Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The latest "JR" plane

I've found that collaborating with other artisans is a very interesting way to work. Engraver Catharine Kennedy and I have been working on a kit of planes for John Rexroad and just last week we completed another of these planes that are engraved on the interior and exterior.

So how does this happen? I make all the metal parts, mask off the areas where the pieces must mate. I then send them to Catharine in upstate New York. She engraves the interior surfaces while handling the parts with great care. At this point there is no going back, so to speak. In other words we committed to the parts at hand and when the engraving on the interior is completed we are so vested in these parts from the standpoint of time, any ding or unwarranted scratch spells disaster. The handling of the parts gets tedious at this point much less engraving and performing subsequent operations.

When the parts return to me they are as pictured above. Now the ball is in my court. I have to handle the parts with the greatest care during the unmasking and assembly process. I see to all the peining, lapping and grinding the radius of the heel and toe to the points where the sides and sole meet coming to a perfect tangent point of sole curve to the curve where the side of the plane meets the sole. If that sounds complicated and involved..........well, if it was easy more people would be doing it.

I then send the completed plane body back to Catharine for her to perform the exterior engraving task, after which she sends the plane back to me yet again so that I can add the wooden bits and actually tune to the plane to working order. Finally comes the point when we get to hand it over to the customer.

An exquisite way to embellish a brass monogram.

And on this side a fully rigged sailing ship complete with sea gulls in the back ground.

I guess a plane that contains this much visual stimulation could well do with some good quality, yet mundane wood. In for a penny, in for pound. Nothing less than one of my best olive wood sets would do.

Considering that this is second of this series of planes you might expect that this plane would have less impact than the first. I have to admit I sort of expected that myself. Not so.  This larger plane has a presence that took me off guard when all the elements were assembled. I am not easily impressed and this one put a lump in my throat.

This being an all brass plane makes it a bit heftier than the standard version of this plane. This affects the working characteristics of this plane quite a lot. You just start it down the board and it pretty much does the rest. You just have to make sure you catch it at the end of the planing stroke. (grin)

I don't mean to emphasize the difficulty of the work, but rather that is what makes this work so interesting to us.


Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. Raymond Chandler

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Clock Dials with Custom Typesetting are Now Available from Brese Plane

I've made two clocks that reside in our house and several others that reside in other people's homes. When woodworkers visit my home they always ask where I sourced the dials with the custom typesetting. On my clocks it's my name as the maker in the lower section of the dial.

Years ago when I was a full time furniture maker I was asked to display my work in conjunction with a local painter at the local Upson Arts Council Gallery. I was flattered but I was a commissioned furniture maker and everything I had made up to that point was bespoke. Where would I get pieces to exhibit? Fortunately some of my customers offered to let me display their pieces and with a couple of new pieces I would have a nice presence in this event.

One of the new pieces I chose to make was my version of the Watervliet, tall case Shaker clock. I had been told when you make a speculative piece you should make something you would like to have because you just might end up with it.

Julie and I were in the process of designing our house and the clock was something that appealed to both of us. We designed a place for such a clock right between two windows in what was to be the parlor of the new house.

Long story short, the clock did not sell at the gallery event but did sell subsequent to the event and my lovely spouse was not pleased that the clock she thought would be gracing the parlor of her new home sold. Fortunately I made a duplicate clock 5 years later.

To make the clock I had to obtain the clock movement and dial. I actually purchased a metal dial that was a reproduction of a Shaker Wall clock dial including the date 1840. When I received the dial a couple things were wrong. (1) The outer edge of the dial was terribly out of square and putting that dial in a clock that I was making with the date 1840 on the face was just an absurd idea. So I searched for another alternative.

At that time there was a gentleman in Marietta, GA. named Larry Petro. He had a business called Old Tyme Clocks. He also had an online business where he marketed his paper clock dials. He printed these dials on very nice heavy card stock and offered custom type setting in two locations on the clock face. It was exactly what I was looking for and in subsequent years I ordered several clock dials from Larry.

I've made 2 clocks in the last couple years and unfortunately my source for custom clock dials is no longer in existence. I set about making my own faces for my clocks. This was quite a time consuming process but it was the only way to obtain a clock dial with custom text. Lately it's occurred to me that there are probably many people making clocks that would like to have custom dial faces for their clock project. Just recently I've decided to offer clock dials with custom typesetting on the face.

