3 Accepted Foot-to-Case Connections

Last week, after I professed that everyone should have a spindle sander, A few readers asked how I used a spindle sander as a thickness sander. It turns out that I have posted that technique, but it was inside another post. Here’s a link to that post; you’ll find the spindle sander being used to thin ebony string about halfway down the post.

Entertainment_Center copyOn to the next topic: How to attach feet to your case. Of course, there are a few ways to get feet on your cases. There are three methods I generally use on most every case. The first is to attach the feet directly to the bottom of the case, a second method is to rout the top edge of the joined feet and install a plate through which screws affix the assembled unit to the case bottom and the third method is to attach feet to a frame then attach the frame to the case and use a transition molding to cover the through dovetails where the case bottom joins the sides. I mention other methods, because I’ve built a couple of chest – full-size and spice boxes – from Chester County where the feet were attached directly to stiles of the frame and panels sides. While this is not commonplace, it, along with other methods, is sometimes done.

To attach feet directly to the case, I begin by installing a molding to which the feet are glued. You wouldn’t think that you could assemble feet to a molding and that would be strong enough to hold everything for 200 years. IMG_1590Of course, you would be correct. What really holds the feet to the case are  glue blocks. These blocks also carry the bulk of the load of your chest. On the case I’m currently at work on, the thickness of the feet allows about an 1/8″ of the feet to lap onto the case itself. Then, with the glue blocks in place, the weight of the case is divided on the actual feet and on the glue blocks – the vertical block holds the weigh while the two horizontal blocks keep the assembled foot attached.

The next method is a bit more work. And the added plate makes the connection easier, but not necessarily any stronger. After the two foot pieces are joined via miters, I rout a small lip on the inside of the feet using a rabbeting router bit to which I attach a thin plate. PlateThe SketchUp drawing at the left shows how the plate fits to the feet; a thin bead of glue and brads secure the plate to the feet. The assembled unit is then screwed directly to the case bottom with the unit sticking out in front of the case. The look is completed by wrapping a molding around the case. An example of this type of connection is seen in the opening photo, although you cannot see the plate. That’s by design. As you see in the drawing, the cutout for the plate does not blow through the end of the foot.

The last method – the option that I find the most used as I look back at furniture I’ve built throughout the years – is to attach the feet to a base frame which is then attached to the case. Foot&Frame3I used this method on the Pennsylvania blanket chests in the August 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (#177) and the Serpentine chest from issue #195 (February 2012). As you can see in the right-hand photo, the same idea of glue blocks is used – mainly for reinforcement in this case. The frame is attached to the front of the chest with screws, but the remaining frame is nailed to the case bottom to allow for seasonal adjustments. The look is then completed with a transition molding.

These are three good methods used to attach feet to cases. There are pros and cons to each, as there is with any technique used in woodworking. Whenever you here, “This is the only way to do it,  run in the opposite direction. You have choices.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

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Filed under Joinery, Methods of Work

Shop Shortcuts – Foot Pattern

I do a lot of work with patterns. Most often, my patterns are used to guide a router bit (top-mounted bearing) to finalize a profile. But the pattern shown here is used only for layout.

IMG_1578When building any chest of drawers that has bracket or ogee bracket feet, I make a pattern for the foot. I use six individual feet for the show sides of most chests, with the two rear feet being a more plain design and usually made out of secondary woods. To make my fancy feet, I could simply use a paper pattern to layout the design, but my pattern would be in shambles as I worked on the sixth foot. Another option would be to print six copies of the design then glue each paper to a foot blank before going to the band saw to cut out the designs. I, however, make a pattern using scrap 1/4″ plywood which holds up to not only the six uses on this chest, but will be around the shop if I make a second or third chest, and will be standing at the ready for a completely different future chest if the design was right.

IMG_1573Here’s the process in case you’re not yet a pattern maker. I pull a paper pattern out of my SketchUp drawing (you could, of course, lay out the foot using pencil, compass and straightedge), cut it out then stick it to the plywood with spray adhesive. Then it’s off to the band saw to trim to the lines. Be close, but don’t hit the lines. And more important, don’t cut away the circle at the center of the foot that helps form the spur. We need that area later in the process.

