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This second tool in the Didier Bur Projection Pack is called “Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Plane”. Like the first tool it often occurs in the drawing of anything, whether it be furniture, mechanical parts or architectural structures, that you need to project a point in space perpendicular to a plane or surface of an object. To show how this tool works I have set up a SketchUp model with four random points in Red, Green, Blue space (x, y, z space in geometry). I will connect three of these points to form a selected plane. The fourth point will serve as the selected point. After selecting the point and plane and using the “Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Plane” tool to create a projected line, I will show that they are indeed perpendicular. Click on the image below to play the video.

To download Didier Bur’s Projection Pack, or any of my favorite Ruby scripts go here. The complete list of tools in Didier Bur’s Projection Pack is:

Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Line
Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Face
Project Selected Lines Perpendicular To Selected Face
Project Selected Line Perpendicular To Plane
Project Selected Faces Perpendicular To Plane
Project Selected Faces On Plane Along Vector
Create Lines At Intersection Of Selected Faces
Push/Pull Selected Faces Along Vector
Push/Pull Selected Faces Along Their Normals
Push/Pull Faces Randomly Within An Interval (This may actually have a place in woodworking)
Extrude Selected Lines Along Vector

In the next episode of My Favorite Ruby Scripts I will demonstrate how to use the “Project Selected Lines Perpendicular To Selected Face” tool.

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All Pieces Of Stock Are Marked For Orientation & Exposed Face My current project is a Tall Shaker Wall Clock. It is a gift for my daughter upon her graduation from law school. She graduated a year ago and this gift is a little late. But hey, I’m not getting paid to do this ya know! Anyway, I just stared by preparing stock for the sides, top and bottom. I cut all pieces to final overall dimensions including thickness. When building a carcass using hand cut dovetail joinery it is especially important that all mirrored pieces (right and left side for example) are precisely the same size and perfectly square. Next I carefully choose the surfaces I want exposed and then mark the material to be sure they go together correctly. Carpenter’s Crayon is perfect for this purpose.

My Tools Of Choice For Hand Cutting DovetailsA hand cut dovetail joint requires quality hand tools. Like all woodworkers who work with hand tools I have my favorites and will stack them up against anyone else’s favorites. It’s kind of a religious thing. My choices appear in the picture at left. The dovetail saw, chisel and dovetail marker are all Lie-Nielsen. The dovetail saw is the progressive pitch model; it has fine teeth in the front for easy starting and more aggressive teeth in the back for rapid cutting. The dovetail marker has a 7:1 pitch (or approximately 8 degrees) which I use for hardwoods, and also serves as a square to mark vertical line for half pins. The chisels are just the right length and well balanced. Their weight is on the light side so that your fingers do not tire after hours of dovetailing and unlike Japanese chisels whose triangular top edge cuts into your fingers, the flat top edge of the Lie-Nielsen does not.

The Dividers Are Set For The Width Of A Tail Plus A PinI like a light, hard rock maple wooden mallet. This one was recommended by and purchased from Nora Hall’s website. Nora Hall, if you don’t know, is an expert on carving. A small engineer’s square is ideal for marking the top edge with tail and half-pin spacing. I cut tails first and cutting perpendicular to the board face is critical for good fitting dovetails. The dividers are Groz with sharp points and are used to layout the pin and tail spacing by setting them to the width of one tail plus one pin and stepping the divider across the ends. Setting the dividers and marking other critical dimensions is accomplished with an accurate scale. I use the Incra Tiny T Rule which marks to 1/64″. The Lee Valley Veritas marking gauge makes quick and accurate work of scribing the pin and tail depth across the grain. And finally a well sharpened pencil with lead on the soft side for marking completes the tool set.

A Stool Comes In Handy To Provide Sufficient Elevation To Saw The Tails

The sides of this clock are 51″ long. Cutting tails on this length piece can be quite a challenge. In the past I would have used my adjustable height bench raised to its maximum height to secure the board to eliminate chatter while sawing. With my new Lie-Nielsen bench I find the face vice holds the piece securely and its size and mass all but eliminate chatter making tail sawing easy. I still needed to stand on something for elevation. One of the stools I wrote about crafting as Christmas gifts for our grandchildren came in handy for this purpose. I reposition it frequently so that my stance and arm are appropriately aligned to make the cuts. I use this stool again when removing the waste between the tails with the fret saw as shown at left.

