How to bore dead centre of your mortise

Chopping is time consuming when creating a mortise, which is why I prefer to bore with my brace and bit. But isn’t it annoying and downright shameful when you can’t get the bit dead centred between the marking gauge lines? I will show you how you can every time and it’s simple.

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There are two ways of doing. Place the business end of the bit between the scribed lines and hope for the best or another method which is my preferred method is to find the centre of your to be mortise with your marking gauge. To do that eyeball the centre, scribe a small line, flip the gauge to the other side and scribe another line. What will be left unless you were lucky is a gap between the two scribed lines. Move the gauge to the centre of between the two lines and test again. Keep doing that till the scribe meets centre from both sides and scribe all the way through.

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With a scratch awl prick the centre line with light finger pressure. Do not hammer or press hard because the awl will want to follow the grain of the wood and can throw you off centre. Just a light touch is sufficient.

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That’s it you’re done! BTW this isn’t something I invented even though I’ve never seen it in any book or showed anywhere on the net, I can’t take credit for it. Because I’m sure just as boring instead of chopping has been practised for thousands of years, I’m certain someone has had the same frustrations and came up with the same solution several times over throughout the centuries. This is why posting these posts, writing articles for magazines, writing books and making videos are so bloody important to us as a civilisation. Had most of our ancestors bothered to do that we wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel again and again and not to mention playing the guessing game of what we think they might have done. I hope this helps and I apologise for taking so long to finish the 5th Issue of HANDWORK. It will get done, it’s life getting in the way. If someone has a work around for that please let me know.

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Dolls Cradle Project for Issue V

This is the cradle I plan on building again for Issue V. The dolls cradle in the picture is for my niece and a prototype. The beauty with this cradle is that it’s not a factory replica of a factory style finish.  With that I mean it’s not spray painted, but hand brushed. I made and used my version of chalk paint. I experimented with all different finishes and found this one to be the best.
I also made it easy for shipping by making it a flat pack. The only part I haven’t included is the Allen (Hex) key with the product. Hardware stores are selling a single for $5.00 which I feel is expensive for a throwaway tool.
The odd thing though that surprised me the most with this project is that I took the same time to make the M&T for rails and stiles as it to bore out a few holes for simple butt joints. The reason it’s so quick is that I no longer chop out the mortise instead, I bore it out with my brace and bit.
Tomorrow I will make another for a friend of mine for his granddaughter. I believe I will start article on the third one.

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ENTHUSIASM VERSUS APATHY

BY JOHN RUSKIN 1901

To ensure enthusiasm of good workmanship among craftsmen, they must be relieved of the hard pressure of circumstance. They must neither be pressed for time nor by want. They must be removed from the necessity of slovenly production. They must be led to perceive and acknowledge the value: that is usefulness or the beauty of the materials which they daily handle; so that waste, that enemy of the workshop, may not enter to create dissension between the employer and the employed. They must be taught to respect the work of their own hands, so that it may com to be for them a subject of great interest, care and love. They must be made to feel their worth and dignity as producers, as one of the prime factors of organised and civilised life.

An Argument in Simplicity in Household Furnishing. Style and Its Requisites Part III

By William Morris 1883

The most exquisite things in nature and in art are those which possess and indefinable quality called style. The piece of literature, the architectural work, the beautiful woman, the flower wanting in this last nameless grace are alike unfortunate. For in order to gain recognition and appreciation, in a highly civilised age, distinct, that is to say: separation from one’s kind is necessary. But this distinction must be natural and inherent: never sought after, assumed or forced. In the case of objects created by the artist, style must be a part of the very conception; and not something consciously added in the mechanical execution.

The masters of style, the chiefs of the great schools wrought in obedience to impulse, because they were forced from within; because the thing seen in their mental vision cried out to be born, to become materialised. The lintel, the column, the art were incorporated into the building art by deliberate by deliberate selection, by critics and learned experimentalists. The structural element was seized by the master and fell into place beneath his powerful grasp: the result representing what we now recognise as Greek, or Roman, or Medieval. Now did the two great Italians, Raphael and Michelangelo, strive after their distinguishing traits. The harmonic composition as the one, the infinite linear variety of the other were spontaneous, constant forces which needed not to be fed or fostered by their possessors, of which they were a vital part; living with them, and passing away at the death of the masters, never again to be repeated.

Style is therefore the possession of one individual, or a class of  individuals. Outside of these limits it is a false and unjustifiable assumption. We feel this statement to be true when we pause to analyse the impressions that often fall like discords upon our senses, as we go upon our ways of work or pleasure. For example, the sixteenth century French castle architecture “sui generis.” It is incomparable in its way. It lends itself to the nature in the midst of which it was created; rising from the landscape of the river Loire as a sympathetic response to the appeal of the sky, the water, the hills and the forests. Further than this, it represents the time of its birth. Its slender of material, its brilliancy of execution, its imaginative, luxuriant, graceful ornament recall of artistic, pleasure loving Francis First who passed with his court chateau to chateau; avoiding his burger capital, Paris, lest his waste of wealth should incite the honest artisans and shop keepers to discontent and insurrection.

