Wednesday, November 30

Yesterday I jointed and surface planed the shelf blanks that were produced by resawing thick lumber the day before.  While surfacing them, the Delta planer started sounding really angry again and this time I was not able to tighten anything up to make the sound stop.  I suspect it's in the bearing next to the drive pulley.  I managed to do what needed doing that day, but it will probably have to go to Knoxville to be rebuilt again to get it working properly.  I'm not sue I want to put that much into it again.
Then the shelf blanks were drum sanded to smooth away the ripples left by the jointer and surfacer.
I laid out my cut pattern on masking tape so I could see the lines clearly. From each edge of the blank, I will cut a strip (I must also remember to allow for the saw kerf) the strips will get flipped up and glued on top of  the shelf leaving a trough down the middle.

By doing this, the edge of the shelf - particularly on the front - will match up especially well and should look like a solid piece of wood with no joint at all. 

I set up the table saw, mark the blanks to help me keep the strips oriented properly to the shelf base and rip the strips.  I am very careful to keep the strips with their shelf base.
Now I get out a whole mess of clamps and the glue pot.  Making sure that the edge strips are oriented so that from their original position they simply roll up onto the shelf base, I apply glue and clamps.

These will not have to sit for long, just long enough for the glue to tack - an hour or so - then I'll remove the clamps and use them on the next shelf.  I won't work with these parts again until the glue has set up hard.  It will take two days to get all he shelves through this step.
While I'm waiting for glue to tack I begin setting up to cut the front legs. This starts by taping the template to the two leg blanks stacked together.  I use the template to cut the angles on both ends.
The stair-step shapes that support the shelves will be cut on the band saw.  I've been waiting for a special blade to come in, and it has arrived.

Because of the steep angle of the first cut, I have to turn the angle gauge around backward so it will sit on the table and securely hold the leg blanks as I make the cuts.  I test the set-up on a piece of scrap first.
When I know it's set properly and will hold the bundle like it should, I use a quick-clamp to hold the bundle against the miter gauge as I make the first cuts that will remove the triangular areas for the shelves.
To make the second cuts I re-orient the gauge and make the base cuts. 

The right-most cut-out could not be cut because the left end of the bundle hit the wall.  The saw is bolted to the floor, so moving it out a bit will be a chore.  It was easier to cut that one last, swing the gauge around the other way and lay-out that final cut on the back of the bundle.  That only took a few moments because I have a good gauge that is accurate and fast to set.
With the bundle broken down I now have two identical front legs that will support the candle shelves.  If my figures are right, this rack will hold 224 of those memorial candle cups.  That ought to handle it for a while!

I'll continue gluing up shelves for the rest of this day.  In between I'll sand the baffle parts that will be attached between the front legs.  They are stacked behind the legs in the photo.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 29

The project Doug is currently working on is an enlarged version of a memorial candle stand for Smoky Mountain Home Health & Hospice. They hold a memorial service each December to commemorate all their patients who passed away that year. Family members are invited to come forward and light a candle for their loved one.

A few years ago we built them a rack that was based on the design used for the bottle stopper racks. But they have outgrown that and want a larger one. Using that same design will not work out well, so we decided to use a “step ladder” design instead. Rather than solid ends this one will have pivoting rear legs that fold in against a front leg/shelf support so it will transport and store more compactly.

The racks must be designed to hold these candles. The first design used shelves with raised lips along the front, back and ends to contain the candles by cradling the little “foot” on the bottom. Doug considered using a thicker, solid shelf and boring holes to accept the candle bases, but the bases are a strange size and we can not get a Forstner bit that is just right. He’d have to bore a larger hole that will be quite a sloppy fit. So we will stay with the original shelf design. This also gives SMHH&H the option, should they need fewer than the maximum number of candles, to space them out along the shelves.

Doug began by designing the front leg template. This will be stair-stepped to hold the shelves. He made it of 1/8” Baltic Birch Ply and covered it with masking tape so he can easily erase the lay-out lines since this is an on-the-fly design. Once he determined the depth the shelf supports need to be he used double-stick tape to affix a piece of scrap wood to the back of a lay-out triangle and used that to draw in the cut-outs.

When completed, the template is shaped just as the legs will be. He do not cut out the stair-stepping. This is a one-off project, so he’ll save time by taping the template to the leg blanks and cutting the template and legs all in one step.

Preparing the lumber came next by selecting and rough cutting the lumber into parts blanks. Then Doug used the jointer to smooth and flatten one face and one edge. The surface planer is used next to smooth the opposite face of each blank and make it parallel to the jointed face.