I'll begin this pursuit by offering the clock dial that is probably used more than any other. This style dial looks very nice in a Shaker clock case but is also very appropriate for many other style clocks. I will offer this dial in 5 sizes that also coordinate in size with easily available clock hand sizes.

The most common added text is the makers name in the lower dial position, however if you have a "brand" you might want to add that text in the top position as shown above.

The dial sizes are based on the diameter of the time ring and I will offer 5", 6", 7", 8" and 9" time ring diameter dials. The dials are printed on 12 x 18  heavy parchment card stock that will stand up to gluing and could serve as a pallet for an artist to hand paint these to a more elaborate design. If a different size time ring is desired, contact me,  I may be able to accommodate your request.

I'm offering the dials in 3 different variations of the parchment color. "White Parchment", "Natural Parchment" and what I'm guessing will be the most popular color "Aged Parchment".

White parchment

Natural Parchment

Aged Parchment

Also the text can be done in any of the 7 fonts shown below.

The base dial will be $33.00. For any dial with custom text in the Lower or Upper position, there will be a $14.00 add on. This cost will cover 2 lines of text in either position or both. Shipping will be $12.00 anywhere in the lower 48 states and international shipping will be actual shipping cost. Duplicate dials are available for an additional $18.00 each.

For instance if you order a dial with custom text the total would be $47.00 plus Shipping. An additional duplicate of that dial made and shipped together would only be an additional $18.00 with no additional shipping cost. (note the duplicate can be on different colored card stock)

The duplicate dial pricing will create some economy for people making multiple clocks. So if you're making clocks as gifts for all the kids this Christmas ordering the dials together could certainly reduce your overall cost.

See buy buttons at the bottom of the page. At this time you can only order the clock dials from this blog post, but soon there will also be a clock dial page on the Brese Plane web site, www.breseplane.com

I realize there are a lot of variable options for the clock dials so if you want to order clock dials but are unsure of how to order just send me an email and we'll sort out your particular needs. ronbrese@breseplane.com

If you are still unsure if you ordered your dial/dials correctly don't despair, I will contact you via email to verify the details of your order prior to printing.

The kid pictured above is August Brese Paglia, more commonly known as "Gus". At the particular moment this picture was taken he had claimed reign over the climbing rock at Greenwood playground in Brooklyn, NY. The shoes he was sporting are called his "Crock Flops" which I thought was a hilariously original name for his shoes. My Grandchildren crack me up!

Clock Dial Options
Dial Color
Time Ring Size
Choose Font
Text in Upper Dial Position
Text in Lower Dial Position

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer is Almost Over, Back to the Shop

The last post on this blog was about a workbench build I was about to commence. However Summer got in the way and the more I thought about it the less I wanted to start a major project during the hottest part of the year so I apologize for no updates regarding the bench. That is still to come when the weather is more conducive to hefting large bench members of maple.

Julie and I just returned from a 17 day stint in Brooklyn, NY where we supervised and assisted with the daily activities of our six and two year old grand boys while their parents traipsed over Italy, France and England. We were reminded why young adults have children. Kids that age have an abundance of energy.........we do not. All is well and we are back home. If you are one of our acquaintances in the Brooklyn area we apologize for not taking the time to visit during our stay. Frankly, we had our hands full and did well to cover the ground needed to make sure the boys got to all of their summer activities, not to mention the fact that we logged a lot of playground hours during our stay.

As summer draws to a close I am now turning my attention back to shop related work. I was distracted during these past warmer months by the myriad of projects that needed tending to in the yard. We have close to 3 acres and as great as that sounds it also has it downside. Upkeep on that much property can be a physical and financial burden at times. We've recently had 9 trees removed due to Beetle and lightning damage. Some of these trees were precariously placed and removal even by an expert was tedious at times, therefore this was a pricey endeavor.

I have been making some planes over the summer and at times I have taken the time to pursue some very different ideas. The Macassar Jack/Panel plane pictured below is one of those tangents I found myself on during the late spring-early summer time.

The multifaceted wedge makes for an interesting look and provides easier access for striking.

