Blood, gouges and drawbores

Started off the day with the noisier tasks to get them out of the way…

There’s not a lot of art here. Rive the stick to about the diameter you want, pound it through the hole with the big hammer several times, move on to smaller hole until desired size reached, sharpen slightly, continue on. And it’s noisy, so ear defenders. But, keep going and you finally have all you need minus one (because the universe hates you, there will always be a need for one more than you have).

Then on to finishing off the carving.

It’s a fairly simple design on the bottom. Mark off every inch on the two reeds I cut yesterday.

Then chop down vertically with the gouge (whose profile matches the reed pretty closely) on each spot on one reed.

Then flip the piece and chop down at each spot on the other reed, only offset a little (judge this by eye) so it looks like a kindof backwards ‘S’

Now use the gouge to cut down from just behind one gouge chop into the stop-cut created by the next gouge chop over. You’ll be gouging in different directions on the two reeds so it finally looks like this:

The top rail is something similar but with only one row of those motifs, surrounded by the two scratch stock reeds from yesterday. And I threw in a punch into the motif just to be different.


The thing about that design on the top going only one way is that you can keep track of which rail is which and have the motifs flow from a single point on the front to a single point on the back. So on the back I just cut away the foreground and stipple the background with a punch:

And on the front I had planned to have a small decorative element:

But it proved too small and fiddly and it lost all its crispness almost immediately so I scratched that idea, and drilled out the spot the central element was in:

And then made another peg from a short piece of sapele:

And glued that in place:

I’ll trim the peg down tomorrow, and I’ll have a blue-collar inlay of sorts on the front:

With that done, I went to cut a rebate on the front and back bottom rails to hide the floorboards from being immediately obvious. Only a quarter inch deep, so they won’t be totally hidden, but I can plane down the edges so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. And then as I was tightening the thumbscrew on the #778’s fence…

Well. Shite.

A moment of panic and wondering if I could use it without the fence and then I remembered that when I bought the #778, I accidentally bought a second fence and I’d never gotten rid of it…

Sometimes hoarding pays off. A quick swap and I got back to the rebate.

Well, feck. It’s that time again, where am I leaking from now?

Ah, there we go. I blame the 778 and all its sharp bits:

I mean, you start reaching in there to pull out the shavings that are clogging the mouth and….

Feck. This is getting silly now. But I got the rebates cut, so on to the drawboring. I’m doing this with the new hand drill, mainly to see how it behaves (answer: like a power drill. Only much more solidly built than my last one).

Everything got done in batches; drill the holes in the mortices, then go through every tenon, seat it, tap the drill bit in to mark the tenon, then bradawl a point a sixteenth (or a millimeter – the distance seems to be the smallest whole unit the person talking about drawboring grew up knowing about) closer to the shoulder, then drill that hole out in the tenon; and repeat.

Last job of the evening was to roughly crosscut the panels oversize, and plane them smooth on both sides. I’ll finish plane them when I have the final dimensions. I won’t be carving them because of time.

Tomorrow I’ll start assembly; when the carcass is together I can cut and install the floorboards and start working on the lid…


  • Rip out lid frame parts
  • Groove lid frame parts
  • Cut lid frame M&T joints and drill for drawboring
  • Measure out lid panel size
  • Groove lid panel
  • Shape lid panel
  • Cut box tenons and drill M&T joints for drawboring
  • Groove bottom box rails for floorboards
  • Crosscut floorboards to width
  • Plane panels
  • Cut panels to final size
  • Bevel or rebate panel edges to fit grooves in rails
  • Plane away inside corner on stiles
  • Cut edge floorboards to fit around stiles
  • Possibly build face frame for the top of the chest
  • Assembly
  • Hinges
  • Finishing

Too many inches

Quite a bit of time in the shed today, so made some progress (there being a nearby deadline, this is a good thing). Started by cutting a side rail’s tenons, then marking off the other side rails from it (same as for the long rails).

I wanted to keep using the offset shoulder idea, but rather than gauging it by eye, which I can’t do yet, or sawing on one or the other side of the line, which I also have trouble doing, I decided to just mark out the shoulders and cut to the line. So I marked off the show face shoulder, ran the line round with the square to the back side, and then marked out 5mm or so of the line on the back side, then put a ruler on the line and butted the square up against that.

Problem is my ruler’s too thin. And it’s fiddly. And then I had an idea – I’m already holding a thin bit of metal, why not use it?

Put the knife upside down, butt the edge up to the line at that point on the back where the back of the knife starts sloping down to the point so I had a consistent thickness (the whole blade narrows down to the bevel slightly like a saw plate), butt the square up against the other side of the knife, then flip the knife over and cut the back shoulder line.

Works quite well. And that’s about as much of an offset as you need really, at least for something of this scale.

By the way, one of these makes it a lot easier to see the lines. It’s a little rechargeable camping light off ebay. Big Clive did a video on them and the internals were quite solid so I bought one.

It cranks up to quite a high brightness and if you just put it on the bench near the work you get a nice horizontal light thrown across the piece so cut lines stand out clearly. Plus, has a nice magnet in the base so I can just put it on a plane on the wall and it acts as a quick light on those short runs to the shed to grab something when I don’t want to plug in the whole shed but need light. Or it can grab onto the bandsaw frame and act as a work light when I’m using that.