Work was interrupted for a few days prior to Thanksgiving because we volunteered to help the local Senior Center serve Thanksgiving dinners to 150 or so shut-ins who would otherwise not get a fancy meal on Thanksgiving. Our contribution included roasting four 20 pound turkeys, de-boning them and bagging the meat. Because Marie has a real job requiring her to be in town all day every weekday, this task fell primarily to Doug.  On Thanksgiving day we went in to help serve the food as well.

About that same time our big surface planer: a Grizzly G0453, began making an ugly noise. Doug checked it out and found the sound to be coming from the drive pulley. He disassembled that and found the key that locks the drive pulley to the drive shaft of the motor had grooves worn in the sides that were allowing the pulley to move just a little on the shaft. Not much, but enough to cause the hammering sound.

Doug searched every hardware store and a few machine shops to get a replacement key, but to no avail. Most had an SAE key that was similar: just a tiny bit smaller – but smaller is bad. It turns out this key stock is metric and no one around here carries metric key stock. We’ll have to order a replacement part from the manufacturer.

In the mean time Doug remembered that we have an old Delta 22-580 planer tucked away. This had been replaced by the Grizzly when we needed to step up to a 15” planer and we planned to sell the Delta, but never got around to it. So he pulled that out, put it on a stand and began using that to surface the stock. On the second day, that too began making an ugly noise. Doug tore that one down and found – the drive pulley was loose. What is this an epidemic? Fortunately, tightening the nut that holds the pulley on the driveshaft was all that was needed to fix this one and in an hour he was back in business.

The stock for shelves needed to be resawn so we didn’t waste so much wood. Doug got all this done before Thanksgiving. We took Friday off. Saturday was Doug's yard work day and he spent it gathering and grinding leaves to go in the compost piles. Sunday we don’t work. On Mondays he produces a weekly radio program, burns it to CD and mails it off to the radio station. But today, he’ll get back to this project. Time is growing short: they will be wanting this rack soon.

And that gets us all caught up to date.

Wednesday, November 16

Today I finished finishing the 35 holer stopper rack for Robert. That involved shooting a second coat of lacquer, when that dried scuff sanding the rack to smooth the first two coats, tacking the dust off and shooting a final coat.

When that was hard I attached the silicone "feet".

While waiting for the lacquer coats to dry I worked on another hoop house for my garden.  Two down, three to go.  These make it possible to continue growing some vegetables all through the winter.
Then I packaged the rack in a suitably sized box padded with air pillows.  These are great for packaging; they are very light weight - which helps to keep shipping cost down, and they are made of recyclable plastics so when they get where they are going, please remember to recycle. 

This project is done and ready to ship as soon as payment is received.

Next up: a memorial candle rack. 

Tuesday, November 15

Pegging the stopper rack is my assigned task for today.

 This begins by affixing pieces of masking tape to the shelves and body where I will be making lay-out marks for the peg locations.

I do this to avoid making pencil marks on the wood that I will later have to sand back off again.  I will have to sand: to level and smooth the pegs, but the pencil can cut into the wood requiring that I sand deeper to remove them.  That changes the shape of the shelves, requiring more sanding to restore the curves... it's just much less hassle to mark on the tape.  On the walnut parts, the pencil marks are hard to see, so the tape provides much better visibility as well.
 After drawing the lay-out marks and punching the centers I move to the drill press to bore the holes that pass through the shelves and into the body below.  The pegs in the body side pass through that and into the base plate.
 After knocking out the wood chips I apply glue to each hole with a small artists brush, tap in a length of dowel rod until it bottoms out (the ping, ping sound changes to a thud sound) then use a flush-cut saw to remove the excess dowel, sand a slight bevel on the sawn end to help it go into the next hole smoothly and continue. I use a small piece of scrap set up against the face of the rack to prevent the saw from scoring up that part when it cuts through the dowel - these are close quarters on those rear-most pegs.
Once all the pegs are in I sand them flush with 100 grit paper on a block, then smooth with 150 grit paper.

A final finish sanding and a good once-over with a brush and a tack rag prepare the rack to go into the finishing room for lacquering.

I got the first coat on before other obligations called me away for the evening.  I'll complete the lacquering tomorrow and it will be ready to box and ship as soon as that's done.

Because this is not a standard item I will not add it to the web site, but will send a PayPal e-bill to the customer who requested the rack.  We'll wrap this one up tomorrow, I'll see you then!

Saturday, November 12

I sneaked away from my regular Saturday chores today to glue and clamp the shelves to the rack body.  This way I'll be ready to start inserting the wooden pegs on my next woodworking day.

On Mondays I do a radio program, so my next session will probably be on Tuesday.

