Wednesday, January 31

Wednesday – Installing Leaves

It was cold again this morning, so I stoked up the wood stove and while I was waiting for the shop to warm up I completed a bid for a custom curio cabinet for Marilyn. Click any picture to enlarge it.

Once is was workable in the shop, I set up our panel sled and cut the leaves to finished size. This is one of those things where I tend to measure, lay-out, then recheck a couple of times before turning on the saw. If I mess it up, I have to remake the entire panel.

I didn’t mess up.

Then I pulled out our sewing machine leaf hinge jig. It’s a nifty gadget that routes precisely placed pockets for the leaf hinges. Not so amazing – lots of hinge jigs are out there, except that these hinges have ROUND ends. So I had to make this jig just especially for this project. When properly set-up it places the hinge pockets on both the cabinet top and the leaf to that they line up perfectly. Before I cut into the good stuff I test it out on a piece of scrap to see that I have the depth set correctly. Once the pocket fits the hinge properly, I’m ready to move on to the cabinet parts.

After all the hinges are installed and tweaked to proper alignment, the cabinet is almost done. All that remains is to install the knobs. And that completes the construction of Dan’s cabinet. In these photos there is no finish on the cabinet, it's just the raw walnut. Here’s a look at the back side.

It is at this point that we stop and wait for the second payment to be made (per posted policies).

Now I have to e-mail Dan and make sure he knows where we are on his project. And that will do it for today.


Tuesday, January 30

Tuesday – Top Installation

Temperatures were more reasonable this morning and I was able to get going at my usual start time.

Today I took the top plate that was trimmed up yesterday and routed the chamfer along the bottom edge, sanded it and mounted it to the casework via elongated screw holes so it can move as it expands and contracts. While the cabinet was upside down, I mounted the air-lift mechanism as well.

Then, it was time to lay-out the hole in the top for the sewing machine to rise through. Dan provided me with an excellent measured drawing detailing the size and shape of their sewing machine. This made lay-out much easier. Once I had it penciled in and double checked for accuracy, I bored holes at each corner and used a jig saw to cut out the hole just a hair smaller than the finished size is to be.

This, however, leaves a pretty raggedy hole. To pretty it up, I start by cutting some wide strips of scrap plywood and lay them on the lay-out lines to frame the opening. Then I chuck up a patternmakers bit in my router and use the plywood fames as a pattern to finish out the hole. This leaves a nice straight, smooth sided hole.

Finally I make up a platform, trim it to size and attach it to the lift arms. I use shims around the edges to keep the platform properly positioned while I insert screws from below. Then, a quick test of the lift to make sure nothing binds up and it’s time to put away the tools and clean up for the evening.

All that’s left to do now is to make the leaves, and we’ll get to that tomorrow.


Monday, January 29

Monday – Top Trimming

Our temperature this morning started out at 19° F. (12° F if you choose to believe the radio instead of my porch thermometer) And we ran out of propane for the little wall mounted heater that I use to keep critical things like glue and finishes from freezing in real cold weather. So, my first duty today was to make a propane run. Once the propane heater was working again, I fired up the wood stove and got that to blazing as well. Stoked it with come coal and some yellow larch, very hard; burns very hot. But to no avail. I could not get the inside temperature above 37° until afternoon when the sun came over the mountain and shone of the shop roof. Then it shot way up to 45° and became workable in there. So, I trimmed the two large panels that will be the top to finished size. One will need to be cut into two pieces to form the leaves, but I’ll do that later. Doing this properly; making sure they both came out absolutely square and the same size, took what little time I had before the sun stared sliding down again and the temperature dropped off. Man will I be glad to get moved into the new workshop. It is insulated, has heat *and* AC, and even has a restroom. Soon. Very soon now. Doug-Bob

Thursday, January 25

Thursday – Completing Drawers

Our construction crew’s arrival was delayed this morning by snow in the Smoky Mountains. They almost didn’t come at all, but drove out of the storm as they descended on the Tennessee side. This meant that I had most of the morning to work on assembling the drawer boxes, and got most of them done.

During the afternoon, there were periods when they weren’t doing anything especially interesting so I slipped back into the workshop and finished the drawers up and fitted them to their opening. It took very little fitting work, all but one were dead on the first time.


