Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Snail's pace...

I got the bottom rail cap glued on the other night. Basically, I glued a solid wood strip on top of the bottom rail, to cover the plywood edge. Next step is to get mortises in for the slats on both the bottom and top rail.

Ready to drill the holes for the mortises in the bottom rail:

Holes for mortises in top rail. These look pretty ragged, but don't worry--they'll clean up fine with some chisel work. The job of the drill is just to make some space so your chisel has somewhere to push the wood. The stool you can see in the lower right belonged to my grandparents. I think my grandpa used it in his shop. It's a perfect height for sitting at my workbench, drawing things out, doing math, or laying out parts on wood:

Hard to see, but three of the mortises are now done (the three on the left). This was over an hour's work. I use the cordless drill, with a 9/32 bit (mortises are 5/16) to widen the mortises slightly to accommodate for some slop in drilling with the drill press and in the width of the slats:

I forgot how long it takes to do these mortises. They are especially hard in the bottom rail, because the plywood splinters and things when using the chisels on it. The top rail should go more quickly. I am not working as slowly and carefully as I probably should. I figure this part of the bed is the part Henry will use the least. The regular headboard and footboard (which are used for the crib) also will be used with stretchers to make a full-size bed that he hopefully will be able to use for many years. The sides are used for both the crib and the toddler bed setup. The toddler bed "footboard" probably won't be used for more than 2 years.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back at it...

After a long hiatus, I am back at woodworking. I am stuck in a too-small, too-dimly-lit space for now--the 1 car garage in our rental house--but I have things set up so as to be workable.

Project #1 is to make the "footboard" to turn Henry's crib into a toddler bed. This should go fairly quickly. I hope so--I have given myself a deadline of June 12--his second birthday. I had already cut the pieces for the legs (3 pieces of 3/4 stock each), so I just had to laminate those after planing the center piece to the same thickness as the plywood I'll be using for the bottom stretcher and the top rail. That is done, and they are drilled with the holes and counterbores for the hardware:

What remains is to create mortises for the slats, cut slats to size, put 1/8" roundovers on all pieces, sand everything, assemble, and re-sand and finish. The more I think about it, the more I think June 12 is pushing it. Oh well. It is supposed to storm this weekend, so I might have 5-6 hours to put toward it, with nothing better to do.


Friday, September 21, 2007


On the suggestion of a co-worker, I wound up just cutting 1/4" off each side of the cutting board. That was enough to get rid of the big divot the runaway router left. And then, I bought a used router from a guy in Belton. It was a long trip for a router, but it was a pretty good deal ($20) for an early 1980's Craftsman router that looks like it was used once, maybe. It came with two bits, but honestly, I haven't even looked at them very close. On first glance they didnt seem like anything I'd be using anytime soon. Anyway, that router fits the table I have, so I am now with a functional router table. The routing went just fine with the table, but I still had to touch things up with sandpaper to make it smooth.

Here's what it looks like:

Using a dremel tool with a small carving bit to "sign" my name on a piece always makes me nervous, but I guess they've always came out OK so far. Kind of rough and sort of looking like the work of a 3rd grader, but legible. I signed in the cherry, since I figured that would be the easiest. The walnut may have been better, actually. It was hot when I was carving the initials in, and after I was done, I noticed the surface was rough--after I had sanded it all smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I finally realized that my sweating palm, resting on the cutting board as I was signing it, raised the grain of the wood. So I had to re-sand the whole thing again, and then get mineral oil on it before I got sweat on it again. There are so many ways to ruin a project!

I think I'm safe posting this here before I give this to them, because I haven't really "advertised" this blog yet.

I wasn't that excited about these big tan rubber feet, but I tried 2 hardware stores and Home Depot, and this was the best I could do. Anyway, they serve the purpose of keeping it from skidding around, and allowing air circulation underneath. Overall, I'm really happy with the way the joints came out. I was worried, because I don't have a jointer, so it's near-impossible to make everything square.

