Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Well here it is the last day of the year and we're on to a new one already!  I feel as if I'm off to a blessed start because I have deposits for two more pistol cases.  They will be the same general design as before but for different pistols and an added feature of having a spare cylinder in the case as well.  I'll keep doing my blog to keep you informed.  I've also been commissioned to make a Walnut picture frame in the Mission style.  I selected a really nice piece of 5/4 Walnut from Peterman this morning.  The frame will feature through tenons with an ebony peg in each corner.
But best of all, the torsion boxes are done and the shop seems larger already!  This picture shows them set up and ready to be used as an out feed table for the saw.  At this level it can also be used to place sheet goods on right out of the van or an assembly table. Anxious to use it and see if all the articles I've seen about them are true.  I did give them a coat of amber shellac that was just about at its expiration date.  The top surfaces have sacrificial pieces of 1/4" masonite screwed on.

 When they are not being used I can store them like this.  It really opens up the shop so maybe I won't feel like I'm tripping over things as I work.  The two pieces of wood on top of the B&D Workmates are used to set the boxes even with the top of the table saw.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Building Torsion Boxes

For the last 20+ years or so I have had this huge assembly table I seem to always be running in to!  It's been good but since size is limited in my shop I had to revise my lay-out.  I used to be able to leave it down and park my truck on top of it but garages and vehicles have changed.  It's supported by 2 of the old style, Black & Decker Workmates.  Recently Fine Woodworking magazine had a feature about using 2 sawhorses and two narrow torsion boxes for your assembly table and even your work bench.  Another thing is that Larry Yule from A.G. Yule and Sons Woodworking here in Las Vegas gave a demonstration at  our Sin City Woodworkers meeting and showed how to make torsion boxes.  These things prompted me to make some changes in my shop.

Here is a shot of the grid before the top and bottom pieces were attached.  I covered the table saw to protect it from the glue but some went through anyway -- time to wax it again!

I decided to make the torsion boxes out of 1/2" Ultra-light MDF.  The first step was cutting all of the pieces to make the grid.  The overall size of the box will be 4" x 16" x 86".  I tend to overbuild and over plan all of my work so I took the time to lay out all of the lines to help locate the nails.  Even though I'm a die hard, hand tool kind of guy I sure was glad I had a nail gun to drive all of the brads.  Each box has 4 long pieces (86") and then all of the cross pieces.  I basically made two "ladders" for the outside grid sections and then toe nailed the center pieces to tie it all together.  Once that was completed the top and bottom pieces were glued/nailed together.  Usually I curse hot weather but with all of the glue I had to spread I was glad to have a 50 degree or so shop.  I used Titebond III and a roller to slather all of the glue on.  I chose it because it advertised the longest open time which I knew I'd need.

So, here's the completed box.  I knew it was important that it be assembled on a flat surface and the table saw is the longest, flat surface I had.  All that's left to do now is screw on a sacrificial piece of masonite (easy to clean off glue) and make pieces to rest it on so that it will also function as an outfield table for the saw.  The other thing I'll do is trim the top even with the sides, left it slightly oversize so I could do this.  I may get crazy and give it a coat of shellac too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shed Shelving

I've been asked to show the inside of the shelf, this is the best shot I could get of how I staggered the shelving.  The cleats that are screwed to the wall are spaced at 16", I knew I wasn't going to spend a ton of money for the brackets so by running the shelves the full length of the wall they weren't needed.  You may be able to see the cleats that I used to support the back of the shelf as well.  I even have a light mounted inside now, I needed a place to put my work lamp other than hanging from the garage door hardware so I could always bump my head on it.  I hung it on the ceiling rafter and let the plug out of the ventilation space at the back of the shed.  You can't see it but should I need light all I have to do is run an extension cord.
On another, positive note I spoke with the man who commissioned me to make the first pistol cases.  The first one was given to his son as he returned from Afghanistan.  There was also a promotion ceremony so many of the 101st. Airborne were present.  From what I was told, the pistol case was very well received and admired and many wanted to have a similar case for their own pistols.  Could definitely create that niche market that we, as woodworkers, are looking for.  I'll keep you posted, I meet with him tomorrow to deliver the two I just completed and hopefully get a commission for another!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As promised - Finished Shed

Well, here it is the final work is done and the shed has been complete.  I must admit that I'm quite pleased with it.  Although the footprint is only 4'x8' and the 3 1/2" thickness of the walls reduced that it will be very functional.  Our biggest concern is that we didn't want it to look like an out building on a ramshackle farm!  I won't bore you with any interior pictures but there are 4 sets of 12" wire shelving on the back wall, ditto that on the wall closest to the door and the opposite wall has 16" wide shelves. They're staggered in the corners so they run the full length and width of the shed. Plenty of room for "stuff" as well as jigs I use for my woodworking.  Diane is helping me design a new business card to showcase the pistol cases.  There is a gun show this weekend at Cashman Field  and the plan is to go there, strike up a conversation or two, and try to drum up some business.  The pistol cases may be a good item, even in this economy ---- wish me luck!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Staying warm by Planing !

