoring the Bench Plane“. As with most of Mr. Seller’s lectures, he makes things look easy. He is so knowledgeable, so experienced, so practical and best of all so unpretentious. Every-time I think about him I just keep saying, “Paul Sellers is the real deal”. Any way my point is not to fawn over Mr. Sellers but to point out that this particular video gave me the desire to rehab my Fulton Warranted smoother (seen in the upper right of the above photo). I’m calling it a No. 4.

Fortunately for me, the plane had all of its parts and only the rear tote was broken. (Note: I saw an identical plane on eBay with exactly the same break on its handle) What held me up from working on it was that I was going to use electrolysis to remove all the rust and I never took the time to build the gizmo to do it. Thus everything sat in limbo. Paul simply cleaned off the rust with abrasive paper, so simple even I could do it. Which is what I ended up doing Sunday afternoon.

After fully watching Paul’s video on Friday, I pretty much winged it myself on Sunday with what I had learned. I won’t go in to detail rather I would refer you to his tutorial. I probably spent about 3 or 4 hours from start to finish. I took some shavings during the build and I’m sure I can do better with some tuning. As long as the rear tote glue-up holds I think I’ll be in business.

Fulton Warranted Bench Plane

Fulton Warranted Bench Plane

Rhyan End Table – Redux (2)

January 19, 2016 Leave a comment

I may have mildly annoyed some of my family members (which I love very much) but I resolved to work in my shop all three days of the long MLKJr Holiday weekend. Saturday I moved a step or two closer to completing the second night stand for Susan.

Panel Prep

As designed this piece requires two solid wood panels for a top and lower shelf. One evening last week Susan was attending a Continuing Ed event in town to I decided to work in my shop while she was away. My goal was to joint and glue up both panels which I completed in a couple of hours. I used my ginormous pipe clamps on the larger of the two panels (the top) and the tape seam method for the smaller. This method is similar to those I’ve seen used for joining guitar tops and as simple as it is, has worked well for me. Each panel was made from two pieces.

Saturday, I removed the panels from clamps, sharpened my scraper and leveled the surfaces by hand. The glue-ups weren’t perfect but they were pretty good. One panel had very a slight gap along one edge but this would be the bottom surface and not visible. The other had a slight ridge which had to be leveled with careful hand planing followed by scraping.

After that I chucked up my 1/2″ round-over bit and edged all four top surfaces on both panels.

Night stand top ready for finish.

Panels are ready for sanding and top coat.

I was on a roll so while I had the router set up, I went ahead and cut my drawer fronts to length and put the same edge profile on them.

Night stand drawer fronts ready for finish.

Earlier in the morning I took the night stand case out to the car port and sprayed another coat of green paint albeit a different color. To my annoyance I couldn’t remember whether or not I had selected Hunter Green or Palmetto thinking it always to be the former. After two trips to Lowes I found the Hunter Green I was after only to realize upon returning to my shop that I really wanted Palmetto after all. Oh well here at the Turtlecove Workshop our motto is “Smoke ’em if you got ’em”. So the Hunter Green now covers the previous Palmetto and we will now have His and Hers in slightly different shades of green.

The next step would have been to spray top coat over all the pieces but it rained all day so I decided to move on to my next build……

Hey great to see you again, thank-you for joining me in the shop….

Rhyan End Table – Redux (1)

January 11, 2016 4 comments

Susan and I finally made it out to Melrose (Turtlecove) for a very quick overnight during the Christmas break. I seized the opportunity to “deliver” the recently completed night stand to my side of the bed. Apologies for the horrid photo.

Rhyan End Table - Build #1

Night stand #1 was a success, now Susan wanted one for her side.

The Carcass

Of course it is always a big help to have previously built a piece and this held true as I cranked up the case build on night stand #2. One of those things I was hoping to avoid was gluing up my own 2 x 2 stock but after a couple of trips to the home center and looking around online I realized that I was going to have to “bite the bullet” and make my own stock as I did the last time. On this occasion I decided to glue all the pieces up at once using my pipe clamps.

