Dinning ala Nicholson

If you have been following along, you know that I have recently moved to a new-to-me home.  This one is a little large than our last and its nice to have the extra room.  Apparently there is a downside though.  I was informed by management that we will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner and that we would be needing a table that will seat at least twelve maybe more.  For those of you outside the U.S., the Thanksgiving holiday is this coming Thursday.  Not a lot of time for much of anything, let alone a huge dinning table.

Don’t judge me by what I’m about to show you.  If you have a weak stomach you may want to hit the back button right now.  Remember, I have no time and I am in a hurry. :)

Since I just finished my new “Naked Woodworker” bench that is built in the style of Nicolson, I put the experience to work for this quick and dirty table.  The leg assemblies are made from 2x4s.  Each leg received a 1/2″ rebate at the top on which to rest the 2×4 rails/aprons which are gusseted on either side.  I thru in some cross bearers, knocked off all of the sharp bits and screwed down some plywood for the top.  Plenty solid.

I’ll break it down somewhat so that I can move it into the house.  Then we’ll throw two or three table cloths over it and we are in business.  Not horrible for a couple of hours work that yielded a 4’x12′ table.  Again, don’t judge me….





Greg Merritt

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NW Workbench-Progress 2-Complete

This was a lucky week and weekend for me.  Waaaay more shop time than normal.  If it wasn’t for that pesky day job there would have been even more.  Of course, management insists that her and the boy need eat every day.  Ingrates!

The bench progressed throughout the week.  The legs were bolted in place and added blocking to the bottom side of the top as per the video.  This blocking adds a little extra thickness for the holdfasts to bite into.  Then the top was flattened.  Then the aprons were planed square to the top.  Since the frame was flattened as I went the planing of the top and aprons was a pretty easy task.  I also whipped up a crochet from a piece of drop and marked out all of the dog/holdfast holes.

A center stick was fashioned, again as per the video, and dropped into place.  Then I spent a good deal of time boring 3/4″ holes.  There are a lot of holes!  Not hard work, just a lot of it.

Since I was following the video, I decided for the total immersion approach and knocked together a couple of the saw benches that are built in the video.



I bought the “Naked Woodworker” video when it first came out.  Mostly for the entertainment value, since I had no intention of building another workbench at the time.  Upon watching the video, I was impressed with the versatility of the design and enjoyed Mr. Siemsen’s teaching style.  I should point out that there are actually two videos in the “Naked Woodworker” package.  The first video takes the viewer to a tool meet and Mr. Siemsen discusses what is needed and what to look for to get started in woodworking.  The tools are purchased and then taken back to the shop.  From there, each tool is put into working order.  In the second video, a saw bench is built.  Starting with the layout of a full-size working drawing all the way through assembly.  Then the building of the workbench is covered.  Money well spent no matter where you are on your woodworking journey, IMHO.

Both projects from the video are readily accessible for the first timer.  I have little doubt that with the two videos someone could go from an empty shop to working wood with no problem whatsoever.  I also believe that there are nuggets of information to be had, no matter your experience level.  Heck you may even wind up with a new bench!

I’ll need to run a few projects across this new bench in order to really get a feel for it.  As of right now though, I’m quite happy with how it turned out and I’m excited to put it to work.

Part 1 Greg Merritt

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Bookcase-Progress 11-the Details

OK, this is my final final post on this bookcase.  There was a comment or two in my last post pointing out and inquiring about my edge treatment to inside corners.  This set me to thinking about what I do and how some of the details get glossed over.  Not because I’m trying to keep them a secret, but they have become so engrained that I do them without much thought.  Anyway, I thought I would go over some of the details that make up this bookcase.  First, I’ll tackle the inside corner treatment.

I never leave a crisp corner on any furniture pieces that I build.  I like to put about a 1/16″(1.5mm) bevel on them.  This is easy on the outside corners.  A few swipes of the plane and I’m done.  Since most of the inside corners can only be done after assembly, the plane is rarely an option.  So for some time now I’ve been creating a bevel on the inside corners with a chisel and mitering all of the junctions.  It’s somewhat of a meditative process for me.  It’s also a great chisel control and grain reading exercise.

