Saturday, December 31

 Plugging and smoothing the screw holes is my quickie task for today.  I have much to do around the house and yard, but I want to get caught up before the new week begins.

For me, the key to making great looking screw hole plugs is to use scraps of wood from the project being built so the color is as close a match as possible and then cutting a generous number of plugs so I have a variety to choose from.  They important thing is to find plugs that show grain patterns as close to the grain in the surrounding wood as possible.  This will result in as near an invisible plug as possible.

Apply just enough glue to the inside of the hole.  You want enough to hold the plug in securely but not so much it gooshes out making a mess when you tap the plug home.

Line up the selected plug and tap it into place with a mallet.

When the glue has tacked up, cut the excess plug away with a flush cut saw.  If you choose to do this with a heavy chisel (called  a slick) make sure you know which way the grain runs in the plug: if the cut chases the grain down into the hole you will have to drill out the plug and do it over.  Slice so if the plug cracks the grain will carry the crack upward where you can shave or sand away the excess.

Sand everything smooth and pretty with 120 grit paper and you're ready to begin the finish sanding phase.  I'll get into that next time.  See you then!
Today (Friday) I intended to complete construction of Gary's Heritage Cradle.  The final step is to make and mount the three roof panels.  Knowing today would be a short day - Marie and I have plans to attend gospel concert featuring two of our most favorite groups this evening (Greater Vision and The Booth Brothers) - I was in early and got right to work.

First up was to shoot the final coat of lacquer on the base plate.
 All day yesterday I worked on filling and sanding (and re-filling and sanding more) the worm tracks: filler shrinks as it dries so I have to fill deeper tracks with multiple applications.  For some reason the filler seemed to be drying aggravatingly slowly.  I could understand this if it were raining, but it has not seemed that humid over the past couple of days.

But I keep at it until all the tracks have a good, tight, solid fill and the board is sanded smooth and to finished thickness.
 The thickness sanding opened a new pocket in which I needed to dig out the worm poo and fill, But I decide to forge ahead while I wait for this last bit of filler to dry so I can sand it.

I lay out the cuts so that the center roof piece is exactly the size needed, the two side panels are a bit long.  I want the grain to flow across the roof in an uninterrupted pattern, cutting the center piece long and trimming it down (by very much) would cause a disruption in the grain.  This has to be done right the first time.
 With the panel cut into sections (and marked for alignment) I set the saw blade to 75° to make the bevel cuts where the three pieces join to one another.

It may be of interest to note that this Wixey angle gauge measures the angle on the opposite side of the blade.  If I had it attached to the right side of the blade it would read 105°, which is great if you like doing math and figuring complimentary angles.  If not, just pop into place on the left side of the blade.
 A little sanding with a block to get the fuzzy bits out of the way of the new joints and I line the parts up, fasten the joints together with masking tape on the upper surface (works like hinges) and set the roof into place to check the fit.   Not bad.  I need to trim the center piece by just a smidge to make it perfect.  A smidge in this case is about 1/32 of an inch.  Translating that makes it easier to set it up on the saw's fence scale.
 Trimmed, re-taped, re-fitted and approved, I bore pilot holes in the roof panels for the finish nails that will hold the roof in place.  Then I measure out the 1" overhang on the front and clamp blocks in place as make alignment quick and easy.

I can lift each joint to open it up and apply glue, then apply glue to the upper edges of headboard, sides and crown.  Lay the roof in place and tap in a few nails to hold it securely.
Yeah, right: "tap in".  I had forgotten how much I hate using nails in hardwood.  And ash is indeed a very hard wood, similar to hickory.  The ailing did not go well and I quickly decided to switch to screws for the rest of my attachment points.

I was already running late - I needed to get the roof fastened down securely before I left so the glue could set up properly - so I'll plug and trim the screw holes and fill the nail holes tomorrow.  Then I'll be ready to do the finish sanding and lacquering of the upper body on my next woodworking session.

I need to begin preparing lumber for my next project: at least one two-table set of TV Tray Tables (with stand), but I've been delaying that until a new set of planer knives arrives.  The set that are in the machine now are getting dull and need to come out and sent in for sharpening.  Those should arrive this evening while we're in Morristown for the concert.  I will try to get those installed and adjusted tomorrow as well.  The little Delta planer had self-setting knives, making replacing them a snap, but they were also single use, disposable blades which proved costly and wasteful when used heavily and long term.  The Grizzly has heavier knives that can be sharpened many times.  Having two sets means I can swap them out as needed and not have to take the machine off line for a few days to a week because the knives have been sent out.

