Category Archives: Jigs

Always Something to Learn

IMG_1944In woodworking, one of the most satisfying things is that you never know it all. Everyday there is something knew to learn. That’s one of the things that keeps me looking and listening and trying new ideas. In the left-hand photo, you see how I’ve set up to bend stringing since I first began working with the material. I grabbed a length of pipe in Vise-grips, clamped it into my bench vise, heated the pipe and bent the stringing over the pipe using a metal-strap backer. If you look close, you see a nail set slipped between the grips and vise. I sometimes found that downward pressure as the bend was taking place could cause the setup to move in the vise, and that’s not a good thing to have happen. The nail set stopped that.

As I’ve demonstrated this technique to different woodworking groups, I’ve had occasion to see a few interesting string-bending setups, including  a massive three-pipe selection that bolted to a workbench and allowed a constant flame to keep the pipe at the correct temperature for bending – whatever that is. I’ve also been asked so many times about using a heating iron as does Steve Latta; sorry Steve, that’s way too slow.

I did, however, learn a new setup while teaching my session at Woodworking in America this past weekend (the reason there was no post on this blog last Sunday). I traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C. without my Vise-grips and nail set. When it came time to demonstrate the technique, I was at a loss. Until, that is, I grabbed the F-style clamp I tossed in the conglomerate of stuff I’d taken along. With the length of pipe secure in the clamp, I set it into the bench vise with the handle resting against the top of the vise. No amount of downward force would cause the setup to move. And as long as you remove any plastic fittings from the clamp, heat from my torch was not a worry. It worked great.

IMG_1943There’s always something new to learn in woodworking.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Back to Basics, Inlay, Jigs, Methods of Work, Shop Tips

Table Legs & Terrific Technique

IMG_1883The LVL desk build continued with the legs. I milled 8/4 material, then joined two pieces to form four 3-1/2″-square legs. Square wouldn’t do, so we decided to taper the 28″ lengths over 24-1/2″, leaving a bit of square at the top. Tapering legs is best done at a jointer, if you ask me. As long as you hit your layout lines, you can nail each leg so that they are all tapered exactly. It took only minutes to taper all 16 sides.

Still, the legs didn’t have the right look, so we decided to chamfer the corners. But how do you stop the chamfer at the perfect location? You don’t. We trimmed the corners along the legs entire length; that left the square portion at the top end tapering out of the cut made at the router table.

IMG_1885To join the legs to the top, we went with a simple idea – dowels. If we would thought of this at the beginning, we could have drilled the leg ends while the blanks were still square. But, of course, we didn’t, so the set-up was a bit more involved. I rotated the table on my drill press, clamped a straightedge in position then centered the 1-1/4″-diameter bit in the leg, which was clamped to the straightedge. (Told you it was more involved.) Holes were drilled about 1-1/2″ deep because the arm of the press came down onto the rotated table to stop the cut. That wasn’t enough of a hole in my opinion. Afterward, each hole was set another 1-1/2″ in depth, and dowels were glued in.

For each leg to fit tight and flush with the bottom surface of the tabletop, it was imperative that the 1-1/4″-diameter holes drilled through the top be square to the large flat surface. IMG_1892There’s no better tool than a router for this work. I don’t, however, have a router bit that diameter, so there was no way to plunge the holes as you would when knocking out adjustable shelf pins. The next idea worked perfectly. drill through the top in the correct location using a smaller diameter drill bit (in this case I used 3/4″), then enlarge the hole using a top-mount pattern bit. All that’s needed is a scrap piece of plywood with a hole drilled exactly to size; that’s easy with the drill bit already in the press.

IMG_1891To use the jig, clamp the plywood piece in position on the table’s top over the previously drilled hole, slip the router setup into the hole with the bit’s bearing riding along the plywood cutout and rout a perfect matching-size hole in the top. To get through the entire 2″ of top, we had to remove the plywood and repeat the steps using the trimmed portion of the hole as a guide. Easy, peasy!

IMG_1897With the holes drilled and the dowels sawn for wedges, we slipped the legs into the top, spilled a little glue into the sliced dowel then drove walnut wedges to bring everything tight. The final look with the dowels and wedges trimmed look good. Plus, there’s no wobble in the table, especially after the glue dried.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Design, Desk Build, Jigs, Joinery, Methods of Work, Shop Tips

Hole in the Round

IMG_1867I learned this trick way back when I transformed countless wooden knobs into cupboard turns. I needed to drill the rounded portion or tenon of the knob – the part that generally was glued into the door or drawer – so I could insert a short section of dowel that would extend through the door. That dowel would have a wooden finger attached that would turn down onto a small wedge attached to the backside of the door. I could have simply purchased the turns, but the knob design seldom matched the other wooden knobs used on the piece.

