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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of blog posts by Richard Jones, who has written a generous and detailed book about trees and their structure, and how this affects the work of furniture makers. As you’ll learn from this post, Richard is an incredibly skilled designer, woodworker, teacher and writer. Part of his genius is in the ability to take a technical matter and present it in a way that makes it easy to pick up his book for casual reading. At the same time, the charts and information within this tome on wood technology will quickly become invaluable to the work you do in your shop, and will be a resource you turn to again and again. The book is written, and Meghan Bates is now working on the page design. The book is scheduled to be released in early 2018.
— Kara Gebhart Uhl
Hello. My name is Richard Jones, and I’m introducing myself to you at the invitation of the good people at Lost Art Press. The reason for this invitation is because I am a new author to them and they are transforming my manuscript on timber technology into a book which, at this stage, is still seeking a title that is somewhat different from my working title.
So, who am I to be writing about trees and wood?
I’m not a wood scientist. But I am a trained furniture designer/maker with British City & Guilds qualifications in the subject. I trained in the 1970s, working at the bench making craft furniture and joinery, gaining my qualifications in the early 1980s. Since those first steps I have worked continuously in and around the trade and profession. The early years consisted of gaining experience in a variety of workshops, primarily for smaller businesses, making furniture, repairing and restoring old furniture and antiques, and working as a joiner with jobs that included securing pay stations, and making panelling and architectural doors.
During the 1980s and early 1990s I worked as a technician in the Furniture Department of Edinburgh College of Art. It was the first time I was really required to take on a supervisory and management role within a workshop environment, and my work included overseeing other users, machinery maintenance, sourcing spares and materials, budgeting and other such tasks.
In 1993 I moved to Houston, Texas, with my American wife and became the temporary workshop manager for the Children’s Museum of Houston during the building of “The Magic School Bus: Insider the Earth” travelling exhibition. After this contract ended I started my own business, Richard Jones Furniture. I closed this business in 2003 to take up the offer to teach the Furniture: Design and Make undergraduate course at Rycotewood Furniture Centre, one of UK’s premier centres of craft furniture learning.
In 2005 I moved to Leeds, Yorkshire, to become Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Furniture Making programme, a position I held for nine years until its closure in 2014. Throughout all these years in business and in my teaching roles I continued designing and making furniture for sale through exhibitions, galleries and direct sales to clients. Nowadays I continue to work in a number of part-time roles in furniture making and joinery on a freelance basis.
My next blog post? Why I wrote a book on timber technology.
– Richard Jones
Filed under: Timber Book by Richard Jones
Below is a sidebar from my “Medicine Cabinet” article, from the June 2016 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine – how to install butt hinges using hand tools (and there are, of course, other techniques…but this is how I do it). — Megan Fitzpatrick
Maureen has been finishing stuff lately and posting them on her etsy site, https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts and she got me poking around my spoon basket. I haven’t had much time for spoon carving, but have a few I’ve finished in the past month or so. If you would like to pick any of these, just leave a comment. Usually paypal is the easiest way to pay; I’ll send an invoice. Or you can mail a check, just let me know. Finish is food-grade flax oil on all of these. Prices include shipping in US, further afield requires an extra charge for shipping.
November spoon 01; an American sycamore crook, with S-scroll carving
L: 9 5/8″ W: 2 1/8″
Nov spoon 02; birch serving spoon
L: 11″ W: 2 1/2″
Nov spoon o3; birch crook. serving spoon. One of my favorite kinds, following both the crook of the branch as well as the curve.
L: 9″ W: 2 3/*”
Nov spoon 04; birch serving spoon.
L: 10 7/8″ W:2 1/2″
Nov spoon 05; cherry crook serving spoon. Maybe my favorite of the batch.
L: 12 3/8″ W: 2 1/4″
Nov spoon 06: Not sure what to call this one. Almost a pie-serving shape. American sycamore crook. Very flat “bowl” to this one…(clouds came out, photo is darker than the spoon really is…)
L: 9 3/4″ W: 1 1/2″
Nov spoon 07; cherry, large serving spoon. The last of a batch of oversized serving spoons in cherry. Too late for Thanksgiving…
L:13 7/8″ W” 3 1/2″
Nov tray; birch. When I was carving it, I thought of it as a bowl, but now I see it done, it’s a tray.