Wednesday, January 24

Wednesday – Drawer Boxes

The predicted excitement that promised to keep me out of the shop most of today has been postponed, so I got a full day’s work in again.

To start off with I glue-up the blanks that will be needed for the drawer box sides and backs. Only two of the drawers – the deep ones – need to have parts glued up the rest I was able to get out of stock on hand.

While the glue is drying on those, I begin milling the various grooves, and dadoes that will hold the drawers together and allow them to slide on the glides already installed.

Before assembling the drawer boxes, I test fit parts to be sure the boxes will all fit into place as they should. Here I’m, checking the box sides to see if they will all slide past one another. Only one 1/32 inch adjustment was needed.

When all the parts are cut, I assemble the drawer box without glue and slide it into it’s opening to check -- one last time – that all is well. And it is.

This is as far as we’ll go today. Tomorrow I should be able to pop into the shop to glue up a drawer at a time and still keep an eye on what’s happening outside. So this has worked out well.

See you tomorrow!


Tuesday, January 23

Tuesday – Drawer Parts

Our assigned task today is to make up parts for the drawers in Dan’s sewing cabinet. There are some large drawer fronts on this piece. Whenever I can, I like to get a drawer front from a single piece of wood. It is especially nice if I can get all the fronts for a drawer group from a single board or at least sequential boards from the same log, that way the coloring is all the same. This nice wide board will yield all the drawer fronts for the drawer pedestal.

When I can not get a drawer front from a single piece of lumber, it has to be glued up. To get a good looking panel I look for a piece of lumber where some straight grain wood runs along the edge of the board; like this one. The lower part of the big drawer front is in the foreground, the narrow piece to the right will get flipped up and over and glued back onto the larger piece. The result is a nearly invisible seam.

Once all the drawer fronts are milled out and trimmed to size I bandsaw the finger pull cut-outs, sand them on a drum sander to remove the saw marks then round-over the inside edge to make them easier on the fingers. I’ll sand the routed curve now, but the rest will wait – there is more to do to these parts.

Most of the afternoon is spent chunking up planks of poplar, resawing them and surface planing the thinner parts to remove saw marks and bring them to one-half inch thickness. These parts will become the drawer boxes. But that will be done another day, this one has run out.

Tomorrow promised to be a busy and exciting day, so I may not get into the workshop much. See the Mountain Man Wannabe blog in a few days for details.


Monday, January 22

Monday, Aug. 1st

Today we rounded-over the edges of the four feet we made last week, sanded them and mounted them on he bottom of the cabinet.

Then we (Dolly was ‘helping’ me most of the day today because it was raining and she could not play in the yard) turned out attention to the doors.

We began by mounting the tall fence on the table saw and cutting the rabbet that the piano hinge will lay in. Then we cut the piano hinges to length with a hacksaw.

Next came drilling the pilot holes and inserting screws to fasten the hinges to the doors, removing them again and repeating the process for the cabinet side of the hinge. Test the doors – remove them and adjust as necessary.

Finally we mounted the brass ball catches that hold the doors closed.

This completes the casework for the cabinet. Tomorrow we’ll start on drawers.



The footer crew arrived today to dig out and pour the footers for the new house. I was kept busy with that most of the day. I did however manage to sneak off enough to finish-sand and oil Joseph's walnut base. Two coats. I'll let them harden up over the weekend then pack it up and ship it out Monday morning.
See you then!

Thursday, January 18

Thursday – De Feet

This day was spent making the nifty little feet that go under the cabinet that we’ve been building. This is all part of the Deluxe Sewing Cabinet that we offer, and you can see pictures of the completed item by clicking the title above.

To start with we cut a chunk of rough lumber 4” wide and 52” long. This will provide enough wood to make all of the feet. Then we surface plane it to ¾” thickness. Now we need to cross-cut the plank into two sections; one will become the top plates, the other will become the sides of the feet.

Using our Incra miter fence we cut the one piece into 4 squares for the tops. The other gets cut into 4 rectangles. Each rectangle gets marked for alignment so I’ll be able to match them back up again later.

So much for the prep work. Now we get ready for the serious parts making. First off we set up the table saw to do 45° miters. Using a large artists triangle I get the blade as close as I can, then make test cuts on a piece of scrap. Fit the pieces together and check them with a square. Are they square? If not figure out which way the blade needs to go, make a small adjustment, and re-cut the joint. Test again. Repeat until it’s perfect.

I find it much safer and more precise when working with a series of small pieces like this, to tape them together and run several through the blade at a time. This prevents them from twisting, as the smaller squares tend to do, and allows me to use push sticks to keep my hands away from the blade.

The parts were cut in sequence and marked so that when the corners are assembled, the grain flows around the corner. Just one of this nice touches we like to throw in.

Next we re-set the blade and set the miter gauge for a 15° angle cut. This produces a tapered leg that is far more elegant than a square block supporting the cabinet.

Next we set up to cut the rabbets in the top edge of the side pieces where the top plate will fasten to strengthen and streamline the foot. I set the blade height and fence distance for the first cut and lay the pieces out in the proper orientation. Doing this eliminates any chance (mostly) of my doing anything stupid like cutting the rabbet on the wrong face of the piece. When the flat cut is made in all the pieces, I raise the blade and bring the fence in for the second cut. This time the pieces stand up vertically against the fence.

This cuts a squared-off corner from the board and this falls free. When these are all done I cut a 15° bevel on the two rear edges or the top piece. Now when all three pieces come together the top plate snugs into it’s recesses nicely and the bevels run smoothly up the full length of the back edges.

Then we apply glue and use a bevy of clamps to hold everything in firm contact as the glue dries.

While I’m waiting for the glue to dry, I take advantage of the situation to make another project that is to be made of walnut and uses exactly the same techniques to make the parts. This is a small box (6” square and 3” high) which when turned upside down will become a base for a statue that Joseph wants to display. Here the sides are cut, glued and clamped and you can see the rabbets where the top plate will drop in. Once it’s all glued up we’ll use a router to round-over all the exposed corners then sand it smooth and antique oil it. But that will be for tomorrow. First the glue needs to dry good and hard.


Wednesday, January 17

Wednesday – Drawer Pedestal

The day started off by milling 10 more drawer glides for use in the drawer pedestal. These glides have a tolerance of 1/32 of an inch, so we sneak up on the exact size and take care that they are straight. After drilling the mounting holes and sanding them smooth we position them using a special jig. Again; very close tolerances, they must be exactly where we need them to be or the drawers will not run smoothly. Taking a few moments to double check the positioning of the jig is worth while.

Pilot holes are carefully drilled and screws inserted. No glue.

After the glides are mounted to both side panels, these panels are glued and screwed to the back panel. [17002]The 5 spacers or spreaders are them milled, drilled for pocket screws and attached. These not only position the pedestal side panels but strengthen the whole structure.

Finally the kneehole apron is made and attached with glue and screws.

And that is the end of another day.


Monday, January 15

Monday – Dog Tired

Last night between 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning something came snooping around our place and set the dogs off on a bark-fest. Marie is blessed with the ability to lay back down after such a disturbance and go right back to sleep. She can also nap during the day. I can do neither. Once I’m awake, I’m awake for the duration. And if I try to nap I just get super groggy. I need to get a good, solid eight hour block of unconsciousness to do well.

So, needless to say, I was a bit off my game today. I got an early start on the bookkeeping and blogging chores though, so those are all caught up, but I was working a bit slow the rest of the day… being careful, double checking everything so I didn’t do anything real stupid.

Still I got one whole pedestal completed. This means milling the shelf blank I glued up Friday down to size and making sure it is square, milling the drawer slides, milling the 5 spacer pieces for the top and bottom of the pedestal then sanding and installing them. The picture on the left is looking at the pedestal from the bottom, showing the shelf installation and drawer slides. The shelf is glued and screwed in place only at the front edge, the rest is allowed to float in it’s slots so it can expand and contract with humidity changes. The drawer slides are also not glued in, just fastened with screws. These can, with some amount of abuse, break. Should that happen, they need to be easy to remove so replacements can be made. The other picture was taken after the cabinet was rolled up on it’s feet (if it had feet – which it doesn’t yet) and shows just the surger pedestal after completion.

