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!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Woodworking blog Woodworking Magazine - A Dovetail a Day – Hurray

So, the other day I was just posting on how I am practicing my dovetail cuts so that I can get better at hand cut dovetails. Well, yesterday, Chris Schwarz posted a blog entry about an article he did 2007 where he set out on the same task as I am undertaking. What he did was to make a dovetail a day until he got better at it. One of his readers, Bob Jones, followed along and did a dovetail a day for 90 days! I don't know if I can manage one a day with my schedule or not, but it is definitely worth a shot if I can get results like Chris and Bob. The blog post is below and a free copy of the original article can be found, either at the bottom of that post or here: FREE DOVETAIL ARTICLE

Woodworking blog Woodworking Magazine - A Dovetail a Day – Hurray

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dovetails - Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the things I really want to do as a woodworker is get better at cutting dovetails by hand. This always seems to be a crowning moment for a woodworker, and is one of the highest achievements it seems. I think it is a mental thing, but once you can, consistently, cut high quality dovetails by hand, you feel like you can do anything in woodworking. So, I'm on a quest to get better at them, by hand. I've read a couple books, watched some videos and even tried some on my own; not successfully mind you. One of the things that I have read, and watched, over and over is to practice cutting straight lines. And I thought "Practice?! Practice? Are we talking about practice?" heck, I can cut a straight line, I don't need to do that! Well, if I can cut a straight line, every time, then why can't I get good dovetails? So, putting my ego aside, I decided to do what many expert woodworkers probably did in their apprenticeship....practice.

So, I set out to cut a bunch of lines to get used to cutting on a straight line, but also cutting to my scribe line, or shoulder line. I took a slightly different approach though; see, when you practice something, you practice in the same way you would execute whatever it is you are practicing for. So, in that spirit, I decide to no just cut straight lines, but to practice the types of cuts you would make when doing dovetails, skewed cuts and angled cuts. So, with that, I grabbed a piece of 3/8" walnut, laid out a bunch of lines, and started cutting.
Here you can see that, for the most part, I can cut a straight enough line; some on the left got a little crazy, but what I noticed is I need to do a better job of cutting to the line as on several of these, I went right past it.

This is a shot of the top of the practice board. Again, consistent angles all parallel to each other. These were laid out to simulate the types of cuts used when cutting the pins of a dovetail.

Next I grabbed a piece of 3/8" mahogany and made a series of cuts that would simulate cutting the tails.
Again, pretty consistent, but still room for improvement. My cutting to the line was much better on this one.

All-in-all, I think my cutting is pretty good. I definitely am going to do another round or two of practice cuts to get even more consistent; I also think I am going to practice cutting to save the line;personally, I think this is why mine just don't come out well. So, practice, practice, practice I shall do!

Be Safe!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Interview with plane maker Steve Knight - Fine Woodworking

Steve Knight makes, or used to make, really nice wooden hand planes. Now he makes them as kits; super high quality. Here is an interview from Fine Woodworking and Steve where he talks about that transition from finished planes to kits...

Interview with plane maker Steve Knight - Fine Woodworking