Wednesday, June 25

Tray Rails

Posted here are brief notes about our actual daily progress. Start to finish details on this type of project are Available Here
Today we made and attached the tray rails to Kathleen's HD TV Tray Tables. The construction article for this step is available for your inspection HERE. Since I had some extra time left, I also got started on making the spreader parts. We will look at that tomorrow.

Monday, June 23

Sanding Ribbon Panels

I started off the new week by cleaning up the ribbon panels we glued up for Kathleen's HD TV Tray Tables then sanding them smooth and flat. Then I cut out the backer panels and attached the ribbon panels to the backers. I am re-writing the construction article for this step because we now have a wide drum sander and no longer have to spend an extra day smoothing half-panels then joining them into full panels. I will have that done and posted for your inspection tomorrow. Posted here are brief notes about our actual daily progress. Start to finish details on this type of project are Available Here

Friday, June 20

Ribbon panels

Today I made ribbon strips for Kathleen's HD TV Tray Tables by ripping down chunks of lumber from yesterday's activities, then started gluing the ribbons into tray panels. More photos and details are available HERE.

Thursday, June 19

Parts Blanks

Thumbnail pictures can be enlarged by clicking them. Start to finish details on this type of project are Available Here

Marie and the Legal Beagle have given me permission to proceed with Kathleen's HD TV Tray Tables even though we have not yet received the check for the 2nd progress payment. I hate to delay the other orders too much, and even if Kathleen should skip the country on us we can always sell a set of cherry TV Tables. So, we forge ahead.

Skinned LumberI start off by running the rough lumber through the surface planer to just skin off enough of the rough, "tanned" surface to see clearly what the coloring and graining is underneath. Then I take the skinned boards into the assembly room, which will for today serve as a staging area, and lean them up against the wall so they are all where I can see them. The templates then join us and I begin the process of selecting which boards will become which parts.

Lumber prepAs I lay out the various parts on the boards, I chunk up the long lumber into billets using the chop saw for cross-cutting and the table saw for ripping. These billets are stacked on a rolling cart (on the left) along with the templates for each part.

Lumber prepThat uses up most of the morning. The rest of the day is spent trimming and planing the billets to parts blank dimensions. By the end of the day all of the parts blanks are done and we are ready to begin forming parts... but we'll do that next time.

Wednesday, June 18

Starting a new project

Today (Wednesday) we start a new order; Kathleen's HD TV Tray Tables. No, these are no High Definition, they are Heavy Duty, which just means they are built a bit beefier to be a bit more rigid than the Classic version, which are no wimps themselves. But, there is a hitch... (Click Here) to read more. (Please note that the above link leads to a page that is updated every day, so the information it presents changes daily.)

Tuesday, June 17


Today I completed the three cutting boards, I've been making for John, Jim, and Dan, even made up the custom cartons and got them shipped out. Well... Mostly... Doug

Cutting Boards

This week I am building three cutting boards; two are Over The Sink Cutting Boards, one for John, one for Jim, and the third is a custom, countertop board with handles for Dan.

Details are HERE.


Friday, June 13

Cut Boards

Today I milled out the strips I need to make the three cutting boards that are on order, jointed them on our new sander and glued them back together into cutting board blanks. Why do I cut boards apart just to glue them back together? Mostly it is to be sure the boards don’t warp. By ripping the wood into narrow strips, turning them 90 degrees and gluing them back together we pretty much eliminate the chance of the wood shrinking unevenly and warping the cutting board. As the boards came out of the clamps I scraped the glue pips off and sanded them smooth (removing any ridges or misalignments at the seams). We now have the three blanks needed to make the cutting boards. On Monday I will begin trimming the blanks to size and shaping the boards to fit the templates provided. Have a great weekend! Doug

Wednesday, June 11


I recently heard from a couple of my loyal readers who wished to chastise me mildly for not posting updates to the construction article for the Garden Benches, they’ve been waiting patiently since I posted the page on Long Rails.

