Here is where things I am currently working on are posted.

Workbench Part 7 - Finishing Touches


In this entry I will be completing the workbench. The holes for the lag bolts were marked and drilled (right). The lag bolts hold the vise nut to the vise back and leg. They were drilled then the nut was temporarily installed and pilot holes were marked and drilled into the leg and vise back for the bolts. 


Next it was time to attach the top. The top is held in place by four one inch dowels. The two front dowels were placed in the centre of the top of the front leg (left). The rear dowels were installed in the stretchers. Once the holes were drilled in the base (left) and the dowels were glued in, the bottom of the top was next. The front hole was drilled one inch in diameter and the rear holes were drilled and chiseled out to allow for expansion of the top (below). This method allows to top to move and holds the top in place. If I ever need to removed the top or the sliding dead man, all I need to do is lift the top.


Next the wagon vise was put together. I made this myself with some extra parts that I had, as well as some purchased ones. For the screw, some acme left hand threaded rod, one inch diameter, sixteen inches long with six threads per inch, were purchased. Some square nuts were procured as well from Roton. The handle is from some drill press parts that I have. To fit the handle on the threaded rod, a shaft reducer was needed. I could not find anything available locally, but a one inch bronze bushing was almost perfect. A hole was drilled in the bushing (right top), which allows a set screw on the handle to tighten to the threaded rod. I then assembled them temporarily to allow fitting to the bench. The screw was placed on two pillow blocks, and the nut put on as well as the handle (right bottom). 


Before the wagon vise can be mounted, the holes were laid out for the bench dogs and hold fasts. Along the front of the bench there is a row of dog holes about four and a half inches apart and two and one-eighth of an inch in form the front. Hold fast holes were marked long the centre line of the bench, about sixteen inches apart and a rear row offset and about four inches in from the back. The holes were drilled with my brace and a guide was used to help keep the holes straight. No holes were drilled where the legs are, prairie dogs from Lee Valley will be used in these locations along the front row. At the right end of the bench a mortise was laid out for the wagon vise. It is about ten and three quarters long. Next, there was two mortises cut in the bottom of the bench for the pillow blocks to sit in. They were at a depth where the top of the square nut runs smoothly but snugly along the bottom of the bench top. This provides support for the nut along the bottom. There is metal tube is brazed to the nut (will get welded later) that holds a bench dog that allows me to pinch work between two dogs. The completed wagon vise is shown below. A few shaft collars were added next to the pillow blocks.


Now it was time to cut the vise chop to length, and round over the top edge. The edge was rounded over with a block plane and spoke shave (left). The support for the guide was also made and put on the long stretcher with some tapered dove tails, and glued into place. The bench is now ready for disassembly (below), at which time the corners of the long stretchers and tusk tenons will be rounded over. 



The bench was sanded down with two handed and twenty grit sandpaper and finished with multiple coats of Tried and True Varnish Oil. The hardware for the wagon vise and vise nut were stripped of the plating with citric acid and treated with gun blueing (right), to give a nice black finish.  The finished bench has tuned out to be wonderful to work on and is a great improvement over my old bench. The hold fasts that were purchased from Ed Lebetikn at the tools store above the Woodwright’s School, work great and I highly recommend them. I would like to thank Will Myers for inspiring my version of the Moravian Workbench. Below are some pictures of the completed bench. 


Work Bench Part 6 - Vise and Sliding Dead Man

This time I will be going through the steps of making the vise, sliding dead man as well as final planing on the top. The front vise requires a back that will have a mortise into the stretcher and the top. The nut for the vise screw will be mortised into the leg and bolted on the vise back.


The blank for the vise chop was made first. I did a long rip cut to get the board close to the final thickness desired (right). It was then planed square and finished to a size of eight inches wide, two and a quarter inches thick and thirty-two inches long. The location of the vise screw was laid out next. Then using an expansion bit, I drilled a hole for the screw to pass through (below left). I opted for the external garter option, which was laid out and installed as well. Then the sides were marked at an angle, with a seven inch straight area at the top, tapering down to six inches at the bottom. This will be cut later as well as the final length of the vise. The vise chop temporarily installed is pictured below right.




The vise back was built next. After it was cut, it was planed the final thickness which is the distance from the vise nut to the front of the leg, one and five eights of an inch thick. After the stock was squared up the angles of the leg was marked and was cut. The angle of the vise chop was then marked, cut and planed as well. It only needs to be close now, it will be planed flush after the vise is installed to make things perfect. The mortise that will go in the legs and top are marked and cut next.  The hole for the vise screw to go through was marked and drilled (left). I used an expansion bit to drill a two and seven eights inch hole. These holes were drilled with my hand brace. It was not fun. Not at all. There will also be holes for lag bolts for the vise nut that will be drilled after the bench is together. 


