Monday, April 29, 2013

Where's the Rest of Your Mallet?

Half a Mallet

     You may have seen my Facebook entry where I purchased a new mallet made of flame Birch but until I get it there's still work to be done!  Not only am I working on the second series of boxes for the Etsy store but we reached the required enrollment for the hand tool class that starts on the 9th. of May.  That means I need to finalize the projects for that 6 week course.

     More on that later but in case you missed it, here's what happened to my original mallet:

Hmm, Jungle Rot?
     It is a mallet made of Lignum Vitae and if you're interested at all in this wood here's a link to some information LINK on it.  It's a very dense wood and one that won't float!  Another name for it is
"The Tree of Life" but not sure if it's from the original Garden of Eden!  It's been used in bearings for submarines so that lets you know how hardy it is.  I bought this mallet along with a set of Marples carving chisels back in the early 70's from Popular Mechanics magazine so I've definitely gotten my money out of it!
     The new series of boxes is shaping up and I've begun with the slanted dovetail design as mentioned in my last post.  Not only are these unique, I want the wood to be exceptional.  One of the woods used is Australian Lacewood.  It has some spectacular rays and I've never attempted to dovetail it before.  The first step to working this out was to cut a shallow tenon similar to the Stanley 140 trick.  Instead of using a skewed rabbet plane I use the tablesaw and a tenon jig.

Powered Stanley 140 Trick
     This creates a shoulder which helps make a cleaner inside corner on the boxes and also aids lay-out of the dovetails:

Walnut Side Pieces

     I was pleasantly surprised to find that dovetailing this species of wood wasn't too difficult.  It does want to splinter on the large flecks but it was manageable.  To remove the waste between the tails, I always cut a shallow notch by setting the chisel in the marking gauge line and then removing a "chip" from the waste:

Initial Cut
     You can see it better here:

"Chip" removed
     When cutting these tails that are almost  1 1/2" long there's no need trying to remove the entire length.  By cutting this chip section out from both sides of the boards the entire length comes out once both sides meet in the middle.  The thickness of the sides are 1/4"+ so it doesn't take too long.  The difficulty comes in removing the wood from the pieces they dovetail into.  Look at the picture above that shows the Walnut sides and you can imagine how much has to be chiseled out of them to fit the tails.  Makes for a unique and interesting piece so it's worth it to me.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice, John! I look forward to your class.

    As you know, I normally tease you by calling you the resident "biblical" or "Amish" woodworker given the fact that you love to use hand tools in your work. I would like to add "Paleolithic" to the mix. The way you are holding your mallet is probably reminiscent of an early man holding a rock to do his dovetails. LOL!

    Hope you are having a good week. Thank you for all the tips you have given me in compiling my Amish tool arsenal. ;)