This just tops it all… part 2

Everything you make is practice for the next thing you make. And every time you practice a technique, or carry out an operation on a project, is practice for the next time you use that particular technique. I was reminded this as I started to flatten the top of the staked desk yesterday. Although the top is the largest piece I’ve flattened by hand, the techniques are exactly the same as I practiced on the Joiner & Cabinet Maker projects last summer, and the Policeman’s Boot Bench earlier this year. All that is different is the amount of time, and the patience, required when flattening a 52″ x 24″ top rather than a 15″ x 9″ panel for a School Box (or a 40′ x 13″ shelf for the Boot Bench). Ultimately it just boils down to traversing cuts, then a 45 degree skew across the piece, and finishing by working along the grain. Just those simple three steps, repeated on a larger scale.The important thing is to remember the core techniques, and not to get overawed by the scale of the piece.

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Cleaning up the top shows good tight joints

When I started work on the desk the thought of flattening such a large piece as the top didn’t bother me at all – I’ve flattened enough timber by hand over the past couple of years to make this second nature. What I did feel a little nervous about was jointing up the top – at 54″ long in the rough, these were the longest edge joints I’ve planed. As it turns out, the joints weren’t as difficult as I had anticipated, and cleaning up the show face of the desk top revealed two tight and gap-free joints, a success I attribute to all of the long edges I planed up for the Policeman’s Boot Bench (there were a lot of long panels that needed square and true edges on that build).

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The underside before flattening. This is a big old surface to work, but the techniques are essentially the same.

Checking the desk top with a straight edge revealed that while most of the top wouldn’t need much cleaning up, the board at the back of the top had cupped after glue up, resulting in the show face falling off by over 2mm (0.7874″ – don’t ask me what this is as a fraction). My first reaction was to rip that board off the top, re-flatten, and then joint back on. This would avoid removing too much material from the top overall, but would stall progress on the desk for a while. After considering my options, and checking the thickness of the top in multiple areas, I decided that I would be able to flatten the top without needing to rip the problem board off – I left the boards at just under an inch thick, so even taking into account the fall-off at the back edge, I still have enough material to make a viable desk top. The top is also currently overwidth, so if I remove the excess entirely from the cupped board that will remove the lowest edge and mitigate the worst of the cupping. Traversing the boards with a jack plane flattened most of the top quickly, and I then marked where the low area started with a pencil and straight edge. Cross hatching the low areas gives a quick visual indication of my progress.

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The familiar feathery texture of traversing shavings

Once the majority of the top was flat, with only a couple of inches of width in the low spot remaining on the back edge, I flipped the top over to flatten the underside. The jack plane made short work of flattening this face, and I’m going to leave the traversing marks on that surface – there’s no need to smooth the underside and the scalloped texture will remind me of the handwork that went into this desk when I am writing at it in years to come. I then moved back to the top surface, planing at a 45 degree angle to the grain with the jointer. This approach removes material easily but reduces the risk of tearout compared to traversing at 90 degrees to the grain, which means less clean up once the top is flattened.

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Flattening the underside with the No.5 jack plane

 

All of this is pretty straight forward, and in fact the hardest thing was my bench fought me most of the way. While the Sjoberg bench was a very good initial bench when I bought it, and perfectly fine for lutherie work, it is simply too lightweight for processing stock by hand. I moved it against a wall in January of this year in an attempt to stop it skittering  around the ‘shop, which has worked to some extent. But for this operation I had to move it back from the wall so that I could traverse the 24″ wide top (which is the same width as the workbench). To hold the bench in place,  I ended hooking my left foot over the lower rail in order to pull the bench towards me as I plane forwards. These workshop aerobics have me dreaming once again of a stout and stable Roubo bench, so now might be the time to call a couple of sawyers and see if anyone can cut me a 24″ wide, 5″ thick oak slab. Roubo is coming.

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The jointer plane keeps everything flat and coplanar. The crpsshatching identifies the low spots.

I didn’t quite have the time to finish flattening the top this weekend (with all the snow I had to assist the Apprentice with snowman building) but that break has given me the opportunity to take stock of progress and decide the best next steps. So, next up I will bring the top to final width and length, including squaring up the ends, all of which will help to reduce the amount of flattening necessary.

