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The Education of a Woodworker - Part 3

Jim Riosa - Wednesday, June 17, 2015
I thought about titling this "Death by a thousand cuts", since the bulk of today was fettling the case work for final assembly.

Here's the thing. You start out with a rough plan, instructions and a cut list. At some point things just don't jive. Since I was a few steps ahead of the rest of the group, guess where all these litttle tweaks were discovered. Unlike my wife's love of knitting, wood books and magazines tend not to publish errata, so you need to move cautiosly each step. This is why dry fitting, with a view to next steps, is so critical.

So despite my panels being dimensionally accurate, it turned out there was not enough room to attach a 1/2 inch face piece without overhanging the molded profile on the base. So my sides ( and everyone else) had to take 3/16th off that face edge before adjusting the final cuts to join the casework. Then came an unusual bit of mitering work on the base. Essentially the coners need to be mitered so moldings can go back down the sides. In most cases, the front and sides would be flat and the modlings would wrap around. Now mitering an already profiled piece with not nly the angle but waste down the side is rather tricky, so I transferred all the cut lines to the back of the piece to have a uniformly flat surface to cut. We will see how well I got those blind angles done, or I will be at 1002 cuts.

My cohorts all had similar issues with different variations, including one major mistake that took a lot of conferencing in order to save the maximum amount of wood. The thing is everybody will mess up at some point, and learning how to rectify this without compromising the piece could be a series of classes in and of itslef.. Lots of discussion, lots of staring at pieces, lots of mock ups, lots of learning. Never get discourged because you put a saw wrong.

Couple of new techniques. The back of the sides need a rabbet to attach the backing boards to enclose the case. Normally you could do this with a rabbet bit, dado blade or rabbet plane. This involved two quick cuts at a table saw. One cut put a groove for the width of the rabbet cut when the board is flat. Then flip the board vertically and raise the blade, adjust the nece to width, and cut the waste you. You can have this done long before you set up a router table and bit.

As promised yesterday - sliding dovetails. Well, lets just say I have no great insights. Setting the depth in a piece is easy, however setting the height and width on the corresponding sliding piece is nothing but trial and error - so plan to have lots of scrap around and do a lot of test dry fitting.

Returning to the issue of matching boards for grain when making up a panel. I had two of the three panels all set and aligned, but the third panel had an edge triangle of white to be removed. However if I just ripped it out, the edge grain match would be ugly. Glen then pointed out I could cut about a 5 degree taper and the grain would match and the white owuld be gone, and then I could square up the panel. BIG take away - just because you have a rectangular board doesn't mean you have to keep it that way. Stop thinking in right angles. I am trying to burn this concept into my brain as I write.

So lots of fettling, lots of detail work, but all necessary to get the best results. Tomorrow is case glue up, attaching the top with a continuous sliding half dovetail (a uniquely Bostonian thing), and then backing the block fronts for the drawers. Of course since my stock is undersized, I need to be adding wood, which will add some complexity to an already complicated piece.

Stay tuned

Jim
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