  This is one of the pieces for the door I'm making for the shed.  It's been pretty rainy and cold, at least for Las Vegas standards, so jointing the edge with my No. 7 corrugated Stanley Plane not only gave me a smooth edge, it also kept me warm!  The door was made using the textured piece of OSB that covers the shed and some 6/4 Poplar.  Decided to make it with 1 1/2" long, 3/8" tenons.  One of the pieces has a bit of a crook to it but it looks as if it'll hold okay since that's the side I put the hinges on.  Used Gorilla glue to help withstand the elements.  At this point, the rain has kept me from doing too much outside but the roof doesn't leak.  Early this morning I managed to paint the door frame and molding around it by making a makeshift roof out of a plastic tarp.  I wanted to get the first coat of paint on it before the predicted rains for this afternoon.  According to the latest weather report the rain should taper off during the day Sunday so hopefully I'll be able to get everything done.  I've completed the other two pistol cases and now I'm waiting for a break in the weather so I can photograph them.  I'll definitely put them on the blog when that's done.  I keep thinking that they may be a good niche market for me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Need a fancy name for "Shed"

The shed has taken quite a long while to do.  Although it's fairly small (4' x8') working alone takes extra steps.  I got some help from Richard to bring the foundation and floor out of the garage and then in position.  Used a textured, pre-primed siding with 8" o.c. resawn board effect.  Boy, that textured material is a chore to paint!  Painted everything prior to installation then gave it all a second coat after setting the nails.  As luck would have it, I needed about one and a half bundles of shingles.  Sometimes I think a small project like this takes more time, seems as if I'm always either bumping into things or moving them to make room.  It's going to be worth the effort though if I can get things out of my shop area and into it.  Doing all of the shelves inside from the metal type  used in closets that I found on Craig's list, used a combination of 12" and 16" and it makes it seem as if there's more room inside.  Last thing for next week is to make the door from 6/4 poplar.  It'll be panel and frame with deep mortises to withstand the weather.  We know it's a shed but to call it that makes it sound like %$*(#,  how about storage cabiniste, you know, give it that sophisticated sound like Target.  Maybe I'll post a picture when the door is done, supposed to have a chance of rain/snow flurries Monday so glad the roof is up.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Well, decided that I really need to construct a shed because every time I move in the shop I either seem to run into something or else have to move "stuff".  At the side of the house I can construct a 4' x 8' shed. In Craig's List I found a good deal on some wire metal shelving so I picked that up on Wednesday.  Went to Home Depot today and got the material for the foundation and walls.  There is a concrete slab so the plan is to put the shed on that, next to the house.  Since the slab is sloped away from the house I needed to taper my 2x4 pressure treated lumber by a 1/2" in the 4' direction.  This was done with the bandsaw but all the pieces weren't perfectly level.
How else would a furniture maker them that way?; why with a plane -- of course!  I clamped the pieces together and went to work.  What a difference planing green, pressure treated Douglas Fir as opposed to the mahogany I've been working with for the pistol cases.  Richard, my neighbor, helped me move the foundation outside.  To make it easier I assembled the framework in the shop.  As always, I probably went over-kill on it as I pre-drilled and then screwed it all together with deck screws.  Tomorrow I'll start the framing the walls and attaching the subfloor.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gimlets Anyone? And I don't mean with Vodka!

