My sister recently asked me to build a couple of children’s desk for her step daughters. And by recently I talking in woodworking time, so about 3 months ago. Anyway, the goal was to build two matching desks that resembled the old flip top school house desks. The design is really simple and we just chose some knotty pine for the material to match some of their existing kid furniture. The pine was a little a little difficult to work with in the sense that it tended to want to move a bit and and definitely gummed up my table saw and chop saw blades, but on the positive side this stuff was like butter with hand tools so I took the opportunity to break out the hand planes and saws when ever a good opportunity arose.
I started by routing some 1/4″ mortises into the legs a milled up from some laminated 3/4″ stock. I haven’t yet settled on my chosen method for routing mortise, so I just clamped guide board to the bench and put my leg stock in the vise. This seemed to work just fine.
Next I cut the tennons on all the rails on the table saw with my homemade tennoning jig and then did some fine tuning at the bench with the chisels and rasp.
Here are two of the leg sub-assemblies being glued up.
Both tops were flattened and smoothed by hand after glue up. I did have trouble with one of the two tops. One of the boards I got for the top was extremely cupped when I got it and didn’t notice, or it freaked out when I got it home in the shop. I tried to cut it apart and re-glue, to remove some of the cup which seemed to work, but I still had some twist. Eventually I just decided a new board was well worth the time spent.
Here’s the final product. Two beautifully simple little desks that should provide years of good service and enjoyment for my new nieces. With a little luck, they should be around for years!
At this point in my woodworking journey I have been delving more and more into hand tools and frankly falling in love with the sense of craftsmanship and personal connection you have with the piece. That being said, I recently decided to test my theory that with a little practice I could hand cut dovetails more quickly than what it took to setup test, adjust, and cut machine cut dovetails with my PC jig. On top of that, it should be much cleaner and much quieter. So I committed myself to practicing on some scraps every couple of days when I could get some time. I’ve been blogging about this over at Lumberjocks http://lumberjocks.com/doorslammer/blog/series/2315. Up until this point I’ve been using a $25 Crown gentleman’s saw which has worked well and I’ve been fairly successful with it, but I felt like with the straight handle you were never quite sure if you held it the same way every time and the angle of my wrist while sawing felt a bit awkward. So I needed a block plane for another project and have been pining over the Lie-Nielsen low angle for at least a year now so I took the plunge and placed the order. While I was at it I decided I should save on some shipping (all $12 of it) and I ordered the 15 tpi dovetail saw as well.
I honed the block plane and have been using it regularly for some of my other projects. I’m quite pleased with it and it’s definitely lived up to the hype. I’ve made some obligatory cuts with the saw, but have yet to cut and dovetails with it, but I can already tell the difference in the balance and ease in which this saw tracks down the line. I’m planning a end table project that should really put this thing to work. With tools like this, I think my hand tool evolution can only continue to build.
So I’ve been procrastinating for several weeks now on whether or not even to start this blog. My first concern was that with all the great content already in existence, what more do I really have to offer by throwing my two cents into the ring. Then I thought for a minute about my browsing habits. I can endlessly poor over websites and blog posts going from one blog-roll to the next for hours just soaking up all the great information. I think part of that is due to where I currently am with my woodworking journey. I’ve been practicing the craft for about 7 years now and I definitely feel like I have skills, but like everything else in life, the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.
My plan for this blog is to primarily use it as a documentation of my work and my journey. I’m also a tool addict so I’m sure I’ll post some reviews (a.k.a. gloats) of my new toys, and hopefully I’ll be able to come up with some other interesting thoughts and creative ideas.