Tag Archives: Popular Woodworking Magazine

Knee Surgery or Not

106If you build Queen Anne or Chippendale furniture, you most likely have made cabriole legs. If you’ve cut and finished cabriole legs, you most likely have work on knee blocks. Or have you? Over the years, I have run into three methods used to address knee blocks.There are knee blocks that fit in front of aprons, those that fit under aprons and there are cabriole legs that do not use blocks at all.

One habit I got into as I work on these curvy legs is to keep my cutoffs. The material you cut away from legs as you sculpt them from blanks perfectly matches the legs; the grain is right and the color is right. 110That’s the best material to use for your knee blocks.

In the opening photo you can see the first step in knee block fabrication. There are a few things to remember as you work on blocks. In the Massachusetts High Chest of Drawers DVD (the piece shown in the first two photos), the apron is behind the block. (You don’t, however, attach the blocks to the apron; they still attach to the legs.) As you make these leg add-ons, it’s important to match the grain. That can be difficult.

As you profile the knee blocks, each time you complete a step, the grain changes. When you make the cut to the pencil line in the photo, the grain moves. As you round the piece in the second step of the process, grain moves again. Dressing TableYou need to be able to read the grain as it appears in the finished blocks if you want to achieve the perfect appearance when you’ve completed the work. As you also see in the above photo, color matches are important – I didn’t do so good on that task.

Some blocks fit under the apron, as seen to the left in the cover project from the June 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (#183). The importance of grain matching in this instance is the same. Even though the block fits under the apron, it still attaches to the leg and the grain should match. If the look and fit are correct, the connection appears seamless. That’s what you’re after.

This week I began building the Connecticut lowboy – and as always with me, I began with the legs. CT LowboyAnd I saved the cutoffs. As I got into the legs a bit farther, I realized that I didn’t need the extra material because these legs did not have knee blocks. What the maker did was round the material from the front of the knee to the inside edges. If you look at the legs straight on, you almost see a half circle as you view from the right side of the upper leg to the left side. It’s interesting when you first see it.

As you work the material to round the knee area, you also need to roll the material back toward the leg post. As I completed the shaping of the second leg, I realized that a #3, 20 carving gouge used inverted did a nice job rounding and rolling. (I used only my chisels sculpting the first leg.)

What struck me the hardest was that I was in the shop for about eight hours – probably worked for maybe five hours with all the talk and lunch – and two shaped legs was all that resulted. I could easily get all four legs complete a decade ago. I was reminded that my earlier shop was air-conditioned and working in the heat was most likely the cause for my lack of completion. Yeah. I’ll go with that. In my mind, though, I know it’s simply age.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Back to Basics, Methods of Work

Make This Your First Lowboy

CT LowboyFor the past couple weeks, I’ve been working on SketchUp drawings for a Connecticut Lowboy discovered at the Connecticut Historical Society. The class happens at The Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in September, immediately following the holiday weekend – the class runs from Tuesday through Saturday. (There are a few class spots left, so now would be a great time to contact Bob Van Dyke at the school to sign up.)

When I built The “Queen Anne Dressing Table” for the June 2010 cover of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I thought I had discovered the easiest-to-build lowboy ever. I was wrong. This project is easier, if you can believe that. And best of all, easy does not translate into ugly. IMG_0634In fact, when I wrote about my 2013 classes in January this year (read it here), I mentioned how this lowboy stopped both Van Dyke and me in our tracks.

What made the dressing table easy was that all the interior parts were nailed in place. What makes this piece easy is that there are few interior parts. Take a look at its inside. There is no top rail on the piece (the case top is the kicker to keep the drawers from tipping when extended), the two interior drawer dividers are solid pieces that run from front to back, drawer guides are nailed between the legs and the only runners are single pieces dovetailed into the front rail and centered in each opening.

