Thursday, March 11

The Frustrating Part

This step took two days to accomplish, but yielded very few billable hours because so much time was spent waiting for glue to dry between phases. The first thing to do was to sand all the side parts to 120 grit to remove milling marks and scuffs. Working on the right side first, I built the side up in sub-assemblies, clamping parts together starting with the center part or “belly” of the clock. Holding the pieces in position while I installed the clamps was tough – I could have used a few more hands, getting the parts to draw up properly was tougher. Since all the surfaces are sloped, there isn’t any convenient place to get clamps to grab onto, so I had to clamp in cleats for other clamps to grab, and try to arrange them so one set of clamps didn’t end up being in the way of others. My plan to clamp the upper and lower pieces with long clamps running from top to bottom was foiled when I found that my longest clamps were too short to reach. So I had to reach down deeper into the creativity bucket and fish out another morsel to overcome that. By day’s end the right side was all clamped up and I let it stay that way overnight, and I was more than ready to quit for the day. Next morning I removed the clamps and while the joints had glued up well, I decided to add some insurance by cross-nailing each joint. I don’t know that nails do much to actually prevent failure of a poorly done glue joint, and I don’t normally use nails except to tack things together during gluing but this seemed like a small amount of effort to invest that may turn out to be helpful. Then it occurred to me that if I use the nails for the reason that I have them here at all; to hold the parts together while the glue sets, things might go a little more easily. Of course, keeping the parts in alignment while I drive nails can be very aggravating too, but I thought I’d give it a try. It couldn’t be any worse than yesterday. So I started with the bottom side piece and worked my way up, clamping each piece to the back assembly as I went but using masking tape to hold the pieces in position while I drilled pilot holes and drove in the nails and set them below the surface. I found that if I worked the nails in pairs and drove each only a little to start they worked to lock the parts in place so I could finish driving the nails and would draw the joints up tight at the end. Mostly. There was one piece that had cupped a little and would not draw down with nails, so I clamped a piece of scrap wood inside the case, extending into the belly so I could use a deep throated clamp to reach down and draw the middle of the panel tight against it’s mate. Other than this, no clamps were needed at the joints. I will let this assembly set as is overnight so the glue can develop a good amount of strength before I attempt to move it around. This process accomplished in a few hours what it took me all day to do yesterday, and with much less temptation to cuss and throw things. I took some time before stopping for lunch to fill the nail holes in both side assemblies with walnut putty. This afternoon I will build a special made taper jig to cut the 4° slope that runs from toe to tip-tip of this base cabinet.

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