Dowel Joiner from the 1980’s

Many years ago, I went to The Woodworking Show in Columbus, Ohio and bought this Dowel Crafter jig after seeing it being demonstrated.

I can count on my hand how many times I used it over the decades. There’s really nothing wrong with it, I just never got excited about dowel joinery.

The concept is simple. You draw a line on two mating boards and use it as a guide for the jig. You mark one piece “X”and the other piece “O”.

You then line up your mark with one of the alphabet letters on the jig and clamp it down. Then you flip it over and drill your holes through the circular black guides. The two guides spin and lock in place with a nut depending on how big of a dowel you’re using. Once you drill your “X” hole you repeat the process for the “O” hole.

You now have four holes that correspond with eachother. Next you can either use dowels or in my case, make a dowel with my Stanley No77 Dowel Making machine. I then cut the dowels and punch them through my Lie Nielsen Dowel Plate so they are the perfect diameter. When sticking them in the holes, they line up perfectly, giving me a nice tight fitting and strong joint.

This jig can also make dowelled miter cuts but you have to do it bass-ackwards. You first take your two pieces and mark your line. Then you drill your holes just as before. The jig had plastic 90 degree dowels you could buy as a kit. You can see how many plastic dowels I have used over the past 35 years.

After the holes are drilled, you cut your 45’s on the miter box and glue them together. The joint is remarkably strong. By far the strongest miter joint I’ve ever made.

You can buy this jig on eBay for about $20 but good luck finding the 90 degree plastic dowels. I love using this jig so much that I went out and bought a Festool Domino. Go figure. I hate dowel joints!

New Life to a Beaten Up Dresser

My wife, Anita, and I went to the Springfield Extravaganza Antique Show last weekend looking for some things to buy. Me, it’s always antique tools, and for her, it’s modern farmhouse decor items for her to sell. We bought this old beat up five panel oak dresser for $20. For some reason during its life, the legs were cut off to make it shorter. The problem with that is it made the bottom drawer completely useless.

So, once we got it home, I took a look at it and saw that the bottom drawer was trashed so I took it over to my fire pit to burn. I did take the wooden knobs off the drawer just in case we could use them someday.

I knew I wanted the dresser to have legs again, so I took my sawzall and cut out the panels on the sides and back and then removed all the wood in the grooves.

Since the panels I cut out were already the perfect thickness, I ripped them into thin strips and used them to fill the gaps. A few clamps and glue did the trick.

After the glue dried, I trimmed and sanded the legs and threw the dresser upright. Boom! Now the dresser had legs again and didn’t look so pathetic. I then worked on the drawers to make sure they opened and closed well. I even rubbed paraffin wax on the bottoms of the drawers to make them slide easier. After a little bit of work, this dresser was useable again.

Now the part you hate! Anita painted the dresser white with milk paint and turned into a piece of shabby chic furniture. You may hate it, but some farmhouse decor lady will love it.

Console Table

I made this table for my wife last year but never blogged about it. Kind of stupid to call yourself MVFlaim Furnituremaker if you never blog about making a piece of furniture. While I was building it, I took a bunch of pictures of the process and intended to show all the steps, but apparently a bug crawled up my ass and for some reason, I deleted all the photos I took. I guess I was having a bad day. So, I had to search my Instagram account to find some pictures to load here.

The five foot long table is a common table you’d find in any furniture store. The table is really nothing special. In fact, the most unique feature of the piece is the drawer fronts with chair caning panels.

I simply made three drawer fronts with a rabbet in the back. I then glued chair canimg on a plywood panel and stuck it in the rabbeted recess. Since the drawer fronts are stuck to the front of each drawer box, the plywood remains stable inside the rabbet and doesn’t move around. I had photos of the entire process but that bug was in my butt pretty far up so they’re gone forever.

I fitted the carcass together and glued and screwed the bottom rails and shelf.

Joinery I used was mortise and tenons I cut on the table saw and chopped with a 3/8″ mortising chisel. The top rail was joined with a hidden dovetail.

Legs were cut from 2″ square poplar boards I glued up and tapered on the band saw. I then cleaned them up with my smooth plane.

This is the table before Anita painted it dark gray and applied the gold handles. Maybe the next peice of furniture I make I’ll be in a better mood and won’t delete the pictures of my progress.

Oddball Smoothing Plane

I bought this plane on eBay this week. Probably the first plane I bought on the bay in two years. The seller said it was marked 904 and was similar to a Stanley No 2 plane. When I opened the box, I immediately saw that it was actually the size of a No 4 plane. It’s my fault for not paying closer attention to the pictures and not doing my research. I looked over the plane and saw no makers mark of any kind. To me, it looked like it was made by the Sargent Tool Co.

When I took the plane apart, I saw that the frog on the plane was identical to early Stanley Bedrock plane. I knew it wasn’t a Bedrock because it would say “Bedrock” on the bed. The only other plane company that made planes that I knew of that had a Bedrock style of frog was Vaughan & Bushnell but all their planes had flat side walls similar to Bedrock planes.

The lateral adjustment had a twist on the top. It reminded me of a Sargent plane but I don’t think Sargent ever made planes with a Bedrock style of frog.

The back of the frog was similar to all other Bailey style planes on the market back in the day. The one thing I noticed was that the threaded rod for the brass knurled nut was really long like that of an Ohio Tool Co plane. Was this an Ohio Tool Co plane?

The only identification mark on the plane was 904 on the chip breaker. Since I thought it was a Sargent or Ohio Tool Co plane, I researched “904” for each company and came up empty. Sargent’s No 4 size planes were labeled 409 not 904.

The blade had no marking on it. The only unique feature it had has a polygram shaped hole at the bottom. So, I went back to Vaughan & Bushnell and searched “904”. Sure enough, I found an early example on the internet of a Vaughan & Bushnell No 904 with round sides. Mystery solved. Why Vaughan & Bushnell didn’t mark their planes is anybody’s guess but mine would be that they sold their planes to hardware companies who would then label the plane under their own brand name. Similar to that of companies who use to make tools and sold it to Sears to be sold under the Craftsman brand. Maybe this plane was packaged in a box with the hardware store’s brand on it.

I sharpened the blade and put it to use. After a quick honing, the plane performed well. It’ll make a nice user however, I’m still kind of pissed it was sold as a number to 2 size plane. I overpaid for it but that’s my fault.

Updating The Kitchen

About 12 years ago, we decided to update our kitchen from the 1980’s colonial style cabinetry into the new century with a new Tuscan style of cabinetry. It looked great for years but, after we got hit with the tornado last year, Anita wanted to use the opportunity to update the kitchen again into a modern farmhouse style of kitchen. This is the only photo I have of the cabintery I made when we were reinstalling them after the tornado.

Luckily, the only thing that really needed to be done was simply paint the cabinets, get new hardware and update the backsplash. Anita went with a two toned cabinetry with white on the top and dark gray on the bottom.

We took down the Tuscan style tile and installed ship lap as the backsplash. It’s been up for the past eight months and has held up better than I would have expected. There has been no staining on the wood whatsoever even though the kitchen gets used on a daily basis.

The biggest issue we had with the update was the that I had to make a new drawer front for underneath the sink. Before that, we had a wooden fluer de lis applique nailed on the kitchen base.

Making the drawer front was going to be a challenge since I no longer owned a router table. I had to jimmy one up real quick so I grabbed a piece of plywood and laid where I wanted the router to sit.

Then I drilled a few holes so that I could install the router with an opening large enough to accept my panel raising bit.

I then grabbed a piece of scrap wood and routed out the underside to act as a fence.

Adding two clamps to hold down the fence, BOOM!, an instant router table. Using a router table like this can be a bit dangerous as I had no safety shields above the bit, but it just kept me on my toes.

After a little trial and error with scrap wood, I was able to route the edge of the panel with ease.

I needed a round over for the edge of the drawer front so I stuck a 3/8″ round over bit in the router and grabbed another piece of scrap wood for the fence.

My sample board looked great, so I was confident I could get this bit to work well.

After taking a few passes and cleaning up the edge with a rabbet plane, the drawer front was done.

My wife painted the piece dark gray to match the other cabinets and I nailed it onto the kitchen base with 18 gauge brads. Nearly a year after we got hit with the tornado, our updated kitchen is complete.