Now, let a reproduction of this style be attempted in the heart of our American metropolis, as has been done in several notable instances. The result is no longer either pleasing to the student and connoisseur, or satisfying to the masses. The feudal architecture is by centuries out of place in a modern city, presumably the home of civic law and order. The broad avenues, teeming with life, movement and adventures of a scientific age, form an incongruous setting for these old time jewels of art. The fantastic ornament, the gargoyles and griffons which overrun the whole and cut the skyline in a hundred curious ways have no longer a reason for existence. They have lost the sense of mystery with which trey were once invested. Their meaning has passed from the vital state into the domain of historical interest. In the evolution of art, their place has long been supplanted.

We can thus go on selecting examples at will, and sure always of arriving at the same conclusion. As we pass through the place Vendome, Paris, we are at once impressed by the formal, stately granduer of the surrounding architecture. The eager shopper with his eyes still dazzled by glittering frivoloties of the rue de la Paix is unconsciously sobered by confronting the grave buildings of the historic square; while the student delights to imagine the space as it must have appeared under Louis le Grand: animated by lumbering coaches and and gilded sedan chairs, with their freight of pompous gentlemen in flowing wigs, and of ladies in heavy velvet and brocade gowns.

Again, as in the first case cited, let the externals of this style be copied in America. The results will be spiritless, literal translation, wanting the life and the soul of the original. A sense of unfitness and unreality will forever pervade and haunt the imitation which, through the lack of spontaneity, has no justification for being; which has no basis of artistic truth, and which represents no dominant thought of the period.

So, advancing from instance to instance, we reach the conclusion that any art worthy of the name must strike its roots deep into the life of the people, and must produce as freely and naturally as does the plant in summer.

We have thus far drawn our example from architecture, but as the smaller is contained in the greater, so are the lesser arts related to that of the builder. Sculpture and painting are its handmaids, and household decoration adjunct and ally.

The object which form our material environment exert upon us an influence that is not to be withstood. If we, our children and successors are to be true citizens and integral part of the Commonwealth, we must choose carefully the objects by which we surround ourselves; bringing our judgement to bear upon them as fully as we do upon our books, our studies and our companions. We must support an art created by the people for the people: simple, sincere and structural; an art wherein the designer and the craftsman shall be one and the same individual, creating for his own pleasure and unassailed by commercialism.

It is in the spirit that the Master and Associates of the United Crafts produce their work and await results. The artistic quality of the Rush or Reeds has been generally ignored by the cabinet maker. The strength and durability of its fibre  have largely caused its employment. But it lends itself easily to aesthetic colour and textile schemes. Made soft and pliable and retaining its natural variegation, it gives a whole gamut of green, with occasional rusty glints punctuating what otherwise were a too spiritless mass of colour. It is then often combined with the mellow tones of “fumed oak,” as if we find it in certain chairs and seats recently produced in the workshops of the United Crafts. The combination cannot be otherwise than a perfect one, as it is based upon Nature as is displayed in the autumn woods.

An Argument for Simplicity in Household Furnishing Part I

By William Morris 1883

In all that concerns household furnishings and decoration, present tendencies are toward a simplicity unknown in the past. The form of any object is made to express the structural idea directly, frankly almost with baldness. The materials employed are no longer chosen solely for their intrinsic value, but with a great consideration for their potential beauty. The qualities thus apprehended are traced to their source and then carefully developed by the skill of the craftsman.

In the eighteenth century, the French cabinet makers created charming objects suited to the palaces and castles of the old nobility. They revelled in richness of material; in woods brought from countries and colonies of access; in costly gilding and other applied ornament; in fanciful painting which exquisite delicacy of handling alone saved from triviality and insignificance.

But today with the idea of everywhere development dominant, in the sciences, in the educational methods, in all that furthers human intercourse, comfort and progress we find the mood of the century impressed upon the material  and necessary objects by which we are surrounded. Even our beds, tables and chairs, if planned and executed according to the newer and sounder ideas of household art, offer us a lesson taught by their form, substance and finish. We are no longer tortured by exaggerated lines the reasons for which are past divining. We have not to deal with falsifying veneers, or with disfiguring so called ornament. We are not necessarily confronted by substances precious because of their traditional use, their rarity, and the difficulty attending their attainment. We are, first of all, met by plain shapes which not only declare, but emphasise their purpose. Our eyes rest on material which, gathered from the forests, along the streams, and from other sources familiar to us, are, for that reason, interesting and eloquent. We may in the arms of our reading chair, or in the desk before which we pass our working day, study the striking undulations in the grain of oak, ash, elm or other of our native woods, and in so doing, learn the worth of patient, well directed and skilled labour; of that labour which educates; that is: leads out and develops the hidden values and qualities of things too often neglected because they are frequently seen.

 

Moulding Planes Complete

What a journey it was. What a learning curve it was. What a great skill building exercise it was. The tremendous amount of research that went into it was mind-boggling with its findings, but I left nothing out in the third issue.

I’ve learned many things along the way and I believe the learning curve is far from over. My moulding plane journey is not yet complete as I have some dedicated planes I want to make.

As for costs not including labour it cost only a quarter of what’s being charged for a full set. If I were to be making these for sale, then I too would charge the same price like everybody else. Because it’s time consuming work and somewhat frustrating, but the biggest culprit is the time consumption. You couldn’t make a living out of these if you weren’t able to finish a set within two weeks.

I hope you make yourselves some. You don’t need an entire set and you need not copy the 18th century style either. If you’re working professionally and time is of the essence, then my recommendation would be to purchase what you need from a toolmaker of your choice. It’s well worth the investment, and it’s what journeymen did since the 18th century.