Friday, December 30, 2011

TAJCD Revamp in Process!

With the New Year just around the corner I thought I'd announce some of the developments with the essay series I have had available for a couple of years now, entitled The Art of Japanese Carpentry Drawing. So far, this series runs to three volumes and 450 pages of material. Volume I and II, which come as a set, dealt with mathematics for carpentry and took some initial steps down the compound joinery path with a look at hoppers, or funnel-form boxes. Volume III, some 280 pages long, looks at Japanese splicing joinery in some detail - in more detail, I suspect, than anything else written and illustrated on that topic. Look for more volumes to come on the subject of joinery.

These volumes have very much been a work in progress, evolving and improving as time passes. The ultimate goal is the publishing of a hard-backed multi-volume set on Japanese carpentry drawing and woodworking. That set will likely be quite expensive, and is many years away. In the meantime, I am choosing not to hole up in a cave to write the magnum opus, and instead am making the material available in a volume by volume fashion, as .pdf files. These files can be printed as the buyer may prefer- a page here and there to take into the workshop, or the whole works as a bookshelf reference.

As I have been selling these volumes, I have gained insights into improving the volumes by constructive feedback that some readers have kindly offered. Any revisions of the material I have been sending out gratis to original purchasers. Volume I and II are currently in their 5th revision, while Volume III has yet to be revised at all. That's the beauty of the .pdf format - it cuts the selling cost significantly and allows for the material to be easily revised and improved at no additional expense.

In the past 6 months I have been running an Online Carpentry Drawing Study Group. We have just finished the second project, and through that process of mailings to group members - 21 mailings so far and counting - I have produced additional material for the TAJCD series. This additional material, combined with further thoughts I have had about the configuration of those essays, has led me to conclude that it is time for something greater than a mere revision - a revamping is in order. In fact, besides adding hundreds of pages of new material, I am actually re-illustrating a significant portion of the essays to improve clarity and streamline the appearance. It's a whole lotta work, let me tell you.

Volume III will remain unchanged. Volume I and II are no longer going to be sold as a set, but will be available as separate volumes, each of which is being significantly enlarged. Volume I/II together tallied 145 pages, while the revamped Volume I alone is past 120 pages at this stage of the process....

Here's a sneak peak of the new cover page for TAJCD Volume I: Carpentry Mathematics:

The revamped Volume II adds a raft of new material on mortise and tenoned hoppers and other joinery options for these forms, taking it to around 140~150 pages.

The new volumes are priced at $20 for Volume I (@100 pages) and $25 for Volume II (140 pages). As this revamping is far more extensive than a simple revision, I will not be sending the new volumes on to past purchasers at no charge - but in recognition of this past support, I will cut the price in half for original purchasers of Volume I/II sets, so $22.50 would obtain the revamped Volumes I and II for those folks. Volume III stays the same, price-wise, at $40.

The revamped Volume I and II will be available for purchase January 15th or so.

In addition a new Volume IV is coming out, a detailed look at compound splayed post geometry and construction. This Volume is slated to be available in late February,  expected to run more than 140 pages, and is to sell for $30. Here's a sneak peak at the cover:

Information on mortise and tenon joinery for splayed post structures is virtually unavailable in the English language, and what is out there, from what I have seen, is rather limited in scope and misses out on most of the finer points. I'm anticipating that this volume IV will break new ground in explaining in detail the geometrical and layout issues in undertaking such carpentry work.

Once the new volume is complete and available for purchase, I'll post up a notice here on the blog, along with a few more peaks at the contents. I'm aiming to meet a February 15th deadline - wish me luck!

These revamped essays along with the new Volume IV should bring the total amount of material close to 700 pages.

I also will be offering a discount for those who wish to purchase all four volumes as a set - $100 instead of $115. As before, those who complete the Volume I and II material can opt to take an exam ($5.00), and completion of that exam, and a small project, is the access pass to joining the Online Study Group. I'm hoping to really get this group up to full steam this year and look forward to seeing what projects we can sink our teeth into. Next up for the group is the first of many roof model studies.

