Back to the Boot Bench… Part 2

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Dovetails for the first corner

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, but despite the radio silence I have been progressing the boot bench for our hall. The first task was to cut the dovetails which join the sides and top of the casework. I’ve written about my dovetailing process previously (and also here), and the internet probably doesn’t need another treaties on how to cut dovetails. So I shall spare you, dear reader, from having to read another account of the same process. Truth be told, the only changes I’ve made to how I dovetail in the four years since I took the Anarchist’s Tool Chest class with Chris is that I use a Moxon vise for holding the workpiece, and I use a Bad Axe Bayonet saw for dovetailing stock thicker than 1/2″ (for 1/2″ stock I use my original 10″ Bad Axe Doc Holliday dovetail saw).

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Cutting the pin board

The remaining dados in the top (to accept the vertical divider) and the divider (for the shelves), were cut in stages. First, I did a dry fit to check that the carcase went together without any issue, and then marked off the position of the dado in the top to accept the vertical partition. By measuring the location of the dado in the bottom shelf once the casework was assmbled I could ensure that the corresponding dado in the top would be in exactly the right location. With that dado cut, I inserted the vertical divider and then measure the position of the three dados for the shelves, double checking by measuring each dado from both the bottom and the top of the interior of the casework.

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Laying out the dado positions for the vertical divider

With the dados cut I then prepared the shelves to fit their respective dados. A final dry fit confirmed that all of the components were a snug fit and that the casework went together square and true. Glue-up can be stressful enough without having to wrestle multiple parts, and so I prefer to assemble casework in stages. The first stage for this project was the carcase – top, sides, and lowest shelf. I assembled the dovetails first, applying Old Brown Glue to all surfaces and then knocking them together with a 1lb lump hammer. I then sized the end grain of the lower shelf with glue, waiting a few minutes before applying glue to both dados before sliding the shelf in place. This was my first glue up using a flux brush to spread the glue (a tip Chris wrote about recently) and it worked very well for getting an even coat of glue.

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Drilling pilot holes through the vertical divider

The dados will be reinforced with cut nails. The dados in the carcase will be nailed once the glue cures, but there is not enough space inside the casework to drill pilot holes in the vertical divider once assembled. While the carcase was in the clamps I assembled the interior dry, and drilled pilot holes for the cut nails through the vertical divider into the shelves. Those pilot holes were angled in opposite directions to increase holding power. I have just enough space to use a hammer to knock these nails in when gluing the interior assembly, and by inserting the nails into the divider during glue-up they will help to keep the shelves aligned when sliding them into place.

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Next up will be to glue in the shelves and divider, fit the tongue-and-groove back, and finally dovetail the drawer. This project is coming together quite quickly.

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Dry fit and looking ok

Back to the Boot Bench… Part 1

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve written a fair bit about the maple component of the Autumn of Maple and Pine, but not much about the pine. Until now.

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Making out dados while in the throws of Vesper Fever

As I mentioned previously, the pine is for a variation on the Policeman’s Boot Bench for our hall. Our shoe storage needs are slightly different to the client I built the original Boot Bench for, and so while I have retained the overall dimensions the interior will have a slightly different configuration. So instead of four full-length shelves, we have three shelves of greater depth which extend for three quarters of the length of the casework, and a vertical partition which leaves a full-height section for wellington boots. At the top of the partition is a drawer for post, house keys, and all of the usual clutter that accumulates beside the front door. The pine will be milk painted, most likely a sage green to compliment the yellow walls of our hall.

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Laying out the dados with my Hamilton Tool Works small marking gauge

This is the first piece of furniture I have built for a communal area of the house, and I’m looking to solving the shoe storage problems which the Policeman discussed when collecting his boot bench. This will be a piece which we use every day, and which will be the first thing we see when we walk in the front door.

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The Bad Axe Bayonet is still my favourite way of cutting dados

The construction methods of our piece will be the same as for the Policeman’s Boot Bench – dovetails, dados and rabbets abound. I will also be using cut nails to further secure the shelves to their dados. I wrote extensively about the process for making the Policeman’s Boot Bench at the time, so I don’t intend to go into the same level of detail this time around. But that is not to say that the blog will be silent on this project, instead I’m going to focus on the differences from the previous build, which I think will be quite interesting.

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Laying out the foot detail with some pre-industrial geometry

So far I’ve been approaching this build in several discreet stages. The top, bottom shelf, and sides, form the main casework into which the partition and internal shelves will fit. I processed the outer components as a set, cut all of the rabbets and then laid out the foot detail. But before cutting the feet, I turned my attention to the dados for the shelves, divider, and drawer.

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The underside of all of the shelves will be textured

 

Laying out the position of the shelves was causing me a headache until I abandoned numbers and used my dividers to step off proportionate locations. The bottom shelf is 3″ from the floor to allow space for the foot detail. I knew that the gap between the bottom and the middle shelf needed to be greater than the shelves in the Policeman’s Boot Bench to accomodate my Dr Marten boots, but laying the shelves out with numbers resulted in a clunky and awkward spacing. Instead, I divided the space between the bottom shelf and the top of the casework (less the thickness of the two higher shelves) into 9 equal units. The middle shelf was positioned four units above the bottom shelf, and the top shelf was positioned 3 units above the middle shelf.

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Cleaning dados with a router plane

I have no idea what the measurement of those 9 units is, but it doesn’t matter. The resulting spacing looks a lot more pleasing than any configuration I could devise using fractions of inches, and will accomodate a wide range of footwear. There is also a single dado in the bottom shelf, and the underside of the top, to take the divider.

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Dados and the foot detail

Once the dados were cut I cut the cyma reversa foot detail with a coping saw, cleaning up the curves with rasps. I fitted the bottom shelf by planing the underside with the scrub plane until the shelf was a snug, but not overtight, fit in the dados. The next task will be to dovetail the top and sides, and then start work on the internal fittings. This project is shaping up quite quickly, and I’m hoping to have it complete before our annual Christmas house party at the begining of December.

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Test fitting the sides and bottom shelf.