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TAUNTON ' S

ine

00
1 1

High-gloss finish
made easy
Beautiful tables
from large slabs
Better ripcuts
on the tablesaw
Great mortisers
for all budgets
Build a low
Shaker chest
\ugust 2009

No. 206

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JULY/AUGUST 2009

3

Fine
WoodWorking·
.--.--.--.--.
14

METHODS
OFV','ORK

JU LY/ AUGUST 2009 • ISSUE 206

features
34

Shaker Chest of Drawers
A pro'~ jig:. and tips simplify joinery on chests
of any size
BY CHRISTIAN BECKSVOORT

42

A Visit to the Sharpening Doctor
Two readers hone their skills w ith help from our expert
BY STeVE SCOTT

up front

Designing With Grain
6 On the Web

English-wal nut !:> ideboard de monsu-ates how
gra in patterns can ta ke a piece to the next level

8 Contributors

BY JASON ROBERTS

10 Letters

14 Methods of Work

55

Hold-down makes routing safer

BY SEAN CLARKE

Two clever clamp racks

20 Tools & Materials
Value-priced planes shine after tune-up
One bit , 16 different rabbets

High-Gloss Finish Made Simple
Au tomoti ve poli<;h makes it fast and foolproof

60

Su ccess With Large Slabs
From fla.ucn ing 10 bUllerfly keys, how to handle
one-of-a-kind p ieces of wood
BY DOUG MOOBERRY ANO MICHAEL ZU8A

24 Fundamentals
Ripping on the tablesaw

30 A Closer Look

66

Mortisers for All Budgets
If YO'll C<ln cut mo rtises quickly, furnitme making
is faste r and more fu n

Wood allergies: A reaction can strike
randomly and with little warning

BY TIM ALBERS

72

How to Veneer a Sunburst
D:a.zhng tabletop. step by S(ep
BY MARK ARNOLO

20

TooLSO
MATERIALS

www.finewoodworking.com

B[AUTlfUL

BORDER

in the back
80 Readers Gallery

84 Q&A
Offset rabbets make
double doors stronger
Identifying finishes for repair
Buying roughsawn lumber

88 Master Class
Beautiful border frames
a sunburst tabletop

98 How They Did It
The back cover explained

Back Cover
Forensic Furniture Making

60

BUTIERFLY KEYS
IN LARGE SLABS

THI S MONTH ON

FineWoodworklng.comjextras

Vish. our Web site to access free Web tie-i ns. ava ilable June 4 . Whil e yo u ~e t here. don'! miss ou r coll ection
of totally f ree content, Including tool reviews, an e~tffi5 ive proj ect gallery. and must-faad blogs;.

Ene

Woodnr,
, ,-,'...-, V\ork'lng.
Edilor
Art Director
M anaging Editor
ser.ior Editor
Ass<x:iaw Edili>fS

Af.:l Chr ist i an..

Mi<: M el PekO'Yicn
Ma rk So:f>OTk'lld
Thomas

M~ Ke nn a

Thomas G. BIIif1al
51e-te SCOU
Anissa

lI a~a l ""

David fielm
Mallh ew KanJIa)'

As!lOCiate Editor,
online

Gina Ekl e

Senior COPrI
Production Ed itors

Elizabeth Hsal)'

Julie Rfslnlt
-'ssociat e Art Directors

ShOp MaMier
Ad mi nist rative Ass iStant

;tfJ3 ' I '
Sign liP for our FREE eNel'lsletter

at FineWoodWorklng.com/
newsletter to get free planS,
videos. and artielcs.

~ VIDEO: Sharpening Woes?

ContribU'liJ"ij( Edit<>(s

Kelly J, O ~ nton
Jo hn f eueault
Robert Nash
~ t£y Eotel

ChrlstrDn

~cksvoort

Ga', ROll0W'5 kl
GaHSU Hack
Rohond Johnso n
St C'll" Latta

Visit the sharpening dottor and get t he fh l or dull blades.

Fine Woodworking's Guide to Safety
VldC<lS. qu lnes. lin d m ore to help you avoid injury in tM sh Op

COOsullifli Editor .k>n &t ha " Binu m



MethodS of Work

VIDEO: High Gloss In Minutes

Jim

RIc~

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Editor,
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FIt','E

WOODWORKING

contributors
.. 1

1

:I

1

Fine

WqqQWorkingAnnlol~

Publisher

BUfkin

Sr. Marketing Ma""gcr

Melissa Robi nso n

Administrative Assistant

Christine Glennon

-

Actvertisinj( Di rectOl

--

Peter B!>deau
2()~"%72

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"r"'te n lac~
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Uncia Abben

ACcou~t

Manager

IIlmDe,ly ParrillI>
20~:l590

kP<' rrillMtta ontOon, eo-m

Mark. Arnold (MHow to Veneer a

Sunburst~)

Is both an excellent

woodworker and an a<;compiished writer. The former skill comes
partly from a two-year course at North Bennet Street School I"
Boston, while the latter' is displayed in American Period Furniture
(www.sapfm.org),whlch Arnold edits jointly with his wife, Margaret.
You can see more 01 Arnold's work and sign up for classes In his
central Ohio shop at www.bostonwoodWorklng.com.
Tim Albers (~Mortisers for All Budgets~) lI\les In ventura, calif., where
he Juggles his day job as CfO of a large produce distributor with his
woodworking hobby and obsession with power tools. As a furniture
maker, he focuses mainly on chairs, from three-s/at ladderbacks
to MorrIS designs and Maloof-inspired rockers. He's also a leading
member of hIS local dub, Conejo Valley Woodworkers. Retirement Is
just around the corner, he says. but his wife isn't buying it.
David H. Jones (A Closer Look) is the woodshop manager in the
Department of Wood Science at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va,
It Is also his alma mater, In the 20 Intervening years, he worked
in fumiture making, from large manufacturers to small Shops as
far emay as Alaska, Today, he trains students in woodwor1<lng and
prOduces fine wood products for display, When not working, he
splits his time between renovating his home and hiking.

A self-proclaimed wood addict, Jason Roberts ("Designing With
Grain") has quite a collection of exotic and domestlc hardwoocts.
For the last decade he has worked In the United States and Europe,
taking time along the way to train at the College of the RedWoods,
and with English cabinetmaker Nicholas Chandler. Currently he
works in his own shOp In Olympia, Wash,. and In sales for Horizon
Wood Products.

Sr, All &lieS
SlJpporl A$!J.<.IClate

Marjorie Brlffln
800-30~954

Advertisil"( irtquirie ..:

twlId5ataunton.com
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Sr. Consumer
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NMI~

Business Managers

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Megan Sang5ter

The Taunton Press
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For more mformatlon on our contributors,
go to FineWoodworking.com/ tiuthors.

8

FINE WOOl>\",' OltK1NG

I

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lr1dep"rldem pulJ.lishers 9i""" 1975
fc>urW"r<, """,". J_n Roman

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President

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vp. Fulfillment

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\IP, Finance

Kathy Worth

VP.Tauntoo IntArnetrlll'

MSCln Rev.zon

YP. Single Copy Sflles

We are a reader-written magazine. To
I
h
earn ow to propose an article, go to
FlneWoodworklng.comjsubmissions.

Ga,el .. , ProCi"

My Anni ..

f'IJ(>ls/1efS <1f mI!!!"~" b<l<>k •• vIOOo. <'rI<I <><>hoe

F., .. ~., ,

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I.letters
1

1

1

1

Fair test for outdoor finishes?

In "Torture Test for OutdCX)[ Finishes"
(FWW #205), assexiate editur Tom

From the Editor
BEWARE OF HERO WORSHIP
When I first came to Fine Woodworking, I was intimidated
by the big names-Maloof, Boggs, H<lck, Lowe, and 50 on. But when it came time

to visit them and take photos for their articles, I got along famousl y with every
one. Turns out we are all---Oasically-tnquisilive people who lo"Ye to build things.

The main difference between me and the - masters" was that they had buUt a lot
more pieces and made a lot more valuable mistakes. As I helped to edit and shape
theIr articles, I was surprised to find my Ideas blending in with theirs-and being

Begnal r'dted the two Epifanes pn:xiucrs
as superior to the other three finishes. I
can't be the only one to note that he used.
between two and four coats of finish for
the three down-rated ones and seven or
eight for the winning ones. I wonder if he
would have reached the same ~epiphany "
had he used eight coaTS of the o il finish
or the marine varnish. I understand that
he was following manufacturers'
dire{.'tions, but the questions remain. I do
know that an annual coat of \ll.J.tco Teak
Oil on my deck furniture has been quite
satisfaL'tory for ffic.
-A DRI EN COBl ENTZ. Mendham, NJ.

welcomed.
I began to notice that the best woodworkers are usually the most humble. They
have nothing to prove, and they know enough to know how much they stili don't
know. Beware of people who Imply that their way Is the only way. Phil lowe Is
among the most skilled woodworkers I've ever watched, but he's never preachy;
he only says, "This is how I do it."
There are heroes out there, to be sure, people like lowe with an extra measure
of raw talent and determination, plus the courage (in many cases) to choose
woodworking as a profession. But the truth Is that

good

ideas can come from

anyone, and anyone can make something that is beautiful.

Fine Woodworking magazine used 77 different authors last year-a mix of
hobbyists and pros-plus 125 other people who sent In tips and pictures of their
work. On FineWoodworking.com We! posted blogs, videos, and gallery items from
thousands more. We'll take good ideas
wherever we can find them.

