Thursday, December 31, 2020

Stanley #2358A Miter Box - Part 1

I found this Stanley #2358A miter box on Craigslist for a reasonable price and snagged it.  It's not that old, possibly from the '70s and is in pretty good shape.  The "5" in the model number indicates that it came with a saw with 5" depth of cut below the spine.  The "8" indicates that it came with a 28" long saw.

Stanley #2358A Miter Box

I cleaned up the box and sharpened the saw, but this post is not about rehab.  Rather, it explains its workings and features.  Anyone already familiar with these tools might skip it, but this could be informative to others who have never used a miter box.  Personally, I had never used one before, and I'm not even sure I'll use it in my small shop.  But if/when I get a larger shop, it would be nice to have a miter box station set up for cross-cutting rough lumber, sort of how some power tool users use a powered miter saw.

Today's post will cover all features except the mechanics of how the swivel / locking mechanism works.  I'll go over that in a separate post, as it's fairly involved.

Let's start with the main feature of the box: the posts that hold the saw.

Close-up pic of the main feature

The box upside down, showing the casting that connects the posts

The two posts are part of a casting that extends from front post to rear post under the box.  In the picture above, you can see the large bolt that holds the casting to the box.  This is where it pivots to provide different cutting angles.  At the top of the photo (front of the box) is the handle that is used to change the angle setting of the saw.  I'll go over both of those in more detail later.

Inside each post resides a saw guide that lifts and lowers.  The guides hold the saw vertically and also provide ease of front/back thrust via roller bearings.

Front guide - The saw's spine slides through the upper wide slot,
the saw's plate slides through the narrow slit and the saw's teeth are
positioned at the lower mid-width slot

The top portion of a guide that takes the spine of the saw has bearings
that support the underside of the spine

These bearings are removeable by simply unscrewing from the guide's head

With the saw in place, you can see the underside of the spine resting on the roller bearings

A hole at the lower end of the guide accepts a pin in the post that keeps it in the "up" position
(the pin assembly is removed in this picture)

With the spring-actuated pin installed, pull the pin back to lower the guide

Pin pulled back, head of guide in its lowest position

But this lowest position would put the saw's toothline well into the sacrificial wooden "floor" of the box, so there are stops that limit how far down the teeth can go.

The adjustable stop bolted to the front post

When the guide is released down, the bottom of its head catches the stop.
I set the stops so that the saw's teeth cut about 1/16" into the sacrificial wood piece.

Here's another type of stop, the purpose of which is unclear to me.  Extending from the bottom of the front saw guide, a threaded rod is fixed in place with a lock nut.  When the saw guide is in it "down" position, the threaded rod extends through the post, and contacts the angle-adjustment handle when the handle is raised.  The threaded rod essentially limits how much you can lift that handle, but I'm not sure why you would want that.

Front guide with machine screw at bottom

Guide installed in post, I'm pointing to the threaded rod that limits the handle (bottom)

Like many miter boxes, the Stanley #2358 has stock guides.  Honestly, I don't know how useful these will be, but they are nice to have.

Pointing to the left stock guide

Their position is adjusted and fixed with a thumb screw behind the upright part of the main casting

The guide holds the stock in place.  Normally, the user's non-sawing hand
would hold down the stock, but these guides can also help.

They might be especially useful for holding pieces of crown molding
at a certain angle when cutting 45° miters

In addition to the stock guides, there are small pointed screws that project into the back edge of a piece of stock.  I'm guessing that these keep the stock from sliding left or right during a cut.  They do, however leave a small indent in the edge of the stock.

These two small screws ...

... screw through the back of the casting ...

... and project out the front ...

... and help hold the stock in place ...

... but leave a small indent in the edge of the stock

One last feature is a length stop.  This piece of slotted, bent metal clamps to the back of the casting with a thumb screw.  The bent tab on the end can be set for repeated cuts of the same length.  It stores out of the way on the back of the casting by turning the angled end around and tightening the thumb screw.  There is a threaded hole on both ends of the casting so the stop can be used on either side.