The brass wear shown below provides some wear resistance to an otherwise vulnerable part of the mouth

The brass strike button is actually mostly decorative. I found that I could reduce the depth of cut easily by tapping the top of the wedge.

This plane works quite well. In fact it exceeded my expectations in performance. My experience with wooden bodied planes during my furniture making career was that they were great on easy to plane materials, but when I needed to plane demanding hardwoods the lack of mass made them inadequate for that task and forced the user to work quite hard to keep them engaged in the cut. The mass afforded this plane by the Macassar Ebony body makes surfacing hardwoods quite an enjoyable task.

Another recently completed plane was the 650-55 "J" plane with Gabon Ebony infill. I've not made an infill for a while with most of my order list being populated by the Brute shooting plane, the Winter Smoother and Winter Panel planes. 

This little plane is a challenging build when you consider that the brass plane sides and the infill have to come together perfectly tangent to one another in four places around the opening in the plane. Two of those points are where a curve meets a straight line on the infill. Of course it's a fun challenge and one I've accomplished many times. The serial number on this plane was number 36.

Lately I've also been working on a new product offering which seems strange given that I am not taking new orders for planes. The reason is,  the new offering will not be a plane. In fact it will not be a tool at all.

Stay tuned. If we get a change in the weather I might actually make some progress on the bench build.


To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.
—Abraham Maslow

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Personal Work, Oh No! Not Another Bench Build! and Why Everyone Needs a Beater Bench

Vise hardware from BenchCrafted, Exciting!

The worst mistake an independent tool maker will make is to get so involved in work for customers that he defers work on his own personal projects. The reason most of us went into our businesses is because we enjoyed woodworking. Next thing you know you are so engrossed in completing customer orders that you no longer get to enjoy woodworking for yourself. I'm trying to achieve a better balance of these factors in my life as of late.

 I've had what I call a "beater bench" in my shop since the first Woodworking in America at Berea College. I quickly fashioned a knock down, easy to transport bench for that event. The major requirement was the parts fit in the back of Bob Zajicek's Jeep Cherokee.

Then I decided to build the Shaker Bench that had been on my mind for quite a long time. You can see it in the pic below with a really wide pine board resting on the dead man and held in the leg vise.

After my Shaker bench was complete, the easy to transport bench became my "beater bench". Everyone needs a beater bench. The one that you don't think twice about performing task you would never consider doing on your good woodworking bench. I periodically need to cut pieces of psa back abrasive that fit precisely on different pieces of small brass sanding platens. I stick the platens to the psa side of the abrasive and trim in precisely with an exact knife. If I cut thru into the beater bench no big deal. Hey, it's a beater bench.

My beater bench has a BenchCrafted Wagon vise installed and this makes it enormously useful for all sorts of task. But alas, it sits right across from my Shaker bench and the beater bench..........well, it looks like a beater bench and it's one of the first things people see when they enter my shop.

I have no intentions of getting rid of my beater bench but I'd rather it not hold such a prominent place in my shop. I have an idea where it will be re-located but first I have to make a replacement bench.

So how did this start. Well "once upon a time" I was standing in my kitchen looking at our kitchen work island. It occurs to me that the island is just a workbench without vises and that turned legs would be incredibly unique on a workbench..........and the design wheels started turning.

The next thing that occurred to my bench designing mind was, like my Shaker bench, I wanted to design a bench that one person could build themselves. No massive glue ups that created large heavy panels that would require two people to handle safely. Smaller components would be assembled to accumulate into a massive bench structure that could subsequently be un-assembled for transport if need be.

Yes the legs I chose for my bench are massive. They need to be. It's a bench after all and I need the size to house the mortise for the leg vise criss cross device.

Another design consideration was "ease of build". I could design and build complex joinery into this bench configuration but once again, like the Shaker Bench, I want people to look at this bench and say to themselves, "this is nice looking, functional and I think I can build it." This is a design challenge for me that's intended to make the bench less challenging to build for others.

For instance I could design and build into this bench a massive dovetail joint where the end rail for the wagon vise meets the front edge of the bench top. Subsequently many would look at this bench and think, "I don't have the skill set to do that", which would put them off building a similar bench. 

Once again the design challenge here is to design a joint doable for the masses that is just as functional and easier to accomplish. I'm not trying to dumb down the bench design but to make it a more accessible design for the majority of woodworkers.

