Measure twice, glue once?

I’ve finally managed to glue all the pieces together of the main case.  It took all of my long clamps to keep it together.

Andrew’s _IMG_0899 Andrew’s _IMG_0898

 

That meant there were no more clamps to glue up the panel for the base of the cabinet. So I took a leaf out of Izzy Swann‘s book:

I put some packing tape down on the work top to stop the panel from gluing itself to the surface.

Andrew’s _IMG_0902 Andrew’s _IMG_0901

 

Unfortunately, after the glue had dried I discovered I’d measured it wrong and I didn’t need the middle pieces at all, that the two long pieces glued together would be more than wide enough. *sigh*

After the glue had dried on the case, I discovered that the glue on the top and bottom rabbet hadn’t quite set or it was just a dry joint – not enough glue. So I had to put some more glue in between the top and bottom corners and the case:

Andrew’s _IMG_0903 Andrew’s _IMG_0904

 

This time I used a cinder block as a weight to clamp it up, with some lateral clamping to make sure the case stayed square the sides didn’t splay outwards. That did the trick! The main case is now complete.

I’ve marked up the top. I want a 3/4″ overhang round the outside of the case. I also need to take into account the doors on the front of the case, which will also be 3/4″ thick, so I needed to double up the overhang. I took some 3/4″ scrap plywood (doubled up at the front) and drew round the top. NB: 3/4″ plywood isn’t 3/4″ thick. The cheap crap I have from China is 18mm which is 0.708″ – a long way from 0.75″. Never the less, it’s close enough and if I cut a little bit wide it’ll look just fine. Once the top and bottom are cut out, then I’ll route the edge and fix the top to the case. I’m planning to use some figure 8 connectors, or similar arrangement. The bottom is a different matter and since I have to rework the panel for there, I’m consider a different strategy.

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Divide and conquer

The shelves are now to thickness and cut to width. Some sanding of the end to ensure they fit and they are almost ready to go. I used a router to cut the dadoes in the case and because the bit is round, so is the end of the cut. I could attempt to square off the dado, but that would be difficult. My smallest chisel is 10 mm. I decided to try a different route and round over the edge. I did try to use a router to do the rounder over with a 1/8″ round over bit, but the shelves are too small to do it by hand. The router table wasn’t very effective as I couldn’t reliably get the depth right and anyway the shelves aren’t exactly 1/4″ thick. Then I remembered a video done by Matthias Wandel:

After a little trial and error I found that 3 45º strokes with my block plane, followed by a 22.5º either side of that created a very close round over, which is completed with a little light sanding.

Once the shelves are ready, I positioned them in the cabinet for a dry fit. I drew where the dadoes meet the shelves which give me a start line to mark out where the dividers go. To make sure I get the dadoes in the right places, I used the layout marks from the dadoes and a compass to find the center of the board. I think this must be one of the first times I’ve used a compass for something other than drawing a circle. The layout lines were then used as a reference point to make sure my router was in the right place to cut the dadoes. A 1/4″ v-groove bit has a sharp point and can help position the router on the line so the fence can be zeroed in.

1/4" V Groove bit

Swap the v-groove bit for the 1/4″ straight bit to make the cut and the dadoes are perfectly down the middle of the board. The depth of cut can be determined by dropping the router bit onto the workpiece whilst the motor is off, then placing an appropriate diameter drill bit in the depth stop. I did a couple of test cuts and worked out the best depth. After doing a couple of cuts things when a little wrong. I didn’t realise and cut one of the shelves in half. I didn’t realise until after I’d finished the second cut because of all the dust in the channel. Luckily I had enough stock prepared and was pleasantly surprised at how fast I was able to get a new shelf ready.

As I was finishing up, I managed to get one divider cut and placed in the dry assembly.

 

 

 

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Magnetic personality

At some point I managed to knock my tray of 200 odd drill bits on the floor. With all the dust and the incredibly small diameter bits, it was quite difficult to get them all. Until I remembered I had a super strong magnet from inside a dead hard drive, and used it to sweep the debris to pick up the drill bits.

A little more work

I had the opportunity to get into the shop for a few hours this afternoon. I finished laying out the dadoes for the shelving. It’s during this process I noticed a discrepancy in my layout. The bottom two draws are supposed to be 2″ deep, but the bottom draw will be 2 1/4″ deep. It doesn’t really matter and might make gaining access to the secret compartment easier. Still, too late now!

My plan calls for 1/4″ dadoes for the shelves to sit in. I mounted my 1/4″ router bit in my small hand held router, and set up the fence to make the dadoes. I slipped a little at once point and the router bit took a little chunk out of the panel. Thankfully it’s going to be on the inside so I don’t think I’ll need to do anything about it.

