Phone Stand

Nov 24 2014

Just a quick one. Wife asked me to make her a phone stand. Lots of different designs out there. I just grabbed some scrap 1/2″ walnut and 1/4″ maple, put a couple of grooves in the walnut, cut some strips from the maple, glued it up, shellaced it, and bang, a phone stand. She loves it. I think I’ll make some more of these.






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Scratch Stock

Nov 24 2014

A scratch stock is simply a block of wood designed to hold a small piece of specially cut metal. The metal has a certain shape on it and when you scrape it against some wood, it carves that shape into the wood. Good for making various mouldings or beads on the edges of pieces.

I’d seen this particular scratch stock on the Lumberjocks forum. The user who made it referenced an old Shop Notes magazine article. I dug up the plans and made my own.




In this one, there is a sliding bar that allows you to position the cutter wherever you need to. The bar is cut down the center and the cutter fits into that slot and is held in place with some screws.



The handle has a flat edge and a rounded side so it can be used against a flat piece of wood or a curve.





I bought a set of blank cutters, though any pieces of steel could be used. Using a file, I cut a multiple bead shape in one. And here it is in action on a scrap of pine. This could use some smoothing out with some sandpaper, but overall it works pretty well.



I haven’t found a use for this one just yet, but it was fun to build nevertheless.

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Bit Box Complete

Nov 24 2014

Actually, this was complete months ago, but I just realized I haven’t posted anything on here in a long while. Anyway, to follow up with my last post, here are some photos of the finished box. It came out quite well. Really happy with it.







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Box of the Week Club

Aug 17 2014

A while back I got myself a vintage brace as part of my hand tool collection. It came with an assortment of random bits, but these turned out to be four 1/2″ bits, a couple of 3/4″ and a few others. Not much of an assortment really.


So a more recent purchase was this box of vintage bits.


These came in this nice wooden box, though it wasn’t in the greatest condition. Auger bits like this come in sizes usually ranging from #4 to #16. The number is actually a multiple 1/16″, so a #4 is a 1/4″ bit, #5 is 5/16″, #6 is 3/8″ and so on up to #16 which is 1″.



This set originally contained seven bits in even sizes: #4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16. But as sold, this had two #4s, a #5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16. Since then I’ve been filling in the gaps with a #6 and #9 so far, with a #11 on the way. But a full set of 13 will be too big to fit in the box, which, while pretty cool, is not too sturdy anyway. So… time to make a new box!

I first did a ton of planning on this, working out the whole thing in Sketchup. I decided to have a hinged top, covering a top tray that will hold the six smallest bits, from #4 to #9. Then a middle drawer holding #10 – #13 and a bottom drawer for #14 – #16. I got pretty thorough with the drawings.


Here’s the box itself.


And with the top open and drawers out.


And an exploded view showing all the parts.


But these drawing were just for rough planning. I needed to know exact sizes. So this last drawing is a 2D plane showing all the bits’ diameters, and how they will fit in each compartment, so I could get overall dimensions.


With that all worked out, I got to work on the main box. This is all going to be in red oak, pretty sturdy stuff. 1/2″ boards for the main box, and 1/4″ for the bottom of the top tray and to separate the drawers. Also, the drawers will be all 1/4″ construction. Here are all the pieces laid out.


And a detailed shot of some of the cuts. These were fairly complicated pieces. Lots of grooves and rabbets. Lots of chances to use my favorite tool – the Record 044 Plough Plane! I like that where the grooves meet the rabbet, it makes it look like two layers of wood, with some smaller pieces sitting on a larger one. But that’s all one chunk of wood cut into shape. This is all done with 100% hand tools, of course. No electrical anything but the basement lights.


And here’s a dry test fit. Looking good. I was surprised how quickly all this went together.



And finally, the glue up. Have we got clamps? Yeah, we got clamps! Enough clamps? Never!


Tomorrow I’ll prepare the top and bottom and glue the bottom on. The top will be hinged, so that will come later. I’m not totally sure on the mechanical strength of all these joints, so I’ll probably throw in some small nails here and there for insurance, though I think it’s probably fine.

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Another Week, Another Box

Aug 12 2014


Yes, another dovetailed box. I do like making these, and I’m actually starting to get pretty good at the dovetails. Everyone says it’s just practice. I guess so. I banged these ones out pretty quickly, gang cutting the tails. This means I put the two front and back boards together and cut the tails on both of them at the same time. This is not only quicker, but the added width helps you to cut straight. Including layout, the tails took about a half hour to cut and chop out.


