Interesting Woodworking Link

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Episode #61 - Shop Reflection

A time for reflection in the shop . . .

One of the interesting aspects of working with wood is the exploration process. There is always something new to learn and there is always room to perfect a skill or technique. I have in mind ideas for a number of projects; the real question for me is which project to do first. I also have some techniques that to want to explore and incorporate into future projects.

As I built my last project, I generated a self-critique of what went well and what I would have done differently. I think the overall scope and scale of the project went well. Having an opportunity to build again with a different skill set, I would approach the drawer and drawer housing much different. I would also work in more design elements to move away from a stark rectilinear form. I also would approach the general carcase construction differently building a separate case and base rather than an applied built up base.

Without a doubt, one of the most important and useful things I did with my last project was to draw a full-scale set of shop drawings that I constantly referred to during the construction process.
I felt comfortable with the frame and panel construction of my last project. With future projects I want to explore other methods of carcase construction. I also want to add to my joinery skill set, for example hand-cut dovetails.

I made a conscious decision with the drawer construction on my last project. Ultimately, I felt machine-cut dovetails or finger joints were just too heavy or bulky for a four-inch deep drawer. Up to this point I hadn’t really given hand-cut dovetails much thought, thinking I could just pull out my router. Now I realized that the ability to cut a fine set of thin dovetails had tremendous utility. I ended up pinning this drawer with small contrasting cherry dowels made with a Lie-Neilson doweling plate.

The veneering went very well. This was the first time I combined two different veneers on one panel. I got this idea from a Fine Woodworking article written by Mark Edmundson. The goal was to provide some interest, contrast and to
lighten up the interior of the pedestal.

Fine Furniture from Plywood: Custom thicknesses, matched grain and seams, and solid-wood details beat the plywood box look; by Mark Edmundson

I also want to work on making, cutting and installing shop-made moldings. This was the first time that I used shop made moldings from the same stock as the project. It turned out well, but something I definitely want to practice.

After watching the Crazy-Leg Federal Table forum project being built on The Rough Cut Show, I have become very interested in inlay work. I also realized that a table of this type is an excellent project to work on construction details. They have two projects underway, the Crazy Leg Federal Table and a Shaker Style Step Stool with dovetail joinery. The forum has a lot of expertise and advice so well worth checking out!

Another interesting Fine Woodworking article that is sitting on my bench:

Engineering a Table with Drawers: There's a simple, adaptable system hidden in almost every table; by Will Neptune

So what is happening in my shop? I am working with dovetails. I hope to cut a dovetail joint daily until I get a good handle on this skill. I also want to experiment with hide glue, inlay, and scratch stocks. Small boxes and tables are in my immediate future. Later this summer, I also have a jewelry display case in the works, but first I need to make full-scale drawings.

1st dovetail joint . . . lots of room for improvement!

My new shooting board with an adjustable fence

Dovetail tools on the bench


Mark Mazzo said...

Hey David,

That's a real nice set of first dovetails you did there - can't wait to see them after you've practiced some!

The Craftsman's Path

Vic said...

David, thanks for sharing your ideas not only about where you want to go, but sharing your self critique. It is all about identifying our strengths and weaknesses. It's really no fun to always play to our strengths, rather challenging ourselves to explore and daring to fail, is what will take us where we want to go. Over the years, I've come from straight construction to more and more intricacies of fine detail. I have had some dismal failures! First, I beat myself up. Then, I get over it and do it better the next time. By the way, a couple really good DVDs on inlay are from Paul Schurch. Be aware there are a lot of very strong opinions on process and especially what glues to use. I was fortunate enough to take his class in Las Vegas. If you want a good source for quality veneer, let me know.


David Pruett said...

Mark and Vic -

Thanks for the comments and encouragement. My dovetails have nothing but room for improvement! I am looking forward to chopping away until I get it right. Vic, I am always looking for a good source for veneers.


neil said...

Hi David.......dovetail'in....YEAH Baby!!!!

I like your critique, I'm not so sure reader's will truly know how far you pushed your skill-set on this piece. "Bravissimo".... thought I'd throw-in a bit of Boston's Northend for you.

I like the use of the wood plugs in the drawers, snuck that one in. Adds a touch of class. Your veneer use and matching color, idea of brightening the cabinet interior with the maple, and the applied base. After you go through the hard work of figuring out what you want to do, it's harder to do it, and you ended with a successful delivery. All good stuff happend.

I'd like to know how you thought your new bench worked on the first project.

The best part is this evaluation ending with an excellent side view photo and dovetail indication of.... "Game On".


David Pruett said...

Neil -

Thanks! I learned a lot from this project. I also got pushed in some new directions which I am excited to explore. I greatly appreciate all of your help and encouragement with my woodworking and this project.