IMG_1575After working at my band saw, my next step is at the spindle sander. After you have the correct spindle installed, work to your layout lines. Again, leave the lines intact. If you don’t have a spindle sander (see below), you can file and rasp your way to a great design.

Why would you not have an inexpensive spindle sander in your shop? Even the cheap machines last forever – I still have a Ryobi spindle sander from 15 years ago that I take to classes and seminars if need be. And there’s a lot that you can do with these simple machines, including thickness-sanding inlay and veneer.

IMG_1577The last step to prepare the foot pattern for work is to find and create the center point of the waste area the forms the spur. On all my feet, this waste to drilled out using a Forstner bit at my drill press. To find the center point, position the pattern under your drill bit until the circle is perfectly centered, then plunge down to leave a mark. I then drill down about a 1/16″ to set the waste area and just puncture through the pattern. The last step before putting this shop-made template to work is to completely pierce the plywood with a small drill bit.

The opening photo shows how the pattern is used. I’ll add a word of caution here. If you’re foot stock is a bit less than desirable on the rear face, make sure you flip the pattern as you work – lay out three feet facing left and three facing right. That way you can produce pairs that all show the correct face forward. And this is something you have to do if you’re using these patterns for ogee-bracket feet.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

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Filed under Jigs, Methods of Work, Shop Tips

The Best Dovetails

If you came here looking for the perfect set of dovetails – the best layout, the best ratio of tail width and pin width or the thinnest pins ever cut – you’re going to be disappointed. This post is not about that. It’s about dovetails that are never to be seen. It’s about what I call structural dovetails.

IMG_0084Structural dovetails are the best dovetails because these joints can have over-sized tails and pins, and this is where you get the opportunity to either bang out a set without regard to the above mentioned conditions, use alternative methods to cut and fit your joints or practice in an area that will not see the light of day – why practice on a scrap when you can contribute to your project while building your skills. For me, alternative methods of work is my focus.

This is a point where I can pull out tools that are seldom considered when cutting dovetails. Tools such as my jigsaw and router. This is where I experiment to determine if there are better ways to work – and I still move ahead on my project.

49If  you’re scratching your head at the mention of my jigsaw, or if you’ve never considered using your jigsaw to cut intricate joinery, you’re in for a treat. I often use my jigsaw to cut dovetail pins and tails. (It’s best if you turn down the variable speed setting to gain additional control of the cut.) And I’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that you couldn’t tell which joints were cut using the jigsaw and which joints were sawn by hand.

Let’s being with pins, or wasting away the tail waste. Jigsaw blades can be angled in either direction, and set to most any degree of angle; I use 12° for my dovetails. The photo above shows how you can make the cuts to define the pins. Set the angle to the right or left, then cut all the pins on that particular side. Switch the angle to cut the pin sides in the opposite direction. Done.

51To pull the remaining waste from the socket, it’s the jigsaw again. Set the blade back to 90°. With the show face down, swoop in from one side of the waste as you cut toward the baseline. As you reach the baseline, swing the jigsaw to cut parallel to the line but about an 1/8″ away. As you reach the end of the waste, slowly kick your saw back on its heal to increase the angle of cut until the portion of waste falls away. It takes getting used to, but you’ll pick it up in a hurry. Besides, if you nick the pin, who cares because it will never be seen. After you finish working in one direction, turn around and use the same technique to trim away the remaining waste. That 1/8″ that’s left is easily peeled away using a sharp chisel. You also can cut the pin waste using you jigsaw; I sometimes do that when the panel I’m dovetailing is too large to hoist up to my band saw.

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Fooling around with structural dovetails is also when I began using my router to waste away tail socket waste. If you haven’t s seen this technique as of yet, you owe to yourself to take a look. The results are dead-flat bottoms that dam near guarantee square boxes when you’re done with assembly. (Watch a short video here.)

Next time you’re working on structural dovetails – the best dovetails – try your hand at a few unconventional woodworking ideas. You may find something that works beyond your wildest expectations.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

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Finish Ready

IMG_1511This is a day long coming. My Egerton tall clocks are ready to begin the finishing process; I’ve completed the work and sanded each clock to #180 grit. As you may have guessed, there is no dye or stain going on the clocks – that would mask the contrast between the mahogany and the inlay. Step one is an application of boiled linseed oil which should produce an unbelievable look.