Not bad for €6.40 delivered. Big Clive had a link to a generic ebay search if you want to grab one.

Anyway, got the side rails done.

That offset shoulder method is even faster when you don’t have to faff about cutting to one side of a line when you don’t have the skill for that 😀 And all the joints bar one fitted off the saw, which I was happy with.

What I was not happy with was the overall look of the piece when I put all the rails into the stiles to get a look at the final size.

That’s… it’s just not right. It’s square. I don’t understand that. First off, it looks clunky. Secondly, the design was not square, it was rectangular because it’s designed to hold something specific which is very rectangular.

Measuring tape time.

Width is fine, a quarter inch under but no biggie.

Depth is about what I estimated (well, a half-inch over). Still not seeing it. What are the internals?

Internal width is perfect…

And internal depth is… wait, what? 13 inches? That’s supposed to be 11, what the…

Ah. Shite.

If you change your initial sizes in your design, and you’re adding on a margin for the thickness of the material, you need to run the sums again and change the final size too. Feck. Well, at least this is an easy fix (too short would have been a bit more work). I want 11-and-a-quarter inches in internal depth, so if I move the shoulder on the side rails back by one-and-three-quarter inches, that should give me the size I want. So, out with the marking and measuring gear and the saw…

And I recut all of those tenons on the rails (and everything fitted off the saw this time, yay), and reassembled the chest.

I don’t know if the photo gets it across, but it looks a lot more right this time. Weird how your brain reacts to proportions.

That’ll do nicely.

At this point I took some time to practice carving…

Simple practice pattern, just some concentric circle segments to cut out with the v-tool.

It’s a physical skill, so you just need to practice. I’m getting slowly better.

Not sure if I’m at the stage where I’m comfortable carving the panels for this chest or not. I will be for the next one whenever that is, but this one… not sure. Might leave it.

Or not. Really not sure – if the design is simple enough, it might look acceptable…

But enough diversion. Quick side job now, splitting out blanks for drawbore pegs.

I can’t tell you how much better this job is thanks to that hacking knife. Compared to a chisel, it’s faster, more controllable, safer, and just all-round better. I tested one of the peg blanks by hammering it through the dowel plate down to the quarter-inch size, but just one (it’s a noisy job, better suited to earlier in the day even with the sound dampening in the shed so I’ll do it tomorrow).

Meantime, I rough-cut the floorboards to size.

They’re cedar, already tongue-and-grooved which is a nice timesaver. I haven’t decided yet whether I should just rebate them into the base or whether I should groove three rails and nail them to the fourth (which is cut narrower). Need to figure that out tomorrow.

At this point, I got out my #04 and stropped the blade and reset the cap iron and started cleaning up the rails and stiles.

And then I set up to do some of the decorative features I had in mind for the rails. First, some fences to hold the bottom rails in place.

This wasn’t great, the piece kept spinning out, so I added another fence clamped to the front as well:

This worked nicely. It’s effectively an ad-hoc sticking board, and I’m going to use my new 167-year-old reeding plane on the bottom rails. This was the point of buying it, after all. And I’ve learned I’m not that good at using the thing, though I’m starting to get the knack of it. I think I need to get some slipstones to sharpen it a bit more (the strop only sortof works) and I’m starting to think I need to go buy and read “Mouldings in Practice” because even when I finally get the iron set to take a fine cut so it doesn’t chatter, it still digs in in the last half-inch or so of the groove and I’m sure it’s something I’m doing wrong. But I got it working well enough to do the bottom four rails. Not before I discovered that I need to do some repairs though…

It is somewhat disconcerting to hit your moulding plane with your plane hammer where you’re supposed to hit it to retract the iron and have bits fall out. It’s even more fun when you go to advance the iron and don’t realise the wedge is loose. That iron can really get some distance on it when you give it a belt with a hammer when the wedge isn’t holding it in the plane. But I was able to get it back from behind the bench without any damage, so that’s allright.

Anyway, the top four rails get a different treatment, for which I needed my scratch stock.

Lee Valley. It’s a luxury I know, but it wasn’t that expensive (it was about $50 plus P&P for the stock and all of its scratch cutters) and it works very nicely once you get the hang of it and only try to do short strokes instead of long runs (you do a few of those but only at the very end when the moulding is well established, and you have to be careful even then that it doesn’t dig into the grain and dive off to one side or the other). I used it to cut a pair of beads separated by a gouge’s width on the top rails, and called it a night there. I have some work still to do on the decoration, but it requires belting a gouge with a mallet so it’ll be loud so again, I’ll wait till tomorrow for that.

Not too bad, though a little more ragged than I’d like in places even after burnishing with a handful of shavings. But it’s not done yet…

Offset shoulders

Started off with a quick check of something for Ralph who’d had a minor mishap over on Accidental Woodworker with his #044.

Ouch. Cast part weakness strikes again 🙁

For Ralph, my #044’s rods are square to the fence to within 0.05mm (my thinnest feeler gauge):

And square to the skate to the same tolerance:

And there are gaps around the rod in the fence holes. It’s hard to gauge how much by because my feeler gauges are flat and don’t cope with tight radii well, but it looks somewhere around 0.1mm.