As I've said before, in my woodworking I enjoy using hand tools even if a powered one can perform the task quicker.  Don't get me wrong, I'll use power tools  but sometimes there is a definite advantage to going with the hand tool way.  You've probably been receiving Christmas catalogs from tool suppliers and maybe you've noticed that several of them offer sets of gimlets like the ones shown in my photograph.  In the course of making the pistol cases I've been using hardware that has screws as small as a #2.  Drilling a pilot hole for something that small can be dangerous!  You have a large, powered drill turning a tiny bit of hardened steel into the wood.  Any slight twist or angle change can easily break the bit -- don't ask me how I know that one!  With a gimlet you have much more control.  If you've never used one the trick that I find works for me is be sure you're putting good pressure into the wood when you initially start the hole.  Once it starts it screws itself in nicely.  What I do is use a single edge razor blade as a scraper to smooth out the edge of the hole if necessary.   Then take the usual precautions that you'd use with tiny, brass screws which for me is using bee's wax as a lubricant.  Another way you can use with brass screws is to first use a steel screw to create the hole and then remove it and replace it with the brass.  Using a gimlet eliminates that step so they are a win/win option for using small brass screws.
The two pistol cases I'm working on are just about finished.  All that's left is to attach the snaps to the straps, two more coats of finish on the exterior, final assembly, and putting on all of the hardware.  I think my next project will be constructing a shed in the side yard, my shop seems to be getting smaller!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Better Mousetrap?

When I built the original pistol case I knew that being accurate on the finger joints was important.  I  thought  that I had discovered a good jig on the web but after building it and trying to make it work found it just wasn't so!  The jig here came from a publication from ShopNotes called: Table Saw, best tips, tools, and techniques.  What made it a better jig is that the two sides ride in the miter gauge slots and have 2 pieces of 3/4" ply keeping them square.  The only negative I had is that it wanted to tip forward when cutting fingers on a long board but that was easy enough to overcome by placing my forearm on the rear portion of the jig.  It has a jig fence and what I'd call the finger fence.  You need to make this "finger fence" for each size of finger joint you plan to make, I only made this for the 3/8" size I'm using on the pistol cases.  A really nice feature is the that board you're cutting rides on a 1/4" piece of mdf, this prevents it from moving up/down in case your blade insert isn't perfectly flush with the table.  There's also a sacrificial piece of mdf on the back to help prevent tear out.  The adjustment comes from having a larger hole on the part that slides in the miter slots than the carriage that goes through the finger fence.  In my case, I had a 3/8" bolt so I used a 1/2" hole in the rear fence.  The adjustment is done through the piece on the end with the three holes in it.  This is attached to the rear fence, the single hole at the front is so that you can place a screwdriver in it to adjust the position.  I put a tee nut there (10/32) and used a cabinet handle screw to accomplish this.  Once you've dialed in the cut simply tighten the wing nuts on the back of the jig.
     One last thing I'd like to share, if you've ever made a finger jointed box with a panel floating in a dado/groove you know you can't cut that dado all the way through the finger.  What's required is some chisel work to stop the cut.  I used my test pieces from setting up  the finger joints to support the sides of the piece as I cut the stopped dado.  Of course, you could also use your router to cut that and not have much to square off but who wants to take the time to set that all up and then listen to the racket!  I used a dado blade in the saw and needed to square off the ends of the dado.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's Happening Now?

This weekend we have a wedding coming up and it's pretty exciting to say the least!  The progress on the two pistol cases is going well.  Currently I'm working on what's probably the most time consuming part of it (other than finishing) and that's making the panel that the pistol and powder horn are inserted in to.  The first  step is to cut them out on the scroll saw which doesn't leave a real good square or smooth opening.  I've learned that it's actually easier and better to fine tune the openings with a chisel rather than files or rasps.  This is especially true with the end grain -- a sharp chisel will shave cut that smoothly, almost like cutting dovetails.  Both inserts are ready and the next phase will be to cut a mortise in the back to make the barrel rest for the pistol.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

 Just wanted to share a photo of the dining chairs I've been working on and have mentioned in the past.  They're my original design and I refer to them as my Dovetail Chair.  Very difficult to photograph without a lot of distortion but the front stretcher is dovetailed into the leg.  This is a technique I tried on a bench out in the garden several years ago and it's still holding together.  The wood used is Canarywood and there are ebony plugs on the laminated back and also to wedge the tenons for the back stretcher.  There are six chairs to this set and they go with the table I made earlier.
As for the pistol cases I received a great compliment -- he ordered 2 more that are identical for Christmas presents and told me he had a gun for himself that he wants me to design a different case for.  He also thought that I'd copied the design for the case from one he had seen at the Smithsonian Museum, pretty good company to be included with!
Work has started on the two cases, I found some African Mahogany that has some pretty distinct, ribbon grain.  Reminds me of a chocolate ribbon cake -- I'll post some pictures soon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pistol Case Completed

After a good 30 hours of work the pistol case is now ready to be delivered to my client.  All it's lacking is an engraved nameplate for his son that he had me make this case for.  I'm quite pleased with the final product.  I believe it achieves everything it was supposed to.  It's a good looking example of woodworking, it holds the pistol and the items needed for it, and last of all it's a safe and attractive way to transport the pistol.  The approximate dimensions of it are 5" tall by 11" wide and 26" long.
The pictures below shows how the pistol fits into the case along with the powder horn.  I decided to use a latch to close the storage compartment.  It's lined with leather and will hold the balls, caps, and wads.

