Sunday, October 26, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet. Part 4

This weekend I worked on the doors for my Crafsman Tool Cabinet. I took my planes and placed them in their new homes and everything fits great. I took some nice Ambrosia Maple and resawed it to get bookmatched panels for the doors. I left the panels at 3/8th on an inch because holders will be attached to the doors.
I ripped some Quartersawn white oak to 2 1/2 inches wide and the bottom stiles at 3 1/2 inches wide. I then cut a 3/8th inch wide, 1/2 inch deep groove in each piece. I then cut the mortises for the stiles into the rails at the mortiser. I cut tenons into the stiles on the table saw then trimmed the fit with a shoulder plane.

I trimmed the panels to fit into the door frames and did a dry fit that you see here. After some final sanding, and a little touch up on the bottom of this panel with a plane, I sealed the panels with a coat of clear shellac so that the Dark Walnut Danish Oil would not penetrate the panels. This morning I unclamped the doors and trimmed them to fit exactly on the cabinet. After some hand sanding and cleaning I masked the panels with blue tape and wiped on a coat of Dark Walnut Watco Danish Oil.

Later today I cut all the drawer fronts out of Ambrosia Maple and the drawer sides out of 1/2 inch Baltic Birch cabinet plywood. After a coat of amber shellac and some wax I'll hand the doors and next weekend its on to handcutting some dovetails.
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, October 20, 2008

Craftsman Inlay

Back in February I had a post about Arts and Crafts inlays, today I was looking through the Fall 2008 issue of Style 1900 and I came across an ad for a new site specializing in Stickley and Ellis inlays in wood and metal. The guys at Craftsman Inlay offer reproduction inlays in a sheet of veneer ready to be included in your latest masterpiece.

They also offer custom inlay creation services from your images. I'm sure that the number of inlays that are offered will increase as their business grows.
The following is from their website.

About Us
The two of us share a passion for creating beautiful wood products
and for Arts and Crafts furniture styles. Combining our interests and
talents motivated us to start our company, Craftsman Inlay. Most of our favorite
Arts and Crafts designs include custom inlays, so it was a natural move to
re-create some of our favorite metal inlays from the designs of Ellis and
Stickley. Their designs were only produced for a short time, so we are
excited to bring these great designs back into production and offer them at
reasonable prices.
Dean Orsborn and Ben Brunick

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet. Part 3

With the final dryfit complete I disassembled the case and gave each piece a final sanding and started thinking about the glue up. As you can see, there are quite a few parts to this cabinet so you have to start with some sub assemblies. First I glued the vertical dividers to the thicker of the horizontal dividers and then I added the top divider. I clamped this assembly with a squaring block while I get the other parts in line. Starting with one side flat on the bench I placed the sub assembly in the corresponding dadoes. I glued the small vertical divider to the thick horizontal divider, I followed this with the shelf. Repeat with the next small vertical divider and the bottom shelf. I added the lower horizontal divider. I glued in the bottom dovetails and the two top stretchers. Finally I started the other side on the dovetails, painted some glue bottom half of the pins and the top half of the tails. I started banging the side down with my fist while lining up the interior dividers to meet with the dadoes on the side. Amazingly everything came together pretty easily. A few clamps to hold everything tight and I let it sit overnight.
Once the clamps were removed I attached the top to the case with some glue and a couple of screws in the back to help support the french cleat. I finished the cabinet with a coat of dark walnut Watco Danish oil, followed by a couple of coats of shellac. I cut a 1/2 inch thick plywood back and painted it dark green. I attached the plywood to the back with brad nails along the edge and across the stretchers.
I cut a french cleat to attach to the back to go with the cleats that I have around the shop wall. I also added a block to the bottom of the cabinet to hold the cabinet off the wall the thickness of the cleat.
Now I can take my time and make the doors and the drawers. The door inserts and the drawer fronts will be out of Ambrosia Maple.

