First box – question

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    Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti
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    This weekend I made my first box. My stock was 19mm thick so I had to resaw all pieces down to 14mm thickness. That was a bit challenging until I received my new 22″ 10tpi panel saw – although I soon discovered that going perfectly straight the way Paul does takes a lot of practice and is far from trivial πŸ™‚

    I had some troubles with the pins. In the video, Paul is able to reach breaking point in very few steps, for me it took at least 5-6 repetitions on each side, which means I was barely going down 1mm each time. Not sure if this is because my chisels are not sharp enough – I sharpen them 250-400-600 grit on diamond plates, I don’t have the leather strop yet. Has anyone had the same problem? This is just pine so I was expecting to be able to go down much quicker when chiseling the space between the pins. any suggestions?

    You know how Paul always says to “listen” to the wood when chiseling and to stop when the sound changes? For me that was happening very very soon, too soon, to the point that I had to continue chiseling even after that sound had changed or else I would have never reached breaking point. Sorry, I am not sure if I am able to describe exactly what was happening… Any help would be much appreciated πŸ™‚

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti.
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  • Profile photo of Ed FrankEd
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    @ed

    You produced nice dovetails, so well done! And, yes, it takes me more passes, too, than Paul. But it looks like you may be right about not being sharp. It’s hard to see in the photos but it looks like the end grain may be torn rather than cut in places, which would indicate not being as sharp as you’d like to be. I’m not quite sure because of the angle of the photo. The very middle of the cut will often tear, at least for me, but the rest should be cut instead of torn. Are you using the EZE-Lap coarse / medium / fine? You can strop on a flat piece of MDF, if you have some. Are you sure you’re getting the burr off?

    Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti
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    @gallarotti

    I am using the EZE-Lap C/F/SF (I believe they are 250/600/1200 grit) and I believe I am removing the burr (at least I feel the burr after sharpening and I am seeing it go away at the end once I turn the chisel on its “back” and pass it once or twice on the 1200.
    The detail picture shows that, like you mentioned, the middle part teared (it happened in the first two recesses out of the four I cut, which probably means it’s also a matter of being careful and more conscious about the breaking point).
    Maybe I put too much rounding to the tip on my chisels, next time I will try to cut them more at 25-30 degrees all the way to the end. Or maybe I am just not confident enough when I hammer the chisel (although the sound I produce is much louder than what Paul makes when hammering on his chisel).

    Pine is a bit different than most other wood. The alternating bands of hard to soft grain are more pronounced. If the soft rates a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 the hard is a 8. This means that if you are cutting a section with mostly hard bands you hit it harder to make the cut, a chisel is just a wedge it can only move so far in. When you move to the next section it may be mostly soft wood. You hit it the same as the last. Your experience says hit it x hard. But it’s softer and the chisel being a wedge moves x and then compresses the wood because of the force you applied. This is how I see it. I keep ripping the grain same as you until I started looking at each section as a independent,and evaluated each section. Also just for pine I have a separate set of chisels sharpened
    at about 18 degrees, years ago there was a school of though that said chisels should be ground as low as 15 degrees for pine and a few other soft woods. I tryed it and found it did help some. The ones I have are mismatched chisels I got at flee marts 1/4,3/8 and 1/2 the edge is very fragile and will fracture easy. Try it if you have one extra chisel it my help.
    good luck
    Frankj

    In South Jersey the good part of New Jersey, USA.

    Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti
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    @gallarotti

    @frankj, this is very interesting. The pin recesses had about 10-15 annual rings within 14mm, and it took me about 10-12 rounds of hammering + chiseling the waste before reaching breaking point (almost always with a fracture in the middle). Intuitively, I was using the Stanley knife to perfect the wall each time, breaking off the compressed fibres of the wood. Thus it makes a lot of sense to have a much steeper angle on the chisel to be able to cut through. I don’t have a different set of chisels, for now, but I might try to sharpen mine at a steeper angle without making a rounded bevel at the end of the chisel…
    Although, I thought Paul used pine in his first box — https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com/2013/01/dovetail-boxes-episode-2/ — and yet he seems to not be having the same issue… It would be interesting to hear his opinion, even though he doesn’t monitor these forums, I assume.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti.

    Personally, I find pine more difficult to work than other woods. My favorites being Cherry and Walnut.

    As Frank said, the alternating bands of hard and soft are tricky to work with. Just keep at it, and with practice things will get better.

    As a side note, check your local hardwood store/mill for Scraps (sometime called Shorts). Mine will sell 2 foot sections for %50 off and sometimes more. They are perfect for practice projects. I will occasionally pick up a 1×6 short of Cherry that is 12″ long for $2. It is great for making a small box or even just joinery practice. For $2 I don’t even mind just making joint after joint after joint without a project in mind.

    Blog: http://www.roughsawn.net | Seattle, Wa

    Profile photo of Matt McGraneMatt McGrane
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    @mattmcgrane

    Galleroti, your dovetails looks nice and that’s what really matters. I ten to have far more chisel cuts than Paul does. One of your pictures shows your workpiece in the vise. You could try putting it on top of the workbench over a leg. That will provide a much better “hit” with a hammer. My vise is not nearly as solid as Pauls, so I can’t always chop wood in the vise.

    My sharpening has gotten better over time and I think that will make a difference on cutting dovetails, too. I typically get a huge concave area inside my dovetails and I think it’s because I’m using pine and my chisels are not perfectly sharp.

    With practice will come more confidence. Your chisels will be sharper and your hammer blows more solid. Eventually you’ll get the dovetail cut out with fewer blows.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    Actually, do you happen to live near Seattle? My brother works at a hardwood distributor and I get all their off grade stuff. I have feet and feet of 1×2 maple and oak; as well as a bunch of mahogany. It is all twisted and cupped beyond usability, but it great for all kinds of practice.

    For reference, the mahogany I have is 12″ wide. a 8″ long piece went from 3/4″ to just under 1/4 to be flat.

    Anyway, if you are close enough send me a message and I will give you some

    Blog: http://www.roughsawn.net | Seattle, Wa

    Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti
    Participant

    @gallarotti

    @mattmcgrane: “With practice will come more confidence. Your chisels will be sharper and your hammer blows more solid. Eventually you’ll get the dovetail cut out with fewer blows.” I think that’s the key – being my first box I feel like when I was learning to drive, and I had to think where to but my hands, how to change gears, when to accelerate or when to press the clutch πŸ™‚
    As a side note, the piece was in the vice for when I remove the waste… then gets out for the hammering, in and out, like Paul says, as a safety measure πŸ™‚

    Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti
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    @gallarotti

    @jotato: very kind of you – unfortunately I live in Italy, a bit far away πŸ™‚ in fact finding wood is my hardest task… even just a couple of boards of bad looking pine here can cost around 20 euros πŸ™ I used to live near NY for about ten years and remember now with envy the racks full of wood at the Home Depot, hehehehe…
    For now I will continue with a few more boxes until I get more familiar with the gestures, with the sawing, handling the tools, sharpening the irons and chisels.
    I have also found an interesting eBay seller from the UK who can ship shorter pieces of wood to Italy and has a wide variety of types of wood – I can’t wait to try something harder than pine, but for now this will have to do πŸ™‚

    Hi Gallarotti
    Do not re grind your good chisel it eats up to much good metal. Wait till you can get or make another, you can make them out of a lot of old junk, screw drivers or old files work well you may need to sharpen more often but that is ok, a good metal is from old car parts I have used leaf springs to make turning tools and valve rods make good chisels and screw drivers, look around, if you have a old flat file cut it to four inches then narrow it to 3/4 for 3 to 4 inches for a tang, note files are often brittle be careful, or re temper it. If you don’t know how send note and I will go over it and view Paul’s video on tempering there are a few videos on the web.
    Good luck
    Frankj

    In South Jersey the good part of New Jersey, USA.

    Profile photo of judejude
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    @jude

    Francesco,

    I just made some dovetails for a toolchest last week. The dovetails tore out like in your photo.

    I sharpened the chisel a lot and then tried again and got better results.

    I have a strop made from a wide leather belt glued to a piece of pine. I put some chromium oxide on it. This is the abrasive.

    After I cut a few dovetails I touched up the chisel on the strop. I now keep this right by the bench to keep the chisel sharp. If I feel the pine tear, I touch up the chisel.

    For you to make a strop you can use a piece of wood with the abrasive on it. The abrasive is used for polishing metals. You may be able to find something in Italy in a store that caters to automobile repair shops.

    Alternatively, see if you can get some fine sandpaper. I’ve used up to 2500 grit paper on a sheet of glass to polish a chisel before I had the strop etc. This sandpaper works well and you’ll be able to see if it helps.

    Best of luck.

    judekenny.wordpress.com

    Near Chicago, USA

    Profile photo of Francesco Gallarottigallarotti
    Participant

    @gallarotti

    As a follow up, I recently received a box of hardwood shorts from the UK, which I purchased on eBay to practice with hardwood. Now I understand why some people mentioned that pine is harder to work with because of the very noticeable difference between the soft and hard rings. I have also improved my sharpening by adding a strop made of leather and using the green compound. The chisels are sharper and cut through the hard wood with better consistency and almost no tear out. The planes are even able to slice some nice end grain shavings, which is a first for me πŸ™‚

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    Profile photo of Matt McGraneMatt McGrane
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    @mattmcgrane

    Hey, that’s great gallarotti. Glad you’re having more success. The box looks nice.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

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