Applying Body Mechanics to Octagonalisation

All of the legs for the staked worktable are now octagonalised, and I spent a couple of hours today making them pretty – final smoothing to remove a few spots of tearout, plenty of time with an eraser to remove stray pencil marks, and refining the fit of the tenons. Finalising the tenon size was a good opportunity to revisit the lathe and get a spot more turning practice in.

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The 50mm maxi-cut bit by Colt is a monster, and chewed through this oak rapidly while leaving a very clean finish and no splintering on the exit side.

When I originally turned the tenons I had been quite cautious and left them a touch oversized, which also abetted by wear to my “go block“, the corners of which had become burnished and slightly widened when checking the still-spinning tenons. So I prepared a new test mortice in some scrap oak left over from the Policeman’s Boot Bench, and took the barest shaving off each tenon until they all fitted smoothly without any slack. I also took the opportunity to clean up the shoulder of the tenon. Ideally I would like to turn a gentle cove into the shoulder, but my turning kit currently extends to one tool (the Easy Wood Rougher) and until I order the Easy Wood Finisher that particular shape is outside of my grasp. Instead, I made sure that the shoulder was clean and square to the tenon, with no stray bumps or unslightly catches.

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My standard grip for traversing boards and heavy stock removal is no good for octagonalisation – placing the off-hand on top of the bun raises the centre of gravity and encourages the plane to wobble during the stroke.

One of the advantages of performing a repetative task, such as octagonalising a set of four legs, is that it provides the opportunity to review technique and make incrimental changes towards efficiency. An aspect of woodwork that I find constantly interesting is the impact of body mechanics – the way that posture, including hand and foot placement in relation to the tool and the workpiece, will influence the outcome of a technique (for instance, cutting to a line, or planing a square and straight rabbet). Body mechanics have been a constant focus throughout my martial arts training, particularly when training with Clive, and that emphasis is something I find increasingly useful at the workbench. Octagonalisation is a case in point.

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This jointing grip helps hold the plane steady when removing the corner and establishing the facet. My fingers are pressed against the face of the leg to centre the plane on the aris of the workpiece.

When octagonalising the table legs, I found that my standard off-hand grip for planing wasn’t providing the control or comfort I wanted. Mainly this was because the initial strokes find the plane balanced on the aris of the workpiece, which makes holding the plane in a constant orientation to the leg difficult until the the facet is established. My standard grip works well for traversing boards with the jack plane, as it provides downward pressure to keep the plane in the cut, especially in ornery timber. But for octagonalisation it meant that the centre of gravity was too high and the plane was prone to wobbling.

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I transition to this grip once the facet has been established. Keeping the hand low to the plane body lowers the centre of gravity and keeps the plane in a constant orientation to the workpiece.

Instead, I established the facet by dropping my hand to the sole of the plane, mimicing the grip I use when jointing an edge – the thumb grips the side wall of the plane and the fingers curl under the sole to provide a fence to register against the workpiece. Once the corner is knocked off and the facet established, I shifted my thumb so that it was curled around the base of the bun while the fingers gripped the front edge of the bun – this kept the centre of gravity low for stability, but provided more power behind the plane stroke for rapid stock removal. After a few facets transitioning between these grips became second nature, providing a comfortable and precise way to carry out the operation.

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Four legs octagonalised, and made pretty. These are ready to be fitted to the sliding battens.

When I started octagonalising the legs I did not think much abut the plane grip I was using. Starting with a jointing grip, and transitioning between the two hand positions, occured insinctively in response to the feedback from the tool and the need to stabilise the plane on a narrow surface. Just as the projection of a plane iron is adjusted throughout a planing task (for instance, backing off for a finer cut as you near your layout lines), I would suggest that body mechanics are not static but also evolve throughout an operation in order to reflect to the changing state of the workpiece. I’m sure there are plenty of other examples of how body mechanics influence woodworking technique – I’ve previously written about how posture can contribute to effecive use rabbet planes and tongue and groove planes. But what are your favourite body mechanic tips for woodworking?

The drawer component breakdown

I’ve been fighting off an unpleasant winter virus this week, which has had an impact on my productivity in the workshop. I did however manage to breakdown the stock for the desk drawer so that those parts can acclimatise before I start working on them.

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This little Lie-Nielsen No.101 block plane is one of the prettiest tools in my chest.

Breaking down stock for smaller components is a little different to working with timber that just needs to be cut to length for large casework or parts (for instance the top of the staked worktable), so I thought it was worth covering this process in a blog post.

