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Router Bit Bargains: Save Money — Great Results

www.woodsmith.com Vol. 27 / No. 160

Platform Bed
completes our 5-piece suite

• Workbenches
• Table Saw Sleds

PLUS: 15 Top Assembly Tips

A Publication of August Home Publishing
looking inside

Table of Contents
departments tips from our shop
Shop Notebook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
from our readers
Tips & Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 working with tools
Countersink Bits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
all about Not all countersink bits are the same. Here’s what
you need to know before you buy one.
Bargain Router Bits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Are low-cost router bit sets worth the money?
You’ll be surprised at what we found out. small shop solutions
Workbench Location . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
tools of the trade Where you put your workbench is the key to
Miter Saw Blades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 getting the most out of your shop.
Getting the best results with a miter saw starts
with choosing and using the right blade. finishing room
Getting a High-Gloss Finish . . . . . . 44
techniques from our shop A classic, high-gloss finish is easier than you
may think. We’ll show you how.
15 Tips & Tricks for Assembly. . . . . 12
Learn the tips and tricks for gluing up a drawer.
in the mailbox
jigs and fixtures Q & A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Table Saw Miter Sleds . . . . . . . . . . 14
Take your table saw to the next level by adding hardware and supplies
a precision miter sled. Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Inlay Mirror Frame page 32

DVD Storage Cases page 16

2 Woodsmith No. 160


weekend project
DVD Storage Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Organize your growing collection of DVDs with editor’s note
one (or more) of these versatile storage cases.

designer series project

Platform Bed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
You won’t lose sleep building this bed. Built with

simple joinery, it yields rock-solid results.
few years back (October of 2002 to be exact) we featured a cherry
armoire in Woodsmith. The idea back then was to take a large
heirloom project
project and make it as easy to build as possible. So we streamlined
Inlay Mirror Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Show off your skills with this mirror frame that the construction by using plywood panels and straightforward join-
features stylish inlays and miter-free corners. ery. Plus, we updated the traditional armoire by setting it on an
open base and using contrasting stains to give it a two-tone look.
details of craftsmanship The project turned out so well it was quickly followed by a
Coped Joints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 matching nine-drawer dresser, a mirror, and a night stand. Only
Installing molding with a good fit is a challenge. one piece was missing. Which, of course, brings me to the
Learn how to cut a tight-fitting coped joint.
designer series project in this issue — a matching bed.
The bed features a platform-style design, which means you
don’t need to spend money on a box spring. But more impor-
tantly, it gives the bed an updated, contemporary look. Now, we
These two symbols let you know there’s more infor- built ours out of cherry and stained it to match the other pieces in
mation online at www.Woodsmith.com. There you’ll
see step-by-step videos, technique and project ani- the set. But this project would look great built out of just about any
mation, bonus cutting diagrams, and a lot more. wood. Note: If you would like to build the other pieces in the
suite, plans are still available at www.Woodsmith.com.
NEW FACE. Designing projects like the platform bed is the
responsibility of our design group — they’re the key to the great
woodworking projects we feature in every issue of Woodsmith. To
give us a hand in this area, John Doyle recently joined our staff as
a project designer and builder. John brings a lot of experience to
the group, and I’m looking forward to working with him.


Now, you can have the best, time-saving secrets, solutions, and
techniques sent directly to your computer. Just go to
www.Woodsmith.com and click on “FREE Tips by Email” to
Platform Bed page 22 sign up. You’ll receive a new tip by e-mail each week.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 3
from our readers

Tips & Techniques

{ For smaller drawers, you can use a pair

of coupling nuts. Several different lengths
of threaded rod will make it easy to
square any size drawer.

Squaring Drawers
Assembling square drawers has diagonal to push the drawer square prevent them from loosening while
always been a challenge for me. I’ve from the inside. I use turnbuckles I’m twisting the coupling nuts. The
never had much luck trying to clamp and threaded rods for larger draw- rubber caps protect the wood from
across the long outside corners to ers. The round eyebolts wedge into the threads on the end of the rod.
square up the drawer. the corners as I tighten the rod and I keep several different lengths of
What I came up with is the won’t twist or mar the wood. threaded rod on hand for different
“squaring rods” you see in the pho- For smaller drawers, I use the rod size drawers. With these two types
tos above. Basically, these rods configuration you see in the inset of “squaring rods,” I can now
apply pressure across the “short” photo. The ends of the smaller rods assemble perfectly square drawers
are epoxied 1/2 " every time I build them.
into the cou- Bryan Rogers
pling nuts to St. Petersburg, Florida


If you have an original shop tip, we would like to
hear from you and consider publishing your tip
in one or more of our publications. Just write
down your tip and mail it to: Woodsmith, Tips
and Techniques, 2200 Grand Avenue, Des
Moines, Iowa 50312. Please include your name,
address, and daytime phone number in case we
have any questions. If you would like, FAX it to
us at 515-282-6741 or send us an email message
at: woodsmith@woodsmith.com. We will pay up
to $200 if we publish your tip.

4 Woodsmith No. 160

Adjustable Curve
Every now and then, I’m faced
with laying out a smooth No. 160 August/September 2005
curve. My solution is the jig
shown in the drawing on the PUBLISHER Donald B. Peschke
right. I made the base out of
hard maple because of its EDITOR Terry J. Strohman
strength and resistance to warp- SENIOR EDITORS Vincent Ancona, Bryan Nelson
ing. Then I drilled a hole through the cen- ASSOCIATE EDITORS Phil Huber, Ted Raife
ter of the base and installed a threaded ASSISTANT EDITORS Ron Johnson, Mitch Holmes
insert. This insert will hold a length of
threaded rod that will be used to adjust EXECUTIVE ART DIRECTOR Todd Lambirth
the degree of bow (see detail ‘a’ below). Dirk Ver Steeg, Harlan V. Clark
Next, I cut a holddown assembly con- ILLUSTRATORS David Kallemyn, Peter J. Larson
sisting of a cap, a foot, and a dowel for GRAPHIC INTERN Becky Hansen
each end of the bow (see Exploded View
at right). These should fit snug enough to bolt to fit CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ted Kralicek

maintain control of the bow while you’re into to help SENIOR PROJECT DESIGNERS Ken Munkel,
working with it, yet allow the bow to flex keep the bow Kent Welsh, Chris Fitch
to whatever size arc you need. The caps steady. I then PROJECT DESIGNERS/BUILDERS Mike Donovan,
John Doyle
are screwed to the base, so you can placed a small
SHOP CRAFTSMEN Steve Curtis, Steve Johnson
remove them if you need to replace the washer into the hole to prevent the bolt SR. PHOTOGRAPHERS Crayola England, Dennis Kennedy
bow. The feet are glued into place. from damaging the hole. Adjusting the ASSOCIATE STYLE DIRECTOR Rebecca Cunningham
Next, I cut a bow to overhang each end bow to the desired curve is simply a mat- ELECTRONIC IMAGE SPECIALIST Allan Ruhnke
of the base by about 41/2 ", with dowels ter of tightening or loosing the stove bolt. VIDEOGRAPHERS Craig Ruegsegger, Mark Hayes
holding the bow in place. In the center of Jim Buske Woodsmith® (ISSN 0164-4114) is published bimonthly (Feb., Apr., June, Aug.,
the bow, I drilled a shallow hole for the Rockton, Illinois Oct., Dec.) by August Home Publishing Company, 2200 Grand Ave, Des Moines,
IA 50312.
Woodsmith® is a registered trademark of August Home Publishing.
Copyright© 2005 August Home Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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Printed in U.S.A.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 5
more tips from
our readers

Steep Angle
Miter Gauge Jig
Recently I needed to cut some mold- I set the miter gauge to 75° and
ing at a steeper angle than my table trimmed the bottom of the triangle
saw’s miter gauge would allow. I so the sides would be even.
solved this by making the simple 30°). Then I set a rectangular piece Next, I added the fence and side
jig you see pictured above. of plywood against the miter gauge as you see in the main drawing on
To make this jig, I first turned my and ripped it to the bottom corner, the left. I cut the fence to cover the
miter gauge clockwise as far as resulting in a triangular base (see entire length of one side of the tri-
it would go (mine stopped at detail ‘a’). After that cut was made, angular base. That way, the side
closest to the blade will stay fully
supported. The miter gauge side
was trimmed to fit. Finally, I applied
adhesive-backed sandpaper to keep
my workpieces from slipping.
Ted Ralston
Des Moines, Iowa


6 Woodsmith No. 160

Pipe Clamp Stand
As most woodworkers know, work-
Quick Tips
ing with pipe clamps can cause PLASTIC GLUE PROTECTORS
some frustration. They don’t offer I used to have a problem with glue
much clearance for the handles, and sticking to clamp pads or backer
they easily tip over if you’re not care- boards getting stuck to a joint. I
ful. So I built my own clamp fixed that by using the clear plastic
stands to solve these prob- strips found in new shirt collars. I
lems (see photo at right). cut them into strips and put them
What makes these between the project and the
stands so handy is that clamps. The strips can be used
they’re wider than most clamp several times before discarding.
stands I’ve seen. The wider stance Jim Buske
makes them less likely to roll over. Rockton, Illinois
Another benefit is that by using U-
bolts, the stands can be attached NEW USE FOR BINDERS
and removed easily without having I use three-ring binders as hang-
to take the clamp apart. ers in my shop. I drill out the rivets
Made from a 2x4, the raised cen- that hold the worn-out notebook
ter of the stand supports the pipe covers on and replace them with
without interfering with the clamp wood screws to mount the snap
head. It also allows me to tighten rings horizontally on the wall.
the pipe to the stand, stabilizing Now, I have a handy way to
everything while I work with the hang box-end wrenches or tools
clamps. I simply rabbeted the sides with holes in the handles. I can
to raise the center. even punch holes in plans and
These solid stands make using hang them from the wall. And
my pipe clamps much easier. when the rings are snapped shut,
John Ewert everything stays put.
Sequim, Washington Curtis Brainard
Glendora, California


Blocks cut from “two-by” stock Rabbet
25° Worn-out sanding sponges make
great glue or stain spreaders. I cut
them to the size and shape for the
2#/8 job I have. And when I’m finished,
there’s no cleanup. I just let them
dry out and throw them away.
4!/8 Mel Cochran
San Antonio, Texas

WIN THIS The Winner!

PORTER-CABLE Congratulations to John
Ewert of Sequim, Washington.
His pipe clamp stand design
VARIABLE SPEED ROUTER was selected as the winner of
the Porter-Cable router. His
That’s right, send us your shop tips. If your tip or tech- stands raise clamps for better
nique is selected as the featured reader’s tip, you’ll win handle clearance as well as
a Porter-Cable variable speed router just like the one provide more stability.
shown here. Send your tips and techniques to: To find out how you could
Woodsmith, Tips and Techniques, 2200 Grand win a Porter-Cable variable
Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312. Or send us an speed router, check out the
email message at: woodsmith@woodsmith.com. information on the left.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 7
all about

should you buy

Bargain Router Bits?
Sure, these bits make some tradeoffs, but are
inexpensive router bit sets worth the money?

Thirty-six router bits for $50 — how CHARACTERISTICS OF BITS

can that be? Flipping through just In a nutshell, the main difference
about any woodworking catalog between these “bargain” bits and
you’re sure to see inexpensive router more expensive bits comes down to
bit sets (photo above and at left) that durability. High-performance bits like
seem too good to be true. What makes Amana, CMT, and Freud are designed
these deals more amazing are find- for industrial and commercial users.
ing similar bits just a few pages later These high-end bits need to stay sharp
that cost nearly $50 a piece . day after day of hard use.
Looking at the pictures in the cat- On the other hand, economy bits
alog, the bits look nearly identical. So are made for a different purpose.
what’s the difference between bar- These bits are designed for occasional
gain router bits and higher-priced use. In order to make these bits afford-
{ Inexpensive router bit sets let you models? To answer that question, able, manufacturers have to find a
check out a wide range of profiles you’ll need to consider how the bits balance of precision and materials
without spending a lot of money. are manufactured. that yields quality results for wood-

8 Woodsmith No. 160

High-Quality Bit Thin carbide edge
workers. Some of these things are easy cost bits are sharp- will dull quicker
Thick, durable carbide cutting
to see while others aren’t very visible. ened, the manufac- edge stays sharp longer
VISIBLE DIFFERENCES . Several differ- turers often elimi-
ences between high-quality and bar- nate the final pol-
gain bits that are visible can be picked ishing steps after Painted coating
chips off in use
out in the photo at right. grinding.
One of the first things you’ll notice While this makes
is the carbide cutting edges. The car- the bit more afford-
bide on the bargain bit (right) is able, the downside
thinner than the more expensive bit. is that these inex-
Another thing to look at is the angle pensive bits won’t
on the cutting edge. On bargain bits cut as efficiently. So,
it’s vertical. This means the bit has a you’ll have to watch Bargain Bit
Non-stick coating
chopping effect as it cuts. how fast you feed reduces pitch buildup
By contrast, the high-end bits use a the router bit into and reduces friction High-quality bearings Low-cost bearings
run cool and smooth wear out and can
sheer angle that’s more expensive to the workpiece.
burn the workpiece
produce. This change of angle results Another drawback is that these bits sets. If you’re just getting into routing,
in a slicing cut that’s much smoother. won’t stay sharp as long and can’t be a set like this will give you a good
COATINGS. Another difference you’ll resharpened as many times. idea of the types of router bit profiles
notice between the two bits shown that are available.
here is their coatings. The red bit on BUYING BARGAIN BITS As you use your router bits, you’ll
the left has a Teflon-like coating Knowing how the bits are made leads find yourself reaching for a few bits
bonded to the body. It prevents pitch to a second question: How do these pretty often. And these bits will dull
buildup and reduces friction while bits cut? After using both type of bits, quickly. So you can replace them with
cutting. On the other hand, the coating the results surprised me. Initially, the higher-quality, longer-lasting bits. This
on the cheaper bit is nothing more bargain bits cut smooth and clean. In way, you’re putting your money in
than paint that quickly chips off. fact, I couldn’t really see any difference the bits you use most.
INVISIBLE DIFFERENCES. While you can between the two bits. There will be some bits from the
see some differences, it’s what you The difference isn’t in the first cut, set that you won’t use much (or at
can’t see that make the biggest impact or the second. The more I used the all). But it’s good to know you didn’t
on quality and cost. One way to bargain bits, I noticed them cutting spend a lot on them.
reduce the cost of a bit is in the choice rougher as the carbide lost its edge. Several manufacturers are offering
of materials. The steel used in the Eventually this causes tearout, heat “mid-range” bits that are designed
shank and body of lower-quality bits buildup, and burning the workpiece. for contractors and home wood-
comes from less expensive alloys than So does this mean that bargain bit workers. You can read more about
those found in high-quality bits. sets aren’t a good deal? The answer them in the box below.
In the same way, the cutting edges depends on what you’re looking for Bargain router bits aren’t for
are made from carbide that’s more in router bits and how you use them. everyone. But for some people, they
brittle and with a larger grain size STARTER SETS . I like to think of the can open up new possibilities and
than premium bits. And when low- inexpensive bit sets as great starter add to your woodworking skills. W

