Repairing a Drawer Bottom

Earlier this week, my wife won a chest of drawers from an online auction. Sure enough when we get it home and examine the piece, we discovered there was significant water damage to the chest that the auction company failed to mention (what a surprise!). In fact, one of the drawers was so bad that the bottom plywood was peeling away. She asked me if I could fix it, so I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of 1/4″ X 24″ X 48″ underlayment plywood for about $5.00.

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The first thing I did to the drawer was carefully pop off the glue blocks from the under side with a paring chisel as I was planning on reusing them.

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I then carefully popped off the drawer runner being careful not to damage it. Fortunately, it wasn’t glued to the drawer bottom making it easy to clean up.

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Then with a dead blow hammer, I gently popped off the sides of the drawers hoping not to damage the dovetail joints.

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After cutting the new piece of plywood to size, I saw that the new drawer bottom was a little thicker than the original, so I widened all the grooves to the drawer with my table saw.

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Once all the grooves were widened, I dry fitted the drawer back together making sure everything fitted properly.

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I then glued the drawer back together including the support blocks back on the bottom.

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After about a half an hours worth of work, the drawer was back in business and nicely fitted back in the piece.

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Making a Serving Tray


My wife wanted me to make a serving tray with splayed sides for her. She had a similar one she bought, but wanted to know if whipping up another one for her was doable. I didn’t think it would take too long so I accepted the challenge. I thought all I had to do was cut four boards with 15 degree angles on each end, attach them together and lay some slats down the middle. Boy was I wrong!

I started by milling up the stock by ripping a 2 x 8 length ways in half on the table saw and planed the wood to 1/2″ with my surface planer. After the stock was milled, I left them alone for a few days to let them acclimate in my shop.


The toughest part about making a serving tray with splayed sides is calculating the compound angles of the sides. When I first looked at the tray, it seemed like if I simply cut a couple of boards at 90 degrees with a 15 degree angle on each end, it would work, but it won’t. I’m no math teacher so I can’t technically explain the geometry that is at work here, but when the sides are splayed to 15 degrees, it changes the end cut by just a few degrees. If I took my bevel and laid it on the outside of the tray and compared it to my try square, you can see the slight difference. I guess another way to look at the geometry is if you cut a cone in half at 15 degrees then look down at the part that had just been cut off, the shape wouldn’t be a circle, but a slight ellipse.

Trying to find the correct compound angle to cut the sides is simple if you know the trick. It starts with a piece of scrap wood with 15 degree angles cut on one side and one end. This piece will now be a jig to use to set up the miter gauge and saw blade.


With the jig on it’s face, place it against the saw blade and swing the blade to match up with the other 15 degree angle. Now take your miter gauge and set it to the angle of the wood. Presto, there’s your compound angle.



When cutting the parts you need to do like Roy Underhill and “keep your mind clear of impure thoughts.” It can get quite complicated figuring out which side of the blade you need cut your part on so that the two sides of the tray line up to 90 degrees. Testing on scrap pieces until you get the right cut is highly recommended. It took me nearly 30-45 minutes to figure it out.


Ah, the pieces fit nicely and are square to one another.


After the sides were cut I needed to cut a couple of handle holes which was no big deal. I used 3/4″ forstner bit and drilled five holes. Then I cleaned up between the holes with a paring chisel and rasps. Then I routed the top of the four sides with a 1/4″ round over bit.


I glued and pinned the sides together with pneumatic nails. Then I attached thin strips to the sides so that I could attach the slats.


I milled up sixteen slats 1 1/2″ wide with 15 degree angles cut on both ends. The two slats at each end of the tray had a 15 degree angle cut down one side to fit snuggly against the side. After lying all the slats to one side, I measured the gap that was left. The total was 11 1/4″. With fifteen spaces between the slats, that would give me 3/4″ of space between each slat.

The dry fit worked well so now it’s time for the finish. I finished all the slats before attaching them to the tray because it would be a lot easier to apply finish that way. I started by dying the parts with walnut wood dye. This gave the wood an even darker tone and took a lot of the yellow coloring out of the pine.


Next, I painted the parts with grey milk paint and let it dry for a few hours.


After the milk paint dried, I mixed up a batch of paste wax. I used an Ebony colored wax, mixed it with a Clear wax so the color wouldn’t be so strong and applied a coat to all the parts. When I wiped off the excess, I glued and nailed the slats into place completing the tray. The wax colored the wood so dark that the pine looks like walnut now. My wife loves it! This tray could be used as a center piece on a dining room table or even hung on the wall in a kitchen as a piece of art.

Making loose tenons

I recently outfitted my Colt plunge router base with a Micro Fence and I plan on using it a lot so I need a way to make a lot of loose tenons quickly.

When making the tenons, I grab some scrap maple I have lying around, rip it down to 3/8″ on the band saw and plane it to size on the planer.

