Would you try this project with minimal tools?

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Forum topic by BPatterson posted 02-19-2014 12:25 AM 1593 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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43 posts in 1804 days

02-19-2014 12:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question shaping joining

Hi, first of all, if this does not really fit in this forum, mods please move it…

So my coworker asked if I could make 2 duplicates of this Butler Valet Stand.

There are a few places that cause me concern. 1) I do not have a band saw so I am not sure how I could shape the actual coat hanger. Also, the only sander I have is a random orbital sander. 2) I have an idea how I would do the mortise and tenon to connect the hanger to the stand but this still intimidates me as this would be my first real mortise and tenon joint. 3) I do not have a drill press so I am concerned about drilling perfectly aligned holes for the dowels. 4) I do not have a planer or jointer so I am a little concerned about the fact that most of the pieces are different thicknesses.

So assuming you would even attempt this project without a bandsaw, spindle sander, drill press, planer, and jointer, that brings me to my next question; what kind of wood to use?? She said she would like a satin black lacquered finish so I was thinking poplar because of the relatively low cost and the fact that I can find pre-finished pieces at Lowes. Also, does anyone have any ideas where to find very small (approx 3/4” diameter) ball casters? I have done an initial search and have found almost nothing that small.

I would love the opportunity to try to push and test my skills, but you will not hurt my feelings if you think I am in over my head for this one. Especially considering the tools I am missing and the fact that this would be my first commissioned piece.

Thanks in advance!

Here are some additional pictures…

-- Brandon ~ Aim Small, Miss Small

20 replies so far

View TravisH's profile


629 posts in 2139 days

#1 posted 02-19-2014 12:36 AM

It can be done with out those specific tools but not for sure I would want to unless you are confident in your ability with the tools that you do have. Rasp, hand planes, hand saws, etc….

You are going to be stuck if using Lowes or similar big box store for the wood, unless you plan on doing some glue ups. Most of the stock isn’t going to be “off the shelf thickness”. This will be a piece you will lose money on as I doubt you will be able to capture your time spent if not proficient in hand tools.

I do find it to be an interesting piece to build.

View Mike67's profile


97 posts in 3540 days

#2 posted 02-19-2014 12:43 AM

Does the copy have to be exact exact? Or almost exact? Your first question is a tough one. I’m thinking jig saw or maybe coping saw and possibly gouges to get it close, rasp to get closer, and lots of hand sanding. Others will have better ideas. As to the second question, think about dowels. Use a doweling jig and hand drill. You can also use dowels where the vertical parts meet the bottom. Use two on each joint so it can’t rotate.
This is not a beginner project. Maybe you can find a craft school or something where you can get someone to guide you.

View BPatterson's profile


43 posts in 1804 days

#3 posted 02-19-2014 12:59 AM

TravisH – There in lies another issue, I am just getting started with hand tools and am much less proficient with them than power tools. I wouldn’t mind doing this project for cost of materials but I do think this would be fairly time consuming especially since she wants two…

Mike67 – The copy does not have to be exact, she just likes the design so I would like it to be close. I like the idea of dowels. Would a doweling jig be able to drill into the angled piece of the hanger? I guess I could always do a notch cut out of the hanger so there would be a horizontal area to drill the dowel hole in. This would definitely be the trickiest project I have attempted so far…

I guess another option for the hanger would be to see if I could find a wood hanger that I could buy that is similar in size and shape. However I feel like this is kind of a cop out.

Thank you both for the input!

-- Brandon ~ Aim Small, Miss Small

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 2165 days

#4 posted 02-19-2014 01:40 AM

The coat hanger is three pieces so that reduces your shaping a bit. You could do the rough shaping with a jigsaw then rough it in a little better with a chisel and a mallet and maybe some relief saw cuts, then a spokeshave can do a great job. Lot of ways to skin a cat though, a rasp can do some of it too. Here’s a video on spoons, not exactly the same thing, but you can adapt the methods. about 20 minutes in shows the relief saw cuts and chisel carving methods that might help you, but the whole video is good.

Anyway trying at least 5 new things on one project sounds a bit much especially for a commissioned one. But if you have time to practice each of the sub skills that looks like a very cool project.

Oh and what is that toothed thing above the coat hanger part?

