Single-Slab Cherry Coffee Table, Part I

This weekend, I am demonstrating Festool power tools at Lee Valley Tools Ltd. in Coquitlam. To generate interest and demonstrate what can be done with the tools, I am turning this seven-foot-long slab of cherry into a coffee table.


By the end of Thursday, I had made some good progress. To make the legs, I used the TS75 track saw to cut the ends of the slab from table top and bevel the ends at 45 degrees.


I used the DF700 Domino XL to cut mortises in the bevelled ends of one joint and inserted 14mm Domino tenons to provide strength and alignment.


On Friday, I cut the joints for the other two legs. I glued them before lunch, then did some careful layout to determine how to cut the legs so the table sat flat. I performed the cuts with the TS75 track saw in a somewhat dramatic fashion.


After that, I removed the chainsaw marks from the outside surfaces of the legs. I was able to power through this task quickly with 80-grit Rubin 2 abrasive paper on the mighty RO150 Rotex sander.


At the end of day two, the table stood on its own (and I could stand – and jump – on it).


So far, this project has been a good test of what the Festool equipment can do and it has attracted a lot of attention from customers, whether they were woodworkers or not. Many wanted to see it finished and asked if the table would be on display upon completion (the answer was, yes).

Tomorrow, I will continue work by surfacing the top. I may also inset some dovetail keys in the top, and perhaps down one leg to visually reinforce the split.

Make a Polygon Marking Gauge

Heptagonal Marking Gauge

Wheel marking gauges are great layout tools, but their round face means the tool has an annoying tendency to roll, which sometimes results in finding it on the floor with a chipped cutter. By reshaping the outside profile of the tool’s face, it stays put and adds a touch of flair.

This simple improvement takes about 30 minutes. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Buy, download and print the Polygon Marking Gauge Template ($4 CAD) on a sheet of letter-sized paper;
  2. Select between the heptagon, octagon, and nonagon (7-, 8- and 9-sided polygons) and cut it out, staying safely outside the template;
  3. Cut a hole in the centre of the template slightly larger than the wheel of your marking gauge with a sharp brad-point bit or hole punch, using the concentric circles as a guide;
  4. Separate the marking gauge head from the other components, if possible;
  5. Adhere the template to the face of your wheel marking gauge with spray adhesive or double-sided tape using the concentric circles in the middle of the jig and trim any paper extending beyond the face of the gauge;
  6. Shape the face to the desired profile with a metal file or a stationary disc or belt sander. Note that you do not need to remove material up to the lines – having an even distance from each line is enough to ensure an even profile:
    1. If using a file, clamp the gauge head in a vise and file one facet at a time, rotating the head after completing each facet;
    2. If using a stationary sander, hold the gauge face-down on the machine’s table set at 90-degrees to the abrasive. Work slowly, checking your progress frequently and being mindful of the potential heat build-up;
  7. Remove the paper template and soften the resulting sharp edges with a file or fine sandpaper; and
  8. Check that there are no stray filings or other bits of metal inside the marking gauge head before reassembling your wheel marking gauge.

That’s it! I love the look of my polygon marking gauge, and how it doesn’t roll around on my bench (or off my bench!) It’s an easy modification that sees an immediate improvement. I encourage you to give this a try. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have, and send me pictures of your completed gauge heads!

Overflow XXII

Up for grabs is a Stanley #194, which was designed to cut chamfers on the edges of fibreboard.


A razor blade is clamped to the bed with clamping plate and two slotted screws. Meanwhile, two thumbscrews secure the adjustable fence.


The plane features a corrugated sole.

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According to the hand tool reference site Blood and Gore, the Stanley #194 was manufactured between 1936 and 1958.

If you would like this plane, please leave a comment below with a description of its would-be new home (e.g. on a dusty shelf between my palm sander and tape measure). I’ll give you a bonus entry if you tell me your thoughts on wooden spokeshaves (I’m scheduled to teach a class making a wooden spokeshave at Lee Valley Tools Coquitlam on the 14th). You may enter until the end of Tuesday, February 10. I will then draw a winner at random. Even if you don’t get this tool, remember that there is still much more I want to give away.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you can be notified as soon as I post something new! Please tell your friends about my Overflow program.

Review the details of the Overflow program.

Overflow XXI

This hole saw set includes 1-1/4″, 1-1/2″, 2″, and 2-1/8″ hole saws and a 1/4″ mandrel.

DSC_9319Each hole saw attaches to the mandrel quickly and easily via a threaded post and nut, and all the parts can be nested and secured for compact storage with no loose parts.


If you would like this hole saw set, please leave a comment below with a brief description of your workspace. You may enter until the end of Wednesday, February 4. I will then draw a winner at random. Even if you don’t get this hole saw set, remember that there is still much more I want to give away.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you can be notified as soon as I post something new! Please tell your friends about my Overflow program.

Review the details of the Overflow program.

Unforeseen Challenges

After a day of work at Lee Valley Tools, I came home and found myself in my shop with a bit of time. I had a simple project already started and only a little more work remained before assembly. I finished cutting the 6mm mortises with my Festool Domino Joiner and began the glue-up, which consisted of five rails attached to two end caps with floating tenons.

It was a simple, straight-forward assembly process. Or so I thought.

I started by applying glue to one mortise in a rail, driving in a tenon, and continuing until all the floating tenons were installed. This way, I knew that the floating tenons were already seated and I didn’t have to worry about the open time of that glue.

Next, I applied glue to each mortise of one end cap and used my dead blow mallet to drive each rail into place. This wasn’t particularly easy, so I drove them in as far as they wanted to go before starting the second end cap. Besides, aligning five mortise and tenon joints at the same time is very hard – it’s much easier to set them in one at a time, as is the case when they protrude different amounts.

With glue in each mortise, I began tapping the end cap into place, carefully aligning the Domino tenons with the mortises as I went. I got all the tenons started into the mortises, and then my 2-pound mallet started bouncing off of the assembly. Not good.

I reached for a pair of my favourite Jet Parallel Bar Clamps and started turning the handles to close the joints. Nothing moved. I kept cranking, applying as much torque to the handles as I ever have – so much, actually, that the whole assembly was trying to flip over itself.

As I applied all the force I could muster, I looked around the shop, wishing that I owned some heavy-duty I-beam clamps. There was no reason that this much pressure should have been required to close the joints. I hadn’t applied an excessive amount of glue that would keep the joint from closing. My Domino Joiner was set up to cut adequately deep mortises. Yes, it was. Perhaps the joints were so tight, the glue and/or air had no way of escaping the mortise and that was keeping the joints from closing.

Not having much luck, I added a third clamp for additional clamping force and weight to keep the assembly from flipping. I kept cranking and cranking. This was becoming more work than I’d done in the whole day up until now!

I applied a fourth clamp, moved the assembly to the floor and used my body weight to keep the assembly flat on the floor while I cranked on the handles. The assembly groaned, creaked and popped with every rotation of the clamp handle. Those were scary sounds, but they were reassuring since they indicated that something was moving. Or that it was about to explode.

After a ton of nerve-wracking creaking and 15 minutes of frantic work to pull the assembly together before the glue set, the gaps finally closed. I collapsed on the floor, exhausted. Or, at least I felt like doing that.

Challenging Glue-Up

A Different Kind of Scrolled Sign

I recently completed this sign for my friend Mike. It bears his and his wife’s names, and those of his three dogs.


I created the layout using a computer, then printed it out and adhered it to a sheet of Baltic birch plywood. I cut out the waste around the letters with my scroll saw and dyed the wood to create contrast before gluing it to the backer board for support.


I had a lot of fun developing and making this project, and Mike was thrilled to receive it and has been showing it to everybody.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like a custom sign of this style made for you!

Overflow XX

This is a nice, lightweight fret saw with a 12″-deep throat for increased cutting capacity. It is a German-made saw and can be purchased new from Lee Valley Tools Ltd.


A pair of thumbscrews secure the standard 5″ pin-less blades which are tensioned by the lightweight frame.


Overall, I do like this saw, but not as much as my fantastic Knew Concepts saws.

If you would like this saw, please leave a comment below with a brief description of the first project you would like to make with it. You may enter until the end of Thursday, January 22. I will then draw a winner at random. Even if you don’t get this saw, remember that there is still much more I want to give away.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you can be notified as soon as I post something new! Please tell your friends about my Overflow program.

Review the details of the Overflow program.

Overflow XIX – Bulk Items

These items are small and of little value. Unlike other Overflow items, these are first come, first serve. I would be happy to include anything from this page with anything else you may win in future Overflow draws – just let me know when that time comes.

1. Router bit boxes. They come in various sizes and are all empty. They could be useful for organizing or storing small parts. Or router bits. ALL GONE!

DSC_9238 2. Bent picks. I must have more than a hundred. Most look like the lower example, but a handful look more like the top one. If one were to make a nice wooden handle for a pick…

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3. Old, white labels, 4 x 15/16″. They are adhesive backed and start to peel after a day or so when applied to wood or cardboard. One dozen per sheet. ALL GONE!


If you would like any of these, please leave a comment below indicating what you would like. These are first come, first serve and I’d be happy to include any items from this giveaway with a future Overflow item, should you be selected as a winner! There is still much more I want to give away.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you can be notified as soon as I post something new! Please tell your friends about my Overflow program.

Review the details of the Overflow program.

High Tide – The Biggest Overflow Ever

After a busy Christmas season, I found some time to do some cleaning and organizing. I tackled the storage room, which houses parts, supplies, and infrequently-used tools. In an effort to consolidate, I have sorted through my inventory and filled up a number of boxes of things I didn’t need.

Many of the items would be very useful to most woodworkers, and some of them even hard to find. Others were common and of relatively low value and likely not worth shipping. These items will be sold off locally.

Due to the nature of some of the items, and the volume, the rules for this round of Overflow vary slightly from previous times.

How Does Overflow Work?

  1. Bulk bits. There are a number of things that I have in bulk that aren’t worth the cost of shipping and nobody is likely to want the whole lots. I will post these first, and, if you like, I can throw in a handful of these items in the box of whatever you win. You may ask for one, a dozen, or all of them. First come, first serve.
  2. The good stuff! I will post a picture and brief description of the item or group of items up for grabs. Most will be free (aside from shipping, which you cover), but I may be selling some things as well. There will be some hand tools, accessories, parts, hardware, random shop stuff, and books. Most items will be in good-to-excellent shape;
  3. Comment if you want it! I suggest you subscribe to this blog so you get notified when I post something. If you want the item(s), leave a comment on that particular blog post and let me know if you can pick it up or if you need it shipped. Be sure to read the post thoroughly to see if I have requested any specific information to be in your entry. (I will ship anywhere on your dime once my PayPal account is happy.); then
  4. When the deadline to enter has passed, I will submit the names of those interestedinto a Random Chooser and let the program draw a winner. I will announce the winner in the comments section of the Overflow post on my blog and contact them to arrange a pick-up time or shipping details. If the first person chosen changes their mind, the Random Chooser will select another name.

Why am I doing this?

I’m giving stuff away because I would rather help some fellow woodworkers than try to sell it. This is less hassle and more rewarding. I enjoy interacting with my readers and helping others get further in their woodworking.

I also want to increase the number of readers of my blog. Besides having awesome giveaways of quality stuff, I do some pretty cool woodwork, wouldn’t you agree? Please subscribe to my blog using the widget at the bottom of any page or in the right-hand column of my main blog page. You’ll receive notice of what I’m putting up for grabs as well as when I publish a regular blog post.

The ultimate purpose of Overflow is to get this stuff out of my shop (and into yours), so please, tell your friends.