Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 7 – Assembly Cont.

It was a productive weekend despite not getting many hours in the shop. Because I am using cheap pine dimensional pine from the hardware store, I decided to use the back panels to ensure that each of the horizontal pieces (the top, bottom, and divider) would stay flat by gluing one back panel to each horizontal to act a brace. Since each panel is only glued to one horizontal piece there should be no wood movement issues and this is a long grain to long grain glue joint which should hold well.


While the bottom panel dried, it was time to get the divider ready for glue up. I set me marking gauge to 1/8th of an inch and marked the sides and end of each through tenon;then I used my sharpest chisel to bevel each edge to the lines; and used a back saw to split each tenon for the wedges.

IMG_0611  IMG_0613 IMG_0614

Once the divider was clamped into place I hammed in the wedges (pre-made pine shims from the hardware store).


Once the glue had set up I removed the clamps, sawed of the excess wedge, and paired down the ends with a sharp chisel. The dovetail pins were supposed to get the same bevel treatment but I realized too late that I forgot to add an additional 1/8th of an inch to their length when I cut them.

IMG_0618 IMG_0619

Next I ripped and planned the material for the vertical pieces of the back and added grooves down each long edge using the same plow plan settings as the back panels. I think I am starting to get better at planning square and flat surfaces on smaller parts.

IMG_0616 IMG_0617

Originally I planned to use stub tenons which would sit in the same groove as the panel but I decided to use a mortise for the center one to keep it from moving around. I placed both of the upper back panels together and marked the center point and the ends of my mortise, I decided to go with a 3/4 inch mortise/tenon. I then used my ¼ inch mortise chisel to chop out both mortises in line with the groove and used by back-saw to cut the tenon. A bit of pairing with a chisel resulted in a pretty decent fit, though for the other end I will use the router plane to make sure tenon is parallel with the faces.

IMG_0621 IMG_0622 IMG_0625 IMG_0626

I still need to cut the tenon on the other side and then do the same with the other two vertical dividers.  I really should cut mortises and tenons for the other two as well but unfortunately I don’t think they are quite long enough so doing so would mean making new pieces.

Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 6 – Assembly Begins

Last night I started the assembly process of the saw till so the primary focus was on getting the joinery tight on the bottom half of the case. After some test fitting I identified some dovetails and through tenons that did not close fully and that the back panel in the drawer compartment was not sitting square with the sides. First I squared up the tenons on the back panel and undercut the shoulders slightly with my shoulder plane until I got a tight fit.


Next it was time to tackle the dovetails and through tenons. A quick diagnosis with a square showed that a few areas had not been undercut properly. A small sharp chisel made quick work of this and solved the problem.

Notice the middle is higher than the edge.
Notice the middle is higher than the edge.
Both edges are the high points.
Both edges are the high points.

Because the through tenons are going to stand proud of the sides, I needed to plane the sides to their final finish. I sharpened up the blade in my #4 (it’s amazing how long a PMV-11 blade will hold a usable edge but finish planning pine needs a sharp blade) and after a couple of test cuts realized that my sole was not quite flat any more. I used my diamond plates to flatten it up a bit for now but I probably need to spend and day flattening my soles.


Nice fluffy shavings
Nice fluffy shavings

Next it was time to make a glue block by chopping out space for the pins (I saw this on the Woodwright shop), it is important to bevel the edges of the cut out to avoid leaving hard imprint edges on the sides.


A bit of liquid hide glue and I called it a night.

Nice and tight.
Nice and tight.
As I mentioned, I need more clamps.
As I mentioned, I need more clamps.

Harvey Ellis Saw Till part 5 – The Back

Now that the main joinery is complete it is time to focus on betting the back built. There are three primary horizontal panels which are ¾ inch thick; one in the drawer compartment and two in the upper area. The two upper pieces will have three vertical dividers which will have quarter inch panels between them. I used the Stanly 45 with a spur to rough out the tenons and then refined it with my shoulder plane.

IMG_0558 IMG_0557

For the corresponding grooves I used a small plow plane. Since I am using two separate planes I can swap back and forth. Unfortunately for the top piece the fence shifted on me and I had to plane the edge flat again which made it smaller than planned.

IMG_0575 IMG_0574

For the thin panels I am using some SVG Douglas Fir I have had air drying for quite some time.  Some months ago I picked up a 1X12 at the local hardware store which had some tight grain lines and the pith was off to one side. I jointed the boards and chopped out usable sections around some large knots and I ran a smaller section through the band saw and planner back when I had a tech shop membership. Unfortunately, these panels cupped a bit as they finished drying so some cross planning with a #7 and #6 was necessary. Air dried Douglas Fir planes beautifully and has a lovely pinkish huge.

