The last worrisome part of the bonnet is the fretwork at the top.  Early on I got it in my head that I wanted to make that as a sort of plywood.  Lots of the period pieces have broken fretwork that must be repaired.  Since plywood as a concept has been around for centuries I decided I wasn’t completely off base to make this piece out of pieces of thick veneer glued up in opposing grain directions, similar to modern plywood (without the machines and high pressure glues). DSC_1676 Above is the glue up of one half the fretwork between some plywood cauls.  The core is 1/16″ mahogany veneer. Next I used the woodturners trick of gluing the two halves together with a piece of brown paper between them.  The idea is that you can cut the pieces together so they match and then separate them easily with a chisel along the glueline where the paper was placed.  That part of the plan went well. I also decided I was going to use a turning or small bow saw to cut the pattern.  Tools for Working Wood ( sells both a complete saw and the kit with hardware to make your own.  Since I’m a cheapskate I figured I would make my own which wasn’t that hard really.  Saved me a $100 if I don’t consider that my labor is worth something.

DSC_1684Small Scroll Saw in beech and cherry, wax finish.

Then I realized that it wasn’t the right tool for the job.  I later realized the glue holding together the two halves was fouling the blade a bit. At first I became concerned that even with the finest blade in the bow saw I was going to wreck the fretwork.  I tried a fretsaw – makes sense right? – and that just didn’t have enough set and also fouled.  Not much luck with a standard coping saw either.  So I decided to try Grandpa’s old Craftsman electric scroll saw.  I dusted it off and it worked like a champ.  I didn’t even have to do a lot of cleanup.


This is right before I cut the bottom arch.  Sorry no pictures of the cutting of the fretwork but not much to show anyway.  It was quick.  The longest time was to clean up after I scraped and soaked off the paper (pattern and separator) and had hide glue residue to remove. The fretwork is cut to fit the top arch and then simple tenons in mortises in the plinth blocks. Some glue blocks on the back keep it in place.

DSC_1691So now it seems like a good time for a status shot.  I’m just about ready to turn over the face to my painter too which is exciting.

As I write this I’m in a bit of a panic though.  I was modifying the lock slightly to fit and I went too far with the grinder and I have to order another lockset.  Then I tried to fit the hinges which are really quite different from normal hinges – more similar to a knife hinge (I got mine from Ball & Ball  That’s when I realized I had a disaster.  The top moulding doesn’t extend far enough for the hinge point – by a lot.  I’m fine at the bottom of the door but the top isn’t even close.  I went back and looked at photos and sketches and I think I can make a new hing from some sheet brass with any luck.  Geometry will be involved.  Or I have to start over. So that’s the real meaning behind “fretting”

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One Response to Fretting

  1. Maryanne Zeleznik says:

    I have no fear you’ll work out the hinge! It’s lookign beautiful so far!

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