The linen press build is under way, And for this project I choose cherry for the main material with the secondary being maple. The build started with the carcass for the lower half of the cabinet, I assembled this using half blind dovetails to connect the top and bottom with the sides, and for the frame that makes up the top I used maple with cherry for the front stretcher assembling the frame with mortise and tenon joinery. Once the carcass was together I did the drawer dividers installing them to the case with exposed dovetails, and for the runners I attached them to the drawer divider with a tenon at the front using no glue and one nail to the back, the only glue I applied was at the center of the runner to allow for wood movement.
With the lower carcass together I was able to create the base frame for the feet to attach too, the frame is one inch thick by four inches wide and joined with mitered corners and a half inch thick spline to add strength to the joint. I did created a profile to the edge using a scratch stock that I can only describe as sort of ogee in appearance. Once the base frame was attached I moved on to making the footings, using a simple foot design I have been using for a long time now in projects like the hall tree I built and few others.
I could now focus on the drawers and dovetails where the only choice, using maple for the sides and bottoms and of course cherry for the faces. The big issue I had with this build was it is such a simple design I wanted to do something to make it stand out and the only way I could see to do it was in the details, things like the spacing of the dovetails. a small detail really but enough of one to make a big difference with out it being so much it pushed it over the top. I also spent what seemed like hours agonizing over the cherry I had trying to pick the best layout and boards for the faces, and I'm pretty happy with end result of both.
While working on my latest project there have been a few moments when in the middle of doing something I realized how often I have been asked about exactly what I am doing right now, and always meaning to address these questions in better detail then with my typical response of a quick typed answer I never seem to be able to. So moving forward as I work through future projects I will try to cover these sort of questions, now I'm not sure if you would call these tips or tricks but some of this stuff will be common knowledge to some but hopefully it helps someone. Either way helpful or not I'll do my best to share it here as the answers to your questions present themselves.
A while back my wife had asked me about making us a new bed frame and I was all for the idea being quick to admit it's long over do, so after locking myself down with pen and paper I came up with a design that I was pretty excited about and after presented it to her I now find myself building us a whole new bedroom set, yeah I know it's funny how these things happen but I am actually looking forward to this project. The set will include a linen press, two night stands, a blanket chest and of course the bed frame that started it all. We agreed on cherry as the main wood and maple for a secondary which has been a long time favorite combination for me, it always creates such a great contrast as the cherry darkens with age against the maple especially the way it makes joinery like dovetails in drawers pop, it's pretty awesome. So yesterday I took a drive over to see my buddy Jerry at Root River Hardwoods in Preston Minnesota, I have been dealing with this mill for years now and they have never disappointed me, they set me up the stock I need to get things rolling and I headed back to my shop. The first piece I'm going to build is the linen press, measuring 50.5"w x 78.5"t x 24"d the bottom 27" of the cabinet will be drawers with the remaining upper portion of the cabinet being two doors that when opened will reveal a series of slide out shelves. It is a pretty straight forward piece to build but I still did my usual drawing to allow me to work out details like the crest rail in the upper case, the transition molding between the upper and lower cases and ect.
Now sadly they did not have any twenty four inch wide boards so to make it happen I will have to do a few glue ups and that's okay. but for me this is one part of the build that can take forever as I agonize over what boards go together so well they create a surface that visually flows perfectly to me, and honestly I believe this is probably the most important step in building furniture it's the attention to details like this and having the ability to imagine the end result of the material choices you make that can create something beautiful. The plan this week is to get the panels made up for the lower case then I can start cutting my dovetails to assemble the carcass, and if all goes well hopefully start work on the dividers and runners for the drawers before the weekend.
I remember as a teenager my brother challenging our fathers knowledge and my father very calmly informing him " I have forgotten more things then you know " and at the age of 93 I would bet it's more true now then it was when he said it with most people he meets. Recently I found myself in this situation, I was trying to explain to someone how to do something that I have done quite a few times over the years but for whatever reason the answer escaped me, I had no problem in physically showing how it was done though. This grew to be a very common situation for me someone would ask me a question and even though I knew the answer there would be days were I drew a blank, and with this starting to effect my everyday life my wife and I turned to the Mayo Hospital in Rochester Minnesota for answers, and after weeks of testing it was confirmed that I have early on set Dementia, a hard pill for me to swallow for sure but it did answer all the questions of what is going with me. Since this diagnosis I have found balance in my everyday life through acceptance and changing the way I approach different situations and interactions. With this being shared the question now becomes how is this going to effect my content moving forward, and honestly I'm not sure at this point. I am confident with in what I do and still manage to spend as much time as I can in my woodshop where currently I have started building a linen press for my wife as part of a bedroom set that I'm building for us. For now going forward my main focus will be my website, continuing to share things that I've learned and things I have seen that I feel may be of interest to you. I will continue to share my latest articles and blogs in social media to allow you to keep up with it all. Producing on line content like videos though is very mentally demanding and something I have struggled with these last few years, that's not to say I will never return to places like Youtube but I am saying that if I do it will have to be done in a different way and I will work on that as time goes on.