L: 15 3/4″ W: 5 7/8″
Nov bird bowl, cherry. The last one of these I have done for quite a while. I have unfinished ones lurking at me in the shop, but no time for them now…
L: 15″ H: (at front) 7 1/4″
Today I had the opportunity to chat with a customer about dovetail saws, and he asked me the same question that I get all the time: what makes one saw better than another? Of course, since TFWW makes the Gramercy Dovetail saw, I have a pony in this race. Were lucky to live in a time in which people have a lot of good choices. There are many great modern makers of dovetail and backsaws. I know a lot of thought went into the Gramercy Dovetails design, so I end up talking a bit about those features, and what they mean to woodworkers.
We tout our saws high hang handle and its light weight, which makes it easier to saw straight. This isnt a useful feature for anyone who has spent a lot of time with other designs and has learned to saw straight accordingly. The Gramercy Dovetail has the smallest handle on the market, but we think it helps with the sawing. Its rare that anyone has an issue when using the normal three fingered grip - most people find it very comfortable, just different than what they expected. A review in the woodworking press noted the small size of the handle as if it were self-evidently bad, which I found very frustrating. The handle isnt cramped or uncomfortable to use. It would be a shame if this design feature puts people off unnecessarily. By the way the picture at the top of the blog is my saw atop a pile of student practice dovetails left over from the class.
Earlier this year I began teaching a class called Mastering Dovetails and its been fun to explore the concepts of sawing dovetails with the students. Most students use our Gramercy Tools Dovetail Saw but others bring in a variety of saws by other makers. It gives us a chance to play with different models and understand the design features of each better. Im gratified when students gain the satisfaction of gaining a skill and find it fun to make dovetails well. The Gramercy saw is designed expressly to make woodworking more fun.
Gramercy Dovetail Saw is not the most expensive dovetail saw you can buy, but at $240 it is still a chunk of change. We totally get that its an investment decision that almost no one makes lightly. Remember if you purchase a dovetail saw from us, or in fact anything from us, you have a lengthy six months (and, if you live in the US, free return postage) to decide if the saw is right for you. And of course the best judge for this would be you yourself, not some pundit (like me).
Here are the criteria that seems to guide choice:
Does it look pretty?
Some people profess not to care about how a tool looks, but I think most of us do. Our tastes may differ. I happen not to like the modern streamlined look. I love classical detailing. For other woodworkers, its the reverse. But either way, I think every time you look at your saw, you want to be able to smile and say to yourself, "Wow."
Does it inspire you?
The main reason I don't like modern saw design is that my thinking about woodworking is deeply influenced by history. Every time I cut a dovetail I am thinking of some 18th century apprentice. I love the brass and wood or period designs that keep me in the mood. I constantly am reminded by my tools that I am not as good as my equipment. Nice tools keep me striving. In the case of our Gramercy Dovetail Saw, the handles are made of black walnut - which I love. I know many makers like to use exotic woods: Duncan Phyfe had a small saw with a zebrawood handle. I get the appeal, although an exotic handle can really throw off the weight of the tool.
How is the fit and finish?
There is an old saying among metal finishers, "Highly polished and deeply scratched." No matter who makes your saws, you want over the years to have honest battle scars, not simplifications because the maker didn't know how to fit a back, polish some brass, or make a handle without tearout. For me also - and the reason we have those nice decorative file lines on the handle is that it looks much better than a curve cut by a router - I don't want crude lines and corners, or a square handle with barely rounded over sides. We chamfer the brass on our brass backs and chamfer and round the nose. I like the finished look. I don't even like most historical backsaws post-1820 or so because the workmanship is just cruder than the earlier saws. I find the 18th century elegance that we copied inspiring. Ive already written about our saw etch, and while saw etching uses a later technique (post-1860 or so), I love the what it brings to the tool.
Is it easy to start?
