Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ten Year Temporary Router Table

I built this router table in an evening about ten years ago. I needed a router table for a project (I don't remember which one) and I needed it quick. The quickest and easiest router table is to drill a hole in a sheet of plywood and attach the router directly to it. I decided to go one step up.

My router table is effectively built from a half sheet of 3/4" plywood. The main table has a plywood skirt and then to prevent sagging I added a couple more gussets across the middle.

That's my old 2 HP Dewalt router. It served me well for a number of year but then fell prey to wood chips getting into the motor and messing up the spindle (or some such thing). It still works but it makes a horrible grinding noise. I've since replaced it with a 3 HP Porter Cable router. I went with the bigger router because I wanted to be able to use large panel raising bits. I haven't done that yet but I could if I wanted to.

The fence is also pretty basic. It is essentially two pieces of plywood with more plywood keeping the back stiff.

I don't remember why I started with only two supports. I think I may have run out of screws. Those two supports were made from the router plate cut out. Very thrifty if I do say so myself.

As you can see from the picture I just use a couple of clamps to hold the fence in place. If I need to nudge the fence I just loosen one of the clamps, give the fence a bump with the heel of my hand and then clamp it down again. Again, not too fancy but it works.

I've got the box setup on sawhorses for the picture and that's pretty much how it is today. It has moved to a different spot in my shop but is essentially the same. My thought originally was that I would be able to set it up and take it down as needed to keep the space available. Practically speaking it will probably take up about as much space  not on the saw horses as on them. I also had this vision that I would be able to take the router table on the road if needed. So far the need hasn't happened yet.

My plan was - and still is - to build an official router table. Maybe this fall. Until then this table will keep serving my needs.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Civil War Campaign Desk Replica

The Desk

A friend of mine has been doing Civil War re-enactments for many years now. I'm guessing it must be close to twenty years since we did this project ten years ago. At the time he was a Sergeant and wanted to be able to have a field desk he could write reports at in camp. Since he knew I had a wood shop he asked me to help him build his desk.

So, this isn't really one of my woodworking projects, I provided advice and technical guidance but my friend - we'll call him Scott to preserve his anonymity - did most all the work.

I unfortunately don't have any pictures of it during construction.

I don't remember where Scott got the plans from. I do know he had to use pictures and some induction to get dimensions. If I remember correctly the short shelves in the middle are removable.

One place Scott didn't follow my recommendations was in the fame and panel construction of the door/front. I'd recommended a gap between the sides of the frame and the panel but he wanted the writing part of the desk to be perfectly flat. I warned him - quite strenuously I should add - that the panel would grow and shrink with the weather and humidity and would blow the frame apart.

I haven't seen the desk lately but last I knew the door was holding together fine. The back on the other hand had cracked. Scott, against my advice had glued the back in place rather than just nailing it.

I'm glad the door didn't explode; however, I am disappointed that my prediction didn't come true. It was summer when we built it, perhaps it was already at it's maximum size.

All in all, it came out looking very nice. The wood is Red Oak with a polyurethane finish. I'd didn't think Polyurethane was very authentic; however, he wanted maximum protection since it was going to be out in the weather.

He also build a folding stand to place it on.

Yup that's a lock in the top. He had to cut a shallow mortise for it in the door.

Since he built it out of Red Oak it is very solid. The only downside is that it is also very heavy. I think he may have added handles to the side after we took these pictures. Regardless I am pretty sure he just assigns a couple of his privates to carry it for him.

He decided to make dovetail joints on the box carcass so I 'had to' buy the Leigh Dovetail Jig. It worked out pretty good and the joints look really nice.

Even though Scott's project occupied every horizontal surface in my workshop for months it was a fun project to help out on

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Magazine Storage Box, Part 2 - Sides and Fronts


Before I dive into cutting the parts I need I start with using a set of templates.

I use the template in the middle both to trace out the sides and then as a template after rough cutting them. The two green templates I use for laying out the fronts. The one on the left is used as a window to see what the final piece will look like after being cut.

And yes, I know I wrote the wrong date on the template. Wood Magazine, October 2009, issue 193 is the correct date and issue.

