J. Norman Reid

May 182017
 

I’m building a pencil post bed for our master bedroom. The four posts, cut from curly maple, were chamfered to a tapered octagonal shape, first on the table saw and then with a 45° chamfer bit using a jig that allowed me to use a handheld router. The router created a nice rounded transition at the point where the chamfers meet the square bottoms of the posts. That would have looked fine as it was, but I decided to add a traditional bit of decorative detail in the form of lamb’s tongues. Lamb’s tongues are, in effect, stops at the end of a chamfer, followed by an ogee shape.

Completed lamb’s tongues

My bed posts are 2-3/4 X 2-3/4″ at the bottom, tapering to 1-1/2″ wide at the top. At the transition point, the chamfers are 7/8″ wide.

The transition left by the chamfer bit

I made a wooden template in the shape of an ogee based on 7/8″ intersecting arcs.

The template

I drew lines marking the location of the stops at the end of the transitions and the baselines that extended out from the edge of the chamfers, then marked the shape of the lamb’s tongue on both sides of the leg.

Marked up leg ready to cut

I found that some adaptation was needed from one chamfer to another, since the width of the chamfers sometimes varied slightly.

Once marked, I made a vertical saw cut at the stop line with a Veritas 14 ppi crosscut saw, being careful not to overcut the baselines. Then, using a Shenandoah Tool Works 1 lb. mallet and a sharp 3/4″ bench chisel, I cut away the waste between the chamfer and the stop with the chisel bevel down.

Chopping the waste from the chamfer

I smoothed the chamfer up to the stop with the chisel held flat and bevel up and followed this with a Lie-Nielsen chisel plane and a card scraper to finish the surface. The goal is to get a sharply-defined stop at the edge of the ogee.

I then cut the ogees carefully by wasting away most of the wood with the mallet and chisel, again being careful not to overcut the line.

Chopping the waste from the lamb’s tongue

I followed this with a #9 and #13 Auriou rasp, then sanded the surface to 180 grit to eliminate any marks from the rasps. The result: a nice traditional detail to dress up my bed posts.


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Dec 272016
 

OK, so I over-pledged on the number of projects I would build in 2016. I mean, somehow I thought I’d be able to complete at least a Baker’s Dozen before the year was out. Well, things just didn’t work out as I planned. Why not, you may well ask? Frankly, a lot of things intervened, including ankle surgery that kept me out of the shop for the first quarter and bronchitis that laid me up for another month. Then there were three trips that took up another month. And finishing up my book, Choosing and Using Handplanes, took even more time. So at least I have some excuses.

What I did accomplish was significant, however. I made a major reorganization of my shop, creating a hand tool area and adding a drum sander and a better drill press. I made a good start on a Greene & Greene-inspired pantry shelf built with quartersawn sapele. I took Scott Meek’s weeklong handplane class and built three wooden handplanes. I made a set of kitchen knives using Ron Hock blades. I turned a lot of birdcage awl handles for my business, Shenandoah Tool Works, including the padauk awls sold exclusively at Highland Woodworking. And I began installation of a leg vise using Benchcrafted’s crisscross assembly and Lake Erie’s wooden screw. So, while I fell short of everything I’d hoped to accomplish, I still did fairly well.

While I know better than to load up my agenda with too many things this time, here is what I plan for 2017:

 Finish the Greene & Greene pantry shelf

 Finish installing the leg vise

 Make some more wooden planes

 Turn some bowls and hollow forms

 Build some natural edge tables

 Build a Queen Anne dressing table

 Make some small tables based on patterns in Nick Offerman’s Good Clean Fun

 Build a four-poster bed

Even with this shortened list, I think this is a bold agenda. I’ll need to be diligent if I’m to get through it, or most of it. But then, if I don’t have ambitious goals, where would be the challenge?


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Nov 182016
 

Well, it’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to what I’d like to receive this holiday season. Holding my work has gotten to the top of my list. I’ve finally decided to install a leg vise on my workbench. I’m going to be hand cutting stopped tapered sliding dovetails and I need a way to hold my workpieces firmly in a vertical position. Frankly, I thought I could get away without this until I used one in Scott Meek’s handplane class. Now I can see why no shop, at least one that uses hand tools for more than planing, should be without one. It can bring the wood up to eye level and make it much easier to work.

