Monday, April 5

Making the Front Door

In this step I’m making the front door for the head case, behind which the clock works will reside. I start by surface planning the two halves I made last time to near finished thickeness: about 1/16” over. Then I joint the two halves where they will join together, glue and clamp them. When the glue is set up I scrape off the glue pips and use the wide drum sander to smooth the panel and bring it to finished thickness. This is my door blank, a little oversize, but ready to be made into a door. So now I trim it down to finished size and square it up. The door will have wings that reflect the shape of the elliptical window in the door, so I lay out those wings using a drawing bow, a simple, old fashioned, shop made tool using a flexible strip of wood, a strong string and a block of hardboard that slides along the string; slide it toward the center to make a sharper curve, toward the end for a gentler curve, friction from the string as it winds through the block keeps the shape locked in. After tracing the shape onto the board I cut it out on the bandsaw using a fairly fine toothed blade and following the line carefully; I’ll want minimal wood needing to be sanded away when I’m done. Because this one has to be done by hand, and removing hardwoods with sandpaper is laborious and tedious – two of my least favorite "ious's". Next I lay out the ellipse for the window using a simple geometric method employing a thin stick of wood with marks that correspond to half the length of each axis of the ellipse, walk these two marks along the two axes and make dots at the end of the stick then connect the dots. With the shape drawn I drill a starter hole and cut out the window with a saber saw. Again I work slowly and stay close to the line. This time I will use a drum sander chucked into the drill press to smooth and fair the cut, but the less wood I have to remove this way the better. If I were making a lot of these, I’d make a template and use a router with a piloted bit. But I’m not, this is a one-of-a-kind piece. Finally I lay-out and drill pilot holes for hinge mounting screws and test the fit. I have a teeny bit of tweaking to do to be sure it clears the top plate when I install it but otherwise it’s good. It’s pretty plain right now, but it fits right. I’ll do the edge decoration and preparation for glass in the next step.

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