Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Category: Shop Furniture

A Bogg’s Inspired Shavehorse: The Base

Somethings go as planned.  Others do not.  The base of my shavehorse followed the latter.  What seemed a simple, straight-forward glue-up ended up complicated and frustrating.  However, in the end everything worked out and the base is complete.

At first glance, the base seems simple enough.  Two sides, sandwich together with spacers between.  The rear legs fit into angled dados, and everything is reinforced with pegs.  However, the pegs fit somewhat tightly.  So, I was unable to do a full-fledged dry-run of the glue-up.  As a result, I ran into an unforeseen problem.

I lathered everything up with glue and went to town.  The front went together easy enough.  However, I immediately had problems with the rear.  First, I aligned both sides with the rear spacer, and drove the peg through all three pieces.  Then, I started with the legs.  Unfortunately, the legs fit a little too tight, so I started to drive them home with a dead-blow mallet.  After a few moments, I realized I wasn’t making progress.  Every time I drove the mallet, I was only shifting the legs; the space between them wasn’t growing any smaller.  I began to fear that I was running out of time.

Fortunately, quick thinking and just the right amount of panic led to a solution.  I clamped a stop on one side of the legs, and drove with the mallet from the other side.  When they were close enough, I used two clamps to cinch them the rest of the way.  Crisis averted!

With the shavehorse’s base complete, I will move on to the ratchet, key, treadle, etc.  Stay tuned.

Making a Boggs Inspired Shave Horse

Chair making deeply interests me.  The sensuous curves of a Maloof rocker and practicality of a ladder back captivate me.  Despite this, I have yet to build more than a few Adirondack chairs.  So, I signed myself up for Jeff Miller’s chair building class in November.  In the meantime, I decided to learn all I could about chair making.  Along the way, I determined that I would need a shave horse.

You use a shave horse to hold chair parts for shaping with a draw knife or spoke shave.  It consists of a seat and clamping apparatus.  A good shave horse allows the user to easily adjust clamping pressure, while maintaining a comfortable seating position

So, I scoured the Internet for information.  Eventually, I decided to build a horse similar to one Brian Boggs designed several years ago.  In case you didn’t know, Brian Boggs is a talented chair maker from Asheville, North Carolina.  His shave horse sits on three legs, uses a foot operated treadle, and clamps with an adjustable lower jaw.  Additionally, the user builds the device to suit his or her own body.

Shave Horse

I have already milled most of the lumber.  I have shaped the sides and started on the legs.  Once the base is complete, I will install the jaws, treadle, and seat.  If all goes well, I should complete the horse within a week.

Stay tuned for progress.

A Bench Crafted Moxon Vise

While building my tool cabinet, I discovered a major issue with my workbench.  It sits too low for detailed work.  After several nights of dovetailing, I began to develop a back ache.  I needed something that would bring my work closer to my eye.  I needed a Moxon vise.

A Moxon vise is a twin screw accessory vise that sits on top of your workbench.  Joseph Moxon described such a vise in his quintessential “Mechanick Excercises”.  As a result, others started referring to similar devices as “Moxon vises”.  The vice fastens to your benchtop using holdfasts or clamps and is stored below the bench top when not in use.  Since, I’ve been very happy with my Bench Crafted leg vise hardware I decided to give their Moxon vise hardware a shot.  The Bench Crafted Moxon vise hardware consists of two handwheels, two acme screws, four nuts, and a nice piece of suede.  Everything in the kit exudes quality.

The Build

First, I milled up some 8/4 ash for the jaws and stabilizer.  Then, I drilled a counter bore in the fixed jaw.  The counter bore will receive one of the large nuts.  Next, I drilled the hole for the acme screws.  Then, I drilled elongated holes in the moveable jaw and attached a stabilizer to the back of the fixed jaw.  That’s it.  The basic build is very simple.  However, give me enough time and I will overthink everything

Instead of the basic square mortise for the nut, I decided to try a cleaner, hexagonal mortise.  To start, I made my counter bores slightly smaller than the provided nut.  This allowed me to thread a nut onto one of the acme screws and place the nut over the counter bore.  Next, I traced the nut on to the fixed jaw using a marking knife.  Then, I chopped out the corners with a sharp chisel.  I think the results speak for themselves.

Additionally, I decided that I wanted a nice bevel on the front of the movable jaw.  And, what better compliments a stopped bevel than a lamb’s tongue transition?  To create the lamb’s tongue transition, I started by making a template.  Then, I used the template to mark out its location.  From there, I used a carcass saw to sever the grain at the transition.  Then, I simply hogged out the waste with a chisel and mallet.  Finally, I cleaned things up with a rasp and sand paper.  I over cut in a few areas, but I think this turned out well for my first attempt.

I hate contact cement.  So, I searched for an alternative.  During my search, I discovered adhesive cork board.  My local Home Depot carried it.  So, I decided to give it a shot.  I only attached the cork to the inside of the movable jaw, but I think this will be sufficient.  It’s easier to apply than suede and without the noxious fumes of contact cement.  Finally, I applied a few coats of shellac and wax to the outside faces of the vise.  I’m very happy with the results.  The Bench Crafted Moxon vise hardware does not disappoint.

