Friday, 27 July 2012

Another Dovetailed Box

I decided to make use of my newly acquired antique oak mainly to see what it will look like when planed and finished. I also decided some more dovetails wouldn't do me any harm.

So, in the same style as my last dovetailed box I got started.

I wont go into great detail as the build process has obviously been covered before. Usual drill - cut the four pieces to make the box sides and shoot them to exact length. Exact length being - two pairs, each pair being exactly the same size - I didn't bother to measure actual length. I also made the effort to avoid all knots and only used clear straight grained pieces of Pine.

The next stage, mark out the dovetails, I'm still a tails first guy... and ... I got to try the new Poor Mans Moxon vice out properly.

My brain obviously hadn't woken up yet ... Look at my 'waste marks' ... phew! Luckily, I realised what I had done, before grabbing the saw!

I got the tails cut and chiselled out without any further mishap. Wow! ..What a difference it was using my lovely new LN chisels, I can get them ultra sharp compared to my old Stanley Fat Max beaters.

Before I knew it, I had a box. Im not sure if I am getting faster or just had more fun chopping out the pins, but it didn't seem to take long at all.

Time for some grooves, for the plywood bottom...

Then it was time for my least favourite part of the process - Glue Up!
With some clamping pressure all the dovetails closed up nicely and I managed to mop up most of the squeeze out before it caused me a lot of clean up work.

I let the box cure over night before using my block plane and number four Stanley to plane down the Pins and Tails.

Time for a lid ... Using one of the newly aquired Oak pieces I first cut off the end that was cracked and marked with nail holes and then cut again to my required length.

I used my no#6 Fore Plane to remove the old finish and get the board flat as it was quite cupped. Once squared and trimmed to size, I used my no#4 to add a nice chamfer / bevel around the front and sides of the board to form the lid.

Lastly, I whittled and spit down some off cuts of Pine to fill the groove that showed through the bottom dovetail. Once, glued and cut off with my flush cut saw, the box was basically finished.

I added some small brass hinges and finished the box with a coating of Boiled Linseed Oil and some wax paste.

Lessons learn't from this project...
  • Marking the edges of the Pin boards isn't required, so don't do it any more.
  • I think (untested) in future, I can make my groove easily stopped on one side (which would be the front of the box), then I only need to plug two holes at the back for a cleaner finish ... or just learn to do proper stopped grooves!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Antique Oak

Just a quick gloat post... 
A member of my girlfriends family discovered these pieces of very old Oak while clearing out his garden shed and kindly 'donated' them to me. Apparently, it was an antique chest of drawers that originated from the very house I now live in. 

While most of the pieces are a bit scarred, cracked and holed, with some careful trimming and planing and general TLC, I'm sure I can get some good use out of them. It's not every day I get work with woods other than Pine and this Oak already has built in 'character'.  

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Poor Mans Moxon Vice

Up until now I have been struggling with work holding on my little bench and its poor excuse for a face vice, especially if I need to hold a wide board for dovetailing for example.

My usual solution is to stand the end of the board on something below the vice and pinch one side of the board in the end of the vice and use an offcut to minimise the vice racking and hope it holds... Far from ideal!

Therefore, with my last dry (it hasn't stopped raining over here in the UK) scaffold board, I decided to make a poor mans version of the Moxon Vice (Utube).

Life started out by rough cutting the board to length. Raised beds function really well as saw horses. While sawing the board the cross cut saw started to bind indicating that there seemed to be a lot of internal stresses inside the wood. I had to finish the cut from the opposite side, at least its only a rough cut.

The next step was to rip the board into two pieces using my 5 ppi rip saw.
Again the saw started to bind and the wood actually split apart about ten inches before I completed the cut. Thankfully, the split was pretty accurate and not far from my marked line. After a quick assessment with the winding sticks it was time to get the boards flat and smooth.


For each board, I used my no#6 Foreplane to remove the rough saw mill marks and get a face basically flat and wind free before finishing it with my new Lie Nielsen no#7 Jointer plane. After the face I made one of the edges straight and square to the reference face.

Lastly, using a marking gauge, I marked all around the edge of the board before flattening the other face side to thickness and making it parallel with the first side. One thing I have learn't is always plane this second side across the grain towards the unfinished edge. If any spelching occurs, it will get cleaned up when completing the final edge. Finally, I made the last remaining edge square and parallel to the first edge.

With both boards basically four square, all that remained was to cut and square the ends on the bench hook.

After flattening, I ended up with one board being 1 1/4" thick and the other 1 3/8" thick. I glued a piece of 2"x2" timber as a cleat to the thinner of the two boards, this would be the back vice 'chop'. I thought that the added cleat would make up for the slight lack of thickness.

The last remaining step to get a functional vice was to bore the holes in each end to accept the F-clamps.

