Friday, June 15, 2007

Current Work

I haven't been spending quite as much time in the shop since the challenge table was completed. What I have been working on is getting finish on the other projects which are ready for it.

First up is the nightlight since we don't want Snowflake to be a teenager before he gets it. I'm finishing it before I assemble it. I've got stain on all the parts. Next up is the finish coat. I'm going to go with polyurethane for that. I should get to this on Monday.

I've also done a little final sanding on the wall cabinet. I've also decided one of the doors needs a slight adjustment - it's rubbing on the bottom. That'll be a round of planing. Then I'll stain the walnut panels on the doors and the shelves which are also walnut. I think I'm going to finish it off with shellac.

Next up will be the foot stools. I've found a recipe for grain filler that uses pumice and boiled linseed oil. I've got the ingredients, just need to find a time to try it out. The grain needs to be filled because the hickory has open grain. Stay tuned for progress and pictures.

In class (Thursday nights till mid July) I've been working on hiker boy's advent calendar. Last week I remilled/recut the wood for the case. The design of this was still evolving at that point (I finished it last night) and when I first cut the case parts I forgot to leave room for drawer handles inside the case. Last night was more milling and a little bit of cutting.
  • planed the stock for the drawer fronts
  • jointed, planed and cut the stock for the door stiles and rails
    • I may have to repeat this since some of the pieces sprung into a lovely curve after cutting
  • jointed, planed and resawed (explanation below) stock for the drawer sides
When looking for a thin piece of wood there are basically 3 options - buy thin lumber which is expensive, plane a thicker piece which can waste a lot of wood, or resaw which maximizes the use of the lumber. Basically what a woodworker means when they saw they resawed a piece of lumber is that they cut the wood into thin strips. A lot of times this is done on a band saw which has a blade that is a loop (think rubber band) with teeth on one edge. This can also be done on a table saw - usually by raising the blade to 1/2 the height of the wood and running the wood through twice. Or a combination of table saw and band saw can be used - run it through the table saw to get most of the wood cut away and finish up on the band saw.

The reason the band saw is the preferred method is the blade is much thinner so there is less waste. But because the blade is thinner it is harder to get a straight cut. It's a trade off and there are lots of products to help.

Since the piece I was resawing was not very wide (2") I just cut it in one pass on the table saw. Yes, I used a push stick! Next time I'll run the cut pieces through the planer to even them up.

On tap for next week -
  • recutting the pieces for the door frames
  • cutting plywood panels for the doors, drawer bottoms and back
  • milling and cutting pieces for the drawer supports/dividers

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Challenge Table: Plug Jig

The original version of the Thorsen House table, and the version published in Popular Woodworking magazine (which was the inspiration for the challenge) both include square plugs on the legs, breadboard ends, and stretchers. I had intended to include plugs on my table but time got the best of me and the plugs did not happen.

I did, however, cut the plugs. (Now I've got a pile of plugs in my shop. I'll have to find another use for them.) To ensure that the plugs were equal in size I made the jig pictured above. This jig isn't perfect, I'll get to that in a minute. First a description of this jig.

The plugs for the table are square. So I needed a way to hold the small (1/4" square) rod while accurately cutting 3/8" long plugs. I decided the safest way to cut them would be with my Nobex miter saw, which is human powered. There are two pieces which support the stock - one on each side of the saw blade, a sliding stop which runs in dadoes in side extensions, and a base.

To ensure that the holes in the support blocks were aligned I used double-sided tape to join them. Then a 1/4" hole was drilled through both. The hole was squared up with a chisel. Then the support blocks were screwed to the base, and the extension wings were screwed to one block.

To use the jig the stock is pushed through the two support blocks with the stop in the closed position (it's in the open position in the picture above). Then the plug is cut. Once the cut is complete the stop is raised and the plug is pushed out.

What I'll do differently next time:
  • the jig is much taller than necessary - the next one will be shorter
  • there isn't enough size in the base to easily clamp it to the saw - the base needs to be longer and deeper side extensions wouldn't hurt either
  • aligning the two support blocks for screwing to the base was tricky - next time I'll make a shorter support block from a single piece of wood and cut it in two after the jig is assembled.
  • chiseling the square hole accurately was difficult - next time I'll cut a 1/4" x 1/4" dado in the bottom of the support block before the support block is attached to the base, and before it's cut in two. This will also provide better support for the plug stock and limit vibration.
The bottom line is that the jig worked but could have been better.

Challenge Table: Pictures

Well, here it is my take on the Thorsen House side table for the LumberJocks challenge.

The top, shelf, inlay and drawer handle are walnut. The breadboards, aprons, stretchers and legs are cherry. The walnut was stained using a gel stain to even out the color. Then the entire table was covered with two coats of amber shellac.

The drawer is aspen, and the drawer runners are maple.

The aprons and stretchers join the legs with mortise and tenon joints. The top and breadboard ends are also joined with motise and tenons. The stretchers have dadoes into which fits tenons on the shelf.

The table is 22" tall and the top is 17" square.

The just stained top.

To see the other challenge entries click here.