Where a piece such as this picks up is pizazz is with details. One feature that makes this lowboy stand out is the cock-bead work at each of the cutouts in the front rail and at the sides. IMG_0623That work takes time to get right. But it adds a real punch to the finished piece. If you click to open the photo above, you can better see this detail. A second interesting detail, and one that makes me scratch my head and search for a connection, is the construction on the drawers. It’s not the fact that the bottoms are applied. That, along with the beaded moulding that wraps the drawer openings, indicates that this piece has an early origin. What I find interesting are the tapered drawer sides. This is nearly identical to the work found on the Shaker counter originally built by Grove Wright that I built for the June 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. Is there a connection, or is this a construction method used in the region. Grove Wright spent time working at the Enfield, CT Shaker village.

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Above is another photo of the interior of the Connecticut lowboy. In this photo you can see a drawer divider. Check out how the divider is angled as it stretches from front to back. Was this a way to save on material? Also notice how oxidation affects the coloration on the divider. What you see is not two pieces of lumber with different colors joined together. It’s the fact that the upper section has, for more than a hundred years, been protected by the drawer with the lower section constantly exposed to the elements.

You really should take the time to join us at CVSW as we build a great looking, simply constructed and high in detail Connecticut Lowboy. Register here.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

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Filed under Antique Pieces, Joinery

GDH at WIA

This week, I want to mention Woodworking in America (WIA). With my return as managing editor with Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM), you know that I’ll be and teach at WIA. If you are a woodworker in search of basic skills, you should plan to attend. If you are experienced at woodworking, but are looking to up your game, you should plan to attend. My bet is that if you look at the woodworkers PWM has presenting this year, you’ll want to be there, too. (Registration is open, so now is the time to make the call. Pull the trigger and click here to sign-up.)

This year my classes are all over the map. I open the conference teaching a seminar titled, “Better Woodworking Through Proper Wood Prep.” MIllingThe most basic observation I can give you is that if you begin a project with warped wood, you will fight it throughout the entire project. You need to make sure you know the basics, so of course we’ll cover the basics and you can bet there is way more. I’ve spent 20 years milling wood for projects. I’ve learned a crap-load of tricks and techniques to make the work easier and to mill lumber that is bent, twisted and just plain gnarly. In addition to the basics, I’ll share how to read your stock, what corner to press and when to straighten twisted stock, cup up or cup down and what to do if your board sticks at the jointer. This one class can make your time in the shop better.

Another class I’m teaching is “Precision Joinery: In a Hurry.” In this area alone, you discover why you need to be a blended woodworker. 9The class description from WIA says it best, “No single hand tool, power tool or machine is best to produce all the requisite joints. To make parts as quickly and accurately as possible, you need to know what tool to use when.” I’ve got jigs that make my life in the shop easy and highly productive, but I also know when to turn to my hand tools. During the class we’ll look at a number of furniture joints and I’ll share my best techniques.

On Sunday at WIA, I have a three hour class on inlay based around Federal-style inlay. Be sure to attend “Understanding Inlay: A Key Piece in Connoisseurship & Identification.” InlayIf you study inlay you’ll discover that each major city center had its own distinct inlay designs. One of the most famous (and often miscategorized) banding is the lunette inlay often associated with John and Thomas Seymour in Massachusetts. Every banding, inlay and patera is a clue to where the piece was built. Not only will we learn about different inlay and bandings, but I’ll demonstrate how many of these bandings are assembled. And before the class is over, you’ll be given the opportunity to make a sand-shaded fan that you can inlay into your project. So come ready to learn and ready to work, too.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Inlay, Jigs, Joinery, Routers, Uncategorized

Two of My Top Ten Gripes

Woodworking is a great way to make a living. There are, however, problems with even this career. This week I’m posting two of my current top ten gripes.

