Friday, September 14, 2018

Curio Cabinet, Part 1: The Door Joinery

I've been planning a curio cabinet for my wife and have a lot of design choices to make.
The concept - approx 19 x 15 x 5 1/4
This post is specifically about the door joinery.  Here are the limitations.  If the rails and stiles are too wide, then they hinder seeing what's inside the cabinet.  This resulted in the decision for an overlay door, rather than inset.  I settled on 1 1/4" width, which is a bit narrow for door parts.  The frame needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of a glass panel.  The joinery options in this post both have the glass housed in 1/4" deep grooves in the rails and stiles, and the grooves diminish the size of a mortise and tenon.  A complicating factor is the decorative bead I want to put on the inside of the door frame.

The remainder of this post will show the two options I'm considering and I'll go through the layout of the joints for a lower left corner.  I'll also discuss some relative merits of the joints.
First option: a mitered joint with tenon and bridle mortise
Start with squared stock 3/4" thick, 1 1/4" wide
Rail marked out, including 1/4" x 1/4" groove, miter and tenon
After cutting the groove and bead, and showing the waste areas
After cutting and paring away the waste, checking the shoulders and paring them to 90°.
I really cut away the waste later, after using the rail to help mark out the stile (see below).
I've never had confidence in angled layouts.  Knifing a 45° miter on one face, then squaring that line to an adjacent edge is iffy.  Then making  the other 45° line on the opposite face, I never know for sure that my two 45° layout lines are at the same level and that my shoulders will be co-planer.
Marking the stile: first part is not too tough - just a 45° miter
But the outside edge needs the mortise layout and don't know where to lay out the upper extreme
Stile with waste marked
Then cut and checked for 45°
And checking the miter cut is square across the thickness
Mark the mitered surface and the outside edge for the mortise - but how high up that edge?
Turn the stile around so outside edge buts up against the rail.  Then mark the bottom
of the groove recess onto the stile (would be better to mark with a chisel or knife, if one will fit)
Remove the waste and there's your joint
The joint assembled
The second type of joint only miters the inside 1/4" (roughly) of the rail and stile and has a straight tenon going into a bridle-type mortise.
This joint probably has a name, but I don't know it
Showing the part that gets mitered
The layout has its challenges, and so does the cutting.
Can start by setting a gauge to the width of the component ...
... and using that to mark the inside edge of each part
(could also simply mark one piece from the other, since they're the same width)
Also need to get the measurement of the extreme of the bead to transfer to the back side.
Mine was a few hairs north of 1/4"
That distance will mark the waste
The inside edge of the rail is marked similarly, but the question is how to get the extent of the tenon
I did this by cutting away the waste, then setting a gauge to the remaining width
Then using that to mark the outside edge of the components
Then I lay out the mortise and tenon walls and mark the waste
Showing the outside edges marked (ignore the miter lines)
Then cut and pare carefully for a good fit, but ...
... I had only cut close to the miter line earlier.  Now it's time to fine tune.
Made this miter paring jig very precisely
The jig in use, paring tiny bits of the mitered section of the joint ...
... sneaking up on a decent fit
A view from lower left
The layout of these two joints is a little tricky and cutting them can be challenging.  The first joint has only half the glue surface of the second joint.  But even just dry fitted, the first joint felt pretty strong.  And the first joint is a bit easier to cut than the second.
The tenons of each type of joint
The two joints
I like the look of the first joint better.  But I had wanted for quite a while to try the second type.  One difficult thing about the second joint is trying to level and square the part of the inside edge left after cutting away about 1/4".  This is especially important on the stile and can only be done by paring carefully.

Having done these practice joints, I'm more confident going into this build.  But I'm also thinking of scrapping them altogether in favor of a rabbeted frame.  With the two joint styles above, I'd have to install the glass when gluing up the frame.  It would be much easier to place the glass in a rabbet in the back of the frame.  I'm going to look into that next.

To be continued ...

