Saturday, June 11, 2011

Adventures in Woodworking

I finally managed to cobble together the rails and legs of the table I've been making over the past month. For as long as it's taking, it's extremely rough around the edges. The shoulders on the tenons don't exactly meet up flush with the legs, and the tenons themselves were a huge pain in the proverbial hindquarters to get in the mortise. The whole process of dry assembling, disassembling, paring down, and then repeating got to be monotonous and also made me look closer at the tenons. Most were cut just fine, but the rail somehow got canted offcenter, so the tenons had a sloping angle to them, making it hard to get a good fit with the mortise. I didn't have any clamps long enough to provide pressure on the sides of the table (an oversight on my part; I'll rectify that) so I glued as best as I could in stages, with the whole table minus the top being assembled early this morning. My key take aways from this were: for cutting tenons, you need to ensure the board is vertical and not canted back or forth, otherwise you end up with angled tenons; use the mortising chisel to pry away wood down to the bottom of the mortise instead of letting the bevel on the chisel do all the work while you hammer away; make sure your mortising gauge's pins are sharp, otherwise they'll track along the grain instead of a straight line. It was definitely a teaching experience with the first mortise and tenon being shabby, and the last mortise and tenon fitting together snugly with a little effort.
This was my first project that required me to rip the rails to width. I'd bought a modern Putsch handsaw from Woodcraft simply because I'd attempted ripping boards down to thickness with my cheapo Japanese style saw which had little respect for any straight line, and I needed something that could get the job done faster. I first picked up one of their panel saws (made by Lynx, I think) and looked at the toothline to see if the saw was bent. And lemme tell you, if the saw plate was bent any more, it'd be a full circle. I grabbed the Putsch saw simply because it was the straightest of them all, and went home and attempted to rip the boards. It didn't take long for me to realize something was wrong, so I decided to look at the teeth. They were triangular, as in equilateral triangles, and duller than the beach at wintertime. Long story short, I hammered the saw plate straighter, tensioned the saw, set the saw, shaped and sharpened the teeth to a legit ripping profile, and now it performs like a champ, zipping through the wood. Is it worth the money for all the work I put into it? I'll find out after I use it more, but for a new handsaw, it's loads cheaper than the Lie-Nielsen or Pax handsaws that are on the market today. My main gripe? The poor job of stamping the teeth. It's 7 teeth per inch, which meant I had to file down 168 teeth to a rip profile, set them, and then sharpen them considerbly before it cut worth a damn. Think of this as a kit that requires some assembly and you won't be disappointed.
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