LayOut and Carving the Guilloche Design

In my latest blog I mentioned that I would write up the process I used to get the Guilloche design onto Frame #205 and here it is! Although it does seem rather complicated once you figure out your pattern and concentrate on the work it’s not too bad. When I first began carving I’d look at other carvers work benches and marvel at how many chisels they had. When you do a relief carving you can usually do the majority of your work using a V-tool. I soon learned though that if the design calls for repeating arcs or circles it’s really important to have the proper sweep and width of chisel/gouge to accomplish that. Quick review; the sweep refers to the arc of the chisel where #1 is flat and as the arc increases the numbers go up (#11 is almost a U shape). The width is expressed in millimeters. I’ll explain the process I used with pictures and captions, there may be other ways to go about it but this worked well for me. First work was done on paper. After drawing lines that represented the space available I drew a circle in the center that space based on the size of the gouge I would use. That was a #8/13 which yielded a 11/16″ circle. A compass was then set from the center of that circle to the outer edge of the space available to draw the outer circle. Next, another 11/16″ circle was drawn; it is located on the center line and just touches the outer circle drawn with the complass. At this point I set a divider from the center points of the 11/16″ circles. This measurement is referred to as a unit. Sounds confusing but I believe the pictures will clarify it for you!

So there it is, everyone always asks how much time did that take and each side of the frame took just under an hour and a half; so about 6 hours total time. For me though, I try not to be overly concerned with how long a project takes; rather my goal is to meet the challenge I’ve set for myself. Not having this be my “day job” allows me the freedom to have that mindset. I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned so if you have any questions feel free to contact me. Next will be finishing the frame which will probably be several coats of black Casein followed by shellac and wax. I’ll share the results of that as well.

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Frame #205: Guilloche

I don’t recall the first time I ever saw the carved design known as a Guilloche but it sparked an interest in me; just another challenge to attempt to conquer! A recent painting that Diane has been working on had a circular design element in the background and as I watched it develop on her easel the idea of creating a frame utilizing the Guilloche technique started to hatch in my head!

If you read the Wikipedia link you no doubt noticed the adjective; precise design. The painting is a 24″ square, oil on panel so that means the frame sides will be about 29″ long so that’s a lot of carving to maintain precisely! After doing research on the web and books I own learned there are several ways to go about it, basically you can use carving gouges of a specific size or else free hand with v-tools. Having never done either it was time to experiment. The first step though was to create the molding.

Creating the Molding

The painting is more of a contemporary style so the carve and profile should lean towards flat rather than having lots of flourishes and motion. After experimenting by drawing out the guilloche I decided the carved area needed to be about 2″ wide plus the flat areas. Looking through what I had in 1 1/8″ Basswood I had a 9″+ wide piece that would yield 3″ wide pieces economically. I’m often asked: “How long does it take you to make a frame?” Since I usually lose track of time I decided to keep track of it. To plane, form, miter, and glue this frame up it took about 1.5 hours of actual work time. The process begins with hand planing a good edge then ripping the pieces to width. I always hand plane the face of the board to remove marks left by the planer with a bronze, No.4 smooth plane.

These pictures show the progression, once the pieces were sized the edges were given a 45° chamfer with the table saw then saw marks were removed with a block plane. Not shown are the two shallow grooves which establish the boundaries for the Guilloche and cutting of the rabbet.

Here you see the assembled frame and the beginnings of the process on finalizing the design. The size of the middle circular element is determined by the size of the gouge. I used a #8/13, it’s used to make that approximate 11/16″ circle. Next is using a compass to draw the larger circle around it. This goes from the center to the outer boundary. The center picture shows those outer bands cut with a small V-tool (12L/3). Very difficult to make consistent arcs with this one. The picture on the right shows those outer circles cut with a #5/23 gouge and you’ll probably notice they have more precision. The center part is removed and the outer bands are modelled to achieve that overlapping, interlocked design — wish me luck!

The sample pieces are about 7″ long, I’m tentatively planning on centering a section on each leg of the frame that will be a length of 16″-18″. In the next blog I’ll attempt to illustrate the layout and cutting process. By the way, I mentioned that I’m going to keep track of the amount of time it takes to make this frame but it will only be actual work time, not the countless hours spent on research and experimentation!

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Carved Frame and Paring Chisel!

I have been working on this frame that I will use for the upcoming class from Charles Douglas. This class is about creating the Dutch Black finish and is the first Zoom meeting will be the first week in January.  

Here are some preliminary photos of the carving process, the frame is 20″ x 24″ so some inconsistencies will only underscore that expression that he beauty of an object made by hand are its’ inconsistencies!

Although I’ve seen pictures of frames finished in this way it’s not something I’ve done so really looking forward to this Zoom session with Charles Douglas.

Ebay Find

While taking a break from the sanding (my least liked woodworking process) of these carved corners I decided it was time to finally sharpen this cranked neck paring chisel I found on Ebay.  No manufactures marking  but the pictures looked pretty good.  My main use for the paring chisel will be to flush the pins/tails on dovetails as needed.

The cutting angle is 20° so that’s what I set the Veritas Mark II jig for.  I’ve used this jig for many years and like it.  As time went by the camber roller assembly and the narrow head attachment have been added.  Check out these pictures, notice anything odd!

Any guesses?  The tip is about 89° so not quite square but look at the difference in how far back the bevel goes on each side!  Just puzzling but for my intended purpose not a problem.  

So that’s what’s been going on here during this pandemic.   As a side note I mentioned in my last blog how much trouble I was having with the supposedly improved WordPress program.  I had started this blog in their Block format and when I went back to it there was an option to go to the Classic format — I clicked on it and it’s just like it used to be; will wonders ever cease!  This is the window that popped up, technology really has m puzzles:


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Unique and Interesting Commission

Furniture Blocks for Letter Press

I was recently contacted about making a set of blocks that would be used for something called letter press. The client is an artist who I’ve sat for in his portrait workshops and his request intrigued me to say the least. He started off by saying he needed “furniture wood” so my first thought was hey, furniture’s made out of all kinds of wood! As we do these days to learn about things is to do an internet search and I discovered that this process began with the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. There is a resurgence of it now for wedding announcements thanks to Martha Stewart! Here’s a link to the process.

The wood chosen was European Beech since this process began in Europe it seemed only fitting to use that species. It’s a hardwood with consistent grain that I thought would work well for this. The pieces are all 5/8″ x 17″ and vary in thickness from 1/16″ to a full inch in 1/16″ increments. I figured that my Powermatic planer with the Byrd head could handle all but the thinnest pieces (less than 1/4″). After surfacing all of the boards to the 5/8″ thickness they were cut to 20″ to begin the process. The job called for three sets of these pieces.

Shop Setup

It was challenging to calculate how much of the lumber I needed so wisely chose to buy more than I thought I’d need. My shop is about 20′ square with a post dead center! The first step was to cut the pieces of Beech into 5′ lengths and uniformly surface them to 5/8″ thickness. These pieces were then cut to the 20″ length. Any leftover material could be used for future drawers.

Establishing the edge with a Stanley #7

This project required quite a bit of precision so I needed to come up with a method to achieve that. The 20″ long pieces gave me 3″ of extra stock to compensate for any snip the planer may give. First up was to establish a working edge on both sides of the 20″ long piece. I began with the widest pieces (1″) so set the bandsaw fence to that plus a sixteenth inch.

I’m using a 1/2″ wide Wood Slicer blade from Highland Woodworking.

Bandsaw Work

After cutting it, it was run through the planer. My technique is to also cut pieces of the same size from MDF which serve as test pieces to verify size. Assured that the piece was accurate with the MDF each piece of Beech was run through at 1″. Those boards were then hand planed again to get a true smooth and square edge. The bandsaw fence was re-adjusted to cut the next three pieces a sixteenth smaller, MDF test piece too, and then the planer is adjusted up 1/16″ and the process repeated until I reached 1/4″ in thickness. At the bandsaw, three strips were cut for each size.

Hand planing for the final, small pieces

Even with the Shelix cutter head in my 15″ Powermatic planer getting precise finish on piece that were 3/16″ down to 1/16 inch isn’t possible. Running the thin pieces on a backer board through the planer gave marginal results. Tried to use double back tape to secure the very thin pieces but removing them usually tore the wood. Hand tools are often best so that was the solution.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results of my clients work with the Letterpress process. He plans to send out Christmas cards using this process so if I get one that means these furniture sticks were successful!

Just a side note: WordPress has changed their format and I’ve found it to be beyond challenging! Ironically enough they have told me that it is a block system based on the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. I’d be interested in hearing from other WordPress users if you’ve had the frustration I have with their new format — numerous communications with them unfortunately haven’t helped either.

