Shooting Board

Jim Morgans Wood Profits

Wood Profits by Jim Morgan

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Woodworker Plane Archive Photos
The shooting board b a simple Jig that guides the plane to ensure straight, square cuts.


on't feel bad if you can't saw the end of a board perfectly square or cut a perfect miter. And vou are not a w klutz if you can't plane an edge that is both straight and square. I have met few people who can.

For precision jointing, many woodworkers rely on jointers and sanding disks. For these basic jobs I prefer shooting boards. When combined with a sharp, well-tuned bench plane the results are equally precise and you obtain an extremely smooth surface.

Shooting boards have other advantages as well. You can make them quickly and inexpensively. They are safer than machines when you are working with small pieces, and they don't create dust.

There are three types of shooting boards. The one that joints edges and squares ends is discussed here. Two others, the miter shooting board and the "donkey's ear." both used in trimming miters, will be subjects of future articles. The work done on any of these is callcd shooting and when done, the surface of the board is said to have been "shot."

The joint-and-square shooting board is very simple. It consists of three wooden parts: A base, a raised ledge, and a stop as shown in the drawing. The edge of the ledge serves as a fence to guide the plane.

When shooting, the plane is placed on its side as shown in the photo. The work is laid on the ledge with one edge projecting slightly over the fence and one end pressing securely against the stop. (To square off the end of a board, you place a side against the stop and shoot the end grain.)

The plane's toe (the area of the sole in front of the mouth) is held against the corner of the work farthest from the stop as shown in the drawing. The rear of the plane is held parallel to the fence. Pushing the plane toward the stop trims the projecting surface. When the plane takes a shaving that is continuous in length and width, you have made a perfectly straight and square edge (or end). A basic joint-and-square shooting board can be made with a handful of screws and a few pieces of wood and is very practical if used only occasionally. However. I need mine nearly every day. When used this regularly, the basic design has a problem: One area on the iron docs all the cutting and the blade wears in just that spot.




Stop should be as high

Put toe of plane against edge of board and hold plane parallel to fence.

Shooting Board Plane
Push plane along board for a square, straight edge.

Put toe of plane against edge of board and hold plane parallel to fence.


Stop should be as high

A shooting hoard with an inclined edge, as shown in Fig. 2, solves this problem. An inclined ledge distributes the cutting action over the entire width of the plane blade, keeping it sharper longer. Also, an incline holds the work at an angle to the cutting edge. The blade is said to be "askew" and results in a cleaner surface than when cutting straight on. (This is a tip to remember when you are using a plane.)

I will explain how I made my shooting board. However, there are many alternatives and no set dimen-r sions, so make yours to meet your needs. While working on it, remember that a shooting board makes straight and square edges and ends. So. you must be continuously aware of two concepts: flat and square.

The base has to be perfectly flat. Should it warp, it will throw the shooting board out of square. For stability, I made my base out of '/4-in. interior-grade luan plywood because the luan has a smooth, even grain.

My base is 10x30 in. This is fairly large, but I use my shooting board to make architectural elements as well as furniture. If you do very fine work, your base could be as short as one foot. When laying out the base be sure the grain in the face ply runs in the same direction as the plane.

The ledge is made of (1 '/.»-in.) Eastern white pine. Mine is 6 x 30 in. which exposes 4 in. of the base to support the plane. The ledge tapers in thickness from Va to 1 ]U in. Since my plane's mouth is '/* inch from the edge of the sole and it has a 2-in. wide blade, I can shoot work up to 1 in. thick. I seldom shoot anything thicker, but when I do, I use a jointer plane with a wider blade.

I tapered my ledge on a jig, shown in the drawing, which I ran through the thickness planer. I began with the ledge itself—a piece of 5/4 (1 '/4-in.) pine a couple of inches longer than the finished length. I used a jointer plane to joint the edge that became the fence.

