Fine Woodworking Magazine Feb 2009 Malestrom

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Fine ~Working 14



features 30

A Classic Step Stool Improve your hand-tool skills as you build this versatile piece BY TOMMY Ma c DONALD



Joinery Shootout We

up front

pu~ h

IH popular frame joints to the breaking point



Tune Up Your Workbench You

6 On the Web


do Hood work o n a worn-out bench, so flatten

the top. lighten the base, a nd adjust th e vises

8 Contributors

1.0 Letters 14 Methods of Work



Do More With Your Dado Set ~ay

safe and get better resulrs from th is

lighted cart stores tools and lumbe r

saw accessory

Rip sandpaper to size with preciSion



20 Tools & Materials

Hickory and Ash Blanket Chest

12-in. jointer/planers handle almost any board

Floating tenons and a con:;istent angle keep joinery manageable BY PETER TURNER

Rabbet pla ne cuts beautifully

24 Fundamentals


The 7 habits of highly effect ive woodworkers

Re-creating a Shaker Finish To match a ZOO-ylo'Olr-oJd fi nish, an expert uses common tools anJ wdmiques BY LINDA COlT


Turn a Pad-Foot Leg A graceful leg


l."' to mOlke entirely on the lathe



True Greene & Greene Learn how the el~ mcnl.s work together, and then use them in your furniture BY OARY ROGOWSKI Cover pI><>«>_ Mi...... K.poakJ

inthe back 78 Readers Gallery

82 Q&A Plywood edging that matches perfectly Marking knift:! cuts wrong board

88 Master Class Boulle marquetry: Two panels for the price of one

94 Finish line Fin ish ing oily woods

:102 How They Did It Shaped to perfection

Back Cover Vessels from the veranda

~TheTaunton Press


In.pi""ic", flK hood.·"" Imnsw






free online extras: A~allable

EDITOR An Ct..lstlana

December 17 at

ART DIRECTOR MlchiMll Pekovlch



Watch the Splinters Fly In our Jolnt~Strength Test


See all the joint-$napping actio" and learn how .... e plil18 Joints

ASSOCIATE COITORS Thomas Q, Begnal. Steve Scott, AnIMa Kapsales

th,oli eh th e ultimuW test ("Joinery 5hooI01,l\" ).

A Woodworker1s Dream House


Take a video IOlir of The Gamble House with Greene ond Greene expert Darrell Peart. Also read about editor


ASSISTANT EDIToo Mattil6w Kenney

Christiana's viS it


to The Gamble House and to The Hu ntingt on Library, both meccas lor Greene and Gfeerle aficionados.

Boulle Basics l earn from master of marquetry Silas flopf (Master Class) how to execl.lte this decoratlvtI techn ique from t he late 17th century.


Add Your Work to Otlr New Gallery

ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR Kelly J, Dunton ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR John Tetreault SltOP MANAGER Robert Nash ADM INI STRATIVE ASSISTANT Betsy Engel CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Chlistian Becksvoort, Qa.y Rogow,kl, Garrett Hack, Roland Joltnson, Steve Latta CONSULnNG EDITOR Jonathan Blnzen

Visit the new community gallery 10 upload your own photos. get


design Ideas, and vote for

PUBLISHER Anatole Burl(ln

your favorite pIIlCIIS, like this


mini chest by Scott I(ing.







online exclusives: S~ome


11 member and 8aess more than 30 years of Fine


WoodWorking articles, how-to videos, and exclusive Web content.




Easy-to-Make Entertainment Center - - Only on FincWOOdworl( Willeh Marc Spagnuolo, "The Wood


WhlsJlerer,- craft beginners' woodworl(lng project using 11 small



collection 01 power lools,

--Gel Ste p-by-5lep instruction lrom the nina-part video series, -Down load


detoilo.>d project pjon.



VIDEO Butt Hinges 1.01

PIlid retislralion 1123210931, 0-.--------

Web contrloutlng editor Andy 11

FIlM Woodwo,kl"" IrSSN: 0361·3453) is pu1)l19he<1 I)i~ntnly, ""t, ~ 5",,0;" 1sev<:nth iiUve;" tM .. im8(, ",. Tt>e T"""toc1 PreU, IIY: .. NCWl"..." CT 064705506 203426..8171. P",iodical. PC&Iwn, CT 004TO aoo at 3dd~iooal maili,,@.oif>

demonstrates how to han g

door perfectly using a trtm route r and chisel.

S~bo.crIpl;o" RltIes: U.S tr,(/ Cao&da. $34,% lor ""'" )·U I. $ S9 .<1!I fo, \",0 y lot th,e~ yea.. lin U,S, doll ars. plaase), ~Ie CCPl', $7.99 , Sirlllie COI>~ WlsK\e tI1" IJ.S. nnd


"""""';",,,,", $$.99 .






Pol tln_ ter: Send addrus eMnteS to FIOO

rn ... , lhe., 63 S. r.T Cl647rHl5Ofj




Mol", St., PO Bm 55OtI,

car..da Pool: Ratun, ,""",Ii_'" Ca,-ooan ae 1ItdM><Jt>IrljI.C/o WoMMdIl Mailer!>, rr.c., 2835 118" Drillfl, ON t>l6T 3137. 0< erne' 10 mnf~ton .~ om


PrtRWd 1ft III

methods of work







BestTip Lighted storage cart for tools and lumber I'd heen thinking alx)ut how to reorganize

my shop, which takes up half of my twoC;lr ~arage, This rolling cart helpt..-'Ci me

/'"." ....II.Of1clJts go on top.

Light hehind valance illuminates work area.

Power strip on shelf /


consolidate hoth 1001 and lumher sturage, so I L-an usc less of my limitL'<.lfor floor spa..:e for :;torHge and aemal woodworking.


Inspired by his grandfather, Jim Wlnset has been WOrking wood since he was young. A

carpenter by trade, he now runs the concrete division of a contracting firm In

B Paso, Texas.


Shelf Is supported by

TIle cart is ~imple in design, '" ilh a 2x4 frAme and 3J.i-in.-thkk melamine for the cabinet Mea. The back of the cart providc~ ample l\lInher ~torage-smal1 and short pkccs above, large piece.~ and sheet ~ood~ (lip tu 8 ft. long) below, Small offcut~ sit on top. On the front, Iight.~ behind the .......tI.lOce at the top illuminate the work area. The narrow top shelf on Ihl' front is fiued with a surgeprotected power strip that allows me to charge a bund] of cordlesstool hatteries simultanL",(lllsly without taking up valuable counter space below. TIle prefinished pegboard provides handy tool-hangin~ space, and the

pegboilr(l brackets.

creates versatile storage optiOM.

(,:abinel below the peghoard crC'.ttes a work surface on top and ample stordge below. All uf the materials are available at hi~-hox home centers, except fur the ~ix 11I.:.IVy-ulIty swivel casters (ratL--d fOf 330 lb.; l>,', The cart is heavy, but I can move it when I want to rearrange the shop or if [ need access to the deep ~luraw.: recesses behind it (or even to sweep heneath it).

Storage cabinet (loubles as worktable. ¥~·in.·thick


Frame components are serewed together.

- JIM WI NSER. £1Paso, Texas

A Reward for the Best Tip Send)«Jf onginal tips to Methods ofW:xk, FIne

WOOdWorking, PO Bo):. 5506, Newtown. CT 06470. If


shelf supports

published. we pay $50 for an un illustra ted tip; $100 for an illustrated one. If your tip is t he best,

you win Jet 's framing clamp kit, 'Nhich includes four parallel-jaw clamps and handy ¥~·inAhick


methods of work


:1-_ ',"'_ ll".~ --+I m_

Rip sandpaper to size with precision furniture style incorporates lots of CU['l,/L'S. anti I often rrutkc custom sanding blocks in various sizes to smooth those curved area.~



Fixture hangs on hook when not in use.

Fence Sclf·heoling

To hdp UM! t!x~n~ive sandpaper dTicit:ntly, I built lhlS ftxture, whiCh allov.:s me to rip


'iI·ln.·thlck plywood

5:lndpaper sheets to any size quickly and


l\ ith iJltle Vt"3ste. The gnd surface, which serve,>



cutting guide, is a self-healing uuting mal from a dollar store or office-supply Store. Following the grid, I can rip pcrfc(.1iy 1>iZCd Shl:t:ts not only for my various odd-size ~1.nding blocks but also for my half- and quaner-shcct sanders. Just be sure the lines

Fence for hall sheet vertically

of the grid are square to the edge.. of the platform; otherwise, you'll be cutting

on an angle. This i .. one of the m~l frequently ust:d fIxtures in my workshop. I'm on my :;(."c.:ond-the first gave out after 30 years.

First line of grtd V~ In. from fence

_ MltMAEL FORTUNE , lIkefield, Ont., Canada

Washer - - - ,

Hacksaw blade

Sawhorse folds up when you 11ft It

Qukk Tip We use clear stretch wrap In our shop for lots of quick wrapping and clamping operations. For example. when gluing up a bent lamination, we coat the laminations with glue and then wrap the bundle with stretch wrap in several places to keep the laminations in line. We then seal the enUre bundle with a spiral wrap from end to end. With the bundle wrapped, we don't have to worry about glue ooze sticking the project to the cauls. I have 0150 tlSed a few layers of stretch wrap to clamp a deUcate piece. It Is good for odd-angled

TItis roldmg 'Qwhor..c is simplicity itself JuS{ pick It up and it rolds. make these out of milled 2x4s and nylon ropt!. The leg-; are carned 100"'. and their \xJO:OOl."; are be\.'eled so they SII flat on the floor to prevent cords fmm hanging up on them. Le-dve the top hoard.<> square to create 3 channel above the hinge. This may save your sav.ilI.adc ~.-wy. I h.....'e neen using 3 p.1i!" of the.e almost every day for 30 ye-.lfs. -HUGH GRUBB . Hillsboro, Va.

4 in. flat hinge

100" 'hln. nylon rope fits through :V~' If1. holes.

pieces or mitered corners, too. Ulloe ( and other suppliers sell stretch wrap In a handy 5-In. roll that comes with Its own handle. You can find many uses tor the stuff when you realize that It both clamps and seals. -RALPH YUHAS , H.Min&,





on ends



methods of work



Adjustable jig makes big and small fingers Workpiece

A typical fing~r-joint jig is an auxiliary fence screwed to the face of the miter gauge with a wooden registration pin sticking OUi at the lXAtom of the f'-:oc(.:. The fence is moved back and f-Orth by trial and enor until the pin is positioned SO that the fing\;r and slur: widths art identicaL Unfortunately, adjusting thi~ kind of jig L~ tedious, and you need dedicated ji~s for different-size finger jOiots. This unger-joint jig solves the~e problems. It features

Gross adjustment


both a gross adjustment and a fine aJju.'itmcnt to

~~ Reference


produce finger joinL~ in a range of si7:es. from lA in. to Y2 in. The jig consisb of a fence attached to the mitcrgauge face by slotted holes; this is the gross adjustment. Fine adjustment cO!n~s via the m~tal rden:ncc pin (a standard hardwaI't-slore spring pin), which is mounted on a pivoting metal arm that's fasTened to the back of the fence with two pivot bolts, The ovenize upper hole allows the arm to be moved back and forth, thus advancing or withdmwing the rderence pin hy only a few thousands of an inch. To u:;e the jig, set the lever arm at mid range, install a dado head, and make a ((.:st cut in a piece of ~l"Tap. Measure the resulting slot width with inside calipers, locking the setting to preserve the slot width. Now, with the calipers bctv.'een the reference pin and the dado blade, loosen the fence-attachmt:ot bolts and .'ilide the knee (u~ing the gross adjustment) .~o that the c,lliper lightly touches the pin and the blade. This will st:t the reference pin clo.'ie to the desired finger width. Now make a second cut and measure both the finger and the slot width.;;. If unequal, loosen the pivot bolts 00 the k:ver arm and make a fine adjustment for a correction . In just a few iteralions, you should have a r>erfecr finger-joint setup.


Lever arm

BACK insert

Lever arm. 'I, in. thick by 'Y. in. wide by 5 in. long

-JO HN A. HAASE, Fort Collins, Col(l,

Quick Tip ----1-

Oversize hole,

'I. in. Oia.

::.._ - -_ _ lower hole is sized to fit 0011.

@~--"" ~

Gross adjustment slots allow for finger Siles from ¥. in . to ¥. In.


FJI-.£ W000\11/0RKll\G

Miter·gauge attachment Mlts

Pin adjustment range is plus or minus V&. in.


v. in.

) Reference pin,

'h" in. dia. by 1~

in. long

I've used steel wool to remove rust from my saw table, but it's slow going. Finally, I tried a block of pumice, the kind used to clean grills. It works perfectly and quickly. Use only the tine grade. The

medium and coarse will scar the table. -RANDY JOHNS,

Spencer, Tenn,

tools & materials ..






12-in. jOinter/planers handle almost any board lOT OF WOODWORKERS' WISH LISTS include a 12-in. Jointer to match their


G0633 12-in. thickness planer. But a 12-in. jointer i<; a hig expt'llse. That's why, in [,-,cent year.s, comhination machine,'; have gained Price: $1. 795 popularity. A 12-in. combo machine gets you lxnh Power: 23Ov, 5 hp machines in one space-saving package for about Jointer bed length: the same: prkc as a l2-in. joinlr.:r alone. Recently, I 59¥~ in. looked at two new one;, from Griniy ;Ind Laguna. The machines are flioctiOMlly alikt, and both are excellent. ! planed and jointed white oak, maple, and cherty with each macilloc and the r<.:sults weft: impn:ssivc. If forced to

pick between the I\VO, I'd lean to\vard the Grizzly, mainly because of the lower prkc, As an option on both machines. YOli can substitute a spiral cutterhe'J.d for the standard ;;traightknife(i clltterhead. It adds about $500 to the price but requires less po~'t::r and pnxluces little tt!arout, even in very chalh:n)<;ing woods, A sent's of multisided carhide insen cutters, mounted in the head,

do the cutting. These ed",es la~t mllch longer than sted blades, and should one get nicked, it's a simple matter to rotate it to a fresh edge. -Roland juhnson is a amtributinp, editor.


MJP 0540 · 0175 www. Price: $2,495 Power; 23OV, 3 hp Jointer bed length: 63'14 in.

oll'.r. After jointing (above). it takes less than a m inut e to raise the tables. move the dust hose. and change over to planing mode (left). By th e way, dust is being col/l1cted from th e Grizzly- via Its rear port.


Sturdy benchtop clamps have rapid action

Plate option. CfKlose the surface plate option and you attach the clamp to steel anchors mounted to your bench.



LEIGH INDUSTRIES. KNOWN FOR ITS DOVETAil JIGS. has introduced a strong and simple benchtop clamp borrowed from those same Jigs. This type of clamp Is useful because It can be positioned almost anywhere on a workbench surface, e-ven toward the middle of the bench, where a typical vISe and benchdogs are less likely to help. The toggle handle rotates for height adjustments, and Its cam action Is quick and secure. Non-marring pads on both the heel and 10e of the clamp help protect your work and keep It from slipping. TWo mounting options are a-vailabh~. Each clamp seils for about $50. A package of four extra anchors Is around $20. For more, go to -RJ.

Hole opflon. With this option . you drill a hole In tho bl1nch and secure the clamp from underneilth.


Rabbet plane cuts beautifully

Quicker than. router. Setup takes seconds, and then the skewea blade makes perfect cuts.


That was my immediate impression after u.~lng the new skew rabbet plane from Verilas. I've used many rabbet planes over the year!> and, to various extents. all were less than ideal. This plane, though, seL~ a new standard for quality, usability, and value. The plane eulS f'"J.bbtb of various depths, up to 11/2 in. wide. [t's also perfect for making long tt'nun,>, like those on breadboard end..;, or fielding a f'"J.ised pand for a door. It was easy to set up and use. Blade alignmem--critical in rabbet planes but only done onee--was nearly t'ffurth:ss, thanks to a pair of .set<;erews in the body of the plane, It also was easy to control the (","d!met width, thank.., to a fence that gl ides effortlessly on two steel rods. You lock the fence by turning a pair of bra!>s :,crews. Setting the depth of cut is simply a matter of turning a brass knob. Flawless c.."TOSS-gt'Jin cuts wen: the norm, thanks to a S<.'oring cutter that slices the wood just ahead of the blade. This was the first rJbbet plane I'd seen that uses a setscrew to aJjust the cutter. A~ a result, it was a no~brJiner to get the cutter perfectly aligned with thL" blade, and once set, it stayed put. The bladt; is skewed in the body, a feature that has severa l 'ld-

vantages_ As the plane is pushed, the blade draws the plane into the cut, making it easy to register the fence against the stock. Also with this design, the shaVings arc thrown more easily from the plane. Then, too, this configuration reduces cutting resistance, leaving a smexxher surface, e~pccially on cro..'i..<;-grain work. The Verila;; Skew Rahher plane sells for $2SO and is J.vailable in either right-hand or left-hand modds. TIle: ldt-hand model is just the ticket for lefties. A case can he made for ownin~ one of each, as it allows you to choose the plane that works beSt b-J.sed on the grain din..-ction at the l·Ut. But. with care and light cuts, I h:td no real prohlems working with just one plane. For more information. go to www.leevalley.coffi_ ---Chris Gochnour h-uildsfumiture and teaches woodworking in Murray, utah .