Bump-cutNumber one on my list – this specific gripe stays at number one or number two throughout most of the year – is the safety police. If this is you, please know that it is not your job to constantly point out things that you consider too dangerous. The fact that I don’t have on safety glasses and ear protection as I work at my table saw or run a router is not the end of the world. These particular violations have been pointed out so often that we all know the rules. If you feel you need to wear glasses every time you step into your shop, then do so.

Number two this week are those that hear someone state a woodworking rule, but do not hear or understand the exact meaning of that stated rule. Case in point: Don’t use your table saw fence in conjunction with your miter gauge, and never glue cross grain.

This past week I posted on the Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM) blog about bump-cut tenons. This technique has been used for years and years – someone commented that they had seen Norm Abram use this on New Yankee Workshop. The rule that should be followed is that you should not use your table saw fence in conjunction with your miter gauge IF YOU ARE MAKING A THROUGH CUT. That last portion of the sentence is the real message. If you’re not cutting through, use your fence and miter gauge as you see fit.

Another rule is that if you glue cross grain your board will split. I ran into this problem way back in another post on the PWM blog dealing with case sides in lowboys. It has also surfaced when working on the returns around slant-lid desk lids. Both can and often were glued fully.

IMG_1060Take a look at the this photo. What you see is a torn-apart bookcase side that I assembled in 1977 or 1978. (It was a bookcase for a high school sweetheart who broke up with me before I finished the top section.) These boards have been stored in a stone-walled basement of an old farmhouse, been moved from house to house in six moves and have been stored in my garage for the last 20 years. This week I went to re-purpose the wood to knock out a couple small drawers. I tried to knock off the blocks with my hammer, then tried to hook the claw of said hammer under a corner to split the pieces apart. No luck. Finally I drove a screwdriver between the two pieces and the split was made.

In the photo you can see that the regular yellow glue did not fail. What failed was the wood. While this glue-up was across only about 8″, I think it shows that it’s possible to glue in this manner and there are certain circumstances when it is OK to do so. You just need to know the rule – the exact rule – and when you can bend it. (I always glue the first 4″ to 6″ of moldings I use on my projects.)

Please don’t blindly follow what you hear or read.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Back to Basics, Shop Tips

How Do You Mortise?

IMG_Mortises2WaysThis week I have gotten little time in the shop. During the week that’s understandable because of my return to Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM). But Saturdays I generally get six to eight straight hours woodworking – except for a lunch break for wings and a beverage at local eatery. However, this weekend I am teaching a class at the Dayton, Oh., area Woodcraft; the class is building a splay-legged end table.

In the class after we discussed how to taper legs at the jointer – no it’s not multiple passes made using a stop block (see the process here in a short video I made while at PWM) – we went over a couple ways to cut mortises. IMG_RouterMethodOf the six guys in the class, three chose to use a benchtop mortise machine and three elected to router-cut their mortises. (It didn’t surprise me that no one attending my class would decide to chop mortises by hand.) I was left wondering how you guys cut your mortises.

I’m partial to my floor-model mortise machine.  I would recommend that machine to woodworkers that plan to use mortise-and-tenon joinery in most of their projects, if that is, you have the funds necessary and are interested in spending a sizable chunk for one machine. But if I had to choose between a benchtop machine and my router, I think it would depend on how many mortises I cut annually.

What do you think? How do you cut mortises for your furniture projects? Leave a comment to let me know.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Joinery, Power Tools, Routers

Another Woodworking Jig

My friend Dave Griessmann and I traveled up I-71 last night to visit the Columbus, OH. stop of The Woodworking Show. Actually, we went to meet with Chuck Bender who was presenting seminars during the show.

As Dave and I walked around the show, I got a look at a table saw sled shown at the left. The sled at the show reminded me of the ones prevalent at Marc Adams School of Woodworking. SAMSUNGAdams has taken his sleds the extra step by adding on a thick block on the front side of the jig in which the blade is buried as your cut is completed. This, I’m confident, is to lessen exposure to students unfamiliar with everyday woodworking. Adams also nails a stop to the benches that surround his table saws to keep the jig from sliding any farther forward, also keeping the blade buried in the attached block.

