This page is setup to post many of the Free Vegetable Garden Plans Vegetable Gardening woodworking questions I receive from those reading my books, magazine articles, my blog or any topic classified as woodworking. Over time, as the page grows, I hope to categorize the questions. But for now, you send them, I’ll give you my best answer then post them here. To begin, I’ll post my blog entry from May 13, 2012 till now, 12-Aug-2020. I have a couple others to add. New Q&A will be at the top of the page.
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Cope & Stick Routed Arch
I am building a Pennsylvania style secretary desk which includes a small tombstone door in the center of the gallery. For this small door I am going to stray from the traditional mortise & tenon joinery and use a set of cope & stick router bits made for this type of small door.
I would like your advice on the best way to safely rout the top arched portion of the rail using the cope & stick router bits on a router table.
Thanks in advance
There are couple of ways to safely make the profile for small arches when using cope-and-stick router bits. My first suggestion is to use router bits that are bearing-guided. Given that, I would either employ a carrier that has a couple of handles that I could grab as I work and it has a couple of hold-downs to secure the workpiece as the previously arched edge is cut. I use a carrier when I rout handles for my brass-head mallets. This allows me to keep my hands far away from the cutting action. And while this does not concern me when I’m routing with small profiles such as round-over bits and chamfer bits, it is a concern when spinning bits the size of most cope-and-stick router bits.
If you do not want to make a carrier, then I would suggest that you make the profile on a board that is wide enough to hold securely as you work. After the arch cut is profiled using the cope-and-stick bit setup, slice the usable rail from the wide board, sometimes referred to as a “motherboard.”
Each of the above is accomplished only after the end profiles are first cut. Great Question.
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Can I get your advice on pegging a frame and panel door for a cherry spice box? I want square pegs. Would you recommend rounds pegs with square ends, as I recall reading somewhere? As I’m almost done the box, and I worry about splitting. I suppose I’ll want cherry pegs. I was thinking that maybe it’s best to make the peg hole square, to be on the safe side, but I believe that traditionally they used square pegs in round holes (?).
Here is the what and how. Begin with a square section of peg that is twice as long as the thickness of the material through which it is to be driven – for a 3/4″ thick door, begin with a 1 1/2″ peg.) Size your peg and hole to the same size. If I use a 1/4″ hole, then I also prepare a 1/4″ square peg. Begin by paring one end of your peg to a round shape – I often use a pencil sharpener for this step. The reason I round the end is to facilitate an easier start and to better guide the peg into and through the hole.
To install your peg, add a bit of glue to the hole, then drive the peg through. If you are working on a peg that you do not wish to glue throughout the hole (think breadboard ends), then drive it into the hole leaving a 1/4″ of peg standing above the surface, add glue to the outstanding 1/4″ then finish driving the peg flush. Also, work with a backer board so as not to blow out the back face.
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Desk Lid Hinges
After a short break, I am back to working on my slant front desk. The reply you sent several months ago really helped me out. I am hoping for some more help. In the placement of the desk lid hinges, how should the barrel be placed in reference to the writing surface edge? Hinge Barrel completely out and allow the other leaf to lay against the edge or should half of the barrel stick out?
Here is how I take on the hinge placement. A leaf should be cut into the writing surface and the lid with no amount of barrel buried. When you get the hinges installed, close the lid and look at the lid’s fit. If you need to snug the lid a bit tighter to the angled case side, move the writing surface leaf inward a small amount. If you have a nice fit where your lid meets the case side, then you need to access the fit of the gap between the writing surface and lid. If that gap is minimal, you’re finished.
If, however, you have a gap that is larger than needed, you can adjust the leaf that fits into the lid – slide it in slightly to lessen the gap. If your gap is too tight – this you would have noticed as you attempted to close the lid the first time – you can slip the hinge out of the leaf a small amount. This results in a small gap at the back edge of the hinge and could be filled if unsightly. This adjustment is seldom needed.
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Shaker Counter (PWM June 2012)
Really liked the counter in the June popular woodworking. Could you explain how the vertical stile in the front is fit into or attaches to the bottom rail?
