Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake (26)

A longish post today, and lots of photos. Consider yourself forewarned. Abandon hope all ye who….

All right, it seemed like a good time to take a break from the sliding dovetail key fitting on those latticed frame and panel assemblies and finish off the joinery on the shedua drawer fronts:

The fronts are connected to the sides via 4 tenons, the low stressed pair in the middle and blind, and the higher-stressed pair on the outside, top and bottom, and through.

There are some improvements to the joinery arrangement on these drawers as compared to previous. Besides the drawer sides now being one piece, the lower connecting mortises are aligned to the dado for the floor panel, which streamlines cutout somewhat:

At this stage, the drawer fronts are about 1/2″ (12.7mm) too long each end, so that leaves the look of the joinery a little misleading at this point.

After the mortises are milled, they get cleaned up and squared up by chisel:

A look at the drawer face and the two through mortises on this end:

The flare for the wedge has yet to be pared out, as inspection of the layout lines reveals.

These two fronts can be set aside now until I have tackled the tenon work on the drawer sides:

As I have been working on the latticed frame and panel sides, I am approaching the point where I will be fitting the posts to these members, and that aspect relates to the spacing of the associated mortises for those tenons on the top and bottom frame assemblies. In order to button those assemblies up a little further, it seemed like it was time at long last to tackle the mortises for the half dovetails which hold the panel supporting battens to the frames. I know reader JT has been interested to see this, at the very least.

These mortises require tilting the hollow chisel to two different angles, along with two different ‘y’ positions, as the Powermatic only tilts one direction:

Down where the chips fly:

Half the battle with these is keeping really clear as to which sloping mortise wall side is on which mortise end wall.

After a run was completed, some attendant chisel work was taken care of:

A guy wrote to tell me recently, and without so much as a how do you do?, told me that I had fallen prey to a marketing campaign started somehow by the Ashi Shinbun (newspaper) after an article they had at some point on Watanabe Kyoei, the maker known as Kiyohisa. Am I familiar with this article? No. As it turns out these are terrible chisels and I am deluded somehow in liking them, (which I admit I stubbornly persist in doing). Everything Kiyohisa makes sucks apparently, and it is a major international scandal. I’ll struggle on somehow, though how I’ll stand with shoulders tall again is beyond me. I guess I could make more use of the other chisels by other makers in my set.

Someone let me know when a maker comes out with a chisel that is easy to sharpen, holds an edge forever, and never chips regardless of what you slam it into. That’s the one that we all dream about.

Back to the account. I took a look at a trial fitting of the batten half dovetail:

In case it is not clear from the above picture, the half dovetail portion, sloped close to 7˚, is on the right side. It looks hardly sloped in this view, but believe me the slope is quite sufficient.

Getting going, entry-wise:


In and slid over to the correct position, a side mortise is revealed, which will accept a kusabi, or wedge to lock the connection:

A short while later, I had the three battens for the upper frame in place:

After the opposing side was sorted out, the upper frame could go together:

Seems to be working out:

Another view:

The lower frame was much the same in terms of connecting battens to frame sides, however the configuration of the dovetailed battens themselves was different than for the top frame. These battens are tall and incorporate the connections, also dovetailed, for the sill frame which sits below the lower frame.

Here, a trial fitting begins:

Partway together, you can see how the parts relate:

Seemed to go down and over to position without argument, sitting a hair too far to the left at this point:

And a while later, the lower frame with three battens was all together:

Flipped upside down now, you can see how the connections for the sill assembly are situated:

A closer look:

Another view:

And then things ground to a halt, alas, all was not well, though it seemed clean looking at least. When I took one of the sill pieces and offered it into position on those end dovetail tenons, I discovered that yes, Houston, we have a problem. The dovetails were immaculately cut, if I might boast a tad, but in the wrong place (/boast over). Not the first time I have had this problem, and not the last I’m sure.