Contractor-Grade Bits
Falling somewhere between industrial- Several high-end bit manufacturers
quality router bits and the bargain bits like Amana and MLCS have answered
talked about above are “contractor-grade” the competition from inexpensive bits by
bits. These bits have some of the same launching new lines of bits, like you see
qualities as higher-priced in Amana’s Timberline series shown at left
bits, like better qual- (see sources on page 49).
ity carbide and Even well-known tool makers are get-
steel. These bits ting into the game with their own lines of
will last longer bits as well. These bits are often found in
and will cut home improvement centers individually { Contractor-grade bits can come individually
Thicker carbide smoother than or in sets, like you see in the photo at or in sets. Built with higher-quality materials
Higher-quality and precision the less expen- right. For bits that you use more often, and cutting edges, these bits are designed to
bearings grinding sive bits. these mid-range bits are a good value. last longer than bargain bits.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 9
tools of the trade

choosing and using

Miter Saw

If you’re after the ultimate in smooth and accurate miters,

you might want to start by taking a look at your blade.

Clean, splinter-free cuts. That’s all I designed specifically for miter saws. ically have lots of teeth. For a 10"-
More teeth mean ask from my miter saw. And yet, as So the question is, “What makes a dia. miter saw blade, 60 teeth are
smoother cuts. The simple as that sounds, sometimes it miter saw blade different than other standard, while 12"-dia. blades usu-
60-tooth, 10" blade seems like an impossible request. types of blades?” ally have 80 teeth.
and 80-tooth, 12" But I’ve learned that the secret to WHAT TO LOOK FOR. Essentially, there More teeth mean a smoother cut.
blade below are typ- getting great cuts with a miter saw are three things that a miter saw But there’s a downside to having all
ical examples of doesn’t have as much to do blade needs to do. First and fore- those teeth. The more teeth on a
miter saw blades. } with the saw as it does most, it needs to make clean, smooth blade, the more friction is created.
with the blade. crosscuts. Second, it shouldn’t And this translates to greater heat
Nearly every “grab” the wood as it cuts. And buildup. This not only leads to
saw blade third, it must be able to power burning on the workpiece, but it can
manufacturer through the cut, without bogging cause the plate of the blade to
offers at least down or stalling the motor. expand and distort, which can pro-
a couple of Miter saw blade manufacturers duce a rough cut.
blades that meet these challenges in a number of To help combat this, most manu-
have been ways. To begin with, since miter facturers add expansion slots to their
saws are used blades (see inset photo at left). As
exclusively for their name implies, these slots are
crosscuts and designed to allow the outer edge of
miter cuts, miter the blade to expand slightly as fric-
saw blades typ- tion causes the blade to heat up.

< Laser cut expansion slots at the edge of the blade allow
it to expand without deforming as the plate of the blade
heats up. The “squiggly” slots closer to the center of the
blade are to help deaden vibration.

10 Woodsmith No. 160

TOOTH GEOMETRY the cleanest cuts, you want a miter tendency, manufacturers use a fairly
While the number of teeth is defi- saw blade that has a top-bevel low hook angle on miter saw blades,
nitely a factor in the quality of cut, angle around 25°. anywhere from 0° to 5°. In fact, some
the shape and profile of the teeth are HOOK ANGLE. While the top-bevel miter saw blades actually have a neg-
equally important. If you look head- angle does make a difference, the ative hook angle. (The teeth lean
on at the teeth of a miter saw blade, thing that really sets miter saw back, instead of forward.)
you’ll notice that the tops of the teeth blades apart from other blades is Again, there’s a trade-off. The
are beveled in alternating directions, the hook angle. (This is the angle of lower the hook angle, the more
see drawing in margin at right. the front face of the tooth, when power it takes to cut through the
TOP-BEVEL ANGLE. The reason for this viewed from the side.) wood. That’s because the teeth are
is simple. This top-bevel angle cre- Most table saw blades have a hitting the wood almost head on,
ates a knife-like point that scores the fairly high, positive angle. In other instead of slicing through the wood,
edges of the cut. This scoring action words, the teeth “lean” forward. This see right drawing above. Despite
minimizes chipout and splintering. allows the teeth to aggressively slice this, I still prefer a blade with a 0°
The steeper the top-bevel angle on through the wood as the workpiece or negative hook angle, especially
the teeth, the greater the scoring is fed into the blade, see left drawing when using a sliding miter saw.
action on the cut. This is true not above. On a table saw, this works to THIN-KERF. To compensate for the
only for miter saw blades, but for your advantage because the rotation added effort of the lower hook angle,
crosscut and combination blades of the blade actually helps hold the one final thing I look for in a miter The teeth on a miter
designed for table saws as well. workpiece down on the saw. saw blade is a thin-kerf design. saw blade are beveled
But there’s a trade off. As you But that’s not the case with miter Because they remove less wood, in alternating direc-
increase the top-bevel angle, the saws. Because the blade is above the these blades don’t require as much tions to cleanly score
teeth become more “pointy” and workpiece rather than below it, an power as a regular-kerf blade. And the wood fibers along
fragile. This can lead to chipped aggressive hook angle on a miter this way, you’ll still be able to get the sides of the cut.
and broken teeth. So manufacturers saw blade will cause the blade to the ultimate in smooth miter cuts
have to strike a balance between “self-feed” and grab the wood. To without overworking your saw. W
durability and quality of cut. For minimize this

How-To: Push or Pull?

Every so often, I’ll hear a group of woodworkers debat-
ing whether it’s better to pull or push the blade through
a cut when using a sliding compound miter saw. The
short answer is that it’s better to push. Here’s why. If you
pull the blade through the workpiece, the direction of
the blade’s rotation can pull the saw forward with great
force, causing injury to you or damage to the saw.
If I’m cutting narrow workpieces, I generally just
bring the blade down on the piece in a single, chop-
ping motion (see photo on opposite page). But for wider
pieces, I lift the blade and slide it back before squeezing
the trigger. Then with the saw running, I lower it into
the workpiece and push it forward, see photo at right.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 11
techniques from our shop

15 of the best tips & tricks for

Assembling Drawers
Assembling a drawer so it fits an opening perfectly can be a challenge.
These shop-tested techniques will get you off to a great start.
Assembling a drawer seems fairly tested on the hundreds of drawers but before I cut the grooves for the
simple. Cut the parts to size, do a built in our shop over the years. drawer bottom. By doing this, you
little joinery, then just glue it up. can see whether the top and bottom
Unfortunately, it’s not always that DRY ASSEMBLY edges are flush at the corners (Tip #3).
easy. The process can be challenging, One of the best ways to ensure suc- A small offset isn’t a problem. You
hectic, and an effort in frustration. cess is to assemble the drawer parts can easily sand or plane it flush. The
Plus, it’s all too easy to end up with before you pull out a bottle of glue problem is cutting the grooves before
a drawer that’s a bit out of square (Tip #1) — a “dry” assembly. you do this. This results in offset
or twisted so much that fitting it into As you do this, it’s a good idea to grooves — and the bottom may not
an opening is all but impossible. mark all the parts of each drawer slide into place during assembly.
So what can you do to make the clearly (Tip #2). This keeps matched
process of assembling a drawer drawer parts together and prevents DRAWER BOTTOMS & GROOVES
easier and ensure success? Simple. problems from popping up later on. The location of the drawer bottom
Just follow the assembly tips and I start dry assembling parts right isn’t the only area of concern. For
tricks that follow. They’ve been after I cut the joinery for the corners instance, the drawer bottoms I use

2. Mark all drawer parts 1. Dry assemble all parts before 3. Be sure top and bottom
to avoid confusion gluing to check for problems edges are flush before
cutting grooves for
drawer bottom

6. Size drawer bottom 1/16"

less in width and length

4. Use combination blade

to size groove to match
thickness of drawer bottom

5. Locate
groove so it's
hidden by
7. Chamfer edges of drawer
bottom for ease of assembly

12 Woodsmith No. 160

13. Slow-set glue gives 12. Tighten clamps just
you more assembly time enough to close joint

11. Melamine-covered base

keeps drawer flat and prevents
glue squeezeout from sticking

10. Assembly jig makes 14. Use drop of glue at

squaring drawer a snap center of each drawer
groove to secure drawer
bottom at assembly time

8. Always measure diagonals

to check for square

15. Prefinish
inside faces to pre-
vent glue squeeze
out from sticking
9. Skew clamp
slightly to square
up drawer

are made from 1/4" plywood or hard- across the diagonals, like Tip #8 front and back to the sides, you have
board. The problem is these materi- shows. Equal measurements are to deal with all the long grooves that
als are often slightly less than 1/4" what you’re looking for here. hold the drawer bottom in place.
thick. So using a 1/4" dado blade to cut So what do you do if the meas- There are a couple things I like to
the grooves results in a loose fit. urements differ? The easiest thing do here that minimize the hassle
To custom fit the groove to the to do here is to adjust the position of and mess. First, I like to use a slow-
thickness of the bottom, I use my the clamps and angle them slightly set glue (Tip #13). It gives me
combination blade and cut the groove in the same direction as the long enough time to apply glue where it
in a couple passes, as in Tip #4. diagonal, as illustrated in Tip #9. needs to be without having to worry
There’s one last thing to consider This will “pull” the drawer square. about a joint “seizing” up before
about cutting a groove for a drawer If I have a number of drawers to everything comes together.
bottom. If you’re using dovetails (or make, I use a handy assembly jig, And instead of applying glue the
box joints) to assemble the drawers, like you see in Tip #10 above. The jig entire length of the groove, I simply
be sure to locate the groove where it is nothing more than a pair of cleats drop in a dab of glue right in the
won’t be seen, as shown in Tip #5. screwed to a base at a 90° angle. center of each groove, like you see in
Once you have the groove cut, Making the base out of a piece of Tip #14. It’s more than enough to
there are a couple more tips that can melamine-covered particleboard lock the bottom in place and still
make assembly easier. For starters, to (Tip #11) serves a couple purposes. help strengthen the drawer.
allow the drawer bottom to slip into First, it provides a very flat surface Cleaning up excess glue on the
place easily, I like to cut the drawer that virtually eliminates any twist. inside of the drawer is a pain.
bottom a 1/16" less in width and And second, any glue that squeezes Wiping or scraping it out without
length (Tip #6). This way, the corner out easily pops right off. marring the inside faces or simply
joints will pull together tightly. Regardless of whether you use a making a mess is almost impossible.
Finally, a slight chamfer around the jig or not to square up the drawer, be To avoid this problem, you can
edges of the bottom makes it easy sure you don’t overtighten the pre-finish the inside face of all the
to slip into the groove, as in Tip #7. clamps (Tip #12). It’s all too easy to drawer parts (Tip #15). I like to use
pull the drawer back out of square a couple coats of shellac for this. Any
FLAT & SQUARE and even bow the sides in. glue squeezeout will peel right off.
For a drawer to fit and work well, it’s As you can see, assembling a
important that it’s flat and square. DEALING WITH GLUE drawer doesn’t have to be a chal-
So as soon as I’ve clamped the Despite its small size, gluing up a lenge. Even if you only use a few of
drawer together, I make sure to drawer can be a challenge. Besides the tips and tricks shown here, the
check for square by measuring gluing the joints used to connect the process will be a whole lot easier. W

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 13
jigs & fixtures

table saw
Miter Sleds
After trying one of these miter sleds, the
miter gauge that came with your table saw
may end up just gathering dust.

Open any woodworking catalog and wide panel. In order to get a better pivots to allow you to cut any angle
you’ll find all sorts of gadgets and sense of whether or not a miter sled of miter. Depending on the brand of
devices that promise to improve the might be valuable in your shop, let’s sled, you set the fence by lining it
accuracy of your table saw — as well take a closer look at what they do. up with an angle scale on the base of
as your woodworking. One of these COMMON FEATURES. I took a look at the jig or by using one of several pre-
accessories is a miter sled. three different miter sleds — the set stops. In all cases, a simple knob
A miter sled is kind of a cross Dubby sled by In-Line Industries, the or clamp locks the fence in place.
between a miter gauge and a sliding Woodhaven Deluxe Sled, and the Delta
cutoff table. It can do just about Sliding Miter Jig. (See page 49 for DEAD-ON MITERS
everything that most of the fancy, sources.) All three have some basic Although these sleds can do many
aftermarket miter gauges can do. features in common. things, frankly, cutting miters is
But it can also do some things that a To start with, they all have an MDF where they really shine. Once you
miter gauge can’t. Like crosscut a base. And attached to that base, is a have the fence squared up with the
miter bar that allows the sled to blade, it’s a simple matter to set the
travel in the miter gauge slot. This fence to the angle you want and cut
isn’t much different than a crosscut perfect miters every time.
sled you could make in your own I think the thing that makes these
shop. But what really makes a miter sleds work so well is the fact that
sled useful is the fence. the workpiece rides on top of the
The sleds I looked at all feature sled, rather than on top of the saw
an extruded aluminum fence that table. With an ordinary miter gauge,
it’s too easy for the workpiece to shift
Aluminum along the face of the miter gauge as
fence you push the workpiece forward,
throwing off the accuracy of the cut.
But with a sled, the workpiece and
fence remain fixed while the sled
Steel base slides across the top of the saw.
pin The only thing you have to worry
about is holding the workpiece
against the fence during the cut. And
{ A steel pin serves as a stop for the all of these sleds have a T-slot along
{ Two sets of holes on this miter sled allow you to posi- fence. By moving the pin to differ- the top of the fence. So you can add
tion the miter bar to use the sled on either side of the ent hole locations, you can set the a hold-down clamp to eliminate any
blade. The aluminum fence can also be repositioned. fence to commonly-used angles. concerns of the workpiece moving.

