Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Got a Haunch, not a Hunch!

I spent this morning fine tuning the mortise and tenon joints for the sides of the tool chest.  The way I work is to use the table saw and mortiser for the beginning stages and then hand tools and quiet work to do the final fitting.  Sometimes you luck out on cutting the tenon cheeks but usually you have to pare them down for that perfect fit.  Through the years though I've learned that perfection and woodworking rarely go hand in hand.  In the past, I've used a chisel or rabbet plane to work on the tenon cheeks and it was okay.  Recently I learned of another method:

This is by using a Stanley #71 Router plane.  That's right, this is one router you don't have to plug in!  This model dates somewhere in the 40's and I really enjoy working with it.  The trick was to take a scrap piece of wood that is the same thickness as what you're working on to support both sides of the plane.  This method insures that the cheek will be even, sometimes a chisel will cut a slight angle so this gives more control.  This also gives a good view of the haunch cut on the end of the tenon.  Here's another view of it:

The purpose of a haunch is to prevent the piece from twisting.  I created the groove on the inside of these pieces with a dado head on the tablesaw.  This is where the Maple panel will float in.  You can see how the tenon was notched so that only a small portion of it goes to the top of the piece.  It's a pretty common method of making a frame and panel piece.  In retrospect, I probably should have made two tenons as they are pretty wide but I think it'll work out fine.
Another thing I realized today is that Alder, although classified as a hardwood, is pretty soft.  Trimming with chisels proved that so I'll have to hone them well before starting the dovetails for the drawers.  It's funny that a soft wood is harder to cut than a hardwood -- seems kind of backwards!  In practice chisel work on softer woods like Alder or Pine is more difficult because the wood fibers will "smush" rather than cut cleanly unless the chisel is extremely sharp.  Anxious to see how the Bloodwood works, that's where the half blind dovetail pins come in, the tails will be the Alder and sides of the drawers.
Keep learning and keep your chisel sharp!!

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