The vise front was next laid out for the guide. The guide will sit in a through mortise in the chop. I laid out the mortise, then chopped it out with my mortise chisel (right). This joint will have 2 wedges in that will lock it in place when it is glued together. The angles were also cut and planed on the chop now as well. The guide needed to be made as well. I laid mine out so it will be sitting below the long front stretcher on a support that will be added later. The guide measures twenty and three-quarters long, two inches wide and seven eights of an inch thick. There are holes drilled in two rows a third of the width of the guide in from each edge. The spacing of the holes is one inch apart staggered as seen in the picture. The completed guide with the tenon cut on the end that will go into the vise chop is shown below.



I then started on my sliding deadman. This was planed to final dimensions of five and three quarter inches wide by one and three eights thick. I then made the strip that will run along the long stretcher and provide a track for the dead man to slide in. This was planed to three quarters of an inch thick by one and three eights wide. I then marked a line from the centre of the top down the side. The centre of the track is three quarters thick and tapers down to leave a five-sixteenth of an inch thick base at the bottom.  This will create a v that will keep the dead man in its track. I planed this with my jointer plane. The track was then fitted where it will go on the long stretcher and cut to final length. Both ends are at angles for the leg and vise back. Then holes were laid out for nails that will attach it to the long stretcher and it was installed with a small amount of glue and some headless brads (below). Next the tongue on the top of the dead man was cut. The bottom was cut at the same angle as the track previously made and was cut and planed smooth with a shoulder plane to provide a nice smooth bearing surface for sliding. The top was cut with a tongue that will slide in a corresponding groove in the bottom of the top.  Then the holes for pegs or a hold down were laid out with dividers. They were then drilled with three quarters of an inch holes. The spacing is one-third in from each edge, two inches apart staggered as shown above right.


Now it was time to do the final planing of the top. It like doing any other surface to plane this, just a lot larger. I planed the top by clamping the top to the legs. This gave good support for the top and was not in the way at all (below left). Both surfaces were finished planed, and the long edges were squared up. The ends where then cut as well (below right).


Top 6

The mortise for the vise back and the groove for the sliding dead man to slide in were cut next. The stopped groove was cut by making small mortises at the ends and then using a plow plane and chisel to finish off (right). Below is a picture of the near complete bench, which will be finished in the next entry.


Work Bench Part 5 - The Top and Shelf


Welcome, this time we will be showing the steps to make the bottom shelf boards and the top for the work bench. I decided to start with the shelf, and used some white oak boards that have been laying around the shop for a few years. Now was a good time to make use of them, they match the rest of the oak and are close to the thickness desired. First, the length of the grove in the long stretcher that will support the shelf was measured to find the length of the shelf. Because of the angle of the legs, the end shelf boards will be at an angle at the ends where they meet the legs. I knew the approximate length of the shelf which gave me an idea of how many boards it will take to make the shelf. Then using dividers, I stepped out the top of the grove line to get the width of each board. The two ends boards are left a little longer to make up for the angle of the legs. Stepping out with the dividers gave me equal sizes for the shelf boards. Now that the width of the shelf boards were found (and don’t forget about the tongue), the oak was cut to length (the width of the shelf, plus and inch for the tongue that will support the shelfs into the long stretchers), squared and planed to approximately three quarters of an inch.  I also prepared the half inch thick tusks at this time from the same stock.


First the base line of the tongue that will go into the long stretchers was marked (right). The tongue is one half inch deep and thick. Once the baseline was marked, it was time to mark the tongue with my mortising gauge. Next the tongue is marked on all the boards, then the base line was cut with a hand saw. This makes for a nice base line. Then with my Record 405 plane, two rabbits were planed making a tongue. It was finished off with a large shoulder plane to clean it up. Next it was time to mark the tongue and grove on the long edges of the shelf boards. I set my mortising gauge to the size of my tongue cutting blade, approximately one quarter inch. Once these were marked, I set the depth adjustment on my tongue blade to about three eights of an inch and cut all the tongues. On the two end boards, they will only need a tongue on one and a grove on the other end board. The groves were cut next, with my Record 405 plane as before. 

