Tuesday, December 13

Today I get "down ta bidness" on parts-making for the wall hung stopper racks.

Yesterday, being Monday was spend doing my radio program, maintaining web sites for my clients and catching up on some bookkeeping.

I start by boring the holes through the shelf bundles I made up last Friday.  I use a Forstner bit chucked into the drill press because this bit makes very clean, smooth-walled holes with little tear-out.  If I'm careful.  If I rush and force the bit through the wood too fast, tear-out will happen.

Once all the bundles are drilled I remove the tape and separate the shelves.
Now I use a round-over bit in the router table to ease the edges of the stopper holes.  This is mostly decorative, but can help prevent "denting" corks that are a bit larger than the holes.

I drop each hole in the shelf over the bit and give it a swirl (a bearing on the end of the bit prevents the bit from cutting too deeply), lift, move to the next hole and repeat.
I also round-over the front edge of each shelf, but I want to do this in a very precise manner so the rounded part does not creep into the groove in the side piece, making a pocket that will have to be filled.  I want the "ear" on the shelf to just touch the front edge of the side when the backs are flushed up.
To do this consistently I set the fence on the router table behind the pilot bearing of the round-over bit just enough that the bit starts cutting around the corner.  The shelf then rides out on the bearing to trim the long front edge and drops back at the end of the run.

Setting this up is a trial and error process: I start shallow and sneak up on a perfect fit.  Once it's set I lock everything down and run all the shelves I've made.
Then I sand.

I use blocks for the flat surfaces and wrap a piece of sand paper around my thumb to sand inside the holes.  This takes a while. 

I'll sand the five shelves I need for one rack now and move on.  I'll come back and sand the rest after the first rack is done.  I only have an order for one rack, the rest will go into stock.  No rush on them.
Then I set up the dado head to cut the dado in the side pieces that will house and support the shelves.

A stacked dado head uses a circular blade on the outsides of the stack and one or more winged chippers in between to remove a swath of wood the proper width.  The width of the cut can be fine tuned by adding shims between the cutters to achieve just the right cut width.

This too takes some time.  I practice on scrap stock, cut a dado, fit a shelf into the cut and see if it is too tight or too loose, add or remove shims to adjust.  Repeat.  It has to be snug enough the glue will hold, but not so tight I have to force the joint together.  Aligning the parts with glue in the joints will be much harder if the joint is too tight.  Too loose and it may one day fall apart.

Once that's done I cut all the side pieces.  To do that I use a special fixture I built.  It uses a stationary bar which barely fits into the dado I just cut to space the next cut.  I use a special spacer on the first cut to get the top shelf positioned, the rest are self spacing and automatically squared.  I took a mess of pictures, but it's difficult to see what's happening in them, lets try a video...
As you can see it is a quick and painless process when done using the fixture - I just need to remember to make opposing sides or I'll end up with all right sides or all left sides.  Not Good!

When this is done I sand the side pieces.  One more piece to make, then we can assemble the rack.

 I like to get a bit fancy with this skirt in the bottom.  To start with I cut down an undrilled shelf blank to fit snugly between the sides.  A good fit here is critical, so I'll make the first cut just a bit long and sneak up on a perfect fit.
 To do that I use this little trick.  If you have a micro-adjustable stop on your saw, you don't need this.  If not, pay attention.
The teeth on any carbide saw blade (or as steel blade for that matter - because of their "set") are just a smidge wider than the saw body.  To shave off just a few thousandths of an inch, lower the chop saw blade (don't turn it on) and *lightly* press the end of your part against the body of the blade - avoid all teeth.  Press down hard to hold the part in place, raise the saw, start it up and bring it back down.  This will remove wood equal to the difference from one side of the  teeth to the blade body.  Repeat as needed to get the fit you want.
 Now that it fits perfectly, I use the template to draw the arch on the part, use a band saw to cut away the waste, leaving 1/16 to 3/32 of an inch of wood outside the line.

Now I set up the router table with a flush trim bit and adjust the height so the bearing runs on the template (above the part).  The cutter removes the wood below so it ends up exactly the same shape as the template.  The template is made with a pocket that holds the part securely so it doesn't shift while trimming.

 A little sanding and I'm ready to dry-fit the rack.  I pull the joints snug with clamps and check the fit everywhere.
If it looks good (and it does) I take one side off, apply glue to the end of the skirt and inside the dadoes, put it back in place, remove the other side, apply glue, replace and affix clamps to hold it snugly together while the glue tacks up.

While I'm waiting I'll sand another set of parts and get them ready to assemble.  When I'm done I'll have three of these racks assembled and ready for finish sanding and lacquering.

We'll get to that tomorrow. 

Have a good evening and I hope to see you back here again tomorrow.

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