About Brian Ward

I have no idea what I'm doing.

Oh, The Liminality

It seems that I’ll be moving again. Perhaps “liminal” is not the best term here because I seem to move on a fairly regular basis, but I want to use that word and there’s nothing you can do about it. Then again, this time will be different, so it might be warranted. Instead of needing to get everything packed and moved in one shot, I have the luxury of being able to hold on the current place while in the process of finding and preparing a new one. So, whereas I was without a shop for more than a year when we moved from California, I will (probably) have my shop available here until I have another space available.

Everything about this is vague at the moment. What I do know is that SWMBO will probably need to be somewhere near Princeton, NJ for at least half of the time. (That is, unless we decide that a different location is better. I said that it was vague, right?)

I’ve moved my woodworking shop three times already (four, if you count moving from the apartment where I started), so in theory, I’ve learned something about the process by now. I’m not so sure about that, but I will try to make notes here (and perhaps make a video or two) as I’m going about things.

The general mood and pre-loathing

I have mixed feelings about the prospect of moving again. On one hand, we really like our house in Maryland and also like where we live. We’ve gotten used to it. On the the other hand, there are a lot of pluses to the area where we may end up. The proximity to Philadelphia means a lot to me in particular. So even though there might be a natural tendency to be somewhat overwhelmed and depressed about having to do this (as I am wont to do), I should instead look ahead to the “new adventures” that await.

This is not to say that there hasn’t been loathing. For a while now, I’ve suspected that this might be coming. The unspoken prospect of another move has played an important role in how I have organized my work patterns and developed my shop during the time I’ve been here.

Learning from not upgrading the shop

When I first moved down into the current shop, I had grand plans. I had mostly bare walls and a framed-out partition that I used to form my main working area. My biggest desire was to frame out the rest of the walls and remove part of the partition. Being in a windowless basement, I wanted to put in some false windows to mimic north-facing windows. I wanted to put in a bunch of shelves to provide some long-desired storage. And I was contemplating running some 220V circuits for my bandsaw and dust collector.

So inviting.

None of that happened, and it’s probably worthwhile going through a few details on each bit:

The framing: I never found myself with the energy to push through on this. I knew that I’d probably want someone to help me with this, and then stuff happened. A certain global pandemic did not help: It drove up the prices of framing lumber and ensured that no one would be able to help. If I had a lot of experience in framing walls, I could have probably done this very quickly after moving into the shop, but that was not the case.

Removing part of the partition: This had to go along with the framing, as the partition would have otherwise blocked one of the walls.

The faux-windows: Aside from also going along with the framing, I had a crisis of terrible lighting early on in the shop and had to come up with a fix quickly.

The shelves: Also depended on the framing, but I actually did manage to get two shelves up on one wall.

220V circuits: I found that I didn’t need them. My bandsaw can run on 110V or 220V, and is rated for about the reasonable maximum current draw on a 110V 20A circuit. It’s never struggled with anything I’ve ever asked it to do. The dust collector (on a separate circuit) popped its breaker once and I’m not sure why, but it also doesn’t seem to have trouble. I don’t have a table saw or any of those other big power-hungry machines, and it’s unlikely that I’ll get any.

Actual upgrades

The first things I did after moving into the shop were to put up a couple of shelves up high on a wall that was actually framed up and hang some french cleats on the partition framing so that I could hang my tool cabinet, saw till, and a few other doo-dads up on there. I also cobbled together a place for my chisel rack (even though I dislike it). Then I did just a couple of things later on that I would call significant:

Lighting: I was dealing with bare bulbs in utility fixtures when I first started. It was awful. I went through three iterations of LED fixtures, from “I need something, fast,” to “let’s see how these fill in some of the shadows,” to finally researching some decent high-CRI fixtures to get everything covered. I was lucky because nothing of what I bought was wasted. I relocated the first set of lights to areas where I needed their flexibility and portability, and permanently installed the second set in dark places where they were sorely needed, such as above the slop sink and in the garage. I can also take the final set of lights with me if I like.

One piece of drywall: I put one piece of drywall on the framed-up partition behind the slop sink. It took me a while to realize that I wanted to do this. It was remarkable what a difference it made. In particular, due to the…

Sharpening station. The drywall allowed me to build some semi-permanent brackets for a sharpening station next to the slop sink. This low-rent project from some spare southern yellow pine and plywood cutoffs made life much easier. It is close to my work area, my stones are right there, ready to go, and it’s clear of any other junk. Just go over, sharpen a tool, and get back to work.