A solid top plate will be attached to the three spacers, and making them separate pieces instead of one big one like the shelf eases problems with wood expansion. For one it allows me to solidly glue and screw them to the cabinet to lend it strength and rigidity. The lower compartment in this pedestal is occupied by a deep drawer, so the open space in the bottom will not be visible once the drawer is in place.

Tomorrow we plan to be in Bean Station touring a factory, but that should only take up the morning. I’ll get started on the drawer pedestal when we get back.


Friday, January 12

Friday – Getting Interesting

The morning session was spent doing the same as what I spent most of yesterday doing; sanding center panels and assembling components.

After lunch I set up the tall fence and cut the rabbets that will house shelves and stiffeners ant the top and bottom of the two compartments. This is a simple cut to make – with the use of a tall fence to support the big part so it doesn’t wobble – but treacherous as all guards and safety devices must be removed.

Next we cut the grooves in the back panel that will house the rear edges of the end panels. To do this we use this toothy monster – a fully loaded dado head. Very careful measurements and double checking the fence setting is warranted before we flip the switch and pass the back panel over the cutter.

Here’s where things start getting interesting; when the parts we’ve been making start going together and start looking like a piece of furniture.

Then the pocket hole jig comes out and I drill a few holes in the rear stiles of the end panels to hold them in place on the back panel. And attach them with 1¼” pocket screws. No glue yet; we will be removing the panels again to add more parts to them. This is just a dry run to see that everything lines up properly.

In this picture we’re looking at the cabinet from the bottom, laying on it’s back. The doors are laying loose on top. The corners all meet up where the corners are supposed to be, so we’re looking good so far. I finish out the day by cutting & surface planing and jointing parts to make the two solid shelves. One gets glued up, the other will get done Monday.

Hope you have a great weekend!


Thursday, January 11

Thursday – Groovin’

I got out to the shop early this morning to make up some of the time lost yesterday, and (so far) I haven’t had so many telephone interruptions as have been the case recently so I’m actually getting quite a lot done.

It’s lunch time now. This morning was spent jointing and gluing up the panels that could not be obtained from a single board’s width, trimming the others to width and I started grooving the rails and stiles to receive these panels. Here a book-matched set are laid out on the tablesaw after jointing to check the seam between them - no glue yet. This one looks good, it should produce a nicely invisible joint.

The stiles have grooves between the mortises, but not through to the ends, so I have to drop the piece into the blade at a specific point and lift it off again at the other end to avoid leaving ugly gaps at the top and bottom of the joint. No, in all likelyhood no one will ever see them, but taht's not the point. The rails are grooved the full length.

When complete, the grooves are supposed to line up perfectly at each corner so the panels will fit snugly with no gaps. Like this!

Next I sand the panels to 150 grit, pre-finish the vertical edges so unfinished strips don’t develop as the panel shrinks, then apply glue to the mortises and tenons and assemble the panels. Instead of pounding the assembly together with a mallet, I use long clamps to draw the pieces together gently yet firmly.

This is a completed door. After the glue sets up overnight I’ll sand the outside faces of the frames and get ready to cut the dadoes and grooves on the inside faces that will allow the parts to lock together as they are assembled.


Wednesday, January 10

Wedesday - Starting Panels

This is a short day in the shop because I have a meeting this evening, and a few bookkeeping chores that must be taken care of this morning.

Today we’re working on making the panels that will go into the centers of the frames we built yesterday. We start by selecting lumber that is either wide enough to make a panel by it’s self or will make an attractive book-matched panel by re-sawing the plank, flippingthe two pieces up next to each other and edge gluing the thin pieces together to form a wide panel.

Resawing is done by first running the planks through the surface planer to smooth the wide faces, then on to the bandsaw to saw the board in half edge-wise. After all the planks have been split in half they are run through the surface planer again to take off the saw marks. We do not take them down to the finished thickness because we will want a little extra to use in smoothing the glue joints after the halves have been glued together.

When finished, we have a stack of nice thin panel stock. From this I first select pieces, preferably book matched, that will go into the doors. These are the narrowest of the panels. From there I see of any of the pieces are wide enough to fill the end panels. If so, I mark them and set them aside. The rest will be jointed and glued together then edge trimmed to form the wide panels still needed.

But we’ll get to that tomorrow, now it’s time to go get showered and head into town.