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Dry Fitting Trim While Shaving The Front Piece To Exact LengthTrimming a piece requires careful attention to the joints. Even simple forty five degree miters can be tricky, sometimes requiring hand fitting with a block plane. But the most difficult part is cutting trim to the correct length; too long it doesn’t sit tightly against the backing and too short it leaves unsightly gaps.

I like to start by cutting the front trim to length first. To do that I cut the miter on the side pieces leaving them long. I clamp then in place and then cut both miters on the front trim, intentionally leaving it about 1/8” too long. I then sneak up on the correct length with a series of very fine cuts. As I approach the correct length I observe how the miters are coming together, and, if they need hand fitting I take thin shavings with a block plane and a shooting board. This is the equivalent of the dry fitting process that precedes all glue ups.

Trimming An White Oak Hutch Once I have the front piece cut to exact length I glue it in place and clamp it. I let it sit for about an hour and then go back and apply the side pieces. The side pieces require special attachment because this is a cross grain situation. Normally I would glue the first two inches of the end that connects to the front trim, and use a sliding dovetail joint to hold the other end in place to allow for seasonal expansion. See picture above right.

With A Software Tool, Movement master, I Check For Expected Seasonal Change However, this piece has relatively narrow sides, only 7 3/8” wide. Using a software tool to calculate the expected seasonal change for the Western MA area and cherry wood, I need only allow for about 1/8” expansion/contraction. Enlarge the picture at left by clicking on it and you will notice that this calculation is a function of stock type (flat sawn verses quarter sawn), area of the country where the piece will reside, current moisture content and species of wood.

An Elongated Slot Allows For Seasonal Expansion/Contraction Since the amount of movement is small, and the side narrow, I can use a simple elongated slot, screw and washer to allow for seasonal expansion. See the picture at right. Notice that I placed the screw toward the right end of the slot because most of the hot humid season is still ahead of us. I tighten the screw just enough to hold the trim in place, but not too tight, allowing the screw and washer to easily slide within the slot.

Wiping The Surface With Mineral Spirits Provides An Easy Check For Glue Stains After the glue dries I like to inspect for glue spots that may have been left during the glue up process. The easy way to do this is to wet the surface down with mineral spirits. Mineral spirits does not raise the grain like water does and dries quite quickly. Completed Carcass With TrimThis procedure also gives me a preview of what the wood will look like once the finish is applied. I’ll again inspect the entire piece this way toward the end of finish sanding.

The completed and trimmed carcass can be seen at right. The trim seems a little weird without the doors in place but that will be resolved shortly. The slots you see in the clockworks compartment is for a 1/4” panel that will slide into place, and on which the clock dial will be mounted. Both the clockworks and pendulum compartments will have backs. I am in search of a highly figured wood for the pendulum compartment back, perhaps spalted maple, because it will be visible through the glass door. The doors will be contrasting black walnut.


My Daughter, Summer My daughter and I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a Father/Daughter mini-vacation over the Memorial Day weekend. Both halls, much to our surprise, took only a half day to see. We had planned a day apiece. So with the extra time available we decide to add one more stop on our way home; Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts. I had been there three times prior, but my daughter had never visited a Shaker village and both she and I wanted her to see it.

basketmakingshop The Shakers are a significant part of my life. I was born at home, on Albany Shaker Road in Colonie, New York, approximately one mile from Mother Ann Lee’s grave and the site of the founding village in Niskayuna, New York. I spent my childhood ice skating on the Shaker Pond where the Shakers cut ice in the winter. I worked on a farm owned by the Engel family who were very close friends of our family, and to this day attend our family reunion each year. The family elder, Walt Engel, worked for the Shakers cutting ice during the winter when farm activity was slow. Working next to him in the fields he would regale my brothers and me with Shaker stories. I graduated from Shaker High School in 1963. Throughout my life I have always been attracted to simple Early American furniture with a special liking of Shaker pieces. To this day my own furniture designs are guided by my early Shaker influence. Some of you may not know, or heard of the Shakers. The following is a digest history.

A Family Dwelling With Kitchen, Dining Rooms, Meeting Rooms & Bedrooms Ann Lee, born February 29, 1736, was a member of a group derisively referred to as Shaking Quakers due to their spontaneous dancing that accompanied their worship. The group resided in Manchester, England where they were often persecuted, beaten and imprisoned. From early youth Ann believed she experienced “divine manifestations” and believed that intercourse and its sexual pleasures were sinful. However her parents convinced her to marry a blacksmith with whom she had four children. All died in infancy. This experience and her religious beliefs later led to her strong belief in celibacy, void of marital family structure.

