Fair Woodworking

April 16, 2012

A simple box. One year later.

Filed under: A simple box with only Hand Tools,Picture issues,Things I've made — fairwoodworking @ 2:17 pm

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One thing that worries me when I make something and give it away is that it works properly for the new owner.

A few years ago, a coworker went to Honduras and bought a beautiful turned wood bowl. It split in half the day after he returned home.

In that case it was not a design flaw so much as it was a lack of understanding of how to slowly dry the bowl to the its new climate.

Where I live you can expect to see both extreme high humidity in the summer as well as some fairly low humidity in the winter. It was interesting to see how my little pine box would react to all these different conditions of life as a truck console.

First off. This thing is bullet proof. I have no doubt it will out last me, and its also just a matter of time before I end up using it as a step stool.

I do regret leaving the bottom raised panel proud of the bottom. If I slam on my breaks, and forget to hold on to it, it will smash into my dashboard. In most cases it takes out my coffee at the same time.

I just try to drive slow.

It is nice to have something I made this close at hand throughout the day. I find it often has a calming effect to feel it under my fingers. The tool marks, and even the mistakes.

I have had some trouble with the lid however. It’s over 8″ wide, and the pine just is not stable enough to span that width and still fit nicely in the grooves. It’s as strong as I could ever ask it to be, but on a really humid day it can swell enough to wedge itself in. I planed it down to fit, but now when it’s dry it rattles around in the opening. Its not so bad that I need to replace it, but in hind sight, a frame and panel may have been better.

I have to carry it into the office from time to time, and had planned on mounting a handle, but before I did, I discovered that it already had one.

All in all, I think it could be the best box 9 bucks I ever spent.

Thanks Boss.

April 9, 2012

A simple box with only hand tools. Part 8

Filed under: A simple box with only Hand Tools,Picture issues,Things I've made — fairwoodworking @ 2:54 pm

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And just like that, I’m done.

In a fit of “I want this done now!!!” I slapped it together and build the lid without a single picture. Not that there was much to see that you can’t see somewhere else.

Had some fun coming up with the design of the lid. The key was that this box is to both hold my P.O. books, and also be the center console in my truck. So the top had to be comfortable to rest my arm on. At the same time I use it as a writing surface so flatter is good…er. I’m pretty happy with both the feel and the look of it.

A shot of the bottom.

And the gratuitous closeups on the joinery.

Mistakes and all.

You will notice that there is a shadow under the box? That’s because I didn’t stop to think that the raised panel needed to be shallower than the space from the grooves to the bottom.

He, he, he, Oooops!

April 2, 2012

A simple box with only hand tools. Part 7

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One of the last steps before assembly is creating the bottom of the box. I usually do a raised panel for this. Someone asked a while ago what my reason was that I took the time and effort to raise a panel, and originally it was just because I liked the look of it. There is the argument that it is stronger, but this is just a little box, and shouldn’t need extra strength. What really got me sold on them was the time, I thought I wouldn’t “invest” the time it takes to raise it, and rather just dimension the board down to ¼” thick. That was when I realized it was much less work to put a wide bevel on a board than it was to scrub half its thickness off!

I start by drawing things out on the edge. The groove is a ¼” deep and a ¼” wide. The board is ½” thick so the darkened area needs removing for sure. I measure 1” in and mark a diagonal line from it to where the two ¼” lines intersect. With that beveled angle, it should slide nicely into the groove.

You will notice I mark lines on the edge and on the face of the board. When I’ve planed the lines away it is time to stop. I’ve in the past used my marking gauge, but it cuts a line in the wood that you then have to also plane away. Pencil is much better. You will also notice that I start across the grain, and then will turn the board counter clock wise. This is so that if there is any splintering when I work across the grain it gets cleaned up when I rotate and work with the grain.

In the background you can see part of the plane I used. It’s the Veritas skewed angle rabbet plane. I find it handy because of the adjustable fence.

