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Removing the waste from half blind sockets

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Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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In July, I posted a router-based method I used to remove the waste from hand cut hand-blind sockets (link). This involved orientating the boards vertically and routing into the end grain. This necessitated a rather clumsy piece of work-holding - which, as I explained at the time, was difficult to avoid as the end grain was not square to the sides, as is usual with drawer front. The bow fronted drawers created ends which were angled.



With the usual square drawer fronts, both Bill and Roger on the forum preferred to place their boards flat on the bench and rest the router on the edge. Roger's photos ...



However, this method leaves is too much waste remaining at the sides of the socket - as this is angled and the router bit is vertical - which means that there is more work needed to clear ...



Bill's objection - that holding the work piece vertically looked too clumsy for easy work - continued to ring in my head. The horizontal method certainly had the advantage of being more stable. So, now that my then-current project, the Harlequin Table, is complete, between pieces I take some time to solve these problems. Which I have, and hopefully in a way that others will find helpful.

Just as an aside, my preference is hand tool work, and generally if the wood is willing this is my go-to. The method here is not to replace all hand work, but to make the process easier in particular circumstances. Some of the timbers I work, especially for cases and drawer fronts, are extremely hard, and it is not viable to chop them out, particularly when there are several to do. It is not simply that this is time consuming - after all, this is just my hobby - but that it is hard on the chisels. I use machines to compliment hand tools. There is a time and place for everything.

Let's take it from the beginning:

Step 1: saw the pins ...



Step 2: deepen the kerfs with (in my case) a kerfing chisel (see my website for more info) ...



Now we come to the new jig. I must tell you that this did my head in for a long time. As with everything, there is a simple solution, and in the end it could not have been simpler!

The need is (1) quick and easy set up, (2) accurate routing leaving minimal waste, and (3) visibility and dust control (bloody machines!).

The jig

This turned out to be nothing more than a block of wood. This one is 16"/440mm long x 4"/100mm high and 2"/50mm wide.



I used MicroJig clamps, which slide along a sliding dovetail. This is not necessary; one can just use a couple of F-clamps. However the MicroJig clamps not only make work holding less finicky, but they extend the length of the board one can hold with this particular jig to 500mm. That is easily enough for most case widths.



To use, place face down on a flat surface and clamp the drawer front close to centre ...



Up end the combination, and place the end of the drawer front into your vise. This could be a face vise or, as here, a Moxon vise. Note that the image is taken from the rear of the vise ...



This is what you will see when standing in front of the jig/vise ...



Let's talk about the router.

This is a Makita RT0700C trim router. Fantastic little router: 1 hp, variable speed, soft start. Together with a Mirka 27mm antistatic dust hose, the dust collection is amazing! The photo shown is after use, and there is no dust to be found (I very much doubt that a small plunge router could remain this clean). That also means that visibility is good, even though it does not have a built-in light. There are other excellent trim routers around for much the same price. This is the one I use.


The base

The base is the other half of the jig. This made from 6mm perspex. This is not the strongest, but does the job. I plan to build another out of polycarbonite (Lexan), which is much tougher.



There is just the single handle as the left hand will grip the dust outlet.

Below is the rear of the base. Note the adjustable fence/depth stop ...



This is the underside ...



Plans for anyone looking to make their own ...



Setting up

Step 1: set the depth of cut - I scribed marks on the fence for two drawer side thickness I use. Mostly I use 6mm (or 1/4"). The other is 10mm, which is used here. I shall make another, deeper fence, so that I can add a few other thicknesses, such as 19mm for case sides.



Step 2: set the cut to the boundary line - this is done as close as possible. In the end I want to leave about 1mm to clear with a chisel (this is such an important line that I am not willing to take a risk here). If you move the bit side-to-side, the scratch pattern will show where it is cutting ...



The result

The router bit is 5/32" carbide. It is very controllable, and this makes it possible to freehand close to the side kerfs. The fence/depth stop prevents over-cutting the boundary line. In 15 seconds, this is the result ...



Turn the board around to chisel out the waste ..



Order of waste removal

First lever away the sides. The waste here is paper thin and breaks away ...



Secondly, place a wide chisel in the scribed boundary line, and chop straight down ...



Finally, use a fishtail chisel into the corners to remove this ...



A note: removing the waste this cleanly and easily was facilitated by using the kerfing chisel to ensure that there was a release cut at the sides of the socket.



Regards from Perth

Derek
 

MikeG.

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I really don't see the point of that Derek. If the wood isn't co-operating just with chisels, then a quick drill hole somewhere near the back corners of the sockets always solves the issue. I've never found the need to get a router involved.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Mike, I have done the drilling thing .. to death!



It is not the same thing, not nearly as effective, as quick, or as clean.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Jacob

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Derek what an incredibly difficult and gadget-heavy way to cut DT sockets! I've never seen anything like it!
I put the board face down on the bench, held with a hold down, and cut most of the waste with a firmer chisel (the bulk of the chisel helps push out the waste) then finish off into the angles with various bevel edged, down to 1/8".
Once held down the board doesn't need moving - you can cut them all in one end in one sitting. Helps to do it from a sitting position in fact, so they are near eye level - this is comfortable, avoids back ache and there's a lot of them to do.
A moveable bright light helps (Anglepoise etc) so you can see the shadow lines of your scribe/cut marks better.
I've just recently been getting on top of this and I'll post some snaps of my improvised hold down - it's a 'weighted beam' with a quick release so you can turn the board end to end in seconds.
Needs an end stop too as you have to chisel into the end grain horizontally as well as cross grain vertically,
NB A typical trad chest of drawers could have 100 or more blind DTs, plus through DTs at the back of drawers, so it had to be quick and easy.
 

Trevanion

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Jacob":1ci9722g said:
Derek what an incredibly difficult and gadget-heavy way to cut DT sockets! I've never seen anything like it!
Who let you back out of Rant Alert? :lol:

To be fair to Derek, he's working in far harder, very unforgiving timbers (looks like Jarrah to me, harder than anything grown in Britain) than the softwood you're making all you're DTs out of. I can definitely see the merits of the jig for high-end, professional-quality dovetails that need to be very precise rather than say your traditional chest of drawers which were built in a time where the utility was key and looks were second. If you were working in timbers where your chisels blunted up good and proper after a couple of whacks you'd be looking for alternate solutions too.

Just my tuppence.
 

Jacob

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Trevanion":1mzuubq6 said:
Jacob":1mzuubq6 said:
Derek what an incredibly difficult and gadget-heavy way to cut DT sockets! I've never seen anything like it!
Who let you back out of Rant Alert? :lol:

To be fair to Derek, he's working in far harder, very unforgiving timbers (looks like Jarrah to me, harder than anything grown in Britain) than the softwood you're making all you're DTs out of. I can definitely see the merits of the jig for high-end, professional-quality dovetails that need to be very precise rather than say your traditional chest of drawers which were built in a time where the utility was key and looks were second. If you were working in timbers where your chisels blunted up good and proper after a couple of whacks you'd be looking for alternate solutions too.

Just my tuppence.
Well yes I haven't used Jarrah. I'll have a go with something hard, beech etc and report back.
Blunting chisels is best remedied by having an easy sharpening system 8-[ which means freehand, gadget free, etc. Not been any sharpening threads lately - I blame brexit!
But the main thing with harder woods is simple to use a narrower chisel. If a 1" firmer will do it in sapele then maybe a 1/2" will be needed for Jarrah.
Can you buy Jarrah in the UK? What is the hardest timber for a trial? Anybody got a useless off-cut to spare?
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Good grief, Jacob ... why the hard time? I mentioned that this is a method for semi- or full production work, and that my go to is a chisel. The timbers I work are very hard, and it is not just that chopping quickly dulls them (and, yes, I freehand sharpen), but that it is hard on the body as well.

The recent project (Harlequin Table) had 8 drawers as well as a case in Hard Maple, which was mitred through dovetails. Actually, I don't worry about through dovetails as I use a fretsaw to remove most of the waste. All that remains is a little bit of paring. It is half-blind dovetails in hard woods that are the issue. Soft woods, such as Walnut, are easy work. Jarrah and Maple not so much.

The method I have attempted to outline is about work holding, per se. This is a simple jig. Very simple. Still, one has to guide the router freehand. There is workmanship of risk, not certainty.