Lessons and aspirations

With this still said, what do I hope to accomplish for a new shop and what have I learned that will help me in that direction?

First, I believe that I’ll be trying to work on the idea of compact, flexible tool storage. After thinking about Team Tools-On-The-Wall vs. Team Work-Out-Of-A-Chest for many years, I’m guessing that I’m mostly in the latter camp. A lot of that sentiment might be from a desire to achieve “negative reinforcement.” For example, I’ve never been happy with my chisel storage solution. It’s just a rack on a wall, but it’s always felt inconvenient and never sat quite right in my mind.

In general, I just don’t like very much about this. The saw till is OK for the big saws. The marking gauge stuff is also OK, but only because they’re easy to get to. And the only tools that I find really comfortable here are the striking tools–the mallets and hammers. It is not a coincidence that they are the easiest to reach.

And then there’s this disaster:

Stating that my plane storage (“stick ’em on a shelf below the bench”) has been a sore point is an understatement. Dust is always falling down there so I have to clean them off constantly. This is sort of a convenient spot, but seriously, how often do I use half of these? In particular, I use only one of the smoothing planes more or less once per project. This needs to change.

Pivoting, for better or worse

I find myself in a position where I want to change up a bunch of things about the way I store tools and organize the shop, but also facing the prospect of moving the shop as well. Perhaps there is an opportunity here to do a few things at once.

I’ve now got some experience with a small version of a traditional tool chest (even though I don’t use it for tools). I’ve been impressed with it, and I believe that I can proceed as follows:

  • Continue to work on the current furniture project.
  • Build the “dutch tool chest” (DTC) to address the chisel/miscellaneous tool problem.
  • Build a base for the DTC to store bench planes and perhaps some other stuff.
  • Rework the space in this thing:

This cabinet, which holds some really frequently-used tools, is currently awkward to close, and so I leave it open most of the time. But a DTC could better house a lot of the blockers (such as the block plane), making this something that could live up to its potential as a dust-blocker.

Will it work?

All of this sounds like it might be clever, right down to the part where I mention that I have the wood that I need for the DTC base and probably have what I need for the DTC. But I don’t know if this whole scheme will be a success. It comes down to time and motivation.

We shall see. “Adventure awaits,” as they say.


Long (Grain) Shooting Board Notes (and New Video)

Squaring up small workpieces has been a pain for me as long as I can remember. It’s not unique to me; several old publications also mention the problem as well as making a longer shooting board for just this thing.

So I made a prototype. It got the job done, but it wasn’t easy to set up, and I had trouble keeping the longer pieces held in place with one hand as I was planing with the other.

It seemed to me like there were things that they don’t tell you, and perhaps not coincidentally, there is an article in The Woodworker (C.H. Years) Volume II (pp. 497-498) titled “Things They Don’t Tell You: Shooting Board Technique.” Does it address the above question? Well, no, but that’s not to say that it’s useless; I’ll get back to that in bit.

After several months of consideration, I made a new long shooting board that is a bit less traditional than my usual fare:

That’s right: Plywood, T-tracks, jig hardware. Knobs and screws and stuff. You know, standard fare in the realm of power-tool fanatics. But other than my bandsaw and drill press for a few odd jobs, I used hand tools to make it.

I made a video as I was building, also explaining where I got some of the ideas, and how it works in practice, so if that sounds like something you want to know, here you go:

Essentially, I got the idea of a modified tapering jig in my head, and it wasn’t going to leave until I built something.

There are a couple of tidbits that I didn’t put into the video because they were not terribly captivating (or, at least, I am not yet talented enough to make them appear so), but if you’re interested and literate, here we go:

The Fence Angle

I gave the fence a very slight overhang. When I say “very slight,” I mean it:

This is to discourage stuff from slipping and riding up the fence. There isn’t anything special about the angle, I just didn’t want it to be tilted in the other direction. There are probably other options, such as lining that edge with sandpaper.

You might be wondering why the fence edge seems to undulate a little. This is because the glue in plywood can be murder on edge tools:

I mention this in the video; obviously, you don’t want to make a regular habit of subjecting your blades to this kind of abuse. Really, if you have to use plywood all the time, just get a track saw or something. But for a one-off like this, you can just go back to your coarse stone, raise your burr, hone, and get on with your life (possibly with a little bit of cringing in the interim).