There are two aspects of cutting tails that is critical to good joinery. The first I mentioned earlier is cutting perpendicular to the face of the board. Failing to do so will leave unsightly gaps, poor glue joints and weak mechanical joints. The second aspect is to stop the cut at the scribe line. Going past this point will show and leave a sloppy appearance, not one a craftsman wants to project.

There are a few aspects of tail cuts that are not critical. The angle of the cut is nominally 8 degrees from vertical, but this is not critical. Neither is the width of the gap (pin width). Machine cut dovetails would all be perfectly angled and spaced, but then they would look machine cut. The human is not a machine. Hand cut dovetails are beautiful precisely because they don’t look machine cut; they are all slightly different, adding to the beauty of the piece.

Trace The Pins From The Tail Board And Make Sure To Mark The Waste Area

The pins are a little more difficult. First, the pins are traced from the tails by laying the tail board on the pin board, aligning them perfectly perpendicular and at the correct depth and tracing the pins from the tails with a sharp pencil or knife. I prefer a pencil because I want to saw on the waste side of the pencil marks, that is, leaving the pencil mark which is actually part of the pin. This I can see clearly with pencil marks. However, a knife mark tends to draw the saw blade into its kerf leaving me less control. I complete the layout using the dovetail marker being sure to mark the waste area with Xs as shown at right.

Cut The Pins By Sawing On The Waste Side Leaving The Pencil Marks

There are critical aspects of pin cuts that must be adhered to. Cut on the waste side of the pencil mark, but aligned as closely to it, and along it as possible. Cut straight down using the vertical lines as a guide. Stop at the scribe line on both sides of the board. Paying close attention to these will assure snug fitting joinery – assuming you also cut the tails correctly. The trick to hand cut dovetails is being able to cut vertically and to follow a line. Once those two skills are mastered you can hand cut dovetails that go together the first time, every time.

It helps to cut vertically if your piece is mounted in the vice plumb. The shoulder vise on my Lie-Nielsen lets me quickly accomplish this by holding the piece flush against the vice as I tighten it.

The Majority Of The Waste Is Removed With A Fret Saw

After making all the vertical cuts I am ready to remove the waste. This is done in two steps. First, clear the majority of the waste from the pins by cutting it away with a fret (or coping) saw. I twist the blade in my fret saw to about forty five degrees with pliers. This allows the saws frame to clear the board as I cut. Turning it ninety degrees to the frame would make starting the cut near impossible. When sawing I try to stay as close as I dear to the scribe line leaving just enough to support the chisel cleanup that will follow. How much you leave depends on your experience and courage. If you are just starting out stay at least an eighth of an inch from the scribe line. Be sure you cut evenly front to back. You don’t want to cut close to the scribe line in front and below the scribe line in back. Judge this carefully. After a while it becomes natural and requires no special attention.

Cleanup Of The Waste Is Performed With A Sharp Chisel

The second step in clearing the waste is to clean up the material left by the fret saw. I perform this step with a very sharp chisel. Depending on how close I cut to the scribe line will determine how many cuts along the scribe line I will need to take. If you are doing this and you leave a quarter of an inch for example, you will want to make at least three passes as you approach the scribe line. The last pass should be no more than one eighth inch. Less is better. I hold the chisel slightly passed vertical such that the waste is cut angled into the board. The end grain serves no purpose in the joinery; only the faces of the pins and tails are used to form both the mechanical and glue joint. I check with a small engineer’s square that the material is removed such that the scribe line on each face is unimpeded by material that might project passed them.

