The First Completed Project – two pieces of wood with two sets of holes

I bought my first woodworking tools with an eye towards starting my hobby/journey a couple of years ago.  I bought some Poplar and was going to build what I thought would be and easy project – a box.  I even had a plan for said box – to house an old torque wrench.  But there was one problem – I had no idea what I was doing.  I couldn’t even saw or plane the wood straight – and Poplar is oh such a difficult wood.  Maybe a box wasn’t such a great idea.

So I began reading, watching Youtube, and buying DVD’s.  I asked my share of stupid questions on forums (now I’m working on more than my share).  I had started out working with a Japanese ryoba saw, chisel, and small kanna block plane.  After doing some reading I decided that the Japanese “pull philosophy’ of tools would work better with my failing body.  That changed with the introduction of one tool to my arsenal.  I read an article about Mark Harrell and Bad Axe saws; reading that he was retired Army just like me made me decide to give one of his saws a go.  I got a 12” hybrid filed dovetail/carcass saw and it cut just oh so sweetly.  Any lingering doubts over the ability of Western tools was erased shortly thereafter when I was gifted an Old Street Tools wooden coffin smoothing plane.

I gathered up tools for about a year and tried to gather up knowledge.  However, I still didn’t have a completed project to my name.  In fact, thanks to a gift from a relative, I had a collection of tools that should have allowed me to build anything my heart would have desired but the reality was nada, zilch, bubkus.

I got a DVD on how to build a Shaker table from one of the Authors/Teachers I’d relied on most in my earliest woodworking readings (Christopher Schwarz).  I ordered some primo Walnut and set to sawing.  I made some pretty good progress.

So finally I get to my first finished project – a shaker table!  well, not exactly.  Sawing out the leg stock from 8/4 walnut with only a rip saw (even if it was a fine thumb-hole Disston D8 rip saw) with my noodle arms was beyond me.  But that process did leave me with the ‘middles’ of those primo walnut 8/4 boards left to do something with.  One of the biggest problems I’d encountered though out this entire journey was work-holding.  I used the boards and ordered hardware from Benchcrafted to make a twin-screw (a.k.a. Moxon) vise.

It’s just two boards cut to length and planed straight (and not well at that) with a ledger board glued on the back (on the wrong side the first time around) and threads, nuts, and cool cast wheels holding them together.  It’s just all that but I call it done – and I call it my first completed project!




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