There is a discernible line around the rod in the plane body, but no discernible gap and I can’t get even the tip of the 0.05mm feeler gauge in there.

Incidentally, I normally have the fence rods a few inches proud of the body of the plane like that because its spot on the wall sees it stay in place using both the rods and the secondary fence on the plane:

Hope that helps Ralph.

That done, I set out and marked off the lid frame parts and ripped them out with the bandsaw. It’s not that I don’t like ripsawing, it’s that it’s awkward in a confined space and for rough cuts there’s no great advantage to it. When I have floorspace enough for a sawbench, that may change. For now, a few awkward noisy moments at the bandsaw — and I do mean awkward because it means standing in an 8″x8″ square in the corner between the sander behind me, the vice to the left of me and the dust collection and power cord in front of me, feeding the work through the blade. It’s not quite dangerous, but it’s not my idea of fun either.

That done, out with the plane and clean up and true up the edges and that’s the frame parts set – I’ll crosscut to size later.

First, a quick check of my lid idea; sit the lid on a quarter-inch spacer, butt a frame part against it and take a peek at what will be the cross-section of the lid (sortof) to be sure it’s not horrible.

Eh, it’ll do I think. On to the tenons…

…with just a quick stop to go to the post office and pick up a few new toys 🙂

Some new punches for the whole 17th Century New England carving idea, and a pair of gouges that were going cheap for the same plan; and some brusso hardware that was going for a bit under quarter price. Shame Rutlands didn’t have more of those to be honest, I tried to get more but that was the last one in stock.

Mental note – when knocking punches into a thin piece of material for your reference block, don’t hit the damn thing too hard…

Oh well. On to the tenons…

Started with the long rails at the back and with the shoulder lines. Nothing special here, just come in by an inch, nick it, then use the square to mark off the shoulder line all around the piece. Then the cheek lines get set by taking the chisel I chopped the mortice with and setting the mortice gauge width with it:

Pretty standard stuff, and you’d think that you’d just line the gauge up with the inside of the groove and away you’d go…

Problem is, that doesn’t work because my mortice isn’t the same width as the groove, which is my fault; I assumed that if you have a three-eighths iron and a three-eighths chisel, they’d be the same size. Welcome to one of the quirky features of old imperial-measurements tools – there’s no guarantee that an inch chisel is an inch wide because with old chisels widths were kindof a best-effort sort of thing. When people in the last three countries in the world to not use metric (and the few others who are officially metric but use imperial overwhelmingly in common usage, like the UK) start saying stuff like “who can remember 25.4mm? 1 inch is so much easier to remember! Who makes a 25.4mm chisel?” they’re sortof forgetting that nobody ever used to make a 1 inch chisel either. They’d make almost-an-inch chisels and nobody cared (or cares now) because you set the gauges with the chisel and most of the time nobody cared if the chisel was 1 inch or 1.032 inches because you cut pieces to fit other pieces and so long as they did, the exact size of the groove or mortice didn’t matter. The only time it really causes a problem is things like this where you build things assuming that something called a 1-inch chisel is the same width as something else called a 1-inch iron and it isn’t.

So when I found my morticing chisel wasn’t the same width as the groove, I nudged the mortice up against the wall of the groove away from the face to reduce the chance of something blowing out while chopping the mortice. So now that I’m cutting the tenon, I need to shove the tenon over a bit so that the groove on the rail lines up with the groove on the stile so the panel can fit, like so:

This is obviously not ideal. Next time I build one of these, I’ll pick an iron that matches the chisel and I’ll position the groove a bit more conservatively even if that means cutting the joints and then planing the stiles and rails down to final size after the stressful bits of grooving and morticing are done. But that’s next time. This time, I marked off the cheeks and then sawed them in the vice as normal and moved on to cutting the shoulders.

First use of the japanese saw bench hook in anger (and it works well). The shoulders are cut using something Richard Maguire was talking about in his latest video series and on his blog; the face shoulder is cut right on the line, but the non-face shoulder is cut on the wrong side of the line deliberately:

This is a bit cack-handed and it’s offset too much at the back (but that doesn’t matter hugely). If done right, you’d saw the face shoulder on one side of the line and the back shoulder on the other side of the line with maybe a kerf or two of a difference between the shoulders. You get an asymmetric tenon as a result:

And now when you drive the joint home, the back side does not close up at all:

But the face side – and this is the point of this – is very tight and clean:

And because there are four of these joints in a square, when it’s all assembled and drawbored, all the joints are in tension and so they resist racking as a whole as well. Now I’ve not done a great job here (though all but one of my joints tonight fitted off the saw, which was nice), but even so I’ve got nice lines on the face sides with less effort than normal, so this technique’s a pretty useful one.

Back frame done…

And front frame done and by this point it’s 2300h so I knock off for the evening. Looking at the frames together to get an idea of what the final size will be was encouraging.

They match up well enough.

