In Howie's Shop: thoughts and work in progress...

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 11-20-2015 04:32 PM 746 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been sending text messages to two of my sons and at times to my two daughters. I would send photos and comments of what I was doing today in my woodshop. I am probably boring them, most of the time.

Today I had the thought that I should put my thoughts and updates to work-in-progress in an online blog. So this is what this thread will be. Text in my blog can sit there and bore nobody, or someone who chooses to be.

I will simply start with stuff I am working on today, without background information or explanations .

Here I go:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Today is the 72nd year anniversary of the 2nd Marine Division’s invasion of Tarawa Atoll. This was the Jap island stronghold on Betio Island. In the first four hours of the Marine invasion, over 1,500 marines were dead. Many of those still alive on the small held beachhead thought they would be wiped out that evening by a Jap mortar attack. Unknown at the time a naval shell had killed the Jap commander as he was moving his command post to a new location that afternoon. Leaderless, the Japs never mounted their usual mortar tactic that evening. More of this later…

Walnut top end table (nuts, the photo was upright in Windows explorer)

Today November 20 I will glue and clamp my last leg assembly that will be used to build Ann’s Christmas gift, a curly maple top end table. This is the last of nine end tables I made as Christmas gifts. However, all of the prior end tables were assembled with pocket screws; to fasten the aprons to the tapered legs. With this last table, the aprons have haunched tenons and will fit into mortises I cut into the legs. Let’s get on with it…

Leg Mortises for Haunched Tenon Aprons…

Apron’s tenons fitted to leg mortises… (Later I will figure out how to set the photo uprgiht.)

Aprons get coats of Java Gel Stain…

Another thought: My trestle sawhorses have been one of the best things I have made for my woodshop.

My Shop-made Trestle Super Sawhorses

I made long ago an adjustable height sawhorse for in-feed and out-feed support for long boards being crosscut or ripped on my table saw, or with my bandsaw. They can also be used at my floor mounted drill press when long boards or sheets need to be held up high during one-man drilling operations.

Supports for Long Boards

On this adjustable height sawhorse I have bolts and wing nuts through each of its two part legs. These bolts allow me to set the sawhorse’s height. However, I am restricted on how low it can be set. I will look at methods or cuts I can make on its legs so i can set it at lower heights. I need that at times for certain machines or situations.

If I need additional height on any of these sawhorses I can easily add it by clamping on my shop-made long board supports. They are made to be clamped in place to sawhorses as seen in the attached photo. I guess i could attach these supports to any table legs, etc. I made two of these supports so they could be used simultaneously at thee same machine, or during two separate operations and locations in my shop. Like other shop-made jigs I store them on my shop’s north wall when they are not in use. I drill a 1 3/8 inch hole through the jig with a Fortsner bit.


-- --- Happy Howie

8 comments so far

View wmgworks's profile


193 posts in 406 days

#1 posted 11-20-2015 05:51 PM

Hey Howie,

Thanks for deciding to share your thoughts and work with us here. I’m sure lots of us new guys like me will pick up quite a few things from you


-- Butchering wood since 2015

View BurlyBob's profile


3468 posts in 1686 days

#2 posted 11-21-2015 02:00 AM

That’s a beautiful table.

View HappyHowie's profile


270 posts in 1366 days

#3 posted 11-21-2015 03:32 AM

Dave, you are kind. I hope I can give back. I have received some very good pointers from more experienced woodworkers on this site. I appreciate it, very much…

The thing is: let’s enjoy it, have fun and learn something along the journey. That’s my goal. You know, I am having so much fun, everyday I am in the shop. I’ve got so many plans but there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day, but that won’t stop me.

-- --- Happy Howie

View HappyHowie's profile


270 posts in 1366 days

#4 posted 11-21-2015 04:44 AM

I took a break at noon today. I had a long lunch with my friend Bill. After getting back home, I went back into my shop to do some more work on the remaining end table’s leg assembly.

I glued and clamped the haunched tenons on my aprons into the table’s leg mortises. It was more complicated than I expected. When I do this again later, I will rehearse the clamping plan. I will probably also pre-make some clamping cauls so I do not have to place so many clamps on it. Lesson learned, I think.

