Tuesday, February 27

Tuesday – Final Assembly

NOTE: Blogger is not accepting my photos again. I'll post this and add photos another time. Sorry. * * * * * 0040Today was a fairly quiet day – little was done involving power tools. This was about it; here I am rounding over the outside edges of the tray on a router table. While some woodworkers claim that knife sharp edges are the hallmark of high craftsmanship (and go to great lengths to achieve them) I don’t care for the look and especially not for the feel of sharp, square edges. I like furniture to feel comfortable, friendly, maybe even a bit sexy under my hands, so I round over edges and sand way the sharp edge of even the edges left more or less square. It’s just a personal preference. 0041From here on out all the sanding is done by hand with a piece of 100 grit paper wrapped around a narrow block. With this I take the edge off of the inside edge of the tray, remove burn marks the router left, pencil lines and any roughness left over from milling and glue-up. This is not a finish sand yet, we’re still in construction mode, but this cleans things up ready for finish sanding. 0042Then I attach the leg sets we completed before to the tray tops by gluing the leg mount block and the latch block in place and clamping them. Now it’s time to find something else to do for a while – so I went out and shoveled some dirt around. Such fun! r-0043 At the end of the day I can remove the clamps and set the trays on the stand. They will need more sanding, but construction is now complete, Tomorrow (Wednesday) I will be out of the shop in order to help with a project at Treasures of Appalachia. This will most likely take all day. See you Thursday. Doug-Bob

Monday, February 26

Monday – Tray Tops

Before getting back to Carol’s tables I needed to wrap up some things – literally. We received two orders for on-hand items over the weekend, so I needed to package these up and get them ready to go out. We also got an order for some bag handles that needed to be finished with polyurethane, so I applied the finish and got out of Dodge for an hour to allow it to set up before I started making saw dust.
But before I left, I figured I could go ahead and attach the mount blocks to the legs. These parts were already made, just needed to be assembled with washers and screws.

Our new building is almost ready, and I’m REALLY looking forward to having a separate, dedicated finishing room that can be closed off to keep dust out so we can continue working even while finish dries on another project.

Once it was safe, I took the panel of 1/8” Baltic Birch ply that Marie and I dug out over the weekend and sliced it up into backer panels. A full sheet is 5’ x 5’ and being only 1/8” thick it’s difficult to handle until it gets cut down into smaller pieces, so I cut the parts oversized because I knew they would need some “cleaning up”. Here I’m using a cut-off sled to trim them to precise length while keeping them perfectly square. Ok, yes, they are *rectangular*, what I mean is that the corners are all exactly 90°.

After the first one is trimmed to size, I check to be sure everything will fit right by placing the rails around the backer panel and checking to see that the rails fit snugly against the panel, and yet all the corners meet up properly. If the panel is a hair too big, the corners will have gaps, too small and the panel will ‘rattle’ in the frame. Either condition will result in weak joinery and possible failure in time.

Then I trim to size the ribbon panels that have been sitting around in the shop for nearly two weeks. I built these first to give them as much time as possible, preferably through a couple of cycles of high/low humidity, to see if they were going to have any tendency to crack. They didn’t. Again size is critical. The length needs to be the same as the backer panels, but the width needs to be 1/8” narrower than the backer so I can leave a small expansion gap on each side where the wood can go when it expands. If we are in the midst of a high humidity period, I’ll make this gap smaller because the wood has already expanded. But it’s been dry most of yesterday and all last night and today. I glue the ribbon panel to the backer ONLY down the center so the solid wood tray surface can move freely as it shrinks and expands.

Then it’s time to install the rails. I dry fit each set first. You may recall that when we cut the rails we did so using a special sequence that allows the grain of the wood to flow smoothly around all four of the corners, not just three. The parts were marked for alignment so close attention needs to be paid to getting them installed in the proper places. Glue is applied only to the *bottom* of the groove which houses the tray panel and backer. We do not want to glue the ribbon panel part to the rails – it must be free to move – but the backer panel needs to be solidly glued to the rails.

Band clamps are then installed to pull all the corners together firmly while the glue dries.

At the end of the day all four tray tops are assembled and clamped. These will set overnight to let the glue cure. Tomorrow we’ll “pretty them up” and attach the legs.

See you then!


Friday, February 23

Friday – Latch Blocks & Leg Blocks

My appologies for not getting this posted last Friday. I got the article written but Blogger wasn't feeling well and wouldn't accept my photos. Since there were several of them this time I saved it as a draft and posted the whole thing tonight.

