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.

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.

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!

Made a lot of progress on the bow saw today – hope to finish it up tomorrow. My hands are cramping up from all the filing. Really enjoying my Auriou rasps, worth the $$ for sure

Fly Tying Box

I have a new fly tying box. The aspect of this that I’m most proud of is that it was made with handtools from start to finish, with one small exception which I’ll detail below. It took about two months from start to finish, working on nights and weekends. I created this because I often tie flies away from home and I wanted a case that was easy to carry and also contained all the essential hardware. I also wanted a box that quickly converts to a tying station.

Here’s the finished product. I used about $50 of hardware from Rockler for the handle and the catches. The box is walnut, lined with cork on the bottom. The top is framed by walnut with cherry in the middle. Here’s the front:

Here’s the back:

And here it is opened up. The raised L-shaped arm on the underside of the top is the tying station. There is also a swing-out arm with hand-made dowels to store/use 12 extra bobbins of thread, tinsel, wire, etc. The last “dowel” that you see in the front is made of metal. This metal dowel matches up with a rare-earth magnet on the underside of the base so it stays secured when swung in for storage.

Here’s the tying station set up for use with the tying vise in place, tools places in the holes in the L-shaped arm, and bobbins stacked on the swing-out holder. I also carved in three concave holes in the cherry base to hold various small tying items, and embedded a strong, long magnet on the insides across the front of the cherry base so that hooks are caught from falling on the floor. Lastly, I cut a shallow groove between the concave holders in back and the magnet in front so that if anything non-magnetic rolls (non-metal beads, mostly), they’ll settle in the middle of the station and not roll onto the floor.

Here’s a walk-through of how it was made.

I started out with a bunch of walnut tongue and groove boards I was given by a neighbor. I had a rough piece of cherry also, not pictured here.

I then drew up a rough plan of what I wanted. I set outside dimensions and the height of the box (it had to be big enough to hold all my stuff and tall enough to store and mount my vise), but I didn’t use a ruler to measure out anything else for the box. I  based every other cut by referencing from other parts.

The hardest (manual) work in creating the box was resawing all the stock with my rip saw and planing it down to final dimensions.

The bottom panel was glued up with hide glue (I used hide glue for the entire project).

Then I cut all the dovetails for the box frame and the grooves to house the bottom panel.

Here’s the box in the process of being dry fit.

And here’s the interior of the box all fit together, complete with the inner carrying compartment. The small compartment is sized to hold the fly tying vise clamp. The odd U-shaped bit and hole on the right side is custom-sized so that it perfectly fits my vise. The rest of the area is for tool storage. The outside L-shape is where the tying base mounted to the box top fits in for storage.

Then I lined the bottom with cork.

The next image shows how much the storage compartment holds: the vise, the vise clamp, all my tools, and a bunch of extra stuff depending on what I might need for a particular session.

Next, I started on the top of the box: walnut frame with mortises/tenons and a cherry panel.
Here is the top completed, exploded view.

Here’s the one spot where I had to use a power tool: a table saw. I needed to cut out a really big space to hold the hidden magnet, but it had to cut in a way that the top was really thin so that the magnet had enough strength through the wood to hold hooks and other metal objects on the base. I didn’t try to do this by hand with such small margins. So I used the table saw to cut a deep groove, then used a 1/4″ mortise to square up the hole so I could fit the magnet.

After the top was completed, I then started working on the L-shaped tying station that mounts into the top. I used a Raamtang vise I made, ideal for holding small parts for shaping and planing down.
here’s the L-shaped tying station top, the bobbin holder, and the arms to attach it to the base with the mortises cut out.

I cut out the dowel for the corner arm and the tiny dowels for the bobbin holder using a dowel maker from Lie-Nielsen.I also had to cut in a groove where the clamp fits on the tying station because I made it just a tad to short and there wasn’t enough space to tighten the clamp. So this solved that small error.
I finished it all up with Osmo polyx-oil.

Dry fit shelf, just need to decide what to do with the top because it’s a bit bland. Looking for excuses to use my new veritas combo plane, so maybe a bead along the front?

Completed a new shelf: top and bottom shelves with sliding dovetails, two middle shelves with stopped dadoes. Shiplap back panels. This was quite a challenge for me using only #handtools and happy with how it came out. #handtoolschool