Back on the horse

Part of my “wood technology” class at UC is a Windsor Chair class. Students, over the academic year and meeting once a week, complete a sack-back chair. Well since there are only three students this year and two instructors they decided we should be able to complete two chairs in the year’s time. Reasonable enough, I suppose.

So last week I completed my very first chair. Almost entirely built and shaped by hand, even used hide glue for assembly. I’m really pretty darned proud of it and had a real sense of accomplishment when I did the final bit of sanding:

In a few minutes I’m leaving for my chair class. We meet every Saturday from 10:00 – 12:30. I’m taking a change of clothes because I have work afterwards and, since I’m starting a new one, I’m probably going to get very sweaty as once again we attack a big white oak log with froe, wedge and axe to rive billets for spindles and the hoop. Back on my shaving horse with drawknife and spokeshaves I go. Giddyap!

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Homeless Tool is a Sad Tool

Over the years I’ve put together a nice collection of hand tools. Some Lie Nielsen, Veritas, older Stanleys, Sergeants, a complete set of Crown chisels… so nice tools deserve a nice home right?


This is a disgrace. My OCD cannot let this stand!

I gave myself two “winter” projects. The first, a good workbench, was crucial to the second – a hanging cabinet for my poor hand tools. I spent good money and a lot of time getting them into fine working order. The bench was finished about a month or so ago:

The reason the bench was so important was that I wanted to include my tailless friends in the building of their new home. In other words I wanted to attempt to build my tool cabinet using, as much as possible, my hand tools. Knowing the skill level I possess and the amount of time I had to accomplish the task I had to be realistic, so this is most assuredly not a completely galoot project. The initial flattening and final dressing of the stock was done using hand planes and, thus far, all of the joinery has been cut by hand including the dados which I did with a backsaw and cleaned up with my router plane. Thicknessing of the stock was done with a thickness planer and the ripping and crosscutting was done on my table saw but that, so far, is the extent of my power tool use on this project.

The style I’m going for is Greene & Greene-ish, inspired by a certain famous online woodworking personality’s recent zest for the style. The carcasse is joined by oversized finger joints which will be rounded and given the requisite ebony plugs and the doors, which are coming up next, will be frame and panel but with a hint of a cloudlift to them.

As for the lumber used, I was lucky to find via Craigslist a stash of lumber which had been sitting in a fellows garage since he gave up woodworking about 30 years ago. There was 50 board feet of some gorgeous thick and wide cherry boards, half of which got used in a grandfather clock I built for my in-laws’ Christmas present, and 30 board feet of what he thought was red oak but after I skip-planed it turned out to be Kentucky Coffee Tree. He sold me the lot for $50. The Coffee Tree wood makes up the carcasse and will also be the rails and stiles of the door. The horizontal partitions/shelves in the case are some lovely chocolate-brown walnut I had left over from another project, just for fun, and the panels, as long as my resaw mojo is working, will be ambrosia maple. I haven’t decided on the back yet. I keep waffling back and forth between the ease of cutting a piece of 1/4” ply to fit or using 1/4” hardwood with a ship-lapped or tongue and groove joint. The case will be hung on the wall using a French cleat. Not sure if either ply or hardwood offers any structural advantage.

Here’s the case in its final dry-fit:

For some reason, and I didn't notice this until I went to upload the photo, I took this photo from the back side of the case. The tallest section where longer planes will live is actually on the left side.

And again, glued up with the bejeezus clamped out of it:

Tomorrow, time and nephew’s homework load willing, I’ll be shaping the finger joints and chiseling the recesses for the ebony plugs. Then it’s on to the doors. Better get my 1/4″ plough plane iron honed up and ready to cut some grooves in the rails and stiles.

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment