Gamble House Sconce, Half Step Forward…

…and two steps back, dang it.

I did a little work on my new sconce yesterday, but also screwed up a piece and was so frustrated I had to walk away for a while.

My goal was to do the piercing on the upper rails and cut the rebate for the glass on all of the parts.  I didn’t get past the piercing unfortunately.

First, the good news.  I need to cut some small, shallow groves in the lower rails for the front and back.  While I could do that with a tiny router bit, I don’t have one and didn’t want to spend money on something like that if I could avoid it.  I had an idea to use a beading tool to do this, and I have an old Stanley 66 (?) that had a cutter.  I ground the cutter to about .080″ wide and sharpened it.  It worked really well.  Amazingly well.  I also have a really narrow (.080″ wide) chisel I made a while back when I made some plane floats, which was perfect for squaring up the ends of the groove.

Practice cut for the inlay bars

Practice cut for the inlay bars

Now on to the disaster du jour.  I made a template for the piercing on the front and back rails by gluing a full scale print out onto a thin piece of MDF, then cut it out with a coping saw.  I squared up the edges with a chisel, and a small file.  Then I traced this onto the rails, drilled a hole and cut out the slot.  I didn’t take a photo of the results, but it wasn’t acceptable.  The main problem was that I didn’t hold the saw exactly vertically, so the walls are crooked.  I tried to use a thin chisel to pare inside, but ended up splitting  the rail.  Rats.

So, what went wrong?  I probably need to make a few practice cuts to get my technique dialed in.  I also think the coping saw is a failed proposition.  The pins on the ends are really too big to fit through the slot, and the blade deflects too easily.  I have a jeweler’s saw frame that is a bit more stout, I should be able to put a jigsaw blade in that and hopefully make a better cut.  I’d like to buy a Knew Concepts saw for this job, but it’s not in the budget this month.   I need the finished cut to be pretty close to perfect as there just isn’t much room in it to fit a file to do any shaping.  Since I have to re-make this part I’m also going to make all of the rails 1/16″ thinner to get a better shadow line at the joints with the stiles.

Beginnings of a pattern

Beginnings of a pattern

Layout on the upper rail

Layout on the upper rail


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