Thursday, April 18, 2019

Sliding Lid Boxes

It's been since November that I posted about a project that wasn't about making planes, chisel handles or rehabbing something or other.  It's time I made a real woodworking project.

In his next issue of "The Lost Scrolls of Handwork" e-magazine, Salko Safic will present an article on how to build a sliding lid box for a set of dominoes.  Since I do some editing for him, I got an advance copy.  I thought I'd make a box or two to make sure the article accurately covers the build steps.

I won't give the build details here since you can read about them when the next issue comes out.  The first box is made from some 1/4" thick "manufactured" pine and sapele.
Pine and sapele sliding lid box
The lid slides in grooves plowed in the sides
The lid has a lip at the end and when the box is closed it is equal in height to the sides and the other end.  When the box is closed, it's not completely obvious how it opens.

Just as I was finishing up the box, my wife asked me to make one for her set of dominoes.  Her set was in an original cardboard box and came with instructions.
The domino set - a bit yellowed with age
The box in Salko's article is made for a set of 28 dominoes, arranged in one row, seven dominoes wide and four dominoes high.  But if I made the box in that configuration, I'd have had to bend or fold the instructions.  So I made a box with inside dimensions similar to the original cardboard box - two rows of seven dominoes, two dominoes high.  I made the box about 3/8" longer so that you can fit in a finger to pull out the dominoes.

The box is made from 1/4" thick quarter-sawn white oak for the sides and sapele for the ends, top and bottom.  The build went smoothly, but there are some details that I'll mention.  Gluing and clamping often involve some challenges, and this was no exception.  The corners are joined with a single dovetail.  When gluing up, I made a spacer that fit in between the sides so that they wouldn't bow in when clamps were applied to the dovetails.
Spacer kept the sides from bowing in during clamp-up
Gluing the lip to the lid also posed an interesting challenge - I needed to keep the bottoms of the two pieces flush with each other.  So I set them on the bench top and used wedges to clamp the lid tightly against the lip.
Wedges create the clamping pressure when gluing the lid to the lip.
I'm using my planing stop and a batten held with a holdfast as the fixed ends.
The boxes were finished with three coats of shellac and a coat of paste wax.  I'm very happy with how they look, but more importantly, my wife really likes her new domino box.
All shined up
The finished box, all loaded up
It felt good to make an actual project that wasn't for the shop.  Coming up soon, I'll be making a headboard for our bed.  Gotta get cracking on that.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Update on the Wooden Try Plane

For a few weeks now, I've been using the try plane that I built and absolutely love it.  This thing cuts like a dream!
Homemade try plane
But I noticed a little problem when I was taking full width shavings from a 6" wide plank of (what I think is) sapele.  This wood has ribbons of reversing grain and the shavings were not coming off as long, intact shavings, but rather as very small (1/4" x 1/4") chips.  Whether or not the shavings were  the reason, I was getting some clogging in the corners of the mouth.
Clogging in the corners of the mouth / throat
I'd been thinking about this for a while and decided to take a closer look at what's going on.  The following picture was taken during the build.  Forward of the abutment recess, the sidewall of the plane's throat is vertical.
Wedge in place, maybe you can see the problem
A more recent picture, showing the location
A more close-up view - I've drawn a line on the throat sidewall at the level where the point of the wedge
starts receding into the body.  Definitely a pinch-point where shavings could jam.
Close-up view with wedge and iron taken out
My hope was to pare away a little wood below the pencil line at the same angle as the point of the wedge.
Started paring away - still a bit more to go
Pared to match up with the point of the wedge
I gave the plane a try on some sapele after this and there was no clogging.  Time will tell if the plane will handle all woods and all types of shavings.  But for now, it looks good.

This is one of those tiny details in plane design that you can't seem to figure out unless you go through it yourself.  Those old plane makers sure did know their stuff!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Rehabing Orvil's Chisels, Part 2

Part 1 of this topic is here.

I remember a few years ago when I first saw the "London-pattern" chisel handles.  I thought they looked so dang good.  And I love the fact that they don't tend to roll off the bench.  Orvil's chisels needed some classy handles, so I did some research on the London pattern.

