Thursday, November 28, 2019

Side Table, Part 2: Panel Glue-ups and Rabbeting

I like getting a shot of the boards that will be transformed into something useful and (hopefully) good looking.
1" poplar for the top, 3/4" poplar for carcase and drawer fronts, 1/2" soft maple for drawer sides and backs
Started by making the solid panels that would become the case sides and bottom.
Sides are 19" x 24", bottom 18" x 24"
The sheer size of these panels makes it challenging to do ordinary things like cutting to length and width and squaring up.
Using a 12" combo square along with a 24" straightedge to knife a line cross-grain
Note the clever use of waste basket and wood spacers to support the panel for planing the end grain
The first order of business with these three panels was to cut rabbets on the back edge of each piece.  I'm planning to use 3/4" material to create the frame-and-panel back, so I need 3/4" wide rabbets to fully recess the back into the carcase.  I'll sink the rabbets 3/8".
Rabbets laid out
Because I've not had great success at cutting rabbets that don't go past the layout line, I scored another line about 1/16" from the "real" line.  I'll use that new line to guide the rabbet plane that I recently built.  When the rabbet is sunk to 3/8", I'll turn the plane on its side and plane back to the original width line.
Pencil points to the second gauge line
I start the rabbet by placing the corner of the plane in the gauge line and taking a few shavings.
Angling the rabbet plane to take a tiny shaving at the second gauge line
Then I take another shaving and another, gradually lowering the plane's angle until it's perpendicular to the surface.  By this time, there is a small "wall" to keep me from going past the layout line.  I still don't get a perpendicular rabbet wall, so I have to fix that by removing waste in the corner of the rabbet using a chisel and/or the rabbet plane on its side.
Working the rabbet
By going carefully and checking with a square, I got nice square rabbets without going past the layout lines.  I used the rabbet plane I made and also a D. R. Barton skewed rabbet plane that I bought and rehabbed Sept., 2018.
A completed rabbet
Side view - nice and square
Next up: dovetails.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


It has been less than a year since I built my jack plane.  The thing works like a champ and I love using it.
The jack plane as built, back in February
The tote was made from two pieces of red alder laminated together.  It was shaped and then was mortised into the body.  As I was using it last Thursday, the tote broke off very close to the surface of the plane body.
It was a fairly clean break, so applied glue to both surfaces and clamped it together using two large bands that I use at the gym for my knee physical therapy exercises.
Unusual clamping technique
Here it is after the glue had dried.  You can still see the break line where the handle curves into the "tenon" part of the tote.
See the crack line?
After a small amount of filing, the surface was smooth.  I'll try it out this week and hope for the best.

This has me wondering: is there a better grain orientation for wooden plane totes?  I had it oriented parallel to the sole, so it's a fairly obvious week point for a plane that gets some hard use.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Side Table, Part 1: Design

I'm sure I've written this before, but design is not my strong suit.  I don't particularly enjoy the process, but it's one I've got to muddle through.  At least I get to use Sketchup, which can be enjoyable, even though I'm not exactly what you would call, an "advanced" user (read: I can't do anything but basic shapes with it).

My to-do list has for some time included a side table for the second bedroom / wife's office.  I discussed it with her several times and various designs took shape.  The key dimensions came about due to where it would be located: next to a deep couch with 23 1/2" arm height.  So the table would be about 24" high and 24" deep.  We discussed width and settled on 18".

I recently bought a copy of Bill Hylton's excellent book, "Illustrated Cabinetmaking".  This book goes over lots of furniture construction techniques and also includes a section on standard dimensions for various types of furniture.  Many of the ideas in the various iterations of the design came from this book (even though I ended up using a different source for inspiration).

At first, she wanted something with a drawer and two shelves that could house baskets, something like this picture she found online.
Internet picture: not sure to whom I should give photo credit
So I drew something up similar to that, but with open sides and back.
First design option
The second version was similar to the first in that it has one drawer and two shelves, but was different in construction technique.  This one had solid sides and back, as well as different feet.
Design candidate 2
The first two designs got shot down because we couldn't find baskets the right size to fill the shelf areas.  So I looked into designs with three drawers.
Design 3
I liked this one.  It could probably be described as a "chest on stand" and my mind flew with ideas of how to construct the bottom portion.  Unfortunately the wife wasn't into it, especially the bottom part, so it was back to the drawing board.

I recently re-read LAP's reprint of "The Joiner and Cabinetmaker".  In the reprint, The Schwarz builds the three main projects described in the original text and gives lots of extra tips and techniques.  It occurred to me that my third design was similar to the chest of drawers from the book, just with different proportions and different style of feet, so I looked at what my design might look like with bracket feet.
Similar to design 3, but with bracket feet
I liked it, she liked it, and as Ralph might say, "there was much joy in Mudville".

This design features solid wood sides and bottom (as opposed to frame and panel construction), with three rails connecting the upper aspect of the sides.
The carcase
The sides are dovetailed into the bottom - that's the longest run of dovetails I'll ever have attempted.  The top rails are half-blind dovetailed into the top edge of the sides.  And you can see there are dadoes in the sides that will house the drawer dividers.
Drawer dividers drawn in
The part of the dividers that run front to back (runners and kickers) will be maple for better durability.  The rest of the piece will be poplar, as my wife plans to paint this end table.  I know, I know ... heresy!  But I have to remember, the customer is always right.

