Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Office Desk Build (Part 2)

In my last post, Office Desk Build (Part 1), I went through the milling process of the wood and getting the legs and frame of the desk mocked up. In this post I want to concentrate on the joinery of the legs and desk aprons. The joiner, at first, can be a bit intimidating because the legs are on angles. The front legs are on 7 degree angles and the back legs are 3.5 degrees. It is highly important to create a template with these angles so you can keep track and always have something to come back to as a reference. If you are using an adjustable square, having this template allows you to come back and reference the template to get your angles correct. The other tip here is to try and do everything with the same angle at the same time. What I mean here is, do everything possible with the 7 degree angle first, then move to the other angle. This keeps you from having to go back and forth, which can cause some errors.

Tenons First

Because the legs are on an angle, I chose to cut the tenons first. I did this because I was going to have to pound out the mortises by hand. Because of the size (width) of the table aprons, I chose to use double tenons. The reason for this all about stability. If you make a really big tenon, you would need to make a really big mortise and this could compromise the integrity of the joint because you would have to remove so much material from the legs. First, I layout the tenons, and I cut these by hand.

Once I get the tenons cut, you want to stay outside of your lines, I use chisels and hand planes to fine tune the tenons down to the lines. Just take your time and sneak up to the lines.

Mortises Next

Once the tenons are cut, I move on to the mortises. I use the tenons as my "template" to layout the mortises. Also, make sure you number your joints from the aprons to the legs. You should have a "1" and "1" on the tenon and mortise joints, then "2" and "2" and so forth. The reason for this is, each joint will fit just a little bit differently, no matter what you do. This ensure that you are matching up each one the same, every time. So, use your tenons, and layout your mortises.

Once you have your mortises laid out, it's time to get chopping! Using your mallet and chisels, just take your time and start chopping to your lines. Don't start chopping at your lines, start about a 1/16" away from the line, remove most of the waste, then work to the line.

Take your time, get a good snug fit and then dry fit the whole assembly.

Finishing Touches

Once you have all your joints dry fit and nice and tight, ensure all your parts are sanded to your liking and then it is ok to glue up the base and get ready for the top.

Final Thoughts/Tips

In woodworking, joinery is everything. You can have the best hand carved finial, or elaborate veneer, but if your joiner isn't any good, the piece will not last and will end up in a scrap heap somewhere. To ensure the longevity of your work, you want to ensure you have great, strong, joinery.  To do this, take your time, layout your joints carefully, sneak up to your lines with cutting the joints and break each task down to their most simple parts. 

Up Next

In part three, I will put a top on this desk and get it finished. I'm going to do a couple things different on this top so check back and I think you'll like what I do with it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Office Desk Build (Part 1)

Now that my new shop is in mostly working order, it is time to build something! The first "major" build is going to be an office desk for our house. The design called for something "a little different" which really just meant, not the usual straight legs. Because the area where the desk is going is not really large, and also not a primary working space, it does not need to be very big nor complicated. Of course, I've been given "artistic license" to make some modifications as I see fit, provided the are not too drastic; whatever that means. Basically, this desk will have legs that are slanted on an angle in the front and the back; 3.5 degrees to the back and 7 degrees to the front.

The Lumber - Milling

The desk will be made from all cherry, which I procured from my favorite store, Peach State Lumber. It calls for 4 legs, 4 aprons (2 side, front and back) and a top. There won't be any drawers so that this does not become a catch-all for random "junk". I usually get started with a chalk layout of my pieces, as I picked them in the store.

Because I am not using plans, and sort of making this up as I go, I thought I would start with the legs. I kind of came up with the 3.5 and 7 degree dimensions by using a piece of 1x4 pine material and a compass square to find an appealing angle. In the picture above, you can see that I marked a triangle for the legs so that I can try and keep them oriented as best as possible as I go through the process. Once I rough cut them, I will mark them with pencil on their ends in the same manner. Here they are milled to near final dimensions, which is 1.25" wide by 2.5" deep (thick) by just over 30" long.

Measuring and Layout

Once the legs were milled to dimension, I needed to determine an appealing length and layout for the two side aprons. Here, I simply have the milled apron piece clamped to the legs so I can come up with an appropriate length.

