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!