This is an actual important feature that shouldn't need mentioning, but everyone seems to report on it. Most modern saw-makers use foley saw filing machines to do their teeth. Foley machines are great but finicky and can't really reliably files saws finer than 15 tpi. In the era in which tools for handwork reached their peak - around 1800 - 1820 - dovetail saws were typically of much finer pitch (18 tpi and up) and pretty aggressive rake (zero). Starting a 15 tpi saw is a lot harder than a 18 tpi (or finer) saw, and I'm not a fan of the various schemes that are used to get around this problem, such as making the teeth less aggressive. sawing backwards, etc. I'm of the starting school of placing the toe of the saw on the wood, maybe tilted up a touch, and pushing forward, keeping as much weight off of the wood as possible so that the teeth do their job without jamming. Works like a charm with a fine tooth saw. THe only drawback to a finer pitch is that in thick material 1" or more the saw does cut slower as the gullets fill up.
Can you control the saw - and saw straight or at any angle you so desire?
We honestly think that the Gramercy Dovetails high hang handle and ultra light weight make it easier for a beginner to saw accurately. Ive gotten to see a lot of beginners give our saw a try at shows and now in the dovetail class, and its easy to observe how quickly and easily beginners find the saw to control. A lighter saw influences the cut the least. Woodworking shouldn't about fighting your tools.
9" is about average. You can go shorter or longer. Some people like a longer saw. In my class one student used a Gramercy Sash Saw that he purchased because he wanted a more versatile saw. It's a light saw for its size. It took a little getting used to, but it worked out fine. Fast too.
Is there a break-in period?
No lie: our saw has a break in period. This has gotten us into trouble with some reviews in the woodworking press. As far as I know, we are alone in echoing not just the general appearance of a traditional saw but also th4 way it is sharpened. This means aggressive filings and zero rake. When you first get your saw, it has seen only a few strokes when the shop tests it to make sure it tracks correctly and cuts fast. But those teeth are like needles. When you first use the saw, they will want to catch in the wood, especially in open pore species like oak. But after 10 minutes or so - the break-in period - any burrs and bits from the filing should be worn off have worn off and the teeth should be thoroughly evened out. At this point your saw will work smoothly and FAST.
Will the handle stay true over time?
We use Black Walnut because it is stable. I would guess that all of the mainstream materials used by everyone in the industry are fine, but if you do get a saw that is made from an exotic wood, make sure the maker says it will be stable. You wont find much to admire in a gorgeous handle that is heavy and unstable. Nothing is more frustrating than a warping handle - especially on a premium saw.
Handle size and shape.
Think about golf. The amount of effort that goes into designing a handle and club that let's someone driver further is insane. And of course what a pro does is teach you to exploit the tool, not force the tool into your current posture. Sawing is exactly the same. The goal should not be that a saw handle feels perfect from day one. It might - hopefully it will, but it should not under any circumstances just mimic whatever you are used to, it should make you a better craftsperson.
Is it within your budget?
This is a tricky one. In theory, even the most expensive dovetail saw on the market is less than a trip to Disney World. And over time, per use, it's inexpensive. But a budget is a budget and all the dovetail saws worth buying are a healthy chunk of change - with two exceptions: The Veritas saw is well made, inexpensive (1/4 of the cost of ours), works very well, but way too modern for my tastes. I don't think it is as easy to use as our saw, but it's the best deal in well-made pistol grip saws. We also stock a straight-handled gents saw that I recommend to students all the time. It could use a sharpening out of the box but even so it works well, albeit slowly.
As you might imagine, I think the Gramercy Tools Dovetail Saw does well according to these criteria. But I admit I'm biased. If I didn't like the way our saws performed we would be making them differently. The real good news is that with so many modern makers to choose from, all of whom make fine saws with differing characteristics, no matter which saw you pick, you will end up with something pretty excellent.
"I worked for nonprofits and had jobs that were just looking at numbers on a screen. But this is..."
- Mac Kohler, founder of Brooklyn Copper Cookware, in Saveur magazine. He’s talking about the copper cookware that he makes and cooking, but this is exactly why I like woodworking with hand tools. And cooking, for that matter.