I’m pretty much winging it, as I have no idea what the angle is.

I’m just doing it by eye.

In hindsight, I planed too much off here. I should have stopped just before the pencil mark as I still needed to smooth the edge, and have some room to fine tune. Now I have nothing to aim for.

Now I go to work with the grain. Still planning by eye, I get to play a game similar to connect the dots. This time it is “connect the points”. When I’ve aligned all the points, this side is done.

And here it is with its first coat of verithane. I like to have at least one coat on a raised panel before assembly because once it is in the groves you could only then apply to the exposed areas. If the board shrinks any you would then see unfinished wood. I think the official term for this is “picture framing”.

If you remember from before, I showed a board that I’d cut away a big knot but board still cracked? This is the board. I would have preferred to use it for the lid because it is the nicer looking of the two, but I’m just a little concerned that the crack might just sneak up on me one day. If it happens on the bottom it’s not a big deal so the nicer of the two will end up hidden on the bottom.

As you can see, it’s a top of a bunch of nicely stickered boards with pins and tails.

It won’t be long now….

March 26, 2012

A simple box with only hand tools. Part 6

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Again, not to rag on my good buddy Roy, (he doesn’t actually know I exist…), but he didn’t even touch on for a moment about creating the shallow tail.  You don’t want to take this step while cutting the tails because you can’t mark your pins with a shallow tail. This step has to wait until I have marked the pins. In my case, it was good that I waited until ALL the pins were totally finished since I had to start again from scratch on that one piece.

Here is what I did.

I started by scribing a line with my marking gauge from the outside face to just shy of the groove. Be careful along the side of the tail not to bruise the shoulder with the marking gauge!

Then with the dovetail saw, rip at an angle as much as you can (on the waste side thank you very much) again without bruising the shoulder or the next tail. You can see that in this case you’d best do as I say, not as I did. That wee little nick of a kerf mark will require a lot of work to plane down away. Ah, well. That is for another day.

From this point I tried a couple of different things. I tried sawing along the base line, but again you can only saw a small angle part of it. What I found worked best, I didn’t take a pic of, I chopped it out with a chisel like Frank Klausz chops out the waste in his video (see link way above) until I’ve reached where the shallow tail begins. Then a quick chop with the grain splits the chunk out.

A little paring and she’s ready to go.

March 19, 2012

A simple box with only hand tools. Part 5

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Well I’m back on the horse, and ready to get going again. Today’s topic… Miters, Shallow Tails, and the screw-ups in between.

It’s been a rather humbling experience so far as I document mistake, after mistake, after freak’in mistake, but I have to remind myself that this is only the third time I’ve dovetailed a box before, and it’s only in my mistakes that I seem to learn. Today’s errors are not earth shattering, but will leave their small reminders in the finished project. Below I am caught in the act of transferring from the tails to the pins.

It’s a tight spot for the knife to get into, and I was not able to fully reach in all the way, as the angle of the blade point is steeper than the miter. As a result, I had to carefully extend it later, but that is not the important issue to show here. The real issue is the thin black line showing between the two boards just to the right of the blade. Do you see it? It’s a gap that is a result of me not lining up the base line to the pin board. I didn’t see it until I down loaded this picture, long after I’d cut the pins and discovered that the pins did not fit tight against the base line. I know what some of you are thinking, “I should have used the 140 trick”. Well it’s not that simple. The first issue is that when doing a mitered shoulder you need the two boards to be the same thickness or the miter would not line up on the outside corner. As the 140 trick makes the tail board slightly thinner, it could be a problem. I’m sure I could have figured out a way to do it, but at the time it was way too much like math. The second issue has to do with the fact that the opposite end of the box will have an open groove for the lid to slide out. If I do the 140 trick, the ultra shallow rabbit will be visible along that exposed part. In hind sight the solution for the second issue is to plane down to the new rabbited height after transferring the lines. (did that make any sense?) Anyways…. Error number one.

Error number two. In Roy’s video (May I call him Roy?) that I linked to before, he moves a little too quickly to cover everything. I’m not ragging on him, it’s only a half hour show, but he just made it look too darned easy. Have a look at the picture below.

I drew an arrow to the issue. After I very carefully scribed the shallower base line, I then with apparently no thought to it, cut right down to the regular base line. Here is where the danger lies. The shallow scribe line is on the waste side of the cut. As I carefully cut, I’m watching the pin side, and can’t see the scribe line. Blam!!! I went right past it.

I’ve never been big on marking the waste and all, but for the next set of pins I went a little into over kill. Note how I extended the shallow tail scribe line with pencil so I wouldn’t miss it? Anyone want to bet that it did help? Ha, ha, ha.

Not everything was failure in this round, and if I may, I want to show a little more on how the reflection of the blade helps me saw better. When cutting the pins there are two critical parts (in my opinion) of the saw cut.

Starting the cut. – This part is where you determine the cut location. This is the moment where you either split the knife line, or you miss it. There is plenty out there that covers this part, I won’t get into it. I want to share about the second part.

Finishing the cut. – Below is a finished cut.

Here I can see for myself that I pretty much nailed it. I’m not worried about the fact that there is a hair between the saw and the pencil mark. What I look at is the line on the opposite side of the pin and its reflection. The spacing is even. If I know I split the knife line when I started the cut, and these two lines are neither in a pyramid, or V shape, I know I’ve pretty much cut perfectly straight down. There is no reason to believe that the pencil line perfectly splits the knife line so I don’t bother trying to cut to it. Splitting the knife line on the top is enough if I just cut straight down.

Just for fun I tried something.

Rather than mark the line I wanted to cut, I marked a line a little way from the line. It was a little scary, but have a look. Even at this point you can see in the reflection that the lines are parallel. Give it a try. It’s kind’a cool. And yes, it did work.

On cutting the miter. There was temptation for me to cut the miter before the pins. Don’t do it. Leave it alone until the end. When you cut the miter, you cut away your very important knife line for the pins. Learn from my misery…

And one last thing, before I go.

Sticker your wood when you are not working it…

March 12, 2012

A simple box with only hand tools. Part 4

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Note – If you have not watched the links from the end of Part 3, this next part may not make all that much sense.

Seriously, go back and watch them.

Today I prove that I am smart like tractor… Having successfully completed plowing all the grooves, and it’s time to get into some wood work that is a little sexier than the dimensioning of materials. It’s time to start the layout and cutting of my tails.

You may say that the layout spacing is a little complex, but the extra seconds it took and an extra set of dividers removed at least one or two pins from the layout. It will save time in the end. If you will picture in your minds eye, the tail on the right will be the shallow tail. On the left will be the mitered shoulder.

When I flip the board around you can better see how the tails relate to the grooves. Now the shallow tail is on the left, and the mitered shoulder is… uhhh… Uh, oh… It seems I’ve plowed away the material where my layout line should have been. Oh, this is bad, very bad. Some of you may see the solution, others may not.

Here’s what, at the time seemed like a brilliant solution. I took some green painters tape and taped over the groove, then marked the layout line on it. Lickedy split! Problem solved. The tape was a little sloppy, but it held long enough to make a half decent cut.

It was then that the lights came on. The reason for the mitered shoulder is to hide the groove, so I’d marked the line on the wrong side of the groove! I want to thank those of you that saw this from the beginning, but kept quiet so as to not ruin my story. This may have made a mess of my spacing, but here you go with the tail laid out correctly.

And again with the miter cut out.  That was a bit of a tricky cut, but not too bad.  Before you try this kind of cut, make sure you have a real good handle on the basics of cutting a regular tail.

With that out of the way, I want to share some things that have helped me with cutting dovetails.

