Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fine Woodworking - Fall 2014 Final Project

Not sure I'd call this fine woodworking. I certainly learned a few things, both about wood and about learning. I do think that the summer was a better class for me. I learned more, was careful and more craftsman-like in the summer, using hand tools, and having time off from work.

The fall taught me more skills about using tools, and certainly more about working on my own. However a tough travel schedule, combined with my mess of a shop at home, my lack of time to work at school, and the other projects besides my final one meant that I didn't get the quality of craftsmanship I'd like.

However I learned a few things, and sometime this spring I do want to re-do my toolbox a little slower, using some of the skills and knowledge I gained across two semesters. With that, here's the semester's work

Photo Dec 13, 9 01 17 AM

Top left a shooting board, which I have yet to use, but I suspect I will at some point. Once I get a decent plane. Middle top is the bench hook, which I've used at school and home. This is one of the handier things I've done and I might need to do a few more. This has really helped since I don't have a great workbench.

The upper right is my mallet, which I really like. All the kids like it, though I wish I'd done a few things differently. I need to invest in another good, solid heavy piece of dense wood and redo this one as well. As I've found over the years, you can never have too many mallets or hammers. Especially when you aren't a precision woodworker.

The rest of the wood is my final project. It was supposed to look like this:


It looks like this, for a few reasons. Most of those are a lack of care and patience.

Photo Dec 13, 9 05 32 AM

However, I did get to practice a few things I might not have done, and I am proud that it stays together, without any glue or nails, or more importantly, screws. Screws have been a staple for me, and I'm glad this works well without anything. I can't decide if I want to glue it or drill a vertical hole through the corner dovetails and dowel them in. I like the idea of doweling things in.

However, here's the project assemble and in pieces.

Let's start with the handle, since that's how I'll start assembling it. This was the last thing I did, and I struggled shaping it. I used a band saw to rough cut the tenons (after the mortises, of course), but they were hard.

Photo Dec 13, 9 02 29 AM

Not too clean, especially the shoulder. I chiseled them down, and then rounded the top and bottom with a router. That was the look I wanted, which isn't great, but it's what happens when you keep designing as you're building.

Photo Dec 13, 9 02 32 AM

As you can see, this was the first cut, and I nicked it with the router. My mistake for not labeling and starting with the bottoms instead of the tops. However it did fit well in the mortise.

The handle was wide, really a 3/4" square, which is too wide for a handle. I used a band saw to trim it and then a plane and chisel, along with generous random orbit sanding, to shape and clean it up.

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Not great, not consistent, but handmade. I do like that. I wish I'd had a scraper or shaping tool to trim the wood at a reasonable clip and get what I wanted. Lesson learned. I should have spent more time here.

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The tenons are also offset, as you can see below. Why?

Photo Dec 13, 9 02 45 AM

This is why.

Photo Dec 13, 9 02 47 AM

Crappy marking. I was in a hurry, only really sure of one day to work on this. I marked it, and apparently I centered the drill on the side mark, not he center one. I drilled two holes, and with a little guidance from Andrew the TA, I chiseled the middles out. Badly.

Didn't notice until I started the handle, at which point I was out of time.

Photo Dec 13, 9 02 53 AM

However I did get the dovetails chopped mostly by hand. Of the four sets, I did one on the band saw and realized it took my about as long as just chopping, so I did that. They're certainly not all the same, and I had to make sure all parts were labeled, but they got done.

I also (for the first time) used a router to make a stopped dado in each of the four sides. I've seen it, and it looks easy. It is, but I hadn't quite been sure of how best to try it without shooting a piece of wood across the room. Thanks to the class I got some instruction and managed it.

Photo Dec 13, 9 03 15 AM

Getting the top together, we can see my poor shaping skills here. Oh well, I did it.

The bottom was a couple of pieces glued together and then a rabbit cut in the top and bottom to fit. I tackled this rather than nail the bottom on, which didn't sound great. I had some visions early on of doing a box joint, but decided not to.

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I did cut one of them a bit too deep, meaning too close to the middle. The fit is good up and down so the bottom doesn't rattle, but you can see some groove inside when it's assembled.

With the handle and bottom in, I can slide the sides into place.

Photo Dec 13, 9 03 43 AM

There is one issue with the mortises I cut in that they're slightly twisted. When I put the handle in, with the tenons fairly straight vertically, the sides are slightly out of square. One of them is a bit canted at an angle. It's not much, and  when I add the bottom and twist the wood slightly there's no creaking, but it did help me to understand how hard it can be to get these pieces and parts cut evenly. I somehow didn't reference my mortise correctly, though given it's side to side placement, that's not surprising.

Photo Dec 13, 9 04 20 AM

My labels had been sanded off, but these are four custom joints. With the groove in the bottom, I can easily tell if I have the right dovetail pin matching the right tail. The joints aren't pretty when you look closely, but from a distance, they're fine.

Photo Dec 13, 9 04 26 AM

I cut these mostly by hand, with a chisel and surprised myself how well they came out. Lots of gaps, visually, but they fit tight. In fact, it's a challenge to get them apart when they're together.

Photo Dec 13, 9 04 28 AM

When they slip together, the sides are a bit short on a couple of joints. Definitely an issue, but at the point I realized this, I had to live with it. I had no time to fix things.

Photo Dec 13, 9 04 43 AM

The ends stand proud about 1/8", which I don't love now. I wanted them to stick out, but 1/4" looked too large when I tried to measure and visualize it. I realize now I should have gone with 1/4" sticking out.

Photo Dec 13, 9 04 48 AM

Things fit fairly tightly, and a couple mallet taps fix any issues with the pieces not being completely seated. I do one side, then flip it and do the other, sliding the dovetails together..

Photo Dec 13, 9 04 58 AM

Once it's done, it actually holds well. I don't know I'd want to stress the sides, but I can see myself carrying tools around the ranch in this.

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My plan was to drill a couple holes in each tenon and chisel them out square, or perhaps leave them rounded. Then I had a piece of Purpleheart that I was going to use to cut a wedge and drive it in there to hole this together without fasteners.

Photo Dec 13, 9 06 24 AM

That was the plan, as you can see the tenons standing out to the side. However my plans were dashed as I expected the last class to give me time to work, but I was wrong. The last class date was cancelled, or I read the syllabus wrong. It was just a pick up day, so no wedges for now. I am thinking to add one in the next few weeks if I get time.

Photo Dec 13, 9 06 12 AM

The sides look OK, though I wish I'd cut a groove and gotten some purpleheart in there. I'd also have liked to make those dovetails stand out more.

Photo Dec 13, 9 06 03 AM

Not a great picture, but you can see a little groove at the bottom when we look from above. The handle shows (again), my poor cutting skills in the band saw. Clearly I can't do things evenly. A spokeshave would have been better.

Photo Dec 13, 9 05 51 AM

The other end, where we can see I chiseled out a bit too much tenon here. I guess I could always cut these shorter, or even flush and wedge inside them. Too marks on the edges as well.

I did get to use a router to ease the edges here, and then a sander to round them more. The top of the sides also saw a router and some sandpaper.

Photo Dec 13, 9 05 44 AM

There it is, the final project.

Photo Dec 13, 9 05 32 AM

A far cry from my design, though it is the proper dimensions. I planned on a 24" inside, which I have. It's 8 1/2" wide on the outside, which is the width of my spread hand. The sides are 6" high, which leaves me space to do a drawer. The ends are 12" high, which is less than my 14" in the plans, but once I drew this out on the actual wood, I thought 14" was too out of proportion for the width. I'm happy with this.

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