So beware of hero worship. You might
start to think you need all of the top.
rated tools plus weeks of dasses with
a big-name guy before you can build
another piece.
But your Instincts and Ideas are bener
than you know. Make projects your own.
Change dimensions. Use the wood you
have. Trust your eye. And when in doubt,

figure It out. You'll be proud of yourself
when you do,
- Asa Chri stiana

10

FINE WOO DW ORK I NG

Tom Begnal replies: As you noted,

we tested the products based on dle
manufdc:turers' recommendations. That's
the way most huyer.~ would he expected
to use them. Of course, at the start of
the test, we didn't know which finish, if
any, would stand out. Had we applied
seven ('oot<; of McCloskey's spar varnish,
for example, and it worked as well as the
Epifanes, v.re'd be left wondering if the
recommended four coats of spar would
have done the job. That said, we have
tentative phms for another out<.kxJr-finish
rest based o n w hat we learned trom this
one. We w ill try extra coats with some of
the other products. Abo, we'll ackJ a ft."\','
new contenders suggested by readers.
Hammer-on-hammer crime
I see a no-no in the recent Fundamentals
("Miter-Gauge Ba.sics," FWW #205). The
photo shows the author making a dimple
in the miter gauge (to tighten it" fit in the
miter slot) by striking the face of a lY.llIpeen hammer with the face of another
hammer. I have always been taught never

Fine

W,qqQWorking-

The Wood Slicer
LEG£NDARY R£SAWfNG BLADE

• CUTS SMOOTHER
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To contact us:
Fine Woodlol'orklng
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Making your
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wal s you can use it

www.wOOdrat.Com
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25~

9200

0< """"'lIi to .._~a1.com
f\F.AnFR SElIVICE NO, 100

llEADE. SI:RVJO! NO. } 1

J U LY /AUGUST l 009

11

letters

,,,,lcced

to hit the faces of two hammers together.
The face of a hammer is hardened in
order to wear well when pounding softer
metals, and a hlow by another hardened
hammer face (:ould cause a piece of hard
shrapnel to chip off at a very high nile of
speed. Was I taught incorre(:tly7
-DI CK MARTIN, Vernonia . Ore.

Steve latta replies: Tail between my
legs time. In all my years, I've never had
a problem lightly lapping hamrocr heads
together for a job like this. Hut when rhL~
letter came, I asked a fellow professor,
Tom Dennes, who works in the machine
tool department here at Thaddeus Stevens
College of Technology (Lancaster, Pa.),
about the risks. "Small chance of incident,
IKl doubt, but still not a good idea

l'egardle&<; of force," wa5 his reply. A small
piece of kathL'T, sayan old pk:cc of ~lt,
placed between the two would have made
all the difference. Or, though it requires a
tx:ttcr aim, just hit the har directly with the
ball-peen hammer.

Corrections
We neglected to point out that the design
and plans for the Bow·A.tm Marei.'; Chair
pro~"'t featured in FWW'-'20'5 were
created by Brian Murphy of Amerk~.!n
Furniture Design. Full-size plans are
available at FineWoodworking.coml
planStore.

Clarification

In the recent tool t~t, "14 Bench
(FlVW "'205), we Ibted
Highland Hardware as a source for
the Groz 9-io. Quick Rdeasc vL';C.
'[bey have stopped carrying it, but it
is availahle at www.wooclcrafL com
for $130.
Vises~

In ·'Low-Cost Lumber" (f1riW' #205), the
specific gravity for beech should have
been listed at 0.64, not 0.064.

About your safety
Working wood Is Inherently dangerous. USing homl or power tools
improperly or Ignoring standard safety practices can lead to permanent
injury or even death. Don·t perform operations you learn about here

12

FIKE WOODWORKING

(or elsewhere) until you're certain they are safe lor you. II something
about an operation doesn't leel righi, find another way. We want you
10 enjoy the craft, so please keep salety foremost in your mind.

From the company that invented versatility,
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t'

READER SERVICE NO . •

DREMEL

MULTI-MAX'·
Repair. Remodel. Restore:-

.

methods of work

EDITED A ND DRAWN BY JIM R I C HEY

J..:Ill:l

down on
rings until
they deflect
~:~~"""""""""""":::::;;;::-;:;;:=f.~~~When
adjusting
hold-down,
push
about v" in.

r

Knob, bolt, and washer
co nnect hold-<jown

HOld·down section

Ring. f/, in. wide.
made from lhin.·
dia. PVC pipe

--- pvc rings press
wo rkpiece firm l ~ down on
table and against fence.

...

~

-~~>-_~'-------

HOld-in section

"--------

to

router fence.

1-in. self·
piercing lath

BestTip Two-part hold-down

makes routing safer

lifo-in. Sf)ct ion cut

Thb versatile two-P-dft fixture uses sections of pvc
pipe to hold the workpiece again<;t the router table
and the fence to reduce the chance of kickback and

to make a deaner, more consistent 1..1It.

Rkhanl Babbitt
has become a

-"II
machirte ~nce his
retirement in 2000,

building scores of
nUseci-pa ..... doors
in his home (51 In
the kftt:hen alone)
and ma,,! pieces
otfumlture, hom

entertalmnent
centers to docks
and lamps. He's
currently baNding
a tabla uSing wood
from a local" felled

.......
14

fiNE

To make the fixture, CUI two pkces of :'IA-in .-thick
plywood 41J2 in. wide and as long as your router
table. On the vertical hold-doVon piece, rout two
·%-in. adjustment slots. Now, use a drill press and
Forstner bit to make four 1'%-io.-dia. through-holes,
aligning the bit so that it will overlap the edge by
abol][ 7/16 in. Orill three hole.~ in the hori7.ontal holdin piece, centering them between the holes in the
vertical hold-down.
Cut the ~18-in.-wide lings on the tabksaw from a
11/2-in.-dia. sdwduk 40 PVC pipe. The rings should
be slightly thinner than the plyv.-ood; otherwise,
their freedom of action will be impaired when
the hold-down is damped in place. Next, use a
bandsaw to remove a l IA-in. section from each ring.
Insert the ring;; with all the openings facing the
same direction. Holding a Phillips-head screwdriver
in the opening at aix)Ut 45" to the bottom edge,
rotate the PVC ring to pinch the screv.'driver shaft
(see drawing) and mark the inside where thl: tip
touches the pvc. Drill a ~1.~2-in.-dia. hole through the
pvc only and then attach it to the plyw(")(X) with a
I-in. self-piercing lath screw.
To use the fixture, place the stock flat on the
router table under the rings of the hold-dov.·n.

woonWORKING

Push the hold-down onto the workpiece so that the
rings deflect slightly, roughly t;~2 in. Do the same for
the hold-in.
The pressure the rings exert on the workpiece
helps keep it against the table and the fence, and
will prevent the stock from kicking back. Use
moderate feed pre!Ssure, and be sun: to use a push
stick at the end of rhe cut.
-RIC HARD BAB BITT, Friday Harb or. Wash.

.\ R"'M,rd for the Best Tip
Send your OOginal tips to Methods of W'Jrk. Fine
Woodworking, PO Box 5506, Newtown. CT00470. If
published , we pay $50 for a n unillustrated ti p;
$100 for an illustrated one . If your tip is the best.
you win Jet's framing cla m p kit, which
includes four paralle8aw
clamps and hand)'

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---

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• Dig ital display of cut locatio n
• Simple & quick operation
• Affordable

Call 866.966.3728

www.chipsfly.com
kL'LDER SERV)(J: NO. 33

www.finewoodwork ing .com

JULY/AUGUST 2009

15

methods of work "otiO""
No-math layout for drawer pulls
More otten than not, drawer handles
are located in the middle of the drawer
froot, both vertically and horizontally.
The intuitive method most of us use to
locate the holes for tht.: handle takes about
five steps and requires measllti.ng the
dimensions of the drawer front and the
handle. But I have a mcthtxl that rcquircs

EJ
Layout spacing of holes from
end of drawer front.

no math.
I simply transfer the width of the handle

(between hole centers) onto each eod of
the drawer front and draw diagonals a~
shown. The points where the diagonals
intersect are the locations for the holes.

Draw diagonals, then drill holes

at intersectionlS.

There's much less chance for a mistake
with this method, hut it's critical that the
drawer fronl be square on the ends. Also, if
the height is small compared to the width,
it is easy to intnxlw.::e a small error in the
hole kKation. Tn that case, checking the
hole spacing before drilling is a good idea.
- scon COLLINS. Slidell, La.

Install pull.

Two clever clamp racks
Bracket
.... BAR C LAMPS

Back,
screwed

I store my ha r damp collection on a simple rack,
consisting of two 24-in.-long, I-in.-dia. ook dowels
supported by two oak hracket.. that are mounted, in
turn, to two oak backs. The dowels are positioned in the
bracket~ so that the damp handles slide down behind the
top dowel and the damp bars are SUPIXlrted vertically by
the lower dowel. To fix the position of the large dowels, I
use smaller dowels to pin them in the right-hand bracket.

to wall

Pins keep
dowels in
place.

l ·in. -d ia .

hardwood
dowels

-ANDREW BELOOUSSO .... Boltan. Ont., Canada

Offset lower dowel holds bar
in vertical position.

Rubber strip mounted

near front
C·CLAMPS ..

1 store C-damp~ on a narrow shdf. A rubber strip, cut from a
black mbber stretch tie-down, prevents the damps from falling
off the front, while brackets prevent the clamp,.; from falling off
the ends. This storage shdf has several advantages. nle clamps
will stay put without having to screw them dosed, and it is easy
to pick out a particular damp because they are all visible, If
you have several size.~ of C-damps, build a shelf for each size.
-JOH N

16

FINE WOODV;'ORKINC

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~

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"-

methods of work

Ii-

q

oootio""

"

d\
I:;

Safer way to rout vertical workpleces

Antiskid

fence

Workpi0CC

'!~

'While llsing a router table to cut the
key, or pin, for a sliding dovetail joint,
it's a chalknge to keep the vertical
workriece again.~t the fence and on the

liner

"

"

router table, while keeping your
fingers away from the spinning
bit. I've devised a surefire,
safe methoo that also ensures

a good, dean

Router
table

Cllt.

It utilizes a tall

fence and a vertical push stick.
The push ~tick abo serves as the

handle, helping you to keep the
board tight and plumb against the router-table fence. The aJjustabk" (and
replaceable) backer block hooks the ooard to help keep it from rocking
and also helps to prcVt:nt tearout at the end of the

Sase screwed to fence
Adjustable
backer block

from underneath

CUl.

-SER GE DUCLOS, Delson , Que., Cilnad a

Plastic tubing protects sharp tools
While looking for a way to protect my sharp chisels, turning
gouges, and router bits, I remembered an old machinist's trick of
sliding a piece of rubber hose onto an end-mill bit to pr{)(ect
it At the hardware store, I bought several I-fL lengths
of dear plastic tuhing in different sizes.
J then matched up the tool ....ith the rightsize tubing and clipped off a short length
to protect the cutting end.
-J ERRY HO NEY CU TT , Wi nsted, Conn.