There is a lot of real estate on these clocks, so brushing on the oil may take some time. (I’ve never sprayed boiled linseed oil, but there is always a first time.) It’s after the coat of oil when I see how the clock should look when finished. Of course, with shellac, even clear shellac, things will get a slightly darker.

You may have noticed that the reeded columns are not attached to the hoods. This is on purpose. Columns fit to the hood in the brass capitals. If I had attached the columns, all my finished would have been over the brass – not a good idea. Each column will be finished independently, and installed afterward. Same with the glass in the hood doors.

The crowning touch are the brass finials that fit at each front hood corner, as well as the center of the hood between the carved rosettes and above the inlaid nightcap.

I’ll share a photo of the clocks when the finish is complete.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Finish Techniques, Tall Clock

Door Frame Fix

When I began building the Egerton tall clock, I built one base, waist and door before deciding to build a second clock. As I completed the door on the second clock, I moved to the hoods without fitting the door to its opening. Mistake. Big mistake.

Nearing completion of the two clocks, the time arrived to fit the door. No worries. I setup my router with a rabbeting bit, IMG_1501ran the bottom, left side and top, leaving the right side for the hinges – that side has only an 1/8″ rabbet. I carried the door to the case, but it didn’t fit. The arch at the door’s top wouldn’t fit into the opening when the balance of the door was in place. I remembered that the arch pattern I used was off center – a design feature specifically chosen to keep the arch centered in the waist when rabbeted to fit. If I would have made the rabbet cuts so the door hinged on the left side instead of the right, my work would have been done. Crap.

After thinking about possible fixes for the week, yesterday I headed to the shop with a plan: Cut away the current piece from the door frame, then install a new section that was cut to fit and laid out using the door itself. To attach the new piece, I had a long-grain connection at the top edge. The ends, however, needed something for hold. I decided a half-lap at each end would be perfect.

To make this happen, I setup my router and grabbed a piece of plywood scrap that IMG_1502had a perfect 90° corner intact. The distance from the edge of the router’s base and the far edge of the straight bit I loaded was found. I then added another 1/2″ to allow for the half-lapped ledge. I positioned the makeshift, plywood fence that distance from where the rail and stile met on the door frame and was ready to cut.

I set the depth of cut to just remove the entire thickness of the rail, and made the cut. IMG_1505The fence was then reversed to work on the other side where I followed the same process. With those two cuts made, I adjusted the depth of cut so half the total thickness of the rail was removed, positioned the fence so the router bit cut exactly at the rail/stile intersection and trimmed away the material as shown in the left-hand photo. The center section was simply free-hand cut once the fence was removed. All that was left to waste away was the top edge.

I set the fence in place to work the same magic along the top edge, then made a shallow test cut so I could dial-in the exact setting. IMG_1506It took a couple of tweaks because I wanted to remove the rail without cutting away any of the tri-colored stringing just above. Once I had the fence just where I wanted it, I adjusted the bit depth and made the last pass. As I reached the end of the cut, the old rail fell away. Perfect. I grabbed a chisel to clean up the corners and square any rounded portions left from the router bit. Time to fit a replacement.

I spent a little time getting the new rail sized and tightly fit to the existing framework. The ends of the new rail were easily rabbeted using my table saw. IMG_1509With the replacement in position, I put the door in place then drew a pencil line around the rabbeted arch of the door. The rail was pulled from the clock waist, a cut at the pencil line was made using my band saw, the raw edge was sanded at my spindle sander and the replacement was then glued into position. The long-grain edges mated up and the half-laps worked great. When the glue was dry, I sanded the surfaces flush and called it done. Everything went according to plan and much quicker than expected. I call that a great day in the shop.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Jigs, Power Tools, Routers, Tall Clock

Eagan, Minnesota

#45–June95As you may have read in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been appointed the incoming editor of American Woodworker magazine – I begin the new position as of March 15. There is a rich history at American Woodworker. During the mid-90s, AW was full of articles from woodworking legends such as Toshio Odate, Frank Klausz, Don Weber, Kelly Mehler, Jim Tolpin, Mike Dunbar, Patrick Spielman, Silas Kopf and many others. As I began woodworking, I picked up a couple of issues at the newsstand. The issue that I remember best is from June 1995 (shown at left). It’s from this issue that I learned about breadboard ends. Almost immediately I signed up for a subscription.

