Category Archives: Hand Tools

To Scratch or Not

IMG_1276In a blended woodworking shop – how any woodworking shop should be set up – you make choices about when hand work is appropriate and when it makes better sense to use power tools. That decision should not necessarily be guided by a passion for any particular method or tool; as woodworkers, we face this whenever we hope to be productive in our shops.

In a post a few weeks back (read it here), I wrote about how easy it was to make a simple scratch beader (scratch stock) to profile the arched moldings on the Egerton clock hood. With that project on hold while I build a cover piece for an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I faced a similar choice as I made drawer molding for the transitional lowboy. (If you’re a furniture purist, don’t tell me I’m not suppose to use the term transitional – that best describes the project on which I’m working.) IMG_1278The moldings are a double-bead design that signifies later William & Mary period work. And the fact that the lowboy has cabriole legs (Queen Anne) also indicates a transitional build.

I decided to make another simple beader, but this time the tool was a bit more involved. Not only did I drill the holes and sand the profile, I needed to set the blade into a handle to register the molding with each pass. Even with the handle added, making the tool was too easy.

In order to use the scratch beader, I ran a slot down the middle of my stock using a slot cutter setup in my router table. At the bench with the stock set in my vise, I scratched the double-bead profile into the edge. At my table saw, I set the cut for 1/4″ then ripped the first piece of molding free. Everything worked, but the process to get six pieces of molding was too long.

IMG_1270Using my router table with a 1/4″ corner-beading router bit installed, I ran a pass to form the bead, flipped the stock to rout a bead at the opposite face, then ripped the molding at my table saw. I was easily convinced that this was the process I would use. But what guided my decision? First there was the ease of the entire process. Router cut was far easier and quicker than walking through the steps needed to do the work by hand. Also, the pattern or profile was consistent with each piece of molding cut. This is important because there are a couple of places, as you can see in the opening photo, where these molding pieces meet and intersect with one another – matching profiles are easier to fit and blend (hand-cut work can require further shaping and sanding).

What did I give up? The original molding profile I was after was a 3/16″ bead at each edge of the 5/8″-wide stock, with a 1/4″ of flat between the two beads. What I made using power tools was a 1/4″ bead at both edges with an 1/8″ flat – not the same design. I could have found and purchased a 3/16″ corner-beading router bit, but I didn’t think it was that important. If this was a customer-purchased lowboy, I would have built the piece with the 3/16″ beads. But given the fact that it is a piece for me – as most of the projects you build are for you – I opted to be more productive in my shop.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools, Jigs, Methods of Work, Power Tools, Routers

My Night Cap

#5024-01There are times when I need to get into the shop just to have fun. That time generally rejuvenates me so I can get back to my projects with a renewed vigor. If that fun time also happens to be something I need for one of my projects, I consider that a bonus. This week was a bonus. I needed to make a piece of inlay for the tall clocks. In the photo you can see, on the original Egerton clock, the piece of inlay I needed to make, the Night Cap perched on the post. This post is more pictorial that text filled, but you know what is said about a photo.

Step one was to develop a pattern for the inlay. I could have drawn the design free-hand, but it’s easier to pull the image into SketchUp and trace over the lines. After I had the plan, I spray-glued the images onto a piece of scrap holly and cut the pieces at my band saw.

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When I had the pieces cut out, I smoothed the edges as best I could using a disc sander and fine rasp before moving on. I also made sure the two pieces fit together nicely. I wasn’t worried about a super-tight fit because the separation would better show the delineation between the two pieces.

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Using a bench hook, I sawed the pieces into thin, usable slices. I like my Japanese saw for this cut. It’s thinner kerf saves material, and the small, finer teeth make the task easier.

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Sand-shading is great. There are few techniques as simple as this. And the results add a crap-load to the overall look of your work. The only pieces in this design that get shading are the small ovals.

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To inlay the pieces into my stock, I have to excavate the waste. This is really where a router becomes valuable. I positioned the pieces to my backer, then carefully traced around each piece with a sharp pencil. With a 1/16″ straight bit loaded into the tool, I set the depth of cut then hogged out as close to the lines as possible.

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Afterward, I used a small carving gouge to tweak the inlay area to my layout lines. I tested the fit of my inlay to the excavated hole, then trimmed any needed spots. (I want a tight fit, but not so tight as to break my inlay.)

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With the areas cut away and trimmed to an exacting fit, I added glue into the recess and hammered the inlay pieces into place.