I hope readers of this blog have enjoyed seeing the process as much as I've enjoyed creating this case.  If anyone is interested in any details of the construction or would just like to comment on this piece please feel free to do so.  The next item I plan on putting on my blog are the dining chairs I recently completed.  I'm going to challenge myself in another way by trying to use my new MacBook computer instead of the PC I've been using now.  Bear with me though, I seem to be pretty slow when it comes to learning new computer oriented stuff!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Phillips Head vs. Straight Slot!

Just a quick entry about today's progress on the pistol case.  It's complete except for the leather straps that will hold the pistol in, I'll cut those and dye them tonight.  As "modern" woodworkers we tend to forget some of the advances we enjoy due to different ways to make common, every day things like screws.  To maintain the era of the case I knew I wanted to use slotted screws rather than phillips.  Using them I realized how much easier it is to drive a screw with a phillips or square head.  Some of the hardware I used required a #2 x 5/8" flathead, slotted screw.  Yes, I did break my tiny drill bit in one of the holes!  Even following the most prudent practices of first using a steel screw to pre-size the hole and waxing the brass screws before putting them in, it was a very time consuming process.  Luckily, all went well.  I'll post some pictures of the finished box soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back in the Shop

Last weekend we were in Denver for the opening of an art show that Diane was accepted in.  It was at Saks Gallery and the opening was very well attended.  I'd estimate at least 200 people and although there  weren't a lot of red dots (indicating a sold painting) it was good to see so many folks out looking.  When we left Sunday evening it was just starting to snow!  If you're ever in Denver I can't recommend going to their art museum enough -- 6 floors, 2 buildings and just fantastic.
Back to work on the pistol case and today I applied the first of 4 final coats to the exterior.  This is a 3-part mixture I use that is wet sanded into the wood.  I start with 400 grit, then 600, and the final coats are applied with denim.  It's a formula similar to what George Maloof uses but I learned about it from Art Espinoza Carpenter back in the early 70's.  The main difference is that it uses boiled linseed oil where Maloof uses tung oil.  Been using it for years and I've never had a complaint about it.  The interior will be waxed only using Liberon Black Bison wax.  Some clients object to the turpentine smell of the three part mix.  Tomorrow will see another coat on the exterior and I need to dye the leather for the straps.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parts is Parts!

Most of you will probably remember that line from a chicken commercial a number of years ago.  Finally, here are the parts of the pistol case all laid out and ready for the first coat of Watco oil.  You'll notice that the panels for the top and bottom have already been finished which is what you should always do on panel and frame construction.  Should the panel shrink (as wood tends to do) you won't have a line unfinished wood showing at the edge.  Looks kind of like a jig saw puzzle doesn't it? Let me talk you through what you're seeing; the top and bottom of the box are pretty obvious.  At the sides, the long pieces are the dust check for the long edge of the box, the end pieces are laid out at the top.  The piece that looks white is the bottom of the "sandwich" I talked about in the last blog, that's where the foam and leather go.  Then the piece that has the pistol and powder horn cut out on it gets screwed from the bottom to complete that sandwhich.  The sandwich is placed in the box, the partitions are put down, the dust checks are screwed to the sides and you're almost done!  All that remains is to dye the leather for the straps that will hold things in place and screw the hinges on for the door that will cover the paraphernalia for the pistol.  Attach and fit the hinges, handle, and clasps and it's ready to be delivered.
I've been asked how long this project has taken so far, usually you don't want to know that but I keep track of these things anyway.  There is close to 22 actual work hours into this piece so far.  There is the final, hand rubbed coats for the exterior and wax only for the interior.  Lots of careful fitting, planing, chiseling, etc. -- the kind of work that machines can only replicate on the assemble line.  To me, theirs no satisfaction in that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Construction Details