This length needs to take into consideration how deep the top of the desk will be and the front and back overhang of the top. Too big and there won't be a lot of room, too small and it could make it unstable. Once I determine the apron length, I can make a pencil mark to define the shoulder of the tenon that will be cut into the apron; I will be doing double mortise and tenon joints on these legs because the aprons are 5" wide and one long tenon would, in theory, not be as strong as splitting it up. 

Next Steps - Lessons Learned

The next step will be to cut the tenons into the two aprons. I will be cutting these by hand as I think it will be easier than trying to mess with multiple machine setups and potential mistakes. Once the tenons are cut, I will use those to mark for the mortises, which will be cut on a mortising machine; I "cheated" a little on how I did this so you'll have to see what I did.

I also wanted to close with a little lessons learned; I think it is important to impart things I figure out along the way, for those that may not have done this before. None of this is the "right way" per se, just how I did it. First, make sure you have a good compass square that can really lock in place. Second, as far as possible, make all layouts for that particular angle at the same time. For example, I measured all my 7 degree angles before moving on to my 3.5 degree measurements. If you don't do this, take the time to mark and cut a scrap piece that has these measurements on it so you can quickly get your measurements from it later if you need to. Lastly, similar to the measurements, make all angled cuts for the same setting at the same time. This keeps you from having to move your miter gauge back and forth and having errors, or worse, losing track of which cut is supposed to go where and making a mistake. 

So, next time it will be mortise and tenon cutting time and, hopefully, a dry fit of the two sides.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The State of Woodworking - My Opinion

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been out of woodworking for about 5 years, until recently. It is really interesting to see how much and, at the same time, how little, things have changed in the woodworking world in that period of time.

Woodworking, like many hobbies or professions, is full of people who all think they know the right way to do something; that has not changed one bit in the last 5 years. In fact, in some ways, it is worse because of the anonymity of the Internet and Social Media. Ask someone, "what the best way to sharpen a chisel?", than grab your popcorn and watch everyone go at it. "What is the best way to cut a tenon?" Watch out. Oh, and what about "Grizzly versus Powermatic?" Oh boy! Is there a right way to do things? Sure, but there are many "right ways", one just may seem better to one person than another. Or, one method may work better for someone, or be a more appealing way to do it, but is it "the wrong way"? Surely not. The question isn't how you sharpen something, such as a chisel, it is the fact that you should sharpen them. How you do it and how sharp you get them is up to you. And, not how you make a mortise and tenon joint, but is that the appropriate joint to use in that given situation? The fact that everyone has an opinion, and is willing to share it, whether you want it or not, is not lost on me; it's in the tile of my post for crying out loud. However, the manner in which people treat others in some situations is astounding, but not surprising in the Internet age; which leads me to my next point, which fascinates me.

When I was last doing woodworking, Facebook was still pretty new, Twitter was new and Instagram didn't exist. Heck, when I started woodworking 12+ years ago, none of that existed. When I was at the height of my woodworking, you had a very small set of woodworking video bloggers (vloggers). The ones I watched were The Wood Whisperer (Marc Spagnuolo) and Rough Cut (Tommy MacDonald), back before he even had his own show. I remember watching these guys, putting themselves out there, giving tons of information away for free and yet people would blast them for one reason or another; they don't like Marc's jokes, can't stand Tommy's accent, etc. I just kept thinking "jeesh, people pay good money for this kind of access, we should be thanking them!"

So, when I recently got back into woodworking, I was pretty surprised by the sheer numbers of vloggers out there now, it blows me away! Marc is still killing it, Tommy has a show now, than there is April Wilkerson, The Samurai Carpenter, Paul Sellers and many, many more. I am amazed at their confidence and courage to film themselves and just put it out there for everyone because, as we all know, the Internet can be a nasty place.

What I like most about all of these different people is that they each have their own way at doing something, none of them are wrong, they all get to the same place in the end, but the point is, they are just showing you a way to do something, not the way. I like to watch them all and take bits of information from each and than come to my own way of doing something as well. What this blog is, is the result of watching, listening and learning from others, and coming up with my own way of doing something and I only hope that someone finds it useful as well.