* * * * *

Another beautiful day, it started out a bit chilly, but burning the hickory scraps from building Carol’s tables heated it up quickly. Hickory is a hard dense wood and burn hot!

Today we’ll be making the tricky little bits that often go overlooked, but without which these tables could not work; latch blocks and leg mounts. The latch blocks are made up of two pieces; a long bar with a tab mounted perpendicularly in it’s top edge. We start by laying out the tab on a long piece of stock that has been prepared earlier.

I like to do most of the shaping first then cut each tab off as it’s done so I don’t have to try to hang onto this small piece while machining it. Especially this step – I’m cutting kerfs with a bandsaw to rough-out the basic shape of the latch tab. I’ll do it again to remove the “fingers” that you see here. Hickory is hard and thus hard to sand, so getting as close to a finished shape as possible is a good thing.

The next step is to finish off the shape with a small sanding drum – careful, don’t take off too much or the latch won’t work. It’s better to leave it just a bit long than to take off too much; it’s easier to take off a little more than it is to put it back.

Next we grab he latch bars that were milled out previously and set up to cut the notch in their tops that will house the latch tab. I use our Incra miter gauge and a sharp, high quality blade for this step. I could use a dado head to get it done more quickly but tear-out is a problem, especially in a stringy wood like hickory. What makes it so tough is that the fibers of the wood intertwine, sort of like threads in a rope, supporting one another and resisting a clean cut with anything but the sharpest of blades.

This step requires a VERY precise fit, time spent tuning the cut is well spent. I always cut the tab stock just a hair wider than the dado (notch) will be and sneak up on a perfect fit by laying a piece of 100 grit sand paper on the bench and running each edge of the tab across it 2 or 3 times, then test the fit, sand again, test, until it’s just right. Like this.

As each one is completed, I test it with a leg assembly. The lump at the outer end of the tab needs to “snap” gently through the hole in the spreader to keep the leg from closing up, but not be so tight that you have to force it.

Completing this assembly takes 5 more steps; four are pictured here. At the left a counter-bored screw hole has been drilled and a short screw installed. Next the screw hole is filled with a plug cut from scraps of this project to obtain a good color match. Then the “stumps” are sanded off of the plug and the back of the tab. On the right is the completed latch bar assembly after the edges have been rounded over with the router and the whole thing sanded to remove burn marks and smooth it. This is done by hand with a piece of 100 grit paper.

That consumed the morning. After lunch I made the leg mount blocks, which are shorter versions of the latch block with no tab, cut out enough screw hole plugs to finish out this project, and installed the plugs, lopped off the excess and sanded them smooth with the surrounding wood.

Tomorrow Marie and I will move lumber. We have to haul out the extra hickory from this project, and some other things that have accumulated, so that I can get at the plywood stored against the wall behind all this lumber. I need the 1/8” BBP that will make backer boards for the tray tops. Once I’ve gotten that out where I can get at it we’ll haul in a bunch of walnut to start acclimating for the bag handle order we just got. This is an over time order, meaning that Brian and I will put in the needed hours in the evenings and weekends after doing the regularly scheduled work. I also have a tray table and an entertainment center that will use walnut coming up.

See you Monday.


Thursday, February 22

Thursday – Table Bases

What a gorgeous day we had today; A good day to get lost done.

To start off with I re-made the stand; somehow a piece of maple got into our hickory pile. It looked enough like sapwood hickory that I didn’t catch it until I started machining the parts for the stand – all of which came from this one board – and discovered that it was indeed hard maple. So, I have a stand all done should someone order a set of maple tray tables J. That consumed the morning.

After lunch I set about routing and sanding the spreaders for the leg sets, then I assembled the leg sets with the spreaders to form the 4 table bases. Here I have the table bases setting with the stand and the panels atht will become the trays.

I got it all done about on time, but then decided to take advantage of the nice warm weather to clean up the shop; vacuum, put away extra tools, organize the wood scraps from this project, and such. The sun is going down now and the air temperature is starting to drop off. Time to quit.


Wednesday, February 21

Wednesday – Leg Sets

Today was spent drilling pilot holes, counter sinks and counter bores for the various screw locations in all the parts. While I was at it I went ahead and sanded and assembled the leg sets. Once the spreaders are routed and sanded I will be ready to add them to the leg sets to make table bases. That will be tomorrow’s project.

Our block layers came in this morning to work on the new foundation. That was something of a surprise to me since it had rained on and off all night, leaving the construction site a mucky mess. But they were here at 8:00 just like usual and got right to work. It started raining about 10:00 and they kept at it until around 10:20 when it began to lightning and rain real hard. That drove them off.