With the dadoes cut, I thought I’d just double check the width of the dadoes with my calipers. Lucky I did. The very cheap router bit set I’ve got aren’t exactly milled to the most accurate degree. Turns out my .25″ is closer to .235″ so it’s lucky I don’t need to actually route a dado exactly 1/4″ wide. Once the dadoes were cut, I put the 3/8″ rabbet in the back of the box to accept the back piece when the time comes.

I’ve dry fit the case to double check the fit and to see how it’s all coming together.

Andrew’s _IMG_0887 Andrew’s _IMG_0885 Andrew’s _IMG_0884 Andrew’s _IMG_0889 Andrew’s _IMG_0888

The wood panels I have aren’t quite wide enough to fill the dadoes all the way back, so once I’ve finished fitting the top and bottom I’ll need to shaved down the width of the shelves and shape some small pieces to fit in the back of the dadoes. Not a terrible solution as they won’t be seen and won’t affect the performance of the draws that’ll be resting on them and the 1/4″ shelves will more than strong enough to hold the weight of the drawers and their contents, especially once the dividers are installed.

Next I need to finish cleaning up the epoxy and scrape the insides of the panels to smooth them ready for finish. I also need to resaw some more 1/4″ stock for the remaining shelf and the dividers. Then I need to cut the dadoes in the shelves for the dividers and route the round overs for the fronts of the shelves.

Somehow the top and bottom aren’t quite square which is a little odd because the were cut in one pass on my mitre saw, so I need to square those edges up to make a nice tight fit. This might require building another tool – a shooting (or chuting depending on your heritage) board. I don’t think my hand plane sides are quite square and anyway it needs a lot more work before it’s going to be usable as a plane. It’s fine if the stock is thin, but much more than 1/2″ and it’s very hard to push though, let alone be used to smooth anything big and flat.

So I might end up building a sanding block system and see how that works out.

A pox on epoxy

So the glue up of the side panels didn’t go quite as planned, most because one of the panels twisted. The cawls helped a lot, but there is still a minor twist in it. I had considered building a new side panel, but I think I’m going to persevere with it for now. I see a lot of clamping my future!

I also had a minor blow with some epoxy. I don’t use a lot of epoxy, so I’ve been buying the 5 minute stuff that comes in the twin syringe so you get equal doses of resin and hardener. Except I don’t think the batch I mixed to seal and stabilize the knots on one of the panels had enough hardener in it or I didn’t mix it enough. I mixed and poured it yesterday evening in preparation for today’s day in the shop, and came down this morning to a goey mess. The hole I sealed on the other panel was fine so I know the epoxy itself was good, but I had mixed the batches separately. I’ve managed to clean off the resin from the panel and I’ll have another go at sealing the holes. I’ve sanded the side panels with some 80 grit as it’s easier to do that whilst it’s flat. This has removed the majority of the epoxy mess, but my sander is too big to fit in the flat panel so I’m going to have to have another go by hand. I’ll probably sand all the way up to 220 in preparation of finishing as it’ll be easier to do before the glue up.

With the rabbets in the side panel done (very easy on my new router table :), I’ve glued up some panels for the top and bottom of the carcass to the desired width.

I finished today laying out the dadoes for the shelves. Next week, I’ll route the dadoes and resaw the stock for the shelves and dividers. If I have time, I’ll glue up the main carcass.

Epilogue

So my re-working of the epoxy has improved the situation for the long dark streak but the two holes that had already been filled by epoxy, I wasn’t so lucky. They were rather deep and I didn’t take the old epoxy which it turns out was a mistake. Overnight the old epoxy half hardened and had gone white. So I spent an hour digging out the old epoxy and cleaning out the holes ready to be refilled. I’ll try again to fill the holes again tonight.

The long dark streak through the middle of the board caused by a branch coming out from the trunk which I’d stabilized with epoxy. Epoxy is gap filling meaning as you apply it, it will flow into gaps. I pasted a layer of epoxy on the dark streak which set good and hard. Ordinarily I’d use my random orbit sander to remove the excess, but the panel is too narrow to get the sander in and anyway the round disc won’t go into the corners. So I’ve resorted to using a utility knife blade to remove the excess and whilst I’m at it used it as a cabinet scraper to smooth the surface. This is very effective and can get wood smoother than 220 grit sand paper. If I had a proper cabinet scraper it would be quicker and more efficient.

A new shop tool and a new project

With all the Christmas presents out of the way, it’s time to start work on some projects for myself. I’ve started with a router table. A router is essentially an electric motor with a collet to hold different shaped bits at 90° to a base plate. Typically the shank (or shaft) of the bit is either 1/4″ or 1/2″. I have a couple of routers, one of which can do either sized router bit. It’s an amazingly flexible tool. The router is often used as a hand held tool for example putting a shaped edge on a work piece – known as taking the tool to the work piece. However sometimes you need to take the work piece to the tool. A good example of this using the cope and stick router bits I got from Freud.