The first thing you need is, to be able to cut a straight line. I think that more often than not, bad form with hand/arm movement is to blame, but it is hard to see for yourself if you are doing it wrong while you are sawing, and most of us don’t have a pro to watch our form. I found a trick that is as simple as looking in the mirror to help you out. It’s looking at the reflection in the saw blade. For starters watch this video, note the angle of the camera at the 2:20 mark. It’s very similar to your view when you are sawing. Now don’t look at the saw, or his hands. Watch the reflection. Note how the wood in the reflection does not move. The reflection tells me that this guy knows how to use a saw. Next time you are sawing, have a look at the reflection and see how good your form is.

The key to a good tail, other than a straight cut, is that the cut be has to be square to the board. If you look at the pics above, you will see that I mark the lines with a pen, and you may think that I cut to them. If you do, you are wrong. These lines are strictly for layout, and composition. Who is to say that my square didn’t slip while I marked the lines, or that the pen didn’t write a little fatter on one side than the other? These kind of issues could be big problems once I get to the pins. Once again I rely on the reflection. If my blade is square to the board, the reflection of the wood is in a consistent straight line. If not, you are in for trouble. Once finished the cut, again I don’t reach for my square, instead I press the blade against the cut and look at the reflection. You don’t need a square to see that the cut below is not square, the reflection very clearly angles off to the left.  Yuck!

So how do I fix this? In the past I would leave it and try to pare it later after I’d cut out the waste, but it never really worked very well, especially when the pins were narrow, and it was really  hard to tell if I’d pared enough. Now what I do is I re-cut the curf with the saw. Essentially, I hold the saw against the offending area of the tail, and I use the set in the teeth to trim back the excess until the reflection tells me I’m done.










In many ways I don’t feel that cutting dovetails is so much an art as much as it is a strict adherence to a basic set of rules.

When cutting tails first

  1. Keep your tail cuts square.                                Check
  2. Cut straight                                                      Check
  3. Pare precisely to the baseline                            Check
  4. Transfer from the tails to the pins accurately        Check
  5. Split the knife line on the pins                             Check
  6. Cut straight                                                       Check

Oh, and one more thing….

7. Cut on the waste side…                                         Ah, crap!

Wait, wait!!!  One last rule

8. Have some left over material to replace the un-repairable mistakes.                         Thank goodness!

If you recall from the beginning, I had to rip about a 4” strip off the board? Well that is my backup wood. Cut it in half, and glue it together. Shown above in the clamps overnight.This may not seem like that big a deal, but this is a huge blow to the project. Now I’m at a complete standstill until I get this piece dimensioned and caught up to the rest of the project. Flattened, thicknessed, sized, and squared up. Man, I’m bummed!

March 5, 2012

A simple box with only Handtools Part 3

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Once a piece is down to final length, the last step for me is final width. I leave this to last just in case I have any blowouts while shooting the end grain. And yes, …. I did have some blowout….

I want to remove the extra material quickly, so I have the blade set aggressively. The shavings are at least the thickness of construction paper or more. The grain rises and falls in this cheap pine, so I still need to keep the blade sharp and the mouth fairly tight. I should point out, that I don’t change the bevel on the plane to control tear out. That is my absolute last resort. 45 degrees should work just fine for 99% of planing if your blade is sharp, with a properly tuned plane, and the mouth adjusted to suit the cut.

As I approach the line, I back off the blade, and tighten the mouth to match. I have seen a number of ideas on how to tell when you have hit the line. For me since I’m adjusting the blade as I get closer, and I use a slightly cambered blade, as I break through the line, a tiny sliver falls off the side. At that point, I’ve got a couple of smoothing passes and I’m done.

Now that I have all the pieces to final dimension, I’m ready to build the box. Well, not really, there is one more thing that I need to do. I’m doing a sliding lid so I need one side to be lower than the rest so the lid can slide into the groove. If you are not sure what I mean by a sliding lid. It works the same as Frank Klausz demonstrates installing the bottom of a drawer in his video Dovetail a Drawer . If you don’t have, or have never seen this video, it is one of my favorites.

