Taking care of school necessities took about an hour this morning, then it was on to the shop. Because I wanted to get to making wood dust, I rushed through the early routine items. In fact, I almost forgot to have everyone introduce themselves to the class. I did, however, discuss why our project is said to be a Massachusetts piece and how it was different from pieces built in Newport, R.I. or Philadelphia, Penn. We talked about a squared block-front versus the rounded block-front that we’re building. And about a single major construction feature that signifies a New England design.
As we began woodworking, I looked over everyone’s lumber to find what materials were being used. There are two students working with walnut, two with mahogany and one guy is building the case in tiger maple and plans to use cherry drawer fronts. The remaining woodworkers are building in cherry. It’s different to smell all the wood aromas in one area at the same time. Seldom am I around 17 woodworkers all milling around a shop (pardon the pun) cutting (and sometimes burning) so many species.
One thing that interested me was the array of mallets the students brought. Never have I seen such an assortment. Take a look at the photo below and see if your type or brand is represented. I think I’m going to take a stab at using that short fat one in the front , no jokes please.
I’m also amazed at the array of woodworking “types.” I have a couple guys who are asking “what’s next?” and a couple who likely won’t finish their projects while at the school. (But they certainly have the skills to finish at home , these woodworkers do good work; just not fast work.)
So how far did we get on day one? Everyone completed the pins for their dovetails in the case bottom as well as the drawer-divider work. The drawer dividers were a real challenge. Due to materials being less-than-flat, completing the 1/8″-bead detail for the top and bottom edges of the dividers at a router table was a bit difficult for many. Working on the wide top of the router table caused the bowed stock to rise from the table surface so some beads became too thin; some disappeared altogether. The fix was to install a beading bit into a hand-held router. The smaller base of the router followed the bow of the stock. As a result, everyone finished up even if their dividers have a gentle bow.
Today, we’ll complete the milling of the case sides including the sliding dovetails to hold the case top in position. There’s quite a bit of work to be completed, but we’re still fresh and we have an extra two hours to work due to the formalities being out of the way.
By the way, this piece is considered a Massachusetts piece because the block detail continues up to and shows in the case top. The other furniture centers had block fronts that terminated in a shell carving. And the major construction feature is a large single dovetail that connects the front primary wood to the secondary case-bottom wood. While this is a common feature in Massachusetts or New England block-fronts, it doesn’t appear in every piece.
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.