We're almost done with this project.  Please stop in again next week as we finish it up and begin the next, and I hope you have a happy (and SAFE) New Years Eve.

Thursday, December 29

 My main task of the day in to mate up the base plate and the cradle body.  I start that by setting the cradle body on the base plate, centering it,  and tracing a line around the bottom of the body inside and outside.

Then I set an angle gauge to 8° and use it as a guide to drill pilot holes centered in the track I traced, through the base plate.
 I then clamp the cradle body to the base plate and stand it up so I can get to the underside where I drill up through the pilot holes and into the cradle body.  I countersink the the holes so the screw heads will be slightly recessed.

 I set the rocker assembly in place just to be sure I didn't drill screw holes in places that will be made inaccessible by the rockers.  We're good.
 I brought in one board that is 12 inches wide for use as the roof.  I select the part of that board I want to use, cut it out of the board and surface plane it down to finished thickness.

I do not joint this one first because it's 12 inches wide and even my big jointer won't handle a board that wide.  The board has no twist to it, just a little cup, so I will be able to flatten it well with just the surface planer.
The roof board was chosen partly because it is wide enough to get the roof panels out of a single board - no glue-up needed - and partly because of it's "wormy" condition.  I have to dig out the worm "leavings" and fill their tracks with wood filler.  This will make for a beautiful touch of character on the roof.

While the filler dries I remove one side at a time, apply glue to the edges of the headboard,  footboard, and crown and reattach the side with screws.  Then I plug the screw holes, trim off the plugs and sand the whole exterior of the body. 

I will lacquer the base plate separately from the cradle body because I'm not going to glue the body to the base.  The base will need to be allowed to expand and contract a little across its width.  The headboard and footboard have their long grain running across the base, so they will not expand and contract with it.  They are matched up to the sides so all will expand and contract vertically together.

By lacquering the body (after I've installed the roof) without the base, I'll be able to shoot the entire interior easily.  So I take the time to do a good job of finish sanding the body.

All that's left is to make the roof panels, please stop in again tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28

Making the footboard and crown are my tasks for today, so I start by cutting the 8° bevel on the lower edge of the blank.  Then, using the sled I built, trim the footboard sides to the required 8° angle.
 Next I line up the lower edge with the lower edge of a side and determine where the upper edges will be.  Using the template I trace the shape into the blank and cut it out on the band saw.
 Using my spindle sander (here equipped with the oscillating belt sander attachment) I smooth the cuts, work the shape to the line and by tilting the table impart the 8° bevel on this edge.

The tight area in the V at the center is smoothed and shaped with a sanding stick I make by gluing sandpaper to a large craft stick or scrap of plywood using spray contact cement.
 The crown piece is next.  Here I start by cutting the sloped sides on the miter saw.  I strap a backer block to the lower edge with masking tape on both sides to make the part more stable against the fence as I cut these slopes.  This saw does not cut quite all the way across, so I'll finish off the cuts with a back saw, then sand the nib smooth on the belt sander.

I do not cut the scrolly lower edge yet: I want to take the width directly off the cradle rather than trusting a template, so I wait until later to complete this piece.
 I chuck a round-over bit into the router table and round off the upper edges of the cradle sides and footboard.  This is not a large round-over, just enough to break the sharp edges where a young one might bonk a noggin.
 Then I begin assembling the sides to the headboard and footboard to form the basic box of the cradle.  I'm drilling counter-bored pilot holes and using screws to hold it together.  No glue yet; I still have some finish sanding to do on the interior, but want to do that last - just before final assembly.

Now I can fit the crown piece so it fits precisely between the arms.

I cut the angles on the ends of the crown using the miter saw while I still have a straight, solid lower edge to set against the fence.
 Then I cut it out on the band saw and use the spindle sander to smooth away the saw marks and take the final shape down to the template line.

Again the center part is shaped by hand with a sanding stick.
Test fitting the crown piece, I'll sand a little more here or there to get a perfect fit at the ends.  When I'm happy with it, I bore a screw hole in each end and insert the screws.

I need to round-over the lower edges of this part as well, but I'm out of time for today.  I'll finish this piece off tomorrow, then mate the cradle body to the base plate.