Each piece of 1 x 2 was cut an inch over final length on my miter saw. As before I began by jointing one (wide) surface of each piece making sure to mark the reference side. After generating (almost) enough pieces I performed a single glue-up in my 8 ft long pipe clamps. I would be gluing every other piece (forming pairs) and I considered how easy it might be to screw up so I wisely used the cabinet maker’s triangle on each pair to quickly and easily identify glue surfaces which were also reference surfaces I might add. I used wax paper under and over the stock to protect my clamps and added a panel on top to keep downward pressure. The result was a successful glue-up and yet another horrid photo.

Gluing up 2x2 stock for the night stand.

Gluing up 2×2 stock for the night stand.

While the glue was drying I spent the time roughing out the plywood panels for the case. Unfortunately I don’t have an easy way to rough cut larger plywood pieces down to table saw size so I use a circular saw and a shop made rip guide. This is definitely one area where my jigs and method desperately need improvement and I’ll be giving this some thought.

Assembling the case pieces began the following day.

Constructing the case sides and back.

Constructing the case sides and back.

This go round I was trying to be careful how I oriented the glued-up 2 x 2s in an attempt to be a) consistent and b) reduce the dimensional mismatch in width and height. Last time I recognized it could be a problem then proceeded to assemble incorrectly anyway :-(  Not this time :-)

Case assembled by the end of the second day.

Case assembled by the end of the second day.

Drawers

I was pretty happy with the progress. In two days I had made the carcass and it didn’t even rock when placed on a flat surface. Yeah!

Drawers for the night stand.

I started on the two drawers.

I didn’t happen to have enough 1×6 select pine for the two drawers but I did have some wider stock on hand. I decided to go ahead and rip down what I needed so I could keep working on the drawer cases. Once again I pulled out the table saw dovetail jig and with fair success, cut all my tail boards for the drawer sides. I haven’t really had that many opportunities to figure out the nuances of this device but I’m starting to sort it a bit. Instead of using the left and right side for tails, I’ve decided it makes more sense to flip the board instead. This means the angle will match but also requires me to mark both sides of the board. The added benefit is not having to stop and move the jig or tweak the blade height more than compensates for having to mark both sides of the tail board. Tails usually come out pretty respectable but it is the pin board that gets me all confused. This time I figured out that I could mark each side with a different colored marker. I used orange for one side and blue for the other. I also used the same colors to mark the jig and placed the marks on the outer edge of the waste so that I visually could see not only which line to cut but also which side of the kerf to align the mark. Again it took time to mark all the pin boards and to use the colors but it saved time by not ruining my project with a bad cut. Although my resulting dovetail joints were amateurish, I’m getting much closer to figuring out a good method. With just a bit more experimentation I think I can figure it out. Next time I’ll cut my pin board first and will experiment on how much meat to leave on the tail so that it is tight without time-consuming whittling to get it to fit.

Drawer cases completed.

Drawer cases completed.

Lessons Learned

The one thing I have been better at is that I have been taking time to address nagging problems rather than muddle through and press on. Sure I’d like to “get step X completed” but I’d also like to go ahead and fix or tweak things that I have been neglecting. For example, my bench top bench has found a recent home on top of my B&D Workmate and the way I had it secured part of the stand blocked longer boards as I clamping them in the moxon. So for shorter boards, not a problem but for my drawer sides it was in the way. Now this wasn’t a quick nor a simple fix although it seems that it should be. Never-the-less I finally came up with a serviceable fix and that particular problem has gone away. Yeah!

Another example, I finally took the time to mill up some wooden cauls for my pipe clamps. They only took about 30 minutes to cut, drill and screw but I had been putting it off because I don’t use the clamps very much. I’m glad I finally took the time, now I will probably use them more.

Yet another example; my Rockler router lift was slipping so the bit was getting pushed down as I lowered the board on to it for a stopped groove. Irritating to say the least. So I stopped, opened the manual (I save PDF versions of manuals for any tool I’ve purchased on Google Drive). Now I know how to adjust the tension and won’t hesitate to do it in the future as needed.

I also got tired of the lead snapping off on my 0.5mm pencils so while I was at Office Depot the other day I purchased the hardest lead they had, 2H (4H is the hardest). During my build I stopped and swapped out all the lead in my 0.5mm pencils so I wouldn’t be frustrated with every mark. Now my lead is reasonably solid and I can mark with confidence, and it’s one less frustration.

There are still plenty of other nuisances that I ran across this weekend and I’ll be working on solutions to those as well. Right up there at the top is a safe, easy method for cutting down sheet goods.