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Utilitarian Project — Kitchen Improvement

One of the many benefits of being able to do woodwork is that there is virtually no limit as to what you can do.  From rough concrete forms, to house framing, cabinetry, carving, fine furniture, etc. there’s an unlimited spectrum of challenges. During this Covid-19 season we’re now in that’s a good thing!  Kitchens are the center of many homes and we spend lots of time in them so any improvements are good.  In our home we have this very deep shelved cabinet, half of the back of it was essentially wasted space; an area to lose things.  Always thought that pull out shelving would make this a more efficient area and this was a good time to remodel it.

First consideration was the material and clear coat, Baltic Birch was chosen.  Love this stuff for projects like this because virtually nothing sticks to it, including the glue used for assembly.  That means you need to expose the plies for joinery or else the glue won’t stick. The other important thing was the slides.  We went with European style, 3/4 extension and a bottom mount.  This way, the entire bottom is supported and groove/dado isn’t required for the bottom.  Joinery is finger joints which provide lots of strength and give a nice look.  As you can see, there are two doors so my design called for inserts that fit between the members of the face frame.

SawStop with Finger Joint Jig

Measure twice, cut once; truth be told I measure more than once!!  The inserts were made of 3/4″ material using rabbeted joints assembled with glue and screws.  After cutting all of the 3″ wide pieces of 1/2″ Birch these were all finger jointed.  My SawStop has the sliding fence and the jig I made for is works great.  I did a blog about this unit, here is a LINK to it.  Usually you’d leave the fingers slightly proud so the can be sanded flush but with the pre-finished plywood that wasn’t an option.  Instead the blade height was carefully adjusted to the exact thickness of the ply.  A trick is to also use a marking gauge to scribe the the back of the board before cutting those fingers.  No matter how tightly you hold them and even with a zero clearance insert the back inevitably will have some tear out. After all of the pieces were done it was time to cut the bottom.  The bottom is sized exactly to the size required to fit inside of the insert with the hardware.  A  1/2″ wide rabbet was routed around the perimeter.  This will ensure the drawer is square and also exposes the plywood for gluing.  Here’s all of the parts ready for assembly:

The fingers were arranged so there was a finger on top of the long side pieces, this meant I could form a handhold in the front of each drawer and add a rounded over edge for comfort.  My preference for glue is Old Brown Glue, long open time and easy clean up.  With the 110+ degree days we’ve had all I need to do is set it outside in the sun and in no time it’s at 120° or so for the right viscosity!  Process was to first glue up the fingers,  square them up and apply glue to the rabbet on bottom and bottom of drawer.  Now the bottom is put in place, drawer is clamped, and a couple of nails secure the bottom until the glue sets.

Let me share an old school method of installing drawer hardware.  Back in the day you didn’t find all the jigs available today.  Rockler, Kreg, Woodcraft, Accuride, etc. are only to happy to sell you theirs!  A low cost option is to cut a piece of sheet material to the measurement of the highest drawer.  Make sure it’s square, set it on the bottom of the cabinet and hold the slide firmly in position so you can drill for screws.  Once all are installed simply cut the sheet to the height of the next set of drawers and repeat until done — easy/peasy!

Installed, note notches for the hinges

Installation went well, I needed to add a piece of 1/8″ masonite so that the bottom of the cabinet was even with the face frame.  Also added some material to the inside to attach the insert to.  I didn’t consider that the doors needed to be attached to the face frame which the insert covered!  This required removing the unit, taking it back to the shop, and notching out the insert at the hinge locations.  A jig saw and router template took care of that.  The installed unit works like a charm; the pantry is full and there is one dedicated drawer for spices. Cost was around $250.00 — money well spent.



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Frame Talk #4: Traditional Water Gilding 23k Gold Leaf

In this edition of Frame Talk I’d like to give a short explanation of the traditional water gilding process vs. oil gilding.  There is absolutely no comparison to the final results of these two processes.  Very difficult to photograph but this painting titled Drifting by Diane Eugster is framed with a floater frame of my design which has a 23k gold leafed edge.  My goal was to rub back the gold to expose the lay lines and also the red clay base to compliment the palette of the painting.  It’s on stretched canvas and measures 24″ x 30″.

