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Panels thicknessed and cut to rough dimension. With summer nearly gone and our month long family reunion behind me, it is now time to get back in the shop. As I announced earlier, my current project is a Wall Hanging Hand Tool Cabinet to house my precious, well,…… hand tools. As always my projects begin by selecting the rough lumber I will use. Then I join, plane, edge, glue, thickness and finally cut them to rough shape. At left is a stack of rough cut panels that represent the top, bottom, sides, shelf and divider. Each panel is marked with carpenters crayon with its name, face and front edge designated. This helps keep track of the intended use of each panel, which is important for a number of reasons, not to mention that I choose the best grained and figured boards for the surfaces that will show. Oh! Did I mention that I am using tiger maple for this cabinet?

Markedup tails with associated marking tools. The final thicknessing of the panels was done after they sat in my shop for a few days to let any final warp-age, bow, twist etc. settle out. (Thicknessing is a verb found only in the Woodworker’s Dictionary. Don’t look for it in Webster’s.) After thicknessing I cut each panel to exact final dimensions including any cutouts. At that point I am ready to begin cutting the joints, starting with the dovetails.

I am a “tails first” guy; I begin by marking up the tails on (in this case) the sides. The picture at right shows the tails marked up and the tools I use to accomplish this: a pencil, divider, Veritas marking gauge, measuring device (accurate to 1/64″), Lie-Nielsen dovetail marker and yes, a shop drawing with dimensions. If you are Frank Klausz and have already cut a lifetime of dovetails, you don’t bother to markup your board. You just cut by eye. I hope one day to master that. But in the mean time I markup, and since I draw all my plans in SketchUp, why not print out dimensioned drawings to keep myself on the straight and narrow?

Tails roughed out with dovetail and fret saw. Using a dovetail saw I make the vertical tail cuts followed by cleaning out the waste with a fret saw as shown in the picture at left. Note that when removing the waste in the area that will eventually be occupied by the pins I am careful to leave enough material to protect the scribe lines I will use to guide my chisel, which will clean up the remaining waste.

Lie-Nielsen, Marples and Japanese chisels left to right. A friend of mine recently bought a set of high end Japanese chisels. I wanted to try them out on this project and see how they did on tiger maple, a relatively hard, dense wood. I normally use my Lie-Nielsen or Marples chisels, and so I decided to do a comparison of all three. The picture at right shows them side by side with bevel up. While I did sharpen all three before using them I made no attempt to evaluate hardness, brittleness or longevity of the edge. That is an involved and long procedure well beyond the time I allotted for this short evaluation. What I was primarily concerned with was comfort, speed of cut, and crispness of cut.

I divided the work evenly among the three and alternated there use frequently. This carcass had plenty of dovetails and pins and I gave them all a good workout. In the end I was most satisfied with the Lie-Nielsen. The Lie-Nielsen was better balanced than either of the other two. The Marples was more top heavy and slightly harder to control. The Japanese chisel, with its triangular shape actually began to feel like it was cutting my fingers as I held it. The apex of the triangle on the bevel side approaches a point and after a while is very uncomfortable. This shape, I believe, is intended to do less harm to the internal corners of the pin socket. But I have never had any trouble with either the Marples or the Lie-Nielsen in that regard.

Horn Beam handles fit into socet. All three chisels cut quickly and cleanly, though I believe I noticed a slightly crisper cut with the Japanese chisel. I have read a number of articles that recommend flattening the top of the Marples handle to avoid the mallet blow sliding off, creating, in effect, a glancing blow. I never experienced this problem either. In fact it never occurred once with any of the chisels during this comparison. In the end I placed the Marples second and the Japanese chisel third, primarily on the basis of control and comfort. Comfort, I believe, is important, especially if you are chiseling all day long on a set of drawers.

Marking pins on a long board. There are a couple of other observations worth note. The Japanese chisel used here is in the $80 range (higher for a wider chisel and less for a narrower one). The Lie-Nielsen was about $50 and the Marples much less; I seem to recall they were about $15 for the narrower chisel. Marples now is Irwin and you can buy a set of four for $40, though I believe they are not the same quality as the original Marples. I think I can still justify buying the Lie-Nielsen based on overall comfort and control, even though it is $35 dollars more than the Marples. I can not justify the $80 price tag of the Japanese chisel, even though it is advertised as hand made. Its comfort alone is a killer in my mind.