I’m a bit ashamed of how long it took me to buy an inexpensive block of rosin and put it in my tool chest. Rosin, also called calophony, is derived from pine sap and increases friction on anything you rub it upon. That means that your slippery bench dogs or planing stop will suddenly stand at attention and stay that way. Rosin makes things stick. It comes in a variety […]
|waiting for me|
|each one comes with two blades|
I like the knife and it is better than what I was expecting it to be. It has a bit of weight to it, the blade is wicked sharp as is, and it feels good in my hand. This fills my palm nicely which I didn't think it was going to do. Haven't even made a mark with it and it already has a few gold stars.
|one is in Miles's toolbox|
|dovetails penciled in|
|itch is getting scratched|
|LN is in the on deck circle|
The saw cut from both was too close to declare a winner. I did find the LN saw easier to start but by the time I got to the last tail with the LV saw, it was old hat. I figured out the sweet spot for starting the cut which happened to be towards the heel. Both saws were easy to saw square and then follow the angle of the tails.
|cut my thumb|
|road testing two more|
|sawing the half pins|
I give the edge to the half pins to the LV saw but not by much. Not only was it easier sawing them with the LV saw, it was easier to track on down on the gauge line. The LN did them but it felt a bit rougher doing them with it. No hiccups with starting the LV saw on any of the half pins either.
|edge to the LV saw|
The LV saw is for Miles's kit and I had got it because it was good deal $$$ wise. I know LV makes good stuff so I went with their reputation. This is my first experience with any of the LV bench saws. If I hadn't seen the LV deal, I was going to buy Miles's a LN dovetail saw. Now I'm thinking maybe I should buy me a LV dovetail saw. After all it is almost xmas and I've been a good boy all year.
|a gold star for the knife|
I ran a few lines on my shooting board to get a feel for the knife. I didn't dig into the blade on the square and I seemed to have mastered the bevel right away. Out of the box this knife is wicked sharp. It is 100% sharper than my curved blade marking knife here. The Stanley doesn't require any flattening of the back neither. I can also sharpen the blade or toss it and put a new one.
I did all the knife lines for the dovetails with this. I like the length and it feels better in my hand than the curved blade marking knife. The Stanley has more weight, heft, and a presence when held. Compared to the other knife which has little weight, no heft and less than half the presence of the Stanley, the edge goes to the Stanley as the all around winner.
Again I feel like a traitor because I was getting fond of the curved blade marking knife. I am not ready to ditch it and marry the Stanley just yet. The Stanley has impressed me so far but like the LV saw I'll reserve final judgment until I have used both knives and the LV saw on a few projects.
What US holiday is also celebrated in Italy, Spain, and Latin America?
answer - Columbus Day
Meet the artists from the December 2017 issue How five masterful makers integrate CNC and CAD technology into their woodworking. In the December 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine, the article, Digital Artistry gives the readers a peek at what five professional woodworkers are doing with digital tools in their shops. Each has an extensive traditional woodworking background and many years of experience before they added digital tools like CAD […]
The post Digital Artistry — Meet the Artist: Curtis Erpelding appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Meet the artists from the December 2017 issue How five masterful makers integrate CNC and CAD technology into their woodworking In the December 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine, the article, Digital Artistry gives the readers a peek at what five professional woodworkers are doing with digital tools in their shops. Each has an extensive traditional woodworking background and many years of experience before they added digital tools like CAD […]
Book cover, showing the plane till in my basement workshop.
If you'd like a copy of my book, Hand Tool Basics, published by Popular Woodworking Books, you can order it online at ShopWoodworking.com.
It's available in both hardcopy and e-book formats. It's a direct companion to my video series, Intro to Hand Tools (more information on the series, including the free Part 1 and sample lesson, is at Intro To Hand Tools Downloadable Videos).
The images in the book are taken from the digital video I recorded for the series, and its organization and content match the series. The book is therefore a matching visual reference for hand tool woodworking, with some 1400 captioned photos.
Why have a book version identical to the video series? Several reasons:
- Some people prefer learning from videos. Some people prefer learning from books.
- It's nice to have both so you can sit back and watch the videos, then have the book with you on the workbench as you follow the steps for a procedure.