For this reason I've decided to build a Nicholson style bench. As of late most Nicholson bench designs have tended to be made as temporary, utility devices. Typically made from cheap home center materials, devoid of vises, mass and in general just a bench to get by until you have time to build the massive Roubo bench you've aspired to make at a later date, or a bench to facilitate making your ultimate bench.

My plan is to design and build a Nicholson style bench that is plenty massive, has some of the best work holding vises available, made from premium hardwood materials and will be a bench that one would be happy to use for the rest of their woodworking life.

Stay tuned, this could get interesting,


"A man's ego can be a cruel teacher"
                                                            Ted Lolley

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spring has Arrived, There will be Gardening

Here in the Piedmont region of Georgia, warm weather has allowed us to turn our thoughts to gardening. Actually we've been at it for a couple weeks now. We've been quiet about it because it just seemed rude to rub it in to people well north of here.

Many years ago Julie requested that I make her a potting bench. I ran into a friend that just happened to have in his possession an old porcelain covered steel sink with drain boards on either side and an apron type back splash, an absolutely perfect device for a full service potting bench. Just imperfect enough to use for such a cause, but plenty good enough to be serviceable for several more years. I purchased the sink from him and saved it from the fate of being nailed to a tree on his property by the banks of the Flint river and seeing the rest of it's life being used for cleaning fish. Of course that would have been a noble use for an old sink as well. Alas, it languished in the loft of the garden house for some years. How long? Well I'd rather not say as that would be quite embarrassing.

We experience a fall invasion of lady bugs some years. This was one of those years. A few lady bugs are cute, a couple hundred outside can help keep aphids off your day lilies, but thousands invading a structure looking for a place to over winter is a problem. Now before you reply about how beneficial lady bugs can be to the environment let me explain something. Thousands of any kind of bug is a problem in a structure that humans intend to inhabit. These are actually lady beetles that are an oriental variety brought here by our all knowing government to benefit agriculture. It's working out about as well as the introduction of kudzu, and silver carp. To all those people that have spent years fighting the spread of kudzu on their property, I feel your pain. There is no telling how many hours I've spent this winter vacuuming lady bugs into a shop vacuum.

But I digress. I think we were talking about potting benches before I went on my rant. A potting bench is not fine woodworking, Frankly it's not even finish carpentry. Okay it's painted framing with a sink built into to it. I have Julie's potting bench constructed so we can raise a window and connect the installed sprayer to a garden hose. The sink drains into a bucket on the lower shelf. When finished you simply take the bucket to the nearest plant that needs water and dispense the water. Simple, and easy.

Julie is quite pleased with her potting bench. So much so that you would think I had constructed a fine piece of furniture for her. Nope, like I said, painted framing  with a sink on it. This is one of those times where if you really listen to your wife you could save yourself a lot of work.

So why is there a picture of another potting bench? Our neighbor Patty happened by for a visit just after I had completed Julie's potting bench. Patty is also an avid gardener and was quite interested in Julie's potting bench. One week later she had located her own vintage sink and the following weekend I found myself constructing yet another potting bench. 

So I procrastinated about building Julie's potting bench for an undisclosed number of years and now over the span of about 2 weeks I've created two potting benches. Life is funny like that. Makes it's interesting I think.

Patty's sink is an even older cast iron sink with the very high back apron. I'm glad we've put this sink back into to use. It has a nice retro look that was just begging to become a functional sink again. On both these benches the slat boards on the ends also contain a plastic mortar tub underneath to catch extra potting soil. The tubs are on slides that allow access for filing pots with soil. I used the small size mortar tubs available at your local Homeous Depotamus.

And now to what's happening in the garden. If you've read this blog over the years you know a post about gardening or even cooking is not unusual. Julie is an avid gardener and I have to admit I am a willing accomplice.

The Cherokee rose is one of our favorite early spring plants. At one time this plant was growing on a trellis close to the entrance of the garden house, however it ran so amuck that it begin to grab at our clothes as we were entering or leaving that structure. We would cut it back dramatically only to have it right back in the path 2 weeks later. We finally moved it into the edge of the woods to do territorial battle with the wisteria that grows rampant in the trees. Who's winning? It's too early to tell.

