Wednesday 5 April 2017

Spring Is There

This weekend spring reached us.

You already know what that means.

Your spouse has got nice plans for your weekend.

So it came that we were outside most of the weekend and the shop time was rare.
Do you notice something? Yeah, spring is there, outdoor activities are starting, bench not ready respectively in the early stages. 

Anyway, I managed it to prepare the front legs of the bench.
That done I was ready to layout all necessary mortises.

Marked the center of the mortise

I have marked the center of all mortises because I wanted to drill out the waste. That done I have got a reference line for the auger bit tip.
All in all there 18 mortises to be done (front and rear legs).
Due to the amount of mortise holes and to spare the nerves of the neighbors I decided to drill out the waste.

The front leg mortises drilled out

This task went well so far. A detail is bothering me. Not that it would be important, but.....
I recognized that the auger bit I'm using is not producing clean holes. It's cutting well and fast, I have sharpened the cutting edges before. Nevertheless the holes are kinda frayed. Hmm...I would be thankful for every hint.

All I have to do is to clean the mortises now. Chisel to the stones and then off we go.

Chopping out the waste

I have set my marking gauge straight to the width of the chisel this time. That's something I have done different in the past and I have trusted in measuring. This time the layout lines and the chisel are bang on.

One mortise done. Pretty crisp as I find

Surprisingly I could produce really crisp lines, even in softwood. On one hand that is the result of the above described process of setting the gauge. On the other I believe it is a result of a new level of sharpness of my chisels. I mainly could pare out the waste and didn't had really to chop.

All leg mortises done

A total of 16 mortises had to be made. And all of them went fine so far.
In the rear leg there is one more to be made. It is for the arm rest. But to make it properly I need the real dimensions of the assembled leg frame.

Chisel set used for making the mortises

Before I started chopping respectively paring I sharpened all needed chisels.
For chisels I started to use the same method as I have adopted for plane blades during the last weeks.
All of them are sharpened free hand. Following Richard Maguire's advice I have registered the primary bevel properly on the stone and grind and honed the 25° degree bevel. Short before ready I have tilted the chisel so that the bevel was increased and a secondary bevel was established. I did it carefully. Just a few strokes maybe 8 or 10. No more than that. This allows me to grind that secondary bevel out the next time I sharpen.
Beside of that I have switched my behavior to use the strop right after sharpening. I spent more time on the strop than on the finishing stone (at least it felt like that).
The result is a nicely polished bevel and a razor sharp edge.
For me it is worth the effort. Recognizing that the chisel is getting dull I could bring it back to work just by stroping again. Okay, that will work just once or twice but it saves some time during the project work.

Maybe for a lot of woodworkers this sharpening thing is pretty obvious. For me Richard's sharpening video series brought some new knowledge. I've adopted some of the things he showed in my sharpening "system".
And my results are better now.

What's Next

The next stage is to care about all rails which are needed to build the frame of the bench.
Preparing the stock for the side rails is already done. Cutting tenons is next.

Stay tuned!


  1. Spring is here?? Where :-)
    What kind of auger are you using? If the outside of the holes are a tad ratty (no crisp) touch up your spurs. Careful not to reduce the diameter of the hole scribed by the spurs, it cannot be allowed to become smaller than the rest of the auger. That meant sharpen from the inside not the outside of the spur lips. Stroppinmg outside is OK but go easy.

    Bob and Rudy bracing for another Spring snow storm grrrr...

    1. Hi Bob,
      the last weekend we already had about 20°, which isn't usual for this time in the year. Temperatures are back down to a normal level now what means around 10-14°.
      Thanks for your advise on the auger bit. I don't know how it is exactly called. It's one of the Irwin style auger bits. I will post a pic in one of the next posts.
      The problem is that the inside walls are ratty. I will give polishing and touching the spurs a try.


  2. Hi Stefan.
    Here down the south we're kind off getting in "summer time" like 28ºC and getting in to the drought zone... weird weather!!!

    Hurry with the project, I want to see more of it!!! ;) ;)

    1. Hi António,
      believe me. I would like to hurry up with the project. But for example yesterday a traffic jam ate up 2 hours of my shop time. Grrrrr...
      Anyway, I think next week I will have an update were you can see the first parts coming together.


  3. I'm with you on the sharpening. I feel like I've just gotten to another level of sharpness. But it diminishes quickly. Shannon Rogers recently did a video blog of the secret weapon - the strop. I've been using it more frequently now and I find it really works in between sharpenings to keep things razor sharp.

    Beautiful crisp mortises, by the way.

    1. Hi Matt,
      the feeling or the sharpness? ;-)
      It is just the effect that you recognize that something is different. I was always struggling with pairing softwood.
      And every time I saw Mr Seller pairing tenon shoulders I was wondering what I did wrong. I never got sufficient results. Now pairing softwood is working for me.
      As mentioned, just a feeling. And maybe I just needed that extra portion of explanation.


  4. Stefan,

    Spring? How about summer....there have been several 34-36C days already. MsBubba and I have been swimming in the pool for a couple or three weeks now.

    Richard's videos are the best I've seen, as a teacher I appreciate someone that can do but also can break the process down and explain the things most folks that can do forget or do not know to explain.

    The legs look good,


    1. Ken,
      this is the comment is was waiting for :-t. I think we will have to wait for summer quite a while.

      I like his videos because Richard is so unsophisticated. It feels often like hanging out with him in the shop and he is showing you something. Additionally I appreciate that he often explains what you didn't need and why. And he is demonstrating that you don't have to have fancy tools.