Next. I built a carriage to hold the ledge on its trip through the planer. The carriage held one end of the board higher than the other, so that the planer cut a taper. To make the carriage, I laid the ledge on my work bench and placed a strip of I-in. thick pine under one end. At several points along its length. I measured the gap between the bench and the bottom of the ledge as shown in the photo. I planed pine strips to these thicknesses and glued them underneath the ledge.

When the glue dried I attached a 10 x 33 x V2 in. pine board to the spacers with 1-in. dry wall screws, which I countersunk. The result was a carriage that held the ledge at the desired incline for planing as shown in the photo.

I measured the combined thickness of the carriage and ledge at its highest end and set the planer to remove about '/16 in. of that. I made repeated light passes. Each successive pass created more and more of an incline.

When the taper was finished, I gripped the carriage between bench dogs and hand planed the chatter marks from the ledge's surface. I removed the ledge from the carriage, chiseled away the pine spacers and planed off any residue. Then I cut the ledge to length.

When a shooting board is in use, small particles of shavings collect along the fence and can lift the plane out of square. A dust groove in the base prevents this. To locate the groove, I positioned the ledge on the base and traced a line using the fence as a guide. I made the groove along the line with a Stanley #10 bench rabbet plane held on its right edge as shown in the photo. The first pass was slow but scored a track that the plane could follow. I continued cutting until the groove was about V* in. wide by 'A* in. deep.

Next, I attached the ledge to the base with drvwall screws and countersunk their heads.

The two surfaces created by the tops of the base and ledge have to be perfectly parallel across their widths. If not, the finished edge will be out of square. I tested the two surfaces by standing two squares back to back, one on the ledge, the other on the base as shown. When butted together, the blades should be parallel. If not. adjust the ledge by planing the high spots with a hand plane.

The stop is 1 x I x 6 in. and made of a scrap of hardwood. The only critical dimension is the height. It should be as high as the thickest piece you will have to shoot. Otherwise, when squaring the end of a board, the work's upper corner will not be supported and will chip. Note that the front end of the stop is angled slightly backward, as shown in the drawing, so the plane can't chip the far edge of the stop.

The stop cannot be placed at the very end of the ledge because the plane tends to rock as it passes over

MARCH/APRIL 1 989 A 47



Shooting Board

the end of the fence. I positioned the stop 2'/: in. from the end of the ledge as shown in the drawing. To make sure it was square, I laid a square against the fence and traced a line against which the slop was screwed.

When the shooting board was complete I applied a layer of paste wax to the base. That reduces friction making the plane easier to push.

The plane has to be razor sharp and well-tuned. It also has to fit your shooting board. My shooting board is fairly large so I use a Stanley #5 jack and sometimes a #7 jointer. On a very small board you might even use a block plane.

It is critical that the plane's sole be square with its right side. Normally, a bench plane's cutting edge is slightly curved to prevent the corners from digging. For shooting, the cutting edge has to be straight. I ensure this by first spraying the flat side of the cutter with machinist's layout fluid, a fast-drying colored dye (available from MSC Industrial Supply. 151 Sun-nyside Blvd., Plainview, NY I 1803). When the dye is dry, I lav a square on the blade and trace a line with a scratch awl. I grind the edge to this line. It is impera-

French Polish Live Edge
To make the planer Jig that tapers the ledge, shim up one end of the ledge, and cut other shims to fill the gap. Screw the shims to the ledge and to a base and run the entire assembly through the planer.

live that you hone the cutter so it is razor sharp.

Finally, advance the frog so the mouth is literally paper thin. To do this, loosen the two screws that hold the frog to the body, and turn the adjustment screw as shown in the photo. Adjust the cutter to take a very fine shaving, being sure that the edge is perfectly parallel to the sole.

Unfortunately, a plane with a straight cutting edge on the blade will not work well on the bench, so I have

Cut the dust groove with a rabbet plane rolled up on edge; a two-handed grip provides better control.



Running Wood Through Planer
To taper the ledge, run the carriage through planer, removing wood along dotted line. Take light passes.



