Friday, November 27

Shooting Doors

No, I'm not going hunting for some strange and unusual forest creature, I am full-up of turkey, dressing and yams from yesterday, thank you. The shooting I'm doing today is that of applying lacquer to the three doors I have completed staining for Carl with an HVLP spray gun.
This means that I'll actually be spending most of the day waiting for lacquer to dry, but while waiting there are plenty of things I can be doing to fill those half-hour windows between lacquer applications.
In each shooting session I apply one coat of lacquer to one face and one edge of all three doors. When it's dry I turn the doors around and shoot the opposide face and edge of each door. After two full coats are on and completely dry I scuff sand the doors with a fine sanding sponge to smooth the finish, tack rag away the sanding dust and shoot the three doors with one more complete coat. They will then be left to harden well overnight before I take them back out to the assembly room where they will be stored until Carl comes to pick them up and bring me another load. In the mean time, I still have two doors on hand to sand and stain, as well as the work on the steamer trunks to do. I will not get bored.

Thursday, November 26

Banding the Case

While waiting for stain on doors to set up so I can move the one I was working on out of the way and bring in another, I work on a steamer trunk. I have already milled long strips of stock from which I will cut the banding pieces in the same way I did the banding for the lid, except that I don’t need to bevel the ends; this will be straight, flat panel work and nice square ends are preferred. But I do need to make the lock shims. The pattern is made for use with both long and short shank trunk locks, I’ll be using the short lock here, so I line up the pattern with the short lock line on the edge of my stock and trace around the pattern with a fine tip felt pen. I applied masking tape around where the pattern will lie so the lines I make will be easier to see than they would on the dark colored walnut and so that when the shaping is done I can just peel away the tape and there will be no marks to deal with. I cut out the shape on the band saw, leaving just a little wood outside of the line which allows me to sand the piece to precise shape, and remove the saw marks. This sanding is done with a stationary belt sander for the long, straight parts, a small sanding drum chucked into the drill press (shown here) and the fine detail work is done by hand with fine sandpaper glued to a tongue depressor to shape the small notches. Installing the banding is done like before; laying out the locations carefully then insuring a good snug fit between banding and rails so we will get a good glue joint. There is nothing inside the trunk to nail into this time, so fitting is especially important. When all the banding is installed I sand the exterior of the case with 100 grit paper to smooth it all out, then glue and clamp the tray supports in place inside the case.
And that completes construction of the case of the trunk.

Tuesday, November 24

Side Job

A side job came in this afternoon. Carl, a fellow who used to live near here and for whom I once built a large [Gun Cabinet] is building a new home in Bybee TN and wants me to stain and finish his interior doors. He has 8 or 9 of them, most all are simple flat doors, so it is not a big hairy deal to do this. I gave him a good price and am grateful for the work. I also received bid requests on two other jobs on Monday and have produced the bids and sent them out. Now we wait. But, while we wait, I’ll stain and lacquer doors.

Friday, November 20

Assembling the Case

We will start this process by pulling out the trunk case that we have dry fitted previously and tapping off one end panel with a mallet. Because each joint was hand fitted, and we want them to fit just as well when we get done, we will not dismantle the entire case at this point. After removing one corner piece, applying glue and placing it back on the end assembly, we tap off the other corner piece and glue it up. Then we make sure the upper and lower edges are aligned and apply clamps. This assembly will sit until the glue tacks up. When it’s ready we can glue and clamp the end piece to the front and back panels. Note that none of the filler panels in any of these pieces are glued to either the rails or the corner posts, this is so the panels are free to expand and contract as needed so they won't crack in dry weather. The opposite end remains loose so it can be removed, but is left in place for now so I can check to see that the casework is square. While the glue tacks up I’ll trim the floor boards to length and rip the two outer planks so the assembly is the right width. I am careful to sand away the fuzz-bits left from the sawed edge as these will interfere with fitting the planks into the case later – the tolerances are close. Then I can remove the clamps and the loose end piece. I glue and clamp that end piece while I fit the floor boards. The floor boards are slipped into their groove from the open end, which spreads out a little to make this easier, and I make sure the splines are seated between each floor board as they go in. There is no glue used here either. These splines lock the floor boards together to keep the floor flat, and to prevent very small stuff from falling through the floor should the floor boards shrink up in dry weather. Then the other end piece is test fitted to be sure everything fits as it should, with no binding and no gaps, then tapped back off, and glue is applied. Finally the front and back rails are flushed up top and bottom on the open end and clamps are applied. I check the completed case for square and, just for giggles, set the lid in place to see how they fit together. It all looks good from here. So, I’ll let the glue in this assembly set up overnight and we’ll get started banding the case in our next episode. Before we get to that I will repeat this process on the walnut trunk but there is no point in photographing that as it is the same process as shown here.

Wednesday, November 18

Floor Boards

Today we will make the floor boards for our two steamer trunks. We start by cross-cutting rough sawn boards to rough length. We cut a set in walnut and one in oak.

Then we joint one wide face and one edge smooth, flat and straight.

The jointed edges are marked with triagles, each pointing to the edge they share. At this point is is easily to see which faces have been jointed because the other two are still rough, but in a while it will not be so easy.

Next the blanks are run through the surface planer, jointed side down so the planer knives smooth the upper face and make them parallel to the jointed face. Oh, and we keep doing this until the blanks are reduced to the finished thickness. That takes quite a few passes.