The Plane

I’m using a Millers Falls No. 18, a Stanley #6-equivalent that I wrote about a while back. Another possibility would have been a #5-size jack plane.

However, this brings us back to the Things They Don’t Tell You article (let’s call this TTDTY:SBT). It states that plane soles are usually not square to their sides. This would have applied to almost any kind of Bailey-style plane of times past, and mine is no exception. So you can’t just set the plane for an even cut and expect it to cut square in a shooting board. The article doesn’t give any rectifying advice than the usual blurb of “oh, if you’re edge-jointing, just flip the other board for the supplementary angle effect” (and hope the grain runs in the correct direction, which is a TTDTY).

There’s a simple solution for most metal planes: The lateral adjust lever. Put the plane on its side, put a square next to it, and adjust until square.

But what if I were really obsessed about the square sides thing?

Other Planes

So let’s say that I had all of the money in the world and could get another plane for this shooting board. What would I get?

You might think that I’d go for one of the contemporary versions of the Stanley #51, like the Lie-Nielsen No. 51 or the Veritas Shooting Plane. But I’m not so sure. For one, they are made in left-and right-handed versions. You need the left-handed version to go from right to left, which is what I found felt the most natural with the long board (as a right-hander). A normal bench plane like mine can just be flipped on either side to go in either direction.

The other thing about those planes is that they are really meant for shooting end grain; their blades have very low angles achieved by skewing the blade. If you happen to hit an unlucky grain direction, crazy stuff could happen.

Incidentally, TTDTY:SBT says that a low-angle block plane works well for end grain, with photos illustrating bench planes for edges.

I think that just the usual #5 or #6 bench planes from Lie-Nielsen or Veritas would be just fine for an extravagance. Perhaps the best plane would be some sort of crazy 16″ mitre plane, which doesn’t really exist.

Another idea is that if a normal bench plane could be conveniently attached to a wooden base with a couple of nice ergonomic handles, it would slide really nicely and feel a little less weird. But this is not enough of a problem for me to matter.

Straight, Flat Cuts

TTDTY:SBT describes differences between shooting an edge with the grain versus endgrain. It asserts that when shooting with the grain, you want the workpiece to overhang a bit, and let the plane’s sole do the work of getting the edge straight. You are not expected to run the cut until the plane stops (presumably because the guiding edge of the shooting board is not expected to be straight).

However, with the plywood, I was able to get the guiding edge reasonably straight, and I demonstrate that in the video. As long as it stays that way, I don’t see any reason why I can’t use that for most purposes.

But for edge jointing, I likely will not do it this way. In the video, I also go through the process of planing down to a line. For edge joints, I’ll want something more along the lines of so-called sprung joints, and that’s easy enough on the shooting board.

Other Fence Ideas

I had originally played with the idea of trying to lock down a thin, wide panel by putting it on top of the fence. That didn’t work; the plywood fence was too flexible.

But I don’t want to give up on this idea. I think that perhaps I can just make a simple half-length fence out of a piece of bowed solid wood, and it might be able to lock down a panel (or a piece of veneer, or whatever) with relative ease. Maybe I could put a piece of sandpaper on the underside, too.


Having used plywood to make a few shop appliances in the past year, you might wonder if I’ve gone plywood-gaga. I hope not. I was even thinking about making this out of quartersawn southern yellow pine, but I didn’t have enough of that on hand. Eventually, practicality won out: I made the shooting board (plus a tapering jig and a drill press table) out of a single 5×5′ piece of 3/8″ baltic birch plywood.

With this project, I think I’m done with plywood for a while.

New Video: Mortise Notes

I made a little video with some mortising notes, including the grain-direction tidbit that I posted about a while back. Aside from some sweet mortising action, it features an impersonation of a riveting figure who rives.

It features some boring action, which I don’t think I’ve done in a video before:

That chunk of southern yellow pine has really hardened up. I forget how old it is. It’s approaching ossifrage status.

Tidying Up

For the first little bit of this year, I’ve got a small goal of organizing and cleaning up. The biggest problem I have right now is wood storage. The first thing I did to address that might seem a little counter-intuitive: I built a project, the “Kitchissippi” chair that Lee Valley sells the plans for:

(I haven’t rounded over the edges or painted the thing yet, but that can wait for somewhat warmer weather anyway.) So the shop was a bit of a mess while I was working on it, but the goal was to use up a stack of cedar that had laying around. This worked; it turns out that having less wood in storage makes it easier to organize. And because it was built to a plan and I didn’t have to think about much other than where I’d be making the cuts from, it didn’t take the usual 27 years that it normally takes me to complete something.