This past week, I had the chance to visit the current headquarters of the magazine in Eagan, Minnesota to talk with and meet the staff that’s keep that magazine rolling in spite of an almost complete lack of corporate backing. IMG_0056(If you’re a current subscriber, you owe a huge thanks to Tom Caspar, Tim Johnson, Brad Holden, Joe Gohman, Jason Zetner and Shelly Jacobsen.) American Woodworker magazine will move its operation to Cincinnati in the coming weeks, although Tom Caspar and Brad Holden will remain in Minnesota and work remotely as editors. Other members of the team are moving on to new opportunities.

(If you’re not a subscriber to AW, may I suggest that you purchase a subscription quickly. Tom and his gang are working on issue #172, and the new regime takes over for the following issue. I can say with great conviction that you won’t want to miss a single issue.)

While in Eagan doing what I needed to do, I walked around the office, workshop and a couple of storage areas to see the operation.IMG_0058 On a wall in one area photos – hundreds of photos – are thumb-tacked to the walls. It’s a visual history of American Woodworker magazine. There are, of course, images of projects from the many issues, but what caught my eye were the photos of past authors and woodworkers. There is a young Mike Dunbar shown looking through a couple of squares while handsaws hang on the wall behind him. Another image is of a younger Thomas Moser seated in a Moser-designed rocking chair. There are lots more photos. (Sorry that my photos of the photos are a bit fuzzy.)

Those photos were not the only historical records uncovered. Back in one of those storerooms are box upon box of old American Woodworker magazine files containing scads of original transparencies – how magazine photos were taken prior to digital cameras. Each box held the contents of 10 to 14 issues, and each issue is broken into articles. I was able to find the folders for each of the articles in the issue shown in the opening photo. You talk about history – and memories. I cannot wait to get started. Get your subscription now.

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Build Something Great!

Glen

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Don’t Have a Large Router Bushing? Make One – It’s Easy

IMG_1488This week there came a need to rout an oval that matched a smaller oval, and we needed to make the new pattern 1-1/4″ wider all around. A new design could have been made, but that’s a lot of extra work to layout, cut and shape. And getting the oval as an exact match would be difficult at best.

In the past (especially when working on goose-neck molding layout), I’ve made a wooden circle with a center hole just sized to allow a pencil to pass through to accurately draw around a pattern, providing a perfect over-sized pattern. As we discussed this technique, Dave (friend and fellow woodworker) suggested we bypass the pencil and use a router bit instead. Great idea.

IMG_1485To make it happen, you need to size the needed bushing. To add 1-1/4″ when using a 1/4″ spiral-upcut router bit, you need a 2-9/16″ outside diameter bushing – you cannot find that in the router accessories department of any store. So step one is to make a plywood disc to that size. If you do the layout work with a compass, you get the size and you mark the center of your disc, which is a good thing. Cut the rough shape at your band saw then smooth the edges using a disc sander. (You could set up a band saw jig to make the disc, but that’s way to involved when a single disc is needed.)

IMG_1486With the wooden disc in hand, drill a hole in its center that is perfectly sized for a standard bushing you have in the shop; in this case, we used a 3/4″-outside diameter bushing. Make sure you accurately center the hole in the disc – that’s where the prick from the compass leg comes into play. When you’ve drilled the hole, the disc should fit snug on your bushing. Load the over-sized guide bushing into your favorite router and your set to work.

With this arrangement, the bushing offsets the router as the cut is made. A good practice is to step your way through these cuts, making several passes while dropping the cutting depth with each step. The photo below shows the first light pass, which also confirmed the offset cut.

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Router bushings are a great asset to have in the shop. In most available kits, the largest outside diameter is 51/64″. You can find odd bushings sized as large as 1-3/16″, but if you need something larger, turn to plywood and make the bushing in your shop.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Jigs, Methods of Work, Routers, Shop Tips