Sometimes woodworkers over-think joinery. Myself, I like to keep it simple. In this case, I attached the vertical divider to the bottom rail using a mortise-and-tenon joint. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is also why I strongly suggest that readers of Popular Woodworking Magazine learn the basics of Google SketchUp. Each project featured in the magazine is drawn in SketchUp and the model is loaded into the magazine’s 3D warehouse (click here). The program is free to download as is the models. And the models have so much information. (Remember to click on the photo to open a larger view.)
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That Tricky Rabbet
I have started on a slant front desk based on the New England Secretary in one of your books. I have one question as I prepare the sides; what is the distance from the top of the writing surface to the start of the slant? It looks to be somewhere between 3/4″ and 1″, but I am not sure and it is not shown in the book.
That’s a question I get a lot. The answer depends on the thickness of your lid – more exactly, on the thickness of its rabbeted edge.
Take a look at the photo. You need to start with your writing surface laid in, then determine the rabbeted area of your lid which would be 1/2″ on a 3/4″-thick lid if you are using a 1/4″ lip. Create a setup similar to the one shown in the photo to determine your length. My longer rule is attached at the edge of the desk top. The two rules are set to form a 90 degree corner with the 6″ rule measuring the thickness of my rabbet. (You can see how this figure could change based on your rabbet, lid and lip dimensions.)
Another method is to figure the distance algebraically using A squared + B squared = C squared where the measurement you’re searching for is C and the rabbet of your lid is both A and B. Using 1/2″ as the rabbet thickness results in a slightly under 3/4″ measurement. (Again, you can see how the size shifts given the thickness of your rabbet.)
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Tall Clock Dial Size
I have a year old copy of your “Building Period Furniture” that now looks like 10 year old copy (well used). I have two block fronts about 90% complete, two secretary bottoms about 50% complete. I like to build two at a time. While I am waiting for some more mahogany I am drawing the bench rod for the Pennsylvania tall case clock.
To keep proportions as perfect as they look, I am wondering what is the dial size you used in this clock and who is the supplier. Looking at suppliers here in the UK the the largest dial seems to be 280mm x 395mm. which seems too small. I bought your “Finishes that Pop” DVD just before Christmas. Great informative DVD.
I’m glad to see your book getting such use. You are taking on very nice projects. I enjoyed building them, as well.
You are correct on your assessment of the dial sizes. Your dials are undersized as to what I use and what is a common size here in the States. The dial for my clock was 12.5″ wide (317.5mm, if my conversion is correct) by 17.625″ tall (447.675mm).
The movement I used for the clock in the book was produced by David Lindow (Click here to visit his web site). You can get more information, movements and dials from Mike Siemsen’s web site (Click here).
Best of luck on your projects and …
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Glen D. Huey
What is That Finish?
I am familiar with your aniline dye/shellac finish for a deeper tiger maple finish. I always seem to get a finish that is too shiny. I noticed that you recommend a ” dull-rubbed” lacquer. Is that the name of the kind of lacquer, a rubbed out lacquer or what?
When using shellac, I generally use either of two options to knock down the sheen. I either rub-out the finish using #0000 steel wool (sometimes I use wool lube to make the work a little easier), or I topcoat my project with a pre-cat lacquer from Sherwin Williams with a dull-rubbed effect sheen. The low sheen finish is made so by adding flattening agents to the lacquer. Sherwin Williams sells this product through its commercial divisions, not in the regular paint stores.
Another option that I am just beginning to explore is to use a water-based urethane in a satin finish, such as General Finishes Enduro-Var Satin. With this product, you apply a single coat, then after it’s dry lightly rub with steel wool.
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Small Diameter Router Bits
I am a home shop woodworker who makes reproductions of American Colonial furniture. I am having trouble finding a way to make 1/16” vein line for string inlay. Is there a 1/16″ router bit available or how else does one prepare for a 1/16” string inlay. I have previously used a 1/8” bit to inlay 1/8” string inlay and that worked very well, but in some pieces a 1/8” string inlay is too thick for the piece at hand.
I bought two of your books and have enjoyed studying them and using some of the demonstrated techniques on the pieces I have reproduced.