Glue up with too many clamps…

Burly Bob, the tables I made are from an easy or simple design plan; they have no drawers.

Christmas Gifts: End Tables
When my wife Ann suggested that I take the one table I was making and do eight more for Christmas gifts, I was suddenly under time constraints. In three weeks we were going to be traveling to the Great Northwest to see our new grandson. I had three weeks to make six tables that I would mill from rough sawn lumber that I had to buy and bring into the shop. I decided I would build them as far as I could with finished table tops and stained legs and aprons, but I would have to assemble them after we arrived in the Northwest at my son’s house. All of the work would be completed except for assembling the parts together. Pocket screws would make the assembly process easy to do there in his garage where he had a workbench attached to an unfinished wall. So after arriving I bought some Shellac spray for finishing the hardwood table tops and cans of urethane finish to spray on the leg assemblies once I put them together.

That plan worked out well for me since I was able to box the parts and my tools and our luggage in my covered truck bed.

Of those six tables, three table tops were cherry, one was soft maple, another was hard maple and the sixth was Persian walnut.

Persian Walnut Story
I found working with the Persian walnut was a chore. Its surface was so soft that trying to plane its surfaces was troublesome. I could almost lay my number 6 bench plane on the wood and it would leave a mark. I solved my issue in my home garage shop by using 400 grit sandpaper with the Danish Oil I was using as a finish. That removed the tracks or marks that was left from my bench plane. After that first coat of Danish Oil with sandpaper, I simply wiped additional coats of Danish Oil to complete its finish. It turned out very nice.

Persian Walnut Shown Prior to Finish

Black Walnut Table Top
The photo shown way above in my first comments of this blog, is my table top with American black walnut. It also has a little story.

This black walnut top got left behind from my Northwest trip. It had so much figured grain that no matter how sharp my plane blades were I was getting tear out. I was beside myself. I knew one of my daughters would prefer to have this walnut on their end table, but I could not get it to a stage where I was happy with it so I could get it with finish coats. I had to leave it behind. When I returned home a couple weeks later, I now had returned with my belt sander. I used it with several grits of sand paper to finish the surfaces of this walnut. From that I got an excellent finished surface. It looks great. My Jenny would have loved it. Now it will be a nice Christmas gift for someone else in this family.

This photo below gives a better close up of its nice figured grain: a black walnut table top.

Much hard work but now a Great Figured Gain to show in this walnut table top…

-- --- Happy Howie

View NormG's profile


5424 posts in 2425 days

#5 posted 11-21-2015 05:29 AM

Very nice work, thank you for sharing and for your military service

-- Norman

View HappyHowie's profile


270 posts in 1366 days

#6 posted 11-21-2015 08:40 AM

Actually, I do not want to leave the impression that it was me with the military service. I am very proud of my father’s service in the US Navy during World War I in the Pacific Theater. His ship took Marines and at other times Army infantry troops and their armored equipmet to island storm invasions. He proudly served aboard the USS Lindenwald a large amphibious warship. It had a well deck where they could unload landing craft by ballasting down into the sea to launch all sorts of landing craft such as those carrying Sherman tanks. The first such launch was at the Tarawa invasion by LSD-1, the USS Ashland.

My father stated that while aboard his ship, the USS Lindenwald was stationed at Okinawa for 91 days. They arrived with the large invasion fleet during the early morning hours of April 1, 1945 and left for San Francisco for repairs and refitting on August 2. If you know anything about the Navy’s experience battling with Kamakizes, then you can begin to imagine my father’s experience for most of those days besides a destructive Typhoon, Halsey’s second…

-- --- Happy Howie

View HappyHowie's profile


270 posts in 1366 days

#7 posted 11-21-2015 02:28 PM

I see that I had a typo above. My father served in World War II, not I.

-- --- Happy Howie

View helluvawreck's profile


22677 posts in 2287 days

#8 posted 11-21-2015 06:18 PM

Howie, you do some nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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