Gottshall Block 2: Electric Boogaloo

If you follow the Popular Woodworking Editors’ Blog, you might remember Bob Lang writing a series of posts about a hand tool exercise called the Gottshall Block. The block is an exercise in layout and handwork, the idea being to take a rough sawn board and create this object, that has specific dimensions and contains most types of joinery, by hand.

When first reading the series of posts, I thought that this was an interesting project for refining a woodworker’s skills. I consider myself a hybrid woodworker, but right now I definitely lean to the power tool side of center. I’m also a bit of a smartass, so I thought to myself “Why not try to make one of these with just power tools?” Here is the result:

I was true to the “power tool only” constraints I placed on myself for this exercise. Here’s how I cut each part:

  • Front Edge & Bottom Face – Jointer
  • Top Face/Thickness – Planer
  • Back Edge, Rabbet – Table Saw
  • Mortise, Dados, Gain – Hollow Chisel Mortiser
  • Concave Curve – Forstner Bit
  • Convex Curve – Spindle Sander
  • Miter – Miter Saw

I have to thank Matt Gradwohl of UpperCut Woodworks. I don’t own a hollow chisel mortiser and he was kind enough to let me use his when I was visiting Seattle back in late July. We also  jointed and planed the board in his shop.

I have a couple of thoughts on my choices of tools. I cut the rabbet with my normal blade on the table saw, a la Norm Abram, chipping away at the wood. If my shop wasn’t in complete disarray (and I wasn’t butted up against my self imposed deadline of finishing this before Woodworking In America) I would have used my stacked dado set to cut the rabbet.  That would have likely left a smoother cut. The convex curve would have been cut on the bandsaw if it were larger, but the amount of wood that needed to be removed was so small that the sander was enough for the whole cut, not just the finishing.

The one place that I wasn’t able to get great results with just power tools was the inside corners of the gain:

The way I approached this cut was to plunge with the mortiser down into the face of the board at the inner most shoulder of the gain. Then I flipped the board on edge and plunged down the “length” of the gain. This gave me crisp lines on the face of the board, but the inner corners are a mess. I tried to clean some of it up with the smallest router bit I had, but that didn’t go very well. Perhaps if I had the world’s smallest router bit with a bearing, it could have worked. As it is, this is easily the most sloppy part of the block.

I’ll be bringing this with me to Woodworking in America this weekend – hoping to get Bob to sign it for me!  If you want to check it out, find me milling about during the conference and come say hi!

Making the Fixed Break Down

One of the biggest hurdles remaining in building this crib was figuring out how to construct it outside of Briana’s room and then get it into Briana’s room. Constructed as per the directions, the crib is too wide, too long, and too tall to fit through her bedroom door. I could do the final assembly in her bedroom, but then the crib would be stuck there.

My solution? T-bolts!

There was just enough play in the crib’s plan that I was able to add an extra bar of wood between the rails and the cabinet/header of the crib. That will serve as caul, holding the rail assembly to the cabinet.  The first step was to sink the t-bolts into the side of the cabinet:

A shallow hole drilled with a forstner bit (to keep the face flush) followed by a concentric hole drilled to hold the full bolt. After some glue and a couple of small nails, the t-bolt is anchored in the cabinet side:

Next, I drilled another compound hole, to allow the hex screw through the caul while catching the head – creating my locking system. A couple of test fits and all looks good:

So now I have a crib that is sturdy when assmebled, but can be broken down into three parts for moving in and out of a room:

Three big tasks remain for the crib:

1) Trim – there are trim pieces that top the rails and top the base, holding the rail/ and cabinet assmeblies in place.  I’ve begun shaping the pieces to complete this, but there will be a lot of adjusting for a perfect fit – especially for the trim wrapping the base.
2) Finishing – There will be a lot of shellac, followed by sanding, followed by more shellac.
3) Drawers – The base will have two large drawers in the bottom.  They are last on the list, because the baby can sleep in a crib without drawers, and Michelle is eager to get the baby sleeping in the crib ASAP!

The New Addition

The Taylor Garage is happy to announce the newest addition to the tool family, a brand new (to me) Craftsman 15 1/2″ drill press:


I found this drill press for sale on Craigslist up near Olney, MD.  That’s a bit of a haul, especially in the gas guzzling truck I use to haul large tools and wood about town.  But it was sooooo worth it. For only $125 used, I got what would have cost me over $400 new.  Sure it doesn’t have laser sighting or lighting that was made this century, but from my first tests it seems to work just fine.

To put it to the test, I decided to drill some holes in a block of birch I had sitting around.  A recent purchase from Rockler’s clearance section landed me some router bits that needed a home of sorts.  Added bonus: I got to put to use my set of forstner bits:


The drill press performed well and it was nice to put it to immediate use, even if “shop furniture” was the use.  I’m also thrilled that this press will help immensely with drilling holes for the wooden dowel joinery on the crib I’m putting together.


Anyone have any good tips for my newest sawdust maker?