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Armoire with
2 Full-Length Mirrors

With Freud's New Premier
Adjustable Rail & Stile System
Now with Freud's new, patented Premiel' Adjustable Rail and Stile route!' bit system, you are able to build
any style of cabinet door in a wide range of door thicknesses and sizes! This extremely easy-to-use
solution gives you unlimited creative freedom, and solves the long-standing limitations of existing frame
and panel door construction.
This one of a kind solution allows you to create extended tenons for extra door joint strength, adjust
groove width for different panel thicknesses and choose from a variety of material thicknesses for
your stiles and rails (518" to 1-1/4 "). Optional add-on cutters increase your bits' capabilities
even more, allowing you to create glass panel and double sided profile doors.
Four profiles are available; Round Over (lt99-760), Ogee (lt99-761),
Round Over Bead (lt99-763), and Bevel (lt99-764).

Prec~

tbe bnt.

To find more information, please go to:

www.freudtools.com/PremierRailandStile

Departments
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Workshop

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14 CNC Works o

20 Well-Equipped Shop
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JlmericanWoodworker.com

-Trock-

AUGUST / SHTEMIU 20 1 1

55, August/September 2011
EDITORIAL
Ed•tor In Chi~
Editor
s.r,,or Editor
Con bu!lng Editors

Olllce Admlnlstr~tor

Randy Johnson
Tom Caspllr
Tim Johnson
Lonnie Bird
Chris Onder
John English
Brad Holden
Alan Lacer
Doug Stowe
Shelly Jacobsen

ART. DESIGN

Art Director Joe Gohman
Dnc-.or of Photography Jason Zentner

Big Board Tips

Finishing How-To

Check out 5ways to flatten awide board at
AmericanWooclworker.corn/WebExtras

There's more about finishing walnut at

~1/Productlon

Barbara Schmitt

l'roduction Manager Michael J. Rueckwald

American Woodworker.corn/WebExtras
I'

Systems Engineer Denise Donnarumma
Cons...'"'et' Marketing Nicole McGuire

Newuand Consultant TJMontllll
s..oscr ptJon Manager JodiLH
-

!ulltlfls Manager Joe lzzo
etlng Manager Hannah dl Cicco
Nekeya Dancy

"9 Associate Adriana Maldonado
ADVERTISING SALES

Ziff bz. AmerlcanWoodworker.com
olllce (203) 509-0125
o
, stausteriiAmerlcanWoodworker.com
151- 551 c i630) 336-0916,fax (630) 858-1510

s.. Wngglo u.MggioiJAmerlcanWoodworker.com
12 398-5021,fu(91n591-6444
NEW TRACK MEDIA LLC
0> Ex«um.e Offker Stephen J. Kent
VIce Pres!Cient!CFO Mari<F. Arnett
• Pubhsh•ng Director Joel P. Toner

What's In A Tree?

Machine Smarts

Read the story of figured wood at

Learn how to master your mortiser at

AmericanWoodworker.com/WebExtras

AmerlcanWoodworker.corn/WebExtras

Customer Service
Subscription/Billing Questions
.AmerlcanWoodworker.com/Sublnlo
...,. awwservic. .AmericanWociCiworker.com
""-'.
Conldo (800) 666-3111, lnttrl'oOtiONI (515) 462·5394
,.,.. II: American Woodworker Subscriber Service Dept.
PO
•20235, Palm Coas~ FL 32142-<1235.

Back Issues
311NIIUI

SorT. a'1! ....ailable for 56.99 each. plus shipping and handling.
Ordt< 11 _....awbooi<store.corn/magazlnes

Finishing np

Contact the editors

See the dramatk results of using a paint pad to apply a water-based finish at
AlnlrkanWoodwcner.com/WebExtras

Mwlciln ~may~ lrlcrmatlon oboutyau with IWpU'
~ il order for them to"""' yau pmducU lind services
of I'ICIImt to yau. Wyau would ~Mh«we not~ Information. piNse
- t o us at: American w~. c~Serlllce Deportment.
P.O Box 420235, Palm Coast. FL 32142-<1235. PINse lndudu copy
of )I'OUr addms label.

Finish Like A Pro
Hs fumituremaker Brandon Morrison talk about finishing at
AlnlrkanWoodwcner.com/WebExtras
Find us on:

6

faceb00ke

AmericanWoodworker.com

Follow us on:

AUGUST / S HTEM I ER 1011

E.o : rw~itoriiAmerlconWociCiworker.com
I'IM>M: 952) 948-5890, FIX (952) 948-5895
, • ..., moll: 1285 Corporlte Center Drive,
Suite 180,Eagan,MN 55121 .

Subscrlbon: Wthe Post Ofllce alerts us that your magazine Is
~ we have no fur1her obligation unless we receive
a c:oneaed address within one )'Hr.

r

No pllrt of this publication may be reproduc~ by any mechanl·
cal, photographic, or electronic process, nor may It be stor~ In
a retrieval system, transmit!~, or otherwise copf~ (with the
exception of OM-time, non-commercial, personal use) without
written permission from the publisher.

Nature has something to tell you.

Thanks. The more efficient a system, the less energy it uses, and the
better it is for the environment. The York Affinity™ Series Air Conditioners
and Heat Pumps meet or beat the government's energy efficiency
standards with SEER ratings of up to 18. Plus, Affinity models are
available with eco-friendly refrigerant that is safer for the ozone layer.
And all Affinity models are so quiet, you and your "outdoor neighbors" will
hardly know when one's running. With Affinity, efficiency comes naturally.
Call your York Dealer at 800-910-YORK, or visit york .com to learn more.

UP TO $500 FEDERAL TAX CREDIT!*
·offer only available on select products. Call your participating York Dealer for promotion dotes and details.
Only available through registered York Dealers.

Th e eco-friendly York Affinity Series A ir Conditioners and Heat Pumps .

ijiYQRI(
lt'a time to get comfortable:

Workshop Tips

Clever Ideas From Our Readers

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AmericaaW'oodwomu.-

AUGUS T/ Sl ,TliiiiR 1011

You're using the most trusted
brand of paint in the U.S.

The Harris Poll
2011 EquiTren~
Paont Brand of the Year

*KILZ brand receoved the hoghest nurnenaol Eq.Joty
Score, Trust Score and Oualoty Score among Paont
Coatongs oncluded on the 2011 Hams Poll EquiTrend"
Study. Please go to www.kilz.com for further detaols.

When it comes to covering stains and old colors completely
and efficiently, confidence does come in a can - and it's
called KILZ~ primer. Recognized by the Harris Poll as the
highest ranked brand in its category for four consecutive
years,* KILZ primer reduces the chance that you'll be
applying topcoat after topcoat. Cover with KILZ primer...
and cover with confidence.

Kl
www.kilz.com

Workshop Tips

continued

Drawer Helper

The Best Brush: A Paint Pad

the mother of invention-isn't that
how the old nng should go for woodworkers? I
invented th' de,ice when I realized that the drawers
in my new armoire tipped down \ \'a}' too much (see
"Cabinetmaker' Armoire," page 34). Two of these
helpers, one at each comer, now keep each drawer
level when opened. They act as top , too.
I'd made the e drawer side I
than full height,
out of habit. (I al o succumbed to an urge to use
scrap wood that was "doe enou h.") That approach
is fine for drawers that ride on metal I ides, but I had
decided not to use lides on this project. Oop .
The 1" dia. ball bearing on top of the helper rides
on the drawer support or helf abO\·e. The e parts are
3/ 4" or o above the bottomed e of the face frame,
o the helper actually ticks up into the cabinet. That's
how it acts as a stop.
I rounded the bottom ed e of each helper and
installed it with a ingle <aew at the pivot point. To
install or remove a drawer. Jl t tip the helper forward.
john English
DESPERATION t

LEAVE NO BRUSH MARKS! That'

the holy grail for finishing a large, flat surface. If you use a water-based finish, here's a new twist for achieving that goal: Try a
paint pad.
I use a pad that's de igned for edging around
doors and trim with latex paint. Its surface consists
of hundreds of short synthetic bristle . You can find
pads like this in the paint department of most hardware stores and home centers, and they' re relatively
inexpensive.
With a paint pad, you can cover a lot of ground in
no time at all. That's the key to avoiding lap marks.
But best of all, a paint pad leaves a very flat, even urface, as if the finish had been sprayed. This saves a
lot of sanding time between coats and delivers a final
surface that doesn't need to be rubbed out.

Tom Caspar

See a video on applying a finishwith a paint pad at
AmericanWoodworker.mm/WebExtras

Terrific Tips Win Terrific Tools!
We'll give you $100 for every original workshop tip e p blish. One Terrific Tip is featured
in each issue. The Terrific Tip winner receives a $250 g· ca d.
E-mail your tip to workshoptlps• emerlcenwoodworker .com or send it to American Woodw
~ ori<shop Tips, 1285 Corporat~ Center Drive,
Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121 . Submissions can't be returned and become our property upon acceptanc~ and payment. We may ed1t submissions
and use them in all print and electronic media.

