Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake (17)

Things have slowed in the shop. I have been keeping my hours on the shorter side as the deep freeze has set in. A lot of times the shop interior is colder than the outside air as the bricks of the structure seem to store up the nigh’s coldest temperature and the flywheel effect, as such, means the building says colder during the day.

I’m starting to consider the purchase of a heated jacket, and maybe gloves. It was 34˚F (1˚C) in the shop a few days ago, and only modestly warmer at 37˚F (2.7˚C) today. My right hand is starting to get weirdly achy, as in past years, and the cold is largely responsible for that. It seems to me that since I have crested 50 years of age, my eyesight has gotten worse and now I am thinking my circulation also is not what it used to be. If only there had been a solid alternative to turning 50…

I find that once my fingers get cold, they stay cold and take longer than seems reasonable to warm back up to normal. Wearing gloves helps, but only marginally. I found my fingers were quite cold despite being gloved today, and while I do have thicker gloves I could use, dexterity suffers. And you don’t need to tell me that wearing gloves around spinning cutters is not exactly betting wisely.

Anyhow, enough wingeing for the time being. Though things be slow on the project at present, they are progressing. I’m still working on the parts for the drawer bank framing, and most of these are through cutout now. The following picture shows some of the parts:


The two rails on the left are the upper drawer bank frame rails, front and rear, while the middle set, the most recent completions, are the 4 top and bottom end rails, found transversely left and right at the sidewalls of the cabinet.

A closer look at 3 of the 4 main rails, turned on side:


I’m generally striving this time to keep the number of times the pieces are assembled to one another to a minimum, so unless I have to, I am avoiding putting the elements fully together at this time. Nevertheless, it is helpful to to a semi-mockup to confirm nothing obvious has been missed:


The front strut, having spearpoints top and bottom, is one of those exceptions to the aforementioned plan, as it needs some trial fitting to take the last few shavings off to tune the fit in:


At this point, it looks to be getting pretty close. The doubled miter area closes up tight without any egregious sukima (gaps), but the housing portion could be taken down a few slices yet:


A tiny bit of the spearpoint was inadvertently dinged in removing it from the paring jig, but once the surfaces are finish planed that will be gone. I’ve already steamed 95% of the tiny ding out and it should come out as desired.

As you can see in this view, the strut is still about 0.01″ or so from being seated all the way down:


A look at the rear of the same connection shows the confluence of parts:


And the view from the underside reveals the through tenons from the strut:


The tenons will get wedged and glued at the time of final assembly. The strut end joints are one of the few connections on this cabinet which resort to glue and non-demountable joints. Everything else will use dry joints.

The 1/4″ (6.35mm) peg mortises I have been attending to with the hollow chisel mortiser, and that little bit of auger bit kiss on the left peg mortise does annoy slightly. It’s very hard to avoid 100% of the time with that tool, so I am reconsidering how I do the cutout for these little gippers. However the pegs which are to fit in those mortises, as they are done with an interference fit against the end grain portions of the peg mortise, should fill the area and disguise the mark. I guess if someone lays on their back and looks up at the rail from below, with some good lighting, they may spot it (a bit unlikely), but I think it will turn out okay.

I slipped a few more of the pieces together part-way, just checking things out:




Everything seems to be more or less going together, and I think I’ve attended to all the particulars with these frame members.

The joints on the ends of the 4 main long rails are yet to be cut out, and that work is next on the list. The front long rails and the connecting strut with spearpoints will all be chamfered, but I will leave that task undone until I have tackled the cutout on the front posts.

See you next time then, and thanks for visiting! Post 18 follows in this thread.

10 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake (17)

  1. Hi Chris, understand the conditions constricting your workflow but the results are still looking damn good. I have a couple of old injuries which let me know of their presence when it gets cold ( though not really that cold given Perth’s position in Australia ) . It is usually the heat which is the bugbear, sweat and iron plus tannins in different timbers equal blue black staining- not the best look. From the photos I have seen you would have a heck of a time levelling the temperature fluctuations in your shop with the seasons and as I think you said previously, a landlord open to the idea. It is not unusual for trades people here to basically fall off the radar from mid December through to start of February due to heat, kids holidays etc. Cash flow doesn’t always allow for that however. All the best.

    1. Oh I’m well familiar with the cash flow issue, though it relates less in my case to the day-to-day of my shop and what gets done than it does to outstanding invoices which do not get paid even remotely upon an agreed schedule (a current issue with another client). At least i don’t have to worry about keeping employees on the payroll in this kind of situation.

      A benefit to my shop situation arises in the summertime, where, while it will be swelteringly hot on the second floor of the building, remains very pleasant on my ground floor.
      i had a friend who lived in Perth for several years, so I have some secondhand understanding of the part of the world in which you live. Margaret River sounds very nice.

  2. Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your blog post. I enjoyed reading your content and looking at your progressive pictures to really understand the hard work that goes into creating such a brilliant finished product!

    1. David,

      thank you very much or the comment and glad you enjoyed the modest progress recorded above in the post.

  3. First….Happy New Year Chris, and to your Family.
    Does the unheated shop play any havoc with the moisture content/fitting of the joinery? Could the large space be curtained off and some sort of space heater used to give a little heat? Bring it closer to tolerable?
    I have use a few types of mortise machines and they all occasionally left those over-cuts, most times they are covered by the tenon’s shoulder and not an issue. Could the “rim” of the bit be flared out too much? Maybe the cutter’s rim, taken down in diameter to keep from cutting outside the square chisel’s sides? leave the main shaft alone to clear the Chips? I wonder?
    I admire the constant precision with which you do your work….Well Done! ( and I still get goose bumps seeing the parts on the jointer’s table 😟)
    Thanks so much for sharing the process.. I always look forward to you posts. Thanks

    1. Hi Joe,

      I was hoping that the picture of the cabinet framing set up temporarily on the jointer for purposes of taking a picture might bring you, er, out of the woodwork. Good to hear from you, and all the best for 2019!

      The shop could be curtained off, however it would not be straightforward to hang a curtain across, given two factors. One is that my neighbor’s shop space abuts mine, forming an L-shaped plan, so the curtain would have to be a lot further back, or be a lot longer, to enclose both shop spaces. Second is that there is a lot of stuff in the way, including sprinkler pipes, ducting, etc., that makes hanging a curtain problematic. Agricultural curtains are not cheap, and I remain hesitant to spend for capital improvements to a building I do not own. The shop owner is not keen on most types of heaters as he fears a fire.

      Believe you me, over the years I’ve considered various possibilities to solve the problem, but the best long term solution remains moving to a different shop space which can be efficiently heated. One day…

      The little clip out in that small mortise is done by the cutting spur on the auger bit. The auger bit needs to be given clearance out of the chisel otherwise chips would wedge in there and burn. Since it sticks out it is unsupported, so sometimes the entry of the auger spur into the work is deflected over slightly, either by density and grain issues in the wood, or by the passage of chips along the side of the auger head. Very hard to avoid, even with brand new chisels. The way around it would be to mortise the hole partially or completely with an end mill, then use the hollow chisel without auger to punch a square hole through, a strategy which works well but it more time-consuming to be sure. Sometimes I do this, and sometimes I take a chance of the tool doing the job. I wish it were more predictable, and the above result tends to push me in the direction of the more time-consuming approach.

  4. Chris, l was going to suggest an infrared heater, but your landlord’s pyrophobia may preclude that. l have a heatlamp by my bench aimed at the back of my neck. lt helps. Keeping the rest of your body toasty can help your hands. Insulated pants, a down vest and fingerless gloves are the standard outfit here in the winter. Nevertheless, the drawer frames are looking
    crisp and tidy.

    1. Tom, thanks.

      I do have a quartz radiant heater above my bench, and it is fine so long as I stand in one spot, but as soon as I move 5′ away it’s effects are not to be felt. And sometimes i have accidentally left it on after leaving the shop, necessitating another half hour drive back to switch it off, and a half hour back. And my electrical bills have really spiked of late, for some unknown reason, so i am hesitant to plug the radiant in unless I know I will be standing near it for a good spell, which isn’t often.

  5. Chris;
    Cold does take it’s tole. Looking amazing. So much goin on in each joint, amazing! Coming along nicely! Stay warm the cold is coming! Thanx!

    1. JT,

      many thanks, once again, for your comment. You’re right about the cold coming – this week is not looking too good in that regard. Might be time to work on the new TAJCD Volume.

Anything to add?