He covers a number of things that were very handy in building this box. A big one for now is each boards orientation. Note the board on the right above. When you look at the growth rings the rings closest to the center face out, and since growth rings have a tendency to straighten out the ends of the board will move into the joint and not pull away. OK, I need to lower one of the boards height to allow for the lid. Note the front board with the writing “Top” and a crude arrow pointing to the left? That tells me that the lid will slide out to the left. This means the end board on the left is getting a hair cut!

Here again I have a fair amount of material to remove (it’s a half an inch), so I could saw it off, but I’m going to try another plane just for fun.

Let me reintroduce my modified smoother/scrub plane. This is the first real plane I ever owned. I found it in an old tool box that my dad acquired after its owner, a guy he worked with, disappeared in the night. (Pretty sure trouble with the law was involved) It’s a plane made in Australia, by a company named Pope. The previous owner was notorious for being very hard on his tools, and this plane showed the scars to prove it. Being my first plane I spent many hours trying to restore and tune it up. Being my first plane restoration, I screwed it up a little, and just like that, its days as a smoother had come to an end. But it’s perfect as a scrub plane.

I counted how many passes it took to obliterate the excess wood, and promptly for got the number. It was about 20 passes so “obliterate” is the perfect word. The problem I had with this plane is that it has the finesse of a hand grenade. I still need to approach the line with my jack, but now I really have to pay attention because I’m much closer to the line in some areas than others.  It was a fun test, but next time I’ll stick with the jack for the whole job.

Remember how I said I needed to cut away the knots because they can cause cracking? This piece could have been the lid, or the bottom, but I’d say I cut a little too close to the knot on this one…. I will be using it for the bottom, and I will have to be very careful to remove as little as possible from the opposite end as I can so that I can remove as much of that crack as possible on this side. But that is for another day.

Now that I have dimensioned all sides, it’s time to cut grooves in both the top and bottom of the boards to allow for the bottom panel, and the sliding lid. At the moment I know I don’t have an ideal work holding arrangement, but I get by…

I don’t have a lot to offer on this topic, much of what I know is from articles like this, but here is my take on it. Start at the end of the board, working just the last inch or two. With each pass move back a bit.

This is to avoid wandering and it really does help, but is not fool-proof. If you look close you will see a fair amount of tear out in the bottom. I am planning against the grain here, and what surprised me is that you also have to watch that you don’t wobble at all with the plane. It can snag on the sides of the groove and cause tear out. Again if you look closely you will see what I mean.

My plow plane is equipped with a depth stop, but you have to remember that you must set it relative to the blade, NOT the skate! Because of this, if you need to adjust the depth of cut you will also need to adjust the depth stop. I’ll also add that this has become one of my favorite specialty planes, and could qualify as a must have in a hand tool shop.

Now if you don’t mind, I decided to spice up the joinery a little. I’d always planned on dovetailing it, but I got to watching The Jointer’s Tool Chest Pt.1 with Roy Underhill. As with pretty much all the episodes, they are worth watching (so spend some time there, and you will learn a lot more than I can offer) but for now take quick look starting at the 10min mark. At this point Roy  will show both a mitered shoulder dovetail, and what he calls a shallow dove tail. Both are used to hide grooves similar to what I have, so I’m going to give them a try for the very first time. I first saw the Mitered shoulder dovetail on Rob Cosman’s  Advanced Hand-Cut Dovetails, but also Chris Schwarz made this video about it.

Anyways, go spend some time with these guys that actually know what they are talking about.


February 27, 2012

A simple box with only hand tools. Part 2

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At this point many would bring out the winding sticks to find if there is twist in the board. I don’t if I can avoid it. Mostly because getting down low enough to use them is really hard on my tired old knees. I’m not that old, but my knees sure are! Instead I repeat the same process I just did before, but on the other side. Flip the board over so the good side is facing up and tap board with your fingers. Bla, bla, bla.

