Thursday, July 5, 2012

Maple Splendor

Splendorous Don't You Think??

     Wasn't too sure if splendorous was a word but since I didn't get the squiggly line it must have passed the spell check!  I met a man (via the internet) from Virginia who saw my scrub plane on Highland Woodworking's newsletter.  He asked for more information which I gladly gave and in return, he sent me some local wood that he's been harvesting.  They were two beautiful pieces, one Curly Cherry and the other Curly Maple.  The photograph downs't begin to do it justice though, it really is a spectacular piece.  Even with my Lie-Nielsen smooth plane I still got a bit of tear out but the cabinet scraper tamed that for me.  In any case, I've decided to use this piece as the lid for another of the Slanted Dovetail boxes.
     I'm a "tails first" kind of dovetailer and in a previous blog I mentioned how I use the table saw to do the Stanley 140 Trick.  This time around thought I'd do it more safely with a tenoning jig rather than just holding the piece up against the fence and it worked fine.
Safer Way to Cut Tailboard 

     Once that was completed the tails were laid out and cut, again I cut both sides of the box at a time:

     Then before I cut off the outer sides I prefer to make a slight notch with a chisel for the dovetail saw to ride in.  I find that this is a good aid  for the saw.  By cutting just shy of the line you can pare right to your marked line.  A technique I use to refresh the edge of the chisels is one I learned about from Everett Ellenwood.  I rented a DVD of his from SmartFlix and what he does is use a piece of cardboard as stropping material.  Recommended is a smooth cardboard like a cereal box.  It's charged with a white rouge, placed on a hard, flat surface and the chisels drawn across it.

Stropping Trick
     What makes using the white rouge so nice is that you can see the track marks of the removed metal   This will show any small nicks that may be in the blade.  Once the bevel is refreshed the back is rubbed on the cardboard and you're good to go.  What I like about this technique is that it won't matter if you cut the stropping cardboard which isn't good if you're using a leather strop.  Besides, it's keeping with the green movement and recycling (that's a tongue in cheek remark!).  When I taught the dovetail class last summer we just kept some cardboard pieces on a machine top and the students were able to maintain a sharp edge on their chisels.
     One of the small problems of the slanted dovetail box is clamping it squarely when gluing up.  The tails are almost an inch and a half long so need a good caul.  What I tried on this box was to use a couple of pieces of UHMW polyethylene to press down on the tails:

Assembly Clamping Process
     These were then covered with another piece of the polyethylene and clamped to a flat surface.  You can see the try square and it was just a matter of moving the clamps as needed.  I let this dry for a few hours and then used the same technique to attach the other side and bottom.  Next up is work on the lid and trying to fashion a handle that will be functional yet not take away from the beauty of the grain patterns on the lid.

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