Mike Dunbar is a furniture maker, author of sexvral books, and a contributing editor of AMERICAN WOODWORKER.

The surfaces of the ledge and base are parallel if the blades of squares set on each surface are also parallel.

Adjust the mouth of your shooting plane for a paper-thin cut by turning a screw on the plane's frog.

The surfaces of the ledge and base are parallel if the blades of squares set on each surface are also parallel.

Adjust the mouth of your shooting plane for a paper-thin cut by turning a screw on the plane's frog.

designated one plane specifically for shooting. A less expensive alternative (but more work) is to buy a replacement cutter that you put in the plane when using your shooting board.

Shooting a Board

In use, a shooting board will slide all over the workbench unless secured. I grip my shooting board be tween the bench dogs; other cabinetmakers secure their shooting board by screwing a strip of wood underneath it as shown in the drawing. The strip hooks over the end of the workbench and holds the shooting board in place.

Hold the work tightly against the stop. The edge (or end) should slightly overhang the ledge —no more than a whisker. Put the toe of the plane on the work and push the plane with conviction. Take several thin shavings rather than a single heavy one.

Cutting into the fence affects the accuracy of the jig so keep an eye on the plane blade. If it gets too close to the fence, push the board out so it hangs over a bit more and continue planing.

When the plane takes a shaving that is continuous in length and width, you have made a perfectly straight and square-edge surface. Test the shot surface with a square and it will be perfect. A

Mike Dunbar is a furniture maker, author of sexvral books, and a contributing editor of AMERICAN WOODWORKER.

French Po

2 The French-polished surface of this 1815 Philadelphia Federal card table is so smooth that H picks up the polisher's reflection. (Table courtesy of FJ. Carey III Antiques, Penllyn, PA)

Mention French polishing to a French woodworker, and he will probably give you a puzzled look. Our name lor this lustrous shellac finish makes little sense in France, where this venerable finishing method originated. Instead, the French call it "it*rnis an tampon."


varnishing with a pad, and I think this term describes the finish best. No matter what you call it, French polishing is the art of applying shellac with a cloth pad.

There are many variations of French polishing but the process I'm about to describe is the one used in France today as taught in the Ecole Boulle, a cabinet school run by the French government. Although I

make chairs in Florida for a living, I travel frequently to Paris and have periodically audited some classes at Boulle, as it is called. I'm also indebted to my good friend Stephan Sauve, an American who studied finishing at Boulle and practices French polishing for a living. Mis extensive notes on the subject contributed vastly to my knowledge and in a very real sense he shares authorship of this article.

French polishing is done in three stages: filling, rubbing and clearing. Filling is the process of filling the pores of the wood; rubbing is the process of applying the shellac, and clearing refines the finish with a light rubbing of alcohol. During each stage the finisher rubs the surface with a special cloth pad; the pad is charged with a different medium—pumice, shellac or alcohol —depending on the stage in the process. Mineral oil is sometimes applied as a lubricant.

In the second stage, the finish is built up as the polisher moves the pad constantly across the wood, laying down an incredibly thin layer of shellac with each pass. The shellac dries instantly. Without lifting the pad from the surface, the polisher lays another layer on top of the first and another layer on top of that, and so on. The layers fuse into one and the surface builds until it shines like no other finish. A well-padded shellac finish will reflect a soft mirror image.

To be honest, French polishing is somewhat tedious and time-consuming. In addition, it isn't appropriate for all applications. It's a poor choice for bar tops, for example, because alcohol dissolves the finish and water turns it white. But on other furniture, it is extremely durable. I've seen 200-year-old furniture with a shellac finish in better condition than the wood under it. The luster of French polishing is unsurpassed by any modern finish, and if damaged, it is repaired easily by repolishing.

Materials for French Polishing

The materials used in French polishing date back to the 16th century, and some bear explaining before I describe exactly what I have on hand when I polish.

SHELLAC. Liquid shellac has a limited shelf life. It is best to mix vourown from flakes to ensure freshness.

