The Dovetail Diaries

The advancement of one man's woodworking skills.

Friday, December 31, 2010


My Mom has a puzzle that she glued together and wanted to display.  She wanted something rustic to complement the subject matter of the puzzle and decided that barnwood would be appropriate.  My parents were able to get some barnwood from a friend's crumbling barn that they thought would be nice.

After getting the dimensions of the puzzle, misplacing them, and asking for them again, I was able to get some shop time to put together what she wanted.  She asked for a simple frame that would be 3" wide.  The puzzle is 20" by 27 1/4", so our dimensions were set.

I had a couple of weeks of leave at Christmas so I had plenty of time.  I also had the urge to test my new Freud stack dado that I received as a gift.  I put my old Oldham blade in my tablesaw to prevent possible damage to my good blade and ripped a couple of pieces to 3".  The dado blade was swapped in and partially buried in a sacrificial fence and set for a 1/4" cut.  I was very happy with the clean rabbet cut.

A few cut with my miter saw and I was ready to assemble.  I've been wanting to try my Kreg jig on a picture frame and this seemed like the perfect time.  A couple of holes at each miter and the frame was secure.  I disassembled each joint separately and applied glue and rescrewed.  A couple of brads at each corner to secure the outer edge of the miter and the job was done.

I delivered it yesterday and she was very happy.  The puzzle looked great and the remnants of red barn paint worked to make some of the red in the puzzle 'pop'.

While I was in the shop, I scraped the front drawer of the Shaker end table to eliminate a glue stain that I discovered.  I also worked the legs to remove some plane marks and recoated the whole table with boiled linseed oil.  The end table was moved into the house so the oil could cure for a few days before the polyurethane is applied.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Update coming

I planed, scraped, and sanded on the table last night and then soaked it down in boiled linseed oil.  Black walnut has such amazing color!

I noticed that I forgot to plane the drawer front, so planer marks are still visible.  I'll hit it with the #4 plane to smooth it out.  The other benefit is that will remove the glue smudge that became visible after the oil was applied.

The epoxy fix blended in pretty well and I'll be sure to post pics of that area.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tying up loose ends.

The leg after the initial attempt at filling the split.
In a previous post I documented the process of using epoxy to fill a crack in one of the legs on the Shaker side table.  While the crack was filled on one face, the results on the adjoinging face were less than satisfactory. 

 Living in coastal North Carolina and not having air conditioning in my shop (my garage) meant taking a break from woodworking until the temperature and humidity in the garage dropped to sub-tropical levels.  The only thing to do was head to the Outer Banks and enjoy kayak fishing near Cape Hatteras.

 Now that temperatures are starting to drop I'm able to get in and finish up the table.  Fixing the split leg was the obvious first step to completing the project.  After that comes a light sanding and a magic application of boiled linseed oil.

For my previous patch I added black walnut sawdust from my tablesaw to the epoxy to help color the filler and add some texture.  I wasn't happy with the coarseness of the sawdust and decided to try something else for the second attempt. 

Black Walnut dust from my random-orbit sander.
 In the photo to the left you can see the dust I removed from the collector on my random-orbit sander (ROS).  It's much finer and colored the epoxy more evenly while leaving it somewhat transparent, acting somewhat like a powdered dye.

Sixty minute epoxy mixed with the fine sanding
 dust makes for a nice looking filler.
I prepared a small amount of 60-minute epoxy and poured in some of the dust, stirring it in until the mixture was evenly mixed.  A small piece of wood used as a spatula allowed me to apply a liberal coating of the epoxy mixture to the two faces affected by the split.  After 10 or 15 minutes I applied a little more in a couple of areas that had developed cavities as the epoxy was drawn into the split.

The leg with epoxy applied.  The dark spot is where additional
filler was applied to fill a cavity.

After allowing a day or three for the epoxy to cure, I'll carefully remove the extra filler and see if the patch was successful. 

In the mean time, tomorrow is the first day of rockfish (Striped Bass) season and there is still fishing to be enjoyed.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New posts coming soon...

I know I haven't updated this blog in quite a while as I've been spending almost every weekend kayak fishing near Cape Hatteras, NC.  As the beach season slows down I'll have more time to woodwork.  The heat in the garage won't be unbearable in a few more weeks either.

I have to finish the Shaker table, build a couple of picture frames, and start work on some type of workbench to make building all this stuff easier.  If you read my earlier posts you'll see how I had to improvise quite a bit to hold work while using hand tools.  Hopefully a new bench will make it a lot easier.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BLO your top...