As long as all these people are willing to continue to put themselves out there, and as more and more people do, I think the woodworking community is in a better place than maybe it ever has been.

Who are some of your favorite woodworking bloggers and vloggers? Let me know in the comments and I'll look forward to checking them out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Where have you been all this time?!

Wow, it has been a long time! It is hard to believe that my last post was January of 2011. A lot has changed for me since then, which is why I haven't been posting in a while. The biggest reason is because we have moved...twice and as a result, all of my woodworking equipment had been in storage. However, part of all these moves and changes is the fact that I have had the opportunity to build myself a standalone "dream shop"! So, my power tools have been rescued and are now in their new home. So, let's start there, the new shop...

I have been blessed with the opportunity to build myself a free-standing wood shop, a blank slate, to turn into my dream shop. So, I built a 32'x24' shop with 10' ceilings. Here is a shot of it being built.

As you can see, it has two garage doors on the front, a side entrance and it also have two windows on each end. I also installed two, powered, attic exhaust fans in the roof that I can control with a switch. I did this in order to circulate hot air out, but to also exhaust any fumes when doing finish work.

Working with a blank slate is a dream, but in some ways, also a bit of a nightmare; where do I put things? Where will lumber go? Where do I put this piece of equipment and that piece? Etc, etc. It is fun though and, let's be honest, a shop is never truly "done" is it? In designing my shop, I knew I wanted a few things for certain. First, I knew I wanted the outlet boxes to be cabinet height, that way, any cabinets or equipment that I put against a wall will not block any outlets. Second, I wanted lots of 110V and 220V outlets scattered throughout. Next, I wanted all 110V outlets to be quad outlets. I knew I wanted the walls to be covered with wood paneling and not drywall. Next, as much as possible, everything should be mobile (with a couple exceptions). Lastly, I knew I wanted everything that goes on the wall to use a French cleat system, that way I can move anything anywhere as my needs change over time.

So, what did I come up with? Well, here are a few shots of my shop as it is so far (subject to change without notice of course). This first shot is the right hand wall as you enter the shop. This is where all the lumber comes in, gets stored and broken down for projects.

I have my miter saw down here, along with a circular saw, jig saw and track saw, which are stored in the same mobile cabinet that my miter saw is on. This means that most, of not everything, I need to break down everything from rough lumber to sheet goods is all in one place. Now, I chose to store my lumber vertically for a couple of reasons. In my last shop, I stored it horizontally, and it took, basically an entire wall. It was also really hard to sort through the lumber in a meaningful way like that. By storing vertically, I can store a lot more lumber in a smaller area and it makes it so much easier to sort through. Here is a link to a more detailed picture of the lumber storage, but it is basically black pipe flanges and 12" pipe bolted to the wall. The wood also sits on a wooden "step" on the floor.

As we move from right to left, we begin to see how wood also moves through the process as you now run into the jointers (I have a 6" and 8") and planer.

So, after I break down the pieces, I can simply turn around and than begin to mill the pieces. Once they are milled, you move to my workbench and table saw; the heart of the shop. 

There is a lot going on in this shot, and some I may need to explain in another post, but the point is, after pieces are milled, I can cut to width and length at the table saw and also begin joinery layout at the workbench. I also have clamps near the bench, you can see my Rigid sander near the bench as well; this also holds all of my power sanders and sandpaper. Because I also use a good bit of hand tools, they are stored under the bench in drawers and I have a sanding station right next to the bench as well. 

So, as you can see, the shop is not done yet, but I don't think they ever are. I still have a good bit of insulation to get installed, wall board to be hung, extension table for the table saw, etc, etc. The good news is though, it is a functional shop that I can start building projects in right now, and I already have two in the works! 

I am so thrilled to be back woodworking again and, boy, has the woodworking world changed in the last 4+ years or what?! More on that in another post maybe, but in the meantime, I am glad to be back!

Thank you all!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shaker Table Completed!

