Tag Archives: bench hook

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.


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,


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

Design: Follow Your Gut

One of the very first large pieces of furniture I built to sell to the unsuspecting public was a Shaker cupboard. As I worked on the cupboard, built from an antique newspaper photo, I was unsettled with the crown molding. It was a single piece that was too small and nondescript. It didn’t feel right, but it was a piece of Shaker furniture so who was I to make a change.

I carried that cupboard from show to show way too long. When I built the piece a second time, I changed the molding to a village-appropriate design that better fit the cupboard. That cupboard sold at the second show. Was I lucky, or was the design an improvement? I learned to follow my gut.

This week I built a corner unit (shown above) that is to be used as a television stand. Being that the components kept inside the base are adjusted with infrared controls, and that glass was not a request from the future owner, I designed the doors with small openings. The gridded panels are made up of simple half-lap joints. Once assembled, the so-called panels are trimmed and fit into grooves in the door parts. I’ll have to let you know how or if the design works in real life.

The “follow your gut” part of this build has to do with the fluted columns. To the right is a photo showing the original idea I had for the columns. (This design I used on the cased openings throughout my house – when the house was built 20 years ago this idea was fresh.) I made the two columns, then temporarily attached them to the case to get a look. BLAH! Didn’t like that at all, so I needed something different.

I immediately thought about an inlay detail I used on an Arts & Crafts mirror built for Woodworking Magazine, issue #7. (You can download the SketchUp model here.) The detail was 1/8″-wide strips of ebony arranged in a simple design. Bingo, I had a design change. It’s easy to do and I think it looks good. Here are the steps if you want to give it a try.

Use a fence setup on your router to plow the grooves – I like to use an odd number of grooves to make the layout easy. Cut the center groove first, then with each adjustment your router is setup for two grooves, one from each side. (Stepped grooves add eye appeal.) Rip the thin strips of inlay at your table saw. I installed a 7 1/4″, thin-as-I-could-find saw blade to do the job. (Hey, ebony is expensive.) Wanting to tweak the fit, I left the strips a bit thick then used my inexpensive thickness planer  shown above to bring them to size.

With the strips properly sized, cut the lengths to fit your grooves. Here you’ll find a simple bench hook works great. I used small amounts of yellow glue to hold the inlay in place. After the glue dried, I decided to leave the inlay proud of the surface to add a little texture, too.

This is a simple process that I believe really adds to the overall look. It definitely looks better than the rounded flutes I had planned to use, as you can see in the photo below. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut when it comes to design. It’s only wood and nothing that cannot be fixed or replaced.

Build Something Great!

Here is a comparison look at the two fluted column designs. You have to agree that the inlay looks best.


Filed under Design, Inlay, Routers, Shop Tips