Magazine Box Sides

I did a pretty good job - for me anyway - resawing the boards for the sides; but, even with that they still needed to be cleaned up after glue up. When I glued the two sides together I'd made an effort to make sure the flat sides were face down and even so after the glue dried I could put them through my planer to get the other side flat. After getting the opposite face flat I started alternating which face I sent through the planer to try and remove an even amount of material from both sides. Once the boards were just over the necessary 1/4" I sent them for a couple of passes through my drum sander.

I used the template of the side to trace out the shape of the sides on all my glued up side panels. I then replaced the 3/4" blade in my band saw with a 1/4" blade and cut them all to shape.

I next used double sided tape to hold the template to each box side and used my router table and a pattern following bit to clean up the rough cuts.

All that is really left for the sides is to finish sand them and cut a very shallow groove to hold the bottom.

Magazine Box Fronts

It is a little hard to tell in the photo below but the grain in the board isn't quite aligned with the sides. I used the template to select which grain I wanted and marked it on the board.

After marking one side of the front I used my band saw to cut to the line. I then used my jointer to make that one side flat and square. Then cut the front to width.

Most of the other fronts were much easier and I didn't need to go through extra effort of aligning the grain. I was able to straighten one side and then rip to width. The rest of cleaning up the fronts was the normal process of flattening one face on the jointer and then several passes through the planer to get them down to 1/2" thick.

While I was getting the fronts to the right thickness I jointed and planed the bottoms and backs at the same time. The boards I prepped for the backs and bottoms are a mix of quartersawn white oak and poplar. Basically what I had lying around the shop that was of an appropriate size.

The fronts are a variety of woods. From left to right they are: Tulip, Spanish Cedar, Cherry, Chechen and Black Palm. The waves you see in the cedar is just a little curl or quilting. The cherry looks pretty bland in this picture but that's only because it is mixed in with some highly figured woods. It really will look quite beautiful once it has some finish on it.

This weekend I hope to get the fronts, backs and bottoms shaped and sanded and start gluing them together. Then a couple of coats of poly next week and I should be ready to start stuffing them with magazines.

[Edit 2016-04-24 I originally identified the first wood as Cocobolo rather than Tulip]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Magazine Storage Box, Part 1 - The beginning

Magazine File Storage Boxes

I've been getting and reading woodworking magazines for about fifteen years now. To be honest I read them for the first twelve or thirteen years and then I had a hiatus of a few years while I also wasn't doing a lot of woodworking. I periodically go through my already read magazines and index them. Basically any article or project that caught my eye gets put into a spreadsheet so that I can easily find it later.

After I index the articles I care about out of a magazine I put into into a Magazine File Storage box and put it into my library. Unfortunately I've built up quite a backlog of magazines I haven't indexed yet in addition to the ones I haven't read. About six years worth. Over the last couple of weeks I've gone through all the magazines I've read but not indexed and added them to my spreadsheet. I've got a couple of cardboard magazine storage boxes but I prefer the wooden ones I make from a plan I got a number of years ago.

Whenever I want to work on a project I'll make a photocopy and work from that to keep my magazines nice.  Since I'd made these magazine boxes I already had a photocopy and I knew I'd just seen them in my workshop. And thus began the search for the plans. 

The Search

First I scoured my workshop. They weren't there.

Then I checked to see if I'd brought them upstairs to read. Nope, not there either.

Maybe they were in the workshop, maybe if I did a more thorough search. Nope, certainly not there.

Maybe Google knows? I've found lots of things using Google but this time was a complete strike-out.

Well, they had to come out of one of my magazines. Maybe they were in my index. Nope, nothing in my index?

Well, I've only gotten half a dozen different magazines over the years so the plans had to come out of one of them. Maybe I could find them using on-line indexes? Wood Magazine? Horrible index and no dice. Popular Woodworking? Nope! ShopNotes Magazine? Nope! Woodsmith Magazine? Nope! Fine Woodworking Magazine? Nope! Woodworker's Journal? Nope!

Gah! I may also have uttered - or shouted - some profanity at this point.

Fortunately I had templates left from the first batch I'd made hanging on my wall. I remembered enough of how they were constructed, plus the ones I already had, plus the templates I should be able to replicate the plans. They really are pretty simple.

Looking at the templates I realized that whatever magazine they came out of provided full-sized templates for parts of the boxes. Hey, the only magazine I get that regularly provides full-sized templates is Wood Magazine! So back to the Wood Magazine on-line index. 