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A couple of swipes with the plane removes the sealing paint and reveals the grain of the board

I had a 2″ thick maple board reserved for the drawer components, which will also yield some spare material for the staked chair. Before laying out the drawer components on the board I used a small block plane to remove the timber yard sealing paint from the end grain of the board in order to reveal the grain structure. Ideally for a drawer I would want quartersawn material, and while this wasn’t the case with this board, by carefully laying out the components I decided that I would be able to harvest material that was dimensionally stable. The drawer sides are the most critical part of the drawer assembly in terms of dimensional stability, as sides that exhibit too much seasonal movement will cause the drawer to rack and bind on its runners. I therefore laid out the sides to get the closest to quartersawn grain possible, with the back of the drawer getting the most flatsawn grain as this is the least critical component. By using material that is quite thick, I can also plane the sides at an angle to get closer to quartersawn grain.

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Laying out the oversized components with a pencil marking gauge

With that decision made, I laid out all of the components with a pencil marking gauge, being sure to leave them a little oversized in case cutting them out of the board results in any significant movement or unexpected checks. Although there should not be too much risk of this, I prefer to use slightly more material than necessary at this stage of a build and to err on the side of caution. While I use blade based marking gauges for most of my layout, a pencil line is much easier to see on rough timber, and this cam-lock gauge by Bern Billsberry is quickly becoming invaluable.

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The Skelton panel saw made short work of crosscutting the board into sections

By laying out the components in a way that made efficient use of the material, I effectively divided the board into three sections – one which remained unused, and two which had groups of drawer parts. My first step was therefore to crosscut the board into those three sections, using my Skelton panel saw. This resulted in two pieces which were easier to handle on the saw benches.

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The riup cuts were made with my Dissotn D8 – 117 years old and still going strong.

I then ripped the draw parts out of the two smaller boards using my Disston D8 rip saw. Normally I prefer to make long rip cuts at the workbench using an overhand ripping grip, as this is much easier on the back. Since I built the staked saw benches last autumn I have been focusing on improving the accuracy of my rip cuts using a traditional kneeling technique at the saw benches, and this is how I broke the boards down to the individual drawer components.

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The components are still in pairs, and I need to crosscut the parts, but I will do that in a week or so when the boards have had chance to rest.

The drawer parts are now lying in stick in the study, and in a couple of weeks time I’ll bring them closer to final dimension and allow them to acclimatise a little more before I build the drawer. I have not decided what to use for the drawer bottom yet. I have plenty of maple left over, or I might use plywood (which does have significant benefits in terms of seasonal stability). If I use plywood, then I am tempted to line the drawer with suede, which would also stop the contents rattling around.

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Two legs octagonalised, two legs tapered. Look at the light play on those facets.

I also octagonalised the second leg, using the same process as I wrote about last week. The remaining two legs are down to tapered square profiles, and awaiting octagonalisation. So I should be able to polish them off over the coming week.

Octagonalisation – a way of life, not a process

We’re just back from a wonderful, and much needed, week long break to the Cotswolds and so progress on the staked worktable has temporarily slowed. That being said, before we escaped for our trip I managed to octagonalise the first of the legs for the table, and I managed to steal time away in the workshop as soon as we returned home to continue work on the remaining legs.

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The consistent square profiled leg (l), tapered square leg (m) and tapered octagonal leg (r)

Octagonalising the legs is the stage of the build I’ve been most looking forward to. Taking leg from a consistent square cross section to a tapered octagon is a fun process, and as I’ve written about before, I really like the aethestic benefits – the increased facets and a significant reduction of the visual weight of the leg without reducing the structural integrity. Actually planing in the octagonal cross section for the work table legs is very much as for the staked saw benches I built last year, although there are a couple of important differences between these legs and the saw bench legs. Firstly, the legs taper in the opposite direction for the work table, with the narrowest point at the floor rather than at the tenon shoulder. Secondly, the tenons for the work table are shaped while the leg is still at a consistent square cross-section, while the saw bench legs were tenoned once they had been octagonalised. What this means in practice is that the process of laying out the octagons is a little different, as I could not rely on the same geometry techniques at the tenon shoulder as I did for the saw benches.