An hour later the sun popped out and it’s been a beautiful, warm day all afternoon.


Tuesday, February 20

Tuesday – Trimming & Shaping

This day was spent trimming and shaping the parts for Carol’s tray table set. The trickiest of these are the rails that will run around the tray tops. Not only do we need perfect miters at the corners, but they must be the exact lengths. Too long and the panels we make will be too loose and the tray will come apart, too short and the rails will not reach around the panel and there will be gaps at the corners. Just right and everything will fir properly and form a solid assembly that will last for many, many years.

By the end of the day we have an interesting collection of parts that have been trimmed to exact size and, where needed, shaped. The handle and legs of the stand require the most work in this department. We have not yet done the routing to round over edges. We’ll get to that tomorrow along with boring the pilot holes, counter sinks and counter bores that will be needed to assemble the parts with screws.

See you then.


Monday, February 19

Monday – Panels

Today was spent scraping the glue pips off of the half panels made last Friday, surface planing them smooth, jointing the center edges and gluing the pairs of half panels into full panels.

Now the glue needs to set up hard.

See you tomorrow.


Friday, February 16

Friday – Ribbon Panels

I spent the day today gluing up 8 halves of ribbon panels. When the halves are glued together they will become the tray tops for Carol’s tables.

The process began yesterday when I cut about a bazillion narrow strips. OK, it wasn’t really a bazillion; let’s see – 16 ribbons per table x 4 tables = 64 ribbon strips. The were make by slicing 1” thick boards into 3/8” wide strips. I chose boards that displayed interesting grain patterns.

Today I took those strips, kept sequential as they were cut off, laid them flat and edge glued them into half-panels. I can’t do full panels because they would be 16” wide and my surface planer will only accept stock 13” wide. So I have to make up halves, plane them smooth, then joint the halves and glue them into full panels.

It required a lot of clamps, and I used the warmth of the woodstove to help cure the glue in my chilly workshop so I could free up the clamps to do another panel a little more quickly. This worked well and I got all 8 half-panels done. Now the glue can cure solid and they’ll be ready to plane next time.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 15

Thursday – Back to work

Birthday week is over and we’re both knuckling down and getting back to work this morning. My birthday was last Wednesday, Marie’s was yesterday. I worked on my birthday, so Marie said I should take yesterday off and we’d both enjoy a day off at home together. But I went out early this morning to get a fire going in the woodstove and get the workshop warmed up – it’s 22° out this morning. Cold for us. In Nebraska, where my Dad lives, they had a low of -4° last night. BRRRR! Kind of sheds a new light on our +22°. Today I got all the hardwood parts for Carol's 4 TV tray tables and a stand roughed out. Sorry, no picture, the camera died and our new one has been delayed by bad weather in Laurel MD. It should be here tomorrow. The parts are not much to look at yet anyway. Doug-Bob

Tuesday, February 13

Tuesday – Shanghaied

This morning we accomplished our deliver, camera shopping and our business meeting. Then we decided to head for Asheville today instead of tomorrow as we had planned. Tomorrow is Marie’s birthday, and she wanted to tour the Grove Arcade and have a special lunch at Catz & Dawgs. Yes, that's right; her birthday is on Valentines day -- and that is totally appropriate! But, the weather forecast is for rain today and tomorrow, but getting much colder tomorrow. Getting through the mountains on icy roads is not fun. So we decided to go for it today while it’s just wet. This evening we’re processing some new orders and handling some bookkeeping. Then we’ll curl up and watch a movie. Something romantic for Valentines Day, like ‘I Married a Monster From Outer Space’. OK, we’re just weird. I don’t know what Marie’s plans for tomorrow are but I’ll sneak off to the shop if I can, Carol, I promise. Doug-Bob

Monday, February 12

Monday – Jes Piddlin’

