Friday, October 11, 2013

Current and coming projects: workbench and anarchist's school box

First of all, thanks for all the interest in the Wenzloff tenon saw and the upcoming listing of Jim Tolpin's tools. Jim is still sorting his tools, so patience will pay off here. Regarding my tenon saw, it has already found a new home with one of the students of the recent Handsaw Essentials courses at the school. I hate to disappoint any readers, but I couldn't pass up the chance to bypass packing and shipping the thing. I will be listing some other tools in coming months, I suspect.

Speaking of the school, I am building another workbench, a prototype for an upcoming class in bench construction. This one will be made of construction-grade douglas fir (like my own Roubo) but will be smaller.

Here's some of the lumber stacked up and ready:

In the interest of speed and in part due to the scale of the work, I will most likely end up using some power tools to create some of the joints. I did, however, crosscut all the members by hand:

On my own time, I have been keepin' it real with pure hand tool projects. If you are familiar with the work I have done through Lost Art Press designs, you'll find this weirdly familiar:

Yes, that is a "school box" a la Joiner and Cabinet Maker, but it has moulding and tills right out of the Anarchist's Tool Chest. This is a pen and pen supply chest for a fountain pen collector. It will have 3 tills to hold about 36 pens, with deep wells on the bottom to store repair tools, ink, and notebooks. It is always deeply satisfying to design a piece with such specific needs and specifications in mind, and then let the layout unfold around those modules and parameters.

I've covered dovetails before, but I thought to snap a photo of my layout kit:

That little steel square is from my Grampa's days as an engineer at Ford. I always love seeing his initials stamped on it. The dividers were his, too. The Tite-Mark gauge, however, is pretty new.

Since these tills are pretty shallow, the joinery is miniature. In this autumn light, it can get hard to see some of the lines, so I have been making use of my magnifying lamp for marking:

Hopefully, next week I will get new glasses and maybe then all of my joinery will miraculously perfect itself. In the meantime, light helps a lot.

Here's 2 of the tailboards ganged up for rapid marking and cutting. The tails are all (in theory) the same size so layout is fast. Since there were only 2 tails, I simply set the divider to find the middle of the shoulders, and used my narrowest chisel (1/8th inch) to determine the gap.

and a pinboard, this is cherry:

Chop 'n' pare as usual:

aaand, we have a frame:

tack on some pine and it's a till:

While the glue dries on the 3rd till, work on the lid:

The chest-box will hopefully be wrapped up soon, and then onto that workbench. This weekend, however, I will be at the school helping with the Handplane Essentials class. Hope to see some of you there!


  1. Man! Every time you make one of these school boxes you remind me that I want to make one .. or more. They're very cool boxes. I guess the only reason I haven't pushed it up to the top of the list is that I'm still figuring out what to make the box for. It seems to have such potential.

    And now you've added tills and made a mini-anarchist tool chest. That's so very cool! I know I need one of these! :)

  2. Looking forward to seeing your bench build. I think I'll be coming back to the school for the Weekend Saw class, I think that's all I'll be able to make it to next year.

    I really like the school box variation, very creative! I also think this might make a wonderful sewing box for a certain lady wife of mine. I must borrow that idea!

    what width did you make the tray walls and bottom out of? (and where did you get the wood, I've had a terrible time finding thin stock).


    PS. I feel you on the glasses thing, I just got my first pair of full time glasses and they are wreaking havoc on my woodworking time. Having to adjust to bifocals is driving me nuts.


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