It’s time to assemble and finish the bootjack. The mortices are tapered very slightly, and the tenons are cut for wedges. I’m using mahogany for these wedges both for its rot resistance, and for a little contrast with the oak. Also, given the environment for use, a waterproof glue or epoxy is required.
Be sure to bevel the ends of the mouth (the teeth maybe?). This not only improves the looks, but also keeps the ends from splintering.
Now, I got everything sanded down before I put this together. It’s easier this way. With a little judicious cleaning, the only thing that should be left to work on when the glue dries is to even off the tenons. Before we put finish on, though, there is one more detail. Since the oak is far harder than a set of boots, it will scuff the heels pretty badly as it is. So, we line the mouth with a strip of leather. I use epoxy to attach it.
Finally, I put on several coats of oil, and we’re done!
What? You want a shot of the backside? Okay.
Sorry, Canadian joke there…
Once the back and leg of our bootjack are joined, we need to do a little refinement. As it was put together, it was nearly a shin-jack instead. So we need to cut the leg down a little to put the mouth at a proper height. This is a cut-and-try, not a precision measurement. Took me three cuts to get it where I wanted.
Then, as you may notice, the jack rests on the back corners of both the leg and back. This is not ideal. Instead, we want them to be in an even, flat plane. So use a straightedge and strike a line across them both, making sure not to make it too drastic of a cut on your just-fitted leg.
Once that is complete (and all this fitting is far easier to accomplish with two separate pieces rather than working on an assembly), then we can go ahead and cut the necessary shape into the back. So we take our pattern and trace around it–
You didn’t make a pattern yet? I’ll wait.
Right. Once we have a pattern (most of it’s pretty arbitrary, the important part being the mouth, which should fit your boots), we can trace around it on to our board, and it’s off to the races. Well, the bandsaw anyway. You can, of course, do this a multitude of ways, but this was the fastest I had available. Cut it all out and clean up the edges and we can finish the assembly tomorrow.
Okay! New project time! YAY!
Too enthusiastic? Yeah, I thought so too.
But it is time for a new project. This one could be fairly simple, all the way to egregiously ornate. Molded plastic to silver inlay. I’m hoping to chart a middle course. The most common term I’ve heard for this is “bootjack”, though I’ve heard a couple of isolated regionalisms from time to time. Essentially, it’s a device to help you get your boots off.
A caveat: this only works with boots that are slip-on. Western boots, wellies, etc. Doesn’t do me a whole lot of good since I have to unlace the ones I wear. But the sister-in-law I was making this for wears
cowboy cowgirl boots a lot, so it was useful for her.
I started with a piece of quartersawn white oak. You need to pay a little attention to the environment here. Not necessarily the whole Gaia idea, but more like the fact that the completed piece is likely to be used with muddy or wet boots, and left in a damp mudroom or on a back porch. White oak is pretty rot resistant, especially with regard to the range of our native species, so it will hold up to those conditions for some time. White pine, not so much.
As is my custom, I start with the most demanding, most likely to be difficult portion first. In this case, it’s joining the leg and the back. As it can be subjected to fairly severe racking forces, I used a housed through-mortice to join the two parts. When everything is ready to assemble, I’ll wedge the tenons to make sure that they don’t come loose in service.