Sideboard – top web frame

The top web frame comes together with M&T and half blinds…

It will help to hold the carcase together, provide a surface to attach the top, and help to frame the drawers.

I used a little blue tape to help hold things together while I marked out for the half blind dovetails. I spent some time making sure that everything was square before marking to final length.


I am starting to really like cutting and fitting half blind dovetails. I’m still very new to this type of joinery, as in my past life – as a power tool woodworker – I only cut through dovetails. The half blind seems to come a little more easy to me; there is less fitting and paring with the chisel for me when I cut them. I think I will incorparate them more into future projects.


After the half blinds were cut and fit properly, the rest of the web frame (middle and sides) were constructed using mortise and tenon joinery. Only the tenons on the front of the case will be glued. The tenons on the back of the case will be free-floating (no glue) so they can move with changes in humdity. I didn’t get a shot of it working, but I got to use my “pigsticker”, which is lots of fun to use. I drove through six mortises in no time with that puppy.

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Here’s a couple pics of the top web from in place.

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Next up – the bottom web frame…

-side note…nothing is glued at this point, nor will be for quite some time. I’ll be taking the carcase apart and puting it back together multiple times as I fit some other parts.



Sideboard – dovetails & rebates

I finally get to some joinery…

I always cut tails first. I do so because, for me, this is the harder of the two (tails or pins) to cut. I also wanted to put the harder, tails on the board that was the hardest to cut. This resulted in cutting the tails on the bottom panel of the carcase.

The bottom panel is 60″ in length, which makes it difficult to work on. I started to cut the tails by clamping the panel to the front of my bench. This worked somewhat, but the top part of the board – where I was sawing – was unsupported and created lots of vibration during the cut. Not something I enjoy – nor does it help me stay square and true while cutting. Not to mention, I had to stand on top of my saw bench to get into the comfortable height in-line with the end of the panel.

That’s how I cut one end of this panel. On the other end, I tried something a little different. I layed the panel flat on my bench and let it hang off the end of the bench a few inches. It was just a matter of “taking a knee” at the end of my bench. The board was much more stable and I was more comfortable.

In the end, both ends turned out good. The second method was much more enjoyable however.


The corresponding pins on the side panels were a little easier to cut. I was able to clamp these to the front of my bench without all the other issues because of their shorter length. Marking for the tails was the challenge. Luckily I had a third hand to help.


A little chopping and fine tuning, and I was able to get a glimpse of what the sideboard would look like.


Looks good…it’s exciting when things start to come together.

Next, I took the opportunity to cut the rebate for the planks that will make up the back of the carcase.


I think my next chapter in this project will be to work on the top web frame.


Plate Rack – molding…paint…shellac…done!

Might as well just cram it all in, because I’m done…


I went with a simple round-over for the bottom molding. It anchors the base just enough, and it gives the plate rack the ability to stand on it’s own…if it were not hung on the wall. The top is a fairly small crown, which is perfect for this size project. I am not sure how to describe the crown…it is like a large cove that rounds over into a smaller cove. Whatever it’s called, it came out perfect.

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I prepped the back bead boards with some shellac I whipped up. It’s really dry this time a year. As a result, I was able to apply 5 coats in one evening. After a couple of days of curing, I rubbed out the shellac with 0000 steel wool. Then I applied some butcher’s wax and buffed to a shine.

The rest of the plate rack was intended to be painted. Yes, I will be covering up all that beautiful hard maple..including my hand-cut, half-blind, dovetails. I was a little disappointed, until I saw the results.

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This was a fun little project. See you next time…


Chiffonier trimming tenons & final smoothing

Nearly finished now…


After the success I had using my new flush cut saw on the pegs, I couldn’t wait to try it on the through tenons. I had quite a few of them to trim…sixteen to be exact. This would have taken a fair amount of time using a chisel or even a backsaw and chisel. The flush cut saw gets the tenon very close to flush, and it does it very quick.

Unfortunately, things did not go as well as they did with the pegs. I had some marks from the saw to clean up when I was done. I am still trying to figure out why. Perhaps it has to do with the angle I was approaching the cut. Perhaps it was the larger size of the tenons versus pegs. Perhaps I need to use this new saw a few more times to solve this mystery.

Now the marks from the saw were nothing to cry about. They were merely surface scratches, and I was planning on finishing everything up with the block plane anyways…I had some tear-out to tame. I cleaned all the faces up with a finely set, newly sharpened block plane. Then I turned my attention to the edges of the panels.

With block plane in hand, I worked all the edges of the panels. I worked a series of chamfers to smooth out any sharp edges…for those little hands who are intended to use the chiffonier. Next I worked over the feet.

I hoisted the chiffonier up on my bench and noticed a little rocking. I always have trouble figuring out which of the legs is the culprit. The last thing you want to do is get into a situation where you keep taking wood off of the wrong leg thinking you are making it better, when it is slowly getting worse.

