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Andycase

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Hi All
I started woodwork a year ago after giving up drinking - needed something to fill my time in the evening once the kids were in bed.
Anyway, i only get chance to go out in the workshop every now and then. I recently bought a new table saw, SIP 01332, 2nd hand but in great nick.
Ive spent a lot on tools, and have made a couple of items - bookcase, table etc.
But ive decided i want to go back to basics, take a step back and learn hand tools and more simple things. I would love to do this as a job but at 32 an apprenticeship isn't possible.

Anyway, i went out today to make a simple small box out of some 4 inch wide oak i had. Just wanted to mitre the corners, was going to add some splines for contrast.. Easy?
Well i used my table saw to cut the 45 degrees, after checking with a combi square that the blade was 45 - and they came out rubbish. I know that my blade alignment to the mitre slot is about about 2thou front to back, but there is no more adjustment in the table top.
I also know there is slight play, and i mean slight, in the mitre gauge - but not enough to cause a problem.
The mitres on the oak were "longer" at the end of the 4inch cut and with all 4 pieces together, the box was far from square!

I took a breather, got my last piece of oak, and in fact my last piece of useable timber, and tried some dovetails. Ballsed those up.
So now i have no more timber, no more money for timber for a while, and a table saw that is industrial rated and in good condition, unable to cut a flippin 45degree.
Ordered myself a book yesterday on simple box making, but whats the point if i cant cut a stupid mitre or dovetail.

Feel llike i may as well sell my gear and forget about it.


Anyway thats my rant. Apologies
 

adidat

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Andy some advice, tall mitre joints can be extremley hard to get right on top of the range gear, have you heard of a mitre chopper or shooting board these can give give good results.

It goes wrong and makes you angry but practice makes perfect

All the best

Adidat
 

shim20

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we all get days like this mate, dont give up the dovetails is just lots of practice and take your time ul get there, cant help much with the saw but im sure someone will be along soon to help :) , what are you using to do the dovetails? having a fine sharp saw and sharp chisels makes all the diffrence, and use a knife to mark them out, pine is probally best to practice with,
giving up is to easy (hammer)
 

Hudson Carpentry

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We all have these days.If your planing on using hand tools your better to do a rough mitre on the TS then use a shooting board and hand plane to get them perfect.

Regarding the TS it should cut reasonable mitres. It may not be the saws fault but something your not doing correctly. That small play could be it, the fence on the gauge may not square to the blade. Making yourself a sledge maybe the answer to remove all play.

Regarding the dovetails, if you don't have the correct type of saw you can quite easily "saw" yourself untrue. Dovetails are not an easy joint for the beginner.

PM me your address and some timber may arrive. Also if your just practicing you can cut off the failed dovetails and try again.
 

Unib

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Sorry to hear about the failures, don't give up!

As you want to learn more about hand tools I'd be inclined to mark my mitres arrurately with a sharp marking knife, cut the majority of the mitre off on your table saw and then finish up to the mitre line with a nice sharp plane, that way you can work slowly up to the line and you'll know the corners are perfect.

As for dovetails, practice makes perfect - maybe use some of the oak you've, messed up to practice on to try and perfect your technique.
 

Andycase

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Thanks guys
I have a Veritas dovetail saw and recently purchased a set of Ashley Iles chisels from someone on this site. I know my equipment is up to the task.....it must be me.
I have a Stanley Premium Smoothing plane and a small block plane. Its cheap but both take great shavings.

Will look at making up a shooting board. Bought t a copy of Rob Cosmans dovetail DVD - makes you think its easy........if only.
 

hanser

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Plenty of wood around for you to practice on. Take a tour around your industrial estates - loads of pallets left knocking around, also have a look at the council tip and help them recycle.

Practice will grow your confidence and ability. Do not be disheartened with your early attempts. We've all been there.
 