You can tell that the original sizes for rails have changed quite a bit because I had to remake them. I am wondering if that will affect the sides…

Some fettling may be required. Hm. I do have some room for that but not a huge amount. Also, I know it looks too tall and spindly but that’s because the horns (those bits marked X) haven’t been removed yet and won’t be till near the end (they strengthen the piece during construction).

Even after removing the horns on the legs, I’ll still have quite a bit of material to play with to get the overall proportions fettled.

Some of those joints are pretty decent – even the back shoulder gap is quite small if you don’t go overboard on the offset and you still get the tight face joint as a result.

However, if you do go a bit cack-handed…

Yeah, not so good. Structurally fine, but messy as a messy thing. Not entirely sure how to handle this. I might have to make a frame to go on top of the box itself to mask that off (and the lid would then hinge off that frame). Kindof like edge banding does for plywood. Not sure. I’ll see later.

First though, I have to finish the tenons tomorrow by doing the side rails.

And then there are a few more jobs…


  • Rip out lid frame parts
  • Groove lid frame parts
  • Cut lid frame M&T joints and drill for drawboring
  • Measure out lid panel size
  • Groove lid panel
  • Shape lid panel
  • Cut box tenons and drill M&T joints for drawboring
  • Groove bottom box rails for floorboards
  • Crosscut floorboards to width
  • Plane away inside corner on stiles
  • Cut edge floorboards to fit around stiles
  • Possibly build face frame for the top of the chest
  • Assembly
  • Hinges
  • Finishing


Groovin’ right along…

The rails were all prepped and squared last night so today at lunch I hobbled out to the shed and started grooving them with the #044.

First off, checking the position of the groove and the shadow lines (if we have any) with the long rails.

Line up the reference face of the rail with the stile and nick the corner with the marking knife at the edges of the groove on the stile. Then use the marking gauge to run those lines around three of the four edges and reinforcing the lines on the edge with the groove using the cutting gauge. Then into the vice and plough the groove out with the #044.

But the inside edge is a bit rounded and ragged which could cause issues, so out with the japanese chisel (which I’m starting to enjoy using – it’s great for anything involving chopping but for paring it leaves a lot to be desired) and the narex to clean up.

And when the straggly bits on the bottom are cleared out and the inside edge is straightened up, a single pass with the #04 along the top to tidy up and we’re done.

Not every rail needed quite so much work (and I went back and fixed two grooves on the stiles the same way later). And with the long rails done…

…time for the short rails.

Same procedure as before, right down to the cleanup. By this point we’re through lunch, and a coffee break around four, and into afterdinner time, but:

Done. That’s the main carcass of the chest ready for the mortice&tenon joinery. But by now it’s too late to start chopping mortices (because of the noise and the neighbours) so something else needed doing. I still hadn’t picked material for the lid so I started picking through the timber store and found two short oak boards that are already prepped from an earlier build I didn’t pursue, they’ll do for the frame of the lid. For the lid panel I wanted a single solid piece of nice looking oak between three-quarters and an inch thick. Couldn’t find any offcuts, so…

Measured off slightly more than I’ll need and crosscut with the 300mm ryoba in the face vice, then skim-planed off both faces to see which side should be up. Sometimes that’s a hard choice. This time… not so much 😀

Three guesses which way’s up? 😀

Also, it lets me use up the end of that board that had a damaged edge – I won’t need the full width of the board for this. The idea is to have a frame-and-panel lid, but where the lid has a groove around the edge instead of a tongue so that the bottom edge of the groove acts as the tongue for the frame and the top edge of the groove is proud of the frame:

Of course, you don’t really need the groove on the frame, you could use a simple rabbet. I’ll have to think about that a bit. The panel does have to be grooved though, because I want to shape the half-inch or so that would be proud of the frame and I’d like to be sure the line between lid frame and lid panel is hidden away.

With the parts skim planed and set out (I’ll rip out the frame rails and stiles tomorrow), and the floorboards already picked out (I have some cedar for that), there was something I wanted to check, namely whether parts in the vice are definitely at right angles to the workbench top; that would explain the slight angle on the base of the 044’s grooves.

Nope, not even very close. That’s a tad disconcerting. I wanted to see if it was the vice jaw or the apron…

Seems like it’s both. Well, I guess I can’t think of the corner of the workbench as a square anymore. I suppose it’s not bad for cheap 2×4 material, but I do see the attraction of hardwood benches now.

That done, I laid out tomorrow’s job, wrapped up for the night and hobbled back indoors.

Tomorrow, we mortice!


Still hobbling round the place today with the sartorious, so working from home (the joys of IT – you can work anywhere, meaning you can work when sick). Over lunch, I tottered to the shed and flattened the board I was going to pull the rails from, and shot a reference edge with the #08.

The stain’s from accidental contact with the ebonising potion from the table build, but it’s surface only so it’ll plane out. Out with the panel gauge and mark off 2-and-a-quarter inch laths (we want two-inch-ish wide rails when it’s all done and squared so I’m leaving room for cack-handedness).

Back to work at this point until around about fourish, at which point I get stuck waiting on system tests, or in XKCD terms,

So to the bandsaw (rather than the ryoba because time). Ripped all four parts, then out with a medium-set #05 and a fine-set #08 and a straight edge and a square and a marking gauge and we get reference faces and edges on all four of these and mark off the reference faces for thickness.

