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Coping Saw Blades from Pegas

I pretty much eat coping saw blades for breakfast. Just about every piece of casework I do involves dovetails (sometimes more than 100 in a single piece such as a tool chest), so a coping saw is almost always on the bench to remove waste. For years I have used the Olson coping saw blades and been quite happy with them, especially compared to the home-center dreck. My only complaint […]

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Why I Lay Out Dovetails with Dividers

Rob Cosman showed me how to lay out dovetails using dividers about 12 or 13 years ago, and I have never looked back. I’ve caught a lot of crap for using the divider method from fellow hand-tool woodworkers who say that laying them out by eye is much faster. I don’t disagree. However, there are some advantages to taking the extra time and use dividers. 1. My work looks more […]

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Tool Chests, 1997-2014

I’ve worked out of a traditional floor chest since 1997 when I built my first cover project for Popular Woodworking Magazine. It’s not that I’ve always been monogamous, however. I’ve tried all manner of wall chests, tool racks, rolling cabinets, soft-sided bags and suitcases as ways to contain, protect and limit my tools. But I have always come back to my floor chest. Here’s why. Nothing else gives me the […]

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New Vise Mechanism from Hovarter

Len Hovarter of Hovarter Custom Vise has developed a simple and inexpensive quick-release leg vise mechanism that looks quite ingenious. Like all of Hoverter’s vises, they work on the age-old principle of unicorn magic. They slide in and out smoothly without a threaded rod. Then they engage the work with a short turn of the handle. Kelly Mehler has a twin-screw vise with a Hovarter on it and I can […]

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Basque Workbenches – With Unusual Face Vises

Take one leg vise. Rotate it 90°. Now you have a Basque face vise. Woodworker Matt Talley is working in France right now. And during his free time he is hunting down workbenches in the Southern France/Basque region. He’s posted photos of some of his interesting finds at his web site here. I’ve been poring over his photos and found lots of interesting details (the bolted-on dog strip, for one) […]

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Lie-Nielsen Open House (and a Crazy Dutch Chest)

Last weekend I attended the Lie-Nielsen Open House at the company’s factory in Warren, Maine, and got to hang out with a lot of contributors to Popular Woodworking Magazine and work together on an unusual Dutch Tool Chest. What’s a Dutch Tool Chest? Check out the October 2013 issue to find out. Every year, Lie-Nielsen opens its doors to the public a la Willy Wonka to show off the factory, […]

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Campaign Birdhouse, the Movie

I often joke that I will someday make my fortune by writing a birdhouse book – typically the best-selling woodworking books (by far). And many readers have asked (jokingly) why I didn’t include a campaign birdhouse in my latest book on campaign-style furniture. So it was amusing when woodworker Ric Archibald showed up with a campaign birdhouse he had made that collapses like a typical campaign bookcase. The bookcase uses […]

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AW Extra 7/10/14 – Making Curved Doors

Making Curved Doors

Kerfkore flexible panels handle curves with ease.

By Brad Holden


Curved doors and panels add elegance to any project, especially kitchen cabinets. Making these complicated parts requires careful planning and building. The task can be made much easier by using a flexible panel product called Kerfkore (see photo, right, top). It follows the same principle that cabinetmakers use when they saw multiple kerfs on the back of a piece of plywood to make it flexible. A disadvantage to this saw-kerfing method is the risk of the face veneer cracking or kinking at the kerfs, spoiling the curve’s smooth surface. Kerfcore’s advantage is that that the kerfing is done for you. Its flexible paper backing provides a smooth surface to attach your veneer.

There are several important tricks and techniques to working with Kerfkore but it’s a surprisingly easy material to work with. I’ll walk you through the main steps of making a curved door with Kerfkore from layout to final trimming. Information on using Kerfkore in other applications can be found at the Web site www.kerfkore.com.

 

What is Kerfkore?

Kerfkore is a very flexible panel made of 3/8-in.-wide ribs spaced 1/8 in. apart on a paper backer sheet. The spaces between the ribs allows the board to flex. The flexible backer sheet provides a smooth surface for veneering. The ribs in different Kerfkore products are made of particleboard, luan plywood, poplar plywood, MDF, fire-rated treated particleboard or lightweight styrene foam. These different cores have different weights, strengths and screw-holding characteristics. The particleboard core works well for generalpurpose doors, such as those for kitchen cabinets.

Kerfkore with paper backer on both sides is also available. This makes the material more rigid and somewhat easier to handle and enables you to create a curve that turns into a straight run. To make the twosided variety bend, you cut the backer on one side with a utility knife where you need the bend to occur.

Kerfkore comes in 4-ft. by 8-ft. sheets in 1/4-in., 3/8-in., 1/2-in., 5/8-in. and 3/4-in. thicknesses and costs between $40 and $125 per sheet (see Sources, below).

