Harvey Ellis Saw till – French cleats and saw racks

It has been a busy week at work with so very little progress has been made in the shop though I did finally get the saw till hung on the wall.

I cut a French Cleat our of 1/2 inch Baltic birch plywood and attached it to the wall and case back.  Then I started the saw rack itself by cutting groves in 4 inch wide piece of pine with 1.25 inch spacing.  I also made coresponding scallops in a 1.25 inch wide board for the saw handles to rest in.  I was in a hurry to get the saws safely stored so I only cut 6 slots, intending to update the rest once I finalize the layout.  I attacks them both with pocketscrews without glue so the can be easily repositioned or removed as they still need work.  I also still need to add the lower rack (where the back panel is split) and a height extender on the handle rack in order to accommodate my backsaws

Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 10 – Case Complete

This weekend I finally glued on the last side of the main case.  In preparation, I ordered two new Bessy H style pipe clamps off of eBay as I realized I needed at least 6 clamps for the side (9 would have been better) and I only had 4 that were big enough.  The other two pipe clamps I have are from Harbor Freight and there was no comparison, buy the Bessy, they are worth the extra few dollars.

For once, a glue up went without a hitch though I ended up using one of my extra long clamps to hold the side on instead of the top and bottom which was less than ideal.


On Sunday the clamps came off; I trimmed off the trough tenon wedges; and assessed the end results.  There were some dents on the front edges and some minor height variations where the case sides met the top and bottom.  I steamed out the dents with a Clothing Iron and a damp rag then I planed the front edges until they lined up (by pure luck the edge gain for three of the sides ran continuous making this process much easier).


The tails on the bottom were trimmed flush with a block plane and my smoother but the rest will wait until I get a chance to hone/sharpen my tools (my stones are covered in construction debris and need cleaning).  I also filled some of the bigger gaps in the upper left dovetails with pine shims (see the picture) to tighten everything up for the inevitable glue failure.  Now it is time to build the actual saw racks and the french cleat so I can get this thing off my bench.  The door and drawer will wait until my bench is finished.

Case Glue-up Difficulties

You will notice that even though I have more clamps I still need more.

Just once I would like a large glue-up to go off without a hitch.

Last night I glued the top and back panel into place and it was a mess.  After a dry fitting that went together fine I took everything apart, made some clamping blocks, and laid out the readjusted clamps on my bench.  Then I brushed liquid hide glue on each piece and assembled the back and slid it into place (by badly cut dovetails in this corner as what allowed me to assemble it in this manner).  I start hammering and clamping joints closed and realize that top piece of the back panel wont seat with the side (right by the red WoodPecker angle piece).  Fist I try a mallet, no luck, then I try to clamp it which resulted in damage to the tongue (and cursing, thank goodness my son was asleep).

I finally give-up and take the whole assembly apart (score one for the long open time of liquid hide glue) and trip down the Douglas fir panel with a hand plane and the joint goes together with no problem.

Okay, add a bit more glue and put it all back together; wont go together again in the same spot.  At this point, I am livid and decide this joint is going together even if it breaks something.  I find a scrap piece with a groove in it that matched the tongue and release ever clamp except the one right over the joint and I crank it down, HARD.  It finally goes together, thank goodness, and I tighten every clamp down.  The back corner is a bit out of alignment but the front edge is square so I can live with that.

Sharpening a rip saw

For once, I blamed the tool and was actually right.  Those of you who read my resawing post saw the mess I made using a modern disposable saw.  As a result, on Saturday I decided to sharpen my Disston D8 rip saw.

I acquired this saw from the same collector I bought Big Bertha from and according to the Disstonian Institute medallion directory it was manufactured between 1895 and 1917 meaning it is likely around the same age as our house.  It has around 5.5 TPI and is dull as a hammer but the previous owner had removed the visible rust.


I made my Moxon vise large enough to hold a full size saw plate (though the leather is about 2 inches short) so I removed the handle and placed it in the vise and followed the sharpening  method described in the Heritage School of Woodworking video.

After two rounds of jointing and shaping I checked the tooth set (it was more than I needed) and then did a final sharpening pass with my 7 slim taper file.  A few passes with a medium and fine rust eraser removed the rust and grime than had been hidden under the handle.

The handle was sanded with 220 and 320 then was wet sanded with BLO and 400 grit paper.  I left a bit of the old patina and the BLO showed a bit of curly Apple which was a nice surprise.  Two coats of spray shellac and a coat of wax left a nice surface.  The brass was sanded, buffed with steel wool and waxed.

still need to remove the layout fluid but looks pretty nice

If you will remember, after an hour with the disposable saw I had made very little progress resawing the board and the progress I did make was a mess.  After my son went to bed I waxed the handle, cleaned the brass, reassembled the and finished splitting the board.  All told I was done in hour, so it was the tool that made the difference.  It saw amazingly easy to follow my marked lines and the saw actually stay within the defined saw kerfs, something the modern saw refused to do (I suspect it is due to the hybrid teeth and large set).

The Results were not to shabby though the ends that were started with the new saw were a mangled mess, luckily I was able to cut most of the bad parts off and smooth up the remaining marks with my number 6.

Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 9 – Resawing

With the lumber rack finally complete I was able to focus on the saw till again. The two ready back panels were cut down to size and then received a rabbit (rebate) around the edges using my Stanley 45 and Veritas medium shoulder plane. A quick test fit showed that things went together well though I may need to trim the vertical dividers a bit.

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Next it was time to resaw another piece of the Douglas fir to make the remaining back panels. I marked out where I wanted the saw kerf to go and started the end grain cuts with the board vertical before moving to the saw horse to cut the side kerfs. You will notice I am using a the same modern disposable saw that I used for the strand board; my rip saw was very dull when I purchased it and I have never sharped a saw before so I figured I would try with the Husky. I have never resawn by hand before but I think this may have been a mistake as the cutting was very slow and it kept jumping the kerf I had made (hard to tell if this is just a lack of skill or the set of the saw). After an hour my hands were sick of the handle and my body was worn out; I had made it through less than 20% of the board.

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My next post will likely be related to sharpening a rip saw.

Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 8 – The Back cont.

Between a sick kid and the sick parents that followed, last night was the first shop time in quite a while.


In addition to finishing the repair to the tenon that ended up to thin, I cut the two remaining tenons for the back dividers and made sure everything matched in size. I used a chisel to create a saw wall at the shoulder and I was amazed how well it worked. I also finally realized I am a moron since I have been battling with clamps to saw the tenon cheeks when I have a perfectly good Moxon vise. If you are a hand tool person and you don’t have a Moxon vise buy or build one, they are awesome.

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Rather than cutting these tenons down to tiny stubs I decided to chop two more mortises in the upper back panel which will also help to keep things in place. After a test fitting and some minor adjustments it was time to glue the middle divider to its corresponding back panel. Tonight the top of the carcass will get the same treatment.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.