Organizing the kid’s clothes

The eight- and five year-old girls living next door love to play make believe. True to their art, they make several costume changes during each “show.” From princess dresses to butterfly wings, their theatrical wardrobe is extensive. So much so, that their Mommy asked me to build something to organize their apparel. Considering the number of times our household has benefited from Mommies’ cake-baking skills—mmmmm, yummy Mommy birthday cake—I was only too happy to return the favor.

Here’s what Mommy was dealing with:

P01-A mess of dresses

When it came to materials, my watch words were “inexpensive,” “functional” and “attractive.” So I picked up two (one for each girl) pine 1” x 4” x 6’s along with a length of ¾ oak doweling to serve as pegs for duds.

Square boards are boring, so I created some edge profile options and had Mommy choose the one she liked best.

P02-profile option

With the panels shaped, I turned my attention to cutting ¾” holes to accommodate the pegs. My prototype used a ¾” Forstner bit to cut the hole clean through. That approach, however, meant that seating the peg left a portion that protruded beyond the back face. So rather than sawing and chiseling 12 pegs flush—that’s just too much, no-fun work—I chose to drill stopped holes instead. Problem solved.

P04-Stopped peg hole

I cut the 12 pegs to 3” lengths using a piece of pine as a stop.


Now before finishing the panels, I dropped by Mommies’ place to mark the placement of the wall studs. As for height, I was looking for a Goldilocks placement—not too low (the kiddies are still growing) and not too high (both the munchkins need to reach the pegs.)

After transferring the markings to the panels, I took them to the drill press to make holes for the screws. Then countersunk them to accommodate the 3/8” plugs to cover the screw heads.

A quick sanding and two coats of wipe-on poly later the panels were ready to mount.

P05-Mounted panel

That done, they were ready for service.

P06-Loaded Peg 1 P07-Loaded peg 2

A free-standing mirror fits between the two panels so that the girls can check themselves before going out to play.

P08-Finished project

So far, the kiddies are using it faithfully. And Mommy is happy to have a bit less clutter in a kid-cluttered house. But is she happy enough to bake a cake? Well. Shakespeare said it best. “To bake, or not to bake? That is the question.”

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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How to tune a try plane woodie for use

It takes a lot to get me up at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. But the “Barn sale. Tools…” ad worked like three cups of coffee. Still, my lady doesn’t share my enthusiasm for rust hunting, so to entice her, I described it as an adventure. And if by “adventure” you take that to mean that I promised to buy her breakfast along with the hope of finding vintage treasure that would appeal to her, then you’d be right.

Three people entered the sale before us and damned if one of them didn’t ace me out of a Stanley #5. The very offender was looking at the woodies when I tippie-toed next to him to slip this one off a high shelf for inspection.

P01-Ohio-Tool-Co-Try-Plane-Farm-Fresh-Right-Side P02-Ohio-Tool-Co-Try-Plane-Farm-Fresh-Left-Side

It had a crack near the handle due to shrinkage over the last century. And the previous owner had replaced the cap-iron bolt with a brass one that was too long. So he carved a space out of the back of the wood wedge to accommodate it.


Still, I figured that for $5.00, the iron alone was worth the price.


Tuning for use
The plane is 22” long, a perfect length for a try plane. I work with rough and resawn stock a lot. Since I don’t have a bandsaw, my resawn faces can be pretty rough. So after using a highly-cambered foreplane, I remove the foreplane’s scallops, and flatten the faces, with a medium-cambered try plane.

For an excellent discussion of iron camber (when to do it and how much) Bob Rozaieski’s article on the subject is a must read.

Now I could use my Stanley #7 as a try plane, but it weighs over 8 pounds versus the woodie’s 6 lbs. That adds up over the course of truing surfaces. Moreover, I’ve configured #7 as a jointer, meaning that the iron is sharpened straight across with zero camber. It won’t get as much use in its role as a joinery plane, but when I do need it, it will fit the bill. Go here to read a detailed treatise on the differences between a try plane and a jointer.

