Monday, March 14, 2016

Henning Norgaard Couch Table Part III and Another Squirrel!

Continuing with the couch table. I'm afraid there is not much going on here, I'm still roughing out the parts. The problem is that roughing out parts like this in a hand tool-only shop does take a little longer. So far I cheated a little in getting a local cabinetmaker to run my oak planks for the top through his thickness planer.

I want to prep the rest of the parts for the base in my shop, but after spending half of the whole day ripping 9 out of an eventual 12 sticks out of a board, I might just run those sticks through a thickness planer, too.

A lot of people seem to me to be afraid to do their stock prep with hand tools. For the most part, I am forced to as I have none. I find that it is neither difficult nor inaccurate, and for the most part it is not slow.

When it really starts to show as a weakness for me, is when there are big parts, or lots of parts that need special cuts.

My task today was cutting 12 sticks out of an ash (Fraxinus excelsior) board. The sticks need to be about 28 inches long and one inch square or so.

The great part about doing this with a rip saw is I am given the freedom to cut this board any way I want. I decided this table's base would look best with the annular rings of each stick being more or less at a 45 degree angle to the stick. I've always called this rift-sawn, but I have also heard the term "bastard grain." The advantage is the grain looks the same on all four faces, rather than showing quarter sawn grain next to flat sawn grain. For this piece, it would look odd. I want the focus to be on the top when you are looking at this piece, so anything that sticks out or draws the eye to the base isn't going to work here.

Perhaps a photo so show what I am talking about.
There's really not much more to see as far as progress on the table. Ripping is really a pretty boring thing to blog about.

Tomorrow I should be able to get those last three sticks ripped out relatively quickly, then I will decide if I want to run them over to a shop with a thickness planer (likely), or square up the parts by hand (my arms hurt thinking about it).

For a bit of interest, and in line with my latest tendency toward ADD woodworking, I started another new project. Well, I also rehabbed a couple of bench planes today, but more on that later.

Jonas, the author of the blog Mulesaw, is making a couple of backsaws this trip on board his ship. He and I were chatting about the project one day, and somehow I was able to talk him into bending a piece of copper for the spine of a backsaw for me. I'm excited to see how his ship-board saws will come out. I think it would be bad manners if I didn't finish the saw. I guess I'll get started early.

I actually started to make a dovetail saw a few years back, but for some reason abandoned the project. I got as far as roughing out the shape of the handle on a piece of flatsawn walnut. I might take this opportunity to finish that saw, too.

I ordered another folded brass back from TGIAG along with a pair of sawplates punched with 14tpi teeth at 10 degrees of rake. I figured I would do a comparison of a "proper" manufactured folded brass back with Jonas' copper version. To do a proper comparison, I will make two identical saws based on the carcase saw from Smith's Key.  The dovetail saw has a milled brass back from Ron Bontz.

I have a nice piece of elm that I brought back from Jonas' place in Denmark that will make a gorgeous saw handle. It will be perfect to pair this with the copper back that Jonas will provide, for a saw whose parts mostly came from Denmark. Well, Denmark and somewhere in the middle of the North Sea. The second saw will have a pear handle, I think. Let's get started on the elm:

I printed out a template from Blackburn Tools. I like this one as it looks just like the image in Smith's Key, plus there are separate files for different sizes of grips. Next I cut out an appropriate sized blank and flattened one face.
I really like working with elm. I have a bit more if I screw this one up.
With one face flat, I marked around the blank at one inch in order to prepare for resawing.
Resawing is a lot like cutting tenons.
I sawed a kerf with my ripsaw all around, then started working my way to the middle.
Kind of like Connect the Dots.
I used to really suck at this. Now, I can get a surface from the saw that doesn't take too much effort to clean up. All I can say is, the only way to get better at this is to keep doing it. Eventually you get a feel for what the saw wants to do and you let the saw do it.
Too bad I'm not making a book-matched panel.
After everything is flat and square, I spray-glued the template to one side of the elm block being careful to line up the wood grain with the direction of cut.

Now to start shaping. To start, I will drill out some holes. No drill press here, just bore a straight hole! As long as it is more or less close, I can straighten things and make adjustments with a rasp later.
I had a one inch Irwin pattern auger bit.
Some of the holes on this pattern were bigger than an inch, and in odd sizes. I was going to bore those with my one inch bit, too, until I remembered I had some Wood Owl bits I used once and put away. They were a bit closer in size to what I needed.
This one left a bit of a ragged hole.
It turns out they both work fine in a regular brace.
This Ultra Smooth bit left a very nice hole.
I did have one mishap here. I was careful to let the lead screw pop through on the far side, then flip it over to finish the cut from the far side. That prevents blow-out. Unfortunately, there was a small crack in this wood and a chip popped out of where the top horn will be. I think I will be able to work around it. If not, I have more wood, I suppose I'll just start over.
The blank with holes.
I did the saw cuts I could with my Ryoba Dick saw. The other curvy bits gave me an opportunity to use my bow saw.
Incidentally, the frame of my bowsaw is elm.
Here is where I left off yesterday. Next I will clean up the ragged bits with a rasp or whatever, then I will start shaping the handle. Maybe by the time Jonas' copper back arrives, this handle will be ready for it.
Not quite ready yet.
The other handle in the above photo is the walnut handle from the backsaw project. I had forgotten about this. It is based on a scan from my Spears & Jackson dovetail saw. It looks like it is ready to start shaping and will be good to go. The only problem I see with it is it is flat sawn, rather than quater sawn. I suppose I'll use this opportunity to find out why sawmakers don't normally do it this way.


  1. Are those Irwin bits by any chance from C.I. Fall? :-)

    The bastard grain look really good. I am impressed that you took the time and effort to do it by hand.


    1. Why yes, as a matter of fact!

      I wasn't able to get them all perfectly 44 degrees, the wood wasn't quite thick enough. I have learned that in certain instances, it is worth the effort.

  2. Hi Brian,
    I can feel with you regarding the ripping job. Sometimes it is tiring to prepare the stock before you can start with the "real" project work.
    I often try to combine it with a side project (as you have done now). So I can split my shop time in "must do" and "nice to do" tasks.
    Curious to see how your saw will come out. Some saw blades are still waiting in my shop for being a saw one day.

    1. I've come to not mind stock prep, it just isn't so exciting to blog about. I find that doing a lot of ripping is possible to do without getting tired as long as I try not to go too fast.

    2. I meant "tiring" in a mental way. Maybe unmotivated is the better term.