Clear plastic tubing

Board
straighteningjig

---

Workpiece

Wing

nut

Put a straight edge on a bowed board
Those of us ~"ho have wallti..'I.l 10 ~raighten bowed boards on
a tablcsaw have seen elaborate jigs that ride along the saw
fence to give defective .~tock a perfect, straight cut. Here's
one that's cheap and easy to make.
Start by screwing and gluing a 6-ft.-long board.
}1/1 in. thick by 21f2 in. wide, to a 7-ft. scrap piece
of hardwood p lywood to make the base. The hoklMuffler
downs are 3-in. muffier clamps ($3 at auto-.~upply
clamp
stores), with wing nuts, snug-fitting nylon sleeves,
and rubber feet The threads on the opposite leg
of rhe clamps simply drop into 3/II-in.-dia. holes in
the base. These ci:mlps flex a bit and consequently
lock down tight on the ~tock whcn the wing nut is
tightened. I drilled multiple holes in the hase so that
I can shift the damp positions as needed.
- KARL AAOMA A, Ru mfcrO . Maine

18

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tools & materials
I..

111



HAND TOOLS

Value-priced planes
shine after tune-up

OODCRAFT IS OFFER ING a new lioe of hand-

W

pl:mcs, m<ldc in China, that C<lITY their own
Wood River trademark. r recently examin~

in

~izc

the complete line: four bench planes ranging
from No.3 to No.6, and a low-angle block plane,

According to Wu(xkrafl, all arc pattt:rncd after vintage Stanley

bedrock-style planes.
I tried them all, but focused most of my testing on the No.4
bench plane, as that's the size I use most often in my shop.
For st31ters, the plane looked beautiful. All the machining was
dean and crisp. And the sole wa:> about as Hat as you can get.
Indeed, I couldn't fit a O.cXH-IO. feeler gauge under a straightedge spanning toe to heel.
The plane weighed in at a hefty 4 1/2 lb. A .~mooth, thick coating of satin black paint covered the interior. The tote and knob,
made from African rosewood, were nicdy shaped and tit comfortably in my hand~. Brass trimmings and a nickel-plat\.:d lever
cap wrapped up the elegant detailing. I aLso lik\.:d th\.: Ixdy
high-carbon blade, measuring 1;8 in. thick and ground square
to a 25 0 beveL The back of the blade was flat, so iT took little
time to lap to a ]XlHshed surface. After just a few minutes, I had
honed the blade sharp and the plane was ready to lISe.
The plane'S chipbreaker has a contt:mporary deSign that resembk~ a Lie-Niels\.:n or a Hock. Its beefy %-in. thickne.s8 really
stabilizes the blade. liowever, the bevel of the chipbreaker was
ground out of square and it took about 20 minutes to corree""t it.
Also on the downside, the frog had been machined out of
square , forcing the blade to drop lower on one side. In other
word~, with t.-verything lined up, the blade was not parallel to
the sole. This can be corrected by tilring the lateral adjustment
lever. But, to me, a perpetually tilted lateral lever is a definite
nuisance. 1 checked the remaining three bench planes for a
n:pl:at of the problem. Turns out, on\.: had the same issue,

20

I'II\E WOODWORKING

althollgh it sloped in the opposite direction. The o ther two were just fine .
In use, after I reground its chipbreaker and learned to live with the
lever tilt, the No. 4 performed as well as highend planes, for about half the price. of course, high-end planes
don't require such prep work to get them cutting properly.
'The Wood River planes have a lot going for them, but with
some quality i.<;.~ues still to he resolved. Once sharpened and
tuned, though, they can perform with the best. The No. 4 sells
for SI09. Go to ·www.woodcraft.com for more information.

--Chris Gochnour bui/dsjurnilure and teaches
woodwurktng in Murray. Utah.

PLANE WARS
The Introduction 01 Woodcraft·s Wood River line of handplanes
started a spirited discussion on Knots. our online IOflJm at
www.flnewoodworklng.com. Several posters suggested that
the Wood RIVer Is a dead-ringer for the Amerlcan"made lieNielsen bench planes. Others noted that when Tom lIe"Nlelsen
began 25 years ago, he borrowed heavily from the Stanley
bedrock designs. To add perspective, I put three NO.5 planes
side by Side-an old Stanley bedrOck. a Wood River, and a lieNielsen- and gave them an up-t;lose look. To lind out what I
disco~ered, check out my blog Ilt www.flnewoodwork lng.com.

-Tom Begnal is

~n

associate editor.

Ph"t"""",lT

ACCESSORIES

The monster truck
of mobile bases

l

WORK IN A CORNER OF MY BASEMENT, so I keep several

machines on mobile lYdSC!i, moving them as nccdl:d. It's
not alW3ys easy, as 'ipace Is tight and the mobile bases I
have are nOI very mobile. So I was eager to U'y RockJer's
All-Terrain Mobile Base 0\1 my tyd.rxbaw and tablcsaw. It fe-d.tures larger-than -u.~ua l S-in.·dia. wheels, with urethane tires.
Two swivel, and IWO lock. The base is easy to assemble and
adjusts from 18 in. to 28 in.
The Rockier base made it easy to zigzag around my workbench and other machinery. To t e~t its ofT-road capabililic.'i,
I made a proving ,li:round of extension cords, sawdust, chips,
and wood scra ps. My bandsaw and ta blesaw rolled effortles:o;Iy across all the (k:bris, though I had to holll the tall bambaw
w ith extra care to prevent it from tipping as J pushed. Also,
the ty,mdsaw had some p roblems while parked. The large,
soft wheels give the base !,()(ne spring, making the bandsaw
fcd lInstable. Also, wl~n I'm cutting curves, I sland dose:: to
the Jll.Ichint:, and the wheels and housings ofTen interfered
with m y footwork.
I wouldn't usc (he ba:.e on a bandsaw, bur it certa inly has
fou nd a home on my tablesaw The All-Terrain Mobile Base
cost... $190 and is ava ilable from Rockie r (www.rockler.com).
- 7bomas McKenna is a senior edilor:

ACCESSORIES

Lumber metal detector
works well up to lis in. deep
WE WERE LUKEWARM on the Lumber W izard when II was reviewed about eight years ago
(FWW lfll152), as the process was slow and the results were Inconsistent. So when the
company came out with 8 new version, the lumber Wizard III. I wanted to see If
the metal detector worked any better. In this test, It proved effective at finding
metal parts within lI'iIln. of the wood's surface. So, If you work with relatively thin stock (under % In. thick), Bnd scan from both sides of th e
stOCf(, the lumber Wizard can find any metal in the wood.
However. It the stock Is thicker, and the metal
Is buried deep enough, the Wizard might
not teU you It'5 there.
The lumber Wizard III sells for
around $100. For more
Met81 tlnder.
Information, go to www.
The Lumber Wizard
wlza rddetectors.com.
metal detector nails thin
- lB.
srock, but Is less Impressive
when the stock is thick.

www .fi n .. w,)odw,.l rklng .,"o m

JULY/AUGUST 2009

21

tools &materials c,"';,,"


BITS AND BLADES

One bit cuts 16 different rabbets
and flush-trims, too
NEW RABBET-BIT SET from Infinity Cutting Tools comes with 17 differentsiu: oc~lring:; so yOll can cut rabbets fwm V!.6 in. to 3/.\ in, wide. You also
can cut metric sizes from 6 mm \vide to 18 mill wide. A flush-trim bearing
rounds out the package.
The 2-in.-dia. bit has a %-in.-dia shank and !-in. cutting
length. To get a sense of CUI quality, I mounted the bit
in a routcr table and made a number of rabbet and
flush-trimming L"'Ut~ in n.'Xi oak and pine. All
the cuts wert: clean and burn-free,
The Infinity ClIIting Tools MegaRabbet set (Item No. 00(557) sells
for S130. When you consider
that a single h-in. rablx:t bit
can cost yOll $1'5 to $20, the
set can save you some cash if
you cut ;a lot of different rabbets.
To learn more, go to
www.infinitytools_corn.
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Pinnacle'"
36" Heavy Duty Clamp Rack
148549

PINNf \CLE
PRlH E~<;I()'A.I Q( IAIIIT T()()LS

Pinnacle'"
24" Light Duty Clamp Rack

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• Made of sheet steel and accurately formed and powder coated for durability.
• Both rackS have pre-<*1l1ed rnountin~ holes 00 16" center to line-l4> with wall swds.
• The Light-duty aamp Rack is constructed with W wide slots to lit most Htyle clamps with
a capacity of up to 23 clamps.

at Wooccraft.

• The Heavy-duty Clamp Rack has welded construction to hOld hoodreds of pounds of clamps
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Of up to 18 clamps.

Made In The USA

• These racks will nol fit pipe clamps,

fundamentals

ill 1

..

15 YOUR SAW -----~
READY?

SET THE FENCE

Measure (rom
the blade to the
fence lit both the
front and back
of the blade to
ensure the blade
and fence are
parallel. A fence
that t oes In
toward the olade

can cause rough
cuts. ourn ing.
or even viole nt
kiC kback.

ALIGN THE
SPLInER

The Dlade and
splitter should
be nush on
the Side that

faces me fence.
Raise the olade
to full height
and use

II

straightedge to
alii" them.
Spli tter

he tabJcli3W is a wonderful
pan.~ to
size, and ripping is i t .. most

tool. for cuning

I.:ommon task. "Ripping"

right accessories, indudi ng-most
imJXlrtantly-a splitter. A riving knife is
a more sophi!)tiC'.ucd splitter, and v·'orks
even better.

means s:m·,ng wood parallel
to Its gr.l in-u:,ually wh~n
Luning hoards to narrower width.." You
ca n do the job w ith a ba nci:.<lw o r :.

portab le Circular saw, b UI a lablesaw is
~mclent.

Prep the saw
foolos1 tables:lw accidents teul! from
violent kickback d uring rippmg, but a
propeTly aligned splitter will p rL"VCnt

ADJUST THE BLADE HEIGHT
Set the blade to about 'AI m. above the surface
of the work piece.

multip k"S. The large liu rface alw ma ke..

kkkback by keeping the workpiece from
contacting the ri..ing rt."ar tCL-1h o f the
blade and being thrown oock at yOll.

handJing stock o f all sizes much ea."ier.