Shellac is available in various grades. The more refined grades are lighter in color. The almost clear Super Blonde grade is excellent for French polishing. Bleached shellac is water-clear but has been chemically refined. It is difficult to pad and has an extremely short shelf life. Less refined, darker-colored grades of shellac arc good for matching antique colors, and some do a great job of bringing out an antique red tone in mahogany.

A pound of shellac dissolved in a gallon of alcohol is said to have a 1-lb. cut. I recommend a 2-lb. cut solution for French polishing —two pounds of shellac in a gallon of alcohol. Of course a gallon of shellac will probably go bad before you can use it all; mix your 2-lb. cut a quart at a time.

Put a half-pound of Hakes in a jar and pour 3 cups of alcohol over it. Cap the jar and give it a good shake. The alcohol dissolves the shellac slowly so shake the jar periodically and let it sit overnight. Stir in a fourth cup of alcohol in the morning. Date the mixture so that you will know its age. I've successfully used year-old shellac, but shellac that old is alwavs a gamble.

ALCOHOL. Shellac dissolves in alcohol. Ethvl alco-

w hoi, the grain alcohol in liquor, works best for finishing. In fact 190-proof grain alcohol works quite well in the early stages of French polishing. In my experience however, the 5 percent water content can create troubles in the last stages of the process by causing some cloudiness in the final finish.

In my opinion, the denatured alcohol sold in hardware stores usually is not the best choice for French polishing. Denaturing is the process of poisoning ethyl alcohol to make it undrinkablc and avoiding liquor taxes. The exact proportions vary, but the denaturing agent is usually methanol, a poisonous wood alcohol. The problem with hardware-store denatured alcohol is that it often contains some water, making the finish softer and less transparent.

I prefer Behkol, a denatured alcohol made by Behlen Brothers (see Sources). Behkol lias been denatured with solvents that appear to have little effect on the shellac.

A word of caution. Alcohol absorbs water from the atmosphere easily. Leave a bottle uncapped for an hour and the water content may rise by as much as 5 percent. I avoid this by keeping my alcohol in small bottles as shown in the photograph. Cap the bottles tightly. When polishing, replace the caps with corks. I cut a Vic-in. notch in the side of the cork and dispense my alcohol by pouring it through the notch. I keep my 2-ib. cut shellac in a similar dispenser.

PADS. Pads consist of an inner core and an outer cover. Depending on the stage, the pad is charged with different materials and rubbed over the wood.

Some French polishers use one pad through the entire process. It's easier to learn with three pads—one for each stage—so that the materials from one stage don't mix with the materials from another. The pads for the first two stages can be used again and again, each kept in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. I make my clearing pad fresh each time.

Wool makes the best core because it holds a greater quantity of shellac and releases it with better control. Well-washed linen is best for the cover because it has the least tendency to break and release short threads into the finish. The "well-washed" cotton frequently recommended often wears out and gives off threads in disastrous amounts.

To make the cover, cut a 5-x 15-in. strip from a piece of linen and fold the linen so it's a 5-in. square. To make the core, cut a 7-x 7-in. piece of wool from an old light-colored sweater. Fold the core, as shown in the photo, and place it on the linen square. Fold the corners of the linen across the core as shown, to form a pad roughly the size and shape of a mouse.

The pad should fit comfortably between the inside of your thumb and your fingertips as shown. A small fold of the pad under your index fingertip will help get into corners.

PUMICE. Pumice is a very fine, abrasive powder made from a crushed volcanic stone and is applied in the first stage of polishing to fill the pores of the wood. Buy the finest grit, sold as 4F. I keep my pumice in a salt shaker.

OIL. Mineral oil lubricates the pad during polishing to keep it from sticking to the shellac already put down. Linseed oil also will work, although it darkens the finish.