14 Woodsmith No. 160

sled for the first time, you’ll need to mentioned, one of the Hold
trim the edge on your table saw, stand-out features of
as shown in the photo below. What these miter sleds is the
this does is provide a perfect fit aluminum fence. The Blade guard

between the saw blade and the fences on all the sleds Stop
edge of the sled. So the bottom are moveable, so no
of the workpiece is supported by matter what angle you
the sled all the way up to the are cutting, you can slide
blade. This prevents splintering the fence right up to the
and tearout in your workpiece. blade to back up your
There is one downside to this, workpiece.
however. With most of these miter One of the sleds even
sleds, once you trim the sled to fit features a replaceable
your saw, you can’t use it on a dif- wood extension on the end of the < To position the fence
ferent saw (unless the distance fence to give your workpiece sup- on this sled, simply
between the blade and the miter port on both sides of the blade. loosen the knob and
gauge slot is the same). (It would be pretty simple to add line up the cursor
Some of the sleds allow you to an auxiliary wood face to the with the desired
reposition the miter bar on the fences of the other sleds.) angle on the scale.
base of the sled to use it in either PANELS. One thing that a miter
the left-hand or right-hand miter sled will allow you to do that a miter Fortunately, all these sleds allow
gauge slot of the saw. But with gauge won’t is crosscut panels. On you to adjust the scales and stops
at least one brand of sled, you a typical table saw, your crosscut for the fence. Some of them even let
have to specify which side of the capacity with a miter gauge is lim- you adjust the fit of the miter bar.
blade you’ll be using the sled ited to around 12" in width. With a OTHER FEATURES. Of course, there are
when you place your order. miter sled, you can cut about double also other features that you’d expect
that. That’s because to find on a crosscut sled — things
the sled supports like hold-down clamps, flip-up
the workpiece even stops, and fence extensions. You can
if it’s pulled back see some of these in the box below.
partially out of the PRICE. The price of these sleds may
miter gauge slot. seem steep at first — they range
ADJUSTABILITY. As from about $135 to $170. But when
with any jig that has you consider all they can do, and if
moving parts, being you cut a lot of miters, a miter sled
able to periodically is definitely worth the money. And
{ Before using the sled for the first time, you’ll need re-calibrate the jig what about the miter gauge that
to trim the edge. This creates a zero-clearance fit for accuracy is came with your table saw? Well, it
between the blade and sled to prevent chipout. important. makes a great paperweight. W

How-To: Feature Packed

Adjustable Backer Board. A replaceable Positive 90° Setting. An adjustable stop Adjustable Stop. An adjustable stop on
wood extension on the end of the fence of makes it easy to quickly return the fence to the fence allows you to cut multiple pieces
this miter sled allows you to back up your a 90° setting for right angle crosscuts. You’ll to the same length. This stop is reversible,
workpiece completely when making a cut. find this feature on all the miter sleds. giving you two settings.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 15
Weekend Project

Storage Case
Organize your collection of DVDs in style with
this easy-to-build, versatile storage case.
It doesn’t take long to build up a rather You can set the case horizontally
sizable collection of DVDs. But the (photo above) and stack a couple
challenge is keeping them all organ- together so they’ll look like an old
ized and neatly stored. That’s just one library card catalog. Or stand a single
of the reasons I like the DVD storage case on end (photo at left) where it
case you see in the photo above. resembles a miniature filing cabinet.
Another is that it’s easy to build.The Regardless of its position, the
few simple joints you need to make drawers slip in place smoothly. And
{ The storage case works just as well vertically. can all be done at the router table. your collection stays organized so
After standing it on end, just give the drawers a The final thing that makes this you’ll always be able to find the DVD
quarter turn, and then slide them back in place. project unique is the design of the case. you’re looking for.

16 Woodsmith No. 160

OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 22”W x 11!/8”D x 7!/2"H

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 17




making the Since you’ll see the dado at the a rabbet along the back edge to hold

front of the case, a straight bit will the back of the case (detail ‘a’). And
cut a smooth, clean bottom and both the sides and dividers are sized
create a tight-fitting joint. The next to project slightly (1/8") past the front
page shows you how this is done. edge of the top and bottom.
As you can see in the drawing above, STOPPED RABBETS . While you’re at You’re just about ready to assemble
the storage case is nothing more than the router table, you’ll want to rout the case. But first you’ll need to ease
a box with a couple of dividers. The a rabbet along the back edge of both the sharp edges by routing or sanding
key to making the box is creating the top and bottom. It’s sized to a small roundover on the front edges
perfectly square openings so that the accept the back of the case (detail of the sides and dividers, as well as the
drawers will fit the case whether it’s ‘b’). Just be sure to start and stop the ends of the top and bottom, as shown
sitting horizontally or vertically. rabbet without routing through the in detail ‘c’ and on the opposite page.
To do this, I started by cutting the ends of the top and bottom. Finally, if you’re building more
top and bottom to final size and then At this point, you can set the top than one case, detail ‘d’ and page 31
headed to the router table. The router and bottom aside and work on the show you the steps to take to join
is the best choice for making the case sides and dividers. What’s them together. Once that’s complete,
dadoes that the sides and dividers important to note here is that the you can glue up the case and install
of the case will fit into. sides are a 1/4" wider. This allows for the hardboard back.

18 Woodsmith No. 160

How To:
Router Joinery
As I mentioned earlier, I used dadoes
to join the case sides and dividers to
the top and bottom. Since this joint
will be “front and center,” it’s very
important to cut perfectly smooth,
flat, and chipout-free dadoes. To do The router table and a 1/2" straight bit is all
this, I used my router table and a 1/2" it takes to make smooth, flat-bottomed
straight bit, as in the photo at right. dadoes. A simple backer board prevents
ROUTING THE DADOES . The key to chipout at the end of the cut.
making the drawer compartments
of the case identical in size is cutting
evenly spaced and matched dadoes 1
in both the top and bottom. a.
All it takes is a couple simple
steps, like you see in Fig. 1 at right.
Start by routing the dadoes for the
dividers. To do this position the fence
so it’s 7 1/4" away from the bit. Then
set the router bit to cut 1/4" deep.
To prevent chipout as you com-
plete the cut, use a backer board to
push the workpiece over the bit, like
you see at right. After completing
the first cut, simply rotate the work-
piece end for end and rout the dado The first step in cutting the dadoes is to set the make a second pass. Then you can reset the fence
for the second divider. Then, repeat fence to cut the dadoes for the dividers. After you to space the dadoes evenly, as shown in detail ‘a,’
the process on the bottom of the case. rout one dado, flip the workpiece end for end and and rout the dadoes for the sides.
The next step is to rout the dadoes
at the ends. What’s important here is 2 3
to reset the fence so that after routing a. a.
the two dadoes, the spacing between
all of them is identical. In my case, I
reset the fence 1/4" from the bit.
need to make a couple of rabbets
to hold the back of the case. If you
look closely, you’ll notice the rab- After installing a 1/4" bit in the router, you can Reset the fence and rout the rabbet along the
bets are “stopped.” That’s so they use one of the dadoes you just routed as a setup back edge of the top and bottom. Stop the cut
aren’t visible on the sides of the gauge for setting the depth of cut for the rabbet. when you reach the end dado (detail ’a’).
case. To make these cuts, you’ll
want to switch to a 1/4" straight bit. 4 5
To match the depth of cut, you can a.
use one of the dadoes you just
routed as a setup gauge, as shown in
Fig. 2 at right. I found it easiest to
align the workpiece over the bit and
then “drop” it down to begin the cut
(Fig. 3). Just be sure to stop the cut
when you reach the dado that’s at
the end of the workpiece. After routing the dadoes and rabbets, switch to It’s almost impossible to rout a roundover on the
Finally, rout or sand a roundover a 1/8" roundover bit to soften the ends of the case small ends of each piece. So it’s best to switch to
to ease the edges (Figs. 4 and 5). top, bottom, sides, and dividers. fine sandpaper and a sanding block.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 19



two-way DRAWERS
With the case complete, you’re ready without the drawer falling out of the top edge of each side, as in the
to turn your attention to the drawers. case. Finally, to “dress up” the fronts drawing above and pattern below.
The challenge is to build the drawers of the drawers, I added a miniature ROUTING A LOCKING RABBET JOINT . To
to match the openings in the case so hardwood face frame. join the fronts and sides, I used a
they fit well — whether the case is set FRONTS AND SIDES. Since the front of locking rabbet joint, as shown in
horizontally or vertically. the drawer determines the overall fit, detail ‘a.’ The opposite page covers
DRAWER DETAILS . The drawers are I started by cutting the drawer fronts everything you need to know.
built to have a small 1/16" clearance to fit the opening, allowing enough ADDING THE BACK & BOTTOM. Once you
side to side and top to bottom. And for the 1/16" clearance. have the locking rabbet joints cut,
if you take a quick look at the While I was at it, I cut the side you’re ready to add the back and
drawing above, you can see how the pieces to the same width and bottom. The back fits into dadoes
back of the drawer is recessed just a trimmed them to final length. Then, cut in each side piece (detail ‘b’) and
bit. This way you can pull out the to make it easy to reach a DVD inside the bottom fits into grooves cut in
drawer and easily access the DVDs the drawer, I made a cutout along the the front and sides (detail ’c’). After
cutting the drawer bottom and back
to size, you can glue up the drawer.
FINISH IT OFF. To give each drawer a
finished look, I created a face frame
by gluing on thin strips of hardwood
on the drawer fronts (see drawing).
Finally, I added some plastic
bumpers and a brass bin pull.
Now all that’s left to do is round
up your DVD collection, organize
them the way you want, and then
slip them in place.

20 Woodsmith No. 160

> The router table and

How To: a couple of small

straight bits make
quick work of cutting

Locking Rabbet a locking rabbet joint.

Even though the drawers of the DVD

case are small, they’re sure to get a
lot of wear and tear. So to make sure
the drawers stand the test of time, I
used a locking rabbet joint to attach
the front to the sides.
‘a’ on the opposite page shows you
what an assembled locking rabbet
joint looks like. This may look chal-
lenging at first. But you can make
this joint with a few simple steps.
The first thing you’ll need to do 1
is cut a centered groove on each end a.
of the drawer front. You can see how
I did this in the photo and Fig. 1 at
right. But there are a few things I
should point out.
First, I used a 1/4" straight bit and
set the bit to cut the full depth. Then
using an auxiliary table you can cut
the groove in two passes.
To do this, you’ll want to be sure To center a groove in the ends of the drawer front, use a 1/4" straight bit and set the depth
you have the fence set to center the to make a full 1/2" deep cut. Next, add an auxiliary table and adjust the fence. Make one pass,
groove perfectly. This is where some and then remove the auxiliary table, then make a second pass.
test pieces can really help you out.
By making a few practice cuts and 2
then adjusting the fence, you’ll be a.
able to quickly center the groove.
I wanted to be sure I made a clean
cut at both ends of the groove. So I
used a backer board to support the
workpiece. This eliminates the
chance of any chipout as the router
bit exits the end of the workpiece.
Now, you can go ahead and make
the cuts on all the drawer fronts. Next, you’ll need to trim the end of the drawer front to create a small tongue. To do this in
TRIMMING THE TONGUE. After making a single pass, I used the 1/4" straight bit already installed in my router and the setup shown
the grooves, you’ll need to trim in detail ‘a.’ Here again, a backer board prevents the back edge from chipping out.
away part of the drawer front to
create a tongue. This tongue fits the 3
dado you’ll be cutting in the side of a.
the drawer. In Fig. 2 at right, you
can see how I used a 1/4" straight bit
to trim the tongue to final length.
COMPLETING THE JOINT. All that’s left to
complete the locking rabbet joint is
to cut a narrow dado in each drawer
side to mate with the tongue. For
this you’ll need to switch to an 1/8"
straight bit. Again, Fig. 3 at right All that’s left to complete the locking rabbet joint is to cut a narrow dado in each side piece
covers the setup you’ll need to get to fit the tongue on the drawer front. For this you’ll need to install a 1/8" straight bit and make
the fit of the tongue just right. W a single pass. Detail ‘a’ shows you the setup you’ll need for doing this.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 21
Designer Series Project

Platform Bed
This project combines the best of both worlds — a modern, elegant
design with basic, traditional joinery. Simple techniques make it easy.

Here’s a project I’ve been looking build a platform-style bed. With joinery. Nothing fancy or tricky
forward to building for some time. this type of design, no box spring is here. All you have to do is chop a
This queen-size bed completes the needed. So you end up with a sleek, few mortises, cut some tenons to
five-piece bedroom suite that low-profile bed. But best of all, the fit, and you’re almost done. And
includes an armoire, dresser, night clean, simple design makes the panels in headboard simply
stand, and wall mirror. (To see all building a large project like this slide into grooves cut into the frame
of these projects together, check out very straightforward. pieces. To complete the job, you just
the photo on the back cover.) For starters, the headboard and cut a couple of rails, install some
To match the contemporary look footboard are both put together simple hardware, and the bed is
of the other pieces, we decided to with basic mortise and tenon ready to assemble.

