Sunday, September 13, 2015

Open frame for squares

Recently I bought a beautifully made double square from Chris Vesper. It got me thinking about how I always feel like I am on the verge of dropping small tools off my narrow (temporary) workbench, and how close I come to to tool abuse taking things in and out of the the tightly packed measuring section of my tool chest. Having been inspired by seeing the Studley tool chest in person, I decided to build a small open frame to hold the square, it's spare blades (rulers) and a couple of related tools.

Frame, en situ. And yes, I do see the irony of putting precisely made measuring tools in this thing with hardly a square corner in it.

And before anyone accuses me of comparing my work to Studley's, I'll say that my workmanship is far, far, worse. And my design is a bit more practical for my use. So this is very different. But we can all learn from Studley when it comes to space efficiency.

Dovetailed frame from padauk and maple tool supports.

I had some scraps of padauk and maple, so I fooled with layout for a bit then got to work.
Wasting away material after tracing the tools. This is tremendously more efficient when I limit myself to exactly one mallet whack for each time I place the chisel.
I made a ton of errors chopping out all the waste at different depths. I just kept going and tried to recover as best I could. I think I used ca glue to recover from about 6 different overenthusiastic chisel blows. But I measured myself mainly on whether to tools fit, and it turned out OK.

I knew this miniature router plane would be handy! In the background you can see a repair in progress--I scabbed on a little block to the other narrow support after I accidentally sent the wrong chip flying.
The design is a small dovetailed frame, with cross supports that have cavities to hold each tool. There is a cavity for every blade for the double square, plus a place for the square itself. This way I can put the square away regardless of what blade is in it at the moment.

Tracing the dovetails of the cross-supports and checking the layout.

Fortunately, my bench hook provided a nice backstop for chopping out these dovetails.
These must be the easiest kind of dovetails to chop out, since it's long grain and can be approached across the grain. Padauk is fairly tame to work with too, except for occasional splintering.
I noticed along the way that some of the color of padauk is alcohol-soluble. I use grain alcohol often to make endgrain easier to work. When I shot all the parts to length, the padauk streaked my block plane's sole purple! It also made an orange splotch on the maple. On a whim, I decided to dye all the maple this way. I scattered some padauk chips on the maple parts and sprinkled them to the point of mild intoxication, then rubbed the chips all over the parts. It looks weird with all the purple and orange, but I'll take weird over boring any day.
Clearly no other woodworkers were around to stop me.

This is what happens when maple gets drunk with padauk. It could have been worse.

After cleaning up the surfaces and applying one coat of danish oil, I'm ready to put this frame to work.

 The end product is functional, convenient, full of mistakes, and totally weird. So, perfect.

No comments:

Post a Comment