Monday, July 22, 2019

Weekend exercise: mitered bridle joint

This weekend my wife asked me for a small low coffee table to be used outdoor on our fire pit deck space. More than a coffee table I guess it will be mainly used as a wine table.
The table will look more or less like this:

Wine table first draft.
For this project I choose to use some western red cedar, first because it holds well outdoor but also because I like the way it looks. The table top will be composed of a square frame made with 2"x4" enclosing a center part. The legs will be made with 4"x4" and the box apron again with 2"x4".
Overall dimension will be a cube of 18"x18"x18".

So I started by a challenge to myself and took the opportunity to test my skills (if any) by creating the top frame using hand cut mitered bridle joints. It will be the first time I try to make these fully by hand and I am not sure about how it will go or how much easy (or difficult) it will be, especially that red cedar is not the easiest wood to work with. It is quite knotty and very soft so without sharp blades it is crushed more than cut.

After having cut four 18" long pieces for the table top frame, I started to work on the tenoned parts. I marked the 45 degrees angle as well as the tenon thickness on both sides and ends. I then used my Stanley miter saw to carefully make the 45 degrees cut on each sides.

Cutting a 45 degrees angle.
I was very careful to not cut past the correct depth so not to damage the tenon.

Often checking the depth of cut.
Being right handed I used a C clamp to hold the board while cutting the opposite angle.

Using a C clamp to hold the board.
The Stanley miter box made a nice and clean cut right on the line.

Clean cut.
Next step was a bit more difficult, this was the first time I tried to cut the angled tenon using a tenon saw.

Cutting tenon using the tenon saw (obviously).
That tenon saw blade was just high enough for the cut.

First side cut, not perfect but not too bad.
... and both sides cut.
Not perfect, the tenon is a bit narrower at its
base and will need adjustment

After a bit of cleanup of the cut with my chisel and shoulder plane I got a first piece done.

First part done, 3 to go.
After the second tenoned frame part I started to tackle the corresponding mortised parts. First step was to cut the two pieces to length with 45 degrees angles on each end. There again I used the miter box.

Two pieces cut to length at 45 degrees.
After having marked the mortise I used my tenon saw to cut each side of the mortise.

Sawing each side of the mortise.
For the first piece I used a chisel to chop out the waste, it was quite time consuming and not very clean in that soft cedar.

Using a chisel to chop out the waste.
For the second piece I used my coping saw to cut out most of the waste and only had to chop the last remaining. This was much much quicker than chopping out everything with a chisel.

Now that all frame parts are cut I did a quick dry fit to see the result of my little exercise.

Dry fit, not too bad but far from perfect.
I will need some more work on these joints...
At first sight the result was not too bad but not perfect either. Two of the joints are acceptable but two of them are really not good. I will need some rework to make these tighter. This will come later on but for now I need to tackle the central part of the table top.
I changed my mind since I started. The initial plan was to make a plain central part with board assembled using tongue and groove. Finally I opted to use boards with 1/4" space between them. As this small table is meant to stay outside, the space between the boards will allow any rain water to drain.

I started with a 5"1/2x1" board. I needed to cut two length of 13" and to re saw them in two.

Re sawing the board in two with my Canadian Disston.
 After a bit of planning I ended with 4 boards, each being 13" long and 2"7/16 wide. Each will be spaced by 1/4" and will have a 1" tenon at each end, what will give me a 11"x11" square in the middle section of the table top.

After cutting the tenons I finally got all my parts ready for fine tuning and assembly.

All table top parts ready for fine tuning and assembly.
Next I will need to assemble the top and work on the legs and box apron.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Old saw restoration.

As my father liked my saws I decided to offer him a saw restored by my own. I got one "Warranted Superior" saw for 99 cents at auction, I will generously give it away after having cleaned it.

Not sure of its brand/maker but the saw is in good condition. The blade is a bit dirty but straight and the handle is not damaged.

The "Warranted Superior" saw.

I removed all the nuts from the handle and it came apart easily.

Handle removed.

The blade shows some rust under the handle, it needs a good dose of green slime to get it nice and clean, free of rust.

The blade receiving its beauty mask.

After 20 minutes of bathing on each side and a good rinse with water, the blade is free of rust but is showing a tarnish look so time to polish it with some elbow grease.

Hand polishing the blade.

Now that the blade is done, lets take a look at the handle. It does not appear damaged but needs some refinishing.

The saw handle in its original condition.

I sanded it to bare wood but not too much so to keep some patina to it, I do not want it to look like a brand new one.

The sanded saw handle, keeping some sign of its age.

The handle then received a coat of red chestnut stain.

The stained handle after a coat of A coat of red chestnut
I like the patina I was able to keep.

After penetrating for 15 minute I wiped the excess stain from the handle.
I added 5 coat of amber shellac to the handle and I called it done and ready to be put back on the blade using the now clean and shiny nuts.

Few coat of amber shellac later...
Note the mark on the handle, I wonder who signed it with an X.

Unfortunately in the excitation of the restoration, I forgot to take a picture of the finished assembled saw and now that my father is back home I am not able to do so, silly me!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Weekend project: sturdy sawhorses

Before starting to build the workbench of my dream I need to build some really sturdy sawhorses to have a stable base for planing, sawing and assemble the big white pine slab. For a while now I am thinking to build a pair or two of sawhorse so this is now the right timing. So after few days of vacation and some headache to solve with my boat (my boatyard kindly damaged my boat hull by wrongly, badly block it in storage!) it is time to get back to some woodworking.

