By Megan Fitzpatrick
This wee bronze plane from Warren, Maine, is a reproduction (of sorts) of the Stanley No. 101 plane – a small block plane originally designed for household use and light work (and sold in toy tool chests, according to Patrick Leach’s “Blood and Gore” web site).
But unlike its inspiration, this new version from Lie-Nielsen, which is also called a violin maker’s plane, has all the same features as its slightly larger cousin, the No. 102, including a stainless steel adjuster to advance and retract the blade.
With a sole just less than 3″ long and 11⁄4″ wide, the plane fits comfortably in even the smallest hands, and its size allows you to work very locally indeed, and in tight spaces – and anywhere else you’d typically turn to a block plane. Plus, it’s the perfect size for slipping into an apron pocket or even your pants pocket.
The 7⁄8″-wide A2 steel iron is bedded at 20° for a typical 45° cutting angle.
Web site: www.lie-nielsen.com
Video: See the No. 101 plane in action.
The key to a lasting joint is a good fit – or good pegs.
By Adam Cherubini
Frankly, I can do without dovetails quite nicely. You can nail two boards together and be left with something strong and serviceable.
But mortises are trickier to live without; you need to know how to cut them. Mortises join boards edge to end. They are super strong. Because of their strength, they are often used in structural applications such as timber framing, chair and table joints. Unlike dovetails, they either fit well and function – or they don’t and the finished product suffers in some way. And because they are essentially one-shot deals, it’s pretty important that you get them right.
Blog: Read Adam Cherubini’s Arts & Mysteries blog.
In Our Store: “The Arts & Mysteries of Hand Tools” on CD. Read more
This shop-made table saw jig makes quick work of reinforcing miter joints.
By Matthew Teague
I love the clean look of a mitered box that has continuous grain wrapping around the corners. It’s an easy detail to create, but a sure sign that the maker is paying close attention to the details. The downside of a mitered box? Miter joints are notoriously weak because they have no real mechanical strength; glue is all that holds them together.
You can reinforce miter joints in a few different ways, but my favorite method is to use exposed keys. These hardwood keys are nothing more than thin lengths of wood glued into slots that span both sides of the joint to help hold everything together. To cut the slots for these keys at the table saw you need only a small jig that runs against the saw’s fence. The jig cradles the assembled box at a 45° angle and allows you to guide it through the cut.
Keys not only add great strength to miter joints, they also provide a decorative effect. Once the jig is made, you can arrange the keys in any number of ways, using either a matching or contrasting wood. For a slightly different look, you can cut wider key slots by simply adjusting the table saw fence to take two or more passes for each slot. For angled keys, which create joints that arguably are even stronger, simply angle the blade. You can even use this same jig at the router table to create dovetailed key slots – just be sure to hog out the bulk of the waste in the jig itself before you cut the actual box.
Blog: See more on building mitered boxes and a slide show on installing the keys.
Model: Download a 3D SketchUp model of the box seen here.
Articles: Find plans and instructions for making and using a wide variety of jigs.
Take the easy way out: Find sizes without measuring. By Robert Lang Pages 62-63 This small coffee table is a great introduction to building furniture. It doesn’t require much material and it’s an opportunity to develop your skills. This project is sturdy, attractive and easy to build. All of the parts come from standard widths … Read more
By Steve Shanesy Page 18 Laziness can reduce the efficiency of your dust-collection system, whether you use a shop vacuum or a centralized collector. Sometimes just walking around the machine to switch on your collector doesn’t seem worth it. Read the full article here.
Reformulations may compel you to adjust your finishing process.
By Bob Flexner
Many years ago a friend explained to me the difference between woodworking tools and finishes. Woodworking tools, he said, are physics. You can see them. You can see that a band saw isn’t a table saw even though it has a table.
But finishes are chemistry. You can’t see chemistry. Varnish and lacquer, for example, look the same, both in the can and on the wood.
So there is much more opportunity for finishes to be confusing, especially when manufacturers misrepresent them and magazines publish contradictory information about them.
I think this description goes a long way toward explaining why the health problems associated with finish solvents are feared more than those that are obvious with woodworking tools (cutting off your fingers, for example). This, even though the infrequent, low-level exposure to solvents experienced by most amateurs is quite unlikely to cause any problems at all.
Articles: You’ll find many free finishing articles on our web site.
In our store: “Flexner on Finishing” – 12 years of columns illustrated with beautiful full-color images and updated, and “Wood Finishing 101.” Read more
Imperfect woodworking often imparts the best lessons.
By Scot O’Shea
A good friend asked me if I could help his son put together a chair he wanted to make and like a good neighbor, I said, “Sure, I will be happy to look at it and offer a little advice.” That was two years ago and we are still happily learning a few things each week about woodworking.
You may have noticed I said “we” – and it is true. We began with six cedar trees that my young friend had chopped down and stripped of bark. He had no real tools and even less knowledge about how to construct a chair. He did come with lots of ideas and opinions. I am surprised when I look back that the two of us not only survived but managed to construct Justin’s chair.
Articles: Check out our I Can Do That columns for simple projects that are great for kids and other beginning woodworkers. Read more