Completing Side Table

After cutting the bridle joints for the the legs and aprons using the simple but effective saw guides, it was time to do some shaping of the legs.  First was the taper.

Tapering legs using hand plane to marked lines

Tapering legs using hand plane to marked lines

The important part of a tapered leg to me is ensuring that the upper edge of the taper is crisp and perpendicular to the square edge of the leg.  I've found that this is pretty easily accomplished by adjusting the location of the cutting edge of the plane.

Next was creating the criss cross lap joint of the meeting of the aprons.  Using a special marking guide (same basic design as the saw guides but specifically created to mark the proper angle), it was a quick process to get a tight joint.

Criss cross lap joint for aprons

Criss cross lap joint for aprons

A few more details for the base were required including additional shaping of the legs and creating the anchor points for the base to the top.  This was followed by base glue up.

Dry Fit of base before final details

Dry Fit of base before final details

The last big activity was to create a taper on the bottom side of the table top.  The cross grain edges are done first so that any spelching/tearout can be easily fixed by tapering the in grain edges.

Tapering the cross grain edge of the underside of the table top

Tapering the cross grain edge of the underside of the table top

While Richard had an ebonizing treatment for the base, I went for a shellac to show off the cherry.  I liked the ebonizing treatment and will hopefully show it on a future project.

Finished table with watch case.

Finished table with watch case.

Side Table - Saw Guides

With a bridle joint, you have one piece that is the mortise and one piece that is the tenon.  To create saw guides you need to create 2 for each side of the joint.

I take a piece of 2x4 which I had in my scrap pile, square it up on all 4 sides.  The thickness needs to be even but not a specific measurement.  The overall saw guide will be 4 inches long and the depth for the guide position will be 2 inches.  I will also create a spot for a magnet to make the saw guide easy to use.

Marking critical lengths on the saw guide blank

Marking critical lengths on the saw guide blank

Next, I lay out the joints on some test pieces that are sized exactly like the final pieces.  Using these layout lines and the measured thickness of the saw I plan to use to cut the actual bridle joint, I make my marking guage match this depth and mark that on the saw guide.  I cut it light leaving all of the marking gauge line.  I then use my router plane to ease up on the desired position.

Easing up to the desired depth on the saw guide

Easing up to the desired depth on the saw guide

I repeat for each guide in the pair.  Then I repeat for the other side of the joints pair of guides.

Pair of saw guides for mortise side of joint

Pair of saw guides for mortise side of joint

Once I have the saw guides, it's time to test and adjust the fit.  As with all saw guides (I have played with many commercial saw guides - aka David Barron), they are simple to use and if layout is done correctly produce amazing results.  With these bridle joint guides, I'd say that layout isn't even that big of a hurdle.

I designate a specific face side to both legs and aprons for orientation purposes and clamp the saw guide to that face.  I then bring my rip panel saw up and let it do the work to depth.  Easy as that.

Testing the saw guides out

Testing the saw guides out

For the mortise side of the joint, I chop out the middle piece and for the tenon side, i saw the outer pieces off.

Removing center piece for mortise side

Removing center piece for mortise side

I tested the fit.  I found it too tight, loose, not even faces, etc. and had to cut the end off and adjust the fit and try again.  It took 5 times to get a good fit.

Final test fit.

Final test fit.

Now with the saw guides, it will be a super simple job of cutting the actual joints and glueing them up.  That will be next.

Side Table - Aprons and Legs

After working on the top (see previous post), it was time to take the remaining board and process it into the legs and aprons.

The first step was to split the board in half (giving about 21" for each half) using a semi-fine tooth crosscut 26-inch panel saw.  Next, I take those 2 boards and rip them in half using a rip 22-inch panel saw.  I take those halves and flatten, thickness and square the edges - all 4 sides.  

Ripping the paired aprons (and legs) apart.

Ripping the paired aprons (and legs) apart.

This means that when I rip each leg and apron from the paired pieces, I will only have to joint the final edge to have it ready for jointery.  My one change from Richard's design is the thickness of the aprons.  Using 4/4 stock, I wasn't able to get a full 7/8" of thickness from the boards so aprons are the same thickness as the legs at 3/4" thick.

Squaring and sizing the final edge on the legs and aprons

Squaring and sizing the final edge on the legs and aprons

After all of this work, it's time for joinery.  Richard suggests creating saw guides so that will be the next step.

New Project - Side Table

I've been following a few great hand tool guys on the internet lately.  One of my favorite is Richard McGuire, The English Woodworker.  He does a lot of free content but also has project based videos for a small fee.  His current project is a side table.  Since I finished my watch case, I found I need a better place to keep it so this side table is perfect.

It's a very simple design and Richard's video is nearly in real time so it's very easy to follow.  The first step is to cut pieces down to rough size.  I'm starting with a 4/4 9"x8' board. 