The two bits on the left are used to make rails and styles for a raised panel door.

You notice the grain at the top of the door is running horizontally which is a rail, and the style runs down the side of the door. The router can make the cope and stick joinery with ease. You can see in the image below how the two pieces go together:

The bit set can put a really nice profile on the styles. None of this would be possible without a router table. The router is spinning the hunk of metal at around 15,000 rpm so it just isn’t safe.

It’s a good idea to do the end grain on the rails first. Cutting wood across the grain often results in tear out. This occurs where the fibers of the wood aren’t cut cleanly, especially if the tool is dull or hasn’t been cleaned recently. The rails also need the same profile as the styles, and you can remove a lot of the tear out.

The rails are only 4″ long and with that much torque they could easily be whipped out of my hands, possibly injuring me in the process. So I’ve built a coping sled. The table has a mitre slot running parallel to the edge of the table, allowing me to run sleds or a mitre gauge down the slot. The coping sled is just a thin piece of ply wood with a runner on the bottom, and a fence at the back set at 90º to the mitre slot. The plywood is small enough that it keeps away from the router bit. It can also be used to help prevent tear out by putting in a piece of scrap in behind the work piece.

As a test of the new router table, I’ve decided to build a small portable apothecary cabinet.

Sketchup of Apothecary Cabinet

You can find the Sketchup file in the media folder, or here.

The side panels are exposed in the sketchup so you can see the shelves more clearly. Each space inside the cabinet will have a drawer. I’ve not yet decided about the joinery for those just yet, but I am leaning towards machined dovetails (seeing as I have a dovetail jig). I’m going to put a secret bottom into the base. I have some magnets I removed from some failed hard drives which I’ll epoxy in place and the can grab onto some screws placed on glue blocks on the underside of the cabinet. That’ll let me adjust the depth of the panel. The panel will be able to be pushed out by removing the bottom draw and pushing a finger through a 3/4″ hole.

The main carcass will be made from red oak, though I’ve been inspired by The Woodwhisperer’s Fancy Raised panel, so I’m going to attempt that for the doors, using some soft maple for the panels, and red oak overlaying the top. I’ve used the same cope and stick router bits to create the side panels for the carcass, but use flat pieces instead of raised panels. I thought that using raised panels on the side would detract from the overall look. I haven’t yet decided on a finish, though I’m leaning towards either Danish oil, or shellac and poly. I’m more comfortable with shellac and poly, and the cold weather is going to make applying the oil more complicated due to very limited amount of time in a warm shop.

My challenges for this project will include trying to use my table saw or jointer as little as possible as it’s -10c (12F) in my barn workshop which I feel makes it unsafe. I’m limited therefore to portable power tools, my planer, my drill press, mitre saw and bandsaw. I’ve not done much resawing before, so that’s going the fun.

The wood came to me second hard as 12/4 stock, and I’d managed to get some of it milled up before the cold weather set in. I’ve got a new 1/2″ 3 tooth per inch (TPI) blade in my bandsaw which is making resawing pretty easy going, even with my little 1/2HP bandsaw. I’ve been resawing the pieces, then running both pieces of stock through the bench top planer to smooth the surfaces off and bring the work piece sides back to flat and parallel and remove the washboard saw marks

So far I’ve milled and glued up the two side panels for the carcass. As I was finishing gluing the second panel I noticed a problem with it as it was twisting significantly. As the glue was still wet, I put some cauls diagonally across the panel to straighten them out. Time will tell how much of an issue that will be:

Andrew’s _IMG_0875 Andrew’s _IMG_0874 Andrew’s _IMG_0876

The other panel is fine:

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The glue has been drying for a couple of days so they’ll be done by Saturday ready for the next step in the project: routing the slots of the shelving, and the rabbets for the top and bottom panels and re-saw the wood for the top and bottom panels.

The shelves are only 1/4″ thick. I want to do stopped dadoes for the shelves, but I don’t have a 1/4″ chisel. My current plan is to round over the leading edge of the shelves so they fit in the dado left by the router. I’ve already taken the panels out of the clamps and it’s looking pretty good. One of the rails isn’t quite right but I can clean that up with a plane.

The plan for my next session:

  • Clean up the panels I just glued to insure the tops of the panels are square. I noticed one of the rails is not quite in place. Should be able to clean that up with a hand plane and a little sanding. Also some of the rails aren’t quite flush with the styles, so some sanding will be required.
  • Cut the rabbets in the top and bottom of the side panels. This will determine how thick the top and bottom panels will need to be. The plan says 1/2″, but it’s going to be decided by the rabbets. I have a couple of 3/8 rabbeting bits, so that’ll probably do quite nicely. I can cut them on the router table with the coping sled and a backer board to prevent tear out.
  • Re-saw some more stock. I’m going to need some for the top and bottom panels, and the shelves which are 1/4″ thick. It’s all going to need gluing up as I know the stock I have isn’t wide enough.

