Monday, March 26

Address Change Notice

Greetings! We have moved the In The Shop blog to an in-house server. You may continue following our adventures by [Clicking Here]. Why have we taken this step? Primarily because the page load times here at blogger are getting longer and longer. While it *could* be blamed on our pokey dial-up internet connection, that's not really the case, for I spend a lot of time with the modem idle and a message on the browser saying "Waiting for". I suppose that's the price to pay for using a very popular site. So, we've gone in-house. What's the old addage about restaurants: "Oh, no one ever goes there anymore; it's too busy." These articles will stay here as an archive file for as long as Blogger will allow them to stay, and the Doug-Bob blog will continue to post to Blogger... at least for now. Thanks for dropping in!

Thursday, March 15

Wednesday - More Little Jobs

Today I completed the finishing on Judy's back-ordered bag handes and pulled the maple I'll need for John's stopper rack and tile frame. I also worked a good deal on the entertainment center design for Marie. I got to where I needed some feedback from her on details, so I turned my attention to bookkeeping for the late part of the afternoon. John wants a stopper rack that is 5 tiers high and has space for 7 stopper on each tier, and he wants it all made of maple but with the body stained Classic Cherry. I've worked out the math and the lay-out design for these design modifications. The maple needs to have a few days to acclimate to the workshop environment before we start cutting into it. The entertainment center is going to be a hair-puller; it's a built-in. Normally I don't do built-ins because that really requires that I be able to get very precise measurements of the space and install pieces as they are built. A little difficult to do when I'm in Tennessee and my client is in California, or Florida, or New York. But this gal is local, so it can be done. The last time we tried this was for Rev. Calvin's "Pastor's Study"; two huge bookcases with a large computer desk between them that spanned the entire end of a room and had a large window over the desk. It turned out well, everything fit -- although I was worried for a bit about one part. The biggest problem with built-ins is that builders rarely build houses with walls that are straight and square to one another. Professional cabinet makers have ways of compensating for these errors, but I'm not a cabinetmaker and never have been . The "cabinets" I make are all free-standing, not hung on a wall. There are major differences between the two styles. I don't know the cabinet makers tricks but I'm learning a few of my own to help compensate for the inaccuracies of house builders. These things keep life interesting. Doug-Bob

Tuesday, March 13

Tuesday – Bag Handles

Before I launch into the next big project I’m going to get a couple of the small things out of the way – since we do have some slack in the production schedule for a change.

What I’m planning for today is to get at least one pair of cherry bag handles made to complete Judy’s order. Her walnut handles were “on-hand” and have been shipped, but the cherry ones have to be made up. If I can get a pair or two extra done while I’m at it, so much the better.

Had I received this order a few days earlier I could have included them in the handle run Brian and I just did (50 pair in walnut) – Brian put the final coat of finish on them yesterday so they should be ready to ship out today – if Ros’ payment shows up. But it didn’t come in until after the other run was underway, so we’ll do them as a “one-off” order. I will, however, include some cherry handles in the next batch.

There is still indecision as to the design of the Futon Sofa for Dolly, so that order will get skipped for now, and we’ll proceed with the walnut entertainment center for Marie.

To start that I need to draw up a formal design; since this is a completely custom piece. I’ll start on that after making Judy’s handles.

I got two pair of cherry handles made and the first coat of oil on. They have to cure overnight and another coat applied tomorrow morning.


Monday – Playing Hooky

Since we are a few days ahead of the production schedule, I have an opportunity to dip into the Honey Do jar and get something done around the house. My assignment for today: paint the kitchen.

I got that done, but it will need a second coat to look its best.


Friday, March 9

Friday – Finishing

Today is the big day – in more ways than one. First, this is the day we finish sand and shoot Edmond’s table with lacquer. But it’s also the day we close on our mortgage that will allow us to acquire a larger workshop. So we have lots to celebrate.

Finish sanding is always done by hand and under a bright light here, it gives us the chance to scrutinize the piece as we work it over, we’ll catch the little things that were difficult to see while building it and fix them before they spoil the finish we’re about to apply.

After hand sanding with 150 grit non-loading paper, we vacuum it and tack rag it to remove all sanding dust. Then we break out the lacquer and our HVLP sprayer and apply one good coat. Lacquer will – most times – be ready to sand in a half hour instead of eight hours as most oil based finishes require. So we can scuff sand it, re-coat, scuff it again and apply a third coat all in one day. I will be able to get the skim-coat of polyurethane (applied only to the tray top to protect it from modern living) applied before closing up for the night. That will give it plenty of time to cure out.
Then I can package it up Monday morning and it will be ready to go out on Monday’s UPS truck.
I like Edmond’s choice of woods; the walnut and cherry look good together. Hope you enjoy it Edmond!


