Roubo's Tool Chest: Scratch Stock

In order to maintain my perfect record, I will not be at WIA this year. When I heard "midwest" as part of the announcement I had hopes but they were dashed when the dates were released and I knew I had already committed to a demonstration that weekend. Instead of WIA I will be hanging out with Tom Latane and Paul Nyborg at the Castlerock Museum of Arms and Armor in Alma WI doing something we call Forest To Furniture.

We did it around the same time last year (you can see some pics HERE) and it looks like it will be at least an annual event for us. Last time we were a little disjointed in our efforts but this time we're all going to be working on different parts of the process to making a joyned stool similar to this one Tom made several years ago in a class taught by Jennie Alexander.

Really, making shavings in the company of good fellowship is a reasonable trade off for missing WIA. If you're in the area and want to see a couple guys work up a sweat stop on by and heckle.

I will be demonstrating hand cut mortises and panel construction. To help I took some time and made a demo piece showing drawborn mortise and tenons along with a floating panel.

I decided as long as I carved the panel, I needed to carve the rails too. I've wanted to do some gouge work that interplays with scratched bead mouldings but my current scratchstock only works on the board edges.

I needed something that would work on the face of the board for "crease" mouldings. This meant making a new beam and fence style tool. Again the gallery of plates printed from Roubo's masterwork took over the planing part of my mind and I went down a deeper path. Figure 14 on Plate 21 spoke and I listened. How could I not with it's locking wedge and cyma recta cut out on the fence. (the fences on the pin marking gauges on plate 14 have a similar detail)

These types of project are wonderful for thinning the offcut bin by a bit. I hunted up a chunk of red oak, a little ugly in the grain, but an inch thick and within the margins of a good size for the fence. I flattened it, squared up the edges to each other and marked out the locations of the wedge, cyma, and beam.

Then I got to work on the recess for the wedge. Using the drill press I carefully drilled a 1/4" hole down the square edge of the recess. Then it was back to the bench to pound out the ramped side with some chisel work. I used a combination of a mortise chisel, and a 1/4" bench chisel to remove most of the waste and an 1/8" bench chisel to clean up the work.

The tool I'm missing that probably would have helped greatly with this is a couple plane maker's floats. I may just have to make myself a set of those in the near future as well. I did use some flat detail rasps and files to finish things off, but over all the chisels worked well.

I still wonder if you could speed up this process by resawing the block, cutting the recess with a saw and router plane, then regluing the block together. Similar to a Krenov plane construction.

I had eyeballed by wedge layout on the fence, so I used a bevel gauge to transfer the slope to a piece of 1/4" thick walnut from the offcut bin. Saw near the line and plane down the wedge to fit by clamping the plane (this time a Stanley #3) upsidedown into your leg vise and running the wood across it. Make sure to keep your fingertips away from the blade.

At the drill press I used the same 1/4" drill bit, (because it was still chucked up) and drilled the perimeter of the beam hole recess then refined that with chisels and rasps making sure the edge intruded sufficiently into the space. Having never really done this before I relied on guesswork and the measurement "That seems like it should be enough."

I cut out the cyma and refined it with rasps. Then I planned a length of walnut to work as the beam. Instead of making another recess and wedge like the original, (Roubo looks like he's double dipping on the usefulness of a hollow plane blade) I wanted to utilize some of the same chopped up saw plates I've already made a dozen of. So I made a saw kerf into the beam and pinched it on the end with a flat head brass machine screw and wingnut.

I softened and refined all the edges to be gentle on my delicate hands and chamfered the ends of the beam. Then a once over with a dry polissoir on the beam and wedge and a pre waxed polissoir and buff for the fence. It was time to go for a test drive.

This is (at least) the fourth tool I've made from the pages of Roubo's l'Art Du Menuisier, including the Press Vise I published in Popular Woodworking and THESE layout distractions. And everyone of them has been an adventure in learning, and sometimes relearning thing I thought I already knew. I'm certain Master Roubo is hanging out on some plane of existence laughing and smiling at all us guys just figuring out the tricks he knew well enough to write about.

Ratione et Passionis


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