Thanks to one an all for your interest in visiting the Carpentry Way over 2011, and I greatly wish all the best to readers for 2012, both in their professional and personal endeavors. I look forward to seeing you next time!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mix and Match (IX)

This particular piece of furniture was not of the project type analogous to, say, a love child with a difficult birthing. It started out in fact as little more than an idea to throw a plywood shelf in a corner to free up some counter space. Then, well, thinking about it, I realized that I wasn't feeling too stoked about a piece of plywood, so I took some leftover Black Cherry boards and glued up a shelf. I had then marked out that shelf so it could be cut to fit in around some door trim and another bit of molding. Well, further thought led me to conclude that it would be waste of the Cherry to make something so specific to the location, something I couldn't readily reuse elsewhere were we to move house someday. So... I then decided I'd make a slightly more involved piece, and that morphed slightly and got more complicated as I dealt with each issue that arose in the process of designing the piece in my mind. Kind of like the mythical frog that boils to death in the gradually-heated pot of water -- I hope not!

I wanted to do something 'quick' and 'simple' but also wanted to treat the materials, even if they are leftovers, mere scraps, with respect and build something that would last a while. Then I realized I could explore some new joinery ideas (new to me at least), and that's what led to the design of the twin half-tenons attaching the posts to the shelf boards, locked in position by the mitered breadboard ends, and the decision to try out the quintuple through tenon attachment between the stretchers and the posts. That, in turn, led to obtaining a bit of experience working Ipe in a context other than screwing together decking, and to the opportunity to work some fairly small 1/8" peg mortises. All very beneficial outcomes in my mind at least.

I normally spend a fair amount of time with any piece of construction in the design phase, working out proportions and joinery details. For any piece made for a client, that is invariably my approach. Here, I decided to take different tack and simply work things out in my head as I went along. Indeed, I have known more than a few woodworkers who always work in such a scribble-on-a-matchbook fashion and who avoid drawing and mock-ups like the plague. The problem with such avoidance however is that it is quite easy, especially with pieces you haven't made before or with joints you haven't tried before, to overlook some little detail or fail to anticipate certain consequences of certain decisions made. In the case of this project, I nearly painted myself into a corner with the seemingly minor issue of the feet and their attachment to the bottom shelf board. sometimes what seem like afterthoughts can rear up and bite you.

Another issue appeared upon assembly of this piece. The mitered breadboard ends were a tight fit and I held off driving them fully into position in the trial fitting stage since they might be difficult to remove without damaging something. So, when final assembly came, there were some unknowns in the fit, though I was fairly confident that the fit would be acceptable. And acceptable the fit was, however there was one small glitch unrelated to the fit:

You can see a small triangular opening at the upper corner. This was not intended at all. When I saw it I smiled and realized that in configuring the mitered end of the breadboard to terminate in the corner of the stick, I had overlooked the fact that the dovetail tenons ends were not in the same relative position as the faces were on the opposite side of the shelf. The tenons are inset 1/8" back from the faces. The above issue could have been readily solved by moving the outer tenon to the left about 1/8".

Well, there you go, there you have it. It's seppuku for me I guess. If this piece were for a client, I'd have a real mess on my hands, considering that wedges had already been driven into several of the through-tenoned joints. I might have had to remake all the posts and the entire grill shelf. Fortunately, this piece is for our house, and I can jolly well live with those little triangular openings! They'll add to the piece - a point of conversation even.

Anyway, on with the assembly. It was time to fit the 1/8" pegs. I carefully made some final adjustments to the draw-bored tenon mortises with a jeweler's file, then proceeded to insert the Gonçalo Alves pins into place from the outside, with the aid of a smaller hammer:

Emerging into kindness, as one of my old friends is occasionally wont to say:

All the way through, with only a trimming cut to go:

I rechecked the assembly from time to time to make sure my tapping and wrangling wasn't upsetting the squareness:

I found the odd spot that needed some additional clean up with the plane:

The feet were then dropped in and tapped across into position on the underside:

I'll leave the tenons long on the underside.

That was pretty much that. The completed piece:

Another view:

A look at one of the 1/8" pegged connections with everything trimmed clean:

Looking from below at one of the post-to-top-to-breadboard end connections:

And a view of the same post where it meets the Black Cherry shelf below:

While that does look like a pen mark on the Cherry, I can assure you it's just a black streak in the material. Cherry has these funny fine black lines in it here and there - you can see another one on the exposed tenon. The breadboard end needed a lick with the plane at the time of the photo.