This doesn’t take long and I leave the four parts marked up for resawing on the bandsaw and head inside for dinner. The light was fading and it was gray overcast when I went into the shed, then I open the door and…

Sneachta! And someone’s not seen this before…

Later, after dinner, back out to the shed and onto the bandsaw, resaw the pieces down to thickness (we want about three-quarters of an inch so the gauge was set to seven eighths (the pieces are about nine eighths thick)) and then it was back to the #05 and #08 to get the bandsaw marks off and the faces clean, and then taking them to S4S which didn’t take very long.

Ready for joinery. That was all I wanted done in the shed today (pick small goals, you’ll feel better), so I opened the door to go back inside and again, more sneachta!

Doubt it’ll last though. Oh well. We have driving wind and freezing rain on the way to replace it apparently…


So I get the ‘flu shot every year, but apparently the strain picked for the shot this year did not tally with the strain that showed up in Ireland (apparently from Australia of all places) and it’s been rather rampant of late…

Also, in an unrelated topic, meet the longest muscle in the human body, the sartorious muscle:

So, can you guess what happens if you catch the first and pull the second? Did you guess four days flat on your back in bed doing nothing shed-related past reading Alan Peters’ book on cabinetmaking (interesting read btw, as it’s less “here’s how to cut a dovetail” and more “this is how you run a successful woodworking business”, which is a nice look into a different world) and watching an endless train of Japanese cabinetmaking and Roy Moore videos? So the project I was working on has stalled until this evening bar an hour on Sunday. Yay.

There are however, some new toys. So here’s my current dust collection rig:

Yes, I collapsed it, but it still works. I need to build a safety valve. However, it’s also a 60L drum because when I ordered it I didn’t quite know what I’d need and I was overly cautious. And now it’s eating space so I wanted to downsize – so I ordered a 30L drum and it arrived right after christmas, just when I couldn’t do anything with it.

So I’ll try fitting that as soon as I get a chance (it’ll have to be a weekend I think). That should get me a chunk of space back.

Also, I was watching Peter Follansbee again and he was making pegs for drawbore joints and he has this lovely mini meat cleaver thing for the job:

All I have to use is an inch-and-a-half chisel which is not the most stable of arrangements because you’re trying to hit a point a foot in the air above a peg-sized piece of wood balanced on end and held in place only by the chisel edge which is neither easy nor terribly safe. However, in the video Peter mentioned that a glazier’s hacking knife was a good modern substitute, so I looked them up and they’re dirt cheap and I need pegs for the current build so…

One cheap hacking knife. Should be far more controllable and safe for the splitting, but we’ll see. I kinda want to take the grinder or a file to the point of that thing and get rid of it though, just have a flat blunt end at the front of the knife.

And the pin chuck I ordered last year arrived…

along with the 12″ speed square I’d ordered (mostly because this is the tool I keep wanting in the timber yard rather than the framing square I have at the moment):

More tidying may be needed at some point 😀

Oh, and a few places on ebay were doing sales on brass hardware so I picked up a box of the things because after the wall cupboard build I didn’t want to get caught without a handle at short notice again. And some hinges because I looked at the shiny brass against the oak for the current build and it’s not quite right. But we’ll see. Mostly this is just stuff bought because it was going for less than half price.

And these were a few design punches bought for very few peanuts as part of the whole “learn 17th century carving” idea. They work great on something like walnut:

(That’s my reference stick for my gouges in case you’re wondering)
But in oak, which the carving is done in:

Just too faint to be made out. Too much detail in the punch for the grain of the oak to take on. Oh well. Into the toolbox for later they go. I have a few more that were ordered off ebay that are on their way, I’ll give those a try when they get here. At least two or three of those are re-workable with a file but seem to be the stippling pattern Follansbee was using in his work. They won’t be needed for a little while though, thanks to the flu delaying everything.

So I got back to grooving the rails tonight – or at least tried to. I’ve been having some issues with the grooving using my Record 044. Ralph over at Accidental Woodworker has been having some issues with his as well, and I thought it might be a common problem but it turns out my fence is aligned okay. My skate’s bottom isn’t perfectly at 90 degrees to the skate sides – you might just be able to make that out in the photo – but it’s only out by a few degrees and it’s so narrow that can’t be the problem either. The grain on the oak is squirrelly and reversing half-way along the rail, but I’m getting horrible tear-out before I even get to that point:

That’s with a freshly sharpened and stropped iron (even worked the back of it just in case I’d missed that iron somehow when rehabbing the 044). I spelched out through the rail completely on the first try on this one and had to plane back to the reference edge and start over, so when it started tearing out here, I got out the cutting gauges instead of just the mortice gauge and sliced the nearest edge very deeply.

Then I got out another cutting gauge (which happens to be about seventy years older or so and actually cuts better) and sliced the far edge the same way.

Then with the 044 set for a very fine cut I got a okay-ish groove cut down to depth; but it wasn’t even. I used the new Japanese chisel to chop the far edge to properly vertical rather than the gentle curve it had become, but then I noticed that the 044’s fence wasn’t even in contact all the way along to the same degree. I must have been tired – it took another five minutes of staring at it before I realised that the rail was twisted.