Then, over the last week, I’ve been making some sort of effort to clean up the place for Chinese New Year (新年快樂, y’all). Maybe it sounds like a good idea at the time, I dunno. I cleared shelves, reorganized lots of stuff, and streamlined my scrap/offcut piles. There will be no cleaning tomorrow.

Above all, I’ve been making plans. I’m not done with this cleanup task. For the next stage, I’ll be making a few more projects. Some are for the shop, including one to finally end my planes-under-the-bench problem. Others are for the house, where (I think) I have the wood necessary to make a project or two.

Preparing Wide Glue-Ups for the Planer Sled

With its ability to flatten wide stock quickly and effortlessly, one of the things that my planer sled design has enabled is a little more flexibility and ease when I need to glue up something wide. Ironically (or perhaps not so much), the jack plane often comes into play here. A quick treatment with everyone’s favorite “rough ‘n ready” sometimes saves even more time.

By way of example, I’m working with a bunch of suboptimal cedar at the moment. I need 10-inch (~255mm) stock, and I don’t have any. So I glued up sections of three (crummy) 4-inch stock, first roughing out the stock on the bandsaw, then planing slightly “sprung” edges using a jointer plane. I didn’t make the edges perfectly square to the sides because the sides were rough and uneven from the bandsaw (and the thicknessses varied anyway)–all I cared about was getting edges that would join together.

When doing something like that, you end up with a glued-up board resembling something from the Cubist style, for which the conformist cries out to flatten. And we oblige. For the planer sled to work correctly, you want the face you put on the bottom to be “roughly” convex, but there’s no particularly exacting standard. So you can grab a jack plane to (effortlessly) knock off a bit from the sides near the edges:

Wedge shows the part that I planed off.

Now, you can flip it over, pull out the planer sled, and fix the whole mess in place:

Yes, this is a strangely-shaped piece.

And just like that, you’re ready to feed the whole mess into the thickness planer and flatten it in one shot. The process of knocking off the edges, fixing in the planer sled, and flattening with the thickness planer only takes a few minutes (I spent a lot more time taking the photos and writing up this post).

Perhaps there’s a need for a “moral of the story” trope-ish thing in here, so here you go: The jack plane is invaluable. Even though I don’t need to use it nearly as much as I did in my prep-stock-by-hand days, I’d still be lost without it.

Plane for Shooting

Shop time has been limited, yet nonzero, in the last couple of weeks. Other than a bunch of cleaning up down there (which has gotten much easier as I find better ways to organize), I finally set out something to do about the plane that I use for shooting. I’ve been using a low-angle block plane for a while, but have wanted to try out something with a little more heft.

While doing some of the aforementioned cleaning, I came across a Millers Falls No. 18 (Stanley #6 equivalent) that I bought years ago but never did anything with. The sides were already nicely square to the sole, so I decided that maybe I could try it out with the shooting board.

It was was fairly rusty and completely filthy. A couple of hours spread over a few days with rust remover dealt with that. The iron was badly pitted, so I dug out a Hock replacement that I had on hand. And so somewhat surprisingly, everything went together fairly quickly today:

No one’s going to mistake this thing for a completely restored plane, of course. And it may not be one of those neat specialized planes with the low-angle skewed blade, but it has the advantage of being available for service right now. We’ll see how it goes.

15 Years of Galoototron

With a decade and a half on this blog’s odometer, I got to wondering if I really have any more of a clue now than I did 15 years ago. Recall that I started this blog when I started woodworking.

Then asked a question that felt odd: How much does having a “clue” actually matter?

And how do we define “clue?” Through some way or another, I have managed to build a bunch of stuff for the house. It gets done, but I’m not very quick at it. By contrast, many of the publications that we read about woodworking are written by or influenced by professionals. It’s natural, when reading Nancy Hiller’s work, to feel a bit discouraged when she writes of the pace that keeps her business going.

But I thought of something: Hey, wait, I’m a hobbyist woodworker. This is not my day job. I don’t want it to be.

Perhaps there are advantages to that. Maybe there are more options available and there isn’t much point to emulating a professional if it makes no sense. Sure, you want your dovetails to fit and everything, but here’s something to ponder: You actually have the option to do hand-cut dovetails on your own work; you can make those mortise-and-tenon joints the way you want to. A professional may not have these options if the budget does not suit the project.

Traditional nailed dovetail joinery. Hey, those fancy cut nails really are better.

And if you screw up, you can always just go back to the drawing board.

Then there are techniques and equipment. Professionals almost universally use jointer machines to flatten their boards. They have to in order to survive. But I used hand planes for years; I didn’t have the space for any machines at first. Then I took my time and designed a planer sled that might actually be worthwhile. Though I don’t think the sled is particularly suited for the professional (except for wider stock, maybe), it’s been great for me, the hobbyist. I have different constraints: I want to keep the size and number of machines in my shop to a (bare) minimum, I’d like something a bit safer than a jointer, and I don’t mind a minute or two extra setup time.

This does not, however, mean that you need to be a Frank Sinatra. We’re fortunate to have a lot of good instructional material that shows plenty of traditional and “contemporary” ways of doing stuff. Deviating wildly from standard practice might not yield the results that you want.

Or be a Frank Sinatra if you like; it won’t make any difference to me unless you show up on my doorstep and start crooning.

Being Shopless and “The Lifestyle Question”

A related advantage to being a hobbyist is that you can put it down if necessary, or if you just want to take a break. Before moving to my current digs, I spent a few years in places that had inadequate or otherwise nonexistent shop space (yes, even worse than the apartment in San Francisco). To tell the truth, I wasn’t thinking much about woodworking then. I knew that I couldn’t set up my shop, so my mind moved to other things, such as bicycling.

But the woodworking experience, being able to make my own stuff, did change my perspective on certain lifestyle choices. During one of these shopless times, I wasn’t able to find a cycling cap that fit me correctly. I started to wonder if I could make my own, and, well, it turns out that you can. I decided see if I could learn to sew, because SHMBO had a sewing machine that she’d never even opened the box of.

And boom, just like that, I was off on another crazy craft before I knew it. But I digress.

OK, So, Do I Have More of a Clue Now?

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve learned a thing or two about woodworking in the past 15 years. Really, maybe just one or two things. I still consider myself fairly clueless, and there’s a fairly simple reason. I don’t talk about it much here, but I am a victim of grad school. One thing you learn there (at least if you’re paying attention, which admittedly has never been my strong suit) is how much you don’t know. Even in a field as new as computer science, the amount of related knowledge is so vast that it boggles the mind.

That the old-timers were so strong that they could bore with a brace all day long, this boggles the mind.

It seems that every day, I learn about some kind of woodworking that I’ve never touched, such as the crazy Hakone yosegi-zaiku marquetry, and that I’ll likely never get to try. I don’t know what to make of this.

About Those Videos

I have a few videos out now. I made the first one because I had to teach something (unrelated to woodworking) and wanted to practice presentation after nearly two decades of hiding. The second came along because I wanted a way to share the planer sled design outside of this blog. The most recent… eh, I dunno, I just had the idea, wrote it up, and made it.

This is likely not going to become much of a habit. Videos are extremely time-consuming to produce, and offer little in return. I don’t currently make anything from them, and even if I did manage to get enough subscribers to monetize, it wouldn’t generate much. I’m not a performer, no Roy Underhill, no Nick Offerman. At best, words stumble off my tongue and litter the floor. I could probably train it, but I probably don’t want to. And that is OK.

Handplane techniques video test shot. You gotta put it down on the side; otherwise, it gets dull.

What’s Next?

I have a lot of furniture projects lined up that are in the same spirit of past projects. Part of that means frame-construction pieces, sometimes with drawers. But I’ve also been doing some stuff with staked construction lately. I fuss over these things way too much, but I’ve also gotten a little more confident with it. My end goal in that area is to make stick chairs. I’ve been fascinated with them for a while, how they manage to hold together despite using joints that really ought to be dodgy.

What I eventually want to do with stick chairs is explore the aesthetics a bit more. I came late to this. When I first saw Windsor chairs, I didn’t like them much. The construction is kind of neat, but there’s just something about the lines (and excess ornamentation) that I have never cared for. I never saw a Welsh stick chair until popularized by a C.S., though, and I have to admit that seeing those really changed my mind about stick chairs. I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of the way that most of those look, but there’s a flexibility there that makes me think that it’s worth a shot.

And that about sums it up, until I change my mind again.

New Video: Mini-Workbench (“Bench-on-Bench”)

After a while working on the bench-on-bench, I decided to make a fairly brief video describing my experience with it. I did this because although there are a lot of videos that show building one of these things, there aren’t many that say what they’re good for. I also wanted to highlight a few things about my design that I’ve found helpful.

