Giving Thanks

After lots of travel this month I was able to get in the shop this week and bang out one of the toy boxes for Woodworkers Fighting Cancer. If you aren’t aware of this, please head over to Marc’s site and think about participating next year.

My woodworking club, North Coast Community Woodshop, decided to build a few of these and then donate the boxes. We are still waiting to figure out where to donate so if you’re in the area and know of a good place please leave a comment below.

My daughter helped paint while the turkey was cooking on Thanksgiving day. I really couldn’t have had a better week. Onto holiday projects…

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Upsides to Gumption Traps

The dovetails have been causing me angst. This isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve gotten a few other things done around the shop while procrastinating and making up excuses about the drawers.

For instance, my shooting board needed an overhaul.

I’ve been eyeing the shooting boards from Lee Valley and Lie Nielsen and thought I could benefit from a batten to help guide the plane more consistently. I mocked this up but didn’t install it thinking it wasn’t going to work. Has anyone tried this concept on a shooting board? I also thought about buying the track itself from Lee Valley but I’m not sure if it’ll work. Please leave a comment below if you have any ideas on this.


Notice the strip of maple to guide the plane (also note I had to remove the plane knob to make it fit).

I’ve also been meaning to build one of these dowel thingamabobs after seeing one a Lie-Nielsen event years ago. It turned out pretty well.

So, all has not been lost in the shop. I’ve also upgraded to 200 amp service in the entire house, which is another reason for the slowness. I’ve been doing the DIY cleanup of that. Maybe I’ll post some pics; it’s always nice to breakout your woodworking tools on DIY projects. Talk about overkill.

Also, I’ve really like what Dyami has been doing with his monthly shop episodes on youtube. I’m thinking about adding this to the blog. Any thoughts?

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Local News Coverage

I was featured in a local series called 5 min Q & A. The title is a bit of a misnomer but she gets the points across.


Reading my own words reminds me that sometimes you just have to revel in the fun of it and not take yourself so seriously.

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Cleaning up the Carcase

Way back when, I was waiting to glue the carcase together and decided to fit the small stiles. These pieces of cherry cover the plywood from my I-Beam dividers. I went over this in this post. What I didn’t mention was in my haste I opted to fit the small dividers from the clamped up version instead of waiting until I had the actual glue up complete.

Lesson learned.

The resulting stiles ended up a little short, which caused the repairs in the following gallery.

The other clean up task was to level the small stiles to be flush with the rails. Here’s how I did it:

I hope to lay out the dovetails and get to cutting the drawers soon.

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Daunting Drawers

The next move in the dresser is to build and fit seven drawers. I’m daunted by this task. This tends to cause procrastination, which isn’t always a bad thing but it doesn’t help with progress. More on the procrastination tasks later. For now, let’s dive in.

All the drawers milled up and ready for rough dimensioning

All the drawers milled up and ready for rough dimension

I’ve never cut a dovetail other than a few practice cuts over a year ago. Plus I’ve only ever fit a drawer once. It was in 2010 for the Shaker Table Guild Build. It’s a good thing I do research for a living. I scoured my digital and analog resources to find a comprehensive explanation of how to systematically tackle a project of this size.


Sampling of resources

Unfortunately, none of my research turned up something comprehensive. There were tips for how to do things here and there but nothing really summarized how to tackle this many drawers. Therefore, in the spirit of contributing to the community, I offer the following process:

1. Cut drawer parts to rough dimension

2. Use the drawer BACKS as a way to figure out the proper size of the openings (this way you won’t screw up the fronts in case grain continuity is important). Thanks Tom Fidgen

3. Cut the sides using 1/4″ or so less than the shortest dimension of your opening.

4. Cut the dovetails (using the back-to-side joints first for practice).

5. Fit the drawers to the openings without the bottoms.

6. Install the bottoms.

7. Refit the drawers and do any final tweaking.


While cutting the backs and the sides I realized my drawer openings are not as square as they should be. I knew this was a potential problem given my design and lack of experience when building this.

Example of less-than-squareness. The right side fits snug but the left side won't fit at all.

Example of less-than-squareness: The right side fits snug but the left side won’t fit at all.

The key here (I think) is to use the largest dimension and then cut the dovetails with the drawer parts being square.  I confirmed this with an email to Marc Spagnuolo.  The theory is to fit the drawers after they are built instead of trying to cut joinery in catawumpus  parts. I’ll let you know how this goes as it’s new territory for me. As of publication, I’m only at step #3 so if things change I’ll update my post.

If you have any advice or thoughts on my process please use the comments section to help out.


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Kids Stool Finished

I was back in the shop this weekend cleaning up the stool for my daughter and teaching her how to use some of the equipment. Here she is giving it a test run.

Sized perfectly

Sized perfectly


Here’s what it looked like pre four year old. Not bad.

I was ready to put on a few coats of shellac, but she had a better idea.

“Daddy, let’s paint it pink.”

“Ummm, I don’t have any pink paint. We do have leftover purple paint from your bedroom.”

“PURPLE!!! Yeay!!! Do you have a little kids paint brush”?



Instead of watching Frozen for the 100th time, she asked to put a second coat on last night. Then during breakfast this morning she asked if we could check and see if the paint was dry. She rarely thinks of anything other than food, Ana, or Elsa. Smitten would be an understatement.

Testing out the paint job

Testing out the paint job

I try not be be precious about my stuff. If I was, I wouldn’t have taught my daughter how to use a paint brush for the first time. She wouldn’t tell other people about the purple stool she made with her dad. And I’d be lame…

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Stand Up!

Last month I saw a post from Bill Schenher at Billy’s Little Bench about getting kids in the shop. His daughter is a year or two older than my oldest. I was intrigued by the stool she was standing on so he put out a special post about the stool. Thanks Bill!

I showed my daughter the post and she asked if we could make one. Off to the scrap pile…


Oak and ash from the scrap pile

Using some scrap oak I was able to come up with enough material to make a nice little bench. It’s mostly a hand tool build with some Follansbee-esque techniques for cutting the mortises and rabbets. I was working in straight-grained oak after all.

Here are some shots of my progress so far.

The best part is that my daughter was so excited that she came down and helped me put some of the pieces together. You’ll note the costume change because she came down two days in a row. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Really.

I still need to clean things up, put some finish on it, and take some glamour shots.

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