22 Woodsmith No. 160

OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 68”W x 86!/2”L x 44"H

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 23

b .

building a sturdy
On this project, I decided to get the THE LEGS. To get started, you’ll need hold the side panels, connects the
most involved work out of the way to make the two stout, 3"-square legs. two upper mortises.
first. That means I started by put- These will give you a solid founda- KEEPING IT SIMPLE. But before you get
ting together the headboard. tion. As you can see above, the leg started on the layout, let me point
LOOK IT OVER. Take a look at the blanks are glued up from two pieces out a couple things you need to
drawing above and you’ll get a of 11/2"-thick stock. Once that job is know. First, as shown above, you
good idea of how the headboard is completed, you can cut them to want to orient the leg blanks so the
put together. You’ll see that it’s really length, and then turn your attention glue lines are along the sides of the
nothing more than a large, mortise to the mortise and tenon joinery. headboard. They’ll be a lot less
and tenon frame. THE LEG JOINERY. As shown in the left noticeable this way.
You start with two sturdy legs and margin, each leg has three mortises. The second item has to do with
join them with three rails. The space Two long mortises for the lower and the width of the mortises and the
between the upper rails is filled by middle rails, and a narrower, open grooves in the frame. I did things
a pair of vertical stiles and three ply- mortise to capture the upper rail. just a bit differently here.
wood panels set into grooves. I think This open-ended mortise makes the To keep things simple, I wanted
the main challenge you’ll find might assembly go a little easier and it will to set the three plywood panels into
just be the large size of the head- be hidden by a cap piece added later. full-width, centered grooves cut into
board. But it’s not unmanageable. Finally, a shallow groove, sized to the frame parts. But now since 3/4"

24 Woodsmith No. 160

How-To: Cut the Leg Joinery
plywood is usually a bit undersize,
this requires cutting custom-sized For me, the real challenge to the leg width of the mortises to the thick-
grooves to get a good, snug fit. I joinery was doing things in the right ness of the plywood for the panels.
didn’t want to cut full 3/4"-wide mor- order and with the right technique. A scrap of the plywood makes a per-
tises and then have to cut slightly I started the job at the drill press, fect test tenon to check the fit.
narrower grooves. So what it boils as shown in Fig. 1. The completed When you set down your chisels,
down to is that I sized the width of mortise will be slightly less than 3/4" the final task is to connect the middle
the mortises to the plywood as well. wide, so I installed a 5/8"-dia. Forstner and upper mortises with a panel
It’s a pretty minor compromise that bit to drill out the waste. A fence groove. And since the groove ends
makes the joinery go a lot easier. clamped to the table will take any in the middle mortise, I decided the
GETTING TO WORK. Now you’re ready guesswork out of centering the holes router table was the best place to do
to get busy laying out the joinery. I in the mortises. The tenons on the the work (Fig. 3).
just kept a scrap of the plywood in rails will be 11/2" long, so you’ll want The mortises in the legs make
my apron pocket to use for a layout to go just a little deeper with the routing the grooves easier by giving
and joinery gauge. mortises (1/16" should do it). you a starting and stopping point
Once the layout is complete, the When the work at the drill press for a 1/2"-dia. straight bit. To keep the
drill press, a couple of sharp chisels, was done, I took the legs to the groove centered, make a pass and
and the router table will take care of workbench to clean up the mortises then flip the leg end for end for a
the hard work. The box at right will (Fig. 2). The key thing to remember second pass. Again, I used a scrap of
lead you through the process. here is that you want to match the my plywood to check for a snug fit.
When you finish routing the
groove in the last step, you’ll want to 1
stay at the router table for just a bit a.
longer. Install a chamfer bit and then
use it to ease the bottoms of the legs.
This will keep them from chipping
when the bed is moved.
RAILS AND STILES. With the legs ready
to go, you can turn your attention
to connecting them. Your first task is
to cut the the three rails and the two
stiles to size. Once this was done, I
swapped out the standard blade on 2
my table saw for a dado blade to a.
handle the joinery.
Here again, you want to work
around your panel plywood. So first,
I cut the centered grooves in the
upper and middle rail and the two
stiles for the panels. Just sneak up
on the width of the groove by
turning the pieces end for end
between passes, as in detail ‘c.’
After the grooves are completed, 3
all the pieces get tenons on both
ends. Since the tenons on the rails
and stiles are all the same thickness,
I first cut the stub tenons on the stiles
to get the blade setting right. (Bury a.
the blade in an auxiliary fence.) Then
you can cut the longer tenons on the
three rails, as in detail ‘a.’
THE PANELS. With the joinery com-
plete, all you need now are the three
plywood panels. After cutting them
to size, I did a dry fit of the head-
board and then gave some thought
on how to approach the glueup.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 25
capping the
The joinery is complete but don’t get
too anxious and start gluing the
headboard together just yet. There’s
a certain order to things that you’ll
want to know about first.
STAIN NOW . You’ll remember that
the headboard frame and the panels
are stained contrasting colors. This
left me with a decision — should I
stain before or after the assembly.
Prestaining made the most sense. So
at this point, I took the time to sand
and stain all the parts. You’ll find
the two stain colors at our website.
THE ASSEMBLY . After the stain was
dry, I carried all the pieces to the
bench and got out the glue and
clamps. The large size of the head- a. b.
board can make the glueup a little
tricky. So I took it in stages to make
it more manageable. You’ll need six-
You can find infor- foot clamps to reach from side to
mation on the stains side. If you don’t have any long
used on the bed at clamps, the box below gives you
www.Woodsmith.com several good options.
I started the assembly by gluing
the lower and middle rail between
the legs. When this assembly is dry,
you can drop the stiles (with glue)
and panels into place from above.
Finally, the upper rail is glued into fered cap that covers the top rail and dowels between each leg and the
the slot mortises in the legs and the legs. Glue holds the cap to the long headboard cap, as shown in details
clamps can go on. grain of the top rail but the end grain ‘a’ and ‘b.’ If you turn to page 31,
A SIMPLE CAP . The last piece to be on top of the legs is a poor glue sur- you’ll find an easy way to match up
added to the headboard is a cham- face. So here, I added a pair of the holes for the dowels.

Shop Tips: Stretching Your Clamps

{ You can avoid the need for long clamps { A cheap solution is to make two clamps { If one pipe clamp won’t do the job, I’ll
by giving yourself an alternate clamping into one. All it takes is an inexpensive put two to work, back-to-back. The two
surface. Here I tightened my clamps down coupler from the hardware store to make pads are turned 90° so the clamps can
on cleats clamped to the rail. two sections of pipe into one long section. be tightened against one another.

26 Woodsmith No. 160




making the
With the headboard complete, most to worry about, so I cut mortises that THE SIDE RAILS . The side rails only
of the hard work is out of the way. were a full 3/4"-wide (detail ‘b’). And need a short mention. Just cut them
The next job is to build a footboard since the footboard has no cap piece, to size and they’re ready to go.
and a pair of rails to wrap up the I routed a chamfer on the tops of the THE HARDWARE. Now that you have
frame. Then you’ll add the hardware legs as well as the bottoms. all the frame pieces made, the next
to hold everything together. And The footboard rail is pretty much step is to install the bed hardware
finally, some cleats to support a plat- self explanatory. The only twist here used to fasten everything. For details
form for the mattress. is the gentle curve cut into the lower on this, you can turn to page 28.
THE FOOTBOARD. First comes the foot- edge of the rail. You’ll want to do THE CLEATS . With the fasteners in
board. You can see in the drawing this after the tenons have been cut, place, the frame can be set up and
above, it’s much simpler than the as shown in detail ‘a.’ the cleats that support the platform
paneled headboard — merely a pair To lay out the curve, I simply used installed. First, I cut the headboard
of legs with a curved rail connecting a flexible strip of wood pulled into and footboard cleats to fit and glued
them. Here again, mortise and tenon a slight bow by a piece of string tied and screwed them to the rails (details
joinery supplies the strength. between the two ends. And once ‘c’ and ‘d’). The side rail cleats need
I’ll only mention a couple things you’ve marked the line of the curve to be set back from the ends of the
about the legs for the footboard. on the rail, you can take it to the rails in order to clear the end cleats,
Here, I didn’t have plywood panels band saw to cut it to shape. as shown in detail ‘c.’

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 27
Bed Rail Fasteners

knock-down HOW THEY WORK


behind slots
SIDE for hooks


hooks lock
When you assemble a bed frame, into slots in
female plate Female
you want to accomplish two things. plate of
First, you want it to be solid as a fastener
rock. Next, you need to be able to into face
of leg
assemble and disassemble the bed
frame quickly and easily for mov-
Male plate of
ing. Well as you might guess, there’s fastener mortised
hardware available that handles into end of rail
both jobs and it works great.
drawing at upper right
shows how the bed rail 1
fasteners I used (and most a.
{ These bed rail fas- other types) work. The male plate
teners give you the of the fastener (left in drawing) is
best of both mortised into the end of the side rail.
worlds. They make It has a pair of tapered hooks that
setting up the engage two slots in the female plate
frame easy. And of the fastener, mortised into the leg.
once it’s together, As the rail drops into place, the
it’ll stay together. tapered face of the hooks pulls it
tightly against the female plate
locking the leg and rail together. All
it takes to reverse the lock is a solid 2
“thump” on the bottom of the rail. a.
MORTISES. The only catch is, to get
the best result, the fasteners have to
be mortised snugly in place, flush
to the surface. This means cutting
eight mortises, four of these into
tough end grain. So it didn’t take
me long to decide that routing these
mortises was the best way to go. It
was an easy job using a simple jig.
You’ll find the details on page 30.
FINISH UP. Once the shallow plate < Seated in a snug fit-
mortises were routed, I got out a ting mortise on the
hand drill to complete the job. As leg, the slotted plate
you can see in the upper drawing, provides a solid
both parts need a relief area drilled attachment point for
out behind the plate. The side rail the side rails.
mortises simply need a couple of
shallow holes to provide clearance
for the nubs on the back of the plate
(Fig. 1). On the legs, I drilled a
deeper, secondary mortise behind
the slots in the plate to accommo-
date the fastener hooks as in Fig. 2.

28 Woodsmith No. 160

adding the
All you need now is a platform to
support the mattress. And for this
job, I cut two 3/4" plywood panels.
To get a good fit, you’ll want to
assemble the bed frame before cut-
ting the panels to size. Then two cor-
ners of each panel are notched to fit
around the legs (detail ‘a’).
Finally, to make certain there
wasn’t any sag across the center a . b.
seam, I fastened a brace between the
panels (detail ’b’). The easy way to
do this is to set one panel in the
frame and then screw the brace to
it. Then the second panel is dropped
in place and screwed to the brace.
Now, I took it all apart to com-
plete the finish. And after a quick
reassembly, it’s ready for use. W

A Different Size
Building a wider frame is about the
only change you’ll need to make for
a king-size version. But I do want
to mention a couple minor things.
First, when you build the head-
board, you’ll have more space to
fill with the plywood panels. The
best way to do this is to leave the
two side panels the same size and
make the center panel wider.
And then at the tail end of the
project, you’ll want to add extra
support under the platform. All
this takes is a centered leg
screwed to the platform brace.
A couple final notes. You’ll find
dimensions for a full-size bed on
To find a materials list and cutting
our website. And check your mat- diagram for a king-size or a full-size
tress size before you start work. bed, go to: www.Woodsmith.com

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 29
tips from our shop

Bed Rail Fasteners

To attach the rails to the headboard perfectly matched to
and footboard of the platform bed on the hardware.
page 22, I used bed rail fasteners. FENCE. The underside
These are mortised into the legs of of the top has a couple
the bed as well as the ends of the of grooves cut in it to
rails. And since they carry the entire hold a hardboard
weight of the platform fence. This way, you
and mattress, you’ll want can move the fence
to make sure they fit into from one groove to the
the mortises like a hand other to cut the mor-
in a glove. In order to do tises on the legs as well
this, I made a simple jig that as those in the bed
allowed me to quickly rout snug- rails. I sized both of
fitting mortises for the fasteners, as these grooves for a
is shown in the photo at right. tight, friction fit.
As you can see in the drawing To use the jig, place the fence in After routing the mortises on the
{ This dado clean-out below, the jig is just a router tem- the groove closest to the slot opening bed rails, you can move the fence to
bit is the perfect plate that fits over the workpiece. and then clamp the jig to the end of the outer groove of the jig and repeat
length for routing The top of the jig is nothing more one of the bed rails, as you can see in the mortising procedure on the legs
the shallow mor- than a piece of 1/2"-thick hardwood Fig. 1. Using a 1/2" dado clean-out bit of the bed (Figs. 2 and 2a).
tises for the bed rail with a slot in the center to match the (see inset photo at left) rout a shallow Once all the mortises have been
fasteners. See page size of the bed rail fasteners. mortise in the end of the rail. The routed, the next step is to square up
49 for sources. But instead of trying to cut the slot bearing on the bit follows the slot in the ends of each mortise with a chisel
in the center of the top, I glued up the jig, creating a perfectly sized (Fig. 2b). Then you just have a few
the top out of four separate pieces, mortise. (You can use one of the rail little minor details to take care of
using one of the rail fasteners as a fasteners as a gauge to check the before screwing the rail fasteners in
spacer to make sure the slot was depth of the mortise.) place. (See page 28 for more.)

