Bison Rump Roast – Sous Vide


3 lb bison rump roast split lengthwise

1 bulb garlic roasted at 375 for 20 min with tops cut off and some olive oil.  The goal is to bake them without much browning. Then squeeze out the cloves and mince them.   Note that raw garlic does NOT work well for sous vide as all of the wrong flavors come out. Roasting changes the flavor.  It should have a “sweet” garlic aroma, not sharp and pungent like raw garlic.

Spice blend

1 tsp sea salt

1.5 tps fresh ground green peppercorns

1.5 tsp dried thyme (or a bunch of fresh but now my thyme is buried in snow)

1.5 tsp dried shallots

Grind the spice blend finely in a mortar and pestle

Prep & sous vide

Smear the garlic and sprinkle the spice blend on the roast pieces. Place in vacuum bag – flattened out.

Place the bag in the water bath at 130F for 22 hours (basically you are making this the night before serving). This will give a rare to medium rare center.


Over hot coals brown on each side for 60-90 seconds. The meat is extremely lean and browns (or burns) quickly.  I overshot the perfect medium rare somewhat and ended up with medium. So much for grilling when it is minus 3F .  I was not as attentive to the grill as usual.

Slice and serve

Yum. Leftovers also make great Philly Cheese Steak style sandwiches. Teal especially likes hers “wit”  (with Velveeta).

Making the Dresser Tops

This time I am using White Oak veneered MDF that is 3/4″ thick. I ran a cross a deal on some sheets that were edge damaged at Alpine Plywood when I was picking up the plywood for this project. The wood figure is beautiful.  Something to remember is going to a commercial plywood vendor will get you stock that is an order of magnitude better than at the home improvement store.  At Alpine they bring the skids of stock to your truck on a forklift and help load it in. The only seeming downside is not being able to sort and pick your sheets, but overall, again compared to the big box stuff they are beautiful with thicker surface veneers, thinner core veneers (more plies) and fewer voids and without the typical “potato chip” shape seen at Home Depot in the winter.

The MDF sheets are very heavy – about 95lbs. So this required help to maneuver them onto the table saw.  Since I needed glue ready edges, the first piece was ripped about 3/4″ wider than required. Then I flipped it around and  moved the fence and take a second pass at the final width and remove the edge dings. I use this technique a lot with sheet goods as it is very hard to get a perfectly straight cut on the first pass out of a full sheet, especially with something as heavy as this and the edges are always somewhat damaged in handling.

The MDF edges need to be banded. I am using 1/4″ thick oak on the long edges. The long edges are simply glued on and clamped with cauls to hold them flat.  At times folks will wonder about the pile of narrow sticks (1-2″ wide I have by the jointer. They are used for edge banding and later for supports while spraying the finish.  David and I got all 3 of the tops glued up with the long edge bands on in the morning. However, I nearly exhausted my clamp supply in the process.

The edge banding was quickly trimmed flush with a 1/2″ laminate trim bit in my trim router. The keys to doing this well are:

  • Light weight router – I favor my old Porter Cable.  Larger routers have a tendency to tip and gouge the edge banding
  • 1/2″ flush laminate trim bit  with the bearing set to run about 1/8″ inside of the edge of the edge banding. Laminate bits typically seem to have have a very slightly oversize bearing to leave a little of the edge for clean-up by hand vs a template bit which is more often exactly flush.
  • Moving in sections about 2 ‘ long. Don’t try to do the whole 5’ length in one pass  – you are asking for divots. As you restart the pass, alwasy keep the router moving forward to avoid burning
  • Make sure the cord is clear of any obstructions. A cord catch almost always causes a downward tip and divot the edge banding. I drop the cord  down from the ceiling when doing this.

Then finish up by scraping the edge flush with a card scraper. Take off any glue along the joint as well. Doing this 2-3 hours after initial glue up is usually best. The glue is firm, but not yet rock hard.

Adding a slight angle in the direction of travel over the veneer towards the edge banding seems to minimize tear out.  Plus angling the scraper helps you scrape off any bumps in the banding due to glue blobs deflecting the router bit. Anything from 15-60 degrees can work.