French Polishing Kit

The materials I have on hand when I polish are shown in the photo and consist of:

Shellac, 2-lb. cut in a corked dispenser bottle. Bchkol alcohol in a corked dispenser bottle. Filling pad in a closed container. Shellac pad in a closed container. Clearing pad, freshly made. Pumice. 4F, in saltshaker. Sandpaper, 600-grit. Small bottle of mineral oil.

Preparing the Surface

To obtain the traditional mirror-like finish, the surface of the wood must be perfectly flat and smooth. 1 sand with an electric sander, beginning with 100-grit, continuing with 120, 150. 180, 220, 280, and finishing with 320.1 sand a second time with 320-grit, this time by hand. I wrap the paper around a cork block, to cut down on stray grain fibers. Dust carefully with a tack cloth between grits so loose grains from the previous grit don't scratch the surface.

If you wish to dye or stain the surface, do it after sanding. You may need to resand with 320-grit paper after staining, especially if you apply a water-base aniline dye, which will raise the grain.

Many polishers apply oil to the wood at this point to give it a deeper color. Some spread oil on with a cloth and immediately wipe off the excess. I rarely use oil, but when I do, I put a drop or two on a rag and rub the oil in with a nearly dry rag. This gives depth and shine to the wood. Beware, too much oil will make filling, the next stage of the process, very difficult.

Step One: Filling the Grain

Even a well-sanded piece is seldom ready to finish. For a truly mirror-like finish, you must fill the pores of the wood. The amount of filling required varies depending on the species. On close-grained woods, such as cherry, you can skip this step altogether. On open-grained woods, such as walnut, mahogany and rosewood. filling is essential for a top-quality finish.

To fill the pores, rub the wood with pumice and alcohol. This creates a sawdust and pumice paste that fills the pores. I suspect Americans haven't heard much about this filling technique.

To begin filling, take your filling pad. remove the linen cover and charge the core of the pad lightly with alcohol as shown in the photo. There should be just enough alcohol so that if you hit the pad on a piece of wood, it creates a little dampness. If you can squeeze or shake any liquid from the pad, it's too wet.

Now put some pumice on the board as shown. I find about a '/a teaspoon dusted over a square foot is the right amount —that's two or three shakes from my saltshaker. A good rule of thumb when in doubt about

French Polish Pad Sweater
To make a rubbing pad, place a piece of wool from an old sweater inside a linen cover.
Fold the comers of the linen over the core.
Hold the pad between the thumb and the fingers.

how much pumice you need is use less. Pumice left on the wood causes problems later.

Now rub the pumice into the wood with a circular motion. In a moment you'll develop a light paste of sawdust and pumice. Work the pumice into the pores of the wood. After about a minute, the paste disappears. Continue rubbing. As you look across the wood, it begins to pick up a shine. Underneath the pumice, the surface feels glassy. The pad is picking up the color of the wood from the sawdust. As the pad dries, apply more pressure, eventually using both hands.

You'll know the wood is filled when the pores are bluish and even with the surface when examined in a slanting light. If the surface loses its gritty feel before the pores are filled, give it a quick shake of pumice and give the pad a quick shake of alcohol.

Continue rubbing until you fill the pores. On a coarser-grained wood, a second filling is usually necessary after the first dries.

Step Two: Padding Shellac

In the padding stage, you are putting shellac on the wood for the first time. Padding takes place over two days. At the end of the first day there are minor imperfections and a short stint with the pad removes them on the second day.

Because you can pad only large, flat areas effectively, you'll need to finish moldings, carvings and other small details before you can pad. The traditional technique is called glazing and is nothing more than applying shellac with a brush.

Apply two or three coats of 1-lb. cut shellac to the hard-to-reach places. Don't worry if you brush shellac on the flat surfaces; as you pad later, let the pad slide onto the glazed areas to build up the shine.

Instead of brushing. I prefer to spray hard-to-reach places with three coats of shellac in a small touch-up gun. I spray a 1-lb. cut shellac at 25 psi. Shellac dries more slowly than lacquer so spray slowly and give it time to dry before going over it again.