The router bit I use is 1/4″ spiral up cut bit so the tenon stock needs to be 1/4″ in thickness to match the mortise.

Once I have the tenon stock sized, I run a veneering plane over both sides of the work piece to plane grooves into it. The grooves will give the glue a place to spread so that the tenon will fit in the mortise snuggly.

The router bit I use creates rounded ends in the mortise so I run the beading part of a 1/4″ beading plane over the tenon stock to round its sides.

Making the tenon stock is done, but now I need to cut them to length so I decided to quickly build a table saw sled with some more scrap wood.

I took a piece of 1/2″ plywood about 15″ long and laid it over my table saw with wooden runners in the dados of my table saw. I made sure the plywood was square to the saw and quickly glued and pinned the plywood to the runners.

I then cut up a 2 x 4 to create the front and back of the sled making sure that everything was square. The sled is not pretty but I don’t work for Woodsmith Magazine so I’ll skip the hard maple and cabinet grade plywood when building jigs. As long as it works, it’s fine by me.

I marked 3/4″, 1″, and 1 1/2″ lengths on the bottom of the sled to act as quick reference marks for certain sizes of tenons.

In no time at all, I can cut a multitude of precisely fitted tenons and store them in sandwich bags for easy storage.

SawStop injury video

I felt what happened to me last weekend on my SawStop was so eye opening that I decided to post a video explaining what happened to help other people not make the same bonehead move I did. Plus I wanted to implant it in my brain so I never do something that stupid again.

I contacted SawStop and sent the damaged cartridge to them for inspection. They contacted me a few days later and told me that will be sending me a free replacement cartridge since it was a “save”. I’m glad because at $69.00 a pop, they’re not exactly cheap to casually have a spare around.

My SawStop Works

I’m a little too embarrassed to post this but I figured I should. I always thought I would be one of those SawStop owners who would own a SawStop for thirty years and never had to use the safety trigger. Today put an end to that dream.

I was ripping a piece of 3/4″ walnut 1″ wide when the next thing I knew I heard a large bang. I looked and saw the blade was gone. I backed away from the table saw and looked at my left thumb. Somehow my thumb caught the blade. I wish I knew how I did it, but it happened so fast I’m not entirely sure how. I wasn’t rushing and I was paying attention to what I was doing, even using a push stick.

I was using my left hand to gently hold the wood away from the blade and using my push stick with my right hand pushing the wood through.  I think what happened is right before I got cut, I felt some vibration in the wood and it caused my left hand to slide into the blade. I mean, it had to have happened that way. It’s only logical explanation of how I got cut. I just can’t believe how fast it actually happened.

The damage to my thumb is not that bad. The blade took a chunk of skin off and ripped my fingernail but no stitches are required. I can’t even imagine the damage that would have been caused had I not owned the SawStop. More likely I’d be in the emergency room tonight trying to have the top of my thumb reattached.

After I got my thumb taken care of, I took the cartridge and blade out of the saw. I’ll have to go buy a new cartridge tomorrow at Rockler and use another blade but it’s still far cheaper than an emergency room bill. I think my table saw has just paid for itself!

Making crown molding with a complex molding plane

While in the process of building a Bourdonnais French style bookcase I needed to make some crown molding for the top.

I wasn’t about to go out and spend money on some pre-made crown molding. That would be the easy way out. I have a boat load of antique molding planes in my shop, so I decided to put one of those bad boys to use.

The first step in make making crown molding is to get the stock prepared. I ripped a couple of pieces of straight grained poplar 5/8″ x 2″ x 6′ long. It’s important to get wood with grain as straight as possible to avoid tear out caused by the plane’s blade.

I then chopped off a section of one of the boards to use as a test piece. Placing the piece in my sticking board, I began running my molding plane over the board to create the Roman ogee profile. After a few strokes, the shape was completed in about five minutes. By the way, my sticking board is similar to the one based off of Jim Toplin’s in the book “The New Traditional Woodworker” by Popular Woodworking Books.

The next step is to create the angles on the board so that is works as crown molding on the case. I took the board over to the table saw and set the blade to 30 degrees. Once I set the fence to the proper location, I ran the board through and then flipped the board over to rip off the same 30 degree angle off the other end of the board.

I then took the molding back to the bench to finalize the profile. I used a block plane and just knocked off the top corner. This corner should be 90 degree to the 30 degree angle cut on the table saw so that it will lay on the case properly. (It’s really helpful to have a small sample piece of crown molding laying around so that you can use all the angles on the molding as a template for your piece).

Once the profile has been completed, a light sanding with 120 grit sand paper helps clean up any chatter left by the molding plane. I use a styrofoam sanding sponge and some sticky sand paper to sand the profile.

After sanding the only thing left to do is attach it to the case. Always make more molding than you need. There may and will be parts of the molding where the plane falls out of line a little bit and the profile won’t match the rest of the board. You simply cuts those parts off and use the rest.