Glue up top
of jig around
2 To rout
one of the mortise in
bed rail fasteners legs, move
Size 3 fence to outer
grooves groove
to hold

#/4 15 Top of jig is
made of
!/2"-thick stock

glue hardboard VIEW
Setting !/4" fence in place
for bed rail hardboard fence

!/2" dado
1 END VIEW clean-out bit

Place Bed
fence in groove post
closest to slot Clamp jig
to bed rail

30 Woodsmith No. 160

Stacking DVD Cases
If you decide to make more than one Once all the holes are drilled, you
of the DVD storage cases on page 16, can install the inserts. The inserts I
you’ll probably want to be able to used are threaded on the inside only
stack the cases on top of each other. — to match the threads of the a.
To connect the cases but still allow machine screws. The outside of each
them to be taken apart later for a dif- insert is covered with little barbs. As
ferent configuration, I installed the insert is driven into its hole, the
machine screws and matching barbs dig into the wood and prevent
threaded inserts (see photo at right). the insert from being pulled out.
DRILLING THE HOLES. If you take a look INSTALLING THE INSERTS. My first instinct
at details ‘a’ and ‘b’ below, you’ll was to hammer the inserts into the
see that countersunk holes are holes. But I quickly realized that this
drilled in the bottom of the upper might damage the workpiece (or the
case for the machine screws. Then insert). So instead, I decided to press Installing Inserts. The inserts are pressed into the holes
larger holes are drilled in the top of each insert into its hole. using a C-clamp and a machine screw. A backer board pre-
the case below for the inserts. The answer was a simple C- vents the clamp head from marring the workpiece.
The trick is to make sure that the clamp. I first threaded a machine
insert holes in the lower case line screw into each insert to act as a Barbs on >
up perfectly with the screw holes in driving ram. Then I used the C- the outside of
the upper case. To do this, I set up clamp to gently press the inserts into these inserts
a fence and a stop block on my the holes, as you see in the drawing prevent them
drill press, and used this setup to in the upper left. A backer board from being pulled
drill all the holes, see drawing placed behind the workpiece will out of their holes once
below. (You’ll have to flip the work- prevent the head of the C-clamp they’re installed.
piece over to drill all the holes.) from marring the wood.

a. Countersink b. FRONT
SECTION machine !/4" x 1"Fh.
VIEW machine
VIEW screw

NOTE: See page 18

for placement
of inserts %/16" -dia.
Fence through hole
block !/4" -20
Use same setup to drill
holes in both upper @#/64"-dia.
and lower case pieces through hole

Headboard Cap
When it came to installing the cap on a.
the headboard of the bed, I used
dowels to keep the pieces aligned
and create a stronger joint. I just had
to make sure sure the holes in the
top of the legs lined up with the holes !/2"-dia.
in the bottom of the cap. !/2"-dia. dowel
To do this, I used dowel centers. I dowel
drilled the holes in the legs first. b. Drill holes in
cap for dowels
Then I placed a dowel center in each
hole and centered the cap on the
headboard. By pressing down on Leg
the cap, the dowel centers made
“dimples” in the bottom of the cap, SECTION
letting me know exactly where to
drill the matching holes. W

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 31
Heirloom Project

Inlay Mirror Frame
Take a frame from basic to outstanding with a few small pieces of
veneer and pre-made inlays and marquetry patterns.
Icing on the cake — that’s what this it stand out from the crowd. While veneer choices, and marquetry medal-
project is all about. Just take a look at this may sound complicated, it’s not. lions available. For a couple of other
the photo above and the drawing on The inlay and marquetry pieces are ideas, take a look at page 39 or the
the opposite page to see what I mean. pre-made from different species of sources on page 49.
The frame joinery is just butt joints wood that are sliced thin, dyed, and With this frame, I’ll show you the
reinforced with splines. But then, the then glued together. All you have to techniques and give you the infor-
frame is dressed up with figured do is arrange them on the workpiece mation you’ll need to successfully
veneer, marquetry medallions, inlay and then cut them to suit your needs. work with these pieces on this project
strips, and stringing that really make There are dozens of inlay patterns, or any other you’d like to build.

32 Woodsmith No. 160

Stop holds mirror in
place without rattling

For veneer
and inlay
sources, turn
to page 49
Beveled mirror D-ring
sits in rabbet hangers
routed on
back of frame

Kraft paper backing

protects back of
mirror from scratches
Mirror can
be hung
or vertically

Frame pieces
covered with
burl veneer
and pre-made
inlay strips
Rails made

Hardwood edging
conceals sides of
frame pieces

Hardwood splines
reinforce corner
butt joints

OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 41!/2”W x 1%/16”D x 27!/2"H

Pre-made marquetry
medallion dresses up
corner block Cross banding
cut from
veneer sheets

Corner blocks
have roundover
with shoulder

Screws allow
easy removal
of mirror

Inlay stringing
helps square up
marquetry medallion
www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 33
Inlay strips

Burl veneer a.
applied first Cut edging extra
long, then trim
after attaching to
frame pieces

flush NOTE: Frame pieces
made from
!/2"-thick poplar
Inlay glued in
rabbets routed
on frame pieces

NOTE: Edging made Rout profile
from !/2"-thick mahogany 2!/4 on extra-wide
!!/16 Inlay strips blank
mitered with B D
chisel and

dressing up the
miter block
(2!/4 x 35)

edge molding are added to complete the same, exact length. A stop block

FRAME PIECES the frame pieces. The box along the

bottom of the page gives a good
overview of the steps in the process.
FRAME PIECES . There isn’t much to
set up on the miter gauge will give
you consistent results, as shown in
the box on the bottom of the page.
Once the pieces are sized, you’re
making the frame pieces, but there ready to start adding some detail. I
I began building with the frame are a couple of things to point out. started in the center of the frame
pieces. You can make them any First, since the pieces aren’t visible pieces and worked my way out.
length you want. For the rectangu- once the frame is assembled, I used VENEER FIRST. The first thing to do
lar frame shown here, I used two an inexpensive wood — poplar. is apply a strip of veneer to the top
short pieces and two long ones. Second, for the frame joinery to of the frame piece. I used Carpathian
In the drawing above, you can see end up square, you’ll want to take elm burl veneer, but any fancy
that veneer, inlay strips, and some care to cut all the matching parts to veneer will work. When gluing the

How-To: Applying Veneer, Inlay, and Edging

Stop block
Stop block used to
make identical parts FRAME PIECE
a. Veneer
Stop block Trim veneer flush
Aux.fence A B Caul to rails

Cut Rails to Length. To end up with a square assem- Gluing the Veneer. A set of hardwood Trim Veneer Flush. After the glue dries,
bly, the frame pieces need to be cut precisely. A stop cauls and plenty of clamps provides the use a veneer saw to trim the veneer flush
block on the miter gauge makes this a snap. pressure needed for a flat veneer bond. with the edges of the frame pieces.

34 Woodsmith No. 160

veneer down, you want the veneer
as flat as possible (no bubbles or
lumps). To do that, I used a pair of
Shop Tip: Veneer Miter Block
cauls and plenty of clamps. 1!/2
Miter block
I usually use yellow glue to attach guides chisel
veneer, but here I used veneer glue. for accurate cuts
It’s thicker than ordinary glue and Width of 6
contains ground pecan shells to help inlay strip

prevent the glue from bleeding

through the veneer and affecting the Guide
finish later on. To find out where to
get it, turn to page 49.
INLAY STRIPS. To set off the veneer,
Keep chisel back
it’s framed with a mitered inlay strip. Inlay flat against
Usually, this kind of strip is set in strip guide block
flush with the surface of the wood. Width of
cross banding
And that’s easy to do on this frame
with a simple rabbet. mitering them to fit around the rail. registering it against both the veneer
I took the workpiece over to the I used a chisel to cut the inlay to fit. and the guide piece.
router table for this step. Using a A saw would be too rough and GLUING THE INLAY. It’s almost impos-
straight bit to rout the rabbet makes could tear the inlay. To guide the sible to clamp the inlay — so I didn’t
it easy to get a perfectly smooth, flat- chisel I made a simple “miter block” even try. Instead, I just used my fin-
bottomed surface for the inlay to rest (drawing above). The block has a gers to hold down short sections
in. A few test cuts will help you get 45° miter cut on one end that guides (about 6") while the glue set up.
everything set just right. the chisel. A pair of grooves cut in the EDGING. To protect the edges of the
After routing the rabbet, the inlay block are sized to hold the inlay frame pieces, I added some
can then be cut and glued in place. strips and cross banding. mahogany edging. The edging is
As simple as that sounds, there’s a When it comes to fitting the inlay, pretty straightforward. It has a bull
little more to gluing them in place. I needed a way to position the first nose profile routed on the top edge.
First of all, the inlay strips are pretty piece accurately. To do this, I used a The box below shows how it’s made.
brittle. You have to handle them short piece of inlay to serve as a Finally, the edging can be glued on.
gently to avoid snapping them apart. guide. Hold the guide piece in place The edging is left extra long. This
MITERING TO FIT . Another thing to along one of the short edges of the way, you can trim it perfectly flush
consider is the technique for rail. Then butt a long piece in place, with the ends of the frame pieces.



A B a. #/8"
!!/16 roundover
6 bit

Veneer Waste

a. Width of A B
inlay strip a. C D
of inlay

Spacer piece
helps to align
miter at corners C D
Straight bit

Routing for Inlay. A straight bit Applying Inlay. A mitered spacer makes it easy to posi- Shaping the Edgings. Rout the profile
in the router table makes a flat- tion the first strip of inlay. On the long edges, apply of the edge molding on an extra-wide
bottom rabbet for the inlay. glue to short sections and use finger pressure. blank. Then rip to width.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 35
Cross banding

Cross banding

complete the frame with Cross banding

CORNER BLOCKS Inlay stringing

Inlay stringing

NOTE: Use miter

Inlay stringing guide block to
create 45° miters
The only other pieces of the frame on cross banding
that are left to make are the corner pattern
blocks. What sets the corner blocks
apart are the marquetry medallions.
These intricate patterns are formed
by many pieces of wood that are col- layout lines
ored, cut to size, and then glued to
a wax paper backing. E
The medallions are surrounded CORNER
by a thin inlay stringing and veneer
cross banding. Like the frame pieces,
I made the corner blocks by starting
in the center and working out. 3!/4
THE BLOCKS . Making the corner
blocks starts by cutting them to size NOTE: Cross banding
from 11/16"-thick stock. Unlike the and inlay strips
are cut-to-fit
frame pieces, the corner blocks are
visible, so I cut these from quetry medallion. The medallions I INLAY STRINGING. To help square up
mahogany. Once the blocks are used weren’t exactly square. So I the look of the medallion, a thin
sized, you’re almost ready to start came up with a technique that black inlay stringing is wrapped
adding the details. But before you makes it appear square once it’s around it. And rather than butt these
do, it helps to draw diagonal layout complete (box below). strips tightly to the medallion, I
lines on the top of the corner block. When gluing the medallion down, glued them on as square as possible.
The lines will make it easier to posi- you’ll need to “eyeball” it to get it While this leaves some tiny gaps
tion all the pieces on each block. roughly centered. I glued it with the around the border of the medallion,
MEDALLIONS. Like I said before, the paper backing up. It can be easily the dark color of the inlay strip will
first piece to add is the square mar- sanded or scraped off later. mask them (detail below).

How-To: Squaring Marquetry Medallion Gap

Use mitered Cut second
spacer to fit miter on end
first piece of first piece

Straight border
piece is used to
square up sides
Align corners of of medallion
medallion with Spacer
layout lines

Placing Medallion. Use diagonal layout Apply Inlay Stringing. Black inlay stringing sets off the medallion. Since the medal-
lines to roughly center the marquetry medal- lions may not be square, don’t glue the stringing tight against the medallion. Instead,
lion on the corner block. use the inlay to help square up the pattern. The tiny gaps won’t be visible.

36 Woodsmith No. 160

Corner block
a. Corner
Frame top
rail assembly

Frame side
rail assembly
miter joints on the inlay rail
Frame rail edge Chisel or sand
strip are cut with a chisel like and corner block extra-wide splines
the inlay on the frame pieces. edges are flush flush with frame edge
But instead of using a miter block,
I used the layout lines on the corner
block to line up the chisel. Then it’s SPLINES
!/8 #/16 (!/8 x 2#/4)
just a matter of cutting and fitting F
each piece as you work your way the frame.
around the marquetry medallion. To keep things
CROSS BANDING. The final piece you’ll simple, I used
add to each corner block is a strip spline joinery. The !/2 Frame bottom
of cross banding. The narrow drawing above shows rail assembly
banding is crosscut from a larger how it works. A groove in the #/16 1
sheet of straight-grained veneer. Just end of each piece creates a pocket !/8
note that the grain runs across the for a thin spline. !/2
width of the strips. These pieces are But there’s one thing to watch out Corner block
then mitered and fit to the block the for. When cutting grooves on the assembly
same way as the thin inlay stringing ends of the frame pieces and the end
that was just applied. grain of the corner blocks, it’s a good
There’s just one last thing to do idea to back up the workpiece to ASSEMBLING THE FRAME. Speaking of
before moving on to the joinery. And prevent tearout (box below). assembling the frame, I found that
that’s to rout a roundover on all four Once the grooves are routed, you one way to make the process a little
edges of the corner block. When set- can make the splines. Note: The less hectic is to do it in two stages.
ting up for this detail, I created a grain direction runs across the joint Start by gluing up the ends of the
slight (3/32") shoulder so the cross line. I cut the splines extra-wide and frame first. In my case, I glued a
banding strip really stands out. trimmed them flush after the glue short frame piece to two corner
SPLINE JOINERY. With all the details of dried. This way I didn’t have to blocks. The second stage of the
the frame taken care of, you’re ready worry about keeping the splines process is to connect these two
to connect the eight parts (four frame aligned while the frame was assem- assemblies together with splines and
pieces and four corner blocks) into bled, as in detail ‘a’ above. the remaining two frame pieces.

