Hand Tool Journey #16: Shop Made Dovetail Layout Compass.. Part 4.. Almost There..

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Blog entry by Airframer posted 05-12-2013 04:05 AM 3288 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Shop Made Dovetail Layout Compass.. Part 3 Part 16 of Hand Tool Journey series Part 17: Shop Made Dovetail Layout Compass.. Part 5.. Bring Out Your Rasps! »

Well I have a fully functioning Layout Compass now :D. All that is left is to do the shaping of the legs and some purtification of them. I am still working out the details of the purtification but in the end they should be pretty purty lol.

All the pieces laid out with epoxy curing on the pins..

So today was filled with frustration and epoxy and a lot of brass dust. It started with cleaning up the mortise that the arc goes through and embedding the head of a copper rivet into the back wall to keep the arc centered and give it some backing when the set screw is tightened. That was an exercise in patience trying to position it and get it epoxied into place without disturbing it’s careful placement. That mortise is barely wider then the brass is thick and was a PITA to cut. I was a little bit worried that it just wasn’t going to happen but a lot of drilling and scraping with a box cutter I was finally able to get a small scroll blade with one end cut off and the other end secured in a vise through it to finish it up. Then I squeezed a mini flat file through it and used it like a saw to get it an even width. After that I drilled a 1/4” hole 1/3rd of the way through the other side to allow the threaded rod on the arc to sink into that leg when closed.

Then drilled the hole for the threaded end of the arc in the other leg and counter sunk that on the inside for the spring to rest in.

OH and THE SPRING! This morning after I finished polishing up the brass arc and getting the mortise cut I was working out a spring of some sort to push on the arc for fine adjustment. I was testing out different metals I had laying around and was ready to settle on a strip of bent brass. I was holding it in place and squeezing the legs closed to test it’s springyness when I heard a POP! Oh man I was afraid to look. I just knew that I had popped a hinge which would have meant starting over from scratch. After gathering up the courage to have a look I was relieved to see that it was not the hinge that popped but the glue joint holding the hinge into the hub I have the legs attached to.. PHEW! When I had glued those up I used the red original Titebond because of its fast tack time (no real way to clamp those) and it doesn’t have the strength of Titebond III. So this time I re-glued it with III and I am now more confident than ever of the durability of the actual hinge portion of these.

After that I scrapped the metal strip idea and started scrounging through boxes of bits and parts for an actual spring that would work. I needed to be able to get 1/4” threaded rod through the middle of it easily in order fo rit to work and it needed just enough give to push but not so much that it will break the hinge joint again (lesson learned). I was about to give up when I found my stash of guitar pickup tension springs. They are tapered and the small end was just a bit too small to fit but a bit of finessing with a pair of needle nose pliers got them opened up enough to work.

Now all that was left was to make the pins and determine the angle for them to be installed in so that the tips would touch when fully closed. Some time spent with a tracing, a triangle and a protractor I had it all laid out and ready to be transferred to the legs for drilling. I did my best to get them exactly symmetrical and they are a smidge off from one another but they touch and that’s what matters. I am probably the only one who would notice such a thing but I see the flaws in just about everything I make lol.

I cut two lengths of 1/4” brass rod and chucked them into my hand drill and then chucked a large sanding disk onto my drill press and when to town sharpening them to a point. It was trickier than I thought it would be getting the taper the same on both but again…. an exercise in patience…

I think I have rambled on enough for this update. All I have left to do is determine how I want the legs to look and get started making them look that way then apply a finish. However as they sit now they could very well function as intended with no further modifications so I am pretty stocked about that! If you have any ideas for the leg taper please share them. I’d like to do a bit more than just taper them.. hope that makes sense..

They have a final capacity of a little over 5”. More than enough for dovetailing I think.


After posting this I sat down and started working on the leg design. Here is what I came up with. Please let me know what you think..

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

10 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2325 days

#1 posted 05-12-2013 04:45 AM

—Eric – Why buy when you can build

You’ve done yourself Proud, Eric.

...and very nicely appointed. – Grandpa Len.

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Mosquito's profile


9383 posts in 2345 days

#2 posted 05-12-2013 04:51 AM

That really turned out nice. I like the infill screw

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2006 days

#3 posted 05-12-2013 05:02 AM

Thanks Guys!

Len – Yep, I’m trying to stick to my mantra as much as possible now. Gotta start saving money somewhere lol.

Mos – Did ya notice the infill nut also :-) ?

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View Mosquito's profile


9383 posts in 2345 days

#4 posted 05-12-2013 05:04 AM

Not til now. Very nice

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Quaternion's profile


29 posts in 2744 days

#5 posted 05-12-2013 05:54 AM

Very sweet build Airframer. As for “more than a taper” I’m with you there. These are sexy enough, can you go for an hourglass figure somehow? I couldn’t draw it, but I’d know it if I saw it. Something about a woman’s hips…

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2006 days

#6 posted 05-12-2013 06:05 AM

I like the hourglass idea. I am leaning towards something along those lines. I also like the shape of these..

Maybe I can meld the 2 ideas together somehow.

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2006 days

#7 posted 05-12-2013 07:22 AM

I just updated the blog post with a preliminary leg design..

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15377 posts in 2671 days

#8 posted 05-12-2013 11:20 AM

Wow! I had no idea such a nice tool could be the result. Very cool, and I like the sketch for sure! Can youn do it twice (each leg)? Very ambitious project!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Don W's profile

Don W

18790 posts in 2621 days

#9 posted 05-12-2013 01:33 PM

I think its going to work fine, but its going to look even better.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2006 days

#10 posted 05-12-2013 02:35 PM

Smitty – Thanks man! As for the legs.. I think so.. I HOPE so lol. I plan to make a carboard template to lay out the design on the 2 legs and hopefully they will come out the same. *fingers crossed..

Thanks Don!

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

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