Just got up from the shop (mine’s in the basement) and thought I’d post my first blog entry. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but the mortise and tenon joints I was working on gave me the kick I needed!
A little background first. I live near Milwaukee and the weather is JUST beginning to turn nice, so during this season, I sort of mix it up between landscaping, woodworking (furniture) and remodeling (1926 bungalow – always needs work). I’ve been woodworking in a serious fashion for just over 6 months, as far as furniture is concerned. I’ve built a couple “pieces” prior to this, but they were mostly junk… meaning, good enough to occupy the basement bathroom. I’ve also done lots of remodeling (I’ve completed gutted and restored kitchen, bathroom, etc) so I know my way around power tools and such. What’s new, however, is the actual attempt at FINE woodworking.
As anyone that has started knows, getting from the “screwing around” stage to the serious hobby woodworking is sort of a leap of faith in the cash outlay department! It’s like every time you turn around you need a new tool to do a particular job, and then completing that work creates the immediate need for a whole separate tool. It never ends (and that’s ok with me – maybe not my wife!). So, I picked up my first table saw in October last year (Ridgid R4511), and it has been running away from me ever since. I’ve since gotten: Jointer/Planer combo from Jet, Bandsaw from Grizzly, Oscillating Spindle Sander from Ridgid, routers, and a whole host of other tools. I’m nearly there! I’m just now experimenting with some hand tools.
These purchases (and ENDLESS reading and video watching) have enabled me to really get going on my projects. I’ve not yet posted them, but they should be up in the project section soon. My first REAL project was a solid wood Maple corner cabinet for my newly remodeled bathroom. Took me about a month and a half, but I’m proud of it for a first shot at this. It is mostly hard maple, but has a frame and panel door construction, with the panel being bookmatched Birdseye Maple with 2 Bubinga inlays. The inside has a few more touches of Bubinga. I can’t even tell you how many mistakes are buried in that thing! Luckily, they’re well hidden. The only other project I’ve completed is a Walnut picture frame. Besides those, I’ve got a few jigs under my belt as well – splining, crosscut sled, and the start of a router table.
I suppose the last thing worth mentioning as an introduction would be the reason that I love doing this. I have to give a special thanks to David Marks – his “Wood Works” show caught my eye a couple years ago, and I’ve since went back to it and watched every episode I could find. That man can make some beautiful stuff! I’ve also spent a lot of time watching Marc at thewoodwhiperer.com and Matt at mattsbasementworkshop.com. They do a great job.
So anyways, onto the whole reason for this post… I’m currently building a small table and chair set for my daughter (she’s two), and my soon to be second daughter. Normal kid size stuff. I laid out plans to create one table and two chairs to be done entirely in Walnut. So far, everything is going (mostly) according to plan. I’ve gotten everything done including the curved legs (bought the OSS for that bit), tenons, panel construction and all the other milling. So the last bit is finally here, and probably the reason I’d been delaying the finishing steps. MORTISES.
Now, as a rookie to this stuff, let me tell you. Mortises are a scary thing. Yes, I’ve created a test mortise or two, but they were sloppy as heck, and basically just holes in the wood. I hadn’t really done an integral tenon, and had to make the mortise fit it… NEWS FLASH: there’s a reason why making the mortises first is a good idea. So, I had to make mortises fit the tenons. I had some goofy measurement, so I spend like an hour transferring all my measurements and such. Kind of snuck up on me just how many of these dang things I would have to make! Going from 2 or 3 test mortises to 24 real ones that need to support kids racking the heck out of them is quite a jump! I got much better as I went through the first eight.
I can say that the biggest lesson I learned (other than the order of creation) is that making the mortises too close to the top of the legs creates a (fixable) disaster waiting to happen. I blew out three of the 8 mortises that I created by pushing the end grain right out the top. I guess next time I’ll create some spacing there. I decided to call it quits after completing the table. I’ve got some sanding to do, then assembly for that. Then I’ll move onto the chairs themselves. I’m going to do my best to keep up with this through the blog and see how this goes.
For anyone reading – THANKS! And enjoy my trials and tribulations…