This will probably be my last project before we head west, and I don't anticipate having room or time to set up a shop for at least the next 3-6 months. I hope I can still get in some small projects here and there. Maybe a good time to do something small that uses nothing but hand tools...


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Gosh almighty! OK, new rule: no operating a router after a couple of beers. This is what happens when you do:

Or at least, this is what happens when I do. In case you were wondering, that big ol' divot isn't supposed to be there. That's what happens when impaired judgement makes you think you can rout a 3/8" roundover on a 1 1/4" wide cutting board. It just plain doesn't work.

One of my coworkers told me today that the difference between a good carpenter and an excellent carpenter is that an excellent carpenter knows how to hide his mistakes. 'Bout the only way to hide this one is to put the whole thing in the woodstove... I'm going to take 1/4" off each side, and re-rout (using a router table this time), and hopefully it will still look OK. Here's what the top looks like after a rough sanding:

Yeah. I know better than to try to rout an edge like that by hand, but the table I have doesn't fit the router I have. Long story. I'll have to borrow a router again, as I did when I was working on the crib.

I'll have to see if it still works as a gift after I get done hacking away at it. I'm not so sure....

That thing is going to last forever, though. With the top all being end grain, I had to sand for almost 10 minutes with 50 grit on my belt sander to even out the spots that were sticking up less than 1/16" above the adjacent strips!

OK. Lesson learned. It was a painful one... I hate routers.


Monday, September 17, 2007


I'm working on a gift for some friends right now--a cutting board. It's a plan from Wood Magazine. It's a deceptively simple project. Deceptive because it looks like it took lots of cutting and lots of effort. It's actually fairly simple and straightforward. Really, it's more a test of how accurately your equipment is set up and performing than it is of your woodworking abilities.

I drove down to Pomona on Saturday morning, to Mark Frieden Hardwoods, since that's the only place around where I've found hardwoods for a decent price. I have to put in a plug for this guy. He's a farmer that also has a kiln & a good selection of hardwoods from Missouri and beyond. I bought a total of about 5 board feet (hard maple, cherry, and walnut). I asked about Kentucky Coffeetree wood, since he had a huge piece last time I was in there. He said he had stopped carrying it for lack of demand, but had about a board-foot left. He threw that in for me to play with, at no extra charge. There was a 7/8 piece of purpleheart there that was probably 11" wide and 7' long. I almost had to buy it, just because I've never seen pieces that big. Really nice guy, and I love walking around that shed full of mixed hardwoods. I'm becoming a real wood junkie. It's really fun to get lumber that's got rough edges and fairly rough-planed surfaces, and turn it into something beautiful.

Anyway, the way this thing works is that you glue up strips of maple, walnut, and cherry of differing widths, to form one big laminated plank:

I like the way these laminated planks look. I would like to make something (cabinets? a folding screen?) that makes use of that look. Once I ran it through the planer it looked as though it was one piece of wood with some very sudden color changes. So I guess I did OK getting things cut straight, etc. Not bad, considering I don't have a jointer.

Next you crosscut strips from the plank:

Then you turn every other strip end-for-end. The differing widths of the maple and cherry strips staggers the wood to produce a funky pattern. Here's how it looks laid out flat, right before gluing up:

These pieces get stood on edge, though, so that the cutting board surface is all end grain, which will make it really durable. The plans call for you to glue this up in three separate sections, then glue those three sections together, for two reasons (I guess): 1) because waterproof glue generally has a short "open time" during which you can move things around and get clamps on, and 2) to make sure there's adequate clamping pressure. I knew #2 wasn't really an issue, since f clamps like the ones I used have something like 1,000 psi of clamping force. I also thought I could get everything together within that 7 minute open assembly time that TiteBond III has. It turns out that it was pretty easy. I laid the strips out flat so I could put glue on each one, then turn it up on edge next to the previous one. The clamps and cauls were all laid out and ready to go.

It worked just fine to do it all at once. Check out the deflection on the bars of those f-clamps! Plenty of pressure there.... I actually kind of bruised my palms twisting those handles! It would have added an extra session, at least, to do it the other way, and wouldn't have made any difference. Joints either fit together, or they don't.