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Laying out the octagons with dividers

Chris suggests laying out the octagons by stepping off facets on each face of the tapered square leg with dividers, and so this was the approach I took. At the foot end I still used the same geometry technique as I had for the saw benches as a fail safe. The additional length and amount of taper on the work table legs does require a touch more accuracy when planing the octagons. On the saw benches I was happy to eyeball the consistency of the octagonal facets when planing, as this was plenty accurate for legs of that length and extent of taper. The taper is much more pronounced on the work table legs, and the legs are much longer, and so rather than rely on just eyeball acuracy I marked out the edge of each facet along the length of the legs, and worked to those lines.

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Planing the tapered square leg down to a tapered octagon

I also knocked up a pair of v-blocks to hold the legs while octagonalising. Nothing fancy – just some scrap blocks of poplar, into which a 90 degree “V” was cut with a cross-cut back saw (I used the Bad Axe Bayonet) which took a total of 5 minutes to prepare. These blocks support the leg, which would otherwise need to balance on the tip of a corner while planing the facets. To stop the leg shooting out the end of the blocks, I used a bench dog as a planing stop. This worked well enough, but really it emphasised how much I would benefit from a traditional toothed planing stop to hold work in place – yet another reason why I need to start looking into sourcing a slab of green oak for my Roubo bench.

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A pair of v-blocks, and a bench dog, hold the legs in place for octagonalising. On my next bench I will use a toothed planing stop instead of a bench dog.

With the facets laid out, and the leg held in place by the two v-blocks and a well placed bench dog, planing the octagons was very straight forward. I removed the majority of the waste with the No.5  set to a rank cut, and then refined each facet with the No.8 set to a fine cut to ensure the new faces were straight and square. When planing to joint, or to a precise line such a here, I constantly look at the mouth of the plane. Seeing exactly where the plane starts to bite the workpiece, and which part of the iron is producing the shaving, gives a huge amount of feedback and allows for very precise adjustments to plane position and pressure distribution for an accurate cut.

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Comparing the tapered octagonal leg to the tapered square profile, and the consistent square profile, shows just how much material has been removed.

Comparing the octagonalised leg to the original untapered profile, and even to the tapered square profile, it is striking just how much material has been removed and how much more elegant the finished leg is. The maple works really well for octagonalising as it holds details clearly, giving sharp corners between each facet. These legs, when installed, will have a really strong silhouette and an almost architectural quality.

Before the Octagon comes the Taper

One of the big attractions of building the staked worktable was the tapered octagonal legs. As I’ve written before, I really like the way that tapered octagons reduce the visual weight of a leg while retaining the structural strength, and also how the introduction of facets plays with light and shade. This in turn informed the timber selection for the desk. A light toned timber such as maple reflects light and emphasises the silhouette of the design, drawing the eye to the facets in the legs. I briefly considered using a dark wood, such as walnut, for the same silhouette enhancing reason, although ultimately I thought that a dark timber could dominate what is a relatively small room. Heavily figured timbers were immediately discounted from the material choices for this desk, as a showy timber would obscure the overall shape of the design by drawing the eye away from the lines and facets towards the figure of the wood.

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Laying out the foot. You can see the indentations from the lathe drive centre.

Octagonalising the desk legs is broadly the same process as for the staked saw bench legs, only on a significantly larger scale. Before planing in the octagon the legs need to be planed to a tapered square profile. In the Anarchist’s Design Book Chris suggests that a bandsaw is used to achieve the tapered square cross section, and also explains how a powered jointer (or planer, if like me you’re English) can be safely used to create a tapered surface. I need to fit a new blade to my bandsaw, and to adjust the tracking (something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now) so I decided to taper the legs the old fashioned way.

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Hogging off the waste with the No.5

To lay out the cross section of the foot I used a pair of dividers to scribe a circle with a diameter of the final foot width, and followed up with a small square to mark off the four sides of the final foot. Selecting one face to plane first, I marked on the two adjacent faces lines showing the full length of the taper from the tenon shoulder to the foot. The bulk of the material has to be removed from the foot, with the least being removed from the tenon shoulder. I find it easier to plane a taper by working off the workpiece rather than onto it, and so started by hogging off the waste at the foot with the No.5, set to an aggressive cut. It doesn’t matter at this stage whether you’re planing with or against the grain, nor does it matter if you get tear-out at this point, as there will be plenty of time to refine the surface once the majority of the material is removed. The focus is just on removing the waste quickly and efficiently.  As the waste comes off the foot, lengthen the plane strokes to keep the taper straight and flat – the plane wants to create a curve which would result in a visually bulging leg. The key is to changing the pressure from the toe to the heel of the plane as you move through the cut.