Crosscutting pieces needed for top

Crosscutting pieces needed for top

Once the 2 pieces I needed for the top are cut, it's time to joint the edge for glue up.  Richard talks about several methods for glue up of panels for larger panels.  I generally just joint and glue up and do the flattening and thicknessing after glue up.  I will do minimal work such as removing twists are big bows but only minimal work.  In this particular case, there was not twist to speak of and only the smallest hump which was easily removed.

I'm always a little cautious during glue up.  I usually create a slight spring joint and could get away with a single clamp in the middle of the joint but ... I can never leave the ends un-clamped.

Top in clamps during glue up

Top in clamps during glue up

After leaving the top in clamps over night, it's time to flatten the boards.  The glue up went well so one side was practically flat already and only needed minimal work to flatten and smooth.  The other side had slight un-evenness to the glue line and then it was a matter of thicknessing the whole panel.  Even though the edge treatment will hide any imperfect thicknessing, I still did a pretty good job.

Flattening top

Flattening top

After flattening, I still sand to 220.  At some point, I will perfect my smoother work and not need sanding but that isn't for this project.

The next step will be to take the remaining board and break it down into aprons and legs and then work on the joinery for the aprons and legs.

Finished Watch Case

Do you remember the old adage "Measure Twice, Cut Once!" ?  I clearly don't even though growing up, I heard it from Norm every week during his show.  I made what I thought was going to be my watch case and got the main carcass glued up and then I decided to test fit my actual watches.  They didn't fit.

OK, let's try it again but this time make sure everything fits.  While I'm at it, let's turn the failure into a jewelry box.

Prepping material:  I used my kerfing plane followed by my frame saw.  I then thicknessed and smooth all pieces.  I also prepped pieces from some spalted wood for the drawer fronts and tops.

Next was joinery:  I marked, cut and fit dovetails for the main carcass and drawers.  I used a router plane and created dados for the interior shelves and then glued up the main boxes.

Next was working on moulding and then applying finish which included flocking inside storage areas and shellac on all other surfaces.

Hand Grinder

Many years ago, when I realized that the space I had for my hobby of woodworking couldn't really hold a bunch of power tools and still allow me to move around or even have space for a project during the building process I decided to focus on hand tools.  Yes, I still have a couple of power tools (a thickness planer, a band saw, and a dust collection system) for things that I occasionally don't feel would be fun but even in those cases I still occasionally rip a board by hand, thickness a board with hand planes and even sweep my floor with a broom.

In using hand tools, I have discovered that the moments of pride or joy come from different aspects of the project.  When I was using power tools, it was almost always about the completion of the project but now with hand tools, I can find moments in the process.  Yesterday, I was using a jack and a smoother to thickness a board.  It took a bit of time and I was adjusting the planes.  Finally, I was working on smoothing one side and I hit that perfect setup where I was getting a thin, wispy shaving from the smoother, the surface of the board was truly finished with a super smooth feel, and every pass of the plane gave a really satisfying "snick" cutting sound that I have seen the internet professionals get in their videos.  The final product is a great moment too but other moments happen more frequently.

With moments like that, I am always looking for new ways of doing things.  With keeping a sharp edge being so important to hand tool usage, I am always reviewing my sharpening process.  I have a great process for most of it using diamond stones and Lie-Nielsen's Honing Jig but I still occasionally need to regrind the edge.  I have a Tormek T-7 which works great with one small exception.  When a blade needs a complete reset (maybe a chip broke out or something similarly severe), it can take forever to reset the edge.  I think it's due to the mild grit of the stone and the water which keeps the cut cool.  With that in mind, I have kept my eye open for an inexpensive hand grinder.

Hand Grinder off of EBay

Hand Grinder off of EBay

I finally came across one on Ebay though it did need some work.  After some clean up a a coat of rust-o-leum, the grinder worked great and was ready - or so I thought.  The stone was in bad shape so I needed a new stone.  I learned that modern power grinders use a 1/2" shaft but this hand grinder uses a 3/8" shaft.  After a lot of searching, I determined I was up a creek without a paddle.  Oh, wait, I have a brother who has a machining business!

Thanks to my brother, Michael, I now have the perfect bushing fitting the new wheel right onto the hand grinder shaft.  It works like a champ now and I'll let you know how it works the next time I need to completely reset and edge.

Hand grinder with a new stone and custom made bushing from my brother.

Hand grinder with a new stone and custom made bushing from my brother.

Dovetails

Over the years, I've done a few dovetails and really enjoy the process.  I have tried tails first and pins first.  They both work but I eventually settled on tails first.

My first step is to mark out the tails.  I use a knife and follow it up with a pencil so I can see the lines better.  I always mark out waste because I HAVE cut out the wrong pieces before and it is very frustrating.

Marking out for dovetails (again tails first)

Marking out for dovetails (again tails first)

I have a wonderful Bad Axe stiletto dovetail saw which makes cutting to a line simple (at least after lots of practice).  I then use my Knew Concepts fret saw to cut out the waste.