TongueGroveComplete BoardComplete Shelf

Next I started on the top. This is the largest item I have ever worked on, and it went fairly well. Its just not easy moving oak like this around by your self. I had determined the maximum length top I could use in my workshop and with the stock I have and came up with eighty-three inches long and the width was previously determined as twenty-three and a half. So the timbers were sorted as to which would be were, and top and bottom. There is a lot to take into account as my top is three boards glued together, so grain direction is important for easy planing once assembled. Then it was time to plane the boards. I started by making one flat face on each, which is the top face. I got started out with my scrub plane, then moved on to the jack plane to get the top flat (below). I didn’t use any other planes at this point as everything will be planed once again after the glue up. 


It is the same process to plane a large timber as a small board, just more time and effort is required. The edge was planed next, followed by making the board to width and square. The bottom was left rough at this point, they will all be planed after they are all ready. That way I can find maximum thickness for the top (which ended up being three and a quarter). Once they were all close in thickness they were prepared for glue up. To help keep things lined up,  six one inch dowels were used as pins on the edges (right).

Once the dowels were cut it was time for glue up. It takes alot of glue for a joint of this size. A full fresh container is what I started with, that way there was more then enough available, you down want to come up short once you have started. This was a large joint and took a lot of persuading to get it tight. Clamps as well as my lump hammer were used to get things together. Two of the boards for the top were glued at once (below), let dry, then the third was added. Doing all three at once would be a lot more difficult. Not to mention that it was hard enough to do this on my current workbench. 


Once all three were glued together they are planed as one with my jack plane (below), making them all one level surface. I just got it close for now, I am going to let it sit before final planing to allow for any movement that may occur. 

Top 4

That is it for this time. Next some of the bench accessories will be worked on as the bench nears completion.

Work Bench Part 4 - Assembly


Now that all the joinery is cut and ready to go (above), it is time for the worst part of most projects, the glue up. It’s a messy, sticky, sliding mess. But its necessary, so I test fitted all the joints first (right), and made a few adjustments where ever was needed. There is really only a few glue joints in this bench, the legs are what I started with. Once both legs were fitted, the draw bored joints were marked and drilled. Half inch dowels will be used for the draw bored joint in the top stretcher. The holes were first drilled in the legs centre of each mortise and tenon joint, through the mortice first (left). Don’t forget some backing in the mortice so the drill won’t bust through. The legs were then reassembled, then the centre of the tenon was marked with the drill bit that was just used. After all the centres were marked I took apart the legs. Then a pilot hole was marked with my bird cage awl, slightly (a bit more then a sixteenth of an inch) toward the shoulder of the top stretcher from the hole that was previously marked with the drill bit. This was marked more towards the shoulder to keep pressure on the joint once the dowel is pounded through. Then the holes were drilled in the tenon.


The dowels were made form a large chunk of the same oak that I had used for the legs. So first it was split up with an axe and froe (right). Then they were made into  smaller parts with my push knife  and spokeshave to fit through my dowel plate (below left). The whittled down oak dowels were pounded through my dowel plate with my engineers hammer (below right). If then they can take being beat like that, they pass my test.  


Now It was time to get ready for glueing. There is a list for things I always have ready for this stage:

  • Clamps - Ready to go, fully opened to just more then I will need. You don’t want to play around with them while glue is drying. 
  • Wet cloths - I use modern glue. These are a must for cleaning up as you go.
  • Glue Brush - I don’t care what kind of brush. Just one near by.
  • Mallet - I use a dead blow normally. For this one I had my engineers hammer and a scrap of wood near by as well.


I then started the glue up. These are massive joints. They sometimes just don’t want to move as you assemble them, Use the clamps and hammers you have available. There is no turning back now. I started putting the legs together with my dead blow hammer, once the joints got close to being closed, they were tough so I switched to my engineer’s hammer. It’s a nice small sledge that I used with a block of wood, to not damage the piece. The joints were then clamped together and the leg was checked to see if it was square. The pegs for the draw bored mortice were also driven in now.


The long stretchers were then fitted to the legs.  The joints were adjusted as needed, once they were together, the rear wall of the tusk tenon holding the base together was marked. I then prepared some half inch stock to make the tusks (left) . Next the wall of the tusk tenon was marked about a quarter of an inch toward the shoulder, and traced the tusk tenon onto the long stretcher (below). The mortise was then marked on the top and bottom, and were drilled out. The mortise was cut the rest of the way with my mortice and bevel edge chisels. Notice the chip in picture below, that happen during the assembly of the base, luckily I left the tenons a bit long.


The long stretchers were then prepared for the shelf Im adding across the long stretcher. I made a half inch rebate along the inside face of both stretchers to accommodate a tongue on the end of the shelf boards. It was a cut to about a half inch deep. (below)


I was then able to assemble the base. The long stretchers were then placed through the legs on one side. Then I placed the other leg assembly on the stretchers. After persuading them together with my hammers,  the tusk tenons were put in and lightly hammered to tighten the leg assembly up. The assembled base is shown to below. 


