Bustin’ the Dovetail Myth

Adam Savage gets intimate with dovetails!

A catalogue unlike any other

How would you like some of the finest hand tools on the planet?  Get yourself a copy of the latest catalogue from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, mark up the most interesting pages, and subtly leave it lying around the house (all the while lamenting about how hard it is to find good Xmas presents)!

The latest cattle dog is out from Lie-Nielsen, and it is a beauty.  You can download a copy here. (5MB PDF) Alternately, you can order a printed copy here.

Lie Nielsen Cattle Dog

Unlike most other catalogues about the place, the Lie Nielsen is not just a list of the tools that are available, but is very instructional at the same time, going into the details of the tools, and often how they are used, how they are useful, how they are made and so on.  It sounds just like any other, but it takes the concept beyond the sales pitch, into much more interesting areas.
If nothing else, this is toolporn at its finest. Just try not to drool on the keyboard!

Stu’s Shed is moving!

Sorry about the delay in posts in the last couple of days, but I’ve been a bit distracted.

Just to add to workloads, early in the new year we are relocating (confirmed today), and Stu’s Shed will be relocating at the same time.  Just what I need: more work!  What this will mean for the physical shed is a bit unknown – at the moment the new property has a 3mx3m, and I just don’t see downsizing from 41m2 to 9m2 is a viable option!  So the 36m2 double garage will have to do until a new shed can be built.

There will be some good out of all this I’m sure.  I will be aiming for the new shed to be closer to 60m2, and with greater head height than current.  A lot of the ideas over the years can be built in – better dust extraction concepts, better layouts (in general, and also for filming), better storage.

One thing I am trying to ignore at the moment though – just how do you move such a significant amount of machinery?!!

Enter, the Router Table

Taking the first components off to the next stage of the process involves the router table, and the rail & stile plus raised panel bits.

Cutting the interior profile

After some test cuts, the router table was set up to run the rails and stiles through the first router bit.  I use MagSwitch featherboards to hold the timber against the router table fence. They are so easy to position, and hold fast to the cast iron top of my router table.  Make you think it fortunate my router table is cast iron, but it came about in the reverse order.  I made the router table out of cast iron so that I could use MagSwitches on it.

Woodpeckers Coping Sled

After changing to the complementary router bit, it was time to cut the end grain of the rails.  If you ever wonder how to remember which is which, think about rails being horizontal.  They certainly are for trains! The stile is the other one.

The Woodpeckers Coping Sled is awesome for this task.  It holds the rails perfectly, and perpendicular to the direction of travel.  If I had taken more care, I would have used a sacrificial backing.  Probably should have – hardwood tears out a bit too easily. I’ll make sure I do when cutting the doors for the sink unit.

I just checked – the coping sled is still available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  They now have a mini one as well, but given the full sized one is on special, I’d still go with that one (the one pictured above).  There is so much more with this one, it is worth the difference.

Sanding the panels

After removing the panels being glued up in the Frontline clamps, I used the Festool belt sander to do a final flattening (including removing any glue squeezeout).  The large sander weights 7kg, and when coupled with the sled means you can hold the handle, and, well, hang on – letting the tool do all the work.  The work is clamped up using brass dogs on the vice, and dogs in holes in the table.

Panel bit

Once sanded (not the final sand – more a sizing sand than a finishing one), it was back to the router table, this time with a raised panel bit.  I don’t have a raised panel bit with a cutter for the back yet, so have to adjust it manually. This is not the final pass, but an intermediate one to check fit.  Best to do the crossgrain first, then the longgrain.

Panel bit

This is a monster bit – pretty much at the limit that a router can (or rather should) drive.  The run at the slowest speed still gets a decent tip speed.

Test fit

A quick test fit showed I was close, but still needs another pass to get it there.  Looking good though.  Will look even better when I do the 3D routing into each panel!  Once that routing is done (next session), then I can glue the panels up.