I do have one small gripe about the Lie-Nielsen chisels. The picture at left shows how the Horn Beam handle fits in the socket. I have had several of the handles separate while working, even though I had previously seated them and woMarking pins on a long board close up.rked with them for some time. I asked Lie-Nielsen for replacement handles, which they graciously gave me, and eventually I got a set that remained seated without the use of a cement or other kludge fix. I recommend occasionally oiling the handles with Camilla oil to protect against water during the sharpening process.

Once the tails are completed I next transfer them to the pin boards, top and bottom in this case, by using the tails as a mask. However, the top and bottom of this carcass are 52″ long, so I can not transfer the pins in the usual fashion. Instead I use a board tacked to my wall at 52″ high that the tail board can rest on, the other end rests on the pin board. Metal squares and clamps are used to hold everything in place as show in the picture at right. A close up view can be seen at left. Now I can trace the tails onto the pin board with a pencil very accurately.

Cutting pins on a long board with the use of a stool. Cutting the pins still presents a problem because the pin board is still 52″ long. Fortunately I have a table that can be raised, and with the aid of some wooden clamps and a stool I am in business. The picture at left shows me cutting the pins with a dovetail saw standing on the stool. You may recognize this stool from a previous post on this site. The stool is very stable but you do have to reposition it once or twice as you move across your cuts.

Removing waste on a long board with a fret saw.The same setup is used to cut the waste away with the fret saw, shown right. Long carcass panels always present a challenge, especially if it is a dovetailed carcass. But this adjustable bench combined with a stool or ladder and wooden clamps makes quick work of it.

Next I will complete the dadoes, sliding dovetail and notches that complete the joinery. Then I will dry fit everything and develop a glue-up strategy. I will need help with this one, so I will locate a friend to assist. Glue-ups are stressful and need to be completed quickly. Large carcasses like this one add to that stress. So I cultivate a few friends in the glue-up process. It’s an investment that pays off at times like this. You don’t want a novice helping you. That almost always ends up with someone’s feelings being hurt, or worse, the lose of a friend.

Stay tuned for the next update.

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Cherry Chest Of Drawers RenderingIMSI/Design, LLC, makers of TurboCAD, offers plug-ins for other 3D drawing applications. Their IDX Division offers a plug-in for Google SketchUp called IDX Renditioner which provides photorealistic rendering and material and lighting controls. This plug-in works totally within SketchUp; it adds nine icons to the tool bar: three levels of rendering, four buttons for environment & lighting, save and help button. There are two editions; IDX Renditioner Express which is free, and IDX Renditioner which costs $199.95. The free version is limited in render size and speed, 640 x 480 pixels and at the current time is only available for PC platforms, though a MAC version is expected in the future. IDX Renditioner will render images up to 4096 x 4096 pixels, 24-bits per pixel (16 megapixels), and supports multithreading for higher performance necessary for large images. IDX Renditioner is available on both the PC and MAC.

Close-up renedering - back.I have installed IDX Renditioner on my machine. Installation was quick and easy. I have not had time to give it a test drive. However, William Manning, Senior Director, IDX Division of IMSI/Design contacted me to ask permission to use one of my Free Plans as an example of what IDX Renditioner can do for woodworkers like myself. Above left is William’s rendered version of my Cherry Chest Of Drawers design (click on image to enlarge). Two additional renderings are shown right and left.To see actual photographs of the same design, go to Cherry Chest Of Draws on my Gallery page. William didn’t model the hardware, but I think you will agree this Close-up renedering - top.rendering is indeed photorealistic. What is nice about this is not only that you can see what the final product will look like, but with very little effort you can texture the model with different wood species and grain figures and decide which you, or your customer, likes best. William estimates that he can render 6 – 7 different species in a few hours. This is a very powerful tool for a custom furniture designer like me, and it is a great addition to an already powerful tool such as SketchUp. On my next design, which will be a custom wall hanging clock, I will use IDX Renditioner to render several wood species and give you a first hand accounting of IDX Renditioner.

