Monthly Archives: September 2014

a box distraction

This looks like the approach I want to take for storing and transporting my chip carving stuff…



It begins with this little box I made. Had been practicing chip carving in butternut & pine. Turned it into a box that right now holds small sharpening stuff. Nailed construction. 

butternut top

That led to this one. Not very practical for holding carving tools; which is what it’s doing right now. they slide around when you open the drawer. It will be re-assigned soon.

Then, two things happened. No, three. I finally met Winston James Burchill, who has been kind enough to send me some of his chip carvings – and I saw these two boxes; the Pennsylvania one in a book, the Swedish one on the web. 

chip carvingchip carving by Winston James Burchill

detail detail

The minute I saw this box in the book Paint, Patterns & People I knew I would make some. It’s just taking me a while to get to it.

PA boxpainted box, Pennsylvania; early 19th century

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Pen Decorator – the Carriage Assembly

The next stage of development is in progressCarriage_Assembly.JPG – I got most of the code running on the test jig this week, and once I got it to a point that most functions seemed to work – it was time to put it into a practice jig. But before that happened, I got two micro switches to use to detect when the drill platform hit the far right and left points. Originally, I was just going to mount these so that I could tell when the drill platform hit the ends  Continue reading

New Project: The Pen Decorator

Pen Decorator

Ok, I admit it. I don’t just do woodwork. I also like playing with photography, and have a ham radio license (KC8MNS). It’s the latter that got me in trouble – because coupled with my professional background as a software systems architect (computer programmer) and the love of building stuff, even with electronics, I was ripe for the picking… read about it here

The Hag’s tooth

(I think I was turned on to this by Shannon Rogers in the Hand Tool Workshop – and since then, it’s been a go to item in my kit.)

Its one of my favorite tools, because of it’s simplicity and general utility is a router plane. I have a pair of small ones that I use for close in work, hinge mortising and fine trim work. I have a pair of largers ones set up with optional fences and with different style blades. They excel as working on the bottom of flat surfaces that need trimmed parallel to a higher face.
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Knockdown Nicholson Workbench – wrapping up

I built the bottom shelf using the little wedges on the ends, glued a 1×1 cleat to the inside of each bottom stretcher (2 1×10’s glued and cut back down to 15″ wide), and screwed in battens across the shelf at 3 points. I finished drilling the 3/4″ holes in the apron, and in the top strechers of both legs (great idea there from Chris S. and company!). I order a new pair of holdfasts from toolsforworkingwood and cut some(4) 5″ lengths of 3/4″ dowel for support posts.

The posts fit a bit too tightly, so I used my favorite turning tool – chucked the posts on the lathe, and added a tiny taper to make sure they fit well.

Last but not least – I flattened the top – using a #6 plane, sharp blade and some canning wax for lubricant. It took about 45 minutes to bring it to flat enough.

Thanks again to Chris Schwarz for bringing out the plans and the parts lists.


if you look carefully you can see the pencil marks in the surface that I need to remove.


Done, ready to break down and take in for a trial run in Friday nights class.

Quick tip… when you have to drill stepped holes backwards

Stepped hole

I drill out lots of these holes, and the process is simple. Start with the largest diameter bit, then when done, move to the next smaller size and drill further, using the center point remaining from the first bit.

But what happens when you need to drill the shoulder, after the smaller hole is already there? If you’ve tried it, you know that the bit will wander mercilessly when you try to start.

My solution? Use a second block of wood as a guide. Drill the larger hole through the second block all the way. Now, center the hole in the second block on the first hole in the original piece. Clamp the blocks together. Now you should be able to use the second block’s hole the capture the bit, and guide the starting cut into the original!

Knockdown Nicholson Workbench – oops!

A new take of "bench on bench" design?

A new take of “bench on bench” design?

Sometimes we just bull ahead in a project build. “I don’t need to measure, I have an idea where things are”. While drilling the recess and holes for the mounting bolts in the top, I got to close to the edges. I missed the legs ok, but wasn’t far enough inside to allow for the mounting nut to be attached. So, after I got the holes placed correctly, I had to mix up some epoxy to fill the mis-located holes and that means leaving it over night. Yes, I could have left the holes as is, but who wants to do that! And since I left the epoxy clear, there will be a visual reminder that I goofed to talk about 🙂

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Knock Down Nicholson Workbench – assembly

photo 1 (28)The McMaster-Carr connectors that I ordered late last week arrived yesterday, so I was able to get much further in bench assembly than I thought I was. I glued the 1×10’s to the aprons, after setting them in place on the upside down top of the bench. Using the 1×10’s as a guide, I set the legs up tight against the apron, and was able to mark and secure the legs to the aprons using the connectors.

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