The Pins And Tails That Join The Four Sides Of The Clock Carcass

The final joinery set is shown at right. Note that you can still see the pencil marks on the pins. As mentioned above they are part of the pin material since the tail was used as the mask to form the pins. Also note that the tails are cut perpendicular to the face of the tail board and the pins are cut straight down – that is vertical to the board. These pins will go together for the first time during glue-up with no dry fit required.

I have a confession to make. You can see that some of the end grain in the pin boards was chipped out. If my chisel were as sharp as it should have been this would not have happened. My chisel was sharp when I started out on the tail boards and I should have stopped to sharpen it for the pin boards. However it was close to dinner time and I was almost done so I plugged along. The small white sin here is that the end grain does not play a part in the joinery and will not be seen. So I can be forgiven, though it is not my usual practice. There, I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest.

If you are just starting out with hand cut dovetails, or haven’t yet started but would like to, I would highly recommend purchasing Rob Cosman’s series of video tutorials. I have been cutting hand dovetails for ten years now and consider myself experienced. But I still purchase nearly every tutorial I can to see how the masters do it so that I can learn and improve. Frank Klausz is probably the dovetail king with Rob Cosman a very close second, but Rob’s videos I find to be the best tutorials on the market. Don’t shy away from hand cut dovetails. Innate skill is not required. Anyone willing to practice sawing vertically and to a line can master them.

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I maintain a list of my favorite SketchUp Ruby scripts on my blog, where you will also be given download links. It’s not a long list because I only include those scripts that I actually, and frequently, use. If I try a script and find I seldom use it I eliminate it from my plug-ins folder and it doesn’t make the favorites list.

I thought it would be useful to not only share my favorites list, but in addition provide a series of short videos on how to use them. And so, in this, the premiere Chiefwoodworker’s Blog Videos performance, I am going to demonstrate the first of eleven tools in Didier Bur’s Projection Pack Ruby Script. Actually there are 12 tools but I have eliminated one, “Add Construction Point”. I commented it out of the script in favor of a better Ruby script.

This first tool is called “Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Line”. It often occurs in the drawing of anything, whether it be furniture, mechanical parts or architectural structures, that you need to project a point in space perpendicular to a line or an edge of an object. To show how this tool works I have set up a SketchUp model with three random points in Red, Green, Blue space (x, y, z space in geometry). I will connect two of these points to form a selected line. The third point will serve as the selected point. After selecting the point and line and using the “Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Line” tool to create a projected line, I will show that they are indeed perpendicular. Click on the image below to play the video.

The complete list of tools in Didier Bur’s Projection Pack is:

Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Line
Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Face
Project Selected Lines Perpendicular To Selected Face
Project Selected Line Perpendicular To Plane
Project Selected Faces Perpendicular To Plane
Project Selected Faces On Plane Along Vector
Create Lines At Intersection Of Selected Faces
Push/Pull Selected Faces Along Vector
Push/Pull Selected Faces Along Their Normals
Push/Pull Faces Randomly Within An Interval (This may actually have a place in woodworking)
Extrude Selected Lines Along Vector

In the next episode of My Favorite Ruby Scripts I will demonstrate how to use the “Project Selected Point Perpendicular To Selected Line” tool.

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Dianna, Mark & Edie's Home After It Was Visited By A TornadoI wrote about an Ice Storm that hit New England in December of 2009. Having personally experienced it I thought it was quite a natural disaster. But a little over a week ago a tornado passed through Arkansas and swept central Tennessee. It too was personal, but accompanied by a more disastrous outcome. My niece and nephew-in-law, Dianna and Mark, lost their home. The damage was severe as you can see from the picture at right. Fortunately, Dianna and their daughter, Edie, were at work and day care, while Mark was returning that day from a business trip. Mark arrived home about a half hour after the tornado passed through and was not allowed to see his home until authorities could identify him as the owner.

Dianna, Mark and Edie are safe. They have each other and most of their cherished things. The outpouring of community, church and friends has been extraordinary. As contrary as it may seem even their insurance company has been very responsive to this point. A colleague of Dianna’s has made available a home to rent while the disposition of theirs is decided. All-in-all they have been fortunate.

