Wing Chun Dummy – Making the Frame, Part 1


Hallelujah!  My 1″ mortising chisel finally arrived!  Now I can proceed with building the frame.

Wing Chun Frame 1After allowing the boards to acclimate, I glued them up into timbers 4″ wide and 3″ thick.  Two were 7’6″ long for ther verticals, and four were 4′ long. Two of those would be the frame feet, and two would be the angled braces between the feet and the verticals.  The verticals were intentionally left long, to be cut to final length after the joinery was completed.  After smoothing up the glue lines, it was time to get down to business.

The verticals were going into the feet in a “T” arrangement, but where?  The majority of the force applied to the dummy body would be front-to-back, so I liked the idea of having the verticals forward of center for maximum bracing.  On the other hand, the dummy body would be mounted on the forward edge of the vertical post, so I didn’t want things too tippy.  After considerable hemming and hawing, I decided to set the mortises six inches forward of center. If this didn’t work well, I could either reverse the mounts or weight the back.

Mortise Chopping

All the mortises in the frame will be 1″x3 1/2″, with the depths varying.  For the verticals, they were to be 3″ deep.  After laying out the mortises on the feet, I bored three overlapping 1” holes with an auger bit to reduce the work necessary for the mortise chisel.  Some would have used a drill press for this, but I’ve found that boring by hand can be pretty quick, and doesn’t require rigging supports for the overhang off of the drill press table.  Hyper-precision isn’t required, since that’s the job of the mortising chisel.

Once the holes are bored, the mortise chisel removes the rest of the waste down to depth.  I’m partial to English-pattern mortise chisels (pigstickers) for narrower mortises, but I have yet to find one 1” wide.  This was the reason for ordering the Sorby 1” registered mortise chisel from Lee Valley Tools.  While not in the same league with an English-pattern, it should be adequate for the job at hand.  As mentioned above, I DID hedge my bets my boring multiple relief holes instead of my usual one.  This was a good thing, as the thinner registered chisel had a tendency to twist in the cut, rather than tracking straight ahead like an English-pattern.  Also, it was not as aggressive in removing stock as the longer bevel of the English-pattern.

Swan Neck ChiselThese problems aside, I was soon down to depth through a combination of chiseling and prying motions, and then cleaned up the bottom with a swan’s-neck chisel.  Some people decry the swan’s-neck as unnecessary, but I have found them very useful for cleaning up mortise bottoms.  The ones made by Henry Taylor for Lee Valley Tools are also surprisingly affordable.

Tenon CuttingThe tenons followed close behind.  I started with the shoulders, using the technique detailed in my last article.  My Gramercy carcase saw is a bit fine for this size work, but leaves a very clean shoulder  The cheeks follow close behind.  Many people prefer to do joinery of this type on the tablesaw, but I have an aversion to trying to cut a tenon on the end of a 7’ length of 4”x3” stock in that way.  Besides, my Bade Axe 18” Beast tenon saw makes short work of the cheeks, and, in all seriousness, actually makes them pleasant. I almost hear James Earl Jones’ Thulsa Doom character from Conan the Barbarian saying, “and THAT is power, boy!”  The tenons were finally cut to length to match the mortises, and trimmed to fit.  Thanks to the Bad Axe’s cheek cuts, this required only a couple of licks with the shoulder plane for a good fit.

Now, it was time to cut the angled braces.  I’ll save that for next time, since that’s where the fun began.  Stay tuned!

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2 responses to “Wing Chun Dummy – Making the Frame, Part 1

  1. Do you have any technical drawings or blueprints that you would be willing to share with those of us working on our own?

    • Sorry, Gabriel. There were no drawings involved. What you read is the process that I used to design the frame on the fly. I’m afraid that, for this project, I had no drawings at all, not even a rough sketch. I had an idea of the rough dimensions that I wanted, and a basic knowledge of timber-frame construction. The rest was all done as I progressed.

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