- The dynamic images in the video allow you to watch the tools in motion, while the static images in the book freeze the action so you can take your time examining details. These complementary views help you get the whole picture.
Here are a few sample pages representative of the layout and level of detail in the book.
From Chapter 1: The Tools, showing a selection of the tools covered.
From Chapter 5: Mortise and Tenon Joinery, showing some of the fistfights and fundamentals.
From Chapter 6: Dovetail Joinery, showing some of the steps laying out and sawing a tails-first through-dovetail.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about anything in the book. One of the challenges is getting just the right explanation that conveys the information to all readers regardless of their experience and skill level, and sometimes that fails.
Early 20th century memes.
Editor’s note: With the holidays upon us, I’m looking through vintage issues of the magazines and books we own for fun handmade gifts – things that you can build in not too much shop time, but that will help to create a lifetime of memories for the recipients. I’ll post (at least) two every week between now and the new year. Not all of them will be for kids – […]
The tangs or shafts of the drawbore pins were a bit over sized compared to the hole that I had drilled in the handles. Just a little bit, but when I first tried to mount the handle I got afraid that they might split, after all bubinga isn't a soft wood.
So I mounted the drawbore pins in the lathe and turned down the shafts to the exact diameter of the holes that I had drilled.
I still had to use a large hammer to mount the handles, but none of the handles split, and everything was really tight once seated.
For a finish I decided to use some old floor varnish that we have on board.
I simply dipped the end of a handle into the can and smeared the varnish over the rest of the surface. Once the entire handle was covered in varnish, I rubbed the handle a couple of times with an abrasive pad, and then I wiped off the excess varnish.
The idea is that it should provide a bit of protection against grime without being a super shiny and slippery surface.
Conclusion of the project:
Making a set of eccentric drawbore pins is relatively easy if you have access to a metal working lathe, or know someone who does.
The actual turning process is very simple and the material is inexpensive.
I am not sure if it was necessary to harden the drawbore pins, but I figure that it can't hurt to do it. But if you don't have the equipment for it, I am convinced that a set of homemade drawbore pins will still work perfectly.
Making tapered octagonal handles is easy, and you don't have to despair if they are not exactly square or if the taper is not identical on all sides, They are comfortable to use and a huge advantage is that they roll very poorly, so if you work on a ship there is a possibility that they might actually stay where you put them on the bench. I guess that the non rolling function also applies to shop ashore, so if you haven't got a tool tray - it could be a pattern worth considering.
Joshua Klein made an entry about the subject a couple of years back.
He was inspired by Zach Dillingers blogpost which provides a very thorough step by step guide to making those handles for a chisel.
A really fine thing about this pattern in my point of view is that it is possible to make it without a lathe.
All there is left for me now, is to see if having some drawbore pins will make my work easier when using that joint. But I kind of expect that I will be the case.
Katy has been hard at work making soft wax, and she now has 53 more tins to ship out immediately. Tins are $12 each and are available here through her etsy.com store.
This is likely the last batch she will be able to manage before the end of the year, though she is a determined young lady. She’s pushing hard to sell wax so that she can go on a school-sponsored trip to Boston in 2018. We’ve agreed to pick up half the cost, but she is responsible for the rest of the trip’s expenses.
And (God help me) she will almost certainly become a fully licensed driver this Friday and need to purchase gasoline and “Little Tree” air fresheners for her vehicle.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized
I used rattlecan poly for finish.
All in all, making 8 took about 12 hours.
Several years ago, I joined the top and back and inlaid a Manuel Ramirez style rosette in the top with the intention of making a small bodied classical guitar with a fairly short string length, something like a 625mm to a 635mm scale. The project got put aside, there were orders for standard, or full size classical guitars, that guitar would have to wait.
In October, I pulled out the wood so I could work on it over weekends. I planed the back, I thinned the sides and thinned entire top to 2mm. The edges got thinned to about 1.5mm. Sitka spruce is stiff stuff, I want this guitar to be responsive, and thinning the edges a little more helps be responsive.