I cut these battens many months ago and dimly remember at the time questioning a dimension on the sketch and changing it while at the shop. I think I may have assumed that the long sill piece was aligned to the inside of the lower frame members. In fact it isn’t: the long sides are offset 5/16″ (8mm) forward of the lower frame’s inner face. The sill pieces which lay along the short frame members in the lower frame however are aligned with the inside. The two short sides are aligned one way, the two long sides another, a situation not reflected in the layout of those battens. Easy thing to get confused on apparently.

I don’t tend to make cut out errors all that often, but when an error occurs it is most often in something associated to measurement, to the ‘where the lines go’ aspect. Though I do try to avoid it, mistakes of this sort continue to occur, however thankfully not with terrible frequency.

In this case, the miss-cuts occurred on some pieces of Honduran mahogany, so the material repercussion was not so bad as it would be with the considerably more precious Cuban Mahogany. Not that one would ever want to be cavalier with their use of Hond. Mahogany.

I considered remaking the battens entirely, however I did have the fact in front view that, aside from the error with the length of the lower half of the stick, the fit of the joint’s upper portions was quite fine. Seemed a shame to have to go through all that work again for joints that were fitting decently.

So, I thought of a way to make the part better, perhaps – a design improvement some might call it. Well, let’s see how that panned out – hopefully it won’t be too shambolic.

First step was to rip the battens down:

I’m keeping the portions to the right, and discarding the other part on the left.

Then I chose some flatsawn Honduran Mahogany stock which offered adequate thickness and length, and set about jointing, bandsawing, and planing the pieces:

Things were moving along a good distance before I discovered the material was not stable, moving a good distance all on its own as a result of the re-saws. Flatsawn stock, when it moves as stresses are released, bends away from the center of the tree out to the bark. These pieces happen to be on their sides, on the quartersawn faces:

Take 2.

This time I selected another piece of flatsawn, an older bit of stock that had once been the added-on rip fence for the resaw:

When I picked up the stick I noticed it had a greater than expected heft. Jointing revealed the piece was one of those oddball dense sticks which even have the (desirable) white flecking:

Haven’t seen one of these pieces on that species for a while.

After resawing, planing, etc., I had my stock and it was rather stable after a couple of hours:

While the stock was set aside to see if it was going to move much, I got to work on the remnant halves from the rip on the table saw. These were fitted back to the lower frame and clamped, which then allowed me to plane the (lower) surfaces of the battens, the scene here is of an upside-down framework:

After that, I returned to the new bits and completed the cutting of the dovetailed end joints, now 5/16″ (8mm) longer. After cutting, test-fitting to see if they will at lease start:

So, here’s the new batten, now composed of two halves:

In case it wasn’t obvious, the (new) piece on the left in the above photo, after chamfering, will be flipped upside down and connected onto the piece at the right )part of the original batten) with a tongue formed in it’s meeting surface.

I did a check on the frame, and it needed a little adjusting on a diagonal:

Then I finish planed the new pieces:

Chamfering followed, doing two arrises on the router table and the other half on the shaper.

Time for glue:

Clamp-a-thon ensues:

I will leave that clamped overnight.

So this photo shows, again with all the parts upside down from their orientation in the cabinet, the new design for the lower frame cross-battens:

A view showing the extended section, and the notch on the lower surface of the add-on piece which helps center it perfectly for glue up:

All for now. hope that wasn’t a mind-numbing excess of photos. Maybe I got carried away? Next up: Post 27

4 Replies to “Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake (26)”

  1. Nice recovery, Chris ! Your mix-ups are as rare as the white-flecked Cuban mahogany you used to rework them.

    1. Ah, actually the white-flecked material I used to rework the pieces was actually Honduran Mahogany, which rarely has white flecks these days. It was an old piece i had that must have been kicking around for 10 years or so. All the Cuban mahogany I have, by contrast, has the white flecks. It seems to be the norm for the stuff. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Chris;
    Very nice! Didn’t think about a wedge? Now it comes into light! Good recovery! Coming together beautifully! Keep it coming! Thanks!!

    1. While normally I would prefer a one-piece stick to one composed of two glued parts, in this case the grain direction was very favorable for gluing, likely the best orientation of all, so it seemed like a sensible solution that wouldn’t consume too much material. Thanks for commenting!

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