I planed and prepped it to flat in early December; sitting in the shed through a few cold snaps and 60-70% humidity with the squirrelly grain in the wood must just have been too much for it and it pretzeled itself by a good few degrees. So did two of the other long rails. The last long rail was only slightly twisted, but it’s one of the uglier pieces because of a knot. The short rails were still fine and are still perfectly flat, as are the stiles, so they can still be used.

Luckily I have a rough-cut chunk of an oak board in the timber store that’s only a few mm shorter than the long rails (literally a few, three to four in total) so I’ll plane that flat and rip out new long rails from it. I’ll probably cheat and get most of the way to thickness by resawing with the bandsaw and take them the last mm or two of the way by handplane (I’m now quite short on time for this build and I’ve already been dropping elements from it to try to get this done by the end of the month). The grain’s less squirrelly in this piece as well so I might even be able to do some decorative elements on it if I’m lucky. Silver lining and all that. Oh well. I had to prep more pieces for the lid anyway (which I finally got a design for in my head that should be stable and relatively straightforward to do). Still a bit annoying mind you.

It’s not as annoying, however, as walking to and from work today (and standing on the Luas both ways) and then finding when I got home this evening that I’ve buggered up the leg muscle again, it’s all sore and swollen. Standing, no problem. A step forward or back if I don’t bend the knee too much, that’s more or less okay. Walking from the kitchen to the shed? Sortof like having someone stick in a hypodermic needle into the muscle and then breaking it off so it pokes you at random moments. I think I’m stuck working from home for a few days, this thing is not going to heal if I keep walking a few kilometres a day on it.

Back to work…

So back to work today. Checked the thermometer in the shed before leaving the house around 0715 or so…

And given the ice on the decking outside the shed, I doubt that was the low point either. Must remember to put another layer of paste wax on the planes this week to prevent surface blooms of rust.

I figured it’d be warmer by the time I got home but by 2000h…

Hmmm. Uninsulated shed in the middle of winter. Such fun. Oh well, new toys!

Some trammel points and a new 3″ square from Proops (turns out, if you have a 4″ square, you shouldn’t drop it or you’ll have a 4″ not-square…).

And I wanted to see what all the fuss over Japanese chisels was about so I bought a fairly cheap second-hand one (came to about €15 delivered). 8mm, just over the quarter-inch size, nice balance to it, lots of surface rust though. Some sandpaper and some time on the diamond stones later…

It’s a nice little chisel, takes a nice edge (eventually, it does seem to be much harder steel). I don’t see much of a hollow on the back but I guess that’s fixable somehow. Really does feel well balanced in the hand, they always looked a bit awkward to me but when you’re using them it’s a whole other deal. Won’t know how good it is for a while, obviously, but so far so good.

Then some mucking about with the #080 scraper plane on the chest rails (it works!) and I started in on the grooving of the rails…

That oak has pretty grain, but it’s a pain to work with. Scrapers, scraper plane, tight-set #04 skewed with the cap iron clamped down a gnat’s whisker from the cutting edge, all the tricks needed here. Should have the rails done in a day or three, depending on work schedules, get some more practice in on the carving for the panels, and start cutting the mortices and tenons this weekend. Need to prep some more material as well for the lid. Going to do that in a frame-and-raised-panel style, but I’m not sure if the center panel should be oak or something else for contrast.

More small jobs and practice…

All small jobs today in the shed. Well. Was a bit chilly.

And it was colder before I turned on the heater. Not going to get much better before the end of next week either 🙁 Onwards…

Got my new japanese saw bench hook finished:

Spare offcuts of walnut and plywood, with 19mm dowels from woodies (if you’re in the US, woodies is what Lowe’s would be if they dropped their timber standards significantly and jacked up their prices by 50%). The dowels drop into the bench dog holes:

In theory this would work on any set of two holes, but it turns out there’s just enough variation in spacing that it only works for this pair 🙁 Next time I build a workbench, I’ll be a lot more precise with a few things and dog hole placement is one of them. Still, this is the best placed pair for sawing for me, so it could have been much worse. Tried it out in anger making some small parts and it works nicely. Not sure how much abuse it’ll stand but it doesn’t feel too precious. About those small parts:

Honestly, this one will be funny, bear with me…

Then some more practice with the v-tool:

The results weren’t terrible but lots more time needed I think. The practice pattern from Peter Follansbee’s video is a lot easier to carve if you make it simpler when you work on a piece of wood half the size he’s using – there’s a minimum resolution limit, so to speak, in oak and challenging it is not conducive to decent results. Still though, a ways to go to get from this:

To this:

But I think it’s a small improvement on this:

And then I got out the old oilstone and a 10mm dowel and some sandpaper and took twenty minutes to sharpen up the #7 hollow and the reeding plane I got before xmas and gave them a try. I still need to work on the hollow, but the reeding didn’t go too badly.

It’s a bit hard to see here, but the two beads were nicely formed for most of the length of the run. It’s a bit of a faff setting up the plane, but when it’s set, it’s sweet.