Speaking of Wisteria. The foliage that looks like purple grapes hanging from the vine on top of the pergola structure is actually wisteria  blooms. If you sit under the pergola you can hear a constant hum of bees extracting nectar from the fragrant purple blooms. The oak leaf hydrangea on the ground is emerging at a rapid pace this time of year and will supply white flowers when the early spring bloomers are long since past.

Our azaleas are putting on quite a show this spring. Some years seem to be better than others for azaleas. Maybe it was the mild winter. I can only imagine what Augusta National Golf club will look like Master's week, which I believe is next week.

As a small child, and all my life I have heard gardeners in the south referring to the phlox pictured below as "thrift". I have no idea how this came to be unless this was a plant that was shared freely between gardeners and was therefore a low cost acquisition of a beautiful early spring ground cover. In our part of the world this plant says Easter is here, and it reliably resurrects itself every spring in time for the celebration of Easter Sunday. The only plant that blooms earlier are jonquils, and the mention of daffodils leads us into my next comments.

For many years Julie has wanted to visit Gibbs Garden in Ball Ground, Ga. We decided this year was the year we would go. Besides a very extensive Japanese garden that is worth the price of admission on it's own, they only have 20 million daffodil bulbs growing there. Yes I said 20 million. I won't try doing it justice with a phone picture. Go to their website at,  Gibbs Gardens

Gibbs Garden has to be seen in person to be fully believed and experienced. Let's just say it was well worth the drive.

We had a large line of thunderstorms move thru our area last night. This morning I remembered something Julie's Dad said to me after a similar night of storms many years ago. Ovid shared his name with a greek poet, was very well-read and had his own way with words that I very much appreciated. For this post I'll use his comments for my quote.

"that was quite a large storm for such a small town"
                                                                                  Ovid Shepard

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Web Site Notification Explained

A recent notification posted on the Home page of my web site explains that I am changing the way I conduct business at Brese Plane.

Basically the notification states that I will no longer accept new plane orders so that I may fulfill the orders that I have in house at this time. When that has been accomplished I will offer planes for sale as they are available.

Let me explain. I've been totally consumed with plane making since 2005. I started plane making professionally in 2007. Prior to that time I was a commissioned furniture maker and frankly I miss woodworking. This past October I became 62 years old and came to the realization that I needed to start doing all those things I thought I would do when my plane work was caught up. The list is long and I need a good bit of time to make it happen.

Don't misunderstand I intend to continue making planes, I just need to do it on different terms so that I also have the leeway to do other things for my family and friends.

Julie and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers and friends of the "Hand Tool Woodworking" community for the wonderful journey your support has allowed us to travel. It's not over, we're just modifying our involvement to suit our age and capacity.

Frankly I'm making some of the best planes of my life at this time. That's one of the reasons I don't want to totally discontinue making planes, however I would like the luxury of being able to spend the extra time needed to make every tool special whether that includes re-introducing some decorative details that I discontinued in order to expedite the completion of tools, or allow me to pursue some new ideas that have been rolling around in my head for some time now. Some years ago I made drawings of some new planes that never made it from the drawing board to the shop to become tools. Hopefully I will now have time to make that happen.

If you have a plane ordered this will allow me to concentrate on those tools and get them into your hands. Wonderfully my schedule has not been caught up since 2007 and at times I've enjoyed and endured an 18 month backlog of work.

So what do I mean by "enjoyed and endured" a long backlog of work? Well a long backlog of work is a double edge sword. On one hand it means you have the security of plenty of work that allows you to continuously produce income. On the other hand when you have an 18 month backlog of work you feel as though you can't allow yourself time to do anything but that work. People have entrusted you so one needs to reward their trust. Tool makers that have not worked to that ideal have crashed and burned leaving customers with a bad taste in their mouth for independent tool makers. But this is the other thing. That usually happens because they price their work inappropriately. The time required to produce exceptional tools needs to be rewarded. I guess my advice to customers is this, "if the price is too low then eventually there will be problems."

 I'm excited about the prospect of having the time to introduce some new tools and to use those tools to complete some furniture projects. I see this change as a benefit to everyone involved in this process.