IMG_0579 IMG_0580

This week I will start gluing up parts of the main casing in the evening.  I have a limited number of clamps so it will be easier to spread out the glue up.


Harvey Ellis saw till part 4 – Through Tenons Cont.

After chopping out the remaining five mortises it was time for the through tenons. I clamped the divider in place using the back panel to ensure that the grooves were lined up and marked the mortises using a mechanical pencil. These lines were then transferred down the faced using a tri-square.

IMG_0565 IMG_0566

Next it was into the Moxon Vise where the tenons were cut using a back saw and the waste was hogged out with a coping saw. Because I made the Moxon Vise so large I was then able to turn the divider on its side and cut out the end waste.


Then it’s time for the chisels to pare down to the line, it just so happened that the gap between the tenons was exactly the same width as Big Bertha (which is the name I have given my vintage two inch chisel) so I used it two chop the main base line before undercutting with some smaller chisels. I purposely made the mortises slightly smaller than the thickness of the divider and lined up the bottom of the divider with the bottom of the mortise, this meant I needed to slightly shave down the top of each tenon. This means there is a bit more margin for error as any gaps would not be visible from inside the saw till.

IMG_0568 IMG_0569

For the final fitting of the tenons, I used a dovetail trick from Christian Becksvoort and marked the inside of the mortise with pencil lead before test fitting. Then after pulling the tenon out, any places that rub have a black mark that you then shave off with a chisel, file, or float. Repeated test fittings result in a tight fit (though you can still screw up).


The first set came out the best, but overall I am happy with the results. This pine is a bit brittle and I found that stropping the chisel after each mortise helped quite a bit and I re-honed between each set. This is just pine so this would probably not be necessary if I had a nicer set of chisels.

Side One
Side Two
Side Two

Harvey Ellis saw till part 4 – through tenons

This is my first post from the mobile app so apologies for any errors.   Last night I started cutting the through tenons for the divider between the drawer and the saw till.  First I placed the two sides together and marked the top and bottom of the divider on both front edges at once; then I scribed the top and bottom edges on both in the inside and outside faces using a marking knife and a combination square.  Then I marked the  edges of the mortise using a wheel cutting gauge from both the front and back edge, ensuring everything was centered.

Next I drilled out the center of each mortice with a half inch auger bit, starting on the outside face until the screw just barely broke through (10 full revolutions for me).

Then flip the board over and finish the holes from the other side to avoid blowout.


Then I chopped halfway through the mortice then flipped it over and finished the other side.  
Not bad, just five more to go.  

Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 3 – Cutting Tails

I strained my back at the gym on Wednesday so I decided working on the bench top would not be the best idea therefore this weekend was all about cutting pins. By sneaking in a few minutes after work I head already sized and square the case top and bottom, all that remained was planning them to their final width. I decided to jury rig a panel gauge using some scrap and a clamp which worked well enough for what I needed.


After plowing the groove for the back it was time to mark and cut some pins. Since the case sides are longer than my bench is wide and my bench is not easily moved due to its lack of attached legs, I decided to relocate my Moxon vise to the end of the bench. This gave me room to lay the case side on top and trace the tails with my marking knife, and then I marked out the face lines and got cutting. The end results were pretty good for a first attempt at free hand dovetails, there were a few gaps but the joint is structurally sound.

IMG_0537 IMG_0536
Saturday we decided to walk to the SF Zoo (it’s a 3.5 mile walk) and we cut through Golden Gate Park to get there. For those of you who don’t know Golden Gate Park has a small herd of Bison (commonly called Buffalo) which is where we noticed this sign.

Oddly Specific
Oddly Specific

Saturday night I cut the second set of pins and these were atrocious; gaps everywhere and the front edges of the boards did not line up meaning I had to make the gaps even bigger in order to get them close to flush. In the end it was unbelievably loose and will need wedges/shims to be structural.

Luckily this was followed by an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Luckily this was followed by an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sunday I managed to cut the two remaining sets of pins; set three was about the same as set one but for the final set I decided to use a mechanical pencil instead of a knife making it easier to see the lines and adding a bit more of a buffer zone; this was the best of the four.


Since I still had some time I decided to pick or a board for the divider between the drawer and the saw area. This board needed to be a quarter inch longer than the case top/bottom in order to have the through tenons stick out and it needed to be around the same width to make layout easier (I will plane down the front edge after joinery is complete to make a consistent 18th inch reveal). Unfortunately there were no suitable boards and any glue-ups would have required a ripping a narrow strip. Instead I decided to use one of the case side cut offs that had a rather nasty knot on the edge which I chiseled out before planning the board to width. This knot void will only be visible from the back and from inside the drawer space, plus this is garage storage/practice piece so better to be economical about things.


Then I plowed a groove on the top and bottom of the board to hold the back pieces. This is one of the design elements from the tools box inspiration that I really liked.