Sunday, March 28, 2010

The New, New Project

So about a week ago I finally got moving on a new project - a knife holder. But then things changed. I started thinking about how my son has developed a real interest in the happenings up on the counters and how he likes to move the dining room chairs over so he can see, and grab, things off the counter. I decided that it would be better if the knives continued living in a drawer with a child lock. End of the new project.

So, it was time for a new, new project. And after resawing the stock for the knife holder, I was darn well going to use it. I settled on making a candle shelf. Using the dimensions of the stock, I designed a set of hanging shelves - well really a shelf/rack with two drawers underneath. Here's a shot of my plans:

The first step was to true one edge of the stock. I held it in the face vise and used a jointer to straighten the edge.

Then I marked the final width with my panel gauge riding on the trued edge - flipping it end for end to mark both sides.

There was less than 1/4 inch to remove, so I opted to plane it off rather than rip it with a saw. I started with a scrub plane for fast wood removal, and then finished up with the jointer. As I got close to the layout lines, the thin strips of wood started lifting up. If I was working square to the edge, they would have appeared on both arrises at the same time. As you can see in the photo below, only the near side was showing the curl, which meant I was high on the far side and needed to adjust my angle. This technique works a lot better than continuously bending down to look at the lines.

You can also see that I never really smoothed the resawn face of the stock. For the knife holder, this was unnecessary as the inside faces would not show. For the new project, the inside faces will show in the upper section, and I needed to spend some time smoothing those surfaces.

My design called for a curve on the upper half of each side. To lay out a true curve, I used a thin dowel. With one end clamped to the stock, I could flex the dowel until the curve was the right shape, and then trace it onto the stock.

After cutting the curve with my turning saw, I used a convex sole spokeshave to clean up the curve.

Instead of trying to replicate the same curve with the dowel for the second side, I just traced the first side. Here's the pair:

Next, I'll start to work on the joints: dovetails for the top and bottom, rabbets for the back, and dadoes for the shelf and drawer dividers. After that, I'll make the two small drawers.


  1. I just wanted to comment about your decision to abandon the knife-block. I grew up in a house with all of the sharp knives on a block sitting on the counter in plain view and access to myself and my 3 siblings. Not even once did any of us get ourselves into trouble from that arrangement. But, at about the time that each of us was mobile and dedicated enough to access the knives our parents would teach us how to use them, I got to use a chef's knife for the first time at around the age of three. I was informed that it was very sharp and that if i applied the edge to my skin i would and up cutting myself and it would hurt, I was also told that I could only use a sharp knife while my mom or dad was in the room with me. With a reasonable fear of the object, and no mystery about it, it was a simple rule to follow. If I disobeyed I would only bring harm upon myself, and if I obeyed I would get to have fun helping my parents cut food for dinner. I feel that this was a valuable lesson for me to learn at such a young age and it is a simple lesson to teach, even to someone like my little brother who had to cut himself once before he learned to respect knives.

  2. Good call, my son's just over two, and is now climbing on whatever he can find to see what's on the counter. He's a bit away from having some lessons in knife safety, so we're going to have to something with our knives two. I have the big ones in a knife block, but the steak knives gotta move.

    I like the trick for the curve, that's a pretty no-nonsense way to handle it.

    And I'm very jealous of all that space you have in your shop. :)


  3. +1 for Nathan. That's how it happen in my family as well and this is the way I see things with my 2 1/2 years old girl! As for the candles thing, it is a great project! And look like your are on your way to success! On an other, I assum you made the panel gauge you are using on this project?!? Could you post a few pics of it? Thank you.

  4. Nathan - Thanks for sharing your experience. I think once my son is older, we might be able to try something like that. But just now, his mobility and curiosity far exceed his ability to reason.

    Badger - I think no-nonsense is the way to go. I'm getting better, but my natural tendency is to over think things.

    As for all the space, it's funny, but I used to think I needed even more. But lately, I've been wondering if a smaller shop wouldn't have some benefits. Hmm. Maybe this is more of the no-nonsense thinking. Thanks for commenting.

    David – Thanks! I hope the candle thing works out as I don't want to do a post titled "The New, New, New Project".

    As for the panel gauge, there's more on that here.

  5. I like the project and I really like how much care you have taken with the photographs. They really make for a good post.

  6. Hey Dan, I really enjoyed this post.


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