Also. when pO....~lb le, use a blade suard

T his article w ill lell you how to safely
and .Kcur.ltely U5c' the ,,,blc::;aw to rip

to prevent hand-to-blad e- conlact .lnu
kcep sawdw;t o ut of your facc.
Safety and quaLity of cut also depend
gred.t1y o n a ,'; traight fence that's set
parallel to the blade. Fven a premium

much more

11 is powerfu l , and

{he: rip fcm:t: allows you

10

cut idenllcal

solid lumber as well as sheet stock.
To do the work safely, you
fo llow the proper ,..reps and

24

m.w to
U~

!'INI! \'(IOOl)\t'ORK1NG

the

Ph"I,"",. tl",

p~!tt'

a ....1 r",;ng POI;<' (top): SI.rr dr;nvilll(:!' John

T~I""d,, 1 1

Groo ked-Bdge3pBJls danger
fence goc:; out of alignment after a
while, so make sure to check it for
parallel occasionally by measuring from
the blade to the locked fence at both the
front and the rear of the blade. Some
woodworkers cock the outfeed end of
lhe fence away from the blade by Y~2 in.
or so, which is fine.
Finally, an outfeed table is an absolute
nece:;sity, even when ripping :;hOrt
pieces, Without one, your work just falls
to the tloor, possihly damaging edge.~
and corners. Outfeed support is critical
when ripping long stock, which may
otherwise scart to tip off tile saw table
before the cut is complete, forcing you
to bear down on the trailing end of the
board right at the spinning blade.
You might also want to set up infeed
support, espc'Cially for long, heavy
boards or sheet goods.
Prep the stock
To rip safely, the edge that contacts the
rip fence must be straight, and the face
that bear.; against the table should be flat.
That way, the ooard doesn't pinch against
the blade or rock as you're feeding it.
So the first step is to create a straight
edge. If the edge is already reasonably
straight, the quickest approach is to
run it across the jointer. If the edge is
severely crooked or is a waney, "Live"
edge, you'll need to saw it.
You can trim the edge straight on
the tablcsaw by temporarily tacking a
straightedge guide hoard to the workpiece
and running that edge againSt the fence.
Alternatively, strike a cut line on the
board and saw to it using a bandsaw,
which poses no danger of kickback. After
band~awing. joint the edge straight.
Ideally, your stock should be jOinted
and planed to final thickness before
ripping. [0 the process, you create the
flat face for safe feeding. But this isn't
always possible, For example, a board
that's too wide for your jointer may have
to be ripped into narrower widths first.
Let it rip
With on<:: edge of the ooard jointed

straight (and a push stick at hand) you're
ready to make the cut The exact way you
www.fincwoodwocking.com

Running a concave edge aga,nst the
fence can cause the board to push
against the bl<lde.lnvitlng kickback.

A convex edge is no betttll;
it allows a board to rock, also
making KickbacK more likely.

L-"-'"
TWO GOOD SOLUTIONS
Mild curwt?

joint It. With
relatively
straight stock,
il pass or two
over the jointer
should yield an
edge straight
enough to run
against the
tablesaw fence.

Serious cur"?
Saw It. Tack a
straightedge
guide board to
the workpiece
(above left).
Th6 guid6 runs
against the
fence so the

saw can make
a strfJig/lt cut
(below left).
Anthony keeps
several lengths
of ;.'4-/n. plywood
on hand for this.
He puts the nails
into a waste

area of the

""'n!.
25

fundamentals
fA dance

"OliO""

with 3 steps
St." th. cut.

T. k . a IMI·

Push the Slock
with your right
hand on [he
boarCl's tril/ling
end. Use your left
hand to press

a nced . ta"c •.
Stand sJightly

to the left of
the workpiece.
facing the fence
with your legs

the board

roughly parallel
to the blade. The

down-

ward and against
tile fence at tile

idea is to remain

same time. "
tile leading edge
isn 't on th e table.

solidly grounded
and well bal·
anced through-

I he blade can
slap it down

ouf rile cutting
process.

ferocious ly.

SHOPMADE PUSH STICK

Reach frN the
pushstkk.
When the boilrd's
trailing end Is on

A shoe-style push stick like th is off(!rs the best
cool101. The long sole holds the workpiece
down and also helps you keep It aplnst the
fence to prevent kickback. The heel hooks oller
the end fOf reed force.

the table, p/CII

up the push stick
and uso It to COl).
tfnue feeding tile
stocll. Feed Iha
stocl< as quickly

Hanger
ho~

5 in.
min.

~------?-.--Jl
1
II. .1
¥"o.

k---sole. aporo .... 8

as you can to
prevent lHImlng.
Theres no

rea-

son to go slow
unless tile

saw Is

bogging down.

in.~

Heel. 2 in. min.

hancUe the workpiece 9.111 depend on the
foateriaJ I(self. how 100M, lhick, o r heavy it
is, and hO\\' wKIt' a rip you're making.
Tum on the saw fir~t , then Jay the
hoard on the ta ble ag:l inst the fence with
the lead in~ end a couple of inches from
the blade. Use your Ielt hanll 10 press the
board down",rard and against the fence
at the same: hme. With your riglu hand
un the trailing c nd. push the hoard
"teadily forward into the spinning blade .
When the trailing end of the board b
completely on the table, pick up the
push stick WIth your rlght band and ll<;e
it to continue feeding the stock. As the
cut n~ars completion. remo\'e your left
hand from the board for safety's sake,

26

FIN!'

WOonWQllKING

Follow throulh
with one hand.

As the cuI near"
completion, take

your left hand off
the boord. Keep
pushing with the

SIleX until the
right-hand piece

is past the split·

ter. Throughout
the CUI, be sure
to keep the
board against
the renee.

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JULY /AUGUST Z009

27

fundamentals

CO""""c.

Haw to rip sheet goods
LHtlhe aheet

WHAT NOT TO DO
" (I panel Is .... ,der t han 1\ 'II long, don't try to ru n
it agai nst the ri P lence. It is too easy to rotate t he
panel. sending it dangerously onto the back of the
blade. Use some other method for a cut like this.

l-

I

o"to th. l abl••
II's easiest to
place a large

panel on tile saw
first (with the
blade lowered
and rho splitter
rerT'lO\led), lind
then dreg It onto
the Infeed su~

I
I·';'

port, In this case

!~

a router table
thats the same
height as the

III

,
k'''"

·If

continuing forwa rd with the push stick
until the righr hand ~ past the splitter.

Get some support
The key (0 nppmg large Meets of MDl' or
p lywood is proper support. Dest is a large
outfeed table thut ~te nds at lea~L 50 in.
beyond the spli((er. Yo u migtll also want
inteed suppon for heavier paneL"
For eastest handling, begin ....,Ih the rut
d~ to the ...'enter. Lock the ri p fence
in position. Instead of hoi."ting the panel
onto the saw and infeed support at the
same (ime, place the panel o n the saw
(with blade lowered and spUner removed),
then drag it onto the infeed SUpPOlt.
With the hlade r'discd and the splitter
reinstal1t:d, tllrn on the saw and stand at
the left rear corner of the p:lncl Keep
your eyes glued to the fence, push the
panel forward with your nght hand,
and apply enough sideways prt:ssllre
with your left to keep (he panel against
the fe nce. Push umit the saw table is
carrying the full weight of the sheet. leI
the pane l SIt fo r iI moment, move around
to its rear edge, and place your ha nds so
that each o ne is centered between the
blade and the panel edge. MalOtain your
focus o n the fena . P\J<;h &r.ught for9.'ard
until the a lt is complete.
0

saw table.

Stand . t the

r.a, COrrNJr.

PosJtlon yourself
at the leff. rear of
the panel. with
your right hand
on the trailing
edte and your
fert as far
ward as Is comfortably possfbJe.
Keep a wide, ba l-

ror-

anced stance.
Fllc". )'Our

artent/on on
the

felice.

Push the panel
straight forward
wIth your right
tland, and apply

enough sideways
pressure with
yom left hand to
keep the panel

aglllnst the
fence.

Finish CIte cut
. , I h.

,..r.

Once the58W
table Is carryifll
the full weIght of
the sheet, move
around to the
rear and placs
your Mends so

that each Is cen·
Paul AnlhQ{1}' Is a woodworker and th e aurhol' of

Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide 10 Tablesaws
(The Jaunton Press, 2009).
28

I' I NJI

W O ODWORK JNC

tered between
the blRde and
the panel edge.

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JIJLY/ALGU~T 20()\I

29

a closer look

J..llil

Wood allergies
A REACTION CAN STRIKE RANDOM LY
AN D WITH LITTLE WA RNI NG
BY

DA V ID

H .

J ON E S

"-"-~ he cabinetmakers at ShackletonThomas, a custom
furniture maker in Bridgewater, Vt., were excited
at the prospect of working with a new wocx.l. A
customer had ordered a bedroom set [() he made
from AUMralian lacewOlXl. Five workers assigned to
the order beg.10 rointing, planing, aod rough-cutting

the board~ as normal.
On the third day, one of the workers developed a red rash
un

hi~

arms that soon tllrnr.:d into blistc.:rs. Taking no chances,

N••r 'atlll attraction. Australian lacewood Is strikingly attractive,
but some of Ille WOOdworkers making tnls piece nad a serious
allergic reaction to the WIXIO.

contact with it, didn't? Finally, is there any way you can avoid
such a reaction yuurself, shurl of looking likc a member of a
hazmat team every time you use a new wO<Xi?

the shop manager sent him to the hospital. But the genie was
already out of the bottle. Of the five people directly working

with the lacewood, four had allergic reactions, as did two
others working on different projects in the same room.
While the six victims were recupemting at home on steroids,
the remaining woodworkers donned Tyvek suits and respinHors
to cumplete the bedroom set. After the pieces were shipped,
rhe entire workshop was professionally vacuumed, air filtration
unit~ were installed, and the bags on the dust-collection ~ystem
were replaced.
For woodworkers, this story is alarming, but it also raises
questions. What was it about this parlicular species that
caused such reactions? -why did some who
were not using- the wood react while
another, who was in direct

EvfHI dome.tlc
wood. can cau••
probl.m •. west·

orn red codar and
redwood can cause
alJerglc reactions
In a few who work
with them.