Each sawhorse is a simple assembly of 4 legs, assembled two by two in triangle jointed by an reversed U top rail.

Schematic view of the legs assembly.

To build these sawhorses, I am using some reclaimed wood from a deck construction that we recently demolished. This wood pile is a bunch of 2"x6" SPF boards of different lengths and is perfect enough for that project.

Being used outside for some years now, the boards are a bit cupped so I am starting by planning them flat enough to be used for building these sawhorses.

Planning the boards flat with a Stanley #5

The stretchers between each legs are set in a notch made in the leg at a 70 degrees angle.

The stretchers will make a 70 degrees angle with the legs.

I am marking each notch to be cut, two notches per leg for the two stretchers.

Marking the waste.

Comes the time to use the saw to cut each end of the notch as well as some cut in the waste to ease removal with a chisel.

The waste cut and ready for removal with a chisel.

After chopping the waste with a sharp chisel and using my Record 73 shoulder plane to plan the notch bottom and adjust its angle I got one leg done...

One notch done in the first leg.
To cut the stretcher I used my usual method of marking and making a kerf along the line to guide the saw blade.

Stretcher marked...
... and kerf made along the line.

I used my D8 to make the cut.

Cutting right to the line.
Sometimes I deviate a bit from the line and need to cleanup the cut with a chisel and/or plane, but that time I was dead on.

Cut right on the marked line.
The stretchers are set in place by screws so I drilled them and countersink the hole for the screw head. I was pleased to finally try my antique bit.

My antique bit...
... put back to use.

...and soon I ended with a pair of legs and made two more.

A raw pair of legs.
These legs will be cut to correct height a bit later, but first I need to tackle the horizontal cap rail.
To make it I used a 2"x6", 3 feet in length. Each side is planed to the leg angle and will receive a 2"x3" board to form the cap.

The horizontal cap board marked and ready to be planed.
After marking the limit of the waste to be removed I used my Stanley #5 jack plane to get down to it.

One side done.
Two sides done.

Using my protractor, I checked that the angle was correct.

Checking angle.
Next step is to glue and screw the two lateral parts of the cap.

First side glued.
Both side glued.

The top of these lateral boards will be planed flush when the glue will have dried.
I ended with two cap rails like the one below:

The top rail.

After some sweating planing each side I ended up with this:

The top rail planed and ready to be fixed.
Last two steps are first to make two stretchers to go between left and right pair of legs for more rigidity and to bolt the cap rail in place.
For the stretchers I used a 2x6 board that I simply notched at each extremity so it can slot in between the legs.

Kerf done on the marked notch for sawing.

Without going into much detail about this insignificant portion, the final result are two quite strong saw horses that I will use to build my workbench later on.

The final result...

... two strong saw horses.

All this gave me some bags of shavings that I will use to light on my fire pit but it looks like I produce more than I can use and start to have quite some stock.
So one question comes to my mind for you readers... what are you doing with your wood shavings?

Monday, June 17, 2019

60 mortises later...

A while ago I began to work on an extension to my workbench, starting with the workbench legs. After having done the 4 front legs I took care of the 4 back legs.
This time I used my new Stanley 49 auger bit depth stop instead of a simple piece of tape. I got this one recently and was eager to use it.

The Stanley 49 depth stop.

I must admit that I am very pleased with it. At first sight it did not inspired me much but it revealed to be a nice little addition that held well on the bit, is easy to set, and much more precise than a piece of tape.
I applied to the back legs the same recipe as for the front legs, that is to say that I drilled out the mortise waste using the hand brace and then cleaned/chopped the mortise with a chisel. With the back legs the side mortise are located 1/2 inch from the leg side so I needed to be careful when chopping the waste so not to get a split leg.

Chopping the waste at 1/2" from the side.
After a while, and 60 mortises later, I am done with the legs.

A bunch of mortised legs.

Next is to take care of the stretchers. I traced the tenons using a marking knife, then highlighted the mark using a pencil.

The tenon traced on the stretcher.
Note that the tenon is starting from the top of the stretcher.

I then made a kerf on the waste side using a chisel so to guide the saw blade.

Kerf to guide the saw blade.

It takes some time to make these kerfs before sawing but I find it far easier and quicker to have a clean saw cut using this technique. I start with the crosscut of the tenon shoulders, checking to stay square during all the cut.

Tenon shoulder crosscut.

Clean square cut.

Then follows the rip cut...

Tenon shoulder rip cut. Note that the waste at the bottom
of the tenon is already removed on that picture.

The result is satisfying for me, I will clean the shoulders with the shoulder plane when I will adjust the tenon to its mortise.

A freshly cut tenon on the top stretcher...
...and a bunch of them.

A hair larger than 1/2 inch.

Next is to apply the same recipe to the bottom stretchers, so I start with the marked line and kerf...

Bottom stretchers marked and kerfed.
For these ones the tenon is centered.

...then cut square following the kerf. For these ones I started with the rip cut, followed by the cross cut.

Rip cutting the tenon...

... then cross cutting to remove the waste.

After 60 mortises, the 60 tenons were done, next will be to assemble all these, but before that I deserve a cold one!