Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monsieur le Tabouret

One of the biggest problems of working indoors in a small space is where to put your tools. My solutions to this problem have evolved from utter clutter to today. My first bowl-from-a log holds a lot of stuff. My son, however, suggested a tabouret, a French name for a low-slung, well, bench that goes under the table. That way you can slide it under the kitchen/dining/crafts table when not in use. So I made one, carefully sized so that it indeed goes under the table. Mazel tov. But my planes needed a home. The miniature ones, that is; the big ones have their housing allocated. What I needed, I reasoned, is a set of stalls -- a plane stable, in fact. No horses at Chalupy, except shaving horses.. So I set out to make one.
I happened to have some pine molding from somewhere -- I assure you I didn't buy it -- and the first job was to cut the dadoes (slots) for the planes. Above, the dadoes under development. I sawed down with my miniature dozuki saw from Lee Valley. Couldn't live without that tool. Also have a miniature ryoba, same comment. Then I cut the dadoes with a Stanley mini-router plane. This is an extremely useful tool, and very cheap. You can see it perched top center on the picture. Nowadays dadoes are routed. Pah. The real hand-tool artist uses a dado plane, but these are as common as Dodo eggs. I will not embark on my usual rant on tool collectors, who put these things in cabinets instead of using them. I will add that the Stanley router plane, out of the box, is almost useless. You have to sharpen the cutter. Providentially, the cutter is just as wide as the molding.
The next task is to dowel two pieces of molding together to make a wider shelf. Now doweling is a tricky business. The catalogs are full of wonderful and expensive tools to simplify this task. But I have none. So this is the way I doweled. Note the use of my general-purpose dowel, the supermarket bamboo barbecue skewer, about 3mm diameter. What you do is take one of your dowelees and mark out the dowel positions. At these positions you carefully drill holes, just big enough for the smallest finishing nail in your possession. Cut the head off the nail and slide it into the hole. Then carefully line up the other board. Tap it with a hammer, and you have center-punched your holes on board number two. Then drill all holes out to final size, 3.3 mm or so in my case.
Doing it that way, the dowel holes will line up perfectly. Look Ma, no jigs! But you do have to drill square to the boards, or it will be very unsightly. I used my trusty drill press here. Then we glue up, a process familiar to all woodworkers.
The next step is to glue in the vertical stable walls. Tedious but an interesting exercise in clamp placement. Unfortunately I didn't take any pix of this process. Fit the side in the slot, glue, clamp. Not too dramatic. Final step, drill some holes in the front of the shelf to hold assorted tools. So we have Tabouret 1.1. I really need more scrap wood; I have to secure the shelf better than it is now secured .
And we have reduced entropy (disorder) to some amount. Locally, that is. Universally, entropy does not decrease. But I have reduced more clutter. I think I will build a third shelf.

And my planes are happy; they have a new home.

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