I’m sorry for the lapse in our “daily” notes. Things have been a bit weird here for a few days. I took Dan’s sewing cabinet to the O.D.F.L. dock in White Pine last Wednesday and sent it on it’s way, then spent the rest of the day taking care of some personal chores that have been piling up – as long as I have the truck, I might as well make the most of it! On Thursday I surfaced the hickory I’d brought in for Carol’s tray tables. This makes it easier to see the grain patterns and colors. This will be important since she has specific instructions about coloration on the various parts of her tables. I was waiting for the second payment on carol’s order to come in before I actually started chopping up all that lumber. It hadn’t come yet, so I started in on one of those little “work it in when we have time” jobs. This one was a special sign for the County Tourism Department. On Friday Marie and I attended a big home & garden show in Knoxville. Today I completed the County’s cross-buck sign. This afternoon Carol gave us authorization to run the second payment against her credit card, so we’re set to go next time. Tomorrow morning Marie and I will deliver the cross-buck and have a meeting with the county E.D.C. director. He’s a busy man so he won’t keep us long , I’ sure. After that we’ll need to go shopping for a new camera. Our digital camera just died; always says the batteries are dead even when I put fresh ones in or it’s been sitting on it’s charger all night. Generally it costs almost as much to fix one as it does to replace it and this one is pretty old anyway. But I should be in the workshop in the afternoon. Doug-Bob

Tuesday, February 6

Tuesday – Crating

Today I will crate Dan’s sewing cabinet up and get it ready for shipping. He says his wife is very excited and eager to receive it.

We start by cutting a 4x8 foot sheet to Styrofoam into strips. Then these strips get cut to length, fastened together with pieces of tape (no tape is to touch the cabinet – that would leave icky-sticky stuff in the finish). The Styrofoam is to create crush cushions, so where we have over hangs or knobs sticking out, multiple strips are stacked to acheive the depth needed. And, we need to end up with all surfaces being the same width and length to that they all touch the inside of the crate to prevent any movement as the truck bounces along the highways.

Then we wrap the whole thing in crate board. Crate board is a heavy duty, triple wall corrugated cardboard that is ½” thick. I used to use ¼” thick luan plywood in my crates, but the stuff is so heavy that it was driving up shipping costs. The crate board offers just as much protection but weighs much less.

The next step is to cut and apply the wooden frame. I could just use wide packaging tape to make an all crate board crate, but then our shipping costs would go up. Our rates are discounted by using a wood framed crate that will support the weight of some other object being placed on top of it in the truck. So, to keep your costs down, we do the wood-framed crate instead of a cardboard box.

When all the glue is dry and the screws are in I build a skid-base for the crate, attach it with screws so it will be easy to remove upon delivery and set the crate in the “chute” ready to be loaded onto our truck tomorrow morning for the trip to White Pine and Old Dominion’s freight dock. Not making them come get it saves you $75.00. Beside, our little mountain road scares the willies out of those big tough truck drivers!

The whole process takes a good full day. Plus some time tomorrow putting unused crate board and Styrofoam back up in the loft and setting the shop up for woodworking again and that’s after driving to White Pine. We charge you nothing for this day of work and the materials used, or for the trip to White Pine in the morning.

So, we’re done with this project. Next up will be Carol’s hickory tray table set.


Monday, February 5

Monday – Reassembly

Another of those brisk, damp mornings. It took over an hour and a half to get the workshop warm enough to shoot the final coat of lacquer.

Once that was dry, I began reinstalling the hinges, latches and the lift.

Then I had to totally rearrange the tools in my shop to make a space big enough to photograph this baby in.

I’ll let the lacquer harden really well overnight before wrapping it in Styrofoam.


Friday, February 2

Friday – Shooting Lacquer

It was a cold, drizzly day today. Not as cold as it has been though – which is good because today I must balance my need for warmth against my desire not to be blown to bits.

Warmth is needed not only for my own comfort, but to get the lacquer to lay-out properly and to dry. It is quite humid today which will slow the drying process but low temperatures compound the problem. But, lacquer fumes are very flammable and my shop is heated by a wood burning stove. Flames and volatile vapors can result in a spectacular fireball. Discretion is advised. Lacquer vapor is also deadly so I will don my Doug-Vader breathing apparatus. Lacquer, like most finishes, are perfectly safe once the thinner has evaporated or cured out of them.

It took all day, but I got all the various parts shot with two good coats. Next time I will scuff sand and polish them, then put it all back together.


Thursday, February 1

Thursday – Finish Sanding

This morning we awoke to cold temps and a grey sky that threatened to make honest men of our weather forecasters, who have been calling for a snowstorm. So, I used the morning session to revise the bid on Marilyn & Blake’s curio and take care of the month end bookkeeping. Dan was quite prompt on making the payment that was due. So there will be no delay in completing his cabinet. By lunch time the sun was out and what little snow had fallen was melting away. Time to go sand. Watching someone sand is about as exciting as watching paint dry or grass grow, so there’s no point it trying to take photos. I will need to remove all the hardware then sand everything to 150 grit. With luck I’ll be ready to start shooting lacquer tomorrow afternoon. Doug-Bob