Then came the neck. After selecting a nice piece of Spanish cedar for the neck, I had to make a decision as to the string length of the guitar. Since the top was all ready cut out for a body length of 470mm, as opposed to 480mm-495mm body length for a "standard" classical, I couldn't make it into a guitar with a 650mm. A 630mm string is a little short for most people, I chose to make with a 640mm string length. The guitar will have plenty of loudness with that length and will be just a little easier to play.
Today, I glued all the "fan" braces and the transverse braces to the top with hot hide glue. I really like hot hide glue! And I got one brace glued onto the back! I bent the sides last week, I will attach those after I attach the top to the neck.
The goal is to have this guitar ready for bindings by the end of the week!
This tool comes from Miles's toolbox and I am not a fan of tools thrown in a box to bang around against each other. Some tools can survive a bit of toolbox rash, this one can't. I don't really have many choices regarding tool storage in his toolbox. It is kind of small and I want to stuff it with tools so I have to compromise where I can.
|round leg dividers|
|where it lives in the toolbox|
|figured out the lid cutout|
|kept the length|
|I'll let this sticker for another day|
|I'm getting used to this knife|
|got bit on the arse again|
What does Idaho mean in the Shoshone language?
answer - gem of the mountains
I have 14 windows down in this small workshop, and here in New England as winter solstice is approaching, I can’t see well enough to do any significant work by 4:30 in the afternoon. By 4pm it’s getting dim, but I can sweep, sort stuff – can’t cut joinery or do carving. I think about the joiners of the 17th century with the small (& few) windows in their buildings, how did they do any work in this light? Maybe they didn’t work much in the winter?
A notion that shows up in several 20th-century writings about 17th-century joiners is that they concentrated their joinery work in the winter; being too occupied with crops and livestock the rest of the year. That’s a quaint notion, and might even have some merit. One way to see if this is valid is to see tradesmen’s probate inventories to see if there’s work underway. There’s lots of reasons stuff might be un-finished…but it’s a start.
One bit of evidence in favor of this argument is the inventory of Edward Brown of Ipswich, Massachusetts, his inventory is from February 1659/60:
3 wheeles, finished lennen 13s6d, wheeles woolen & linnen not finisht £1-16 work done toward chaires 3s & 15—ills 6s9d shope tooles £3-6
John Symonds of Salem, Massachusetts also had unfinished work when he died. His inventory was presented in court 19:7:1671 – so September according to the old calendar.
will: “…to my son James Symonds…I do assigne my servant John Pease to him dureing the term of time expressed in the Indenture… Further I give all my workinge tooles belonginge to my trade to my son James Symonds…”
inv: Joyners Tools benches and lare £5-5-6 2 Bedsteds almost finished £3 3 stools and one half of a Box 12s6d 1/2 Grindstone & windlass & a Small grindstone 5s Timber planke & board £5-12
…part of a Chest… 3 Chests 3 Boxes and a wooden Tunnil 14s 2 Tables a forum & Chayres 16s a Vice and an old Hatchet 10s nayles 10d an Ax 6s10d …a p of Jemmils…5 wedges…one half of a Crosscut Saw… Timber in the Woods £1-2 an apprentice of 17 years old who hath 3 year and 9 moneths and 2 weekes to serve
George Cole died in 1675. His inventory is dated 30:9:1675, back when the 9th month was November…his work is not called “unfinished” but he had “work done in his shop…”
will: “…I give to my master John Davis all my timber…”
3 saues 8s, 2 goynters & foreplaine 6s, 3 smothing plains & a draing knife 3s6d, 2 plans & 2 revolvong plains 10s, 4 round plains 5s, 3 rabet plains 4s, 3 holou plains 3s6d, 9 Cresing plains 10s6d, 6 torning tools 9s, 3 plaine irons & 3 bits 1s6d, 1 brase stok, 2 squares & gorges 1s6d, 1 brod ax & 1 fro 2s, holdfast 1s6d, hamer 1s6d, 6 gouges 2s, 9 Chisels 5s, 2 ogers & 1 draing knife 3s, 1 bench hooks, 2 yoyet irons 1s, a gluepot 1s6d, for what work he has done in his shop £1-10
My notes include a date of “1676/7” for Matthew Macomber of Taunton, in Plymouth Colony. The double-dating falls between January and mid-March, so this is another one for the “winter” crowd.
