Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Desk Update

Things are moving along on the desk. Below shows the lift in place. Now I need the hinges and box lid lift to come in from Lee Valley that I ordered a few days ago. Meanwhile I was trying to finish up the drawers and add fronts - they were getting "fidgety". Overall should be done soon - I learned quite a bit so far on this design and will refine almost all the elements on the next one.

Creating a Lift

I had been wondering how I was going to make the finger hold for the middle drawer. I thought perhaps I would cut it at the table saw using the dado blade (too complicated a setup), or with a router bit (not deep enough of a cut). So I thought - why not just do it with hand tools? I was glad I did.

First I gathered the necessary tools (OK, this was after I had made a test run).

Next I marked out the depth.

Then I cut it with my cross cut saw. Incidently, this was the first time using the $5 Diston saw - it has a nice cross cut fleam. I also tried out the dozuki, but being a rip profile it didn't cut as well. (Really makes me rethink my next Lie-Nielsen purchase - maybe I don't need that cross cut saw after all!)

Next it's hogging out the waste with an aggressive setting on the shoulder plane. Followed up by lighter passes with the chisel. Finally using a card scraper to make it less 'rough'.

The practice piece shows the difference between one cut with a router and via hand. I like the hand one a lot better, and plus it was a LOT quieter!

No Headboarding!

Last weekend I helped a friend make a headboard. The design and materials were inspired by the crafty folks at Design Sponge. There didn't turn out to be a whole lot of woodworking involved, per se, although we did originally try out legs attached with pocket screws, but buying BORG fir plywood doesn't lend itself too well to such joinery when the inside plies are essentially void space and whatever crap China throws in there to substitute for actual wood layers. Oh well. We were also constrained by height, as it couldn't be greater than 24" height.

It was a chance to work with fabric and foam, which was a first - it worked out well and the 'customer' was happy, at least to what they told me. I very much liked the fabric and pattern, although it was a crime to cut into it with scissors!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Desk Progress

Work progressed well on the desk yesterday and today. Within a day I was able to cut the top (out of some 1/2" poplar ply), and the 2 drawers. I made the drawer material out of some old plank 'white wood' and I don't think I'll ever use it again. I'm not sure if it's southern yellow pine, or some other species of evergreen, but it's seemingly 40% wood, 10% moisture, and 50% resin. It's just nasty and tough on the tools - not like a hard wood, but in terms of coating everything it touches. It makes me very much appreciate the local maple I have.

Today I was getting bogged down for a while in creating drawer runners on the drawer sides - this was done at the router table but it will be done with the hand router and an edge guide.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The only thing I did right today...

...Was to use this hand clamp to hold up the body while I screwed in the back. It might even be square.

Other than that, the base is coming together. Instead of doing a top like the final ones, I'm thinking of just putting some 1/2" poplar plywood on it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Next Project - Desk

I've had a few folks ask me what I'm working on, and I say that I'm working on a desk. It's true. I'm doing things a bit differently this time. For one, I'm actually making a 'practice' unit, because there were some things to do here that I haven't done before, and I didn't want to screw it up with nice wood. Another thing that I'm doing differently is to use the design of a piece that I saw online. I thought about posting the original, but I didn't want to draw attention to this in case there was some little known law about copying others work that I wasn't adhering to. (It won't hurt if it winds up looking nothing like the original either.)

With that, I've made templates for the sides and rear legs. One of the new aspects her is the fact that the legs connect with the body at an angle, which becomes 'tricky' if you've never attempted this before. Thus, the templates should in theory make sure that I get a good match with both pieces. After cutting the practice pieces to rough shape and then flush trimming on the router table I was able to make the mortise and tenon to join them. Then I had a problem - how to clamp these two things together. I wasn't going to be able to clamp from the end of the leg, so on the first one I clamped the leg between two scrap pieces, while on the second one I made some clamping blocks out of scrap. I think the clamping blocks worked out best, and those will be used for the 'nicer' ones.

For this practice piece this will be the only 'real' joint I'll be using, the rest will be pocket screw joinery, which should go relatively quickly. (Well, relatively means a couple weeks instead of a couple months. We'll see....)

Sides & legs...

First glue up

Another angle

2nd glue up with scrap blocks

Another angle...

