Friday, October 30

Completing the Case, Starting the Base

I'm sorry folks, I've kind of forgotten to pop in here and write up the summary of each days' activitiy this week. So, let me get you caught up.
We have sanded, lacquered, and assembled the pieces that make up the desk case, so taht much is completed and ready. CLICK HERE to read all about that.
Then we milled the parts to build a base, and test fitted them. CLICK HERE for the scoop on that. So, we're rounding third and heading for home. Just need to jazz up the base structure some before we glue it all together and lacquer it and it will be ready to hand off to David.
Tune in next week for the final episodes on this project!

Monday, October 26

Top Struts

This was a very weird day. One of those days where everyone wants something and all that takes up so much time that you don't get what you planned to do done. Except that I did get what I planned for today done, but that too is weird because of the way it all worked out. Just one paragraph added today. Click here and scroll down if you want to follow along.

Friday, October 23

Hinges, Jigs & Doors

Today we did a jig, whacked a bevel and used some Chem Class knowlege to make shiny-new into grungy-old in just minutes. Read all about it HERE

Wednesday, October 21

Building the Box

I got a late start on things this morning because of a doctor visit – trying to get this bad hip patched up some. When I got in I took measurements of the changing table, added 2” to each dimension and crawled up into the loft above the lumber shed where we keep our boxes, looking for one that was at least this big, but not too much bigger. No luck. The only one I had that was big enough was SO big that I’d spend most of the day cutting it down – or spend a fortune in shipping fees because it would be way over-sized. If I’m going to spend lots of time on a box, I’d just as soon spend it making a box that fits properly. I used ½”, triple corrugated crate board for the side walls – corrugations running vertically to resist crushing. I reinforced the corners with blocks on the inside, used spray web cement to hold it all together. Once assembled I cut a top and bottom from ¼” corrugated sheet and attached the bottom to the sides with fiberglass reinforced strapping tape at the corners, then sealed the sides with duct tape. I laid in a pad of shredded paper in the bottom, set the table in place and stuffed shred around the sides. Shredded paper has good cushioning properties, is biodegradable and cheap to acquire, so I prefer it over foam peanuts or plastic bubble pack. Marie has some things she wants to include, so as soon as those are in I’ll finish packing the box with paper, affix the lid and ship it off… if I can get the UPS man to come make a pick-up. We have a new man on the route. The old guy, Willis, has been on the route since before we got here 9 years ago and has always been super reliable and bent overt backwards to be sure we got the best service possible. Suddenly Willis is gone and we have a new guy who is… well, let’s say he’s NOT Willis and let it go at that. OK, this one is done. Marie and I conferred on the hinge debacle and she approved my solution, so tomorrow I’ll gather up my courage and begin cutting into the case to facilitate that solution. Join us if you dare!

Tuesday, October 20

Changing Table

Today we're going to take a break from the desk as I ponder the hinge situation and make up a small project that is coming due very soon. This is a Changing Table built as a fixture that can be slipped on top of a chest of drawers when needed, but can be removed and stowed out of the way when not needed.
We start with the design drawings I made up, sent to Brian for approval and were amended to suit the size of their changing pad. I use them to lay out the lumber for cutting. Brian and Mary wanted this to be made of pine so they can paint it to match their chest of drawers. The local big box store carries "whitewood" as their version of construction grade pine -- who know what it really is. But this stuff tends to be very knotty, twisted, warped and generally nasty stuff. It may be usable for trimming out a house, but for furniture it's garbage. So when I need this sort of stuff I go to our local "real" lumber yard and buy spruce trim boards. It costs more, but the quality is much better.
Once the boards are all laid out I start cutting the parts by cross cutting them on the chop saw -- chop saw is slang for a compound miter saw. Generally "chop saw" is reserved for a low end version that is used primarily for cutting down long planks to a manageable size, mine is not top-of-the-line, but it's not a cheapo either, and it does a good job of mitering boards when needed. Once the pieces for the base plate are roughed out I joint them, then glue and clamp them into a panel. I'll leave this to set up while I cut out the other parts. Once the glue has set up I use the wide drum sander to smooth and prettify the panel. This takes two passes on each side Then I trim it to width and length on the table saw. I use the rip fence for trimming the width, and a cut-off sled (shown here) to trim the ends. Finally, I use a hand-held router to round-over the corners of the base plate. I leave the corner that will be the lower edge on the back side square because a cleat will be attached flush with that edge. Our router table is set up for another use, and the routing needed for this project is minimal, so I choose -- instead of changing the router table over then having to set it up for the desk project again later -- to use a "poor man's router table -- by clamping the router upside down in my bench vise and just using the base plate as a mini-table. Since I'm using only a piloted round-over bit a fence is not needed, so this works just fine to shape the edges of the few boards that make up this project. The changing table will be held in place on the top of Brian and Mary's chest of drawers by a series of cleats affixed to the bottom of the table with screws. I drill counter-bores for these screws in the cleats now using the drill press. I'll glue and screw only the rear cleat, the others will be held just with screws so they can be adjusted should need be. The side rails have a high section at the head, then get lower at the "business" end of the table to make it easier to work with the baby and diaper. I cut that shape into the side rails now using the band saw equipped with a 1/4" 10 TPI band. I refine the curvy parts and dress the freshly cut edges using a medium diameter sanding drum mounted in the drill press. I dry-fit the parts to be sure they fit as they should, then apply glue and clamps. I'll give the glue a while to tack up, then drive in some 2" finish nails to reinforce the joints, countersink them and fill over the heads with wood putty. Because this will get painted, I really don't need to get any fancier than that. The washer-headed screws that I want to use to hold the cleats to the underside of the base are just a smidge too long -- because I sanded the base plate to smooth it, reducing it's thickness just a smidge. Two passes on each side removing 1/128" on each pass, so in this case a smidge is 1/128 X 4 = 1/32 of an inch. So to prevent the points of the screws from poking through the top side of the base I use a bench grinder to blunt the screws... just a smidge. I glue and screw the rear cleat in place, clamp each of the other cleats in their place, use a sharp screw to cut the screw hole - but don't drive it all the way in - remove it, and install a blunted screw for the permanent mounting. Then I lay-out where the rail assembly will go and drill pilot holes through from the top, flip the base plate over and countersink the screw holes from underneath so the screw heads will not scratch up their chest of drawers. Once all the screws are installed, it looks like this. All that remains to do is to sand the putty I put into the nail holes smooth and it's ready to box up and send to Brian and Mary so they can prime and paint to to match the rest of their nursery. Their little one is due in a couple of weeks, so it was necessary to get this piece done and on it's way now. I hope all three of them will enjoy using this changing table.

Friday, October 16

Door Dilema

Today I am continuing to attempt to solve the problem we had with the combination hinge/supports used on the drop front of this desk. As you may recall, the units I originally bought would not lay out flat, causing the drop-front part of the desk to slant up toward the user and create an awkward working surface.
So I replaced them with a set from another manufacturer. The function is the same, but the design is a little different. These *do* lay out flat as they should, but because the knuckle of the hinge sits well above the plane of the hinge strap instead of in-line with the hinge strap as the others did, when the hinge closes it LIFTS the door as it hinges up creating about a 1/2" gap at the bottom of the door. When I mortise the hinges into the desk bottom and door the gap will be reduced by 1/8", but it will still be visible.
The only solution I can come up with at the moment is to cut matching bevels on the desk bottom and the door creating a lip that will stick down when the door is closed to help hide the gap. The only other solution I can come up with would be to go back to the first hinges and try to "stretch" them out to lay flat, which may simply destroy them. If I modify them I can not return them for credit or refund. As Winnie The Pooh would say in this situation, "Think, think, think... I think I need some honey." only in my case it would be chocolate.
While I'm thinking I am continuing work on the cubby assembly. (More...)

Thursday, October 15

Making Cubby Parts

Today I milled the parts that will become the cubby assembly. Not without problems though... we had to do a little re-designing on the fly. More...

Wednesday, October 14

Completing parts blanks.

This morning I had some errands to run before starting work, these included buying lumber for Brian and Mary's changing table - I need spruce for that and don't stock it here, and I needed to run to Cosby to pick up some saw blades that had been sharpened.
Then I got ready to swap out the new drop-front hinges for the old ones and trimmed all the cubby parts blanks to size. More On This...
To swap the hinges I needed to plug the old screw holes and lay-out new ones. I custom made the tiny dowel-like plugs by hand for the end screws on the lid because they will show. For the others, which will be under the hinges I used epoxy wood filler. The new screw holes are quite close to the old ones, and I need the old ones to be filled in solid so the new screws will hold well. The lid now lays out flat like it should, but these brass hinges are thicker than the finished steel ones were, so I will want to mortise them into the surface, and I will need to soak them in Brass Darkening Solution to antique them to match the rest of the hardware. I'll detail these steps when we get to the Mounting The Lid step later on.

Thursday, October 8

Top Plate

We're still dealing with the drop-front hinge problem (details), but have forged ahead with making the top plate. Details are (HERE).

Wednesday, October 7

Completing Top & Bottom

Today we completed making the parts for the top rails and bottom plate and mounted some hardware. We ran into a snag with some of that hardware, however... More...

Tuesday, October 6

Top and Bottom Parts

Today we made the bottom plate, top rails, and milled the joinery that will attach these parts to the side panels. We closed out the day by dry-fitting the casework. Details and more photos are HERE.

Monday, October 5

Trimming the Ears

The final step in preparation of the frame & panel assemblies is to insure that the panels won't crack from contraction and glue them up. Full details are HERE.

Friday, October 2

Filler Panels

Today we completed the filler panels and fit them to the panel frames. The full story is HERE.
I also did a little bank burning, so now I smell of kerosene and wood smoke. Time to go home and take a shower.

Thursday, October 1


For the past few days I've been working on milling the rail and stile stock for David's Compact Computer Desk. That task has been completed and I will move on to making the filler panels that go into the frames today. It has taken me quite a while to get this done because of several things. One is the hip injury that still harrasses me, another is our Economic Disaster Survival Plan. In order to survive slow periods like the one our country is currently experiencing we have diversified our revenue streams. This is working for us: now that the woodworking is slow other income sources have picked up and we are avoiding the fate that has befallen so many other small shops. But working in those other arenas means I'm slower at getting this project done. Fortunately, our client is being patient with us. Normally I would just work longer days to get a reasonable amount of work done on all fronts, but the hip is preventing me from doing that. If I push it too hard, the thing will never heal.