Digital protractor is accurate and easy to read A NEW GADGET FROM WIXEY TOOLS makes

$qua,.. mlt.r p ug.. With the sawblade fully raised, the leg of the protractor butts against the body of the sawblade, ensuring i1ccurole readings when sqvflrlng the mIter gauge to the table,

It quick and easy to measure angles. The tool Is especially useful for setting an angle on a tablesaw miter gauge or a miter saw. According to Wlxey, the tool Is accurate to plus or minus 1no of one degree. II musl be ' zeroed-out" before each use, but that lakes Just seconds, The tool is sold In two sizes: 3 In. (model WR400, $50) and 8 in . (model WR410, 559). Go 10 www. for more Information. -Tom Begnal Is an associate editor.

Oth., tools, too. The Wlxey is also useful for settIng angles on a miter saw.

J A NI ~ Af(y f )lFHRIlAf(Y



tools & materials CO""""" •

DUST COLLECTION Harnessing the

Use your dust collector to clean the shop

power of your dust colh:ctOf". the Oust Right


shop vacuum, <;0 why nOl: usc the.: taq.:er power plant for shop cleanup? ThaI's the thought behind Rock~ lers Du~t RJRhl Matitcr System ($70). The h..:art of this set of accessones is a Hoor sweep--cnns!sting of a handle, a long cube, and a floor attachment-th.H connects to your 4-in .-dia. dust hose. A .~ malk:r b~nch nozzle w ith brbtles is de~igned for tidymg work "urfaces. To make it easy to free up your dust hosc, the syskffi mdudes a quick-connt:cl 1001 port that stays on one shop machine. I tcaml."d up the ,.,y,.,[~m w ith Rockier's innovative Dmt Right Expandahle H()~ ($50), which stretches from 3 fI to 21 ft I u.c;ed the h(~ and Master System to



Expandable can reach Into every

my shop. and il worked great, but o nly

aftef I made a key aheratJon. The flour sweep comes with a thin gralt" to prevent large p iece" of woexJ or hits o f mt:tal from geillng sucked in and pD:>Slhly .striki ng the impeller of a dust collecto r However, I found that hlg chips :md Imnd-iool shavmgs dogged Ihe gl"3ling (.'Qns(J.ntly, SO eventu.llIy I knocked it out. Aftt't thai, deaOllp went qUIckly and edslly. YOII can huy the Hoor .~w""r ($40) <md other pam. sr.:pamtd y at -Asa Christtaml Is tJl(! f!dtt01:


Combined wIth the Dust Right

Grafe Is,," treat. Before Christiana removed It . the grate In tlte"oor sweep needed to be unclogged about e~ry 10 seconds .


Bessey's new K Body parallel clamp we got a maximum force of 1,000 Ib.. with BESSEY TOOLS HAS IMPROVED Its K Body parallel Clamp. The K Body Rovo has some 800 lb. as an average---stlll a lot more than advantages over the original. For starters, the 600 lb. we got from the original. has the same great parallel action. The K Body Revo Includes Il plastic end but 30% more surface area. A larger, softpiece that keeps the bar from tipping when grip handle adds comfort and makes It the jaws are working cklse together. easier to add extra clamping force. Bessey clalJT15 the K Body Revo gets you 1,500 lb. of clamping pressure, 30% more than its old model. When we measured ~",~......~~ the Revo clamp force using three woodworkers 8S testers,

The piece is removable, allowing the Jaw to be removed and reversed, turnlne: the clamp Into a spreader. In use. the sliding jaw moved smoothly along the bar In both directions. Tlle Jaw gripped the workpleee as soon as I began turning the Mndlll'---nO fiddling to get it to -bite' into the bar. The Revo Is sold In elCht lene:ths, from 12 in. to 9B In. ranging from $36 to $72 in price. Look for more Infonnatlon at www.

- T.8. Better 8e..-y. A new parallel clamp from Bessey Improves on the o,;ginall< Body.





01 1



7 habits of highly effective woodworkers POWERFUL LESSONS FOR PART-TIME FURNITURE MAKING BY


aking furniture iso't easy, especially if you do it in your spare time. When it comes to complicated tasks like dovetailing a carcase or sanding a big

piece. it's chalknging to


consi:>tenl results

when working in short hurst.;; I've long thought that if I could make wiser use of my limited shop time, I'd make fewer mistakes , Io":et more dooe, and build better furniture . To that cnd, I recently asked

our contrib\lting editors for suggestions, Tappin!': their combined


decades of experience. ~Hrprisin).l;ly" none of them focused on technical skills; I guess these just come naturally over time. Instead, their advice deal! with things like project planning, tool maintcnancc, and basic milling operatiom. And there was a surprising amount of agreement among them. In all, thdr tips boiled down to a set of good bedrock habit~ that will enhance anyones wurk and t:njoyment in the ~h()p. \'(fith apologie.~ to Dr. Stephen H. Covey (author of The 7 Habits ofHigh(v E.Oective People), here they are.

PlallyoUoyork Begin each project by drafting an overall plan. This plan should start wIth a detailed dmwing and cutlist, but just about everyone agreed It pays to think through the whole project in advance and map out a 10&1eal step-bystep sequence 10r every facet, from milling and shaping parts to Joinery, glue-up, sanding, and finishing. (For more, see two earlier Fundamentals: "Making a cutUst" by Philip C. Lowe, FWW #176; and "Develop a game plan" by Stewart Crick, FWW

US7.) Planning ahead yields a number 01 benefits. It helps ensure that you won't forget any crucial steps. It also breaks up the project Into a series of tasks,

conclude 8 shop seSl:llon with a final sanding of your

each of which can be made small enough to treat as a

project, you'll be ready to apply finish when the next

goal for an Individual shop session.

session starts-after the sanding dust has completely

As you develop your plan, you'l1leam to spot natu-


settled. You'll also find that short shop sessions are

fal breaks In the action that affofd their own very

Ideal for applying a single coat of finish that can dry

re .. 1Woodworking advantages. For Instance, If you

during the Interval between them.


Prepare for mistakes

Warm up and lake yoU[1ime

Careful plannln, can help you avokl many m~ake. , but we',e human, to

Gary Rogowski points out that great woodwork-

somethlne will go wrona: eventually. Accept

er. work quickly. but they nBver rush. Hurrying

your fallibility. Mistakes are far less likely to ruin

leads to mental mlstakea

your fun If you're ready for them.

One way to prepare. Steve latta suUeats, Is to

like chamfering the

wran, edge of 8

mill extra parts-five Ie,s Instead of four, for ex·

stretcher Of cutting

ample. That way, H you cut • mortise In the wrong

an apron too short.

place, you can &tab a spare and keep goln,. It's

Make a conscious

also wise, as Chrle Beckavoo,t points out, to mill

offort to slow down

.tock for test cuts and te.t Joint. while mllllne the

and work carefully.

workpiece., cutting to exactly the same dimen--

You'll make fewer

sk)ns, A te.t piece that Is even

btl mistake. and

off will cause Inaccurate .etups. lastly, avoid

ayold major backtrack-

working while frustrated. Ffusturtlon h8. caused


few thousandths

In8. like remaking part' or

me to drill hole. In the wrong place, cut tenon.

even a whole assembly. As a re-

too narrow, and accept Iff)' rHutia Just so I could

sult, you'll flnl.h your work more quickly.

move on. It's better to atop, walk out of the shop,

A routine hand·tool exercise like Rocow1kl'.

and stay away until your head clears. Ten mlnut••

5-mlnute dovetail (Fundamentals, FWW .196) Is


ten da),s-it'. worth the wait.

a great way to begin a shop session because "helps ease you Into a focused, deliberate pace.


Keep tools where they belong

of hand tools

The block plane is a great Introduction to the utility of hand tools, according to power·toollover

Organize your shop In a way that keep. tools

Roland Johnson. Unlike a fusty router setup. It

close to where they will be used most often. And

takes Just a few quick passes to flush·trlm 8 pluc or

make a point of returning them to their places wltsn

the tails and pins of a dovetail JOint. leveling an apron

you are done. We've all had work come to

a screechlnC halt while we searched


Jumbled and dusty shop for a tool that ~ was

just herel "

with the top of a leg Is also quicker and cleaner with a block plane than any power tool. And It's far quicker to break a sharp edge with a block plane than with

A good shop apron Is like a shop as· Iistant. It can keep handy the


router. Hand tools are also

great for smoothing conve)!. curve. and rough·shaplng wood.

tools you use most often: a square, II ruler, a marking knife, a pencil, ill sliding bevel , and your safety

glasses. If thesa tools are always at hand, you won't waste time huntlnc for them or making do with a substitute.

ww newo od worki n p;.com

JA"ll1ARY F E BR U A RY 200>;)


Satisfy your most important client The b~1 projtcu aren't for. or about yourself And when someone .special U: Involved, safety is even more critical. With an mnovadvc IOrsion mcdunism tC5ted to 25.000 cycles, our new Lid·Smy Hinges hold lids open at almost any angle so her fi ngers .nay secure and you r mind mys at cascanother Wl-y Rockler helps you C"IlU with ConfiJ~nu.

Rodder Woodworking and Hardware - Since 1954

'-'" ~


d .!()!( 11((1/ 1(111

or PI! i'ifrt/os


Rockler.conl 1-877-ROCKLER


he dt"Sigrl of a Shaker rwo-srep stool i:m't complicated There arc two steps. two sides, aocl three strelchers, all jOined hy dovetails The crisp. u nadorned 1i0000s are elegant My versjon~ influenC"<X:I by the work of Ira Richer, a former ciassmate 3r North Bennet StfL-et School-preserves the simplkity and elegance, with ~mc cmbclli~hmt:nt. I added

in front of the slep.... anJ laper(">d the back


of the stool outward from top to bouom to make it mort:: stable. If you're an experienced hand-lOOl u5er, this stool is a great opportunity to put your skills on dL5play. There are no hidden parts, so all of your work is visible. Illet." you show just h
fu l hand-CUI dovetails within your reac.:h.


small gUide block can b ling beauti-

And because the stOOl is a small project,

you can take your time and practice on SCrJ.p before cuUing into good stock.

111ere's more to thi... slool than an exer· cLo;e in hand-tool use, though.

[l~ ~t3biliry

makes it perfect for children who need to reach a sink or bookshelf, or for you when you're reaching a high shelf. It also make...

Top and bottom step, ¥~ In. thick by IS in . ....ide by 20V~ in. long


Top and bottom strelcher, ¥~ In. thick by 1¥~ in . ..... ,de in. al center) In. long

This stool really shlnel If It appear. to be made Irom a single wide Doard. Caralullayout gives a grain and color match good enoue:h to make tha ,Iue Jolntl on the Iide. almost disappear. It allo

lives the appearance that the grain wraps continuously trom one Iide. acrHS the steps. and to the other side. left side



Right side


, ,




J :L.-::

·AII parts are fOUgh-<:ut l in. longer than fin ished lenath.






All parts can be cut ) trom a slnglQ board 10 In. wide by 10 ft long

¥~ in. thick by 14'12 in. WIde by 20." in. tall




oj. 1¥~


In .







'L 1111 in. lO,n.



.. ... --.


: T'in 20'h In.




Flat. 'Y, in. FRONT

1'/, In

Back strctcl'ltlr. ¥, In. thick by 1 'Y~ In. WIde by 20V, In. long




.. 51in.

..1 •

20V,'n .


1 0'h in .


1:~ 14¥..

JlIl'.l ARY


2"1. In.




Gap-free dovetails by hand Scribe a shoulder IJne.

Set a marking gauge to the thickness of

the step


and scribe a shoulder line on the inside and outside faces of the sides, but not the edges. Then scribe all tile way around your step boards.

Back_w defines the pins. Cut to the outside of the layout JInes, leaving about "I.. in. to be pared away. Find the pin

I:t!nterline5. After marking the notch for the front stretcher, and the half-pins, open a pair of dividers about 1%.10" and walk them from the notch to the end of the board. Adjust them until

you finish right

Mark the pIns on the ends and faces.

at the edge. Now

Use the centerlines as a reference, ori-

you can mark the centerllnes of the full pins,

enting the pins so the narrow end Is on the ou tside faces of the sides. A dovetail marker gives cons/Ment angles.



>(~·in. setback from front edge for stretcher

1:6 bevel

" -

r:7~ II I


Half-pins are


in. wide for

Coping saw removes waste. The first pass is a scooping diagonal cut. A second cut across and "lose to the shoulder !lne leaves IitUe materia! to be pared away.


then the two board:. for the right side. Fit in the rear stretcher alongside one of the fron t stretchl:[S . Cut ouT the parts and joint and p lane them 10 Their tlnblwd dimensions.

Dovetails: Pins first on the sides

a great spare seat or plant :"land. Thi~ twostepper is functional in the modern home, hut its Shaker heritage is clear.

Smart layout sets stool apart To achieve uniform color and grain, try to make this Mool from a single piece of [umber, 10 in_ wide by 10 fr. long. If you don't have the tools needed to mill rough 4/4 [umher, use hoard~ premilled to 3A in. thick. Start by trimmlOg each end of the



board to get rid of any check; in the end grain, Next, lay Ollt all of the parts on the board (see dmwing, p. 31). This is an important step. Each side is made from two boards because cutting and fitting dOvet.lils is easier when you're not dealing with a large. awbvardly shaped pand, but they'll Irx)k like a _~ingle wide hoard ifyollf layout is done t."ard\l lly. Layout the t\\'O hoard~ for the left side, then the two ~teps and their stretchers,

Pins first, o r L.Tib nr,~t!' lL dqx'nds. With The steps and si de.~, it's ea.~ier to cut the pins fir!>t, becau~ the wide space bttween them makes it a snap to mark the tail boards. Later, when dovetailing the stretchers, it's better to cut the tails first and transfer them to the sides Taper before you lay out-The taper on thl: back makes the ,stoul more stable hecausc it keeps your weight doscr to the center w hen you stand on the top .~ter. Cut the taper before you do anything else. II beg in,~ at the top, 1 in. from the hack cdgl:.

Chop tlte

$houlders to the line. W/tll a newly sharpened

chisel. remove the last bit of waste abo~e the shoulder IinfJ.A board unaer tile workpiaet)' pre~ents

One s trIke, you're done_ One


stroke with a sharp pencil gives an accurate mark. Use two pencils for fewer trips to the sharpener.


One c:lamp fr_s up two hands. Use a clamp to hold the pin board in place. Its inside face should line up with the shoulder line scribed on the tail board. Misalignment hore wll/lead to a Sloppy jOint.

Beveled guide Is the key. Bevel both ends of the guide block to pare both sides of tile pins. A rabb et brings tht)' guide over the entire pin so your chisel bears against it throvgllout the cut.

r cut it with ~l handsaw and then cleaned it up with a iwndpLme. You also should pr~p the inside surfaces of the h oard~ for finishing, If you d o it after cuning the joints, their ,t{;cufacy w ill he th rown ofT a bit. And it".s n ot easy to pr~p them after th~ stool is glu ed wgcrher. Dividers conquer pin layout- Start by

One push is .11 it r.kes_ With a sharp chisel and a steady hand. you can pare away al/ the waste wfth one quick cut. Keep tIKI chisel fltIt against tile guide.

www. fillO;. wo vJ wor k i ng .{;om

scribing shoulder lines on the sides. Set a marking gauge to the th ickness of the step bo ard and mark only the inside and o utside fac<~~ of the boards. Scribe you r step h oards now, too. Next, mark the notch location and by out the pins tlsing a pair of dividers. Mark out the tv.'o half-pins on the ends, then use (he dividers tu step off th~ centlTlines of th~ two full pins. You could usc a m ler and bask math to find the cenTerli nes, but it

Cutting the tails. Make the side cuts with a backsaw. and use a coping saw as sllown to remove the waste quickly.

takes far longer. W ith dividers, you simply make small adjustments to the space between the points until you begin and end your walk on the outer ha lf-p in lines. Guide simplifies paring- Because you'll pare to the layout lines, you cao remove the waMe quickly. Use a hacksav, to cut outside of the pin lines. Then lise a copioj.( saw to remove most of the waste, leaving a little material to be pared. Use a sharp chisel to pare down to the shoulder line. Check your progress with a .square; the shoulder you're creating here shou ld be nat or slightly hollov.:~d. That way, the joint will close up along the should er line. deaning the cheeks of the pms is a snap if yu u us~ a simpk guide. 111C lx:vcl on its ends gUides the chisel at just the right angle and keeps it square to the shoulder. If your pins aren't square. JAl\'U ANY ! f'EBR lI ARY 2009


Glue the sides and fit the stretchers

your layout wun't be accurate and your JOH.'u ils wil l hJve

g:lp.~ _

Tails come n ext-Place a step near the edge of the benchtop, top face down, Stano a side txnlf(l on end and align its inside face with the »houlder line on the step hoard. Clamp the ~ide ooard to tbe btnch. Use a sharp pend! to strike one line along each side of the pins. After the rim have been tramferred, clamp the step board in

a vise and use a squaT\: to mark from lhe transfer lines down to the shoulder line. To mark accurately, put yom pencil on the line, move the square up to it, ami then make your ma rk. When Clilting taib, I angle the saw slightly away from the layout line and into the waste. That wayan errant cut wun t tbmage the tail. To get a tight fit , press the join[ together, pull it apart, and look for shiny spots. These are the areas where you should pare. Rq)Cat until the joint filS. Glue up the sides-Once the joints fit welL glue the .~ide boards together, making sure the pins are oriented in the same dill...'Ction. [ use my thumb to keep the bottom edges in line and my fingers (0 ensure tbat the ooards are level with one anothef. Trust your .<;ense of tOllch.

Stretchers get tails first

rips to sintplify t lue-up. Glue up the sides !:lefors gluing the steps in p/8ce.10 compensate for the taper on the back edge , use the offcut as a caul. A foldea piece of sandpaper between fhe caul and eage keeps the ca ul In place. A third clamp supports the longer side at just the right height.

