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Occasional Table Class (Hand Tool Build)

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Blog series by RGtools updated 834 days ago 25 parts 139114 reads 400 comments total

Part 1: The Big Announcement; And a Bit About The Tools.

1078 days ago by RGtools | 19 comments »

Recently I was contacted by MsDebbie to instruct a class on hand work (a big “thank you” to you and the person…you know who you are…who recommended me for the task). The focus is to be on someone who is getting into hand work or just starting and wants to use hand tools only. The whole point was to focus on the basic skills of calorie burning woodwork, quality and efficiency. I plan to start the class in late October which should help students scramble for tools if nee...

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Part 2: The Recommended Tool Set, the Whys and Where's (part 1)

1075 days ago by RGtools | 15 comments »

Often when galoots get into discussions about tools, the focus is either on planes or saws…sometimes even chisels get some love. What seems to never get as much attention as they deserve are the layout tools. This point mystifies me, because one of the most important skills in handwork is being able to split a line, be it with a plane or a saw. Good layout tools, make sure that your line (and the cut it guides) ends up in the right place. Shown here is a 12” combination squ...

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Part 3: The tool kit Part 2, Saws.

1075 days ago by RGtools | 32 comments »

Now we get to start making waste in wood. The first tools in the shop to make big boards into smaller ones are the panel saws. When choosing saws don’t go to the home store…this goes for any of the tools in this kit, so in an effort to not repeat myself in every entry I will make this as clear as possible. Do not buy your hand tools from the big box stores, they sell crap tools in the hopes that you will hate them and buy more crap tools to replace them. Either buy vintage,...

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Part 4: The tool kit part 3 Planes

1072 days ago by RGtools | 21 comments »

Your have brought the wood over to your bench, it’s rough and warped. It needs to be flat and square. This is the job of the planes. Before I get started on planes, let’s just make one point clear, you can REALLY go nuts on these tools…it’s OK if you do, they are worth the money. Compare a Jointer, Jack, Smoother, Block set up from Lie Nielsen, to a 24” Jointer planer from Laguna and you will see the value in these tools. You are either going to spend a lo...

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Part 5: The tool kit part 3.5 (benches)

1072 days ago by RGtools | 22 comments »

You can’t discuss handplanes without discussing the workbench. Do you need a workbench to do work by hand? No, what you need is a way to hold your work while you work on the face, edges and ends of various sized boards. Benches just so happen to fill that need VERY well. The problem with benches is that people convince themselves that they cant build a good bench without a bench, to an extent that’s true but it does not have to be the stumbling block some people make it. ...

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Part 6: The Tool Kit part 4 (Joinery tools)

1066 days ago by RGtools | 23 comments »

The pieces are cut flat and square now it’s time to start putting them together. The primary joint for this project is the mortise and tenon, the oldest joint around (and still one of the best). I like to cut my mortises first so let’s start with chisels. There are only three chisels that you need for this project, first and foremost a 1/4 in mortising chisel. Mine is a Lie Nielsen but Ray Iles makes a fine tool as well, you can cut a mortise with a cheap chisel (I did for ...

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Part 7: The tool kit part 5 (lifesavers)

1063 days ago by RGtools | 13 comments »

Both of these tools are very optional for the build…in fact I hope you don’t need these. I really do. I would love it if all your tenons come out perfect and that all of your planed surfaces come out gleaming and wonderful. If not… Card Scrapers will remove tear-out from even the most persnickety woods. They are cheap tools (you can even use a sacrificed saw blade…I have, and they work fine if you pick one without pitting near the cutting edge) but if you gra...

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Part 8: The Bare Bones Tool kit.

1061 days ago by RGtools | 15 comments »

I thought long and hard about posting this at all, but I have finally decided to cave. While this kit will not work quickly as a set of properly set up tools, some of us are limited in the amount of tools we can get when we start out. For the ultra cheap (guilty by the way) here is the starter kit for you minus any frills, add the tools you need as you go. Jack plane 3 blades (straight, light camber, heavy camber), If you go this route I really don’t recommend wooden planes since you...

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Part 9: A brief bit about sharpening (dont worry more detail will come)

1054 days ago by RGtools | 26 comments »

Now you have brought your tools home and maybe even gone to the effort of finding nice homes for them in your work space. You might even have started tuning them up and that good. The most important part of making a hand-tool work is getting and keeping the edge sharp. a planes sole can be flat as can be and still be a paperweight because the blade is dull or sharpened to a bad angle. In the next section of this class I would like cover how to sharpen all of the edged tools in the kit. ...

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Part 10: Sharpening and a lesson in humility

1051 days ago by RGtools | 18 comments »

I’ll admit doing the sharpening section is a bit difficult for me. Not because I don’t have anything to share but because so many people have taken the time to produce some really great material on the subject. I thought, what original material can I add to the subject? The answer is none…sort of. For awhile I was not OK with that, until I saw something that put me right back on track. This picture in my copy of The Pine Furniture of Early New England set a firewor...

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Part 11: Sharpening with Jigs Video

1038 days ago by RGtools | 15 comments »

One thing I forgot to mention in the video is that you can grind a heavy camber into you jack plane by rocking the jig side to side during the grinding process (80grit and 220 stage). All your other tools can have straight edges but you need a good camber on you jack plane (something that lets you take 16th-8th cuts without the corners digging in) or it just wont do it’s job right. Sorry this took so long to get posted but editing video is taking more time and brainpower than I ca...

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Part 12: Freehand Sharpening Video

1037 days ago by RGtools | 16 comments »

Hope you enjoy this. By the way for those of you with slower internet connections I will be editing the video entries with written descriptions and pics so you can join the fun as well.

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Part 13: Using the tools: Lesson 1 the Winding sticks and Straightedge.

1018 days ago by RGtools | 20 comments »

Hello again, before we get started today, I just wanted to say thanks for all your patience during my busiest time of year. Today we are going to get started on our active lesson plan…in other words we are going to start using the tools we have discussed in the previous chapters. I just thought I would take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Ryan and I have been obsessed with building things since I was a little kid. When I was 17 I had the opportunity for formally appr...

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Part 14: Mortise and Tenon

1009 days ago by RGtools | 30 comments »

Mortise and Tenon Before we start on our table, we need to take the time to make a few practice joints. The oldest and strongest joint out there is the mortise and tenon. It’s also the only joint used in this occasional table. I wanted to make a set of bents to show you this but the hickory I had on hand developed quite a few cracks that kind of killed that idea for this weekend (a total drag for me because I really wanted an excuse to make the bents). On the other hand it’s...

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Part 15: Designing a table.

1001 days ago by RGtools | 11 comments »

Just a short entry today. Since we are about ready to start with our build, I thinks it’s well past time I let you know something important about the class. There will not be a measured drawing coming from me. Building by hand is very different than working with machines and as a result our approach to design must be different as well. I would rather encourage you to get a table out of your head than to copy one from paper. The goal of this class is to build an occasional tabl...

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Part 16: Stock Prep Part One: Starting On The Base.

983 days ago by RGtools | 2 comments »

We will start with the base. On this particular table it’s wise to build the top last since it is the component that is most prone to warp. I took a reading with my dividers to figure out the likely thickness of the top and use that marking to figure out the width of the rail (based on the total height mark and bottom of rail mark we made before). A quick note on material selection: This class being geared towards the beginner, I really recommend you take the time to find straight gr...

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Part 17: Stock Prep Continued: Planing Parts For the Base.

982 days ago by RGtools | 10 comments »

Hand planing the parts for the base is a great intro into getting components ready for handwork. Here are a few hints: Use the outside of the rails as your true faces since they will show and will be partially (or fully) smoothed from the prep process. The top of the rail should be the true edge. You will need to plane to width as well but this dimension can have an error or two in it and no one will know but you. I often leave a scrubbed surface on the interior rails…flattish is goo...

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Part 18: One step back to take two steps forward.

973 days ago by RGtools | 6 comments »

Just a quick entry today before my wife kicks me off the computer. The reclaimed walnut from heaven/hell, I ditched it. Not because of the figure being difficult to plane, but because when I opened up the two large slabs I saw the most GORGEOUS wavy figure. As I intended this to be used for the legs, the figure was compromising the integrity of the piece. No matter how many times I tried I could not get 4 legs with straight grain from end to end (or even close). Kept as larger pieces the w...

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Part 19: Resawing by hand, and some further stock prep

961 days ago by RGtools | 13 comments »

I don’t recommend that you do a larger resaw for the top of your table. While doing this gives you the option to book-match figure, that invites two problems. One, the grain direction on a book matched table top reverses across the joint making the smoothing operation a more more careful process. Two, resawn stock always moves…no matter how dry it is, it is always more moist on the inside of a board than on the outside. As it equalizes it moves. This requires you to either re-...

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Part 20: Planing the legs to thickness (and width)

954 days ago by RGtools | 2 comments »

If you have planed all your true faces and edges for the table legs, you can now set your marking gauge to the thickness of your legs (they are as wide as they are thick) and do your layout with one setting. Take a second to try a few spots on each board before you mark everything in earnest, find the thinnest spot on the thinnest board and subtract a hair from that…this should be your setting, it should also be fairly close to your story stick, if not, no worries, just get it close. ...

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Part 21: Laying Out the Joinery For Your Table

933 days ago by RGtools | 7 comments »

Once your stock is at a working dimension (4 square and final length for the rails an inch overlong for the legs) it’s time to start laying out the joints that will create the base for your table. The joinery used for a good table is a haunched mortise & tenon. There are several great alternatives…but this is a good starting point. For furniture it is important to think of the end result early on. Take a moment to arrange the pieces on your bench so you know at a glance whe...

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Part 22: Cutting the Joinery for Your Table

920 days ago by RGtools | 14 comments »

First off since you are working on furniture…clean up your bench. Sweep it off and put the tools away. This may seem odd since you are going to take the tools out again but it’s not, you are going to pound on your work quite a bit during this process. Chips left on your bench get wedged under your work and dent it. Sweep your bench off and keep it clean. I put all my tools away after each joint is made to fit, this speeds things up because you are not fishing for tools you thought...

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Part 23: Shrinkage Buttons, tapers, and glue up checks

886 days ago by RGtools | 7 comments »

Now that you have the joints cut you are a bit closer to your glue up…but don’t be too hasty. There are three things you need to do first. 1. Do a test fit on the joints for the whole table. (well, at least the base)2. Plane the tapers on the legs after cutting them to length.3. Create the shrinkage buttons that are used to attach the top as well as the mortises in the rails that they join to. Here I am just getting an idea of how the final product is going to look. R...

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Part 24: Drawbore, Glue Up, and Starting on the Tabletop

864 days ago by RGtools | 22 comments »

The process of drawboring has been mostly covered but I felt like giving a few tips in case this is in your mind to do on your table. The main thing is to make sure that the holes are spaced so they miss each other and are close to the middle of the tenon (mine could have been closer). Also make sure that the hole you drill is not going to be under the shoulder of one of your rails…simple mistake that makes assembly kind of hard. Your holes should be as close to the rails as they can be witho...

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Part 25: The Home Stretch

834 days ago by RGtools | 21 comments »

Once you have taken the clamps off of your base and your top you are in that dangerous period I think of as the home stretch. It’s easy to want to run into it. Stop. Sharpen all your tools. Breath. Think…then get back to work. Trust me, if all your tools are sharp and you are in the right mindset this phase of your work will be the most uplifting in your shop; it will be the time you breathe life into your furniture. If you are ill prepared for it you can make frustrating mistakes. Start b...

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