Drifting by Diane Eugster

The work began by milling the frame from Basswood which is 3/4″ thick by 2″ wide.  The width is usually determined by the material I have on hand and how I can get the most from a given board, since I had an almost 9″ wide piece it was economical to rip it for 2″ wide molding.  Precious gold leaf comes in sheets just over 3″ square so again, to economize on that cutting, them into 1″ wide pieces would yield 3 strips per sheet.  To mount the canvas there is a dado cut into the inside of the molding which places the canvas about 1/8″ below the frame, 1/4″ plywood is glued into that.  Once the frame was mitered, glued, and clamped it was time to begin the water gilding process.

That process is quite involved and exacting.  Always feel as if I’m doing a science experiment!  It begins by making a 10% solution of rabbit skin glue and distilled water.  After soaking overnight this is heated to 120° then filtered into a clean container.  It will be used to initially coat the frame and then to make up the gesso and clay/bole required for the process.  Multiple coats of the gesso (distilled water and basically chalk) mixed with the rabbit skin glue are applied to the frame and then sanded.  This is followed up with more coats of the clay/bole mix which is also mixed with rabbit skin glue.  Both of these need to be kept within a specific temperature range which is why you see a yogurt maker!

Next is that gilding process which I hope to master before I leave this earth!  Genuine gold leaf comes in a book of 25 leaves and costs can range from $40.00 to $100.00 or more depending on the country of origin.  To prepare the frame to accept the gold leaf it must first be wetted with a solution of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol.  Remember all of that rabbit skin glue? This solution reactivates it so that the leaf will adhere to the frame.  You can’t touch the leaf but need to pick it up with what’s called a gilders tip and forget about breathing or running your a/c — this is fragile stuff!  I won’t bore you with the details but here’s a little montage.  The magic comes in when after the newly gilded frame is dry enough it can be burnished and it’s stunning!

The final steps are aging the gold leaf and adding patina by gently rubbing it back with rottenstone to expose those lay lines and the base coat.  For this frame the outer edges have been finished with black casein paint and a ruby shellac wash.  Mounting is through the back and directly into the stretcher bars of the canvas.  I drill oversized holes so that the painting can be positioned with an equal reveal all around.  So, the question is how much time to do this.  I tried to keep a record and from raw wood to finished piece is about 14 hours plus approximately $100.00 in materials.  Market value?, hard to say but for me it’s more about the challenge and satisfaction of the artist and their future buyer.

Posted in Diane Eugster art, Floater Frame, Frame Talk, Gilding, Picture Frames | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traditional Dovetailed Drawer: Hand Tool Tutorial

It’s not too uncommon for someone to ask me about dovetails and the process it takes to cut them.  I thought this would be a good time to document the steps I use, these are the same whether they’re for a small drawer or box or for a large piece of furniture like my armoire.  Before I start though there’s something Jamie from Wooditis said a long time ago that stuck with me, she said: “Ask 10 woodworkers the same question and you’ll get 12 different answers”!  That is so true, this method works for me and I’m open to any comments or questions you may have.

This drawer is about 2/34″ tall by 7 1/2″ wide and 6 3/4″ deep and will go into a small box.   The side and back are 5/16″ Cherry, the front is 1/2″ Australian Lacewood, and the bottom is 1/8″ Birch plywood.  My habit is to cut the pieces longer than needed, insurance in case things go bad!  Once the joinery is cut then I’ll cut to exact size.  I begin by cutting grooves in the sides and front with a small plow plane for the bottom.

Doing the groove first helps you identify the inside bottom of each piece and also helps when laying out your dovetails so the tail conceals the groove.  The Stanley 140 trick helps give the inside of the drawer a finished appearance.  In the past I would cut this with a rip blade on the table saw by holding the side vertically against the rip fence, the skewed rabbet plane makes this operation much safer!  Remember to do a left and right side.

I’m a “tails first” dovetailer and my preference is to cut both sides at the same time.  I clamp them together so they stay in the same position when I flip the boards around.  These are drawn on with pencil, it’s a good idea to flip the boards around so you can see the line when sawing.  After they’re cut I cut the outside shoulders first, just my habit.

Before making the cut for the shoulder a chisel is used to create a small notch directly on the scribed line, you’ll see that this makes it easier to start your saw.  When removing waste between the tails I  begin with a chiseled  notch right on the scribed line.  I only use chisels, no coping saw.  This notch removes some wood in the waste area.  Picture the bevel on the chisel — as the cut gets deeper the chisel will be pushed back by the wood in front of it.  My first cuts will be 90° and then it’s okay to slightly undercut which will make it easier to fit the joint.  Experiment with that and you’ll see what I mean.