So what’s my point? I’m trying to take back control of my shop and taking time out to sharpen a chisel or plane blade, adjust a piece of power equipment or manufacture a jig are just part of the build process. In 2016 I’m embracing that fact!

Hoping to make my shop a better place to play!

Hat and Coat Rack

January 7, 2016 2 comments

In the modern vernacular I happen to be “follicly challenged” so I always try to wear a cap to and from the parking lot and when I’m walking about. Also I always keep a coat and umbrella in my office  just because Boy Scouts are to “Be Prepared”. As a woodworker it occurred to me about a year ago that it would be nice to have a place to keep these items together and off the floor but I just never quite got around to making one until the Christmas break.

Caution

If you are expecting something amazing please be advised this was a quick, easy and fun project to build. It only took me a couple of hours from start to finish and it was a great way to ease back into the shop without stressing myself. I could have made it better and I could have made it more complicated but I chose to simply “Git Ur Done”. If I were to make this as a gift I’d probably take the opportunity to use more traditional joinery.

The Plan

Originally I was going to shrink the Chris Schwarz’s (French inspired) “Tool Rack” but along the way I ran in to Megan Fitzpatrick’s article on her “Weekend Pot Rack” plan. If you look you can see they are similar in overall appearance but the pot rack was just a hair closer to what I was looking for and Megan had provided a SketchUp model.

French Tool Rack

French Tool Rack

Weekend Pot Rack

Weekend Pot Rack

I downloaded the model and scaled down from 40″ in length to 22″ which is what I required to fit the back of my office door. After scaling the model looked great and I simply adjusted the thickness of my stock to reasonable and round numbers and otherwise minor adjustments to suit my tastes. I didn’t take the time to edit the model (because I’m lazy) I simply printed it out to scale and made hand written notes on the changes.

Scaled Pot Rack

Once scaled the pot rack was now the basis for my hat and coat rack

I used 4,  2 1/2″ shaker pegs which I had purchased from Home Depot for this project and a length of 1/2″ dowel which I had on hand. The rack itself was made from cypress which again I had on hand. The original plan was to use pine but it occurred to me that cypress would be plenty durable for this purpose and I already have a floor lamp which I had previously made which is also cypress.

The Build

Not much to it actually. I printed out a full-sized profile of the side which I cut out and glued to my board. I cut it out on the band saw then used this piece to make the same shape on the other side piece. After cutting out the other side, I used double stick tape and faired the curve on my oscillating belt sander. I didn’t bother with a template and router as I only needed these two pieces to match and be pleasing to me. It didn’t take long at all to sand to the line.

While the two pieces were taped together, I marked and drilled the 1/2″ hole for the dowel cross-piece on the drill press. This guarantees the holes will line up assuming of course the sides are square when assembled.

To make that happen I used a Rockler assembly square to hold it true while I glued and screwed it in place. I bought two of these a couple of years ago and I use them on almost ever project that involves a case. I you don’t want to spend the money I highly recommend making up a few in different sizes something I plan to do “real soon now”. I repeated gluing the other side making sure to insert the (oversized) dowel to aid in alignment.

Once the sides were in place I measured and cut the center board and marked for the peg holes. I had purchased 6 but after playing with it, decided that 4 pegs were the correct number for this design. I marked and drilled the 1/2″ holes for the pegs before gluing and screwing the board in place. I made sure to mock-up the dowel before deciding on final placement of the peg board. I didn’t want them to interfere with each other and space was tight enough with the smaller scale of the project. I’m glad I purchased the smaller pegs.

After gluing the pegs home, the final step was to mark and cut the dowel to length which was then glued in place.

Assembled Hat Rack

Assembled hat rack ready for a coat of tung oil finish.

The first thing I did after the holiday break was to install and try out my new rack. Sometimes it’s the small things that make our lives better and I have to say, I love this small thing.

Completed hat and coat rack.

Simple hat and coat rack is now in service.

Turtlecove wishes you a safe, successful and blessed 2016!

 

Shaker Step Stool – Part 4

December 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Well the plan was solid and I was able to meet the minimum goals toward completion of the this project. I was however, never able to get ahead with each step taking twice or three times as long as I would have estimated. The upshot was that I managed to complete the build by the end of Sunday but I was unable to apply any finish. All in all, I have worked hard and I’m satisfied with my effort.

