Monday, February 23, 2015

A Way to Make Curves

I wanted to shape the handle of the toolbox a little bit to make it more comfortable for a small hand After cutting a stick of walnut to length, I marked the center both horizontally and vertically. The vertical center would be the finished thickness and the peak of the arc on the bottom of the handle. I created the curve with a thin strip of wood, bent like a bow to connect the dots. Then I cut a series of vertical kerfs, just shy of the layout line. I should have set up my joinery bench but sometimes you have to live a little loose.

Flip it and make the cuts on the other side.

The cuts allow for very rapid chipping away and act as stops.

Although this walnut peels and pares beatifully, you can get very aggressive and take off almost the whole chunk if you drive the chisel hard enough.

Eventually with just the chisel you can get pretty close.

I did use spokeshaves to clean up a bit.

This is how I made the dowels which will hold the handle in place. Just a tiny stick with corners planed off using my miniature jointer.

The handle is just about done and ready to be installed.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Apprentice's Apprentice's Toolbox

When my daughter turned five, I told her she was ready for a real toolkit. She had already used some of my smaller planes to make "chocolate noodles" (walnut shavings) and she's had a pretty good command of righty-tighty lefty-loosey since the age of 2.5. I'm not quite ready to give her chisels, but it is time for her to have her own measuring tape since she has a habit of making off with mine. When she received the tools, she put them in a metal box, and I promised her we'd make one soon.

I was too busy prepping the panels to take many photos, but it is rather straightforward construction. Loosely based on the Japanese tool box , but with a groove to hold the floor. Material is cheap cedar fence board that I picked the clearest sections from, so it is fairly clear and straight-grained. Cleans up very nicely once planed. The plow plane made a nice crisp groove with just a couple strokes. The bottom is just a panel beveled to enough of a taper to slip right into the groove.

I did some quick curves on the sides while she was playing with a friend. I don't know if I even want her to know the drawknife exists yet. The curve is just a traced metal tin that I had laying around and happened to fit nicely.

She excitedly arranged the contents of the kit (measuring tape, little hammer, stubby screwdrivers, bag of nuts and bolts) and admired the fit. She wants to add a wrench soon. I want to get her onto dividers and Sloyd knife ASAP but all things in time...

 We still need to work on the handle, but the shop was cold and she wanted to go back inside. She surprised me by nailing the sides quite well. I even trusted her as I held the nails and she started them. She sank them nicely using a nail set, the soft cedar made this pretty forgiving work.

She said a couple days ago when we were planning it that she wants to paint it purple, which of course is not what I would do. It is her box, though, so I'm already resigned to seeing it covered with Disney Princess stickers. As we were working, she surprised me by saying "Would it be ok if we just oil it and see what the wood looks like?"

"Of course. We can do that."

That's my kid!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Some more photos and notes of the Shaker-inspired harvest table:

You can see the simple mortise and tenon base assemble, with pivoting supports for the dropleaves. The legs were hewn from a massive slap of 12/4 cherry, the most expensive chunk of wood I have purchased to date. It was amazing, almost completely clear and free of defects. You can also see a small groove running around the inside perimeter,  this is where the buttons which attach the top slip in, allowing them to move as the top does.

The aprons were drawbored into the legs, coaxing a very tight fit. No glue needed. Drawboring means that the holes for the pegs are made ever-so-slightly offset, so that as the pegs snakes through, it is pulling the joint more and more tightly closed. It must be done very carefully to avoid splitting, but results in rock-solid joinery.

I opted against a rule-joint on the top. I actually wanted to try one, but lack the moulding or rule joint planes required, and refused to resort to a power router. I looked at antique stores and found plenty of examples of this plain butt joint, and personally don't mind it's rustic look. In fact, I found many of the rule joints, while mechanically nifty, looked kindof gaudy to me. This table is 7 6" long. It is definitely about the largest thing I would hope to build on my bench in it's current form.

It seats 8 people relatively comfortably. The whole concept came about in order to comfortably seat a wheelchair user at once end while collapsing in to a smaller footprint for daily use. Here's a little writeup about the house it is going into.

The apprentice's apprentice helps with a final buffing of the pure tung-oil finish.