I don’t know if I’m going to have much more time than that, but if I do then I’ll need to route the slots in the side panels to accept the shelves. I won’t be able to route the slot in the top of the carcus for the divider because the glue up won’t be dry in time. I will also need some more stock for the base and the molded piece at the bottom. I’ve already glued up the the molded piece for the top. I’m not going to cut that down any further until the rest of the cabinet is finished.

French cleats and Firetrucks

I’m getting to the final stages of my son’s Christmas present, a hook and ladder firetruck. Not the most complicated thing in all the wide world but a fun little project. It’s now got two coats of paint and two coats of polyurethane varnish, but it takes time for the coats to dry. So I’ve tackled a few extra things I wanted to do to make my winter workshop more efficient.

Firstly, I’ve cleared the top of the wood stove and put down a piece of plywood to give me some more work bench space:

New workspace

It gives me some space to put projects whilst I’m waiting for the glue or finish to dry. I’ve glued some blocks underneath to stop the plywood moving around when I don’t want it do.

Shop Projects

I need more shelf space. The footprint is very small so I need to make the most of the space I do have. Whilst I’m at it, I need to make the most of the time I have in the workshop, currently only one day a week. So I need to be able to get tools easily and be able to put them away quickly so I don’t clutter the place up. This is going to take a lot of discipline which isn’t really my forte. With that in mind I’m building some shelves that are deliberately only deep enough to take one tool at a time. The main problem with any shelving system is it can be very limiting. So I’ve decided to use french cleats. These consist of taking some strips of wood, in my case 3″ wide, and ripping it down the middle at 45°. I did mine on the band saw as I didn’t want to brave the -10°C just to make the cuts. The strips are a little wavey, but good enough for the purpose. Then you screw one or more of the strips of wood to the wall, with bevel up and the taller side facing outwards. You then screw the other strip of wood onto the back of what ever you want to hang on the wall mirroring the wall support.

The NewWoodworker has a very good diagram:

My Grandfather left me a large shelving systems with a series of “useful boxes for putting things in”. The boxes are old Virginia tobacco tins, which now contain an assortment of screws, random nails, nuts and bolts and other miscellaneous hardware. This was the first thing to get hung on the wall as I’d tripped over the shelving system twice last week.

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I’ve also added some smaller shelves to the same french cleat:

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And here’s where today’s safety lesson comes from. So I didn’t need to use clamps on the blocks, I’d used my nail gun to pin the blocks in place. I’d loaded the gun with nails long enough to go through both the plywood top, and more than half way through the blocks. Then I started on the shelves, which are made from (approximately) 1/2″ pine. I didn’t swap the nails over for shorter nails, the nails went through the pine and plywood and the end of the nail stuck into my finger. Painful but not a complete disaster.

Well, that was easel

So last Saturday I put the finishing touches on my daughter’s Young Artist’s Easel. And I think it’s looking pretty good, even if I say so myself:

Andrew’s _IMG_0819 I’ve put two coats of a 3lb cut of blonde shellac, and rubbed out the finish with some 220 grit sand paper. In places this left the finish a little rough, so I wiped over it with a clean cloth with some methyl hydrate on it. This can be used to dilute shellac down, but in this instance it helped smooth over the finish and make it feel like silk. You can see the dark marks down the left hand leg of the easel. These mark where the nails held the pallets together. There is a dado (a groove) running round the bottom of the trays. I was going to use the router, but discovered that the bit I wanted to use chipped and burned after I did the first test cut. So I did it at the table saw. The kerf of the blade isn’t wide enough to do it in one cut, so I moved the fence over a fraction and re-ran each board through.

The good news is it was completed in time for the Woodworkers Fight Cancer charity build. As of two days ago, they had raised over $5,000, so more than half way to their $10,000 target.

Working in a winter workshop

This has been a bit of a test for me. I’m used to having the space to spread out a lot in my barn. My winter workshop must be less than a quarter of the size. My barn has an additional floor I was using to put finish on projects. This last part is going to be particularly difficult to cope with. An inherent part of woodworking involves making wood dust, and more so with power tools. And worse power tools have fans on the motors which inevitably spreads that dust out over everything. I try to use my shop vac to collect the dust as I go, but it’s not perfect. My little vac hasn’t have a huge throughput, and it’s impossible to collect all the dust anyway. So I wear a respirator which is the most uncomfortable part of woodworking. To help collect some of the dust from the atmosphere I have a 20″ box fan drawing air through a furnace filter – you can see the corner of that in the picture above. Hopefully less of it will get stuck in my finish meaning I’ll have a smoother finish and less sandpaper wasted.

Next up: finish my son’s Christmas present – a hook and ladder firetruck.