how to draw a square

I’m making some workbenches for the woodwork course I’ll be running. Each one has a 1200mm square top. I could simply use a set-square to draw it out, but I find it difficult to keep my marking-out accurate over a large area. Here’s how I mark a perfect square that doesn’t rely on having a set-square. It uses basic geometry that has been used for thousands of years.

Firstly, mark where you want the centre of square to be and draw a circle whose diameter is the same as the length of the square’s sides. This sheet of MDF is roughly cut slightly larger that I need it to be.

Next, draw a line that passes through the centre of the circle.

Then you draw an arc using the same radius as the original circle, with the point located where the centre line crosses the circle edge. Do the same at the other end of the line.

The next step is to draw another line through the centre of the first circle at 90 degrees to the first line. To do this place the point of your compasses (or trammel in this case) where the arc crosses the circle. Using a smaller radius than the original circle draw a small arc roughly where you think the centre line should pass through it. Then draw a similar arc with the centre point where the circle and the other large arc meet. This is the one you can see just above it in the photo.

I like to do the same on the other side, but you can then draw a line that passes through these small arcs and the centre of the circle.

Next draw 2 arcs, radius the same as the original circle, with the centre points placed where the new centre line crosses the circle.

Finally, draw lines to connect the four points where the four large arcs cross.

I can now cut along these lines with my Festool TS55 circular saw along a guide rail. You could, of course, cut out a square on a table saw with the fence set square and to the length you need. However in this case the MDF is too large to fit on my table saw.

hanging wall cabinets invisibly

I’m coming to the end of a job that requires nearly 4 metres in length of wall cabinets to be hung. the difficulty is that the cabinets themselves are fairly heavy, but they also need to carry a 40mm thick solid slate worktop. All this needs to be attached to a hollow studded wall without any support from underneath, and just to make it more difficult the whole construction is quite low on the wall – the perfect heigh for someone to sit down on.

After much consultation with my customer and my friend Noel, we settled upon fixing a steel hanging rail on the wall with a combination of chemical and mechanical anchors drilled into the stone work behind the stud wall.

Here’s Noel drilling the holes for the through bolts. These will secure the steel rail in place.

the cabinets are attached to the rail with these catches spread along the whole structure.

Here’s the whole piece attached without the top…

… and here I am showing that it works.

come to my cabinet making course

I’m starting up a cabinet making course for hobbyists and beginners. Have a look a the website and book early to avoid disappointment!

See you there…

Omega watch case photos


french polishing

I’ve been applying some french polish to the watch case.

I’ve also buffed-up the hinges. Everything is looking nice and silky.

I’m fixing a hole…

I’ve managed to veneer all the surfaces of the watch case. There were many holes and small nicks in the veneer, some of which I was able to repair with matching veneer pieces. The hole in this photo is a natural hole in the wood, so I chose to fill it with different shades of wax filler.

I simply rubbed the wax filler crayon over the hole until it was completely full.

Then I smoothed it off with a cabinet scraper and sand paper.

Here’s the outside of the case with all the holes repaired. Not long to go now until the whole box is finished!

more Omega watch case updates…

I decided to use cramps to hold the base of the box whilst the glue was setting, rather than using the vacuum bag press. This was only really because my bench was covered with bits and pieces, and I didn’t want to spend time clearing it all away and setting up the vacuum pump. Anyway, I came up with this slightly eccentric contraption.

With the base attached I decided to add a small border to the inside curved edge. The pearl glue that I used to attach the ripple ash veneer to the inside is very dark, and left an ugly glue line. I routed around the inside curve to leave a 3mm rebate running around the inside edge. After a bit of experimenting with different thicknesses of walnut border, I sandwiched 7 pieces of walnut veneer and bent them around the curves.

Next was to cut out a recess for the hinges to fit flush in the lid. I agonised with Mark (whose case it will be) over many different methods of hinging. The difficult thing was that he wanted the box to open along the curved edge, and the hinges will only work if the edge is straight. Here’s a photo of the simple solution.

With the hinges accurately attached, the lid moves nicely up and down and has a pleasing weight to it.

Finally for this post, here’s a detail of the hinges. I alway use steel screws whilst I’m working on a piece, as brass ones can easily shear off as they they go in and out. I’ll replace them with brass ones when it attach the lid for the last time. You can also see the walnut border trimmed flush to the surfaces.

watch case update

Here’s an update on the progress of the Omega Constellation watch case I’m making. I’ve made a new carcass out of solid ash rather than MDF. I’m still going to veneer over it, but it made sense to use solid wood as a base as it will make the hinges a bit simpler to fit.Image

You can see that I’ve made some inserts to split the case into different compartments for each watch. The hinges are high quality quadrant hinges. I still need to cut a deep mortice into the ash carcass to house the arc stay when the lid is closed. You can just see the stays in place on the photo below.Image

The next step will be to veneer the case with this lush english walnut burr. Stay

Omega watch case

I’m making a prototype of a case I’ve designed to hold 6 Omega watches. There are a few ways I could go about making this, but I’ve decided to make it out of MDF and then veneer over all the surfaces. This is so I can use a burr veneer, which would be very expensive to make from a solid block.

The first step was to draw a template on a piece of 18mm thick MDF. The curves at the corners have a radius of 35mm, and the curves that join them up at a tangent have a radius of 615mm. Here you can see that I’ve cut the corner curves with a large ‘forstner’ drill bit.

I cut the other curves using a router attached to a trammel. After a bit of tidying the curves up with a sanding bobbin, I cut out a rough shape of the next layer with a jigsaw. I glued the two layers together by clamping them in the vacuum bag press. The bag press is great for giving a strong, even  pressure across a large surface area.

The next job was to trim the roughly-cut second layer to exactly follow the curves of the first. The ideal way to do this was to use a bearing guided router bit.

The cutter is exactly the same diameter as the bearing guide on the end, so the cut of the second layer will follow the guide which is set to the first layer.

After glueing up a few more layers, each using the previous layer as a template, I cut the outside curves on the bandsaw. The next step is to attach the veneer…

king-size bed

Here are 2 photos of the king-size bed I’ve just finished making. It’s made from ash, with laminated beech sprung slats. The legs and rails are all reassuringly chunky, so I added curves to soften the look. I hope you like it!