A notch for the stretcher. Lay the stretchers across t he sides and ma rk the tall with a sharp pencil. Strike only onc linc. More than that and you'll have fat lines and 5/0ppy joints.



\'fhen lhe .~ides afe dry, dry-fit the steps and sides and hq out the stretchers. Mark the tails with the same dovetail marker or bevel gauge you u:-,ed on the steps and sides. Cut th e taib with a hacksaw and dean them up with a ..:h iscl.

Re move the walde and pare to fit. To S
Lay the stretchers on the stOCll and transfer the dovetails to the .-;ide.-;. Remove the stretchers and cut the .-;ockets the sameway YOll dovetailed thc !Sides: Define the edges with a backsaw; then use a coping saw to remove the waste and a chisel to dean things up. Before the final assembly, cut the curves on the bottom of the sides and front stretchers with a coping saw. Clamp each piece vertically in the vise as you cut the curve Use a ~pokeshave and tlat file: to clean up the cuts. On the stretchers, work from either end toward the center. On the sides, work from the center out.

Assemble in stages

Staged glue-up Is hassle-free Gluing the .~t()()l together all at once can be tricky because of the number of clamps involved, so do it in stages. Glue the hottom step to the sides first, then glue the top step. Finish up with the stretchers. Keep the clamps on just long enough for the glue to set, about 30 minutes, It takes only a few hours to get the stool glued up. Scrape off any squeeZe-O\lt while the glue is still tacky. Don't wipe it off with a wet rJg; that leaves hchind a re.-;idue that's h,-lfd to get off. After the glut b dry, prep the outside surfaces for finishing. Start with a smoothing plane and card scraper, and finish with P150-grit sandpaper. The stool will be tough to clamp in placc because of its shape. and the stretchers prevent YOLl from hanging it on :> planing jig cantilevered off your hench_ J find it best to clamp one side down while I dean the othcr, and to do the same with the steps. If you kI:ep



complete finishing reC iP€" :oto :J FlneWoodworklng.comjextras.

For the


your blade sharp and take light cuts, YOli .-;houldn'l have any trouhle. J used a coat of oil follov,'ed by sever.!l coats of homemade wiping varni~h to make the grain sparkle and give good protection agaimt staim and shoes. When it's dry, you'll have a piece of furniture to be proud of, not only beca\lse it's beautiful and functional. but abo bc<:ause you made it by hand. 0 Tommy MacDonald builds furniture in Canton, Mass., and hosts The Rough Cut Show, a video blog (l'.oWW.tchisel.cOm).

01Ht .rep .f a time. Clamping;s easier If you do each step in turn. Dry-fit the rear stretcher to keep fhings square as the glue dries.

One ."teher at II time. Use fwD clamps to hold the stretcher against the step and another two to pull It down Into Its s<>cket.

WHAT IS RACKING FORCE ? One eX(lmp le is gravity pulling down on the free side 01 a door. making the frame rack. or deform into a parallelogram. and creating diagonal stresses across the four joints. In other cases, Just one or two jOints are affected. Joints In comprcssloo


Joint.5 in tension



..II1II The POSHO"II1II seat·rall Joints take a beatlng when YOUI well·red uncle leans back at Thanksplng.

...... On the day after the big feast. you whack a table leg with the vacuum cleaner. stressing the leg·lo-apron jOint .

s ootout \~'e


lcn il comel> 10 making furnitu re, woudworkers typically ba~ their lQint::ry prer~rtn<.t::; o n ac:.thclll.::', clfi<:knc..:y, ;mu available: tools. However, joinr strengl h

al<;o is a primary roncern; aftl,:f JU, we want our fu rniture to lao;(

gener-.nions, wilhoul embarrassing joint failures. But how do you know which loint IS strongest? In an attc:mpllo prov!de some Insight. Fine Woodworking lC"dmed up w ith :t group (jf re~arch ~ngint::ers at a lab in Providence, R.I., 10 break .. er ... test a hunch of (ommon woodwurking joints. TIli:-; soun<.b strai~.\htf()rward on the surface, hut many joints have specific applications within wocxlworking. So, to simp lify things appears In a varklY of iurnitur<.: form . . and offers maoy joinery oplioos; the frame joint. Unlike a sundi ng type of joint slJ(:h as a dowtail o r box Joint, whkh L~ ml'.):o.t often used to attach (."asc o r box side..~, the frame pin! i~ a flat connection typ ically used to construct face {mnles. doors. and other fnnne-a mJ-p::md as.'>Cmhlil:s. Tahle and ~ha lf lolnt.. v.nuld ::also fa ll roughly into this cat...-gory.

The hallowed mortlseand -tenon Joint was not the strongest, even after we fattened the tenon to:y, In. thick. Instead, the bridle and half-lap Joints. with their broad glue surfaces. withstood tho most racking force. The miter was another surprise performer. Bear In m ind, though, that none of these Joints went through the decades 01 ellpanslon and contraction that a furnitu re JOint must endure. For other covoots, check the boles at rl ght_ For more on each jolnt'$ performance, turn th e page .


1.603 l b.


1.560 lb.


1,498 lb.


1.444 lb.


1,396 lb.


1,374 lb.


1,210 lb.


1,162 lb.

specie~ u ......--d otten by furnilurt! makers. All of the SJlllph.!S were ~A in. thick hy 21f2 10 w!de by H in. [ong. and all ~ wt!re cut by machine 10 dose tokrWatch a ~ideo 01 the ance~. We did break out hand toob to jo ints being crushed at FlneWoodworklnl dean up !'hollldcr,~ and to chamfer the .com/el'ltr••• tips of tenon.~ slightly so they would slide more ea..~ily into their mortises. All of the joints wert· g l w.:d with Titehond III warerpronl Type-1 polyvinyl acetate (PVA) ad hesive. the rx:;\k pt;~ rformer in our rc:~cm rest ('"!-low Stro ng L~ Your Glue''' F\VW" # l 92). Per the manufa~­ lurer"!! instructions, we clamped the 101Ot!; fur at Ie-dst an hour. and lei ulI.:m CUl"C fUI" five days before .. hippin~ them to (he I.Jb. The Jo ims were tested II) failllft: in compression using a -;ervohydrau lic materials testin$( ma~him_'-CSSt!nhally a powerful

Online Extra

and facilitate comparisons, we focused on a .~ingle applicJtion that


made fi.,.t! sets t!3ch

of 18 different types ()f j()inls usin~ cherry. a


MORE TO THE STORY The look 'ow w.nt: The hall-tap and bridle joints took top honors in our strength test. but these eKPQsod JOints clOfn look righ t on every prOJect.

5 • • son.1 wood movement : We tE-stedjolOts right after the glue cured. But scaSOIl
lilt-IN. M&T

988 lb.


836 lb.

EaI.e of •••• mbly: Mortlse·and·tenon joints


759 lb.

01 all type!. from traditional to dowcl&d. keep parts aligned properly during glue-OJps. Hall·

'I. -IN. M&T

717 lb.

a number of directions to squeeze the parts


698 lb.


597 lb.


545 lb.


473 lb .


3 13 lb.


200 lb.

www.finewoodworklng .cnrn

taps. on the other hand. must be clamped in together and to keep them aligned.

How the ioInt Is uled: Not every application demands great strength. For a picture framo or oven a cabinet ooor. lne ability to wilnstand 200 lb. of force at each corner might be ptellt~ (and a door w,th a gtut:d-rn panel 1'1'111 roslst rackin" even more). On the other hand. a chair. with its narrow parts and eJltreme stresses. demands the strongest Joints possible.





These two heavy hitters ranked one and two In our test. with an

Though the mIter was surprisingly strong, structural limitations make It hard to recommend the unrelnforced miter for furniture· making tasks. When assembled, the joint is angled at the typical 45 · , However, as wood expands and contracts o~er time, the 45 · geometry witl change (see drawing, below), causing Joint failure at the outside corner. The spline creates long·graln glue surface, whiCh helps explain the splined miter's NO. 3 position o~erall .

averiCIge peak 10110 of :l,58:llb., enough to support a full-grown cow. The two Joints are similar in their geometry: Both have large glue surfaces and are clamped across their faces, which strengthens Ihe glue bond. When stresses were applied, the joints

failed only because the wood sheared across its fibers. Even though the half-lap and bridle JOints have great strength,ltley are exposed Joints. and may not look right on every project.


One lap splil along the grain, with fiDers shearing out across the grain along the

Glueline failed in tension, with longitudinill splitting of the frame pieces.

glue faces.


lo itlally, joint is tight.

hydraulic ram mounted In a rigid load frame. TIle test was designed to simulate a racking load, the mo,';t common cau~e of faihm: in frame joints. As the joints were tested, we recorded acrnator displacement and resultant force using a computerized digital data acquisition system. Then we analyzed the data to generate numbers for the avcr.age peak strength (the force at which the joint failed'J for each type of joint. We also inspected the joints to determine how they'd faHed.

Some surprises at the top and bottom Before the te~t , we surveyed the Fine WtXidworking staff and our online audience at FineWoodworkinKcom to find out which join!




Seasonal movement creates gap at outSide corner.

G!ueline failed in tension, with longitudinal splitting along the grain of the pieces and fractu ring 01 the 'f.·in.· thick spline.

A BETTER WAY TO SPLINE A MITER? We didn't think ofthi5 ~arialion in time fortesting, but a diagon al key adds a broad long·grain glue surface at the miter'S weak· est point, whiCh should prevent it from failing in the long·term.

A THICKER TENON MAKES A STRONGER JOINT The ~n. mortise and tenon did well in the test, but the performance of thinner versions wa5 surpri singly average. The results prove Ihal making tenons thicker Increases strength : The ¥t-ln. tenon was almost twice as slrong as the IradltlonallJo·ln. lenon. Adding pins or wedg" slightly compromised joint strength; however, they do provid e Insurance against gluellne fallgue In decades to come. A floating lenon acted just like a traditional mortise and tenon In our testing.


Tenon fractured across the grain: stile split near glueline.

grain; stile spill just (about "" in.)

Inside the _ _- ' shoulder.


- -- - l.4_ln. tenon; 7:17 lb.



5IL.ln. tenon: 988 lb.

- - %-In. tenon: 1,475 lb.

they'd predict to be strongl'st. Among editors, the pinned mortise and t(.!non was picked tn finish first (it was a close race). F()lk~ who took our onlim: pull prO;!dicted thO;! regular mortise and Tenon would be king. It turns out, huwever, that the half-lap jo in t provt..-d sTrongest in o ur te.~t, WIth the stub tenon bringing up the fL'ar. Top two have lots of glue-Although we were surprised to find ' h.... half-lap and bridk' al the top of the heap, in retrospect it was predictable: Both joints have large ioog-gf"".lin glue areas and are clamped across both faces. The only way they can fa il is if one or lx)th of the ··legs· fractu re across the grain. Thicket'tenons are strunger-Most of OU f survey respo Ildents predicted the tru"ted morti.'i<.' and tenon would be strongest, so it's no ~rpri.o;e that two ·~in . v~ions were at the TOp of the list. What's ~ignificant is the margin by which they outperfonned their lankkr iA·in. aod 5/16-io. COUSins. We noticed that reinforcing the joint with a p in or w ith wed~ d id not hdp the p ieces resist racking forct:s; in fatt. rin.~ and wed~es madf' the joint slightly weaker. The lowly miter steps up--The miter has always been consider~d one of the weak links in the joinery world, :;() we were www. fi newoodwo rk i n g.("om

Tenon fractured acro ss grain ; st ile split near glueline .

JAK UARy / nBR U ' " " '"



2. Fix everything

from dents to gouges.

lOp Of the bench with a handplane.

3. Ensure that Ihe base Is botll _ square and SfifblQ. 4. Clean an{1 repair rile vises.

ven .. fcce 30 years as a cabinetmaker, I still vividly I\!mcmher the. painstaking effon it «10k 10 hudd my


profe.~..ionJI workbench. The: finished bt:1ll.:h was a lhin~ of beauty. and at fir;( I was reiucbnt to u* it. showing il off 10 .myone who walked into my shop. When I did Slar! u~into! it. the Inevltdblc firsf ding

first me cringe But damage 10 a workbent.:h

IS IIn pos-


to avord. Aitt'r yeaN of hard uStc' :IS a platfurm for sawjn~, p[Jnjn~, chisdinp;, hammering., gluing. and finish-

ing, any hench, no matter how elegant . ...... ill oc(.'(] some careful reslOI"'Jlion. ['VI;' revived a number of war-st;arred and battle-weary bem:hes ovt!r tht: years. I3en(:h designs differ, but all henefit from a 11m top, rigid base, and wcll-tunccl vi.~es. I'll show you 110\\ to hrin~ back nny kind of hench to the perfect working conditio n thaI befits the 1n000t import:J.nt tooi in your shop.

Smooth thelHlmps.. Use a scraper to remove any dried glue or finish from tire benchtop.

Skip the gym, and handplane your benchtop instead Use d cdrd SCr'.Jpcr or cabinet !iCraper to

remove any glue. painl. Of" other gunk thaI's buill up on tho: lop :-urfacc: lII~d l."«~. After the lop is dean , use a P.111' of .... indi ng :;!id ....~ to chc.."Ck for (wiSI in the bencillop, marking :my high ~JlCXS lhal will need to be remo\ot'd (see Fundamentals: ~l-sc Winding :-.tkks to En.,ure Flal S{ock,~ Ftr-w '-1i1).

nlt.:n uS!.: a 4·ft. ruler or ~lralghtedge to where the rop has lost Its flatlll:!ss. Drag the ruler's edge it;:ngthwL"C, acI'Os,... the width, and diagonally over tht! I;:lltire !Op, highlighting all the h igh 1>1'01.-; with a pencil. Next, otl' the vl~~ and put them aside to be tuned lip iall.>f. If your hench }u.~ stabilizing t:r.1!t<.-'Il!> .It <.'; c:nd. unbolt them and dean out any sawdu.'iI buildup on Ixxh hah't!'i of lhc joint. t>ut the batten~ asic.le, too. E.arly in my career, J used a belt sander to flatten m}' bench, htll rr only made mattcl'l> "'Or.iC. Handplanmg is. the way to go. You'll OI...'t:o a wcll-HtnL'd No. S, No.6, or ,"0 7 plane, depending 00 lhe sire of the workbench (see lap right photo, p. 44) A hrgh-quailtr plane from Lie-Nielsen or Veri~ ta.~ L<; a ma,ar rO\ie
www. fln ewoodworkl n J.;.com

rw/., det.etlYe. A pair of winding stickS .lIowa you to see t he benchtop Is twisted.


n.e tlte Itielt spots_ Move th e eclgt: of II 4-ft. ruler across Ihe benchlop and use a pencil to mark the high areas.

Remove tile vi....... Yoo'II tune up the vises after the top has bun "attened. If 'fOOr bench has them. unbolt too stabilizIng battens (above) and clean out any sawdust tlrat has worked its way down between them and the /)tJnchtop.

rANUAR'l hEllRUARY 2009


Be"el the edt_.

To prevent tearout when handplaning across thO benchtop, use a block plane to create a small chamfer along the back edge,

P/clf. ,. number. To flatten the benchtop, you can lise (from left) a No, 5 plane (bevel up or /)(Nel down), a No, 6. or a NO.7. Tho plane's length should nearly equal the width of the benchlop (eJl.cluding any tool tray).

ptane acro"

'h. 'op. Begin

by pUIOing per-


pendicular to the t>enchlop. OlIfulapplng each stroke and slightly skewing the plane.


your way up and down the top. planing In a diagonal direction.

tunc up a plane, sec ~ H:lI1dpl ane TtlOeu p,~ by David Charleswollh . J-'U-'W #172) Plan ing the benmlop will be physically demanding and i:; nut a ta~k for those in poor shape. TrJ.ditio nally. tet:nage appn.:ntlces w~re given the job on a cool day the plane 10 take th in !'ihavings. which will minimi7.e tc:J.['()ut and keep you fmm overexerting yourself. With Ihe plane at a ),light ),kew to the direction of trawl. begin the p lan ing .~equence with passes acro.~1> the width of the benchlop. Overlap the previuus pass just enouRh to avoid leaving unplaned strips. Work the plane across the entire surface in one direction and then the other, being careful to avoid rounding over the front ami f!.:ar edges of the bench surface. Making thi» mi»lake plolongs the flattening proce.~. The next sequence is to plane the 'i"ur face d iagonally from lefl lo righl and then right 10 left Aga in, this proce5S is very dcliber.lle and musl be done with I..'are 10 flatten Ihc bench ;;urfJ.(C th oroughly. US!, plane Ihe lenglh of the h.... nch. swilching dirlXtiofi.'> if nl."Cessary to go w ith the gr.~jn of individual board,;. Om.'C this seq lltm:e of pl.1mng pa.sses IS complete. check your ProR~" with Ihe straightedge. This time, mark the low spots with a pencil. Usually, you'll need to plane the surface several times w~ing thb .~r.;­ quence hefore it is flat, so keep rhe pl,m e blade razo r-sharp and pace yom self.

Repair any holes or dents in the top Aft er \'crirying lila! Ihe hem:hrop i.~ by sweeping the straightedge over the

length of the benchtop. alte," Ing direction to

match the grain of Individual boards.




~urface in a ll directions, u~ a cllbine t scraper TO remove any ridgc~, o r tracks, left by th~ handplane. Even with a flat surface, there will be gouges and holes too deep to be removed by pbning. To patch deep gouges. I U:.t! a "Uutchm
A swe" ,.".1,.. Minor dents can be repaired by applyIng" hot ffOtl to the damp wood. cauSing the WOOd to swell.


