Saturday, 13 November 2010

shaker bench - the fix

I did not think I would be repairing the shaker bench so soon! As Dan commented, I have made a pretty major structural error. This is one of those sad instances where, in hindsight, you cannot believe you overlooked it. I oriented the half-blind dovetails on the end cap the wrong way. The force from the wagon vise is not at all supported by the dovetails.

What to do.

I spent a good part of that morning thinking about the options. I could put a few lag bolts through the end cap into the main part of the bench. This would be easy to do and would solve the problem. Trouble is - I really did not want to disturb the clean surface of the end cap. Set this idea aside to see if there was another solution. I then thought of adding a steel plate to the underside of the end cap and connecting it to the front apron. Jameel suggested moving one of the wagon vise rails forward so one of the screws also tied into the end cap. Moving the rail and adding a steel plate seemed like a pretty solid solution - so I went for it (and I could still add the lags if this failed).

Unfortunately - the Metal Supermarket had closed early and I was not able to get a piece of 1/4" steel for the plate. You would think that a guy who makes planes would have lots of scrap material on hand... nothing. Then I remembered the spare base plate for a jack post. It was 5/16" thick and had three pre-drilled holes in it. With some careful arranging - I could get the piece I needed and avoid all the holes but one. I was able to position the hole where I needed to make a cutout for the rail anyway. Unfortunately - this meant a lot of extra cutting. About 5 minutes in, elbows burning, I reminded myself that this was my punishment for making such a stupid mistake. It was about 1/2 an hour of hacksawing but the rough shape was done. Thankfully, I am fairly efficient at using a hacksaw and there was minimal filing and clean up to do on the edges.

Here is the plate in position with the wagon vise rail re-located. It took a few minutes to arrange the positions of the screws. There were quite a few other holes in the end cap already and I did not want to turn it into a piece of Swiss cheese. From left to right; the two left most screws catch the front apron only. The next one in catches a solid part of the end cap. The screw in front of the rail catches the solid part of the end cap and the last screw catches the end cap as well as the tenon of the main part of the bench.

I really debated on trying to locate a screw through the 1/2 blind dovetails, but I was worried it would compromise them structurally so I opted to position 2 screws in the solid section above the front apron.

Now that I had the top off (again) - I had an opportunity to take a few photos of the underside of the wagon vise. I was not sure if my explanation of the traveler covering the hardware and providing a “dead zone” above the base leg made sense. In the above photo, you can see the large nut is just proud of the Honduran Rosewood. This was done so the nut would bottom out against the end cap and not the wood. At least I took clamping force into account this time.

You can also see that the dog hole is positioned as far forward as I could get it with the pre-drilled hole in the hardware.

Another view.

Hopefully this will take care of the it. If there is a problem, I will likely know about it rather quickly - this bench will see a lot of use. And while this whole thing has been quite embarrassing - Dan, thanks for catching this. I would rather deal with it now than after something went “pop”.


Blogger Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

An annoying mistake but at least it's an easy fix,imagine if you had to remove the whole edging to reorient the joint?
I assume to screw that goes through the half blinds is going almost completely through them (-10 to 15mm)?
Beautiful job on the overall refurbishment,I'm sure this boo-boo will serve to remind you to check orientation in the future,(like on a paying job!)
Cheers bud

14 November 2010 at 19:02  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Black,

Yes - the screws that hold the plate are just shy of the top of the bench. the top is 4" thick and the screws are 3-1/2" long.

If this were a paying job the decision would be very easy - rip off the front piece and the end caps and do it over again. Because it is my bench, I have the luxury of being able to repair it.


15 November 2010 at 08:09  
Anonymous Andy said...

Looks like a solid repair! I just wanted to say thanks for posting this, even though it probably wasn't much fun to bring attention to it... Indeed, we all screw up once in a while. Your post provides an excellent example of a GOOD way to deal with a mistake - with humility and optimism. (Even if that wasn't your initial response?) Thanks again, and have fun with the "new" bench!

16 November 2010 at 09:41  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Andy,

Thanks for this - I really appreciate your note. I too always appreciate when people explain what they did after something went wrong. Those are often the creative solutions that I really learn stuff from. I guess it was my turn. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes.

Best wishes,

16 November 2010 at 23:29  
Anonymous Adam said...

Hi Konrad,

A little bit of an unrelated comment here (although I do love the way the bench turned out, it looks fantastic). I suppose what I am looking for is advice. I am new to woodworking and have been reading your blogs for a couple of months after reading Chritlstopher Schwarz sing your praises in many of his various writings (very well deserved, if you will allow me a little flattery). Anyway, enough of my rambling and to the questions:

1. I am just starting to get into buying handplanes and I only want to get a couple to start with. I was thinking of an LN low angle Jack and a Veritas low angle smoother. I was wondering if you think those two planes would cover a wide range of functions for the time being?

2. Chisels. I want to start off with a really good set so they will last until I die or am too arthritic to use them. I was thinking LNs or blue spruce toolwooks. What are your thoughts on those two brands?

Sorry for the lenght of the question but I don't have anyone I know personally to turn to for advice so I would really value your opinion. Thank you for your time.

Warm wishes

20 November 2010 at 16:29  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Adam - and welcome here.

I can give you a fairly quick answer here, but may I offer to call you to talk in person? It would certainly save our typing fingers:)

First and foremost - learn to sharpen. I cannot stress this enough. Sharpening is the key to all woodworking. Even the highest quality steel will not work if it is dull. So learn to sharpen. And once you think you know how to sharpen - keep learning... there is always more to learn about sharpening.

1. The LN low angle jack and the Veritas low angle smoother will certainly cover a wide range of functions. Before I go in to too much detail about the pros and cons of any planes though, it would be helpful to know how you currently work and what type of work you plan on doing. There are a dizzying number of planes available today (which is a good thing) for any price point and for a wide variety of functions. I started woodworking before low angle bench planes appeared and so my options were greatly reduced - I learned on bevel down planes. I suspect this has left me somewhat biased towards them because I have a higher comfort level with them.

2. On the chisel front my woodworking adventure started before either of these 2 brands were available so I have little personal experience with them. They are both beautifully made and from everyone I have talked to - both are wonderful to use.

Have you had a chance to try either of these brands before? How about either of the bench planes you are considering? It would be very helpful to attend a show where any or all of these brands will be represented and give them all a try. What feels great to someone else may not be what is right for you. I know I was amazed when I had a chance to try a LN No.4 and a LN 4-1/2 back to back. I am totally a No.4 guy... the other felt too big for me. I would have never been able to figure this out without having a chance to try them both.

I hope this helps a bit, and I would be happy to call if you want to talk further. You can email me your phone number;


23 November 2010 at 18:42  

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