To begin with a very simple but a useful article - a hat-rail. Take a length of wood about ¾ inch thick, and saw off about 4 feet of it. To do this, mark off the distance by taking a rule - a two-foot rule you will most likely have by you; measure it off from one end, and run a pencil-line along the line through which you wish to saw it. For this purpose you use what is called a hand-saw, as shown in Fig. 1. Place the wood on the stool, hold it firmly down with the left knee; then take the saw, drawing it along the pencil line in which you intend to cut it, using but little pressure. Do this two or three times, so as to make a shallow groove, to act as a sort of guide to your saw in cutting. Hold the saw firmly in the hand, and do not let it "buckle"; if it does this the blade will be spoilt. To avoid buckling keep the thrust forward very steady, pushing the saw downward by gentle pressure; in drawing it back for the next cut use no pressure. Having cut off a length, the next thing is to get it a proper width. For this purpose, if it is much too wide, you had better rip it down with a saw. If you only have a narrow piece to take off, it can be clone with a paring chisel, such as is shown in Fig. 2. Such chisels as these are made from 6 to 10 inches long, and from 1/8 of an inch to 2 inches wide. As you will not be able to get an assortment at the first, one about ¾ of an inch wide will perhaps be the most serviceable. To work with the chisel, keep the flat face upward, steady the wood to be cut with the left hand, pushing the end firmly against a ledge which must be nailed to the surface of your bench. If you are using a table for that purpose, a piece of wood about ½ an inch in thickness nailed flat down to the edge of your table will answer this purpose.
Fig. 1. - Hand-saw.
Fig. 2. - Paring-chisel.
Grasp the handle of the clusel with your right hand; with your left steady it and push it forward, keeping, as we mentioned, the flat side of the chisel upwards. Having now got your piece of wood cut to the proper length and breadth, the next thing is to see that the edges are square with the sides; that is, that they are at right angles to each other. This is done by taking a carpenter's square, as shown in Fig. 3. It consists of a thin blade of wood or metal fixed at right angles into a piece of wood from half to three-quarters of an inch thick. By the square all your work must be tested. When the thicker part of the square is held close to the edge, and run along the same, the small blade points out all along it a direction at right angles to that edge.
Fig. 3. - Carpenter's Square.
In all your work the square is a guide that you must never neglect. Before going on any farther, test the ends; see that they are "square." A smaller square is also used for testing the edges of work smoothed by the trying-plane. Now the next process is to smooth the front and edges of the rail. For this purpose you must have a plane. All boys like planing - they like to see the thin sha\ings turned off, curling up and collecting at their feet - but it is not so easy to get a smooth surface as you may imagine. It requires some patience and work to bring up a nice smooth surface. We have therefore introduced you to an easy piece of work to commence with. If you are using wood that has been made up before, as in the boxes we mentioned, see that there are no nails, pebbles, or lumps of grit in your wood, for anything of this kind will spoil the blade of your plane at once. If you buy new wood, you can sometimes have it already planed, but then you deprive yourself of the opportunity of acquiriug skill, which is very important if you want to get a practical knowledge of carpentry work.
Now for a word or two about planes. If you go into a carpenter's shop, you see planes of different sizes and shapes, so that you may wonder which of them would best suit you. For your long rail you will find a jack-plane, as shown in Fig. 4, the best for producing level surfaces of all kinds. In this the "stock," which is the name given to the wood block into which the plane-iron is fixed, is about 16 inches long. In the cross slit through the "side" of the stock, the plane-iron is held. This iron you will see consists of two parts; look well at them that you may know how to fix them together again if you require to separate them at any time for sharpening. You will see that they are held firmly in their place by a wedge of wood driven in at the top. Now, before using, turn up the plane, bring it on a level with the eye, and note how far the blade protrudes through the stock; for if it goes too far through, the shaving will be thick and the wood torn; if too little, no work will be done. To throw the blade backward give the forepart of the stock a smart blow with the hammer; if too little, a similar blow at the top of the iron will bring the blade back. After either operation, tighten the wedge so that the blade is held firmly. A little experience will soon enable you to get over this difficulty. The smoothing plane is not more than 8 inches long, and has no handle, as may be seen on reference to Fig. 5. This is more adapted for planing large surfaces than a length of wood such as we now have under consideration. The tool called the "trying-plane" is longer even than the jack-plane, and should only be used in the direction of its length, and not obliquely. It is used for smoothing large surfaces and getting long straight edges; it is, however, too heavy for you to manage.
Fig. 4. - Jack-plane.
Now, to start upon the work of smoothing the surface and edges of the rail you have cut, place one end firmly against the ledge in the bench; then take the plane, and stand close to the bench with your left foot forward; take the handle of the plane in your right hand, holding firmly the front of the tool with your left. Then put the plane flat on the wood; then slide it backwards till the blade comes to the edge of the wood. Hold the front of the tool tightly down, then push it forward steadily; then you will find the iron "bite," and a shaving will come curling upwards through the slit in the plane. A few steady strokes such as this will no doubt give a fairly smooth surface. Then the wood must be turned so that the edges can be served in the same manner, so that all traces of the saw-cuts are removed. Having planed up your rail, test it again with the square and look along the edges to see if they are straight, and having satisfied yourself that you have done a good piece of work, you may like to stain it in imitation of a harder wood. To do this for a dark wood, mix a little raw umber and linseed-oil; stir thorn up well together till you get it to the consistency of thin paint; then put it on with a painter's brush, or rub it in with a piece of coarse flannel, putting as little of the colouring in as possible. You can rub it till it is nearly dry; the wood by that means will take the stain well. For a lighter wood like mahogany you can add some red ochre to the umber. These substances are all obtained at the oil-man's for a few pence, and are useful in giving a better appearance to many articles of home-make.
Fig. 5. - Smoothing-plane.
Fig. 6. - Marking Gauge.
When the rail is quite dry you will want the pegs to mount on the rail. The double black peg is (he cheapest, and we will assume that you choose half a dozen of these. They must be screwed on so that they are upright, and at even distances from each other. Here is a matter of measurement. Measure first of all 6 inches from each end; put your square so that the thick part slides on the edge of the rail, and the blade through the points at the distances so found. Mark with a pencil, lines running through these points, then divide the distance between these into five equal portions; draw cross lines at these points. The pegs must also be fixed at the same height from the lower edge of the rail; the measurement must therefore be made from the edge, and the mark for each must be made across the lines crossing the rail. There is a tool called a marking-gauge, that is useful for all such purposes as these. This is shown in Fig. 6. The block has an arm consisting of a thin piece of wood which can slide backwards and forwards through it, and at one end a pin which acts as a scratcher, and in the block is a thumb-screw by which this arm can be held at any point. Having determined this point and fixed the scratcher, pass the block of the gauge along the edge of the rail, and scratch the same distance across any of the pencil-lines previously drawn. The use of this gauge will increase in favour the more it is used, for it saves a great deal of separate measuring for short distances.
Having determined on the exact position for each of the pegs, the next thing is to prepare to fix them. See that all your screws fit, and that when they are in their places they run "flush" with the screw-plate at the back of the peg. Place the rail flat on the bench; hold the peg in its proper place; take a brad-awl of the right size for the screw - rather smaller than bigger - or the screw will fit loosely; then carefully bore the hole, which shall be in the line marked on the board. The second must be in the same line immediately under it. Then screw both in tightly. Do the same with the second, and so on till they are all fixed. They should be upright and firm on the rail, at an equal distance from each other, and the whole will be a useful article in bed-room, hall, or passage, where clothes or hats are to be hung up. If finished in the careful and exact manner wo have pointed out step by step, our young workman will have something to point to as good work, and will have acquired skill and method in his work that will help him on in making more difficult things, where several other tools must be employed.