This is it. Everything else was just preparation. From here on in, you are building the actual finish. There is shellac in the pad, and you are rubbing, rubbing, rubbing, to build the shine.

My technique differs from others in a couple of respects. I don't apply pumice at this point because pumice trapped in the finish can ruin it, and I apply oil very sparingly. I also change the ratio of shellac to alcohol in the pad as I work. I find the finish builds faster if I gradually increase the proportion of shellac in the pad. There are as many different techniques as there are French polishers. This one works for me.

Take your shellac pad and remove the linen wrapping. Charge the wool core with three times as much alcohol as shellac. I find that a quick shake from my shellac bottle, followed by three quick shakes from my alcohol bottle gives me the right amount. The amount is right if you can squeeze about a half teaspoon of moisture from the pad. Learn to judge by eye because once you've squeezed out the liquid, the pad is too dry.

Hit the pad on a board or on the heel of your hand a few times to mix and distribute the shellac and alcohol. Now glide the pad onto the surface of the work, much like an airplane making a landing. Wipe across the surface of the work, and as you approach the edge of the wood, let the airplane take off again. Do the en tire surface in this way, strip by strip. When you begin to get the faintest shine of shellac, you'll find it's easier to move in figure eights or circles.

If your surface is much bigger than 10 x 15 in., you'll need to polish in sections of roughly 8 to 10 in. square at this point. Overlap the sections so the finish flows from one section to another. You can overlap as much or as little as you like.

When padding, make sure that the pressure is the same on the curves as on the straight stretches, and never, never stop the pad in the middle of the surface or make an abrupt change of direction. Remove the pad by gliding it off.

As the pad glides over the surface, it may leave a blush that disappears almost immediately. This is caused by the alcohol evaporating. On a humid day. the cloud or blush might not disappear as fast. If not. stop, have a cup of coffee, and when you return, rub more slowly, giving the shellac time to dry.

If you find dust motes, pumice or other particles beginning to build in the finish, stop rubbing. Gently pi pi

Charge the core of the pod by pouring alcohol onto it
Sanding Between Coats French Polishing
To fill the pore« of the wood, sprinkle on pumice and rub with an alcohol-charged pad.

Bottles with notched corks make excellent dispensers, and help keep alcohol from absorbing moisture in the air.

Bottles with notched corks make excellent dispensers, and help keep alcohol from absorbing moisture in the air.

scrape off the imperfection with a chisel and clean off the surface with a blast of air or lack cloth. Repad the area for about 3-5 minutes to remove anv flaws.

The great beauty of padded shellac is developed most effectively when you pad with what appears to be a nearly dry pad. You are using the rag to dissolve and redistribute the shellac, to smooth it out. When you sense you're no longer accomplishing anything by rubbing, recharge the core of the pad. Apply about half as much liquid as initially, and equal amounts of shellac and alcohol.

As you polish, increase the pressure on the pad as it dries. This sometimes causes the pad to stick. If this happens, stop rubbing, and put a drop or two of oil on the pad to lubricate it. Let the alcohol and shellac in the pad dry out until it seems as if there is nothing but vapor in it. The best polish comes from a rag that seems bone dry.

It will seem that nothing happens at first, but soon the finish begins to build very rapidly and suddenly. At this point, the French say the polish is "fat"—once you see it. you'll understand what they mean. The finish appears to have a certain thickness, as opposed to the initial stages, and a good shine.

How do you know you're there? Experience. But one of the tricks is to watch the grain. Despite your best efforts, you will have missed a few pores in the filling process. They will leave pinholes in the surface. Don't try to fill them all the first day. Instead, stop when most of them are gone. On a 4-x4-ft. table, it might take 30 minutes to get to this point.

Put the pad in its jar. Let the finish rest for 24 hours.

Step Three: Day Two

Day two is basically devoted to touch-up. If all goes well, we could bring our fictional 4-x4-ft. table to the right stage in 15 minutes.

First sand the surface lightly with 600-grit paper. Clean the surface with a tack cloth or air.