The pins took a bit longer. It’s always a more delicate operation because you are now matching a second set of cuts precisely to the first set. And they have to be done one at a time. And due to poor planning, one of those pins was smack in the middle of a big knot. I wound up breaking a big chunk out of that knot while I was chopping out the waste. But it’s inside so you can’t see it.


Other than the knot incident, these dovetails came out as close to perfect as any I’ve done yet. Only one small gap in the whole bunch of them. I guess the fact that it was pine helps. This stuff is like cutting and planing butter.


The top and bottom went very quickly. Not much to them. Just a couple of boards with some roundovers. I was using a nice wide pine board, so there was no need to glue up panels, just cut the top and bottom to size. When all that was done, I decided to try a bit of stain. This is just a shop project to hold a tool – a Stanley 71 router plane with accessories – so it was a good piece to experiment on.


Wiped on the stain, it sucked right in. Let it sit most of a day, then wiped it down and applied three coats of shellac and some wax. I was surprised how good the stain made the cheap home center pine board look. It’s a cherry stain, and almost looks like cherry. The illusion is destroyed when you pick up the box though. It’s way too light.


The whole project took no more than a few hours total. The build was accomplished over the weekend, but I was out most of the weekend doing other family stuff, so was only able to put in a half hour here and there. I did the stain Monday morning and the rest of the finishing Monday night. As usual, this was done with 100% hand tools. The only electricity used was for the shop lights so I could see what I was doing.

So another fine shop box project. This one was a quicky and feels pretty cheap when you pick it up, but it will still probably last a few decades longer than I do. I always imagine where these things will end up in the far future. In someone else’s shop as a proud possession, still holding the tool I made it for? Repurposed for something else, and still in use? In a basement or shed somewhere, under a pile of other old junk? Even the last one would be OK, kind of like a time capsule, waiting for some kid to come along and find and clean up and use to store some precious toys. The only bad option would be to have it wind up in an incinerator or landfill somewhere. I’ll never know, I guess. That’s part of the fun.

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Mitered Dovetail Box Complete

Aug 07 2014

Next came the bottom. This is a glued up 1/4″ maple panel. Damn near impossible to plane this stuff. The grain is all over the place.




Had to resort to a cabinet scraper for some of it.




Eventually got it fitting nicely in that 1/4″ groove in the bottom of the frame. Smoothed it all out with a card scraper.


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Again, this was sized to fit an 8 1/2″ x 11″ stack of paper.




I then cut grooves in the tops of the two side pieces for the top.


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The top is 1/2″ thick with a 1/4″ rabbet, so it slides right into those grooves.


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The front handle is another piece of maple, rounded over, and attached with glue and a few dowels.


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And finally, all glued up. Three coats of shellac and polished with wax. The maple has some really nice figure. I’m happy with the way this turned out. A few gaps in the dovetails which I didn’t even try to fill. This thing is solid and will last 100 years easily if it’s not completely abused. I love knowing that. I have no use for this box. I mainly made it to try my hand at the mitered dovetails which wound up going really well. For sale, best offer.









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Mitered Dovetails a Success

Jul 23 2014


I haven’t put much time into this recently, but did put in a half hour here and there over the last few days. I got the rest of the mitered dovetails cut. Actually, I screwed one of them up completely, cutting straight through where I was supposed to cut at a 45 degree angle. So I had to replace that piece. Other than that, though, it all went really well. I daresay I might actually be getting good at dovetails. Mine are far from perfect still, but they’re all half decent and they go a lot faster than they used to. On a couple of these, I made the cuts, cleaned things up visually, and the joint went together without any further fussing. Still a few gaps though, but nothing you could drive a tiny vehicle through.





Next up came ploughing the groove for the bottom. Nothing I love more than using my Record 044 (as seen in the last part of this post). The whole reason for doing the mitered dovetails was to hide this groove. I have some 1/4″ maple to make a bottom panel. So I made a 1/4″ groove. That miter is 1/2″, which gives me 1/8″ on either side of the groove. After grooving all the sides, I put them all back together and all the grooves line up perfectly. I’ll make the bottom panel, and that will fit loosely in there.

I hadn’t actually used the 1/4″ cutter from my 044, so it was still in pretty rough, “vintage” shape. So I had to spend a bit of time polishing the back, making a new bevel and honing it. Really only 10-15 minutes though.



Note that from the outside of the box, you can’t see that groove at all, just the miters.




