Friday, June 18, 2010

one drawer at a time

What you are about to witness may confound your senses, cause you to feel emotions youl'd rather not talk about in public, force you like a madman to run wildly (and nakedly if the need arise) out or down or up or over to your shop and set to work

I just spent the afternoon rabbeting five small bits of wood, four rabbets each, plus two pieces with only two, so a sliver over a sixteenth of an inch ran the span between the front and back stretchers. Each rabbet took twenty four to thirty passes with a large rabbet plane, on my fence equipped shooting board, and maybe only twice did the cut have to be mended. A good plane is predictable, true, a good plane should cut a flat surface the same amount so that after thirty two passes, the surface is completely parallel to its origin. It helps to know how to hold the plane, how to push, how to steady, and hold plumb, when to skew or tilt or dip, you learn the sound, the feel, you anticipate a calamity and prevent it.

This is what I love about hand tools, each becomes a part of you. I work all day with routers, table saws, chop saws, radial arm saws, jig saws, sanders of all colors and sizes, a massive dust control system and some really uncomfortable safety gear, it's like getting suited up for a joust, then taking it all off and shutting everything down for ten minutes just to think and measure and yes, actually do math, then don the armor, turn on the noise makers and get er done.

Thank the gods for filler!

There's no finesse in a production shop, it's pretty as long as you don't look too close. I'm constantly heckled for my desire to be accurate, they call it "working too close"

Oh crap, if only they could see my furniture.

Finally making the decision to fab each drawer individually may either be the stupidest idea ever or the best. I considered at length dimensioning all sixty pieces, smoothing and ganging up the dovetails, then realized I didn't want to fall into the production mode. Each step requiring much more than the snippets of time I have available.

So, in essence, I gang up four sides, layout and saw all the dovetails, then find the best matches, prep two backs and two fronts, and put them aside. Dinner sometimes gets made, a movie watched, a beer or two. Some nights I make it back out, chop a few tails, complete the layout (there's a crap-load of layout!) I figure about four hours for each drawer, unless I blow out the spalted maple. Did I mention the front shoulder of the half-blind is 3/16 of an inch. Lesson #7543 always chop the half blind front first in case the just mentioned does occur, because you can always chop the rear fulls while you wait for the glue to dry.

In the mean time I have to show you what I do for work:

From Australopithecines to Zoetroupes I do it all

And I can make matched sets

That is an LED fired, hydro terrariun, by the way.

Oh yea, this post is supposed to be about woodworking

Nice thing about the drawers, each will be unique, thinner walls, different dovetails, attention to its own attributes.

Four down, eight to go!