Hand Tools Adventure #1: A Box of Tricky Fits.

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 01-09-2014 05:02 AM 1758 reads 3 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Hand Tools Adventure series Part 2: Full Blind Dovetails »

This new project is an experiment in many ways. It is my first real venture into hand tools as the main instruments of destruction. It is also one of the trickiest marquetry fitting jobs I have tackled and to make it fun I’ve decided to fit it up with full blind dovetails. I have cut dovetails by hand before …..... once….. about ten years ago but they came out fine so I’m up for the challenge.

This is the marquetry that will adorn the sides of the box. The intent is a seamless ring of this guilloche that meets perfectly at all four corners. That’s going to take a miracle on its own.
(Making this guilloche pattern is explained here)

There are a lot of pictures here of me having a ball with my new workbench, vices and hand tools so I’ll keep the commentary down to a minimum. Who knew that quiet woodworking was this much fun?

Prepping the stock, cheap poplar.

Cutting the end rebate.

Clearing the waste

..and finishing to the line.

This is a pre-cut (to length) side piece of the guilloche. The box side must be marked exactly the same length.

With the pieces cut to length and both ends rebated, a couple of hours have gone by and all these tools were used. I could have done the same work in a few minutes in one setup on the table saw. ..... so why am I grinning like a fool?

Here is the work accomplished.

Now the pieces have been separated box from lid and I’m starting the hinge. The two pieces are clamped together in the leg vice for jointing.

Here the back piece of marquetry is placed under the box back to lay out hinge locations.

The lid piece and box piece are again clamped together for cutting. A veneer nail in the rebate at each end holds the alignment.

I rounded the corners off with my new silent router….

...and sanded them smooth with one of my fine abranet sanding blocks, a gift from a friend and fellow LJ, Jim Rowe. OK I cut the pin groove with the table saw. I did briefly consider making a scratch stock that would do the round over and the groove at once, but the madness passed.

Chop close to the line…

... and pare to it….

... and you’ve got a hinge.

In this shot I’m marking the hinge on the back of the marquetry because for some reason I think I can run the guilloche pattern right through the hinge …... we’ll see about that one.

This is the challenge. I will have to cut the marquetry on this line and then press it around the rounded parts of the hinge. I think it can be done ….. but if I knew for sure, it just wouldn’t be any fun at all.

I should be ready to post the dovetails tomorrow (if they work out). I will have to make one of those sneaky allen wrench router planes to do the rebate for the bottom though so I may be delayed. It’s all good. I’m retired and this keeps me off the street … and the golf course.

I have got to say, I’m having a ball playing with hand tools but I can’t imagine ever making money this way.
Fortunately, that’s not my priority any more. :-)

Thanks for looking in.


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

28 comments so far

View sras's profile


4013 posts in 1951 days

#1 posted 01-09-2014 05:11 AM

Looks like you are having way too much fun (or is it just enough?)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View truenorth's profile


17 posts in 469 days

#2 posted 01-09-2014 05:13 AM

You continue to amaze me!
2hen do you get home. I’m nervous I wont get to have coffee and talk shopsmith and tools before you go all hand tools!

-- Canada - True North Strong and Free

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 2746 days

#3 posted 01-09-2014 05:14 AM

Nice job on the marquetry, can’t wait to see the outcome. I’m with you, some days I don’t even like to go out to the shop if I know I have a lot of milling to do, its just to noisy.

View Roman Hrytsak's profile

Roman Hrytsak

542 posts in 1508 days

#4 posted 01-09-2014 05:20 AM

Paul, your blogs and posts are worth the membership to LJ’s. Thank you for them. Roman

-- Roman:... there are no mistakes, just opportunities for a design change!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


15447 posts in 2498 days

#5 posted 01-09-2014 05:29 AM

The tools look so good I keep being distracted from the current project!

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

8074 posts in 2874 days

#6 posted 01-09-2014 05:58 AM

Crazy man CRAZY!

COOL playing around!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View lightweightladylefty's profile


2840 posts in 2534 days

#7 posted 01-09-2014 06:17 AM


It looks as though it takes you no time to master whatever you determine to do. (I certainly wish this lousy dial-up wouldn’t time out before all the photos load. I’ll have to check this out again when I’m at a hot spot.) Your photos are always a great teacher. Looking forward to following this challenge through to the end. We know you’ll accomplish it with flying colors.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View stefang's profile


13937 posts in 2156 days

#8 posted 01-09-2014 10:02 AM

This is a great blog Paul and I’m glad you are getting some good fun doing the work by hand. It would be a shame to let such beautiful tools just sit on the shelf.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5009 posts in 2704 days

#9 posted 01-09-2014 01:21 PM

I will be interested on how you cut the veneer corner cuts around the hinge. I guess just a sharp knife? Inside 90 degree veneer cuts are baffling me.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Roger's profile


16089 posts in 1626 days

#10 posted 01-09-2014 01:27 PM

You are a master at marquetry Paul. No 2 ways about it.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View Schwieb's profile (online now)


1620 posts in 2283 days

#11 posted 01-09-2014 01:41 PM

Wouldn’t expect anything less from a good wood boat builder. You are a real talented guy, no doubt there. Nice work, great blog. You continue to amaze and inspire. I feel like I a very lazy woodworker, shame on me.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View JayT's profile


2917 posts in 1033 days

#12 posted 01-09-2014 01:48 PM

so why am I grinning like a fool?

That made me laugh ….... in recognition. I feel the same way any time something is accomplished with all or mostly hand tools, there is just a different sense of satisfaction. Now I can only someday hope to have the level of skill you demonstrate. I’ll be following this project with great interest.

-- "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." Abraham Lincoln

View Bluepine38's profile


3015 posts in 1907 days

#13 posted 01-09-2014 03:15 PM

You have spent a lifetime learning tools and their usage, and now you get to play in your shop and enjoy
that knowledge and skill. I can not think of a better form of retirement, or anyone that has earned it
more than you. Thank you once again for sharing this with us.

-- As ever, Gus-the 76 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

260 posts in 2010 days

#14 posted 01-09-2014 03:31 PM

I’m enjoying your write-up, keep going!

View Patricelejeune's profile


309 posts in 742 days

#15 posted 01-09-2014 05:41 PM

I see you got the hand tool fever! Like everyone, I am impatient to see the final product.

-- Patrice lejeune

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