Here is an example on the bookcase carcass.


I do the inside of all of the drawers too, but try to keep that bevel to around 1/32″(.5mm).


While I’m on drawers.  I always add a bead to the perimeter of the drawer faces.  I do this along the grain with the age-old trick of a slotted screw in a block of wood.  I use a knife and chisel for the crossgrain portions.  My #4 plane completes the round over on the outside and sandpaper evens it all up.  Then I use a cheap craft store wood burning tool to burn the trough of the bead to create contrast.




The texture detail on the drawer fronts were created with a simple homemade stamp.  A piece of steel filed with a triangular file.  I have one with two “nubs’ and one with six.  Simple to use.  Hit it with a hammer.  The floral pattern was created with the same woodturning tool that I used on the drawer beads and the enclosing circle was scratched in with pair of dividers.




Before I leave the subject of the drawers, I want to point out that I inset these drawers from the face of the carcass about an 1/8″(3mm).  The inset adds another level of dimension.  Especially when paired with the bead on the drawer face.


The cove detail on the clover leaf/four intersecting circle detail and on the foot detail is a first for me.   I simply used a gouge and took my time.  I thought it would much harder than it was., but I think it’s actually easier than trying to do a round-over.


All of the above details are quite easy to create and really do not require any special tools.  In fact, I bet that you have or could make all of them with what you currently have in your own shop.  The only outlier being the wood burning tool.  Basically, if I can do it, I know that you can do it too.

Hope that was of use to some and at least amusing to the rest.

Oh, just so I’m not the only one who will ever see it….here is what the back looks like.  Yes, the spare bedroom/sewing room is painted pink.  This was an edict sent down from management…I do not question the managements decisions. ;)


Greg Merritt



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Bookcase-Progress 10-Complete

After two coats of my “pine” enhancer concoction, two coats of T&T Original and a final coat of paste wax I’m calling the bookcase done.  All-in-all I’m pretty happy with the end result.  My finish experiment went really well and I know that I’ll be using the tinted linseed oil for future projects.

I worked in my standard details while applying the final touches to the build.  I like to add a bead around the perimeter of my drawers.  I think it looks good, plus it adds a bit of durability to the edges.  Any dents and dings that do happen won’t show up nearly as much on a bead as they will on a hard corner.  I also like to set this bead detail off by running a wood burning tool in the trough created by the bead.  This makes for a nice bit of contrast. Essentially, this is just a common man’s method of creating the look of a traditional applied cock bead.

The drawer pulls are again my standard fare.  Hand laid grommets from tarred nylon twine and attached to the drawer with a lanyard knot.  To add a bit of “fancy”, I used a pair of dividers to scratch in a circle centered around the pull.  I then used a simple stamping tool made from a piece of scrap steel to fill the circle with texture.  To make the “floral” detail at the top of the pull, I simply pressed the tip of the wood burning tool flat to the wood.


The photos are little rugged.  With the bench build in full swing I have no room in the shop for taking photos.  So I had to bring this thing into the house for final dog and pony pics.






Part 9 Greg Merritt

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NW Workbench-Progress 1

The “Naked Woodworker” video makes out like the bench build is a one day project.  This may just be for effect or Mr. Siemsen may be able to pull this feat off.  A well organised shop and an experienced builder might just be able to build this bench in a day.  Since I come up a little bit short on both counts, my build will take a little more than a day.  I did give it my best shot though.

Saturday I began by processing the 2x12s into usable parts.  I first cut the 8ft seactions that will make up the aprons and tops.  This left me with 4ft drops from each board.  Then I did something that I haven’t done in a long time.  I fired up my old portable table saw.  I used it to rip the 4ft drop in half to yield eight pieces 5-1/2″ wide and 4ft long.  From these I cut the legs and the rails for the leg assemblies.

In the video it is assumed that you do not have enough clamps for all of the assemblies.  So all glued assemblies are temporarily “clamped” with screws and the screws are removed once the glue dries.  So I followed along and “clamped” everything by screwing them together.

My goal for day one was to have all of the glued assemblies together so that on day two I could remove all of the screws and start assembly.  Day one went as planned and I turned out the light with everything glued and screwed.


Sunday, day two, I started by removing all of the temporary screws and feeling pretty confident that I would have the bench together by the end of the day.  That confidence quickly began to fade though.

The first task today was to build the leg assemblies for each end of the bench.  Nothing complicated a couple of lap and butt joints secured with screws.

Big ol’ lap joint.


Piss poor planning left me to chop one lap joint through a big and tough knot.


She’s on her feet!


Fitting the cross bearers.


In the video, Mr. Siemsen states that he jointed the front edge of the top board and flushes that jointed edge to the apron during assembly.  There is no mention or demonstration as to how you are supposed to joint that edge without a bench.  My solution was to leave horns on the cross rails of the legs and stack the top boards on those.  This allowed me to use the partially assembled bench to joint the top boards.  I’ll trim the horns off flush later.


Well, I gave it my best shot, but I flat ran out of steam and time.  The top has yet to be installed.  The rear top board has a bit of crown in it.  So I clamped it straight and will leave it in the clamps till tomorrow evening.


Greg Merritt Part 2

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Bookcase-Progress 9

The inaugural first coat of Hillbilly Pine Enhancer is on and I think I may have a winner.

OK, let me back up a little and tone down the BS.

I use pine for a lot of my projects.  Damn near all of them actually.  Partly because I’m frugal, partly because its easy to obtain and I simply enjoy working with it.  Pine has a lot of pluses and minuses, but finishing has to be pine’s biggest downside.  I further complicate it by trying to use as non-toxic products.  This last bit is even more important now that my shop space is directly connected to my house. Continue reading

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Another Big Change

What is the first thing any woodworker thinks of when presented with a larger workshop?…..


As soon as I realized that my recent move was going to give me a larger shop area I began dreaming of a bigger bench.  However, being frugal by both nature and circumstance, I was immediately conflicted.

There is nothing wrong with my current bench.  I do wish it was longer, but it works just fine.  Its a 5′ version of Paul Sellers design.  Like I said, it works just fine and has served me quite well.  But I don’t work wood exactly the same way that Mr. Sellers does. I prefer to use Japanese pull saws.  Not a big deal, just a minor adjustment when working at the bench.  I also prefer to plane the faces of boards with the board on the bench.  I can do it on this bench, but the vise gets in my way more often than not.  My biggest gripe with my current bench is the tool well.  I loved it at first, but now I find it more of a nuisance.  It’s always full of junk, tools and shavings.  It also limits the working width of the bench.  The bottom line is that, while the bench works quite well, it doesn’t suit the way that I work.  That  being said, I could still use this bench for the rest of my days and be quite happy with it.

If you’ve been through my blog, you have undoubtedly seen my makeshift assembly/work table.  A couple of trestles with a slab of plywood on top.  It works and can be broke down and moved out of the way if need be.  So I began thinking about adding a permanent assembly table to the new shop.  It just so happens that an assembly table is the current Paul Sellers Masterclasses project.  I did the math and looked at the cost of materials.  Turns out the cost of materials for the assembly table is pretty close to that of a new workbench.  Hmm…..

Sometime ago Lost Art Press released a video titled “The Naked Woodworker“.  In that video Mike Siemsen goes to a tool meet, buys the tools needed to get started woodworking, tunes them up and then builds a saw bench and a Nicholson style workbench.  Well worth a look if you haven’t seen it.


screenshot ©Mike Siemsen 2014 “The Naked Woodworker”

Not too long after the video was released Mr. Siemsen posted a YouTube video on how to work on a bench with no vise.  Also well worth a look.  I was quite intrigued by the bench that was built and have entertained the thought of building one.  Of course, being frugal by nature….

OK, long story long.  I went to Lowes after work on Wednesday.  You know, just to look around.  I ended up walking out with four 12′ 2x12s, some 2x4s, a couple of 1x8s and a couple of boxes of screws.  This weekend I’ll start building an 8′ Nicholson style bench based upon “The Naked Woodworker” video.  I’ll say it again, just so I’ll start to believe it.

Eight foot workbench.


Greg Merritt

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