Monthly Archives: April 2013

Optical Illusion

High_Res Scroll

Remember that you can enlarge these photos by clicking on the actual picture.

I’ve been looking at the Egerton clock for sometime. What’s cool about this clock, if I haven’t wrote about this as of yet, is that the scroll-board is pierced so the sound of the bell strike is better heard. As I work on the hood, it’s time to make decisions about the pattern work in the scroll-board.

I should also add that the pattern of the scroll-board is cut into a piece of veneer and that veneer is placed over holes drilled in a scroll-board backer. A piece of dark cloth is fitted between the two in the original clock.

Take a look at the photo. Can you see a pattern. I thought I had it a couple times, but when I set down to  plan the layout, it never came together. At first, I was trying to look at and figure out the dark areas, the areas I needed to remove. It just didn’t work.

LayoutFinally, I decided to look at and study the non-dark areas, or the material that stayed in place. I know there are brain-teasers that make your mind work to see the opposite, but I never figured thought this would be an example.

Once I changed my point of view, I figured out the pattern. Just above is a SketchUp drawing of my latest rendition. In it I have lines set at 45 degrees and spaced every 5/8″. The small circles are 1/2″-diameter in size. At each crossing of the layout lines, I put a circle. Next I connected lines between the circles. each line is space an 1/8″ apart.

In SketchUp, when you connect or close areas they change color. I went back and removed any colored section from the circles and areas between the connection lines. That left the waste areas dark, just as in the scroll-board. Below is a close-up look at the layout.


Yes, I know there are a couple lines missing.

All I need to do now is complete the circles – if I want or need to see the completed layout. Or with the 45-degree lines in place, I know that the centers of my circles fits at each intersection. Of course, I also need to chop out the waste which I believe will be done using a combination of carving gouges sized to match the circle circumference and chisels. Unless you guys come up with a better idea. Help.

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Filed under Tall Clock

Simple Router Jigs

A_IMG_0871OK. As you can see and read , I’m back using my router, again. This week I worked on the hood for the tall clocks I’m building. These clocks have a small windows set into both sides of the hoods that make it easy to see the movement inside – it was a big deal, back in the day, to have high-style brass movements and owners wanted to boast of their wealth.

To install these windows, I lay out the locations and size, drill an access hole large enough to pass a jigsaw blade through then rough cut the opening staying away from my lines. With the hole cut, the opening needs to be cleaned up and squared. For this I construct a shop-made jig to guide my router and top-mount-bearing router bit.


Of the two designs shown above, the jig in the left-hand photo is clamped in position, used to guide the router bit, then moved to the next opening. The jig shown at the right, allows you to only cut two sides at a setting. This L-shaped jig is then spun around, and clamped a second time to complete the opening. Why use a jig that requires twice the setup? Simple. It’s the easier of the two designs to make.C_IMG_0863 Which do I use regularly? The one-time-setup jig, for sure. (Time is money.)

Even though one design is easier to make, both of these jigs can be produced in short order. Take a look at the back faces of the jigs (left). See the over-cut lines? These jigs are quick to make using your table saw. With the L-shaped jig, it’s simply two cuts and it’s done. That’s too easy.

The one-setup jig takes a bit more time, but it is also easy to make. To begin, choose your material. For either of these jigs, I’m partial to plywood. It’s rigid and will not break if you drop it (most times). D_IMG_0864And it will not move as the seasons change.

Lay out the opening size on your jig material; it’s better if you center your layout on your material. Set your table saw fence so the blade rises just at the inside of your marks. Hold the material over the blade – a couple of simple clamps set in your miter slot work great. (I sometimes hold the piece by hand, but that is generally if I’m working with a big piece of material.)

E_IMG_0865Slowly raise the blade through the material and continue to make small adjustments to the material’s location as you work. Raise the blade until the cut just touches both ends of your layout. If you have centered your layout, you can repeat the same operation with the opposite edge against the fence. (If you missed the center, adjust your fence to get the blade aligned with the layout line.)

The operation is the same when cutting the ends of your jig layout. The last cut frees the waste in the opening. If you go slow that should not be a problem. But to be on the safe side, add a piece of tape over the waste so your blade doesn’t kick it up.

G_IMG_0868To use the jig, clamp it over the jigsaw-cutout area at your lines, and run your router around the jig with the bearing riding the jig’s edges. Because you are inside the cut, run clockwise as your work. My router bit leaves a bit to be desired as shown by the burns in my workpiece and the nicks in the carbide. (It still works, though.) I can get by with this for two reasons. One, no one will ever see the burn area after the glass is installed. And two, most of the toasted fibers are removed as I rabbet for the glass (shown below, left).

