Making an Apothecary Cabinet Drawer


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My wife bought an apothecary cabinet that was missing one of its drawers. I took a look at how they were built and assured her that I could make another one. The drawer was about 6 1/2″ tall x 8″ wide x 7 1/2″ deep.

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The drawers are made of pine so I grabbed a scrap 2 x 8 and drew a couple of lines down the edges. The side of the drawers were about 3/8″ thick, while the drawer front was 3/4″ thick.

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I took each piece and cut kerfs down the lengths of their edges making it much easier to rip them off at the band saw. This saves the band saw’s blade and motor as it won’t have to strain as much.

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After they were ripped on the band saw, I took them over to the planer and sized them up to proper thickness.

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I made the drawer bottom out of mostly quarter sawn pine, so it wouldn’t expand and contract as much with changes in humidity. It too was about 3/8″ thick.

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Focusing on the front, I cut a 3/8″ x 3/8″ rabbet on each end the same thickness as the sides of the drawer.

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I then used my little Record plow plane and planed a 1/4″ groove down the sides and front boards that started about 7/16″ up from the bottom. This way the 3/8″ thick bottom will not rub as the drawer is being pulled in and out. You can do this step on the table saw, but I really enjoy using this little sucker.

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I cut a 3/8″ dado on each side of the drawer side so that the drawer back would fit nice and snug.

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Using my Stanley No 140 rabbet block plane, I chamfered three sides of the drawer bottom to fit inside the 1/4″ groove I plowed with my plow plane.

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Dry fitting the piece, I made sure everything fit properly and was square. The extra length of the drawer bottom and top of the back was quickly trimmed off at the table saw.

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Once everything fit well, I glued the sides and back and pinned the drawer with 18 gauge brad nails. I didn’t use any glue on the bottom as I want it to move with changes in humidity.

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After about an hour, I ended up with a nice little drawer for my wife’s apothecary cabinet. I’ll have to use vinegar and steel wool to age the pine. My wife will probably repaint the entire piece so the drawer front will match all the others.

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Man Builds Car out of Wood


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Just when I think I’m a good woodworker, I realize that I’m not that good at all. I read an article yesterday in the Wall Street Journal about a man who built a super sports car completely out of wood. Absolutely amazing!

Joe Harmon, an industrial designer from Mooresville, N.C., with his Harmon Splinter, a one-of-a-kind wooden supercar he built over nearly 10 years. Mr. Harmon estimates that the car required some 20,000 hours of work to complete.

Here’s more information about the car.

Stanley No 3 Type 3 Plane


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I’ve been collecting antique tools for almost 30 years. It started when my Grandfather gave me a little German made jeweler’s drill press when I was 13. I thought it was coolest thing in the world and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. When I was a teenager I would spend my weekends going to antique shows with my parents looking for old tools that I could fix up and use.

Never having that much money, I would always buy common woodworking tools; planes, chisels, measuring tools, etc.. I would hardly ever spend more than $60 on any given tool, being that if I made a bad purchase, I would only be out $60. I’ve kept that rule all the way through today. So, when I saw an old Stanley #3 for $35.00 at an antique show last summer, I knew it was in my budget for it to be added to my collection.


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As soon as I picked up the plane and turned it around to look at the top of the frog, I knew it was a pre-lateral plane since it didn’t have the lateral lever behind the blade. Seeing that the blade was a later type and not a pre-lateral blade didn’t bother me, because often the blade would be the only thing that would be replaced during the life of the tool. After all, these things were meant to be used, not to sit on a shelf and collect dust.

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I offered the the guy $30 for the plane and he agreed, so I pulled out some cash and paid him. I then went to find my wife somewhere on the fairgrounds. A few minutes later after meeting up with my wife, I decided to inspect my purchase more closely. I pulled off the lever cap, took out the blade and cap iron and Eureka! I just bought a Stanley #3 Type 3 plane! I couldn’t believe it. I’ve heard about them, and seen them in antique tool books, but I’ve never seen one in the flesh. I yelled to my wife “I just hit the jackpot”!

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Stanley made these type of planes that look like half of the frog is missing for only a couple of years from 1872-1873. They were considered a failure because of the fragile design of the frog making it prone to breaking. They’re called Type 3’s because of a Type Study that Roger K Smith wrote in his book called Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America Volume 1 that detailed all the subtle different designs that Stanley produced in their planes between one year and the next. I first ran into his type study when I bought John Walter’s book Antique  & Collectible Stanley Tools Guide to Identity and Value. Today you can find a digital Stanley type study by visiting

Ever since I bought this plane last summer, I’ve mulled over selling it. I’ve even taken pictures and came very close to listing it on eBay last month, but I just can’t bring myself to do so. I’ll probably never find another one. It’s not worth what I think it is anyway, especially since it doesn’t have it’s original blade, so I think I’ll just hold onto it for the next twenty years.

The Travesty

It’s sad to see such a fine saw in this condition. Maybe I should rescue it.


It’s been like this for over 30 years.

Alright, let’s play a game. If five people tell me to buy the saw, i’ll go back and get it. I already have two thumbs up from here and Facebook. I just need three more people.

UPDATE: I went back today and the saw was gone. Somebody either got a nice saw for a reasonable price, or they got something to hang over their fireplace. Haha.

Workshop Auction


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Last week I won an online auction for a workshop in Cincinnati. While I couldn’t figure out what all the tools were in the picture, I knew the plane in the back was a Stanley, and the vise on the bench was of good quality. So, I decided to take a chance and bid what I thought was fair and won the auction for a good price.

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After my wife, Anita, and I struggled to get the workbench out of the home owners basement, we went back down to pick up all the rest of the tools in the shop. There was much more than the tools on the bench. There were plenty of garden tools, mechanics tools, numerous hand tools, and even some scrap wood that I just left because I had no need for.

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My real interest after I brought everything home was the workbench and the vise. The Stanley plane that initially sparked my interest was a No 5C corrugated plane in great shape, but I’ve seen hundreds of those planes in my day. The gem turned out to be the workbench which is a Delta from Milwaukee, WI. The same Delta as the Delta Machinery Company. The sticker on it said Catalog No 344. I searched the internet and only found a link to Sears Roebuck. Apparently, it must have been something that one would order through Sears, but unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to find more information to date the bench. My only guess would be that it’s from the early 20th century.

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The top of the bench was caked with dirt and paint, so I decided to take a belt sander to it and sand it clean. I then used my random orbital sander and sanded it smooth to 220 grit paper.

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Satisfied with the way it looked, I applied a couple of coats of hemp oil on the bench. The oiled beech gave the top a rich warm color. The bottom shelf made from poplar turned so dark it almost looks like walnut.

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This is a close up of the top where you can see better the tool marks left by the former owner. The bench has much more character now, that someone may want to use it as their kitchen island or even as a display table in a retail store. Heck, it still would make a very nice workbench.

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I carefully took the vise off the bench and it is a Richards Wilcox quick release vise. It is in good shape and I was able to find the original handle in a box full of parts. More likely, it’s the original vise that came with the bench when it was bought from Sears.

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I spent a few minutes and cleaned all the paint from the face and oiled the mechanisms so it would operate properly. I was even able to save the original screws that attached the vise to the bench. This vise is a beautiful piece of art and will be a workhorse in anyone’s workshop.

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UPDATE 3/15/16: After only a couple of weeks, the workbench found a new home. I’m not sure what the new owner plans on using it for, but I’m glad I could save the bench.

Harvest Table


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A few moths ago my wife, Anita, and I picked up some old barn wood flooring in Dayton to be used for a harvest table she wanted me to build for her booth. While the wood sat in the basement, she kept looking for the right legs to use for the table. In the end, she opted for me to make some out of Douglas Fir 4×4’s I could buy from Lowe’s. She searched Pinterest for a leg she liked and printed off a picture so I could make it.

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I looked at the picture and started to turn something like it on the lathe. I kept the top of the leg similar to the picture, but changed the bottom to be a bit more simpler. After a few tweaks, I was happy with the end result. Now the challenge was to make three more legs that matched this one.

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I used a piece of scrap wood and marked every major location where there was a bead or valley in the board. I then used calipers to measure those increments and carefully tried to copy them to the next turning.

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After several minutes of careful turning, my second leg looked very similar to the first one on top. Even if the legs weren’t exactly the same, it was fine as they would be far enough away from one another that your eye wouldn’t be able to see the difference.

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If you’ve never turned Douglas Fir, I highly recommend it. It bad. The crap chips like crazy even with sharp turning tools. Fortunately since the harvest table was suppose to look old, the chips wouldn’t be a big deal.

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After a couple of hours, I turned four legs that sort of looked like one another. The final step was to put them back on the lathe and use my parting tool to cut them at all the same length which was 30″ tall.

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The simplest part about building the harvest table was actually building it. I simply screwed the skirt onto the legs using 2″ screws. I didn’t even bother plugging the holes.

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I used cleats and pocket hole screws to keep the sides from bowing. I then attached the top onto the cleats using 1 1/4″ screws. Super simple.

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This was the table before sanding the grime off the boards.

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This is the table after a couple coats of white milk paint.

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As you can see, once sanded, the milk paint gives the table a nice worn look. Even though this table breaks three of the seven deadly sins of woodworking, it works for it’s intended purpose. Just don’t expect to see it in a woodworking magazine anytime soon. All that matters is that Anita is very happy with it and finally has the harvest table she has always wanted.

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Bathroom Cabinet


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My wife, Anita, came to me a couple of months ago saying she wanted a new bathroom cabinet. I made one when we remodeled the bathroom nine years ago, but for some reason, I made it rather narrow and too deep. It was only 24″ wide by 18″ deep. The cabinet worked, just not that well. Anita loves going to Ikea so when she came home with a brochure of a cabinet she saw in their showroom, I looked at it. It was a Hemnes cabinet for $329.00. I immediately thought to myself “that’s basically a box with doors. I can make a box with doors for a lot less than $329.00”. That’s the downside of marrying a woodworker. We always want to make a piece of furniture rather than buy it. The good thing, is we usually can make it for a lot less and customize the dimensions to fit our needs.

HEMNES Cabinet with panel/glass door IKEA Solid wood has a natural feel.

I convinced Anita that I could make the cabinet quick enough that she wouldn’t have to wait six months for it to be completed. I also told her I could make it 32″ wide as opposed to 36″ so the cabinet wouldn’t cover up part of our heat register in the bathroom. A few days later, we went to Home Depot and bought a  1/2″ thick of birch plywood for about $50.00. I cut the sheet down for 11 1/4″ wide to be used for all the parts. Once I got the sides cut, I routed a couple of 1/2″ wide dadoes in the sides for the bottom and middle shelf of the cabinet. I then used a jig made from peg board to bore the shelf pin holes on each side.

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I cut the bottom and middle shelf to size and stapled them to the sides with my 1/4″ pneumatic stapler. Because I was going to apply 1/4″ thick x 2″ wide trim around the sides of the cabinet to act as a faux frame and panel, I wasn’t concerned about the driver marks in the wood made from the stapler.

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Next, I glued the 1/4″ x 2″ wood trim to the sides. Because I still needed to put a 3/4″ face frame  on the front, the trim on the front side of the cabinet was only 1 1/4″ wide, not 2″. You can see in the picture how the trim on the right (the back) is wider than the trim on the left (the front).

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Next I glued the 3/4″ face frame to the carcass. I used pocket hole joinery to attach the stiles to the rails. This was a super easy cabinet to build.

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I added glue block to the inside top of the cabinet where I could screw the top to the carcass.

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago where I described how I stretched a board to size after I cut a board too short. You can read it here. This is the board for the top of the cabinet being glued up after it was stretched.

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In the end, we decided not to add doors to the cabinet, but instead use baskets with open shelving. The woven baskets give the piece more character rather than having an entirely white cabinet with doors that would cover up the bottom shelves. We now have more room in the bathroom as the cabinet is only 12″ deep and is a lot more stylish.

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New Lumber Rack


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A couple of weeks ago I picked up a Port a Mate lumber rack on clearance for $20.00 at a local Lowe’s. Even though at the time, redoing my lumber area wasn’t top on my list, the price of the rack (originally $70) was too good to pass up.

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My lumber area was basically trashed and had been for several years. I’d clean it up every once in awhile, but it always ended up being a catch all for junk I had lying around. The shelves I used for storing lumber was made from 2×4’s I built from a plan I saw in Shop Notes years ago. They did the job for the most part, but it still wasn’t very organized for storing my lumber. My wife, Anita, was glad I bought the lumber rack because she was sick of looking at the mess.

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After Anita helped me clean up the area, I bought some Dry Lock mold inhibitor paint and we painted both the back and side walls. Then we painted white latex paint on top of it. I moved the cabinet that stored my finishes over closer to my work bench and moved the shelving rack from the back wall to the side. This gave me room to store a full sheet of plywood if I ever needed. I didn’t want the lumber rack to hang off my block wall because I was afraid the added weight may damage the foundation so, I notched out 2×4’s at the top and screwed them to the floor joists. I let the 2×4’s “hang” from the floor joist, then screwed one screw at the bottom of the grey block using plastic wall anchors. I then simply screwed the lumber rack onto the 2×4’s.

As you can see, I use the just-in-time inventory system when it comes to buying lumber. I really don’t have that much lumber to begin with as I buy what I need every time I build something. Any remaining wood is scrap that I can never throw away. The biggest piece of lumber I have is a slab of 2″ thick cherry I bought a couple of years ago during the Longest Yard Sale. I’ve had plans to build something with it, just haven’t yet. Maybe now I will since I can finally get to the board.



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