a parsell of cooper’s tooles 9s (illegible) hoopes not finished 10d five hundred of cedar bolts att the swamp £1-10 hewen timber in the woods 8s9d 200 of cooper stuff in the woods 5s more in tooles and arms £2-10
Another vote for winter is William Savell, of Braintree, Massachusetts. He died February 1, 1699/1700. Included in his inventory are:
a green carpitt & covers for chairs 01-08-00
a douzen painted chairs & a sealskin trunk 01-18-00
a wainscott chest and a box 01-01-00
a square table a wainscott chest and a bedstead 02-12-00
timber and weare begun 03-00-00
Well, here’s one more – what I always call “When Things Go Wrong” – court cases sometimes shed light on period practice. John Davis was asked to make 4 chests, did so, and had them delivered. But it all ended up in court. All I can see is that Davis was both pissed and pissed off in May of 1681, and things got messy…but these depositions tell us exactly nothing about what time of year John Davis made these chests:
Writ: John Davis v. John Tolly; debt; for four wainscot chests made by his order and delivered to him in his house, dated June 23, 1681; signed by John Fuller, for the court and town of Lyn; and served by Richard Prytherch, constable of Salem, by attachment of the bed of the defendant, the summons being left with Mrs. Tauly.
Nathaniall Kirtland, aged about thirty-four years, deposed that he brought from John Davis’ shop at Lyn four chests and delivered them to John Tauly at his house in Salem. Davis told the deponent that Tauly had them to carry to Newfoundland. Sworn in court.
Bill of cost 3£
Eleaser Lenesey, aged about thirty-five years, deposed that Davis looked at a chest in Tawleay’s house and the latter told him to make two or three as good as that for 25s. each. Sworn in court before William Browne, assistant, and owned in court.
Richard Croade, aged about fifty-two years, testified that, on May 7, 1681, he heard Mr John Tally read from his book his account with John Davis, and the latter did not disown it. Sworn, May 11, 1681, before William Browne, assistant.
Samll Blyghe, aged about twenty-two years, deposed that, being in the house of Mr Wing of Boston in company with John Tawly of Salem and Joseph Cawly, he heard Tawly ask John Davis, joiner, of Lynn, to make the chests, saying he would rather Davis have his money than any one else, at the same time giving him 5s. Sworn, June 23, 1681, before William Browne, assistant.
John Longley, aged about forty-two years, testified that on May 6, 1681, he heard Davis at Taulely’s house call the latter a cheating knave, with many other absurd expressions, challenging him out of his own house to fight, threatening him. He also took hold of a wainscot chest in the room, threw it up and down the room, breaking several pieces of the front of the chest, etc. Davis was very much in drink. Elizabeth Tawley testified to the same. Sworn, June 28, 1681 before Bartho Gedney, assistant.
Joseph Calley, aged about thirty-seven years, deposed. Sworn, June 7, 1681, before John Richards, assistant.
Eleazer Lenesey, aged about thirty-five years, testified that, being in John Davis’ house at Line, after he had brought home the cloth, a whole piece of kersey, he said he had bought it of John Tawleay of Salem. Sworn before William Browne, assistant.
Mary Ivory, aged about forty-two years, deposed that she was at Taulie’s house when he received the chests. Sworn in court.
Samuell Ingols, aged about twenty-seven years, and Nathanil Willson, aged about nineteen years, deposed that the chests were worth 30s. each. Sworn in court.
John Longley, aged about forty-two years, and Thomas Eleat, aged about twent-six years, deposed concerning the assault and that neither Tawley nor his wife could have any peace while Davis was in the house. Sworn. May 9, 1681, before Bartho Gedney, assistant.”