Yet fortune is a relative state. While I was certainly fortunate when the ice storm left me with no power for five days and a yard covered in freshly fallen trees, Dianna and Mark were much less fortunate. They lost their home and a good deal of furnishings. But the ultimate misfortune visited their neighbors; a young mother and her 9 week old baby were killed and the father seriously injured and left in critical condition. Forty other people were injured and forty homes were damaged, many more seriously than Dianna and Mark’s. While natural disasters are a fact of life (and death) and affect us all, we should remember that old idiom  “There but for the grace of God go I” and give thanks for our fortunes.


Powermatic PM1900 3 HP 1 Micron Canister Dust CollectorThere have been a few recent additions to my shop. My old dust collector was a 3 HP Reliant which I had for about eight years. It was the bag type, both top and bottom. I wanted a 1 micron filter canister. Since Reliant is out of business I tried retrofitting a Delta canister. The diameters were slightly different so I used single sided tape foam and a spring clamp steel belt to mate them. It worked for a few years, but then the canister began blowing off when the bags were nearly full. After filling my shop with saw dust on several occasions I decided it was time to buy a new Powermatic PM1900 3 HP unit. Now I suppose I can’t stall any longer. It’s time to finally pipe my shop for dust collection.

Note the nice Powermatic sign that came “free” with the unit. That alone made the purchase worth it.

Peachtree Supreme Drill Press TableI was at a Woodworking Show in Marlboro MA this past winter and saw a drill press table that impressed me. I don’t think there was anything I couldn’t do on my drill press before purchasing a table, but it sure seemed like it would make things easier and quicker. So I purchased a Peachtree Supreme table. This table is thick and sturdy. It came with the T-tracks installed and very little in the way of assembly required. I have already found applications that are much easier and more accurate than my old methods. I think I am really going to like this addition.

Trying Out The Veritas Bevel Up Smooth PlaneI have a nice collection of Lie-Nielsen planes. Though I am not a collector, I am a user. I don’t buy a plane unless I intend to use it. Recently I was scheduled to take a woodworking course. The school sent me a list of tools required for the course, most of which I have. I have Lie-Nielsen No. 4 and 4 1/2 smooth planes with 50 & 55 degree high angle frogs. But the school was quite insistent that the smooth plane be Veritas Bevel Up.

So, while at the same show in Marlboro I visited the Lee Valley booth and asked for a demonstration. I was escorted to a bench where a visitor was already trying the bevel up smooth plane and having difficulty using it. I mentally noted that I though he didn’t know how to use a plane. When it came my turn I had the same difficulty and felt somewhat embarrassed. I asked the Lee Valley sales guy to demonstrate the plane. He had the same problem and spent twenty minutes trying to adjust the plane but to no avail. I walked away wondering if I should buy this plane and decided to think on it long and hard.

Veritas Bevel Up Smooth Plane Produces Thin Wide ShavingsBack home I read a number of reviews and articles on the Veritas plane in question. They were quite glowing. A few months later I purchased one. I must admit, I felt like I was cheating on my wife adding a Veritas to my Lie-Nielsen harem.

When the Veritas came I was anxious to try it out. My first impressions of the packaging and fit-and-finish are that this plane is not the same quality level as the Lie-Nielsen. I plugged on. The set up was quite different. It took me some time to complete. The depth adjustment screw struck me as a little flimsy and depth adjustment too course. After completing the setup I gave it a try with no honing of the blade. I was surprised at the smoothness of use, the wide thin shavings I was able to cut, and this with no honing. The more I used this plane the more I liked it. But it still didn’t feel as comfortable in my hands as the Lie-Nielsen smoothers; nor as sturdy and as well finished.I Need To Know - Veritas Or Lie-Nielsen For Smoothing Figured Woods

My curiosity has been piqued. I intend to buy a Lie-Nielsen low angle smoother to give these two manufacturers an apples-to-apples test. I need to know which of these babies will produce the best finish on figured woods. I’ll try them both, straight out of the package with no honing. Then I will hone them and work them some more. Tiger maple should expose a winner. Does that sound like reason enough to buy another plane? I hope so.

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