I’ve settled on Benchcrafted’s retro style crisscross assembly, since my installation will be on an existing bench. I’m pairing that with the Lake Erie wooden screw. Why? I know the Benchcrafted wheels work wonderfully, but something about the wooden screw just calls out to me. Call me traditional.

I’ve got up a short list of stocking stuffers as well. I’d like to give the Old Brown Hide Glue a try; I’ve heard good things about it. I need some more blades for my Knew Concepts fret saw. And I’d like a Hock paring knife blade kit to upgrade the collection in my kitchen.

Now, with a list this short, is that too much to hope for?


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Aug 112016
 

Since the beginning of recorded time, or so it seems to me, my table saw fence has been the repository of assorted things.  Pencils, chalk, Allen wrenches and other paraphernalia have collected there along with wood chips and dust that could not be swept away for fear of losing some small thing that might have later importance.  So what should I do about it?  Live with it I could no longer abide.  I needed a different solution.

Table saw boxSomewhere I saw an idea that caught my attention: a small box attached to the off side of the table saw fence that could hold those things I need to keep nearby.  As I thought about it, my gaze fell upon a partly completed walnut box that didn’t make the cut as a gift box, but would make a great storage box.  It needed only a bottom to make it complete.  I grabbed a scrap of thin walnut, cut it to size, rabbeted the bottom so it would fit the box and glued it into place.  Reaching into my waste box, I found a chunk of walnut to use for a hook and handle.  I cut a notch in the chunk to fit the lip of the table saw fence, then shaped it on the band saw and sanded it smooth on the belt sander.  Because it was white wood from a larger walnut piece, I stained it dark to more closely match the box.  Then I glued it to the box so the hook would engage the table saw fence lip.

The resulting box is more functional than it is beautiful, but it does its job perfectly.  And, it had the added benefit of using up things that had no other purpose!  Now that is recycling at its best.

Jun 152016
 

I am fascinated by the potential of hand tools, especially handplanes, for crafting fine work.  My high interest in hand tools is reflected in my summer woodworking reading list.

Paul Sellers’ Essential Woodworking Hand Tools is a thick and beautifully-presented compilation of information about all manner of hand tools.  I’ll start with this book for background on the full range of hand tools for the woodshop, their selection, preparation and use.

My interest in handplanes has led me to using wooden planes more and more and I’ve decided to build some of my own planes this year.  David Finck’s Making and Mastering Wood Planes details the construction of Krenov-style laminated planes and I look forward to studying that book and the companion two-DVD set.  I’ll also read John Whelan’s Making Traditional Wooden Planes, which describes how to make other styles and types of wooden planes.

John Wilson’s Making Wood Tools falls into a similar grouping and from this book I’ll learn about other types of wooden hand tools I can build for my own shop.

Finally, after all this reading about making tools I plan to read a couple of books about using them to create furniture: Tom Fidgen’s Unplugged Workshop and Simon James’ Working Wood 3.

I can hardly wait until I get to that cabin in the Maine woods.  I’m all stocked up and ready for lots of fun reading about hand tools and planning to build and use them.

Find more great Woodworking Books and Plans at the Highland Woodworking website.


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and five cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants.  He is the author of Choosing and Using Handplanes: All You Need to Know to Get Started Planing by Hand.  He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Jun 022016
 

D810B-171

A common feature in colonial American houses and taverns was the pipe box.  A tall slender box, often featuring ornamentation on its top edges and sometimes incorporating a drawer for matches and sundries, it could hold a half dozen or so long-stemmed clay pipes ready for use.  I really like the looks of these pipe boxes and though I won’t use them for pipes, decided to make one for my home, and it looked to be a fun woodworking project.

If you check on Pinterest, you’ll find them in a variety of shapes and finishes.  Some were simple in design, others quite ornate.  Most older ones were painted.  I chose to make a fishtail design, a fairly common pattern with moderate ornamentation, that I obtained from Charles Neil’s Mastering Woodworking web site.

I began by resawing some curly maple boards to 1/4” thickness.  Then I made 1/8” plywood templates for the top and side pattern.  I traced the patterns onto the maple and cut out the top edges of the box on the scroll saw.  You could use a jig saw, turning saw or fret saw for this if you don’t have a scroll saw.  I then trace-coated the maple with General Finishes Medium Brown dye, sanded it to 120 grit, and repeated this trace coating process before sanding to 180 grit.  I sanded the end grain edges to 600 grit, smoothing the curves cut by the scroll saw as I did.

I decided to make my box without a drawer at the bottom.  I cut the parts to final length and assembled them with glue and pin nails.  Once the glue was dry, I applied a mixture of 3 parts General Finishes Medium Brown to 1 part Orange water-based dye.  When dry, I sprayed the piece with three coats of matte lacquer finish.  If you prefer, you could use a less expensive wood such as poplar and coat it with Milk Paint for an authentic period look.

Since we don’t smoke, we’ll use the box to display dried flowers.  It would make a nice gift or holiday project.  And, I’m told that these boxes can make good sellers in the craft marketplace.


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and five cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants.  He is the author of Choosing and Using Handplanes: All You Need to Know to Get Started Planing by Hand.  He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Jan 022016
 

Welcome to our 2016 Woodworking Resolutions blogger series. Every year we invite our bloggers to share their resolutions specific to their woodworking goals for the new year. Click each link below to read our bloggers’ resolutions!

Well, it’s that time of year again, when we—like the two-faced Roman god Janus for whom January is named—take a look back at what we’ve accomplished (or not!) and then look ahead to what we resolve to achieve in the coming year.

My biggest accomplishment, despite a damaged ankle that will soon require surgery, was to finally complete a pair of oak bedside tables. These Stickley-inspired pieces will soon rest in the bedroom of my step-son, where I hope they’ll bring great joy. But aside from small things—a fishtail pipe box of curly maple, for instance—I didn’t accomplish nearly all I wanted to do, or that I’m capable of doing. My resolutions for 2016 are intended to correct that.

One reason I did so much less than I wanted in 2015 was the disorder in my woodshop. I don’t have enough storage space and the space I do have is not used to best advantage. So my first set of resolutions is intended to help me be more efficient and productive in the shop. I’ll start by decluttering my space so it is ready for work whenever I walk into it. I resolve also to reorganize the layout of my tools and work stations to enhance my workflow. And I plan to build some things to improve my organization—a joinery bench with the Benchcrafted Moxon vise that’s waiting to be installed, a saw till to replace the one that’s too small for my collection, a hand tool storage cabinet so my chisels and planes have a better place to live than on my bench top, and a mobile storage cart that combines space for sheet goods, boards and prized shorts and offcuts.

My power tools merit attention as well. I resolve to set aside regular time for maintenance so my tools get the servicing they need before problems arise. I also resolve to get an Elipse P100 dust mask and filters and really use it to protect my lungs. And 2016 just may be the year I upgrade my Sawstop with the new sliding table.

As a co-owner of Shenandoah Tool Works, I resolve to increase my production of our ever-popular birdcage awls by improving my efficiency at the lathe. And just maybe, my partner and I will introduce a new tool for this year, incorporating the same fine hardwood handles as our mallets and awls. But, shhh, it’s too soon to talk about that.

All of this prep work is intended to result in some completed projects. Sure, I’ll lose two months’ shop time after my ankle surgery, but since I’ll be more efficient, I should get more done, right? So I hereby resolve to build the following things in 2016:

  • A Queen Anne dressing table for my wife Betsy out of some figured walnut I’ve got stored
  • A chair to go with the dressing table, maybe?
  • A dining table for my step-daughter
  • A Shaker-inspired coffee table for my sister
  • Some boxes using the figured walnut and ash I’ve been saving up
  • Bowls and hollow forms at my lathe
  • Some natural edge coffee tables out of figured slabs I’ve been hoarding
  • A Chippendale secretary of figured cherry that I started years ago
  • A mahogany lap desk (or two) like the one used by Thomas Jefferson
  • A bookshelf to tame my burgeoning library of woodworking volumes
  • A cupboard to store canned goods in the kitchen
  • Some knife handles for Ron Hock kitchen knife blades
  • Wine bottle stoppers, pens and other small turned objects
  • And I’m so forgetful, I’m sure I’ve left something off this list, but it’ll probably come to me later

Oh my, as I look at it now, I wonder what I’ll think about this list when next year comes around? I suspect I’ll say to myself, “what in the world was I thinking”?

May 2016 be kind to you and your family and may your woodworking time be productive and, most important, fulfilling.