Friday, September 7, 2018

Rehab of a D. R. Barton Skewed Rabbet Plane

The D.R. Barton rabbet plane that I recently picked up was in need of a bit of work if it was to become a user once again.
D.R. Barton 1 1/2" skewed rabbet from the 1870's
The sole had been planed by a prior owner, but it wasn't flat and was slightly twisted.
The sole, as found.  Winding sticks would show slight twist.
I planed the twist out and got the sole flat.  The right side of the plane wasn't even close to flat and also had a bit of twist.  It also wasn't square to the sole.  I planed a bit off the right side, but still had a problem where it meets the sole.
The right side of the plane, forward of the mouth is rounded at the sole
Right side of the plane, to the rear of the mouth
I had hoped not to plane too much off the sides, but the corner where the right side meets the sole needs to be very crisp.  Forward of the mouth, this area was quite rounded and that made it necessary to remove almost 1/8" of material.

When the right side was flat and square to the sole, with a crisp corner, I had to decide what to do about the left side.  It's not as important for that side to be square to the sole, so I could have left it as found.  I decided to make what was (probably) originally a 1 1/2" rabbet plane into a 1 1/4" rabbet plane.
Scribed a line 1 1/4" from the right side
Planing to this thickness gave me a flaw-free body, for the most part.  I was also able to keep the entire original maker's stamp on the front end.
The plane is now a bit thinner than in this picture, but I still have the whole maker's mark
As long as I was obliterating most of this plane's patina, I planed the top to be flat and square to the rest.  Then I added back in the upper edge rounding / chamfering.
Upper edges marked for the chamfers and rounding
The wedge and iron were next.  Because I made the plane body thinner, I needed to file the sides of the iron to get it to match the body.

Filing the right side of the iron
The key is to file so that you can center the tang in the mortise and have the right side and cutting edge of the iron matching up closely with the plane body.  BTW, the side of the iron needs to be filed at an angle such that the back edge doesn't extend out from the body.
Front of plane to right: note how rear aspect of iron recedes into the plane body
Finally, I filed the left side of the iron so that it was just a hair wider than the plane body.

I had a little piece of beech for a new wedge, but because all I had was a very small piece I made a prototype from oak first.  I wanted to see how difficult it would be to plane the proper angles.  Turns out, it wasn't that hard at all.
The original wedge was pretty beat up
Beech, oak and original wedges
Oak prototype fitting nicely at front of mortise
After making sure the beech wedge fit well at top and bottom of the mortise, I added a ramp detail to start the deflection of shavings.
Ramp at bottom of wedge
I took a lot of time to try to make the iron fit the bed, and it's still not quite right.  I may end up putting a thin piece of leather behind the iron, a trick I once read about that woodworkers of old used when an iron didn't bed properly.
Trying to get light where I needed it to work on the bed
Taped wax paper to the sole to filter the light and
Using a straight-edge to see the gaps
The bed doesn't really need to be perfectly flat.  But the portion that supports the base of the bevel should mate well.
It's probably OK to have that gap, as long as the whole of the iron just behind the bevel is supported
With wedge and iron installed, there's about 0.005" gap (but less than 0.002" at the base of bevel)
To get the bed to mate with the iron better, I used the candle soot trick that I learned from Bob Rozaieski.
Hold bevel side just above a candle flame, but not long enough to heat it
This will leave candle soot
Put it in the plane, tighten the wedge and tap the back of the iron to advance it a few millimeters
The areas where the soot is rubbed off show where the contact with the bed was.
You can also see the soot remaining on the bed
From there it's a matter of scraping the sooty areas off the bed to try to level it to the iron.  This takes a LOT of patience, with repeated sooting and scraping.  And I still didn't get it perfect, though the plane works OK now.

After this was all done, I coated with BLO on three successive days, wiping off the excess each time after about 15-20 minutes, then left it several days to dry.
The finish
Picture of the beautiful and distinctive figure of quartersawn beech
And thar she is, all gussied up, ready for another 140 years of work
In use, the skewed iron pulls the tool into the work as you plane.  I've got a bit of learning to do before I get used to that and have it working for me like it should.  Maybe it's better to use a straight iron for most of the work, then use the skewed iron for the last shaving or two to smooth out the bottom of the rabbet.