~POJfy doe. It. Medlum-slze with a miKtufe of very fine saw· holes can be dus t and epoxy. Frame each hole with masking tB~.



,, \ q

-. -'" "J


Scrua,.. pets I"

Opposltfl sides of the


1101... After cleaning up small

holes with II Forstner bit. Cllt B peg sHgMIy 'arger than the hole. Taper two

peg. round Its comeB (/eft), and tap it into the hole (center). When the glue has dried, trim the plug flilsh (rig.tlt).

mcr, or chisel to remove Ihe w(xKi fn)m tht: benchtop within the scribe lint:"S. A pressure fit With no gaps amund tht: edges is your goal. To make it easier to (It the Dutchman, iT helps to chamfer its leading cd8e.~ lightly. After gluing the DUllh man in place, u:.< J. plane to oring it nush with the benchtop SnuUer holes require a simpler arproach FltSt, dean up the hole using a f
A Dutchman

to tI•• re.cue.

l ay a piece 0' wood (known as a "Outen. man., over a damaged section of the top and marl( lIround It. Chlsftl out this section (left,. Apply glue to two sides of the patch and insert it into the bellChtop (abovo). The dovetail shape gives mechanical strength when patchIng an edge.



Re./ue 100. . JoInts. Epoxy mixed with fine saWO'list makes IlltOOd ,sp-fillln, Jt/ue If joints on the b8se h8ve become/oase.

Cheek fo, . qua, • • When retluIng and tightening the base. m8ke sure the structure remaIns square.

the epoxy to sink thoroughly imo the affected art:'.Is. You ,,]-,0 t.;ln add a little dye powder to help match the rotor nf the filler tn the hench Any small, :>h;dln't>.· dents can be steamed out with the tip of .111 Iron. Put !>Orne water in the dent , Jet It ~tJ. nd ror a fe"- minutes, .md then place a wet COlton rag over the


'MiOWUiJ clean and lubmate the guide bars and the threaded rod (aboYe,. AttltCh fresh harclwood cheeks 10 thej8ws (right),



Apply the


ioch or

Non.kld ".d., Thin pieces of rubber c8rpet underl8Y glued to the bottom o( the feet pr6'1'enl the bench from slldlnt "round In use,


of a

hot ste-.Im iron over thl" r'\~. KI."Cp illh..hng water to the rag as you go. Be per;i.... tenl; hardwoods like maple and Ix.'t..'t..h are slo\\ to swell wht:'fl ~te-.. med If you remm-ed the ... tahi1izing !-lanen..., now is the time to rcaudt"h thl..'m u~llI against the end ~rai n o f the henchfop and

flush \\ ith the ",urface, .scraping or pbninll them if needed_

Check for a sturdy and stable base h as -; how n th.1t a bench retains ire; structur-

My experience well~l."On.-;rrut.1ed

al Integrity, r..t!Verthele.s, a thorough check should be mad~, so remove the iktuhfOP and see if the base has any joints thaI nt.'Cd reglUIng or bolts that m:t.-d tightening. If the stretchers are bolted to the leg'_ tighten them. A., yuu work, use a large T .-.quare aru.ltake diagonal measurem~nt:-. 10 check for square.

On r". '.'1'.'. Ifjoints h8'i'e become proud (aoo'i'8), plane them smooth so rhat the two faces of the Vl'se can meet seBmlessJy. Plane the top of the vise flush wIth that of the benchtop (right).

On my bench, the legs must have been made while the lumber had a higher moisture level than the upper rails and Ih~ feet. As a result, the tenons shrank away from the mortises. In a situation like this, scrape away as much dry glue a:. possible, then carve some grooves on the tenons wilh a chisel, which ~ives the epoxy a better mechanical bond with the wood. Because the epoxy will need to fill the gaps, mix in some .'I3wdllst (the same mixture used to fill dents in the benchtop). Apply the epoxy and damp the jOints, checking for foCIlIare as you go. If your bench has wooden feet that rest 00 the shop fl(x)r, coc><:k them to SL"'e if they are split or worn dov.-n. If so, replace them. After removing any naib or scre\\'s, n.:move the old feet with a hand.,aw or chiSel and mallet. Before attaching new ones, remove the old glue and flatten the surface where they will be attachL'1l. Hot vinegar is excellent alloosening O105t glues, but use a heat gun very carefully to l(){")SCn epoxy.

With the new feet glued and screwed (counterhore and bung the holes), I glut: on 1J16-in. to %-in. -thkk fI.Ibber pads from underlay material available at carpet stOrL'S. These help balance the hench, reduce fu ture wear, and keep the bench from sliding around the flcQr, To level the benchtop, shim lip the low spots where (he hase is attached,

A good vise is a virtue With the rest of the bench fini~hed, the next step is to clean and repair the vise.~. A~ the bench ages, the wood ~hrinks anu expands, loosening both bolts and pints and shiftmg vi~ out of alignment. Lubricate the guide bars and threaded rods with a :;pray lubricant. When yuu reattach a vise, alignment is critica!, so use a straightedge to check that the vise is level with the benchtop and a ruler to verify that fhe open jaw is parallel to the hench. Keep the attachment bolts snugged up but srill loose enough to tap the vise

into perfect alignment before the final tightening. Replace worn-out hardw{X)(i cheeks on the inner jaws of a metal vise. Be sure the upper edge.~ of the cheeks touch first, hy a fraction of an inch, when closing the jaws. If your tail vise has adjustment screws on the guide bar, use them to align the vise flush with the benchtop. You may also need to plane joint~ that have become exposed due to wood shrinkage and now prevent the vise from dosing completely.

Sand and seal the benchtop With the bench reassembled, vcry lightly sand the top sm()(){h using P220-grit paper. To seal the benchtop, r use two coat.'> of Zins.'iCr"s Bull's Eye amlx:r shellac, thinned with three parts alcohol to one part shellac. I prefer shellac to a co:!! of oil because it seals the wo;xi more thoroughly and reduces .-.easonal movement. Gently sand tx.-"tween each coat with P320-grit paper, apply some p'dste wax using CXXIO steel wool, and buff the surface with a Co(lon doth. When the hench is back in use. frequent light cleanups will keep any long-term wear in check. At Ihe end of each day, when pulting away tools and ~traighten­ ing up the shop, look over the bench for any glue or stain and clean it off. This step goes hand in hand with sharpening and maintaining all your other tools. 0 Richard L. Humphreville is a furniture maker;n New London, Conn.

Sea/with ahe llac, A couple of coats of tfllnned s/lel/ac seal the benchtop better

than oil. JA!'< C ARY / Ft:.BII.I ' ARY 1 009


recentl y met a l.denlt'd cabinetmaker who lost his thumh (0 a mbhap with a dado Sd. Amazingly, doctors were able to put one of his toes in it:> place, and only a dooe look can dCtcl1 the differena::. Of cou~, his hand will ncwr grip the way it


used to. Lesson: Medical tC'chno[ogy is ad-

vandng at an amazing clip, bue you don't want to test it hy making a bad move in YOllr workshop. The dado set is a tahlesaw accessory that is unmatched at a variety 0f operations-grooving, dadoing, rabbeting. and tenoning-but it can Ix: very dangerous.

Staying safe requires proper use. Good techniques will improve your results, too.


A sandwich of blades and chippers Most dado sets consist of two exterior Saw-

bladeI'>. with chipper... in::;erted between them \0 produce cuts of different widths. Chip(X!r.i have ju.~t (\.Vo or four teeth, and come in standard thicknesses of 1;8 in., lli6 in., and Y32 in. A typical set stacks up to about 2hz in. thick (jUST under "Ys in.). Shim~ inserted octwr•.'cn (:bippers can help fine-tune the width. Some manufa('(urers make adjustable dado set" that let you alter the cutter's width without addmg chippers or shuns. To comparr.: sets, visit the Tool GuicJc at FineW{)(x1workinKcom. When mounting a dado s(.'t, the tooth points on (he exterior blades should

Use It lon, push stlcle to hold down the work. Steady downward ptCssure helps ensure consistent depth. The s tub splitter helps keep the wOrkpiece from pulling away from the fence and kick ing back.

point ourward. The tips on the chippers should be staggered evenly. Make sure the teeth don't touch each other: You']] get a false width measureme nt and dam,lge the ca rhide when you tighten the arbor nut. One of the first things you should do with a dado sct is spend a little tillle mak-

MAKE AN ARRAY OF THROAT PLATES Just as It does with a regular sawblade. 8 zero-

ing a set of zero-clear.mce throat plates for slamlard dado width:-.. These plates n...'liuce tearuut by {;nsurmg that the stock is supportc.!d where the cutrers exit the work. They also increase safety hy minimizing blad~> exposure and reducing areas where pi<:cl's can hang up. I 1ll3ke mine from L/2_it1. plywood with adjusnnent <;crews on the botlOm to level the insert to the table surface. (For more on making thc.~c in· scrt.~, St." e Fundamentals: "Get safer, lkaner cuts un your lablc::saw," FWW #200.)

Grooves and dadoes are easy The dado sees bread-and-butter is cutting dadoes (of course) and grooves. Both arc ."'1uare-l:x>ttomed channels with a wide variety of joinery applil:ation:,. A dado (:uts acros,~ the grain; a groove runs with it lk-ClU.s(.' grooves typically mn with the long dimension or the stock, it's simple enou~h to guide the workpiece a~ainsl the rip fence during these cuts. Us.: a long push stick 10 hold the work flat over the cu1temead and to keep your hand" dear of the blades. If your saw's arbor flange and fence are ~h on the same side of the bla(k-, you can use a stuh spliner to reduce the chance that the stock will drift otT the fence and kick back. Whether the splitler is ;\ metal one mounted to the saw or ;1 JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2009



A SLED FOR CLEAN , SAFE DADOES wood version glued inlo the throat pbte, be sure il sits slightl y lower than the height of the blades and is aligned .... ilh Ill!! fence ,ide of the dado set. The safest and dea ne,';! way to CUI da ducs is with a dedicated crosscut sled, Mine is identical to a traditional CroS~CUI sled In mO~1 respects. I cut the blade opening in the sled using [h~ wide~ .'ietup my dado set will allow. Then, when I WAnt to cut 3 narrower dado, I lack down a scrnp of 1(.1-in. plywuud 10 the sk'-d's deck and recu llhe opening. This cre3 1~ a zero-

clearance opemng thai will support the workpiece


c....te ... zero.c:l.a,alJC'e . 1ed fo, "does of lIny wldt". Tack down D sheet of ¥ plywood to cover the sled's fulJ.wldth opening (a Oove) and clamp II ploco of ¥..In. MOF to the fence. Next. cut a new slot to match your Intended dadoes (left). The plywood and MDF wU/ prevent chipoot where the clilter exits (he work~ece.

JWo •• tr. 'oue".s. A stop OJock ensures matChing workplaces. A toggle Clamp screwed to the deck of the sled and it O/ock clampea to the fence help hola down long stOCk /Ike this C3se side.

LARGE PANEL , LARGE PUSH STICK For applying firm downward pressure oyer a large area, latta UleS this push paddle. The rear cleat hooks oyer the bac k ed,e of the workpiece to help him pUl h it forwa rd .

TOO "'rle for rhe .Jed? Wide piec· es can run agains t the rip fence, but use ClIut/on. Latla uses a big push

stick lIInd his left hand to keep the work tight lIgalnst the table and fence. he/ping to prevent k.lck.back..

from The fence, cre-.umg a kkkb:u;k (L1.n~ r. Agam , depe nd in~ o n your·... design, a sTUb splitter in this set up can r"ddically rt!duce the chances of this happening.


Rabbets need an extra fence

Mill the stock to fit the dado. One way of eMU"n, e Inu, dado In soUd stock Is to Cllt a test dado In a piece of scrap and

To cut a f'Jhhct along the l.'d gc of a hoo rd or <."aSe back, the tlado ~I always should be buried into an auxilhuy fence mOUni L-d to the main rip fen~. N~er try to r:.lhbcl ;,tn L-dgt: with the dado set mounted awoly from the fem;c and tht! oppo~ilC edge of the .stock riding the fence. Why'/ Runnmg the stock this way means you have an op<:n t"utterhcHd spinalonR Ihe Mock ed~. This is exltcmdy Sh()uld your hand make contact. II w ill be di...aSlI'OUS. Also, dust from the cutl ing action will he ~prayed all mer the surface of the s,'IW, r;u her than landing in (he ba:.c where it belo ng.-;.

use It to gauge the malin, pieces 85 you mill them 10 final


ni n~


In tuntra:;" cutllng


agaiOst a

sacrificial fen ce !'>lInes Ihe cune r in Ihe ,,"'ork a nd keeps hands al a safe dlSla nce. Also, stock rtul drifL'i away from the f(.'nce doesn', ~et ruined. and you can ..... bbe[ work p leces of differen t v. Idlhs without resc.."tlinM thc fcm:e

To m:. ke a ~acri ficia l fe nce, U~ a 3-in.Wide pie<'e of .i/,,_in . MDP, a bout the fu ll length 0 1 th~ rip knee If the maten:11 L~ bowed slightly, damp it


that it

out again<;t the fence. Use a stack www.finewoo dworkinp; .com


IN PLYWOOD Plywood 15 typically thinner than it5 stated thickneH. creatine: a loose fit In a standard-wldth dado. A simple a nd reliable path to a good tit Is to

Cut dado and rabbet to fit each

cut a narrower dado and thet'l rab bet the stock to fit. Orient I helYes with the tongue on top.

of dado




Rabbets 11 you b~l(y the dado sel in an au~illary fence, an y hitches while cutting a rabbet won 't cause kIckback or mar the work.

USE A SACRIFICIA L FENCE A s imple scrap of MDF. Clamp a piece of 'I.-In. MDF In place to protect the tDblesaw

fence. T1len slide the rip fence over so the MDF partially cO\'efS the cutrer. l ocI< the rip fence.

blades wide r than the ntbbet yuu plan 10 cut. If you're running a 3At-in . rabbe t, for

instance, mou nt a Ill-in. stack and bury at least 1J4 in. of it into the MDF to create the opening in the :-.Acriftcial fence. To create the opening, tirst lower the dado set ;111 the way. With a properly sized throat plate, there iso't any guesswork as to where the head is, so move the auxiliary fe nce to straddle the opening , Turn on the saw and .~ lowl y r.l ise the d ado set to the d esin.:d hdght. Check the height by ru nning a pi(:'ce of p ractice stock and measu ring. Once you've found the desired hdght, move the fence to set the width. whenever possihle, damp a piece of stock over the cutterhead to elim inate thi.' possibility of a hand making contact with the head. Set the block to ride the top of the stock, but not t()() snugly. You don' t w ant to fight it w hen making your Cllts, If you can't use a ho[d-down block , use a long stick with a notched end . Th is hold" the stock flat on the table, gives control, and keeps hand.. away from the cutter, Rahheting narrow workpkcts is dangerO liS. It's much better to r.abbet wider stock first and then rip it to fi nal w idth.

Frame and panel made easy One very satisfying way to usc a dado set i.~ in creating a quick fmme-anu-pancl assembly_ W idl :1 floating, solid-wood p anel,

Bury the cuftethea d. Turn on the saw and raise the cutter. Creep up on the right height by taking fest cuts, Than adjust the fence for the rIght rabbet width. When cutting rabbets, clamp a block over the cutterhead. The block will hold (k/wn the workpiece,

so you can keep your hands away 'rom the blades.


Groove the .todl on edp. The dado set 's !'Wo outer blitdes cut a perfect ¥...In.-wide groo~e.

The zero-clearance

t hroat plate Is crucia l here for supporting the narrow piece.

thi<; assembly works well for lightweight

doors. dust pands. Clnd other light-duty 3pplic.Uions With a plywood panel glued in. the assembly will ~ Slroog enough for the moe.1 demanding situatioru,. A l:OUp)C of c..IiffcfCm setups Will It! you

make all of the cuts for the Slub-It..>rlon joinery. As one example. consider a frame of 'A-ln.-thick by 2-in -wide stock combined with a J/s-in .-thi..:k p"r"Id. To make the frame, CUI a Aroove. 'A in. wide by '11 in. dt."Cp, Ltlllered into the edge of the frame members. This can be done before or aftc.'!" the stiles and rails are CUI to length. For effkiem:y and aCLumcy. it L~ very important Ihal the groove is centered.

Cut the stub tenon. with. r.bbetl", ••Cup. Use a mIter g,Jug.e with an auxiliary fence to br/nll the work to the cutter. This Is one time yoo can use the miter gauge and rip fence at the same lime.

To cut the Tenons on the ends of the '.liL", hury a ~AI-in. dado ,"Ct lnw a ,~acr!ficial fence SO that a httle less than Ifl in 1.~ I:!xpol,ed. TIle u.:nuns nt:tx1 (0 be a little ."horter than the depth of the groove to ;)110"," for machining glitches and glue. Mount an auxiliary fence [0 a mlt~r g.HI~e go thaI il is JlL<;I ahout ruhhing on the sacrifidal fence. Using some prActice stock of the same thickne::;:;. make opp<:l!!iing shoulder CULor; by pu.<;hing the ~k through with the miter Hauge until a snuR-fining tt:non remains

in the c.. 'e nter. Ten<m Ihl: mils. Dry-fil the rr,ullC;: and gl::( tht: pand size by measuri ng groove bottom to groove bonom in both directions. Cut the panel to '1i1.e. and rahbet it to fit the groove. 0


IN,..,I. r.bN'·

ed. That way. you can

btl sure its edge Is ex· actly ~ In. thick. If the panel Is plywood, It can

be glued In place for a more rigid assembly.