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The rod for the Night Cap holder couldn’t be easier. I used the same 1/16″-diameter bit, set the workpiece flush with the edge of my bench then used a guide fence on the router to cut the line. The rounded ends from the router bit worked great against the small ovals to complete the design. A piece of string was cut to fit, a small amount of glue was injected then I hammered into the recess.

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At my table saw, I set the fence and raised the blade to trim the edges for more string banding. The pieces were cut to size and I mitered the corners using the reflection in the back of my chisel to set the angle – too easy. Glue to hold and blue tape as a clamp, then let it dry.

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With the glue dry, I sanded each face – I built two of the pieces – then cleaned up the edges with my block plane. Before I install these on the clock hood, I’ll thin the assembly somewhat. The two pieces are a bit different. So, are the results perfect? No way, I wouldn’t expect that. Was it fun to do? Hell yes. Every once in  while you need to get into the shop to just have fun.

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Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Design, Hand Tools, Inlay, Methods of Work, Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

… Just Scratch It

IMG_1141Last week I worked on the arched moldings for my clock and left you with going back into the shop to used different setups and a new design. It worked. Kind of. It turns out that I did use my Micro Fence circle-cutting jig, but I had to also use my shop-made jig, too. The Micro Fence system did not allow me to get as small as I needed to make my moldings. The opening photo is that of the second profile as it came off the router. (You can enlarge the photos if you click on them.)

This week I began from the profiled arched moldings.IMG_1144 Three things to do: cut the arched pieces from the stock, make a set of straight moldings to match what I had in the arched set and work the small bead of the moldings. At the band saw, I cut away the waste to free the almost completed arched moldings. A quick trip to my disc sander (the outside edge) and my spindle sander for the inside edge and I was ready to begin matching the profile on some straight stock.

One of the ends of each of my four arched moldings is square cut – IMG_1147the ends that met in the middle of my setup. Using that end, I worked through the profile using the same router bits used to make the arched pieces. I had to set the depth of cut and the fence location to accurately match the design. It took about two hours to create a matching design on my straight stock. The last cut was the 1/4″ round-nose bit profile. With its work complete, I could rip the molding pieces free.

The last step was to create the 1/8″ bead on each of the sticks of molding. IMG_1150My first thought was to carve the pieces. I grabbed a small, bent-back carving gouge from the roll and got ready. After a couple minutes, I knew this was not the answer. Plan B – which should have been Plan A in retrospect – was to make a scraper for the task. Simple enough. I drilled an 1/8″ hole near the edge of one of my scraper blades, then ground it (sanded it with my spindle sander) so only half the profile showed. Work began on a straight piece of stock. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Done. It was too easy. The second, third and fourth pieces of straight molding went just as quick. But what about the arched pieces? I clamped one in my vise and went at it. The results were just as great and just as quick. The finished molding is shown above right, and the process is shown below. (The inset photo is the bead scraper.)

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If you run into this need, make a scratch beader your Plan A. It’s way easy to do. And it works.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools, Methods of Work, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

More on the Pierced Veneer

After fooling around with shop-made veneer for the pierced hood on the Egerton clock and not being satisfied, I decided to purchase a wood-backed veneer. IMG_1099I went to joewoodworker.com and bought a 4′ x 8′ sheet of ribbon-stripe mahogany. I opted for the backer veneer to run across the grain for added stability – I am punching through most of the veneered front. I placed my order on July 15th. Friday the 19th my veneer arrived. (Joe has great service. I was notified at every step.)

In the shop I cut off a 24″ section from the sheet. The opening photo shows how I went about establishing the angle of the grain, and it shows that I made a mistake as I rushed to get started – I laid out four sections (two pieces for each clock) angled the same direction.IMG_1100 I needed two sets with the grain at opposing angles.

What I am particularly fond of is how easy it is to work with backed veneer. I cut the pieces to size using a pair of scissors. How easy is that? To get setup to do the punch work, I cut a piece of plywood a bit over-sized to act as a backer, then tacked and clamped my patten (slightly adjusted to show areas covered by moldings in the finished piece) to the plywood. I clamped one end so I could easily check my progress as I completed some of the work.

I began by using an 1/8″-wide chisel to cut at each of the four corners of the small patterns in my design. IMG_1102Work was just as with a machine in that I grabbed the chisel, oriented it for one corner then cut that corner in every contorted square. In the left-hand photo you can see the completed run of the first stage of work. I have to say that my hand was cramping as I worked the corners while holding the chisel between my thumb and index finger. I used a light mallet tap to punch the corners.

