Skill Building #1: Trying out the #78

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by lysdexic posted 12-23-2011 06:09 AM 3114 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Skill Building series Part 2: Winding Sticks »

My daughter wanted a chest for her American girl doll for Christmas. My wife had her circle the mdf, Chinese boxes in the catalogue. My wife knew what she was doing because we’ll have none of that crap around here. Looks like it’s time to make that first box.

Design and Materials
I showed my daughter some boxes from Doug Stowe’s book and picked a couple. I had some 4/4 curly maple on hand and my sisters boy friend had dropped of chunks of spalted maple firewood about a year ago.

Galoot Index = 6.8
Dimensioning lumber = 0 The stock was resawed, jointed, planed to thickness, ripped and cut to rough length all with power.
Panels/Subassemblies = 2? The lid and bottom were rabbeted, chambered by a #78 and a shoulder plane. The side panels were trimmed and squared on the shooting board.
Joinery = 1.5. although the Joinery was done with dovetail saw and chisel my dovetail skills are not up to the “gift giving” level yet. I chickened out. Minus .5.
Smoothing = 1.5 most smoothing was accomplished with my BU Jack and cabinet scraper. I am deducting .5 because I still don’t have a proper smoother tuned and operational and I am not satisfied with my results.
Mouldings / Accents = 1.8 The raised panel, although anemic, was produced with the # 78 and the jack plane. The handle is from scrap walnut dimensioned on the TS but shaped by hand.

Here to panels have been dimensioned with the power tools. I can see that my miter saw was just a tad off. I squared it up on the shooting board.

I cut the lap joints using the same technique as dovetails. Tails first. Sorry didn’t take pics of the process.

Next, I moved on to the top. I had rough dimensioned this from firewood about a year ago. I did flatten one face with the Veritas BU Jointer but then finished the other side with the DeWalt 735. I then marked the inside dimensions of the box onto the bottom of the lid.

Time to break out the #78. At first it performed well with the grain. It sure does NOT clear shavings well. I grew tired of clearing the throat with a tooth pic. I encountered a lot of tear out going cross grain. At first I forgot the nicker then discovered that it is too aggressive. Didn’t take the time to adjust it. After smoothing it with the shoulder plane, I am happy with the results.

Next I switched to the top of the lid. Same basic operation but after the shallow rabbet I switched to the the Jack and chamfered to marked lines.

The was a glue-up of two pieces of the 4/4 curly maple. I wanted to make a tenon to fit into the bottom box panels for more stability and keep it square. On the outside of the box panels I wanted a chamfer to echo the raised panel of the top.

I had some trouble with #78. It quit cutting and after struggling with the flushness and squareness it stared to perform. I got some “grooving” and spelch. I clean this up with my dependable block and shoulder plane.

I’ve not tuned my 4 1/2 and thus far I haven’t had dependable success with WR #4. So, I smoothed my pieces with my Jack with a 50 degree iron. Sweet.

Finally, I fashioned the walnut handle from scrap. Ripped at the table saw. The chamfered with the Jack and miter cut with a dovetail saw on the bench hook. I glued it into the lid with a mortise and tenon.

Applied a 3/2/1 varnish with 400 grit paper on the inside before final assembly.

Now, let’s look at some GOOFS!!!

During my resaw of the 4/4 curly maple I got all boogered up and the blade wouldn’t advance. Ahh, the smell of burning wood!. I checked the alignment, tension, thrust bearings but couldn’t figure it out. I got thru it though. However, this is the result. I am too thrifty and lazy not to use the piece so I put it on the inside.

Here you can see some plane marks and tear out.

For the #78 lovers out there – some porn. For more glamour shots see the box posted as a project. Thanks for reading.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

6 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4049 days

#1 posted 12-23-2011 06:19 AM

Scott, nice write up. The box looks great. The wood selection is top notch. Very well done sir.

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

276 posts in 4639 days

#2 posted 12-23-2011 07:06 AM

I was in the market for a #78 but ended up with a wooden fillister (see here). It has some of the same problems you’re having with the #78, particularly the clogging. Sometimes it spits out a beautiful spiral but other times…

View Brit's profile


8503 posts in 4294 days

#3 posted 12-23-2011 12:57 PM

Great blog Scott and a very nice box. I haven’t tuned my #78 yet as I’m working my way through a bunch of saws, but I’m looking forward to making it sing.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17816 posts in 4069 days

#4 posted 12-23-2011 01:10 PM

Hooray!! Excellent post and project, Scott. And all kinds of adversity to work through, too. Your daughter should love it! Like S. Tuner says above, shavings via the #78 are a toss up alot of times. Same with the 45, for that matter. Watching the mouth opening is simply part of using the tool.

I like the variety of loinery used on your numerous project, too.

Almost forgot: superior presentation re: the GI too!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Don W's profile

Don W

20378 posts in 4018 days

#5 posted 12-23-2011 04:33 PM

ok, now my 78 trial is a must. Between you and Smitty, its got to be. Nice job.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 4105 days

#6 posted 12-23-2011 10:04 PM

“The variety of loinery” best typo ever. (I have many like that myself so please don’t think I am mocking you smitty)

Scott, I love the presentation style you have taken on lately, it really give us a great idea of how you work. Thanks for adopting the GI for your postings, it made me smile. I will have to do this myself. Great job on this box, even with the small errors it’s a gem.

My wife said it best recently “The small errors give character, it’s the big F$%^ ups you need to avoid”

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics