Monday, July 23, 2012

Hand Cut Chamfers: An Easy Process

     During this weekend I've taken a break from the table bases since the material I ordered won't be here until Monday.  Perfect timing since the humidity is really rising by desert standards and what work I've done is somewhat sweated upon!  Not a good picture is it?  There's been a couple of hours shop time each morning so I'm not having withdrawal symptoms.
     One of the things I did was to put the first top coat on the Maple Splendor box, when I brought it into the house last night it felt as if I took it out of an oven, temp in the shop was 104.  This morning I decided to work on the two remaining boxes in the River Runs Through It series.  Here's how they compare to the first edition:

A River Runs Through It: #1-4

     The original ones are the two in the upper right of the picture.  Once the lids have been brought to length to fit their perspective box, the next step is to put a chamfer on the ends.  When ever you cut chamfers or raise a panel for a box or door you should always go across the grain first.  My preference is to cut the piece to length, chamfer both ends, and then cut it to width.  The reason is that you have the potential for splitting off the edge at the end of your cut.  The potential for this is there whether you're cutting by hand, with a router, or a saw.
     The chamfer on these lids is about 3/16" which is penciled in on both the top and edge of the ends.  You don't need to do the long edges since the lid hasn't been sized for width yet.  I do this with a pencil and a small combination square.  Rather than use a router to do this it's an easy process using a block plane.  It's quieter, safer, and much less likely to split the piece as it goes off the end grain.  The technique is to hold the plane at the required angle and then plane evenly to the lines.  Your goal is to reach the line on the top and the one on the edge at the same time.  Takes a bit of practice but very doable with a sharpened and correctly set up block plane.  Once the ends are done the lid is taken down to it's required width and the lines are drawn on the edges, top and side.

Close Up of Chamfer
     Although the lines are drawn on the long edges they are not as important as the actual cut.  You'll find that by holding and maintaining the same angle on the edge that you did on the end the cut will tell you when to stop.  The goal is a clean, mitered cut that goes diagonally to the corner of the lid.  You can see the pencil line remains but that's okay, it'll erase!  Just a slight chamfer like this adds interest to the overall design, it appears to bend as it goes off of the edge.  I would discourage you from sanding this chamfer, you'll more than likely round it over and soften the edges with the sandpaper even on a sanding block.  Besides, a clean, crisp, block planed edge looks much better than a muddied up one created by sanding.
     The final step to the box was cutting a rabbet all around so that it fits into the box.  Here I use the tablesaw by first setting the required height of the blade.  Always use a scrap piece of MDF to check your adjustment.  Same thing applies here, cut the end grain first but use a backup block to get more support against the fence.  Once that's done, readjust the fence and blade height and cut as shown:

Cutting the Rabbet

     So much has been written about tablesaw safety people are reluctant to post a picture of one without making some ridiculous disclaimer like "guard removed for illustrative purposes only, always keep guards in place".  Let's face it, there are operations that cannot be done with a guard or splitter in place and as woodworkers we need to take responsibility for our own actions.  Look at the picture, the blade is only up 1/4" or so, I'm using a backer block to increase the surface on the table, and my hands are safely straddling the top of the rip fence.  Could something go wrong?, I suppose but not very likely.
     Anyway, sorry to get on my soapbox but if using the saw that way is worrisome it's almost as simple to use a backsaw to cut this part and then  a shoulder plane to finish the job.  So now that it's Monday I can head to the lumber yard to pick up the material for the aprons needed for the end tables.  Since there are so many duplicated operations on the tables I'm trying to do all the machine work for all the pieces at the same time to avoid having to set the tablesaw and mortiser up multiple times.  Then it's on to the quiet work with chisels, saw, and rabbet plane of fitting each joint -- can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the update and the pictures. Your work is absolutely stunning. Thank you again for the consideration and awesome customer service - you're truly a gentleman. home interiors in chennai