With the vice essentially finished, all that was required was to soften the corners with a block plane and give the whole thing a light coat of Linseed oil to provide a bit of protection. I used a pair of holdfasts to attach the vice to my bench.
The distance between the clamps (width of board the vice is capable of holding) is just under 24" and I didn't think to make sure it was over 24" when cutting the ends square as the thing looked more than adequate for my needs. With hindsight, 24" is a good minimum capacity, as a lot of furniture uses 24" wide boards.

One last note, the vice might be handy for work away from the bench as it fits really nicely on my Saw Bench. If the sun ever shows up, maybe some dovetailing in the garden?...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Rabbet Joint Box

While making the simple bevelled wall board for my 'Ships Clocks' a few days ago, it occurred to me that the very same design might make a good (albeit chunky) box lid. 

My stock (scaffold board Pine - of which I have a lot of it!) wood is around 1 1/2" thick, the simple design allows me to use what I have without having to waste most of the wood making it thinner. It also saves me a lot of sweat with a hand plane!

It also occurred to me that I have never made a simple Rabbet jointed box...

I completely forgot to take any pictures during the build as things progressed pretty quickly. A rough description of the steps I took are below:

Box Carcass
  • Cut four pieces (2 long , 2 short) of cheap (pre-planed) Pine to length on the bench hook.
  • 'Shoot them' to exact lengths with square ends on the shooting board.
  • Mark and cut the shoulder line of each rabbet on the short sides of the two long boards (the front and back of the box) again using the bench hook - 2 rabbets per long board.
  • To form the actual rabbets, I first tried using my small shoulder plane with a wooden baton clamped in place to keep me straight, but this proved to be quite slow. For the three remaining rabbets, I simple used my dovetail saw to cut down the end grain (much like sawing a tenon), finally cleaning the joint up with the shoulder plane. In retrospect, I should have (been brave) tried to remove the waste with a chisel which would probably been even faster than sawing.
  • Use a plough plane to cut 1/4" grooves in the bottom of the boards for the base to fit into.
  • Cut a thin plywood board to size for the box bottom.
  • Glue the carcass together.
  • Plane the edges and joints flush and generally tidy it up.

The Lid
  • Approximately cut to length a piece of rough scaffold board.
  • Assess the board for grain direction and use winding sticks to check the 'wind' and straightness of the board. Pencil in notes on the board as to what work is likely to be required and where.
  • Plane one face flat using my no#6 and mark it as a reference.
  • Hand plane the adjacent long edge straight and at 90 degrees to the first face and mark it.
  • Use a marking gauge to mark all around the edges of the board to get it to uniform thickness again using the no#6 to remove wood fast.
  •  Use a marking gauge to mark the second long edge parallel to the first.
  • Precision cut the board to the required length and ensure it is square.
  • Mark bevel lines all around the board using a marking gauge. Used my no#4 plane to create the bevels, being careful to finish the short end grain sides first.
  • Fit small brass hinges and apply some wax finish...
While the box does look rather like a coffin for a small dog or a cat, it was very enjoyable to make with most of the project being completed in a single day. Rabbet jointed boxes come together pretty fast! Not as nice looking or as strong as a dovetailed box, but I did learn from it and at this stage that's the most important aspect for me.



More 'simple' projects to follow ...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

LN 5pc Bevel Edge Chisel Set

With some well earned cash in my pocket I have decided to treat myself to a long awaited indulgence - A 5pc set of Lie Nielsen Bevel edged chisels complete with the leather tool roll. 

After some discussion with a few other woodworkers who's opinions I have come to value, I decided to opt for the O1 tool steel, over the A2 steel. As I do a lot of stuff with soft Pine, I'm hoping the lower 25/30 degree bevel of O1 steel will be more suited than using a 30/35 degree bevel as required with A2 steel.

These Lie Nielsen chisels will replace my cumbersome Stanley Fat Max chisels, for finer joinery like dovetails etc. The Stanley chisels will still earn their living doing 'DIY' type chores around the house & garden. Each Lie Nielsen chisel feels so light and balanced in the hand, I am sure they are going to be a joy to use - as are all my other LN tools.

The sizes are 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", and 3/4". The leather roll, while expensive is very nice quality and well made and really completes the set. Having space for seven chisels allows me to also store my two LN mortise chisels making a really nice set.

I'm gonna need (to make) a bigger tool box soon...

Wall Mounted Ships Clocks

Wow it's been nearly two months since my last blog post! Will anyone still be reading this?

While I have been back home from my yacht delivery for a few weeks, I have been busy building a new wooden garden fence and spending my time with Bible study. Finally, the other day the lure of the tools enticed me back to my wood working room to build something. Nothing complicated, just something quick and dirty to get me started again.

A simple bevel edged board to wall mount my beloved ships clock & barometer. These little treasures of mine have been with me on all my sailings, including three single handed Atlantic crossings, so they mean a lot to me. It will be nice to still enjoy them now I'm a 'land lubber'.

Anyway, I'm back - I haven't forgotten the blog and there will be more small projects to come, I promise.