I didn't have a clue about what diameter to start with, what overall length to shoot for, how long the octagonal section should be, how long the curvy section should be, etc.  The interwebs provided some clues and I made some assumptions to make a couple prototypes.
First pass at some dimensions for the largest chisel handle
Large and medium prototypes next to the original handle from the 1 1/2" chisel
The larger one above started from a 1 1/4" square piece, so it was 1 1/4" flat-to-flat in the octagonal section.  From the top (largest part) of the taper to the back end was 5 1/2".  The smaller one was 1 3/16" flat-to-flat and 5" long.
1 1/2" chisel with original handle next to the fitted larger prototype handle
I liked the diameter of the large one for the 1 1/2"chisel, but it seemed a bit too long.

At the same time that I was trying to figure out all this stuff, Ralph over at the Accidental Woodworker blog had bought some London pattern handles.  He was nice enough to post some dimensions of his handles for me here (thanks, Ralph).

This was a good reality check that I was in the ballpark.  I was bang-on with my choice of square blanks to start with, but I was a bit off in some other dimensions.  The main difference for my handles was that, rather than make a large handle for the largest chisel, medium handles for the 5/8" to 1" chisels and small handles for the 1/4" to 1/2" chisels, I wanted to make progressively smaller handles as the chisel size got smaller.  So I worked out some numbers and got started.
Chisel handle dimension sheet
First was to square up some blanks and then take them to octagonal.  My method uses a spreadsheet to tell me where to mark lines on the blank based on it square size.  The Incra rule is great for this.
Marking the lines for octagonizing (a word coined by Greg Merritt)
Before planing, important to remember to mark the centers on each end
Planed to octagonal with jack and smoothing planes
A bunch of octagons ready for turning
The first thing to do is to turn the taper for the socket - without a good fit everything else is meaningless.
A dirty socket before cleaning
Before taking measurements, did my best to clean out the inside
Got measurements by inserting dowels of known diameters and noting how far they go in
Taper turned and fitted
Inserting the taper into the socket and twisting a bit shows where more material needs to be removed.  There were a lot of iterations of turning and fitting to get them right.  This was complicated for some of them because some were not round.  The socket shown a few pics above was oval - about 1/32" out of round.  Others had large scratches or other metal anomalies inside the tapers or at the opening - just to make it less easy for me.  I had wondered if anybody purposely made scratches on the inside to grab the wooden handle better.
This one had major marks on the inside and a small peened over area at the lip
The 1/4' chisel (that became 3/16") had a good sized flat
I did a little filing of these things to help the tapers fit the sockets better.

For the turning, I used one of my prototypes as a guide for general shape of the curved area.
Comparing prototype to one ready to be turned
And here's in progress - not quite there yet
Due to my lathe's limitations, I needed to turn the handle around to shape the back end.
Ready to work on the rounded back end
Back end done and ready to have the waste cut away
Since each handle is fit to a particular socket, I marked them so as not to get them mixed up
A finished handle
And after three coats of BLO, here they are.  The handles for the four largest chisels are made from red oak, the rest from maple.
Glamour shot #1
Glamour shot #2 - hopefully you can see the graduated sizes of handles
The line-up
A note to self here: because some of the sockets were marred or out-of-round, I made a small mark on the handles to indicate which side of the octagon is parallel to the bevel edged side of the chisel.  That way, if I ever need to take the handle off (or if it comes off on it's own), I can put it back in the same orientation.  Otherwise, the interior scratches might wear the taper over time and result in a poor fit.
A small mark indicating the orientation of handle to the bevel side of chisel
And finally, I needed to update my chisel rack for these.  I don't want them banging around in a drawer and I want them to be my daily users, so they needed to be easy to get to.  My chisel rack is on the back of a rolling cabinet, very close to the workbench.
Previous chisel rack
It held my Irwin blue-handled chisels, some really crappy hardware store chisels, and two Japanese saws
Here's the new situation.
Made a new rack for Orvil's chisels that also holds my three gouges
And made a second row that holds my old Irwin chisels and 4 mortise chisels
Another view
I have since added back the two Japanese saws to the right side of the cabinet.  Also, I enclosed the area below the chisels so that no curious little hands or paws can accidentally brush against sharp edges.

I'm stoked about the new handles.  I feel like I'm finally giving Orvil's tools the respect they deserve.  I've been using them and have been loving it!