Monthly Archives: July 2013

Murphy strikes again. . .

Mr. Murphy struck tonight in my shop, making it a very frustrating evening. On Saturday, I finished chopping the mortises for the slats at the bottom of the gate and dry fit the entire gate.

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Everything fit beautifully. Yesterday, I glued and pegged the lattice-work at the top of the gate.

That brings me to tonight. I started gluing up the slats for the bottom of the gate when disaster struck.  Adding glue to the mortises in the bottom kick board of the gate caused the wood to swell, which made it extremely frustrating to get the tenons to go into them – check for Mr. Murphy.  I finally got the joints started and started hammering them together.  Because it took so long, the glue on the tenons and in the mortises started to set up, making it start to get tacky – another check for Mr. Murphy.  I nearly had the joints seated fully, and decided to use a couple of pipe clamps to draw everything together.  Murphy used one of my choices against me – earlier in the build, I decided to use a “whitewood” (whatever the heck whitewood is) from a big box store as the kick board because I wanted to reduce the weight.  The problem is that this stuff isn’t all that strong when used for joinery.  As I tightened up the clamps, CRACK – checkmate!.  The board broke all along one cheek of the mortises.

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It’s hard to see in the photo because I removed the slats, but the whole right side of the board started to break away along the mortises.  Now I have to remake this board and try to remove the old glue from the mortise and tenon joints.

Until next time. . .

Gate Commission and Tool Focus – Jointer Plane

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In my last post about bench planes, I mentioned that I had agreed to build a gate for some friends.  I am glad to say that I am nearly done.  The the frame of the gate is put together with through mortises (mortises that are chopped all the way through the rails on the left and right sides.  The lattice at the top is put together with half-lap joints.  I am in the process of working on the mortise and tenon joints for the slats at the bottom of the gate.  Once I have the rest of these joints made, I will have to glue everything up and put pegs through all the mortise and tenon joints.  I’ll post more about this project in a future post.

Work has been extremely busy the last few weeks, so I have to apologize for not posting recently.  I have hardly any shop or blogging time lately.


Now on to the tool focus.  Jointer planes, also known as try planes, are used for truing up  boards.  A board is true when both faces are flat and parallel with each other and the edges are square to the faces and parallel with each other.  My jointer is a Veritas Bevel Up Jointer from Lee Valley.  It is 22″ long and the sole is dead flat.  The length of the plane and the flat sole is what makes the plane so effective at truing up boards.

The process of truing up lumber is straight-forward, although it is a lot of work.  The first step is to flatten one face (known as the reference face).  Once this is done, the next step is to straighten one edge and make sure it is square to the reference face (known as the reference edge).  Both the reference face and reference edge should be marked so they can be identified later.  These are called reference surfaces because all layout and tool settings (fences, depth stops, etc) are referenced off of them.

Once these reference faces are prepared, the next step is to use a gauge to mark the final thickness of the board all the way around the board.  Then plane down to those gauge lines.  Now, you have a board that is of uniform thickness with two flat and parallel faces.  The next step is to mark the final width of the board with a gauge and plane the board down to final width.

As I said above, the process is simple; but it is a lot of work.  It also takes a while to develop the skills to true a board efficiently.

Until next time . . .