Length stop fixed in place with thumb screw

The stock butts up against the stop (at right) for repeated cuts of the same length

Next post I'll get into the workings of the swivel mechanism.  Happy New Year to all of you out there.

Information for this post came from my own observations, as well as:

  • The Valley Woodworker blog:   (Note: Bob has several posts on miter boxes)

  • Stanley Miter Boxes user manuals that can be found online

Saturday, December 19, 2020

An Interesting Caned Chair, Part 2: Some Details

 In my last post, I wrote about this post and rung chair.

Front view of the chair

I discussed the overall design, the joinery and some problems.  Here, I wanted to show a few more details.  Some of this is forensic work, looking at tool marks and other oddities.

Before I forget, I wanted to address a question about the screws that were used to hold the top seat-back rail to the legs.  I don't suspect this chair is over one hundred years old (probably a lot less), so screw manufacturing was well along.  But they do seem more blunt on the end than current screws.  And I found it interesting that the screw slot was fairly far off-center on one of them.

Screws that affix top seat-back rail to tops of legs

Notice how far off-center the slot is for the screw on the left

I mentioned previously about the mortises in the back legs that house the seat rail tenons.  I cut one of the legs open to get a better look inside.

Right rear leg at seat rail joint

Joint cut open

One mortise cut completely through the other - 
does this weaken the joint?  I would think so.

One thing you can also see here is that the bottoms of the mortises are rounded.  Here's another picture showing this.  Possibly a spoon bit was used to bore out these mortises.

The round-bottomed mortise of a front-leg-to-lower-side-rail joint

Many of the round m&t joints were loose and it appeared that someone had once tried to fix them.  Note the added 1/8" wooden pins inserted in the next pictures.

When I took this side-stretcher-to-back-leg joint apart, I found the wooden pin

Here's another one before taking it apart.  Most of the 12
undercarriage joints had been fixed in this manner.

Apparently, with the joint in place, a hole was drilled,
then a pin was glued into the hole

Another interesting thing about the undercarriage tenons was that they appeared very rough - not turned to size, but rather shaved with a knife or drawknife.  Why would you not turn the tenons to the right size, if the rest of the stretcher is turned?  I'm certain the tenons were turned as there was a large "dimple" on the ends where a turning center was used.

You can see the facets on this tenon

Here are some details about the mortises that house the 3 3/8" wide upper slat in the seat back.  The mortises were nice and straight, but look how rough they were on the inside.  No attempt was made to have smooth walls.  But I guess for the slats that will be captured by the frame of the seat back, the tenons don't necessarily need to be glued in tightly.

A nice straight 3 3/8" long mortise in the left leg for the upper slat

Look how rough the interior wall is

And the mortise in the right leg had to go through a nasty knot,
leaving the inside a total mess

The knot that the maker had to contend with

Here are some more observations about tool marks and rough cuts.

You can still see the width layout line (at the 11-13 inch marks on the ruler),
though the maker did not try to plane to the line.

On the side seat rails, the outside edges were eased with very coarse rasp
to allow the caning to bend around easier
I think this is the back edge of the front seat rail.
Were these marks made by a bandsaw?

Here are a few pics of the floral pattern drawn on the upper seat slat.  Interesting how this was fairly rough - clearly done by hand.

The upper seat slat

The central flower

The side pattern

One last thing about the caning.  I'm certain that someone who canes chair seats would know this immediately, but it looks to me like the side-to-side caning was done before the front-to-back.

Seat frame members

On the seat front rail, it looks like there was a strip of cane laid down from left end to right end before any front-to-back caning was added.  The side rails show caning elements wrapped around the rails every other wrap.  That is, each cane was wrapped fully around the seat rail before the next loop was wrapped around the whole seat frame.  I've seen some videos about caning, but I'd like to know more about it.