Holding Fixture for transferring tail layout

Now comes the pin board or drawer front in this case.  I choose Australian Lacewood for this and honestly, it’s like cutting concrete!  The time proven method is to support the board on your plane, line up the pieces and scribe the lines.  It’s essentially an L-shaped piece with a fence on one side.  That fence aligns the side and front squarely.  Then the step cut at the front of the side locks tightly for scribing.  Always scribe rather then using a pencil, the scribed line gives you something to register your chisel into.   Cutting half blind  dovetails is process you need to practice and discover for yourself how to manipulate your chisels and saws.  Important of course to mark what needs to be removed and cut on the waste side.  Take your time and remember it’s hard to replace wood if you go too far!  It’s all a learning experience and I keep on learning for sure!

For a drawer this small I’m putting a straight dado in the sides for the back.  For larger drawers in a piece of furniture it’s better to cut a sliding dovetail to stabilize the back.  Decided to use a backsaw, chisels, and my old Stanley 271 Router.  I use the router to scribe the line for the depth on the edge.

For a traditional drawer with a solid wood bottom the grain should run from front to back and it should be fastened so that it can move with the seasons.  For this, with a 1/8″ Birch plywood bottom that’s not a concern.  Now that the drawer is together (Old Brown Glue) the fitting process begins.  That’s a trial and error process and way to involved to write up!

Have fun with the process, use any project as an excuse to hone your skills.  Spending time in your shop with your tools is a great way to take your mind away from the pandemic, politics, and the unrest in our world — John




Posted in Hand Cut Dovetails, Hand Tool Woodworking, Tutorial | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Count Your Blessings!

Not sure how things are where you live but here in Phoenix we’ve become a hotbed for the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s times like these when it’s sometimes a struggle to find the positives and not get discouraged.  If you’re an artist of any kind most of the work you do is solitary in nature, your opportunity to get out happens at your gallery and art shows and these have all been cancelled or are virtual.  Diane has such a positive outlook and suggests just keep on working, experimenting, and honing your skills.  That way when things return settle done we’ll have pieces that are ready.  The blessing comes from having something to do and a place to do it safely.  I’ve been fortunate in having a few frames to make and also making cradled panels for clients.  I’ll just share what’s been going on in the shop, let’s begin with this latest frame (actually 3) for Diane’s work.


Season of Hope
(20″x20″) Diane Eugster

This is one of her recent pieces titled Season of Hope, it is a contemporary interpretation of figurative painting.  The design of the frame it needed shouldn’t be curvy, the way the canvas is divided with that strong horizontal break dictated a simple profile.  For coloration, black or gilded 23kt gold leaf seemed to be too stark of a contrast to the palette.  Doing the entire frame in 12kt gold leaf would be too cold.  This frame consists of a flat panel with a cap going around the perimeter.  Knowing it would be oil gilded I used a gray Dux burnisher sealer and Mixol #14 Oxyd to achieve the desired color.  Once dry and burnished with 4/0 oil free steel wool the outer edge was taped off, slow set adhesive applied, and then gilded with 12kt gold leaf.  After the oil gilding was thoroughly cured the entire frame was waxed.

There is a second frame finished identically to this one, the third is unfinished at this time waiting for its’ painting.

Two other projects gave me an opportunity to maintain/hone my hand tool woodworking skills.  I view anything I make as an opportunity to work with the tools and hopefully improve my skill level.  This first one, a box to hold tea bags has gotten amazing response on Facebook and Instagram.  It started out because I wanted to experiment with a method of putting dividers into boxes and/or trays.  The joint begins with a 45° v-shaped cut in the tray sides, which was done with a router.  I cut the ‘V’ first in a piece that was oversized. It was then ripped to the required size to ensure the V’s  lined up perfectly when assembling the tray.  The tray was assembled using miter joints and packing tape.  The inner dividers were cut to approximate length and then the ends were mitered using a shooting board and block plane.  Besides chisels and saws for the dovetails it was an opportunity to use skewed rabbet, small plow, and smoothing

One final project is this small box made of Home Depot Pine and a piece of Walnut.  The challenge was cutting small dovetails in that soft Pine!  The lid is a different design, just wanted to experiment with the handle, you can see there is a hole in the center for “finger clearance” and then the piece inset into the groove is angled to match the ends of the lid.