10

JbrutricanWoodworker.com AUGUST / S EPTEM I ER

2011

With its incredible versatility and
strength, Gorilla Glue is the ultimate
solution for all your adhesive needs.
Bonds wood, stone, metal, ceramic,
foam, glass and much more!

Workshop Tips

continued

All Bases Covered

Centering A Hollow Grind

I give my hop a thorough cleaning. When I di covered that the base of my drill press
had been harboring fugitives-drill bits, driver bits,
ere' , nail , nuts, bolts and a mouse that had gone
on to his great reward-! decided omething had to
be done.
With thi imple plywood cover, I'll rest easier
knowing that the next hop mouse will have to find a
new place to hide my tool and hardware.
Oneil Long

the
t ool I've found for adjusting a
grinder' tool r L
When vou need to find the center of a bevel in
order to duplicate an :1"'le, color the whole bevel
with a Magic . lar er or a harpie. Adjust the re t to
the approximate angle : the bevel, then tart up the
grinder and lowly advance the tool into the wheel.
Pull the tool back and take a look at the bevel.
You'll be able to tell exactly where the wheel
touched the tool-the ink \\ill be gone from that
area. Color the whole be\el again and adju t the rest
with a tap or two until you et the angle just right.
Bill Wellr

EVERY FEW YEARS,

12

Jl.mericanWooclworker.com

AuGusT /SE

r TE M 1 u a

11

A FELT-TIP PEN ·










Decorative Wood Carving
Precision Profile Cutting
Flourishes & Appliques
Custom Furniture &
Millwork
Cabinet Doors
Inlays
Carved Molding
CNC Routing

Booth ~*7909

AWFS

JULY 20-23, 2011

It packs
a punch.
Don't let the small size fool you. The ShopBot
Desktop is a lot more than a "starter CNC."
It's a powerful digital fabrication tool that gives
you the professional speed, power and accuracy
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future.

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See mony more ldeos ot www.oneldo-olr.com

CNC Workshop

By Randy Johnson

V-Carve Inlay
A simple method for creating precision inlays
from almost any design.

V-CARVE INLAY TAKES ADVANTAGE of

a CNC's ability to
precisely rout matching parts. In thi case the parts
are made as oppo ites and fit together to create a
precise-fitting inlay. The sides of the parts are beveled and fit together like the lid on jack-o'-lantern
pumpkin. The technique is surpri ingly easy to
learn and implement. in pite of the fact that it

would be nearly impo ible to create the e parts any
other machine or by hand. It's truly a technique
that' unique to the CNC. The fact that almost
any de ign can be u ed, open up many creative
opporutunite . As CNC's become more common
in mall hop , I fully expect to ee v-carve inla
howing up on furniture in orne intersting ways.

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JlmerlcanWooclworker.com

A U G UST/SEPTEMIER 2011

Step 1
Layout your design. Almost any design
will work, but all individual parts of the
design must be made with a single
continuous line so the router has a
complete path to follow. A shape that is
open-ended or has a gap in the line will not
be recognized by the v-carving program.
I designed this pattern (right) in about 15
minutes, using V-Carve Pro from Vectric.
I started with a single "petal" shape and
then copied it using a function called "copy
circular array• to create the 12 identical
shapes. There's no need to shy away from
sharp details such as corners or points.
V-carving programs excel at capturing such
detail. For more information on v-carving
see "V-Carving in 10 Easy Steps; -AW
#153, April/May 2011 , page 17.

.15"

)
Pock~t

.1 ~·
,.J 10"

Starting depth

/

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I

Step2

Step3

Set the flat area cutting depth for the pocket
portion of the inlay to .15~ Setting the depth to this
dimension provides clearance under the inlay to
ensure that it doesn't bottom out in the pocket. The
dotted line represents the location of the pattern,
which in this case is the surface of the board.

Set the cutting depth for the Inlay In two stages. First
set the "start• cutting depth at .1 0" and then the cutting
depth at .1 0~ Setting the cutting depths In this fashion will
ensure a small amount of clearance between the inlay and
pocket boards. The dotted line also represents the elevation
or the location of the pattern in the board.

Clearance

How it works
The angled shoulders of the inlay and pocket
intersect to create a tight, wedged fit. The cutting depths for these parts are set to provide clearance between the parts (Steps 2 and 3). The excess
top portion of the inlay is removed down to the
dotted line to reveal the final pattern (Step 7).

Clearance .--- - - - - - - - - - + -- - - ,
Inlay

-Poc.k~t

AUG UST / 5 E PTEM IE R ZO 11

JlmertcaaWooclwodrer.com

15

Step4
Rough rout the background and wide areas with a straight bit. Rough routing removes the majority of
the wood in the large areas. This reduces the amount of material the v-bit needs to remove in Step 5 and
shortens the overall machining time for the project by about 15 minutes. I also routed the cutout profile
around each part at this time, although the parts are still attached to the outer boards with tabs. It took
about 20 minutes to rough rout and profile this design.

StepS
V-carve the design details with a 90° v-bit. Notice that the inlay on the left sa irror image of the design
on the right. They must be opposites in both relief and orientation in order to
ogether. This is important to
remember when laying out and programming your design.This step took abou· 25 minutes.

16

Jlme:ricaJlWooclworbi'.C:ODl

AU GUST / S E ,TE Ill IE R ZO 11

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CNC Workshop

continued

Step6

Step7

Apply glue to both parts. A small brush makes it easy to
get the glue into the v-carved areas. The inlay portion has
been trimmed to rough size on the bandsaw.

nghten the clamps lightly at first and then add a little
pressure to each clamp until they are all fully tightened.
Applying uneven pressure can cause misalignment of the
parts. Leave clamped until glue is completely dried.

StepS
Rout off the excess material to reveal the final inlay. The ability to control the cutting depth in
increments as small as .001" makes it easy to precisely remove the extra material. For this project I used a
3/4" straight bit and programmed it to remove the majority of the material in 1/8" deep passes until it got
to within .02" of the surface. I then continued with .005" passes until the bit removed just enough material
to expose the inlay and get rid of the dried glue. This step took about 10 minutes.

To watch a video of v-carving inlay in action and to download this pattern, visit
AmericanWoodworbr.mrniCHC
18

JlmericaaWooclworlrer.com

AUGUST/SErTEMIEII 2011

I

Strobe Light • flashes when
dust barrel is full! Patent Pending
~I

Variable Speed •
automatically adjusts to
maximize suction and CFM •
Patent Pending
• Highest Airflow
• Highest Vacuum
23" WIC StatiC Pressure
2 • 3x Standard Dust Collector

?tu.u.l
Best Filtration
with Flame-Guard Technology
(Patent Pending)
G.E.® HEPA (H-12) Filter Media

Top Award Winner in All Independent Tests Since 1993.

•~~

00 -

l.:l:J -

Well-E

e Shop

Our Pick of the Latest Tools

A Real Stand-Up Clamp
that couldn't u e an improvement or two-even the humble bar clamp. Rockier's
new Sure-Foot F-Style Clamps have three improved
features.
First, Rockier has added 1-1/2" wide feet to the
clamps. When stood on edge, the Sure-Foots are more
stable than many other bar clamps. When gluing up
the leg shown at right, we found that this wide stance
allowed us to concentrate on aligning the parts because
we didn't have to worry that the clamps would tip over.
Second, the Sure-Foot's handle is very large and
comfortable. Its rounded triangular shape allows you to
apply plenty of torque. Other bar clamps have smallerdiameter round handles, which are harder to tighten.
Third, the clutch release is extra-long and has a soft
pad. This new design makes it easier to move the sliding
head for a quick adjustment.
With a bar that's 1" wide and almost 1/4" thick, the
Sure-Foots can exert quite a lot of pressure. They have a
2-1/2'' throat depth and faces that are larger than average. The clamps come in 6", 12", 18" and 24" lengths.
THERE ARE FEW TOOLS

S 0 U RC E Rockier Woodworking and Hardware, rockler.com,
800-279-4441 , Sure-Foot F-Style Clamps, $17 - $20.

The Vortex Cone
BETTER DUST COLLECTION is always
good new . Jet has added a new feature
to their dust collectors that reduces the
number of times you have to empty
the bag. It also helps keep the filter
clean in order to maximize cfm. They
call it "the Vortex Cone."
The Cone is a conical filter that
separates the dust collector's bottom
collection bag from the top filter bag
or canister. The dust stream enters
directly below it. Essentially, the Vortex
Cone makes a single-stage dust collector act like a two-stage dust collector,
according to Jet.
The swirling action created by the
Vortex Cone forces wood chips and
heavier dust particles down, whlle
pushing the smaller dust particles up
to the filtration bag or canister.
Jet says that the Vortex technology
increases the packing density in the
collection bag, resulting in fewer bag
changes, and that it also "prevents the
central airflow from floating chips into
the filter chamber, decreasing rapid
performance drop due to premature
clogging:'

Tran lated, this means that the cone
helps the dust collector maintain peak suetion by keeping chips away from the filter.
The Vortex Cone is available on three
1-1/2 hp models featuring either a 2 micron
canister, a 5 micron bag or a 30 micron bag.
It's also available on four 2 hp models; two
featuring a 2 micron canister (one has a
3-phase motor), one with a 5 micron bag
and one with a 30 micron bag.
Jet dust collectors with the Vortex Cone
are about $20 more than their non-Vortex
counterparts. For more information,
visit vortexcone.com.
Powermatic offers the same
technology-they call it the Turbo Cone--on six of their dust
collector .