As with all projects a lot of thinking and planning goes into them to make it all come together.  The problem here was to assemble the interior of the case in such a way that it could be dissassembled in case the leather or foam needs to be replaced, those are the only things that could wear out.  I've posted a sketch to help you see how I solved this dilemma.  First off, the case is finger jointed and the bottom and top panels float in rabbets.  I decided that the best thing to do was create a "sandwich" with a 1/4" piece of Baltic Birch plywood on the bottom.  A 3/4" spacer was attached to that around its perimeter.  Next is the fitted piece that holds the pistol and powder horn in place.  In between them is a 1" thick piece of upholstery foam covered with my leather.  When these pieces are screwed together the foam/leather pushes up into the cut outs for the two pieces.  Once I assemble all of this I will use leather straps to hold them down into the foam.  The dust check is screwed to the sides of the case to hold the insert in.  Should the foam or leather ever need to be replaced it'll just be a matter of unscrewing the dust check and taking it apart. I've also made 4 compartments to store the cleaning equipment and the balls, wads, and caps.  I spent the better part of today assembling this and it all works.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Got Clamps?

There seems to be a long stretch between the beginning of  a project and the time you start to glue parts of it up.  Then, it seems to be an even longer stretch to work out the details and go through the finishing process.  Admittedly, my finish is pretty labor intensive but well worth it in my opinion -- never had a client complain!  Anyway, here's a shot of the pistol case glued together and clamped, I guess it's true that you can't have too many of them!  I don't know about other woodworkers but the time you begin to assemble your work is always somewhat stressful for me.  Each one of the fingers needed to have a thin coat of glue brushed on them and everything has to be done quickly, especially in our dry, desert climate.  During the summer I won't even think about gluing a complicated project together.  Lucky if it's below 85 degrees at 6 am, no problems today though.

Fitting the top and bottom.

Progress on the gun case is going well!  Much of it now is the quiet handwork that is really enjoyable to me.  The way the case will be built is to assemble it as a closed box and then cut the top and bottom section apart.  Because of its size (approximately 11" x 25") the top and bottom pieces have to float and have enough room for the inevitiable expansion and contraction of the wood.  That's something you always need to do when building with panel and frame construction.  Failure to do that will probably result in a cracked panel or case.  Sorry about the distortion of this picture but you can see the rabbet which was rough cut with a router bit and then fine tuned with my shoulder plane visible at the top of the bench.  Next was to cut a slight radius around the edge of the panel, this was accomplished with the block plane.  Finally, the board was finished off with a #4 Smooth Plane as the final step. There's always something special to me about the way shavings come off of a well sharpened plane, you can see them in the picture. Both pieces will be finished with Watco Danish Oil before the case is assembled, that's the best way to avoid having an unfinished edge as the panel contracts or expands.  Looking forward to assembling the case tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finger Joints and Stopped Dados

This is one of those times when it is very easy to ruin all the work so far!  The way I've designed this case is to have a floating panel for the top and bottom.  Originally I had planned to resaw some 8/4 stock and book match these but since I was able to find a wide piece that wasn't needed.  The top/bottom will be 5/8" thick and positioned slightly below the edges. With finger joints you can cut your dado through the open  finger on one board but the other one needs to be stopped and cut into the finger itself.  Time for patience and sharp chisels!  You can see in the photo how the dado goes about 1/4" into the finger.  Always a danger of splitting when you cut with the grain but even if it does, if you're careful not to let it split out, when the box is assembled the glue will hold all of it together.  This box will be glued together completely and then the top will then be separated from the bottom.

Been Busy!

I've had to take a break from the gun case and concentrate time on our backyard re-do.  Layed the sod today and all that remains is the new light and putting bricks part way up the columns.  The other thing that's kept me occupied is finishing the 6 dining chairs to go with the table I made earlier.  I've attached a picture of the oak prototype which has a laminated back made of Canarywood.  This chair is for sale for $100.00, that's a bargain because the final ones will be four to five times that amount.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Barrel Support Insert

In my research I learned that the pistol or gun should have about half of it proud of the piece it's inserted into.  Since the pistol will be supported by a 1" thick layer of upholstery foam covered with leather beneath the board it's inserted into, the barrel would be way to low once the pistol is strapped down.  To solve that problem I decided to mortise in a piece of mahogany to support the end of the barrel.  I could have used a router but prefer hand tools when ever possible.  Something about the quiet process of using a mallet, chisel, and my router plane that soothes the soul and makes me feel as if  I'm really connecting to the work.  What you're looking at in the photo is the bottom of the board.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pistol Case Template

