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Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Peek Into The Sausage Factory

One of the projects in the pipeline is a Civil War reproduction folding camp table.  The plans are in the October 2013 issue of Woodworker's Journal.  The build is quick and very straightforward.
Above is the top with the skirt screwed on.  The short ends are meant to support the collapsible legs (not installed yet).  The original plan called for a simple butt joint at the corners, which would mean the legs are supported by the screws only.  I opted instead for a single dovetail at the corners to strengthen the joint.  The dovetail may be overkill, but it is my design choice.

Unfortunately, my dovetails still suck:
Gappy Dovetail
 The table top is made of white oak.  The center strip is padauk flanked by two narrow strips of mahogany.  I'm open to finishing options to keep the red/brown/orange look of the padauk; post your suggestions below.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Some Skill Can Be Bought

I have a large number of inexpensive F style bar clamps.  We've been together a long time and have a cordial if not friendly relationship.  A while back Peachtree Woodworking ran a special on Big Foot clamps where I picked up 4 of the 48" models.  They sat wrapped in plastic for three projects; I thought waiting until I had a project that required the 48" capacity of these clamps was a good idea.  For the record, that was a stupid idea.

In the photo above you see a saw bench I'm working on.  There are actually two, but the second one is more involved and not even started yet.  The saw bench is only 12 inches (+/-) wide, but 3 inches thick.  The Big Foot clamp has a broad bearing surface; certainly much more than the button on F style bar clamps.  The  large bearing surface is perfect for a three inch thick glue up.

It turns out that the Big Foot clamp is perfect for any project, at least compared to the no-name F clamps.  I suppose a little explanation is in order.

I use a lot of cauls when gluing things.  Cauls make your clamps go a lot further.  One caul and two clamps can take the place of a whole row of clamps on a panel (though I always use a caul on each side of the panel).  The drawback of using cauls is one more moving part to deal with during glue-up.

The Big Foot clamp actually has feet to keep the clamp upright and your project off the table.  Additionally there is a broad bearing surface front and back (head and foot?  Fore and aft?).  My favorite feature is that the feet give enough clearance to turn the screw without interference.

I guess Big Foot clamps are my taste of the clamp good life.  Maybe I'll make it to the Bessey clamp level some day.