Thursday, March 8

Thursday – Leg Set

I spent the morning making the parts for the leg set and assembling them. This process starts out with my set of templates. Some are just thin pieces of plywood cut to shape with screw hole locations (and other openings) laid out on them. Some, like the template for the legs, are far more complex and I wonder if anyone who has not used them before would be able to make sense of them. They are essentially a list of reminders and all the critical screw hole locations.

Then the shaping begins. We use the band saw, drill press, router table, and stationary belt sander to shape the blanks we milled out yesterday and to drill counter-bored screw holes and pilot holes for the screws that will hold the table together and act as pivot points.

I pre-finish areas that will be difficult to get finish to after the legs are assembled and put it all together with glue and screws.

After lunch I take the table top we made yesterday out of the band clamp and use the router table to round over the edges of the rails and do a construction sanding on it. This uses 100 grit paper and is intended to remove rough spots, ridges and saw marks. We’ll finish sand later.

Now I test fit the leg set and latch block to the under side of the tray table. No glue yet. Does everything fit as it should? Does everything move as it should? Does the latch block snap through the opening in the upper spreader? If not, now is the time to make adjustments.

When I’m satisfied that all is well, I glue the leg mount blocks in place and glue the latch block assembly in place and clamp it all together snugly. Now it has to sit for a while to let the glue bond up good and tight.

It’s a little early to quit, but I do have an order I took by phone to process and some chores in the office to take care of, so this is as good a time to take care of that as any.

See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 7

Wednesday – Tray Top

This morning I started off by working up a bid that was requested a couple of days ago. Then I headed for the shop to trim the cherry panel we made yesterday for Edmond's Heavy Duty Tray Table to finished size, cut a backer board to mount it to and mounted it. Then I milled out the walnut rails that go around the top, grooved them and mitered them to length.

After dry fitting them to be sure they fit properly, I applied glue inside the rail grooves and bonded them to the backer board of the tray panel – NOT to the cherry panel. This needs to be free to expand and contract with humidity. A band clamp holds everything tightly together overnight.

I finished out the afternoon by roughing out the blanks needed for the leg assembly and trimming them to size.

I have to knock off a bit early this afternoon to attend a meeting. Tomorrow we’ll make the parts for the rest of the table.

See you then!


Tuesday, March 6

Tuesday – Deja Vu

Yestarday (Monday) we suffered a computer conundrum. It was one of those things taht happens to everyone who uses a computer long enough. I managed to get it straightened out, but it took most of the day. It probably would have taken someone more knowleagable about 15 minutes. In the end, the only real damage we suffered was the loss of a whole bunch of e-mail messages. Distressing, but not the end of the world.

Today’s task seemed mighty familiar somehow... maybe because we’re making another tray table. This morning I had to take the truck and make a propane run and take care of some errands that have been needing to be done. This afternoon I cross cut some figured cherry planed it down and ripped it into ribbon stock on the band saw.

Then I edge glued the ribbons into half panels. When the glue was set up enough to get away with it, I surface planed the half-panels, jointed the center edges and glued them into a full panel.

This I’ll let set in clamps overnight.

See you then!


Monday, March 5

Weekend – Packing It Up

Over the course of the weekend I got Carols tray tables packaged up and ready to ship out on Monday.

The process starts with a trip up a ladder into the loft above the workshop where we store packaging materials; boxes of all sizes, bubble wrap, packing paper, sheets of Styrofoam and panels of crate board. Here we have some sheets of crate board atop my 4 foot by 8 foot sheets of Styrofoam. I won’t be needing the crate board this time, but I do need the Styrofoam. Why is it that whatever I need is always on the bottom? I do have plans to build a rack for this stuff so that I can get both products out when needed. But that’s one of those “when I have some spare time” projects. So for now I pull down all the crate board and snag a sheet of stryro.

I used to buy this stuff from a Pack & Ship outlet in Morristown until I discovered that the local lumberyard has a very similar product for half the cost. They call it “whiteboard” and it’s used for insulating buildings. This version is just a tad more brittle that the packaging foam, so I have to handle large sheets more carefully, but it works just as well for my purposes.

