NBSS Week 6 – Drafting a tool box, making a marking gauge, an intro to chair design and cutting our first woodworking joint by hand

This week began with a new drafting assignment. Our first two projects in the NBSS curriculum are building a shaker side table and then designing and building our own tool box. After having completed all of the other drafting assignments but not yet to the point where the class is ready to start with the shaker side table, I was allowed to start drafting my tool box. This process is relatively straightforward as we must design within the size and style parameters for the exercise. I have planned my toolbox to be 26” wide by 16” deep made out of cherry with a curly/quilted maple panel insert and knobs. The designing and drafting of the project took most of my spare time on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Another activity this week was constructing a marking gauge. We were instructed on how to turn the post, how to drill the central hole, how to insert the threaded brass insert, and then how to mortise the post for the blade and blade retaining wedge. I did pretty well up until the point of mortising for the blade. My first attempt resulted in a mortise 1/16” too big. My second attempt resulted in a usable mortise but not quite aesthetically pleasing, as I made a fairly significant mistake with a dull chisel that resulted in cutting away half of the post on one end. Working with a chisel is like riding a bike, once learned you will never forget how to do it, but if you don’t practice you get rusty. This was my first time using a chisel in quite some time and obviously I needed to spend some more time practicing. So, I turned and fitted a second post and will mortise another hole next week.


After completing the toolbox drafting assignment, the instructors allowed me and a fellow student, Sean Regan, who is also progressing rapidly through the drafting, to attend the chair design class with a few second and third semester students. We were tasked with picking out a Chippendale side chair design that we will draft and then build as a future project. Once we decided on a chair design we developed a full scale template design for the back splat. Sean and I have received approval to build the same chair design and we plan on also building a chess/game table later to sell as a set. With that in mind, we chose a back splat design that has hints of both a chess piece and card suites. We then each designed our own interpretation of the design and next week will consult with our instructors and revise and redraw. Here’s my design:


To end the week our class started the first of our hand cut woodworking joints. We processed two identical pieces of poplar and then used our marking gauges to lay out a lap joint. After layout we cut along our layout lines and pared the two pieces to fit with our 1” chisels. Again my first attempt was subpar so I recut one piece and practiced some more! Much better the second time around.

The Friday lunch this week took me to The Shake Shack. The shake was ridiculously good but in my opinion Tasty Burger has better hamburgers. Up next week: cutting a mortise and tenon, turning our mallet and some more chair design work…

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