Completing the Corner Block

Cross banding fence

Corner block
!/8" slot-
cutter bit a.
roundover !/4"
E E bit roundover
BLOCK #/32"
NOTE: Use step
mitering guide #/16
block to cut cross banding
ends to fit

Add Veneer Cross Banding. Cut cross Rout Roundover. After trimming cross- Cut Grooves for Splines. Rout a groove
banding strips from a sheet of straight- banding, rout a slight, shouldered in two sides of each corner block and the
grained veneer. Note grain direction. roundover on all four edges. ends of the frame pieces to hold a spline.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 37

9!/4 SIDE
G #/4 SECTION #6 x %/8"
D-ring screw

H hanger
screws B
Mirror STOP

G b. D-ring BACK
with #4 x !/2" #/4 VIEW
Fh woodscrews
#6 x #/4" Fh
brass woodscrew 1
Kraft paper attached
37 to mirror with
spray adhesive

securing the 2

NOTE: Stop made

Mount D-ring
at approx. 15°

MIRROR from #/8"-thick stock

second pass is routed clockwise
against the bearing but the bit is a
little shy of the full depth. And the
At this stage of the game, the frame is not the time for any problems like final pass is a clean-up cut. The bit is
is pretty well complete. There are tearout. To avoid this, I routed the set at full depth to skim off the waste
just a few things left to do to fit the rabbet in three passes, as you can and complete the rabbet.
mirror in place. see in the box below. Now, the large router bit can’t get
ROUTING A RABBET. The first thing to The first pass is a light, skim cut into the corners of the frame. So
do is to rout a rabbet in the back face with the bit set for the full-depth of you’ll need to go back and square
of the frame to hold the mirror. Since the rabbet. I backrouted this cut to them up with a chisel. I used a pretty
the frame is already assembled, this prevent chipout on the edge. The wide chisel here to help keep the

How-To: Routing the Rabbet for the Mirror

FIRST: Back rout full-
depth skim SECOND: Rout rabbet against
pass bearing but shy of final depth
Direction of
first pass
THIRD: Final pass at full bit
depth cleans up rabbet Direction of second
and third passes

a. b. c. Square up
Rabbet waste #/8 corners with
Skim pass a chisel
Frame Rout shy of
edging rabbet depth
Bit set to full Rout full
depth of rabbet depth of rabbet

Routing the Rabbet. To prevent tearout, the rabbet that holds the mirror is routed in Squaring Up the Corners. Since the rab-
three steps. The first pass establishes the shoulder of the rabbet at full depth. The second beting bit can’t reach into the corners, you’ll
removes most of the waste. And the final pass cleans up the bottom of the rabbet. need to clean them up with a chisel.

38 Woodsmith No. 160

corner as flat as possible and flush 1
with the rabbet. a.
MIRROR STOP. To hold the mirror in
place, I made some hardwood
mirror stop, like you see in the
drawing on the opposite page. The
stop has a wide, shallow rabbet
routed in it. It’s sized to hold the
mirror and backing snugly in place.
(I applied kraft paper to the back of
the mirror to keep it from getting
scratched.) But cutting a rabbet on a 2 Featherboard
thin, narrow piece can be tricky. a. END VIEW
The way to make it simpler is G H Featherboard
illustrated in the three-step process 1
shown in the drawings at right. I
started by routing a rabbet along
each edge of an extra-wide blank on
the router table, as in Fig. 1. A couple G H
of test cuts on a short piece let you
test the fit of the rabbet. Then I
flipped the blank over and ripped
the stop to width on the table saw. A 3
featherboard attached to the fence a. END VIEW
will keep the workpiece from flut-
tering during the cut, as in Fig. 2. roundover
The final step is to round over the G H
edges back on the router table (Fig.
3). The stop can then be screwed
!/8" roundover
down. Finally, I attached a pair of bit
D-ring hangers and some wire to Roundover both edges
mount the mirror to the wall. W of mirror stop

Corner Options
There are literally hundreds of possible
combinations of veneer and inlay strips
to customize your own project. And a
good way to see them is to take a look
at the possibilities available from the
source on page 49.
In the drawings here, you can see how
just a simple change can really trans-
form the look of the frame. In the left
one, I replaced the marquetry medallion
with a piece of the veneer used on the
frame pieces. On the right, I went with
mitered corners.
www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 39
working with tools

choosing & using

82° Small details make a
Screw head
difference. Give your
project a professional
look with perfect
diameter countersinks.

Countersinks are one of those small details that are manufactured in Europe in which the angle
can really change the look of a project. And it’s around the holes that attach the hinge measure
Screw Head Position. For the screw easy to overlook the importance of doing it right. 90°. So to get the screw to seat properly in
head to seat properly, the angle and There are many types of countersinks that these hinges, you’ll need to redrill the hole
diameter of the countersink must will cut a cone-shaped opening at the top of a with an 82° countersink.
match that of the screw head. screw hole. But when it comes to making coun- PILOTED AND NON-PILOTED. It’s also important to
tersinks that look consistently good and seat determine how you’ll be drilling the counter-
the screw head correctly, using the right bit sink. That’s because some countersink bits
Piloted bits have a makes a big difference. will require drilling a pilot hole first while
center pilot to So, how do you know if you have the right other bits don’t need a pilot hole.
maintain proper bit for the job? Well, several things need to be A lot of countersinks are nothing more than
hole alignment.} considered before answering that question. a large bit with a tapered point at the end, like
COUNTERSINK SIZE. First, you’ll want to make you see in the bottom photo at left. They require
sure the head of the screw fits into the coun- a pilot hole to center the bit so it is able to cut
Pilot aligns tersink so it sits flush with the surface of the equally on all sides of the hole.
countersink wood (or slightly below). That means using a A great advantage to this type of bit is that
countersink that’s at least as large as the head it can be used for a wide range of screw sizes.
diameter of the screw. With some types of By simply increasing or decreasing the drilling
countersinks, you’ll need to adjust the size of depth of the bit, the diameter of the counter-
the opening by setting the drill press depth sink can be made larger or smaller.
or controlling your hand drill. Other types You’ll also find countersink bits available
require you to choose a countersink size that’s with a center pilot at the end, like you see in
specific to the size of the screw you’ll be using. the top photo at left. They allow you to quickly
point Another important consideration is the countersink in wood and dress or resize holes
angle of the countersink bit (see illustration in hardware. These bits generally come in
at left). For the screw to seat correctly, the angle diameters that correspond to screw sizes.
of the countersink bit must be the same as the Size and angle are important. But it’s the
{ Non-piloted bits have no angle of the screw head. cutting flutes that really determine the kind of
center pilot and require the An angle of 82° is the one you’ll find most hole you end up with. The type of cutting
drilling of a pilot hole first. often. But I’ve come across some hinges that edge and the number of cutting surfaces on the

40 Woodsmith No. 160

Single cutting flute
countersink greatly affects the results flutes increase the life of the bit. This
you get when you use it. is a real plus if you’re drilling a lot of
SINGLE FLUTE. This type is easily rec- countersinks in metal.
ognized by its single cutting edge I find the three-fluted countersinks
or flute (see photo top right). The work well for cutting soft metals like
flute “reams” out small chips as the aluminum, brass or bronze. But
Large taper allows
bit turns. They cut slowly and work when it comes to countersinking in wide range of
best when countersinking in non- harder metals, you’ll usually want to hole sizes to be made
ferrous metals, plastics, and wood. go to one having six flutes.
These bits are usually a little less ZERO-FLUTED. This countersink is the
expensive and commonly found at one I use most often. It doesn’t use
most hardware stores and home flutes for cutting like other counter- { Single-Fluted. A single cut-
improvement centers. They do an sink bits. Instead it uses the edge of a ting edge or flute removes
adequate job but tend to vibrate or single hole through the middle of the material as the bit rotates.
chatter as they cut leaving a scal- bit as the cutting edge, like you see
loped surface around the hole. in the bottom right photo. This edge
The 82° single-fluted countersink slices away the material as it rotates.
(photo top right) that I got from Lee The single cutter produces a con-
Valley I really like. It costs a little tinuous curly shaving, like you see
more but it cuts a nice smooth coun- in the top photo on the opposite Multiple cutting edges cut
tersink. It’s large diameter makes it page, rather than making a lot of faster and prolong the
life of the bit
ideal for chamfering the edges of small chips. Because it has this type
large bench dog holes as well. of cutter, there’s less vibration and
MULTI-FLUTED. This countersink chatter. So it leaves a clean, smooth
works a lot like the single flute bit. hole. And it works equally well in
But instead of one flute it uses a both wood and soft metals. { Multi-Fluted. Multiple
number of flutes to scrape away the If you use this type of countersink cutting flutes on the bit
material (see middle photo at right). bit, you’ll probably want to have scrapes away the material.
Since it has more flutes it’s able to several different sizes on hand.
remove more material during each That’s because each countersink bit
Small taper sized specifically
rotation of the bit.This means it cuts is sized specifically for the size of to size of screw
faster with less chatter. These bits screw you’ll be countersinking.
generally cut smoother and cleaner One last type of countersink is one
than the single flute types, especially that lets you make bit length and Thin sharp hole edge
makes a smooth
when drilling in metal. countersink depth adjustments.
clean cut
But one of the biggest advantages They eliminate bit changes and can
to this type is that they last longer. really speed up the process. You can < Zero-Fluted. A single hole
Since the cutting load is distributed learn more about these bits and how through the bit acts as the
over more cutting edges, multiple they work in the box below. W cutting edge.

All-In-One “Adjustable” System

Adjust You’ll find a number of all-in-one Most of these systems come with is used to make this adjustment
this collar countersink systems available. tapered bits. But some will allow (illustration at left).
for screw
length These offer you the ability to drill, you to swap out the tapered bits These systems can be a real time
countersink, and counterbore in one for straight bits for use with many saver when you need to counter-
quick and easy operation. That way, of the newer screw types. sink a lot of screws or make adjust-
you don’t have to take time to make A few systems, like the Fuller ments for different depths and
a lot of bit changes. Type C Countersink you see in the screw sizes.
The countersink is attached to photo at right, allow you to also
the body of the drill bit and is usu- adjust the depth of the
Drill Adjust ally held in place with a couple of counterbore.
bit this
collar for hex-socket screws. This makes it An adjustable
counter- easy to adjust the drill depth so stop collar
depth only one countersink and bit is around the
required for many screw lengths. countersink

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 41
small shop solutions

perfect placement
Location Pivot pin


Sturdy plywood
top prevents
The first step to an
efficient shop is choosing
the best location for
your workbench.

Aside from the table saw, I don’t your workbench is something that accessibility to the workbench may
think there’s a more important deserves a little thought, particu- not be as important as having the
“tool” in my shop than my work- larly if you have a small shop. bench close to your major power
bench. Sometimes I use it during tools. If this is the case, you may be
each step of construction on a proj- TWO CHOICES able to locate the bench against a
ect and other times only for layout When you get right down to it, there wall. Take a look at the sample floor
or assembly. But it’s pretty safe to are really only two choices when it plan drawing at left to get an idea of
say that every project that comes comes to locating a workbench — some of the benefits of locating your
out of my shop passes across my either against the wall or out in the workbench against a wall.
workbench at some point. And middle of the shop. Which of these FRONT & CENTER. On the other hand,
that’s why deciding where to put locations you choose has a lot do some woodworkers see their work-
with the way benches as more than just shop fur-
you use your niture. It’s a tool in itself. It can be
workbench. used to hold a workpiece while saw-
AGAINST THE WALL. ing, planing, or working on joinery.
For many wood- If you use hand tools regularly or
workers, a work- do a lot of hand-cut joinery, you may
bench serves as a want to give your workbench a place
“staging area” right in the center of the shop. This
for setting out way, you can have easy access to the
parts while using bench from all four sides, which is
the table saw or great advantage when it comes to
other pieces of assembling a project. The sample
shop equipment. floor plan on the opposite page
For woodwork- shows some of the advantages of
ers like this, this type of layout.

42 Woodsmith No. 160

OTHER FACTORS lights are located so that you don’t
Regardless of whether you decide create shadows across your work as
to place your bench against a wall or you stand at the bench. This may
in the middle of the shop, there are mean that you’ll have to add some
some other factors you’ll need to con- additional overhead light fixures or
sider as well. To get the most out of make use of lamps for task lighting.
your workbench, you have to think POWER. I do a lot of sanding and
about things like lighting, electrical routing at my bench, so having a few
outlets, and tool storage. electrical outlets handy is important.
LIGHTING. Adequate lighting is prob- If you’re choosing a place along the
ably one of the biggest considera- wall for your bench, you can make
tions when it comes to choosing life a lot easier if you select a spot
where to put your bench. It’s hard to near an outlet. This way, you won’t
beat natural light, which is why I have to walk across the shop every
like to locate my bench near a win- time you want to plug in a tool.
dow if possible. If the window is If you plan on locating your bench
behind the bench or to one side, you in the middle of the shop, finding a
don’t have to worry about creating spot near an outlet is more of a prob-
shadows across your work. lem. Unless you want to do some Locating
Of course, if your shop is in a base- rewiring, you will probably have to your bench in
ment, or if you do most of your rely on extension cords. These can the center of Tool
your shop gives you cabinet
woodworking in the evening, you’ll be suspended overhead to keep more flexibility when
need artificial lighting. As with them out of the way. dealing with long workpieces
natural lighting, you TOOL STORAGE. Unless your bench
your bench want to make has built-in storage in the base, With a bench located in the center
under a sure that another major factor when selecting of the shop, your tool storage options
window are even more limited. You can store
the a bench location is where to keep
plenty of your tools. A common arrangement tools in a wall cabinet, or you can
natural in many shops is to position the build a short tool cabinet to place
light next to your bench.
workbench against a wall and then
mount a tool cabinet on the wall Although choosing a location for
right above the bench. This is con- your workbench is one of the most
venient because all your tools are important decisions you’ll make
within easy reach. But the downside when setting up your shop, the good
is that the tool cabinet can get in the news is that it’s not a permanent one.
way. And if you have a deep work- If the first location doesn’t work out,
bench (over 24"), it can be a stretch you can always rearrange things
to reach a hanging tool cabinet. and try a different spot. W

{ It’s hard to beat natural lighting in

a shop — if you’re lucky enough
to have a window. Most of us have
to rely on overhead light fixtures.
But make sure that you locate the
fixtures so that you don’t block the
light when standing at your bench.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 43
finishing room

the simple secrets of a

High-Gloss Finish
A hand-rubbed, high-gloss finish can make a project look like a million
bucks. And best of all, it’s easy if you know the right techniques.
There’s nothing quite like the look of brushing on multiple coats — as things you might need to do before
a polished, high-gloss finish on the many as eight. This thick layer of you start applying finish. Naturally,
right project. It brings out all the finish is then sanded until it’s per- if you’re going to stain the work-
depth and beauty of the wood and fectly flat and smooth, but without piece, now is the time to do it. Any
lets it shine. It’s like you’re looking any gloss. Finally, you bring the stain that’s compatible with the
at the wood through a sheet of glass. gloss back by polishing the flat- finish you plan to use will be fine.
I’ll admit right off the bat that a tened surface with finer and finer And if you’re working with an
rubbed-out, high-gloss finish isn’t abrasive compounds. It’s really just open-pored wood like mahogany or
one that I use often. But on a spe- about as simple as it sounds. walnut, you may want to take the
cial project — a tabletop, a small GETTING STARTED . The finishing extra step of applying a paste-type
box, maybe a mirror frame it can process starts about the same as any pore filler. This simply allows you
make the ordinary, extraordinary. other. But here, I’m maybe just a little to build up a smooth, flat film for
Sure, a high-gloss finish is going pickier with my surface preparation. polishing with fewer coats of finish.
to take more time and effort than You want to keep in mind that the You’ll find the details in the box on
most other finishes. But there’s smoother and flatter the surface you the following page.
really nothing difficult or tricky start with, the easier it will be to CHOOSE A FINISH . Now before you
about the process. The key is create a perfectly flat film to polish. can start building a finish, you have
simply to relax, take your time, and So I sand the surface to 220-grit and a decision to make, which type?
follow the steps. The results are then I’m careful to soften all the The two traditional finishes used
almost guaranteed. sharp edges and corners. This will to create a high gloss look are var-
A QUICK LOOK. The mirror-like sheen keep you from sanding or rubbing nish and lacquer. You can get great
you’re shooting for is the result of through the finish later on. results with either, but there are
a multi-step process. First, you FIRST STEPS. Once you’re satisfied some significant differences that
build up a thick film of finish by with the surface, there are a couple you’ll want to know about.

