Shaker Side Tables in Cherry pt. 2

Didn’t I say something about a quick project?  Well, they are done, in any case.  I figured they would take me like a week, but obviously I was wrong.

First, a couple pictures of them done.

They came out OK. Like usual, I can point out a bunch of mistakes.  #1 being that I oriented the breadboard shelf the wrong way.  Or, actually, I captured the end of the shelf in the legs incorrectly. If you look at the following picture, you can see how I did it (wrong)..

It’s kind of hard to explain what the problem is here, but by not fully embedding the shelf in the leg, you’ve got the potential for some gappiness, which I had.

Other then that, things went generally pretty well. I’m still terrible at making pegs with a dowel plate, and I swear half of them busted off 2/3rds of the way through the joint, so I’m either using too much of an offset when drawboring, or not using my drawbore pins aggressively enough.

One other lesson I learned during this was about sawing.. I forget where I read it, but somewhere I learned that you should pick up your saw a little on the return stroke.  I’m sure there are ancillary benefits, but the main one is that you wont’ get sawdust all over your knife or pencil line.  So, I tried to do that, and it actually made quite a bit of difference.  

Picking it up on the return stroke:

Not picking it up on the return stroke:

Mainly, it saves you a lot of huffing and puffing blowing the sawdust clear of your line every few strokes, and speeds things up.  It’s the little things, I tell ya…

I picked up a load of soft maple and some more cherry while up at my uncle’s last weekend, so hopefully I’ll get started with some more projects soon!

– Matt

ps. My Uncle Denny VERY generously gave me his grandfathers mint, almost unused and still in the original packaging with all the cutters and accessories Stanley no. 45 plane.  I am very very happy, and any tool that has some family history behind it makes it all the more special.  I’ll post some of my experiences with it shortly.

Shaker Side Tables in Cherry pt. 1

After finishing up looooong projects, I’m always looking for something relatively quick and satisfying. So, since my last two projects have been the roubo bench and a walnut blanket chest (post coming soon on that), I needed a break.  Not a break from woodworking, of course, but a break from thinking!

I had built a shaker side table last spring, based on Chris Becksvoort article in Fine Woodworking magazine, “Shaker Classic, 2 Ways” (FWW #210).  In fact, it was the first real piece of furniture I built. I had built a humidor before that, and a toolbox, but this was certainly the first thing that made my wife remark “hmmm.. maybe you aren’t terrible at this after all.”  Here’s a picture of how it turned out.

It came out ok, and didn’t take too long. So, I figured why not build a couple more? If I’m building one, I may as well build two coz I’ve got a decent stack of cherry sitting idly by.

Well, like usual I started taking pictures late in the process. But, you all don’t need to see a bunch of pictures of me milling up the stock anyways, right? The first night I milled the stock for the legs, the 2nd night I milled up the boards for the top, skirt, and shelf, and the 3rd night I glued everything up.  I didn’t have any 8/4 stock, so I had to glue up all the legs. I took a chance and clamped up four legs (8 pieces) at a time.

I think it will turn out fine. Here’s the tops and shelves (oh yeah, I decided to add a shelf to the tables) after glue-up.

So, I sort of lied when I said I had milled the skirts (front, back, side pieces). I milled up a single board, but didn’t cut it into it’s individual parts yet. 

First, I mark up the board where I’m going to cut, adding 1/8” to each length for the saw kerf. As I progress in my woodworking adventures, I’m getting much more confident about cutting to the line/correct length right away. It saves a lot of time in the end. Now, it will look nice if the grain runs continuously around the table, so I marked the pieces in order, and then coded them accordingly so I would know what went where (notice the article laying on the bench there? I told you I didn’t want to think. Read a paragraph, make the cuts).

Btw, after reading Jim Toplin’s new book, I decided to order some grease pencils because I saw him using them. They work great. I ordered a pack of black ones, but also a pack of white for using on walnut.

So, onto cutting. I really enjoy cutting with my panel saw. I got an old disston panel saw from Mark Harrell (of Bad Axe Toolworks fame), and it works fantastic. Well, it used to, at least. One night my batteries died on my sawzall, and I just started using my panel saw because, frankly, it was almost as fast cutting through 2x4s. Well, I was getting a little carried away, and I kinked the crap out of it. Take a look at the poor saw now.

See that wicked bend? And it’s hard to take a picture of it.. Trust me, it’s much worse in person. That being said, I can still cut a remarkably straight line with it. 

Anyways, let’s get to cutting. First drag out the sawbench.

Then wax up the saw, and get to cross-cutting. Hmmm… Can I really cut square with this mangled saw?  Yup.

I shoot all the ends anyways, so’ve I’ve got a nice clean area to mark and cut the tenons.

Well, now I’ve got all the boards almost ready to go. Next up is cutting tenons, and chopping mortises. I’ve told myself that I want to cut these all by hand for practice. Let’s see, that’s 8 cuts per tenon multiplied by 2 tenons per side multiplied by 3 sides multiplied by two tables… 96 saw cuts!! Man, I better be a first class sawyer by the end of this. I’m still waffling on the mortises.. I’ve only chopped a few mortises by hand, and I’ve done it poorly. I figure 12 per table, so that’s not too bad I guess.  We’ll see.

– Matt