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SOURCE

•;___

• Jet Tools, vortexcone. com,
SOQ-274-6848, 7 models from
$450 - $700.
• Powermatic, powermatic. com,
888-804-7129, 6 models from
$550 - 1200.

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.llmericanWoodworker.com

A U GUS T / S E PTE MIE

R lO 11

We're changing things up
in
ltimore
Gr ater. % f
-only booths
2 days of whol

And

Call for Applications

3 days of retail
aust the beginning •••

Baltimore ~Atlanta
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Paul ~San
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~

~
~22-23,

2012

Mar. 9-11,2012 Apr. 20-22, 2012 Aug. 10.12, 2012

F.b. 2....26, 2012

Deadline Aug. 1, 20 11
Late deadline: Aug. 8th
$100 late fee will apply

To see what's NEW and Apply
craftcouncil.org/apply
Bracelet by Arthur Hash



Now, turn a $5.00 rough board Into $75.00 worth of high-dollar
molding In just minutes. Make over 500 standard patterns, curved molding,
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The Well-Equipped Shop ~

continued

Wood Hog
SAY YOU'VE GOT a huge, uneven roughsawn board. It would

New Wave in Sanding
SANDING A CONCAVE SURFACE is no simple task-at least,

not with a power tool. Eagle America's new Bowl Sanding Kit has now made power sanding much easier.
The kit consists of a set of wavy-edge hook-andloop sanding discs and a soft pad with a 1/4" arbor.
When you're sanding, the wavy edges of the discs curl
around the edge of the pad. This allows the sander to
get into tight areas, such as the inside corners of the
router-made bowl shown above. The waves also prevent
the pad from gouging the sides or bottom of the bowl.
The arbor can be chucked into a drill press or a
hand-held drill. The vinyl-nitrile pad has the perfect
combination of firmness and flexibility that makes it
possible to get into even a very tight radius.
The kit contains 60 wavy edge sanding discs ( 10 each
at 80, 120, 180, 220, 320 and 400 grit).
SOURCE Eagle America, eagleamerica.com,
800-872-2511 ,
WhereWeShare.com
2" Bowl Sanding Kit, #502-3000, $50; 3-1/ 2" Bowl Sanding Kit,
#502-4000, $55.

make a fantastic top for a coffee table, but how are you
going to level it? Well, one way is to use a power planer,
such as this new unit from Porter-Cable.
A power planer is usually thought of as a carpenter's
tool, but it definitely has a place in the woodshop. Just
think of it as a really aggressive scrub plane or belt sander.
This newly rede igned planer features a 6 amp, 16,500
rpm motor. Its depth-of-cut dial has 11 positive stop ,
1/128" apart; the maximum depth of cut is 5/64". The
planer's sole is 11 -1/2'' long and the blades are 3-1/4" wide.
Three V-grooves in the sole allow you to make chamfers of
various widths.
The planer comes with two sets of blades: high-speed
steel and carbide. Porter-Cable suggests that you use the
high-speed steel knives, which are less brittle, when there's
a chance of hitting a screw or nail.
The planer comes with a mesh-filtered bag to catch
debris and dust. You can place the bag on either side of the
machine to get into a tight space.
S0 U RCE Porter-Cable, portercable.com, 888-848-5175,
6 Amp Power Planer, #PC60THPK, $90.

Isometric Drawing Tool
DON'T HAVE A DRAFTING TABLE? Can't draw freehand to

save your life? Here's a new tool from Lee Valley that
lets you easily make isometric shop sketches.
The tool has two parts: a standard 12" ruler with
a matte finish and an innovative black straightedge.
Seven slots are milled into the back of the straightedge
corresponding to commonly used angles (30°, 45° and
60° in both directions, plus 90°). Two rare earth magnets embedded in each slot hold the ruler in place at
any of these angles, like aT-square with an adjustable
arm. A small amount of play between ruler and slot
makes the angles only accurate to within 2°, but that's
OK for a sketch. The ruler can also be attached parallel
to the straightedge.
While playing around with this new tool, we found
that it's be t to tape the paper to a 9" x 12" piece of 1/4"
hardboard and turn the tool over. The paper stays put
and the board provides a reference edge.
SOURCE Lee Valley Tools, leevalley.com, 800-871 -8158,
Magnetic Straightedge, #15N03.01 , $40.
22

JlmerlcanWoodworker.com

A U G US T / S E PTE M IE R 2011

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The Well-Equipped Shop

continued

Set 'Em Up, Knock 'Em Down
AN EXTRA WORK SURFACE is always handy in the shop.
We've all thrown a large piece of plywood down on a
couple of sawhorses when we need a temporary bench,
but let's admit it-a top that can flex and sag is less
than ideal. This set of steel brackets from Rockier can
solve that problem.
They slide right over your horses. Cut a couple of
2x4s, fasten them to the brackets and you have a much
stronger and more stable base to work on.
SOURCE Rockier Woodworking and Hardware, rockler.com,
8Q0-279-4441, pack of 4 Sawhorse Supports, 1140544, $13.

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Simple Splines

Right-Handed Tape Measure

EXPOSED SPLINES are often used to reinforce a joint and
add decorative details to a box or picture frame. This
jig from Eagle America makes it very easy to cut the
slots for those splines.
The jig consists of a large V-shaped cradle mounted
on a large bed. The bed has a bar that slides in your
tablesaw's miter slot. The bar's width is adjustable, so
you can fine-tune the fit between the bar and slot. Having only a single bar, we were concerned that the jig
might wobble too much-but it worked just fine.
Inside the cradle, there's aT-track and two adjustable right-angled stop blocks. When cutting slots in a
picture frame, you position the blocks as shown. When
cutting multiple slots in a box, you would remove one
of the stops and reposition the other one for each cut.
The jig's base is made from 1/2" HDPE plastic. Its
smooth surface slides easily across a aw. The rest of
the jig's parts are made from expanded PVC, a lightweight but very stable material.

HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED that the numbers on a tape
measure read upside down?
Think about it. If you're right-handed, like me, you
hold a pencil in your right hand and a tape in your left.
Whenever you pull the tape from right to left to make a
mark, the numbers are upside down, aren't they?
You've probably become used to this arrangement,
but it really bugged the folks at M. Power tools. The
numbers on their Rl tape run the other way-rightside up, for me.
I'd like the tape a whole lot better, though, if it
didn't have a metric scale on one side. I'd prefer lines
that run all the way across the rule for the times that I
pull the tape in the opposite direction. I don't think I'll
be measuring in centimeters anytime soon!

SOURCE Eagle America, eagleamerica.com, SQ0-872-2511 ,
Spline Jig, 114oo-1 038, $120.
24

JlmerlcanWooclworker.com

AuGusT 1 s H TE M 1

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SO URCE M-PowerTools,WhereWeShare.com
m-powertools.com, R1 Tape Measure,
$13.

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A Great American Woodworker

An Artisan's Life Story

Brandon Morrison

Working with head, heart and hands (both of 1em).
by Spike Carlsen
z
~
LIKE

MOST

PASSIONATE

WOODWORKERS,

Brandon Morri on works with hi
hands, head and heart. But one thing
that make Brandon unique i hi nearlo of one of tho e hand and how that
factored into his decision to dedicate
himself to woodworking.
"I was cutting bevels on a table aw,
hit a knot and the wood started binding," Brandon explain . "I decided
to pu h it through. The next thin I
knew I wasn't pu hing the board and
my hand was hot." The outcome was
evered tendon and nerve and 190
titches. But there wa another outcome
as well. During the day after the
accident, Brandon made a deal
GlassSeriesNo.2
Lyptus, glass

I 33" X 1o·

\\ith the univer e: If he could make
it through one of the wor t cenario in woodworking, he could make
it through anything the field had to
di h out. "I decided I wa going to
dedicate my elf in a way that was nuts.
I was going to set the world on fire.
I was going to do something incredible." And he ha : Brandon received
the 2010 " tar of De ign" award for
product de ign from L.A.'s eminent
Pacific De ign Center.

From LA. to L.A.
Brandon grew up in the mall town
of Olla, Louisiana, knowing he was
omehow different. "Most people

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.lmericaJlWooclworluor.com

AUGU5T / S£,TEMI£R 2011

Wood Series No. 7
FSC walnut, zebrawood veneer
62"x 16"

HighChair
FAC Walnut, brass
45"x 13-1/2"x 16"

Glass Series No. 7
Walnut, glass

I 36" x 16"

made their living working on oil rig or logging and
I knew I didn't want to do that." An early intere t
in mu ic (and drumming in particular) awakened
his creative ide-a ide that' ne\'er gone back to
Jeep. In high chool Brandon pulled together a
band and wa determined to be a rock tar. After the
band moved to Lo Angele to record and play, it
soon Jo t momentum and fell apart. But Jo ing one
dream awakened another, a Brandon realized he
loved the energy of L.A.
He sold everything he owned in Loui iana and
mo\'ed to L.A. permanently-intent upon pursuing a career in acting. While some aspiring actor
pay the bills and make important Hollywood connections working as waiter , Brandon accomplished
the e mi ion b working as a handyman through
a Hollywood hardware tore. He worked for the
likes of Billy Bob Thornton, David pade, William
Shatner and the former chairman of Paramount
Picture . Even though he landed a bit part or two,
the acting part of the equation never panned out.
Instead, he began getting reque ts to repair and
build furniture. "I needed the money," Brandon
recall . "Even if I didn't know how to build ornething I'd ay, ' ure, I can do that.' After I built my
fir t table I felt like I'd built the T£Y Mahal. Using a
tablesaw was intoxicatin ; I ot the same great ru h

I'd gotten when playing mu ic and began thinking,
'Maybe I can make a living at this."'
Hi fir t work hop was a 4' x 15' lean-to hed that
doubled a a laundry room. "The workspace wa
mall and the door was only 2' wide, o anything
of any ize I'd have to work on outside. I'd chain
pieces to a porch po tat night o people wouldn't
steal them."
Hi collection of tool , skiJI and customer grew.
Brandon attribute much of hi early ucces to the

Kalifornia Rocker
FSC European beech,
milk paint. ivory vinyl
48" X 24" X 48"

AUGUST /S E PTE M IE R 2011

Jl.mericanWoodworker.com

27

A Great American Woo worker

continued

Metropolis Series No. 8
FASwalnut

I 72" x 18"x30"

internet, first through arti t-friendly sites and eventually his own website. He named his fledgling business whyrHymer-a Loui iana dialectal twist of his
family' dog's breed: Weimaraner.

oc-

Inspiration and perspiration
Without formal training or mentors, Brandon, now
36, has acquired most of his skills through clo e
observation of others' furniture, trial-and-error and
woodworking magazines. Lacking the know-how
to make tapered leg for one of hi first pieces, for
example, he canned back i sue until he found an
article showing how to make them.
Brandon is equally independent when it comes
to design. While orne of hi pieces have a ]arne
Krenov, Sam Maloof or Frank Lloyd Wright feel,
he's more influenced by how other woodworkers
think than what they produce. "I don't want to be
that other guy or turn out things that look like the
other guy's; but I'm very curious about how others
approach the creative proces ." His design inspirations often come from unusual source . The flowing curve and peaked grill of a '41 Chry ler coupe
inspired Brandon ' Kalifomia Rocker ( ee photo,
page 27, bottom) "California is known for its car
culture, so I decided to design a chair that felt driveable," he ays. A picture of a keleton inspired his
Wood Series No. 1 floor lamp ( ee photo, page 27,
top left}. "Figuring out joinery that would work for
my de ign helped me appreciate the intricacy of
nature' own de ign."
Brandon has indeed created a tyle uniquely hi
own. Many of his pieces have culptural elements
that are haped by hand, o even hi production

28

JlmericanWooclworker.com

AUG U 5 T I 5 E, T EM

IE R l

piece are indi\;dually
unique. "A fe\ · hour
spent on the culptural
aspect of a piece pa' a
big dividend ,~ he av .
"It create
of the
value, like a m 11 ,·oice
Glass Series #8
that somehow ere te a
Lumber, recycled glass
big sound." orne of hi
98 • x 16"
culpting and hapin is
done with a flea market
drawknife and me i done with a sanding drum
chucked into a hand-held electric drill (a tool often
u ed by gui tar maker ) .
Brandon · an arti t, but he' also a realist. "I
can't pend a crazy amount of time haping a part;
it' not economical for me and it's unaffordable for
cu tamer .~he e. ·plain . "I'm alway trying to figure
out way to be more efficient, trying to figure how
I can get a piece out of the hop without acrificing quality.~ nee he' geared up to make a pecific
piece of furniture. he'll often do hort production
runs of four or fi,e piece .
Brandon· wor pace, a few tep from his back
door, con 1
of a menagerie of interconnected
garage and he . He has one pace dedicated
to hea''' machinen, another to assembly and others for fini hin~ and torage. "It forces me to walk
around a lot.~ , I rri on explain . "It's like a built-in
health club . ~ He u e only ceo-friendly materials. All
of hi fini he are plant- or water-based and all of
hi hardwood and heet goods are FSC certified.
Black walnut beech, maple
and cherry dominate
WhereWeShare.com
hi woodpile.

011

Atomic Series No. 7
FSCwalnut
30" X 20" X 20"

Los Galos Series No. 7
FSC walnut, FSC cherry, black suede
49" X 49" X 22"

Brandon i active beyond the four wall of hi
workshop. The videos on hi web ite- orne in truetiona!, other in pirational-atte t to hi lm·e of filmmaking. He was a recent participant on "DIY Dominator," a DIY Network reality how in which three
woodworkers competed again t one another to
build a kitchen nook in 10 hours. And he dedicates
3% of the price of every piece of furniture he ell to
a charitable organization, and invite hi cu tomer
to do the same. Why? "There are o many people
in thi world who cannot do what th y want to do,"
Brandon ay . "And I am o fortunate to be able to
wake up every morning and have that choice." ~

Seeing the lig t
Though few people think of lamps and
lighting as furniture, Brandon has illuminated
this dark corner of the woodworking world.
His inspiration dates back to his days of
working at the hardware store. One day, while
viewing sunlight coming through a bushel
basket, he began pondering the possibility of
crafting lampshades from wood. That notion
lead to the lamps he builds today.
One element that factors into all of his
lighting designs is the importance of good
lighting. "It's one thing to make a novelty lamp
that people 'ooh' and 'aah' over; he explains.
"But it's another thing to make one that's truly
functi onal ~ Referring to his Manhattan Series
No. 7floor lamp (at right) Brandon explains,
"Perched next to a couch or chair it's good
for reading; positioned in a corner it provides
good general lighting; and wherever it is, it
illuminates and highlights both the beauty of

Contact Brandon and see more of his work at
www.whyrHymer.com.

Spike Carlsen is author of A plintered History of
Wood: Belt ander Races, Blind Woodworlu>rs and Baseball
Bats. Hi newe t book, RidiCILlously imple Fumiture
Projects (Linden Publi hing), i now available.

See Brandon talk about finishing at
ArnericanWoodworker.com/WebExtras

the wood and the joinery.•
Brandon's shades are small works of art
in themselves. Some are made from organic
linen, silk shantung, aluminum, recycled
glass and other unique materials. Others
are made using wood veneers combined
with a special backing membrane.
"Building a good light is a challenge; he
explains. "It needs to be not only beautiful
and useful, but also constructed to deal
with heat buildup and expansion and
contraction. You have to figure out how to
hide the cord and how to make the bulbs
easy to change. It has to be safe (my lights
are all UL certified), and you need to think
about what it will look like in five years."

Manhattan Series No. 7
FSC walnut. silk shantung
57" X 24"

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2011

AmericanWoodworker.com

29

Tool Talk

Delta 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lath e

AN IDEAL BALANCE between ize and
capability is the promise that mo t
mini lathe pre em: small enough
to tore on a helf or under a
bench, but big enough (having sufficient mass, power and capacity) to
tum izeable bowl . Delta' 46-460
variable peed midi lathe actuall
make good on thi promi e.
What sets the 46-460 apart i
that its 1-hp motor actually has
adequate low-end power to match
its 12-1/ 2" wing. The 46-460 allows
making hefty cuts (for a mall
benchtop lathe) at low peed in
heavy green-wood bowl blanks
without ignificant tailing. Thi
i a real acid te t for green bowl
turning-a te t that mini lathe
typically fail.
The 46-460' electronic va1iable
speed sy tern i impre ive. It has
three peed range (250-700 rpm,
600-1 00 rpm, 1350-4000 rpm)
and i extremely quiet in operation. peed range are important
for both performance and afety.
Headstock pindle peeds above
750 rpm are be t for pindle
work. For bowl turning, e peciall}

for roughing out the blank, slow
peed (with power) is Clitical. The
46-460' lowe t peed range (250700 rpm) i ignificant because it
allows maintaining reasonable lim
peed when turning large or outof-balance bowl and plate . Rim
peed (the rpm at the edge of the
bowl) increase as the bowl' diameter increase ; hence, larger bowl
require lower pindle peeds.
Changing peed range is imple: Pop open the covers, lift a lever,
lide the belt and lower the lever.
That' it; you don't have to lift a
motor, loo en handle or make any
other awkward maneuv r. A handy
number d dial make it easy to
monitor and change peed within
each speed range.
The 46-460 i equipp d with a 1"
pindle, a head tock pindle lock,
an indexing wheel and a rever ing switch. (Some turners prefer
reverse rotation for fini h anding.) It come with a good-quali~
3" faceplate that' plated, o it won 't
mst from green bowl blanks, and
6" and 10" tool re ts that are functional, rather than bein cheap

toys. Capacity between centers (for
spindle turning) is 16-1 / 2" or 42"
with the available bed exten ion.
A few minuse mu t be noted.
You have to reach over the top of
the headstock to reach the on/
off and reversing witche . There 's
a pinch point b tween the handwheel and the pindle lock. And
the weight (97 lbs) that help to
make the 46-460 table duling use
also make it hard to move around.
The 46-460 i perfect for turning pen , lidded boxe ,jewelry and
the tinie t miniature , but its bowlturning capability at low peed i
the big new . Thi balance make
the 46-460 a great choice for anyone who \vants to tart turning, has
limited pace or intend to do relatively mall work . ...6

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SOURCE

Delta Power Equipment Corp.,
deltamachinery.com, 800-223-7278,
12-1/2' Variable-Speed Midi Lathe,
#46-460, $649.99; Modular Midi-Lathe
Bed Extension, #46-463, $159.99.