As I began step two using the small gouge, I decided that my mallet was unnecessary. Mere pressure could cut the veneer. I worked the small squares one at a time, removing the waste as I worked. IMG_1103A couple times the waste would slide under the veneer before I could grab it, so I had to remove the clamp in order to clear the way for the next square. And I could check my progress.

After nearly four hours I finished with the first half of one pierced piece of veneer. When I held it up to the hood, it looked good. What wasn’t good was the temperature. My shop has no air-conditioning, so I loaded up the necessary tools and veneer and took off for home. I could punch the remaining pieces at my kitchen counter.

Next week I’ll give you a look at the two finished pieces. Not bad so far.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools, Tall Clock, Veneer

Punching the Scroll

IMG_1076In April this past year I first wrote about the perforated or punched scroll-board on the Egerton tall clock (read about here). Since then I’ve been working on the details, trying to get patterns complete and finally decide how I plan to go about the work.

This weekend I began experimenting with a couple of different materials to see if one would be better than the other – I have yet to decide if this is the actual process I plan to use to punch my scroll. IMG_1077The first material was a scrap of the backed veneer I used for the clock’s door and base front (click here if you want to take another look).

I placed half of a paper pattern of the scroll onto my scrap and went to work. Each small cutout requires eight stabs, four using a carving gouge and four with my 1/8″ chisel. In the backed veneer, I needed a bit of force to push through. After a number of holes were punched, I took a look at the cutout area and decided this would work. The problem I have withthis material is that the veneer is crotch mahogany. Being crotch, the grain pattern is somewhat wrong for the scroll-board. In the original, the grain pattern is more straight, and it runs at an angle that directs your eye toward the top of the clock – one of the woodworking rules to which I like to adhere.

IMG_1079In order to use a piece of straighter-grained veneer, I had to turn to a paper-back veneer. First I had to see if it works; my primary concern is that the veneer, along the thin connector lines between the cutouts, splits and cracks. My second concern is using a paper-back veneer. I cut a piece of of material, laid the paper pattern on top and again went to work.

After working for about 30 minutes – yes, the work went quicker than I expected due to the material being thinner and because I developed a better routine – I peeled off the tape to take a look. You can see the results below.

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I like the look and either material seems to work out, but I think I’ll pass on the paper-back veneer. This week I’ll make some pieces of shop-cut veneer just so I can get the grain right. And to provide support for those small connectors, I’ll add a cross-grain backer. I expect that the work will be more difficult due to the thicker veneer, but I’ll stay more true to the original and the look should be right-on.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools, Shop Tips, Tall Clock, Veneer

Happy Easter from Woodworker’s Edge

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Should I have used a saw filed for a rip cut? Or should it have been filed for a crosscut?

Just as in woodworking, it doesn’t really matter. Just eat the damn chocolate.

Build Something Great!
Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools

Handscrews: More than Clamps

IMG_0661I gonna bet that many of you reading this post do not have any of these clamps in your arsenal. You should. Handscrew clamps do not do a lot in my shop, but when I do put them to use, they work. My primary use of handscrews is to hold parts upright as I work. What they do not do, unless I have an odd setup to clamp or need a great amount of force, is clamp parts together. The combination of threaded rods and pivoting barrel nuts allows for large amounts of torque and for these clamps to move into odd shapes to grip and clamp.

IMG_0662The problem today, is that the handscrews we have available in most stores and online are not the same as the old clamps my Dad purchased 30 years ago. And not all old handscrews are worthwhile either – I hate handscrews with wooden dowel rods. I think they’re junk. At the right is a photo of a relatively new handscrew I have in the shop. A close look shows a mixture of wood dust and cobwebs. I don’t use these often.

I don’t know why these are so different. It may be the arrangement and location of the barrel nuts, or it could be that over time parts wear to make actions smoother. Whatever it is, I suggest you grab any old handscrews when your find them. I scout antique malls and old farm auctions – if I run across any this day and age. I’m sure you can find them if you hang out with old tool collectors, but those guys know the value and I doubt you get a steal.

Below are two examples of how I use handscrews. In the top photo I position the clamps to hold the clock waist sides vertical as I attach a face frame. (Yes, in the photo my face frame is already attached.) The bottom photo shows how you can use handscrews to hold something from moving. Clamps grip the case and butt against the front edge of my bench to make it easy to cut grooves for stringing.

IMG_0659IMG_0660If you have handscrews in your clamp arsenal, leave a comment to let me know how you use them and how much you use them while woodworking.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools, Shop Tips