Monday, August 23, 2010


Heavens, but I hate preparation. Scraping and sanding the panels was excessively tedious - and it may be that I wasn't quite as diligent with it as I usually am. I started out with the best of intentions, but that mix of *cough* "mahoganies" is a bugger to scrape. Or rather some of it will, but other bits simply won't. And suddenly it dawned on my the things are riddled with old screw and nail holes anyway, so I laid down my tools at "good enough". It pained me, it really did, but I will get this project finished this year come hell, high water and a little bit of tear out.

While a coat or two of shellac was doing its thing, my mind turned to planning ahead to putting the things together. In the continued spirit of using this project to do things maybe I haven't done before, I bethought me to try this drawboring lark that The Schwarz is so keen on. I applied myself to the article on same in Woodworking Magazine from Autumn 2005 (Really five years ago? How can it be?!) and cast my eye over the relevant bit of the Forgotten Hand Tools DVD.

Then watched all the rest of the DVD, just because.

Primed and ready - and once again wondering about asking the Glasgow Nail Co. for a quote on some cut nails - I fished an ideal piece of straight-grained oak out of the scraps box to make some pegs. It's very dry, must have been in there at least as long as that WM article is old, and probably survived at least three scrap throwing-out sessions. It was meant to be.

Lopped off some suitable lengths with the 13.5 ppi back saw that came with the wrong but wonderfully comfortable handle that I tried to replicate and failed. As saws go, it's a total dog. Cuts beautifully. Then used the wide Chinese chisel I have handy in the rack to split off the embryonic pegs. Yes, they look weird as all hell, but actually it's a pretty nifty chisel.

Point one end with a knife, then to the LN dowel plate (You can hear the teeth of the anti-posh-tool folks grinding from here). I've had it for years, it's proved useful, I'm glad I have it. Anyway, I started with the 5/16in hole first, then to the final 1/4in size. Worked a treat.

Of course I really also need a draw bore pin too, if I'm to do the job properly. Luckily no pound notes need be harmed in fulfilling that need, as I managed to actually find the coachbuilder's draw bore pins from the set of tools I picked up a couple of years ago. And yes, I'm absolutely sure that's what they are now; the taper seems to correspond with Joel Moskowitz's description here. There's a pair in one size and a single one that's slightly smaller. I opted to clean that one up for the job.

The (obviously user-made) handles on the other two were a little loose, and I was able to shift the pin a little and found a clear maker's name - W Baker, London. A scan of my usual sources found nada, zip, zilch, nowt. Nothing daunted, I bethought me of the trade directories that are online. A few happy hours spent perusing same and in the 1884 Business Directory of London found a William Baker of 96 Pembroke Street off Caledonian Road listed as a tool dealer. And a needle maker. And as an awl maker. I believe that's our boy. Happily the dates ties in with many of the other tools too. Huzzah.

Now to see if it'll do the job, and whether T-handles don't make rather more sense for the task - which, in theory, I'd have thought they must do.


  1. I'm really sold on this drawboring lark, Alf. A couple of months ago I helped a friend put up a conservatory for my Mother-in-Law. The friend is from what was the old East Germany. He made the conservatory and brought it over in his very large van and we put it together. It's constructed with M&Ts locked together with wooden pegs, just like they used to do in the old days. Very impressive.

    An ideal method for what you are doing, I would think.

    Cheers ;-)

    Paul Chapman

  2. Well, Alf, welcome to the joys of draw-bore pegs.

    I’ve just completed the top of a table, 36” x 78”, consisting of two long stiles, bread-board ends and a centre rail held together with Drawbore pins in each corner. The top is 29 mm thick. The insides of each of the rails and stiles are grooved to take the centre boards which are tongued, so that the whole thing is fitted loose.

    Advantage No: 1 - NO messy glue!

    Being almost 7 feet in length, including the ends, I don’t have clamps that long… and a tourniquet of ropes will pull it unevenly, I know.
    Draw bore pins can pull evenly and provided that the mortises and tennons are straight and in line, will pull it all in a straight plane, ensuring a flat top.

    Advantage No: 2 - No Glue - You can knock the dowels out if you need to and make any repairs in future.

    A tip with home-bashed dowels that works for me: I find that a gentle steaming with an iron and a damp cloth just after trimming with your saw restores a tight fit in the hole.

    All best,



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