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.&mertcanWooclworker.com

AuGusT 1 s £' T £ M 1£ ~ 2 o 1 1

EW INVENTION!

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WhereWeShare.com

My Shop

Where Our Readers Live

When the cars go away, the tools come out to play.

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LIKE MANY OTHER WEEKEND WOODWORKERS, I have an agreement with
my wife. I can do whatever [ want
in the garage, as long as I put the
cars back in at night. As my garage
must al o accommodate bicycle ,
automotive tool , yard tools and
anything else that's not allowed in
the house, meeting this challenge
mean that my woodworking tool ,
workbench and carts must be mobile. Putting everything on wheel
is also important because the nowy
winters in this mountainous part of
California mean the garage floor
frequently gets wet.
Whenever I think about adding
a new tool, I need to decide how
badly I need it, where it will go, and
mo t importantly, what I'll have to
get rid of to make room for it. And
because of the tight pace, I don 't

have the luxury of building large
projects. But if I need to tore an
uncompleted project overnight, our
agreement doe allow temporarily
moving it into the house, as long as

it move back out the next day.
The heart of my hop i the tablesaw, of course, which tore neatly under a helf in a comer. When
it gets pulled out, so do the infeed

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AUGUST / SE,TEMIER 2011

and
outfeed carts.
They're built to tablesaw height with locking casters and helve
underneath for toring
tools uch as the compre or, grinder and
miter saw. The added weight of
the e tool help the carts stay put
during use. The e carts, which also
erve as mobile work tation , tore
again t the wall, where they tuck under a plywood work surface. him
in erted between the carts and the
work surface tum it into a rock-solid
workbench.
Another mobile cart doe double-duty as a stand for the planer and
o cillating spindle sander. The e
and
tools are fixed to wooden b
can be exchanged, dependin on
which tool i needed. The hop-

mith, with
its multiple
tool functions, al o
re pectsmy
space-saving and double-duty mantra. As you can see by the walls and
ceiling, every quare foot counts,
including the pace underneath the
mobile carts.
Once the cars are out and
the tool are et up, my creativity
stretches to fill the open pace. This
i when all my carefully planned organization really pa off. ~

Dave Hunter
Truckee, CA

AUGUST/SEPTER

Ml E R 2011

.l.merlcanWooclworker.com

33

Cabinetmaker's Armoire
Layered construction makes a
huge project easy to build.

by John English
LARGE PROJECTS often require dozen
of complicated joints, but not this one.
I've implified this armoire' de ign
o that it goe together in easy stage ,
much like the cabinets made in a large
production hop.
Although the armoire looks like it
has classic frame-and panel con truction,
underneath orne applied piece it's
really just a plywood box. That's where
we'll tart.

Build the box
You'll need two heets of 3/ 4" plywood
and one heet of 3/ 8" plywood. Begin
by cutting the cabinet side , top, bottom, divider and helf (Al-A4, ee Cutting List, page 38). Rout dadoe and
rabbets in the e piece (Photo 1 and
Fig. C). U e an undersized bit for the
dadoe , o the plywood will fit tight (see
ource , page 38).
The box will be crewed and glued
together. Drill hole for the crews from
the in ide of each piece to ensure that
the hole are centered in the dadoe .

34

Americ&llWooclworlter.com

AUG U 5 T /5 E PTE

MIE R l

011

Three or four ere\' per dado should do it. ounterink the holes on the outside. Assemble the box \\ithout glue and drill pilot hole the fu ll length of the
crews. Cut the back (AS) to fit. Take the box apart.
Glue the box in tage , adding one piece at
a time. Thi method help ensure that the box
remain quare- an e ential requirement for a
project with door and drawer . Wait for the glue to
dry before moving on to the next tep. Begin with
the helf and divider (Photo 2). Add the top, then
the bottom. Next, add each side. Make glue blocks
(A6) and place them underneath the top and bottom to reinforce the joints. J u t rub the blocks in
place; they don't have to be clamped or nailed.

Build a face frame
The front of the box is covered with a face frame
(Fig. A). Cut the parts (B1-B4) o that the completed frame is about 1/ 8" wider and taller than the
box. Clamp the frame together without glue and
drill pilot hole for the crews. Take the frame apart
and counter in k the hole . Counterbore two of the
hole for plug (the one on the right ide of the
he if; ee Fig. A). The rest of the crew head won't
show. Glue and crew the frame together.

This clothes closet has
full-length mirrors inside
both doors.
u

<

CD

a:

r

0
a:
:.:

z

Build two leg frames

z

The sides of the armoire are al o frame . Each one
con its of two leg (Cl) and three rail (C2 and C3).
The legs and rail are quite th ick; it' OK to laminate
them from thinner tock. Mill the leg and rails to
ize, then taper the end of the legs with a handsaw
or plane.
Cut morti e in the leg (Fig. D). Mill the tenon
on the table aw with a stacked dado et (Photo 4).
Split the large tenons on the bottom rail by ripping
the tenons on the handsaw (PhotoS). Clean out the
wa te with a chi el, working from both ide .
Glue up the leg frame , checking that they're
both flat and square. When they're dry, glue and
screw them to the box (Photo 6). Install the cabinet' back.

0

z
r
Q
>
r
0..

<

a:
\:l

2
0

::::
:>.

a:

<

0..

"'
<
u
::!!
0

Assemble the
box with glue
and screws.
Start with just
two pieces:
the shelf and
center divider.
Make sure this
assembly is
square before
moving on
to the next
glue-up.

Glue the face frame to the box (Photo 3). Make
ure that it overhang each ide by about 1/ 16". U e
a router and a flu h-trim bit to even up the frame
with the ides and top of the box.

<

a:

Begin by building a plywood box. Rout dadoes in its three
vertical pieces to receive the top, bottom, shelf and back.

Add side panels
Each ide of the cabinet has two panels (C4 and
C5). Make each et of panel from one large blank
o the wood' figure \\ill run continuou ly from the

Build a face frame and glue it to the front of the box. The face
frame consists of parts that are just butted and screwed together.
Next, build two
frames with

legs to goon
the sides of the
cabinet These
frames carry
the cabinet's
weight, so they're
constructed
with strong
mortise and
tenon joints.
AuGuST / Sf PTE Mil R 1011

AmericaaWooclworker.com

35

Place the panel in the frame , one at a time. Don't
upper panel down to the lower panel ter gluing up
the blank, cro cut it into two piece . B ure that the u e any glue. ut the molding piece to length and
blanks are about 1/ " narrower than the opening in in tall them \\ith a brad nailer (Photo 8).
Attach the two-part crown (Dl-D4, Fig. B). Make
the leg frames, so the panel will ha'e room to expand
in humid weather.) Apply a medium walnut tain to the the lower as embh· fir t, routing the profile after miterface ide of the panel to even out the ap and heart- ing and gluing the piece together. Make the upper
half of the crown, and glue it to the lower half. Stain
wood colors (Photo 7).
Make the molding (C6) that goe around the pan- the entire crown and crew and glue it to theca e.
el . Start by milling boards that are about 5" to 7" wide.
Rout profiles on both ide of the board using a 3/ 8" Doors and drawers
radiu bearing-guided cove bit mounted in a router Each door has two Ia ·ers (Fig. F). In front, a frame urtable. Rip the board to create molding trip , then round two panel ; in back, there' a full-length mirror.
rout the boards again. Repeat thi proce s until the The panel and mirror are held in place by a rabbeted
board are about 2" wide. (Piece narrower than thi
molding (Fig. G).
Cut the tile (El) and rails (£2 and £3) to ize. Cut
are difficult to rout.) Apply tain to all of the molding.
WhereWeShare.com

Fig. B Crown Molding Details
Fig. A Exploded View

Download a free Sketch Up plan
for this project at
AmericanWooclwa.mm/WebExtras
36

.llmeric:aaWooclworker.com

AUGUST /SHHIUER 2011

mortises in the stile (Fig. E). Mill tenons on the rail .
then glue the frame together. Use a bearing-guided bu
to rout a rabbet in the back of each of the four openin
(Photo9). Leave the comers round.
Make the door panels (E4 and E5) in the arne
manner as the side panel . Round their corners to
match the rabbets. Rout a profile on the face of the
panels using a vertical panel-rai ing bit chucked in the
router table. Support the work with a tall fence. Start
with a shallow pass, then go deeper. Te t the fit of the
panels in the frames as you go; the backs of the panel
should be flus h with the back of the door frame when
you're done ( ee inset to Photo 9).
Have the mirror (E6) cut at least 1/ 16" under ize
all around (like a piece of window glass) and buy some
standard self-adhesive ponge weather- tripping tape.
(The tape protects the mirror by ab orbing the shock
of clo ing the door.) Make the molding that goe on
the back of the door (E7 through E9). U e a test piece
to figure out the depth of the rabbet on the back of
the molding (Photo 10). Cut the molding to length
and fasten it to the door (Photo 11 ).
Mter the doors are assembled, turn them face-up
and rout a cove along the outside edge of the fronts.
As the doors are inset between the legs, they won't

Saw the largest
tenons into
two parts. Use a
fence to guide
the cut. Clamp a
stop block to the
fence to limit the
cut. Glue the leg
frames together.