Friday Night – Kerfs for Wedging, Beveling the Top, Chamfering Edges, Surface Prep

I had been contemplating the problems I had with my previous evenings effort in wedge making and it occurred to me that I should try again. I felt that I had made too large of an angle in my jig and thus the wedges came out thicker than I felt would work. In the moment I was too tired to fix the issue but having slept on it I realized it was a simple thing to slice off the edge at the table saw and remake the notch. I did and it worked beautifully. I was able to quickly make new and improved wedges.

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Cutting the “little” wedges

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Tall wedges for the legs.

Wedges in hand it was now time to cut some kerfs in the tenons. Should be simple right? Well it was pretty dang easy to make the horizontal cuts in the stretchers as I could do it with one fence settings at the band saw. Make a cut, flip the piece then swap ends, repeat then the next piece. I was finished in a few minutes.

Now I needed to make the vertical cuts in the center of each of the dual tenons. This proved much more challenging. If I had taken the time to build a tenon jig for the table saw, this too could have been trivial to cut. I decided to make these cuts by hand and it was a bit challenging. For one thing, I just can’t seem to get my rip saw started and I have practiced. I know it’s very important to lift the blade while getting it started (otherwise it doesn’t budge) but inevitably I end up bouncing the saw out of the kerf and marring the surface.

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This process proved so challenging that I pulled out pretty much all of my saws in the effort. The cross-cut saw didn’t prove any more efficient starting the cut so I went finer. My Xacto fine tooth detail saw worked so I started all the cuts using it then switched to my rip saw when I had the start of a cut. A few of them went OK and a couple of them I ended up making some nasty gashes. Hate that but there you go, it’s woodworking and I’m learning how to do it. Although I’m glad for the hand practice, in the future I will be building a tenon accessory for my table saw. I like to have options when it counts.

Another operation that went nominally was chamfering the underside of the three tops. I setup the bit in my router table and took a practice swing on my pine prototype. That went well so I proceeded to bevel the three tops without incident. Well, there was a little bit of burning which would need to be addressed but no tear out to speak of so all is well.

Saturday – Glue-up? (NOT)

With all the pieces in place, I started Saturday morning hopeful that I would be gluing up stools.

Stool "kit"

Once again I grossly underestimated that work that was required before glue up. First off, I needed to do surface prep which included removing burn marks and fixing the whale tail crotch area. Then surface sanding through all the grits. I then remembered that I am supposed to bevel the tops of the mortises to give the wedges a place to expand. Once again this proved to be a drawn out and time-consuming process. First off, I was stymied on how to clamp the work piece and the bevel gauge together. I made several failed attempts at my bench and in hindsight, I probably should have tried using a hold fast for at least part of the solution. As it turned out I figured out a somewhat clever way to use my moxon vise. The bevel aid was clamped to the front jaw using Rockler fence clamps. (Writer’s Note: these seem like a wonderful idea but I have to tell you I bought four of them over a year ago and this is the first time I figured out a use for them. That said, I think they probably will work OK to hold auxiliary  table saw fences in place. Perhaps one day I won’t be able to live without them. I keep waiting.)

Excavating bevels.

This idea worked and I methodically chopped two sides of all 12 top mortises and all 6 stretcher mortises. I can’t say that I found this part rewarding.

Sunday – Finish Bevels and Glue Them Suckers

Because I didn’t re-tape and/or back the backside of the mortises (I wasn’t supposed to exit the back side) I had significant tear out in a couple of instances. I also didn’t know how much to expand the bevels. I attempted 1/16″  but I now see that this was far too much or perhaps my wedges were too thin or perhaps the angle in the mortise wasn’t ideal. In the end I ended up with gaps around the mortises on the tops. Even worse I had great difficulty getting the top wedges started in the grooves. I pretty much had to hammer them in to get them started which worked well in 75% of the cases. The other 25% bent and split and otherwise disintegrated. I was able to pull one out but two of them were driven too deep to be easily removed and they had glue all over them and in the kerf. My solution was to apply another narrow wedge beside it. Not ideal but serviceable and I was really beginning to weary of this project. Clearly the 1/2″ wedges were far sturdier than the 2″ wedges and I’m dreaming up ways they could be improved. Widening the kerf would be the most obvious solution but also I am considering cutting off the tips to make them stubbier then shaping a bevel on the edge.