Thicknessing undersized stock

One thing I have been surprised with so far, is the lack of waste.  I’d always try to use timber to maximise yield, but there is always waste.  So far I’d not have enough offcuts to fill a 10L bucket – the yield is exceptional.

Even these thin panels that were ripped off the 19-20mm thick boards.  They will be perfect for the back of the units.  I wanted to run them through the thicknesser, but it just doesn’t go thin enough.  To solve that problem, I clamped on a sled.  The boards would not feed initially, but with a quick rubdown with Sibergleit, the boards fed through smoothly and easily.  I wouldn’t do this with any timber, or to go too thin, but it will get you out of trouble.
So a good session.  Progress seems slow, but this is always the slow part of any project.  Once the items are cut, and some preliminary joinery done, it usually flies together.

 

Some good news and bad news.  The good news is that I am documenting sessions on video.  Bad news is I am not planning on releasing the video until the project is complete!

Kitchen Commencement

It has begun!  Unlike projects for myself, I am well-motivated to finish those I am making for others, especially where it comes to Xmas presents!

90×30 Hardwood Timber

This is what I am starting with, and with a few taps with a hammer they come apart easily.  These were assembled well before nail guns were commonplace, so 40mm thin nails were used, and the cross braces are easily encouraged loose.  After running some boards through, they are pretty straight , especially over the lengths I am using.  They are all around 1800 long.

Dressed and sized

After dressing and sizing, the boards come up beautifully.  These have been resawn to 18mm thick.  Then ripped to the width required for the rail & stile joinery.

Glueup

Another set were resawn to 10mm for the infill panels.  I am making these thin, as I don’t want a heavy look to the raised panels, and to minimise the amount of weight in the final unit.  They are going to be heavy enough as it is.

Frontline Clamp

Once again, the Frontline clamps are proving their weight in gold.  As they clamp up, they squeeze the boards flat, then clamp them together.  I could do with another set for larger glueups!

Clamped up

After all the planing, thicknessing, ripping and crosscutting, the first items have been produced, ready to make their way over to the router table.

Components

There will be a lot more produced before this project is completed!

33 Days to Xmas!

Whaaaat?!

Where did the year go?  I had all sorts of plans for construction, for projects and things I planned to start (and finish)!

So it is time to get a wiggle on.  The main thing I need to get done is to finally make a toy kitchen for my daughter.  A bit overdue, but if I can spend a bit of time on it, I should be able to make up for it in features and quality.

I have a great supply of timber – a whole pile of 90×30 hardwood, that is very straight and clean, and about 40 years old.  So that is awesome.

I also have had the experience of building a few toy kitchens now – this will be #4.  So I will be drawing on previous designs and ideas, as well as incorporating new, additional concepts.  One being incorporating some tambour doors using the Amana Tool set.  Another being using the Jumbo Gifkins dovetail for some decent sized kitchen units.

I just hope there is enough time to get done what I want to have done!

Transcending the language barrier

Woodworking is a universal language.  You only have to look at a website published in another language, see some of the illustrations to understand that they are talking about the same concepts, the same issues, the same solutions and the same tools the world over.

I came across Coisas de um desocupado today (roughly translated (by Google) as “Things of the Unoccupied”, with a byline “Keeping myself busy with woodworking”), who writes entries of a decent length, and speaks of his recent woodworking journey, including topics all who are getting into woodworking will find familiar.  With the power of the internet these days, just because the website is written in Portuguese is no barrier.  Visiting this link translates the site into English (or whatever your preferred language (with a slowly growing range of supported languages)) – it may not translate the whole length of the site, but it will give you a good taste.

I also know there is a autogenerating Japanese version of Stu’s Shed, and as the primary Stu’s Shed site is regularly visited from about 170 countries, many must therefore be translating my scratchings into their preferred dialect.

The power of the internet to build the global village, and we as the village carpenter (and/or the village idiot 😉 )

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