Chiffonier – fitting the panel

…starting to look like something now…

The first thing I did was trim the panel to it’s final size. After that, I had to decide how I would go about raising the panel.

After some research, I decided to follow the technique demonstrated at ‘in the woodshop‘. **aside [This guy is awesome.]** Basically, you cut a tongue around the panel to fit in the grooves…no problem. Then raise the panel by creating a bevel from the tongue to your reference line.

I started on the end grain cutting the tongue. I first set my marking gauge to the groove width, then scribed a line all around the panel to mark out the tongue. I also set a second gauge to mark out the face for the tongue and the bevel. As you can see there was some tear-out here. I had to make sure and re-establish my knife line with the gauge periodically. The resulting tear-out is negligible, as it will be cleaned up when I cut the bevel and do a final cleanup with the smoothing plane.


Then I continued to use my plow plane to cut the tongue on the long grain. As you can see there was a small amount of wood left that I had to break off and clean up with the chisel.


Once I made it to the right depth, I flipped the panel over and began the process over again. I made small adjustments to the depth stop on the plow plane until I had a perfect fit.


Then it was onto a test fit…


…not to shabby.

Next up…I’ll try and raise that panel.

– JR


my current arsenal for mouldings by hand

photo: Musings from Big Pink

I’ve been busy becoming learned…

I haven’t spent too much time in the shop lately. I’ve been too busy diving into my new copy of ‘Mouldings In Practice’ from LAP. When I wasn’t buried in this book, I was glued to ‘Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes’ from Lie-Nielsen. Both of these great resources, along with the tools and blades available at Lie-Nielsen, and some practice and sweat & tears, should give me the arsenal needed to create the moulding planes I desire. Eventually, leading me to my ultimate goal of mastering traditional hand cut mouldings.

Sidebar – As I get deeper into the hand tool world, I discover that this is truly where I belong. Not only do I have some strange desired to rid myself of power tools, but it is coming more apparent that I have an interest in the history surrounding the tools of this time. At this point, I have no desire to use another power tool for cabinetmaking. I have already said good-bye to many of them via my new friend Craig List. Just last week I sold my dovetail jig in favor of my carcase saw and chisels…and this trend continues…

‘Mouldings In Practice’

Off the top, we have what I consider the current best publisher in the business, Lost Art Press. Everything they put out turns to gold, and as you can tell, I am a huge fan. It’s not just about content they publish, but how they publish. This book comes from a printing press in Michigan, and the quality is top-notch. If only more stuff would come back to the U.S. so we could stop buying crap.

So yes, the book is beautifully made. It seems to be the perfect size for the content of the book. There are numerous figures in the book, as there should be. This size allows the figures to be displayed clearly without overwhelming the reader. For example, for larger or intricate mouldings, you may only have one or two figures on the page. This allows you as a reader to really focus in on the step in the creation of the moulding. The color scheme derived is awesome. It might seem weird, but after a while you start to see/imagine these colors automatically. The book is hardcover and to me is just flat perfect…sturdy and simple. The pages fit the bill as well.

The content is what really gets me excited about this book. The author takes you through the process of creating mouldings breaking them down step by step. He shows the basic steps required to do so, which enables you to be able to break down any moulding so that you could reproduce it. I do the same thing when I see furniture…figure out how it can be broken down into steps. As I was finishing the book, I got to the point where I could anticipate what the next step would be. In this way, it is more like a textbook. I don’t want to say too much without infringing on the author and the publisher…so just go buy the book!

If you are looking for an instructional book on how to create (or recreate) mouldings by hand, then you can’t go wrong with this book. There is no storyline here, except if you consider the steps part of a larger story which is the final moulding.

‘Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes’

I watched this DVD after I started reading ‘Mouldings In Practice’. This was a good thing, because I had somewhat of an idea what was going on. It certainly helps to have both of these resources. To know how to cut mouldings in addition to how the planes are made is a huge asset. I don’t think each by themselves would be as affective.

The DVD quality itself was not the greatest. I am not sure what year it was produced, but it definitely is not HD quality. This is disappointing as there is lots of detail in this video crucial to the outcome of making these planes. In addition, the host Larry Williams has some issue that was distracting to me. Throughout the entire video his hands were shaking. I am sure he has some type of medical issue, for which I do not fault him. However, there were times where I lost focus because of it. I must say though that it is amazing that he can build such beautiful planes with his condition…so I applaud him for that. I too have my issues that impact my work.

Larry Williams is what I would call a true master of the craft. His knowledge and skill come through in this video. He takes you on the journey as he builds a set of matching hollow and rounds. You can see how real he is when he is test fitting the wedge and bedding the iron. It is nice to see a video where the host experience real challanges…even for an expert such as himself.

I like the fact that they separated the video into chapters that are labeled appropriately. I can see myself going back to certain chapters in the video as needed. I do intend to make myself at least one pair, if not a half set of these planes. I will say that it is difficult to watch this video from beginning to end in one sitting…I fell asleep a couple of times.

The video is worth the cost as it takes you from the beginning to the very end of the process in making these planes. I feel that I could make these planes while following this video. This is the video that M.S.Bickford followed before he began creating his planes, and eventually authoring ‘Mouldings In Practice’…so why not me too?