30

FI NE woon W O RKI NG

A wood's natural defenses are to blame
We all know that some plant~, such a.~ [.X)ison ivy or deadly
nightshade, are toxic to humans and should be avoided. Trees
also contain poisons to deter browsing animal" or fun~al
Handle with care. Tropical
nardwoods such as reak and
f05ewood are the most likely
woods to cause allergic
reactions. While
benign to the
majority of
woodworkers,
they can give
others skin
irritation or flu·
/Ike symptoms.

attack. Thest: poisons are
mostly concentrated in the
leaves, bark, and sapwood. While
'...ery few wOCKls are toxic to humans,
many can came allergic reactions.
An allergenic pl:mt is different from a toxic
one because while the latter affect~ almost everyone, the former
can be henign to one person yet cause a severe reaction in
another. Wood allergies are triggered by extractives, chemical
compounds found in the heartwood. Who is sensitive is a
matter of chance, since each person's unique metabolism

determines whether he or she will have a reaction. Some
people have an immediate reaction to a c~rtain wocxl, but the
chances of a reaction increase as exposure increa..~el\.
What is more frightening is that after you have an initial
reaction you enter a permanent stat~ of sensitization or
hypersemitivity. From that point on, your hody will always
respond to thi$ particular wood, and YOli may become allergic
[0 other woods lhal did not oother you before.
Symptoms to look for-WlXX! allergh:s affect the skin or
the tt.-:>pimtory .~)'stem. Sensitization dermatitiS, a skin alkrgy, is
similar to a poison ivy outbreak. l1le reaction ranges from simple
reddening and itching of tht: skin to swelling, blisters, and po.ssibly permanent skin thickening and cracking.
Tvy'o reactions occur in the respiratory system. wocxI dusttriggered asthma is a swt:lling of the air passages in the lungs
that makes breathing difficult. A rarer respiratory reaction is
hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which exhibits flu-like symptoms.
Sometimes alk--rg:ies cause general symptoms such as swelling
or stiffness in the hands, severe headaches, visual di::;turbances,
a rapid pulse, difficulty in swallowing, 2nd diarrhea.
With allergies, exposure refers to the amount of an allergen
that contacts the body. Several factors determine the degree of
your exposure. The smaller the particle, the greater th e danger
for two reasons: Small pal1icles can lodge deeper in the lu ngs;
and, for the same weight of wood, small particles have a larger
~urface area that can contact the skin. For example , you sustain
;1 greater exposure from a pound of tine dust than the same
weight of handplane shavings.
Also important is rhe intensity of the contact: More dust in
the air increases your eXJXlsure. And, obViously, the longer you
work with a wood the greater your exposure.

Approvod pt"Ofecflo". Don't rely
on a s/mple
hardware-store
oust mask to
protect you.
Use a NIOSH·
appr()veo oust
mask or respirator.
Wood~ that may cause reactions-Unfortunately there has
hcen no comprehensive scientific study of wood allergies, and
among the published reports there is very little agreement on
which wooci5 are most dangerous. In very general tem"L~, the lisk
of allergies increases from domestic softwoods to domestic hardwoods to tropical species.
Exceptions to the safe softwoods rule are
western red cedar and, to a lesser extent,
redwood. While slightly mo!"C dangerous
overall than domestic softv.'oods, no
domestic hardwood seems to stand out
as causing widespread allergies. 111e real
danger comes from certain tropical woods.
The good news is that American mahogany,
proirJ.bly the most common tropical wood
used for fine furniture, is relatively benign .
Among the w'lods to look Out for are
rose\vood, cocoOOlo, Goncalo alves, olive,
teak, and the aforementioned Australian
lacewoad, also known as silky oak.

MInimize the risk

TIl. b',

cover-up . " you are susceptible to allergic reac tions, minimize your contact with oust
when sanoing tropical hardwooos.

www.finc:woodwor k ing 'om

Although allergies affect only 2% to 5% of
people, if you are a regular or first-time user
of tropical wocx1s in particular, it is still worth
taking precalliions. Various Internet sites give
l ist~ o f allergeniC wood.~, the types of anergiC
reaction each wood causes, and the likelihood
of a reaction (.-;ee p. 32).
If you choose to use a wood that causes
all~rgic reactions, minimize your contact,
J U L Y/ AUG U ST 200 9

31

a closer look "Oi'"''
p.uticularly with the dust. Use a central dustif swelling develops rapidly, particularly
collection '!'J'stem or shop vacuum attached to
involving the mouth or thr<Y.tt; if you have
[X)wer tools to catch as much dust as possible
trouble breathing, or feel di7.zy, light-headed,
at the source, Open some windows and oUf;<ilde
or faint, doctors advise that you leave the
doors to draw fresh air into the shop. Since
.~hop and call 911 for an amhulance to the
_.mnwoodturners
dust collectors are not 100% effective, also use
hospital. Anaphylactic shock (hypersensitivity
.com/ New_Member_Doel /
Tallie Woodl_Chart.html
dust masks and respirators approved hy NIOS! I
to a foreign suhstance) can be fatal if it leads
(The National Institute for Occupational Safety
to severe low blood p ressure or respiratory
_w.mlmf.eom/arehlvea/
tOllle.htm
and Health; for more, see P\.VW #201, "Protect
or cardiac arrest. While waiting for the
Yourself fmm wtXXi Dust Meticulously clc-.m
ambulance, take an antihistamine such as
http:// old.mllndelu.
ez/- horacek/ todc.htm
the shop by removing dust immediately after
Benadryl if you can swa llow without difficl,llty.
If you are feeling faint or light-healk't.l, lie
completing a task, and ultimately when you
II possiDle, search t»' the
dem'n
fini~h the projeL1:.
with your feet higher than your head.
scientifiC name. as some
To prevent skin contact, wear long pants,
If you have been pn.::-o;.,TiIx.-'t.l an epinr:phrinr:
common names cover multiple
species. some benign. others
a ~hirt with tight, long .-;leevcs, do:,c-fitting
kit, or Epipen, inject yourself. Bystanders
potentially dangerous.
gloves, and a hal. An apron will add protection
may have to admim"ter CPR if you lose
oy keepi ng dust from <:ntering the top of your
consciousness, quit breathing, and have
pants, O nce you have finished work for the
no pulse. Be prep .Hed to tell the medical
professionals what medications you have taken or injected-if
day, take a shower and change clothes as .';oon as [Xlssible. The
key Ls to minimize your total exposure time.
you are alone, write down thi" information in case you lose
consciousness,
The chances of this kind of fC<lCtion arc vcry, very small.
Be ready for t he worst
For JlI0~ woodworketS who sutTer an allergy to wocxj, the
woodworkers .<;hould go on exploring the world of beautiful
experience is more of a nuisance than an emergency, with just a
W(xxis but Just use a link caution when using t.hem. Have fun
rash or flu-likr: symptoms. In the most extreme circumstances,
and remain healthy.
0

Web info
on toxic woods

R

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fiNE WOO[)WOIIK1NG

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ears ago, clients wanted me to
make a blanket chest to store shirts
and sweaters. Blanket chests are
great for qUilL'> and blankets, b ut they lend
to allow small items to drift toward the
\xlUorn and get lost. For clothes, 1 mused,
drawers would make the contents more
accessible. And if I used rhe same out.'iidc
dimensions as a blanket lX)x, they could
still place the chest at the foot of the b ed
and sit on it, or push it agaio.'it the wall
to use as a dresser. The different drawer
depths would add to the versatility of what
the ("hest cou ld huH They took my advio:
and they still Jove the finished chest.
As with mllCh of my work, this design is
heavily influenced by the Shaker design
r.:thic, with its simple lines, functional design , .~ol id construction, and cherry wood.
'i1l.ere are a number of p arts, but the construction is straightforv... ard. I use half-blind
dov.:t:>i]..; to s.:cur.: Ih.: sid.:s to a subtop,
and a sliding dovetail to secure the bottom
to the sides. A vertical divider gets centered in the top and bottom and dadoed
in place. Pront and hack rails are notched
around the vertical divider and dovetailed
into place. I use a sturdy frame-and-pand
back, glu.:C\ into a rabnet, so the piece
looks beautiful from all directions. And the
main top gets screwed in place from the
underside of the subtop. This is the same
construction I use on all my cas.: pieces,
so the anatomy cou ld work for a taller
chest, too.

Y

DOVETAILS
DUAl- URROS,E JIG
UN menr cMst:I 01 drawer.. ttl. . . . . of thll one nHd a ~Vdado cambo for
the ,.." and drawer runMFI. and • lone IIICHnI cIoveWH for the bottom. One ...npte jll
handl.. tMm all,

Setup I. easy.
Registering off
the front edge of
tile side, Il"s easy
to clamp the Jig
square and cut
dadoes and dovetaiiS precisely.

Tackle the sides first

~I
,

Most of the bus ines.~ happens o n the side
pieces. But before I hand-chop any halt'blind dovetails, the side pieces .'let a rabbet, leg arches, a slid ing dovetail, and a
dado with a dovetail at the front.
First, rabbet the side pkces with two ripcuts on the tablesaw. This rabbet will accept the back.
Online
The n , draw
For Be(:lIsvoort·s complete
the leg arches
finishing re<:i Ptl fo r cherry,
on
th e si d e
go to FlneWoodworklng
,eom/ extrali.
pieces a n d
use a bandsaw to Cllt them out and a block plane to
smooth the straight edges. I clean up the
arc hes llsing a balloon sand.:[ on my lathe
and finish up with hand sanding .
Now it's time to pick up the router a nd
rackle the dado/dovetail that holds the
front and back rails and the drawer runners, as well as the slidi ng dovda il that

DoYetall meets dado. Use a ¥4-ln. dovetail bit to cut the do'Oetail notch for the front and back ralls
(above left,. Without moving the Jig (Becksvoort has two Identical routers so he doesn't h3'o'e to
change bits), use a .y~·ln . straight bit to cut the dado that will hold the drawer ronners (aboVe right).

Extra

www.finewoodworking.com

Two cuts for a lonlt
. lIdlng doYetail,
Before the final pass
with a O/+-In. dOl'etall
bIt, Bccksl'oort uses a
smaller straight bit to
waste away the material, making the do'Oetail cleaner and easier
to cut.

J U L Y/ A UGUS T

2 0 09

35

_.._-

ho ld~

the bottom. For all three I lise a shupmaoc
jig with two JXIfullel hOlts, spaced the width of the
rollter base, clamping It square to me carcase stde
The same jig wor\u; for the dad~ on Ihe sKIes of
the vertical divtder arxl the <.bdOt!S in the subto(>
dOd lXJ(lom thai hold the vertical divider, \ll}ule
the JOuter and jig M\' out, cut the dadoes in each
stde of the vertical divider. Along wlm me cbdoe...
in the ..ides. these will hokl the drawer runners.
Line them up with the dddoes o n the sides. but
It:'dve the piece a bit long until YOli glue lip the
car<:ase ,md get an exact mea..,uremenL

t

Oado. "I. In.
wide by.". in.
deep

Dado for vertical dIVider.
¥. in. wide by V. In. deep

Tenon. 'I. in.
thick by "I, in.
wide by 1'1.0 in.
long

Dovetailing a large case piece
WIling dovetolils on a Jallle piece is very simibr
to l'utting tiov(!tuils on a .. mailer box or drJ.wer,
but there are a few more things to consider. Holding the pieces is more challenging, keeping Ihem
flat is im ponant, and of course there is more
material to remove. Th~ good news, at lea.,t with
this piece, is that even if your dovetails don't look
perfect thl-y'll he hidden by the subtop. I always
layout and cut the tails fir,,' , then transf~r them
and fmish \IP with the pin!> (set! phOl:os, p. 3H).
Once you Ita\'\: Ilk! dovetai ls cut, it's time to
glue mt: subtop to the "jdt:s. But first rout the
dadoes for the vertical divider in (he subcop a nd
bottom (using the same jj~ <1.<; before) To find the
center of horh, it L"n't nec:e.....<;ary to do :I dry-fit.
The sui>top, the bottom piece, and the rJ.i1s arc all
the same length, so JUSt stad.. the top and bonom
together with the end.. flush and mea~u re for lhe
center. After rouling the- dadoes, glue the dovetaik-d sub<op ro the sides. The tK>ttom doesn't go
in yet, so use spacers 301 the bottom of the legs to
keep everything straight and square.
While that assembly is drying. move to the router table [0 cut the "Hding dovetail .. in the ends of
the bouom and front and back raiLs. Then slide
the hottom inlo place. I g lued only the last .1 in.