Well, that concludes this entry and next time I will be preparing the shelf boards, and getting the top ready for glue up. 

Work Bench Part 3 - Laying out the Joinery


This time I will be laying out the joinery for the base. There is a lot to lay out for the legs, including many mortise and tenon joints, a dovetail joint, as well as a mortise for the vise nut on the front leg. First I decided which leg would go where, and what sides were faces. The legs are at a sixteen degree angle to the top and the mortices are parallel to the side of the legs. The two legs for one side were clamped together and marked for the top of the legs, as well as the mortices for the stretchers (top). A line was also made where the top edge of the through mortices for the long stretcher will be, the base of the mortise will be marked later. The process was repeated with the other two legs.  After all four legs had matching marks, the lines were transferred around the legs and I prepared to mark the mortices. All the mortices are one and a half inches wide and the full height of the stretchers, through the five inch thick legs. They were all marked at once, using the gauge set up only once to mark them and was left that way until the shoulder tenons were marked. This keeps things accurate, instead of resetting the gauge all the time. It pays to have a couple of marking gauges. Also at this time, I picked which stretcher would go were, and marked the height of the mortice off the actual part, not a measurement. The top of the legs were then cut to the sixteen degree angle, and the mortices for the long stretcher was marked as well (above).


While the legs were out, I decided to cut the leg mortices. I marked the centre of the mortice with my dividers and marked where the holes would be drilled. I use a bird cage awl to mark the centre of my holes (above left). This allows the bit to start easily, right where I want it. After all the mortices were marked in such a manner, I moved on to drilling out the waste with my new Irwin expansion bit (above right). It preformed very well, cutting through this tough Manitoba oak with ease. All the holes were drilled in from both sides, to aid in keeping the holes straight.


Next the tenons were marked. The short stretchers were easy to mark, the length of them is the width I wanted the finished bench top to be, plus about three-thirty-second of an inch. I marked (left), and then cut them to twenty-three and eleven-sixteenths of an inch. I cut them as accurately as I could, but the ends won’t be planed at this stage. There is a bit extra that will stick out the ends, that will be planed flush to the leg later. Both legs for one side were then sat upon their respective stretchers. There was a little sticking over the ends, that will be planed later. They were then marked to be the final width apart with a marking knife, and the base of the tenon was marked on the top stretcher. This line was marked all around the board, and was transferred to the middle stretcher and the lower dovetailed stretcher, as the base line of the dovetail. The legs for the other side were done as well. The tenons were then marked with the gauge I used before, only having adjusted the fence for centre of each stretcher, not for the spacing of the two marking points. 


First the line for the top of the mortice for the long stretcher mortice was marked at sixteen degrees. Then the legs were laid on the ground, face up, in the positions they will be in (above). I placed the long stretcher on the top of the legs, and lined up the top with the line previously marked for the top of the mortice. The bottom of the mortices was marked right off the stretcher. The line for the approximate shoulder of the tenon was marked at this time as well as the long stretcher. I then laid out the mortice and tenon, and drilled the holes in the leg. To drill the holes at the angle with ease, I clamped the leg in a vise at sixteen degrees, and drilled at a ninety degree angle (right). 


I further reduced the waste in the mortices with my bow saw (below). I have used my bow saw for quite some time now, and I find for some applications, the blades (and coping saw blades as well) are too thin for some tasks. For the past little while I have been using a blade that I made for my bow saw, using my Foley retoother. It is cut from .025”  thick spring steel at ten ppi, with about twelve degrees rake and about ten degrees fleam. It is quarter inch wide and twelve inches long. I cut two hardened steel pins to hold the blade in place, and drilled holes for them with a carbide drill bit. It cuts like a dream. After all the mortices were drilled, I cleaned them up with a chisel.


Next the tenons were all cut in the same manner. I started with the short stretchers for the legs, they were cut mostly with my large tenon saw, which was a bit too short, so it was finished up with my frame saw (left). The tenons for the long stretcher were cut with a Disston D8 filed to a ten degree rake, which did this rip cut well (below).


 The next step was to chisel out the mortices (below). I used my morticing and bevel edge chisels to remove the waste, with several trips to the sharpening stones, as this oak is very tough.


