Friday, January 30, 2009

A short history of my woodworking projects, part 1

I haven't actually created that much as far as furniture goes. I thought I'd throw out at least a record of what I have done.

When I first became interested in woodworking I took two classes: Introduction to Hand Tools, and Hand Cut Joinery. Both were good classes, but just one evening introduction classes. After the joinery class I wanted to practice the joints and didn't want to spend much money on materials so I used some of that mysterious splinter wood from Sweden they call "pine." I made a modest hanging cabinet which was basically a box with a couple of shelves and a drawer. It was originally going to have a second drawer above the one it has, but I never got around to it.

Right above the cabinet you can see another project of mine, and the only tool I've made, a bow-saw. The saw was relatively easy to make and would work well, except I need to get a better blade, and I need better string so that I can tension it more. I should try it again since my sawing skills have improved since the last time I tried it. Maybe it wasn't the blade, but was me. It's possible. LOL

I then moved here and set up my apartment workshop (see my earlier post) and made my tv table. This was quite a project. I was very naive going into it. I used hard maple as the wood. (stupid!) I had no conception of how to select wood for faces and insides, nor how to really dimension wood with hand tools. But nevertheless, it turned out extremely sturdy and pretty good for a first piece.

I bought the lumber rough sawn and dimensioned it myself. I did a great deal of it with just a scrub plane. Despite having a great old German scrub plane, it was a lot like work.

You can see the great grooves left by the scrub plane.

After a while I decided to try rip sawing the 1/4" of wood I needed to take off of the legs.

That was also a great deal like work, but not as much as the scrub plane. Between the two I managed to get the job done.

I also used some great new tools I had managed to buy including a Steve Knight razee jack plane which was so sharp and well tuned that I was taking end-grain curls off the hard maple.

And a Steve Knight razee jointer plane which is also a very nice plane.

I had made bottom rails spanning the legs to support a lower shelf in such a way as I couldn't get the shelf in, so I ended up cutting the rails off (thus leaving the tenons still in the legs), and dovetailing in a center support. I now know it's not really needed, but I doubt I'm the first person to over-engineer my first piece.

I attached the top and shelf with wooden buttons, thus using the only screws in the whole piece, finished it with dyed shellac and it's all held together pretty well for 5 years.

You can see that my tenon shoulders are not quite straight and so there's a bit of a gap, but because I had made my haunched tenons a little long, they've held quite well. Overall I hand cut 16 mortise and tenon joints (24 if you count the wooden buttons which are sort of mortise and tenons) and made two frame and panel constructions. I jointed and glued up two surfaces with no gaps, and all in hard maple with no design but my own ideas, and all with hand tools. I'm pretty proud of this for my first try at furniture.

More in my next post.



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