24 In.

-

))

£-31,;
L-~

In

_ L...-

In.

I~

fINE WOODWORKING

STRETCHER END DETAil
Tenon. V. In. tnlck

by ¥. in. Wide by
l¥lln. long

- --.J._

e

Notch , ¥. in. wkle
b)' 1'1. i n. deep

Vertical
dlYidcH

STRETCHER/ VERTICAL DIVIDER DETAil

FLJII·size pllns lor thIs chest arid
other projects are 1~811able a\
FlneWoOOWorklng,com/PlllnStore.

-

~=

!


I

!

-

Drawer sides
and baCK,
Y.t In. thicK

GrOOlle , 'I. i n.
wide by ¥. m.
deep



Drawer bottom.
'1~ In. thick

T

Jr.; in.

,1
T

8711 in.

~

~1
47i,~ ------>l~1

45 .... in.

Vertical diVider,
"I. in . thick by
18"1. in. deep
11"1. in. tall

Dado, "I. in.
wiele by"" in.
decp

1

"

,

36

C)

48 In.

jE

L:

Rabbet for back,......-.... In. wide ~
'I. in. deep

1T

4V. in.

i

thicK

Drawer poll,
1 In. dla. by 1 in.
long with 'kIn.·
dia. by Of.-in..lOflg
lenons

Top, "f4 In. thick
by 19'Y. In. wlOe
by 48 In . long

_ - - - _ Subtop. V. m. thick
by 18+'. in. wide by

..,.In.
radiUS

46V. in. long. scrowed
to top from uMerneath

TOP EDGE DETAIL
Center stiles ..... in thick by
3 In. wide by 181(. In. long

V

_ _ _ _ Top rail , '1'1 In. Ullck
by 1 "f. In. wide

Tenons. 'I.. in.
thick by 1+'. in.

by 461h In. long

__-

Panel . .,.. in. thick by 9'1. in.
wide by 16 in. long. with
'Y. in.-thick by -v.-In.·long
longue
End sUle. 'II In. thick by
1"1.. In. wide by 23'1. in. long

Bottom rail, "fa In.
thick by 3 in. wlOe
by 461h In. long

Panel groove, 'I. In.
wide by V. in. deep

Drawer runner.:V. In. thiCk by
214 In. wide by 171f11n. long,
rear tenons rlOt glued
Rail. 'Y. in. thick
by 2>/0 in. wloo by
46V. In. long

Bottom,:V. In. thick
by 18"f. In. wide by
46'n In. lon&
"'-_~

'''''<

blocks

Drawer stop, ¥o in.
th ick by ¥io in. wide
by 2 in. long, inset
:V. in. from front edge
Tenon. 'I. in.
long by .1 'nln.
wille
Cut prafile

lifter glue-up.

APRON DETAIL

Side, 'I. in. thick
by 19'Y. in. wide by
23-Y. in. long

-Y. in.

I

1<-11> ', .."

~2I!1in.~

www.fjnew oodwo rkin~ .com

, . . BOnOM

V

DETA IL

)IILY/AUCU:O;T 2009

37

Pro method

_... _......_.

HIIIf-dnd . . . . . IM. . lltrOft1 bul

CI.l.t-IooIdnC __ lher

eM" acMleltll

-

on bit p i - , but a.otcnoort ... trk:Ica tor

fa;,. fI,.r. On the .subtop. Becksvoor'
marks th e centers of the pins and uses a
dove tail guide to layout the tails (above).
To saw the long, wide board. he rests It on
the floor and secures it In a vise. A thick,
straight hardwood board clamped nellr t he
action keeps the wide board flat (right).

10 4

in.

al the front of Ihe sliding dove-

tail. Bc.::CAuse the doveta il :;101 i:; tlcep, il
weaken:; the sides of th~ <:asc, .so I added
five glue hlocks underneath each side Th is
strengthens and anchors the lower sectio ns
of the case sides to the bonom. yet still
allows for wood movement.

ChOp ~nd p.re. chop .tld p"re.
Keeping tne wide workpiece fiat,
make a vertical cut In the scribed
line, lippln, the chisel slightly forwarn (aboVe). Malte the first cut
'ithl. Then, paring horizontally In
(rom tile end grain, remov& • chip
(rig/ltJ. Alternate between cuttIng
down and cutting I" until about half·
way through. then turn the board
and repeat the process until
youVe met In 'fle middle. FOllow

Divider helps drawers run smoothly
The fOllr dr,lwers :lre ~p:trated by <l vert,(:al divider [hat is cut to Ht after the case
is as~mhled. With a handsaw, nOlch the
vertical divider to accept [he notched front
and b~Kk mils, and th<.::n slide it in plact:.
The~ notches line up with the dadoes that
are already in the vertical divider. Don't
Rlu e the vertical d i"ider in place becau.c;e it
is an end-grain to long-grain )Oint, and Rille
won 't hold. Instead, S<.TeW it in plaoe. plup;ging thr.: h oles in the bonom. TIu: holes in
the suhto p will he covered b y the tOp.
The bonom drawers run on lbe bo(tom
or the case, but the top drdwcrs run o n a
frame: rwo rails and four d rawer nlOner;.
The ru nm.Th a~ te nonL-u into the frunt and
hack rails. The tenons get glued into the
front rail b ut are left loose in the back fail
to allow for wood movement.

ow,

tlte same procerJuro aftor SlIwfng'
the pins.

38

P I NE WOODWORKING

Finish panels before gluing In frames
A fmme-and -pancl ba ck , although morc
work, gives as much diagonal racking resistance as plywood (unlike n ailed ship-

THE TAIL BOARD
TO MARK PINS
Mark the location
of the lalls on the
pin board . On long.
wide work pieces,
BeeksvOOft uses a
small nail 10 help In
Ihe Iransfer. Align
the boards and
predrill. Tap In the
nail partway so it can
be easily removed
(above right). Using
a marking knife and
working from thc

nailed corner, scribe
Ihe taUs onto the
pin board (below
right). Pivot the tall
board Into alignment
whenever net:essary.

lapped,

_

IO n guc-a nd -gruov~

boards) a nd
looks much better. Once the case a nd all
the dividers are in p lace, make the framL"and-panel back, leaving it a litde too w id e
.'>0 you can lIneak lip on the perfecT fi t
with a block plane. I profile the four P:IOdo; w ith a 221(i'

panel-rais i n~

bit. 1 p in

the rails ami srilcs for extm support and a
nice design detail. Then 1 sand the inside
face and fi t the back to the case. I glue the
back in place, .secure il with SITI3l1 brade;.
counlersink them, and plug the hol~.

Cut the pln••nd
the n t1ue tINt
top.nd.Id...
Spacers between
the legs keep the
ass embly square
while Becksvoort
attaches !he suOtop to the sides. To
keep from marring
the caresse with
heavy bar clamps,
h e lISCS spacor s 011
the top and cauls
011 the sldttS (left).

Complete the base and profile the top
'10 fi ni.~ h the fnml. of the Glse, mit.:r .lOd

spline Ihe thrce-piece base asse mbly,
handsaw the arches to the same rad1US as
the sides, and glue it into place. A o nl::piece: ba)c would introd uce croll.<;-graln
gluing and could self-destruct. ThL'i 'Way,
the base expands and contracts (up and
dow n), while the case s ide ic is glued to
does no t change in length.
Next, sa nd the entire case, and the n CHt
the lOp o f the case to size, a llowing a lJ.z-in.
overh."Ing o n the front and on e-.l<:h 1iide. ROllI
w ww.finewoodw(, r ki n g.l·o m

JULY/AUGUST 2009

39

Pro method

a.on,.uac_ ".. _
.......

,""' . . IIOI

the profile into the front and sides, sand
the top, and screw it into place from un.
(.krneath th rough the subtop .

Drawers are the final step

bled .........

'''''fIOIIow

Defore starting the dovetails o n the drawers,!ttQOVe the :-;ides and fmnL Now b y our

Big _ rkP'«e
is a n added

challen,..A

'III In.

fcalheroo.1rd
applies even
pressure, l1eeping
the long board on
track and the cut

precise. Go
snug fit.

fOf

a

the tailo;:, saw and chop them, and move on
to the pins. I cui the pms and tails shR,hlly
proud a nd nu<;h everything up with a !kit
!>ander after the drawer.; .u e glued. Knob
hol~ al.'lO C'.m be drilled at this point. I use
a pencil to mark the light spots and a belt
sander to remove material as I carefull y fit
the drawer~ to their op enings.
Insert the drawer l)(){toms, and hold them
in place with two saw slots and roundhead screws in the underside of the ([r.lwer
hacks. The knobs are turned on the lathe,
te no ns cut to length , and thcn glued into
place. My technique can be found in '·Au·
thentlc Shaker Knohs," FW W "1%.
Before applying a finish , I go m"er the
entire pk"f.:e to break and sand all edges in·
cluding around the d rawt:r OJX.-"Oings, and
the gaps herw~ n the fra me'> and panel!'>
o n the back. The n I sig n the piece and
g ive it three coal" of a n oil finish. TIle fi rst
(.:oat i.'i ~tr.l ight [>-.Inish oil, and the fi n:tl l\\.'O
coots a ll~ a mixture o f Tried & True \~ mish
o il ,m d spar va rnish.

o

Cllristian BeckSVOQIt is a contributing editor.