The mortice for the leg vise nut was laid out and cut at this time as well. It is cut  into the leg as a mortise, and will need holes for leg bolts that will attach the nut to the leg. First the placement of the screw was determined and marked. This gave the nut location. The nut needed to be mounted so that it will be tight to the vise back when it is installed. So I determined the thickness of the back and marked that as my line for the mortise and laid out the rest with my mortising gauge, square and my sliding bevel. After it was marked, it was drilled and chopped out to the proper depth (below).


The dovetails were the last to be cut. First the stretchers were cut to their final length and then squared the ends up. The base line of the dove tails was determined previously, so the length was the base line plus the dove tail lengths.  I went with a bold sixteen degree angle, to match the leg angle. I cut the tails first (below left), in the usual manner, and they are big dovetails, so it is time to try to do the best saw cut your can. Happy with the results, it was time to transfer the tails on to the legs. I laid out the legs and placed the dove tail stretcher on top and lined up the shoulder with the edge of the leg, then clamped them together once they were lined up. The tail was then marked with a marking knife, and the half blind dove tail was cut. I cut as much as I could with a saw (below right), then the rest was drilled and chiseled out.


That is it for this time, its has been some time from my last post till now, but I hope to have more time now to get some work done on this site. Next time I will glue the base together, as well as give it a first assembly. Till next time.

Work Bench Part 2 - Preparing the Base


This time I will be preparing the stock for the legs and all the stretchers for the base of my workbench. The stock I am using is local white oak from a rural Manitoba sawmill. I purchased enough for this bench, another bench project, as well as a fair amount extra for a little over four hundred dollars. The wood (above) was purchased a few years ago and has been air drying. It has some cracks and checks from drying, but I like the appearance, as it makes the bench look more aged. 


DunlapplaneWorkbench hewing

I started my battle with the large timbers for the long stretchers that join the two legs together and have a tusk tenon that holds the legs in place. The stock is about eighty inches long, four inches square. I picked the best side, and with my scrub plane (above left) in hand, scrubbed the board flat. I next proceeded to move onto my Stanley #6, which further levelled off this long stretcher (above right). I usually use my low angle jack plane before my jointer plane, but this oak has a lot of knots, and the grain changes direction constantly, the low angle plane caused  far too much tear out. So I ground my Stanley number six iron a bit more convex and used it till I was ready to move on to my jointer plane to finish off. The finished dimensions ended top being three and three eights square and eighty-four inches long. This became my basic stock preparation set up until I came across a nice condition Dunlap jack plane at the local flea market for a reasonable price (above right), which I used after the scrub plane. After the long stretchers were complete,  I moved on to the legs, which are five inches square and about forty-two inches long. After the first two sides of the legs were planed, there was quite a bit of mass to remove from the remaining sides (about 3/4”-1”)  to get them to the size I wanted. To get close to my finished thickness I used my broad axe to chop down close to my finish line (above). While hewing, I use a variety of techniques depending on how the grain is going, generally at an angle to the grain and taking some ladder cuts when required to prevent wood from splitting off uncontrollably. After hewing I plane the surface as described above. 


After the four legs were complete I moved onto the short stretchers that join the legs together. There are three on each set of legs and the dimensions are: for the top stretcher, four and one half inches by three and one quarter, the middle is three and a quarter inches by three inches and the bottom stretcher is three inches by two inches. They are all twenty-five inches long. They are all worked from the same six inch rough stock as the legs are made from. After the first two sides were square on the stock they were marked out with a marking gauge and cut out with my large frame saw (above) that I made in a previous blog entry. It works quite well, though the stock needs a far bit of clamping on my current bench to hold it in place. The parts were all then cut and planed. 

These are all the parts of the base that I have prepared for construction. It may have sounded fast, but trust me it was a lot of work. There are a few other parts that will be made after the base is roughly assembled, such as the shelf I plan on putting in across the long stretchers, the sliding deadman and the back for the vise. These will be prepared as needed. That concludes this entry, and join me next time where I will be starting the jointery on the legs.

Work Bench Part 1 and Winter Updates


This time we will be getting the planing started on the workbench, as well as some a pics of a winter project that I have been working on. I will start with the workbench. I have been looking for quite some time at workbench plans and reading books about benches, deciding upon which style to build and what features I want for my new bench. My existing bench (above right) is based off a modified plan from Roy Underhill’s book The Woodwright's Apprentice. I have been useing it for several years and have made every project that I've made strictly with hand tools on this bench. It far to small for my needs but was all I had room for I’m my previous shop and it is still serving me. As it is far too light, I store wood underneath it, to add much needed weight required for hand prepping stock. 