Well, the Shaker table is now complete and ready for sale! As I mentioned in my previous post, I used 3 coats of a Tung Oil finish followed by thinned coats, about 1-2 lb cuts of shellac; I used about 3 coats on the main part of the table and 5 coats on the top. The shellac was rubbed out with 0000 steel wool and paste wax. I think the oil does a nice job of revealing the stripes in the tiger maple. I know a lot of people like to use a dye to do that, but I think oil works great, it's simple and more natural. As this is cherry, the piece will get darker over time and with exposure to sun. So, here it is!

Let me know what you think!

Be Safe!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shaker Table - Home Stretch!

Well, I am in the home stretch of this project. The last thing I needed to do was build the drawer and put the drawer runners in. The drawer is made of maple with a Tiger Maple front. I really like the way the tiger maple compliments the cherry, especially as it darkens. So, here are a couple shots of the drawer, through dovetails in the back, and half blind dovetails in the front.
Here is a shot of the tiger maple drawer front. You can see the figure in the grain and this will be drawn out with the oil and shellac finish I am putting on it.

Well, that is all for now; next time I have pictures it should be all complete. The finish for this is really simple; I am using three coats of tung oil finish and then 3-5 coats of shellac and polished out.

Be Safe!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shaker Table - Part 2

Wow! It has been a LONG time since my last update. I guess Christmas and New Years got in the way there somewhere. I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year break as I did.

Ok, so back to this table. Last time I left off I had milled the four leg blanks to size and was getting ready to mill the leg rails. Once I milled up the leg rails, I needed to lay out for the mortise and tenon joins. I probably do things a little different, but that's just the way I am; I cut my mortises before I do my tenons. I guess the reason I do it this way is because I have a mortising machine and the chisels are a defined dimension and I can cut the tenons to match this. Also, because the side and back rails are 5" wide, I will be using a haunched tenon in order to add strength to the joint. If I used just one big mortise and tenon, the legs would be very weak because of all the material that would be removed. So, after I laid out how I wanted the mortises to be, I drilled them out with the mortiser and cut the tenons to match.

After that, I was able to do a dry fit on the table.

If you notice, I have not cut the tapers on the legs yet; this is done after the mortises are cut so the legs are always flat will doing the mortises. It also serves as a bit of a reference when you do go to cut the tapers because you know to always taper the mortised side. Here, the legs were tapered on the bandsaw and cleaned up with hand planes.

Now the table frame is ready to be glued up. While that is being done, I can get the drawer runners cut and glued in; nothing special about these, just some pieces that will be glued to the sides and allow the drawer to set on and provide support from the bottom.

Next, it's time to turn my attention to the drawer itself, but that is for later.

Be Safe!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Next Project - Will be for sale!!

So, as I wrap up the finish on the Book Nook, I am moving on to another project; I will post pictures of the finished Book Nook once the finish is all done.

This next project is going to be a Shaker inspired side table, very similar to the bedside tables I have already done, just different dimensions; also, this piece will be FOR SALE upon completion! I have not finalized a price yet so stay tuned. Anyways, this piece will be made out of cherry and curly maple. I am using some of the same cherry that I did for the Book Nook, procured from Peach State Lumber. The "plans" I am using call for 1 1/2" square legs (I put 'plans' in quotes because I am not really going off of one specific plan, but a combination of a few). So, for the legs I am going to use 8/4 lumber to give me that finished dimension. Also, I select a board wide enough that I can get all 4 legs from the same width of wood for grain continuity. Below is a picture of how I did that.
As you can see in this photo, the grain all lines up so you know it all came from the same board. How I keep them all lined up prior to cutting is by numbering them and putting witness marks on the end of the board.
Once all the leg pieces are rough cut, I use my Lee Valley low angle smoother to smooth all side of the legs to final dimensions. This smoother leaves a surface that is glass smooth and ready for finish; I love this thing! Take a look at these full length shavings.
Ok, enough for now. My next order of business will be to mill up the parts that will make up the sides and back. Then I will work on the mortise and tenon joints to hold it all together. So, until then...

Be Safe!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Book Nook - Part 2

So, last time I left off I had routed the dados to receive the shelves. My next order of business as to mill up the trip pieces that will also provide support for the shelves and provide the front lip on the shelf to keep the books from slipping off. Also, I had to drill holes to receive the cross braces that will keep the books from falling forward.

