Sunday, May 11, 2008

Panel Gauge

As I worked on the Shaker Cabinet (the uber-project of the last 1 1/2 years and not yet posted...) the time came for cutting the door panels to size and since I didn't have a panel gauge it was time to stop work for a while and make one. Right about here the astute reader will begin to see why the Shaker Cabinet is going on 18 months and is still only about 80% finished. In my own defense, there was also the 2-3 month slow period after the infamous chisel induced emergency room visit - but still...

I had some local birch handy and here is what I came up with:

And in action for the first time:

As you can see, I cut it a little close on the rough sizing. But it all worked out fine. Plane the reference edge square and true, mark one side, flip the panel end-for-end, and using the same reference edge mark the other side. The cutter on the gauge makes a clean cut which was easy to see as I plane the second edge down to size. I'll post about this technique later, but basically I just plane down until the marks dissapear from the edge - a lot easier to show than write about - I'll work up that post soon...

It works great, but one improvement for any future version will be to move the trapped wedge to the side rather than on the top of the beam. With the wedge on top, it adjusts for slop vertically, which is rather unimportant since both the fence and the cutter are supported by the panel being marked (the bottom front edge of the fence is rabbited). I would prefer to have the wedge taking up slop (both from seasonal movement and my errors on cutting the mortice) in the horizontal plane. I think this would make for a more secure fit and more effectively resist the lateral forces that occur in use. Oh well, next time...

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