A bit of practice with the gouge later and I got to see what I bought it for:

A lot easier to make those two beads with the reeding plane than with a scratch stock. A little more practice and I might actually be ready to use this on a piece.

About that oilstone. I’ve had it for ages, it was one of the first things I ever bought for woodworking, but I’ve never really used it much – never liked oilstones, they’re mucky things really compared to diamond plates – but it does seem to be a higher grit than my 1200 diamond plate. I was planning on getting a D8EE plate later this month (DMT, 8000 grit) because I thought I was about ready to add another step up in grit to the sharpening process now that I’ve got the hang of the basics; I might just try using the oilstone in the interim. It probably needs to be flattened though, and I don’t really know what grit it actually is; must find a way to test that, even if it’s just “polish something on the 1200 grit plate and then on the stone and see which one left the larger scratches”.

And there was a bit of fiddling about with parts for various other builds that are in progress right now, like this one:

And this didn’t work too badly either, but I can’t pein over the end of the nail so I’ll order some brass rod stock to use as the hinge instead.

Happy Solstice!

Shortest day of the year so least work done. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Started off with presents – some arrived yesterday but I couldn’t get to them and some arrived this morning, so yay!

Not Moore&Wright, but cheap and cheerful. I’m trying to cure myself of my combi-phobia. Is Moore&Wright. Offset calipers for scribing lines parallel to an edge. Nice idea. 3″ Record clamp. I have 2″ and 4″ ones, figured it’d be useful to see if something in between was useful.And a 2″ clamp because it was going in the lot. Another 2″ one that was in the lot. At a fiver, cheap. Have a few of these already and they have a habit of being useful.And a pair of 4″ clamps (I have three, I’m always needing a fourth. There’s another still in the post because I know the minute I have five I’ll need a sixth). I don’t like painting wood with latex paint much, it’s a bit meh. But I saw a nice guitar or two being done by the Crimson Guitars mob with these water-based stains and there was a cool demo panel they did with them that I had an idea for:

Might be able to replicate that. We’ll see. On with the presents…

A six and seven hollow to try a decorative element I’ve been playing with…

Shows promise; needs more work though. Don’t need this till later so that’s fine.Nice V-tool. I bought a tiny little one from proops last week for two or three pounds and made a rudimentary handle for it, sharpened it up and it was useless. It must have been meant for a power carver tool or something. This one however, without any sharpening, was miles beyond that:

Proops on the inside, Mattheison (the new one) on the outside. Soooo much better. Still needs work, but that’s for another day.

And then the biggie…

Frame saw! 700mm blade filed rip, compared to the ryoba’s 300mm. so you can see why it would have an advantage. This is the English pattern frame saw, not the French one with the blade in the middle, but for resawing this shouldn’t make any real difference. The blade length obviously will (the French pattern ones can be four feet long or more); but shed has a problem with French pattern frame saws…

Specifically, there’s not enough room for a full throw on a 700mm blade (the handle is in contact with the wood store there); a 1200mm blade would require a small window be cut in the wall of the shed… but even I’m not ready to do that. As it is I’ve had to move a few pieces of wood around in the store.

So obviously, this needs testing in something other than pine (which was the first test cut).

Poplar, 9″ by 4″ thick. Took 12m 30 seconds including a bit of faffing about moving plywood out of the way and all that, but I figure that’s built in fudge factor. So how does that scale up? I have a few 5″x15″ pieces and 6″x17″ pieces along with the 7″x16″ top/bottom plates.

So I thought volume removed might be a good guide; that’s the saw kerf times the square area cut through, and the kerf won’t change so just look at the area. Should be 0.347 minutes per square inch, right? That means the 5″x15″ pieces should take about 26 minutes each. Yikes. Okay, let’s give that a go.

Holy crap. An hour. It took a sodding hour. I mean, it’s a lot less effort than the ryoba was and maybe I just need to get the swing of it, but a stinking hour…

Cut quality is okay. Ryoba’s better but then it’s a finer plate. Maybe I need to sharpen the saw? The teeth are sticky-sharp but maybe they just need a touch-up.

So how long does it take to thickness off that quarter-inch by scrub plane? 15 minutes. And that’s to thickness and flattened and with the twist taken out. I ditched the saw idea for the sides and thicknessed them by scrub plane as well. And I had to mill another piece because the side I had sawn went from three-quarters of an inch sawn to half-inch when smoothed out enough to use. Gah. So that’s the shelf 😀

That’s the downside of the thicknessing approach really. You convert material into waste at a fair clip. That floor was clean this morning, that’s all from today.

But we have all the parts milled and squared and I could get started in on joinery at last.

Enter the rebate plane again, and I took a quarter-inch by one inch rebate off the backs of the sides.

Then out with saw, chisel and router plane and I cut the housing joint for the shelf.

Even got to use my side rabbit plane to trim the joint a bit. Slightly fiddly but…

Sorted. Fairly late at this stage and I started on the top and bottom which will be dovetailed into the sides. They needed a bit of treatment on the shooting board and then I realised I hadn’t cut the bottom to width yet (doh) so I marked out for that and I’ll hit the bandsaw in the morning and do that and the box blanks I have lying around.

And then I’ll make up that Japanese saw hook and get to dovetailing.