View ChuckC's profile


843 posts in 3139 days

#5 posted 02-19-2014 01:47 AM

Here’s a question. Can you shop around and find a wooden hanger that matches the size of the one in the pic? I use wooden hangers for my heavy coats and they are not far of from that one. You could use it as a starting point and at minimum cut the top off.

The only other complicated part is the dished out top but you could do that with a router and template bit.

Edit: Here is an example.

View BPatterson's profile


43 posts in 1804 days

#6 posted 02-19-2014 02:39 AM

Tim, thanks for the video link! Im sure it will be very helpful. I agree, this may be a bit too big for the time being. The only thing that may get me to still try it is that she does not have a time frame on it. I could just charge her for materials but I do think some practice might be called for first before I even get her to pay for the materials.

The toothed thing is so you can hang other clothes hangers over the edge and the teeth will keep them in place. She says she never uses that so she doesn’t care if that feature is in the duplicates.

ChuckC, I have considered that and that may very well be the deciding factor for me. If I could find one that was the right approximate size, the rest would probably be workable.

I was also thinking of using the router for the dish on top.

-- Brandon ~ Aim Small, Miss Small

View bigblockyeti's profile


5286 posts in 1924 days

#7 posted 02-19-2014 02:46 AM

I think given that you only want to get the cost of materials out of it, it can be done. A jig saw or even a coping saw could be used to cut out the hanger profile and rasps could be used to shape it. Given the minimal frame, I wouldn’t use poplar as it wouldn’t be very strong in those dimensions, hickory would be my wood of choice first, followed by white or red oak. As for the mortise and tenons, even if you’re only using a hand drill, if you can start with just enough room to get a chisel in there, you can open the mortise up slowly as you approach the size of your tenon.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3852 days

#8 posted 02-19-2014 02:50 AM

I would not even consider it at less that $500 each for two. Getting
the shaping right will be a challenge and require investment
in hand tools. Pleasing the client with a black “lacquer” finish
may be very difficult at your level of experience. You may
want to get a bid from a finisher to do it.

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2564 days

#9 posted 02-19-2014 04:07 AM

That thing is pretty cool.

I think it would be pretty challenging without the tools mentioned. You could sand the curves using hand drill and some sanding drums on it.

I’d look into buying a pre-made hanger…that would save some time and some frustration.

I bet you could rough shape the dish with an angle grinder and then smooth it up by hand.

Depending on your level of proficiency with hand planes, you could do the thicknessing that way. You might also be able to call some local cabinet shops and see if they can run a few pieces through their equipment to get it to thickness…I’ve heard of some people doing that.

Another option is to figure out one or two key tools that would let you do that job right…and then ask the client to pay for the tool and the lumber…look on Craigslist find a used planer or two and then ask for the money upfront to purchase the tool.

-- Steve

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2564 days

#10 posted 02-19-2014 04:08 AM

Also, agree with Loren…the painting is going to give you headaches…Painting can be challenging, black is extra challenging…it shows all the imperfections in the wood and any brush marks. The black paint portion alone would make me hesitant to take this one on.

-- Steve

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2141 days

#11 posted 02-19-2014 05:04 AM

does a credit card count as a tool?

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View BPatterson's profile


43 posts in 1804 days

#12 posted 02-19-2014 02:18 PM

Thank you everyone for the input! After considering all of the points above and my own hesitations, I decided that this piece was too advanced for my current skill level, especially since I was missing some key tools. I would like to come back to this project in the future as it is very interesting to me but like I said, that will come later when I have more appropriate tools or the skills to make up for any tool gaps.

Thanks again!

-- Brandon ~ Aim Small, Miss Small

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 2274 days

#13 posted 02-19-2014 02:23 PM

Brandon, it takes a humble and smart man to do what you just did. Good for you. The client will respect that and may well wait for you to come back to it when you are ready.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View bondogaposis's profile


5094 posts in 2555 days

#14 posted 02-19-2014 03:36 PM

Forget it, I wouldn’t even try it w/o a drill press or bandsaw. It would take way too long by other methods.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2573 days

#15 posted 02-19-2014 03:57 PM

Brandon, I think you made a wise decision. I would put it in the back of my head as a project to try down the road once your skills have developed.

Forgive my ignorance, but what is the bar between the hanger and the dish for?

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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