Sash making

Quite some time ago, my friend Rick DeWolf posted a window he’d made for his barn. I was astounded, wondering “How did he do that?” So I wrote to him & asked “How did you do that?” and he told me he watched Roy Underhill make one. 

I have several windows that have seen better days, long ago. I wanted to tackle making new ones, but never thought I could do it. I have a vague memory of working on some with Michael Burrey – way back in 1994. My tools, and my skills, were not sharp enough for softwood. I dropped it for decades. It seemed so complicated. Roy offered to show me how, but we never found the time…

But 2020 seems to offer me lots of time with nothing to do. So I decided this is it – time to learn how to make these things. I watched Roy’s episode, read Lost Art Press’ reprint of Doormaking & Windowmaking. I even browsed some on the web – there I found a nice video of Ted Ingraham making sash. I used to run into Ted here & there in the tool/museum world.  

So here goes. Lots of pictures again. I can chop mortises – that’s easy. These are 3/8″ wide – the longest is under 2″. For these, a typical mortise chisel seemed like overkill, so I just used a bench chisel. I have a “sash mortise” chisel that I dislike for my oak joinery. Too light. They’d be great here. I don’t have a 3/8″ one…

One thing that Roy did is to intentionally overcut the front cheek of the tenons. This helps when you cope it to meet the molded edge.

I added one step to Roy’s sequence. I scribed a line on the end grain of that front shoulder, that’s where the coping cuts begins. Or ends, depends on how you look at it. But I keep that narrow shoulder square. Roy didn’t need that step because he used a coping plane, I used a gouge. The block on our left is to keep the stock from blasting apart as I pare across it.

And here is the gouge, starting to cut that coped shoulder. It’s more forgiving than I thought…

After coping the shoulders, I ran the molding & rabbet – but didn’t shoot any photos of it. Here is the plane cutting both edges – in this case, after mortising the stiles.

The plane is by J & L Denison, brothers who worked in Saybrook, Connecticut circa 1830s.

After chopping mortises, cutting tenons, running moldings, it’s time for some test-fitting. Once I had the stiles and horizontal rails tested together, I scribed the length of the vertical muntins. Or are they mullions? Whichever they are, I made them more stout than many – decided I didn’t need the extra challenge of thin muntins on my first go-round.

Knocking it together here & there. Some test-fit, some adjustments. Nothing major.

I checked it. Flat & square & 1/8″ oversized. I got right out of there before I messed anything up.

Here’s the links of stuff I mentioned up above.

https://www.instagram.com/rgd62/?hl=en

https://www.pbs.org/video/woodwrights-shop-double-casement-window/

https://woodandshop.com/the-house-jointer-make-sash-windows/