Confnbutlng editor Sieve Latta reaches furniture making at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in lancaster, Pa. w w ..... f i newood work



hen thumbing through furniture

books, I find myself drawn to

long, low chests, similar to the wooden chests my folks had in our living

room when I was a kid. So when I was invited to participate a~ a guest artist in the New Hampshire Furniture Masters A<;sociation's 2008 auction, a blanket chest was one of the three proposals I submitted, and this is the piece the jury chose.

To present my proposal, I offered scaled that gave top, front, and end views. The process of drawing u:-,ually lets my mind walk through the fabrication so that I'm sure the piece will work. Everydrawing~

thing comes off the drawings_ When things Ret tricky, like angkd or intricate joinery.

I go back to them, laying pieces right on

Floating tenons and a consistent angle keep joinery manageable

the full-size drawings to physically check measurements and ,mgles. J did full-sizers of the leg blank and the cnds, and to be extra sure I made story slicks to layout the frames and panels. The legs of this frame-and-panel chest serve as end pieces for the front, back, and end frames. The top and panels are ash; the frames are hickory. I applied hanens to the one-piece (OP to keep it nat. I kept all thicknesses beefy for heft and used double flualing tenon;. for stn:ngth. To cmphasi:.::e the length of the chest, the grain of the paneb runs horizontally. To keep the construction manageahle, all tilt.: angles are the sarne, off fro1ll square by 3° First, the angle is found on the outside top and bottom of each kg. Next, the end frames and panel:, also get the.3° angle, but the front and back frames and panels don't, which means the end joinery is angled hut the front and rear are not. The front and rear assemblies lean into the angle on the end assemblies, so the tops of all the long top rails will need the angle, too. I favor noating tcnons hccause of their efficiency when dealing with angled joinery. They are as strong as any integral tenon. and you don't need to fit angled shouldeL~-You just make .~impk hUll joints. Afler ph:Jning my tenon stock 10 fit a test mortise, I rounded [x)th edges of the stock on the router tahle and scored both faC(:~ with {\.\'O ~hallow kerfs for glue rdid. \"'i7ith a few croSSCIiTS. I had my tenon.~.

Create co mpound-angled legs






G{;ncrally, I like to Slarl with the trickiest joinery. That way, I can get the most difficult part..'> finished and know it will


Mortlsos, V~ in. wide

r I

A. .'mpl. Jll ••' • .bIIsh •• rho ."Ile, To keep the grain parallel with the outsIde slant



~b----ttH::::::::of.l-- ~"~;1 grooves. In. wide by In. deep by 10 In. long


Mortises. In. deep



2V. ln.


1 in.


F.e. mol1,.. •. After cutlJn, the first set of mort/56$, ~m6r arraches a spacer with cIouD/efaced tape (left) to bump out the edge tulde and make the second sst of mortises parallel to the first (rleht). w ..... w . fin~wuodwork i

n g .co m

let- to le"gtlt. Puttln, fhe

N_ Cllt the

Inside edetJ a{ltlnst tile fence means)lOu can avoid cutting. compound angle on the 6nds. A sJmple :J- blade tIlt does the Job.

s._ meChod for _ _ mot"ttsllL When cutting dOtJbIe mortises on me lOll edges. stack two lets to gtve the router base more swfllc:e to ride on.



Top, lAo in. th ick by 16 in. - - _ _ wide by 48 in. long

only get easier as I go. On this chest, the mortises on the legs and rail end<; called loudest to go first Before I L"Ut any mortises, I had to create the anglcs in the legs. By removin~ the wedge from the inskle of the leg rather than the outside, I kl:pl the grain orientation par.dld to the leg's outer slanting edge. Then r cut them to length at an angle, which establishes the only comp::rund aogb in the piece (see photos, p. 55).

foe other

" Battens, ¥. in. thick by 1"/. in. wlde by 13 in. long: end screw holes are SIOUCO to allow for movement.

Cut mortises In pairs Nearly all lhe parts of this chest are 1 in. lhil:k. The weight called for substantial joinery, so I douhk-d the tenons to create twice the glue surface. TIlere are a lot of mortises to cut in the leg edges, leg faces, and all the rail end... I used a hasic spacer method on the euge guide of my router to give me repeatability so that all the pairs of double mortises would match. To cut the leg tau: mortbes, transfer the h.x.-ations from dle drawing and use a plunge rOllter with an adjustable edge guide. Though the tenons L'Ome in at an angle, r cut the perpendicular to the leg face. nll~ rime savings makes up for the bit of glue surface that must be trimmed from the tenons. I mortised the leg edges by again using a plung!: router with an edge guide. To give the router base more surface to ride un, I stacked two legs together, flush at the angled edge. For the rail cnd~, ( u:;cu a jig that mounts in my bench vise. For a ll of the.<;e douhled monises, lise the same spacer for the second cut. Later, r used a dado hlade to cut groove.. in the rails and dividers chac hold the panel<;. But

Butt hinges - - . . .

rilE 7/• in.



Loose tenons, 'I. in. thick by 1"" in. wide

by ... 10. loog )

r~ Cl

'llw-in. dowels locate side panels to legs .

Bottom frame stiles. \I, in. ttlick by 2% in.

Wide by 11 In. long


Lower side rails. lin. thick by 4 in. wide by 15% in. long

16 in.



,, ,

15¥- in.


18 in.

- --, ,


00se tenons. 'I. In. thick by 2'1. in. wide by 1% in. long


311 1

, ,,




Pins, inserteO from inside alter glue--up, locate panels.

heft to a sleek




Groove for tray runner

BLANKET CHEST A straIghtforwa rd approach to angled JoInery si m plifies the co nstru ct ion ot th is trame-andpanel chest, while th ick Pints lind dense woods (ash and hickory) lend

" ......

! Bottom frame rails. 'I. in. thick by 2 ..... in. wide by 41'>'01 in. long (bottom gets trimmed to fit later)


48 in.

,: ,:1 "" ,""


___ l,. ;

Ii - - - -

:1 , ,,, ,, ,






, ,,, ,, , ,,

- _ ___ _ __ :;1


~ 6in.-J T

2 in.

,' f' j, ,"

"" "

"" ",


-- " u

3" (


Tray hangers, 'A. in. th ick by Tray Sides, 'Yu in. IiI into thick by 5 In. wide - - by 20 in. long

~1 .. ln.-

- -Upper sid e rails, 110. thick by 2'% wide by 13"'/32 long




ends, ~


5 In . wide by..121111 In. long Tray in. thick by Side panels, 1 in. thick by 7'1, (n. wide by 10 in . long These tongues can't be pinned from outside, :;0 center a dowel on the longue.

Tray hanger

Upper rail, lin. thick by 2% in . wi de by 35 trl. long

Bottom panelS, :If. m. th ick by 11¥.! In. wide by 10¥. In . long Bottom divloers, 'I. In. thick by lifo in . wide by 11 in . long ~-~

Dividers, 1 in. thick by 1"" In. wide by 10'1. in. long Stub tenon.

V. in. long

Center panel, 1 in. thick by 10 in . wide by 13"'" in. long

Side panels. 1 in. thick by 10 in. witle by 10 In. long

lower rati, 1 In. thicK by 4 In. wide by 35 in. long


48 in .


Tongues on panels, If.. in. thick by :vii in . long

---_---------------i .: 24-in. radius

legs. 1 in. thiCK by 5'n in. wide by 17",. in. long

:, " 1 I. I I I








16 in.

--- :::~ ::: :::='~;7~':~ jAKUA RY / FEllR UARY 2009


Ihe panel grooves in the leg faces and le~ edgt's cannot go throuRh o r they will he visible, so while you're working on the legs and the router is out. prunf;e-tollt JIl of these stopped grooves W i th a s/l6--in straight bit. Squ:ue up the end'! by hand Once all the mortises and grooves are CUI, handsaw the curves that define (he k-el and give the lower ra ils their finJI shape. After glue-up, you'll rclum 10 the spots where the feet meet the bottom rail'! and refine the curve.

Panels and dividers are

. hollfd.,.. Turner cutl fhe 3° anCIe on one end of the raU. ana then uses a fufj-slze drawing to marl! the length (aboVe) of the other end. He UNS a simple, vfS&-mOUnted)1t when mortising the ends. It holds the rel/s square and gfWd a surlace for

the edge guide to ride on, The Jig works for the ant/ed ralls. too (right).

tongue-and-groove After the monises, it's time to work on the dividers, rails, and panels. Using multiple pas..~t!1:i over the tablesaw blade and a sl.Op damped to the crosscut sled, cut stub tenons on both ends of the dividers. 'Ihe n, u~­ ing a dado ~t, cut grooves for the paneb in the edges of the dividers. Without changing the dado-bldde senjn~, run the straight grooves (for the panels and divider tenons) in the long ".lils. And while the dado set is still in the uble;.aw, make the angled grooves for the tray run· ners in the inSide fal"eS of the long upper rail'!. Finally, rip the
Glue up In sections

Cut the

CfoIrYe In the 10_ rllll.. Once the mortIses are cut, TlJmor bandUW3 the curve of Ihe lower rslls close to the line. and then template-touts the flna/ curve,



Start the glue-up with the from and back, each with fWD kg.~, two long raib, cwo divid· en>, and three paneb. Use angled caul~ and pipe cbmp.~ to help diStribute preS$urc Once the from and back assemblies hJve cured, pin the panels in place from Ihe inside with toothpkks. This keeps the RJP<; even as the solid panels expand and conU"'dU. Pinrung the panels after the Rlue-up work.... with the front and back frames bUI doesn't work on the ends of the chest where Ihe pands fit into the fa ce of the kg, There, I u;;ed a doWC'1 centered in the longut! and groove. After fjnish-sandin~ the interior, It is time to add the short sides (two angled ~hon rails, one divider, and two panels per side), reusing the angled cauls to clamp the casc_

All of the p;lnel grooves are square. but the long top ralls need an angled groove tor the tray runner.


Groove. J/,. in. wide

by'¥uln. deep

~ 3.

1 \



V~ In.



Tray runne r, 1/.. in. by ~ in.

Groove for panel, ¥U in. wide by ¥o in. deep

Angle the •• t. Use a baval gauge 10 ensure Ihat th e dado blade matches the 3 · angle On the rest of the blanket


Take care that all top rails sit Hush with the legs, or you'll have to take great pains to nush everything up after the glue-up. While this assemhly is drying, glue and clamp the bottom frame (two rails, two dividers, and threl.' panels), and set it a,~ide to fit into the case later,

Hinge the lid after glue-up is complete On :l one-piece top, I like to orienl the lid's end grain sO that the ring.'! look like ~milc.s. Then, at some point in the future, if it want.<; to cup, the front edge of the lid shou!d dive into the front of the chest ..Hher than up and away.

Rout the rcar rail for it~ hinges, Place the oversize lid on the cheSi to adjust its position. Once you're sure about the placement of the lid, u.-,e the mortises in the mil to mark and then rout the corresponding mortises in the lid. Hy mounting the liu, you can test its fit again, mark and cut its finished dimen<;ion.<;, and grab a measurement for the rope stop. With the top cut to length, I used a template and router with a Hush-trimming bit to cut the lid to shape. I made a fu ll-size template for the end curves, but before using the template and the router to cut the shape, I wastr.:d away close to the line

Cut the QOoWt, Once the dado blade is tilted.

set tlla blade height and cut a through-groove to hold the tray runner.

a.yetl the top edge.. After switching back to

a rip "'ade, the top edge or th o top ralls must also be cut t o tha 3 ° angle.


11N1 p.nel. ere tapered. To angle the outside edges, Turner uses the same jig that he used 10 cut the angle on the legs.

Cut tongu.. on the tab,. . .",. Wrth the panelS facedown, cut around the oops on all sides. Then ride the panel on edge (above) and cut off the rest or the waste material, leaving the tongue. Keep the panel between the "'ade ana fence so the offcuts fall to the outside ofrhe blade.



with the b-,md~aw. From tbere I used a handheld router and a l/.z_in. rnundo\,(!!" bit wilh beari ng [0 shape Ihe ends and fmnt edge to their final profile, a roundover wilh a dl~inC1 sharp edge.

Sliding tray glides

Front and NCIc n,.t, Tumer uses UnlbOnd 800 (or more open time. PIDce the center panel Into tho bot· tom rail, add the dlvlder$ and then the end panels, set the top rail on, and add the lep last (above). CeMer maries help locate the divldet$ and keep eve-rythlng tMffl/y spaced. Al)gled cauls keep the t;lamps aligned.

Next, fumer uses


coplne saw to cut

the curve If! the top of each let, and

then uses. t)/ock plane to take It to Its final shape (rltht).

Add the ends, l ay tM front assembly f/fCe down and add the end r/JUs. Slide In tno first panel, then the divider, and ttle second panel (aboVeJ. 0necI )IOU add tile back assomO/y, gently tum the Whole thing upside duwn and clamp securely (right). use the same anlPed clamping cauls es t:Jefore.


Fl"l E wo o nW O Kt...tN('

on shopmade runners The carcase glue-up gives intt.'fior wme-n"ion .. for both the du\ot.'l.ailed sliding (ray :lnd the frame-and-panel hortom CUI the mbbet for the chest mounloo troly nJO!lefS from wide ..cock on the tablcsaw Then rip the pieces to width. Chop the nlnnecs to length to exactly match the length of the upper rails. Give hoth end:. a curve, and then glue them into the front and back rails of th~ che~1. res important that the nmners be fully "eated In their grooves so Ihat they provide maximum support for the sliding hangers. Alter hand-ctlttinjl; the dovetails, rout stopped grooves on the out:;kk top uf the tray sides to hultl the hangers, and then p:lue and damp the han~rs inco their grooves. To make the upcninw. for the tr.. y handles, I used a shopmade templa(e and a router equipped wllh a gUIde bushing and lA-in straight hit- First I. marked the cutoutS ~lnd removed the waste, Just uut!>KiI: th .... line . with a Jigsaw. l n en I clamped the remplate o n the tray and rouK-d to the line. removed the template, and hIt the l..-tlgl..'S with a Vot-in. mllndover bit to soften them.

Screw ledlfjr strip

to side

a(l(l ballom.

Fh ana HCU" the bottom. Tho ledger strips have pal,s of holes: One Is for screwIng the strIp Into the side o( the chest (above). lind the other Is for filling the bottom In place,

ledger strips hold the bottom in place lkcause the ~ide!t and end~ of the chc~1: angle in, the frdme-and-pa nd bottom must be fiul.>d {rum the bouom and tht!o Fot'Cmed wIth a ledger Strip from underneath, I dnlkd and ('ountersl,lnk for p;!iTh or St."reW'I in the k-cJger strips There's a hide trial and eJTOf':ll> you I>neak up on Ihe fit of the bottom Keep in mind thaI a small decreal>e in widlh and l~nR1h allows the ix>I:tom to take! :. I:.rgc lump up inln the ch<-~I,

Apply finish and add a rope stay I finishL'

On line Extra For the complete finlshina recipe. 10 10 Flne Woodworklnl·com/ eltras.


dry, I aIT3(.'h(.."([ the



the lid. and 5(,'wrt.'(llhc txmom

For the rope <;lay, I found a \l'eb sile, www.aniJltalt.-dknoco;.com.thatshowedme 'ilep by I>lep how 10 create an eye in the end of a line:. I positionL-d the eye Mr:tps and rope.'>O that the Mraps dear each other when the lid is c1o~ .tnd the open lid resl'S JU,-;( a bit pa~1 vcnic-oll. 0 Peter Turner IS a furniture maker in South Portland, Maine, www.rinewoodw(>rJ.iT\K ·co m


hen Chris lkc.:k:...voort l.-nlis[cd

our shop [0 do complete reproduction fim:;hcs on his five exaCl (."()Plt:S uf origin .. 1 Shaker pi!!1:eS (commissiom-d by a collector), we jumped at the opportunily. Most of the work we do al East Point Conservation Studio IS matching smal l repairs to the rest of an antique. Thi::. time, we were to m.Hch an old finbh with all i t~ suhtleties---nicb, dt!'nt~. crac.:kling--on a scparak, newly built piece of furniture. It's important to note that my ta.~k was not fakery, so I made no attempt to re-cn.-dtc oxidation on inside sllrfaces. Flfllshing can be daunting. Whethe r trying. to fe-create a specific antique finish,


TOOL KIT By combln'", wate,· IOIuOI. dye powdo~ . wood stalnl, Ilhellac, watercolors, and

acrylics, you can create elmo!! any I;:olor and ellect.



achieve a certain color, or apply a protective coating, having a broad array of techniques and materials at your fingr.:nips "'ill make the process mOfe succeS$[uL "Water dyes, gel stains, wood stains, tinted shellac .. ," as finisher l'xtr:.lOfdinairc George Frank wrote, "the mekxli~ one can play on the:-.c four strings act: really endless, but lil!.: beauty of the melody depends on th ... person holding the bow." Remember that nothing is unfixahle. So don't he afraid to Try di!l<.Tent apprnH:hes or strip otT an unsatisfaclur)- result and tty ap;ain. ,],hi~ article will illustrate a fev. way,.; I combined variolls finishes, stains. and dyes to match an antique finish. But the techniques and mattrials can he- used in countkss ways to add age or creatr.: CllStorn colurs for your furnifure.

Different finishes for different areas TIle original desk is nearly 200 years old and has maple frames and leg~ with pine drawer fronts, JY.aneb, top, writing ,~Ilrface, and ~ondary wood. Along with his reproduction, Becksvoort ddivcn:-d thr.: ofigi~l piece for reference. And he dropped off extra pieces of the pine and maple used in the reproduction to serve as tr.:st tx)afd~ tor tllr.: finL-;h. The color of the drawer front.-; is a warm ~pllmpkin pine; while the desktop and writing surface are similar in tone hot have different clarity or opacity. The pin...· panels arc a third variation on the theme. '111e maple on the legs and framework u. a lighter. creamier-looking Version of the pine panels. It was clear that I'd hav!.: tu t(:st a lot of colors and combinations of finishes to match the ditTerent tones and woods in the pien:. In the end I used blond and or.l1lge ~hellac, powdered dyes, liquid dyes, gel .'\Cains, stains, .acrylics, and watercolors to achieve the various looks in the desk.

