The Utility Sink project is one that really keeps with my “hybrid woodworking” philosophy. In this project there are 8 sets of mortise and tenon joints, probably one of the most used joints in woodworking until pocket hole joinery, biscuits, and Festool Domino became the norm. I prefer using this more traditional approach, years ago I discovered that many of the pieces built in the 50’s or thereabouts always failed if they had dowel construction. My high school woodshop teacher (Ben Aiello) taught that having a different kind of wood in a joint could lead to problems since the way it reacted to seasonal changes is likely different than the wood being joined. Always made sense to me so that’s what I base my construction principles on. For me, “hybrid woodwork” means letting my machines do the grunt work like an apprentice in days of old while I refine it with my hand tools. Marc Spagnuolo aka the Wood Whisperer wrote a book titled Hybrid Woodworking. When it came out I actually emailed him thinking that I had come up with that term; hybrid woodworking! Enough of that, let me go over some of the work on this project to date.
After using the mortiser to chop out all of the 3/8″ wide mortises, a combination of the tenoning jig and hand work followed to refine the joints. Haunched tenons can be tricky as far as measuring them goes so this time I cut the haunch in such a way that a set up block (Lee Valley) was just right to scribe its location and size.
Prior to that, I needed to cut the 9′ long piece of 12/4 to manageable pieces. This piece would be used for the 2 1/2″ square legs as well as resawn and planed to various thicknesses for other pieces of the stand. Too big to cut on a chop saw, too long for the tablesaw, so the best choice was the bowsaw. I really love this bowsaw made by CME and available on Ebay! Wasn’t sure how to support it as the cut was complete but found that after cutting as much as possible with the board extended over the table I could set it upright to complete the cut.
Although I appreciate the speed and ease power tool woodworking can bring, it can’t compare to the quietness and relaxation of following up with hand work. Cutting the haunch is done with a dovetail saw and then the tenon is brought to exact thickness with a rabbet block plane. Mortises are refined and cleaned out with chisels as needed. Although I know I can cut these joints completely by hand and teach it to others, there are definitely times using power comes in handy!
On the front of the counter and also the bottom stretcher I decided to add some hand beading with a Lie-Nielsen #66. There’s an interesting “back story” on how I acquired this tool and a 4 part blog on my previous Blogger website, here’s a LINK to that if you’re interested. Once you get a handle on using this really cool tool you’ll like it better than a shop made scratch stock. In any case, by pulling the tool at a slight angle to start the process and slowly and controllably increasing your depth the results are quite nice. In my opinion, the results are nicer then using routers or shapers plus the added enjoyment of quiet, dust free work — took less then 5 minutes to create this 30″ bead.
Another step of the “hybrid” work I’ll put into this blog is the process of tapering the bottoms of each leg. Customarily this is done on the inside surfaces and with these 2 1/2″ square legs it was a process I felt was needed. After double and triple checking to ensure the proper surfaces were laid out (yes, I have goofed this up!) the process began on the bandsaw. Just have to remember that those tapers are on the inside of each leg so the little voice in my head repeatedly says “cut on mortise side”! After making one cut, the cut off piece is taped back on to support the leg while cutting the other taper.
In keeping with my “hybrid woodworking” methodology, after using the bandsaw to cut the initial taper a jack plane was used to refine that cut. Thought I’d make a video of that for you. It’s a bit hard to hear the audio but the process began by first smoothing out the transition at the top of the cut and ended by planing until all of the bandsaw marks were removed. Although it’s mentioned in the video you may not hear it but my habit has always been to smooth plane every surface of the boards just prior to glue up. Here’s the video:
Hand planed surfaces are a constant in my work. To my eye, a surface created by a sharpened blade has a crispness not found on a sanded surface. Once you get into it you recognize the different sounds and shavings each plane makes as it does its work. Hard to see in the picture but wanted to share that. The left side shavings are from a Jack Plane while the right side is from the Smooth plane. Might as well throw in the results of a block plane from chamfering the bottoms of each leg too.
This look like a fun and useful project. Using power can make shop time more pleasurable and productive. I use an old table saw for long rip cuts and breaking down stock. I find hand tools much more satisfying to use however. Everyone finds their own balance. Available space and budget plays a role too. My goal is the finished product, how I get there is less of a concern. I use power when it makes the journey easier or more pleasurable.
I’m with you on the satisfaction of using hand tools. Having been at this a long time each power tool purchase had an end product to justify, like 6 dining chairs = mortiser and so on! There are times now when I threaten to sell off the power and go to all hand; guess life is a cycle.
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