Friday, November 11

Sanding and assembling the body of Robert's 35 hole stopper rack was my primary task for this afternoons woodworking session.  I got that done and finish sanded the shelves so they will be ready to attach on my next session. 

I'll leave the clamps in place overnight to be sure the glue sets up hard.  There are no nails or screws used in assembling the body: just superior glue joints.  Wooden pins will be inserted along the bottom of the sides and into the base plate later on.

That will do it for today.  Remember to take a moment and be grateful for the men and women who have, are, and will be putting themselves in harms way to defend the freedoms we all enjoy. 
Happy Veterans Day!

Thursday, November 10

Completing the shelves and cutting the body parts was the order of the day for my woodworking time. 

I started by rounding over the front, sides and holes on all the shelves, this gives them a much classier look and feel, sanding everything smooth completes the shelves and they get set aside.

Then I lay out the body parts.  The sides use a stair-step set-up to support the shelves, the base plate needs to be cut to exactly the same width as the baffles that go in under the front edges of all but the lowest shelf.  I use the big miter fence to be sure this happens.

The sides get bundled together and cut as a single piece to insure that the steps are exactly even on both sides.  This just avoids hassles in the assembly stage.

I still don't have my surface planer fixed, so I'll have to pull out the "spare" tomorrow so I can finish making the parts I'll need for this rack.
Our contribution to the latest Habitat for Humanity house is complete now, so I'll be able to put some longer hours into the woodworking here on most days.  I still have other obligations to fulfill, so it won't be full days, but more than what I've had for the past week or so.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 9

My woodworking time today hit a speed bump: The surface planer broke down - something gone wonky in the drive pulley.  Unfortunately I don't have the tool I need to pull the pulley off and see what's what.  Someone I know may have one, but he is not at home.  So until I get the tool I need the surface planer is out of play.
I needed to smooth and thickness the walnut  "plank" I made for the rack body and base.  Without the surface planer I had to use the wide drum sander; which does a good job, it's just really, really slow about the thicknessing part of the task because I can't take off more than 1/64" per pass.  the planer can take off 1/8" per pass if I want to - I generally don't, but I could if I wanted to.  So, instead of taking 10 minutes to dress the plank, it took over an hour.
Then I moved on to the shelves.  Yesterday I milled the stock as long strips.  Today I cut the strips to the proper length using my big miter fence on the table saw.  I cut only the 5 shelves I need for this project, the rest of the strips will be set aside to be cut to the proper length for standard racks the next time I make a batch.  Making the shelves now would just slow this project down.
Once all the shelves are cut to proper size I bundle them up and mark them with the template for the holes.

Once the first five holes are punched I'll poke a punch rod through the hole in the middle of the template, place that in the fifth punch mark then mark the final two holes.
Then it's over to the drill press, with a Forstner bit installed where I bore the seven holed down through all five shelves at once: this insures the spacing side to side and front to back is the same on all shelves.  The wood curls whirl around as they some up out of the hole - it's kind of fun to see how long they will hang together; sort of like peeling an apple and seeing if you can keep the peel in one long piece.
With all the holes drilled, I'll round off the front corners with the stationary belt sander then remove the tape that binds the stack together.

And that's all I have time for tonight.  Tomorrow I'll finish the shelves and cut the body parts. 

See you then!

Tuesday, November 8

Starting the 35 hole stopper rack means pulling the template set back down from the wall and selecting some lumber.  I have to crunch some numbers to get the dimensions of the walnut pieces I'll be making: the templates are for 3 or 4 tier racks with shelves that hold 5 stoppers each.  This rack will have 5 shelves and each shelf will hold 7 stoppers, so everything changes.
Lumber prep comes next: joint one face and one edge of each board smooth, flat and straight, then run them through the surface planer with the jointed faces down on the bed so the cutters smooth the upper side and make them parallel to the jointed face.

Then I rip the remaining edge on the table saw and joint it if it's going to be a glue joint edge.
Now I can arrange the pieces for the best look and glue them together into the wide plank I'll need for making the body sides and base.

I resaw some maple, then surface plane the band sawn faces smooth and to the proper thickness.  I made up extra - lots extra - because it just makes sense to do so.  We're not *supposed* to be making anything one at a time any more.

That's going to do it for today.  I spent a longer than normal day working on a Habitat For Humanity house this morning.  Normally my crew works about 4 hours, but we've got bad weather moving in on Thursday so we need to get the roof on before it arrives; that means working longer days to get it done, and that means working late into the evening to get my daily assignment here done.  And now I'm very ready for a hot shower, some Advil and some supper.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 7

I brought in the packaging materials over the weekend and began slicing up the 4'x8' Styrofoam sheet and blocks of Styrofoam (saved from various shipments we've received) for the padding and filler pieces I'll need to insure that the tables will arrive intact.  A few of our past customers have commented that they weren't sure whether to be more impressed by the craftsmanship of the tables or the care we put into packaging them!