For the “breadboard ends”,  2 1/4″ oak  pieces are glued on on using 3 biscuits per end. The biscuits help with alignment as the ends are only .005-.010″ thicker than the panel as well as adding some strength in case someone attempts to pick up the dresser by the top when moving it.  Pipe clamps are needed due to the length and as you can see I even had to extend them. I keep a variety of pipes and couplings on hand in the range of 3, 4, and 5′ long. This provides a lot of flexibility on larger glue ups.

Yes, there are burn marks on the edge banding where I changed grip on the piece as I ripped it (and it liked to cup as tension was released), these will come out in the finishing passes. Plus the front black pipe is actually kinked – not a figment of your imagination.

The ends are cut only about 1/8″ longer than the top is wide. What is the left end / rear edge as viewed on the bench has the end set inwards just slightly. This will allow for the first of the clean up passes on the table saw without catching on the fence.

Note the anvil on the floor below the bench. It is a good surface to pound out the biscuits. Old biscuits will swell due to humidity and this will hinder assembly.  A few taps with a hammer thins them back out, making the assembly easy again.

The top of the ends is nearly flush and just needs some scraping. Note how the scraper is angled and I also angle the stroke of the cut towards the end.  I often switch as needed between a push stroke or pull stroke (as shown here) with the scraper.  The bottom side of the end board still needs some planing as the end boards were slightly thicker than the rest of the panel. The reason for difference top vs bottom is using the biscuits. They are referenced to the top surface  when cutting the slots.

After scraping. Can you see the joint on the banding or end???

The bottom needs to be planed to thickness and then scraped. I made the ends about 0.010-0.20″ thicker than the panel.  Be careful to keep the plane blade only on the end. You don’t want to cut into the veneer , even though I am taking very fine shavings at this point.

Final scraping on the ends. At this point, angling the scraper is mandatory. If you simply scrape across the ends, you will end up with ugly tear out which will show up when you stain. Angle the scraper and direction of your cut into the end piece. These are much less prone to tear out than the veneer of the plywood. However adjust based on the wood you have and how it is behaving.

A side note on the trim routers. Several years ago I was teaching a class on inlay work and a laminate trimmer was one of the tools needed. There was a wide variety. However as we ran them we saw the old Porter cables (metal body) & Bosch Colts ran coolest. The Dewalts got quite hot as did the newer Porter cables (plastic body) .


Fixing some defects

Defects happen

With any project there will be defects to fix, for a variety of reasons. With the batch of drawers assembled there were a few that had some gaps in the dovetails. It appears that these were mostly due to cupping of the face boards due to the rapid humidity change. Here in Wisconsin, we were getting our first cold weather over the last month and this meant a drastic drop in humidity.  Some of the drawer fronts cupped unnoticed prior to cutting the dovetails. This lead to some gaps to fill .

When I was young, and learning woodworking from my father,  he would say “A craftsman knows how to cover his tracks.”  Often for small dings and gaps he would use elmers glue and sawdust. However these fixes had to wait a day to proceed with further work and often had nasty splotching when finish was applied.  Now we have better choices of adhesives but wood as the primary filler, whether as a powder, thin strips or veneer is still the primary component.

When fixing small defects like these, as well as corner chips, I typically use thin cyanoacrylate adhesive (super glue or CA).  The bottle of glue and squirt  bottle of accelerator are always at hand when sanding, planing and scraping the parts near the end of a project.

Filler materials

In filling the gaps, it is handy to have wood flour also known as sanding dust on hand. I have multiple colors of wood flour that I have collected over the years, notably: White ash, white oak, okoume, mahogany, cherry, walnut.   Each is a match to woods I have used. Here are a few of the choices on hand. The finest are from sanding, coarser are from the band saw.   To collect a given color based on your current project, clean the air filter of the shop vac well  and then attach the vac to your sander. With a random orbit sander you will have enough for many projects after wearing out a few disks sanding. Now you just tap the sawdust off the filter  onto a piece of cardboard or into your container.