A Hand Tool Cabinet: Finishing Touches

Fertig.  Finito.  Terminado.  The tool cabinet is finished.  Well, it’s not finished finished.  It’s good enough for now.  I need to make drawers for the plane gallery and a few more tool holders.  However, I have completed the majority of my checklist.  In fact, most of my hand tools are now in the cabinet.

Plane Gallery

Since my last post, the only big item I needed to complete was the plane gallery.  I made the gallery from half inch birch plywood and faced it with cherry trim.  I recessed the top towards the right side with a gentle curve.  Additionally, the gallery dividers curve to sit flush with the top.  This allows you to easily remove items from each bay.  One day, I will make drawers for the two vertical bays on the left.

Aside from the plane gallery, I built a few more tool holders.  You can see them in the image below.

Completed Tool Chest

That’s all for now.  Although, I may write one more post detailing the drawers.

I will build a Moxon vice using Bench Crafted’s hardware for my next project.  So, stay tuned.

For my previous post on this project click here: Tool Holders and Interior Doors




A Hand Tool Cabinet: Interior Doors and Tool Holders

The main cabinet and doors are complete.  That means it’s time to finally move on to tool storage.  But first, I need to make some interior doors.  The interior doors provide additional tool storage.  And, unlike the main door boxes, the interior doors are simple to make.

The interior doors are nothing more than a hard-wood rail and plywood panel.  The hinges mount to the the rail, and additional tool holders mount to the plywood panel.  The plywood panel is rabbeted into a groove in the rail.  It’s dead simple.  However, I did hand cut mortises for the hinges.  This added some complexity, but it looks nice and adds strength.

I mounted all of the interior doors to cleats.  For the door boxes, I made a long thin cleat.  Then, I used a spacer to mounted it to the side of the door box.  Up top, I made a small shelf, and mounted the cleat to the shelf.  Here, the cleat is wide.  This prevents any tools handing on the doors from hitting the side of the case.  Finally, I installed magnets to the case and screws to the door panels to act as a door catch.

With the interior doors complete, I moved on to tool holders.  I made a nice start, but haven’t finished them all yet.  Tools like chisels and squares are easy, while others are a bit more complicated.  For example, my marking gauges are proving a bit more difficult.  Stay tuned to see how I tackle this.

Aside from a few tool holders, the only thing left to built is a plane gallery at the bottom of the main case.

Don’t forget to check out my previous post: Hand Tool Cabinet Doors

For the next post in this series, click here: Finishing Touches

A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Doors

No tool cabinet is complete without doors.  The doors on this cabinet are shallow boxes.  As a result, they effectively double the storage capacity of the cabinet.  So, with the main cabinet complete, it was time to move on to the doors.

The doors consist of a box and face.  The box is dovetailed, while the face is frame and panel.

I started with the boxes.  First, I cut the dovetails much like I did for the main cabinet.  Then, I pre-finished the parts with a few wash coats of shellac.  Finally, I glued the boxes together and moved on to the face panels.

The joinery for the frame and panel faces is simple.  The rails and stiles get grooves along their interior length.  Additionally, the stiles get a tenon that fits into the groove on the stiles.  Then, I cut a rabbet on the panels.  This allows the panel to fit into the grooves in the frame parts.Since the panel is made from plywood, I glued everything together with little worry of wood movement.  The panels sit flush with the frame on the interior side of the door.  This makes mounting tool holders much easier.

Finally, I finished the doors be installing them to the main cabinet.  I sourced my hinges from  They have loose pins for easy installation.  Additionally, the hinge mortises helped a lot with alignment and installation.  I used a centering vix bit to drill the screw holes.  Then, I mounted the hinges and inserted the pins.  Then, I hung the cabinet on the wall with the help of my lovely wife.  Everything went together fairly easily.

Next, I will make interior doors to further increase storage potential.  Additionally, I need to make a plane gallery and tool holders.  Stay tuned.

Check out my previous post here: The Case

Additionally, you can check out the new post here: Interior Doors.


A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Case

This project marks a milestone for me.  It is my first project that goes heavy on the joinery.  The hand tool cabinet includes nearly 50 dovetails, through tenons, slip tenons, and rabbets.  As a result, it is proving to be a valuable learning experience.

While power tools speed the build process, hand tools prove indispensable.  Most noteworthy, is the humble chisel.  To say that this project has honed my chisel skills would be an understatement.  Chisels are vital for paring dovetail pins, chopping to baselines, and paring shoulders.

The Build

I began with the tail boards.  I cut these at the table saw using a special blade (click here for more information).  Then, I used the tail boards to mark the location on the pins on the pin boards.  Next, I cut the pins using a dovetail saw.  I removed most of the waste with a fret saw.  Finally, I used a trim router to remove the rest of the waste.  I’ll write a follow-up article on this later.

