– An Apprentice’s Journey –
BY JUSTIN STARR
What do you get when you combine home centre pine, an old piece of plywood, 4 dovetail joints and 1 coat of General Finishes Enduro-Var?
With the right skill, patience and a desire to learn the traditional methods of working wood, no other tools are needed to begin your journey.
The UW Bench Kit includes:
- Veritas #5 Jack Plane
- Veritas Block Plane
- Veritas Small Shoulder Plane
- Veritas Small Bevel Gauge
- Veritas Precision Square
- Veritas Workshop Striking Knife
- Veritas Cabinetmaker’s Mallet
- Lee Valley Precision Double Square
- Lee Valley 12″ Cabinetmaker’s Ruler
- Lee Valley Classic Bench Brush
- Lee Valley 8″ Dividers
- Narex Classic Bevel-Edge Chisel (1″, 3/4″, 1/2″ 1/4″)
Part 1…Stock Preparation
Since the UW Bench Kits are going to be used on a daily basis, they need to be light and durable. Our goal was to build the kits from material we had on hand. In the lumber rack we had a piece of 1×12 pine and some plywood off cuts.
On the bench we laid out the tools in a manner they would live in the UW Bench Kits. We came up with an initial foot print of 12“x20″x6″. Bringing these measurements to our pine and plywood we realized that there would be significant waste in off cuts. Making the necessary adjustments to the tool layout we managed to get a final foot print of 12″x18″x3 3/4”. This would allow us to get all the UW Bench Kits from the pine and plywood we had on hand. Finally we decided to re-saw the pine down to 3/4″ for aesthetics and weight reasons.
The video starts with creating the kerf for the frame saw. Once the kerf is made, I set and tilt the piece in the vice to a 45 degree angle away from me. This achieved approximately a 60 degree cutting angle. It worked extremely well makes the process of re-sawing easy. I then move making each pice 6 side square. To start, first establish a reference face, then a reference edge. Mark your final thickness with a marking gauge on the remaining edge, and mark the final thickness for the remaining face. Finish by squaring both ends to your final length.
Try allowing the material dictate the dimensions, rather than the dimensions dictate your material. It forces to you think outside the box.
Dovetails were a natural choice for their strength and aesthetic. And considering I would need to cut 64 of them speed was going to be a factor. In order to create consistent dovetails I used the David Barron Dovetail jig along with the Gyokucho 372 razor saw. This was my first time using the combination, it makes cutting dovetails extremely fluid.
To mark the dovetails I forgo the standard layout process and instead used the jig to mark the width of each tail. I started by marking the half pins at 1/4″ and then placing the jig on this mark cut on the other side of the jig.
Where this jig truly shines is when cutting the pins. By flipping the jig over you have the exact angle and a plum cut for the pins. Without making the pin cuts accurately you are left to chisel the waste. And more often than not, it’s the chisel work that will create gaps in your dovetails. Repeating the process 63 more times the dovetails were done.
Part 3…Assembly and Final thoughts
The Assembly of each box was straight forward. The only item to note when assembling a dovetail box is to connect both pin boards with 1 of the tail boards first. Assembling the 2 tail boards with 1 pin board won’t allow the remaining pin board to go together. This seems an obvious point but sometimes the obvious is overlooked. To keep everything square I placed the plywood bottom into the assembled box.
Once the glue had set I then pushed the plywood to set the bottom out from the box frame by 1/4″; picture to the left This small reveal would allow the boxes to be stacked and secured together. I added a few finish nails to help secure the bottom to its frame.
I finished each box with 1 coat of Enduro-Var for protection.
There was nothing complicated about making these boxes and nothing fancy in the design. It was a practice in execution simplicity. Sometimes the simplest of projects are the most rewarding.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments please let us know in the comments section below.