Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The window part 2

I decided to join the corners of the window frame with dovetails. As they were pretty large, I used my tenon saw for the job. The saw is from Flinn Garlick in England, and like my dovetail saw it has got fairly fine teeth. I think it is 18 ppi. Actually it seems a bit too fine for soft wood, but it worked OK. It leaves a very nice surface that is ready for the glue without paring it with a chisel.

The dividers were prepared with double tenons on the ends that would go into the frame, and a single tenon where the dividers intersect.
I could clearly see progress in the appearance of the tenons when comparing the first set and the last set of the dividers. I think that the last ones actually looked quite good.
The problem with tenons is that they need a mortise.
I am not very good at making mortises by hand, but I had decided that I didn't want to fire up the mortising machine for this project. So I drilled out the majority of the waste using my crappy Forstner drills and cleaned up the rest with some chisels. The mortises were nice and tight, but I just don't think they look very good on the inside. Actually it shouldn't bother me, since they will have a glued in tenon, so it will probably never show anyway.

All the edges were chamfered before gluing up the window. I have a nice Japanese chamfer plane that my little brother gave to me for a Christmas present some years ago. It works brilliantly.

I had tested the individual joints after finishing, so theoretically it should all go together without any problems.
Whenever I have a glue up like this: 4 dovetailed corners, 4 double tenons with corresponding mortises and 2 single tenons with mortises - I am kind of intimidated.
I get a feeling like the first time I took my drivers license. You know that it should be all right. But you are not completely sure anyway.

I added glue to the various joints using a small acid brush, and miraculously it all went together and the diagonal measurements were within 1/16". Apparently I must have done something right.

The mortises  were made with a slight slop outwards, so I could wedge the tenons once assembled. Each tenon received two wedges. I used a method described in Woodworking Magazine, where they suggested that you merely split the end of the tenon using a chisel. After that the wedge should be hammered in place using some glue. The theory is that the split will follow the grain of the wood instead of a sawn kerf that will go where you put it.

 As an answer to a recent question regarding if I could take out the extra layer of bricks, I have attached some photos of the windows in this part of the machinery shed. There are a total of 8 windows that have all been remodelled with extra bricks. I think it would look strange if  only one window was lowered to the original height.

Making a double tenon.

All the pieces laid out.

Glued up and wedged (and square).

The front of the Japanese chamfer plane.

The window from the inside.

Two more windows (the original cast iron stable type).


  1. Do you plan on putting the curve from the opening onto the window?

  2. Hi Ralph.
    I originally intended to saw the curve on the top part of the frame, but I actually forgot to add the extra inch to the sides of the frame, so I had to follow the design of the original window. I.e to nail on a curved portion on top of the frame. I have done that today, so I'll post a picture of it in the next post.

  3. Very nice, indeed.

    I see what you mean about the built up window. It looks a lot different inside.

  4. I just tested the new window, and the inside is a little higher than the bottom part of the window frame. I think I can make it look fair with some cement or some mortar. No matter what, it will look better than before.

    1. At least it was too small and not too big. I heard a guy who installed kitchen cabinets once say he always builds cabinets a bit small. Once they are installed, it is easy to cover up the gaps. But fitting things just right is a time-consuming pain.

  5. I deliberately tried to make it ½" too small on all sides, because that will give a nice reveal once it is filled with the mortar.
    But you are absolutely right about the pain if it is too large. On a project like this though, it is not a show stopper. I could always remove some material with a scrub plane and make it fit. And it won't show unless you remove the entire window frame.

  6. That is a fancy looking window frame! Do you like the mortising machine? I'll be honest and say that I don't really care for them, and at the same time I'm not so great at chopping a mortise by hand, either. I'm not a fan of routers when it comes down to it, but I like them for making a mortise for reasons that escape me. I may be one of the few woodworkers who don't like routers, at least among those that use power tools. But I prefer to make a mortise by hand, especially if it's just a few.
    I noticed that your dovetails are a fairly steep angle, at least it looks that way. I use a 1:6 guide for marking my dovetails. That angle just seems right to me, I can't really say why. I used to use an adjustable angle gauge to mark them but the Veritas guide gives such repeatable results that I can't see myself ever using something else.
    I've heard some people say that you should just mark dovetails without worrying about the angle. I don't know if that's good advice, though. When I finally began using an angle gauge I was always sawing at the same angle and my sawing improved greatly because of it. But what do I know? I'm trying to become a woodworker more who is more like you!

    1. Hi Bill.
      Thanks for the nice comments.

      I have mounted glass in the window frame, and have started to fill the gaps between the frame and the bricks with mortar. Once that is finished, I will paint it.
      I really like my mortising machine. It is an old model which directly translated is called a: "long hole drilling machine" It is a chuck at the end of the cutter head of the jointer/planer, where a special drill is mounted. Then there is a movable vice that can be adjusted to the correct height, and then you move the drill to the desired depth and move it sideways to make the mortise the length you want it. The width depends on how big a drill you insert. I'll try to make a post about it one day.
      My dovetails are cut with a 14 degree angle, I think it corresponds to 1:4. I think I read about that angle in the article about Roy Underhills tool chest. I like it because they look bold. But I know that a classic dovetail angle is 1:6 for soft wood and 1:8 for hard wood. I have an old Stanley mitre gauge that I keep set at that angle, so that works for me. By the way, according to that article, Roy states that in earlier days, dovetails could easily vary from 1:3 to 1:8. So I have ended up using 14 degrees because I like the looks of it.

      I definitely think that you should mark your dovetails so the angle is the same. I prefer the neat and tidy look that it will give. but that is just my opinion. Off course it is possible to saw either the pins first or the tails firs free hand. But by making a line, I force myself to concentrate on sawing to the line and then it can double as a sawing exercise at the same time.

      We have started changing the roof on the house, so I don't do so much woodworking right now. since I am between jobs now, I can work as a day man on my own house and basically make my wages by doing e.g. the scaffolding myself.

      Regarding routers, I am not a fan of them, but it is probably because the one that I bought years ago is a rather cheap and not very good model. I have never tried to make a mortise with the router, so I don't know if it is easy or not. I don't think I'll want to experiment with it anyway.
      Have a nice weekend

  7. I can't ever recall sawing a free hand dovetail. There are those who also recommend that method, but I like having the lines. It's strange that woodworking is such an orderly activity of accuracy and measurements and angles and at the same time we have people who tell us that we should be sawing our dovetails and tenons without marking them. Who should we believe? Maybe it's arrogant, but I believe in myself and I like to think that I am as smart or smarter than any woodworking writer. I wouldn't say a better woodworker, because I know that isn't true. But when you look a little deeper you can see that even the woodworking gods aren't perfect, and even they have some questionable methods. Thanks.