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Refining the taper with the No.8 jointer

Once roughly half the waste is removed from the foot, and the cut has advanced to half the length of the leg, I moved from the jack to the No.8 jointer plane set to a medium cut. At this point I work with the grain, even if this involved planing uphill (from the foot to the tenon shoulder) onto the workpiece. The taper increases the length of the leg until a full-length shaving is taken from the foot to the tenon shoulder. Checking the surface with a straight edge helps, but the plane shavings and layout lines on each side of the leg should be enough to tell you if the taper is square and true. As I get closer to the layout lines, I keep reducing the depth of cut on the plane, until the final few shavings are full width, very fine smoothing shavings. I found that for tapering all four sides of the legs is pays to rotate the leg in a consistent direction for each subsequent face, as this means that after the first face, you are planing a smaller surfac area (because one of the adjacent faces has already been tapered) and the fourth face will be smaller still because both adjacent faces have been tapered.

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Not a bad amount of shavings from just one leg

I didn’t quite appreciate when I started tapering the legs just how much material was going to be removed – the taper is much more pronounced than for the staked saw benches. This may explain why Chris suggested a bandsaw would be a fast way to achieve the initial taper before octagonalising the legs. That being said, the handtool only approach isn’t too slow providing proper use is made of the jack plane to rapidly remove stock and before finishing up with the jointer. The dramatic taper on the legs is going to be really striking on the finished desk, and I’m looking forward to planing in the additional facets for the octagons.

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Comparing a tapered leg with a square leg shows just how much material is removed.

Turning Just to Keep on Turning

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As I’ve written about previously, one of the real attractions in building the staked worktable design (in additiona to the fact that it is a very attractive and practical piece of furniture) is the existing skills this build will reinforce, and the new skills sets it will help to unlock. One of the new skill sets to which this build will serve as an introduction is turning. I acquired my Shopsmith machine just over two years ago (and wrote about it here) but until now I’ve not had the opportunity to actually get to grips with the lathe and try my hand at turning. Earlier this year, in anticipation of starting work on the staked work table, I removed the band and table saw attachments, and set up the Shopsmith in it’s lathe configuration. But aside from checking that everything either locked properly or span smoothly, I didn’t have the time to try turning.

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Marking the centre point with a centre finder

Today that all changed, when I mounted the table legs in the lathe and turned the 2″ wide, 3″ long, tenons. This is the most dirt simple shape you can turn on the lathe – a straight cylinder. But for that reason I think it made a very good introduction to turning. The legs are thick enough to reduce any diffraction or bending while on the lathe, and the relatively short length of the turning means that you do not have to maintain a consistent diameter over the full length of, say, a chair spindle (although the tenon does need to be a consistent diameter to provide good glue surface for the mortice). So the end result is achievable.

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The dividers layout the tenon circumference.

My lathe tool kit is very minimalist at this point. I’m using the Easy Wood Rougher (with plans to add the Easy Wood Finisher and Detailer tools at some point in the future). This choice was informed partly by of Chris’ recommendations, partly because this tool flattens the initial learning curve, and also because a compact set of tools really appeals at this stage. To be honest, this tool is all I needed to turn the table leg tenons, but looking to future projects the Finisher and Detailer will put more profiles and decorative elements within my grasp.

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In the lathe and ready to transform something rectangular into a cylinder

To turn the worktable tenons, I located the centre of each leg (at both ends of the leg) with a centre finder, and also marked a 2″ diameter circle at the tenon end using a pair of dividers, which I then traced over with a fine pencil. The marking gauge Bern Billsberry gave me recently was perfect for marking the shoulder of the tenons, as a dark pencil line is much easier to see than a knife kerf when the lathe is running. It was then a case of mounting the leg in the lathe and carefully removing material along the length of the tenon until I reached the desired diameter. To test the fit of the tenon I used a “go block” – essentially a scrap of oak which I drilled with the same 2″ forstner bit I will use to drill the mortices of the desk, and which was then cut in half to give a semi-circle cutout to test against the tenon. As soon as the go block fits over the tenon, it is time to stop turning.