My final comment is about the workmanship.  It is clear that the maker did not waste time on surfaces that wouldn't be seen or that don't matter to the function of the chair.  This is a big lesson to learn from people who had to make a living from their work.  I, as a amateur, tend to make my pieces too perfectly when "good enough" will do just fine.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

An Interesting Caned Chair, Part 1: The Construction

Warning - long post.  Chair junkies might like this one.

Back in May or June, I was given a broken-down chair and I'm finally getting around to documenting it.  It's a post and rung chair with a caned seat.  I'm not planning to build one, but at least I'll have documented its key dimensions and characteristics if I want to build something similar.

Front view

Side view

Rear view

View from above

Here's the basic story.  The undercarriage is assembled with a single stretcher connecting the front legs and a single stretcher connecting the back legs.  Two stretchers on each side connect a front leg to a back leg.  The back legs extend higher and become the frame for the backrest.  Two slats and a top rail connect the upper back legs. The seat is interesting: four pieces make up a frame, the back seat rail and side seat rails have round tenons that fit into mortises in the back legs.  The front seat rail was poorly attached to the side seat rails with butt joints glued and nailed.  The underside of the ends of the front seat rail had square mortises that fit over square tenons atop the front legs.  The caning is brittle and mostly intact, though not salvageable.

Front Legs

The front legs are about 16 1/2" long (plus tenon) and about 1 9/16" diameter, turned with a multiple bead detail in the center area.  Below that is a smooth taper down to dainty 11/16" ankles above 1" diameter, 1/2" tall feet.  Above the multiple beads is a cove and bead and a taper to the 1" diameter top.  The front legs have 0° splay and ~3° rake.  The wood might be maple.

Front leg detail

Back Legs

The back legs are about 33 3/4" long, turned to 1 1/2" diameter, with a taper near the bottom down to 1".  Above the seat there is a short section of multiple bead detail, then the legs become more rectangular in section, though the back facet is still rounded.  The legs taper to 1" wide and 1" thick at the top.  Starting about 6" above the seat, the legs are bent back and out.  Below the seat, the back legs have 0° splay and ~6° rake.  I suspect the wood is maple.

Upper portion of back legs


The front stretcher is 13 3/4" long (plus tenons) and about 1 1/4" diameter, tapering to 7/8" before the tenons.  Centered 8 1/2" above the floor, it is turned, though over time the back of that stretcher has been worn smooth, perhaps by young feet hooked over it.  It appears to be made from maple or beech.

Front stretcher

Rear aspect of front stretcher

The side and back stretchers are all 5/8" to 11/16" diameter, and appear to be oak.  The side stretchers are 12 3/4" (lower) and 12" (upper) long, plus tenons, and attached to the front leg 5 1/2" and 11" up from the floor.  At the back leg, the mortises are centered 5 3/4" and 11 1/4" up from the floor.  The rear stretcher is 11 1/2" long, centered 7 3/4" above the floor.

Seat Back

The back comprises the upper portion of the back legs, two slats and a top rail.  The lower slat is 3/8" thick, 1 1/16" wide and about 12 1/2" long (plus tenons).  The upper slat is 3/8" thick, 3 3/8" wide and 13 1/8" long (plus tenons).  The upper slat is also shaped with an upward curve.  It has a nice floral design drawn its front face.  Both slats are bent with about a 36" radius.  These might be poplar, though I've never heard of anyone bending poplar.

The slats

The top rail appears to be turned, then bent.  But I'm not sure about this.  The grain direction seems to indicate that is was made from a wider board, shaped to a curve and then rounded.  It is about 15 7/8" along it widest arc and about 1 1/2" diameter, tapering to 1 1/4" at the ends.  It looks like it is made of poplar.  It is attached to the legs with a glued and screwed half-lap joint.  The screws are 1 3/16" long slotted head screws with the slots poorly centered.

