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Building a brace till

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Blog series by Dave Polaschek updated 05-21-2020 08:32 PM 10 parts 4531 reads 94 comments total

Part 1: Planning and cutting

04-28-2020 09:33 PM by Dave Polaschek | 12 comments »

I looked at my braces as I was unpacking, and discovered I have four, plus a couple eggbeaters, plus another brace I’ve bid on on eBay… It’s time to build a till. Also, I’ll have a place to keep my bits if I do that. So the first step was to get out the graph paper and sketch out what I think I’ll need. I figure I’ll eventually have braces of 6-14 inch sweeps, probably doubling up on 8 and 10 since they’re more common. So I sketched a till that could hold those plus a couple eggbeate...

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Part 2: A little detour

04-30-2020 07:25 PM by Dave Polaschek | 9 comments »

I was asked to finish moving my tools from the garage to the shop the other day, so I did that. Still haven’t found and unpacked all of my tools, so I took a little detour to build a dovetail marker so I could lay out the dovetails nicely. In the course of making that, I needed a bench hook, so I slapped one of those together, too. I think I can start laying out the dovetails now, but since I’m planning on doing mitered dovetails (as practice for the corners on the bookcases I need to ...

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Part 3: Dovetails and sliding dovetails

05-05-2020 09:32 PM by Dave Polaschek | 4 comments »

Today was dovetail day, and I’m still not done, but I made a lot of progress. As I’m doing mitered shoulder dovetails on the carcass (to practice them for the bookcases I’m building next), I took my time laying them out and cutting them. Spent all morning just cutting the tails. After lunch, I headed out to the shop to cut the pins. That went pretty well, so I got started on the sliding dovetails for the shelves as well. They’re not sure hard, but I took pictures along the way, so I’d b...

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Part 4: Horizontal bits

05-07-2020 09:49 PM by Dave Polaschek | 6 comments »

I started cutting sliding dovetail sockets in the horizontal bits today. More of the same, but I had a little blowout on the third socket I was cutting, so I glued that back together and decided to work on the part that will hold the braces. I started by laying out marks 3½ inches apart, and drew marks four inches from the edge of the board (or 3½ from the other edge). Picked out the 12/16 bit, chucked it in my brace, and started drilling holes. I picked the ¾ inch bit because it had relat...

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Part 5: Reinforcement, part 1

05-12-2020 08:21 PM by Dave Polaschek | 20 comments »

Spent the past few days with a mix of yard work and thinking about how to reinforce the rack that’ll hold the braces. With the grain running across, the slots cut into it leave some very weak tongues, which will be almost certain to snap off over time. I’ve seen this happen with my chisel till, and I’m going to have to rebuild that at some point. So I thought a bit, and dug through my various piles of shorts. I found a chunk of walnut and decided that running pieces of that from front ...

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Part 6: Cleanup and test fitting

05-13-2020 09:15 PM by Dave Polaschek | 11 comments »

I started my shop time today cleaning up the walnut I glued to the pine rack for the braces. I used a spokeshave to get the lengths consistent and round over the ends, as well as to surface plane the walnut. If I skew it enough, nearly 45 degrees in some cases, I could plane even against the grain and get it fairly smooth. With those smoothed, I wanted to clean up a few spots of tear-out, plus remove the pencil lines that were still on the pine. I cut a card scraper to make a narro...

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Part 7: Reinforcement part ii

05-15-2020 09:52 PM by Dave Polaschek | 8 comments »

Time to reinforce the other side of the rack that’ll carry the braces. As you might remember, the grain in the pine board that makes up the core of the rack runs left to right, which means that the grooves cut to hold the braces weaken the board, leaving tongues which can easily snap off. I reinforced the bottom of these tongues with strips of walnut. For a more finished look, I’m reinforcing the top with some 1/8” bubinga veneer, with the grain running front to back. Rather than attempt t...

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Part 8: Re-cutting the bottom and more test-fitting

05-19-2020 08:11 PM by Dave Polaschek | 2 comments »

Got some shop time again today, and I cut a new bottom piece for the carcass of my brace till, replacing the one I cut wrong when I shortened it. Going back to the plan: The pieces I had as 39 inches are now 38.5 inches long. Otherwise, everything is the same. Oops. Scratch that, the 5” pieces are now 4.5 long. More bad math. Anyway, with all the pieces cut and test-fit together, except for the two bottom uprights (I’ll get to those as my first order of business tomorrow), I put ...

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Part 9: Gluing it up

05-20-2020 09:28 PM by Dave Polaschek | 8 comments »

I finished test-fitting all the pieces of the brace till today. Turns out a dovetail plane is super handy for this part of the project. For the uprights that go between the sections in the bottom, I needed to take from one to three passes with the plane on each to make them fit. But that’s nice and easy todo with the dovetail plane. I then took everything apart again, and went to glue up the outside of the carcass. I did that, and put clamps on it to hold it together, but with all the ...

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Part 10: Back and cleat, hanging it up

05-21-2020 08:32 PM by Dave Polaschek | 14 comments »

First order of business today was putting the back on the carcass. This involved cutting plywood, so I got out the saw horses and circular saw. Three cuts to get the 1/4” maple plywood to size (or between 1/16 and 1/8 oversized, I’m not accurate enough with a circular saw to cut any closer than that), then glue onto the carcass and screw the plywood in place. I set some scrap wood on the ply to push it down onto the horizontals in the carcass while the glue set. They don’t provide a lo...

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