Truing the sole
Placing a straight-edge along the bottom of the sole revealed a disappointing gap of about 3/16” at the toe and heel. I was worried that I’d have to remove a lot of material to flatten the sole—nearly ¼” of an inch. If that had been the case, I would have “resoled” the bottom afterward with some beech to make up the difference.

After securing the plane upside down in a vise, I used my #7 to true the bottom. It was set for light shavings and made quick work of truing the sole without removing too much material.

P06-Ohio-Tool-Co-Try-Plane-truing-sole P07-Ohio-Tool-Co-Try-Plane-sole-flat

Dressing the iron bed
In order for the plane to perform properly, and free of chatter, the iron edge must be fully supported near the tip. However, when the iron was seated, I could easily slip a piece of paper between it and the supporting bed. To properly bed the iron, I followed Bob Rozaieski’s podcast tutorial.

The iron bed was so crusty, and uneven that I resorted to using a curve-cut mill-tooth file to remove it while leaving a smooth finish.

I also cleaned up the sides of the mouth with a toothbrush and mineral spirits to remove the dirt and crud.

Afterwards, my paper “feeler gauge” no longer slipped between the bed and iron.

Securing the tote
The tote was a little loose, and wobbled a bit from side to side.

P1-Crack by handle

Apparently the previous owner had the same issue because there’s a screw through the front of the handle into the plane body.


My preference would have been to remove the screw, then reseat the handle securely using hide glue, as Bob Rozaieski suggested to me in an email response. However, the screw would not budge. So I squeezed hide glue into the open “slit” adjacent to the handle on one side and into the shrinkage crack on the other. Now the tote is secure.

A bunch of iron work
The mating between the iron and cap iron needs to be tight enough so that try-plane thickness shavings can’t get caught between them. My test fit showed light between the two surfaces. To address this, I started by flattening the back of the iron to a mirror finish. That way, any adjustments I made to the cap iron would be relative to a “flat” reference point.

Mating the iron and cap iron
To do that, I followed Ryan’s method to flatten the underside of the cap iron. And while I was at it, I filed the cap iron bolt so that it barely extends beyond the surface of the iron it mates to.

Cambering the iron
The key to flat surfaces with a try plane is a medium camber to the iron. Using an iron with zero camber will leave track marks on the face. By contrast, a medium camber will leave gouges shallow enough for a smoothing plane to remove.

To camber the iron, I mostly followed Ryan’s tutorial here.

By “mostly” I mean that I did not rig a pen on a length of string to scribe a 12.5” arc across the tip of the iron. If you’ve never done it before, I suggest that you do. If you’re going to get into cambering blades it’s essential that you get this experience under your belt. Telling you how much to camber your iron won’t guide you nearly as much as doing it yourself and experiencing the results in use.

That said, I’ve found that when I grind to a scribe line, I end up with a heavily cambered iron that is more appropriate to a foreplane/jack plane than to a try plane. So now, to get the lesser camber, I very gently freehanded it on the grinder.

So I started in the middle of the iron and pushed it towards the spinning wheel until it ever so slightly engaged it. Keeping a very light touch, I arced it to the right being careful to keep the arc shallower than my senses told me to. Then I did this to the left, and alternated to the right then left, until I had a perceptible camber. When I put the edge to a ruler, the camber was much larger than my eyes perceived it to be, but noticeably less than that of a foreplane. Perfect.

Test cut #1
After securing the iron with the wedge, I made a few adjustments and put the plane to some pine.


The plane definitely takes some nice shavings. However, what I thought was a secure wedge, consistently came unseated during use. Upon closer inspection, I concluded that it was not original to this plane. It’s too narrow for the throat and side abutments by a full ¼”.


Making a new wedge
Bob’s tutorial on making a new wedge made the experience easy.

I would add that while the original wedge was too narrow, its angles were correct. Meaning that the wedge did mate securely with the cap iron and abutment faces (not sides.) So I measured the angle with a protractor…


…and transferred it to the wedge blank. That worked like a charm and now the new oak wedge keeps the iron secure in use.

