I’m in the process of making a shoe rack. It will basically be two side frames with three shelves, all done with mortise-and-tenon joints. I have most of the wood dimensioned, and have the boards for one of the sides cut to length now:
There are going to be quite a lot of mortise-and-tenon joints in this project. I’ve been practicing, and am getting much better. The fun part is that I’m no longer using the “drill and chop out” method of making the mortise. Now that I have no more downstairs neighbors, I’ve just been chopping the whole thing out with a chisel. It’s noisy and destructive and a lot faster than fooling around with the drills.
This wood is some rather cheap mystery softwood. These boards have a lot of knots in them; in fact, they’re downright tragic if you look at them whole. However, if you buy 10- and 12-inch widths, you get a lot of sections that have clear wood, and you can get cuts that are quartersawn in this way. This is a pretty common trick with softwoods.
The growth rings are very closely packed in some of these boards, but it’s still a rather soft wood, somewhere around the toughness of yellow-poplar (tuliptree). It’s always kind of tricky to make joints in wood like this, but I must admit that there’s a bit of a charge when you succeed.
I’m in the process of varnishing four saw handles, a plane tote, and a plane knob. Here are half of the pieces.
As usual, I’m not being terribly speedy here. It’s been seven months since I started working on that tenon saw handle in the center. Things happen but I like to think that sooner or later, I get back to this stuff. (Especially since I’ve had the saw blade sharpened almost since I started on the handle and it’s otherwise ready to go.)
The larger hand saw handle in the rear is for a Disston D-8 that will become one of my new rip saws, somewhere at around 7TPI. This will be in addition to a No. 7 (I think) that’s going to be a larger 4.5TPI rip saw. The handle for that one is also in this batch, thankfully. Both of these handles were glopped over with some awful green paint that I needed to strip before the refinishing process started. What is it with the green paint?
The initial finish on these two handles was a mix of “colonial maple” stain, some satin polyurethane, and tung oil, for an oil/varnish blend (this makes the rays in the beech look nice). After a few coats of that, I’m now putting on satin polyurethane. I like the way that a top coat of polyurethane feels on the other handles I’ve done (as opposed to alkyd varnish and oil/varnish blends), and it seems to hold up better. It takes a little more effort to get polyurethane to look decent, but it’s not that bad.
I think I need one or two more coats on the handles.
The knob is from a Millers Falls #22 jointer plane that’s been waiting for restoration. I did not use the oil/varnish blend on this (or its accompanying tote), because the ray structure in this tropical wood did not seem worth bringing out. I may be done with the plane parts; I’ll evaluate that later.
I made a shooting board a couple of weeks ago. As with the bench hook, I don’t know why I did not do this earlier.
As it turns out, there’s a repeating pattern of things I don’t know here. I have no idea why I dovetailed the lip onto the front. I did this on the bench hook, too. It didn’t take long and it wasn’t hard, but why? I also don’t know why I decided to do two little pieces for the front lip instead of one big piece.
The Veritas low-angle block plane works fine for shooting stuff of this width. You could use a low-angle jack plane for this, too. But I now see why people like their miter planes. I don’t really see myself spending so much cash on one of those for this purpose, though.
I need to make a rack for my chisels and small saws. The bench is a mess.
Here’s a shot of the rebuilt bench in the new shop. I suppose it doesn’t look much different than the old bench, since most of the changes are on the side (big lower side stretchers and 2x thickness on the legs).
Yes, those are shavings on the top. I managed to do a tiny bit of wood prep on that piece of spruce or fir or whatever on the left (it’s mystery cheap softwood from Lowe’s, surprisingly not too bad).
Also, there’s a new bench hook over there on the right that I made a little while back before moving. Yay for bench hooks!
I haven’t made much in the past few months because I moved. That’s always a pain. However, I now have a shop. This seems like it will be a pretty big improvement.
In preparation for the move, I rebuilt the base of my workbench. I replaced the legs with 4x4s, widened the depth of the side stretchers, and replaced the lower side stretchers with much larger timber.
No pictures at the moment, though. I’m still getting things organized. There’s a lot to do here.
Here’s a quickie project for a co-worker, a crepe spreader. It’s 5×7 inches.
It uses a sliding dovetail joint to connect the two parts. The joint came out better than I expected but I don’t think I will use it for any future crepe spreaders. A wedged through mortise and tenon seems like it would work better.
It’s pictured without a finish. I’m going to give it a very light once-over with some sort of oil (probably olive oil) just to make the surface a little easier to clean after use. Otherwise, it’s not worth really giving it any sort of extravagant finish because it will see a fair amount of wear anyway.
Well, it was a long time coming, but I finally finished this saw.
It has 13 teeth per inch, filed rip at a 0 degree rake angle. It cuts smoothly, but not super-quickly, as one would expect for a saw of this size and pitch. The finish on the handle turned out pretty well. I guess it had better, after, what was it, 10 coats of varnish?
And even though this one is done, there’s another one for a 16″ tenon saw in the works.
Those tools to the left are the Shinto saw rasp and the Gramercy sawmaker’s rasp.
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.
I somehow forgot exactly how I did the holes in my last saw handles, and I just had to do it again, so I’ll enumerate the steps so that I don’t have to remember the next time. Basically, you need to bore holes in the handle, with one side of the handle having larger holes than the other, because one side needs to house the saw nut, which is wider than the screw on the other side.
So here’s how (it assumes that you’ve already cut the sawblade kerf):
Secure the handle with a sacrificial board underneath.
Mark the holes on the screw side with an awl, using a template (or by hand).
Drill all the way through with a brace and bit sized for the screw.
Clean out the holes and sawblade kerf, flip over the handle, and resecure.
Place a piece of paper in the sawblade kerf.
Using a twist bit sized to the saw nut in the brace, enlarge the holes on the other side. Slowly ease your way in to prevent tearout and keep the hole centered.
Stop when you hit the paper. After enlarging all of the holes, pull out the paper and clean out the sawblade kerf again.
If necessary (this depends on your hardware), carefully use a countersink to countersink the holes on either side.
I suppose that it isn’t strictly necessary to have different-sized holes with the hardware that I’m using, but you definitely need to do it with older-style saw screws and nuts.