Distressing starts before finishing BY C HR I STIAN BECKSV OO RT

Creating a new piece of furniture that looks like It has been around for a while doesn·t happen only In the finishing; there Is some preliminary distressing to do, I begin before construction with the lumber. StartIng with old wood, I seek out the patina of age-dark

boards with a dull gray color that is the rell-ult of oxidation. Although much of that surface discoloration 15


stili lingers below the surface, looklne much differ·

Old wood for".",

furniture, Th e furnIture maker 5tartea try gathering old pIn e boards, ranging In age from 40 to 130

years. Some were bam boards with nail holes, rot , k nots, and excessive wea thering. Others were clean old boards. stored In sheds and attics but f1e\'er used.

ent from freshly planed, new lumber. To reproduce the halKlplane marks alKl MAdworked quality of the original, I took the extra time to build the piece almost entirely with hand tools. Then It was ready tor surface distressing, which meant adding the acratches, dings, and dents that can be seen under the finish. Unlike what you see on new

" colonial~

furniture, distressing

Is not haphazard, There is a method to beating up a perfectly flne desk. The rule Is to distress where the piece encounters the most wear, such as the legs at floor level. Legs always get scuffed by brooms, mops. shoes, and children's toys. Writing surfaces and tops usually have a variety of nicks and scratches. There also tends to be a fair amount of wear around drawer pulls. where fingernails meet the woO
DI.tre ••'n• •

Drawer fronts get a " pumpkin pine" look I Degan with the dr.awer front~. writing Sllr· face, and top, mainly because those were the most .~imil:lr in color. I was able to make my initial plJll work for the drawer front~ with a slight tweak, but I ended up having to remove the finish fmm Ih", writing surface and top and treat lhr.:m a littk differently (more on that later). Because r Sl:aned with a water-based dye, I raLo;cd the

removed when the boards are handplaned, the age


IIsed i1 bundle of keys and a


small chunk of brick to re-create dents and scratche5 that appear 011 the original piece.




gr'din with a damp cloth Oncl' th..: wood dried, a scuff-sanding w ith P320-grit paper knocked off any fuzz. I mixed a oombin:ltion of Lockwood powdt!fcd wlors III J 1,12 CUP'> of wa rm water and, once it cook.>d. appli..:d it to the surfdces and let it dry overnight Next I sealed the wood using a thin ( I-Ib cut) hru<;h coat of blond she llac. I like shellac becatL<;e I can mix it myt<elf, creating thin cut'> to seal and heavy cut.~ to build Ii vibrant , shimmering finish, O nce I'd scakd the wood, J realized that the dye solutio n was too light and had colortd the ,Rrain unevenly, whereas the ori,Rinal had grain Ihal was so llnifonn it looked as if it were pa inted. After more test samples, I decided to coat the drawer front.;; with a nutmeg wood stain to hide the discrepancies brought out hy the dy~. This Main contains a great deal of xylene :md petro le um d Istillates, so It must be used in a well-venlllatcd arca, hut those same chemicals are fast- drying, making It n.-.tdy to coat In J 5 minu le~. She m a tched colOI' samp"s to the emltln,.'. Coit tesled color combInations on the ",me woods used to cons lrllct the desk. She kept track of Ihe mixtures so she could easily r~reste the finith.

dyes a •• bas. cotor. Colt IIsed a rat: to fI/> ply the dye so/ullon to lay down all InitIal color (filM).

Stain evens out dye Job. After sealing the water-based dye wit h blond shellac, Colt dee~ ened the color with wood stain. using a 1-1n. acid brush to apply the stB;n (ab<We) and a rag to wipe off tne 9J1CC$S (below).




dye po"",ders

(NoS. 145. 9, 45) • 810nd !"eIISC k ..... ood .Mo h III O (nutmeg)


• orange shellaC • elond s"e\l8C




Start wnlt wat.Holubl. cty•• a,..ln , Wanting' to avoid staIn. whIch wou/O obscure tne grain, Coft worked hard to get the InltJal rJye concentrat/orr Just rldht,

I scuff-:<;.anded the appli(xJ the "".ain, let it dry, and then co.11ed the drawer fronf.!; with a I-lb. ~UI of or-lOge shdl;!('. 11)3t produced a nIce ffiiltch, 'if) I hegan bui ldin~ a d ear (."O'.1t v. ith blond -;hellac, m bhing OUI between coats with 0000 'ito."cl wool.

Extra shimmer for the writing surface and top I had dyed the writing surface and top al the same time as the drawer fronts, and they also were too light. The wood wasn't as unifoml as on the drawer front~, so I did n' t want 10 Ob:.l'( lfC the grain with a stain. I removed everyt hing from ho(11 surfaces with alcohol .md COOO ~ted ..... 001 (which removed most of Ihe dye but stiJI left thl! wood lightl y IInted), and 1'<.--dyl..oO thc:m with a more ('oncentrated sululton o f the same COlON. Finally, t h
THE RECIPE -lockwood water-soJllble aye POWders

(Nos. 145, 9, 45) • Blond shellac

(mill: in Orasol dye 2G and TransTint Medium Brown)

• Orange shellac

TlnfH slut/lac add. color

withOut ItId/nt wood_ Not

huildup where strokes overlap. The key to success is app lying the shellac in :;tages (a thin cut w ith a ti m that ISn't supersaturated). A min cut doesn 't pull up and get -ropt!y.M Althou gh the tendency IS to spread li o n like paint, it's best to usc one nuid J1lO(lo n with as little back-and-forth as possible, moving on before it gels ~ticky When Ihe color looke d right , I I ~t It dry overnig ht .md brushed o n a coat o f or-dnge she lla('.

Another approach for the pine panels and maple frames I ap pro ach ...~ til..: p ine panels in a comple tely d ifferent way because the originals w ere very uniform and tight ~rained,

only does shellac come In a variety of its own colors (b/ond, orange, tamet, and seen/ac}, but it's itlso easy to tono with dry pigments or dyes. Colt used Ontsol dye 2G and Transnnt Medium Brown m/I(ealn bkmd slWlllac (19ft) to build color and add shlmm&r to the writing surface and top.

I didn't wan! to pop (he gr,lI n or risk ct.·u k SCI~ak.s

from (he water-based dye or wood Slain , <;Q I coaled the bare wood with golden pine gel .!>1ain. It did rwo great things: It set a color on the pine and kept sub-sequent applicattons from pe netratm g the wood as deeply. Gel stain n(."eds at least eight hours of drying time before applying anything m·er it. Wood stain re netrate~ more deeply than !-lei stain, and in some cases that's what you \"\'3nt But wood stains aL<;() tend to ohscure JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009


wood's shimmering qu ality, so yOll would never use a SL.1.ll if YOll wanted tbe w<XXI to make a statement on its own. While


LOCKWOOD not my colorant of choice, it POWDERED DYES worked here hecause the gel stain undcrnc'lth kept it from MOHAWK WOOD STAIN, fully pcndrJ.ting the wood. GENERAL ANISHES I applied the nutmeg wood GEl. STAIN stain and then ~alcd the els with a (hit) coat of hlond ORASOlOYES shellac. 111l'n I hegan building the finish as I had on the museumservicescorporaUon .com drawer front". I had intended to u:;c blund shellac for tilh, WATERCOLORS, ACRYLICS, but orange shellac gave it more JA.PA.N COLORS depth and w.mnth. I had the same concerns for the maple frame as with the pine pa nels, so [ took the same approach in tlnishing them, scaling with the Golden Pine gel stain, coating with Ihe Mohawk Nutmeg s{, then sealing with blond shellac and moving to omnge shellac to nuild the finish.


Drawer pulls are quick and easy

Gel .t.;n _If• •• • barrier, Colt used

The last item was the tiger-mapk drJ.wer pull,,,;, First, I coaled them with liquid paraffin to pop thc grain. Liquid paraffin (available :II v.'WW.rockler,com) L~ an oil pressed from par:ltfin wax, and shellac ha~ no Trouble adhering to it. llikl' the way it penetrates deep into the gnlin lmd ;1 l1ows lhe light to reflect off it Next, I coated the pulls Wilh orange shellac tinted with Or3so1 dyes (2G and 4GN). The tlna] STep was to give everything a firud going over with 0000 sted wool and Kiwi Bois yellow W;1X, applicd with a rag. 0

a foam bnlsh to apply tel stain (above) ana a rag to wipe off the excess (right). Gel stain kept the neAt treatment, wood stain, from penetrating too deeply and obscuring the wood's character.

Linda Coil is co-owner of East Point Conservation Studio in Brunswick, Maine, which specialiLes in the care and restoration of fumiture for museums and private collectors.

f ' ; E REC1PE

", ~cneral t='n\sn es gel $taln (golden pine) ,Mohawk woOd stain


(nutmeg) ,Btond shB\\!lC ,Oronge s\le llac



Wood st.ln k ..". ."d color unIform. She applied wood stain with an acla brush and wiped off the excess with a rat..



Sh.II• .:: •••,.'n color altd .dds sh ••n. Colt sealed the pine panels and maple frames with a coat of blond shellac before building up the fin· Ish with orange shellac.

Add blemishes with creative coloring An important part of this type 01 finishing Is dupUcating blemishes and marks. Beck&voort had already distressed the cabInet with nicks and Krapes. but Colt needed to duplicate any discoloration that appearea In the finish. She turned to a number of products not Irequently used in furnilure IInlshing, such as watercolors, Japan colors, and acrylics. Belore beginning. she sealed all the previously linlshed surfaces with a coat of blond shellac. This protO(:ted all the prior finishing and kepi any new discoloration on the surface. $0 she could do some trial and error without JeopardizIng the overall finish. A final coat of blond shellac sealed In her work.

WATERCOLORS FOR DISTINCT MARKS Th ••• create d rhe da rk "nit and wood pIliP. Using a Yarka Sf. Petersburg watercolor kit. Colt mIxed colors to match and then painted the plugs to match the original. Using a simllar-slle plastic cup as a template anel the same watercolors . she palntea on the aistinct ring.

Un • ffngertlp to , . .ther th e palllt. Coft. combined raw umber Japan colors. blaCK powderecl pigment. and mlnaral spIrits. to the consistency of light cream. to make the V·shaped patterns. Working In small aftlas, she brushed on (above cen ter) Bnd spread (right) the color to match the feathered discoloral/on on the original writIng surface. After lettIng It dry overnlgflt, she brushed on a coat of shellac and left It to dry for several days.

w ww. fin

ACRYLICS FOR SUBTlE DISCOLORATION Brush on and d.b tor II soft e ffect The legs haa slight a/seolorat/on along the bottom edge. nothing too distinct but enough tflat the eye could see a difference between the "new· leg and the or/glnal. To create the subtle markings. Colt used Go!den acrylics (burnt umber and carbon b!ack) with a drop of acrylic flow release mixed In. apply/ng It with the brush 8S dry as possible (left) and stlpp/lng it with a fingertip to soften (below).

Start with careful layout The most important step in turn ing a pad-foot leg Is locati ng the offset centers on th e blank . It's easiest to begin with the offset at the loot. then mark the offset at the top_

TOp of turned section

Top offset ~: :~



The offset at the top is 8 fraction of the bottom offset. To determine the fraction. calculate the ratio of the pommel length to me length of th e turned section. It's 1:3 for a 6·in. pommel and an 18·in. turned section. So, in that e~ample, the top offset will be one·third of the bottom offset.

The length of the pommel is olle fact or in determining the location 01 the offset cen ters. The pommel also affects the leg·s overall proportions.

Transition point

~ "


':" "


"" , " "

" Mane the pomm. '. This doflnos the Iransltlon line where the two 8l'eS intersect. Marking all four faces will heJp

you see the line when the leg is turning.

Mark thtt bottom offs.t. Measure from th e true cen ter tOW
Inside corner of the leg.

transition point. That's usually at the hase of the rommel, the square section that re-

ceives the mortises for a tahle apmn or the carcase of a chest. Accurate layout Is critical To produce these leg!>, you mll~t pn:cisely 10l.'lte the tv,ro sets of center points and till' transition point. That involye~ careful marking and a little arithmetic.

Fur the leg shown here. begin with H/4 stock, milled to about 1~ in. square. (r prefer maple, but any hardwood will doJ A blank that size will give you a well-proportioned leg for many tahles. The leg will measure I'll in. dia. at the widest part of the foot (that's the line defining the toc), aml 3A in. dia. at the ankle, .... here the leg i" narrowest. The square pommel can be wh;ltever length !Juits your ck!Jign. To tind the true center at l.:ach end of the hlank, 1 normally u,>e a marking gauge, but for lhe~c legs I use a center square hecause it give.s me diagonal Hnes for the

Turned section Offset a)(is True axis

The foot is centered on the leg·s true center and should be as close a& possiblO to the blank's rough dimensions. To locate the bottom offset . subtract the radius 01 the ankle from the radius of the foot, and measure that distance on the appropriate diilgonill. Ankle



) ~;,:;2~_1 ,





Ankle __-"~

Mark th. top offs. t . Measure from the true center along tht:l diag· onal pOin ting to the outside corner of the leg for this offset point.

nr.:xt stage of layout. Don't Illst connect opposite comers, because that method is not accurate enough. If you use the center square at each corner, the lines will create a tiny square in the center. Punch a hole in the center of this sqU

fr.u.:lion is the ratio of the pommel length to the turnrtllcngth. That is, if the pommel is 6 in. and the !lImed 'ieClion 16 10 .. tht:

Shape the leg

(".llio is I to ,3. '111a! mc.:'ans the tOP offset

1 Moun!

will be on'""-third the length of the bonom offset. Measun: from the trut: ..:enler along the diagonal pointing to the o ul1.idc ~omer and punch another hole. Finally, draw ;J. dark pendl line 10 uurk the length of the ponunel and locate the trdCl..,ition point for the turning If you !lurk all fOll r faces of the kg blank , il will he ca~ler to sec the 1r'J. n.~ i tiun poinl When Ihe


offset ceMars. Transit!oo pOint

Maunt bottam of root on ta/lstock.


turning on the lathe.


Begin turning on the offset centers


Beilin on offset cent.,.. Most of th e lell will 00 turned with the blank mounted askew. The bottom of th e leg, with the greatest offset, goes on Ins talistock.


Mount fh e hl:lnk on the offset ~enter poi nts, with the top of the leg at the head· stock. Start the lathe and look carefu lly at the shadow lines--the multiple unagc;:$

2 Round on.

,.",., and mark I he locationof file ~

Co • 'Iow V·g~

" 'h."

nslflon '" point


, , ,,




Cut Iranslf/on and marie Ih. foot. Using. skew (left ), cut a V-froove and slightly round the comers of the pommel. NelCt, you'll need to I'OIIgh the foot arltlt /I bit to round one corner. Stop just short of rhe Inner shadow IIn&: th& authors pointing to the spot you want (centor}. about 'Ir In. aboVe the IreCMd shadow line. Now you can mark a line (right} for th/t h/tlght of the too.



Turn "

111m thp. strar,ht roper.


,.,'''' form


fOp o( the fOOt.

Watch tllalina•. A large cove cut forms the ankle and the top of the foot. Enlarge the cove until you reach the line marking the heltht of the toe.


f i NE WOOt)WOlo.r .... ',

Cut the tapar. When cutting, use your free lIand to steady the blank. Check the line with

a straightedge.

you see as the blank ~pins eccentrically. Be sure theres unly one shadow line al Ihe tran.~ition point-the mark you made for the length of the pommel. To tweak the ali.w;nmcnt, shut off the lathe and tap the blank near one end to shift it slightly on ils centers. He sure to tighten the blank a)1;3in so it won·t wobble. Use a Sis-in. skew with it~ long point down to make the transition cut. Cut about 1Js in. to 114 in. deeper than the flats on the square pommel. J\-1ove to the foot, where you'll see rwo shadow lines. Use a 3/4-in. roughing gouge to cut down to within lJs in. of the second shadow line (see photo, facing page). Because the hlank L<; mrning off-cenrer, you·1I round off only one corner. Mark a line to locate the height of the foot. Next. UM: a %-in. or iJ2-in. spindle gouge to shape the curve that forms the ankle and the flare at the toe. Begin these cuts well to the left of where you want the toe and wickn the curve as you make it deeper. Lse ca]jper.~ to check the diameter at the ankle. Finally, use the roughing gouge to taper the leg from tmnsition to ankle. Steady the blank with your free hand as you cut a technique that also allow.~ you to fcd any irregularities in the taper. Use a straightedge to check that the taper is even when you make the final smoothing cuts. When this pan of the turning is completed, sand it before going on to the next step. I like to use broken PlOO- and P120-grit .~and­ ing heiL~ for the first pass, then finish to at least P220 grit.

Finish the foot Mount on true centers.

Complete thft

Shape the

botrom of the foot.

fuming. Witll the leg remounted on the true centers, use a spIndle gouge to round over the bottom of the foot (a bove), leaving the diameter at the bilsa in. to l in. Sand the


turning lightly (rlght), Oeing careful to avoid rounding over the sharp line acflning th e toe.

VARIATIONS Sample legs from Siegel's s hop (left ) sho w the ra nge of design opt ions. Siegel's porringer table (below) adapts one of those styles to a Qu een Anne design. The legs are splayed slightly t o compensate fo r th e angle of th e offset .