Glue and screw
the leg frames to
the sides of the
cabinet.

Fig. C Plywood Dadoes and Rabbets

Make large
walnut panels to

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"
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Learn more about finishing walnut at
AmericanWoodwol1rer.mm/WebExtras

fit into the frames.
Stain the panels
to even out their
color.

Place the
panels in the leg
frames, then add
molding all the
way around. The
panels are slightly
undersized, so
they're free to
expand and
contract.

open more than 90° without thi cme.
The drawers (Fl through F3) are imple boxe with
applied walnut face (F6). Build them am way you
wish-I u ed 3/ " x 3/8" rabbets and dadoe to make
hook-and-tongue joints. Build the drawer boxe fir t,
add the run ner (F4 and F5) to the case and add the
face last.
After I buil t my drawers, I noticed that they drooped
too much . I added orne anti-tip de,;ce (F7, Fig. H)
which al o act as drawer top . To in tall or remove a
drawer from the case, you just Jean the ticks forward
( ee "Drawer Helper," Workshop Tip, page 11).

and A , ee ource ). Ma ·e brackets for the rod (A9)
and in tall them in the cabinet. Hang the doors with
oYerla hinge . then apply three coats of wipe-on pol
(Photo 12). Last. in tall the door pull ( ee ource ) .
Open the door. look in the mirror and mile! ....6
SOURCES

· Freud, freudtools.com, 800.334-4107, 23/32" straight
bit for undersized plywood. li 12-150, $30.
· California Dowel and Turnings, woodproducts.caldowel.com,
714-523-8278, 1-1/4 walnut dowel rod, 36'1ong, $11.30.
• Myknobs.com, 866-695-6627, AmerockTraditional Classics Bright
Brass Knob, 1 1/2', #AME-12037, $4.60 ea.; Amerock Self-Closing

Finishing up

Face Mount Variable Overlay Hinge in Bright Brass, IAME-50962,

Turn or purchase walnut dowel for the do et rod (A7

$2.60 ea.

Fig. 0 Leg Frame Joinery

Cutting List

i:.._Y.:>"

Overall Dimensions: 78" Hx40·1/8" Wx25· 314'' 0

Section Part Name

I"

c..a

E·,·

A1
Al

A3

Side
Top and bonom
IIMder
Shelf

Blct

Qty. Material

ThxWxl

2
2
1
1
1
16
1
4
2

2

(1
Q

SNits

0
25- 3/'1"

t

". I

'1-Y.:>"

I

:t:

(4

:r

I

Clown Molding

711·:J

Fig. E Door Joinery

Front and back leg
Tap n middle 1eg Qil
Bottom leg rail
llpplfpnl

cs

~panel

(6

Pnl~

01

Base piece, front

1

02

a. jieu.lltlln

03

Cap piece, front

1

D4

Up

2
4

E1

-!!IIIII

Door stile

2

E2
E3

Door 111p n middle r111
Doorbonom rail

4
2

E4
E5
E6

llpplfpnl

2

....

~panel

E9

Top molding
Side making
Bottom molding

F1

FRnnllit

F2

Side
lloaanl

E7

E!

2

Walnut

2
2

4
2
4
4
2
4
2

Maple or birdl

Mlplf cr bidl
Maple or birdl

Y!IDw!'IIPIIf
Yellow Poplar

F6

Face

2

Mawfapllr
Maple or birdl
Mlplfcr bidl
Walnut

F7

~sti

4

Maw~

F3
F4

FS

.._IWS,._
Runner, ~ plate

Notes:
1) Glue two or three thinner pieces together, then plane to final thickness.
b) length indudes two 3/4"1ong tenons.

c) Panels are undersized 1/4" side-to-side and 1/8' in length to allow for wood movement.
d) Length indudes two 1/2' 1ong tenons.

t )Mitertofit.
f) Length indudes two 3/8"1ong ten

38

Jl.medcuaWoodworJo:er.com

AUG

U5 T/5 E,T EM IE R 2 0 11

Now, on to the
doors. After

Fig. F Door Construction

·-.·-...

COVE
•,

...........

gluing them
together, rout
rabbets all the
w ay around the
inside ofthe
openings. Make
walnut panels
with round
corners to fill the
openings (see
inset).

Make a

molding to
hold mirrors on
the back of the
doors. Use foam
weatherstripping
to cushion the
mirrors. Test the
depth of the
molding's rabbet
to make sure it
holds the mirror
tight.

es
OVE,f'LHY
"1/IN'GE

Fig. H Drawer Anti-Tip Device
Fig. G Door Details

(IH.

(B~j,f'I

Install the
molding with
brass screws.
If the mirror
ever needs to
be replaced, it
will be easy to
remove.

.,

1" 41 10

P4N'
SC,f'Ew

"~

Apply

John English has

a wipe-on
poly finish
to the whole
cabinet.

been writing how-to articles
and books for more than
15 ears. He and hi wife,
eg, live in South Dakota,
where he teaches joinery
and furniture building
at the Black Hills School
of\\Cxxh\orking.

AuGuST 1Sl 'TE M I

u

zo11

.&merieaaWooclworlter.com

:S9

Log Cabin Writing Desk
Rustic tradition meets
modern style.

by Chris Cander
and

ark Love

because it was
in pired b a Jog cabin. Squint a bit and you'll ee logs and
chinking-the muck-and-straw mixn1re pioneers depended
on to keep out drafts. Squinting isn't necessary to appreciate
the de k' pacious writing surface and ample torage or its
Arts and Crafts motiE and modem tyle.
Like a log cabin, thi de k i heavily built; its legs are
made from 8/ 4 walnut, its rail from 6/ 4 walnut and its figured maple top i fully 1" thick. Figured maple pline fitted
between the rails create the chinking.
COZINESS IS BUILT RIGHT INTO THIS DESK,

The legs
MiU the le to final ize as rectangular blanks ( 1, Fig. A,
page 42 and Cutting List, page 47). Two of the legs go on
the paneled front: three legs eparate the drawers on the
back. The front le have morti e on the inside edge and
the adjacent in ide face. The back legs ha\'e morti e on the
in ide face onh. The 1 2" mortise arc alway paced 11 / 16"
from the in ide d e; the 3/ 8" mortise are alwa paced
40

AmertcanWoodworker.com

AuGusT s E, T EM 1 E R 1 o 11

l/2" from the in ide ed e (Figs. B,
D and E). The 1 2" mortises on the
front legs are stepped. o they don 't
intersect.
Lay out the 1 ' 2" morti e and
rout them usin a plun e router
with a guide fence and a 1 2" upcut pi raJ bit (Photo 1). omplete
each mortise by makin a erie of
incrementaJl deeper p e . Rout
the tepped mortises in tage . First,
rout full-length to the hallow depth.
Then adjust the plunge depth and
rout the deep portion. imilarly, lay
out morti e for the pline and rout
them with a 3/ 8" up-cut piral biL
Square the ends of these morti e
with a chi el.
hape the legs (Fig. C). Cut the
tapers a tiny bit wide to allow removing the saw marks b making a pass
on the jointer or with a hand plane.
e a jar or a lid to draw the arcs on
the feeL Then saw the curve and
sand them mooth. Cut 3/ 8" deep x
3/ " quare holes for the decorative
plugs. A mortiser doe the job in one
tep, but you can also drill the holes
and square them with a chi el.

Rout mortises
the legs for
rails and fig red
maple splines.

Cut tenons on the
rails with a dado
set. The tenons
are offset from
center, so cut one
cheek and then
adjust the blade
height to cut the
other cheek.