Click any image to view a larger version.

Kerfkore flexes easily in both directions.


Doors made with Kerfkore have a smooth, even curve.



Pick your veneer

1. Your three main veneer choices are two-ply wood veneer (shown here), phenolic-backed (plastic-laminate) wood veneer or vertical-grade plastic laminate. The twoply veneer is the most flexible of the three and is easily cut with a utility knife or scissors. The phenolic-backed veneer and plastic laminate must be sawn or scored and snapped. The cut edge of the two-ply veneer leaves a dark line that may show on your finished door, depending on the wood species and the finish you apply. The phenolicbacked veneer and plastic laminate both leave a black edge line.



Make a full-size drawing

2. Use a top-view drawing to determine the size of the Kerfkore panel and the angles at the edges. The width of the Kerfkore should be the outer circumference of the curve minus 1-1/2 in. to 2 in. for the solid-wood edges. The measurement is easy to take using a flexible curve. Calculate the angles of the edges by drawing a line tangent to the front curve at the corner of the door and then measure the angle with a protractor.



Apply the front veneer first

3. Use contact cement and work flat when applying the first sheet of veneer. Working flat may seem odd, but when you do so, the contact cement remains flexible and a good bond is ensured. The panel will gain a bit of stiffness but will remain flexible enough to form to its final shape later on.



Add solid-wood edges for strength, appearance

4. Solid-wood strips provide durable finished edges when the door is done. Each strip can be up to 1 in. wide. Leave a 1/8-in. gap between the solid-wood strip and the adjacent rib to maintain maximum flexibility. Attach the strip with contact cement. After the edge strips are attached, use a small router and a shopmade edge guide (Photo 8) to trim the veneer flush around the entire panel.



Cut the edges to the required angle

5. It’s easier and safer to cut the angles on the panel while it’s flat, rather than after it has been curved. Cut at the angles you measured on the full-size drawing (Photo 2). The panel is sufficiently stiff at this stage that it saws much like a normal piece of plywood.



Attach the back veneer with yellow wood glue

6. Yellow glue dries stiff and helps the curved door hold its shape. The folks at Kerfkore recommend yellow glue for both two-ply and phenolic-backed veneer. The grain on the back of two-ply veneer runs 90 degrees to its face side and adds stiffness to the door when the glue dries.



Attach the back veneer with a vacuum press

7. A curved form—made from two curved ribs and a spare piece of Kerfkore covered with plastic laminate—provide the shape. A vacuum bag provides clamping pressure. Mark centerlines on the form and on the ends of the door. Line up the marks prior to clamping to ensure the curved door ends up straight after the glue dries. With the whole assembly in a vacuum bag (see Sources, below), pump the air out. Netting in the bag prevents air pockets from forming. Let the glue dry completely before you remove the door.



Trim the curved edges

8. This shop-made edge guide (see photos, right) simplifies routing the veneer on the curved edges. The guide fence has an angled opening and clearance slot that allow it to trim around the curved overhanging veneer. It works equally well on the convex and the concave sides of the door. You can use either ball-bearing guided straight bit or a standard straight bit with this guide. The edge guide is slotted so its fence can be adjusted flush with the edge of the router bit.



Veneer the ends and trim flush

9. Apply veneer to the end with contact cement or yellow glue and trim flush. When all edges and veneers are trimmed, the doors can be installed. Hanging a curved door is not difficult. Butt hinges go on the same way as they do with a flat door. For European-style hinges, support the door on the drill-press table so the hinge-hole drill bit drills square to the surface of the door. If the hinge-cup screws land in a gap between the wood ribs, squeeze in some epoxy glue as a filler and anchor.




Sources

Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.

Kerfkore Co., kerfkore.com, 800-637-3539, Kerfkore, 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. single-sided; 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. doublesided.

Roarockit, roarockit.com, 416-938-4588, Thin Air Press kit vacuum press, #01301.


This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2006, issue #123.

September 2006, issue #123

Purchase this back issue.

 

 

AW Extra 7/10/14 – Making Curved Doors

Making Curved Doors

Kerfkore flexible panels handle curves with ease.

By Brad Holden


Curved doors and panels add elegance to any project, especially kitchen cabinets. Making these complicated parts requires careful planning and building. The task can be made much easier by using a flexible panel product called Kerfkore (see photo, right, top). It follows the same principle that cabinetmakers use when they saw multiple kerfs on the back of a piece of plywood to make it flexible. A disadvantage to this saw-kerfing method is the risk of the face veneer cracking or kinking at the kerfs, spoiling the curve’s smooth surface. Kerfcore’s advantage is that that the kerfing is done for you. Its flexible paper backing provides a smooth surface to attach your veneer.

There are several important tricks and techniques to working with Kerfkore but it’s a surprisingly easy material to work with. I’ll walk you through the main steps of making a curved door with Kerfkore from layout to final trimming. Information on using Kerfkore in other applications can be found at the Web site www.kerfkore.com.

 

What is Kerfkore?

Kerfkore is a very flexible panel made of 3/8-in.-wide ribs spaced 1/8 in. apart on a paper backer sheet. The spaces between the ribs allows the board to flex. The flexible backer sheet provides a smooth surface for veneering. The ribs in different Kerfkore products are made of particleboard, luan plywood, poplar plywood, MDF, fire-rated treated particleboard or lightweight styrene foam. These different cores have different weights, strengths and screw-holding characteristics. The particleboard core works well for generalpurpose doors, such as those for kitchen cabinets.

Kerfkore with paper backer on both sides is also available. This makes the material more rigid and somewhat easier to handle and enables you to create a curve that turns into a straight run. To make the twosided variety bend, you cut the backer on one side with a utility knife where you need the bend to occur.

Kerfkore comes in 4-ft. by 8-ft. sheets in 1/4-in., 3/8-in., 1/2-in., 5/8-in. and 3/4-in. thicknesses and costs between $40 and $125 per sheet (see Sources, below).

Click any image to view a larger version.

Kerfkore flexes easily in both directions.


Doors made with Kerfkore have a smooth, even curve.



Pick your veneer

1. Your three main veneer choices are two-ply wood veneer (shown here), phenolic-backed (plastic-laminate) wood veneer or vertical-grade plastic laminate. The twoply veneer is the most flexible of the three and is easily cut with a utility knife or scissors. The phenolic-backed veneer and plastic laminate must be sawn or scored and snapped. The cut edge of the two-ply veneer leaves a dark line that may show on your finished door, depending on the wood species and the finish you apply. The phenolicbacked veneer and plastic laminate both leave a black edge line.



Make a full-size drawing

2. Use a top-view drawing to determine the size of the Kerfkore panel and the angles at the edges. The width of the Kerfkore should be the outer circumference of the curve minus 1-1/2 in. to 2 in. for the solid-wood edges. The measurement is easy to take using a flexible curve. Calculate the angles of the edges by drawing a line tangent to the front curve at the corner of the door and then measure the angle with a protractor.



Apply the front veneer first

3. Use contact cement and work flat when applying the first sheet of veneer. Working flat may seem odd, but when you do so, the contact cement remains flexible and a good bond is ensured. The panel will gain a bit of stiffness but will remain flexible enough to form to its final shape later on.



Add solid-wood edges for strength, appearance

4. Solid-wood strips provide durable finished edges when the door is done. Each strip can be up to 1 in. wide. Leave a 1/8-in. gap between the solid-wood strip and the adjacent rib to maintain maximum flexibility. Attach the strip with contact cement. After the edge strips are attached, use a small router and a shopmade edge guide (Photo 8) to trim the veneer flush around the entire panel.



Cut the edges to the required angle

5. It’s easier and safer to cut the angles on the panel while it’s flat, rather than after it has been curved. Cut at the angles you measured on the full-size drawing (Photo 2). The panel is sufficiently stiff at this stage that it saws much like a normal piece of plywood.



Attach the back veneer with yellow wood glue

6. Yellow glue dries stiff and helps the curved door hold its shape. The folks at Kerfkore recommend yellow glue for both two-ply and phenolic-backed veneer. The grain on the back of two-ply veneer runs 90 degrees to its face side and adds stiffness to the door when the glue dries.



Attach the back veneer with a vacuum press

7. A curved form—made from two curved ribs and a spare piece of Kerfkore covered with plastic laminate—provide the shape. A vacuum bag provides clamping pressure. Mark centerlines on the form and on the ends of the door. Line up the marks prior to clamping to ensure the curved door ends up straight after the glue dries. With the whole assembly in a vacuum bag (see Sources, below), pump the air out. Netting in the bag prevents air pockets from forming. Let the glue dry completely before you remove the door.



Trim the curved edges

8. This shop-made edge guide (see photos, right) simplifies routing the veneer on the curved edges. The guide fence has an angled opening and clearance slot that allow it to trim around the curved overhanging veneer. It works equally well on the convex and the concave sides of the door. You can use either ball-bearing guided straight bit or a standard straight bit with this guide. The edge guide is slotted so its fence can be adjusted flush with the edge of the router bit.



Veneer the ends and trim flush

9. Apply veneer to the end with contact cement or yellow glue and trim flush. When all edges and veneers are trimmed, the doors can be installed. Hanging a curved door is not difficult. Butt hinges go on the same way as they do with a flat door. For European-style hinges, support the door on the drill-press table so the hinge-hole drill bit drills square to the surface of the door. If the hinge-cup screws land in a gap between the wood ribs, squeeze in some epoxy glue as a filler and anchor.




Sources

Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.

Kerfkore Co., kerfkore.com, 800-637-3539, Kerfkore, 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. single-sided; 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. doublesided.

Roarockit, roarockit.com, 416-938-4588, Thin Air Press kit vacuum press, #01301.


This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2006, issue #123.

September 2006, issue #123

Purchase this back issue.

 

 

Reading Grain Direction

Reading Grain Direction

“Going against the grain” is a familiar phrase. It means doing something the wrong way.When you’re talking about wood, you always want to go with the grain—cutting or planing a board in a way that follows the natural structure of the tree (Photo 1). The result is a smooth surface.

How do you figure out which way the grain goes? Some folks use the coin-toss method.They’ll joint or plane one side in an arbitrary direction and observe the results.After all, you’ve got a 50-50 chance of being right! When you’re wrong,however,you can be really wrong (Photo 2) and you’ll get tear-out.Whether it’s shallow or deep, tear-out means extra work in planing, scraping or sanding a board.

Tear-out will rarely be a problem for you after we show you how to read the fibers inside a board.Most woodworkers think that the ovals or lines on the surface of a board are the key to grain direction, but this type of “grain” is not completely reliable for predicting fiber direction (Photo 3, page 84). Going with the grain really means going with the fibers. In the pages to follow,we’ll show you other clues that are more dependable in predicting the fiber direction in hardwoods.


1. Wood is composed of long fibers that typically run at an angle to the surface of a board. Splitting a board reveals the direction of the fibers, but we’ll show you less destructive methods of reading grain direction on the following pages.

Click any image to view a larger version.



2. Nasty tear-out is often the result of planing a board against the grain.The better you get at reading grain direction, the less time you’ll spend sanding out a mess like this.



3. Grain direction can fool you. Normally we call patterns of ovals and lines made by the growth rings the “grain” of the wood.We assume that the fiber direction runs the same way.The split-off piece of red oak at right shows that this “grain” and the fiber direction don’t necessarily go the same way. Small cells called rays are the true indicators of fiber direction in plainsawn oak. (Plainsawn boards are also commonly called flatsawn boards. See below for more information on rays and plainsawn boards.)



4. Feel the fuzz on rough lumber. No kidding, you can tell which way to plane rough lumber merely by running your hand over it! The direction that the fibers go feels smooth, while the opposite direction feels rough and jagged.That’s because many individual fibers actually stick out above the surface of rough lumber.You’re feeling their sharp ends.



5. Know where to look. On smooth lumber, the clues to fiber direction are on the surface of the wood.

You can’t read fiber direction just by looking at the surface you want to plane, however. The clues to look for are on the edge adjacent to the surface you’ll plane. To plane the top (1), look at the side (2). To plane the side, look at the top.



6. Rays are the best clues to fiber direction in hardwoods. The general angle of the rays on the plainsawn face of a board invariably point in the same direction as the wood’s fibers.This typical piece of red oak is easy to read because oak’s rays are quite prominent. Beech and sycamore also have large rays. Cherry, maple and many other woods have rays that are paler and much smaller, but you can find them if you look closely. Some hardwoods, such as ash and walnut, have rays that are too small to see.



7. Look for vessels to indicate fiber direction when you can’t see rays.Vessels are cells that look like long, dark dashes.They’re easy to spot on this piece of walnut once you know what you’re looking for. Mahogany, butternut and birch also have clearly visible vessel cells, as do many other woods.



8. Figure is a last resort. If you can’t see rays or vessels, go with the angle of the dark lines that most woodworkers call the “grain” of a board. (“Figure” is the more accurate term.) We’re all familiar with the concentric growth rings on the end of a board (Photo 9). If you follow those rings around to the face or edge, they become the lines and ovals that lend each board a distinctive figure.



9. Fiber direction can often run two ways. Tearout may be inevitable no matter which way you plane this board, but you can minimize it using the clues to fiber direction given here. In this piece of ash, the figure made by the growth rings is the only obvious clue to follow.The angle of this figure is steeper at one end of the board than the other.Always use the steeper end to decide which way to plane.



10. Mark fiber direction on the end of the board.This mark means “begin planing the top surface here.” It can’t be accidentally removed as you mill the faces or edges of your lumber.



What are Rays?

Ray cells radiate from the center of a tree.These long, thin ribbons show different faces depending on how the board is cut from the tree.

You can clearly see the wide side of the rays when the surface of a board runs at a right angle to the growth rings.This surface is called a quartersawn or radial face, and the ray’s wide sides are called ray fleck.

When the surface of a board runs more or less parallel to the growth rings, you only see the narrow ends of the rays.This is how most boards are sawn, and this surface is called a plainsawn, flatsawn or tangential face.




This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2003, issue #102.

Purchase this back issue.

 



 

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