On the front face, I cut the top down by 1/2″. I’ll plough another groove on the two sides at least, for the top panel to slide into. I haven’t decided if I’ll groove the back as well. I’m leaning towards not grooving it though. The top will be 1/2″ thick, to be even with the top, so it will need a rabbet on the edge so it will fit in that 1/4″ groove.



So, next up, grooving the top, making the bottom panel and lid. All in all though, the mitered dovetails were way easier than I expected, which is great. I’ll probably do more boxes like this.

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Attempting something new: Mitered Dovetails

Jul 12 2014

This has been on my mind for a while, so finally made the leap and started a new box. I’m designing this so it will fit 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. Here are the four sides cut to length.



Next, I lay out the dovetails. These are a bit different than usual dovetails. There are two dovetails in the middle of the board and space for three pins, but at each corner, there is an extra half inch. That’s where the miter will be.




The cuts are made.




The pin recesses are cut out, but then those two corner pieces are cut to 45 degrees. This will be the miter.




The pins are cut on the other piece, and the corners there are also cut down 45 degrees.




Put these together, and you have a dovetail joint.




But from the top (and bottom), you have a much more attractive miter joint.




This is a pretty finicky joint to fit. I worked on trimming this for close to an hour and I still need to finesse the miters as they’re causing some gaps. I suppose I’m doing pretty well for my first time attempting this though.

Beyond simply being attractive, the main reason for a mitered dovetail joint is probably so that you can run a groove inside the bottom edge –  and maybe top edge too – to install a bottom and a lid. The bottom will fit into that bottom groove and the top will have a sliding lid, fitting into the top groove. If you run a groove with traditional dovetails, you either need to do a stopped groove, or have the groove pop out through the pins or tails, requiring that you plug it up. Here, the groove will be totally hidden within the miter.

This is also my first time doing dovetails in maple, a much harder wood than the poplar, pine and cedar that I’ve done them in before. But for the purpose of dovetails, hard is good. Much easier to get nice, crisp lines. The softer woods just crumble and tear and dent all too much.

Hopefully without too much more trimming, I can get this corner fitting close to perfectly. Then I have three more corners to do. Never said this was going to be a quick project.

I should mention that I’ve seen two ways of doing mitered dovetails. The other way, the final pins themselves are mitered. This is a bit more complex, requiring multiple angled cuts. I can’t quite wrap my head around it yet, so for the first on, I opted for this more simple technique – normal pins and tails, surrounded by a miter.

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Lamp Base Complete

Jul 12 2014

Well, I finally got the rest of the glazing bars done. So the frame of the lamp is essentially complete.


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Next up I need to make the panels for the very top and bottom of each side The top panels will have three holes in them and the bottoms will have a shape cut in them. Here are the pieces for the top. The bottom ones will come out of the board underneath.




Here are the top pieces fit into place. They are thicker than the groove, so I needed to plane down the back on each end. That’s part of the plan, not a mistake.


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And the holes drilled in the top. They’ll be cleaned up and sanded smooth eventually.




And the whole lamp base with all panels in place.




And the bottom panel in detail.




I still need to make the top, which shouldn’t be that big of a deal. I’ve ordered some glass which should be in this coming week. I’ll have to cut the glass to size, at which point I can glue the whole thing up, tweaking everything for perfect fit. Then plane and scrape everything smooth. Then attach the top. Then think about finishing. Oh, and put an actual lamp base in it and wire it up. Alternately, it could just hold a candle.

At any rate, still lots of work to do on this baby.

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Lamp Details

Jul 05 2014

Thought I’d show a bit more detail on some of the lamp construction. These mortises for the glazing bars are tricky. Not only are they only 1/8″ wide, but they have to bisect the rim of that groove, like so:



Here’s one of the glazing bars showing the half tenon. That fits into the mortise and ideally that puts the front of the glazing bar even with the front surface of the lamp.



Here’s a glazing bar in place, from the back and from the front. Not perfect, but I’ll be planing everything smooth after glue up, so it should be fairly decent.

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And here are those half lap joints. Cut out the back half of one piece and the front half of another. They go together just right. I did a pretty good job on these so far.

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And here we are with two sides in place. Pretty happy with the progress so far. It’s taking me maybe 10-15 minutes to chop each mortise, and then maybe 45 minutes to do all the tenons plus the half lap. So all told, 1 1/2 to 2 hours per set of glazing bars. If I had nothing else to do today, I could wrap this part of the project today. Maybe this weekend. Still lots of work to go after the glazing bars though.


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