For my new bench I took a few factors in to account when deciding upon what I absolutely had to have. First I needed it to be portable. A Roubo bench would be great. But, I have to be able to get it out of my basement when I move, and it would not be easy if possible to move it out at all. Second, I wanted a nice leg vise with a classic wooden screw. My present vise sucks. Period.  Third I wanted a wagon vise on the end. The bench I decided upon is a modified version of The Moravian Workbench. Will Myers has a plans for a version here (external link), which is based of an old design from the Old Salem Village in North Carolina. I am making several mods that can be seen in my plan, which is the two scanned images below (sorry about the quality). I am making the bench entirely out of local Manitoba white oak. The wood was purchased from a local saw mill rough cut. It has sat several years and should be ready to start the bench. I decided to beef up some of the timbers used in the bench, to accommodate possible future expansion of the bench, if I wanted a longer top, I only need to change the top and  two  long stretchers. I am also adding a sliding deadman to the bench as well as some shelving in the long stretchers. The top will also be a one flat surface, no tool tray in the back. After using a tool tray for the past few years, I would sooner the bench space. 


These plans show some most of what is needed for me to build this bench. The twenty-four inch width of the bench might change as to become more like twenty-two, I just need to get access to the top boards to see what the final width will be. I have started prepping the materials for the base, and will share that in the next entry. 

This winter I took a trip to Lacrosse, Wisconsin to the Bad Axe Tool Works saw sharpening seminar (external link). It was a great time where I learned a lot about saws, sharpening, maintenance,  and cleaning. My fellow classmates were a great bunch of guys, as well as Mark Harrell, and his staff. If you are into saws, I would highly recommend going, it was well worth it. 


This past little bit I have been working on my turning skills building a sheet music stand (above). It is a very fun project and gained some turning skills and well as some joinery with all the lap joints in the top as well as bread board ends. The stand is made entirely of walnut, most of which was scrap. It was finished with a few coats of linseed oil, followed by orange shellac. The shellac was brushed on for the first few coats, this builds a coat, which is then sanded. The final coats were applied with a rag. I am very happy with the finished product. It is fully adjustable by using the ebony pin for height (bottom), angle adjustment from behind(below) and it swivels as well. Stay tuned for the next entry showing the start of preparations for the bench. 


Large Frame Saw - Part 3


This time I will be completing the frame saw. First I turned my attention to the scrolls. They were left roughly finished in the last instalment, so that was remedied first. I did some final cuts with my small carving tools, using a rounded gouge to clean up the inside of the scrolls. On the outside of the scrolls I used an out channel gouge and a straight chisel where needed. I also scraped the surface of the handles to remove any marks that were left from the construction process. All areas were then sanded down to 220 grit. Above is a photo of an arm before any cleanup (right) and one after sanding (left).  


After the arms and stretchers were sanded, it was time to prepare the surface for finish. I removed any dust with a microfibre cloth (parts after dust removal, above). I find these work great for removing dust from the surface, without spreading dust into the air or elsewhere. I then applied my first coat of Tried and True Varnish Oil. I rubbed it in with a cloth, let it sit for an hour, then it was rubbed with a clean cloth to remove any excess oil. Be careful when working with oil soaked rags because they can, if improperly disposed of, spontaneously combust. I let the wood sit for a few days to dry then sanded with 320 grit, and repeated the oil coats and sanding process, sanding with 600 grit and giving it a final coat of oil (finished, right). This makes for a very nice smooth surface to work with.


Once the final coat was dry, the surface was rubbed with ultra fine steel wool, and given a coating of wax. I wanted a darker wax than what I had, to fill in the grain. To accomplish this I simply mixed some pigments into some paste wax (above). I used a mix of burnt umber and iron oxide black dry pigments added to some Blue Label Paste Wax I had around. Once this mix was ready, I applied it to the surface, rubbing it into the grain, then let it harden a bit. I then rubbed the surface with a clean cloth, leaving behind some pigment in the grain (right). 


Preparing the hardware was next. The hardware was purchased from Artisan Iron Designs and the saw plate from Blackburn Tools (above, all hardware). The hardware was nice overall,  except it came with modern plated phillips screws. I hate plated screws anywhere that I will see. I did not happen to have any unplaced standard screws, so I decided to use the supplied screws for now. But first I scuffed them up a bit and applied gun blueing to the tops of the screws. You may need to apply a few coats to get the full effect (above). The saw plate was purchased unsharpened, as I can sharpen my own. Plus if you have never sharpened, this is an easier one to start on, the teeth are huge and you can really see them well. 


Now it was time to assemble the saw. I first installed the blade mounting hardware on the handles (left), then assembled the handles onto the stretchers. Once everything was seated it was time to install the saw plate. This being a western saw, it cuts on the push stroke. Below are a few pics of the completed saw. 


