A bit more

Well work has been slow lately so I have had a bit more time to work on my tool chest. Getting home after an eight hour day allows me at least an hour a night, sometimes more, to mess around. So last week I worked on getting all the rails and stiles fit together for the lid. Then last weekend I was able to cut the piece for the panel to size, plow the grooves in it, and assemble the lid. Somewhere in there I realized I wanted a panel gauge to help with layout, so I cobbled one together. I used a piece of pine for the fence, poplar for the beam, and oak for the wedge. Its not much to look at but it got the job done. Then I moved on to the upper skirt.

Last summer when I took the sawbench class with Chris Schwarz, I wrote about how it was a mixed blessing to be able to try out all of his nice tools. When I got back I ended up ordering a Lie Nielsen large shoulder plane. Well this time I got the Veritas rabbet plane from Lee Valley. I still really want that Lie Nielsen Bronze No. 4. Sigh. Anyways I got the rabbet plane so I could use it to help with dovetail layout. This was a trick Chris showed us that I have seen others use as well. I think Chris said Allen Peters is where he got it. The whole idea is that you put a small rabbet on your tail board the width of the pin board and about 1/32″ deep. (Two business cards is what we used to set the depth stop.) It works great. I also got it for making normal rabbets, imagine that.

So I dovetailed the two opposite corners of the upper skirt, clamped the pieces to the  carcase, and then laid out the base lines for the other two corners. I used my miter box to cut the pieces to length. Once I got the four corners dovetailed, I assembled the skirt dry so that I could clean up the edges. Then I put it on the carcase with glue. I wasn’t sure the best way to do that so I stuck the whole thing on the carcase and got it where I wanted. Then I took one end board off, put glue on it and then stuck it back on. After that one end piece was dry, I glued up the other three pieces using the first piece as my reference. Then I just trimmed the ends and smoothed everything with my trusty Stanley No. 3. Hopefully throughout this week I’ll be able to get the lid fitted and put on the dust seal. Then I can move on to the inside. I also need to order hardware and paint. Not sure how I want to finish it. I’m liking General Finishes Coastal Blue over Tuscan Red. Then again I like black.

The last picture I took while standing on a sawbench against the wall of my “shop.” From the wall behind the bench to the edge of the bed and is about 6 feet. From the door behind me to the wall at the end of the bench is 7 feet. Just thought I would throw that out there for anyone who complains about being “stuck” in a basement or single car garage. I’d love a single car garage right now.

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A little progress

I haven’t done much with my tool chest since getting it home. Last weekend I was able to put a chamfer on the bottom skirt boards and glue them onto the chest. Today I planed the pins and tails flush and went over everything with a smoothing plane. Then I nailed the front and back boards of the skirt into the bottom boards of the chest. As can be seen in the pictures, work has been in the living room which I think the wife isn’t to fond of. I did my best to keep the mess to a minimum and vacuumed up right away. I need a real shop….

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Dovetails, doughnuts, and popsicles.

Well after 23 hours and 1700 miles in the car, I am back home from a great week in North Carolina. Last week I was one of the lucky ten who was able to spend 5 days with Roy Underhill, Christopher Schwarz, and Megan Fitzpatrick at the Woodwright’s School building a tool chest.

This was my second trip to Pittsboro after taking the sawing class with Chris last summer. I had a hard time deciding between taking this class, the woodcraft week with Roy, or a chair class with Elia Bizzarri. I ended up choosing the tool chest class for lots of reasons, the main two being I wanted a full size chest and I couldn’t pass up the chance to hang out with two of my biggest woodworking heroes.

The week was pretty much like this:

  • A quick primer on Chris’s ideas behind the book, The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.
  • A lesson on how he dovetails.
  • Cutting dovetails for the carcase.
  • A look at vintage tool chests.
  • Cutting more dovetails for the carcase.
  • Attaching the bottom boards to our carcases.
  • A lesson from Roy on turning handles.
  • Cutting even more dovetails for the bottom skirt.
  • A lesson from Roy on frame and panel construction.
  • Cutting tenons for the lid stiles and using an awesome vintage mortiser for the rails.
  • Sleep.