It’ll make for an interesting little keepsake box for the Mesa Art Center co-op I’m in.  Like everything else, it’s been closed down since the pandemic started which gives me time to experiment and keep on keeping’ on!!  Stay safe and healthy.

Posted in Artist, custom profile, custom profile, Design Process, Diane Eugster art, Gilding, Hand Cut Dovetails, Hand Planes, Hand Tool Woodworking, Mesa Arts Center Store, Picture Frames, Types of Boxes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walnut Picture Frame #201

As a furniture maker for me it’s all about the wood so when I get an artist client that needs a frame and wants it made of wood in all its natural beauty I get excited!  I just completed this 16″ x 20″ frame for Scottsdale artist Devon Meyer.

The majority of frames tend to be either gilded or painted black.  Being able to showcase the beauty of the wood is a treat.  The profile is just under 3″ in width and it is 6/4 Black Walnut from Woodworkers Source here in Phoenix.  After going through their entire stock I found a piece without any sapwood but now, looking at the finished frame it was well worth it. Frames in the Mission style constructed of solid wood with exposed joinery are beautiful and I love creating them.

The first step was to use my Powermatic planer to make the board a uniform thickness, there will always be a slight variation in wood so this step is important if you want nice, tight joinery.  After that it’s time to hand plane the edge to prepare it for ripping which is done with my corrugated sole, #7 Stanley plane that dates to the late 1800’s!  The tablesaw is used to cut the rabbet for the painting and also the 20° bevel on the sight edge.  Once all of the tablesaw work is done, all surface are gone over with a #4 Bronze Smooth plane.  As good as the helix head on the Powermatic is you can’t compare it to the finish a smooth plane will give you.

The final step to creating this profile was to cut a single bead on the outer edge.  For this I used a router bit and cleaned up any chatter with a tadpole sander.  Now that the profile is complete it’s time to miter the ends and then assemble the frame with glue and #20 biscuits.  It’s not too unusual for me to get questions about how I miter my frames so this is a good opportunity to share the jig I built for my tablesaw, I use it in conjunction with a Tenyru 72 tooth blade to get super smooth cuts.

The finish used is Osmo Polyx oil which has become my “go to” finish ever since Watco changed their formulation many years ago. My client picked up the frame this afternoon and I installed her painting for her.  The painting was commissioned to her by the owner of the compound, she really captured the beautiful desert scenery and sky of area around Payson Arizona.


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Tablesaw Push Stick — Here’s Mine!

Old push stick ready for replacement

In Junior High School woodshop, back in 1963 a push stick was a simple piece of plywood with a classic shape — no frills or fancy gadgets!  It had a hole and hung on a peg near the saw and that was it.  Now if you do a google search you’ll see so many different styles it’ll make your head spin!  Quite honestly, I’ve seen some of these in use and they are dangerous in my opinion.  I needed to redo my own push stick so thought I’d share it with you.  Think about it, the purpose is to keep your hand from contacting the blade and also control the piece of wood being cut.  Many push sticks I’ve seen are a fairly thin piece of slippery plastic angled in a way that really isn’t very secure to hold.  As you can see, mine is fashioned from a piece of wood and a re-purposed handsaw handle.

Mortise Laid Out

Any utilitarian project that comes up is a chance to hone your woodworking skills.  In this case the saw handle has been trimmed to have an approximate 5/16″ tenon so the push stick part needs to have a mortise.  It’s secured with a 3/8″ dowel and at the back of the push stick is another dowel that hooks onto the wood being ripped.  Here I use a spiral dowel and it’s left loose.  This makes it simple to replace and also allows for different thicknesses of wood being ripped.  After locating the hole for the handle the next step is to lay-out the mortise.  The only mortise chisel I have is a 1/4″ so after using the mortising gauge I use another chisel to outline the mortise.  Then came the chopping, not pretty but it’s utilitarian!

You can see on the handle that the hole for the dowel is getting kind of oval shaped so I use a “draw bore” procedure to have the dowel pull the handle tight against the wood.  In time the push stick will get many kerfs in it but it’s thick enough to re-face several times.  Since I have the habit of setting the blade about the height of a tooth above the wood the push stick isn’t cut that deep.    So, if you want to do a hand-cut mortise, have a piece of wood and an old saw handle this may be a quick project for you!

Be curious to hear if anyone that sees this blog gives it a try!


Posted in Hand Tool Woodworking Class, Hybrid Woodworking, Mortise and Tenon Joint, Tutorial | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment