First Shop #5: Bench, Chisels and First Project

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Blog entry by YooperCasey posted 01-07-2008 03:01 AM 1342 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Plans for the New Year! (Purchase Plan) Part 5 of First Shop series Part 6: Reflections »

Last time I laid out my equipment purchase plans. No progress on purchases though I have decided on the Ridgid TS3650 contractor saw. I see the Woodworking show is coming to Milwaukee in February and that is only 5 hours south for me, so I may see what kind of deal I can snag there on a table saw.

I’ve spent the last few evenings working on my core skills. Marking out, cutting, fitting and basically getting used to how certain things behave. This includes trying out my new Bosch CS20 circular saw, which was an awesome experience. With the Bosch I decided to rip some hard maple and try my hand at some dovetails. I’ve watched various videos, gotten a feel for what was required, and even did the five minute dovetail as listed in the new FWW.

I wish my dovetails in the hard maple turned out as well as ole Franz Klaus makes it look on youtube. The first set I was beyond frustrated. I became woefully aware of the inadequacy of my chisels. They are now relegated to a back spot on my bench and after a great deal of searching and planning I decided upon a set of Irwin Marples chisels. I know, not exactly Lie Nielsen chisels, but compared to what I had they are beautiful! I was almost going to hold off, and buy one or two commonly used sizes of Lie Nielsen chisels but I can’t justify the cost… yet. I’m also looking at buying a few from Japan Woodworker, so who knows.

But back to the dovetails… after getting the Irwins, spending about an hour on the 1/4” chisel and 1.5 hours on the 1/2” chisel they were ready and damn sharp. I couldn’t believe how it cut, I was simply amazed. With my old chisels I would beat, gnash, hammer and smash on those chisels and they would tear even right off the stone. I didn’t need my hammer once when I used these chisels. I was amazed, what had been daunting was now a pleasant task.

So now that we know my tools are up to par it became obvious that I wasn’t. I won’t bother posting pictures, but basically I made a 6” by 3” box out of hard maple. It has dovetails, or at least something that approximates it. But to my credit the last side I cut fit nicely, and only had slight gaps. But, I’m learning, and that’s what matters.

But, to my method of design. When in school, (Michigan Tech) I had to use all sorts of drafting software. Everything from Autocad Lt, to full blown Catia. 2D simple, to 3D elaborate. Since I don’t have a few thousand to dump on solid modeling software I have switched to… Sketchup! This little baby is nice, it is simple, and I thoroughly enjoy time spent designing. I’m learning now the proper way to go about laying things out so they can be resized easily.

End Table

This will be an end table that my darling wife will get. It is one of the first projects I laid out. I plan on using hard maple for the entirety and if I’m feeling spunky I am going to do a bit on inlay work on the top.

Next is a workbench design I’m playing with…


Here is a work surface I plan on adding against one wall. I am in dire need of storage space.


The thing I really love about sketchup is the ease it allows. You could ask me for the workbench file, I could pass it along and you could modify it in minutes to fit your needs. The collaboration it allows is simply amazing.

Speaking of collabaration… If anyone could send me the info on how to add my files to the Lumberjocks repository I’d be more than happy to.

In the next several days I’ll be chopping my maple into some more manageable sizes and then off to get it planed. I thought about using a hand plane… but I have no scrub plane and the time would be too much otherwise.

Also on my mind is a Krenov style handplane, but I’m still researching that.

And again, thanks for all the info folks!

-- Casey, Engineer, Escanaba, MI

3 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35153 posts in 4638 days

#1 posted 01-07-2008 04:18 AM

Great start on a few projects. Good luck on your processing of the wood into the final projects.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4112 days

#2 posted 01-07-2008 04:22 AM

Looking forward to seeing what comes out of your shop.

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4289 days

#3 posted 01-07-2008 03:58 PM

Thank you for the post, I am also a yooper having ben born in Houghton. I joined the military to see the world and they sent me K.I Sawyer. I have now moved to the land of the trolls.

Isn’t it amazing how much good tools make work easier!!

Thanks for the post and keep warm up there eh.

-- Hope Never fails

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