February 2014 #209

Popular Woodworking Magazine February 14 Cover Our cover article for the February 2014 issue is a Connecticut lowboy with distinctive details – Glen D. Huey builds a faithful reproduction of this piece he found in a museum storeroom (plus, he includes a sidebar on several ways to make the cock bead moulding).

In Jeff Miller’s “Perfect Shoulders,” you’ll discover how to build a handy saw and frame for dead-on-accurate tenons; it’s a tool Jeff devised…then saw a similar item in an 18th-century French book. Christopher Schwarz got a close-up look at Roy Underhill’s iconic nail cabinet, tape measure in hand. He shares his measured drawings and step-by-step build (plus the “secret” he discovered about it). You’ll discover four ways to make mortises from Robert W. Lang – by hand, by power and by both – but what’s most important is that you understand the mechanisms of the mortise.

Take a trip to the Mercer Museum with Chuck Bender for a look at this brainchild and life’s work of one man, Henry Mercer, who was intent on capturing pre-Industrial America. In “Mighty Router Planes,” Megan Fitzpatrick shows you how this precision tool works, and explains why you need one (or two) in your shop.

In this month’s Tool Test, we review the Laguna 14-Twelve band saw, the new carbide birdcage awl from Czeck Edge Hand Tool and Starborn’s Smart-Bit depth setter. In Design Matters, George R. Walker shows you how to make the most of figured maple. Woodworking Essentials takes a look at taming your table saw for precision and safety (by Robert W. Lang). Bob Rozaieski discusses “Small-shop Efficiencies” in Arts & Mysteries. Bob Flexner talks about acetone – a powerful and versatile solvent that’s fairly easy to find and safe to use in Flexner on Finishing. And in End Grain, David Mathias shares every woodworker’s fear – bad moving companies – in “The Downside if Up is Sideways.”

Plus Tricks of the Trade, reader letters and more.


Connecticut Lowboy

While simple to build, the details present a worthy challenge. by Glen D. Huey pages 26-33 While teaching a class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, I was asked to sneak down to the Connecticut Historical Society to take a look around. At the museum, I was shown into a back room full of off-exhibit furniture....


Perfect Shoulders

An 18th-century chairmaker’s saw makes 21st-century work easier. by Jeff Miller pages 34-37 The graveyard of obscure and forgotten tools is large, densely packed and many layers deep. Many of these tools richly deserve their pauper’s burial. But once in a while you come across a tool that does things that are quite remarkable, and you wonder...


Roy Underhill’s Nail Cabinet

It’s a crate. It’s a cabinet. It’s useful shop furniture. by Christopher Scwharz pages 38-43 One of the enduring features of Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s Shop” PBS television show is the familiar and rambling backdrop of former projects, parts, tools and wood that frames most episodes. My favorite item in his shop is his nail cabinet –...


4 Ways to Make a Mortise

A hole is just a hole, no matter how you dig it. by Robert W. Lang pages 44-48 The mortise-and-tenon joint is fundamental in woodworking. Along with the dovetail, this joint has been used for thousands of years. If you judge by the number of devices and methods developed to avoid making mortises, you might think it...


The Mercer Museum

A visionary’s concrete castle contains a generous slice of pre-industrial life. by Chuck Bender pages 49-52 Walking through the entrance of the Mercer Museum isn’t quite what one would expect from one of the United States’ most complete collections of 18th- and 19th-century tools. “Contemporary Spartan” seems a more fitting description, due to all the glass, polished...


Mighty Router Planes

This powerful precision tool belongs in every woodworker’s arsenal. by Megan Fitzpatrick pages 53-55 If you’re a woodworker who prefers to plug things in, you know there are still at least a few hand tools you need. And when it comes to planes, you likely have a block plane in your toolbox. I, however, think a router...


Tricks of the Trade: Use Shrink Wrap as a Clamp for Veneer

pages 12 -13 While trying to attach a carved 1⁄8"-thick mahogany veneer to the edge of a curved shelf, an idea came to me as a last moment glue-up solution. Initially I thought I could make it easier to bend by wrapping the sawn veneer in a towel then saturating it with boiling water; this didn’t...


Tool Test: Laguna’s ‘14-Twelve’ Band Saw

A tool manufacturer does its homework to build a better band saw. by Chuck Bender page 14 The Laguna 14-Twelve band saw has the look and feel of a machine thrice its price. There’s a lot to like about this machine and the price makes it almost irresistible. Coming in at just under $1,100 ($1,345 with the...


Tool Test: Czeck Edge Carbide Birdcage Awl

by Chuck Bender page 16 The first thing you notice when you grasp a Czeck Edge Hand Tool birdcage awl is how well it fits in the hand. The cocobolo handle is beautifully turned with a shellac finish that is silky smooth. And the blade is balanced, polished and sharp. Czeck Edge has sold birdcage awls for...