Note: The content of this post has been moved to my new blog. You can find the new post here:
Here’s the first steps in making the wooden bodied spokeshave. These first few steps are the critical ones. Get these ones right and you’re home free. Part 2 is just the gingerbread.
OK, so a little more detail on the plans for the planes and spokeshave are needed. As noted in the comments in the previous post, the layout on these tools has not been done yet. They have been planed to dimensions necessary prior to layout, but no layout has been done. I’ll go over that.
For the spokeshave, I’m using a pretty piece of hard maple, but just about any relatively dense hardwood would work. There’s going to be a brass wear plate attached at the front of the sole, so the wear characteristics of the wood are not that important. It will be helpful if your particular piece of wood is dense enough to be tapped for machine screw threads though. This isn’t critical, but it allows you to add a nice little feature for adjustment if your wood can hold the threads.
I ripped the blank out of a 5/4 flatsawn board, so the wide top and bottom surfaces are quartersawn faces. This is mostly for the appearance and because it’s the stock I had. Turning the grain orientation the other way so the flat sawn faces are on top and bottom would be fine too (i.e. just sawing a blank out of a 3/4″ thick flat sawn board). This is a small tool with a small cross section. The amount of wood movement is going to be so small that we can more or less ignore it in such a small piece.
Here’s a pdf of the above picture. If you print it out on legal sized paper it will be full scale and you can use the drawing as a template for sawing and shaping later.
In terms of the blade, there are multiple options, but the blade you choose will impact the blade mounting steps, the mode of adjustment, and possibly the dimensions of your blank. So I suggest getting a blade ahead of time, before you cut your blank to size. Then you can compare the dimensions of your blade to the dimensions of mine in the drawing. I made my own blade, so it is highly unlikely that the dimensions of your blade will match mine exactly (plus I didn’t measure my blade super accurately with a caliper or anything like that). You will have to make some minor adjustments to the pattern to fit your own blade.
Of course if you’re up for it, you could also make your own blade like I did. Then your blade could be made to match the dimensions of mine, or any dimensions you desire. I’m not going to go over that process though. It’s pretty straight forward (obtain 1/8″ thick O1 tool steel; cut out the shape of a spokeshave blade with a hacksaw & files; drill & tap holes for threaded rods; grind & harden blade).
Hock Tools sells a blade that is similar in dimensions to my homemade blade (their larger blade), but it’s not exactly the same, so you’ll need to modify the plans to fit the blade. However, if you buy the Hock blade you will be able to follow the exact same construction process as I will be using as the blade adjustment will work the same way.
Another blade option is the Lee Valley kit. The adjustment mechanism is different on this kit though, so you will likely have to alter the dimensions of your stock from what I’m using in order to use this kit. They should have instructions and recommended stock size available on their web site.
OK. We’ll do the plane blanks next time. I’m going to build the spokeshave first.
Drawers have been a common feature on casework for almost as long as casework has been constructed. The most prevalent style of drawer arrangement used in furniture today is based upon the style developed in the 18th century. Basically, a frame is constructed to divide the casework into sections and the drawers are constructed to fit the opening, and ride on top of the frame.
In the 17th century, however, most drawers were side hung, meaning that the drawers did not sit on top of a frame, but instead they hung by runners attached to the drawer sides. This was done in two different ways. The drawer could have small strips nailed to its side to form a groove, or a groove could be plowed directly into the drawer side. I wanted to add a small drawer to my workbench since I recently move my old standing desk out of the shop. So I decided to use the 17th century style drawer construction to do so.
I started with the drawer runners. I ripped these out of a 3/4″ thick piece of pine. They are both 3/8″ thick by 3/4″ wide and long enough to support the sides of the drawer for as deep as it will be.
The drawer runners were attached to the insides of the workbench aprons with glue and cut brads. They are spaced down from the top of the drawer space so that they will sit approximately centered on the sides of the drawers when the drawer is mounted.
To facilitate the groove on the side of the drawer for the drawer runner, 17th century drawers were often constructed using just a single wide dovetail. Using the wide dovetail allowed the wide groove for the drawer runner to be plowed only through the long grain of the drawer sides and not have to be cut through any end grain pins. I decided to follow that practice with these drawers.
The groove was started with a 1/4″ blade in a plow plane. However, this didn’t plow the full width necessary. So instead of resetting the fence and moving the plow plane over, I used a sash saw to saw the other side of the groove, then wasted away the remaining wood with a chisel and smoothed the bottom of the groove with a 1/2″ square rabbet plane.
With a minimal amount of trimming and planing, the drawer was fit into the opening under the bench top. The runners weren’t exactly centered on the drawer sides but instead ended up centered on the total drawer height. I miscalculated when positioning the runners because I was using the full height of the false front rather than the reduced height of the drawer sides. The height of the sides was reduced by 1/2″ because the drawer bottom is attached by nailing it to the sides front and back. C’est la vie. It still works fine, even if the drawer runners aren’t centered on the dovetail.
The last thing to do was to attach a false front to cover everything up.
I’m really glad to see Chris writing about this form. I’ve been a fan of what Chris has come to call staked furniture for a long time. I was first introduced to the form through Roy Underhill’s early books and shows. And since that time I’ve built several items (mostly for the shop) using this method of construction. One of them actually pre-dates this blog, though I wrote an article on it several years later to capture the process.