Here you can barely see the squiggle on the top side of the board. On the left side there is still some space between the board and the bench. I had fought with this piece for a long while before the problem dawned on me.

I flipped the board over, and here you can see that there is a small gap in the center. The tap with my finger trick had gotten the four corners consistent, but I neglected to check the middle. The result was every time I went to plane, the board would flex and the plane would cut unevenly.  Like I said above, it needs to sit flat and fully supported.

I won’t boar you with the rest of the details, but after finally getting the second surface flattened, I work it to the point that I move to my smoother. What I’m left with is pretty much one side showing a finished product. This time I mark it with a squiggle in a circle so I don’t confuse it with the uncircled squiggle on the other side.

I’m not going to get into it the full process, but now that I have one good side, I need to come up with a final thickness. I’ll use my marking gauge to mark the opposite side and plane down to it. If you look real close you will see I’ve set my marking gauge to 19/32”. Ya that’s right 19/32”, just under 5/8”. Why you ask? Well my minimum thickness is ½” but I’m a little leery about this Brazilian Pine, especially since it is made of laminated flat sawn boards. Just in case it starts twisting as I remove more wood, I’ll get a second kick at the cat if I only go to 19/32”.

Once I got everything to final thickness, the next step for me is getting the other sides square. I made a very quick, but somewhat substandard shooting board a while ago. My scrap pile didn’t have much for useful materials at the time so I used what was at hand. I built it in the middle of a project a while back in an “I want one NOW” moment.  5 min later, I had a barely functional shooting board.

The first problem is that the fence is not perfectly square to the base. I was able to pretty much fix it with a piece of painters tape, but I could have done better. The second was that the fence is too short and not stiff enough. It can flex under pressure, and the lack of height means that the fibers at the highest part of the board I am shooting are not supported by the fence. The result is tear out. Not good. The third issue is not such a big deal. I prefer that there be a second layer of MDF for the plane to run on. This also makes the whole thing a little stiffer, and minimizes wear to my bench top.

I like to use the shooting board for planning the long grain as well when I can. In this case the wood was almost as long as the shooting board was. If I tried to do it across the bench the plane was not supported on the bench at the start of the cut. My solution was to turn it and use a stop in my vise to hold it in place. Worked pretty well.

Once I’ve gotten one of the long grain sides and an end grain side flat and square to each other and the face of the board, I need to get the opposing sides worked down to final dimension. This is where a panel gauge is super important.

Pine is super fragile across the end grain. As added insurance, I like to trim the corner off what will be the fence side of the end grain down to the panel gauge line. In the picture above, I skewed the board like that so the plane can only cut on the one corner.

Then I flip the board around and plane away the excess material. I suppose I could have also sawn off the excess, but with a saw that is aggressive enough to be worth using here, I find there is an unacceptable amount of splintering that if too close to the line, might extend past it.

February 20, 2012

A simple box with only hand tools. Part 1

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Last winter I gave myself a challenge. Build a simple box, but do it without using any power tools of any kind (I’d never done that before). As I prepared to start, I gave myself a second challenge. Photograph, and document the journey both in the good times and in the bad.

I originally posted this on a forum, but it is safe to say that this was a little experiment that got me on to the road to blogging. This all happened a year ago, but I left it written in the present tense. Click HERE to read the whole story.

What I’m going to build is a simple box with a sliding lid. I needed it to hold Purchase Order (P.O.) books in my work truck (I couldn’t find anything that would work at Staples). It does not need to be pretty, and really there is no need for the quality of joinery that I’m planning but if the boss is paying for the material ($9.00) I see it as free practice wood.

First thing I needed was a set of working drawings. This is critical! You got to plan the work and work the plan.