The joint of top rail to left rear leg

Old-looking slotted head screws

The Seat

The top of the seat is about 17 1/2" off the floor at front and 17 1/4" at the back.  It's 17 1/2" wide at front and 14 3/4" at back.  Front to back it is 13 1/4".  The seat frame is very interesting.  The front rail is 17 1/2" long by 1 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick.  The seat side rails are 11 1/8" long (plus tenon), 1 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick.  The front and side rails are of unknown wood.  The seat back rail is made of oak and is about 14" (plus tenons) x 1 1/16" x 13/16".

The seat frame

The front seat rail is connected to each side rail with two 3" long nails (and probably glue).  I would have thought to use at least a bridle joint, with the leg tenon extending through both pieces.  The nails were just to either side of the mortise that housed the leg tenon.

Bottom view of the connection of the front seat rail (with nails) to a side seat rail

At the rear of the side seat rails, an integral 5/8" diameter round tenon was shaped to fit into a mortise in the back leg.  The left side rail (shown two pics above) shows that tenon broken off.  The rear rail had round tenons shaped to fit into 5/8" mortises in the back legs.  The rear rail was in bad shape, having been broken and glued at least once.

Rear seat rail showing bad break and shaped ends leading to tenons

Rear rail tilted up on edge to see glue in the crack

Here's where it gets interesting.  The mortises in the rear legs for the rear seat rail and the side seat rails are at the same height, so the tenons intersect inside the leg.  Apparently, the rear seat rail was glued to the rear legs first, then the rear legs were mortised for the side rails.  The side rail tenons went through the rear rail tenons, obliterating most of them.

The mortises in a rear leg for the seat components
Rear seat rail (horizontal in pic) and side seat rail with tenon.
Note how the rear seat rail tenon (what's left of it) has been bored through.

The Caning

I'm not a caning expert (or even a novice), so can't be sure of the material used.  But hickory bark was and is commonly used for caned seats.  It looks like the caning was coated with a lacquer.

Top of seat - note damage to three of the front-to-back pieces near left side

Bottom of seat

The pattern seems to be a simple front to back wrap, followed by a side-to-side weave with an empty row between each row of cane.  When I took the caning apart, I could see that the side-to-side caning wrapped around the side seat rails once before continuing to the next weave.

The end of a piece of cane tucked under a weave

Cut away the caning to reveal every other wrap around the side seat rail
(the cut canes in this pic originally extended all the way across the seat underside)

I was surprised that there was no filling - I had thought that was normal procedure.
All I found were some large dust-bunnies.

Dimensions in inches.  Part lengths exclude tenons.

Part                    Qty    Length    Width    Thickness    Comments

Front Leg              2       16 1/2    1 9/16    1 9/16            

Rear Leg               2        33 3/4    1 1/2    1 1/2                

Front Stretcher     1        13 3/4     1 1/4    1 1/4               Tapers to 7/8 at legs.  Tenons 1" long.

Rear Stretcher      1        11 1/2        5/8+    5/8+              Tenons 1" long

Side Stretcher, Upper    2    12        5/8+    5/8+               Tenons 1" long

Side Stretcher, Lower    2    12 3/4    5/8+    5/8+            Tenons 1" long

Back Top Rail      1        15 5/8       1 1/2    1 1/2

Back Mid Slat      1        13 1/8        3 3/8    3/8                Tenons about 1/2 - 5/8" long

Back Low Slat     1         12 1/2        1 1/16    3/8              Tenons about 1/2 - 5/8" long

Seat Frame Front    1      17 1/2        1 1/2      3/4              

Seat Frame Side     2       11 1/8        1 1/2      3/4              Integral round tenon at back, ~ 5/8" long

Seat Frame Back    1       14              1 1/16     13/16

The chair parts laid out (seat frame still within the caning)

In a separate post, I'll outline some other interesting details.