I’ve always been partial to a sled design made popular by Mr. New Yankee Workshop. IMG_0722In fact, I have built and used a sled similar to the one shown at the right for many years. It’s easy to build, simple to use and the only downside I see is that there is no support for the cutoff piece – it falls to the tabletop. That’s not a big deal because I use this jig to square panels or cut at 90 degrees, so I’m mostly trimming the ends and the cutoff is waste.

Another reason I chose this jig design is because you can cut over-sized panels; those larger than the jig base. The jig shown at the top cuts panels only as wide as what fits between the rails or inside the jig.

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I like this jig so much I built a smaller version for use on my Bosch Job-site saw that I use when traveling.

If you’re interested in building this jig for your shop, Popular Woodworking Magazine has posted the article I wrote for a Jig Journal column online. Click here.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

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Filed under Jigs, Shop Tips

Gorgeous Gams & Other 2013 Classes

I expect to have a busy 2013, so I limited my teaching weeks and weekends this year. Scheduled are only two classes that are week long, and one weekend class that begins on Friday. (Guess that would be a three day class.)

LegOnce again, Bob Van Dyke has invited me back to teach at his Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking (CVSW). April 5th through the 7th is Gorgeous Gams & Foot Fetishes: Its all about the Legs and the Feet- A 3 day weekend of fun and inspiration with Glen Huey. (Click here, then scroll about 2/3 down the page for additional class information.)

There is a lot to cover over the three days. Did you know you can get very accurate patterns from photos?  During the class we’ll rip leg and feet from actual furniture photos then learn how to develop those into full-size patterns. I’ll also show you how to shape cabriole legs. Where to start and what tools make the task easy and repeatable – we do want our four legs to match, right? After you get a leg shaped, it’s on to tapered legs. You may think you have a handle on tapered legs, but I’ll fill in a few blanks on what legs fit with what periods and I’ll demonstrate a couple techniques that are sure to add to your knowledge and abilities. And of course, we cannot bypass feet. An in-depth study of bracket and ogee-bracket feet is sure to bring discussion. Contact CVSW to register for the class.

SAMSUNGLater in April (April 29 through May 3), I show up at Chuck Bender’s Acanthus Workshops to teach the first week long class. Since Acanthus is in Chester County Pennsylvania, what better project could you build than a small chest that’s big with line & berry inlay. (A chest, by the way, that is featured in the June 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, in case you get closed out of the class.) This chest, attributed to Moses Pyle and built for Hannah Darlington, is part of the collection at Winterthur Museum. Not only do you build this chest during the week, but you may get a chance to see the original in a day trip to the museum. If line & berry inlay is your weakness, this is the class to take. Construction is not over the top, so we’re sure to finish the project. (That will make the spouse happy, huh?) During the class we’ll use both power tools and hand tools to inlay the piece. (Acanthus has been plagued by website difficulties over the past few weeks. If the class listing cannot be found, give Chuck a couple days to get things corrected and posted.)

CT LowboyRounding out the year, except for Woodworking in America in October, I return to CVSW to instruct a class building a Connecticut Lowboy. This piece, discovered in a backroom tour of the Connecticut Historical Society, stopped both Bob and I in our tracks. I immediately said that this would be a great class. Great minds think alike. Bob added the class to his summer schedule. The class runs from September 3rd through the 8th.

If you are a study of period furniture designs, you see that this lowboy is a transitional piece – originating as we moved from the William & Mary style into Queen Anne period. I especially like the high arched aprons and the molded profile around the drawers. Also, there is a very interesting building technique used on the inside of this piece.

(Might I suggest a “twofor” at CVSW. Sign up for the legs class then return to build a great lowboy. Contact the school for more information.)

If you would like additional information on these classes, please contact me or the schools directly.

Build Something Great!
Glen

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Filed under Antique Pieces, Design