It occurred to me later that a central issue that was concerning me was one I neglected to emphasise!

You have to ask why I set up the work holding so that I pull the trim router towards myself? Others may prefer pushing the router away from themselves. The reason for my direction is visibility - It seems easier to observe where the bit goes, especially as it runs along the boundary line. I can accept that others may feel they get this with the bit moving away from them, but this way works best for me.

Linked to this is my insistence in using a trim router. I have a few plunge router's (I like my old Elus). Visibility with one is better than with a trim router, however dust control is much poorer. To achieve the level of dust control I want (100%), I must use this trim router, and it must be pulled toward oneself, not pushed away, since only the front of the router has a window.

At the end of the day, use or do not use the method I offer here. Come up with an alternative. Most of the time I pare out waste, but there are times when it is more convenient to route it out. Whatever method I use, my goal is efficiency.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Jacob

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Good grief, Jacob ... why the hard time? I mentioned that this is a method for semi- or full production work, and that my go to is a chisel. The timbers I work are very hard, and it is not just that chopping quickly dulls them (and, yes, I freehand sharpen), but that it is hard on the body as well. .....
Sorry yes, but these things just happens to be my current preoccupation - basically to do what you are doing but without all the hassle, with a view to hand production mode rather than painstaking one off mode.
The hard on the body issue was first to go - I found it really difficult to do much standing up - too much leaning down to look closer, back ache and so on. Ended up sitting down with the workpiece much nearer eye level and much less moving about. That was single biggest improvement.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Jacob, if I was making drawers professionally, I'd make sure that I chose obliging timber :) Interlocked woods do not split out well.

Failing this, I would seriously consider the trim router system I have shown here. Use it sitting down. A block of wood is not a complex system. The clamping method could not be easier. The most important quality in any work - especially as we get older - is not just working to the lines ... it is being able to see the bloody lines! This is a big factor for me here. The reason I can rout so close to the lines is that the method is geared towards visibility. Any bloody fool can work to a line ... but us old farts cannot always tell where they are! :)

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Derek what an incredibly difficult and gadget-heavy way to cut DT sockets! I've never seen anything like it!
:D

Jacob, you said that of my set up!

After sawing the socket, I have 6 steps:

Kerfing chisel used to extend the saw kerfs
Set the depth of the router bit
Set the fence on the router
Route out waste.
Remove side slither
Chop out baseline.

How many steps do you have? How many times do you sharpen the chisel?

How many times do you chop down? Consider each chop a step.Then you have to remove the waste in the side triangles. That is at least another 6 steps.

Really, that does not look efficient to me.

Rather than chop away slices as you do, I undercut the baseline (chisel wall), and chop down. That could take me about 1/8". Now split the waste out. Chop down again. Again split out the waste.

When you would chop at least 10 or more slices, I would only need 4 chops. By using a kerfing chisel after sawing, the side waste is split out at the same time.

Try sawing and then extending the saw kerfs with a scraper blade (use a clamp to prevent splitting. The scraper blade must have a squared end, not bevelled).

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Jacob

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I might next try cutting the base and splitting in my easy fast clamp set up, but not vertically in a vice. You need firm clamping and mass behind it.
It's not the number of chops it's the overall speed and ease which counts.
It's not the number of steps either, or I'd argue that I only need three; chisel out the rectangular waste, chisel out one corner, chisel out the other. Just 3 chisel needed.
Pleased to find I don't need saw cuts so that's another little task out of the way, which you have to clean up with chisels anyway. Finish with chisels only - might as well start with chisels only.
I hadn't planned for routering but my set-up would be ideal - set the clamp to the router spacing - could mark it up from the beginning.
I'll try that next!
The main thing is handling and comfort. Once marked up I only need to clamp it once for each end including trial fit of side pieces, and it's very comfortable from the sitting close up position, could do it for hours at a stretch.
Also I use the same set up for marking from side piece pin holes to the end piece blind DTs, no change of anything required.
I'd highly recommend the thin chisel craft knife for marking - it is very precise and easy. Just need to remember which side the bevel is on and turn it accordingly. It's something I found in a box - so thin and tatty I can't think who else would find a use for it.
 

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