By the end of the class everyone had a carcase with bottoms, the bottom skirt, and the components for the upper skirt, lid, and dust seal. I had to leave my bottom skirt off to get it in my car but was able to at least get all the tenons and mortises cut for the lid rails and stiles.

Somewhere in there we managed to find time to goof around, eat donuts, muffins, cake, and popsicles, and visit Ed Lebetkin’s tool store upstairs. I got a nice Sandusky wooden jack plane and Simonds No. 10 26″ crosscut saw. Oh and a nice hat like Roy wears. On Wednesday night we stayed late and ate pizza at the school. Every other night was ended by a trip to the City Tap around the corner from the school.








I had a great time as could be expected. Roy is such a treat. The man has such a knowledge of woodworking and knows how to demonstrate it in interesting and entertaining ways. Chris was a very generous instructor who was always gracious and never condescending. He had his tool chest there and let everyone dig through it and use his tools as needed. I once again got to use his Lie Nielsen No. 4 which I absolutely love. I also tried out the No. 8 which is a monster. Megan was the surprise guest instructor of the class. She was there on her own time to help out. She gave people pointers on sharpening and cutting dovetails amongst other things. She helped with glue-ups and cut stock for the skirts and lid components for everyone. And she added another element to the comedy show that is Roy and Chris.

As with last time, the people in the class were from various states. Myself representing Michigan, there was also Connecticut, D.C., Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and of course North Carolina. This was a great group of guys ranging from someone who had never cut dovetails to guys with several projects under their belts. There was even a classmate of mine from the sawing class.

So if you have the means, I think anyone interested in hand tool woodworking owes it to themselves to get down to the Woodwright’s School and take a class. The experience is one you will never forget. You’ll meet great people, get to try out all sorts of vintage tools, and spend time with an icon of woodworking.


By the way, check out both of Chris’s blogs and Megan’s as well. He has pictures and videos up from the class. I think Megan will eventually as well. She at least has one about Peter Ross, who I forgot to mention stopped in to drop to visit. He also gave Chris the giant Roubo holdfast Chris blogged about.




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What a week……

Hey it was my first time on a wood lathe……….story time soon.

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With a little help…..

A couple of weekends ago I was back home visiting family and finally putting the finish on the book shelf I made my mom for Christmas. My 10 year old niece took an interest so I gave her an old shirt, a few directions, and put her to work. I think I might have to come up with a project for her.







Not much else has been doing these days as work tends to consume my weekdays. This leaves only weekends which I have to divide up amongst family and friends. The big news is I am heading down to The Woodwright’s School at the end of the month for the tool chest class with Chris Schwarz. What? Don’t you have a tool chest in the works? Yes, but it is way to small and the wife wants furniture.

My main reason for taking the class is this: time. I seem to have more money than time these days. Overtime is a mixed blessing.  I battled with myself over whether it would be worth it to take the class. I can dovetail and do all the other operations needed to make the chest, but I could also use a saw before taking the sawing class last summer. However, I still learned quite a bit in that class and I am sure I’ll get plenty out of this one. Besides, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to hang out with Roy and Chris again?

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A gift…

This Christmas I made my mom a little book shelf. It’s a combination of the Stickly magazine stand that Chris Schwarz made for Woodworking magazine and the one Glen Huey made for the “I Can Do That” column. I used materials and the finish that were described in the ICDT article but used dadoes like the original. I laid out the dadoes with a square and marking knife. Then I basically chopped out a mortise at the stopped end of the dado for the sawdust. I then made little trenches for the saw to ride in with a wide chisel. Then it was just sawing to my lines, chopping out the waste with a chisel, and cleaning it up with a router plane. I cut all the curved parts with a coping saw and used a half-round file and sand paper to clean them up. I glued up the shelves and sides and nailed on the supports. Lastly I applied a couple coats of Watco’s Dark Walnut finish. I still need to put on a top coat, but didn’t have enough time. I’ll have to get back to it in the coming weeks.



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A photo to share

Here’s a photo my friend sent to me this evening. It is a picture of his great-grandfather working in his shop in upstate New York. I am not sure what the exact year is but I would guess in the 1930s or 40s.

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