The rails

The tenons that

Mill tock for the rails (A2-A4) and
cut them to final dimension . Then
layout the tenon (Fig. G). Note that
1) the rail tenon are always offset
toward the outside face, and 2) when
the joint is assembled, the rail' in ide
face is alwa flush with the leg.
se a dado set and a led or a
miter gauge with a stout upport
fence to cut the rail tenons (Photo 2).
Po ition the rip fence to e tablish the
tenon ' length. ut the in ide cheeks
first, matching their houlder height
to the 11/ 16" distance between the
edge of the leg and the 1/ 2" mortise . Lower the blade to cut the outide cheeks. tart b making a hallow
cut on one rail,
the tenon is too
thick to fit the mortise. Then make
additional passe , raising the blade
in mall increments until the tenon
fits without binding or wobbling.
Onl the comer of the tenon \\ill fit
into the mortise at this point. o it' a
good idea to verify the correct thickn with a dial caliper. When you'\e
dialed in a perfect fit, fini h cuttin
all the tenon ' outside cheek .

go in the front
legs are stepped
to nest together.
This creates a long
tenon on each
rail and a haunch
for additional
strength. The
mortises are
similarly stepped.
Round the ends
of the tenons
to match the
mortises.
Test-fit all the
panel assemblies.
The rails for
the side panels
(shown here)
have wide tenons
at the back and
stepped tenons at
the front.

AUGUST / SIPTEMIIR JOI I

AmericazaWooclworker.com

41

WhereWeShare.com

Fig. A
Exploded View

{;. '?OJN'])OV£~ w/ riLL£!

4s
5MM,. 30MM
])OMIN'O (-r(P)

Bl

48

7'li. 'l'li. 'l'li.
)<

)<

MO,f'/IS£(-r(P)

Q

IOMM x 50MM
])OMIN'O (-r(P)

Detail1 Bank Drawer

Detail 3 Drawer Pull

~-~~8.

Detail 2 Pencil Drawer

Read the story of figured wood at
ArnericanWoodworlrer.com/WebExtras
Learn more about spiral router bits at
ArnericanWoodwortrer.com/WebExtras

42

AmericanWoodworker.com

AuGusT sEPT EM 1 ER z o 11

Repo ition the blade <md tand
each rail on edge to cut the end shoulders. Next, use the handsaw equipped
with a fence to cut the tepped tenons.
Then round the ends of the tenons to
fit the mortise (Photo 3).

The panels
Leave quare the top edges of the
four top rail and the inside edge of
the rail on the side panel and in ide
panel that form the drawer bank.
Round over the re t of the rail edge .
Cut centered grom·e for the figured maple pline on the appropriate
rail edge . Mill the pline tock to fit
the groove and then cut the spline
(A5-A7) to length and width. Apply
one coat of fini h to the pline .
Te t-fit each panel assembly without glue (Photo 4). Mark the top
edges of the four middle drawer
bank rails. Disassemble the panel
and carefull glue cleats (A ) on the
marked edge (Fig. F). The e cleats
allow in tailing the two middle web
frame . Sand all the parts to 1 0 griL
Rout morti e in the front assembly for the in ide rail tenons and

Rout mortises or
the inside pa
s
ra ils and sp nes
in t he fron pane~
which is damped
together
hout
glue.The mstde
panel's ra tls have
wide tenons on
both ends.

Assemble the
web frames with
loose tenons. A
Domino joiner
works like a
biscuit joiner, but
it creates mortises
rather than slots.

Fig. CTapered Leg
Fig. B Leg Mortise Dimensions

Front Panel Legs

Dimensions

Side Panel and Inside Panel Legs

AUGUST I S E PTE M IE R 2 0 11

JlmarlcaaWoodworker.com

43

lnsull Domino
tenons in both

sidesofthe
assembled web
frames. They'll
position the
frames in the case.

Bwnlsh the web
frames so the

drawers slide
smoothly. Melt
paraffin wax into
the wood with
an iron. Allow the
wax to cool, then
vigorously rub the
surface with an
abrasive pad.

WhereWeShare.com

Flg.D
Front Panel Mortises

44

JlmericiUlWoodworker.com

Fig.E
Side and Inside
Panel Mortises

AUG UST/5 £ ,TE M I£ R 2011

plin
Photo 5 and Fig. D). Note
th t the 1/ 2" mortise are 13/ 16"
deep
lamp the
embly quare
and make ure each rail is correctly
po itioned.
aT-square and meaure from the assembly' leg to locate
the 1 2" mortise . Make ure the e
mortise perfectly align with the
morti e you've already cut on the
leg that goe with the in ide rail .
Po ition a traightedge to guide the
router, then plunge-rout the mortise . Repeat the procedure to rout
the 3/ " mortise .

The web frames
The web frame upport the drawers,
provide tructure for the case and
continue the chinking detail (note
that the two middle web frame tile
are made of curly maple). Make each
frame about 1/ " oversize in width,
so it can be uimmed to fit just before
in tallation. Use Domino tenon or
biscuits to join the tile and rails
(B1-B2, C1-C2, Dl- 0 2 and Photo
6). Glue and clamp, making ure
every frame is square and flat. Mill
centered morti
for Domino tenon (or bi cuit lots) in both ide of
each frame. Install the Domino tenon (Photo 7). Then sand the frame
to 1 0 grit and burnish their top urface with paraffin (Photo 8).

The side panels
Glue the legs and rail together to
create the two ide panels (Photo
9). Make ure the rail are paced
exactly 3/ 4" apart U ing the same
pacing, glue the in ide rail to the
middle back leg- this creates the
inside panel. When the glue is dry,
remove the clamps and uim the
front tenon to 3/ 4" long.
Glue on the pacer (A9). The
pacer builds out the top rail for
attaching the pencil-drawer face
frame . Its bottom edge hould be
flush with the outside edge of the
leg; its top edge will protrude slightly,
because of the leg' taper. In tall the
in ide panel pline without glue.
The top, bottom and middle web
frame fit between the ide panel and
the inside panel to form the drawer
bank. Transfer the mortise location
from the e web frames to the two
panels (Fig F.). Then cut the mor-

tise in the rails and cleats (Photo
10). Burnish the inside urfaces with
paraffin to help the drawers lide easily. (Keep wax away from the open
joints and the leg fronts.} Repeat the
proce to rout mortise for the two
pencil-<lrawer web frames.

The case
Assemble the front panel rails and
pline without glue. Square this
assembly and then glue and clamp
the in ide panel to it (Photo 11 ). As
before, don't glue the splines. Make
ure the in ide panel is square to
the front panel. Note: This unusual
assembly will be omewhat unstable
as the following tep are completed.
Apply glue and slide the drawerbank web frame into po ition
again t the in ide panel. Similarly,
apply glue and lide on the drawer
bank ide panel (Photo 12). Make
ure everything' aligned and square,
then clamp. Repeat the proce to
in tall the pencil-<lrawer web frames
and the remaining ide panel.
Create the decorative plugs
(AlO) from a length ofwenge milled
just over 3/8" quare. Create facets
on the end using a disc sander with a
wom-<>ut 220 grit disc. Clamp a fence
to the table, facing the disc about 10·
from perpendicular. Set the wenge
on the fence and gently push it forward to touch the disc. Tum it, and
repeat the process three more times.
Cut off the end to create a plug that's
about 3/8" long. Ease the rough<ut
comers by dragging the plug at an
angle aero a piece of sandpaper.
Dab a bit of glue in ide the hole
and gently tap in the plug, using a
piece of leather to prevent marring.

Glue the side
puels together.
Apply glue o the
large mortises
the legs and to
the rail tenons.
Don't glue the
splines-they
float between
the rails to
disguise seasonal

movement.

Cut mortises for
the web frames
in the side panels
and in the inside
panel.

Fig. F Web Frame Cleat Locations

Fig. G Rail Tenon Dimensions

The drawers
Rough out the drawer box parts
(El-E4, Fl-F2, Gl-G2, Hl-H2 and
J) and let them it overnight to tabilize. Then mill the parts exactly as
wide as the height of the pace they
will fit into.
Use a dovetail j ig to cut through
dovetails in the box parts. Cut groov
for the draw r bottoms and dadoes in
the pencil drawer ides for the di\ider.
Mark each drawer ide according
to where it will go and tide it into
the appropriate openin in the
e
AUGUST I SE PTE M I E R 2 011

JlmerlcaaWoodworker.com

45

Glue the Inside
panel assembly
to the front
panel rails, which
are assembled
without glue.
Before clamping,
make sure the
front rail assembly
is square and
the edges of the
inside panel rails
and front rails are
flush.

Install the web
frames and the
side panels. The
parts simply slide
into position
because all the
joints are oriented
the same way.

Fit each pair of
drawer sides to
allow seasonal
movement. Then
cut the drawer
fronts and backs
to match.