After some research on finishing black walnut, I decided that I would apply boiled linseed oil (BLO) to the walnut Shaker side table.  As I was building the table I kept imagining what the wood was going to look like with the oil and could barely wait to see it.

I haven't used boiled linseed oil much before this project.  I used it on some fir 1x2's that I placed on the edges of my french cleat system and I liked the way it made the wood look and feel.

As the weather warms, I've been pretty busy with my other hobby, kayak fishing, I've hardly spent any time in the shop and knew that I needed to get the side table done and in place in the living room soon. 

I removed the top and applied a very liberal coat of BLO to both sides.  The oil really brought out the reddish tone in the air-dried walnut.  I was impressed with the look and hopefully the picture will do it justice.

I still need to finish the epoxy patch on the leg and scrape or sand the rest of the table before I apply oil.  I'm planning to let the oil cure for several days and then apply several coats of polyurethane varnish using a ScotchBrite pad.  I'll be sure to post some pictures.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hand Plane 101

My wood plane technique has developed by watching Renaissance Woodworker videos along with the clumsy fumbling that is often referred to as 'experience'.  Those of you who read my earlier posts on the Shaker side table may have realized how surprised I was at the results of my efforts.  I simply did not expect it to work as well as it did.  Even though I was pleasantly surprised, I wasn't quite satisfied with the results.  I'm always looking for a way to do something better, faster or more efficiently and this is no exception.

I figured that I had a couple of choices to help improve my knowledge of plane usage, and since Roy Underhill wouldn't return my calls I decided to purchase one of Christopher Schwarz's videos on hand plane usage.  It was a tossup between "Handplane Basics" , "Building Furniture With Hand Planes", and "Coarse, Medium, and Fine".  After considering the description of each video, I ordered "Handplane Basics: A Better Way to Use Bench Planes".

The video is 71 minutes long and promises that after watching you'll know how to select the proper plane for the job, sharpen the iron appropriately, and use the plane properly to make "perfectly flat and gleaming panels".  In my opinion, it delivers on all three promises.

Different types of bench planes are discussed and viewers are instructed on how both the length and width of a plane affects its usage. Christopher relates the three basic functions of a plane and how a particular plane and iron combination would work better for each function. 

Christopher also demonstrates how to true all six sides of a board.  I don't know why, but it was a surprise to see that the ends of the board were trued using a plane and shooting  board.  It may be obvious to an experienced hand plane user, but I hadn't even considered using the plane for this, instead using my table saw and crosscut sled.  I blame Norm.  (Just kidding!)

I've been trying to decide which plane to purchase next, a long plane for jointing, or a better smoothing plane than the Dunlap 3DBB that I'm currently using.  Thanks to this video I've decided that the next plane will be a long plane or jointer-sized plane, probably a Lie-Neilsen No. 8.

In my opinion this video was very informative and answered many of my questions.  Some things were covered that I hadn't even thought of yet.

In the end it reinforced the need for a good workbench. And a shooting board.  The workbench will have to wait until after my back-ordered copy of  Schwarz's 'Workbenches' arrives, but I'm already scouting scrap material for a shooting board.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sketch Me If You Can

Google's SketchUp has gained popularity among woodworkers as a great way to not only sketch out their ideas, but also to share them with others by exchanging drawing files.  I've used SketchUp to view others drawings and even used it to model a small side table that I built for my wife.

While I saw the potential, I was frustrated by the apparently clumsy interface that required so many mouse clicks to zoom, pan, and orbit around an object.  I also had problems trying to draw joinery components.  The tutorials at Sketchup For Woodworkers helped, but I still didn't feel that it was as quick as drafting by hand.

Perhaps that was partially due to my background as a trained draftsman.  All my drafting classes in high school and college were 'on the board', or manual drafting..  Each program introduced computer-aided drafting (CAD)  the year after I completed the program, so I have very little experience with CAD.

When Popular Woodworking Magazine announced their ShopClass On Demand course "SketchUp for Woodworkers – Part 1: Getting Started", it caught my attention.  The scheduled release was about the time that the Wood Whisperer Guild build was winding down and it seemed like a logical next step.

Within 7 minutes of starting the course I felt like it had already proven it's worth.  I've only watched the first of the four files, but I've already learned how to easily pan, zoom, and orbit without excessive clicking.  I also learned how to customize my toolbars to access features that I didn't even know existed.

It's beginning to feel a lot more comfortable to me and I'm only a quarter of the way through the course.  I can hardly wait to see what's next.

I wholeheartedly recommend this product for anyone that wants to not only create their own drawings, but learn how to easily move around the many drawings that are available online.