Thursday, I wrote that I was going to make a “Step-Chair” (U-BILD plan No. 102) for my niece, per family tradition. What I didn’t mention was that I felt the need to complicate things (of course); that turned what could easily have been accomplished in an hour into a 27-hour project.
Instead of using a piece of 8″-wide S4S lumber as directed, I decided to glue up the necessary panels so that I could use some walnut shorts left over from a magazine project, rather than BORG pine or red oak. So first I had to process the rough stock , and boy was it rough. And, I decided to use my grandfather’s jointer plane and do the final thicknessing and flattening by hand (I also felt the need to justify having bought a shiny No. 4). Oh , and I used hide glue. The set time was 24 of my 27 hours , what , you thought I was really _that_ slow?! Also, the plan calls for two lengths of 5/8″ dowel, and you can’t get walnut dowels at the BORG , so I thought I’d turn them and perhaps add some decorative beading…until Glen scoffed and said, “why not use the router table?” Well, because I already knew how to turn (if only in a workaday fashion) and I didn’t know how to make the same shape on the router table.
But now I do. Maybe this is common knowledge, but it was new to me , so in brief, here’s how to go about it. Insert into your router table a roundover bit of the radius of half the diameter of the dowel you need. Capture the bearing flush with the fence, with the bottom of the blade flush with the table top (and run a few test pieces to make sure you have things lined up properly , otherwise, you’ll have some ridges to sand off). Square up a length of wood a few inches longer that the final length of dowel you need, but of exactly the same thickness. (I needed a 16″ 5/8 dowel, so I squared a 20″ x 5/8″ square blank.)
Now, starting at least an 1″ from the end, carefully move the blank into the spinning router bit and make a short cut before moving your left hand to hold the remaining flat against the fence as you complete the cut , and don’t run the stock all the way through; pull it away from the blade with at least an inch left square (that way, you’ll have flat surface to ride against on all four cuts, and your hands will stay safely away from the blade). Repeat three more times, turning the stock a quarter-turn with each pass. Et voila. Dowel in whatever species you want , and if your router bit is both prefectly aligned with the fence and table and it’s sharp, you likely won’t have any sanding. Apparently, ours was not sharp; there was much sanding. I hate sanding.
So anyway, after three hours of actual work, I got the “Step-Chair” all put together. A few coats of finish, and it’s ready for my new niece. I just hope in a couple years when she’s older, she doesn’t decide to paint it. Hmmm… maybe I should go buy some S4S pine from the BORG.
p.s. This plan seems to no longer be available on the U-BILD site…I hope that doesn’t mean it’s been outlawed by the safety police , does anyone know? A lot of Fitzpatricks have survived it thus far , but if so, I should mention it to my brother.
Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.