H_IMG_0869Of course, you do need to square the corners of the rabbeted area and of the show side of the hood opening. Sharp chisels are a must for paring the end grain inside the rabbet (keep the sides set at 90 degrees), but to clean up my opening corners, I use a Japanese flush-cut saw and fine rasp. Work slow to keep the four edges of your opening straight. It’s easy to round, or otherwise bugger up, the corners.

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Filed under Jigs, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

Sometimes Full-size Drawings Work Best

A_IMG_0859Since I began working with SketchUp, I have been a huge fan. In fact, I think this tool is one of the most important tools a woodworker can have in his arsenal. It is well worth taking the time to learn this program frontwards and backwards. You can pull apart a drawing to see how it’s assembled. Or if you’re drawing the project, you can discover problem areas and work out the details to keep from wasting time once you get into your shop.

There are, however, times when it’s better to draw out your project full-size. Case in point is the hood for the Egerton tall clock on which I am working. (Yes, I know it’s been a while.) I could have drawn this in SketchUp and printed out the full-scale drawing, but that would require perfect sizing and about 12 sheets of paper to assemble correctly as I taped together the image.

Below are a series of photos – click on the photos to bring them to full size – that show the different parts of the hood. All these parts are now easily identified and I have the exact widths and lengths available as I work. (I have to determine thickness.)


What’s interesting about the mask is that it is joined using dovetails and it is attached to the hood frame using glue blocks. Many masks are joined using half-laps at the bottom and often the top piece is simply butted to the lower frame. And the entire frame is slid into a groove cut in the hood sides.


The door frame is slightly wider than the mask – it covers a part of the frame, too.

Here you can see the hood frame. The top is joined to the sides using dovetails. Also, there are small widows on both sides that allow an owner to show off his expensive brass clockworks.

Here you can see the hood frame. The top is joined to the sides using dovetails. Also, there are small widows on both sides that allow owners, back in the day, to show off the expensive brass clockworks.

E_Scroll Board

Here’s a look at the scroll board as well as the returns that wrap back the hood sides. This is a place where full-size drawings really help. I have the exact pattern needed to produce my scroll board.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in this drawing. And tons of information to extract. Without the drawing I would have spent way more time pulling sizes and working out details. Sometimes, drawings are best.

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Filed under Joinery, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

A Clamping Good Time

After I posted an entry a while back that pictured a few different clamp styles, I received a number of questions on what clamps I use and why I like them. This entry explains many of my choices and is a good primer on clamps – at least from my point of view.

IMG_0773First up are spring clamps. As you can see in the photo, I have a few different varieties on hand. I can say that all the springs clamps that look such as these have never disappointed me in use. I have run across a few plastic-handled spring clamps that ended up in the “don’t use” pile rather quickly. My favorite story about spring clamps is when I was demonstrating for the Sunflower Woodworker’s Guild in Wichita. I asked for a couple of spring clamps and was brought a five-gallon bucket full. As I looked at the full bucket, I asked, being a smart-ass, if there were any more available. Les Hastings, owner of the shop and host of the two-day seminar immediately showed me two additional buckets full of clamps. That shows you how useful these clamps really are. (Or maybe Mr. Hastings like them more than I do.)


When it comes to other clamps, I am partial to F-style clamps  but not in a big way. I have a few of these clamps in the shop. Mainly, these clamps hold jigs for me and occasionally I’ll clamp together a couple workpieces. IMG_0315I do have a favorite F-style clamp. Pictured above are two different clamps. Both are Bessey, but one has a smooth handle and the other (on the right) has a rubber grip. The rubber grip is way easier to use. I would go with that style when I need to make another purchase.

There is one additional clamp that I really like using. Also from Bessey is the Kliklamp. Technically, this is considered a lever clamp, but I use this just as I would F-style clamps. There are a few different sizes from which to choose, but the larger sizes I find a bit odd to use. Stay with the smaller sizes.

Lastly, and not because there are any less useful, are my pipe clamps. I began woodworking with these inexpensive clamps and still today find that I would use these for glue-ups over any other clamps available. To me these are blue-collar clamps that get the job done. And I can switch between pipe lengths if I need to to get the exact length needed for the job at hand. I have a wall of these clamps sitting in wait. You cannot ask more than that. Pipe clamps are easy to use and easy to store – clips used to hang brooms and garden tools, found in any hardware store, make excellent holders. I couldn’t glue up panels without them.


Those are my favorites. What clamps do you use?

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Filed under Shop Tips