"When you talk you are only repeating something you already know, but if you listen you may learn something new",       Dalai Lama

Friday, January 29, 2016

Kitchen Cupboard is Finished, Now Back to Plane Making

It's been just a bit over a week since Julie and I discussed what we needed to make our kitchen storage more efficient and in that time I've designed and made the cupboard we decided would accomplish this task.

As it turns out this cupboard and my wife are exactly the height, about 63" tall.

The step back portion of the piece is a cupboard for glasses. It's near the refrigerator and that should be quite convenient.

The interior has been made a very contrasting colonial yellow color. Not only is this eye catching when you open the cupboard it also has the functional effect of illuminating the interior of the cupboard.

This is another piece in my exercise of designing pieces that can be made with simple construction methods, including the use of decorative nails as some of the primary fasteners. Note the corners of this piece are broken with the stopped chamfers that are a detail on all of the pieces in this exercise.

As typical I used Shaker knobs for the movable parts of the piece.

We have a television console that is made using similar construction methods and has a very similar finish. The finishing schedule is actually quite simple. I start by applying two coats of a solid exterior stain. In this case the color is Cape Cod red. I prefer solid exterior stain to milk paint. It's easier to work and stays in solution better than milk paint. When dry the end result is quite similar. I then sand and rub the red finish down with a maroon Scotchbrite pad. At this point you can do as much distressing as you like or none. I then actually stained the red color stain with a dark walnut wiping stain. This causes more of a color shift than you can imagine. This is subsequently sealed with a couple coats of flat or satin lacquer. One good coat of lacquer is actually enough. A heavy build top coat is not good for the overall look of this type piece.

On the television console I used black Acorn brand H hinges. They are flat black and so are the screws. I found some H hinges on Ebay and assumed they were just a smaller size of the Acorn hinges, and the price was reasonable.

There's an old adage that says, "you get what you pay for" and that held true for these hinges. They were not the Acorn brand hinges and were painted a terrible gloss black color as were the screws.

In order to use these hinges some changes had to be made. As you can see in the picture above I sanded a good bit of the paint off the hinges. Then I filed the edges and corners and distressed the surface just a bit using a punch and a hammer.  Julie chucked the screws in a drill chuck and sanded the paint off the heads while they were spinning.

I then placed the hinges and the screws in a gun bluing solution and the end result as you can see above is much better than the example of the gloss black hinge also show for comparison. When all was said and done I actually liked the modified hinges better than the Acorn hinges.

I'm finding furniture pieces more difficult to photograph as compared to planes. It also seems some colors are harder to shoot with actual color rendition. This red is one of those colors. Therefore I make apologies for the photo quality of the assembled piece.

We have a few other storage projects in mind but those will have to wait until I've completed some planes.


Fear Elmo Vader!
Kids can be hilarious without even trying

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Which Surfaces are Important? A New Kitchen Cupboard

I spend a great amount of time making sure that all the surfaces of my planes are quite refined. These surfaces come under great scrutiny and so justify the time spent. No so with furniture making.

When you commence the building of a piece or furniture or cabinetry you should evaluate it’s style and use when determining how much work any given surface requires.

Even on higher styled pieces of furniture there are surfaces that quite frankly just don’t need to be refined to a very high degree. As we look at cabinetry that is used in a more work a day situation it becomes even less important.

How many times have you spent an extraordinary amount of time refining a surface only later to apply a finish that raised the grain of that surface which required sanding to level the raised grain only to realized that this same work would have been required no matter how much you worked the surface prior to applying that finish? In other words you did an unnecessary amount of work.

In an 18th or 19th century joinery shop any workman observed spending time refining non show surfaces would have been warned and then most likely have been dismissed if he persisted in this action.

I guess there may have been situations or designs that required refinement of interior surfaces but in most cases those surfaces would have been left as they were from the jack plane.

A display cupboard with glass in the doors, or an open hutch section would have been an exception, however any surface that faced to the wall would have been left un-refined. As an example, the walnut clock I recently completed had back boards that were finished only on the side facing the interior of the cupboard. The backs of those boards were left with the finish right off the re-sawing blade from the bandsaw. In many cases in history even the interior surface may have been left rough as well. I felt I was justified refining the interior surfaces considering a person would in fact see that surface approximately every 14 days when the clock needed to be re-wound and set. However those would not have been considered show surfaces in earlier centuries and that labor would have been saved for the decoration of the exterior of the piece.