I should finish this up tonight, and then it needs a few coats of mineral oil. It's been sort of a fun project because it was quick, and it also allowed me to work with three different species side-by-side. If you look close, you can see that the cherry burned when going through the table saw. The walnut tore out a little in the planer. The maple was the easiest to work, overall, but had a little splintering going through the table saw.

Oh, and this is a good time to update my review on a couple of my tools. The Ridgid table saw (TS3650) is still performing like a champ. I've used it enough now to trust its accuracy. It's nice to be able to trust the measurement the fence guide shows. The Ridgid planer (TP1300LS) is still working really well, too. Except for a little tearout, and some snipe (which is mostly due to the operator not paying attention during infeed/outfeed), it produces a glass-smooth finish. It didn't bog down with that wide laminated plank, either. I am really happy with both.


Sunday, September 16, 2007


I am posting this retrospectively, or retroactively, or posthumously, or whatever the correct term is for blogging about something that happened a long time ago...

Awhile back, I made a cribbage board for my friend, Chris, as a going away present. He was probably my best friend here in KS while he was here, and now he is off to law school. Anyway, he had once made a comment about how I should make cribbage boards out of all the oak cutoffs I had laying around. So I took the cutoff ends from each end of the crib legs (each of which was made of 3 pieces of laminated oak), and glued those up, then ran them through the planer. Of course, I couldn't be satisfied with just drilling some holes, and calling it good. I chose to make it a little more challenging, and try something I'd never done before: inlay. I used my tablesaw blade (1/8" wide), raised to 1/8" above the table, to cut grooves in the blank that I had made by gluing together those cutoffs. Then I cut some 1/8" strips of walnut from that pile of old reclaimed walnut timbers I bought awhile back--I don't think I posted about that. They were in a big pile with some white oak timbers, all of which came from an old house in Lawrence. Man. Houses were built to last back then. Anyway, since my bandsaw is pretty iffy, accuracy-wise, I had to cut quite a few, and do lots of fussing with each piece of inlay, but eventually it came out OK. Not perfect, but acceptable.

Then I trimmed the extra length off the side, and added some walnut trim around the whole thing:

I realized, though, that there was no place to store pegs. I pondered this quite awhile. I decided to cut off the end (including some of the oak and walnut trim) and put it on with a hinge, then drill a hole back into the blank for storing pins. Well, that didn't work, for a number of reasons, the first of which was that the hinge just wasn't sturdy enough. So I settled on a beefier hinge, and just having the walnut cap flip up and down. That worked lots better. I inset a rare earth magnet in the cap and the blank, so that it would snap and stay closed. Then I drilled the hole back into the blank for the pins. That was a little tricky, since I couldn't get off very far without punching through either side of the blank. It worked fine.

I thought about trying to turn pins from oak dowels by mounting them in my drill press and going after them with my chisel, like a mini, vertical lathe. Some experimentation made me think that would be too hard, and produce tool inconsistent a result. So I wandered the local hardware store for awhile, and settled on some steel shelf pins. They are pretty much perfect, except they were a little thicker than what I'd wanted originally. Drilling the holes in that end grain was tough, and even with it on my drill press, the bit wandered a little on some of the holes. It's probably not more than 1/32", but it's enough to be noticeable when they're all in a line like that.

The last step was to put my moniker on it, and a dedication. That came out OK, I think. I was a little worried about it, since I didn't have much room to work with, and I'm rusty with a Dremel tool. The magnets work well--it's just as effective as a catch, and more elegant. When the cap snaps closed, you really can't tell that it opens, unless you look fairly closely.

This probably won't be the last cribbage board I make. I like the look of the inlay, so I'll probably repeat that. I learned a few lessons that will make things easier, I think.


Saturday, September 15, 2007


Finally getting around to posting the final images of the crib. Here it is--the result of a good 3 months of work--probably 80-100 hours of time...

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