Take your rubbing pad from its jar and charge the core. Apply one shake of alcohol and three shakes of shellac; the pad should be half as moist as it was at the beginning of the process. You should barely see moisture when you pound the pad.

Rub the wood with the same circular or figure-eight pattern. Use a lot of pressure—eventually you'll rub with two hands. Let the pad get very dry. Add a drop of oil if it sticks.

Get every last bit of shine onto that piece of wood and don't stop until you do. The closer you can come to a mirror, the more successful the finish. When the pinholes left by yesterday's rubbing are gone, you are done with the second stage.

Let the finish rest for 24 hours.

Step Four: Clearing

This step is intended to remove any water that might have gotten in the finish from the air. It is done entirely with alcohol. Polishers who use a lot of oil in their finish remove it at this point with much the same technique, but since I don't use much oil, I am concerned only with moisture.

Make up a clearing pad. and charge it lightly with alcohol. Do not add either shellac or oil at this point. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the wettest and 1 being bone dry, the pad now should be a 2 or 3.

Glide the pad on and rub as before. Rub gently. You'll become fascinated with making things smoother and smoother. If you get too fascinated, the pad begins to pick up some of the shellac you have put down. You haven't ruined anything, but you are starting to go backward so stop. You've finished clearing when nothing more happens—10 minutes or so on our fictional table.

Now you are done. The finish has a soft glow. You can see the reflection of your face in it and you should be smiling. You have begun to master the most elegant of finishes. A

Robert Entwistle is a cabinetmaker in Florida.


Materials for French polishing are available from:

CONSTANTINE'S 2050 Eastchester Rd. Bronx. NY 10461

GARRETT WADE 161 Ave. of the Americas New York. NY 10013

MOHAWK FINISHING PRODUCTS INC. Rt. 30 North Amsterdam. NY 12010

WOOD FINISHING SUPPLY CO. INC. 1267 Mary Drive Maccdon, NY 14502

WOODCRAFT SUPPLY 41 Atlantic Ave. P.O. Box 4000 Woburn, MA 01888

THE WOODWORKERS STORE 21801 Industrial Blvd. Rogers. MN 55374


Garrett Wade 161 Avenue The Americas

The Table Saw Book by R.J. De Cristoforo (1988, Tab Books, Inc., Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17294) paperback; 342 pp; $15.95

Time was when books about the tablesaw were hard to find. These days, it seems you can't fall down without landing on one. R.J. De Cristoforo has just added his contribution to the field and bv-and-large it's a good one.

This book is packed with illustrations and photos showing that the tablesaw can do more than just rip and crosscut. Topics range from blades and basic saw setup to joinery, molding heads and cove cuts.

The book covers everything I can imagine doing on the saw and improves upon techniques I've used.

But like life, the book is not without its faults. The illustrations are so ample that there often isn't room for them anywhere near the appropriate text. Occasionally, I take issue with the techniques. For example, De Cristoforo's jig for cross-cutting looks flimsy and would work better if it were built on a plywood platform. I'd be happier if his tenoning jig had some sort of clamp attachment and so on.

But in general, De Cristoforo offers good advice about the tablesaw. I will refer to his book often.

Jeff Day

24 Table Saw Projects by Percy W. Blandford 5 (1988, Tab Books Inc., Blue Ridge | Summit, PA 17294) paperback; 5 120pp; $6.95

? Written as a companion to Table | Saw Book by R.J. De Cristoforo, 1 24 Table Saw Projects just doesn't measure up. Sawhorses, garden gates and fences are not the sort of things you'll want to undertake once you've learned the intricacies of the tablesaw from De Cristoforo.

The projects are simplistic and often poorly thought out. At one f # 9 ' \

Paul Taunton Photos Snap

point, Blandford suggests making a shelf from veneered particleboard. At best, the particleboard will sag, more likely snap, when loaded with books.

If you're interested in doing wonderful things with your saw, buy De Cristoforo's book. From there, Blandford's book is nothing but a step backward.