It seems I read about a cabinet maker that made the statement " I always thought if I ever had the chance to put my hands on a piece made in the Goddard and Townsend shop that I would never wash my hands again, once I had this experience I was so dismayed with the roughness of the interior of the piece I decided to wash my hands of the entire experience." That may not be the word for word quote but you get the idea of what I'm trying to express. Even the highest styled furniture of the day did not have highly processed secondary surfaces.

When I saw the picture above I had to wonder if this drawing began as a piece of art work and maybe the pressing need to complete the piece caused it to be included as a back board or if this bit of artwork was applied after the fact. I thought this was quite the curiosity.

Today I started a storage cupboard for our kitchen. We’ve used a hanging corner cabinet in our kitchen in the space where this new piece will reside. The corner cabinet stays tucked in the corner and doesn’t interfere with traffic flow in the kitchen, however corner cabinets are not the most efficient storage devices. Frankly there were some common kitchen devices we would have enjoyed using in our kitchen but we refrained from acquiring them because we just had no where to store them.

My first inclination was to build a free standing corner cupboard that would afford more storage in the space wasted underneath the wall hung unit presently presiding.

After giving this idea more thought I concluded that a shallow rectangular shaped cupboard would most likely provide more efficient storage.

As Julie and I developed this idea thru comments and conversation we decided on a simple piece that would receive a Cape Cod red exterior and a colonial yellow interior.

I spent one weekend afternoon gluing up some pine panels for this piece and as I began flattening and refining the glued up panels it caused me to think about what surfaces should be well refined as show surfaces and which are the surfaces that are only relative to joinery or to creating an environment for a box of cereal or small kitchen appliance. Excessive work on these surfaces would certainly be a waste and I should probably save that effort for work on show surfaces and pieces made from my best hardwoods.

There were 2 high spots across the width of this panel

As I mentioned this will be a painted piece so I glued up the side panels from some already surfaced pine. The next day as I began to work these surfaces I didn't just randomly start cross traversing the surface. I checked the surface with a straight edge to determine where work was needed. In the picture above I planed across the width of the panel because there was actually 2 high spots present across the width of the board. When these were mostly removed I planed down the length of those areas and then in order to promote adhesion of the paint I sanded the panel with 150 grit sand paper. This is the inside surface of the side so I was done. The interior surface needed no further refinement.

This side showed a high area along the glue line

The outside of the panel only showed a ridge right along the glue line. I leveled the ridge by planing across the ridge with a smoothing plane. A couple passes down the ridge area with the grain, some sanding with 150 grit and once again the surface prep to this side was completed.

The surface of this panel showed only slight misalignment along the glue joint

This surface only showed a slight misalignment at the glue line so an even smaller plane leveled this area very quickly. More sanding with 150 grit and these pieces were ready to be sized and the back edge rabbeted for back boards.

My point in all this explanation is when working with pre-surfaced material you only need to remove the problem areas after glue up. Not every panel has to be cross traversed with a jack, planed with a jointer and then worked with a smoothing plane. If there is a problem area on the board, remedy that and move on. 

On another note. When myself and other plane makers demonstrate planes at woodworking events we typically set smoothing planes to take a very light see thru shaving. This is to show how high a standard the plane is made. You would really only use the plane set in that way for the most figured woods. In most cases you should set the plane to take a comfortable shaving but thick enough to expedite the completion of the work at hand.

If you think I'm suggesting that you use your planes out of context, or do less than your best work, that's really not the case at all. Remember that in this case we are working with previously surfaced stock. No need to repeat work already done.

The next day the sides were joined to the interior panels and a face frame was made and glued to the other parts that make up the case. This piece is progressing rapidly.

Here you can see the shape of the foot. I've reinforced the join at the very bottom of the foot with a glue block on the inside surface. This area is vulnerable to damage so the extra work here is justified. You may also notice that the cross members are fastened to the dividing panels with cut nails. Not only do cut nails give a certain look to the piece they are highly functional fasteners.

More as I progress to the details of the exterior and the moving parts of the cupboard.


I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

                                                                                    Martin Luther King, Jr.