Adjusting the color

When using wood flour, the material will often be a bit darker than the background wood. This is most noticeable with epoxies which also will add their own amber or reddish tint. To lighten the color, use some high density silica powder such as West Systems 404.  I often will use 1/3 as much as the wood flour to get a decent match.  If you only need a bit of lightening colloidal silica such as West Systems 406 will work. The wood flour and high density silica was used on almost all of the fillets on the inside of the boat: . White coloring in the epoxy was used for the contrasting deck stripes:

When you need something a bit darker than the wood flour on hand, powdered “earth pigments” provide the easiest answer. I have a set of powdered pigments that I got from Lee Valley a number of years ago but these no longer seem to be available.  The powdered pigments work well whether using super glue or epoxy.   I have heard of others using powdered tempera or milk paints as colorants but have not tried them myself.  When using epoxy, then you have added options of: Universal Tinting Colors (UTCs) such as Tints-all, Mixol or Transtint dyes.   Unfortunately the Tints-all tubes crumble / fracture after a few years.

Small and tiny gaps

For tiny gaps you have 2 primary choices. Ignore them and then fill after finishing with colored wax or use the sanding dust and CA method. For the sanding dust and CA, apply a small amount of CA into the gaps and then start sanding with your random orbit sander. The sanding dust will naturally fill in the gap and the glue will harden in the power. You may have to do this a few times. If you are overzealous in your glue application you will ruing the sanding paper in short order.  If there are mixed or contrasting woods, I will often sand from the lighter wood towards the darker.

Above is an example of some tear out that would qualify as a small gap. Certainly too small to insert a piece of wood as filler.

The wood flour has been applied. Ready for the CA.

Now the CA glue has been applied. I have tried to keep the overflow on the side plywood rather than the face endgrain as much as possible.

At first, the CA and wood dust mixture will seem dark. However, it is approximately the same color the surrounding wood will darken to once coated with a clear finish.


Medium gaps

Medium gaps (1/16″ to 1/8″) can be filled with solid wood, wood flour and glue or epoxy. It varies with the background and your schedule. Here are a couple of examples.

Sawing a solid wood filler. Wedge shaped pieces offer a better opportuity for a tight fit than straight. I like cutting shallow crescents out of matching stock as this gives a nice taper and 2 filler pieces from each cut. Remember you must visualize this from the standpoint of the end grain of the piece rather than the face. 

The  cut does not need to be very shallow. I am using a 1/4″ 3 TPI blade in this photo. Yes, the blade guard is way too high but it makes for a better photo.


Here is the piece inserted into the gap in the drawer and the glue applied on the plywood side. Adding the glue on the face side makes for too much CA in the end grain and potential splotches when finishing.

Cutting it off with a zero tooth set Japanese saw. These are GREAT for cutting off not only filler pieces but also bungs for screws and many other uses.  No scratching of the surface.

The completed repair.   Nearly invisible. If I had dug a bit deeper in the scrap bin I could have yet a better match.   (yes I have a split to fix to the right of it.)

Large gaps, knots and splits

This is really a category of its own, but with tinted and filled epoxy you can have spectacular results.

This really falls into more categories. Those that are irregular and need a liquid filler or those that are small and straight and can be patched with a matching piece of wood.  I will focus on epoxy filling.  The epoxy is mixed and tinted to match the gaps appropriately. Blue masking tape works well for dams to prevent the epoxy from running out. Careful application of heat with a propane torch brings the bubbles to the surface . However practice first on scrap!

Yes it is a big project when you have to crawl on it to sand it.

And who says finishing is not fun?

Here is the rustic ash table top (7 feet long) that had knots and cracks filled with tinted epoxy.  It nearly filled my shop as you can see tools nearby on both sides. Great fun!


Trimming and fitting drawers

Design and construction elements

This design uses “flush” drawers that fit closely into the frame. Final fitting is fussier than if you are using overlay fronts. The drawers need to fit allowing for wood expansion in the summer, yet have an even appearing gap around the front edge with respect to the frame.

There are several keys to making this work:

  • Having raised runners inside of the dresser. The runners tops are about 3/32″ above the bottom of the opening. With flat drawer bottom edges this distance will set the gap below the bottom of the drawer.

  • The sides and back are cut 1/16-1/8″ shorter than the drawer fronts. This means that when doing the final trimming you only have to plane the drawer front rather than all 4 edges. This also leaves a little extra gap on the sides to eliminate binding in the summer.