Once that's done I trim the floor boards to width on the table saw - jointed edge to the rip fence so the rough edge gets cut away. Then mount a 45° chamfering bit in the router table to cut small angles on the upper edges then use the table saw to cut slots in the edges of each floor board into which splines will be fitted to lock the floor boards together, yet allow them to expand and contract with humidity changes.

Finally I mill out a mess of splines and set the completed parts aside for sanding. I have 6 wide planks and one narrow center plank for each trunk. I won't cut them to finished size until I get the trunk case parts glued up so I can take precise measurements directly from the trunks themselves. That comes next.

Tuesday, November 17

Banding the Lid

We start the days work by trimming off the screw hole plugs that we installed in our last episode. This is done with a flush cut saw -- the flexible blade makes it possible to get right down flat on the surface of the wood and the fact that the blades' teeth have no set to them (they don't bend over to one side or the other) it does not scratch up the surface of the wood. Because there is no set, it also does not carve out any extra space for the blade to run in and the blade tends to bind when cutting anything but small stock, like these plugs.

Then I rip the banding stock I prepared during the parts making phase to 2" wide and sand it to 1/4" thick. The banding is purely decorative and is generally done in a contrasting wood. On the oak trunk, I'm using walnut. The walnut trunk is all walnut, so the same stock can be used there, and I made enough for both.

Before I start cutting up the strips of banding, I figure out roughly where the cross cuts will be and label each block with a number and an orientation. The idea is to keep the grain pattern flowing along each strip as it is installed on the trunk. This is one of those details that many people (probably) never notice, but I tend to take pride in.

Because the rails of the lid follow along the arch of the lid, these banding pieces need to be slightly beveled on the ends to get a good snug fit. I carefully mark the length, cut it off with the chop saw then bevel the ends on the belt sander with the table tilted down about 5°.

The objective is to get a snug fit between banding pieces and the rails, snug enough that they won't just drop right in, I want to have to tap them in place. When they're all cut I sand the edges (sides) smooth and round over the upper edges (just of the sides) a little, apply glue underneath and to the rails where the banding fits in and tap the banding pieces home.

Had any been cut just a bit too loose, the banding on the lid can be tacked down with finish nails driven into the ribs below. When I get to the banding on the trunk body that is not an option because all that is under the banding is the 1/4" panel, it just has to fit right. But, that was not a problem here; they all fit very well.

Friday, November 13

Finishing assembly of lid

Today we will complete assembly of the walnut trunk lid. We start by clamping the end caps in place, making sure they fit properly and laying out where the screws will go that hold the caps to the rest of the frame. I bore and counter bore teh screw holes, apply glue and install the screws. We will be making an arch from a bunch of flat pieces. Since the panels between the rails do not bend, I want to ease the stress in the joints were teh panels fit into the rails. This will help prevent anything from splitting and will make getting it all to go together a bit easier. I do that by planing a shallow chamfer along both edges of the top surface of the filler panels. This allows for a little "play" in the joint. Not so much that the panels will rattle, just enough to help things along. Then I slip the outer panles in place, pop the middle rails onto them and slip the center panel between the rails from the end and drive it in with a mallet and softwood block. Then I can insert the screws in the top rail. I make my own screw hole plugs from scraps cut off of this project using a plug cutter in the drill press. This allows for a better match between plugs and project, especially since most commercially bought plugs are end-grain (think short pieces of dowel rod) and the plugs I make are face grain, same as the wood they will go into. All that remains is to apply glue to the inside of the counterbores and tap plugs into them. I'll let the glue set up hard before I attempt to cut off the excess length and sand them smooth.

Wednesday, November 11

Gluing Frame

Today I continued working on the steamer trunks by taking the lid frame that I fitted yesterday apart again, applying glue and clamping. I used a tape measure to measure across the diagonals -- if both diagonals measure the same length then the lid is square. If it's not (and it wasn't) I skew the clamps just a little to pull the lid so the long diagonal gets shorter. Measure again, adjust some more if needed until it's right. On a 40" diaganoal like this, if I can get them to measure within 1/16" of being equal I call it good enough and quit.
That took about 30 minutes, the rest of the day was spent solving problems not related to this project in any way.
For information about these trunks, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 10

Trunk Lid Frame

OK, now that the paid-for job is completed it's back to making things for on-hand stock and the items I've been working on are a pair of steamer trunks.
So I gather up the parts needed to make a lid in walnut, sand the inside faces and cut the tenons on the ends of the support ribs so they fit into the mortises in the front and back rails.
By days end I have the frame dry fitted and ready to glue up.

Monday, November 9

Final Assembly

Today I accomplished the final assembly of David's desk - marrying the base to the cabinet. That went well and I set up for a photo shoot of the completed piece. I'll get a better picture of the desk, with laptop and supplies in place later on for the product page.
Now we got to go for the best part - PAY DAY!
Details are HERE

Friday, November 6

Prettification Complete

The base is all prettied up, assembled and is being lacquered as I speak... er, type. I'll let it set over night to harden up well, then it will be ready to be married to the cabinet portion to compete the desk so David can present it to his nephews. For the details, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 3


Today we took the dry-fitted base parts apart again and did things to prettify them. That's mountain-speak for making them less blocky and dull looking. To find out what we did and how, just CLICK HERE.