With the dovetails complete, I moved on to the tenons for the shelf.  These are through tenons, so layout is critical.  I cut the tenons on the table saw, and used the same router method mentioned earlier to get to the baseline.  Then, I used the tenons to mark the mortise locations.  I drilled out most of the waste at the drill press.  Finally, I cleaned up the rest of the waste with a sharp chisel.  I started fitting the tenons from the outside to avoid overshooting and producing gaps.  I did end up with a few minor gaps.  However, working from the outside definitely helped.  I believe this was the most difficult part of the build, so far.

With the case joinery complete, I cut the rabbet for the back at the table saw, and ganged up the hinge mortises.  For the hinge mortises, I used my cross-cut sled and a spacer.  I cut the spacer the same length as my hinges minus the kerf of my saw blade.  Then, I used the spacer with stop blocks to zip through the mortises.

Finally, I finished all of my surfaces with a wash coat of shellac and glued everything up.  Having the back already cut really helped to square everything up.  Before starting on the doors, I went ahead and completed the plane till.  I think it looks great so far.

Next up, doors and more tool storage.  Stay tuned for more of the hand tool cabinet.

You can check out my previous post here: Lumber Selection

Additionally, you can check out my next post here: The Doors



A Hand Tool Cabinet: Lumber Selection

Cherry Lumber

Work is slow on the tool cabinet.  However, I scored a good deal on the lumber for the project.  As a result, I now have 40 board foot of nice cherry.  The mill listed the lumber as 4/4.  However, the it’s all closer to 5/4.  Additionally, the boards are all straight, clear, and over 9-inches wide.

I cut all the boards to rough length, and thicknessed them to 1/8th-inch over final thickness.  Now, I will wait another week or so for the boards to acclimate.  Then, I will finishing milling them at start work on the case joinery.

I would love to use cherry plywood for the door panels.  However, I’m can’t find anything 1/2-inch thick.  It seems to be available in 3/4 only.  If I can’t source cherry plywood, I will use maple.  It’s easy to source in 1/2-inch, and should give some contrast once the cherry darkens.

If you know of an Atlanta area dealer that stocks 1/2-inch cherry plywood, let me know.  Thanks.

Check out my previous post on this project: The Mockup

You can also check out my next post here: A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Case

A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Mockup

So, my hand tools need a new home.  I’ve drawn up a plan for a hand-tool cabinet that I think will work.  However, I need to be sure that it will work.  So, I built a mockup cabinet.

A mockup is quick and cheap.  More of all, it allows you to see how furniture works in the real world.

I built my mock-up out of 1/2-inch scrap plywood.  The only item I purchased were some cheap hinges for the doors.  Furthermore, construction only took about an hour.


Tool Cabinet Mockup

Hanging the mockup allowed me to workout some kinks with the exact placement.  As you can see, the left door hits the grinder.  As a result, I will hang the final cabinet a few inches higher.  This provides me with extra space below the cabinet.  This is important, because I plan to build a sharpening station in that space.

With the mockup complete, I will move on to lumber selection.  Stay tuned for more.

Check out my first post on the hand-tool cabinet design.

You can also check out the next post here: Lumber Selection

A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Design

Ever since we moved, my hand-tools have been homeless.  Throughout the workshop build, they’ve remained hidden in drawers and boxes.  So, it’s time I give them a home.  It’s time I build a proper hand-tool cabinet.

A few years back, Mike Pekovich built a beautiful hanging tool cabinet for a Fine Woodworking video workshop series.  I fell in love with his design immediately.  Not only did I love the look, but I loved the creative use of space.  The doors are shallow boxes that allow for extra storage.  So, I downloaded the plans and hoped that I could make the design work for me.

Unfortunately, Mike’s design doesn’t fit my space.  An outlet and a few power tools limit the overall size of the cabinet.  Additionally, the stud locations require that the French cleat extends outside of the case(Mike’s is neatly hidden).  That’s okay because, I can use the longer cleat to hang other things.  With that discovery, I set out to modify Mike’s hand-tool cabinet to fit my needs.

The 4-plug outlet limits the space where I will hang the cabinet. The outlet is mounted to a stud just to the left. If I used the two studs to the right and hid the cleat inside the case, I would have to move it too far to the right. I wouldn't be able to open the doors.

My space is shown above.  The 4-plug outlet on the left mounts to a stud on the left side of the box.  To hide the cleat, I would have to move the cabinet so far to the right that I wouldn’t be able to open the doors.  Instead, I plan to hang the cabinet on an external cleat that passes above the electrical box.

The design above, is what I came up with. The case is a few inches narrower and shorter.  The back is one solid piece, and I will attach a French cleat directly to the back.

The next step is to build a mock-up, and make sure that the design works before purchasing lumber.  Fortunately, I think I have just enough 1/2″ plywood left over from previous projects.

Stay tuned.

Check out my next post in this series: The Mockup