Well, I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Around this site in the next while I plan on finishing the Foley Automatic Saw Filer area of the site next, and I will be starting postings on my workbench project soon. I have started prepping stock for the bench, and it will prove to be quite an extensive project, but will be one strong bench. I will also be having a few small projects on the go as well, and as well some new ideas for the site that will hopefully come together this year. Thanks to my readers, stay tuned for more.

Large Frame Saw - Part 2


In this instalment I will be shaping the handles and long stretchers as well as carving the scrolls on the ends of the handle. To get started, I first laid out the shape of the handles on my prepared stock. To the right, is a picture of  one of the scrolls, ready for final sanding, as an example of what Im doing here. I first laid out all the transitions, and marked ninety degree lines all around the board. I then laid out the angled lines, which go from a straight six inch centre portion that angles down to the end of the mortise (from 3” thick at the centre to 1 15/16” at the edge of the mortise). The ends are 2 3/4” long from the mortise to the end and 1 15/16” wide. To cut the shape, the ends were cut, one rip and one crosscut saw will get you the finished end shape (below left). Next the angled cuts were cut with my large tenon saw, leaving the rough shape, which was cleaned up with a chisel and spokeshave. (below right).


Now it was time to lay out the scrolls. Having little experience carving scrolls, I had a bit of help from the book Violins and Other Stringed Instruments and How To Make Them (1906) by Paul N. Hasluck. It gave me basic directions for a violin, which I followed for some very basic guidance, but changed some things for my particular project. Here is how I laid out my scrolls.


Step 1 - Lay out the centre point for the scroll, square off a section the size of the outside of your scroll. Then draw two ninety degree lines and connect them around the head. Then draw another ninety degree line, to create a square around the spiral of the scroll. Then draw two forty five degree lines creating an X. 


Step 2 - Draw Your centre circle. Mine was 9/16”in diameter. Then draw the outer circle. Mine turned out to be 1 15/16” in diameter, which is the width of the end. 


Step 3 - There is a formula to figure this next part out, but I simply laid it out with a compass by eye, to what spiral pattern that I wanted. 


Step 4 - I laid out the spiral line, using a scraper to get the curves that I wanted. I marked the scraper with tape at ninety degree angles to keep the angles consistent (like here). 


Step 5 - I then cut the square corners off the outside of the scroll. Then using a chisel I pared down to the circular line, then cleaned of the ends with a rasp where needed. 

At this point, I cut out the mortise for the screw plate (below left), and for the blade holder (below right). To cut the mortise for the screw plate, I placed the plate in the desired location, and simply traced the outline with my marking knife. I then cut the mortise with a chisel. It goes quite quick, walking the chisel about 1/8th of and inch at a time and giving it a good hit with the mallet. I then cleaned it down the finished depth with a small router plane. The small cut out for the blade holder to sit flush was simply marked, then a series of saw cuts were done, and the waste chopped out with a chisel. It also needed a small amount of round over to allow the hardware to sit flush, due to the bend in the steel. This was done with a rasp.


Here is the arms, up to this point. Now back to the scrolls. 


Step 6 - Now it is time to lay out the scroll shape on the end grain. First re draw the lines that you removed shaping the edges, and add a centre line, this will make it easier to see symmetry of the scroll. Start to determine the shape of the scroll, and its dimensions. I first drew the smallest dimension first. Mine is 9/16”. 


Step 7 - Now determine the dimension for the base of the scroll. This is where it starts at the back by the mortise, mine starts to angle right after the mortise. Then draw lines, using a flexible item with a straight edge, such as a thin piece of sheet metal, connecting the base with the smallest point. 


Step 8 - When you look at a violin scroll, as it goes back to the centre point, it side profile raises again as goes to full thickness at the centre. I selected this point to be a bit less then the thickness of the stock, by about a sixteenth of an inch. I then connected this measurement with the low spot as before. At the junction at the low point, as I carve it will be more rounded, not a sharp angle as in the picture.


Step 9 - Saw time. Its now time to start to carefully cut lines that will remove the bulk of the waste. I start with the face, start connecting corners, going slow as you make sure you watch your depth, which is marked on the end grain. Connect and cut as much as you can, it saves you time later.


Step 10 - Continue sawing, now on the end grain with a fine rip saw, I used my dovetail saw. Following the line around, cutting to remove the sections we just cut in step 9. Go carefully, checking as to not go too deep. 


Step 11 - Start to clean up and do the rough carving. I used straight chisels, in and out channel gouges, and some small carving tools. 