Several of the pieces I have made were from Lester Margon’s 1949 book “Construction of American Furniture Treasures”. It’s a great hobby!!
I’m glad that you found a few ideas in my books to make woodworking better for you. I, too, have spent many hours looking through Mr. Margon’s book – it’s a great woodworking book.
There are 1/16″ router bits to be found. If you visit inlaybandings.com there is a section that has router bits used for inlay work. The site also sells inlay and banding in many different configurations. I especially like the router bits because they are longer than many other 1/16″ bits available – as such, they reach past patterns and get to the workpiece. These bits have an 1/8”-diameter shank, so you would also need to purchase a sleeve (shown in the middle) unless you have an appropriate collet for your router or are working with a hand-held rotary tool such as a Dremel.
Bosch has 1/16″ bits, too. These bits have shorter cutting lengths which could require that you set-up differently in order to use them for inlay as it is more difficult to reach past patterns. The Bosch bit has a 1/4”- diameter shank.
I would suggest that you pick up a couple bits when and if you order. Bits this small tend to break more easily than larger diameter bits.
If you have additional questions, please contact me again.
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How to Size Doors
Good Morning Glen,
My question is on your beautiful corner cabinet in the 100 best Shelving&Storage CD. (Ed. note: first published in Popular Woodworking Magazine in December 2002, issue #131, and is available now as a PDF, click here). How did you cut the bead detail on the stile of the door? Also ,as a professional woodworker, when building your doors, do you make them a little over sized then trim them to fit? If so, how much over sized?
Thanks for your help,
On the original corner cabinet as it sits here in my home, the right-hand door laps over the left-hand door and the bead is cut on the right door which is then rabbeted to fit over the second door. I cut the bead using a 1/4″ bead router bit set in a router table – you could also use a molding-head cutter if you have that available. As I look at that piece, it is because of the 1/2″ over 1/4″ lap that the bead works without weakening the detail.
A better technique would be to apply the bead to the rabbeted door just after your rabbet. That would require that you raise the bit out of your table by 5/16″ given a 3/8″ lap, or use a molding-head cutter in your table saw. A simple drawing of the two is included.
When I build door, such as the inset doors on the corner cabinet, I build to the exact size of the opening then trim to a 1/16″ reveal. If the doors are overlay doors, I build them similar to how I build drawer – over-sized by 5/8″ with rabbets of 3/8″. The difference provides me with a 1/16″ reveal, too.
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Cherry Finish Idea
I’m getting ready to finish a Chester County spice box I made in curly cherry. I did some line and berry inlay with holly stringing. I used holly and walnut for berries (I had to remove the redwood berries because they did not contrast well against the cherry primary wood).
Your spice box articles were excellent and very helpful. I am unsure if I should try to protect the holly inlay with shellac before I dye the piece. Would a coat of shellac over the entire piece work (which would be much easier than trying to cover just the inlay) in order to prevent a smudged look from dye directly applied to the holly inlay?
Another option is not to dye the cherry at all, and just let it age naturally. I’d just use shellac I think in that case. I assume that blonde shellac alone would preserve the brightness of the white holly. How would you finish a piece like this?
Thanks very much for any advice,
You have reached the point in building Chester County (and Federal pieces for that matter) where decisions need to be made. Unfortunately, there is no way to protect your inlay from dyes and stains other than to cover it prior to further work. I also think that to cover each length of stringing is a particularly difficult task to be avoided by all means necessary, and to shellac the entire box minimizes the ability to add color to your cherry.
Here is what I would do. Apply a single coat of boiled linseed oil to your spice box then allow it to age in sunlight whenever possible. While oil will slightly change the holly white, sunlight, as you know, darkens your cherry without huge changes in holly and walnut. I believe that the oil helps quicken this process and builds a nice chestnut color. After a week or so of sunlight, decide if there is enough contrast between the cherry and inlay. If so, finish your box with blonde shellac. If not, allow more time for the contrast to build before applying a finish coat, or coats. Also remember that your cherry will continue to darken over time and the inlay will change little, so contrast will look better over time.
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