The first step for this particular project was to make a template of the pistol and the powder horn.  I suppose I could have done this on the project itself but since there is the possibility of two more boxes this seems like the wise thing to do.  This is simply on a piece of 1/4" MDF which I'll use to transfer to the mahogany.
Since the case I'm making will be a contemporary example instead of an authentic reproduction I've made some changes.  First of all, the pistol and powder horn will be secured with a leather strap and snaps.  This way they won't be able to move around as it's being carried  from one place to the next.  I used an article from an old Fine Woodworking magazine as a source and it suggested using leather placed over 1" upholstery foam.  Leather will stand up better than felt to gun powder and oil.  It'll also be constructed in such a way that it can be disassembled and replaced if needed.  I'll share the details as the box is built. Pretty straight forward process so far.  I used a scroll saw to cut out the template and then filed and sanded to get it to fit the piece.There will be compartments on the right side of the case to hold the cleaning equipment, balls, powder, and wads.  I've neglected to tell you what type of pistol this is, it's a .44 caliber, 1860 Army Revolver. 
I've also been making an improved version of a finger joint jig.  It was designed by Nick Engler and was in Popular Woodworking, June 2001.  What I found ingenious about this jig is that he used a #10-32 x 2" long, flathead machine screw for the fine adjustments.  Since there are 32 threads per inch, each complete turn of the screw will move the jig 1/32" -- one of those simple yet brilliant things where you scratch your head and say "why didn't I think of that?"  I'll take a photo of it when I get to cutting the finger joints on the project.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Since I'm new to this blogging thing, I'd like to do an experiment to see if I can make a link to my wife's site. She's a very talented artist and represented by a gallery in Naples, Florida and Calistoga, California. She's the one who's inspired me to do picture framing and I've gone from very basic wooden frames to carved and gilded ones. To view her work,just follow this link.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sin City Woodworkers

Before I get into the design process of the pistol case I need to give credit to Philip Popurka of Bison Studio here in Las Vegas.  He makes quality tools for the people who work with ceramics and gave me all kinds of background information regarding pistol boxes.  I was introduced to him by Jamie Yocono of Wood It Is which is her shop here in Las Vegas. Jamie is the driving force behind the Sin City Woodworkers and we meet once a month at her shop.  It's a great way to get together with other woodworkers and "talk wood".  You can find out more information about the group on Meet Up.
Anyway, back to Philip.  He was good enough to let me come to his studio and showed me examples of the work he has done with the fitted gun case.  When I explained to him what my ideas were for the one I'm designing he pointed out the authentic way it was done, which explains why these custom cases start at about $600.00 and go into the thousands on the web.  I think we agreed that the design I suggested should be called a contemporary pistol case.  He told me that other box makers have been known to try to fool the public by making an inferior box and  then try to pass it off as authentic.  The level of knowledge and information he has is impressive!  
The pistol case I'm building will also be used for taking the pistol from the house to the shooting event.  It will resemble a brief case and be lined with leather to stand up to the oil and gun powder residue.  Traditional boxes were mitered but mine will use finger joints for strength and have floating panels for the top and bottom.  Since there is the possibility of two more cases for identical pistols I've made a pattern to fit the pistol and the powder horn. That was quite a time consuming step for this projcet, I'll add a picture of it in my next post.

Monday, September 28, 2009

French Fit Pistol Case

The first project that I will be sharing with you is a commission  I just received and am pretty excited about.  I'll get into the details later and just give an overview now.  This commission could lead to two more pistol cases if the client is satisfied with the first one.  Obviously, my goal is to give him more than he expected -- that's something I do all of the time anyway.  For a one man shop word of mouth advertising is the best thing to have.  If you look at my website ( you can see some of the work I've turned out in the past 25 years or so.  In any case, let's talk about the pistol cases.
There are essentially two methods of fitting a pistol into a case.  The French Fit method is to form your wood so that it matches the outline of the pistol exactly.  The English Fit method utilizes a method that makes compartments that are roughly the shape of the pistol and any other items needed.  These might be a  powder horn, cleaning tools, balls, caps, etc.  What I'll be constructing is a contemporary version that will be used to not only store the pistol but also as a carrying case for it and it's accouterments.  The plans are drawn, the client has paid the deposit, so the stage is set -- More later, John