Put Your Back into It

Boxed Set Batch #3 is just about complete. We still have a few backs to fit before we carve the wooden pins to fasten them in place. Depending on the task I am doing at the moment, I will tell you the one I am currently working on is my favorite of the whole project, because each step has its own idiosyncrasies and joys. It’s hard to choose just one.

But today, making and fitting the backs is my favorite. A heavily set fore plane driving down a white pine board lets out the most distinct zipper sound: R-R-R-R-I-I-I-P-P-P! And then the meaty shavings thud on the floor. One time at our booth at Fine Woodworking Live, Mike and I were planing pine like this when Vic Tesolin walked up. “I heard that planing and knew Mortise & Tenon was in the house!” Yep. We love us some vigorous, sweaty woodworking. As I write this post, sweat is pouring down my face and my heart is still thumping from the work downstairs in the shop.

The steps for making and fitting the back are simple:

  1. Plane a flat face
  2. Gauge 1/2" thickness from that face
  3. Plane to thickness
  4. Plane the edge bevels by eye to fit the grooves
  5. Test fit the side grooves, adjusting the width as needed
  6. Hew the top bevel with a hatchet
  7. Chamfer the top corners
  8. Slide it in the groove
  9. Scribe the final length
  10. Pull it out and saw to final length
  11. Chamfer the bottom edge
  12. Slide it back it for pinning

    Each back takes only a matter of minutes when your blood is pumping and the plane is taking deep bites. In my book, this beats a couple hours at the gym any day.

    – Joshua


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