Finish on the true centers Mount the blank un the true centers. Use the lh-in. spindle gouge to shape the bottom of the foot, beginning at the toc. Ifs the same kind of cut you'd use to shape a bead. Round that part of the leg down so that it's between 3A in. and 1 in. dia. at the very bottom. Lightly sand the foot, being careful not to blunt the sharp line that defines the toe. If you've done everything correctly, that sharp line should blend smoothly into the taper at the back of the leg. If you see a bulgl:: instead of a smooth taper, you can turn or ~and it away, although that will reduce the diameter of the toe slightly. 0 Jon Siegel is a professional wood turner and toolmaker In Wilmor. N.H. www.finewoodworkifiJ<



True Greene & Greene Learn how the elements work together, and then use them in your furniture BY



ilt: marrying of .styles is a tricky business. Add the

wrong elements, or too much of one over another, and the re."ulL<; look wrong and out of place. Brothers Charles ;lod Henry Greeol:, the California architects of

the early 20th century, created a marriage of style,.; that continue,.;

to please the eye aod capture the imagination 100 years later, They took the plainness and exposed joinery of Art,'; and Crafts furniture , mixed it with the subtlety of

Chinese furniture aod the IXlJdness of Japanese temple de'iign, and then with a final flourish threw

in a taste of the sinuous lines of Art Nouveau, The result i.'i a style that has heen revered, copied, aml

While the Gr<Jene and Greene style arose within the Arts and Cralts mQvement, the brothers added elements from Asian architecture and Art Nouveau. Rounded edges, sweeping curves, and elegant detail!> make their work more refined, organic, and welcoming than the austere StlcklOY furniture that preceded It. The desIgners found surprising versatility in a few favorite shapes. On the rocker nbove, the slepped tloudlift pattern on the crest rail is classic Greene and Greene. On the mahogany sideboard at tighl,lhe cloud lift is used in now lind uneJlpected ways. It is easy to pick out In the backsplash and the corbels, but the !lnen·fold pulls and the fruilwooCllnlay on the doors are wonderful variations.




redL~coV\:red. but remain:- lloi4udy Greene and Greene. If you are attempting a faithful !1!production of a Greene and Greene piece, you'll want to unJer~tanJ each of the essential elements in order to capture the original spirit If you are brewing your own hlcml. you'll !1l:L-d to know hoy, the Greenes combined carefully selected e1ement<; to create a single effect.

How the style was born The Greene brothers hegan their professiotl.1.1 careers steeped in the ideah of the Arts and Craft~ movement. Thb em in design emerged as a reaction to the cnlsh of the Industrial Revolution-with its machine-made, often lo\v-tlualily

products-and the overwrought of fht' Victorian era, With a start in Europe:, tht' lllOVt'ment found ready followers in America indudin~ the entrepreneur and furniture maker, Gu.'itav Stlcl..ley. StiCkley started a maga7ine. The Crtljtsmtln , and il provided the Grt!cne hnllher:\ with ideas, perhaps a mirror to hold up [0 their own work, and certainly a perspective all design that was new and exciting for the tune. The Crafts movement, hoLh in thL.. periodical and In shows and expositions in Europe and America, was an allencompa."''itng view of life, It promoted an hOOl-"Sty of approoch as a moral tnLlh aoci used a simplicity of Hne and fo rm a~ a dictum. II alf>O began .t movement toward the arch1tect a .. artist fOf intefion; and functional items. Wlkrt:'3S the architect once designed only huildings, nov. he de:"i,lUled interior... fabric<>, lighting, windcw.'S. and furniture, a whole fabric for living. However, while the Cr:l ftsman 'ityle had a certain .severe, almost medieval, char:lcter about its solid planks. exposcO ,oint:o;, and str.light line~. the Greene brotht'r~ added frillines.~



joinery, carvings, and inlay. As a result, their work has both a fiml ground ing in honest construction methods and J sen'ie that weat care ha.'i been taken, with no dl.:taiJ leff unconsidered.

The essential elements create a landscape I1fe. From J3panese temple carpentry, they UM.-tl corlx:ls and !a~e timbers to give their work a sense of strength and foundation. I1lCY I:Idded organic and flowing shapes found in Chinese furniture, the cloud-lift form, overhanglflg tops, and rounded edges and comers that gave their work Jightnes:. anti richness. Their fum iturc al.-.o shuv."t..-d the intluencc of Art Nouveau designers such as M...cklllllrdO and Mackintosh, who borrowed CUlVed lines and organic shapeo; from n:JtUIlJ. The Greene brothers turned these seemingly disparnte elemenl.. Into one SC""dmlcss style. .Becau!;e the v.urk (If the Greenes was done principally for the wcalthy, they could afford to add a wealth of detail in the stylized



If architecture is rightly call1:d froZ-cn llIusiC', then the fumilure and inlt~riors of Greene and Greene are part of the symphony. The Greene... emphasized the:: land$cape of each piece. [t's part of the texture of each piece that when two parts meet, there ill no f1u:;h surface. Each part has its own diS{inc[ proportinn and 1:1 shadow line is; created at e\'ery tUIn. Rails step back from Jegs; dr.l·wers step back from [""".l ib. Some drawers are left completely proud, jutting Oll t from the work in an architecture of forms . It may be only the slightest of differences, hut each surf3(10 :;(ands aJone in the topugT"dphy. And the Grt:cm."S chCl."oe finely grained woods that would not di.~tra(.1. from that landscape: walnut, teak, m.. hogany. Pi ..... ,,.. C"'""'Pl where n<::I'=l, .... "" Ch",lIdna. w~h .=~ 1Ir:~"'C-J by jk Glmblc 110\)'" .",1 n.,., Hunt;nM''''' . l'"........Jcr'lll. CAlif.

Deep, rich color was the goal, and sometimes pigments or chemIcal stains wefe used to darken the wood. A satin oil finish added a ~ft glow to smooth, stepped surfaces and rounded L.uges. Joine ry and pegs stand proud-Once bidden, precise ;ninery was now a design delllclll in Arts and Crafts furniture, with its emphasis on visible craftsmanship. But the Gr(."eOes rook it further, making it part of the texwr.d landscape. Finger joints are left rai<;e(1 and shaped, bridle ~)int" barely jut through and then gct murKkd over. The plugs are also an opportunity for exploration. They ntn the f;a m\l\ from round to dead-on square ro rectangular. Breadboard ends serve a dual purpose-Almost every solid top or shelf is tlni~hcd with a hreadboard I!'nd. Thi!: cf06s-grdin C"dp helps to keep a panel from cupping, partly by covering the end grain 2nd "'lining down moisture exchange. But breadboard end.. also add anc>l:her surface to the style, often just slightly raised fmm the top and always prOlfilding at the eock Favorite forms-'Ille cloud-lift form may be thl!' element most often associated with Gra'ne and Greene. The variety of this Chinese detail, its unexpected use, and the gI"'dCe 1\ l:estov.'s on their



designs is unmatched. It is amazing what an artist can do with a single versatile motif, using variations to create richne~~ and harmony at once. The Greenes did this with the Japanese t~Llba (sword guard) shape, theming whole rooms around this distin<.tive detail. Soft edges seem hand worn-Each fumiture part and detail i~ carefully treated with rounded edges or a taper or I">olh. They have the look of gentle wear, like beach sand on driftvmod. Parts are also ~ublly changed through their length, wmetime~ tapering just so slighlly, other time~ boldly humping out to create a thick and mast>ive effect. These details shmv once again the handv..-rought quality of thc pieces and how they aim to reGlll a sense of antiquity.

How to borrow the style The Greene brothen; chose their element<; well and had a ma~ter­ (ul control of them . They were able to combine a variety of details in one piece and st ill have it sing on key.



Modern makers have Interpreted the Greene and Greene style In their own furniture. While not Intended to be faIthful reproductions. these two pieces Include many of the classic elements. In author Gary Rogowski's Sideboard (left), he reInterprets the cloud Uft and long grooves. and adds a Iresh Japanese touch : III playful ginkgo-leaf Inlay. Darrell Peart also borrowed from Japan. from temple architecture In this case, tor the boUom-heavy legs of his chest of drawers {below). His stylized take on Greene and Greene drawer JoInery and hIs curved adeptatlon of the cloud 11ft afe also harmonious touches.

successfully using these elemenT!; in your own work requires the same care. You might reproduce them faithfully but combine them poorly. Remember that the Greenes usually based a piece, even a whole room, on a single detail. It would be too much to put every Greene and Greene element you've seen into a single piece, hlending dissonant details into an off-key arrangement. When I'm dc..-igning in this :;tylc, I like to make certain element,; recall the style without trying to ah
Where to see Greene and Greene Any dIscussion of Greene

house they were dMlgned for. WhIle In town we made lIInotiler

and Greene furniture soon

critical stop at The HuntIngton (ll wonderful 2DO-acre comblntt-

leads to The Gamble House

tlon of galleries, library, and botanlcel gardens: WNw.huntlngton


.org) to photograph the Greene and Greene eJlhibit In the Scott

In Pasadena. Calif. It Is the

GaUerles of American Art. There we found furniture from The

best-preser ... ed of the ·ultl-

Thorsen House. a complete dIning room from The Robinson

mate bungalows' the broth-

House, II staircase rescued from ThClllbby House. lind e few

ers created at the height of their careers. The Greenes designed

more pieces from the Gamble-togethet forming a broad sam-

everythIng insIde and outside these homes, from the architecture

piing of the brothers' best work.

and furnishings all the way down to carpets. lighting, cut glan, millwork, and clerer mechanIcs like hidden doors.

If)'ou are ever in the Los Angeles area, make a point to vis-

So Fl\'W headed to Pasadena to photograph some of the

it these places. As a woodworker,

best sur ... I..-lng examples of Greene and Greene furniture--ln the

you'l never forget the experience.

~I Online Extra To read editor Asa Christiana's blog and see a video of the Gamble HOllse. go to Rn e· Woodworkln&,co mj ellt,a,.



r~~g~rs gallery I

TOM COWAN Winchester, Tenn.

Cowan collaborated 'Nith artist Kelly Torreano to create tlJis corner cabinet blending his woodwooong skill with her passion for gardening and paintlng. Although he has been commissioned to do many exact reproductions, Cowan decided to have fun and experiment with this gift for his wife, which has both formal Dunlap elements (an influential family of New England furniture makers from the 18th C1lntury) and floral painting. The poplar cabinet, 22 in. deep by 43 in. wide by 87 in. tall, is finished with latex paints and acrylic artist's paints and is topcoated

- - --t

with lacquer. PHOTO: TOM CHUR CH






Schlebecker's inspiration for this basswood and mahogany chest of drawers (20 in. deep by 17 in. wide by 50 in. tall) came from his earty vocal training and the connection between singing and breathing. Called ~ Brealhing Drawers; the chest has a silicone-rubber membrane inside the frames on the top and sides, which -breathes· 35 the well-fit drawers are opened and closed, revealing sketches of chest musculature underneath it. The lower drawer To see a "'ideo of Schlabecker's doesn't have a cutout pull, but amazing piece breathing. and also fi nd opens with the air pressure out more about the leg COn!~truction . produced from closing the top go to FlneWoodworklnl.eom/ u tl'8$. one. The finish Is lacquer.

Online Extra


RAYMOND FINAN Centerville, Ohio

Finan combined solid mahogany with _ L _ fiddleback and quartersawn mahogany yeneer in this sideboard ( 17 In. deep by 49 In. wide by 35 10. tall). He also employed a combination of veneering methods, vacuum pressing most of the veneers but hammer veneering the concave sulface of the drawer front. Finan decided to try French polishing to best display the figured wood. P ~ Ol O:




RON MASCITELLI Northridge, Calif.

Inspired by a trip to South Africa, M


Crans turned this pair of vases (9 in, dia. by 11 In. tall) from his own maple tree, wflich had blown down during a storm. He could tell from the color In the cut ends that the log would yield unique wood. Each vessel took approximately 40 hours to complete. and the finish is a tungoil'o'amish.

www.finl::woodworking .co m

RODNEY DIAZ Southbury, Conn.

Inspiration tor this Shaker cupl:KJard (7'1. In. deep by 12'11 In. wide by 24% In. t811) came from an orl glnal Diaz saw in an exhibit, ·Out of This World: Shaker Design Past, Present, and future; at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont A tormer associate art director at Fine Woodworking, Dial learned to use hand tools when he began working for the magazine. Now. as an art director at Fine Homebuilding. tie stili tries to get In the woodworking shop as much as possible. The pine cupboard with cherry pulls (a fourth anniversary gift for his wife) is finished with milk paint, shellac, and wax. JA NU ARY/FEBRUARY 2009



readers gallerY'""H"'" I BILL PERRY

Toronto, Ont., Canada

Perry set out to make a comb· back Windsor chair tllat was as light and gracefu l as possible while still maintaining its strength . • The chair has a poplar seat, maple legs and stretchers. and ash spindles, crest ra il, and arms. It is 281n. deep by 311n. wide by 47 in. tall and is finished with two coats of red milk paint, followed by aile coat of black milk paint and two coats of

bolied linseed oiL With time, the black paint will be worn through to the red. PHOTO : CHARLES BRYANT


Toronto. Ont.. Canada

Lewis began making this box ( 10 in. deep by 14 in. wid e by 6 in. tall ) for his daughter's 18th birthday. He used shop-sawn cocobolo ~enee r over solid cherry sides. The top and bottom have a Ba ltic-birCh core with cherry veneer inside and cocobolo outSIde. The handles, feet, and stringing are ebony, and the flnlsh Is a French poliSh. lewis completed th e box Just In time fOr his daughter's 20th birthday.


Port Townsend, WaSh.

When this atlas cedar tree began to drop limbs regularly and was due to be taken down, the home· owner hired Rill. a self-taught wood carver, to create the dragon (4 ft. dia. by 24 ft. tall). Rill fin ished the carving In 26 days. Then he let the dragon air-dry, covered with a tarp, fOr a few weeks, and applied three generou s coats of clear wood preservatIVe, followed by oil-baSed deck stain. He used three to four shades of stain to create the colors and shading and finished with gold sign paint on the t ips of the scales.





Orazen spent 400 hours spread out (Wer three years making these clocks for his two sons. Modeled after an original made in the mid-1700s Ily Abraham Edwards of Ashby, Mass., tile cherry clocks are 11 In. deep by 211n. wide by92 in . tall. The movements and dials are from the Hartwig Clock Company; the brass work is from Ball and Ball, and the clockS are finished with 12 coats

of Waterlox Original.



• r

ROBBI STAPLES Dartmouth, Mass.

Staples stumbled upon this drawer configuration and its flowing knob alignment while experimenting with a basic drafting program. The bird's-eye maple and ebony sideboard, finished with lacquer, is 20 in. deep by 60 in. wide by 32 in. tall.


JEREMY N. GIBBS Southampton, Pa.

Gibbs put a twist on this ash and mahogany trestle table, turning the end posts 45" so the throughmortise goes from point to point and a notched wedge incorporates the 90 a corner. The table, finished with tung oil, is 28 in. deep by 60 in. wide by 291h in. tall.




Plywood edging that matches perfectly Q: I want to make a tabletop from hardwood plywood and cover the edges with veneer, but manufactured edge-bandlngs

don't give a good grain and color match. Any suggestions? -DOMINIC ANDERSON,


FROM THE PLYWOOD Accurat• • etup I. the key. To get a clean cut from the plywood, set your fenc e so the blaae slices off just the "Veneer ply.

Portland, Ore. Rip lence



Core plies


wrapping {he edges Wilh veneer cut from the same pl)'\'l"ood used to make the top. This veneer will take dyes, stains, and finishes thf' same as the top. You can CUt veneers that run with the grain or across the grain, so you can match any side of the plywood. -Cecil Braeden is a woodworker near Anacortes. Wasb,

Velleer ply

Cut the veneer fr88. Position the fence lin. from th e blaae ana make it rlpcut with tne veneer side up.


EDGES Yellow lZIue work$ fine. A caul ensures that the clamping force is appliea evenly along the strip. To Dllow the strip to overhang the undersiae of the workpiece. place spacers under both the workpiece ana the caul.

Ask a question Do you have a question you 'd like us to

consider for the column'? Send it to Q&A, Fine Woodworking, 63 S. Main 51., Newtown. CT 06470, or email [email protected] .


f Jr-; E WOOI)\\O/{K] 'i c;

Trim tho veneer. Once the glue has dried. use a sharp knife to cut the veneer flush with the end of the piece. Then use a wiae chisel to pare away the veneer overhang. Veneer the panel ends and smooth the joint with a sanaing block.


Mortise Par


TUm your pkJnge router Into • II precision slot mortiserI ...


315 PAGE COLOR CATALOG $5.00 l-lO7-739-9478








OOM joe"

Marking knife cuts wrong board Q: When I cut dOyetails,


I do the taus first and then transfer them with a

USING a marking knife wilh

marking knife to the pin

boaNi. But my knife often cuts Into my tails. What am I doing wrong and how can I correct It? -B I LL HUYCK, Sewanee, Tonn .


DOUBLE-BEVEL It's harder to get

an accurate cut.

SINGLE-BEVEL You need two,

one for tho right side and one for the left. but the flal hack makes

accuracy easy.