It was a lot of work bringing this tool back to usable shape. But I learned a lot and look forward to using my new try plane on projects. Not a bad trade for the Saturday morning sleep minutes I lost. And of course, the real treasure of a weekend breakfast with my lady.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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My “Over the Rainbow” Panel Gauge

For Dorothy, the key to getting back to Kansas was tapping her red-slippered heels three times. For me, the key to keeping my small workshop clutter free is to make myself “wish” for a tool three times before buying it. That has the added benefit of reserving precious tool dollars for items that get used.

And so it was, one bright Saturday morning, when I caught myself saying “I wish I had a panel gauge,” for the third time. I was sketching the corner hutch I can’t put off any longer. That project will require the accurate dimensioning of glued-up panels.

I didn’t want to dig deep into the tool money jar for a pretty gauge from a boutique tool maker. So I resolved to make my own gauge. But not some shop-made thing I slapped together. I wanted a gauge embellished with the glamor and glitz of a Hollywood film. In my mind, that meant contracting a beautiful leading lady (mahogany) paired with a dashing leading man (brass) to fuel the tool’s on-bench chemistry.

Reviewing Scripts
I looked over different gauges from other woodworkers here,  here and here.  As well as some A-list options from tool makers here and here.  That helped me come up with some specifications.

Beam: long enough to allow a 24” wide marking. I would have preferred 30” but the mahogany on hand would only accommodate two feet.

Beam accessories: a cutting gauge at one end for accurate marking and a pencil at the other for rough dimensioning.

Fence: about 7” wide with a lip to register on the panel. Shaped to a comfy form to fit neatly in my small hands.

All those considerations led to this production plan.

P20-Panel-Gauge-Fence-Plan P21-Panel-Gauge-Beam-Plan

Prototype Screen Tests
The producers are always on my ass to keep costs down. So before touching the small supply of mahogany the studio supplied, I tested my design on some scrap. It’s a good thing too. Because my original idea was to drill a hole into the beam to slide the pencil through. Then, to secure it, drill a hole through the end (transecting the pencil hole), screw in a brass insert and thread a ¼” x 20 bolt to contact the pencil’s side. Well, when I tightened the bolt, it pressed against the canter at the pencil’s sharpened end and skewed the whole assembly. See the Beam Accessory Detail diagram above.

Plan B was to call in an understudy, cut a kerf along the beam’s axis to meet the pencil hole, then “squeeze” it tight by adding a bolt through the side of the beam. Jeez. Actors.

ACT 1: Scene 1-The Beam
The key to making this scene a success is to finish the beam before cutting the mortise for it. I learned that the hard when I was directing Making a Marking Gauge, by Steve Lata. So to prevent lateral play in the mortise, measure the finished beam and use those dimensions to cut the channel.

Despite my best efforts, there’s still a bit of play. And I’m thinking that it’s a design issue. Being rectangular in shape, the mortise has to be near perfect to prevent back and forth play in the x axis. So to mitigate this, I would shape the beam into a half square shape.


ACT 1: Scene 2-The blade
I held a casting call for a saber saw blade that could method act its way into a blade role. A few minutes at the grinder removed the teeth, while some time with sandpaper on glass squared up the sides. Then I applied a curved profile to the cutting edge. I prefer this shape because the blade I made for my small marking gauge slices beautifully in cross-grain marking.


The bottom of the beam sits ¼” from the surface of the wear plate.


So in order to make the tip of the blade in the same plane as the surface of the wear plate, it needs to protrude from the bottom of the beam ¼”. To determine the length of the blade, I start with that ¼” + the thickness of the beam + extra length to accommodate future sharpening. That makes for a blade about 1 1/8” long.

ACT 1: Scene 3-Securing the Blade to the Beam
The blade is about 3/64” thick. So I cut a channel centered on one end of the beam to accommodate it.


It’s shallow by 1/64” or so.


That way, the 1/16” thick brass cover plate, secures the blade to the beam. I cut the brass to fit, drilled the pilot holes and inserted the brass screws. Then I removed them and coated the hole threads with CA to harden them. That will protect against the fit loosening over time.