Photo 13). The ide will either fit
' r u(Thth or not at all. joint the top

away from the dado) to cr ate
adequate room [, r asonal movement between the drawer and the
frame above it. The optimal amount
depends on a number of factors,
but a good rule of thumb i to allow
at least 1/ 16" for the top two drawer and 1/ " for the bottom drawer.
and and fini h the in ide faces of
all the drawer box parts.
emble
the drawer boxes and mark where
the ide meet the fronts and backs.
Then joint the fronts and backs to
match the ide . Sand and finish the
in ide face of the five main drawer
box parts-tape off the glue joints
before applying the finish. Then
glue and clamp together the drawer
boxe . and and fini h the pencil
drawer divider and glue it in--d.rive
nail through the bottom to erve as
clamps and to tiffen the 1/ 4" pi ·wood.
Te t-fit the boxe in the drawer
openings. The fit i ideal if you can
pull the box two-third out and then
do it b pushing with a finger at
the side of the front, rather than the
center. If the fit i too tight, Iightl
plane or sand one ide and try again.
Bumi h the outside face and bottom edge of the drawer box ide
with paraffin.
Cut, fit and install the drawer fronts
(E5, F3, G3 and H3). The bank' top
drawer front extends above the box to
cover the web frame, its bottom drawer
front extends below the box and its
middle drawer front is flush , so it fits
between the middlew bframes (which
protrude farther than the top and bottom fram ). The pencil draw r front
extends above and below the drawer
box. Angl one end to match the lope
of th inside panel' leg. Install drawer
tops (All) to position the middle
drawer flush with the others.
ut blanks for th dr-awer pulls
(L) and shape the curves by sawing
and sanding (Fig. A, Detail 3). Center
the pulls on the drawer fronts and fasten them with scrC\' from inside th
drawer box.

The top
Mill the top boards to within 1/ 4" of
the fini hed tl1ickne and let them
46

AmariciUIWooclworll:er.com

AUGUST ISE

'Tf II IE R

lO II

stabilize overnight. The next day, mill
the boards to final thickne . Planing figured wood uch as the curly
maple shown here is likely to cause
ub tantial tearout, unle you know
this nifty trick. Simply dampen the
urface of the board with a ponge
just before running it through the
machine. Dampening virtually eliminate tearout and it won't harm your
machine as long as you keep the table
waxed and dry off the cutterhead as
soon as you've finished.
Lay out the boards in a plea ing
arrangement that' about 1" oversize in width. Then cut the board to
length, about 2" oversize. J o int the
edges (get out the ponge again).
Then glue and clamp the top (A12).
Cut the top to final width and
length and then and it to 180 grit

was used to make
the splines that
ornament the
case.

Cutting List
Section Part Name
Casf

(Photo 14) .

Create the edge profi le using a
1/ 4" roundover bit with a smaller
bearing in tailed to create the fi llet.
ut notche about every 10" around
the top of the case and install the
"figure 8" desktop faste ners. The e
fasteners wive) to allow the top' eaonal movement. Center the top on
the case and in tall additional crews
through the fasteners to ecttre it.

A1
A2
A3
A4
AS
A6
A7

WebfrarntS

Walnut

Front rail
Side rail

Inside rail
Front spline

Side spline
Inside splu~e

AS

Web frame deat
~

A12
B
81

82
(

(1
Q

D

Decorative plug
Or-stop
Top

4
8
4
3
6
3
4
1
20
2

Stile
Rail
Drawer bank top and bottom
Stie
Rad
Drawer bri middle
Rail

Walnut
Walnut

Walnut
Ciltymaplt

Curly maple
Ciltymaplt

Walnut
Walnut
Wenge
Maplf

Curly maple
Maplf

Pfndl drawfr

Stile
Drawffi

Qty. Material

Leg

A9
A10

All

The finish
Remove the top. Sand all the parts
to 180 grit- be sure to remove the
cratche from the previous grit with
each tep u p. The n apply your favorite fini h. Tip: Oil finishe look better when the urface are sanded to a
higher grit. ~

Overall Dimensions: 60" l x30" Wx30" H

4
4
2
4
4
2
4
4

Pencil drawer
Bel! front and back

Maple
Maplf

Maple
Maplf

Maple
Curly maple

!!aPt
MaPe
Maple

Maplt

Balticbndl
w.lnut
Maplf

SO URCE

Rockier Woodworking and Hardware,
rockler.com, 800-279-4441, DeskTop Fasteners, #21650, $3.89 for a pack of eight.

Chris Can

r is a freelance

writer and novelist. In addition to
Wiiting for Amniran l\Oodwmkn;
Clui is a contributing editor to
0.\)"gffl, Maximum Fitness and
Clean F.ating mag.uines.
is a profe ional
furniture maker in Wimlx.·rl\.
Texas. To see more of hi \\ rk.
\isi t marklovefurniture.com.

Maple

Box side
Drawer front

w.lnut

Middle drawer
Bel! front and back
Box side

Maplf

Drawer front
Bottom drawer

Walnut

Bel! front il1d back
Box side

Drawer front
Bank drawer bottom
Nl

Maple
1
2
2
1
3
3

Notes:
a) Width tapers to 2-1/4" at the top; 2-5/8" radius
cutout at bottom.
b) 1-1/2'' 1ong stepped tenons on both ends.
c) 1-1/2'' long tenons on both ends; the tenons are
stepped on one end.
d) 1-1/2"1ong tenons on both ends; the front-end
tenons will eventually be shortened to 3/4".

Maplf

Maple
Walnut
Baltic birch
Ciltymaplt

ThxWxl
1·718"x3' x29" (a)
H/8' x6' x53' (b)
Hl8"x6' x26-3/4' (c)
H/8' x6"x26-3/4" (d)
318" xH/4' xSO.3/4'
3/8"x1-3/4"x24-1/2"
318" x1-3/4' x24-1/2'
S/8' XS/8'' X23-3/4"
1' x4' x2H/4'
3/8" X3/8" X3/8' (e)
1/2"x3/4' x1·112"
1' x30' x60"
3/4' . 3G-3/4". 24-1/2" (f)
3/4" X2-1/2"X30-3/4'
3/4' x2·1/2' x19-1/2'
3/4"X17-1/8" X24-1/2' (f)
3/4' x2·112"x 17·1/8'
3/4"X2-1/2'' X19-1/2''
3/4' X17-1/8" X24-3/4' (f)
3/4" X2-1/2"X17-1/8"
3/4' x2·112" x19-3/4'
4"X30-S/8" X24-S/8"
1/2"x2·112"x3G-SI8' (g)
1/2"x2-1/2' x24" (g)
1/2"x1·3/4' x3G-1/8"
1/4' X23·1/2" X3()-1/8'
Sl8"x4' x31' (II)
6' x1T x24-S/8"
1/2"x5-1/4' x1T (g)
1/2'' xS-1/4' x24' (g)
S/8' x6' x1T
6"X17' X24-5/8'
1/2" X6' X1T (g)
1/2"x6' x24' (g)
S/8' x6' x1T
12-3/4"x1Tx2S-1/8"
112"x1Tx1T (g)
1/2" X12' X24" (g)
5/8' X12·3/4' x1T
1/4' X16-1/2' X23·1/2"
3/4"x1 ' x8"

e) One end is faceted to form a center point.
f ) Web frame width is 1/8"oversize; trim each

assembled frame to fit the case.
g) Cut 1/4" x 1/4" groove on the inside face for the
drawer bottom.
h) Cut length to fit and angle one end to match the
leg's taper.

AUG US T/ SEPTEMBER 2011

.&mericuWoodworker.com

47

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GOT BOOKS? Add a bench top morti er and a weekend

in your hop, and you're et to create a u eful and
attractive way to di play them. Check it out: Building
thi Arts and Crafts style cutie, including a template for
cutting the morti e , require only 1 bd. ft. of lumber.
That means you can u e primo wood, such a quartersawn white oak. And once you've made the template,
you can build the e bookracks by the dozen .

Cut the five parts
3

>

"'

Plane the tock to 5/8" thickne and rip the parts
to width (A-D Fig. A and Cutting Li t, page 50). Set
a ide the rod blanks. Then cut all the remaining parts,
including the template, to length on the table aw, u ing
a led or a miter gauge equipped with a fence and a
top block. The template should be identical in ize to
the fixed brace (A) and the adju table brace (B). Sand
both braces and the fixed end ( ') to 220 grit. This will
minimize anding after the bookrack i assembled.

Cut the mortises
Create a template that will make it e v to accurately po ition the piece for morti in cr. La' out the morti e on the
template. The rod mortise are paced 1" from the bottom and 3/4" from the edcre . The decorative morti e

are 1" from the top, 3/4" from the edge and spaced 1/4"
apart. Install a 1/2" morti ing chisel in the mortiser and
set the fence 1" from the bit.
Po ition the template on the morti er with the bit
centered on one of the bottom morti es. Clamp on a stop
block (Photo 1 ). Then cut a through morti e (Photo 2 ).
Flip over the template, lower the bit into the mortise and
clamp on a econd top block (Photo 3).
Use the two top blocks to cut the bottom mortise in
both braces and the fixed end (Photo 4). Complete each
mortise by cutting partway through on both faces. This prevents the splintering and blowout that can occur on the
back face when a mortise i cut through from one face.
Turn the braces around and use the same setup and
method to cut one morti e at the top--the first decorative morti e. Make ure to po ition the workpiece against
the appropriate stop block when you flip it over to complete the morti e.
Cutting the three remaining decorative mortise in
the two braces requires a slightly different approach,
becau e each morti e require a eparate etup. Clamp
on both stop blocks after cutting each through morti e
in the template (Photo 5). Then cut that mortise in both
brace . Repeat the proce to cut the remaining decorative morti e (Photo 6).
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 1011

Am.ericanWoodworker.com

49


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