Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy New Year! Kicking off the New Year

Happy New Year!

Kicking the New Year off with a new project

Happy New Year to one and all. 2016 was a zinger of a year and makes me look forward to 2017. For me, 2017 may be the year of change with some announcements coming in the near future. But, for now, 2017 is kicking off with a new project - an entertainment center.

Entertainment Center Design

This entertainment center is for a family member who has a large living room. They are in the market for a new TV, but with two smaller children, wanted a plan that would potentially "protect" the TV from flying objects. The idea is to have two tall bookcases on each end, with a TV section in the middle. There will then be two barn doors that will slide out to the sides, or together in the middle. When in the middle, they will cover the TV, when on the outsides, the TV is exposed and bookcases covered. Here are a couple pictures, from Pinterest, of the design idea.
Doors open

Doors closed
It is here that I will jump in and say, this project is a beast! It is scheduled to be about 9' wide, by just under 7' tall. It will be built in 3 parts; the two end bookcases and the center cabinet. This is so that it can get in the door and then be taken apart in the future. The trick with this design is, how to attach the upper and lower trim pieces once the full pieces is assembled in order to make it look uniform, and not like 3 separate pieces. I'm taking submissions on ideas for that!

A Note on Material

So, as a general rule, I do not use plywood on my projects....as a rule. But there are exceptions to rules which then define the rule, and this project is one of those exceptions. I am using plywood for the case work for two reasons. First, it would be way too costly to try and build the cases out of solid wood. Second, the piece is going to be painted so using solid wood would be a waste of resources. As I mentioned before, this piece is huge so I think plywood is the best choice for the cases. The trim, backs, trim and doors will all be solid pine, for that more rustic look.

Case Work Build

This project starts with breaking down the plywood sheets to their rough dimensions for final dimensioning on the table saw. I break down the plywood with a recently purchased track saw. (Side Note: if you do a lot of work with plywood, or large pieces such as table tops, do yourself a favor and invest in a track saw!) The track saw I have is a Shop Fox version, which works well after some tuning. 
Breaking down plywood
Once the pieces are in their final dimensions, I laid out the lines where I wanted the shelves to go. Then, I clamped the left and right pieces together. What you do here is put the pieces together, with the insides faces against each other, and open them like a book, so you have a perfect matching set. Next, I used a straight edge guide and a router, with a plywood bit, to route out the grooves that the shelves will go into; I'm cutting to a depth of roughly 3/8" or just under. 
Grooves routed for shelves (in book matched layout)

Once these grooves are routed, I move to the table saw to cut a dado in the back edge to receive the ship lap panels that will form the back. This dado is inset about a half inch from the back and is 3/8" in width, and depth. 

Once all the grooves and dados are cut, there is a bit of a tedious process that needs to happen. I picked up this trick from Tommy MacDonald a number of years ago. Use your router plane to go back over all your dados to ensure a uniform depth of cut. Plywood tends to have some dips and crowns in it and when routing or using a dado to cut your grooves, it may not result in a uniform depth of cut across the surface, which results in panels not fitting properly.
Cleaning dados with router plane
As I mentioned, this is tedious, but the end result is perfect. 

Next Steps

In the next part of the build, I will work on assembling the cases and fitting the ship lap boards in the back and the trim in the front. If I haven't said it before, I'll say it again; this thing is a BEAST!

Happy woodworking and stay safe!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Building an Outdoor Table (Part 3)

In this post, we are going to wrap up this project; I'll talk about the joinery I used, and why and then get into the finish for this outdoor table, and why. To recap, in Part 1 of this series, I went through the table design and the wood I selected for this project, which is white oak. In Part 2 I focused on milling the wood and prepping the individual pieces for the joinery. I also covered the layout of the pieces to try and orient them the best way possible to give the greatest visual appeal. In this post, we are put it all together and get it to its final resting place.

Joinery - Drawboring

As with any table, the obvious choice for the apron to leg joint is a mortise and tenon joint. It is a strong joint and has been used for centuries because of its durability and strength. So, when I was planning this table design, I knew I was going to use a mortise and tenon joint, but I also decided to take it one step further and add a drawbore to the joint. I covered what a drawbore joint is, and how to make one in this post so I suggest you hop over and take a look to get more of the details.

In order to make this joint, I had to use my drill press to drill out the bulk of the material; these legs were too tall for my mortising machine, which was a disappointment and I may have to address later on down the road. As you can see in the photo below, once the mortises were rough drilled out, I had to finish the joint by hand with a mallet and chisel. 

One thing I should mention is, I had already cut the tenons and used the tenons to layout the mortises. You can see the layout lines in the above photo. Once the mortise and tenon joints were done, I dry fit everything everything to get a feel for what the table would look like.

It was at this point in the process that I also noted that the table looked too boxy and needed some help. What I decided to do was to put a very slight taper on the two inside faces of the legs, meaning, the side where the table rails are. However, I wouldn't cut those tapers until I have the drawbores done. Below you can see the table base completely assembled and you can also see the slight taper I put on the legs; nothing too much, but just enough to give it a little something.

Once this glue dries, I just need to trim the dowels from the drawbore pegs and finish sand.

Outdoor Finish

You can go back to Part 1 of this build and read why I chose white oak for this project, but since this table is going to be outdoors, year around, I wanted to select a highly durable finish. So, I did some research on this and there are a number of finishes that you can use for outdoors, of course there are. But many of them require near constant attention and refinishing annually; I didn't want that. So, I drew upon my boating hobby, as I did in selecting white oak (boats used to be, and are still, made from white oak) and I decided to go with Epifanes clear varnish finish. Epifanes is used in the boating industry to be a sealer for wood on boats, to protect it from the water and sun, which is exactly what  I wanted with this table. 

The application of Epifanes is kind of a hurry up and wait process. You thin the product out 50/50, apply, then let dry for about 24 hours. Then you thin less and less as you build up the coats. In all, this table has 5 coats of Epifanes on it. This Epifanes finish should last a few years before needing to be recoated. The nice thing about it is, you just need to give the piece a light sanding, then apply a couple more coats and then you should be good for a few more years. So, here is the finished table in its final resting place and ready for years of use.

That is all for now. I have a few other things in the works, and possibly a big announcement in the not too distant future so stay tuned!