My wife is quite sensitive to any sort of chemical fumes, and since this piece was going to be near a heat source, and given that the shop is unheated and getting a finish to cure properly would take a fairly long time, I elected to simply clean up any slightly rough areas, scrub the piece with a 3M polishing pad, and the rub in a coat of wax. That, my friends, was the fastest finishing job in history.

What is this thing supposed to do, you may ask? As I mentioned in the 7th post in what must be one of the subtlest hints of all time, this is a new fire station: it's a toaster oven stand:

With the rice cooker on top, and a shelf to keep toaster oven accessories, we have some space freed up for some other small kitchen appliances we frequently use. Another view:

I hope you all enjoyed - or at least managed to stay awake for - this mini build thread. Did you think the woods used went together, color wise, fairly well? It's simple little piece, the making of which had its share of successes and failures. Perhaps it was barely worth blogging about but things are a bit slow otherwise, and besides, no one was exactly advising me against such a move. I'm glad I made this small stand and learned some good things in the process. Though it was relatively 'quick' to make, the labor hours that went into it do make such a piece a fairly expensive proposition if I were to make one for a client. Nothing new there. My wife seems pleased with the result and I'm sure the stand will serve us for many years to come. Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way on your travels today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mix and Match (VIII)

Moving right along with this thread describing the construction of a small joined piece of furniture. Other posts on this, and other topics ,can be found in the blog archive to the right of the page.

At the conclusion of the previous post in this series, I showed the testing of the double dovetail mortises for the feet. Once the mortise fit was confirmed, I went on to make the actual feet:

Here's the four of them:


I used abrasive to shape the curved tapered form of the feet, and then polished them up on my granite surface plate with a sheet of 400 grit 'L.U' sandpaper. The underside of the feet needed a slight clean up with a chisel between the tenons:

So that was pretty much it for the fabrication stage - I now had a tidy pile of bits which need to be combined together:

First up, I fitted the grill and the top and bottom pieces to the uprights. Then I could complete 'the cage' by placing the last two uprights into position:

The piece is on its side in the above photo.

Here's on the the uprights, the posts if you like, tapped down into place - this is a joinery idea I had which could combine the twin half-dovetailed tenons with the mitered breadboard end:

Once the posts were all knocked into place, I checked that things were squared up and then started putting some wedges in. There's no glue in this piece, it's all joinery. I fitted four wedges into the outer quintuple through tenons, the mortises having already been internally tapered to accommodate the wedges:

Fully down:

I trimmed the wedges off and left the tenons proud. Onto the breadboard ends - I tapped them down with a piece of wood to protect the surface:

A look from the inside as the end piece is started on getting tapped down:

Almost there:

I thought I had a final picture for that corner, but instead all I seem to have on my camera are pictures from the Black Cherry end - they're all identical so it's the same deal. The breadboard end tucks under the outside face of the post:

I had configured the miter on the end piece to run right to the corner of the post.

A look at the other end:

With the breadboard ends seated, I drive a couple of 1/4" wedges into the central tenon:

The central tenon and its wedges was then trimmed flush.

Onto the 'ladder', a grill serving as a shelf in this piece. There were four through tenons - soffit tenons - each to receive a pair of wedges on each side of the piece:

I then trimmed them all flush:

Well, that's enough pics for one day. Tomorrow I'll be back with the concluding post showing the remainder of the assembly. I hope you'll return to see how it all went. I must say assembly is indeed a relaxing affair when there is no glue involved.

Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way.  ☞ on to post 9

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mix and Match (VII)

Post 7 in a series describing the [uncharacteristic] almost non-existent design and impromptu build of a small joined piece of furniture. Primary woods being used are Jatoba, Ipe, and Black Cherry, with a few Gonçalo Alves pegs thrown in for good measure. Previous installments can be found in the blog archive to the right side of the page.

When I left off last time, I had just completed fitting some Jatoba crosspieces to a pair of Ipe stretchers using two varieties of soffit tenons. The Jatoba crosspieces had been planed on three sides - I left their top surfaces alone until they were all fitted, so I could plane the surfaces of the cross pieces flush to the stretchers. Planing started at one end..

...and finished at the other:

 The ladder for the, uh, new fire station is now complete:

Another view:

Of course, the wedges still need to be fitted to lock it all together, but that will happen after the whole works is assembled.