Here’s some daily footage of the blade retention hardware and final assembly


Act 1: Scene 3-Securing the Pencil to the Beam
Nothing is worse during a performance than a wardrobe malfunction. So to avoid being hassled by the FCC, I took measures to prevent the pencil from falling to the floor in mid scene. The pencil sits 1” from the beam end and measures 9/32” in diameter. After centering and drilling the hole, a production house used a tenon saw to put a kerf in the beam until it met the hole.


Then they drilled a hole ½” in from the end to accommodate a small bolt.


After inserting the pencil so that the tip protrudes ¼” (to be coplanar with the surface of the wear plate on the fence,) it was secured by tightening the bolt.


Act 1: Scene 4-The beam wear strip
The fence locks the beam in place via a knurled brass bolt. In order to prevent damage to the beam’s surface, the Los Angeles Union #416 Brass Fitters added a 1/16” x ¼” brass wear strip along its length.


We will return to our regularly scheduled programming in five minutes.

[lights flashing on and off]

Please return to your seats so that we may begin ACT 2.

ACT 2: The fence
My requirements for a fence are that it secure the beam, seat well on the board edge to be scribed and be comfortable to hold and use.

Page 31 of How to Make Woodworking Tools, includes plans for a “Large Panel Gauge.”  I decided I liked the look of it and had the Art Department sketch out a template of its shape.


An Actor’s Guild Union Carpenter glued two pieces of mahogany together, then squared it up, making it 1 ¼” thick. I’m still catching crap from the producers over that invoice. Then, a grip chiseled out the mortise for the beam, and drilled and screwed in the brass insert for the knurled bolt.


After that, an Actor’s Guild Rabbet Maker cut the rabbet to accommodate the fence’s ledge wear plates. Then she epoxied and screwed them into place.


Modelers then affixed the fence profile template onto the block and rough-cut it with a coping saw. Final shaping was accomplished at a drill-press-mounted drum disk.

If someone is injured on a film, Workman’s Comp will murder your budget. So for the tricky part of rounding over the back top edge, I called in a ½” round-over bit stunt man. An unpaid intern finished the final shaping with some 100-grit paper. Then the fence spent some time in the makeup artist’s chair to get an abrasion by 100 through 400 grit papers. One minute on a buffing wheel left a polished, smooth surface. The net result was a sleek and comfy grip even the producers will like.

Post Production
With the filming finished, I handed the footage over to the editors. They finished it with two coats of Danish Oil followed by three coats of paste wax.

Premier Screening
[Lights go dark. The crowd hushes…5…4…3…2…1, and the star takes center stage]

P01-Panel-Gauge-Project-picture P02-Panel-Gauge-Forward-face P03-Panel-Gauge-Face

[In the finale, the actors kiss for the first time]


There’s no place like home.

[Fade to black]


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.


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Into the Beech: My first foray into molding planes–Rehabbing a side-bead plane

Don’t get me wrong—I like my router table. But moulding planes offer a silent and safe alternative to add decorative details to projects. So rather than continue pouring money into the router-bit pit, I decided to dive into molding planes. But which ones? An article by Joshua Clark helped answer that question.

My foray began with a 3/8” side bead plane that I got for $21.00 off Ebay. It was made by W. Greenslade, a planemaker that operated in Bristol, UK from 1828-1937. Now that’s interesting history that none of my router bits bring to they shop.

P1-As found on Ebay

Considering that the plane is at least 77 years old, it wasn’t surprising that the body needed cleaning. A cloth rag soaked with mineral spirits worked off the decades of dirt, grim and sweat. A coating of wax served to protect the clean surface.

Restoring and Tuning
One thing that needed to be addressed was the boxing. The portion toward the toe had shrunk over the decades, so it was loose and moved in use.


To fix this, I decided to add a sliver of wood to both the boxing edge and the front that abuts the escapement. This would “true” up the length and width of the tight-fitting slat. For material, I picked up some yellow heart wood (1/8” x 3” x 24”) at Rockler. I thought the color and grain kinda matched the original boxing. And a janka hardness rating of 1,790 lbf makes for a durable repair.


After gluing the additions to the boxing, I completed many rounds of: test fit, remove, trim the piece with a single stroke of a plane, and test fit again…until it fit snugly and perfectly.


That gap you see is from being compacted by the 1/8” chisel I used to remove the boxing for each test fit-trim iteration. It’s cosmetic and doesn’t affect the fit or performance of the boxing.

Once that was done, I put a straight edge to the boxing along the length of the plane and found it needed jointing.


Which I did by taking very light passes with a block plane.

After that, I sharpened the blade, taking care to maintain the bead profile.


It took a while to find the right iron depth. But once I did, the plane produced a nice 3/8” bead.

P10-W.-Greenslade-sidebead-moulding-plane-making-some-beads P11-W.-Greenslade-sidebead-moulding-plane-Added-to-my-tool-kit

Which I put on the wine rack I built soon after.

P29-Rear-support-rail-sidebead-moulding-detail P31-half-slat-sidebead-moulding-detail

And on the brace rack I completed.


As well as the Dutch tool chest I built.


I’ve since picked up other moulding planes, but this side bead is my favorite to use. It just zips through the wood, cascading curly shavings to adorn the shop floor.

And now I have a cool plane with a bit of history to give my projects a special detail.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 7: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Spacer and drawers

The last few items to deck out the tool chest are optional. And fortunately, they aren’t nearly as difficult to position and dimension.

Top-section Fixture: pencil holder/spacer
The plane divider lattice for the jointer includes a large gap in front of it. So to fill this space, and to keep the plane from sliding back and forth like a dinner bowl in the galley of a ship in high seas, I made a spacer. But rather than simply cutting a piece of ½” thick stock for it, and wasting the space, I decided to make a holder for pens, tweezers brushes and such.


I used left over ½” poplar stock put together with butt joints, screws and glue.

Middle-section drawers
There’s just too much stuff to pitch into the chest with any hope of it being even a smidgeon organized. So I decided to add three drawers.


I used poplar for the sides except for the ends of the small drawer on the lower left. For that I used some reclaimed oak for the front and back. All the boxes are joined with dovetails and have a plywood bottom. Each is 10 ½” deep so as not to interfere with the fall front locks nor battens. The finger holes are 7/8” in diameter and allow me to retrieve each drawer without relying on hardware that would get in the way.

The top drawer is for auger bits, drill bits, my brace and a few other sundry items. It measures 25 3/8” wide x 10 ½” deep 2 ½” high. For drawer slides, I used two ¾” x ¾” hardwood pieces 10 1/8” long. They need to be that short so as not to interfere with the fall front catches.


The top drawer includes an auger bit holder accessory.


Coming up with spacing and dimensions was very time consuming. So to give you a time-saving starting place, here are the plans I settled on.


It allows for compact storage while giving me sufficient space between bits for my fingers to grasp and retrieve each one.

The bit storage holder measures 12 7/8” wide x 6 ½” deep x ¼” thick. After laying out a centerline, I cut 3/8 holes at each spacing interval. Then I ripped the piece in half to get mirrored pieces. I ended up putting in my prototype. It uses butt joints reinforced with glue and screws. When I go back to create a permanent one, I’ll join the pieces with tiny dovetails.

The lower-left drawer is intended to house layout tools. So when I need to lay out a project I can remove only it. It measures 5 ¾” wide x 10 ½” deep by 2 ½” high.


The lower-middle drawer is for other items like hammers, files and such. It measures 14 1/8” wide x 10 ½” deep x 2 ½” high.


I left the configuration of the lower bottom section open to accommodate the rest of the tools I’ll need on the road.


I may add dividers at some point to separate joinery planes, but I want to use the chest for a while to see if this is even necessary. Florida, here we come!


I hope that my Dutch tool chest series helps you slash the time it takes you to finish yours. I also hope that you’ve gotten some good ideas about how you want to configure it.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just the way that works for you. So with that in mind, I invite you to share pictures of how you decked out your own Dutch tool chest.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 6: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Tool rack

For those of you who enjoy making lots of mistakes and finding out after hours of work that your tool placement won’t work, I highly recommend that you dive right in to making your rack and don’t bother with a prototype.

