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Posts Tagged ‘Techniques’

Box Making – Every Dovetail deserves an adjustment

September 15, 2021 Leave a comment

There are people that make perfectly fitting dovetails every time and I don’t envy their lack of opportunity to adjust the dovetails they make. Typically I will have at least one dovetail that needs some work along with a saw cut that went a little too far and perhaps somewhere the wood chipped. Frequently I can also pick out the dovetail that was cut first. Which suggests that I should make a practice dovetail to increase my focus before beginning on the real thing.

With this box I have three corners that look good with only a couple of minor changes required but the fourth corner needs a little work. Nothing major the joints are strong and fit well just a few cosmetic touches.

Filling in the minor gaps is simple, find wood that is similar in color ensure you match end grain to end grain and long grain to long grain and trim the wood to fit the gap and glue in place. Once the glue is dry trim with a chisel and plane it smooth. In most cases the gap disappears and will never be noticed. If needed you can fill in some fairly large gaps!

Categories: Cherry Box

Sargent 409: A brief look

June 30, 2021 1 comment

The Sargent plane admired for many years and mentioned in the post A Sargent in the House, is resting comfortably in a cardboard box by my side. Buying tools on EBay often seems to be risky, but generally I have had a great experience. Purchasing this plane was no exception and it arrived well packed and exactly as described.

Sargent 409

The plane has been cared for, cleaned and appears to be sharpened. It also appears that the sole has been flattened. Learning about the Sargent bench planes has been enjoyable and there are some great websites providing lots of information. Time Tested Tools is one of these sites.

There are certainly fewer Sargent planes in people’s tool boxes and the majority of mine are Stanleys. However I’m rather fond of this plane and find myself reaching for it over its Stanley cousin.

There are a few subtle differences and one major one that I discovered. Let’s take a closer look. If you are new to Stanley and Sargent Planes people typically make comparisons to the Stanley numbering system, the Stanley #4 and Sargent #409 and equivalent. The great thing about the Sargent system is that the 9 in the 409 is the length of the bed.

Taking the blades out of the planes The Sargent weighs 2lb 13.21oz, 2 lb 13.7 oz. not a large difference. With blades in there is a greater difference. I’ve a Veritas blade in the Stanley3 lb 12.7 ozone jand original in the Sargent 3lb 10ozSo if it’s not weight that drives preference what is it?

The front knobs are different . The Stanley having a higher profile and slightly narrower.

The totes are also different with the Sargent taller and at a slightly different angle although not significant.

All seem like subtle differences. The one change that takes a little getting used to is the adjustment of depth. The Stanley gets deep with a clockwise motion, while the Sargent is counter clockwise! Yes it has caught me once!

Sargent adjustment is opposite the Stanley

Overall there is nothing obvious that drives me to prefer one over the other, it’s just an observation that I tend to reach for the Sargent first.

Shop Sign

October 17, 2020 Leave a comment

It has to be difficult finding a gift for most of us woodworkers. Several years ago my wife made a logo for my woodworking and it appears in various places such as the shop apron from Texas Heritage, Stickers and a T-shirt. This year she reached out across international borders to have a sign made.

Hanging above my small toolchest it adds an element of professionalism that was definitely lacking. The sign was made by

Categories: Texas Shop

Packing Up

November 17, 2019 Leave a comment

Some recent changes that will have a temporary impact on woodworking. I spent time over the last several weeks packing tools and sorting through items that I don’t need to move.

As we look for a new home near San Antonio, Texas; it’s clear that the tools will remain in storage for a period of time.

Moving always brings potential opportunities. New friends, places to explore and the chance of a new woodworking shop. Like many of you each move brings the hope of having a shop that is not shared with cars, lawn mowers and shovels. I’ll be in touch.

Categories: Texas Shop

Dog Holes and Mistakes

July 23, 2019 2 comments

When choosing a new bench design the dog holes and integral dogs drew me to the Roubo. Planing boards is a pleasure except when you don’t have a great method to hold them on your bench. Paul Sellers’ is adept at using his front vice, and I admit it has worked well for narrow boards. I’ve also used boards positioned across the end of the vice as a planing stop. However the ability to use a tail vice and adjust to any board length has great appeal.

Most of you will notice that a router and template was used in this process. Before hand tool woodworking I did most of my work by machine and I still have most of them. You can’t beat machines for repetitive processes. Except when you stop paying attention and oops.

A little plug will take care of that. I routed one dog hole too far.

Categories: Roubo

Workbench History

July 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Let’s be clear in the first sentence, if you want a complete guide to workbenches, find Chris Schwarz. If you want plans and a video on how to build a simple effective bench see Paul Sellers’ series (I’ve used his bench, it is excellent). This blog is about my brief workbench history and what has worked for many years as an essential tool in my shop. It confirms that a workbench can be cheap, simple and very effective. There are no plans, but it’s simple enough that none are needed and it’s a little embarrassing how sloppy I’ve been with upgrades. It’s also a story of why I want to move on to a new bench.