I won’t be building a pair tomorrow, but they definitely are one of my biggest goals on this journey.

– JR

Tree Fort Deck & Railing

It’s becoming somewhat recognizable…

After finishing the frame, I worked on putting down the deck. I had to search a couple of home centers, but was able to find some premium pressure treated boards that would work. It’s actually fairly nice looking 5/4 stock with a smooth radius on the long edges. The platform is 8′ in length, so i was able to buy 8′ lengths and nail the majority of them without any cuts. The only cuts I did have to make were around the opening for the trunk of the tree. I tried to maintain a opening of about 2″ to allow for growth of the tree.

The decking went down fairly quickly…I was able to finish in one evening. After that, on the next evening, I started working on the posts that support the railings and the roof. The construction is simple, just a half lap at the bottom of the post that fits flush with the outside of the rim joists and the deck flooring. I test fit each post and checked for plumb. I had to make some adjustments removing some material with a chisel where needed to get the post to sit plumb. Then I nailed the post into the rim joist with 16d galvanized.

The posts went up quickly (in a couple evenings) [much faster than my blog posts!]. Then I moved onto attaching the top and bottom rails of the railing. It’s a tree house, so I ditched my idea of half lap or M & T joinery, and went with butt joints. As a result, I flew through this stage of the project. I simply used some clamps to hold the boards (2 x 4) in place while I nailed 16d through them into the posts. I checked for level and did the same at the other end of the board. I didn’t make any cuts until the board was attached to the posts. I simply flush cut the boards to the posts with a hand saw…a hand tool trick that saves time and give you great accuracy.

I made my way all the way around the platform attaching both bottom and top rails. I cut away the bottom rail where the opening would be. I made sure to leave the top rail in place to act as a safety stop to prevent someone from accidentally falling out. Then using a scrap block of 2 x 4, I installed the middle rail, which actually supports the majority of the boards that make up the railing. I placed the scrap block below the upper rail and butted the middle rail against it while I nailed the middle rail in place. I had the top rail already level and square, which allowed me to use the spacer (scrap block).

Next I was back off to the store to buy some more wood to complete the railing. I went with the same 5/4 premium material that I used for the deck flooring. Once I had the lumber I needed, I made some more spacer blocks based off of the Sketchup drawing. I needed to make one spacer for the distance from post to the first board, and another spacer for the distance between each board. Of course, I double checked the distance between posts to make sure I was still matching up to the drawing. I was off on one section, so I had to do some math on the fly and make the necessary adjustments.

This part of the railing was the most time consuming…mostly because of the cuts I had to make. The other reason being that mother nature keep fighting me with rain. Perhaps she was not happy with me driving lag bolts into her tree.

Anyways, I kept toiling away until I made my way around the platform. I did make one change to the design of the railing on the fly. On the front and back (the 6′ dimension), I attached the middle board to not only the bottom and middle rail, but the top rail as well.

I did this for a couple of reasons. First there is a six-foot span between posts on the front and back, which didn’t support the top rail as expected…it just had too much movement for my liking. The second reason, which was a benefit of the first, was it added a little touch to the design.

Next up is the ladder and a late addition to the design…

– JR

Tree Fort Kick-off

I would like to introduce the best hideout in the neighborhood…

Yikes! I hope it, and I, can live up to that statement.

I had been wanting to build a playset for my two sons since we moved into our new house. We had looked at those commercially available ‘playsets’ from all the name brand stores. The sticker shock soon turned me away. During the process, the idea came about to construct a tree fort. I’m not sure how we came to that conclusion, but I am glad we did.


Disclaimer – I have no idea how to build one of these…that’s for you Asa Christiana . When there is something that’s new to me, I conduct a plethora of research on the subject. The last thing I want to do is create something I don’t like, won’t be used, or won’t be safe.

The first place I always turn (recently anyways) is my local library. I ordered a small collection of books on the subject of tree forts/houses, and some on the subject of deck building as well. Let me tell you…there are some insane tree houses out there! Well beyond what you will see documented here. I thought my design was a little over the top…now I know it is modest.

The best book that I found was ‘Build Your Kids a Treehouse’ by Black & Decker. I really suggest getting this book if you are going to tackle a treehouse. The book details how to select the correct tree for what type of house/fort you are building, as well as the correct way to attach it to the tree. You don’t want to kill the tree, and you don’t want to have someone getting hurt…which includes your ego if the thing starts to fall down. The book demonstrates the entire building process step by step.

The Design

The design I finally settled on is a combination of a few influences. The structural framing and decking is totally the design of the Black & Decker book. I didn’t feel comfortable deviating from their advise. The railing design was adopted from one of those commercial playsets available at the big name stores…I changed things up a little to suit my taste. The roof structure was adapted from another design I found online.

Download it – You can click on the picture at the beginning of the post to take you to the Sketchup page of my blog. From there if you select the tree fort, it will take you to the 3D Warehouse download page. I tend to deviate from the design/model during builds…mostly in terms of measurements…I don’t use a tape measure that often…just in the beginning. The rest is all relative dimension. This is especially true when you attach the knee braces to the tree. They can vary greatly in length depending upon the irregularities of the tree trunk. If you print cut lists from this model you would fail…you have to adjust as you build.