I found one magazine storage box plan but not the one I was looking for. If it weren't for the full-sized templates I would have thought I was crazy. I must admit I did entertain the thoughts that crazy was an option for awhile.

I usually prefer an elegant approach to problem solving; however, at some point brute force is the most elegant option available. I figured I'd just pull my magazine boxes with Wood Magazines and go through them looking for the plans. I pulled down two boxes and went through all of them and guess what? No plans!!!!

Gah! I may have doubled down on my soft utterances  of profanity.

My afternoon was slipping away. I'd planned on being at the lumber store hours ago and I still didn't have my plans. Then while I was preparing to just go ahead and go buy the lumber I wanted I saw another few boxes of magazines on my science fiction bookshelf. Hooray!

At last, at last! I found my magazine with the plans. It was in Wood Magazine, Issue 193, October 2009, the third from the end. Hooray!

I made a quick run to the lumber store to pick up some maple for the magazine box sides then cleaned up for dinner with friends.

Starting with the Sides

As I said earlier, these boxes are really pretty easy to make. There are two sides made out of maple that need to be a little smaller than 10"W x 13"L x 1/4"T. The tall front face is made from whatever nice looking wood you have lying around. The back and bottom can be made from whatever scrap you have lying around.

I started by cutting my maple boards into 13" lengths. I then straightened one side on my jointer then since my band saw's maximum height is 6" I ripped them down to 6" or slightly less.

I have had mixed results from resawing boards in the past but these went pretty well. I started by setting up the saw by mounting a 3/4 inch blade. I also added my resaw fence which is basically a tall point fence that allows me to change the angle of the board so that I can counter blade drift. 

The board sitting crosswise in the back is just there to hide the background clutter. This is what it looks like when resawing.

I spent a few hours resawing the boards. and ended up with a bunch of thinner boards.

Inevitably the boards warped as they were cut but not too badly. The next step was to pass them over the jointer to remove the blade marks and make the boards flat again, at least on one face. Once one face was flat I glued them up to make the blanks for the sides.

The picture on the right shows some of the cool things you get when you resaw a board. This is called bookmatching. After resawing the board you open it like a book and you get a mirrored grain pattern. I actually glued these two boards together on the other side so I could avoid the knot holes; however, this picture shows the bookmatching effect very well.

Current State

Since I didn't feel like using 40" clamps to glue two smallish boards together I had a fair bit of time while waiting for my glue to dry two sides at a time. I used this time to dig through my stack of off-cuts and other boards I'd bought special for this purpose and selected enough to make fronts, bottoms and backs for all the sides I was gluing together.

The next step is to shape the sides, cut the fronts, bottoms and backs to size, cut some dados and rabbets and then glue it all together. Simple, right?

Dresser, Part 6 - Catching up on progress

I may have been silent on my blog for the last two weeks but I have been making sawdust and progress on the dresser. There's a bit too much to catch up in one post so I'm going to break it up.

First, the dresser!

The dresser is in the finishing stage so it is a lot of putting a little bit of finishing and then waiting for it to dry. I finished putting polyurethane on the dresser carcass and moved it into my bedroom. It isn't quite ready for use yet but it is shoved off to the side with the drawer boxes in it for storage.

I reconfigured the finishing room for small parts and brought the drawer fronts and the door up from the workshop. My finishing area is basically an unused bedroom with a couple of tarps covering the floor from drips and spills. My finishing area is an old hollow core closet door on a couple of sawhorses except now that I have my saw ponies I replaced the plastic sawhorses which are going to my garage for other uses.

My finishing table was just large enough to get all the drawer fronts and the door onto but I also found out that I didn't have enough finishing pyramids. I thought it was just clamps I needed more of. Huh... But I stopped by Woodcraft and picked up another pack. I put a coat of Danish Oil on it all this last weekend and now I'm just letting it dry. They should be ready for polyurethane this coming weekend.

I haven't started building the top yet. I'll probably start that this weekend. It'll take me a couple of days to build the top so I should have the drawer fronts and door out of the finishing room in time to start putting finish on the top.

So, one more week for finishing the drawer fronts and door, two weeks for putting finish on the top and then the dresser will be done. After five years, three weeks doesn't seem so bad.