Coffee Table - Almost Done

Sure, it's been a while since the last post but that doesn't mean that I've been sitting idle. (OK, there has been a lot of movie watching...) The 'flop has been in use, it's just that I haven't had the time or inclination to photo-document the goings-on. There's also been a bit of activity from Milos on his cabinet, so that's been taking up the past few Sundays.

The coffee table needed to be sanded and then the finishing process began. Oil was followed by 10 coats of shellac, and now it needs several top layers of General Finishes urethane. It will be interesting to see if it has a pronounced weeble-wobble effect (unfortunately, it will fall down though).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Glue Up Ugh

Tonight I glued up the table and ran into some issues. I had already glued up bottom piece, so it was ready to go. It was going to be a more complex glue up than I was used to, and I made the mistake of not doing a dry fit. I don't know why - I was lured into the assumption that since there were few pieces it wouldn't be difficult. It turned out that the middle riser piece had dadoes that were slightly skewed - not in the same plane. Either that or the two shelf pieces were not perfectly flat.

I had to wrestle to get the two shelf halves into the dadoes. I didn't think they were going to go in. The only saving grace was using plastic resin glue which has the longest open time of any adhesive, thus I had a lot of time to fiddle around with it. Eventually I was able to get both pieces half way in and get it come with a clamp.

Looks-wise, it's OK, but it's very tippy and there's going to be a lot of cleanup with sanding going on, and potentially a new leg to keep it from tipping over.

Glued up the base - no problems...

Table glued up

Side view

On top of the bad luck, got the recipe mixed up for the resin glue, so now there's a lot of waste.... Ugh!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Work continues on the CT.

For the bottom legs, I needed to make the mortises, so I used a 5/8" forstner bit.

A bit of work with the chisel(s) gets the round holes square.

The tenons for the legs & bottom rail were cut at the bandsaw. (Didn't use a handsaw, kind of wimped out I guess...)

Tonight it was time to create the 2 mortises for the top. The router only wandered a couple of minute times, but nothing that the middle piece won't cover up.

Almost ready to go, just need to square the ends and make sure everything fits.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Work has been progressing slowly but surely on the coffee table. I was running into a problem with my planer – my dust collection could not keep up with my new machine (previously referred to as the beast). Having been an engineer in a past life, I should be able to check out the SCFM rating on the fan and see what the rating requirement is on the planer, but I’m way too lazy to do that. I take off the suction nozzle and put my hand over it to feel if it’s sucking a little or a lot, and it didn’t have much ‘ooomph’. It was definitely not “golf ball through a garden hose” type of suction. Well, this weekend I took off the exhaust “fines” bag and presto, that was it. I guess the bag is completely clogged. The only problem is that I didn’t have a replacement. After doing some online searching, I couldn’t find an off-the-shelf bag, so I turned to Lumberjocks, but didn’t get a decent response. So I went all old-school on it and slapped an old pillow case on there so that dust wouldn’t spray out everywhere. Seems to do the trick…. Even with the new and improved suction, I was still having problems with the planer backing up, so it’s not really a ‘solved’ problem but it’s much better….

After planing up the material I needed to put a groove (well, technically a dado) into the support piece. This was the first time that I used my “used” dado set. It worked pretty well – I have no complaints other than I don’t have a zero clearance throat plate for my table saw for the dado, so it was just sitting in this big hole in the saw. Felt a little unsafe, but even if I had the insert I think it would still feel unsafe as a dado represents a LOT of cutting potential. I will need to get some zero clearance material for the next time I do that.

For the runner on the bottom, I needed to make a short tenon. I did that, for the first time might I add, using only a hand saw. No setups on the tablesaw or going to the bandsaw. It was quick & easy so I think I’m going to be doing that more often in the future.

The last piece I was able to start on was the crucial middle piece that’s going to hold the 2 top pieces together. It needed to look like a cross, with 2 tenons sticking out on either side. I spent a while at the router table coming up with this, but it eventually came out roughly how I want it. Now I have to apply a shoulder plane to it to clean it up a bit.

The last steps are to create the M&T’s for the legs and do some final tweaking before glue-up.

I love working with walnut, but I hate the fact that I can’t compost the shavings… ;o(

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Sometimes a blog about a certain topic can't ALWAYS be on point. Occasionally, one has to go outside the box and discuss other pleasures in life. Added to that, every woodworker needs some level of sustenance to give them fuel for those tough sessions hand planing or chiseling. That's why it was with huge anticipation that I awaited the arrival of, essentially, the greatest food source in the entire world (bar homentashen, but that's another story). Today I received a package of that nectar of the gods. You see, the NW US has almost everything one could possibly desire and is superior to all other parts of the country, yet it does lack a bit in the treats department. Below is the pictoral tale of this gift from above...

The package arrives, so heavy and yet so light at the same time - how do they do that?!?!

Gently opening the package, somehow refraining from ripping it open (wouldn't want to damage the contents...)


OMG!!!! Food of the Godz!!!!

The wait is over - Chocolate junior time BABY!!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Planer Sled

I noticed that the board I planed yesterday wasn't exactly 'flat' even though I hand planed one side. It still had some rockin' and rollin' going on. I thought today about making a planer sled, which I've read about online. Some of them seemed incredibly complicated, like the one from FWW. I didn't want to spend an entire weekend making a jig (even if it would prove to be useful). I found another one that looked more my speed. With that, I spent a few minutes cutting up a piece of MDF and screwed a cleat on the end.

After locating the points at which the board 'bowed' up I put shims under these locations. A couple of passes later, voila, a flat board on one side. Now I just have to put the other board on it to get it flat as well.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coffee, Tea.... or, uh, another Coffee Table

Of late, the main activity in the 'flop has been getting the place known as a pigsty more organized, and (gasp!), somewhat cleaner. The end of a project was a perfect time for such activity, however boring. It was just getting too cluttered and busy.

In any event, it's time to start the new coffee table. It will replace the monstrosity known as the faux mission style that sits in the tv room.

Today began the stock prep, and I attempted to plane one side flat. It worked on one of the pieces, but the other one had some wild grain and I was running out of gas. I've been thinking about making a planer sled so that will be the next order of business next week...

Raw Stock

Cut in deux (odd that they're from the same piece)

One part planed

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blimey Guvnah!

Ello luv! Top 'o tha day to yeh!
I'm feeling ever so British since I purchased a bunch of English walnut this past weekend. It was an interesting trip - I went because the seller decided to have a fire sale and post the 1" stuff for $1 per bdft; the down side was that most of that material was very narrow and not all that great looking. Apparently it was limb wood, which I later found out on Lumberjocks was nothing to be worried about.
I did purchase one piece of 3" - originally priced at $475, purchased for $68....

Well, anyhow, tally-ho!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mucho Mas Maple

Today I drove down to Willamina and picked up about 250 bdft of local maple. At only $0.75 per bdft, how could I resist? Optimally it will make some nice furniture, but worst case scenario is that it will serve as drawer sides and bottoms, dust frames, etc. It's so much better to work with Oregon maple than, say, pine or plywood- less sap, not too soft, not too hard, easy to compost, recycle or burn the cutoffs & shavings - just a great all around wood.
Also some spalty stuff, which doesn't hurt either...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hall Table Done

Well, I guess it's done. It's upstairs, so that means it must be. It's hard to get excited about it when I see so many flaws, but I have to remind myself that it's a functional piece that will now dutifully hold the mail and other assorted junk in the hallway.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Almost Done with the Hall Table

Well, the project is in the winding down phase, as in; the first coat of finish has gone on.

I didn't write about the drawer construction because it was kind of painful. All was well up until I had to cut the front half-blind dovetails... It was a lot more work than I had anticipated and I didn't feel quite up to the challenge. I didn't leave nearly enough space on the ends and several times the thin walled front piece broke off, only to be glued back on. It was very frustrating to say the least.... However, in the end they finally 'joined' up and the result could have been a lot worse (I suppose).

After that was the matter of fitting the drawers, as the opening on the left was not square. Eventually this meant literally cutting of part of the side with the bandsaw. So overall it was feeling like quite the hack job.

I had created a 'stop' on the back so that the drawers wouldn't fall out when they were pulled, but of course I didn't take into account the fact that when I created the drawer openings the stop was right in back. Ugh!!!! What more could go wrong with these things???

Finally, they somehow fit and the linseed oil went on... Now it's onto the shellac....

Drawers (pre finish)

First coat....

Drawers with finish...