44 Woodsmith No. 160

Two Good Choices
Multiple Coats. As you apply coat after coat, sanding between each, you build
a thick film of finish that gradually lies flatter and flatter on the surface.

If you read through the box at tent. The Behlen brand shown at right
right, you’ll have a good idea of is my first choice (see sources).
the differences between them. But A THICK FILM. Building the finish is
I want to make special mention of a pretty straightforward process.
one very important difference. Your goal is a film thick enough to
ONE LAYER. When you apply lacquer, sand flat and then polish without
each successive coat “melts” into the fear of rubbing through.
one before it. So in the end, you basi- At this point, I just settle into a
cally have one thick coat of lacquer routine. I carefully brush on a coat Before you choose whether to go with lacquer or
on which to sand and polish. of finish, let it dry completely, sand varnish, it helps to know the pros and cons of each.
MANY COATS. With a varnish, each a bit, and apply the next coat. A I like the fast-drying property of lacquer. This
coat simply lies on top of the pre- good-quality brush and good tech- lets you apply as many as three coats in a day. But
vious coat. So sanding between coats nique will result in a flatter finish since it tacks up and dries quickly, it can be tricky
is a must to get good adhesion. But and save you work later. to apply without leaving brush marks. And it builds
a problem with varnish can lie in the Even with lacquer, I like to sand slowly, so you’ll have to apply more coats.
final sanding and rubbing. If you lightly between coats with 320-grit On the other hand, a slower-drying varnish flows
rub through the final coat to the one sandpaper. This flattens the surface out and leaves a smoother surface. It builds faster,
beneath, you’ll expose a faint joint a bit after each coat allowing you to so fewer coats are necessary. But the slow drying
line (called a witness line). The solu- judge your progress toward a thick, time means one coat a day is the best you can do.
tion is to apply a flat film that won’t relatively flat film. And there’s more time for dust to settle in the finish.
require too much sanding to flatten. As each coat is applied, the finish
And with varnish, this isn’t difficult. will lie smoother and flatter, as Lacquer Varnish
I’ve used both finishes and had shown in the drawing above. But Pros: Pros:
great results. In the end, your choice even after the final coat is applied, • Dries within a few hours • Brushes easily and flows
comes down to which type you feel the finish won’t lie perfectly flat. allowing several coats a day. out smoothly.
more comfortable with. I think lac- The trick is to judge when you’ve • Multiple coats create one • Requires fewer coats to
quer gets the job done a little quicker, built up enough finish. Four or five thick film. build a thick film.
but varnish probably takes a little coats of varnish will usually do the Cons: Cons:
less work. One last thing. If you job. With lacquer, you might need • Can be difficult to apply • Dries slowly, only one
choose varnish, buy a good-quality, seven or eight. After curing for sev- without brush marks. coat a day is possible.
interior type with a high resin con- eral days, the finish is ready to rub. • Thin coats build slowly. • Dust can be a problem.

Shop Tip: Pore Filler

The mahogany tabletop you see in the easy to use, but there are a couple of
large photo at left has thousands of tricks you need to know.
open pores on its surface. This makes Pore filler dries fast, so I work
applying a nice, flat layer of finish on small areas. Wipe or brush the filler
which to polish a challenge. The wet on, forcing it into the pores (photo
finish settles into the pores and leaves at right). Let it sit for only a couple
a “dimpled” look on the surface. The minutes before removing the excess.
simple answer is to level the surface First, wipe across the grain. Finish
with a paste-type pore filler before up by wiping with the grain. Try to
you start applying the finish. work fast before the filler becomes
A pore filler comes as a thick paste. too stiff. You don’t want the filler to { It looks like a messy job, but you’ll find that applying
The pre-tinted variety reminds me “muddy” the surface. I give it a good pore filler can really be a big help with some woods.
a little bit of a gel stain, only thicker 24 hours to dry and then apply a thin You’ll end up with a much flatter finish in less time
and stiffer. You’ll find that it’s pretty coat of shellac to seal in the filler. and save yourself some work.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 45
sand and
At this point, you’ve built up a thick,
shiny film, but it’s not perfect. You’ll
see brush and lap marks and dust
specks. So after allowing the finish
to cure for several days, the next step
is to sand the film until it’s perfectly
flat. And when it’s flat as glass, you
can polish it to a high sheen.

WET SANDING { Once you’ve laid down a thick film of finish, it only takes a small amount of
This sanding process is a little dif- elbow grease to level it. The three ingredients you’ll need are wet-or-dry sand-
ferent. Here, you’ll use very fine-grit paper, a padded sanding block, and plenty of mineral spirits.
“wet-or-dry” sandpaper found at
paint or auto body stores. The sand- Sanding near the edges gets my By now, most of the leveling
paper is wrapped around a padded special attention. It’s often where work is done, so you can get
sanding block and the surface kept the finish is the ”roughest” and through these last stages pretty
well lubricated with mineral spirits needs the most work. But you want quickly. But you don’t want to
(paint thinner) while you sand. The to take care not to sand through the leave any deep scratches that will
mineral spirits float away the sand- finish to bare wood. I try to use a take a lot of time to polish out later.
ing dust to keep the sandpaper clean. light touch and not “drag” the It can be hard to judge when to
I like to start with 800-grit sand- sanding block too far over the edge. quit sanding and move on to the
paper. Just pour a liberal amount of CHECK YOUR PROGRESS . I use both polishing. When you think you’re
thinner on the surface and start sight and feel to check my progress. close, clean the surface with a soft
sanding with a circular motion. When you run your fingers lightly cloth and take a look. It may sound
This “random” motion will get you across the surface, you’ll feel any strange, but what you’re shooting
to a perfectly flat surface quicker. unevenness. Then after sanding for for at this point is a perfectly flat
As you work, the mineral spirits a time, I’ll wipe the surface clean surface with a consistent dull sheen
and the sanding dust will mix to and look closely for shiny areas. and no noticeable scratches.
create a light slurry (photo Spots of shiny finish mean your
above). This shows that surface isn’t quite flat. You want a BRING UP THE GLOSS
you’re making progress. surface that’s completely dull. So now you’ve taken the film of fin-
It’s a messy process, but TIME TO SWITCH. When I think the ish from uneven and shiny down to
even so, you want to keep surface is 99% flat, I switch to 1200- dead flat but completely dull. But
the surface good and wet. grit and finally 1500-grit sandpaper you can bring it back to a high sheen
On the plus side, you’ll be and repeat the process. These two in two quick polishing steps.
surprised at how fast the steps create finer and finer A LITTLE DIFFERENT. This polishing or
fine sandpaper levels the scratches and reduce the amount rubbing process is slightly different
irregular surface. of polishing you’ll need to do. from the wet sanding you just

} The main tools for wet

sanding to a smooth,
flat surface are shown at
left. Used with a sanding
block, they’ll get the job
done suprisingly fast.

Dead Flat. The drawing above shows the goal of the wet sanding process.
The built-up finish is now perfectly flat and ready to polish to a high gloss.

46 Woodsmith No. 160

completed. Here, you’ll use two sanded with 1500-grit
traditional polishing abrasives — sandpaper, you can start
pumice stone and rottenstone — to polishing with the finest
remove the fine scratches left by grade — 4F pumice stone.
the wet sanding. These abrasives First, pour out a small
(photo below) come in powder puddle of lubricating oil
form and also need a lubricant to on the surface and then
do their job. But instead of mineral sprinkle a small amount
spirits, the lubricant you’ll use is a of the white pumice
rubbing oil, like paraffin or min- powder over it.
eral oil. The trick is that as you rub Now I pick up a felt
the surface, the abrasive powder block to start rubbing
and the oil combine to form a paste- (photo at right). A soft
like polish. (See page 49 for sources cotton cloth will do the
of these finishing supplies). job, but the felt block is
PUMICE STONE. The polishing begins easier to hold onto and { Under the messy paste formed by the oil and the brown
with pumice stone as the abrasive. gives you a large, flat pol- rottenstone powder, the finish is taking on its final
This comes in different grades or ishing surface. mirror-like gloss. I put in a little extra time at this stage.
particle sizes (1F through 4F). But The key to the polishing
since the surface has already been is to take your time and be sure to This final polishing step goes
cover the surface thoroughly. The exactly like the one you just com-
direction of the rubbing doesn’t pleted. The rubbing oil and brown
matter, and a moderate amount of rottenstone powder are spread over
pressure is all that’s needed. If the the surface and “rubbed” into a
paste starts to get too thick and polishing paste. But before starting,
hard to rub out, simply add more wipe the surface clean of all traces
oil and a little more pumice. of the pumice stone. And then
The polish works pretty fast. switch to a clean felt block.
What you’re looking for at this Again, you can rub in any direc-
stage is soft, semi-gloss sheen. When tion, just concentrate on polishing
you think you’re there, clean an area every bit of the surface. And since
with a soft cloth to take a look. this is the last step, I try to relax
ROTTENSTONE . Once the pumice and not rush through it.
stone has done its job, you’re It’s easy to tell when you’ve
nearing the end. Traditionally, the reached the mark. Pick up a fresh
final step is to bring the surface to cloth and wipe the surface clear for
{ The two traditional rubbing com- a high gloss by polishing with rot- a close inspection. If your gaze is
pounds you’ll need to achieve a tenstone. This is an even finer abra- rewarded with a sharp reflection,
high gloss finish are 4F pumice sive. (You can check out the box you’re there — you’ve mastered a
stone and rottenstone. below for one additional step.) hand-rubbed, high-gloss finish. W

Shop Tips: A Brighter Shine

If you want to bring out just a little more gloss
on your project, there’s an easy way to do it.
Stop by an auto body supply store and pick
up a bottle of the swirl remover shown at far
right. This easy-to-use product is a very fine,
synthetic buffing compound used to give an
auto paint job that “new car” shine.
You use the swirl remover similar to a
paste wax (photo at right). Squirt some on a
small area of the surface and rub with a soft
cloth. Just polish until the swirl remover More Shine. In just a few minutes, you can
starts to dry out. When you clean the surface, bring up an even higher gloss. The automotive
you’ll find an even brighter shine. polish at right and a soft cloth are all you need.

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 47
in the mailbox

Questions & Answers

Medium- material (see photo at
Density right), the tighter it can be
Fiberboard compressed to form a
denser, stronger panel.

Q I’d like to know more

about a material
called MDF, which is often
down wood into a fibrous
material has some advan-
tages. First, it has no grain
mentioned in various proj- pattern, so humidity has
ects. Just what is it? little effect on MDF, mak-
Robert Landis ing it extremely stable.
St. Marys, Pennsylvania Second, the fine fibers
result in a very smooth,

A MDF , or medium-
density fiberboard,
is a manufactured wood
flat, and uniform surface.
This makes it the perfect
base for wood veneer and
product that’s in the same plastic laminate.
family as particleboard. Third, its higher density
But unlike particleboard, holds an edge better than dull steel cutting tools lector if possible, and
which is a mixture of particleboard (see photo quickly, so carbide cutters always wear a dust mask.
wood chips and shavings at the bottom). And you and blades are recom- FINISH. You can find MDF
held together with resin, won’t have problems with mended. About the only unfinished, or with wood
MDF is much more voids, like in plywood. thing you shouldn’t do is veneer or plastic laminate
refined. The finer the MACHINING . A standard run MDF through a thick- already applied to it.
sheet of MDF is 49" x 97" ness planer or over an You’ll find that MDF
(the extra is for trimming). edge jointer. takes paint well. Unlike
Do you have It’s available as thin as 5/32 "
and as thick as 15/8", as in
Safety Note: Since the
fibers are so fine to begin
particleboard or plywood,
which the surface texture
any questions the photo below. It can be
worked like any other
with, working with MDF
kicks up a lot of fine dust
or grain shows through,
MDF looks smooth after a
for us? wood product, including that can hang in the air for coat of primer and a cou-
traditional joinery like quite a while. When work- ple of coats of paint.
If you have a question dovetails and tongue and ing with MDF, and espe- Note: Whenever I use
related to woodworking groove. Because of the cially during sanding, MDF for shop jigs , I pro-
techniques, tools, finishing, glues used in the manu- proper ventilation is tect it with a couple of
or hardware, we’d like to facturing process, MDF will required. Use a dust col- coats of wiping varnish. W
hear from you.
Just write down your < Available in several thick-
question and mail it to us: nesses, the dense structure
Woodsmith, Q&A, 2200 of MDF means that it cuts
Grand Avenue, Des and routs more like solid
Moines, Iowa 50312. Or wood. Using carbide router
you can email us the ques- bits, you can rout crisp,
tion at: woodsmith@wood- clean profiles in MDF.
Please include your full
name, address, and day-
time telephone number in
case we have questions.

