Finished Tenon Saw, Tool Rack

Looking through my past posts, it seems that I forgot to post when I finished a couple of smaller projects.

First, remember the tenon saw handle that I’d been working on for nearly a year? Seriously competing for the world record of “longest time taken to get a saw handle done,” I finished it about a month ago and completed the saw:

It’s a 16″ blade, somewhere around 10TPI, if I recall correctly. I used it for the larger tenons on the shoe rack project. It took some getting used to, but I like it a lot. Larger saws such as this seem a little strange to use on tenons such as the 1.5″ x .75″ ones on the shoe rack, but it works fine.

The other little thing I was working on was a small tool rack to hold chisels and similar tools behind the workbench. I agonized over this for no good reason, looking at every tool rack I could find on the web and in books. Finally, I just slapped one together in about a half an hour:

And when I say “slapped together,” I mean it. The preceding photo doesn’t really illustrate how hard I’m trying to get the title of “lamest joinery ever seen in a tool rack,” so let’s get a closer look:

Yep, the rack consists of two long pieces of yellow-poplar/tuliptree not really even lap-jointed onto two small pieces of mystery softwood. I just planed them flat, put on some glue, and clamped tight.

The whole thing is fastened to the windowsill with two c-clamps. That’s partly because I’m being lame, but also partly because we rent this place and I don’t want to go around putting holes in everything in sight.

The important part about this is that it actually works; I finally have most of the junk off the workbench. It works so well that I’m considering making a second equally lame example.

Shoe rack: Components completed

I finished cutting all of the joints for the shoe rack today. It didn’t take very long to finish the remaining mortise-and-tenon joints. So now I’m left with some glued-up frames and a stack of pieces, ready for glue-up:

Because there are so many pieces, the shelves are trickier to glue up than the sides. But it wasn’t that bad of a job. I used the same technique as the sides. That is, put the pieces on one side mostly in place, put on the other side, bang on it a little to bring the joints closer together, then throw it in the Workmate and clamp tight.

Good to see that the Workmate is finally getting some real action.

Holdfast Hog Heaven

The recent Bagathon gave me a chance to fool around with some of the Gramercy holdfasts (thanks, Kirk), and the Lee Valley/Veritas hold-downs (thanks, Larry). I don’t really know what took me so long to try some, but there they were. I liked both of them, and probably the Veritas version is a bit stronger (and doesn’t require a mallet), but it costs $75 for one of those versus about $32 for a pair of the Gramercy holdfasts. So it was off to the Tools for Working Wood site last week.

They arrived today. So let’s do a quick rundown of what I was using before and how the holdfasts compare for a couple of operations.

For mortises, I was using a c-clamp to hold the work to the table:

It’s really strong, but your bench can’t be too thick, you can’t have an apron, and your work can’t be too big, or you’ll need a bigger clamp.

The holdfast provides more flexibility in positioning the work, and it’s a bit easier to set up than a clamp.

It’s not quite as strong as the clamp, at least not in a benchtop of this thickness (1.5″), but it still works fine.

For touching up tenon shoulders, I was using a handscrew in this configuration:

This requires a bit of fiddling, but it’s a little easier to position than the c-clamp. However, the work doesn’t always level so well, especially with narrower pieces. In addition, there’s a lot of stuff in the way. About the only advantage is that it’s easy to remove.

The holdfast is a great improvement. There’s far less stuff to obscure you while working, and it sets up in a flash.

I’ve also used a c-clamp for this. In this configuration, it’s even less preferable because you not only have to do a bunch of fooling around under the bench, but also have to do a lot of fooling around under the bench near a leg.

All of this is starting to lead to a question of where to put all of my bench accessories, because by now, I have a bench hook, shooting board, two holdfasts, a zillion little bench dogs, a Veritas Wonder Dog, and a few other little things, and I do have a few more things on my list. Should I see if I can make that second shelf under the bench, and if I do, will that interfere with the holdfasts while they are in use?

Oh well, I guess I’ll figure it all out in time. For now, I have to complete the shoe rack (finished two rows of mortises and a row of tenons today!).

Shoe Rack: Shelf components and side glue-up

Although I didn’t have much time to work this weekend, I did make a little progress on the shoe rack. The shelves are coming along; in the following image, the mortises for the small stretchers are all complete, as are half of the tenons. The other half of the tenons are marked out and ready for the saw.

There are 18 of these small stretchers, which means 36 more mortise-and-tenon joints, but they go pretty quickly at this size (about 1/2″ square face size for the tenons).

I also picked up some liquid hide glue and glued up one of the side frames:

The Workmate doesn’t seem too bad for this operation. With some fooling around with the bench’s panels, I was able to clamp it between the jaws. Using the liquid hide glue (Titebond in this case) was about as easy as you’d expect–squeeze it out, spread it on the joint, and clamp. This is good, because without a heat lamp or something, I don’t think I’d be able to use hot hide glue in the shop because it’s just too cool down there to have any sort of reasonable open time for glue-up operations that involve more than a handful of joints.

There isn’t much left to do on this project. I need to cut the rest of those small joints (24 left), glue everything up, and then apply some sort of finish.

Henry’s Stool

Several months ago, I made a visit to my aunt, who has some old family furniture. Among them was this stool that I remember from my grandmother’s place:

It was made by my great-great grandfather, Henry Snyder, for my grandmother when she was young, so this would have been in the early-to-mid 1920s. The wood looks to be some sort of softwood, likely one of the pines.

The stool’s joinery is very simple; three nails on each side of the front stretchers, plus nails from the top down. On woods that move a lot, this would have caused checks due to the large variance of humidity in the Baltimore area, but this stuff seems to be pretty stable, and the pieces are quite small. I like the design’s lines and simplicity.

Henry Snyder was a carpenter who built his own house in addition to this stool.

Shoe rack: Side frame

At this point, most of the significant work on the shoe rack’s joints are done. the side frames are complete, with both consisting of six mortise and tenon joints like this:

In addition to this, there are three shelf frames that are on their way to completion. They’ll take just a little more time to complete, but all of the boards have been cut and now it’s just a matter of making 36 more joints. This sounds worse than it actually is, because the mortises and tenons on the remaining joints are quite small.

I have made a few decisions on this project. The first is that I’ll use some sort of bottled hide glue for the joints to see how it works. The second is that this will be a knockdown project and I will use some fastening hardware to attach the sides to the shelves. These decisions reflect a desire to experiment a little more, while at the same time saving some time, because this thing really needs to get done so that I can move on the the next project.

I also figure that since this is not meant to be the finest piece of furniture in the land, it doesn’t matter too much if some flaws show up a couple of years down the road. This became even more so when, a few weeks ago, I saw a design I liked a lot better than my current one.