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Testing Biscuit Joint Strength - Do Biscuits Add Strength To A Woodworking Glue Joint?

In this video I test the strength of various materials like melamine, plywood, MDF and solid wood with biscuits and without biscuits to see if biscuits add any strength.

I've heard people say that biscuits are purely for alignment, but others say that they add strength.

The results were very surprising to me!

Hifi And Vinyl Unit Commission

In this video I make a commission hifi and vinyl unit from some plywood.

I started by designing what the client wanted in SketchUp.

I ripped the pieces of ply in to more manageable pieces using my circular saw and a straight edge, and then I could make the finer more accurate cuts on the tablesaw.

I cut mitre joints at each corner of the unit on the tablesaw using my panel cutting sled.

I also cut housing joints for the shelves.

I also used the biscuit jointer to install the front panel, just to get it perfectly aligned.

Dowels were added through the side panels to help support and strengthen the shelves and top and bottom panel - I simply drilled holes for them and glued them in place, cutting off the excess with a flush trim saw and sanding.  The dowels would be visible but I like how they look.

After sanding all the panels, I then routed out a rebate joint around the back of the unit to accommodate a back panel which was a 5mm hardwood plywood.

For finish I used boiled linseed oil followed by a walnut stain Briwax at the customer's request.



So in part 1 of this video series I made the chess board, and in part 2 I made the chess pieces, and in this video I'm going to be making a box to hold both the pieces and the board.
I'd mainly use mahogany for the box, this was an offcut from a wardrobe panel that I used to make this mahogany box recently.
I started by ripping it to the height that I wanted the sides of the box to be and then I cleaned up the pieces using my thickness planer.
The mahogany was quite thick, so to get more out of the material I re-sawed it at the bandsaw, and then thickness planed again to remove the bandsaw blade marks and ensure they were all the same thickness.
Then I cut 45 degree mitres at the corners with the pieces sized to fit around the chess board.  I used a stop block to get consistent cuts
I marked  up for some housing joints which I would cut to accommodate some pieces which would split the box in to sections where all the chess pieces would be stored.
I lowered my tablesaw blade to half the thickness of the mahogany.  Then I cut the housing joints wide enough to accomodate the pieces which were around 6mm.  My blade kerf is 3mm so I could make the cut in two passes.  I used my cross cut sled and a stop block again to ensure my cuts were consistent on each piece.
I cleaned up those cuts with a square file.
And then I could assemble the sides of the box. I used masking tape to hold the pieces at each joint together and also to prevent glue squeezeout on to the wood.  I applied wood glue and added some elastic bands to apply pressure to get nice tight joints.
Then I checked the box for size, and the chessboard fitted in nicely with about 1mm of play around the perimeter which I was happy about.
Next I could mark up the length of the partitions and cut them to length at the mitre saw.
There were five partitions to add, one which I wanted to be almost the same height as the sides but about 10mm less that the chessboard would sit on, and four half height ones that would later hold the chess pieces. So I ripped some of the pieces at the tablesaw for the ones that would hold the piecse.
I applied some tape again to keep the glue up clean.  
And here I'm ripped the centre partition to 10mm less than the sides. I then glued that in place.
