Fly rod case coming together. I’ll do the inside parts next. #handtoolschool

Been out of the shop for awhile, so decided I better start with some practice half blind dovetails before doing it on my real project.

Some ugly bass bugs to try out this weekend. #notfoundinnature

Shooting Board

So I needed a new shooting board. My old one was created over a year ago and I skimped and made the fence with douglas fir, which didn’t hold up well at all. Plus, it just wasn’t that well constructed and I wasn’t able to get great results with it. As I’m about to start a project which will require lots of shooting, I decided to do this now.

So I did a search for “shooting board designs” and came across this one, which is a plan I didn’t purchase (but the photo on the page was enough to inspire me). I made the base with good plywood and the fences with hickory lined with wenge. The guide is also wenge. I choose hickory because I have a lot of it left over from my bow saw project. I choose wenge, because when I visited the Lie-Nielsen shop and saw their demo shooting board, it had wenge incorporated in it, and the person working there told me that wenge is a good choice because it stays true. That was enough to convince me, and I happen to have wenge.

I thought I was going to have buy some parts to make a detachable miter fence, but then it occured to me that I already have a couple of featherboards for a router table that I NEVER use, so I could steal the hardware from that and use it for my project. By chance, I already had a couple of longer carriage bolts that fit perfectly:

So here is the completed shooting board without the miter fence:

Here it is with the miter fence:
And here it is on edge, in storage position (added a groove in the front to snuggly hold the miter bits.

I did some test cuts today and it’s great. I’m quite happy with it. One thing about it: the board is smallish. Not a big deal for squaring an edge with long pieces because it’s easy to stick in some support on the bench. But when shooting miters on longer boards, the ends are going to hanging in the air of the table. So the way I’m dealing with that is with my shop bent. I didn’t glue up the top piece in my bent so it can be removed:

The “standard” height of it lines up with my bench top, but I can swap it out for different heights. So now I just need to make a new top piece that is a few inches taller for when I need to support longer pieces for miter cuts. As an aside, I made the bent this way because my other small bench in the shop is a different height, so I have a top part that matches the height of that for those times I need to support things on that surface.

Well, I’d say my first try at a mitered dovetail was almost there, but not quite. The miter didn’t close up well on one side. Really interesting joint though.

Morning practice. Pin side of a mitered dovetail cut on some scrap wood. So far so good. #handtoolschool

Panel Gauge Build

I finished my large panel gauge project. It’s the first build I’ve done that incorporates other-than-wood materials (in this case, lots of brass). I cut the boom arm and body of the gauge out of a giant chunk of 8/4 bubinga. I cut two arms and two bodies so I have the parts ready to go to also make a smaller version later.

I had some issues with tear out on the boom arms, but a card scraper got me the rest of the way. Moral of the story here is that I need to do better at taking the time to sharpen my hand planes.

For this build, the boom arm slides through the body via a deep mortise. I decided to drill out as much waste as possible for the mortise, but ended up drilling the holes too close together and had a situation where the outer holes didn’t hold and “collapsed” back in to the previous holes I had cut. This meant I had to chop out quite a bit, so I ended up using a mortise chisel in addition to paring chisels to get it to the lines.

Still, the ending mortise came out crisp and fit the boom arm well.

Next up, I had to shape the head of the gauge to not only look nice, but to shave off some waste to cut the weight down while also shaping to fit my hand. This provided me the first opportunity to use my new bow saw to cut the curves out for the body. I used a French curve to get a shape I liked.

I smoothed it with rasps and card scrapers. Then used a tap to cut out a screw hole in the wood to fit a brass screw. This screw tightly holds the boom arm at different lengths. The brass screw I had was a bit long so I shortened it with the hack saw. Also shown here: a brass fence on the underside of the gauge to register against the wood I’m marking. This is held in place with three brass screws fit flush by countersinking holes in the brass.

I finished it with Osmo poly-wax. And here it is. One other detail I haven’t mentioned: I installed a 1/4″ brass bar in the boom arm so that the screw can tighten on it without damaging the wood.

On one end of the boom arm, I drilled a hole to fit a pencil. On the other end, I capped it with a small brass bar that serves to hold a marking knife. So I can use either side depending on my needs.One thing that I discovered during this build is that a card scraper works great on brass. My brass bar on the boom arm was a bit proud, so I scraped it right down with little effort. It’s also worth noting that the brass screws are so soft that you have to first set with regular screws and then take those out and swap in the brass. And that’s it. This project is another step in Semester One of the great Hand Tool School run by Shannon Rogers. Joining up with Shannon’s Apprenticeship program has transformed my woodworking. Going on my second year and I’m finally almost done with the first semester.

Got the brass parts today from McMaster-Carr for the next project: a panel guage. Never thought I’d be excited to get a delivery of brass bars… #handtoolschool

Finally getting around to learn how to sharpen my saws. Starting with a crappy 80s Craftsman I don’t care about. I just watched the @nkrech video again to refresh my memory and ready to give it a go. One thing I need to do before I start is put a sheet or something underneath to cover the wood stored underneath on this table to keep the filings out. #handtoolschool

Bow Saw

I now have a bow saw. This was a fun weekend project that involved only two mortise/tenon joints and drilling two 1/4″ holes. The rest of it was just lots and lots and lots of planing and then (mostly) filing down shapes with rasps. I got the hardware for the kit from Tools for Working Wood. I’m happy with how it came out.

The arms are hickory and the cross-piece and wooden catch (not sure what you call that small thing that keeps the string from unfurling) are koa. Here a few shots. I wish I had taken more photos of the shaping of the arms, as that was the hardest part and I didn’t even take one shot of it.

Here’s a shot of breaking down the stock.


Got the parts all ready here.

Once again, my Raamtang vise came in super handy for holding a lot of small parts.

And here it is!