This saw bench was actually my second attempt at building a saw bench in this style. My first was built around 2005 or 2006 and did not have the additional stretchers. It was much more similar to the ones Chris has been building. I added the stretchers because I determined that legs made from home center 2x material do not do all that well in this design without the stretchers. The soft, spongy material has too much flex in it to be used without stretchers. The thinner 1-1/2″ top doesn’t help either. Using good hardwood, especially riven, and a thicker top, solves this problem. However, even with the shortcomings of using construction grade softwood, the sawbench pictured above is still in use today, and the joinery is still tight and solid, though it is about time I replaced the bench as the top is all chewed up from hatchet blows, saw cuts, auger bits, random oils, varnishes and glues, and other [ab]use that it has been put through in the last 8 or so years.
Another one of my earlier “staked” pieces was my shave horse. In fact, the shave horse was one of the very first items I wrote about on the blog when it was first started. I’m still using it today, the legs are still tight and solid. There’s some flex when I sit, but again, this has more to do with the softwood construction lumber used to build the bench rather than the method of construction.
The thing I like so much about this method of construction is the simplicity of it. A sawbench like this can be built in just a few hours. The one pictured above was built in a single day, maybe 6 hours of work, even with the three added stretchers. Once built and assembled, the bench is very lightweight, but at the same time, the structure is extremely stiff and rigid, making for a very sturdy work surface. I also like the aesthetic of the style. There’s a simple elegance to it. While I like high style period furniture as well, I don’t keep much of it in my own home. The simpler, less decorated, “country” style pieces are more my taste for my own home. The higher style pieces (like the ball & claw stuff I’ve done) are fun to build, but I don’t really want most of it in my house. So I’m excited to see what else Chris has in store for his upcoming book. It sounds like the stuff he’ll be including is exactly the stuff that interests me most. High style, fancy stuff is nice. But the simple elegance of the less ornate “country” stuff is a bit more my speed.
Have you ever started a project that should have taken you a mere couple of hours, and ended up turning into a multi week production? Yeah, me too. Case in point, my recent bout of “project creep”. Funny, I think I just heard another discussion about this same subject earlier this week.
This was just supposed to be a simple pine box. Nothing fancy, just white pine, through dovetailed corners, a few simple dividers and a top tray, with a simple pine board lid. Well, I stuck to the simple dividers and lift out tray anyway. The rest? Well, it’s a long story.
A few weeks ago I was going through the cupboard in my shop looking for some cut nails. As I rummaged through the ziplock bags and styrofoam egg carton housing my nails and screws, the frustration finally became too much. I had wanted to make a proper wooden nail and screw box for some time, and I decided to do it right now. Just a simple pine box. Nothing fancy, like I said.
So I needed some pine. No problem, head over to the cutoff bin and grab a few scraps. That’s when I looked on top of the cupboard and saw these.
If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile you might recognize these boards from this post from 2012.
They’ve been sitting atop my cupboard since then. As I took them down and looked them over, it occurred to me that they were the perfect size for box sides. But they were already veneered. So I had to change plans and join the corners with half blind dovetails rather than through dovetails. No biggie.
So after gluing the sides together and fitting a pine bottom with some cut nails, I proceeded to make the interior dividers. Piece of cake. Plane the boards, make a few saw cuts for some half laps and attach to the box with some CA glue and cut brads.
Then it was on to the lift out tray. No problem. Resaw and plane a pine 1 x 12 for the bottom. Then more planing and half laps for the sides, ends and dividers. Assemble with CA glue and cut brads and clean up with the plane. Cool.
You know, with the short ends veneered, the visible dovetails and nails on the long sides kind of look like crap. Maybe I should veneer those sides and cover them up. Sigh. Retrieve mahogany veneer from atop the cupboard. Damn, I’m out of hot hide glue. OK. Warm up liquid hide glue, add caul and lots of clamps. Hmmm. This liquid hide glue is 6 months past expiry. Oh well. Trim veneer and repeat on the other long side. Not bad.
Now what about that top? Where’s that piece of pine? Not wide enough. Hmmm. I could frame it. A mitered frame might look nice. But the box is veneered. Plain pine won’t look right. Back to the veneer pile for more mahogany. More liquid hide glue. Should I get a new bottle? Meh.
OK. Trim the veneer. Damn, should have flattened that pine board first. Oh well. Grab a mahogany off cut, plane to size, plow a groove, miter the corners, and more CA glue. Not too bad. Size the panel and plane the tongue on three sides. Cool.
Glue in the veneered panel. Damn, should have flattened that pine board first. Maybe if I just scrape the veneer down a tiny bit? That’s not bad. It’s almost flush. Maybe just one more pass with the scraper. Damn. Ah well, it’s just for nails and screws.
So how does it fit? Crap, still too narrow. Grab another stick of mahogany. Glue it to the back edge of the lid. Trim and plane to fit. Good. But I’m not crazy about seeing that mahogany end grain on the sides of the lid. Maybe I’ll add some banding around the edges, and maybe even some parquetry inside the lid? Derek’s looks nice. Nah. This madness has gone on long enough.
Note: The content of this post has been moved to my new blog. You can find the new post here: