My Second commission – part 6


It has been a long time since I posted the previous update on this project, so here goes.

Maybe we should first just remind each other what we are aiming for. Below are two photos of the final version of my protracted design process in the form of a small mockup. In this post you will see how I progress with work on the solid trapezoid shaped leg and stock preparation/lamination of the various parts of the so called Windsor leg.


In the pictures below you can see how I cut dovetail keys from Kershout. I recently learned that the these keys which were made famous by George Nakashima are also known as “Dutchmen”. Why, I do not know, maybe Dutchmen like wearing bowties??


The keys placed on the face side of the trapezoid leg.


The Dutchmen is meant to stabilise natural cracks in the wood. Of course it also adds a certain je ne sais quoi, as you would expect.


I used slow setting epoxy to fix the Dutchmen about two thirds of the way into the thickness of the Witpeer panel. As you can see they stood proud of the surface of the panel by quite some margin (post insertion).


As a result of how incredibly hard the Kershout is and the amount of material to remove I followed the approach pictured. Several crossgrain cuts with a carcass saw, followed by chisel, followed by Jack plane.


The two edges of the panel were then laminated with the off-cut piece of Witpeer flipped over head-to-toe and back-to-front. This ensures the best colour match possible and per definition results in the grain running perfectly in the same direction. The lamination on the one hand aims to create a component that is twice as thick as the top of this table, which is a choice made in the interest of pleasing proportions (from a design perspective). It also creates space to hide a second layer of strips that run perpendicular to that of the first layer. This is quite useful when working with my beloved feral hardwood as it has a tendency to warp in the absence of something to keep it honest.


As you can see below, I used Dominos to keep the edges flush during glue-up.


After glue-up the edges were cleaned up with a hand plane.


Next came the preparation of the strips of wood that will run perpendicular to the grain of the trapezoid panel. This involved the usual array of tools including winding sticks, straight edge, and hand plane.


As this will ultimately be a layer that will be completely hidden from sight, I used proper off-cut level stock.


Preparing lapjoints  at end of the perpendicular strips.


Followed by the mating lap joints in the raised section of the trapezoid panel.


A useful trick that I employed here is to leave a narrow strip of waste intact to support the sole of the router plane while shaving 90% the floor of the lap mortise (for lack of a better term) perfectly flat and to the desired depth. Then it is easy to use the flat area as a reference surface for your chisel while pairing away the remaining waste.


The gaps you see in the lap joints are there to allow for ample movement of the trapezoid panel with changes in ambient humidity, while the perpendicular strips resist warping. You will also note the slots around each screw which allows for the same thing. I used my Festool Domino to cut the slots. At this stage the leg is ready for it’s final layer, which will cover up the perpendicular one and take the thickness up to 44 mm. More about that in a month or so as we now have to first build the other leg using Windsor technology!!! It will be my first time so I am stressing!!!

This picture was take before the joint was fitted perfectly, but does show the gaps left to allow movement.
Here you can see the lap joint after proper fitting.


At the level of the paint bucket you can see the Kershout I chose for the Windsor leg.



I can assure you that the time and effort it takes to liberate the few pieces of Kershout (aka Candle Wood or Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus)  pictured below from the pile pictured above will surprise you. This stuff is very hard and extremely heavy. It actually sinks in water!!! The Kershout is the deep red coloured wood.

I am sure it is quite obvious from this picture that even after liberation and some planing these pieces still look as wild as a pet rhino.


Below I am laminating the top and bottom beam of the Windsor leg.


In the next addition of this series of posts we will plunge into the world of Windsor technology.


4 thoughts on “My Second commission – part 6”

  1. Gerhard,

    The two popular references to dutchmen are from Norm Abrams in the context of his “Yankee Workshop” series and his mention of them as a form of patch. They were never hourglass shaped on this show. He would also use them in “This Old House” when patching something.

    The other mention of dutchmen was by Michael Caine in one of the Austin Powers movies.

    You certainly have some wild woods down there. Perhaps the A in A2 steel is in reference to Africa.

    Steve D

    1. Hi Steve

      Thank you for your comment it is much appreciated. I will go and look into those reference to educate myself. Austin Powers is one of my favourite characters of all time.
      I have never thought of it, but you make a very good point regarding A2 steel and Africa. Quite a few of my plane blades are A2, but the African wood still takes no prisoners when it comes to the intervals between sharpening sessions. I would therefore suggest that the 2 probably reminds a woodworkers to buy at least 2 blades at a time??

      Please stay in touch.

  2. Hey Gerhard,

    Another very cool post. I have never tried the bowtie keys as I haven’t had the opportunity to yet. It looks like fun though. and you make it look easy. A couple of observations:

    Are you sure that you used enough screws in your assembly? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Are you sure that you used enough clamps in your glue-up? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    On a more serious note, what are the disappearing / reappearing white bulbous objects on the back wall of the shop? Behind your lumber storage/prep area. Ostrich eggs? Omelet time!!!

    Have a great weekend and give my best to all,


    1. Hey Jonathan

      I always enjoy your comments, you know how to wind me up. Yes those are ostrich eggs and they come from the Kalahari near the border with Botswana. We have good friends with a massive property in that area. I want to use them for my next attempt at making lights. I first need to buy a Dremel to carve patterns into the shells. I am still trying to find inspiration as to what type of patterns. These shells will need a completely different approach to the the coconuts.

      Speak to you soon and thanks again for the regular comments.

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