I don’t enjoy that process, so I very much bothered with a prototype. This allowed me to firm up a number of dimensions while simultaneously avoiding nasty mistakes.

I began by laying out all the tools I wanted to put in the rack onto my workbench. Then, starting from the left, I began to lay out holes for the tools in the order listed below. I hate retrieving tools from cramped spaces, so I determined that I wanted ½” of space on each side of every tool/handle. There wasn’t enough room to house all the tools I originally intended, so I culled the least used among them.

Chisel holes: The recommended ½” holes were too small to comfortably (for me) secure my Woodriver bench chisels. I found that I preferred 5/8” holes. Four of my chisels are wider than the 5/8” holes, so the prototype allowed me to work out the “wing” slots to accommodate them.


Awl hole: For the awl, I drilled a hole just large enough to accommodate the shaft, and countersunk a 3/8” deep hole to fit the ferule. Once docked, it stays snug and secure.


Wheel cutting gauge hole: The prototype caught what would have been a big mistake. My wheel gauge is too wide to fully seat into the suggested 1” wide rack. To overcome this issue I did two things. I increased the width of the tool rack and I drilled the hole for the gauge forward of the center line. See the picture above.

All-in-one-screwdriver-hole: I saved precious rack space for other tools by choosing to install one of those ratchet, all-in-one screwdrivers with interchangeable heads. The shaft is ½” in diameter so the driver fits perfectly and snugly into the ½” hole I drilled for it.


Marking knife hole: At the drill press, I cut a series of 1/8” wide holes to create the slot for my shop-made marking knife. I cleaned up the slot with a chisel and drilled a countersink hole ½” wide by ½” deep to snugly retain the knife.


Bevel gauge and combination square slots: I used the same process described above to create slots for these tools.


Installing the rack
To avoid all manner of frustration and forgo teaching the neighbor kids some choice words, I suggest that you use “scaffolding” to determine the placement of your rack. Simply cut two pieces of pine scrap to an estimated length, position them vertically to the rear of your upper compartment and place your tool rack on top of them.


Then load up your panel saws and tool-rack tools and see if you can close the lid. Rinse and repeat until everything fits and closes properly.

Now, before you drill any holes, ADD your backsaw till, load your saws and tool rack and position the till so that it’s not bumping into anything.

P24-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Checking-Rack-and-Till-for-fit P26-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Tool-Rack-Wheel-Gauge-Saw-Till

Once you’re satisfied with everything, THEN drill holes to screw your rack and till into place.


For the rack, I placed one screw in each end and one in the back. I used screws to secure the backsaw till by drilling and countersinking holes through the jack/smoother divider slat.

With that done, it was time to add some drawers. And that is the subject of my next post.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 3: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Lid panel saw fixtures

I created two fixtures similar to Christopher Schwarz in order to dock two panel saws (rip and XC) to the inside lid surface. After trial and error, I came up with these fixture dimensions:


The rip saw’s handle faces to the left while the XC saw’s handle is located to the right-hand side of the lid. When the lid is open, the teeth face upward. Since each saw is wider toward the handle than the toe, the groove to house this portion of them is longer. I laid the saws one over another and determined a rough placement of the fixtures.


This helped me to then measure the width of the corresponding fixture groove, from the saw spine to the tip of the teeth. With this done, I laid out the fixtures…


…and cut the stopped grooves at the router table.


The longer grooves barely had 1/8” between them and the ends of the fixture. So to keep them from breaking, I reinforced them with plywood pieces to prevent breakage. I subsequently revised the fixture dimensions you see posted above.

Note the “Base Line” in the above photograph. The spines of both saws will rest in the same plane with the lid open.

Next, I cut the long notch at each fixture end, then drilled a hole (about 5/8” in from the end) and countersunk it to accommodate the mounting screws.

The 4” placement of the fixtures from the front edge of the top of the lid allowed enough clearance between the fixtures/saws and fully-loaded tool rack for the lid to properly close.

With the lid done, I turned my attention to completing the fixtures for the top section of the chest. And that’s the subject of the next post.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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