Other than final surface prep, the last step was to saw off the wedge tops and flush them up with the chisel. Truthfully this wasn’t difficult because I’ve had practice flushing up lots of screw plugs on previous projects. That said, it does take time and I was running out of my weekend. (Today’s Tip – wetting the end grain before paring really does work!). I will be using this tip again I can tell you that. Wetting the end grain not only softened the fibers but also helped to loosen the drying glue which I will make a big difference when I go to apply finish.

Ladies and Gentleman, behold “the Lads”.

Three Shaker Stools

Finish

I don’t have much time, “Christmas is Coming….” I considered lacquer and although I could build finish quickly, it would be out gassing for the next 3 weeks. Not cool as I also need to box and ship them. My next best option was to spray the General Finishes High Performance Top Coat that I used on my night stand. I have it, it doesn’t stink and it dries very quickly. I could apply enough finish in one day and ship the next. My only concern there was that I had purchased a gloss surface and for this I would have wanted a satin. I wouldn’t want socked feet slipping off now would I? Then I was riding home on Friday and listening to FWW Shop Talk Live. Mike’s  “All time favorite technique of all time for this week” was shellac followed by paste wax. Perfect solution for this project and I had both on hand. The recipe is a dilute seal coat followed by a light sanding then apply full strength for another 3 or 4 coats. All can be done in an hour or two and this is followed by a paste wax / steel wool rub out. So this is my task at hand for tonight.

Today I need to start hunting for shipping boxes…… Christmas is coming……

Start Woodworking classed this a beginner project but for me, I thought it well in the intermediate range. Perhaps because I was making three and not one stool but I rather think it was because there were new things to learn and tackle at each step. I would encourage anyone to give it a try however. Cutting and fitting those first tenons was real energy boost and I began to see that anything was possible. My advise is to “just get out and make something……”

Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

Shaker Step Stool – Part 3

December 18, 2015 Leave a comment

So this is how I’m beginning to feel about now:

Christmas is coming

I realized that I was going to have to work evenings if I was going to finish this project before Christmas. My beautiful and caring wife reminds me that this is a “totally artificial deadline”. When you think about it most deadlines are artificial or at least the vast majority of them. Perhaps the better way to phrase it is that my “goal” would be to have the Christmas gifts finished and at least shipped before Christmas. If transportation delivers them after the actual day, I’m perfectly OK with that.

Sunday’s Goal – Fit the legs

Because I didn’t work on the project Saturday, I found myself unable to complete all the leg tenons on Sunday. In fact part of the problem was that I was a little intimidated cutting and fitting my first “real” tenons. And I wasn’t starting with the simplest possible tenon either. These were double tenons and they had to fit. Never-mind I was cutting in pricey sapele and that these are gifts. No pressure right?

Rather than loading a dado stack (my original plan) I decided to go simple and use my regular combo blade and cross cut sled to cut the tenon face cheeks. For whatever reason I was just certain that I wouldn’t be able to properly locate and center the tenon cut.

Prior to  cutting anything on my table saw, I had to stop and figure out how to tighten the belt between the motor and the blade. The loose blade had been nagging me for a while and now the blade wouldn’t turn at all. It turned out to be a simple very simple fix but never having done it, I first referenced the user’s manual. Opening the saw also made it very clear that I wasn’t going to saw anything until I emptied the saw dust. All this delayed the inevitable, cutting and fitting my first tenon.

Using calipers, I measured both the leg thickness and the width of the actual mortise. The tenon thickness was just shy of 1/2″ as measure with my calipers and the depth of each face check would need to slight less than 1/8″.  I subtracted the actual measurements and divided that number in half to give me the cheek depth. I did my best to set my table saw blade to that that height which was difficult because it was less than 1/8″ and I don’t really have an actual gauge for this purpose. I couldn’t use my pine prototype because it wasn’t the same thickness as my actual project pieces but I had cut the stretchers over-sized so I used them. It only took me three adjustments to dial in the depth of cut I wanted. I was close on the first pass but it left the piece just a tad too thick and I’ve have to pare to fit them. I noted the hand wheel position before adjusting and raised the blade by less than a quarter turn of the wheel. This made the tenon loose, I didn’t want that. Splitting the difference I found what I considered a satisfactory fit. Wow, that wasn’t so bad. Using the “speed tenon” technique as discussed on Fine Woodworking Magazine, I cut both sides of both legs easily. I should make note that at first I moved the piece through the blade in multiple passes (forward and back, shift, repeat). This was of course very safe but it did leave ridges on the tenon. I don’t (yet) have a shoulder plane so I flattened the cheek by paring with a chisel which worked just fine but it took longer and was less accurate than a plane would have been. Later on in the process, as my confidence grew, I really did use the speed tenon technique (nibbling by moving the piece sideways across the blade) and this greatly improved the surface of the tenon cheek and reduced work required for clean up.

So far so good, on to the side cheeks.

Generally it is recommended that rather than measure, one precisely mark with a knife. My experience has been poor with the whole marking thing, especially on this project. For one thing when I did mark with my knife, I had a VERY hard time finding it again. I literally had to hold the piece directly under a lamp and put on my magnifiers to locate it. Sure I could feel it, but that doesn’t help when you’re trying to extend the line with a straight edge. I found that method a no go and in the end measuring with calipers and marking with a pencil worked well for me. I was simply careful to cut on the waste side of the line. I went low tech and decided to make all these cuts at the band saw. I lined up the first outside edge and set the fence. Initially I was setting and using a stop block to prevent me from cutting into the shoulder but after a while I found it took too long to setup each time and that it was unnecessary. If I paid attention, I wouldn’t cut into the should. I did and it worked fine. After the first outside edge cut I introduced (like that huh?) the kerf to the mortise to confirm I hadn’t screwed up then marked the other outside edge with a pencil. After doing this each time, I came to conclusion that I had done a fair job marking the mortise locations and that I could simple flip the leg over at the band saw and cut the other edge. To my recollection though I did mark each time just to be sure. The outside shoulders were cross cut on the band saw, aligning by eyeball and using my miter gauge. Again being careful I had absolutely no problems cutting in to the work piece shoulder.

Cutting both inside edges was pretty much an identical process with the only difference that I made multiple cuts about 1/16″ apart (the more the better up to a point of course). Think feather board with very narrow feathers. It is important not to get lazy and make the fingers too thick. If they are very thin they can be easily and cleanly chopped away with a single blow from a mallet and sharp chisel. If they are too thick they can be not-so-easily hammered out with mallet and chisel leaving a torn ugly surface that needs more clean up. Don’t ask me how I know this.

It was all being done for the first time so I wasn’t exactly confident but lo and behold it worked!

First of 6 to fit.

One down, five more to go. Actually I only finished three before it was time to clean up and take my family to town and diner. It would seem, I’m behind schedule already.

Monday Night’s Goal – Complete Fitting Legs

Not much to report here except that in my haste to “finish” on Sunday I had decided to change-up my method. Instead of cutting all those little fingers I was looking for a quicker was to cut out the center material. Hey, I just purchased that groovy new fret saw that worked so well for me cutting out dove tail tails. I’ll just saw with confidence along the shoulder and botta boom botta bing, done with little paring clean up required. Wrong…. unfortunately. I did a passible job on the visible side all the while cutting in to my project face on the back side. Now it turns out this will be mostly covered by the stretcher but only after I made the command decision to not make that side the face. It was the better side originally, not any more. Which was another wake up call. Note to self: When cutting, chopping or whatever ALWAYS give consideration and preference to the face side. Why didn’t I saw with the face facing me? I didn’t think about it at the time. Seems obvious until you are busy working hard to make stuff happen and it doesn’t occur to you until you’ve made a mistake.

Tuesday Night – Band Concert

No work can be completed my youngest has her very first band concert. She plays the french horn.

Wednesday Night – Fit the Stretchers

Given my experience fitting the legs I was hopeful I would make up time on the stretchers but alas this was not the case. Having said that, it actually went pretty well. I fit the legs to the top and squared up the legs with a small combination square. Some of the stretchers even had the face cheeks cut on one side. They looked fine, so I measured and cut the opposite end to length and added the face cheeks. Pretty much a repeat of procedure at the band saw followed by paring with chisel. It all went well until the very last tenon which stubbornly wouldn’t fit into the prepared mortise. I blame the mortise and after struggling with multiple operations on the tenon side, began paring inside the hole. Of course I ended up getting careless, forgetting the cardinal rule to carefully pare from each side and of course the protective blue tape had been removed. Eventually I got it to fit and ended up with undesirable tear out to boot. Goal was met, I was tired and hungry.

Stretchers Installed

Thursday Night – Taper Legs, Make Wedges, Saw Tenons to Receive Wedges

After a quick bite to eat, I was back in the shop. I began by making a simple tapering jig for the legs. I am such a tightwad and I’m always looking for just the right pieces to make my jigs. It bothers me to use a piece of wood for scrap that I believe could be used for higher purposes. I know, you just have to get over it but to some extent I believe this is only right. Reduce, reuse and recycle right? Fortunately I am drowning in scraps and was able to locate suitable pieces for this purpose.

Tapering Legs

Making the jig was uneventful and before putting it to use I tested on my pine prototype leg. The pine piece was shorter than my project legs, other than that it was a go.

After all legs were cut on one side the jig had to be adjusted to cut the other side. I used the same jig of course simply moving the right hand fence to the new correct angle which was now doubled. A test cut proved that I had to shift the (right) fence in just a tiny amount or I would be left with a flat on the other leg. I did this and finish this procedure without incident.

Next I was to cut two sizes of wedges that will be used to wedge the tenons of course. I have spent entirely too much time worrying about these dang wedges. First what material? Project calls for hard maple and I have none. Should I cut up my guitar finger board blanks for this purpose? I have maple, zircote and macassar ebony which I could sacrifice. Did you read my last paragraph? Do you think I’m going to cut up an $18 fingerboard blank so I can make some wedges? I decided against this. Off I went to the Internet to see what I could possible use as an alternative to hard maple. I quickly found a post from Chris Schwarz on how to make wedges. Chris likes to use white oak, now you’re talking. But then he goes on to call red oak “a weed”. OK so here’s my admonishment to you Chris. You’re awesome, I appreciate you and I respect you. Unfortunately many people actually worship you and when you say stupid things like that it somehow becomes a tenant of woodworking. It comes off not like a personal preference, ” I prefer to make my furniture from mahogany rather than pine” but more like, “if you make your project from red oak it is somehow inferior”.  You were making a joke and I get it just remember people tend to take you way too seriously. Stating an experienced preference is fine, implying that people are wrong but choosing differently is divisive. People need to stop caring about trivia like that and just make things (Making It) . Now I REALLY have spent too much time worrying about stupid wedges!

So I go to make this wedge jig for the band saw and I although I watched the video and took note of it, I couldn’t reproduce it from memory. So I pulled it up again and proceeded to make a jig. I didn’t get it right and the wedges came out thicker than I wanted but I kept going anyway. I was having trouble figuring out how to make the wedges tall enough for the top tenons. This is an instance where experience is that only way I was going to really “get it”. The upshot was that I spent the rest of my evening struggling to cut all the wedges I needed for glue up. I had hoped that I would have been able to actually make the saw kerfs but that will come with the next session. Not a lot of mystery in that process.

Friday Night – Kerfs for Wedging, Beveling the Top, Chamfering Edges, Surface Prep

My original goal was to glue up the stools by Friday night so I would be essentially ready for finish on Saturday and Sunday. I can see now that probably won’t happen. My revised goal is to cut for wedging, and bevel the tops. I can also see me doing some initial surface prep but my concern is that I’ll rush the job.

Stay tuned for the final episode to conclude this weekend…..

Categories: Woodworking Tags: , ,

Shaker Step Stool – Part 2

December 14, 2015 Leave a comment

As the saying goes, “there’s good news and there’s bad news, which would you like to hear first?” Given the circumstances, I suppose I should pick. Let’s start with the good news, I was able to get a substantial amount of work completed Sunday on this project. The bad news is, I’ll never get them ready by Christmas unless I spend more time in the shop. I’m contemplating working a few nights this week after work. We’ll see how that goes…..

Mortises for Legs

My last post left things where I had marked out the 4 mortises to receive the leg tenons. I used the same blue tape technique to successfully reduce tear out. My drill press was already chucked with the 1/2″ Forstner bit previously used on the leg mortises. Also in a similar manner I used a stop block and fence to locate the exact position for the first hole which would define one edge of the mortise. Here’s where the technique was modified. When previously drilling the leg mortises, I drilled approximately half way through, then I could flip the board and drill through from the back side. I could do this because the mortise was centered and the stop was accurately set. This time I set the drill depth such that the very tip of the Forstner bit would just poke through the back side (top of photo below). I could then flip the board and complete the hole by eye.

Drilling mortises

I reset the stop block for hole however I was able to drill a hole in each mortise of each board before moving the stop for  the next hole. Obviously I rotated and flipped the board and was drilling from both the front and back. I repeated this process until all four hole locations had been drilled on each of the tops.

All 12 mortises drilled and ready for chopping.

At this point, I just had to tuck in and get busy chopping the 12 mortises. You will recall that I scribed the wood first, then applied the tape and scribed the tape. The first mark help cut the fibers and the tape greatly helped to both define the line and reduce tear out. Remember the basics. In time this work was completed.

All 12 mortises cut by chisel.

Having 12 to cut was not only good practice but it also was a good lesson in patience.

Tenons for Legs

It is true that I had several household chores I wanted to address and this did consume my Saturday. I ran network cable to my basement and installed and configured router so for the first time I have reliable Internet access in my shop. I also installed a new network printer and messed around with adding Chrome-cast to my shop. Hummm, I also assembled a new habitat for my daughter’s new guinea pigs, Snickers and George. Yes, I needed/wanted to do these things but I was also procrastinating. I haven’t fit many tenons before, if we ignore the stubby ones cut in pine for my mini-bench, these would be my first. They were dual tenons and I wanted them to fit and look smart. I didn’t know how it was going to go but I had to get started.

I began fresh on Sunday morning. Turns out it wasn’t as impossible as I was expecting. I started with the cheeks. Using calipers I confirmed that my mortises were in fact, consistently 1/2″ in width. I then measured the thickness of my stock which was 0.75″. Doing the math (0.75″-0.5″)/2 = 0.125″  for the depth of the shoulders. I employed my cross-cut sled and contemplated loading up my dado stack but ultimately just went with my combo blade and multiple passes. I obviously wanted to make some test cuts and fortunately had left my stretcher stock long so I used the ends for testing. My first cut was pretty close but I thought a tad tight. Taking note of the hand wheel position, I raised the blade slightly and tested again. Definitely a too loose this time. Third test I was satisfied and have left the blade at this height for all subsequent cheek cuts.

At this point, I took time out to cut a gauge that would help my center the legs.  As I was fitting dual tenons to mortises, I didn’t want to just eyeball it and I had 6 of them to do. Basically I formed a small scrape the width of the desired overhang and screwed it to another piece of scrape that was used as a fence against the edge of the top. Sort of like setting a combination square only I wanted something with a much longer registration. It was crappy work (the tool) but it served its purpose and was reliable and work continued. Using the gauge, I introduced the leg to the mortises and marked them with a pencil line. One would think that a knife mark would be more accurate and I started off in that vain but truthfully, I not only couldn’t get an accurate knife mark and when I did, I couldn’t easily find it again. The pencil mark was easy to make and easy to see and was accurate enough. I cut all the edge cheeks on my band saw making sure the cut line was in the waste area. The edge shoulders were also cut on the band saw and the center section was perforated as though I was making a feather-board. I then chopped out the fingers and cleaned up the shoulders by chisel. I was shocked that by taking my time I was actually able to get a good-looking fit. I was definitely “concerned” but by the end of the day, I had learned that I could make it happen.

First of 6 to fit.

I was able to complete 3 of the 6 legs before I needed to shut down for the day. Leg number 3 fits great but it take a lot longer than the first two. In a hurry to get started on leg number 4, I decided to skip cutting and chopping fingers in the center section and decided that I would use my fret saw to speed the process. It was a mistake to suddenly change methods and be in hurry at the end of day when I was already somewhat fatigued. It resulted in a needless boo-boo but it did but it did give me a definitive stopping point. Time to clean up, shower up and take my family into town for dinner.

Thank-you for visiting Turtlecove Workshop. After finishing up the leg tenons, it will be time to fit the stretchers, bevel the tops, and taper the legs. I’m thinking I might have to do some homework to get this project moving.

Categories: Woodworking Tags: , ,
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