48 Woodsmith No. 160

hardware & supplies
Sources MAIL
DVD STORAGE CASE PLATFORM BED straight-grain mahogany veneer ORDER
You’ll only need a few pieces of The platform bed on page 22 needed for the corner blocks. The SOURCES
hardware to build the DVD storage requires minimal hardware. All it Carpathian elm burl veneer for the
Similar project
case on page 16. All of the hard- takes is one package of bed rail frame pieces came from supplies may be
ware I used came from Rockler. fasteners (#28597) from either Constantines. You can find ordered from
The brass file drawer pulls with Rockler or the Woodsmith Store. ordering information in the the following
cardholder (#70763) on the front You’ll also need to get a flush margin at right as well. companies:
of the drawers added a great look trim plunge router bit to cut the The last thing you’ll need is an Woodsmith Store
to the storage case. They also mortises for the fasteners. The adhesive for the veneer. For this, 800-444-7002
make it easy to locate the contents one I used came from Amana Tool I used Better Bond Cold Press
Amana & Timberline
in each of the drawers. (#45460-S) and was 1/2" wide with Veneer Adhesive that I got from Router Bits, Bed Rail
I also added stem bumper a cutting depth of 1/4". You’ll often Veneer Supplies listed at right. Fasteners, Countersink
Bits, Bin Pulls, Miter Saw
glides (#28373) to the top of each find them listed as dado cleanout
Blades, Table Saw Miter
drawer. These help the drawer bits by the manufacturer. TABLE SAW MITER SLEDS Sleds
slide as it’s opened and closed. A miter sled is a great addition to Rockler
If you plan on making more INLAY MIRROR your table saw. The sleds shown 800-279-4441
than one storage case and con- One of the things that makes the in the article on page 14 are avail- rockler.com
necting them together, you’ll mirror on page 32 so striking is able from the manufacturers. Bed Rail Fasteners,
Bumpers, Bin Pulls,
need a couple of other items. the variety of woods and the pat- You’ll find the Dubby Sled at In- Threaded Inserts
The first is some 1/4"-20 standard terns used for the inlays. You’ll line Industries. Delta makes the
H. Behlen
barbed threaded inserts (#32025). need to obtain these materials Sliding Miter Jig and it’s available 866-785-7781
Then to join them together, you from a specialty supplier. through Delta and their retailers. hbehlen.com
need some 1/4" x 1" Fh machine The flower marquetry medal- The Deluxe Sled is made by Finishing Supplies,
Lacquer, Rubbing
screws. You should be able to lions (#333M), tulipwood inlay Woodhaven, see sources at right. Compound, Varnish
find these items (or similar hard- strips (#397) for the frame pieces, Both the Delta and Woodhaven
Inlay Product World
ware) at your local hardware and black inlay strips (#702) I used sleds are also available at the
store or home center. on the corner blocks all came from Woodsmith Store. W inlays.com
Inlay Product World. You’ll have to Inlay Strips, Marquetry
ROUTER BITS place a minimum order of 10 Online Customer Service
You can find bargain router bit strips for the tulipwood inlay and Click on Subscriber Services at Veneer Supplies
sets at most home centers, local 20 strips of the black inlay. The www.woodsmith.com 888-598-3633
discount stores, and several of the information you need to order • Access your account status
Veneer Adhesives
sources listed in the margin. The these is listed in the margin. • Change your mailing or email address
Timberline router bit set featured You’ll also need some veneer • Pay your bill Amana Tool
• Renew your subscription 800-445-0077
on page 8 is available from to complete the project. Almost amanatool.com
• Tell us if you’ve missed an issue
Amana Tool as well as the all veneer suppliers and wood- Amana & Timberline
• Find out if your payment has been received
Woodsmith Store. working stores will carry the Router Bits

We now feature hardware from in many Veneer
of our new project kits. To order, please use our toll-free on the web In-Line Industries
order line, see below. It’s open Monday through Friday, 800-533-6709
from 8 AM to 5 PM Central Time. Before calling, please • “Online Extras” - Plans, Patterns, & More in-lineindustries.com
• Over 100 Woodworking Tips Online Dubby Miter Sled
have your VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American
Express card ready. • Visit Our Readers’ Project Photo Gallery Woodhaven
• Project Plans You Can Download
If you would prefer to mail in an order, please call the 800-344-6657
• Catalog of Project Kits, Tools, Jigs, & Plans woodhaven.com
toll-free phone number below for more information
• Forums for Woodworking, Tools, & Classifieds Deluxe Miter Sled
concerning shipping charges as well as any applicable • Links to Other Woodworking Sites
sales tax. • Order Woodsmith & ShopNotes Back Issues
Lee Valley

Call us at 1-800-444-7527 or online at www.woodsmith.com leevalley.com

Countersink Bits

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 49
details of craftsmanship

4 steps to perfect
Coped Joints
When it comes to getting perfect-looking joints with
molding, nothing beats this traditional woodworking joint.

No gaps. That’s the goal whenever out of square. With a miter joint, you
I’m fitting molding to a project. But have to do a lot of fussing and trim-
this is often easier said than done, ming if the corner you’re fitting the
particularly when it comes to fit- molding to isn’t exactly 90°. But that
ting molding in an inside corner. isn’t the case with a coped joint.
All it takes is for the corner to be The second major benefit is that
slightly out of square to throw off if the molding pieces should happen
the fit of a mitered joint. That’s to shrink over time, the gap between
{ In a coped joint, the end of one
where a coped joint comes in. the two pieces of a coped joint will
piece is cut to fit around the pro-
A coped joint is one where the end be a lot less noticeable than if you
file of the mating piece.
of one piece of molding is cut had used a miter joint.
(coped) to match the profile of the WHEN TO USE. Coped joints are often
mating piece, see photo above and used by carpenters when installing
upper drawing at left. When care- baseboard and crown molding. But
fully done, the pieces fit together so you’ll also occasionally find them on
well that the jointline is nearly invis- furniture projects. Acoped joint can be
ible, see lower drawing. used any place where you’re applying
ADVANTAGES. You might be won- molding to an inside corner.
dering why anyone would go to Making a coped joint really isn’t as
all the trouble of making a coped complicated as it looks. There are
joint when a simple miter joint actually only four steps. The trick is in
would do the job. Actually, there learning to saw to a line accurately
{ The result is a tight-fitting joint are a couple of reasons. with a coping saw. But that’s some-
that looks like it has been First, a coped joint will give you a thing that you’ll pick up quickly with
perfectly mitered. good fit even if your project is a little just a little practice.

50 Woodsmith No. 160

at 45° beforehand, as shown in the
Miter End drawing. This establishes the profile Waste
Cut end of
first piece
There are two halves to a coped that you’ll follow with your coping 45°
joint. The first piece is simply cut to saw. You can cut this miter on the
length, leaving the end square so that table saw or on a miter saw.
it butts right up to the corner of the One other thing. When you’re
room or project that you’re working measuring for the length of the coped
on, see drawing at right. section of molding, keep in mind that
The second piece is the one that this piece will butt up against the first Measure to deepest
will be coped. But in order to be able piece. So depending on the profile of point of trim profile
to determine length
to “see” the profile of the molding, the molding, it may not reach all the of second trim piece
you need to miter the end of the piece way into the corner of your project.

2 Highlight Profile
Even though mitering the
end of the workpiece reveals the pro-
file, it can still be difficult to see while
you’re trying to cut it. It’s not easy to
tell just where the edge of the miter cut
meets the face of the molding.
So, to make the profile stand out
more, I highlight the edge of the miter
Use side of pencil by shading it with a soft-lead pencil,
lead to "highlight" see drawing at left. This gives you a
profile on edge of miter
much more visible line to follow.

the way along, it’s easier to cut the pro-
Cope the Profile file in sections. By coming in from dif-
With the profile clearly marked ferent angles, you can cut into corners
out, the next step is to cut along the and tight curves that the saw wouldn’t a.
layout line with a coping saw. There otherwise be able to navigate. Start by
are just a few things to point out here. cutting out the larger curves first, then
First, I like to mount the blade in my come back and cut the shoulders and Saw
coping saw so the teeth point away smaller sections of the profile. Cut up
from the handle. This allows you to Finally, I hold the saw at a slight Pencil to pencil
mark line
cut on the downstroke while still angle as I’m cutting the profile to Waste
working from above (see drawing). create a back bevel on the coped piece.
Not only do I find this more com- (You don’t need much of a back bevel
fortable, it allows me to keep my eye — three to five degrees is fine.) This
on the layout line as I’m cutting. way, you’re certain the two pieces of NOTE: Angle saw
Second, instead of starting at one end slightly to create
molding will fit together tightly at the back bevel
of the profile and trying to follow it all front of the joint, where it counts.

Scrap piece
Check The Fit
The final step is to “fine tune”
the fit. To do this, hold a scrap piece
of molding against the coped piece
No gaps are to see where you need to make any
File coped
profile as visible with adjustments, see first drawing at left.
needed to get proper fit
snug fit Then using a file, gradually remove
material from the profile a little at a
time until the two pieces fit together
tightly. Acouple different sizes of half-
round files come in handy here. After
END VIEW END VIEW filing, you can lightly sand the profile
to refine the fit even more. W

www.Woodsmith.com Woodsmith 51
looking inside
Final Details

{ Inlay Mirror Frame. Learn how to add high-style

details to a simple mirror frame (or almost any
project) with inlay strips, marquetry medallions,
and veneer. Step-by-step plans start on page 32.

{ DVD Storage Case. With basic dadoes and

grooves for joinery, it won’t take you long to
build one or more of these storage cases to
hold a whole library of movies. Complete
plans begin on page 16.

Platform Bed. Strong, simple >

joinery makes for a sturdy bed
that’s easy to build. This bed looks
great by itself or as part of the
5-piece suite you see here. Detailed
instructions begin on page 22.
Materials, Supplies, & Cutting Diagram No. 160
Cherry Platform Bed
A Headboard Legs (2) 3 x 3 - 43 L Side Rail Cleats (2) 1!/2 x 1!/2 - 78!/2
B Headboard Bottom Rail (1) 1!/2 x 7 - 63 M Headboard/Footboard Cleats (2) 1!/2 x 1!/2 - 60
C Headboard Middle Rail (1) 1!/2 x 7 - 63 N Platform Panels (2) #/4 ply. - 40#/8 x 61!/4
D Headboard Top Rail (1) 1!/2 x 3!/2 x 63 O Platform Brace (1) #/4 ply. - 6 x 30
E Headboard Stiles (2) 1!/2 x 3!/2 - 13#/4
F Headboard Side Panels (2) #/4 ply. - 13#/4 - 13#/4
G Headboard Center Panel (1) #/4 ply. - 27#/4 - 13#/4 • (4 sets) 6" Bed Rail Fasteners w/Screws
H Headboard Cap (1) 1 x 4 - 68 • (22) #8 x 2!/2" Fh Woodscrews
I Footboard Legs (2) 3 x 3 - 14!/4 • (8) #8 x 2" Fh Woodscrews
J Footboard Rail (1) 1!/2 x 7 - 63 • (6) #8 x 1!/4" Fh Woodscrews
K Side Rails (2) 1!/2 x 7 - 80
Materials, Supplies, & Cutting Diagram No. 160
Inlay Mirror Frame
A Short Frame Pieces (2) !/2 x 3!/4 - 21 • 4 sq. ft. Carpathian Elm Burl Veneer
B Long Frame Pieces (2) !/2 x 3!/4 - 35 • (4) Tulipwood Inlay Strips
C Short Edging (2) !/2 x !!/16 - 21 • (4) Marquetry Medallions
D Long Edging (2) !/2 x !!/16 - 35 • (2) Black Inlay Stringing
E Corner Blocks (4) 1!/16 x 3!/4 - 3!/4 • 1 sq. ft. Straight-Grained Mahogany Veneer
F Splines (8) !/8 x 2#/4 - 1 • (14) #6 x #/4" Fh Brass Woodscrews
G Long Mirror Stops (2) #/8 x 1 - 37 • (2) D-Ring Hangers w/Screws
H Short Mirror Stops (2) #/8 x 1 - 23 • (1) 48"-Long Picture Frame Wire

DVD Storage Case

A Case Top/Bottom (2) !/2 x 11 - 22 I Face Frame Stiles (6) !/4 x 1!/4 - 6&/16
B Case Sides (2) !/2 x 111/8 - 7 J Face Frame Rails (6) !/4 x 1!/4 - 3!%/16
C Case Dividers (2) !/2 x 107/8 - 7
D Case Back (1) !/4 x 21 - 7 • (3) Brass Bin Pulls with Cardholder - 17/8" x 11/8"
E Drawer Front (3) !/2 x 6 7/16 - 67/16 • (6) 3/16"-dia. Stem Bumper Glides
F Drawer Side (6) !/2 x 6 7/16 - 103/8 • (4) !/4"-20 Standard Barbed Threaded Inserts (Optional)
G Drawer Backs (3) !/2 x 515/16 - 515/16 • (4) !/4"-20 Fh Machine Screws (Optional)
H Drawer Bottoms (3) !/4 x 515/16 - 8#/4

!/2" x 7!/2"- 84" Oak (4.4 Sq. Ft.) !/4" - 24" x 24" Hardboard

!/2" x 7!/2"- 84" Oak (4.4 Sq. Ft.)

!/2" x 7!/2"- 96" Oak (5 Sq. Ft.)