Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Not an English layout square.

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to build the English layout square that Chris Schwarz wrote about some years ago, but when I went back, looked at it and watched the video from The Woodwrights Shop, I remembered why I didn't at the time.  The elaborate, decorative edges don't appeal to me.  I need a layout square though, so I decided to build it without the decorative details.  However, when I looked at the pieces of plain, rectangular maple laid out in the shape of the square, they looked like a rafter.  What to do?  An idea suddenly came to me.  I have always loved the cloud lift detail on Greene and Greene furniture and thought it would make a nice alternative edge treatment.  So, that is what I used:

The ability to create curved shapes with ease is one of the things I enjoy most about hand tool woodworking; learning to do it opened up a new world for me.  No accounting for taste, obviously, but I like the way this looks much better. I made other changes to the design as well.  My stock was 3/4 and I decided not to resaw it to 1/2, as called for in the plan.  I don't know if this is a good idea or not, frankly, but the square will be more durable.  Next, in Chris's version the brace was joined with half laps, probably because he cut and placed it after the square corner was glued, but I don't particularly care for the look and, in a moment of weakness, I decided to use #20 biscuits.  Though I somewhat regret this decision, it worked out as I thought it would, still allowing me to glue in the brace after the corner was glued and it gave me nice tight joints:

In the original version, Chris used a bridle joint at the corner, but in the video version he used a half lap and that is what I did too.  The disadvantage is that the glue-up looked iffy to me.  In the video, he says he doesn't care if the joint isn't quite square because he will true it up later, but I have a fixture for holding a corner square during glue-up and it came out almost dead square:

For strength and appearance, I added walnut pegs to the square corner.

  Fits snugly in its new home on the lid of my tool chest I think:

Deciding to use this edge treatment solved an old problem for me.  When I made my small square, I didn't like the ogee in the plan and just sawed the blade off on a diagonal, not very pleasing to the eye.  You'll see in the previous picture that I added the same profile to it.  Now I may have to make a new straightedge.

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