Today, while using more brass than wood for pulls, knobs and turns, I use the technique only sparingly. But it’s a great technique when you need it.

IMG_1868Begin by drilling a hole into a scrap that is sized to the diameter of the rounded object; generally that would be the knob tenon when making a cupboard turn. In this case, I’m drilling a hole in the center of a dowel, so in my example, I’m drilling the diameter of the dowel (shown at right). Drill the hole deep enough to allow the base of the knob, if that’s what you’re drilling, to sit flat against the scrap. (You should do this with a drill press to make sure the holes are straight and true.)

Change drill bits to the diameter of you’re new hole, and drill clear through the scrap using the center of the first hole as a guide to align the second hole. The idea is that the first hole holds the piece to be drilled in place and the second hole locates the exact point of the new hole. To put this in terms of drilling out for cupboard turns, the knobs would have a 1/2″-diameter tenon into which I would fit a 7/16″-diameter post. There was little room for anything but exact alignment.

IMG_1865To use the setup, insert the tenon, or short piece of dowel in this case, into the appropriate diameter hole, align the drill bit with the second diameter hole (as shown at the left) and drill down. It’s that simple. Plus, every time you use the jig, the results are the same (as shown in the opening photo). And it doesn’t matter what diameters you use, as long as the second hole is smaller.

Put this trick into your pocket. Some day it will come in handy.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Jigs, Methods of Work, Shop Tips

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

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

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.

IMG_1490

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

Bump-cut Band Saw Tenons

IMG_1439Because I had to make the columns on my tall clocks longer than needed so I could form the reeds with my scratch stock, each column needed to be cut to length. (The blue tape held together a fracture at the end of the column – I use this same technique when turning, if need be.) Once at length, each end of the columns needed to be reduced in diameter to fit into the brass capitals. Then ends of the individual reeds are then shaped further.

My first thought was to load a column at my lathe and turn the tenon before I cut the pieces to length. I want a snug fit through the capital, and there would be no way to check the fit while on the lathe – there was about 2″ to remove off each end of the columns, so I couldn’t simply slide on the capital. IMG_1440If I cut the lengths first, I lost the center markings and, for me, that makes loading the piece on the lathe too much of a hassle (I’ve not had success remarking the center whether using a center-marking gauge or not).

What I decided to do was to cut the columns to length, then use my band saw to form the tenons – it’s a similar operation as making a bump-cut tenon using a table saw. (You can see a short video of this technique here.) In the photo above right, you see the end of the columns after its been cut to length. (You can also see that there is more work to do on the reeds.) And below you can see my setup at the band saw.

IMG_1443

I used a bench hook to guide the stock, and used a spacer (set between the hook and band saw table) to locate the hook fence just beyond the blade. This setup is somewhat critical. If you’re too far beyond the blade, you will remove too much material. (If you’re in front of the blade, your tenon would be too fat.) I say that setup is somewhat critical because you do have a little adjustment. IMG_1445That comes from moving the band saw blade forward or back using the guide bearings on the saw. A simple tweak can push the blade forward to allow you to dial in the best cut. I went for a tenon that was just too snug to fit my capital so I could lightly sand the tenon to fit. The photo shows a closer view of the setup. (Click on the photo to see it even larger.)

I positioned the column tight to the second block – that piece has a 1/2″ notch which is the tenon length, and I’ve clamped it tight against the bench hook to make sure the two are aligned. With the column set against the second block, I spun the stock to cut the tenon shoulder. I then nibbled away the waste in one area of the tenon – it takes a bit of wiggle and movement. Once that area is flat and clean, I began the bump-cut technique. IMG_1446Back and forth into the second block while rotating the column; it’s like rubbing your head as  you pat your stomach.

When a full rotation is finished the tenon is formed. Two clocks, four columns per clock and two ends per column left me with 16 tenons to form. Taking the time to set up this method saved me time in the long run. And I didn’t waste a column that needed to be replaced with another – that would have burnt at least an hour of shop time.

Build Something Great,

Glen

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Filed under Jigs, Power Tools, Shop Tips, Tall Clock