A Unique Circular Cow Barn Improved Efficiency And Fire SafetyAnn herself was imprisoned in 1770 at the age of 34. While in prison she experienced Christ more strongly than ever. After being released from prison Ann Lee, with her strong belief in the second coming of Christ and a vision of what living a Christ like life must be, eventually became the leader of the Shakers, now formally called the United Society of Believers in Christ’s First and Second Appearing. The group bestowed on her the title of Mother and she was from then on known as Mother Ann. Members of the Shakers were called Sister or Brother.

An Adult Cradle Used In The InfirmaryDue to continued persecution, in 1774 Ann Lee led seven of her followers, including her husband, brother, niece and a wealthy financier to America arriving in New York City on August 6, 1774. Her husband abandoned the group shortly thereafter. Upon arriving they split up to find work but two years later bought 200 acres in Niskayuna located in the township of Watervliet, NY.

Crutches, Walker And Hearing Aid The Shakers practiced their religion quietly and without much notice. As a communal sect they farmed, made their own furniture, tools, equipment and built buildings. Because of their beliefs they opened their own schools. They remained under the radar until a period in colonial life when many people feared religion was being lost in American society. The Shakers offered what was considered a pure religion and was soon discovered by those seeking a deeper dedication. Mother Ann recognized this and from 1781 to 1783 traveled throughout Eastern New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut as a missionary seeking converts, who once converted opened new villages.

One Half Of A Symmetrical Dining Hall Shaker orthodoxy included celibacy, equality of the sexes and races, pacifism, communal living and property ownership, strict Christian worship and confession of sins. In support of these beliefs there were no marriages or children born into the Believers. Their numbers grew by converts and adoption, particularly of orphaned children. Upon entering the Shaker community converts offered all their property and belongings to the community. Shaker communities were governed by four elders, two women and two men, which served to support their belief in equality. Indeed after Mother Ann’s passing on September 8, 1784 the Shakers as a whole were led by Mother Lucy Wright and Father Joseph Meacham.

Built-ins Were Functional, Efficient And Often ColorfulMother Ann died from frailty largely as a result of her missionary work from 1781 through 1783, where she often met with violence and beatings from those who viewed Shakers as troublesome. This was particularly true in Shirley, Massachusetts. But Mother Ann almost always succeeded in her mission. The Shakers survived and thrived well beyond her life to become the America’s most successful communal sect. At their peak there was 19 major communities with a population between 4 – 5 thousand members and stretched from Kentucky to Maine. A community sprung up even in Shirley, MA, where Mother Ann was tormented and beaten. Mother Ann never lived to see the completion of a village but her convictions and guidance remained the focus of Shaker life.

One Half Of A Symmetrical Meeting Room The Shaker contribution to American society went well beyond beautiful and simple furniture to the creation of the circular saw (table saw), the flat broom, packaged seeds, clothes pins and many other inventions.

Wooden Hand Planes Of All Shapes & Sizes - Notice The Long Jointer The Shakers were good neighbors, they paid taxes, obeyed the laws, sold their wares to the community and purchased goods and services from the community. They took in workers who were unemployed and gave them jobs, took in abandoned and orphaned children and gave them homes and love, and yes, most importantly to a woodworker gave us a clean, beautiful in its simplicity, furniture style.

A Shaker Version Of A High Boy The Shaker orthodoxy, their beliefs and Mother Ann’s strong guidance shaped their furniture with a simple principle, simplicity of purpose, that is, form follows function and nothing more. Mother Ann instructed her followers to “do all your work as though you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you would die tomorrow.” To the woodworker this meant build it to last and don’t procrastinate. Father Joseph Meacham wrote “All work done, or things made in the Church for their own use ought to be faithfully and well done, but plain and without superfluity.” To the woodworker this meant well joined, simple trim and no ornate pieces or carvings. It is stated in the Millennial Laws that guided the Church that “Members of the church of God…are forbidden to make anything for Believers that will have a tendency to feed…pride and vanity”. Indeed, signing a piece was not allowed early on, although in the 19th century many Shaker woodworkers did sign their work but always hidden from plain sight.

A Shaker Built Shoulder Vise - Note The Dovetails Despite the avoidance of “superfluity” and simplicity of purpose, Shaker furniture is beautiful, it is elegant in its simplicity, and it is nothing else if not well constructed. Thumbnailed drawer edges, mushroom shaped pulls, dovetailed drawers and carcasses, brilliantly arranged and proportioned doors and drawers, functionally configured desks, sewing benches and tables all combine to give us this unique and beautiful style. Perhaps never again will there be such a distinctive style tied so closely to so few a people as Shaker furniture is to the Shakers – and their beliefs.

