Thursday, March 24, 2011

Woodworking projects

I finished making a tool tote from Roy Underhill's "The Woodwright's Apprentice." It's about as ugly as a cross-eyed dog with the mange, but somehow the stars and planets aligned when I was knocking the thing together with 1 1/4" nails and it's steady like a rock, fully capable of holding 20 pounds worth of tools. When I first glanced through the pages, I thought it'd be a snap to put together. But after I dog-eared the page and came back to it and actually started reading, I realized the ends and sides are canted outwards so that the whole thing resembles an upside down triangle with the apex truncated. In as few words, it blew my mind as to how I'd make it.
Fortunately after I'd prepared all the stock, it wasn't that difficult to figure out. The bottom gave me the most grief. I attempted to put a bevel on its edges so that the tote's sides would neatly join up to it. But I somehow fouled it all up to where the bevel was far too much and resulted in the sides splaying waaaay out.
In the end I had to go back and replane the bevel on the bottom. Throughout the whole process of measuring, planing, fiddling around with the T bevel, hitting my thumb with hammer and spilling all the nails out into a pile of shavings, something seemed amiss. It wasn't obvious until I put the thing together that I realized I'd somehow cut the bottom's lenth about an inch and a half short.
But instead of channeling my artistic angst-neo-deconstructivist side (aka getting pissed off and destroying it with a hammer) I cobbled it together with nails and stood back to look at it.
My eyes shortly began to burn and fill up with tears. It was extremely homely. But I piled it up with all the adrift tools, clamps, blades, and squares that I had on my workbench and hoisted it up to see if it would hold. I could hear angels in the background, and I felt a golden glow surround me; I'd just performed a miracle.
In all seriousness, the workmanship of the thing is a pretty low standard. The sides' bottoms aren't fully flush with the bottom's sides, the mortices are cut a little too deep (the handle perceptibly shifts about 1/16" back and forth), the rabbets aren't cut very cleanly, and there's that obvious gap in the bottom where it's too short.
However, I'm improving and progressing which is encouraging to me. The rabbets are the best I've cut so far, I was able to plane and joint the boards dead flat and actually plane the proper bevel on the end pieces and the sides' bottoms (but not the bottom), the mortice and tenons I made are decent and hold, and the saw cuts I made to shape the handle are extremely accurate and very clean. Overall, I'd say it's a success. My whole intention was to make a tote that I can carry tools around, and this certainly meets that goal. I plan on making one for Lara pretty soon for her gardening tools, and I'll definitely be using the lessons applied. And hey, practice makes perfect.
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