That was it in the shed for the evening; had to hit the kitchen to make gravlax for the family xmas dinner. Pretty simple recipe.

Take your fresh salmon trimmed and de-pin-boned to your liking. Measure its weight. Now mix a quarter of that weight in salt in a bowl with an equal weight of castor sugar and an equal weight of grated beetroot. cut a lime into wedges and fillet out the pulp and discard it; cut up the rind to small pieces and throw that into the mix. Now throw a good sized bunch of dill (chopped) into the mix. Put the salmon into a sous vide bag or lay it on some clingfilm or use tupperware, just keep this contained because beetroot is a great dye. Douse the salmon in the mix, then wrap it in your chosen containment method and put it in a secondary containment tray, put another tray on top and weight that down and then put the whole assembly in the fridge for a few days. Turn the fish upside down daily. Three or four days should do it. Then you remove, rinse off the salt/sugar/beetroot/dill mix and pat dry; slice thinly and serve on blinis or however you like to eat smoked salmon because this is like that only tasty.

Also, whatever you do, don’t put it in the fridge and relax for an hour and then remember when writing up the recipe for the blog that you left the dill sitting on top of the counter and the mix was missing a key ingredient because then you have to reopen the bag and chuck everything into the bag and squish it around a bit and get covered in beet juice a second time and you’ll have an opening in the glove that lets the salt in to find the four or five small nicks you got from the chisel and cleaning the throat of the fillister plane earlier.



By the way. Meet our new breadbin, courtesy of TK Maxx. Made from bamboo.

Is it me? Am I the crazy one? Or does that crooked joint at the top of the tambour drive your fingernails into itchy mode as well? The whole top hasn’t even tried for a square joint with the sides. It’s a good ten degrees out.



There’s nothing for it, I’m going to have to make a better one, aren’t I?

Kneedeep in shavings and carrying on

So, I’ll start with the end of something. Made as a gift for a friend of Claire’s:

Walnut offcut from the cot, some brass and pewter hardware and felt and viola, a small necklace box. Or key box I suppose. Didn’t come out too badly.

Then it was time to start pushing.

The problem with making a lot of rough-cut component parts is that then you have to turn them into planed non-rough component parts. At least it’s just poplar. And I did stop for forty minutes or so at the start to take the irons from my #04, #04½, #05 and #05½ planes to the diamond plates. It would have been less time, but I discovered the #05’s iron was skewed quite badly (one side was almost 2mm longer than the other). No wonder my lateral adjuster was always canted right over. Cue a lot of time on the 300grit plate because for some reason I thought that’d be faster than turning through 180 degrees and taking the bench grinder down off the wall. I don’t know, ask your mom.

I’m finding that this is pretty nice poplar by the way, I’d be tempted to oil this stuff. I know it gets a bad rap with woodworkers who think timber is NFG if it wasn’t all riven by hand from a single tree that grew in a tropical rainforest on the southern slope of a hill in Fiji before being cut down by hand using dental floss, but this has some nice grain and surface appearance. I might do this project over again in beech later, but I’m not regretting using the poplar here.

That chunk of plywood and the dowel on the left will become a new Japanese saw benchhook:

I was going to use that small piece of sapele the dowel is resting on as the stop but it’s a bit short and a short stop is a bit of a pain so I planed, halved and glued up a scrap piece of walnut there on the right. Yes, scrap walnut exists. Hush.

I don’t know why I’m keeping those little pine arrow shapes and the walnut scrap they’re on. Every time I go to chuck them I just find myself stopping for some reason. Presumably my subconscious has an idea it’s not ready to tell me about yet. We’ll see.

Four boards to thickness down by a quarter inch and an eight-inch wide board to resaw. Well, that’ll get you procrastinating in a hurry. I’m annoyed as well, I bought a frame saw just for this job and it’s still in Germany. What’s the holdup…

Huzzah! It might be here by tomorrow so. Right, ditch the resawing/thicknessing work and let’s park that project until the saw gets here on the bet that a frame saw makes resawing as easy as everyone says it does.

On to other things. I have a few bandsaw blanks; time to stare at them for a while and think of what to do with them…

We’ll see if they turn out the way I hope. I don’t like using machinery at the best of times but that late in the evening it felt like it’d be unsocial so nix that and I’ll do it tomorrow.

Sapele. Lovely to look at but a complete PITA to work with by hand. The toothing plane was needed to flatten that board (hence the grooved dull appearance of the board on the right) and to then smooth the surface I resorted to my #04½ because I ground that thing with a higher angle a while back and put a back bevel on the iron. And even with it set to a whisper thin cut and skewing the iron and having the chipbreaker set within a glint of the cutting edge, it’s not quite perfect. Scrapers will be needed… but I’ll leave that till after joinery is done.

Meanwhile, I need to do some cleaning up. If only I knew someone who had a wood stove in the middle of the kilkenny countryside I could get to burn this lot…

And it’ll probably get done sometime next week, but I have another commission. That’s the word for when your wife orders you to make something for junior, right? 😀 He needs a shelf for his bedtime story book, but it should go on the floor because that’s the easiest place to keep them if you’re sitting by the bed reading to him. So…

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