Errrr…. Ya….. But hey! It’s just a simple box, not the Taj Mahal.


So what does 9 bucks get me? Not much. This is a 6 foot long 12 inch wide ¾ inch thick laminated Brazilian Pine board from Home Depot. I’ve laid out some cut lines on it with a little extra meat on each piece. I’ll want to rough cut all the pieces on the heavy side for now, and then mill them down to size later.


Here we see in practice why I like to lay things out. As you can see, originally the cut lines (there are two but I’ll cover that later) intersected a knot. In the picture above you will see a small set of drawers directly above the wooden mallet. I learned the hard way on that project that dovetails and knots do not work well together.

Also knots on the end of boards can cause problems like cracking and stuff, but again we will cover that later. Knots are not such a problem if they are far enough from the edges. My solution was simply to rearrange the order of the pieces so that the cut lines missed the knots. Now above that freshly avoided knot you will see a couple of arrows pointing to a pencil line. If I cut to that line I’ll have an 8 inch wide board. Yes I’m giving myself an extra inch over the 7 inches the plans require. I don’t think I’ll need that much but just in case this Brazilian Pine explodes under my scrub plane, I’ll play it safe.

Now that I’m happy with my layout it’s time to start cutting.

First I’ll start by cutting off the end. The ends are often a mess anyways, but this one also has another nasty knot.

This end also got a little wet when I was bringing it home. Crack, crack, crack said the wood.

I guess now is also a good time to explain why I marked two lines. For one, neither side is the waste side. This way I can’t screw it up. This is also a rough cut, so there is no need to be pretty. With this cut I’ll be going for speed so as long as I stay between the lines, I can clean it up later.

Once I’ve cut off the two largest pieces for the bottom and the lid, it’s time to do a rip cut. I’ve used my panel gauge with an old fashion pencil (mechanical pencils don’t fit) to mark the line, but you could also just measure it out and use a straight edge or a ruler.



When ripping a longer piece, you may find it difficult to support the far end of the cut as you are sawing.








I discovered that I could use the jaw of my vice as a third hand. It worked great!






With all my pieces cut to rough dimension, I’m done for the day. I’ve found that stickering is critical to allow the wood to stabilize throughout the project. From here on in, any time these pieces are not being worked they will be stacked in this way, even nay especially, once they are worked to final dimension. Now if at any time the humidity changes in my shop, each piece can re-acclimatize evenly.

Before I get to dimensioning, I need to start with getting one face flat. As you can see here, with the plane holding one side down how much the front side is in the air. This simply just won’t do.

For the most part I use 2 planes for dimensioning. My imitation #4 modified into a scrub plane, and my Veritas LAJ (Low Angle Jack). You can see here how I have set the difference of width and thickness of the shavings from the two planes.

As shown above, I have a fairly heavy camber on the scrub plane. Its super crazy aggressive, and must be used with extreme caution lest we remove too much material.

Note the distinctive grooves it leaves along with some nasty tear out where the grain changes direction. Depending on the situation, you may find this tool too rough for some jobs, but not this one. Besides all but the worst of the tear out will be removed by the time I’m done.

In order to find the high points I’ll lay the side I want to flatten on the bench, and tap the corners with my finger. If the board rocks back and forth I can determine where the high points are. I didn’t take a picture of it, but I like to mark an X in the areas I DON’T want to remove material from (AKA the low points).

I do find it easier to flatten work when it has a scalloped surface made by the scrub plane. Once you get close to getting it relatively flat, I’ll move to the jack plane. By rubbing the board against the bench, distinctive shiny burnished marks will show on the high points. They are then easily removed with the jack. Once I’m confident that the board is resting flat against the bench, I mark it with this silly squiggle. The squiggle has no real meaning to me other than that I seem to naturally do it the same each time. This is important to me because it’s easily recognizable even if there are other marks on the board.

For the moment, we will call this the good side.

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