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Which is all straight forward. But what that very mechanical description does not convey is the meditative experience of gently wasting away wood (being careful not to catch the corners of the legs) and sneaking up on the final tenon shape. This was one of the most blissful, and addictive, woodworking experiences I have had in ages. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it is because most of my work involves making stock flat (or octagonal), so the act of shaping it into a cylinder, is entirely new. There is also a focus on posture and body mechanics which feels very similar to time spent on the martial arts mat – turning is all technique and lightness of touch instead of brute force, very much like  my martial arts techniques. Who knows. But once I’d figured out the idiosyncracies of the Shopsmith, turning the four tenons was incredibly relaxing. I need to do more of this.

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The go block says this tenon is done.

Taking the first steps toward developing a new skill set is always intoxicating – I felt this way the first time I cut a half decent dovetail, or when Clive taught me my first spine dislocation. And there is much to learn. But starting something is always the first hurdle, and today has shown that Roorkee chairs and campaign stools (both using Jason’s excellent leather kits, as can be seen here and here, respectively) and chair spindles are now all achievable. All that is needed is practice. Having the lathe up and running unlocks a list of projects I’ve wanted to build for sometime, and also opens up an entirely new woodcraft to explore – one which adds an entirely new perspective to my work. This couldn’t be more exciting.

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Four tenons all turned. Next is to octagonalise the legs.

A (dove) Tale of Two Battens

One of the unexpected, but really rewarding, elements of the staked worktable build is the different senses of scale across components in the project – moving between the large surface area (and edge joints) of the table top, the battens, octagonal legs, and finally drawer parts. Today I prepared the two battens that hold the table-top flat and accept the tenons for the legs. After edge jointing 53″ long boards for the top, working on two pieces no more than 25″ long felt quite dainty, and was certainly a fun change of scale.

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Squaring up the battens before laying out the angled sides

The two battens are an easy stage of the build, but they still involve some points of interest. The battens are trapezoid (or possibly dovetailed) in cross section, which I approached in two stages. Firstly I planed the long edges flat and square to the reference face, to ensure that I had accurate edges for layout. The move from 53″ long edges to much shorter pieces definitely had an impact in terms of how quickly the battens were squared up, and it is a helpful reminder that working on different sized pieces is key to improving that core skill set.

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The 4″ Vesper bevel is the Rolls Royce of bevels, and perfect for this sort of precise layout.

Once the battens were square on all four sides, I then laid out the angled sides. The Vesper 4″ bevel is wonderful for work lik, as it is exactly the right size to balance on components where a larger bevel would be too much of a handful. I struck the angle onto the end grain of both battens with a sharp making knife, before laying out the bevel on the face of the battens. It’s not really advisable to use a marking gauge or knife when laying out the lines of a bevel or chamfer on the face of the workpice, because the kerf left by the blade will remain below the surface of the chamfer (and Charles Hayward had some strong things to say about that). Instead, a pencil line is safer to work to, even though it is generally a less accurate method of marking work than a fine knife kerf. Until this week a pencil based marking gauge was one of the key omissions in my tool chest. Fortuitously, I saw good friend and tool maker Bern Billsberry on Friday, and quite unexpectedly he gifted me with a beautiful cam-lock pencil gauge from his latest batch. This was perfect for laying out the rest of the dimensions for the angled sides of the battens. I set the gauge to the knifed lines on the end grain of the battens, and used that setting to mark the edge of the chamfer on the face. The gauge locked solidly and left a good clean pencil line to work to.

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An unexpected gift this week turned out to be exactly the tool I needed. A cam-lock markng gauge by my good friend Bern Billsberry.

With all the layout done, I held battens into the vise and planed the edges to the correct angle using my No.8 jointer plane. Angling the plane removed the bulk of the corner, and then it was a case of adjusting the angle at which I was holding the plane to achieve a surface that was parallel with the line on each end of the batten, removing the waste until I hit the line on the face of the workpiece and those on each end. Again, the small bevel made it easy to check that a consistent angle had been achieved along the length of the workpiece, without needing to remove the batten from the vise. I also used a straight edge to make sure that the chamfered edge was straight and without any bumps or hollows. All in all, the four edges took little over an hour to plane from square, so this was a swift but very satisfying operation. It’s been a hell of a week for various reasons, and getting back to my workbench always helps to re-centre me. All of the extraneous pressures and concerns melt away as soon as the first shaving comes up through my plane.

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The two finished battens – angled and ready for the mortices to be drilled. On the lower batten you can just about see some alternative angles I marked on the end before making my mind up.

Next week I’ll be working on the legs, which if I’m totally honest are one of the reasons I chose this design. Also it means I’ll be taking a dive into the world of lathe work and turning.