Sunday, July 10, 2011

Upsizing and Supplementing...

...the equipment acquisition marches on.

I finally replaced my third-hand drill press.  My old drill press was better than no drill press at all, but that's about all I can say about it.  It was pretty small and not very powerful.  I finally managed to save up enough allowance to upgrade to a Delta:
It's bigger, lots more powerful, and makes a nice noise when you switch it on.  Check, check, and check: sounds a like a good power tool.

Little Drill Press looks up jealously at the new king of the hill:
(Yeah, the garage is a mess)

I've been sawing up a lot of firewood recently:
Anyone need a drawer? If you need a custom drawer, by Golly, I'm your man. Lemme know. Seriously.

For a while I've been wanting a little joinery bench.  Your typical woodworking bench is optimized for planing.  The height is set at about belt-high so that one can use his or her body weight when working a bench plane.  My bench works great for that...not so much for finer operations like dovetailing.  Also, the vises are not great for holding end-grain upright.  So despite my already serious space issue in the garage, I'm making a joinery bench.  I didn't document the first half at all.  I have no excuse for this.

To help put the following detail photos in context, here's the almost-complete bench:

This project is being done on the cheap: southern yellow pine, of course:
Here you can see the how the bench works.  The laminated top captures the dovetailed leg tops.

The benchtop is my standard floating-tongue joinery:
My wife really likes the look of the end-grain.

With the legs alone, the bench was pretty wobbly, so I decided to brace them with a shelf.  The shelf is supported by braces that are lap-dovetailed in place.  The lapped-dovetail is one of my favorite joints: it's really strong, pretty easy to make, and really useful.  I used a ton of them in fence-gate braces.

First just layout your dovetail on the end of the brace, making it the height of the width of whatever is being braced.  Then just cut it out.  I make the ends of my tails extend all the way to the corner of the stock, which is really unnecessary and makes things difficult...I should stop doing that; it turns a two step process into a four step process.  Because the cutline is right at the corner of the board, it's a particularly difficult cut to start and requires (fittingly) the dovetail saw:
There are some subtleties involved in this cut that are better communicated in a video...oh well.

Then the crosscut carcass saw nips off the little bit of waste:

Then the tenon saw finishes it off:

Like I said, all this could be accomplished in two simple steps (tenon saw all the way down and then crosscut the base of the waste off) by just starting the cut elsewhere in the end-grain.  Anyhow, once the tail is cut, just lay it on the legs to the braced and mark your cut lines:
I'm trying a new technique here: after marking my cut lines with a knife, I take a chisel and par out a little ditch on the waste side of the cut line.  What this does is guide the saw right up to the cut line when you are starting your cut.
Pretty good.  I know it doesn't seem difficult, but I'd say being able to cut to a line accurately has got to be about 90% of the difficulty in hand tool woodworking.  You'd be astonished how difficult and frustrating it can be.  This chisel technique works really well, but takes quite a bit of time...worth it though on visible joints.

Chiseling out the waste on these lapped dovetails is really satisfying.  
Just zip it out...
...and tap it in:

I then put a thin cherry top on the braces, locking everything together with more dovetailing, and glued it up:
When I first started playing with wood, a fellow I used to work with told me to look for clamps on sale whenever I went anywhere that sold that sort of thing.  In fact there is a woodworking axiom that goes "you can never have too many clamps."  My experience has yet to contradict this.

A little cleanup, a little boiled linseed oil...
I know that the vise looks like it sags; it squares up when you tighten it.

As I mentioned, it's not quite finished yet.  I may raise the height with a rolling platform on castors or something like that.  I'll trial it at this height for a while and see how it works.

Hey, you know what this would be perfect for making on? 
Drawers!  Let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Looking good! That wood grain on the top edge looks like an outcrop with a serious tectonic history.