Then I had an “Ah Ha!” moment. I took one of the legs that I suspected and slid it off the bench slightly. When I did this, the chiffonier stopped rocking. I then slid the offending leg slowly back toward the front of the bench until it stopped. I put a tick mark at that point on the leg. I flipped the chiffonier on its side and planed down the leg until I reached the tick mark. Sweet relief…it worked!

Before I went to bed for the night, I managed to bevel all four feet. This will help to prevent splitting the wood should the chiffonier be slid across the floor.

All that is pending now is a rod…

– JR





Chiffonier mirror installation

I got to try out another new tool today…

It’s a gimlet. We’ll talk about that later.

First, I had to trim the 1/4″ cherry plywood panel to fit. I made sure to scribe all my cut lines and cut them with my fine tooth crosscut panel saw…chip-out on this thin ply is hard to tame unless you follow this regimen.

The mirror is installed inside a double rebate. I learned this from the wisdom of Robert Wearing and his book “The Essential Woodworker”. The mirror sits in the first rebate, then there is an air gap followed by the plywood panel which sits in the second rebate.

I trimmed the panel with the smoothing plane to sneak up on the perfect fit. Then I came upon a decision, which took me a fews days to decide.

I could not decide how to attach the plywood to the frame. I looked at everything from clips to screws. I finally decided on screws. I figured they would be the easiest yet strongest solution should the mirror ever break and needed replacement.

I wanted to go with brass screws with the cherry. Another decision…what size and how many? Another couple of days past.

I ended up with #6 5/8″ brass screws. I would set them 1/4″ in from the edge of the rebate, and there would be 12 of them.

Another decision. Seriously? How to drill for the brass screws? Another couple of days.

Enter my new tool, gimlets. This little tool has a lead screw head followed by what looks like a fluted drill bit. It’s a hand tool that you hold in your hand…no brace or drill. The gimlets are sized according to screw size so you can tailor them to your brass screws. Perfect. This would pre-cut the screw hole in the panel frame and drill through the ply at the same time. All preventing the brass screws from stripping.

I marked out where the screws should be with ruler and awl. Then, pre-cut and drilled with the gimlet. Then finally, drive the screw home with a spiral ratchet screwdriver…making sure to clock my screws of course.

Mirror done…Windex and all.

– JR








Get a handle on your Gramercy bow saw

If this ever happens to you, please read on…

I have been using my Gramercy bow saw for a few months now…I had made about five or six cuts at the time of the incident. The handle was always a little questionable since I had the saw, and I blogged about that here.

Basically, the handle that you hold when cutting always seemed like it wanted to move. At first I thought it was just me…this is my first bow saw, so I have no reference to what I should be feeling. Well, I should have listened to my gut, because the handle finally did let go. Right in the middle of a long sweeping cut, the handle just spun in my hand.

You can read for yourself on the Tools For Working Wood website how much research they put into this saw…and especially the pains they went to for attaching the handle to the pins. It sounds like they have it covered and the thing should never break loose. Here is what they state on the website:

Gluing the hardware into the handle is simple enough, but brass doesn’t readily stick to glue. So, our ultimate solution was to cut some grooves in the shaft and then file a single flat. When the glue hardens in the handle, it catches in the grooves to prevent pulling out. Glue on the flat prevents the brass from turning in the wood. With the tension on the blade taken firmly by the brass shoulder, the glue doesn’t even have to be very strong.

Well, apparently the glue does have to be strong…because I broke it. You can see in the photos the epoxy never took hold of the wood handle.

What to do?

I decided to put my energy into fixing the handle. I am a woodworker. Therefore, I pulled out the old gorilla glue and a couple of hours later I was back cutting curves again.

So if it happens to you, now you know what to do.

– JR




Chiffonier Flushing Pegs – Veritas Flush-Cutting Saw


A package arrived today at the house…

It was my latest order from Lee Valley. I ordered a few items, but the one I needed most at this time was my new flush cut saw. The next step in the project was to trim down all those drawbored pegs. I ordered the saw with the teeth that cut on both sides, which turned out to be very useful, as I had to maneuver around a little bit…my rails are slightly higher than my stiles.

Anyways, this little saw is a dream to use. The teeth are set only on one side so there is no chance of cutting into the work-piece. As a result, the saw pulls to the other side, which is good for not marring your work. However, there is a little clean up after the cut…but it is minor.

I realized tonight that Veritas always seems to think of everything. For example, etched on the saw blade is ‘this side up’ for the dummies like me who might put the set side down and cut into the work-piece. There is also a depression on this side for your finger to sit as it pushes down on the saw.


Well, how does the saw cut?

The saw starts easily and cuts fast…really fast, while at the same time keeping a very clean and smooth cut. I made 24 cuts through these walnut pegs tonight in just a few minutes…and I am usually incredibly slow. At first I started the cut by holding my finger on my off hand down on the blade to keep it flat on the work-piece. After a few pegs, I just let the saw do the work.


It only took a quick paring with a chisel to get things perfectly flush. The remaining 23 of these look just as good.


I can’t wait to use this puppy later in the project when I trim some through tenons.

– JR