Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tapering A Disaster

Well I knew there would be issues as I started this project, but I was bound and determined they would not be caused by haste. Man oh man, how I hate when I end up eating my words!!!

This morning I headed to the shop to finish cutting the mortise in the last leg. I am excited to report that while the mortising process is still taking me quite a bit of time, I can definitely see a big difference. Ten thousand more mortises and I should be ready to call myself an apprentice.

Once I finished the mortise I took a brief break and then it was onto the tapering jig. While I take no pride in my jerry-rigged jig it will work fine for this project. Sometime in the future I will put more effort into creating a masterpiece. Just so you know the jig has nothing to do with the disaster.
Now, I lock in the first leg, set the fence to the appropriate width and fire up the saw ready to make the first cut. I push the front right leg through the saw and everything works great, maybe even better than expected. Aside from what I consider excessive tool marks from the blade, the taper looked great. The leg gets a second taper on the other outside face of the leg, so I taped the offcut back to the leg, rotated the piece and completed the cut. Once again it went off without a hitch. I was so pleased I decided to go ahead and plane the tool marks and basically finish the leg. I even went ahead and cut the decorative bevels in the top of the leg and planed them smooth as well. When I was done I had my first finished leg and a broad grin across my face.
Leg number two, lets get 'er done! I am ready, excited and confident I will have all the legs finished by the end of the day. I am thinking man this woodworking thing is really getting easier by the minute. Within a year I could easily be considered for woodworker of the year honors and my name will be mentioned with the greats. Nothing can go wrong! I got this all figured out!!!!!

SssCccRrrEeeCccHhh... Did I just get stupid or what? Insert second leg into the tapering jig, make sure the jig is properly aligned with the fence, start to make the cut and everything is going great just like the first time. Inch by inch the piece slides by the fence smooth as butter, supple as silk and man the mortise even lines up perfectly with the blade. WAIT!!! What am I seeing! The mortise is lining up with the blade? That ain't right! I'm not really seeing that, am I? Needless to say and despite freedom of speech, I cannot post the descriptive verbal apocalypse that matriculated from my oral orifice, but I am sure you can imagine. In my blind lust to complete the legs, I had placed this leg in the tapering jig backwards. Instead of tapering the piece from the top to the bottom my taper ran from the bottom to the top and cut directly through the middle of the mortise. A complete disaster in my book, not to mention this was what I considered the best leg, because the stock was rift cut and had the best grain flow of all the legs. I was devastated to the point I just decided to clean the shop and call it a day.
Thankfully, I have enough left over stock to create a fifth leg. Now, I'll get to see if I can recreate a matching leg after the fact. I should have been milling this spare part right along with the others as a precaution, but I'll have to chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. One other take away for this experience is always work from the least visible or most unattractive piece to the most visible or best in order to avoid ruining them and to work out the kinks before cutting them. While this was a real bummer, I will not let it keep me idle for long. Tomorrow I plan to hit the ground running and at least get the leg recreated.

Until my next post,

Keep Your Mind on your Fingers and your Fingers on your Hands!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Tortoise Mortise

Just thought I would throw a couple of pictures of my very first mortise on the site for posterity. The reason I called it my tortoise mortise is because it took me nearly two hours to knock it out. Like I've said before time is not the issue with this build I just want to successfully complete the end table. It may not end up being perfect, but it has to be usable.

Please let me know if you see anything I could improve on or make any suggestions you think may help me speed up the process. Thanks for visiting the WV Woodshed!!!

Until my next post,

Keep Your Mind on your Fingers and your Fingers on your Hands!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Legs Are Milled

Well I got busy this morning and milled the legs to near final dimension. One more pass through the planer and they'll be done. I have also laid out all the mortises and the angular decorative top. I intentionally added to each measurement in order to compensate for final milling. I think the last pass through the planer may actually clean up some of the marking. I won't actually cut the decorative top until I finish tapering the legs, as the taper is full length on the out side face of each leg.

One significant learning experience I encountered was exactly what Michael Morton ( had explained to me yesterday. RIFT SAWN, RIFT SAWN, RIFT SAWN!!! What an aesthetic difference there is between flat sawn and rift sawn especially in something like a leg. What I am kicking myself on is the fact that I had seen this demonstrated in several videos and books, but never completely grasp the concept. I guess this is evidence that you can read and watch a million videos, but if you don't get in the shop and practice, practice, practice you'll never learn to use the knowledge.

Please let me know what you think! One thing I've always believed is there is always a better way and somebody out there knows it. Thanks for visiting!!!