Here I'm cutting some more plywood for the bottom of the box, this is the same plywood that I used in part 1 for the base of the chess board.
I glued that to the bottom of the box. And once it was dry I planed the edges flush with the sides. And the end grain of the ply will later be hidden by some trim pieces.
I did a bit of sanding to the sides of the box with my random orbit sander at 120 grit/
For the half height partitions I could then figure out the spacings to get the pawn chess pieces equally spaced. I'm useless at maths so I rely on a calculator for everything   .
 I first marked up where the centre of each piece would be, and then centre the pawn by eye to the marks, and marked up the width of the pawn.  I'm not going for precise accuracy here, just that the pieces look equally spaced by eye.
I set my tablesaw blade to about 10mm in height and made the cuts to remove material based on the markings I'd made.
Then I could check the fit, and one or two slots needed to be cut a fraction wider.
I cleaned up the slots with my electric file.  This is such a useful tool and I use it far more than I ever expected to.
I could then make the cuts to the rest of the partitions and then glue them in place
With the glue dry I could then remove the tape.
Next I set up a stop block on the cross cut sled for cutting some slots in to the back of each chess piece so that the chess pieces would slot neatly in to the box.
I moved the fence by 3mm, and then made another pass to widen the slot.
And then I cleaned up the cuts with a file.
I used the calipers to figure out how high I wanted the sides of the box to be and then set my fence and made the cuts.
I used the hand plane to get the central partition flush with the sides of the box.
And then I used a couple of sacrificial scrap pieces of wood in order to balance the router with a straight bit installed, on top of the box and I used that to cut away the material and lower the height of the partition.  I took two passes to get it to the right height.
I could then do a bit of clean up with a chisel and some sand paper.
Next I ripped some more pieces of beech to create a trim for the box.  I mitred the trim at the mitresaw and then applied glue and clamped it in place with elastic bands and small F clamps.
I did a bit more clean up with a hand plane and sanding and the mitre joints looked really nice.
And I added another mitred trim at the bottom to hide the plywood endgrain.
I ripped a piece of mahogany at a 45 degree angle on the tablesaw and then cut them to length at the bandsaw.
I pushed the corner supports in place until the hot glue set.
Next I applied some teak oil finish to the box, and in one or two places you can see there was some dried up glue, so I scraped that off with a chisel and applied oil again.
Unfortunately the board didn't sit level on the corner supports at first so I needed to chisel away some material to remove the wobble.
Then I applied oil to the inside of the box.
And finally I made a few finishing touches, I added these adhesive rubber feet to the bottom of the box, I cut some more felt and used epoxy to glue them to the corners of the chess board so that the board won't damage any surfaces, and the felt would also cushion  wouldn't scratch or damage any surfaces and also it's a soft layer in between the board and the corner supports of the box.
I also added some of this gold ribbon to either side of the bottom of the chess board, which I attached with a drawing pin after making a small hole with an awl.  These would be used to lift the board out of the box.
Then the box got a spray varnish finish to give it some protection. 
And finally, I added my branding to the bottom of the box using a rubber stamp and sealed it with some more spray varnish

The Chess Set (Part 2 of 3) - The Chess Pieces

To make the chess pieces I'd use this offcut of sapele for the black pieces and some beech for the white pieces, so I started by ripping the beech to the same size as the sapele which was 27mm square.
This beech came from an old table frame that I found by some bins.  I also have the table top from the table which I haven't got round to using for anything yet.
Next I started cutting the pieces to length at the mitre saw. I started with the longest pieces which would be the king and the queen, and gradually made the pieces shorter and shorter until I got to the pawns which would be the smallest.  I used a stop block to ensure that all of the pieces of the same type would be the same height.
I didn't have much of a vision for what each of the chess pieces would look like at this point, but I had a few ideas and I wanted them to be quite minimal and sculptural in design 
I'd start with making the pawns and I had the idea to make a tapering jig so that I could add a taper to the left and right hand side of each piece.  I used a scrap piece of wood which I stuck to the bandsaw table using hot glue as an attempt to get consistent cuts to each piece.
This method didn't work too well because as I pushed the pieces through the blade with a slight sideways force, the blade was deflecting a bit so I wasn't getting the best cuts.  But I perservered with it anyway just to finish all the pawn pieces in the same way, but as soon as those were done I wouldn't use that method again for the others.
Once all the tapers were cut, I used a large washer to mark up a rounded edge at the top. It would have made more sense to do this before I cut the tapers, but this is what happens when you're making stuff up as you go along!
I cut off the corners crudely on the bandsaw, and then did the more refined shaping at the disc and belt sander.
At this point I put them on the board and then decided that they would look better with a taper on the back too, so that they would appear to be leaning forward slightly.   So I made a mark about 5mm in on each piece and then drew a line from that mark to the bottom corner.
And then I made those cuts freehand at the bandsaw and cleaned up the cuts on the belt sander.
That was the pawns done, and next I moved on to the rooks
First I marked up a taper to th e sides and backs again as I had for the pawns but this time I made the cuts freehand at the bandsaw which worked much better than using a jig as I had previously.
I cleaned them up on the bandsaw and then marked up a design for the top, the shaded areas would be the waste material.  I made the cuts on the bandsaw, and then did some filing to the top to clean up the bandsaw cuts.
Next I could make the knights, and I knew this one was likely to be the biggest challenge out of all of the pieces
I decided to make a cardboard template for this, so started by marking up a taper and then sketching the outline of a horse shape.  I am not good at drawing, but just did the best I could.  I cut out the template with a knife and then used this to mark up the shape on to each of the four pieces of wood
I then cut out the profile on the bandsaw
Then I marked up a taper for the sides and cut those too
And then I cleaned the tapered cuts at the belt sander.
Next I marked up the shape of the ears and cut those out on the bandsaw too.
And then I did some shaping of the horses head using back strokes on the blade to carve away material.  And I recognise that this isn't the safest of methods, so please don't try this at home and also don't feel the need to point this out in the comments.
Next with my electric file held securely in the vise, I did some more shaping
And then I did some final work with a chisel and some sand paper to clean them up.
And they ended up looking a bit like a moomin. 
Next I made the bishops. I cut a taper at the back the same way as I had on the others.
Then I marked up a shape for the heads 
I made the cuts on the bandsaw
And then I did some more shaping with a chisel. 
And I wasn't keen on how they looked at this point so I decided to add a bevel to the top of the pieces too which I did on the disc sander.
And after some more cleaning up with a chisel I was happy with them.
Next I made the King pieces. 
And for these after cutting another taper on the back to match the other pieces,  I marked up a shape on top that would look kind of like a crown, and made the cuts on the bandsaw again.
And finally the Queen, once again cut a taper on the back, and then marked up a point for the top of the piece which was again cut at the bandsaw. 
I did some sanding by hand just to break over any sharp edges so that they'd be nice in the hand.
I applied a teak oil finish to the chess pieces which brought out the grain really nicely.
And the most observant of you may spot that the chess pieces now have a groove cut in the back of them.  I'll explain the reasons behind that later in the project - in part 3
The final job to finish the chess pieces was to add felt to the bottom so that the pieces won't damage the chess board.  I picked up this green felt from a shop called hobbycraft - it was only 55p for a sheet this size.   I used pound world epoxy to glue the felt to the bottom of the pieces, this stuff has always worked really well for me. It smells a bit, but no big deal.  
Then I just used scissors to trim off any excess felt

The Chess Set (Part 1 of 3) - The Board

In this video I make a chess board.
In terms of materials for the chess board, I had four offcuts of mahogany, these are the feet from some salvaged hat and coat stands.  And I had a piece of what I believe to be Iroko although I might be wrong - I've had this for a while and I don't remember where I picked this up.
First I needed to prepare the two materials.  I started by flattening one edge and one face of the piece of Iroko on the planer and then I did the same with the mahogany.
Then I ripped the opposite face of the mahogany at the tablesaw to make it square.
And I ripped the piece of Iroko in half and then thickness planed the other faces and edges of the Iroko to the same size as the pieces of mahogany.  
I then chopped the Iroko to length to be similar sized pieces as the mahogany using the mitre saw.
I also cleaned up the ends of the mahogany pieces
With all the pieces prepared I alternated the two woods ready for gluing up.  
I used a couple of bar clamps for the glue up, and used a framing square to check the shorter pieces of iroko were level and then I could tighten the clamps and wipe away the excess glue with a damp cloth.
I then added some F clamps to make sure that the pieces were seated on to the bar clamps
Once the glue had dried I cleaned up the ends at the tablesaw using my panel sled.
And then I cleaned up the faces of the workpiece with my handplane.
Next I needed to cut the block in to strips.  The tablesaw would have been the best tool to use for this but I used the bandsaw because the blade has a thinner kerf and I wanted to get as much material out of the block to work with as I could.
A little bit of blade drift on the bandsaw is inevtiable, especially when using a pretty dull blade like I am here, so before cutting the next strip I made sure to flatten the face of the block with the hand plane. I checked for flatness with a steel ruler and then I could cut the next strip and so on.
The bandsaw left a bit of tear out so I cleaned up each strip on the belt sander.
With all of the strips cut, I then made sure that they would all mate together properly by flattening the edges with a couple of strokes of the hand plane.
Next I could glue the strips together to create the chess board. I used a ruler to make sure the board was straight.
and I added clingfilm and a couple of small boards and F clamps again to make sure that the board would be as flat as possible while the glue set. The clingfilm was used just to stop the chess board sticking to the scraps of wood.
Once the glue had dried, I used a cabinet scraper to get rid of most of the excess glue and then I made sure the edges of the board were straight with my block plane.
I wanted to make a mitred trim for the board, and I had an offcut of oak which I'd use for that.
I cut the mitres at the mitre saw, and glued and taped them to the sides of the board.I used another mitre just to check that each corner would marry up well together
And once all four side were held in place with tape, I added some elastic bands and these would help to apply pressure and get nice tight joints
Once the glue had dried I then used my belt sander to flatten the board, clean up any dried up glue on the surface
and also get the trim flush with the board.  I sanded both sides at 120 grit and then moved on to sanding with my orbital sander with 120 grit also.
I marked up the size of the board on to the ply and cut it out with the jigsaw making sure to keep on the outside of the pencil lines.
I applied glue to the face of the ply, spread it out and then used a couple of scrap boards to make kind of a sandwich which would 
help to distribute the clamping pressure across the whole board.  I used F clamps and couple of long reach C clamps to reach near the centre
With the glue dry I then used the hand plane to get the ply flush with the oak trim.
Then I added another mitred trim out of some offcuts of mahogany and this would hide the edges of the plywood. 
I made this trim  in the same way as I made the oak, so I didn't bother filming it in detail.
I brought the trim flush to the board with my block plane and then I added a decorative edge to the mahogany trim using my router.
I used some abrasive paper wrapped around a pencil to sand the profile left by the router bit.
I then sanded the board by hand at 240, 400, 600 and finally 1200 grit to get it nice and smooth.
The first coat of finish I used was Teak oil.  Because this is an end grain board, the oil soaked in extremely quickly so I re-coated it once or twice straight away and then left it alone to soak in.
After applying oil, I decided to add a spray varnish, for a couple of reasons.  Firstly as there'll be chess pieces moving around the board I wanted quite a hard wearing top coat of finish, and secondly I wanted a nice glossy sheen to the board.  
In between each coat of spray varnish I sanded with 400 grit wet and dry paper to keep the surface nice and smooth before applying the next coat.  It got three coats of the spray varnish in total.

Converting A Dining Table In To A Coffee Table - Habitat Kilo

In this video I convert a Habitat Kilo dining table in to a coffee table for a friend.

Handcut Dovetail & Brass Inlay Mahogany Wedding Box (Part 3 of 3)

The next job was to fit the piano hinge for the lid.  I cut the hinge to length with a hacksaw.

The hinge was around 3mm thick so I wanted to cut a recess for the hinge to sit in, in the rim of the box. 

I set up a straight edge and used my router with a straight bit to make the cut, squaring up the corners with a chisel.  Before adding the screws, I first glued the lid to the hinge using some epoxy so that I could ensure the placement of the lid was right.  After the glue had set, I could then fit the hinge with the brass screws after drilling some pilot holes.

I sanded the box by hand at 120, 240, 320, 400, 600 and then 1200 grit - much higher than I'd normally go, but that's because I wanted the brass to look really nice.

For finish, I'd use Teak Oil which I applied with a cotton cloth.

Finally I applied some clear Briwax, and buffed out the finish once dry.

I used some upholstery pins as feet for the bottom of the box just to create an air gap under it.  These were fitted with a mallet, evenly spaced in from the 4 corners.

I bought a brass plaque to go on the inside of the lid which I purchased from The Engraving Shop - this was mounted with screws.

I had some difficulties finding a good quality brass latch that was the right style - I bought many different ones and none of them looked right.  Eventually I found one on Etsy that was nice but needed some adjustments as it was too big and not shiny enough.

I adjusted the height of the latch at the disc sander which worked quite well.

To get it to be shiny, I sanded it by hand at 600 grit and then buffed it using some green polishing compound on a buffing pad in my drill.  That worked really well.!

I could then fit the latch with screws and the box was complete.






Handcut Dovetail & Brass Inlay Mahogany Wedding Box (Part 2 of 3)

With the four sides of the box assembled, I needed to flatten the edges ready for the top and bottom panels to be added.  I used some sandpaper stuck to a piece of flat melamine with sticky back tape for this.

I cleaned up the edges of the box and the dovetail joints at the belt sander.

With the remaining piece of mahogany from the same wardrobe panel as the sides had been made from, I could get a top and bottom panel.  I marked them up and cut them out oversized with a circular saw.  I then cleaned up the faces of the panels with a handplane and checked for flatness with a steel ruler.

I then glued and clamped the top and bottom panels on to the box at the same time using F clamps.

When the glue had dried I could trim off the excess from the panels at the bandsaw, and refine the edges with a hand plane and belt sander.

I wanted to add a brass inlay to the box, so I contacted some local metal suppliers and one company could cut off some 1/4 inch brass square bar for me - just the amount I wanted.

I cut a housing joint in to the lid of the box at the tablesaw by setting my blade height to the thickness of the bars and making two passes for each inlay.

Once the brass bars fitted nicely, I glued them in with epoxy.

My 1/4" chisel wouldn't fit in the joint, so I cleaned them up by using a small screwdriver as a scraper.

I wanted to give the top of the box a decorative look so decided to use an ogee bit in my router to cut an "s" profile around the edges.  

I was surprised that I could route through the brass as well as the wood - I had googled and found it could be done!

Next I cut the lid free from the box at the tablesaw.

I could then use  the piece of melamine with sandpaper taped to it to flatten the lid and box so that they met nicely.



Handcut Dovetail & Brass Inlay Mahogany Wedding Box (Part 1 of 3)

In this video I'm going to be making a box as a gift for my brother and his fiance's wedding.  As it's a special occasion I wanted to make something a little special, so this is going to be my first attempt at handcut dovetails.
For materials I'm going to be using some reclaimed mahogany wardrobe panels.  Recently a work colleague of mine mentioned he had a couple of solid mahogany panels from an old wardrobe and he asked me if I wanted it for anything.  To be honest I was expecting the panels might be plywood with a mahogany veneer applied, but to my surprise, they were indeed solid mahogany panels - and I've been keeping them aside for a special project as I don't come across mahogany very often.  
There were a lot of old nails to pull out of the mahogany, mainly in the sides of the panels but there were also a few random ones elsewhere.
With the material de-nailed, I clamped a straight edge to it and used my cicular saw to cut a new clean straight edge. to get rid of some of the old nail holes.
Then I cross cut a piece of the panel  in the same way to the size that I wanted the length of the sides of the box to be.
This piece would form the four sides of the box. I first checked that my cuts were square with a framing square and then ripped 4 equal pieces ot the tablesaw.
Next I used the planer to get one of the faces on each board flat, and then thickness planed the opposite face of each board, and at this point I think they were around 19mm thick.
Next I cut the pieces to length at the mitresaw using a stop block to get consistent cuts.
With my four sides of the box cut the next job was to cut the dovetails.  I'd never cut doevtails before, by hand or machine.  I first watched some instructional videos on YouTube by Paul Sellers.  And before I started working with the mahogany I wanted to do a test run on some scrap pieces of pine.  I'm really glad I did this as I learned a lot.  I also tried a couple of different saws for the cuts to see which worked best.  The dovetails didn't turn out brilliant, there were some pretty big gaps. but it didn't really matter as I knew that when I was working on the final piece I would take my time a bit more and concentrate on getting them as good as I possibly could. 
I transferred that on to all faces and edges of each board, and then started to lay out the dovetail cuts, marking up the waste material with an X.  First I would work on cutting the pins, and then the tails. I took my time with these cuts, continuouslly checking to make sure that my cuts were accurate.
I used a chisel to clean up the joints and could then assemble the four sides of the box
The dovetails turned out pretty good for a first attempt, but I did have some small gaps so I filled those with a glue and sawdust mixture

House Tour / Past Projects Re-Visited (part 2 of 2)

Tour of my house and some of the things in it - talking about past projects some which have been featured in videos and others which haven't.