Accompanying Side Table: Finished

I finally found the time and motivation to perform the final steps on the side table:

  • Smooth and sand the legs
  • Plane and sand the top
  • Make the wedges
  • Kerf the tenons, glue tenons into mortises, bang wedges home
  • Trim tenons
  • Trim/level legs
  • Apply the finish

There’s nothing too complicated about any of this. The only noteworthy thing is that for the legs, I used my Taiwanese spokeshave to smooth out the legs instead of really coarse sandpaper:

I’m not a big spokeshave user, and I finally realized why I hadn’t really used this one yet: I hadn’t sharpened it. I’d been putting this off because I suspected that it would be difficult, but with the new sharpening station, I figured I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be a little tricky until I got the hang of it. The cutting edge of this shave is similar to what you’d find on a Japanese chisel–a very hard piece of steel (likely Japanese) forge-welded to a softer backing/body. The face has a hollow, making it easy to smooth, but the bevel is rough because there’s such a difference in hardness between the cutting edge and the rest.

Because you don’t have much leverage when sharpening, it’s too easy just to end up mostly rubbing the soft part on the stone, instead of honing the cutting edge. I finally figured out that if you push on the tangs when sharpening, it’s a lot more effective.

In any case, with everything assembled, the table looks like, well, a table:

Last time, I mentioned that I’d cut the first leg incorrectly, 90 degrees to what I wanted. But it turns out that the first one was actually “correct,” and I messed up the other four. The growth rings of the oak are oriented 90 degrees to the yellow pine, and they’re supposed to be parallel. For this application (not being a chair), I don’t think it’s going to matter, though that’s still a little bit annoying. I got the wedges in the correct orientation, which is a lot more important.

So here’s the table next to the daybed:

This might not be the final arrangement, but the two pieces are meant to go together. The legs and tops are meant to complement each other. The table’s top is in the profile of the daybed legs, and the table’s legs have a more oval profile, like the platform and rear support of the daybed. Both sets of legs have a sort of single-step taper.

The table might need another application of finish (tung oil/varnish blend), but I’ll make that call later.

Accompanying Side Table: Legs

Of course, this project is long past due. Part of the delay has been uneasiness regarding reaming the mortises into the top, which I had to practice again in order to get a proper result, part of it was cutting out the top in the first place, part of it was not knowing how I would approach the legs, but most of it was just not having the time or motivation to go down to the shop and get something done.

Eventually, I figured out what I wanted to do with the legs, which are sort of a “one-stepped taper thingie” in order to complement the daybed legs. I started with octagon-profile legs, and then cut it down to this:

I’ve improved my efficiency on these. After getting two adjacent sides flat (not necessarily square), I can do almost all of the rest of the initial work on the bandsaw. Getting down to the octagon is easy; first you get a rough square profile, then use the V-track thing to help knock off the corners.

Then, for the tapered tenon, adjust the bandsaw so that you can cut near the sides of cylinder that encloses the tenon. The bandsaw is great because you can cut partway, pull out, rotate to the next facet, then cut the next one. After sawing off the sides, I use a rasp to make the profile round and to final size, and then it’s ready for the tenon cutter. This might sound a little complicated, but it’s easy in practice. Perhaps I could make a video of it.

In any case, once I have the initial piece above, I put it in the vise and go to down with the rasp:

Of course, I don’t use just any rasp for this rough work–I use the Shinto saw rasp for most of it.

I use a big English chisel to cut the step between the thicker and thinner parts:

I guess I could make a shaving horse and do this work with the drawknife and spokeshave, but I wonder if it would save me any time. It takes me 10-15 minutes to shape a leg like this, which seems pretty acceptable for a hobbyist like myself.

Of course, I managed to screw up the first leg that I shaped (by cutting the shape 90 degrees to what it was supposed to be relative to the growth rings). I hemmed and hawed a bit over what to do there, but in the end, I decided to remake the leg. It didn’t me much time.

So the legs are shaped and fitted, and the top is also to rough shape:

In theory, this project is almost done. I need to shape the edge of the top, smooth off the legs, glue and wedge in the legs, apply finish, and cut the legs to length. That’s pretty standard stuff, with no problem-solving (figuring out methods and shapes and such).

I’m looking forward to being done with this. I have another video lined up and ready to shoot, but I don’t think I should do that until this is at least in the finishing stage.