Workshop upgrades #1: Glenn Drake saves the day...twice.

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Blog entry by RGtools posted 03-06-2011 05:33 AM 2002 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Workshop upgrades series Part 2: Scraper shave fun »

I am currently building a small shelf out of Alder and some mystery white wood to house some of my finer tools so that I do not have to go into my larger cabinet to get them all the time. This is part of a larger initiative to keep my sharp tools sharp and accessible, as someone who only uses hand tools most of the time this is about as critical to my work-flow as paying the power bill before someone fires up their table saw. Roughly six hours got me to this point.

I really did not take any picture up to this point because my plan was to finish the project in about 8 hours and taking pictures slows me down (I am a bit of a camera nut), Working with a stolen 15 minutes here and there I was able to get the back panel fitted, which brings us to the reason for this post (but first a picture of the chaos…er work on my bench)

The back panel is made out of the aforementioned white mystery wood. It’s not poplar as I first though. It’s soft straight grained, smells awful, and is an absolute mystery to plane. It tears out in patches for no apparent reason, when I take a fine cut the result is crap, when I take a rough cut that would leave other woods pockmarked…glassy smooth???? One problem came from this wood and one from limitation of my tools.

I had already plowed the groove to receive the back panel using my Stanley 45 (shelves) and used my 1/4 chisel for the sides since it was a stop cut. Next came cutting the opposite sides of the joint into the back panel. The sides were simple scribe lines saw cuts, chisel a bit for clean up, done. The top and bottom is where I ran into trouble. I only own a 1/4 inch blade for my Stanley, and the rabbet that I needed to create was just a bit to deep for that. I did not feel confident that I could make two cuts accurately as I would eliminate my registration surface with the first cut, I ended up coming up with a faster way. I set my plane to cut to depth on the farthest right side of the joint (establishing the depth and side of the joint).

I then made a scribe line to the same depth as the plow with my marking gauge (a very deep scribe line using the A2 tool steel blade.).At this point I was able to push the extra piece into the joint and SNAP, right to the scribe line. A little work with a router plane cleaned up any inconsistency.

The bottom of the panel is a bit more complex since I have to make room for knots to be accessed through the back (for storage of planes). I made scribe lines and worked a bevel by hand with a smoother and a block plane. If I planed the bevel to the point that it would fit in the groove all the way I would have lost too much thickness, so I made small rabbet with my plow plane. Despite the deep scribe line I left, I got all this stringy crap coming off the back of the joint. I could have left it, this being the back of the cabinet, but I had an idea. I set my marking gauge to the depth of the worst of the tear-out and used my tool to shave away a nice clean edge.

A nice fit…happy shavings.

Aside, I almost always capitalize the names of wood that I am working with. I think of them as people…I’m strange, deal with it..

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

6 comments so far

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3129 days

#1 posted 03-06-2011 09:10 AM

You’re not strange, you’re a wood worker!

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Hayabusa's profile


173 posts in 3121 days

#2 posted 03-06-2011 05:19 PM

Great Ryan, it is a pleasure to read your new blog, thanks for sharing. A real project, keep your good work up !

View kowtow's profile


20 posts in 2898 days

#3 posted 03-06-2011 05:30 PM

Great stuff, Ryan. I’ve got some bathroom shelves to get started on this week. I capitalize most nouns on accident, it’s a German thing. They capitalize all nouns. I am not German but I took a lot of it in school and I think I wrote more academic papers for German classes than I did for Economics, which was my major.

View David LaBolle's profile

David LaBolle

216 posts in 2912 days

#4 posted 03-07-2011 04:11 PM


THat’s a cool project. I love how it turned out. I’ve read it a few times and still don’t get how you came up with the title: Glen Drake saves the Day.

Can you explain a bit?

-- When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2895 days

#5 posted 03-08-2011 02:43 AM

The marking gauge I use. (and love.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2895 days

#6 posted 03-08-2011 03:48 AM

Here, this is the second top of the line tool I purchased (the Titemark). I can say every time I use it I thing “money well spent”.

The marking gauge worked well for cut cleanup and scoring for break-off of waste, this is something that a conventional or lesser quality gauge could not have done. Good tools do what they were made to do, great tools do more.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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