"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet. Part 2

Keeping with the theme of the hand tool cabinet I hand cut the dovetails for the case this weekend. Doing the joinery by hand will definitely slow you down and force you to take you time to get it just right. If you read Chris Schwarz's chapter on this project from Popular Woodworking's Arts and Crafts Furniture Projects book you'll find some very nice techniques for cutting these through dovetails. I used his method and clamped the two sides together and cut all the tails at the same time, this was no more difficult than cutting one board. Chris says, and I agree that cutting both together helps you get squarer cuts across the board.
The top of the case is spanned by tow horizontal stretchers each dovetailed into the sides. I cut a single dovetail for each of these 3 inch wide boards. I then transferred the lines to the boards using a marking knife and cut the pin. By cutting on the waste side of the lines and paring to the lines with a sharp chisel you get a very tight fitting joint. A dovetail joint should go together with just a little bit of force banging your hand. If it takes a large dead blow hammer , it is too tight, pare away the contact areas and try again. My problems with hand cut dovetails when I first started was that I tried to cut too close to the line and ended up with loose sloppy joints. I recommend the article and accompanying video in the latest issue of Fine Woodworking on a visit to the Dovetail Doctor.
I laid out the bottom dovetails in a staggered fashion to reflect the hand cut nature of the joint. I didn't go with very small pins as this cabinet will hold a great deal of weight. The most difficult part of hand cutting these joints is chiseling out the waste, using a set of very sharp chisels and a mallet makes it easier. I chiseled them out from the inside then switched sides half way through to avoid blowing out the wood on the other side. Much like before I cut on the waste side of the line then pared up to the line.
What I ended up with was a sturdy cabinet with tight dovetails. After a trial fit I disassembled the case and added the interior partitions. With the final dry fit done the next step will be some sanding and smoothing and then glue up of the cabinet. Doors and drawers will follow.
On an unrelated note, one of my local woodworking stores, Mann Tools, has started carrying 10BF project packs of 4/4 wood bundled in 3-4 foot lenghts. The interesting thing is the price, I got two of these in very nice ribbon Mahagony for half the price that its going for. They are also starting to carry some very wide, (24-36 inch) stock in some exotic species like waterfall Bubinga. Its pricey but would make some very cool tabletops.
"Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us." - Jerry Garcia

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Craftsman Tool Cabinet.

So I started out with just one block plane, of course, it was a POS home center Stanley, the one in the picture with the red palm rest. I added to that with a better block plane, then a pretty good made in England Stanley No. 4. This was followed up by a couple of small shoulder planes and a Stanley No. 80 scraper plane. I picked up a couple of antique Stanley planes, cleaned them up and sharpened the blades and they cut okay. But then, I made the mistake of trying out a well tuned Lie-Nielsen block plane, I finally realised what a high quality plane could do. That started my downfall, a low angle L-N block plane, a L-N block shoulder plane, these planes rocked. I made my first wooden plane last spring and with a nice blade it cut surprizingly well. At IWF this year I ordered a Lee Valley low angle smoothing plane and a scraping plane, both of which are awesone right out of the box. Well the downside of all this is that now I have nowhere to keep all these tools except a drawer that is now too crouded and I'm afraid that they will be damaged. So now I'm making a cabinet to hold all my prized hand planes.
I'm using Chris Schwarz's plan from Popular Woodworking's Arts and Crafts Furniture Projects book but changing it some. My Lee Valley scraper plane is wider than the cubbies that he called for so I adjusted them so two cubbies are 4 inches wide and I made up for it with two smaller cubbies that will fit my No. 4 plane and my L-N block planes. I also used quartersawn white oak instead of Cherry because thats what I have plenty of in my wood supply. I haven't decided yet how the doors will look but I think that I'm going to change the look of the top.

I glued up the stock yesterday after planing it to the appropriate thickness. Today I unclamped the stock and used the smoothing plane to flush the panels. I then cut the panels to size and started on the dado's for the cubbies and dividers. At the end of the day today I had my first dry fit, you'll notice that the cubbies on the left are wider than the ones on the right. Below the plane cubbies will be 4 small drawers and 2 larger drawers. I plan to add a rack for my fine chisels inside one of the doors and a holder for my Gent's saw on the other. The drawers will hold my marking guages and knives, my files and rasps, and other tools that are banging around in the one large drawer now.
I've learned that hand tools are an important addition to a powertool shop and that quality tools make the difference. What I'm trying to teach myself, and this is hard, is to slow down and take my time. I've always worked quickly and I think that sometimes what I need to do is to not rush through a project, but slow down and work more on precision. My projects come out looking great but there are pieces and parts that could be better, probably no one knows this but me, but it does bother me. So now, for me, I want to slow down and take my time with each and every part of a project.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Albert Einstein