Why didn’t I do this 25 years ago?

I’ve owned this Kreg jig for over 25 years. In fact, I believe this is the first style of Kreg Jig that was ever sold. I bought it at The Woodworking Show when they were worth going to before the age of the internet. It’s worked well over the years, but I noticed that I would have to back the bit out to remove the shavings before I could reach the final hole depth. Wasn’t a huge deal but it did make drilling pocket holes tougher.

Then yesterday I went to Lowes to buy more screws when I decided to buy the small kit that came with a new drill bit for $20. My bit was duller than shit from years of use and I wanted the single pocket jig anyway for drilling pockets in narrow wood. The bit itself is about $14 so the kit was a no-brainer.

I noticed the new jig has a relief hole right behind the metal collar to allow for chip removal while my original one didn’t have that.

So, I took my jig to the drill press and drilled a couple of 11/32″ holes behind the metal collars. Stupidily simple.

Sure enough, the holes worked perfectly removing the chips. Twenty five years of using this damn thing and it could have been so much better had I just thought about the chip removal issue for a minute.

Hemp Oil

A couple of days ago I was reading the Lost Art Press blog where Chris Schwarz mentions the different types of finishes he uses and which of those finishes look good immediately versus those that look good over 20 years. He then lists examples like; milk paint, waxes, and oils of all sorts (linseed, tung, walnut, etc.) Then I thought to myself, “Well hell, Anita has been using hemp oil for years. I wonder how many people know about it?”

Hemp oil is a 100% natural, biodegradable finish pressed from hemp seeds. As you may know hemp and marijuana are sometimes confused with one another. Hemp contains no THC and you can’t get high from it’s fumes. Hemp oil is food safe, has no chemicals, no VOC’s and is completely breathable which is HUGE for me.

My shop sits in the basement of our house. Getting proper ventilation down there with little basement windows is nearly impossible. I can’t use any type of solvents or chemicals down there as it stinks up the whole house. I can’t even spray WD40 without my wife getting upset about the smell. It’s one of the reasons I use shellac on many of my projects and coat my antique tools with my own blend of mineral oil – orange oil – beeswax solution. I even have to use Minwax stains in the garage.

Hemp oil doesn’t stink up the house as it smells like crushed walnuts. My wife loves the stuff! She uses on nearly everything she paints. And if she doesn’t mind the smell, then it must be good! We’ve been buying it by the gallon at Homestead House Paint company in Canada. Because hemp is often associated with marijuana, it’s been tough to find a supplier for it in the states (but that may change as more states legalize marijuana and become more educated about hemp). Unfortunately, the majority of hemp oil that is available around here is sold as an essential oil for outrageous prices.

According to their website, they sell smaller quantities of the stuff, but I can only select to buy one gallon or five gallon buckets. If you want to try hemp oil without jumping in too deep, you can find a store that sells Miss Mustard Seed milk paint. Miss Mustard Seed is a lady who has a popular design and painting blog and she partnered with Homestead House to brand her own line of paint. It’s basically the exact same stuff.

I applied two coats of hemp oil on some scrap hardwood samples to show how they turn out on various species. In my opinion cherry looks the best as it really pops the grain. Poplar is shown just to show how the oil would look on secondary woods like the sides of drawers.

You apply hemp oil the same way as tung oil with a brush or cloth and allow it to dry wiping off the excess in about twenty minutes. Because the oil doesn’t have any solvents, it takes a bit longer for it to dry. In fact, I’ve seen some extra oil to wipe off after 24 hours when the oil has been allowed to absorb in the wood. It takes about thirty days to fully cure. Because hemp oil is food safe, you can even use it on cutting boards and wooden utensils.

Below are a few pieces Anita has painted or stained over the years with hemp oil as a top coat. As you can see, it gives off a matte finish with little sheen which looks nice on old furniture. If you have a basement shop and can’t take the fumes, give hemp oil a try.

Grizzly No 7C Jointer Plane

Last weekend on the Worlds Longest Yard Sale I picked up this Grizzly jointer plane for a fair price. When I first saw it, I thought it was a Woodriver plane but then I saw the knurled screw on the lever cap and thought that maybe it was a Bench Dog plane or even an Avant. After I asked my followers on Instagram what brand it was, I was told it’s sold through Grizzly.