Until my next post,

Keep Your Mind on your Fingers and your Fingers on your Hands!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

??Question?? - Milling Table Legs

I am staring at my lumber for the end table project I am starting and the questions are beginning to roll through my empty echo chamber. My wife and close friends tell me I tend to over analyze things and make them way to complicated, but in this case I'd rather ask than make a mistake straight out of the chute.

Scenario  - The stock for my 1.5"x1.5"x25.5" table legs is a rough cut piece of 8/4 White Ash 9"x30". As I think about the milling process I realize my Delta Jointer is a 6" unit. Obviously, in my mind anyway, I do not want to cut the stock to exactly 6" to start the jointing process because there is no waste for milling. My current intention is to cut 2 pieces from the stock to 3.5" wide, flatten one face and square one edge on the jointer. Once I have the 2 pieces flat and square I will split the stock again at the table saw to make the 4 legs and then move back to the jointer to edge joint 2 of the legs and then to the planer for final dimensions.

Before I make a mistake I though I would see what you guys/gals think and whether you had any ideas for a better method. As you may have read in my earlier posts this is my first furniture project and actually only my 3rd or 4th project all together, so I want to be cautious.

Thanks for any assistance or comments you may provide!!!

Until my next post,

Keep Your Mind on your Fingers and your Fingers on your Hands!!!

Get Woodworking Week 2012

My contribution to Mr. Tom Iovino's (

OK, no more excuses. The lumber arrived yesterday and is currently stickered and acclimating in the workshop area. Nearly $100.00 worth of White Ash and Walnut ready to be abused and tormented into something that may resemble an end table. OMG, what have I gotten myself into.

The project, which a link was provided in the previous post, is an end table that appears to have an elevated or floating top. The one modification I made to the project is I intend to utilize ash for the center/hidden supports instead of walnut referenced in the plans. This was purely a cost consideration and I didn't feel hiding the walnut under the table top added anything to the appearance.

As I do not have a local source for hardwood; I acquired my stock from Bell Forest Products after pricing the required materials at several online vendors. Their representative (Eric) was very helpful and willing to assist with my project specifications without issue. He explained their process to me and everything went off just he had stated. The lumber he provided seems perfect. Clear and free of defects just as he stated. My only concern was the packaging. While my materials appeared to survived the shipping process unscathed, the packaging was not nearly as lucky. I held my breath as I inspected the contents, but in the end everything was fine. I give the experience an A-, with shipping being the only concern for future purchases.

In preparation of "Getting Woodworking" on the end project I have constructed a table saw crosscut sled and have started preparing a tapering jig for the table saw also. The unusual problem I've had to deal with is that the mitre slots on my Craftsman table saw are unique and don't work with most universal jigs or fixtures. In order to construct the sled and tapering jig, I've had to make wooden track bars for the mitre slots. It took about 3-4 attempts before I got something that works, but that is all part of the fun of woodworking.

In other Getting Woodworking related news; I have finally begun to peak the interest of my 11year old son, John. Over the last week he and I have spent about 4 hours in the shop together. He seems particularly interested in sawing stock and I have been explaining and demonstrating how to use the wheel marking gauge, the square and other marking instruments to layout his cuts. We still haven't jumped into a project together, but I think he wants to be involved in the end table build, so with that let's Get Woodworking.


Until my next post,

Keep Your Mind on your Fingers and your Fingers on your Hands!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Unassembled Furniture On The Way!!!

I feel like a giddy little boy waiting for presents on his birthday!!!!! I just ordered the rough lumber I will use to construct an end table. This will be my first EVER attempt at building a piece of furniture, so my outcome expectations are low! As a bonus in humiliation, I intend to take you along on the journey for what is sure to be a humorous and utterly complete failure, but hey I bet I'll learn something in the process.

FYI, the materials for the project are as follows:

8/4 x 9” x 30” White Ash (clear, rough)      -   Legs

4/4 x 6” x 9-10’ White Ash (clear, 15/16”) -   Aprons

4/4 x 8.5” x 9’ Walnut (clear, 15/16”)         -   Top

The plan is coming straight out of Wood Magazine's Issue 206 from September 2011, I probably will not vary from the plans during this initial build, but I have future plans to modify the design for a matching sofa table. "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men"...

Your mission should you choose to accept it is to criticize whenever appropriate, applaud whenever applicable and provide suggestions at every stinkin' turn. While my expectations are low, the end product must at least be usable regardless of how ugly it turns out. I am counting on each of you to help me or at least laugh with me along the way.

Until my next post,

Keep Your Mind on your Fingers and your Fingers on your Hands!!!