Cutting dovetails

Cutting dovetails

Over the years, I have gotten better with dovetails.  While I can't fit the joint together right from the saw, I only need to do minimal parring with my chisel nowadays.

Test fit of dovetails

Test fit of dovetails

I slowly worked around the case until all the dovetails are done and dry fitted the case so I have an idea of the look and size of the finished piece.

Dry fit of the carcass

Dry fit of the carcass

Once the carcass is fitted, I mark for the interior shelves and start cutting out stopped dado's for the shelves.  I get to use one of my favorite planes - the router plane.

Dado's for interior shelves

Dado's for interior shelves

I have 3 sizes but I like the medium router plane (Veritas) as it gives me lots of flexibility for the blades using the same blades as the large router plane yet still giving me good control so that I can stop without blowing out the end of the dado (remember, stopped dado's).  The process is slow and gradual work and I have 2 interior shelves and 4 sides each.  I'll be at this for a while.

New Project - Watch Case

After finishing my wife's jewelry box, I realized I had some cherry left and I thought maybe it's time to create something to hold my wrist watches (even though I don't really wear them anymore).  I think I'll model it after my wife's jewelry box with a different wood for the lid.

The first step is to prep the pieces.  The cherry I had was 8/4 so I knew that I would need to do some resawing.  It turns out that I recently made some tools that I can use for that.  I determined the rough thickness I wanted and grabbed my new kerfing plane.

Setting the thickness using my kerfing plane

Setting the thickness using my kerfing plane

Once the kerfing plane set my desired thickness, it was time to grab the frame saw and get to actual resawing.

Resawing using my frame saw

Resawing using my frame saw

After a bit of planing to clean up the faces, I stickered the wood for almost 2 weeks.  It turned out that I would get lucky and the boards stayed flat.

Stickered boards

Stickered boards

After the boards aclimated to my shop, I selected the pieces for the front, back, sides and interior shelves.  The interior shelves needed some glue up to get the proper size.

Next will be dovetails.

Dust Collection upgrade

I've had dust collection in my shop since I my power tool days.  With my small shop, I built a shed next to my shop and where I placed my dust collection so that dust in the shop was not a big issue.

Dust Collection Shed

Dust Collection Shed

Originally, I had piped dust collection around my shop to all my power tools (table saw, planer, etc.).  When I made the move to hand tools though, I wanted some of my wall space back for tool storage and such.  With that in mind, I simplified the piping inside my shop by keeping a floor sweep and a separate branch to connect to my one dusty power tool (thickness planer).  The secondary branch is just some flexible hose which can stretch to the other end of the shop if necessary.  I can easily close off a branch with manual blast gates.

Dust collection floor sweep

Dust collection floor sweep

For the actual dust collector, I had a very small 1HP/110v dual bag dust collector originally.  I replaced that shortly after I got it thanks to a friend selling me his older 2HP/220v dual bag system at a deal of a price.  I think I've had that system running for 10 years.  Emptying out the bag was always a chore.  The biggest reason is that the dust collector is in a shed, which I hardly ever look at so it was almost always overflowing when I finally got around to emptying it.

Old model of dust collector

Old model of dust collector

I decided to save up and replace it with a small cyclone system.  A bunch of years ago, a friend added a European multi machine and added a large Onieda cyclone system (similar to a system I remember Marc/The Wood Whisperer installing when he set up his current shop).  My choice in systems needed to be smaller and so when Woodcrafted had a sale, I jumped at it and got the Laguna Mobile cyclone system.

Laguna mobile cyclone dust collector

Laguna mobile cyclone dust collector

I noticed much best suction right away.  Also, the container for the bulk of the dust is smaller so i should be able to develop a routine timeframe to empty the system.  The can even has a little view port so I can see if I've over done it or not.

Edge Clamps for my Roubo Bench

I came across an article on Benchcrafted's site regarding Edge Dogs.  Even before finishing the article, I knew these would be useful for my roubo bench and Benchcrafted tail vise.  The shape of these Edge Dogs has an angle which allows for the clamping force and at the clamping location, a little more wood to give a larger surface area for the actual clamping.

Edge dog glue up

Edge dog glue up

  After the glue up, it's time to fit the Edge Dogs to the bench.  In my case, it's 3/4" round dog holes.  I used 3/4" hardwood dowels glued into the end of the dogs.

Edge dogs with dowels

Edge dogs with dowels

Once the Edge dogs had all the components glued together, it was time to refine the fit.  The most important element, after some trial and error, is the clamping surface.  The clamping surface must be square and parallel to each other in order to maximize clamping and minimize slippage on the clamped board.

Edge dogs clamping a board

Edge dogs clamping a board

These Edge Dogs will now my to prep the long edges of boards to the length of my bench which is 8 feet.  The benefit is that there is lots of clamping surface and the entire face of the board is available to apply a square to check the board frequently during edge prep.