It takes half of a 4x8 foot sheet (plus some scraps) to package a set of tray tables. Normally I have to cut a full sheet in half using a utility knife, but this time I found a half-sheet up there ready to be used. So I put my dedicated Styrofoam blade on the table saw (the plastic foam melts a little as it’s being cut with a circular saw, gumming up the blade so I don’t use my woodworking blades for this) I cut the panel into 2 24”x36” pieces and 2 11”x24” pieces. The rest is cut up into small pieces as needed with a knife.

Then it’s back up the ladder to retrieve a box. We have these boxes custom made by a box factory in Morristown specifically for use with these tray table sets, since we sell so many of them. The box is just *barely* within the limits of UPS guidelines for an OS2 package, and gives us just enough space to securely package the tables. The boxes come folded flat and stacked 100 to a pallet, which we then have to restack in the loft. So I pull one out, fold it into a box and tape the bottom closed.

After laying a pad on the table saw, which serves as my workbench as well right now, I begin the process of packaging up the tables; blocks of foam keep the tables from damaging one another or the stand during shipment. Wrappings of stretch wrap hold everything together. Some places are reinforced with packaging tape, but only over the stretch wrap. Tape never touches the wood. Then the pairs of trays are placed in the stand and the whole bundle tied together with more stretch wrap and packaging tape.

The big box is lined with styro panels; bottom and both ends. The tables are laid in place – they just barely fit; we designed the box that way – the spaces on the sides are filled with crumpled or shredded paper, then another sheet of styro goes on top before the box is closed up and taped securely.

”FRAGILE” stickers are put on each side and the top and the box is weighed. The weight doesn’t really mean anything here because OS2 packages are billed on a “dimensional weight” scale rather than by their actual weight unless the package exceeds the dimensional weight. These hickory tables are considerably heavier than most: 39 pounds where most sets weigh 8 to 10 pounds less. Dimensional weight on OS2 packages is 70 pounds, so we still don’t come close to exceeding that. But the UPS on-line shipping utility requires that a weight be input or it won't process the label.

And that’s it, we’re done! The package goes out on the dock for Willis to pick up with his big brown truck and in a few days these tables will be gracing the home of Tim & Carol. We hope they’ll enjoy them.

We also hope they’ll take the trouble to log into the SMW website and offer a Product Review on these tables so others will know what they thought of our work.

Now it’s time to clean up the shop, put all the packaging stuff back away so we can get started on Ed’s custom HD Tray Table on Monday.

See you then!


Friday, March 2

Friday – Shooting Lacquer

What a beautiful day for shooting lacquer. It was pretty chilly this morning, so I went back to milling out walnut billets for bag handles, but after lunch – once the sun came over the mountain – it was warming up nicely. A clear blue sky, just a bit of a breeze, and 60°. Perfect!

So, I put away all the tools and vacuumed the shop thoroughly to get rid of the sawdust and wood chips. Then vacuumed Carols tables, tack ragged them and set up the HVLP sprayer.

It takes about 30 minutes to shoot one coat on all 5 pieces, then I have to let the finish harden up for 45 minutes to an hour, scuff sand and shoot another coat. Three coats usually does it. When that’s dry I apply a skim-coat (very thin layer) of tung-oil polyurethane to just the tops of the tray panels. This helps protect the finish from spills and sweaty glasses that would leave white rings in the lacquer.

The poly needs to catalyze for at eight hours, then they’ll be ready to package and ship out. I may get that done tomorrow – though we don’t usually work on Saturday -- I’m a little behind schedule because of extracurricular activities, I need to make up that time.


Thursday, March 1

Thursday – Finish Sanding

I spent all morning finish sanding Carols tray table set. This we always do by hand, no power equipment because it gives us a good opportunity to scrutinize everything. I look for blemishes that need fixing, anything that doesn’t fit exactly right, etc. We set each table and the stand up on the table saw – which is our only guaranteed perfectly flat surface – to see that they set level; all four feet touching.

Normally I would then vacuum and tack ragged them then set up to shoot the lacquer. But today it is pouring rain. Way too humid for lacquer. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler but dry, so I’ll shoot them tomorrow.

Instead I spent most of the afternoon resawing and surface planning walnut lumber for Ros’ bag handle order. I pulled out what I thought I would need but by the time I cut out the gnarly bits I didn’t have quite enough for 50 pair, so will have to put in another session tomorrow or Saturday.

I was forced to take a break this afternoon when it was pointed out to me that the horrendous winds we were having today had torn up some of the tin siding on one corner of our new building. NOT GOOD!! So I had to go fix that. Thankfully, it stopped raining long enough for me to do this, then started up again just as I was done.

See you tomorrow.