The drawers will be 4", 5 1/4" and 6 3/4" deep, with poplar fronts and maple sides and back.  I haven't decided yet what kind of pulls to use.

The top will be a solid panel of poplar, 1" thick and overhanging a bit on three sides.  Finally, the bracket feet will be 4" high and 4" wide.  I'll be using glue blocks to help attach them to the carcase.
The bracket feet with glue blocks shown (untrimmed)
Oh, yeah - one more detail.  As an homage to "The Joiner and Cabinetmaker", I'm going to make a frame and panel back.  If that works out, it will go a long way toward keeping the carcase square come time for glue-up.
The frame and panel back
All for now.  I'll update progress in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Tools from the PAST Show

I have a short list of things I look for when I go to tool shows.  This past weekend I went to a tool show that was put on by PAST Tool Collectors and came home with three items, two of which were on my list.  The third item was a raffle prize.
My new items
I've really gotten interested in wooden planes and love using them whenever I can.  What I'm really looking for are books on making wooden planes.  But this book was there and I couldn't help pick it up.
1978 Book by Alvin Sellens
The book covers planes made by American plane makers on a commercial basis.  It doesn't describe how to make the planes, but it does give a description of many types of planes.  I think it will be a nice resource to have.
The TOC shows what types of planes are covered in the book
Next is a little bullnose plane, a Stanley #75.  I'd seen this plane at previous shows, but didn't pick it up.
Stanley #75
Unless you happen to know about this particular plane, there's no way to know what it is.  Aside from the masking tape label, there is no indication anywhere on it that it is a #75.  I did a little research on the #75 and unfortunately I've read a few sources that don't give it high marks.  But I'll be rehabbing it sometime soon and will try my best to get it in working order.  That will be the subject of a future post.

Finally, I had a winning ticket in the raffle and my prize was this moulding plane by Sandusky Tool Co.
Sandusky Tool Co. round plane, catalog #92
Front end
There is clearly a number "92" stamped on the front.  Interestingly, the 92 is upside down when the plane is held in it's normal upright position.  I got to use the Sellens book here.  It has a cross-reference table for the catalog numbers of three makers for similar planes.  It shows that the Sandusky catalog number for hollows and rounds was #92.

On the back end of the plane is the number 8.
Heel end of the plane
What the "8' means is anybody's guess.  Planemakers didn't have a common numbering system for their lines of H&R planes.
The iron is 1 1/8" wide
This iron seems badly out of proper shape with far too much curvature at the outside edges.  I'll have to look into this plane as time permits.  I may not ever have a need for a round with 1 1/8" radius, but I'd still like to get it into working condition.  I'll post on that when the time comes ...

Friday, November 8, 2019

Making a Rabbet Plane

I have a wooden 1 1/4" skew rabbet plane, and it is great for continuing cross-grain rabbets that have been started by some other method.  But I wanted to have a rabbet plane with a straight iron that could help me start rabbets with the grain.  Finally I got around to making one, using a lamination technique.
Started with three 1/4" thick pieces.  Outside two are red alder and inside is cherry.
On the cherry piece, laid out the bed angle
Then used the thickness of the iron to determine the mouth size
Then laid out the "breast" angle that would accommodate a 10° wedge
After cutting out the triangular section that will become the mortise, I glued the stack together.  In retrospect, however, it might have been better to cut the bed and breast lines on the lower portion of the outside pieces before gluing up the plane.  But trying to glue the lamination together with perfectly aligned bed lines on all three pieces can be tricky.
The stack clamped under cauls to the bench top
After the glue had dried, I used the mortise formed by the center cherry piece to lay out lines on the outside pieces.
Using the mortise extents to lay out the bed on the sides
Used both top and bottom mortise extents
Lower bed laid out and hole drilled for the escapement
I further defined the lines with a knife, then sawed the bed line and breast line close to the knife marks, following up with a chisel to square the cuts off up to the knife lines.  After that was some shaping of the escapement and fitting the wedge.
Escapement shaped and a future wedge fitted
I left the plane body at that point and worked on the iron, which I salvaged from a Stanley 4 1/2 iron that I broke a few years ago.
Laid out the shape of the rabbet plane iron on the 4 1/2 iron.
See the huge crack?  It made me sick when I broke it!
Hacksawed out the shape, then filed to 3/4" wide at the large end, 1/4 wide tang
I had to anneal the iron (first time ever!) to be able to cut it.  The hard steel ruined a couple of hacksaw blades before I did the anneal.  Then it cut like butter.  After re-heat treating and tempering the iron, I sharpened it.
The iron warped a bit during heat treatment, so I had to re-flatten, here shown part-way done with a hollow area
  All that was left was some shaping on the plane body and wedge.
Laid out some lines to guide shaping
(I don't like how the small side of the escapement turned out - next time will be different)
After the shaping, a test drive
Finished with a couple of coats of BLO thinned a little with mineral spirits
When I tried it out, the cut was rough.  It was clear there were chatter marks on the planed surface.
Can you see the marks on the bottom of this rabbet?
Here's the reason: when held up to the light, you can see light between wedge and iron
and there was also a little light between iron and bed (not seen here)
So I did a little work on the edge of the wedge that contacts the iron, hollowing it a little.  After a few iterations, the light was almost completely gone and now the plane cuts much better.

Planing rabbets with this is challenging and takes practice and patience.  I'll keep at it, though.