Mark ( on May 11th, 2009

The first day of the Hunt Board class  at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking with Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton was a busy one.

The day started with a welcome talk from Marc Adams.  Marc spoke about all of the programs going on this week and introduced his support staff.  Following this talk we sat down to some discussion from Jeff and Steve regarding what we were going to attempt to accomplish on the Hunt Board project today.  Today was about sizing, tapering and mortising the six legs on the piece as well as preparing the sides and rails for tenons tomorrow.

Before any work was done in the shop, we received a talk about safety on each of the machines in the shop by one of Marc’s senior assistants.  Safety is taken very seriously at the school and the talk was very well done concerning safe operation of all of the shop equipment, jigs and accessories.  Even though a lot of what was discussed was review for most, I definitely picked up several things regarding technique that I can employ to stay even safer in the shop.  Marc’s assistants are all very knowledgeable and will always point out helpful suggestions one tool use in order to give you better and safer results.

One thing I had wondered about in coming to a class like this was how things would be managed to keep everyone on pace and with somewhat predictable results.  The answer is that things were batched and several like machines were set up by Jeff ans Steve to do certain operations.  Then, groups of students would migrate through the each setup to complete the operations.  Of course we were also able to do other things in the shop but by batching things like this and assuring that pieces were machined usin common setups, a lot of the variability is minimized.

the-wood-stashcleaning-up-the-tapered-legsSo, today I started with a pile of stock that I pre-milled at home (I also did some glue-ups as necessary at home).  The focus for today was tapering the six legs.  Most of these cuts were done on the table saw with a slde that clamped the leg via toggle-clamps at an angle as it was fed through the saw.  However, the two center legs required tapers on three sides.  So, two of the three tapers for those were done on the band saw.  All of the tapered faces were cleaned up with a smoothing plane.

leg-mortisesNext up were the mortises – and let me tell you, that there were a lot of them to cut!  After some careful note taking and time laying out the joints on adjacent faces of the legs we moved to the mortisers.  I don’t own a mortiser so, I typically cut my mortises with a router.  The mortisers at the worked well but they do leave a bit of a rough surface that required a little paring with a sharp chisel.

We also spent some time cutting our sides and front rails to size to be ready for creating tenons tomorrow.  I have some nice curly Cherry stock for the drawer fronts and front rails so, I also took some extra time to orient these pieces for the best composition – painting with the grain if you will.  Hopefully, the extra time that I spent here will pay off in the finished piece.

headley-and-hamilton-hallbench-plaqueIn the picture you can see the sign posted over one of the doorways from the machine room going into our bench room.  The second shot is the laser engrave plaque that each student gets when the take a week long class at the school.  These are displayed on the front of your bench while at the class and are a nice memento of the week to bring home.

More to come tomorrow.  While I have a lot to do to build the piece, I’ll do my best to get some more detailed pictures of  things as I go.

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