Living in Minnesota the seasonal changes I live with here take me to all ends of the spectrum in both temperature and humidity, creating several challenges for me in the shop that through the years I have come to except as normal. Wood movement is one of those things but it is something I can plan for or at least try to account for it when designing and building furniture, and for whatever reason I really don't seem to get a lot of questions about it. But I do seem to get a lot of questions about rust prevention when it comes to hand tools and the machines that I have in my shop, and honestly this is a concern for me but it is certainly not one that I tend to over think or dwell on very much. Really there are only two things that I do to avoid rust issues, the first is being aware that saw dust and wood shavings cause moister to collect on metal surfaces, so when I'm done using my table saw for example I'll use a rag and wipe off the surface of the table. The second is using my oil rag can, this is nothing more then an old rag that has been tightly rolled up and stuffed into an old soup can then moistened with some three in one oil. Making sure the rag is protruding from the opening as in the picture, I hold the can end in my hand then wipe the surface with the rag end like an applicator. I use this on almost everything, my hand planes, my chisels, the table of my band saw, I even wipe down my lathe with it. Anytime you walk into my shop you'll always see it laying around so that when I'm done with a tool I can give it a quick wipe before I put it away. It's one of those things that I remember my father always using and I often wondered if it was something he had learned from his father ? Maybe. And maybe I'm carrying on some grand family knowledge of much wiser men before me, or maybe not. But all joking aside I do know that rusty tools and equipment have never been an issue in my shop, and for this reason I will continue with what I do.
I think the most under acknowledged item in a shop has to be the roll of blue tape, and almost unarguably a must have. For me It has evolved into a dependency of sorts in so many different areas of woodworking and so much so that I can not imagine doing certain jobs without it. If I'm building a box for example that involves mitered corners the blue tape becomes my clamps, applying a piece across each joint, then with glue applied I close the box using one last piece to hold it all together. And with most of my applied moldings especially transition types this is always the clamp I use to tightly secure the molding to the surface until the glue dries. Even when I am doing things like prefinishing I will use this tape on the joints to ensure no finish gets onto the gluing surfaces. And I certainly can't forget about things like pattern routing, applying a piece to my template and another on my stock then with a couple of drops of CA glue directly on the tape I stick the two together. Personally I think this method works better then double sided tape, it certainly comes apart easier and has the added bonus of not leaving residue behind to deal with after wards, which has always been my experience with double sided tape. There are also more obvious things like it is really easy to write on making it a great way to mark individual pieces without directly marking on the project then having to deal with cleaning off all of those pencil or pen marks once the assembly is done. And of course there are a ton of applications around the shop like making start and stop marks on equipment such as a router table, just stick a piece down to the router plate and make your marks and when our done just peel the tape off leaving no marks behind to address. I'm pretty confident that I could go on for a while as to why I think blue tape is amazing but I think you get my point, it is definitely a tool in my shop.
Growing up in Carpentersville Illinois one of my favorite memories was going to the candy store, with a shinny quarter in my pocket I could get a bag filled with candy. That was over forty years ago and things have certainly changed since those days.
The prices from yesterday might be gone but if you look around prices like that can still be found, and one of my favorite places are antique stores and similar outlets. My typical venture into these places is in search of hand tools, it does sometimes require a bit of digging through the different things that tend to collected and pile up. But the hunt is certainly worth the effort when you find that one tool.
Recently I purchased a Victor hand plane from such a place, a tool that had been used through generations and was just sitting there waiting to be used again. In need of a little cleaning up and some maintenance but it was certainly deserving of the few dollars that was being asked for it.
For me a second hand tool brings pride, It's an awareness that you are carrying on the craftsmanship of the craftsman before you, filling your head with thoughts of what amazing things they must have created with the very tool you hold in your hand. It's truly an amazing circle to be a very small part of. Antique stores can be amazing places with great deals to be had, but I believe they are much more then that. They promote a full circle of heritage, the chance for a new generation to not only appreciate the craftsmen before them through the use of their tools, but for them to carry on that craftsmanship creating a new generation of craftsmen.
The Shavingwood Workshop Blog