I’ve wanted a SawStop sliding crosscut table ever since I tried one out at Woodworking in America 2016. Sliding crosscut tables were a basic fixture in the English shops where I worked; I took them for granted as a safe, precise means of breaking down sheet goods and cutting multiple parts to identical length. For eons, I’ve used a radial arm saw, but I recently decided it was time to […]
For all intents and purposes I completed the construction phase of the Washington Campaign Desk over the weekend. On paper there wasn’t much left to do. Basically I had to assemble the drawer compartment parts and attach it to the desk top. But we all know that “on paper” doesn’t mean much.
Assembling the drawer compartment wasn’t overly difficult. I pre-drilled and counter-sunk the screw holes, applied a little glue, and screwed it together. That part was relatively easy. I had one minor issue, and that was the right side drawer divider would, for some reason, not sit perpendicular to the desk top. I double and triple checked the dado fit and no matter what I did I could not get it perfectly straight. Don’t get me wrong, it is not off much, probably 1 mm or so (for all you metric people), so I decided to not let it bother me. To finish it off I used walnut plugs purchased from Rockler; they worked surprisingly well, and I’m very happy with the finished appearance.
In the meanwhile, I also pre-drilled and counter sunk the holes in the desk top to attach it to the leg assemblies (using elongated holes to allow for movement). But before I went any further I disassembled the base and spent a good 90 minutes with a hand plane and sandpaper cleaning the parts up for finish. As far as the sanding was concerned, I used the grit sequence 60/120/220/320. I did not use a random orbit sander, rather, I just used a sanding block because it seemed easier to control, though it was definitely more time consuming. Once the sanding was finished I reassembled the legs, and thankfully I marked all of the parts before I took them apart to assure that I would put them back together correctly. I used a little glue to attach the filler pieces to the leg cleats, but otherwise, the only glue used in the entire project was on the four dadoes on the drawer compartment, and the walnut plugs. (I promise once it is finished, with finish, I will photograph all of the relevant parts). With the leg assemblies ready to go, I attached them to the desktop and reattached the cross cleat, once again plugging the countersunk holes and cleaning them up.
The last part of the assembly for me was the scariest, and that was attaching the drawer unit to the desktop. Before I took everything apart I marked and predrilled holes into the desktop. To attach the drawer unit I decided to use pocket-hole screws. I like using pocket-hole screws in situations like this because of the pan head holds nicely on elongated holes. In any case, I used two combination squares (I highly recommend having two BTW) to align the drawer unit, enlisted my lovely wife to hold the drawer unit in place, and carefully screwed the drawer unit to the desk top. Speaking for myself, it’s always a bit nerve wracking lying on my back and screwing through a tabletop sight unseen. Thankfully, everything went well.
And speaking of pocket screws, I may attach a cleat underneath the desktop to connect the two leg assemblies, just for added strength, because as of right now they are only connected by one cross brace. After doing some research it appears that pocket screws were traditionally used for such a task, believe it or not, but as of right now I still haven’t made up my mind.
The last task of the day was milling up some poplar for making the drawers. The drawer fronts were completed last week, but I didn’t want to plane them to final size until the drawer unit was assembled. I decided to go with half-blind dovetails for the drawers, which is the logical choice. So I gang sawed all four drawer sides at once, tails first obviously. I am holding off on the drawer backs just to make sure there is no settling, or what have you, before I glue the drawers together, but that part should only take a matter of minutes.
As far as the finish is concerned, when I started the project I spent some time searching the forums to find a nice finish for Walnut and kept coming back to a product called Sam Maloof poly/oil. It seemed to get good reviews, so I ordered a can of both the poly/oil and the poly/wax. The instructions call for 3 to 4 coats of the oil and 1 to 2 coats of the wax, with an overnight dry in between each application. I likely won’t start applying the finish until this coming Friday night, when I will have time to take my time.
And on another note, I am not overly concerned with the finish when it comes down to it. I used to worry a great deal about having a perfectly smooth, plastic-like appearance. But considering that the boards used to make this desk likely came from barn walls, I am more than happy with how it looks. I was more concerned with doing the best job I could do, and I believe that I did that. The desk looks like I want it to look, and I believe that it is well constructed and it should last for quite a while. I think that George Washington would have liked it, and more importantly, my daughter loves it, and I have a feeling that she will be the one to use it most, and that is about all I could ask.