So, I milled up some 3/4"x2" pieces, routed a profile on them and also put a 3/8"x3/4" dado in the back of the trim pieces so that they will slip into the front of the shelves.
This is a shot that gives you an idea of the profile and the lip the trim puts on the shelf (my photography isn't too good)
Once that was done, I had to drill the holes to receive the dowels for the cross braces. To do this, I used the same process where I lay the sides back-to-back so that when I lay out the places for the holes they will be perfectly aligned.
Ok, once that was all done, I had to take some time and put a profile into the sides of the book nook so that they weren't just square and boring. So, after about 12 tries, here is what I came up with.
I'm pretty pleased with that look and I think once it is done will give it a nice profile/look.

Ok, once that was all done, I did a quick dry fit and then it was time to glue it up! Big milestone...

Let me just first say, this was the most frustrating glue up I have EVER done. Oh man, did I ever need an extra set of hands to do this. Anyways, I got it done and below are a couple shots of the sides, shelves and braces all glued up. NOTE: notices the top back piece is also in; I had to do this because I had to put dados into the back to receive the back; you can see that dado in the pictures above.

Now, I just have to let that set for a while to dry up and then I will come back and glue all the trim pieces on. Once that is done, it is the pains taking task of removing any glue squeeze out and final sanding and then it is "off to the finishing room". I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Be Safe!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Project - Book Nook - Part 1

Alright, alright, time for a new project! I was asked to build a children's bookcase that would hold books with the covers facing outward instead of the traditional binding facing outward; kind of a book display really. I did a little research and found these are typically called a Book Nook. These are pretty interesting, and pose some unique challenges, because of the dimensions; typically they are only a foot deep, about three feet tall and about 4 feet wide. What got me was only being a foot deep; I felt that this would make for an unstable design. I did notice in my research that many of them had a way in which to fasten the top of the book nook to a wall for stability.

So, with all this in mind, I decided on the final dimensions and design. This one will be 12" deep, about 42" wide and about 36" tall. It will have 3 shelves with each shelf capable of holding about 4 books side by side and roughly 3 or 4 deep. I also decided that this piece will be made in cherry and the finish will be BLO and shellac, no stain.

My first order of business as was to make a trip to Peach State Lumber and get the cherry I would need for the project. I decided I wanted 8/4 cherry so I could resaw it for the sides, since I knew I would have to glue two pieces together. I literally had to go through the entire pallet to find the boards that would work for me, but sometimes you have to do that. So, here are the boards I picked up:
I did get more than I needed because I will be using the rest for another project once I'm done with this. My first order of business was to mill the lumber square so I could resaw it on the band saw. Some of this required the use of hand tools, which I don't mind.
Once that was done, they were resawn on the band saw and laid out for glue up. Here you can see the book matched pieces, ready for glue up. I always make some kind of witness mark on the boards so I know exactly how they should be put together.
Once I had both side panels glued up, it was now time for the tedious process of laying out for the 3 shelves. I wanted them to be equally spaced both vertically and horizontally. I did this by laying them back-to-back so that I could just transfer the lines from one to the other and know they were in perfect alignment. Here are the two side pieces laid back-to-back with the insides facing up.
Also note that I make sure to mark the grain direction; that is was the arrows are for. This just helps me keep everything flowing the same direction. Next, I had to do all the layout lines, which took a good while because I wanted to be exact and there were some design features that I had to take into account. After the layout was done, I used a router to rout out a 3/8" deep dado for each shelf and then used chisels to square up the dados.
So, my next order of business is to mill up the pieces that will be for the front and bottom trim. These trim pieces will serve multiple purposes. First, they will have a dado in them that will allow them to fit into the shelves so that will help to keep the shelves from sagging by adding support. Next, they will stick up from the front edge of the shelf about 1" which will provide a lip for the books to set into so they don't fall off the shelf and lastly, the will have a profile on them to add character. Once I have those trim pieces done, I will also begin to build the back of the shelves. That is all I've got for now....

Be Safe!