Speaking of that,  I ran the rip saw down the soffit tenons in preparation for the wedges:

Then I knocked the ladder apart again so I could give the Ipe a last kiss with the plane:

I was just taking a thin, thin pass off, slicing away the pencil marks and any grubbiness:


Almost done now - one minor item remained: the feet. This piece is 'designed' (and I use that term loosely) to rest on a hard surface and I needed to fit some sort of feet into place. If I had spent more time at the beginning doing a detailed drawing, I'm sure I would have come to a more ideal solution. As it was, I felt like I nearly painted myself into a corner by not giving this aspect of the piece more forethought. anyway, after running innumerable schemes through my mind over the past week, I finally hit upon what I felt to be a decent solution.

The feet were to be mounted on the underside of the Black Cherry floorboard, and the layout took a few minutes to sort out:

Then I routed out the core of the join in a series of steps (not illustrated). Following that, it was time for a bit of paring:

A more or less complete concealed sliding double dovetail mortise:

I then made up a test stick for fitting- the feet are to be made of Jatoba, oriented as a tree grows with the grain running vertically. The test stick took several steps to make, but here is the final trial fit:

The grain in the dovetails is oriented in such a way that any seasonal movement will have minimal effect upon the tightness of the joint.

To start, the twin dovetail tenons are inserted:

And then slid straight down to the bottom (not, of course, so that they bottom out on the tenon ends - I leave a clearance gap of 0.005" or so:

Then a little persuasion was required to get things moving down what can only be called a slippery slope:

Further, but not quite there yet - maybe a couple or three more taps:

When the tenons are fully home one would never know that there was a joint there. It's best kept a secret I suppose - I'll tell them I just glued the feet on the bottom:

With the fit confirmed, I made the 4 feet, and erased the pencil lines off the bottom of the Cherry board. I'll show those finished little feet in the next post, along with the final assembly of this item. Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way.   ☞ on to post 8

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mix and Match (VI)

Following on from yesterday's blog, here are a few more photos from a small joinery project I am working on. In the preceding post, I showed the work undertaken on the stretchers, each of which received 7 mortises. Some of those mortises were blind, and some were run through.

Next it was on to the crosspieces which run between the two stretchers. These I made out of Jatoba, and they're 0.5" thick and 0.75" tall. Part way through the cut out process, I checked at one stage to see if I had obtained the desired target length of 10.0":

That's close enough I guess. And no, it didn't need to be quite that accurately cut, but I'll take it when I can get it.

These crosspieces all have rift grain, and I was hoping they would be cooperative to plane - they were:

I've had less than enjoyable times planing vertical grain Jatoba, which is very tough on cutting edges, so I was glad these were trouble-free.

Now, aren't these the cutest little soffit tenons you've ever seen?:


As you can see there are two lengths - the four longer ones are the through-tenons, and the shorter ones are mounted blind. The through tenons will be kerfed and wedged which will, it is to be hoped, help keep any potential tendency for the Ipe stretchers to move apart from one another in check. Essentially, I'm building this assembly combining the two stretchers and the crosspieces as if I were constructing a timber floor system.

Soffit tenons are a variation on the tusk tenon - much the same except that the bottom surface of the tenon is coincident with the bottom surface of the stick.

Then it was back to the Ipe stretchers to complete the mortise cut out with a final round of sidewall paring:

Time to try a fit with one of the through-tenoned crosspieces:

Fully inserted:

A look around the other side of the crosspiece to check the fit:

A view of the exit face:

More paring, this time on a blind mortise, and a trial fitting:

Another view:

Looking from the exit face's side:

Once the pieces were fitted, I checked each one for squareness to the stretcher, making adjustments if necessary:

Mortises done, I thought I may as well sling a few of them together to make sure the assembly goes together - first I fit the seven crosspieces onto one stretcher:

Then the other stretcher is started:

A few taps with a mallet later and it is together, square and flat:

Perhaps I could start a new sideline specializing in doll house ladders? Or, perhaps miniature pergolas?

Well this the pics for today's post. Hope all is well with you and yours, and if you celebrate Christmas in the commercial fashion may Santa make his way to your house with all the treats you've been longing for and the Grinch steers a wide berth. Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way, and look for another post in this thread in a couple of days. Cheers!