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Guys came into class this morning ready to work. They are well aware of the uphill struggle in front of them if they plan to get the first drawer completed for the chest. No one is expecting to get the chest completed. In five days, with 17 woodworkers building a complicated piece for the first time, completion would be a miracle.

As happens most of the time, the few students who were out in front ran into a couple issues during the day that slowed their pace. One front-runner had the fence slip as a dado was cut and another had to recover from a mishap that developed as he routed the dovetail sockets for drawer dividers. Each misfortune was remedied and resulted in a lesson on how to fix common mistakes. As a result, the pack has formed into a bunch as we start down the back stretch, through hump day.

I’ve often said the difference between a woodworker and a good woodworker is that good woodworker knows how to fix his or her mistakes.

Most students have cleared the hurdle for day two with the completion of the drawer dividers and are starting to assemble the pieces into a chest. Yesterday, the most time spent by far was in cutting and installing the bottom front to the case bottom. Once the large dovetail joint was fit, the shaping of the block-front profile consumed a large portion of the afternoon. The trick to transferring the pattern to the bottom, which requires an increase of size by 5/8″, is to use a fender washer. The distance from the inner wall of the center hole to the outside of the washer is 5/8″. If you place a pencil into the hole and roll the washer along your first profile, the result is perfectly sized.


Once the layout is complete, it’s off to the band saw to cut close to the line, then the rasps and files come out and hand shaping begins. To finish the profile the edge is routed. Everyone was pleased as they finished. I didn’t have the heart to tell them the same steps are used today as we create the bottom front mouldings.

What’s in store for today? By the end of the day we should have the tops in place and be finishing the beaded trim on the case side. Feet will be the afternoon’s subject when patterns are made and lumber is milled. Due to the blocked-front design being carried from top to bottom, the front feet need sculpting too. These guys are going to either have great affection for, or despise, their files and rasps after this project. I promise photos of assembled cases in tomorrow’s entry. You’ll want to check it out.

– Glen Huey
p.s. Click here to read “Teaching at Marc Adams – Day One”  and here for “Day Two”


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  • Joey C

    Hello again, just getting a chance to sit back and reflect on todays work. First off we all came in today like gangbusters on a mission like Glen had stated. We myself included wanted to get as much done as possible prior to the 1PM dead line (even though non of us could wait to start the drawer fronts). At 1PM as Glen stated we started with a discussion and a demonstration on how to layout and cut this massive hunk of 12/4 and turn it into a well defined drawer front. This is a very deceiving part of the project (in which I can only speak for myself, I was a little intimidated about making this cut). Off I went to a well tuned bandsaw with two thoughts in my mind #1 "I can do this" #2 something the Glen said to me as I walked by him on the way to the saw "Take Your Time". He was very right. Needless to say I have all 4 drawer fronts cut, one of them is well shaped and near the point that I can sand it and lay out the dovetails (tomorrows project).

    So even though there was a ton of work still needing to be finished, a few of us called it quits at 6PM. We decided that we were not only here to take away a wealth of knowledge, but also to make new friends. So off to a local establisment to share some good food and stories about life. Gee Glen is a "normal" everyday kind of guy (Chuck you are right he is a great guy and his craftsmanship is unbelievable.

    Tomorrow should be another productive day for us in the morning with laying out and cutting our dovetails for the drawer. I wish we had one or two more days to complete this project but as usual all good things must come to an end. (plus I miss my wife and dog). But on the flip side we will be able to do some of the most important work on this piece, all of the detail trim work in the comfort of our own shop with very little distraction and at our own pace.

    If you get the opportunity to take any class with Glen I highly recommend it. You will take away a wealth of information that you might not be able to find anywhere else.

    And as for the Marc Adams School at this point I will say I will be back. Job well done lads.

    Lastly Thank you Glen for the knowledge that you have shared with us. I will send you some pictures when I complete this project. Joe

  • Chuck Bender

    Joe,

    It’s great to have a post from the student’s perspective. Don’t tell him but I think Glen’s a great guy and an excellent craftsman (I wouldn’t want to be the cause of a swelled head). His block front chest is a testament to his abilities.

    Your class has undertaken a very ambitious project but, with a first class cabinetmaker like Glen at the helm, you should go home with a tremendous wealth of knowledge to be able to put the finishing touches on your project if you haven’t completed it already. I wish more of your fellow students were conscious enough at the end of the day to be able to blog a little about their experience. For those of your fellow students that dream of making period furniture for a living, imagine this is how you work everyday. It’s great work and fun but, as Joe aptly portrayed it in his comment, it’s exhausting.

  • Joey C

    Good evening all, just wanted to put the students perspective into the mix. I am in the class right now and I am finding that the class is very challenging however with Glens teaching style and a great deal of patience on his part things are going smoothly.

    To respond to Bart’s questions I think the age group varies from the mid 20’s up into the 60’s and a good mix of experience from professional woodworkers to the hobbyist. My own persoanl belief is that the "wall" that some students are hitting is that they are not used to working at such a fast pace (time is very short for such a detailed beautiful piece of heirloom furniture). and some are not listening to what is being said to them. We are all making mistakes, myself included but the nice thing is that Glen is there to guide us through them as he has made some of the same mistakes and knows the short cuts for fixing them. The days are long class starts at 0800 and goes til 1800 but most of us have either stayed late or come in early to try to catch up or get ahead. We came to a halt today due to the construction phase that if we went one way we would have to finish sand the case and then glue it up to continue to afix certain parts; or temporarily mount them with screws and move on to the legs just to get other things done.

    I am actually chomping at the bit for daylight to get back at the legs and layout the drawer fronts. Bart I must say the pictures in the book do not do the Block Front Chest true justice. When you actually can see a completed drawer front and lay your hands on it you get a strong sense of what this piece is all about.

    I am sorry I cannot write anymore and also for any gramatical errors but I can barely keep my eyes open while typing this but I felt compelled to give my two cents.

    More to follow be well Joe

  • Bart Trainer

    Glen I have your book that shows the block front your building so it is very easy to follow. Have some of the students hit a wall as you press on to show them the whole project? I would be intrested to see the skill level and how much time the students are spending working on there projects. 8am to 6pm every day to get done or more? Also what is the age group. 55 plus or a good mix? Keep up the blogging thanks. Ps thanks to chuck B who gave me a heads up about your blog of this project. Daddy-O

  • Chris C.

    Glen,

    This is really interesting to read about. One
    question: what is the skill level of the students?
    Are they all very experienced, or is it a wide
    mix of skill levels?

    Chris

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