When last we met, I had finished making the handles for the pulpit that my pastor had been asking for. They are made from four pieces of red oak, with oval shaped cut outs in the middle. To remind you, here is a picture showing what we're shooting for when it's all done.
Once I had finished shaping the handles, I clamped one against one of the sloped sides and carefully traced it onto the plywood. I had all of the boxes bolted together, so I would make the cuts in the two sides simultaneously. After tracing the handle block, I carefully measured & cut a straight guide that the shoe of my jig saw could ride against while making the vertical cuts.
I then began to cut out the notch. The cuts I ended up with weren't as clean or straight as I would have gotten had I been able to make these cuts before the boxes were assembled, but they would have to do. I even had to cut some wedges to slip in between the notch & the block on one side. This was the first one I had cut; the second one came out much better.
Here's a picture of the better of the two cuts after it was cut & before the handles were glued in. As you can see in the picture, I did get some tear out. I own a cheap Skill jig saw, and my skill with it isn't terribly great. But that thing does jump around a lot & is hard to control.
After making the cut, I cleaned it up with my belt sander & a file. The sander wouldn't fit in the entire notch -- that is, it could only reach the forward most 3 inches of the bottom. This allowed me to get that area pretty flat, but I needed the file to work on the rear portion. With about 30 minutes or so of work, I was able to get the blocks in to the notches well enough that any final clean up could be done with a ROS or block plane.
Here's a picture of the finished notches with the corresponding handle blocks in place but not yet glued. As you can see in the photo, the notch was cut a little over size. Believe me, though, it was a lot better than the other side.
Because the fit of the blocks wasn't the greatest, I decided to use 5 minute epoxy to glue the handles in the notches. The epoxy would fill any voids & would even glue the end grain to the notches. The result would be a very strong bond that should hold up to even my weight pulling on it.
After gluing in the handle blocks, I proceeded to fill in the remaining spaces with stainable wood filler. I will probably have to give these areas some extra attention to get the color to match, depending on how everything looks after final staining. Here's a picture of the pulpit with both handles in place & wood filler applied.
While this completed all of the retro-fitting work that needed to be done, there is still work to do on these handles. The cap rails that go over these areas will have to be shaped to make the handles easier to grasp. But that will have to wait until after I make the rails some time in the next couple of weeks.
Next time: Mitering the Base Mouldings