A Shaker Woodworking Bench To anyone who wants to know more about the Shakers and their works I highly recommend a book titled “The Complete Book Of Shaker Furniture” by Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks. I also suggest you visit the websites of Hancock Shaker Village, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village or Shaker Villages And Museums.


The Bits And Stages Used In Milling The Clock's Carcass Trim The clock carcass is trimmed with a sandwich of quarter round and bull nose pieces. This requires two bits: I used a CMT Cove Bit #837.951.11 to form the 3/4” radius quarter round, and a CarbTech Triple Beading Bit #02-03 for the 1/8” radius bull nose. The Cove Bit has a bearing which controls the cut into the side of the stock.  The depth into the face of the stock the woodworker must set. With a bit this large I like to make a few passes, increasing the depth on each pass until I reach the 3/4” depth.

The Triple Bead Stock Is Split Down The Middle With The Band SawThe CarbTech bit cuts three adjacent bull noses, each 1/8” radius. It does not have a bearing so you need to account for its depth of cut into the stock’s side with the outgoing router fence. I sacrifice the middle bead, cutting the stock in two right down the middle; an easy and safe task with a band saw. Next I use the drum sander, loaded with 220 grit sandpaper, as a thickness planer to finish the bull nose. A little glue and a few clamps and we have our trim.

Since I planed all the stock before milling, used 220 grit paper in the drum sander, and used sharp router bits, little or no sanding is necessary. If I do any sanding it is with a 320 grit paper to remove the raised grain resulting from the glue clean up. I am very careful not to destroy the edges that define the trim, and I perform this sanding only after the trim has been applied to the carcass.

Next I will apply the trim and build the doors. We are close to completion.


At this stage in the clock construction it is time to test the clock, pendulum and gong assembly to be sure no adjustments are needed to the seatboard or gong block. Making any adjustments later will be much more difficult. Also, I have been waiting for some time to hear the gong, not at all sure I would like what I heard once I heard it.

Maiden Clock Assembly Including Clockworks, Pendulum And Gong My clockworks are a Hermle 241-080. The instructions for assembly and adjustment received with the clock are for a different model that looks nothing like the works staring me in the face. I called the supplier and left a message requesting the correct instructions. No return call. I sent an email with the same message. I received an email with a PDF file of the same instructions I already had. So I read the instructions carefully and armed with that knowledge attempted mapping it onto my clockworks.

After a day of fiddling I managed to get the clock working. The main problem was that the clock would stop after five to ten minutes. The solution is what clock masters call “putting the clock in beat”. This is a process of adjusting the slip clutch on a crutch arbor until the tick tock sound is balanced. The instructions call out components such as verge, crutch, clutch, leader, escapement and suspension spring. Being a woodworker I have never noticed any of these components in the shop. It was all new to me. But with some perseverance I prevailed and the clock has run for more than a day now.

The Positioning Of The Gong Block Is Critical To Desired Sound The gong sounds great, though it is awfully sensitive to adjustment. A tiny bit left, right, up or down and the sound is totally different. So I have decide not to glue the gong block in place until the clock is ready for finish. I may even devise an attachment method that allows position adjustments instead of gluing it permanently in place.

Next I will trim out the clock, add the pendulum and clockwork backs and build the doors. Stay tuned.


Gluing up the carcass of a project is a major project milestone in my mind. It marks the transition from preparing and milling stock to trimming and finishing. More importantly it gives me the first look at shape and size. I create my working drawings in 3D, which has many advantages, but one disadvantage over a mockup is that you are never really sure about the overall look until glue-up.

I Always Dry Fit Before A Glue Up Like most woodworkers I never glue-up a piece without first dry fitting it. This accomplishes a number of things. First it lets me know if I need to trim a joint for fit. Second, it gives me a chance to practice the steps I will use in the glue-up, which uncovers all the tools and aids I will need, saving me from hunting down something while glue is setting up. Lastly, and most importantly, it helps me develop a glue-up strategy and sequence. Without this dry run a merely stressful step becomes a disastrous and disheartening one.

While Inspecting The Dovetail Joints I Look For Proper SeatingMost of the joints in this carcass are dovetails. I like to inspect them for tightness and gaps. I also check to be sure they seat completely. Dovetails will almost always go together smoothly if the pencil marks that mark the transfer of the tails to the pins are still visible. This is a check that can be made before the dry fit but it never hurts to double check.