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The Sears, Roebuck 1902 Catalogue In 1969 Bounty Books republished the 1902 Edition of the Sears, Roebuck Catalogue. The forward was written by Cleveland Amory, a well known American author and animal rights activist. The first sentence of his introduction reads:

“A glance through the pages of this catalogue provides a view of the American scene at the turn of the century with an excitement and an accuracy that would defy the most eminent historian.”

Many people today don’t remember that Sears, the anchor store in major malls, was once Sears, Roebuck, the largest catalog company in the world. Over time Roebuck was dropped and the stores became known simply as Sears. Sears also became famous for their Craftsman line of tools, which were once held as a standard in tool quality. But in 1902 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue offered brand name tools of the day – Stanley, Bailey, Buck Bros., Siegley, Fales & even their own Sears, Roebuck Tools; Craftsman was far in the future.

The 1902 catalog cover, shown above left, begins with:

Cash Must Be Sent With All Orders – No Goods Shipped C.O.D.

The very bottom of the cover reads:

We Have No Agents or Solicitors – Persons Claiming to be Our Representatives are Swindlers

An assortment of Plow Planes - mostly Stanley These two lines encapsulate the corporate strategy Sears, Roebuck employed at the time. Sears, Roebuck was nothing more or less than a low price supply house that took orders and delivered via their catalog and US Mail on a cash only basis; no credit cards or credit purchases and no door-to-door salesman which was so popular at the time. Their closest competitor was Montgomery Wards, which was more popular in the east, but never seemed to succeed like Sears, Roebuck.

An assortment of Block & Bench PlanesI have a copy of this 1902 reprint given to me by my late mother-in-law. The original catalog was published two years before my father was born, and three years before my mother’s birth. Cleveland’s first introductory sentence is personal in that context. But the reason for this article is quite different. Recently I have been mulling my next hand tool acquisition which is a plough plane – or a plow plane here in the States. While researching them and trying to decide whether to buy an antique (pre-WWII), or purchase a new one, it occurred to me to look at my 1902 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue. There on page 513 was the most wonderful assortment of plow and combination planes, mostly Stanley manufactured. (Click on the picture at right above to get an enlarged view of this page.) Stanley had a series of plow and combination planes that includes the 45, 46, 47, 50 and 55. These came on the market about the turn of the century and were modified and offered in variants through the forties.

An assortment of Hammers & ChiselsIn the lower right hand corner are two Stanley Router Planes similar to those offered by Lie-Nielsen today. In the upper left hand corner are the Stanley 98 & 99 Side Rabbet Planes, also offered by Lie-Nielsen. However this pair went for $1.09 from Sears, Roebuck, whereas I paid $225.00 from Lie-Nielsen. Heck, replacement blades cost $35.00 today.

On page 512, left above, are an assortment of block and bench planes. There are also a range of wooden fore and jointer planes up to 30 inches long. Notice the sub-one-dollar price on most of these planes. Specialty planes like the Stanley Adjustable Circular Plane broke the one-dollar mark selling for as high as $1.70. The Combination and Plow Planes, of course, reached the remarkably high price of $9.80. On page 517 is an assortment of hammers and chisels, shown right above. It is curious to me that chisel price ranges were similar to that of the planes on pages 512. Perhaps the steel and technology used to make them was leading edge at the time (no pun intended).

The Heidelberg Electric Belt - Great for aches and pains!

I think it’s time we let Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley know they are ripping us off. Next time, before placing an order, I will show them the competition and see if I can get a better price.

Tools are not all that you will find in this catalog. Everything from barber chairs to ladies corsets to wood burning stoves to horse pulled wagons can be found. I found an item that may be particularly useful to male woodworkers who complain of aches and pains after a long day in the shop. Shown at left is the Heidelberg Electric Belt. I’ll leave it to you to read and discover how it works. Ladies, fear not, there is something in this catalog for your aches and pains too – but this being a “family show” as they say, you will have to view the catalog in person if you wish to place an order.

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