I took the plane apart to get a look at the all the parts. The biggest thing I saw was the design of the frog. This little tab to adjust the the frog seems rather weak as it could easily break off after years of use. I didn’t realize the flange and screw design of Bailey planes was so expensive to make that they would have to change the design of the frog to eliminate it. LOL Why they opted for this tab and stupid looking screw is beyond me.

There’s no makers name on the blade so its clear that this plane is probably made by a Chinese company like Quangsheng as they make planes for a bunch of different companies.

Another thing I noticed is the back of the lever cap looks unfinished. It reminds me of the homeowner Fulton or Shelton brand planes sold at Sears back in the day.

You can tell that the manufacturing tolerances are not very tight as the two frog hold down screws have different size slots milled at the top. It was a pain in the ass to remove the screw with the wider slot as my screwdriver kept slipping. You can see how easily it marred the top as the steel they used is not very strong.

The biggest issue I saw was the length of the lever cap overhung the chip breaker when it was fully seated down on the plane. This would cause the plane to jam with shavings as they would get caught underneath the lever cap. I had to raise the lever cap up a little bit for shavings to pass through.

The plane’s blade was ground at 25 degrees but still needed to be honed. Amazingly, the plane cut rather well after I hit the blade with my waterstones. The sole of the bed felt smooth and I was able to get a nice shaving with a little bit of tuning. How well it will cut like this I have no idea as I don’t know the quality of the blade’s steel but I assume it’s not the best.

The shaving was .01 thick which is fine for a jointer. It’s a shame the plane has some design and manufacturing quality issues. It could be a real nice plane for decent money as it’s only $94 on Amazon.

Coping Crown Molding

I spent last weekend putting back up the crown molding in our dining room. Before I began, I did a YouTube search on installing the stuff. I came across a video of a guy who cuts his inside corners by angling his compound miter saw to 30 degrees then swings his saw to 35 degrees to make his cuts. I tried his technique but I couldn’t get my cuts to line up at all. The inside cuts where fine, but when I tried the 45 degree outside cut around my built-in cabinets, I couldn’t get both to line up.

Frustrated, I did another search, but this time through Google. That’s where I came across a video of Tom Silva of This Old House. In it he should how he coped the inside corner. Then it clicked that’s how I did it before. You simply install one end of the corner up straight on the wall, then cope the other side with a coping saw. I figured if I get advise from anyone, I’ll get it from Tom Silva as he knows what he’s talking about.

This is the back side of the coped piece. I had to file the backside a little bit so it would fit nicer. I posted some of these pictures on Instagram and a trim carpenter made a comment that he appreciated me doing it the right way. He said some contractors give him grief coping his corners but it actually saves time once you know what you’re doing.

Not a perfect fit by any means but it will work. I discovered when learning to cope crown molding; the first one will be garbage, the second try will be a little bit better, the third attempt will almost be there, the fourth one will work, the fifth one will be nicer, and the sixth cope you’ll finally figure it out. The problem is that by the time you figure it out, you’ll be done with the room.

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My final inside corner was my best as I figured it out. If the measurement of the wall was 87 5/8″ long, I cut 45 degree angle on my miter saw and coped it. Then I measure from the bottom on the cope out 87 1/2″ and cut it straight 90 degrees on the miter saw. This way this gave me a 1/8″ to play with when I installed it up on the wall. The 1/8″ gap on the wall won’t matter because it will be covered by the cope of the next piece. All you’ll end up seeing is a small little hole at the bottom of the molding that will be filled with caulk.

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The biggest trick in cutting crown is that you have to cut it upside down. I installed a fence to the miter gauge so that the crown laid the same way it will on the wall so my cuts will be more accurate.

I spent all day doing the dining room and down the hall. I had to scarf joint the molding down the hall because my pieces were only 12′ long.

I had to do eight inside corners and three outside corners.

Any minor errors in the cuts gets filled with caulk and the nail holes gets puttied. Once the molding is lightly sanded and painted, I’ll look like a professional trim carpenter.