Dovetailed carcasses are unique in that, while clamps are useful, and sometimes necessary to seat all the joints, clamps can be immediately removed. The dovetails are enough to hold the carcass while the glue sets up. This allows for easy checking and correcting for square.

I Use Clamps To Seat The Joints But Remove Them For Dovetail Joinery Even with all this checking and dry fitting mistakes can still be made. After I glued up this carcass I noticed one. I have marked the outline where a hole is supposed to be in the picture at right below. This hole is intended to allow the pendulum and weight chains to drop from the clockworks compartment to the pendulum compartment. I should have milled this hole before glue-up. Fortunately, while more difficult, it is still doable after the glue sets overnight.

Oops! I Should Have Milled That Hole Before Glue Up Next I will mill the clockworks and pendulum compartment backs, sand the carcass and backs, and permanently install the lower back before moving on to the doors. Stay tuned for more updates on this project.


This third tool in the Didier Bur Projection Pack is called “Project Selected Lines Perpendicular To Selected Face”. Notice that I use “Selected Plane” and “Selected Face” interchangeably as did Didier Bur. A face, when extended to infinity in all directions is in fact a plane. Also note that the title suggests you can project multiple selected lines on a selected plane. This is true, but demonstrating that in a video gets a little messy. Also, I want to demonstrate the general case, i.e. when a selected line (un-extended to infinity) passes through the selected plane, as opposed to a selected line that exists only above or below the plane.

Like the first two tools it often occurs in the drawing of anything, whether it be furniture, mechanical parts or architectural structures, that you need to project a line in space perpendicular to a plane or surface of an object. I have made this statement in the previous two tutorials without backing it up with examples. After the next post, which will demonstrate the fourth tool, I will post a video giving an example(s) of using all four tools. For now I hope you can simply accept the usefulness of these tools.

To show how this tool works I have set up a SketchUp model with five 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 & fifth points will serve as the selected line. After selecting the line and plane and using the “Project Selected Lines Perpendicular To Selected Face” tool to create the  projection, 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 Line Perpendicular To Plane” tool.


SketchUp Drawing Of Seatboard With Dimensions One of the more important components in a clock case is the seatboard. The seatboard is the board on which the clockworks is mounted and secured. Its placement determines the vertical and horizontal centering of the hour and minute shaft relative to the clock face. It also determines the clearance, or depth of the shaft relative to the clock face.

Drilling Large Chain Holes With Forstner BitThe seatboard consists of a number of holes that must be accurately placed. Two small holes are for threaded pins that secure the works to the seatboard. When installed in the clock the seatboard itself is fixed (no mechanism for adjustment). The positioning of the works on the seatboard directly affects all positioning mentioned in the previous paragraph. So these holes too must be accurate.

Roughing Out The Pendulum Rectangle With A Sabre Saw Since this is a chain driven clock there are four larger holes that allow the chains to move freely and hang in the pendulum cabinet (lower section of the clock). These holes need to be large enough to permit “pulling” the weights once a week for winding and to ensure no interference as the weights slowly drop while driving the clock.

Scrap Wood And Double Sided Sticky Tape Form A Template One rectangular hole is needed to allow the pendulum to pass through and swing. This hole does not require critical dimensions, simply enough room for clearance.

If you have been following this project on my blog, you know that the clock works for this project came with no documentation. I had to reverse engineer the seatboard design by taking very careful and difficult measurements of small, and deeply imbedded parts in the clockworks. I am sure you are asking yourself, “How can this be difficult? After all, there are only four holes we are talking about”. Well, let me assure you that positioning a 6” steel pocket rule inside the delicate works of a chain driven clock to make accurate measurements is all but impossible.

The Finished SeatboardI meticulously took measurements and used them to create shop drawings. After milling my first seatboard and mounting the works, I made further measurements to test whether alignment in the final clock would be correct. This resulted in changing the position of three out of six holes.

A Test Mount Of The Clockworks On The Seatboard I corrected the shop drawings, milled another seatboard and tested again. This time everything worked out perfectly.

Milling this component provided the first opportunity for me to use my new Supreme Drill Press Table purchase from Peachtree Woodworking Supply, Inc. It worked like a charm, allowing me to quickly, accurately and repeatedly drill the holes. For the larger holes I used a Forstner bit with a backing board to ensure no tear out of the opposite side.

The rectangular hole was a three step process. First I drilled two holes, near each end and inside the rectangle, and large enough to accommodate a sabre saw. Second, I used the sabre saw to rough out the rectangle. Lastly I used scrap wood pieces and double sided tape to form a a template for a template router bit to follow. The completed seatboard is shown above.


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