SPEAR·POINT A flat back and two cutting edges make it versatile


a lx-vel on each face, like an X-Acto knife. rf the blade is tilted too much, there's nothing to guide it and it will cut into your tails. If it's too ve rtical. the s<:.:ribc line w ill he off.~et anu inaccurate. Tilt the knite .'>0 the bevel rides against the workpiece and guides the kn ife. It will scribe adjacent to the tail without cuttin.~ into it. Another option i.-; to get a knife with a bevel on on ly one fa.;;c, which make.~ it easier to hold the knife flu.'ih to the tails. A .'ipcar-poinl knife is a great .~ingle-hevel knife, because it can be q ukkiy flipped for scrihing to the right or left of a workpkce, like when you're marking both .'iides of a taiL -Michael Pekovich is tbe art directur.

Sloppy Joint from a sharp knife. Ooublc-bel'el knives, like X·Acto knives, cut cloan lines. But they will cut Into your tails if the bevel isn't flat against them, and your transfer lines won't be accurate.



Till your knife too mUCh, and the point will grab the rete rence edgc (I cft ). Don't tilt it, and the cutting edge will be too far from t he reff>rl'ncc piece (right),

For an accurate ami corlUolled cut. put th e bevel flat against the tail board.

SINGLE BEVEL IS SPOT ON The flat back of a singlebevel knile allows you t o prcss it firm ly
and accurate.

Silence a whistling tablesaw blade A:

the blade on my tablesaw with a 40-tooth thin-kerf carbide blade with four laser-cut openings, and

the open ing~ spinning past the saw's throat insert. But it's possible that the teeth or the ()p~ning.'i ar~ just noisy. Remove the insert (but not the blade) and run the saw If there's no whistling. the insert is the cause. Widen its opening by ra ising a standard-kerf hlade through it. If the hlade whiMies, it's the teeth or opening.'i. There's no fix for the teeth, hut you can fi ll the openings with silicone .~ea lant . Or just gi vl~ lip and get a new blade. -:fohn W'bite is afoYm(?r shop mnnap,er at tW\Xr.

made a Iero-c/earance insert for It. The blade

cuts well, but It also whistles like mad. Why Is It whistling, and can I do anything to stop It? -BOB HICKS, Cltitlenango, N.Y.



Q: I recently replaced


Whist~s while i t works_ Wh~n a blade whistles as it spins, the culprit Is often a relief cut /ike this spinning past the edge of a zero-clearance opening (left ). When It standard-kart blade was used to widen the .zer()clearance opening (right), the whistling stopped.

master class






Boulle marquetry: Two panels for the price of one BY



itb most inby or marquetry, you create one panel at a time. With houlJe work, you :>tack two coolrat-ling mateJials together, Clit a design in them on lht ~crolbaw, aod then inh:rchange the part~. The li)::hter parts go into the dJ.rker background, rhe darker part,.; go into the lighter background. and the thin sawkerf ber~veen the pieces i.~ filled by dark glue. In the end, you get m'o panels

from one cutting. The process is named after Andrl' Charles Boulk. cahinetmaker to Louis XIV of France. He didn't invent the technique, but he popularized it 300 years ago by building vcry elaborate pieces for hL~ aristocrJ.tic clientele. Boulle would often completely cover the surface of a piece with a dazzling interplay of light and clark material. But the technique also can be used in a more limited way to cmbdli.~h a cabinet door or the lY..Kk splat of a chair. Thc",e styli7.ed tlower Ixmels cou ld be u"ed in a checkerhoard pattern.

Create a design and prepare the materials A Successful h .)ulk d,:sign will dearly empha.~ize the ~hape of the pieces to maximize till- contra~t with the Ix)rdering parr, Onct! a design is made, you need to select the contrastinp; materiaL~. Traditionally, a light-colorcd mdal such as bnlsS or pewter ancl a dark wood such as ehony were favored. However, you also COllid LIse light and dark woods. In tbi.~ case, I used brass (" kataiox, a dark Mexican wood. Ule standard meta! Thickness j<; either 0.032 in. or 0,040 in., but in either case the wood should bc resawn slightly thicker. That way. when levelin,R the final panels, The .~ofter wood is hrought down to the harder metal and not the reverse, which would be much more work. First, cut the brass and wcxxl pands to the same width and length. Th<: wood parts of the design may have short grdin


F];\"E \1:'OOOWOI{Kl"lG

Mix oIInd mllkh. Cut contrasting materials,


switch the plecGs. and create two panels.

that can shatter or fall apart during cutti11,l.l;. To hold it to,l.lether, hrush hide glue (hot or liquid) OIl om; side of tht: wo(xl :lnd ~t ick a piece of newsprint to it. TIlen. use an old hacksaw blade to rough up one side of the brass for a better ,I.llue bond. Now prep:ue the package of wood and metal for scrollsawing (see facing page). On the drill p ress, make an entry hole into each section of the design to al1m"\' the sawblacle acces~. The holes will be visihk: in the final product. so makc them %2 in, to 31M in . diameter-only ~lightly larger than the blade-and placed on the line where the}'II be least obvious, sllch as at a point. Saw the center parts first

You want d s.r.;vblade That is strong enough to cut metal hur small enough to leave a m inimal kerf I use a No. :3 metall'utting blade made hy Eberle (v,.,vw.wildw{xxlde~i),


masterpieces. Boulle work (s

often the dominant element on pieces th<J1 feature It_ Kopf used a grape.. vine pattern on this pair of cabinets.

the materials for scrol\sawi ANATOMY OF A PACKAGE The outer pieces 01 waste veneer

eliminate tearout when cutting the wooCl lind met~l. The metlll goel under the wood to give beller support.

Pattern glued to upper waste veneer Upper waste

Thick wood veneer


with newspaper --~-.J.,...;;

g lued to t he top



Reinforce 'he wood. To prevent small parts of the design from breaking along the grain when tlley a re sawn, attach a piece of newspaper to the wood with hide glue.


paper to

lubricate !iilwbladc

Brass sneet.

~ /,,~,,­

w ith scratched

surface facedown

Package held together with milskinp; tilPC


the metal. Use a piece of hacksaw blade in-

Attach the des;tn. Th e last step befora

serted Into a scrap of wood to scratch the glue face

starting to saw /s to attach the design to

of the metal for a bette r bond with th e substrate.

the wood-a nd-metal package with hide glue.

item No. 47425). The scrollsaw should he set at a slow speed of about 250 ~trok~s p~r minlll~. The cutting proceeds from rhe interior parts to the outer parts. In a design of concentric circles, for instance, the smallest diameter mu~t be cut first. Because the package is held togeth~r only by tape at the edges, if you were to start from the ollL<;ide, the pattern would fall apart. After a part is cut free , set it a~ide in a tray. It can he a prohlem cutting very small parts, as these can fall through the hole in the table and be lost . To avoid this, slip a wa.qe piece of veneer or cardlxlard under the packet pal1w<1Y through the cut, to create a kind of zero-clearance insert. Assemble the parts into two panels \{'hen L"v\:!1"),tlling has I~en CliI. the two panels are ready to assemble. To prevent the ~mall p-.ut5 from dropping th rough the

background panels, apply hide glue to the

umna tch~d

side of

tht: metal and th~ newspaper side of the wood (these will be the show face.~), and stick on a sheet of paper. Now lak\:! the individual parts from the tray and U.<.e hide glue to attach tht:m www.finc:wuodwurking.<:um



~~~ ~rJi#

~'\il/'O y; \.



,, 'l/tJlr ~

this at 200%, make a

tracIng, and reduce the tracing by 50% on the copier. This will yield a copy the

\ I' I

Draw your design with a regular pen or pencil (lett). PtKltocopy

same size as your

original design but


With much finer

lines (right) that



are easie r to saw.

\ \1 I

., ,,,



master class


Two ways to saw the design D,.m hole. first. No matter how you saw. each Individual part of the design needs to have a hole drilled In it to allow the blade to

into the proper spot. ll1e sawkerf should cv<:oiy surround each part. Assemble the picture.~ from the outside in so the spaces shrink until the final piece b put in place. The pands are now ready to he glued [0 a plywood suhstrate_ Fish giue wa.s the traditiunal choil.:c, bUl I ~ prefer epoxy for its better To watch a video of Kopf c rci'lt ing a hou lle pa nel. go to adherence to metaL To help

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the glue fi ll the sawkerf between tIl<: parts of the


pand, mix in some sanding dust from the dark wood. Apply the epoxy liherally to the plywood and place it on top of the two panels. The~ in turn should have glossy paper under them to prevent the glue from honding with a piece of VI6-in.-tilkk neoprene rubber {www.doSl.::dcdlroam~.c()m) on the b(xl of the damping press or vacuum bag:. Thi.~ mhber gives just enough to press the thinner brass onto the substrate. I've also used sheet cardhoard (not corrugated), but this should only be used






Always work from inside

to outside. Cut the in-

nermost parts first (right).

As you cut out the design.

organize the parts in the same pattern on a nonslip surfac o (oclow). I,


..! I

Deep-throated saw. You can buy a deep-tllroated fretsaw or coping or Traditional Woo dworker, Once you get use d to tile actioll, it is almost as quick as " powered semI/saw. in part beca us e tile blade strok e is much longer with tile handsaw.

saw at Woodcraft

Dedicated box for handsaw/ng. Mak& a plywood cube roughly a foot

In all dlmo ns/ons but open on one side. Saw a V·notch Of birds mouth in one of the Sides. Using the saw In this aretl allows th e

wo rkpiece to be supported on both sides of the cut.



[)",w inl?" Jo hn

T"'",~" l'

master class

c o oHo o, d

Assemble and press the panels

once hecause it doesn 't sp ring back like the fu hber. Now epoxy a piece of secondary veneer to the other side of the pJywocxl to prcvl.:nl it from wa rp ing. Clamp it overnight. After unc1amping the pair o f paneL~, remove the two layers

of paper and hegin leveling them

llsi ng




bringing down the ~vood using a file and then sandpaper, starting at PM-grit and working u p through the gfit~ until you achieve the luster on the metal you desire. It's important not to work too long in o ne area, or the friction em ht:at tht: mdal and break th~ glue bond . For this reason. don '( repeat a mistake [ once made of using a mndom-orhit sando.:r. TIlt' leveling was a breeze. but aJi the parts fell out when I was done! Boulle work can sprayed. brushed. or padded with 0 shellac o r lacquer to prevent the bra.~s fro m tarnish ing. PRESSING THE PANELS You can use a vacuum bag, a large veneor press, or regular clamps to press the boulle work. C au l--~/

Glossy advert ising pa per Fill In the blanks. After gluing paper to the show side of the panels. glue In the contrasting segments , working from the outside in.


'I2" if'l A h,ck

glue and filler. To fill the sawkerfs in the pan· els, Kopf mixes dark sawdust into the epoxy, applying it thickly to the plywoOd

pl ywood s ub strate

_-- --o£.

Boulle pan els

Gl ossy adverti sing paper

substrate USing a notched

Neoprene rub ber or cardooard


...... -

Clean, level, and polish the panels

Start with " scraper. Use a cabinet scraper to remove the backing paper and begin bringing rne w{)Qd flush with the brilss.


Continue w ith rfllng. A daub/IXvt bastard mill file . held on edge, helps flatten the wood without gouging th e metal,

Sand by h4nd. Don't sand for too long III one place or use a powered sander. In elfher case you might heat the metal too much and break the glue bond.

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finish line






Finishing oily woods SEAL IN THE PROBLEM , DON ' T WIPE IT AWAY BY



any woodworkers use exotic tTopical woods "uch as I"O"ewood, cocobolo, jatooa, bubing;l, 'w~e. Ie-•• k, and others. If you've ever applied ;In oil-005o;Xl finish to one of these woods, you have prnhahly nm into prohlems: Either rhe fin ish look ;l wry long time to dry. dried o nl y pania lly ,md "laved tacky. o r wouldn', dry at all And t!'ve n if the finL'lh dned, it nughl haV\: Pl:-t:iL>(1 or n.lkcd off laler. Your fi l""t reaction probably wac;; 10 bl.~Ole Ihe finish or you.:self, wilhout real izing Ihl.t the w(Jod was III la~'1 the l:ulplil. Natural oUs protect tropical wood

TropiLal and raln-furcs\ \\uuo:..b h;lVl' developed a natural rc~L~,ance to Ih,dccderaled decay caused by theil" ho t and steamy l"ovironmcnts. Extra(.1:lves {commonly referred to a:-. (lib) prool1ced hy the trees are n;lTllrJ.1Jy wat(.;r repdknt and ridl in chemicals k/lu\~ n ll~ llntiuxidants. nwse impede

Sticky sltuiltlon. The natural ol/s found In many tropical woods

slow down or preven t the drying of 01/ finishes.

or !l>low down the oxidation of other molcculc,~,

the decay

w lllch Lo; the

fj,~t ~ Iep

Seal with shellac _----= Wipe OIl s single coat of dewlJKed shellac such as Sea/Coat. Thh; seals in the woods natural 01/5,

TROPICAL WOODS CAN BLEED Two-C:one probkl m. When dark tropkal wOO(!' Is adjacent to light-colored wood, don't wipe or brush on a barrier coat of shellac. You might stain ffJe lighter wood with the dark wood's pigment (left), Spraying /s the solution, If you don'l own a spray gun, you can buy a can of


To understand why the~t' wood oil'> affect o il finishes, you have to under~ancl how oil finishes cure. Drying oih like M>}';l, tu ng, amI linseed (and rhe "arn i ~he<; and polyurethilne~ h.t...,nl on Iht-m) begin to dry by ab~rhlOg oxygen frQm tht..· ..Iir Into the h4U1d f1nL.,h on the wood',~ .,urface, '111e oxygen comhlnes with mok'('\Il;lr componen(.~ of

the finish,


other ch... nticai

mulct'uk::;, une- of whi~h i'> a free

raclkaJ. A frcc f:lclical molecule on



~tero(ds [t



has too

fIN!! WO()f)WOR1"I\G

Safe to finish. With ttle shellac dry, It Is safe to apply a clear topcoat of )'{Jur choIce.

Lacquer finish _


~ de



Vinyl Sealer

Two steps to a lacquer fI,.15h. First, spray on a coa t of vinyl saa ler to shut In th e tropical wood's oils. With the sealer clry and sanded, spray on topcoats of solvent lacquer.

many electrons, making it highly reactive (chemists call this unstable). The free mdical accelerates the tlnal stage, which is polymerizatiOn (curing) of the finish, On tro pical woods, this proces.~ is impeded by the antioxidants in the oily wood. Antioxidants donate a portion of their electrons to stahilize the fre e radical, thus neutralizing it.

As a result, the final curing or hardr:ning of the oil-based finish is slowed down dramatically. Shellac is the answer \Vhen 1 was learning to finish, r was told to wi]X down oily w()(Xls with lacquer thinner or acetone prior to applying oil-

lY.l.sed stain or tinbh. lllis hel~~ with the adhesion issue (finishes doo't bond well to oily wO(xls) as lonp: a~ you apply a finish within minutes, b ut it may not help ""ith the curing problem. This is because the evaporation of the solvenT pulls more oi l to the surface of the wood. A better strate~y is to seal the wood with a thin barrier of a finish that isn't affected by the oib. For solvent lacquer, you can spray on a barrier of v inyl sealer, but for most finishe~, use a coat of dewaxed shellac. You should use e ither readymade, wax-free Zimser SealCoat or make the shellac from dewaxed flakes . One CO

MahOgany and veneer are the exceptions Finishing wouldn't be fun (or exasperating. dependi ng on your ]X.!io( of view) if there weren't exceptions to the rule. Maho~any poses no problems, bcc:ausc it docsn't have thcM: types of oils. Commercial veneers al.-.o are benign , as the hot water used to prt!pare tropical lop;s for slicing chemically breaks down the oils. Finally, on decorJtive objects not subject to much handling. YOll can simply apply wax (with or w ithollt the shellac sealer), or nothing at all. You can produce a great shine on some tropical woods just by bllffin~. 0

No finish at all A na tural fin-

is h. You can

e:r.plort t he all In many trop/· cal woods and bring up a high shine by simply poliShing the bare wood on a buffing wheel.



Shaped to perfection BY


Vaughan transfers drawings to multiple sides of /J squared bi()(!K of wooer. He Ihen uses an Aroortech power carver fO shape the underside, leaving a flat on tile bottom where he can glue on it clamping block.


1i!e Gr:lnt V<.lughun's /lO'wing shapes (back cowr) suggest a carefree exploration of form. the reality is quite the optx>sitc, The design. drawing, carving, s:m ding, and refining of each piece takes weeks, not h01.\f5 or days. Wht::n Vaughan trkd to work in a kM structured way, carving and deSigning at tht; ,.;amc time, the de'iigns weren't suux:s."fui from all anglt.'S. Now, he \>'urks out th~ design tJt!fore he begins C'J.rving and a<X'Otnplishes these flu id. organic p ieces by working precisely and methodically. without;! lathe. which he feell> would limit hi:. d""si~n posslniilties


$hopm.d.ll, fOI' depth control. Once the outs/de Is close to rimtl shape. Vaughan usos the Arbortecl! to rough out the Inside to


about In. thick Bnd then moves to a JIg to drill multiple holes at .. cons/sliM! distance 'rom the ollter wall (right). Before drilling, he uses cal/pers to set the bit extenSion (above).

on any area that tha Arbortech can 't reach and to form any delicate details (aoove). The fina! smoothing' is done with sandpaper (up to 1200.grit wat! dry), both by hand and with foam disks, 21n . to 4 In. di;)., on a drill (right). 102


Anotller pa.. with fhe powe, carver, Because the tool is very aggressive, careful control is Important. Vaughan leiWes the drill marks barcly viSible and moves to cl'tlse/s and sanding disks to smooth the final surface.

'nterlocklnlt pI.c.-.. Because of Vaughan\\: precise shaping, one element of this White booeh vessel fits Inside the other without It base, joinery, or glue. (At right, th lt axtra width Is for the carved lip.)

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