Tomyjoiner

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Hi Andy, dont give up now mate. Idle hands an all! I have the same saw an if you want to do good mitres that just need a quick rub then you are going to haveto build yourself a sled which you will find much more controllable than the mitre fence which i find has far too much play in the T slot. If your tabe is off then there is adjustment on the 4 corners to get rid of twist, i got mine second hand and find it a very capable saw which i use most days for work. I got a set up guide through sip somewhere which they emailed me ill find it for you if your interested, also a good fine blade will vastly improve things aswell and if all else fails like everyone has said if you are going down the hand tool approach then you cant go wrong with a shooting board for those mitres. Keep it up mate!
 

deserter

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Don't give up on the dream to make timber your career mate, here's my story for you;

I left school at 16 and worked in retail for years. Then after being made redundant 8 times in 6 years and hating my jobs to the point I was getting medical issues, my wife said I should retrain. I took carpentry and joinery level 1 at night school for a year followed by joinery lvl 2 the next year and started lvl 3 (although I have had to put lvl 3 on hold for a while due to work commitments.
I found a job doing joinery and have been promoted to cabinet making, and all that started at age 35. If it really is what you want to do you just have to put yourself out there and try.

As for having a rubbish day, I'll bet my life there's not a sole on here who hasn't had a day as bad, if not worse than you, some take a break, some give up but the real craftsmen pick up their tools and practice until they get it right.

Keep going its worth it when you get it right.
 

Midnight

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Cut yourself some slack Andy... you've already done the hard bit, buying the gear to get the job done... all that's needed now is the 3 P's; Patience, Percistance and Practice... go back to basics... box is a collection of corners, right? So have a crack at just making a corner, and re-make until it becomes 2nd nature... if it doesn't come out right the first time, study where the errors are, try to figure what caused them, what adjustments you need to make to tune them out. Working with hand tools is as much about creating muscle memory as it is about making a mess (hopefully with something constructive at the end of it). It'll take a while to get there, but you'll get there...
 

Benchwayze

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Andy,
Go easy on yourself. We all get days like this. You did the hard bit, from what you say in your post.
Woodwork is never easy, but look on that as a challenge.

I started in 1950. At school. I began an apprenticeship in 1954, but before I signed the 'indentures', the Navy lured me away. I carried on learning in the Navy, and I decided when I came out to use my woodworking as a hobby. No pressure then. Not likely! By then I had a wife and a mortgage to support. So it was a useful skill to have. If I wanted furniture I had to make it. I had days when I wanted the throw my tools on the tip, but here I am at 73 still doing it when I can.

I'm not unique, but if I can learn to cut joints anyone can! We all have crud days, but we have to keep going. So more power to you, and I wish you lived closer to me. I could do with some help at times!

Best of luck. :D
 

monkeybiter

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1/ Sounds to me like the mitre gauge is slightly out of adjustment. If so you won't be able to cut a right angle, regardless of blade angle or table adjustment to blade. The scales seem to me to be pretty rubbish, and they often rattle about in the slot as well. You could persist with making small adjustments until you hit the right position, or build a sled. Cheap ply is ideal.
2/ We all have good/bad days and variable moods, especially if you submit to occasional bouts of depression [like I do], the trick to handling it is to let the dark mood do it's worst, feel like rubbish, but know in the back of your mind that after a few hours/days you'll be back to normal again and ready to tackle it afresh.
3/ I would strongly suggest you look for something like Steve Maskery's table saw DVD on fettling a saw and building useful jigs to help your work along.
4/ Take up Hudson Carpentry on his extremely generous offer and get back on the horse in a few days.

Sorry for being long winded, good luck.
 

Jensmith

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Hi Andy,

Funnily enough, I'm 32 also in a months time.
I found out how hard it was to make a box when I decided to make one for my Dad's 60th and that was with the help of an expert box maker (Andrew Crawford)! Don't knock your efforts. Making good joints is difficult, I have issues with them all the time and no, doing perfect mitres with splines, I would say, is probably the hardest joint to start on, as are dovetails.

When I did them with Andrew we rough cut the mitres on the bandsaw with the mitre gauge having first marked it out and scribed the line. We sanded them down on a disk sander. Andrew had a simple jig to get the mitres but he kept checking a practise one until he got it perfect.
You can also score the line so that when you sand them you can tell when it's right as the wood just peels off.

I watched some videos on Good Woodworking (some you have to subscribe for) on box making which showed the same technique.

Did quite a lot of rough cutting which was then planed down to the exact line too on a shooting board. Nothing was left down to the tool itself as there's too many inaccuracies and variables.

The simplest box joint to start with would be the rabbet joint and is what he uses on his weekend courses. Why not start with something a bit easier so you can gain confidence?

I've had my share of ups and downs, mostly, like yourself, down to shear inexperience, but I've learned from it and come on here and asked plenty of questions and you start to get better.

You could try your local B&Q for offcuts... often it's MDF but they sell biggish pieces for a £1 or 2 and it might be ok for practising on. Maybe not dovetails but other joints like rabbet work well with MDF and a router.

My post on my box with WIP pictures is here is it's of any help for some of the processes. There may be something of use:
dad-s-60th-birthday-box-wip-t54900.html

Jennifer,
 

humblewood

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Hey Andy, sorry to hear things aren't going so well. But as has been said above, don't give up - it's only dead trees!

Let me know when your van's next up my way and I'll sort you out some more timber.

Chin up - practise makes perfect (hammer)

Bob
 

Eric The Viking

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Andy,

I struggle with accuracy with the kit I have, too. It's one of those things where 'you get what you pay for,' and I simply can't afford a decent table saw, BUT you can make the cheapest things work with a bit of persistence.

There's loads of info on table saw accuracy out there, including YouTube videos and DVDs. I've noticed a common theme from the small-box makers: they all (or almost all) use table saw sleds for things like splines. That way, you make it right, once, fettling as needed, it's good for anything else needing splines, and you're not a t the whim of some Chinese chap making a mitre scale on a Friday afternoon.

Don't be afraid of basic geometry calculations too: you can get right angles and mitres marked out very accurately on paper, then cut to them by sticking the paper down on the surface (Scotch "Spray Mount" can be really useful for this). I often use laser-printed sheets, as I can get very accurate angles that way from Corel Draw or similar and just print them. Any careful drawn triangle should be far more trustworthy than a cheap scale of some sort, as it should be very accurate.

When doing joints, I usually leave the pieces I'm working on long, initially, by at least the length of the joint, if it's practical. That way, I've got up to four goes I can b##ls-up first, and just chop the ends off and try again! By the time I've made four mess-ups I should have my hand+eye in well enough to manage four more without incident!

I'm struggling with a cheap table saw at the moment. Woke up this morning with hands feeling like they did 12 rounds with Mike Tyson, just from pulling and pushing and jumping onto heavy gauge sheet steel last night, trying to get bits of it into the shape they should be! For the record, though, I AM NOT GOING TO LET THE B***DY THING BEAT ME! Sometimes it's not the actual woodwork that's the problem - right now, chance would be a fine thing... sigh.

But there is one other thing:

When you do finally get something to work, after days of trying, it feels bloomin' marvellous!

I've almost finished a jig to do finger joints on the router table. That isn't special as such, but mine are on 45deg. mitres (for octagons)! They're deceptively tricky little blighters.

I'm not smug or anything really, and I didn't do a little dance when the first one came good, nor show the results to everyone, nor ring up friends and...

Keep going! It's worth it, and there are loads of good-hearted people round here who know stuff (not me!) and will give advice too. They're only machines and tools: you CAN win!

E.
 

woodbloke

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adidat":he9utcb9 said:
Andy some advice, tall mitre joints can be extremley hard to get right on top of the range gear, have you heard of a mitre chopper or shooting board these can give give good results.

It goes wrong and makes you angry but practice makes perfect

All the best

Adidat
As A has said, tall mitres are very, very difficult to get right, even with top quality gear...the SIP is a good saw, but it won't be as a accurate as a something like an Altendorf say...but then you're going to pay ten times the price for the saw. Even slight inaccuracies get multiplied by a factor of eight, so unless the set up is absolutely perfect, the mitres won't come together However, there are other better ways IMO (shooting board) to do big mitres - Rob
 

tomatwark

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Andy

I have an industrial panel saw and it still takes a bit of setting up to get it spot on.

Even when I have got it right I still check what I am cutting in case something has moved or I have got a chip of wood on the table as all these things can throw your joints out.

Also a slight warp in you stock can cause problems as well, as has been already said tall mitres can be a real pain at times.

As for your dovetails just practice an something like close grained like beech.

The old saying practice makes perfect is really true when it comes to cutting dovetails.

Tom
 

Harbo

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I have a pretty solid and accurate TS (a DEFT T30) but always finish off the mitres on my Shooting Boards:






Rod
 

Andycase

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They look good shooting boards. I have had a brief look at some online (im back at work now unfortunately so dont always get the time during the day).
Must have a go at making some. What plane is that in the pictures?
 
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