  • Drawers were calculated to be a 3/16″ narrower than the opening width including plus the over cut for the dovetails on the fronts. This means that when the faces have the dovetails trimmed flush they are nearly at the correct width.
  • The drawers and dresser frame must all be square. Any out of square makes for large gaps around the drawers or drawer fronts that won’t sit flush in the frame.
  • Making sure the seasonal wood expansion does not eat up all of the vertical gap and make the drawers stick. Using quarter or rift sawn wood minimizes but does not eliminate this problem.
    Fitting and trimming

For the final fit up, slide all of the drawers into place. With this technique, every drawer will have a distinct location unless your joinery has been absolutely flawless up to this point.  In addition, with this design the grain of the drawers flows across the front from drawer to drawer. This is your last chance to check that you have the placement correct. Some will not close and others will have uneven gaps.    On the back or bottom mark them as to their location (and in this case which dresser they are for as I am making 3).

Now you can trim the sides to make each drawer slide in smoothly with a good 1/8″ gap between the top of the drawer and the runner above. Next the drawer front is trimmed for height.  Push the drawer in too far and scribe with a pencil against the rail above the drawer aiming for an even gap of about 1/8″.  Now trim with the table saw (if the cut is straight) or hand plane to adjust for a slight angle or bow of the rail.  If you have a slightly bowed rail this will require trimming of the drawers above and below the bow. After a few trimming passes  the gaps top and bottom should be equal.

Now check that the drawer can be set in flush with the rails. The final stops will be set in place after finishing. At this point you simply want to see if the drawer face can be perfectly flush with the front. If not, then the drawer or frame is out of square. To address the problem. the back edge of the drawer sides must be beveled to allow for clearance around the rear frame and angling of the drawer so that the front can be flush. Alternatively the drawer front can be planed to adjust the fit. However, if done on the inner ends of the face, this will cause the grain flow across the front to not match as well.

Next is final adjustment of the side gaps. With plywood sides, this is not easily done in an invisible manner. If the side is a bit off, then there will be the layers of the plywood and the glue lines showing through. I prefer to avoid this. Scribe the sides as you did for the top, now take a sharp hand plane and bevel the side back from the line to the start of the dovetail.  This will leave an even gap as seen from the front.

Here is one of the dressers with all of the drawers fitted and ready for final sanding and scraping of the drawers and frame.

The sides and edges will be sanded and the corners broken slightly. The fronts are scraped to make the quarter sawn wood flakes really pop when the finish is applied.

Dresser drawers part 2

Lessons learned

With the first batch of the top drawers out of the way, it was now time to start on the rest of them.  These are bigger, and I had learned a few lessons from the first set of top drawers:

Consistency and repeatability are paramount.  This lead to fixture board end stop additions and minor redesign to remove most human error.    I had some sides on the first batch which did not line up perfectly and I was lucky to be able to fix the fit by sanding the backs of the drawer fronts.

After the first roughing pass, the new stop fingers had been “modified” due to the low Z axis clearance between cuts. 

Drawer and side thickness MUST be consistent.  This time all of the boards were drum sanded to the same thickness. It is surprising how much variation even a large well tuned planer has (mine is a 20″ Jet).  This made a big difference in the fit for the 18 drawers vs the earlier batch of 9. Planing single handedly does not help.

Scoring the faces of the sides to prevent tear-out is a must. The roughing cut sequencing of Joint Cam causes a lot of tear out. It would be better if the roughing cut was the same sequence as the finish / dovetail pass. However , scoring the face heavily with a marking gauge, largely mitigates the problem .

Fixture additions must account for bit profile differences between the roughing and finish passes. It would pay to run the finish pass air cutting to make sure the fixture fingers are not in the way or you could end up with a snapped bit or missed steps. I  had to trim back the corners by hand to allow room for the dovetail shaft.

The new LED light ring around the front of the motor nicely illuminates the work .

This shows the touch plate I use for setting the Z axis zero. There is something funky with the Mach4 CNC controller touch functions. I now repeat each zero touch to verify the value does not change. 

Now for cutting the dadoes and assembling the 18 drawers.