Step 12 - As you continue, some small rifflers come in handy in some areas. Watch grain direction as you go, its easy to have unwanted chips while carving. Here are the rough carved scrolls. 


Now that the scrolls are cut and ready for sanding it was time to mark and cut the stopped chamfer in the arms. I marked the chamfer with a compass and square (left), using the compass as a marking gauge to mark the depth, and the square to give forty-five degree angles. Keep the pencil on the compass sharp, as it dulls it will change the measurement. The chamfer was then cut with a drawknife (below). You can do the entire cut with the drawknife, just follow the guide lines.


Next it was on to the arms. I wanted to do a few things to them, like chamfer the ends of the tenons, and round over the edges of the arms. I started rounding over the arms by marking the base line of the round over on all four sides with a compass just as above for the chamfer (left). I then cut a small chamfer on the edges with a block plane, then I rounded over the chamfer with a hollow plane. This creates a nice rounded corner that will be smooth to handle (below). 


To cut the chamfer on the end of the through tenon (right), I used my block plane with a chamfer guide attached. It makes easy work of this process. I just put a small chamfer on the edge, to soften the corner to prevent chipping and make it a bit nicer to handle.

Below is the saw, ready for finishing. Next time I will be sanding, and applying the finish and getting it ready to use. Till then.


Large Frame Saw - Part 1


As I was planning my workbench and looking at some of the oak that has to be cut,  I thought a large frame saw might be nice to help with the large rip cuts that will be coming my way. Plus who could turn down owning a saw of this size! I had purchased the hardware for  this saw prior to acquiring my Foley retoother, so I am using a saw blade from Blackburn Tools, instead of stamping my own. The blade is  forty-eight inches long, four inches wide, .042 of an inch thick and stamped at three and a third points per inch, purchased unsharpened . The blade holding hardware was procured from Artisan Iron Designs, and is beautiful to say the least (above). After I had all the parts, it was time to design the saw. There is a design on Blackburn Tools website, but I decided to design something of my own. So I sat down and drew up a full scale half of one of the arms (top). I wanted through tenons and to carve some scrolls on the ends. I haven’t carved much before, and would like to get more into carving. A project for the workshop is the perfect place to get some practice in. I did a just rough sketch of the scroll for now, I will do a more detailed drawing as I get to that part of the project.

Using the low angle jack plane on the handle stock.Jointing the handle.Jack planing the stretchers.Jointing the stretchers.The stretchers width marked with a marking gauge.Using a frame saw, to make a frame saw.All the stock prepared.

For the stock, I decided to use ash. I cut the stock up in to all the various parts and started planing them. The stretcher stock is quite long on this project, at 60 inches, which is quite large for my present bench. I really can’t wait to get my new bench up and running. I planed the stretcher stock to 1 5/8 inch thick, which is the inside size of the blade holder. This will be the thickness of all the stock used in this project. The arms were made to 1 3/8” wide. I next prepared the handle stock, making it to a finished size of 24 inches long, 3 inches wide. The slideshow above shows various parts of the process. 


Next it was time to lay out and cut the mortice and tenons. I wanted through tenons 2 1/2 inches long,  and 11/16 inch thick. First, I had to mark a line where the inside of the stretchers would be on the arms. This line would determine the one wall of the mortise for the stretcher. I then took the respective stretcher for each arm, and marked the width of the through tenon on the arm. I then marked the length of tenons on two of the stretchers. Then set your mortising gauge up to the desired thickness of the tenon. To centre the tenon, I judge centre, then check it on the stock from both sides. If it is not centre, adjust it to half way between the two points just found. I marked both the mortise and tenon with this gauge, from the face sides, on both arms and two of the stretchers (top left). I then put the gauge aside, as I will be using it later on the last two tenons. I then drilled out the mortices with my brace and bit (left, bottom). Then the rest of the waste was removed with a few hand chisels (below). Then tenons were cut next, then were cut with a handsaw, just slightly too wide, I want a nice surface on then tenons, so I will finish them down to the line next. I then finished the tenons down to the marked line with a wide chisel leaving a smooth surface (bottom).


After the two mortises and tenons were cut, I test fitted all the parts together to get an exact length that I wanted for the stretchers (below). I then marked the length to the mortise, which was 50 inches and added the length of the mortise (2 1/2 inch) to give me to total length of the stretchers, which is 55 inches (with both tenons). I then marked and cut the last mortise and tenons like the previous ones. Then I put all the mortices together (bottom). Note, the tenons will be through the arms when they are shaped. 


Well that is it for this instalment, next time when I will be shaping the arms, carving scrolls and rounding over stretchers. 

© Shane Larson 2017