This morning Tim and I made quick work of mummifying the last bench and loading all three on his trailer so he was on his way several hours earlier than we had anticipated – a good thing too since it’s thunder storming here now, as it did yesterday. We were given a window of beautiful weather to load and send Tim & Kat over the mountains.

Unfortunately the storms have prevented me from opening up the lumber piles to extract the maple I need to build three cutting boards. So I decided to use this time to get caught up on my article writing and get some badly needed rest.

So, Long Rails has been updated and completed, and you may step through the rest of the article by clicking the NEXT link at the bottom of each page.

I’m going to do some cleaning up and putting away in here then, as soon as the rain lets up enough to get back to the house safely, I’m going to go take a nap!


Tuesday, June 10


The last bench is in the finishing room for it’s final coat of oil and I’ve mummified the other two benches with cellophane wrap to help protect them should Tim drive through any wet weather while enroute to Vermont. Since the benches will not be stacked in the back of a semi-trailer with tens of tons of other cargo there is no need for crates – which would require delaying shipment another two days to build the crates. The out door finish on the benches will protect them from rain, but I don’t want them to arrive all covered in road grime and sludge, the plastic wrapping will help repel that.

Tim will be up here tomorrow afternoon to load and head out, and he expects to arrive at their destination Thursday afternoon. So… this one is about done.

Next up: more cutting boards.


Monday, June 9

Finishing Line

Since my last post, with a good deal of help from Marie and Tim, we got all the parts sanded, and two benches completely assembled, finish sanded and the first coat of oil on.

This morning I applied the second coat of oil to the first bench and have been assembling the third bench while that dries. Its frame is completed and in clamps now, I have only to install the seat slats and plug the screw holes and do the finish sanding.

I will continue to alternate between assembling and finishing today. As soon as the first bench is dry enough that it will not act as a dust magnet I’ll roll it out and take the other bench in for its second coat. It takes about an hour and a half to oil and wipe one of these benches. Hopefully this evening I will be able to apply the first coat to the third bench.

This finish requires a minimum of 24 hours of cure time between coats, so I can not apply the second coat to the third bench until Tuesday evening, and the trio of English Garden benches should be ready to hit the road to Vermont Wednesday afternoon.

Once they are on their way, I am going to take a well deserved day off. I’ll use part of that to complete the construction article on these benches. Until then, I’m focusing on getting them completed.


Friday, June 6

Home Stretch

For the past few days (or weeks, it's hard to say they all blend together so much right now) I’ve been working hard and steady on getting James’ 3 garden benches built. Typically I come in between 3:30 and 4:30 AM and work until 9:00-10:00 PM.

Tim has been coming in a couple of times per day to at least keep me company and lend a hand when he can. Tim, a retired trucker will be making this delivery for me because he can get them there in one day where the truck line will take two, and by loading them onto his trailer, wrapped in plastic instead of having to build crates for them I can save another two days of production time. That’s 3 days saved… might be just enough to meet our revised deadline.

The mortising bit that I ordered – and paid extra to place as a RUSH order – finally showed up yesterday. It took a week to get here, then it doesn’t fit! So it’s going back. Fortunately I was NOT sitting around waiting on the bit, but came up with a way to use a 3/8” mortising chisel to cut the ¾” mortises; it just takes four times as many cuts to accomplish, and required rigging an adjustable jig to move the piece being mortised in and out from the fence exactly 3/8” when I was ready to make the second pass. That took a while, but it worked. Good thing too, since things worked out as they did.

At this point in time I have all the end frame joinery cut, the parts fitted and dry-assembled (no glue), the back assembly is fitted and dry-assembled, and the front rail/seat support assembly is fitted and dry assembled. All that remains in the construction phase is to mill out the seat slats, then knock everything apart again, sand to 100 grit and start gluing parts back together.

Once that’s all done we’ll move on to the finishing stage.

We have been snapping photos as we go along, but have not had time to format them and write the accompanying text. We’ve been concentrating on getting the woodworking done since this trio of benches needs to be *Unloading* in Vermont one week from now, and the finishing alone will take 3 days to accomplish. I’ll complete the construction diary as soon as I get some slack in the schedule.

So I’d better get back to work, got to go make seat slats!