We have boxes custom made for these tables by a box company in Morristown TN.  They are sized to be *just barely* within the range of a first tier oversize shipment.  Any larger and they'd slide into the next tier and shipping cost would increase significantly.  This being a two table set instead of the usual four table set, I could cut the box down by about 3 inches, but the effort and time spent doing this is wasted because there would be no reduction in shipping cost, so I simply use foam blocks to fill the empty space.

Once the packaging is done, I seal up the box, run a shipping label and order a pick-up from Fed Ex for Monday.  The shipping process allows me to have an eMail sent to my customer so they know the shipment has been processed and will have the tracking number so she can follow it's progress and/or get an estimated delivery date.  Because this package is insured for $500, a signature will be required upon delivery so Fed Ex does not just drop it on a doorstep and leave.

That completes this project.  Today (Monday) I'll clear away the packaging supplies, put away all the templates and jigs for the tables and start on the 5 tier stopper rack.  Beyond that I have a memorial candle stand to build, then a Heritage Cradle in ash wood, and a batch of wall hung stopper racks, at least one of which needs to be all cherry for a request.  Then I'll get started on a barn wood headboard as my wife's Christmas present.  So, I still have plenty of sawdust to make before the year is out.  Thanks for following along!

Thursday, November 3

Today we finish the tables.  I started by doing the finish sanding and final inspection.  I find that doing the thorough job of hand sanding a piece as the final pass of sanding is a great time to closely inspect the piece for any little thing that I may have missed during construction and assembly.  And corrections or adjustments must be made before shooting it with lacquer.
Following the sanding I moved the tables into the finishing room with the stand.  The stand only needed to be scuff sanded and it's final coat of lacquer, the trays will get three coats with a scuffing between second and third.  I do this only to provide a wonderfully smooth finish coat.

All that will remain to be done is to let the lacquer on the tables set up good and hard overnight, then I can apply a skim coat of high grade polyurethane to the tray tops - this protects the lacquer against "modern living".  So many folks these days are so accustomed to plastic coated furniture that they've forgotten (or never knew) how to care for fine furniture with a traditional finish.  The skim coat helps protect the tray tops from white rings that can form under sweaty glasses or hot dinner plates.  Lacquer does that.  The Poly takes at least 24 hours to cure out before I can package the tables or I risk the packing foam sticking to the poly and ruining the finish.  Don't want that!

Since these are essentially done, I'm going to post them to the web site as available so that payment can be accomplished and we will be ready to send them on their way Monday.  See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 2

Yesterday (Tuesday) I came in to remove the clamps from the tables finish making the screw hole plugs, then needed to drive Mom to a doctors appointment in Morristown.

Today I launched back into completing these tables.  I started by sanding the outside faces of the tray rails.  The first pass is done with a power sander to remove mill marks and nicks left from construction.  I use filler blocks in the vice so I'm clamping to the tray panel not the more delicate tray rails while I sand.

At this point the outside edges of the rails are still square, after sanding the rail faces smooth, I use the router table to round-over the upper and lower edges with a generous curve for a pleasant fit in your hand when you carry the trays.  I use a smaller radius round-over on the inner edge to help keep things on the tray.
Once the round-overs are made I sand with a fine grit of paper to smooth the new round-overs and the scratches left by the power sander.  From here on out all sanding is done by hand.
Next I lay the table base on the table tray and check the fit.  The leg mount blocks need to fit snugly in the corners, but there can be no binding at the top or bottom of the legs.  At this point I can disassemble the leg set and trim a smidge off the spreaders if the fit is too tight, or I can add a washer or two to the mounting block joint(s) if the fit is too loose. These are just right, so I can move on to the next step.
Which  is to glue in the screw hole plugs in both table bases and the stand.  Once the glue tacks up a bit I can trim off the stumps and sand them flush.
Then I can glue the leg mount blocks and the latch block to the underside of the trays.  These are important glue joints so I'll let the glue set up over night before I work with them further.
But I can and do proceed with the finish sanding and first coat of lacquer on the stand.

That uses up this day.  Tomorrow I'll finish sand and lacquer the tables.  I'll be "in the field" in the morning, but will spend the afternoon here.  I expect to get the lacquering completed tomorrow, the skim coat of poly will go on Friday and I'll give that the weekend to set up good and hard.  If nothing unexpected pops up, these tables will be ready to ship on Monday.