P,•••• do,, 't fN.ztt. To prevent binding. dan',
use tJue yet. and keep t he bottom as s traight ItS
pass/ole as you slide It in mast of the way. Glue
only the front 310 4 In. of tho bottom: otherwise,
the Joint will seize while you are trying to bring
the piece home. Use clamps to put/1M bottom
cvcnly and steadily. Clamping blocks tha t extend
over the side keep the workpiCCC$ from tettlng
damaged. but. more Importantly, stop the bot·
tom when It Is exactly flush with the sides.

tNaslmplt ....em .....
dnl'lR" front raoWnC ....
• nd forttI o . . . . . . . .o or

--.

1. Fit tnc vertical dMdcr. and
tap it into position witllout glLle.
Screw it In from the top and
bottom.

2 0 Fit the front rail and glue ff
Inro the sides ana onto tile ver·
tical divider panel.

3 0Install the four drawer run·

ners. Apply glue only to the
fronl tenons.
4 . The back flll/is glued Into
the doVetsil slots and onto
the vertical divider. The back
mortise-and.fenon jolnrs ate
not glued. This allows the web
frame to telescopo In and out
as the case expands and con.

tracts.
5 0Fit the baCk. The end stiles
extend beyond the bottom fail

ana become an Integral part of
the back legs. Use a block plane
to sneak up on !PIe fit before
clamping and gluing.
6 . Apply the mitered front base
assemOly. Ada glue blOCks afterwant to strengthen tile corner
joints.

www.f!n ~woodworkj n.c: .co m

JULY/AUGUST 2009

41

Two readers hone their skills
with help from our expert
BY

STEVE

or decades, Fine Wuodworking's
tradition has been to offer expert

F

guidance from great woodworkers,

helping readers learn new techniques and
avoid mistakes. Rut try as we might, we

can't always anticipate which parts of a
woodworking task will trip a reader up.
So we stopped trying to guess.
Late last year, we experimented 'with a

brand-new kind of anicle, In ~A Trip to the
Dovetail Doctor" (FUiW #201), we let yOli
follow along and bun from a fellow reader's mistakes as he slfllggled with one of

wexxhvorking's most familiar but challenging tasks, Contributing editor Gary Rogowski corrected hi.~ flaws in technique and
an~wered his questions, letting us pinpoint

some often lingering misconceptions,
Now the cxpcrimr.:nt continues.
We sought new patients for the wood~
working doctor, asking reader~ which
tasks-despite careful study and practicecontinue to frustrate them. The moM common cry for help came from readers who've
fallen in Jove with hand tools but can', quite
ma,~ter the ilince of getting them sharp.
To make sure we would encounter a
broad ran~e of problems, we chose tv.'o
patients: Aaron Petersen of Grand RapidH,
Mich., and Marco C.ecala of Phoen ix.
"My sharpening skills have been built on
reading al1ides in your magazine and on-

SCOTT

line, watching Videos, and trial and errormostly en'or," Petersen told us. "Without
underst.'-mding what it's like to use a truly
sharp lOdge, it's hard to know if I'm doing
it correctly."
Both Petersen and Cecala are longtime
power-tool w<XXIworkeTh who started using hand teXlls in the last couple of years.
Each man was frustrated by inconsistent
sharlkning results. And, with our help,
hath traveled to Rogowski's school in Portland, Ore., to figure out why.

The doctor reviews the symptoms
We met at the NorthweHt Woodworking
Studio on a chilly Fehruary morning. As
Petersen and Cecala unpacked their toob,
the brightly polished backs and bevels ~aid
l)(){h had worked hard on sharpening. !:otill,
a quick test in end-grain pine showed that
the edges weren't quite right. Softw()(X\ end
grain is a great gauge of sharpness. Instead
of slicing cleanly, a dull edge will push
over the pliahle flhers, teatinR and crushing
them and leaving: a rough ~urface.
Petersen's chisels-the chief focus of
his frustration----cut inconSistently, fighting him at first and then sliCing suddenly
forward. Cecala's plea for help centered
on his handplanes: They turned end grain
to dust instead of shavings. On edge and
face grain, the planes took a shaving but

pares enrJ.·graln pine cleanly. A

plane with a weI/-honed Iron
can tak6 thin shllvlngs arid
leave a glassy surface.

JULY/AUGUST 2f1f19

43

left unacceptable tearout. And after feelins
the silky, unblemished surfa ces left by
Rogowski's p lanes, u"t-'ala wa.<; starting 10

see

1TXl0l

for improvement.

"I always thought 'if I'm takmg a shaVing,
then I'm doing OK,''' Cc~-ala said.
·YOli :Ire doing OK.M Rogowski answered.

"but you could do a whole lot bc'tler

M

Throughout the nt:xt two <Ia}'s, Rogowski

Flatten the back
8 . d new •. Ahar watching Petersen struggle
to mako Ihls ch/scl cut. Rogowski used it
straightedge to show the back was not flat.
Ceca/as lechn /que of poJlshlnt on a hard
felt buffing wheel tended to give his tools
rounded backs, like tIIis one (right).

flat abrasive surface such as a watersrOfle. Sandpaper, tlued /0 a
flat surface, wof1(s too. Be sure fa hold th e back de8d naf.

rJre result. A mirror polish is one
goal, but nor Ihe only one. The back has to
be flat as we/I.

44

fIN)'

WOOOWOIIKING

w-.atched a.'i each student demOTl.!>lralt."<i he.
own sharpening techniques, :->tl.-pping In
to offer coaching in each phase of :;.harpening-flattening and polishing the 1001.'"
back, grinding ttll' Ix:~d, and honing it
Make sure t he back is fi at-Possibly
the biggest discovery for both students
Involved the very beginning of the sharpening process-flattening the 1001's back.
Creating a lih arp edge involves making
two IXllished surfaces intersect. For chisels
and plane irons, these two surfaces are the
1001's beveled tip and fl at lXll:k.
Flattening and then polishing the back is
tedious but crucial work that, thankfully.
has to be done only once. You must flatten
fi r.,1 10 ensure Ih:.Il the polbhing abrasiye
will reach ali lhe way to the cutting edge.
where it mailers most. The gOUl! news IS
Ih:u once II'S polished, aU you'U ever hay\!
10 do wilh the back is rub II with you r flneSI ahr.l5ive to remove the burr (;re'Jled by
honing the bevel. f o r chisels. a flat back
is important for controlling cut~, hecause
it acts as a reference surface that keeps the
chisel o n a straIght, predictable path
All of this was dcarly on Rogowski's
mind a.~ he watched Peter.<;en sllliggle with
his ~A-in. paring chisel, working to coax it
into a cut with a slight lift of the handle.
kW e need to find Out how flat the back
of this tool is," R()gow~ki said. With that.
he laid a straightedge against the chi~ l 's
highly polished back and he ld them lip
to the light, revealing an inch-long gap of
hght that grew wider at Ihe cutting edge.
~ I W:!S YCT)' surpm;cd," Pelcr.!Cn .s:.lid . "(
had p n.:viously flattened them o n ...andpaper and thought they were f1a1 :
Petetsen then showed Rogowski his sandpaper lechnique. As Rogowski watched. hit
cautioned Peler.;en to avoid Lifting the 1001's
handle as he worked it across tht' abrasive.
Ct.""L-aia w.<.x1 a u iJ.mond p late and W'Jk'rstones [0 flatten and fXxish the back.~ of hi.~
plane irons, ami Rogowski saw no glaring
flaws in his technique. But as it turned out,
Ct.~ala's final step in thl: entire processpolishing the hevel and hack o n a hard. felt

Grind the bevel
sench grlnd.r I. _gg,essl"• . It wll/ fOfm 1I fresIJ beVel
qulcklY,/W t RogoWSki recommends a whIt e abfilslve
wheel. a /lght touch, and careful technique.

Pntearlous t rip. Cecala
t ried to keep the Iron

square to the wf!ool by
registering his fingertips
in the tool rests horizontal grooves. The grip
m ade It tougn to grind

a nice, straight eette on
the iron.

etemonstratec/ how to
hold the tool fist with his
thumbs while running
one finger against the
bottom offhe tool

buffing wheel-undid much of this WQrk
-If you're having troubles with inconsistency, I think that final 51,ep IS the one that's
causing the probk.'ffi,~ Rogowski d(.piaintXi,
adding that the wheel would quickly round
the tool's hack at the cutting edge. This
tends to blum th~ I,.'(lgl.! slightly and prevent
the cap iron from .seating Oatly agamst the
iron's back, resultin~ in tearout. 111e sim-

~' Online

Extra

For a Tree "ideo of this sharpening clinic.

3S It happened. go to FlneWoodworklng
.coll1j elltrlM.

J

plest improvement, he lold c:.ecala , would
be to avoid the buffing wheel rehgiously.
Mastering the ho llow-ground bt.'vcl-TIle next SlCp In s harpening i<; to prepare
me bevel for hOning by grinding If to the
proper angle. This must be done each
time the honed portion of the bevel becom~ too wide to polbh efficiently Like
Rog:ow.~ki, both men used a grinding 'w heel
with a tool rest for this step. In the process,
the w heel's radIUS scoops out a hollow bewww.finewondworkjng.com

twee n the bevel's heel and the I,.."dge.
As Cecala began grinding his p lane iron,
Rogowski eyed hi~ grip. When the sparks
started flying, he spoke up
-SlOp, please! How do you know you'rl'
going to get a nice straip;h t cut across
there?" Rogowski ashd, pointing to the
toul's edge. Cecala explained that he kept
the e dge sqllare to the whed by register
ing his fingertips against one of the horizontal ridges in the face of the [001 re~t.
Rogowski raised a skeptical eyehrow.
He urged Cecala to adopt a more secure
grip, riding the outside of h is right index
finger under the bottom edge of the tool
fest to a(."1 both as a depth stop and a brace,
keeping the iron squatc to the wheel He
used his left hand ro control the tool's side·
(()-side movement, pressing down lighliy
on the tool with his thumb.,. As he demonstrated, Rogowski said the grip allowed
him to keep the tool flat agajn.~t the tool
rest, pressed lightly again~t the wheel, and
tracking in a ~traight line. The ,Rrip a lso
proved helpful to Petersen, w ho found
himself lifting hi.~ chl'tCl during grinding, re-

Good ~Ind. leave a

very thin band of
t he old btNel to
ensure an even
grind and
avoid bumIngthe tip.

suiting in a multifaceted bevel.
Like lTwny of u.~, C..ecala
was Rrindin~ the hollow all the
war to the tIp, lIntil he could feel
:1 consistent wire edge across the back.
Rogowski stmn&iy discouraged thaI practiCt.'. A thin band of ungruund ~1(.'t:l atlile tip
provides a vi.'luai reference to help ~nstlre a
square. consistent grind. It also helps prevent lile thm steel at the cuttinR edge from
burrung on a h igil-sfX.""(."(] grinder. ROb'owski
recommended leaving '16. in. or so, which
can qUickly be honed away later.
He alo;o demonstrated a simple way to
check the posilioning of the' tool re!>t: He
set the tool In place, tu rned the whee l
by hand, and then checked the :;cratt:hes
JULY/AUGUST 2009

45

Hone the edge
A JIG MAKES IT EASY
A honing Jig helps you maIntaIn a p recise, consistent
angle so you know the 1inest abrasives are reOlchlng the
ve ry t ip 01 the tool,

on the bt:vd Lo see w here the
wheel was meeting the steel.
Hone the edge-The th ird

phase in

.~harpeni ng

involves

honing the ti p o f the bevel with
successively finer a brasives until it is a~ polished as the hack.