Jeff Day


Making Kitchen Cabinets with Paul Levine

(1988, The Taunton Press, Box 355, Newtown, CT06470) Length: 60 min.; VHSand BETA; $29.95. BookI\rideo set; $39.95 If you've thought of building your own Euro-style kitchen cabinets but lacked familiarity with that type of construction, this book/video set is for you.

Cabinetmaker Paul Levine has developed a customized approach to building cabinets based on the European, 32-millimeter system. Through years of trial and error, he's simplified and streamlined the process, without sacrificing quality or strength.

European cabinets have no face frame to obstruct access. They have elegant, uncluttered lines, concealed hinges, and unlimited decorative possibilities with plastic-laminate surfaces and natural-wood trim. The cabinets are constructed with simple materials and joinery. A tablesaw, router and basic hand tools are sufficient.

In the video, Levine takes you through the construction of a typical cabinet, step-bv-step. His technique is so well engineered that the camera easily captures every nuance. There's nothing too complicated here, just careful attention to detail.

Materials and hardware are previewed first. Then, applying laminate, building the cases, and drawers, and mounting and adjusting the hardware are covered. Levine's system anticipates mistakes so that later steps can compensate without missing a beat.

The video production is First-rate. The workshop setting is bright, clean and uncluttered, and Levine is a capable on-camera teacher. He offers valuable tips borne of experience, and demonstrates the use of simple jigs and templates.

The companion book complements the video perfectly but can stand on its own as well. It covers the subject with exceptional thoroughness. The illustrations and color photos showcase the author's technique with excellent clarity.

In addition to the how-to material covered in the video, the book features detailed sections on planning a kitchen layout and designing cabinets for your specific needs. It also offers much more detail on finishing and installing the cabinets, as well as fabricating countertops and backsplashes.

Dave Sellers


Mickey Callahan

"Chippendale Roundabout Chair/' by W. Mickey Callahan, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mahogany, shellac and linseed oil/varnish, Philadelphia-style carving. Dimensions: H: 317: in., W: 277a in., D: 26 In.

Nor this isn't an ad for an antique showroom. These pieces are the recent work of students at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Massachusetts. Under the leadership of Lance Patterson, the North Bennet Street cabinet and furniture-making program provides its students—over the course of two years of full-time training—with a thorough education in the craft The program is based, in part, on the old apprenticeship system. Students develop their skills by making pieces from 18th-and 19th-century American and English traditions. The pieces shown here are from an exhibit in downtown Boston entitled The North Bennet Street School: an Education in Craftsmanship.

"Federal Tambour Desk," by Rick Etre, Worcester, Massachusetts. Mahogany, mahogany-crotch satinwood, French polish. Dimensions: H: 42 in., W: 40 in., D: 24 in.


"William and Mary Gateleg Table,** by Jay Doster, Somerville, Massachusetts. Maple, curly maple, shellac and tung oil/ varnish finish. Dimensions: H: 2974 In., W: 12 in., Dia: 41 in.


French Woodworking



"Comb-back Windsor Armchair,* by Tim Morgan, Somerville, Massachusetts. Red oak, pine, cherry, soft maple, black milk paint with linseed oil. Dimensions: H: 41 in., W: 26 in.

"Chippendale Piecrust Tea Table," by Michael J. Waldrep, North Andover, Massachusetts. Honduran mahogany, shellac. Dimensions:

French Woodworking

"BomM Chest of Drawers," by John McCormack, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Brazilian mahogany, mahogany-crotch veneer, French polish. Dimensions: H: 34'/« in., W: 42Vi in., Dia: 21 in.

Want to see your work iii Gallery? Send photographs and a description of the piecc to: AMERICAN WOODWORKER. 33 E Minor St., Emmaiis, PA 18098. Only black and white prints (4x5 in. or larger) or color slides will be accepted. Please do not send color prints or snapshots. Enclose a self-addressed en\>elope for return of photos.

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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