Thanks for dropping in, hope you come back again tomorrow for more.

Tuesday, December 27

 Making the headboard is the task of the day.  But first I sanded the side pieces that I completed yesterday.  these are now ready for installation.
 Then I roughed out the lumber I need to make the part blank for the headboard.

The grain needs to run side to side - so that it will expand and contract at the same rate as the tall part of the side pieces - so I've made up several short pieces that will be jointed and glued together to make the panel for the headboard.  But first I need to flatten one side and one edge on the jointer, then surface plane them to 3/32 over finished size.  This panel will not go through the surface planer, so I'll need to take it to finished size on the big drum sander.  Removing very much wood this way will take a very long time, so I work with minimal overage.
 Jointed, planed, trimmed to width and jointed again to smooth the edge trimmed on the table saw, I arrange the panels for the best appearance and mark the panel with an alignment V.
 Then it's off to the assembly room to glue and clamp the pieces into a panel.
 While that sets up I begin roughing out wood for the foot board and the crown piece.  I like this piece for the crown because the wild graining will look great when it's cut to shape.
 I process the pieces to make the footboard blank, joint the center edges and glue them up.
 When the big panel is ready I begin sanding it down to remove any glue-joint ridges and smooth it.  The open ended design of the drum sander allows me to sand a panel up to 32" wide by doing one half, flipping it around and doing the other half.

Many, many light passes gets the job done.
Then I make up a little sled for the table saw with an adjustable foot support and movable hold-downs.  I use it to cut first the side tapers, then adjust the foot support (using my template as a guide) to cut the "ears" at the top.

I took photographs of that step and of the completed panel, but something happened to those and they are not on my camera.

All that remains is some sanding and the headboard will be ready to join to the side pieces.

Tomorrow we'll make the footboard and we'll be ready to put together the cradle body.

See you then!

Monday, December 26

Normally I don't get any woodworking done on Mondays at all, this is my day to do the weekly radio
program, catch up on maintenance of the various web sites I've built for people, and do our weekly
computer system back-ups so we don't lose everything on a computer should one of them go kablewie!  But all that went very well today and I got done early enough to get some woodworking done.  
I started by using the new oscillating spindle sander to shape the inside curves of the top-side
pieces.  This gadget does a very nice job of sanding to a line and leaving a much smoother surface (no scratches) than a standard drum sander does because the sander pumps up and down while it spins.  This one also has a short belt sander attachment that can pop into place of the drum: it oscillates too.

Next I cut the 8° angles on the ends of the lower sides using my monster miter gauge on the table

Now the jointed lower edge of the head piece and the jointed upper edge of the lower-side mate up so I can glue them together for a nice continuous look.

I use a scrap of the strip I cut off of the bottom edge when I trimmed the lower side to width and
beveled the lower edge to lay against the bevel to protect it from crushing by the clamps.  It has
the same bevel as the bigger piece, I just put it back in place and use a couple of spring clamps to keep it from riding up the bevel when I snug up the clamps.

I use three bar clamps just as a rack to support the pieces with enough space underneath to allow the spring clamps to be used.  They are not clamping anything.

I'll let these set up hard and head home for the evening.  Back to a day of woodworking tomorrow. 

See you then!

Friday, December 23

 My focus for today will be the upper side pieces, but I'll be working on other things as well.

I start by cutting off the excess along the top.  I leave a little wiggle room, but I don't need this much - that will just make planing and sanding harder to do.

I run these upper sides through the surface planer to thin them down and smooth the rough side.  I plane the lower sides as well so they end up the same thickness.
 This is a peek at how the pieces will relate to one another.  There is an 8 degree bevel on the lower edge (to lean the sides out), a 22 degree bevel on the top edge (for the roof), and the headboard and foot board lean outward at 8° as well, so almost nothing in these parts is square.
 I start withe the 8° bevel along he lower edge.  I use my electronic angle gauge to get it set precisely: 90° plus 8° = 98°.  That's easy. making sure I cut the boards so they don't both lean to the left, that's a little trickier.
I stand them up side by side and mark on the ends which way each board will lean.  This helps me make Sure I get it right.  It wouldn't make any difference, I could just flip one around, except I've already grain matched them to the upper sides and marked the parts for orientation.  Having to flip one around would mess that up.
With this much done I go ahead and drum sand all four parts to bring them down to the proper final thickness and make them smooth.  The planer leave faint wash-board waves that must be removed.
The knives on the surface planer are also getting dull and this causes chipping in areas of steep grain pitch.  I use a pencil to mark the pits and sand until all the pencil marks are gone.
Then I take a break and assemble the rocker parts with glue and screws, plug the screw holes, trim the plugs flush and do the final sanding.
I take this assembly into the finishing room and shoot the first coat of lacquer.

While that's drying I go back to the side pieces.
Using my template I trace the shape of the upper side piece onto the parts blanks.  The headboard leans back (out) the top slopes up from the back, and the roof is peaked, so there are many odd angles to cut here.  My big miter fence and some ingenuity with wedges come in handy.  Especially when it comes to cutting the 22° bevel on the top edge when the top is NOT parallel to the bottom, nor square to the back.
It takes a while, but I finally get it all done.  All that remains to do now is to sand the bandsawn curve to finished shape and I have a brand-spanking new oscillating spindle sander due to be delivered this evening, so I'll wait to do that till next time.  Besides, Marie wants to close the shop a little early and get our Christmas celebration going.

Thanks for watching, hope you come back next week, and a very merry Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 22

 Today I'll make the parts that will become the side pieces of the Heritage Cradle.  This is done in two steps, a long piece for the lower box, and a short piece that forms the side of the hood.  Let's start with the long part.  I rough out four pieces, two per side and joint one face and one edge, then surface plane them.
 I arrange them for best color and grain match, then glue and clamp them.
 Cut-offs from the first step can be used to make up the shorter section for the hood sides.  I arrange them for a good look, and the ability to work around any gnarly bits, then make lay-out marks to help me keep them in position.
They they too get glued and clamped.

Normally I could now go back and work the long parts while the glue dries on the short parts, but I want to surface plane all the parts at the same time to be sure they come out the same thickness because the hood sides will mount atop the front section of the long sides.  So, I'll wait until these catch up.

Beside, this evening is the mandatory company Christmas party - meaning that Marie and I are going out to dinner and then drive into Gatlinburg to see their light display.  Always spectacular!  So i need to get home and get cleaned up and changed.

So I'll pick this up again tomorrow.  See you then!

Wednesday, December 21

 Completing the base plate of Gary's cradle is my mission today.  I start by taking the glue-up from yesterday out of the clamps and surface planing the pieces to 1/32" thicker than the 3/4" finished dimension. 

This dresses yesterday's glue joint nicely and leaves a small enough excess that I can remove it with a drum sander without having to run it through 100 times.

The pieces then go back to the assembly room for the final glue-up.
 While the glue sets up I work on sanding the rocker assembly.
 When the glue is set up enough to work with the panel I trim it to finished size on the table saw.  My monster cross-cut sled is a big help in trimming and squaring large panels like this.
 Then it's over to the big drum sander.  I sand both sides to smooth them down and remove any ridge that may have developed at the glue-joint.
 When that's done I set up my hand-held router with a 1/4" radius cove bit and route the decorative edge.  I do this in multiple steps in order to get a nice smooth finish to the cut.  End grain is especially prone to tearing out if too much is removed at once.
 The final step of machining the plate is to route out a pocket on the underside.  Gary has bought several of these cradles from us - one each time he is notified of an impending grandchild - and he has us do this special thing for him.  This pocket will house a special note to his grandchild and is covered my a plaque.  In time the grandchild will be encouraged to remove the plaque and find the letter from his/her Grandpa.

I use double sided tape to hold the template in place.  The clamps just set the tape well while I set up the router, they will be removed when I'm ready to go.
 I made a template for this and I use the router equipped with a template guide and a straight router bit.
 I ran into a bit of a problem.  The 1/2" shank router bit isn't long enough to reach down far enough to get the pocket 1/2" deep.  The shoulder hits against the guide sleeve.  I remedied the problem by switching to a 1/4" shank bit, installing a collet adapter and running the bit down as far as I dared.

This bit is old, kind of dull, and the 1/4" shank flexed just a bit so it howled and hollered as it cut through this hard wood, but it got the job done, and it looks pretty good.
All that remains now is to do the final sanding and this part is done.  I will have to bore holes through is for screws that hod the sides and ends to it later, so I'll hold off on that final sanding for a bit: I'd just have to do it again after drilling the holes.

Next up: side pieces.