The bench is built from a single sheet of 3/4 plywood and 2×4 pine. Lag bolts hold it together and screws keep the top and cross members in place. My father helped me build it when I was in my early teens. The top is a single sheet of plywood, doubled over and glued. It is screwed to a 2×4 frame with cross members.  The legs are single 2×4 and attach inside the top and bottom frames.

When Shannon Rogers began his Hand Tool School I quickly moved most of my Joinery to Hand Tools and recognized that the bench needed to be stiffened, grabbing some scrap I cut it to size a hammered it into place to stiffen the ends. I added a 2×4 to the legs at front which fit in between the upper and lower rails.

The small vise on the side was originally on front of the bench but now sits on the side and is perfect to hold my leather strop close by my work area. It also works as a planing clamp. Next I added a 2×4 under the bench to provide added depth for hold fasts. It’s a simple solution for a bench without the necessary thickness for them to work.

After attending Paul Sellers’ fundamentals of woodworking class I recognized the value of a larger vice so set about making modifications to the bench. This consisted of a board at the front, a couple of cross members and the vise became part of my tool set.

Many years later I admit that there is little that my current bench does not provide. The desire for a new work bench is purely for the challenge of the bench. So I began a journey to build a new bench and you will see it in the next several blogs.

Small Cabinet

April 7, 2018 3 comments

It’s been a while since I’ve done serious woodworking. I’ve sharpened tools, planed boards but generally accomplished little for several months. There’s a couple of big projects that I’d like to tackle but a little practice first will help get my head thinking in the right direction. I’ve always admired the work of Mike Pekovich (Fine Woodworking June 2016) so decided to make a Cabinet similar to one in an article in the magazine. Cabinets are great for teaching skills and I think this will be a good refresher.

Digging around in my scraps and off cuts there’s enough oak to make the Cabinet and maybe some cherry for a second if I modify the dimensions from those shown in the magazine.

Since purchasing my shooting plane it’s changed the way I work dramatically. I used a number 5 plane for many years but tended to skip shooting on most occasions. This usually led to less then ideal joints. The shooting plane has made it quicker and easier to be accurate. With the lumber dimensioned I sawed out the tails and carefully laid out the pins. o

which I’ll tackle next weekend. That’ll give me time to consider the shelf and back designs.

Categories: Small Cabinet

Tool Cabinet Hinges

December 20, 2016 5 comments

Purchasing Hinges is something I put off until the last minute. I want to purchase them locally so I can feel their heft and think about how they will fit into my project. Typically I end up on line after being very dissatisfied with what available. The tool Cabinet deserved some quality Brusso Hinges. They are more expensive than the local stores but I appreciate the quality. I’ve chosen stainless steel Hinges for the cabinet, the contrast to the cherry catches my eye.


Installing hinges is one of the tasks that gives you instant feedback if you do it poorly. Carefully chiseling, than routing out the waste I make mortises for each hinge.


Focusing on one door I carefully install the hinges and make adjustments to center the door. Once both doors are in I carefully plane the center rail until the doors close without binding. The door on the right is carefully chamfered so the two will pass each other. Anyone else have some good hinge sources?

Categories: Hanging Tool Cabinet

Shadow Box

February 21, 2015 3 comments

The cart wheels were dropped off and then picked up from a local sand blaster. Next they went to a friends auto shop for a paint job. While waiting for their return I began to make a shadow box for my wife.

Beginning with visions of using some left over Sapele and imagining the beautiful look of the dovetailed corners I quickly had to reverse direction when the word paint was spoken. Nothing wrong with paint except I’m not a great painter and I have no intention of using a beautiful wood which will be hidden from view. Fortunately I found some pine in the corner and pressed on.

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No dovetails have been cut since the small tool chest project so I warmed up with a couple pieces of scrap. After marking the tails I set to work sawing and then chopping out the waste.

You will notice in the pictures that I used a piece of scrap wood on the first cut, then used it as a guide for the other dovetails. This ensured they were all similar and made the layout process much quicker. Paul Sellers showed me this trick when I attended his foundations class.

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I was also greatly helped by a freshly sharpened Bad Axe Saw. When I was at the saw sharpening seminar, Mark Harrell took the saw and gave it a little personal service. It’s cutting great. Although I sharpen most of my own saws there is nothing like have a pro do it for you.

With the tails cut I chopped out the pins and within the space of three hours I went from some boards to a dovetailed frame.

Next step is to cut the grooves for the glass. I used a couple of tricks to get this done. The first is to secure the boards using a clamp into my bench vise. this gives me all of the security I need and access for the plow plane. The plow works great everywhere except those ends where I can’t break through and expose the groove. I could fix this with some blocks inserted at the end of the process or switch tools. In this case I grabbed my router plane and using the guide finished up the grooves with little fuss.The final piece of construction is making the rabbit (rebate) for the back panel.

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Categories: Uncategorized