Box: assembly

I’ve been messing around with hide glue in preparation for assembling the dovetailed box I’ve been working on for centuries now. That stuff may be smelly, but it does seem to work quite well if you have the patience.

For whatever reason, I messed up one of the corners and managed to make the joint out of line. The joint fits fine, though. I must have slipped when marking out the tails from the pins on that one joint I did in reverse. Oh well.

I got two of the joints together (badly), and then realized that the panel should have probably gone in after one joint, because the frontally-exposed grooves were stopped. I worked around it by bending the sides enough to slip the panel in:

At this stage, I realized that I am clamp-challenged or just silly, because I wasn’t able to jam the tails in far enough to get rid of some very small gaps on that side, even though I knew it was possible to do that. When I glued the front on, I used my Workmate and the one bar clamp I have to get rid of that problem on the other side, at least for the most part:

It’s pretty obvious, though, that I’m going to have to provide some clamps and cauls for this kind of thing.

First dovetail joint

Last week I did some milling in preparation for a dovetail attempt. Having fooled around with various things for a few days, I decided to finally give it a shot today. I followed the instructions in Korn’s book pretty much to the letter, and wouldn’t you know, I ended up with two pieces that looked like a tailboard and pinboard.

The most interesting part is that the pieces fit on the first shot. I sawed and trimmed the pinboard just up to the lines, and after the cleanup:

I decided that I wanted to glue and clamp it up, so let’s see how it looks once I plane off the ends (maybe tomorrow).

Tenon practice

Because my latest saw handle project is now waiting for me to trim the fastening hardware down to size, I decided to practice sawing tenon cheeks. A lot of them.

Most of these kind of stink, but I got a lot better further on. I was using the 14tpi saw that’s my most recent addition.

So I felt, okay, maybe it’s time to give the mortise and tenon joint another go, to see how much it improved. And proceeded to mess up the first tenon horribly. But the second try at the tenon turned out as intended.

This may be the best one of these joints I’ve done yet, but it’s still a lot less than ideal. My plan now is to go back to the 20tpi dovetail saw for fine sawing like this. One upside of all this practice is that I’m now much better at using the finer saw. The 14tpi saw is far more difficult to control. The blade is too wide for such a fine pitch, and the blade is also very deep. So I’m going to redo the teeth on that one, down to 12tpi or 11tpi.

Mortise and Tenon Progress

Every now and then, I’ve been making a mortise and tenon joint for practice. I usually manage to screw up in some subtle way, but have generally not made the same mistake twice. Then last night, I made one that seems actually halfway passable.

The chip on the bottom of the mortise piece was there before. These pieces of wood have been sitting around for months, so where I used a block plane to even up the edges, you can see how much the wood has darkened in that time. I glued it up just to see how well it would work. Not bad.

Interestingly, I made this joint faster than any I’ve made in the past. So practice does help. I’ve gotta stop sawing so close to the knife line on the shoulder, though. It makes it hard to chisel down from the line.

Mortise and tenon: Attempt #2

Now that I had taken care of the front vise in place and a working small tenon saw, I decided to make another go at a mortise and tenon.

Although this turned out to be a very workable joint, I made three incredibly stupid mistakes:

  • I didn’t measure the mortise properly. This mortise was supposed to start 1/2″ from the end, not 3/4″. Though I just trimmed the tenon on one side to compensate… doh!
  • I didn’t cut the tenon on the end of the board that I had marked.
  • I accidentally cut the cheeks of the tenon with a crosscut saw instead of a ripsaw. This affected speed, accuracy, and finish. Let’s try to avoid doing that again.

In spite of this, there is quite a lot of good news:

  • Other than the length, the mortise turned out perfectly, with a clean bottom and straight sides.
  • My newly-sharpened tenon saw worked astonishing well for cutting the shoulders.
  • Hooray for the front vise.
  • I did this one in half the time as my first one.
  • The fit is good.
  • It was really fun to make.

I’m going to practice another one of these soon, but I believe that the next thing I need to do is make a mallet. Banging on chisels with a block of birch is bogus.

Hm. I made a tenon.

So I made the tenon for the mortise tonight. It seemed pretty straightforward, and I did arrive at something that looks like a tenon:

Well, it certainly looks like a tenon, and it does fit the mortise:

Unfortunately, it does not fit the mortise perfectly. The joint is perfectly square, and it fits snugly, and that’s all great, except that it’s a little misaligned on the horizontal plane. Well, that is, it’s misaligned in the configuration that I wanted. It’s aligned if I flip the tenon around (sigh). This seems to have something to do with the lines scribed by the marking gauge. They were probably too thick. Oh well, that’s an easy problem to fix.

Other than that, I had some performance-related difficulties. First, the dovetail saw that I used wasn’t sharpened worth crap. Its teeth are too small for any of my files. I don’t need teeth that fine, but I don’t have any other appropriate saws. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and cut entirely new teeth on that stupid thing.

The other problem was that the angle of approach was difficult when I was cutting the cheeks. That means that I seriously need to install my front vise.

On the positive side, I didn’t spend nearly as much time fooling around with my chisels this time. So it seems that I’m getting the hang of sharpening those guys.

Next, I suppose that I will do another mortise and tenon. But maybe I’ll try to throw on the vise before I try the tenon.

Hm. I made a mortise.

I decided to start the mortise of my very first mortise and tenon joint today. I don’t have a mortise chisel, so I used the old “drill holes and chop out the waste” method with my Millers Falls #5.

It’s 13/16″ deep and a little more than 1/4″ wide.

Surprisingly, this didn’t take much time at all. I think I spent a much more significant amount of time fiddling around with sharpening my chisels than doing the actual cutting, but that was only because I was being a bonehead with my 1/4″ chisel.

Even more surprisingly, it looks halfway decent. The sides seem reasonably flat and perpendicular. I guess you only get to see how badly you messed up when you cut the tenon, which is what I have to do next.

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