Petersen honed his chisels on
sandpaper and p late glass, using a honing gu ide and working his v.'ay through 2,000 grit.
When Petersen switched to a
finer paper. Rogowski frowned.
Petersen laid the next sheet on

top of the previous one, rdying on the abrasive underneath
to hold it in place. But the lay-

C.tch a wave. Petersen's loosely stacked sandpaper
bowed up In fronr of and behInd the cutting edge.

ered sandpaper rolkd up like
a wave in front of and behind
the edge, rounding the bevel
and preventing subsequent
grits from reaching all The way

to the cutting edge.

The altemaUve. Rogowski suggested setting
up a station like tIIis, with indi~iduitl strips of
sandpaper held In place with spray adhesive.

Rogowski stopped him and recommended using a single sheet at a time, gluing
each sheet to the p late glass with spray
adhesive. He also suggested that Petersen
try waterstones, saying they offer a flatter surface if maintained properly, and he
demonstrated how to flatten a stone by
m bbing it on a diamond honing plate.
After several more honing strokes on
the ~andpaper. Petersen paused. As they
examined the bevel a nd its honed tip, it

A Jig for contl/stent angles. For any gl\len honing angle, the blade must
edend a specific distance from the guldo. Rogowski suggested a simple
jig like this one, which will delNlH the exact same angle every time.

46

FINE woonWORKING

appeared that Petersen was honing at a
steeper angle than he had intended. 111e
discrepancy suggested that he neetkJ hdp
in setting the angle of the honing guide accurately and conSistently. For better results,
Rogowski suggested using a shopmade jig
for setting the angle or switching to a guide
like the Vcritas Mark II, w hich comes with
a reliable angle-setting attachment.
But Rogowski also urged Petersen to try
honing freehand. He demonstrated how a
hollow g rind makes it possible to maintain
a cOfi.'iistenl angle when honing because
it affords two distinct contact points at the
edge and the heel of the OeveL
Cecala was already a freehand convert.
He ho ned his plane iron carefully and
withom apparent troub le on waterstDnef>,
stopping at 8,000 grit. This would have
been plenty sharp for most woodworking
tasks. Of co u~, Cec-,da's work would lun:e
rhen been marred by the buffing whee1had Rogowski allowed him to go there.
Instead, Rogowski demonstrated a different way to take an edge a step further fDr
the rna::.t demanding tasks, such as planing ditTicult grain. He suggested taking a
few final honing passes on a leather strop
charged with very fine ahmsive compound,
To demonstrate, he placed Petersen's chisel
dead flat on the strop (to avoid rounding)
and drew it toward him for several strokes,
Next, he flipped the tool to work the tx:vci
w ith .~everal qUick pull strokes_

By ~ttlng the jig slightly steeper than your grinding angle, you polish just the tip
Precision honing.

of the tool.

FREEHAND IS FAST
BUT TAKES SKILL
You save set up time whe n work ing f reehand,
but It tll kes practice to m aintain the angle.

Lock the a rm. to lock In th. ant '•. Rogowski showed Cecala how fo co nc entrate pressure on
the b/ade 's tip wh llo kooplng his arms rigid to he lp m aintai n the honing angle.

On the road to recover)

student benches. He was still hard at it,
lapping the backs of h lS tools.
Ccc;da dcs(:riix'(\ Rogowski's tips on flattening the back :md honin~ o n the strop
as " 3 couple o f n..>vciatiOns- that gave h im
g rea ter confidence about gettmg s harp
edges.
Pt:!tersen agreed.
~ I wasn 't su ~ exactly what I'd get o ut
of it," he said. ~ Bu t nuw I h<lve a really
good understanding of what a sh<lrp
tool is, whaT il looks like, and how 10
~et there"
0

Late on the second day, Petersen'$ chisel
roll was spread out on une uf Rogowski's

SIeve Scott is an associate editor.

RogowskI's strop is a slmp[e 2lf2-in.-wide
strip of thm leather, mou nted suede-sideup un a pil'Cc of ~A- in . hardw()(x1.
After a final PlSS on Ihe b;ic.k. the jUoup
moved to a bench to test the ir edges o n
end grain. The.: result? Buncr), shavings a nd
a dear. glossy surface, Cecala contrasted
the strop technique to hiS own cffons with
the huffing wheel ·So I had the right idea,
but the wrong execu tlon,~ he concluded.
"'That's it exactly," Rogowski said.

P'. nt tINt heel, til.,. •• t '". toe. When
honing without a guide. keep a COIlslstent angle by ridi ng both the heel and
tip on the stone. Scar f with the fool
resting on the bevel s heel and
rock t he bevel forward untif
both heel and tip are In solid
contact wit h the stone.

An edge honed by hand
will show two polished
O<tnds wh ere the heel
aM tip meet the stone.

FOR TH E FINEST EDGE ,
TRY A STROP

fI,.

Nck ".t. Pull the too/ toward you
for several strokes. Don 'T push: This will dl,
the tool Into th e leather.

K_p

~'nt./"

• proper anll.

on til. bev.l. Again, pull the
blade toward you. The fin/sIled
edgo will be amazingly sharp.

JU LY /AUGUST 200 9

I

Designing With Grain
English-walnut sideboard demonstrates how
grain patterns can take a piece to the next level
BY

JASON

ave you ever i(X)keu at a piece of furnitufC and thought
something wa.<;o't quite right, hut you couldn't put your
finger on it? The cr:aft~manship was impeccable and the
proportions were nice. But something about the design still wasn't
right. Chances are, it was the way the grain of the wood was arranged in the piece, or what I call the grain graphics.
Grain can add lines to a piece of furniture and enhance your
project, but if it doesn't complement the shape, it will compete
with or oveffXlwer the design. Color is critical, too. If it isn't consistent. it will be distracting. It takes extra time and effort to consider
grain and color carefully when huying boards and cutting them
up, but the benefits are many, and they gu beyond app~aranL~.
Choo~ing [he right type~ of hoard., helps certain furniture parts

H

48

FINE wOOnWORKING

ROBERTS

to function heuer, comhating movement in drawer.,> and doors,
for example,
This sideboard, made from beautiful English walnut, is the perfect prop for a lesson in grain graphics. It contains mo..-;t types
of furniture parts: thick leg:;, thin panels, narrow frame pieces, a
broad top, and so on. Yd Twas able to build the entin~ !:xteriorall of the visible parl<;--using just four hoards, saving money hut
also guaranteeing harmony.
1 dc:pended heavily on resawing to stretch this special wood.
hut you don't need a large bando;aw to take advantage of many
of my tips.
Jason Roberts is.a furniture mail er in Olympia. Wash.

SHOP SMART
IT ALL STARTS WITH THE LUMBER
THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GRAIN
FLATSAWN
Flatsawn wood. the least stable of the
three, has big. cathedral-like patterns but a
tendency to cup. Roberts tends to reserve
f latsawn boards for panels and tops. where
the grain pattern works well and wood
movement can be controlled.

QUARTERSAWN
Quartersawn lumber is cut 90"
to the growth rings l;md
is ver~ stable. II has
straight lines on
two OPPOSite
faces. ROberts
usually uses
quartersawn
boards where wood movement
Is a concern, In drawer parts
for e~ample.
Boule

From

th~

same tre&. 80ule5. or flitches. are sets of boards that were

consecl./tive/y cut from the same log. like a flftch of vomwr. Lumber cut
this way will have perfectly matching color and all three types of grain
that furnlturs makers need: l'Iatsawn. quartersawn, and rlftsawn.

RIFTSAWN
Rlftsawn !)OaldS have straight lines
on all four sides and are best used
for parts with all four sides e~posed,
such as legs.

t's hard to tum bad materials Into wonderful projects, so tt Is

I

worth spending more for hlgher-quallty lumber. Lumber selec-

tion does not have to be complicated. The best place to start Is
by using wood from the same tree: It will have the same color,
grain, and texture. The easiest (though not least expensive) way
to get matched boards Is by buying boules or ftltches of lumber
(for a list of suppliers, go to FlneWoodworking.comjexhas).
It Is harder to get consistent color and grain when the lumber
comes from different trees. Vet there are plenty of woodWorkers
who do exceptional work without eyer buying flltctH:ut lumber.
If flitchsawn Isn't aVailable or you don't want to spend the extra
money to get It, the best solution is to dit through lumber plies
and select pieces that match. It's not unheard of to find boards
from the same tree In a stack. look for distinguishing charac·
terlstlcs like knots and dark streaks that carry through boards.
Whenever possible, cut like parts out of the same board to ensure they matCh. For example , cut all the legs from the same
board; likewise for drawer fronts, aprons, and other parts.
Matching color, grain, and texture Is not limited to solid wood.
You can get more out of a thicker board by resawlng It for parts
or by Slicing it Into veneers.

Mix and match.
Ifyoucan"rpurcllase Ii boule. smt
through stacks for
boards that are
similar In color.
In this Situation,

Roberts checks
tile grain to make
sure he gets the
type he Is looking
for. If the dealer

allows. he US6S a
block plane (below)
to reveal character·
istlcs in the train
that can prove two
boards are from
the same 101/.

In this EdWard Ba,nsley·inspired sideboard, I combined these
techniques. Two of the boards afe from the same tree, as you
can see from the nearly Identical grain patte,n and COlor, and are
used for similar, prominent parts. The other two boards, whlla
not from the same tree, match the others 10 color. Read on to
see how I managed to stretch the four boards to cover the entire
case without sacrificing grain selection.
www.finewoodworking.com

JULY/AUGUST 1009

49


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