I just want to add that when I create a Sketchup model for use in a build, the final project may not match exactly. There are times when I change my mind during the course of the build…actually it happens quite a bit. So don’t be surprised if a few posts from now things look a little different.

I do also plan on permanently attaching a ladder to the rim joist of the platform..Then above the ladder, I am thinking about building a temporary gate to prevent the kiddies from accidentally falling out the opening. Both of these additions are not in the Sketchup file, as I have yet to decide how they will be constructed.


I have had requests from the clients (my two sons) for things like trap doors, ropes, poles, etc. The great thing about the design is that to make additional changes in the future won’t be too cumbersome. The funniest request I got was for a telescope…really?…not kidding. The thing I really want for myself is a zip line. How awesome would that be?

The Process

The process for this build will be interesting. Not only have I never built something in a tree or off the ground, but I have never attempted a deck either. In addition, I don’t have the tools available that I had planned on using. Whilst I am building this tree fort, my father-in-law is rebuilding his deck. He asked to borrow my sliding compound miter saw and I had said yes without thinking about the tree fort. I am a hand tool only guy now…but that was intended to be just for building furniture in my workshop. I do have enough sanity to keep some power tools around to work on things for the house. We could work it out sharing the saw, but that would require multiple trips back and forth…so, I will attempt to build this mammoth will hand tools only.

Let the adventure begin

Wish me luck…and send some Tylenol,


Fine Woodworking’s failed attempt at blogging

This topic has been out for a while, and FWW has attempted to recover, but I don’t think that you can from something like this. There is nothing I need to say…watch the video, read the comments, and draw your own conclusions.

Basically they don’t understand what the internet and blogging is all about. It’s situations/actions like these that further pull me more towards companies such as Lost Art Press.

– JR

I spit out my lunch

Ok…this is an exageration, but if I had been eating at the time I would have…

Today on lunch I was reading The Anarchist’s Tool Chest and I came across a passage that struck me. The passage is talking about assembly of the sawtill to hold your saws within the chest…

“I use this space for holding saw-files, my sawset and my saw jointer. If you don’t sharpen your own saws, you can keep your weed down there.” pg. 435

This last sentence, which provides a glimpse into where the author gets his writing influence, completely caught me off-guard. I had to read it back a couple of times.

What makes it a little crazy to me is the fact that he just keeps writing as if nothing has been said. Usually when Chris Schwarz jokes in his writing he follows up on it to bring it further to your attention. Not here…he is more nonchalant.

Is it possible this was general practice (where you put your weed) back in the 17th-18th century?

– JR

My favorite marking gauge

Some tools you could just make yourself…

I set out the other night with a goal to gather the necessary wood to make a shooting board. Somewhere along the way I decided to make this marking gauge instead…not sure what happened. Things pop into my head and I run with them sometimes. I still have plans to make a shooting board…I’ll blog about it for sure.

I’ve been doing some research lately and finding that many woodworkers keep saying it’s better to have more than one marking gauge on hand. After building the Nicholson workbench with all of its mortise & tenons, I get where they are coming from. It would have been nice to have a couple gauges set for the project…instead of moving the setting for each part of the mortise & tenon.

When the thought popped into my head the other night, the first thing I thought of was the podcast that Bob at the Logan Cabinet Shoppe had done on making a marking gauge. Yeah Bob! I quickly loaded it up onto my pod and took it into the workshop.

The gauge consists of only four parts…the beam, pin, wedge, and beam holder. The wedge puts the pressure on the beam to lock it in place during use, and unlocks the beam for adjusting.

wedge engaged

wedge disengaged

I think the hardest part was finding the pieces of wood from the scrap pile. I ended up with some nice cutoffs of red oak. I only had to trim the pieces to width and plane them flat and square. I marked out the mortise for the adjustable beam first according to Bob’s podcast. I cut the mortise with chisel and mallet coming in from both sides of the wood so as not to blow anything out.

I then cleaned up the piece of wood I had for the adjustable beam with some planing work. I finished planing with the smoothing plane to sneak up on the perfect fit in the mortise I had cut. I stopped there for the first night…I needed to contemplate how I would proceed with the wedge mechanism that locks the beam in place during use.

I decided to take the easy way out and go for the dowel method. I had an oak dowel left over from the drawboring on the Nicholson bench, which nicely matched the tone of the red oak in the rest of the gauge. I followed the podcast and cut the necessary wedge shape on the dowel. After a couple of trial and error…ok, more like ten, I had myself a functioning gauge…minus the pin.

As far as the pin…I was able to find a small finish nail. I have no idea what size it is. It was in that bin with all the other randomly sized nails that just about everyone has. I clipped off the head and super glued it into a pre-drilled hole on the bottom of the beam.

I gave the marking gauge a run about a half hour later with success. A little shaping and a few coats of shellac and I called it done. It should make the next project just a little bit easier. I could see myself making some more of these…could you have too many?

– JR